After having attended the PMA
trade show for 38 years I'm still surprised with the number of new,
useful, and interesting photographic gadgets that keep showing up in various
booths everywhere on the show floor. Somebody always thinks of a new gizmo
or gadget that will assist in making some facet of photography easier,
simpler, and more fun. Since most of these are new items, your local photo
retailer might not yet have the items in stock, but they'll be hitting
the stores soon. Here, in alphabetical order, is what I discovered.
Alps-Widepan Cameras imports a Chinese 140Þ panorama camera that
can be adapted to shoot on 120, 220, or 35mm film. But in this same small
booth I found that they also will have a bunch of lens adapters which
will permit using one brand of lens on another camera. These items are
just starting to come into the country, so not much information was available.
But we always have a number of readers interested in using one of their
existing lenses of one format or brand on another format and/or brand
of camera, so these adapters should prove to be helpful.
At the Argraph booth we learned of the Bandust brand of lint-free, scratch-free
cleaning/dusting cloths. First is a very soft, lint-free Micro-Fiber Cloth
for wiping away dirt, oil, fingerprints, and smudges on lenses, etc. It
lists for $4.95 and is washable. Also new is their Anti-Static Cloth which
contains interwoven carbon threads that safely remove static electricity
and dust without need of chemicals or radioactivity. It is washable and
lists for $2.49.
BKA introduced a broad line of Visual Pursuits brand magnifiers offered
in a range of sizes and powers for most any situation requiring an enlarged
image for closer inspection. There are round pocket units, folding; self-standing;
folding handle; stand loupe; tweezer; hands-free (that hang from a neck
strap); retractable; ruler; and illuminated units. They look nice and
should be functional.
Kinetronics is the brand name of a series of optical-quality cleaning
cloths, solutions, chammies, and similar items. The new Stratos Mini Bracket
was designed specifically for small digital cameras. It folds up to become
very compact (about 4x1x1.5") for carrying and opens into a tripod
socket-attachable bracket with a shoe for raising any external flash or
other shoe-mount accessory above the camera lens. It will be available
in several colors.
Pelican Camera Protectors come in sizes for use with 35mm SLRs and medium
format cameras. Each has a lens opening and a clear window over the LCD
panel. They are intended to keep the camera warm in cold winter outdoor
conditions and also provide soundproofing for using cameras in situations
when normal camera operating noise might be disturbing.
Dot Line Distributes...
Dot Line offers some new small accessories. Lenmar Mac 1 is a speed charger
for camcorder and digital camera batteries that completely charges them
in just 30 minutes. Kenko adapters are designed to allow filters to be
used on some of the many digital cameras that don't have lens threads.
Naturally, they also offer a broad variety of small diameter filters that
can be used in these adapters.
At the Hakuba booth I saw an extensive selection of camera bags and tripods.
One small new tabletop tripod caught my attention. Called the e-Pod it
folds down to a very portable 7.5x 2.75x2" at its widest portion.
The thin legs fold out to a broad 9x7" triangular spread. A small
tilt-top has a quick-release tripod socket. It should easily support a
small digital or compact camera when timed exposures are being made. They
also had the new Mono-stand 10, which is a combination of a tabletop and
monopod, plus a series of digital media storage cases.
Digital View Aids
Hoodman Corporation is the appropriate name for the firm making a variety
of soft, flexible hoods designed to minimize glare shining into lenses
or onto LCD screens of digital products. Hoodskins is a new line made
with self-adhesive transparent material, available in four sizes to fit
all 1.5-4" LCD screens. Simply place one over the digital or video
camera LCD screen to protect them from harmful dust and fingerprints.
They have a new pleated, rectangular hood with a magnifier that fits over
the LCD on the Nikon D1 digital camera for easier viewing outdoors. A
pop-up hood, called the Eclipse by Hoodman, will shield the display screen
of most sizes of laptop computers when used outdoors in bright lighting
Chargers, Heads &
HP Marketing had many new items. Ansmann introduced a high tech Energy
16 charger that first determines the battery strength then discharges
and recharges, or simply adds to an existing charge. It accepts up to
16 batteries in any combination of AA, AAA, or 9v and lists for $140.
The Ansmann pocket flashlight is very small, exceptionally bright, and
lists for $50. Under the broad Novoflex line they showed an interesting
line of bellows with adapters that permit using a practically unlimited
variety of 35mm or medium format camera lenses with bodies of different
makes of cameras. There are also new Novoflex small ball heads and quick
releases suitable for use with most tripods. The Giotto brand of tripods
includes a new small U-Pod with a panhead, pistol grip, and tabletop tripod
combination that lists for $40.
Active Chest Strap
Lowepro showed the new Dewit Jones chest strap primarily intended for
use with cameras and binoculars under active situations such as hiking
or climbing. The strap stays around the user's chest and has a quick-release
touch fastener strip for holding the camera or binocular tightly to the
chest when not in use. It lists for $19.
Omega Satter has a new line of bags and lens wrap accessories called RoadWired.
It's an advanced protection system containing a proprietary material
called Corrosion Intercept. This acts like copper to attract gases and
other environmental elements before they can reach the metal parts of
the contents. Cameras and other electronic devices stored inside are thus
protected from corrosion. The bags and wraps also feature foam interlocking
for shock absorption plus a water-repellent exterior. In addition to traditional
camera bag configurations there are also wraps for media cards plus larger
sizes of similar material suitable for use as a wrap for lenses or other
accessories. Prices start at $13 for a 12" square wrap. POD is the
name of a new rectangular, vertical, small camera case with an unusual
set of three zippered, fold-down flaps for storing a variety of accessories
for quick access. Cloud Dome is the name of a new diffusion dome designed
for soft, shadowless, diffused lighting of small reflective products such
as jewelry, elec tronics, currency and coins, and sports collectibles.
This 15.5" diameter translucent white, non-yellowing, Plexiglas
dome has a bracket on the top beside a lens hole that accepts a variety
of SLR or digital cameras that will shoot straight down into the dome.
Any type of light can be aimed at the exterior and will be softened and
diffused for even lighting with minimal harsh reflections. The basic dome
lists for $225 and extension collars for adding additional height are
Mobile Media Storage
OP/TECH USA introduced several new carrying units for digital camera media
cards. The small media holster is a neoprene pouch that easily slides
onto a camera strap or belt. It will hold either spare media cards or
two extra AA-size batteries. In addition, they offer several sizes of
Media Mate cases for carrying extra cards plus batteries. Their quick-release
fashion strap (a wide, removable, camera and/or binocular strap) is now
offered in a patriotic flag version.
Panasonic showed their newly developed AA-size, nickel-zinc battery, which
was designed to provide longer lasting power than high-drain alkaline
batteries. They are intended for satisfying the demands of US digital
still cameras. Tests indicated they surpassed the useful lifespan of competing
batteries by 27-47 percent.
Quest Advantage is the brand name of a line of batteries and chargers
that is distributed in the U.S.A. by Minolta. Recently introduced is the
Q2 Plus one to three hour charger. It will deliver a larger amount of
charge into each cell in a shorter time. It allows individuals using high-drain
portable products such as digital cameras, CD players, and PDAs to quickly
recharge and reuse their batteries. This charger has four independent
microprocessor controlled charging circuits that can charge both AA and
AAA-size batteries in any cell combination and handles from one to four
cells at one time. It signals with a "beep" and the display
changes from a red LED to green to inform that the battery is fully charged.
A kit with four Quest Platinum AA Ni-MH batteries, charger, 110v AC and
12v auto adapter lists for $50.
A company called un-du Products, Inc., introduced their new PhotoCare
family of products. The PhotoCare Kit contains Solution, Microfiber Cleaning
Cloth, PhotoSponge, and removal tool. The solution cleans and removes
fingerprints, smudges, and adhesive residue from photos and negatives.
The solution temporarily neutralizes adhesives, is acid free and 100 percent
photo safe. This solution is particularly adept for assisting in the removal
of cherished photos from old generation magnetic albums, which did not
use photo safe materials.
Varta showed the new Vanson V-100 ultra-fast two-hour charger for Ni-MH/NiCd
rechargeable batteries. It comes complete with AC and car charger cords
and will list for $30. Also new is the Vanson V-6833 overnight charger
for two AA-size cells that sells for $20.