There are so many lighting manufacturers at photokina that it’s not feasible to look at all of them in detail, but one we always check is Dedolite, who are consistently innovative and useful. This year the highlights consisted of a small LED light with the possibility of putting lighting gels between the source and the diffuser; a much bigger HMI light with the same sort of versatility; and a twin-source, twin-ballast HMI softbox. Twin ballasts mean that you can switch off one source without affecting color temperature, unlike running multiple sources from a single ballast.
There were many innovative lighting products on a wide range of Chinese stands, such as radial fluorescent tubes like the arms of an umbrella (or starfish), circular fluorescent “ringlights,” and multiple coiled-tube fluorescent bulb holders: the biggest number we counted was 18.
Moving on to light modifiers, the Lastolite stand was as ever bristling with innovations, including an “instant” portrait setup with a Tri-Flector, softbox, and support stand for the whole business. They also have a new multi-flash head, a ridiculously simple device for holding several flash guns of the sort normally used on camera, thereby providing a much more powerful light source for a softbox than you could get with a single flash. You need the extra power, of course, to provide a sensible amount of light after the light has been strained through the flash box.
Among small light modifiers for use with on-camera flash, the new Rogue line was a novel and probably very useful concept: bendable rectangles of reflective material allowing surprisingly subtle control of the light. An illustration makes the point faster and more clearly than words could. This comes from ExpoImaging, the manufacturers of the long-established and excellent ExpoDisc white balance/incident metering adapter/lens cap.
In the realm of backgrounds, there seems to have been an enormous resurgence of Chroma-Key-type backgrounds: again, Lastolite had one. These use a specific shade of green (or more rarely, blue) that can then be “dropped out” electronically and replaced with the background of your choice: the Eiffel Tower, say, or the Quadriga in Berlin or the Houses of Parliament in London. Of course you need to make the lighting of the foreground (normally a person) reasonably consistent with the light on the background, a precaution distressingly many photographers neglect, but even when it’s badly done the results may look all right if you only glance at them quickly, and when it’s well done the picture can be surprisingly convincing.
Dedolight LED, with purple gel just visible in the slot on the left.
A seriously weird offering from Azuri in India was a Chroma-Key bodysuit (green or blue), so you could “lose” a person against a background. We may expect to see this surface (perhaps all too often) in music videos. The same company makes Chroma-Key paint, Chroma-Key fabrics, and more, including hand painted (non-Chroma-Key) backgrounds.
Lighting “tents” are nothing new, but (as ever) FotoRobot from the Czech Republic continued to make life easier for the busy studio photographer with a “tent table” (lighting tent plus built-in revolving table) and a “centerless table,” a big rotating disk of glass driven at the edges so that you can shoot shadowlessly through it. FotoRobot’s gear is always beautifully made, extremely solid, and (in many cases) brilliantly computer controlled. It really reminds you why, before the German and then Soviet occupations, Czech engineering was so highly regarded.
Bron Imaging Group (Kobold): www.bronimaging.com
HP Marketing Corp.: www.hpmarketingcorp.com
Interfit Photographic Ltd.: www.interfitphotographic.com
Kaiser: www.kaiser-fototechnik.de; distributed by HP Marketing Corp.
Lastolite: www.lastolite.com; distributed by Manfrotto Distribution
Manfrotto: www.manfrotto.com; distributed by Manfrotto Distribution
Manfrotto Distribution: www.manfrottodistribution.us
Seculine: www.secu-line.com; distributed by Interfit Photographic Ltd.
Ultima Digital: www.ultimadigital.com
Yuyao Lishuai: www.lishuai.com.cn