Best Products Not At photokina; There’s More To Imaging Than Those At The Big Show

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“I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.”—Pablo Picasso

I’ve attended many photokina shows since my first in 1978 where I met two men whose work affects me to this very day. One was Norman Rothschild who wrote a popular magazine column called “Offbeat” and the other was Jean Coquin who had just invented a modular filter system he called Cokin. While photokina has gradually drifted from what the late Burt Keppler dubbed “the world’s fair of photography” in favor of a more European focus, there’s no doubt it’s an important show where all the big guns show off their latest products. But what about the “little guns,” those companies who can’t afford an exchange rate that’s not dollar friendly or perhaps have other reasons for not attending? They haven’t stopped making new and cool digital imaging gear. In this special column I’ll introduce you to products that didn’t make it to the photokina floor but are still worthy of your attention. So hier sind die Digital-Innovationen, Januar 2009.

© 1978, Joe Farace, All Rights Reserved

OLED Is Here
Remember OLED (Organic Light-Emitting Diode) technology? Remember Kodak’s press conference at PMA 2003 when they showed the EasyShare LS633 camera with an OLED preview screen? Remember how they forgot to tell us it would not be sold in the U.S.A.? You can get OLED gear now and you won’t find it at photokina. Digital Foci Inc. (www.digitalfoci.com) is shipping the Pocket Album Deluxe OLED 2.8 with a 2.8” OLED screen that holds more than 4000 photos and the Pocket Album OLED 1.5 with a 1.5” OLED screen that stores 124 photos. Photos can be viewed by scrolling manually or viewing a slide show that has adjustable intervals with transition effects. The Pocket Album OLED Series includes Photo Viewer software that lets you crop and rotate photos and will automatically re-size the photos for storage and display on the viewers. These compact devices use lithium-polymer batteries with five hours of battery life and can be recharged with the bundled AC adapter. The Pocket Album OLED 1.5 costs $49 and the Pocket Album Deluxe OLED 2.8 costs $99 and both are lots cheaper than an iPod touch.

© 2008, Joe Farace, All Rights Reserved

One Click To Better Color
PictoColor’s (www.pictocolor.com) iCorrect OneClick 1.5 color correction Photoshop plug-in automatically corrects white balance, exposure, and saturation with just one click. With a single click on any neutral color (black, white, or gray) in the image preview in the simple interface, you instantly correct the white balance and automatically remove color cast, correct tonal range, and adjust overall brightness. You can even fine-tune the exposure and recover extra detail by adjusting overall brightness a.k.a. luminance, shadows, and highlights or create more vivid-looking photos by boosting contrast and saturation. It’s available for Mac OS or Windows computers and costs less than $50. PictoColor has always been known for its affordable and easy-to-use color correction tools and iCorrect OneClick 1.5 not only works great but is a useful tool for converting color images into lush black and white or nostalgic sepia tone.

© 2006, Joe Farace, All Rights Reserved

Out-Of-Bounds EFX
The distance between Athens and Köln is about 1120 miles, or about the same as Denver to Houston, but Panos Efstathiadis (www.panosfx.com) is bringing Shutterbug readers a free Action you won’t find at photokina. Efstathiadis is a Greek graphic artist and designer whose Photoshop Actions are popular with Photoshop and Photoshop Elements users. His new OoB+ (Out of Bounds plus) Action is software that simplifies the steps needed to create the popular OoB effect. This flexible Action begins by letting you define the area of the photo and its shape. It then lets you set the size of the border and establish the out-of-bounds areas before adding the shadow effect. The Action makes use of layer masks, which allow you to edit the final overall look at a later time. This is not a one-click Action so I urge you to download the tutorial movie and have some fun with this 3D-looking effect.

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