While no clear trends emerged, I was struck by the presence of many sleeker styled, more compact units. These lights are designed for portability and user-friendliness, with a special emphasis on affordability. I had expected to see a snowball effect in strobes with digital control, but that was not the case.
I have split this report into Studio and Mobile Strobe...
Camera bags and carriers come in every shape and style, from highly functional rollers to bags that make a fashion statement whenever you step out the door with your gear. Among the new products appearing this year are those that will fit every photographer for every photo excursion. There are backpacks for day hikers to trekkers, and rollers for making the transition from plane to city streets. Camera carrier makers are always improving product to keep up with the changing needs of photographers and their gear.
Every year manufacturers and distributors unveil new products at trade show events. They see these shows as the best venues to garner the attention of the gathered members of their industries and to show them their latest wares. In the photo industry this has traditionally been the annual Photo Marketing Association (PMA) Show, which we have always covered. This year that event was subsumed into the larger Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.
Among the latest trends in lighting are the increasingly popular LED lights. While these lights were initially aimed at video, they serve a purpose in still photography as well, notably as accent or fill lights. In studio lighting, we have new monolight kits; and in speedlights, we have a new TTL ringflash along with a wireless TTL remote. We’ll also look at some interesting lighting accessories as well.
The trend in tripods is toward more compact and lighter-weight tripods, with an increasing number of entries in carbon fiber. Is carbon fiber the ultimate lightweight tripod? The jury is still out, although everyone seems to want one. And along with tripods, various ball heads grabbed our attention. We even found a portable copy stand.
Working at Spiratone, Nick Koudis (www.koudis.com) began his photographic career designing many of those wonderful gizmos made popular by my mentor, the world-renowned Norman Rothschild. Koudis brought his knack for developing clever and ingenious gadgets with him when he opened his first studio in New York City over 25 years ago. Back then we...
The new Nikon D5100 D-SLR is a compact and lightweight DX-format camera. The body is about two-thirds the size of a D300, recording on SD/SDHC/SDXC memory cards. The similarly compact kit lens, an 18-55mm VR, provides good balance, and, along with my Nikon SB-900 Speedlight, all fits neatly into a compact camera bag. The grip on the D5100 was a little smaller than what I was used to, but I soon grew accustomed to it.
The 85mm VR Micro Nikkor ($529.95, MSRP) benefits from next-generation VR II technology and is stated to deliver usable results at up to four steps below the optimum shutter speed. Keep in mind that we’re dealing with a DX-dedicated lens for an APS-C sensor camera (like my D300). So the optimum shutter speed when shooting handheld and without VR on translates into 1/(Lens Focal Length x Sensor Factor), or 1⁄85mm x 1.5, or 1⁄125 sec (rounded off). (Because this is a DX lens and this is Nikon, the multiplication factor is 1.5, so the effective focal length is approximately 128mm.)
There are several ways to trigger a camera wirelessly but up until recently none of them conveniently gave Nikon D600 shooters a large-screen remote live view. Enter the Nikon WU-1b Wireless Mobile Adapter that operates with “smart” devices—namely iOS and Android tablets and phones, in conjunction with the Nikon Wireless Mobile Adapter Utility app. The device is a tiny Wi-Fi 11b/g/n dongle about the size of the tip of your thumb and connects to the camera’s USB port. It even comes with a short lanyard and protective case, so you can keep it attached to the camera strap. I tested it with a third-generation Apple iPad with Retina display. Read on, as you’ll find important tips here that are not found in the instructions. (Note: WU-1b also works with the Nikon 1 V2; model WU-1a is currently available for the Nikon D3200.)
The original Nikon Capture NX could be compared to a four-cylinder vehicle: it would take you where you wanted to go when it came to raw conversion of Nikon NEF files, but it wasn’t the best ride for image editing. Compared to that, the newly released Capture NX 2 can be described as a six-cylinder roadster—sleek, yet powerful enough for a long drive. The additions and changes add...