In the Aisles: PhotoPlus Expo 2010 Gear Report (Part 2)
NOVEMBER 03, 2010
By Dan Havlik, PDN's Technology Specialist
(See Part 1 of this report here.)
One of the more compelling product demos we saw at PhotoPlus Expo 2010
was at the Lexar booth and concerned workflow. Yes, yes, we know
"workflow" and "memory" aren't the sexiest buzzwords out there but if
you think of it more as a time-saved proposition than a time-worked deal
you'll start to see the benefits. (Time is money, after all.)
While Lexar is known for creating memory cards and card readers for
photography, it's sister brand, Crucial, is known for manufacturing DRAM
(Dynamic Random Access Memory) and SSDs (Solid State Drives) that go
inside computers. (The parent company for both brands is Micron, for
anyone keeping score at home.)
Lexar's marketing chief Jeff Cable, who runs his own photography
business shooting weddings and bar mitzvahs, walked us through a quick
digital workflow that showed how much time photographers can save not
only by using a Lexar Professional 600x CompactFlash card and high-speed
ExpressCard CF reader but by upgrading a laptop with 8GB of Crucial
DRAM and a 256GB SSD.
Cable put two MacBook Pro laptops side-by-side, one loaded with the 8GB
of Crucial memory and the 256GB SSD drive and the other with 4GB of
DRAM and a 500GB hard drive. The loaded MacBook Pro not was not only
faster while processing a series of images using a typical set of
Photoshop actions, it completely walloped the other
In the test we saw, only about 40 or so RAW files were processed and the
Crucial laptop finished ahead by several minutes. With a full job of
thousands of shots, it could save you many hours of time.
But it's the sort of thing that needs to be seen to be appreciated.
Check out this video featuring Cable running a similar test using the
enhanced Lexar/Crucial workflow.
Event photographers who want to crank out a bunch of prints quickly
while on location, might be interested in a pair of new printers from
Mitsubishi, the single-deck CP-D70DW and double-deck CP-D707DW.
The CP-D70DW weighs about 26 pounds and uses dye-sublimation thermal
transfer ink technology to crank out prints as large as 6x8-inches, at
14.5 seconds per print. (4x6-inch prints take approximately 8.4 seconds
while 5x7-inch prints take 12.7 seconds.) Print resolution is 300dpi
with 8-bit color. The CP-D70DW sells for $1995.
The double-deck version is just that: basically two Mitsubishi printers
stacked on top of each other. Print times are a few seconds faster
across the board with the CP-D707DW and it weighs almost twice as much
at 48 pounds. It sells for $2,950.
Though these Mitsubishi printers aren't exactly light -- your assistant
shouldn't have problems carrying them (heh heh) -- they seem durable so
they should stand up to heavy usage. Mitsubishi reps we spoke with said
they're considering creating carrying cases or bags to go with them. A
Mac version of the printer driver is also in the works: unfortunately
it's just PC-compatible now.
Photo book maker Asuka rolled out some new designs including the classy
Zen Layflat Impact Line which has new cover options and a slide-out
panel that lets you slip in a CD or DVD. Great for wedding photography
multi-media jobs. And they look great too! There's also a new DVD
presentation book line from Asuka that houses a printed photo book and
has placeholder for a DVD. Stylish and functional.
Two smaller pieces of hardware we saw at PhotoPlus and liked were
Expoimaging's Flashbenders lighting modifiers and the new Black Widow
camera holster from Spider Holster. Flashbenders are small strap-on
reflectors with coiled steel inserted in them, letting them be shaped in
a variety of ways for different strobe lighting effects.
Though they were released last summer, PhotoPlus was the first time we
got to play with Flashbenders and found the bendable tactile design to
be versatile and highly addictive. (We weren't the only ones at
PhotoPlus who couldn't keep our hands off them.) They fit on any
standard shoe-mount flash using an integrated belt. Pricing, depending
on size, ranges from $30-40.
We've written about Spider Holster's SpiderPro tool belt style system
for keeping your DSLR attached to your hip for quick shooting before.
Now there's a lightweight version called the Black Widow designed for
entry-level DSLRs and smaller cameras. Instead of the elaborate belt
system used in the SpriderPro, the Black Widow ($55) is a thin accessory
plate that attaches to your regular belt.
Just screw in a Spider Pin to the tripod mount on the bottom of your
camera, lock the camera into the Black Widow plate and you're good to
go. If you don't normally wear a belt -- ladies? -- you can buy a
lightweight Black Widow belt for $15.
There was software galore at PhotoPlus Expo including many varieties of
HDR (High Dynamic Range) Software. If you haven't followed the
controversy over HDR, check out our story from a recent issue of by
The three most interesting pieces of HDR software we saw at Photoplus
were Nik's HDR Efex Pro which has seen some recent speed improvements to
the program; a new DXO HDR Plug-in for DXO's Optics Pro V6.5 imaging
program; and Unified Color's HDR Express, a stripped down but still
powerful version of its HDR Expose program.
One thing that can be said for all three of these programs: though the
tools are there to create ramped-up, surreal HDR images -- such as those
that have sparked the HDR controversy amongst professional
photographers -- there are also ample features and tutorials for
creating beautiful, evenly balanced HDR exposures, either using several
images or just one shot. The choice is yours. Choose wisely.