Weekend Wrap for November 5, 2010

Photo Plus Expo Wrap-Up, Part II, and then some

Before we get started with part two of our coverage of Photo Plus Expo, which took place last week in New York City, I have a couple of breaking news items:

Panasonic announces Lumix GF-2 Mirrorless Compact

With so many potentially interested customers at Photo Plus, the timing of this announcement is a little odd—coming less than a week after Photo Plus—but the camera itself looks intriguing. Panasonic this week  announced the Lumix GF2, successor to the much-ballyhooed GF 1. It retains the same form factor—a compact camera with interchangeable lenses that Panasonic categorizes as a “DSL Micro (DSLM)”—and takes over as the World's Smallest interchangeable lens compact.

Key features:

  • 12.1 MP Live MOS sensor
  • 3-inch LCD monitor with 460k dot resolution and touch-screen operation
  • Compatible with 3-D Lumix G 12.5 f/12 lens, can shoot 3D photos
  • AF Tracking of moving subjects
  • Multiple-area AF with 23 focus areas
  • Manual Focus, MF assist mode
  • Intelligent Auto Exposure
  • Face Detection
  • Optical image stabilization
  • HD Video: 1080p ta 60i or 720p at 60p, AVCHD format
  • Built-in stereo microphone

The Panasonic Lumix GF-2 will be available in January in kits with either the 14mm f/2.5 or 14-42mm zoom lens. Pricing to be announced.


Lensbaby Creative Aperture 2 Kit Plays Games with Bokeh

Also announced right after the show: Lensbaby debuted its Creative Aperture Kit 2, the result of a contest in which participants were challenged to come up with new aperture shapes. The winning shapes are five of the nine new apertures included in the new kit, and the four runners up are shown below.  Lensbaby Creative Aperture Kit 2 will be available for around $20.


Now, on to Part 2 of our Photo Plus coverage…



Nik demos HDR Efex

Nik demonstrated its new HDR Efex software at the show and I must say I’m impressed, mainly because it uses a more visual approach that lets users choose how much they want to apply the HDR. Some folks like what I call the “velvet Elvis” look, which produces colors and extreme tone mapping that looks unreal, while others (including me) prefer a more organic, subtle, photo realistic look that opens up shadows, brings in highlight detail, and doesn’t blow you out of the water. Users are given a choice of HDR image styles using multiple or single images, and U Point selective tools let you apply contrast, shadow, saturation and structural adjustments to selected areas of an image.

Goal0 Portable Power Packs Brings Power Where There Ain’t

Goal0 (read that as Goal Zero) showed their Sherpa line of portable power packs, which can be recharged using foldable, portable Goal0 solar panels. Available separately or in kits that include both power pack and solar panels, the Goal0 products are designed for adventure and outdoor photography where you’re going to spend a long time away from an AC outlet. The Sherpa 50 adventure kit, for instance, is expected to sell for around $450.

Varavon Pro Finder Helps HDSLRs

There’s a lot of interest in gadgets for photographers getting into video capture with HD Video DSLRs. The Varavon Pro Finder is like placing a loupe over your DSLR’s LCD finder, giving you a 3x magnification and the ability to shoot either eye-level or looking down. Take out the loupe and you can use the housing as a sun shade for the LCD. It compares favorably to the Zacuto Z-Finder and costs around $365, direct from Varavon.

Here’s a demo video provided by Varavon:

PRO FINDER [VARAVON] from varavon on Vimeo.


Frio Universal Hotshoe Adaptor Enlightens Strobists

Enlight was at the show with the frio, a hotshoe adaptor designed by James Madelin. The Coldshoe adaptor that allows mounting of any accessory that uses a shoe mount onto a light stand or tripod. A locking feature keeps the accessory in place firmly without needing to tighten the locking ring or lever. There’s also a slot for hanging a remote flash trigger. Only $15.
Mamiya Announces Digital RZ Cameras

Owners of the Mamiya RZ series of film cameras have been waiting patiently for a digital equivalent; now it’s here. The RZ33 and RZ22 are 33MP and 22MP format digital cameras, respectively, with large sensors and full compatibility with the entire line of Mamiya RZ lenses and accessories.

Here’s a quick demo video, provided by Mamiya:

Get more info about the RZ33 and RZ22.


X-Rite i1Profiler, i1Photo Pro System Manages Color

X-Rite demonstrated the i1Photo Pro System, a high-end color management system with a completely redesigned interface that simplifies matters for those who like a more visual approach, and in-depth controls for users who like to “geek out.” It includes a 24-patch ColorChecker classic target, and a ColorChecker Proof, which lets users instantly compare a print against  the original colors.


Tenba Messenger Mini Photo/Laptop Bag Carries All

Tenba was at Photo Plus with the Messenger Mini Photo/Laptop bag, capable of carrying an SLR, 2-3 lenses, flash and accessories, and a 13-inch laptop. The interior is adjustable, with movable, removable dividers. The exterior is durable 1000 Denier Nylon, which is tested for rough outdoor use. A quick-access zipper lets you get to your stuff without bothering with opening the main flap. The case comes in black, orange, blue and other colors. Price? Just under $100. Availability? Soon.

Argraph goes 360 degrees

Argraph debuted the E-Filming Digital Drive 360 degree Panorama Camera Base, an automated system for shooting panoramas, spherical and 3D rotation photos which, along with Cool Stitch or 3D Maker software, makes stitching together gigapixel panoramas a cinch. Here’s a very cool example of the system in action.

Argraph also introduced the QPcard 202 and QPcalibrator software, a color correction system for digital cameras shooting RAW. The QPcard 202 has 35 coated color chips mounted on a cardboard surface, including primary, saturated, neutral and low-saturated color samples. According to Argraph, the process takes 3 steps: Take a RAW photo of the QPcard202, process the photo in QPCalibrator, and a custom RAW profile is created and automatically saved in the correct folder. Next time you open Adobe Camera RAW you’ll find the profile under the camera icon. It will be available for $55.

Canson Raffles a Beatles Rarity

Fine-art paper maker Canson caught this Beatles fan’s eye with a display of rare 1964 black-and-white photos of the Fab Four shot by the late Curt Gunther. Canson was raffling off a signed, numbered print that captures an intimate view of the Beatles inside the bubble surrounded by Beatlemania. Raffle winner Denn Hollandsmith wrote, "The Beatles sang: 'We don't want to change the world...' But they did...and mine, too!”



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