Live from the WPPI 2013 Show Floor

by John Rettie

John Rettie

The WPPI 2013 Show Floor

March 13, 2013

With WPPI 2013 showing off the latest and greatest tech and photography products to hit the market, we sent out Tech Editor John Rettie to the show floor to search out his favorites. He's been sending in dispatches every day. We have them all collected here for you to read.

Trade Show Wrap Up

I found dozens of attendees rushing around the trade show during the last hour of the 2013  Expo as they purchased floor samples and took advantage of special show deals that were only valid during the show. I found a few more interesting new products during a final walk-through:

Hurley Pro
New York photographer Peter Hurley showed off a prototype of his new Medusa lighting system that uses 3-foot-long LED lighting tubes. They are mounted in aluminum frames with a carbon fiber finish. What’s more, each light can be individually adjusted to provide variable lighting. Hurley expects the lights to be available in a few months time. Details at www.hurleyprogear.com.



Animoto Pro
More and more photographers are signing up for Animoto Pro and to meet the demand, Animoto announced several upgrades to meet requests from wedding photographers using the Pro service. It’s now possible for users to choose styles of slide shows designed by professional wedding photographers, including Vicki Taufer, Tamara Lackey, Vanessa Joy and Rob Adams. It’s now possible to make 20 minutes instead of the previous 10-minute limit. Animoto has done a deal with Triple Scoop Music to include 1,000 of their most popular music tracks. Details at www.animoto.com.

MeFoto Tripods
Who’d have guessed that colored tripods would be such a hit? It turns out that plenty of wedding and portrait photographers like the smarter look than a traditional black tripod. Two models in the range include a leg that can be unscrewed and transformed into a monopod. MeFoto tripods proved to be quite a hit at the show. Indeed the company is already looking to add additional colors to meet demand. You can check out the range of tripods at http://www.mefoto.com.

Fotodiox RhinoCam
How would you like a medium-format camera with more than 120-megapixel resolution for less than $1,000? Fotodiox has come up with an intriguing way to adapt a compact camera, such as Sony NEX, to work with a medium-format lens. It consists of a metal plate with a glass viewing screen for composition and a holder for the camera. After one has composed a picture on the ground glass screen the camera is moved across so the opening is over the lens. The camera is moved to engraved marks and eight pictures captured. The image files are then transferred to a computer and the images stitched together in Photoshop to create one large resolution image. It could be an ideal solution for landscape and architectural photographers as long as there is no movement of subjects while shooting. The kit costs just $500 and lenses can be purchased second hand for reasonable prices if you don’t already own one. The camera body is obviously extra. Details at http://fotodioxpro.com/index.php/vizelex-rhinocam-for-sony-nex-e-mount-cameras.html.

The Expo is Over…For Now
Vendors and attendees seemed quite pleased with this year’s WPPI Trade Show. There were plenty of products and services to meet the needs of photographers. Although there were no major new products that created a big buzz there were some trends that emerged. For example, LED continuous lighting is definitely drawing increased interest. Tripod manufacturers also said they saw increased interest in what most would presume is a commodity. One sales person said he saw increased interest from photographers who wanted to make sure they stand out from the crowd of amateur photographers at a wedding.

Day 3 Dispatch: Wednesday
It’s day three, the final day at the WPPI trade show. I’ve just about finished checking out all the booths looking for new gadgets and gizmos. Here’s another two booths that caught my eye.

Tether Tools

The ability to hook cameras up to an iPad or computer has created a need for organizing all the tethered tools. Tether Tools has a growing array of equipment that makes the chore easier and safer. The Jerk Stopper, for example is a clever little clip that helps prevent an ethernet cable from being pulled out of the camera port. At WPPI, their display of workstation tables that attach to a tripod along with a new TabStrap to hold an iPad hands-free with a BlackRapid strap seemed to draw a lot of interest. Details of all the products can be found at www.tethertools.com.

Lowell Blender 3 Light Kit

The move away from flash units to continuous lighting systems was very much in evidence at WPPI. As LED lights improve in performance and come down in cost they are quickly becoming the lighting of choice, especially for videographers but also for more and more still photographers. Lowell demonstrated one of its latest products – the Blender 3 Light Kit that includes 3 Lowell Blenders with diffusers, AC adaptors and light stands in a bag. Each Blender has two sets of LEDs in Tungsten and daylight that can, as the name suggests, be blended to provide lighting that matches the ambient light. Full details at http://www.lowel.com/kits/blender3light.html.

Sigma Lenses

Sigma continues to refresh its lineup to appeal to more professional photographers and provide an alternative to lenses from major camera manufacturers. A company rep tells me that the lineup of pro lenses is growing in popularity ever since it introduced the 85mm f/1.4 a couple of years ago. The newest lens in this line is the 35mm f/1.4 lens introduced at CES. Sigma has also put its toes in the water with a range of three micro 4/3 lenses.

The upcoming 120-300mm f/2.8 zoom lens has been totally redesigned and can be customized. It has a slider switch that can be preset with options such as speed of focus or limiting the focus range. A user can adjust the settings and fine tune the front and back focus using a USB Dock that attaches to the lens and then to a computer where special Sigma software makes the adjustments. It can also be used to update firmware when needed.. The USB Dock will work with other new Sigma lenses although the amount of customization depends on the lens. There is no word on when the 120-300mm lens of the USB Dock will go on sale but details on the USB Dock can be found at http://www.sigmaphoto.com/product/sigma-usb-dock.


Day 2 Dispatch: Tuesday

Day two of WPPI2013 was just as energetic as the opening day of the showroom. Here are two of our favorite products from the floor:

Manfrotto Klyp iPhone Case

Manfrotto’s first accessory for an iPhone will appeal to those who use their iPhone for shooting video. It allows a user to stand an iPhone on a flat surface or mount it to a tripod. Other accessories can be attached including a soft light portrait LED lighting unit. Currently the Klyp only fits an iPhone 4S but a case for an iPhone 5 will be introduced soon. Details can be found on Manfrotto’s website.

Lowepro Flipside Sport Backpack

It might not look high-tech, but this new lightweight backpack uses top-of-the-line materials that are strong and also weather-resistant. The interior compartments for cameras and gear can be removed in a single unit and be replaced with another one holding made for different gear or left out entirely so the backpack can be used to carry non-photographic gear. Lowepro says it’s an ideal backpack for adventurous photographers shooting out in the desert or in bad weather conditions. Details can be found on Lowepro’s website.


Day 1 Dispatch- Monday

The show floor at WPPI was buzzing today with a slew of new products—check out a couple from today:

PocketWizard PlusX

Last year at WPPI, PocketWizard introduced the Plus III which was well received by photographers who need to work on complex photo shoots with multiple cameras and many flashes. This year PocketWizard introduced the PlusX which uses the same sleek looking body but has simplified electronics and a price of just $99. This makes it affordable for photographers who have simpler setups and don’t need more than ten channels. It’s still made in America and uses LPA Design’s patented “Auto-Sensing Transceiver Technology” that works as a transceiver meaning each unit can transit or receive as needed.

Sekonic Litemaster Pro Bundle

Sekonic has introduced a special bundle for the recently introduced 478D and 478DR light meters that includes a special edition of the X-Rite ColorChecker Passport and a Gray balance card. It enables photographers to create color profiles for different cameras.


Launch Pad: Sunday

At the ever-popular Launch Pad event, WPPI 2013 attendees got a sneak peek at some of the products being displayed at the Trade Show. While many exhibitors displayed their latest wares, here are a couple that caught our eye.

Fiilex LED lighting

The two ex-Brooks photography students who developed these new LED lighting systems claim that they provide full spectrum color tuning so they can be used to match other lights. The P360 has an array of specially designed Dense Matrix LEDs that can be tuned to different colors and color temperature settings from 3000K to 5600K.  The P200 FlexJet is a similar unit but it is designed to be affixed to fiber optic or acrylic light sources for delivering creative lighting. Details can be found at www.fiilex.com.

Sanho iUSBportCAMERA

As it’s name suggests this is a device that can be used with a Canon or Nikon DSLR to wirelessly transmit photos to an external device such as a iPhone or iPad for viewing images. It can also capture JPEG images instantly and be used to control the camera remotely. It fits on a camera’s hot shoe and is connected to the camera through its USB port. Details at www.hypershop.com.

All Photos by John Rettie, unless otherwise noted

John Rettie is a photojournalist who has been covering digital photography since its earliest days. He resides in Santa Barbara, CA, and readers are welcome to contact him directly by email at john@johnrettie.com.

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