Sticking with soft focus, Lensbabies (www.lensbabies.com
had a brilliant new product, a lockable version of their squeeze-focus lens.
This may seem like fitting a Ferrari with a tow hitch, or teaching a fish to
ride a bicycle, but my prediction is that it will sell in large numbers to anyone
who wants to pre-focus on a given spot, or to reproduce a given effect, whether
they are shooting still lifes or portraits or motorsports (and yes, there are
people who use Lensbabies for motorsports). The way it works, with a triple-rod
system, is easier to illustrate than to describe. Lensbabies also had new auxiliary
wide angle and long-focus adapters that fit on the front of the lens; the former
is especially useful with digital, where the "standard" lens can
be rather long.
How about the body armor? Well, it's akin to the camera condoms, but
rather thicker and more shock absorbent, and its main purpose is shock protection
rather than rain resistance. There's also a polycarbonate screen protector
and lens cap lanyard. Commendably easy to find at www.cameraarmor.com
(note the aa), the first models are for Canon EOS 30D and Nikon D70/70s bodies
but others are to follow. Production armor is available in smoke (gray) and
black but a yellow version is shown here, as it is easier to see.
Actually, they do a lot more than this. Who remembers the old trick of running
a steel bass guitar string through a camera strap to render it slash-proof?
Camera Armor's ToughStrap already has the stainless steel wire built-in.
There's also a SafeGrip hand strap to help lock the camera in your palm,
or you can buy the lot--armor, strap, and grip--for $80 or less retail.
Apart from a weakness for RunningTwo WordsTogether WithCaps InTheMiddle, this
Seattle-based company appears to have lots of good ideas. (Editor's Note:
This malady is not limited to this company.) AlwaysOn, an associated company,
offers an ingenious baseplate-fitting camera stand and a universal wireless
remote; also check www.madeforcameras.com
(the name on the stand) and www.speckdesign.com.
I've ordered Camera Armor for my D70 and maybe I'll do a "mini
review" when I get it.
When it comes to camera supports, (see Frances Schultz's Tripods &
Camera Supports report) both the new gorillapod SLR (a bigger, more butch version
of the gorillapod that intrigued us both at PMA) and the MonsterPod (the "limpet
mine" I mentioned earlier), but my own view is that both are so weird
that they deserve at least a mention in Weird Stuff, too.
Internet telephones? Well, if you have broadband, you can get effectively free
international calls. Sound quality is reduced, but hey, I'll put up with
this in return for free calls. The relevance of this is of course that if you
are a photographer and subscribe to the Internet, broadband is the only smart
way to go (and you can access www.rogerandfrances.com,
too). I'm waiting for delivery of my USB-interface (and USB-powered) ZydaFone
from EZPnP (www.ezpnp-usa.com)
in the hope that it will cut my phone bills in half. I'll let you know
if it does!
Dental illumination isn't actually weird if you take many dental photographs,
is a good general-purpose macro lighting system, too: photokina caters even
to super-specialist markets.
Finally, strung on steel cables above the Zeiss stand and looking rather like
the Fuji Blimp, there was a 1700mm f/4 tele lens, misleadingly labeled as the
biggest telephoto ever (it wasn't; Leica made a 2000mm f/4 during World
War II for photographing radar installations across the English Channel). The
writing on the side revealed its destination as Qatar in the Persian Gulf. What
puzzles me is how (and when) they are going to use it. I once had a 1200mm mirror
lens, and atmospheric haze/shimmer made it useless except for half an hour after
dawn. But the 1700mm f/4 was magnificent, and you have to admit: it's