With over 320 exhibitors, the 31st annual Wedding & Portrait Photographers International (WPPI) convention this week offered plenty of new imaging products and services on display at the Las Vegas trade show. Of course many products had already been announced prior to the show but this was the first opportunity for photographers to actually see and touch the new gear including Canon’s latest wide-format imagePROGRAF printers and FujiFilm’s FinePix X100 digital model, which continues to create a buzz among those looking for a more “traditional” style compact camera.
At the other end of the spectrum, Sony showed off a see-through, non-working prototype of the upcoming mirrorless replacement for the A700. It will appear on the market this summer and will likely be of more interest to pro photographers than the A55 which, according to Sony officials, is selling well.
Video & Other New Services
Wedding videographers have to be perturbed by the increased interest in shooting HD video among still photographers. Several companies, such as iDC Photo Video, were displaying setups with rigs for turning DSLR cameras into full bore cinema style cameras.
Ruige is a newcomer to the US market and it displayed an external monitor that can also convert video on the fly. It matches up well with the line of HD-DSLR accessories sold by Cinevate.
Aside from new cameras and lenses, wedding photographers are having to become more and more savvy at marketing products other than just prints to their clients. However, the effort involved in creating products, such as mugs and mouse mats, is often not worth the added income. Consumers, however, are asking for these trinkets and a growing number of photographers are giving clients a copy of all the photographs so their customers can create their own products.
A new service launched at WPPI offers a solution to this dilemma that can help a photographer generate residual income after the initial sale without any effort. PinholePro.com offers numerous different printed products including calendars, cards, notepaper, etc. A photographer gives a link to the website with a unique code that unlocks professional products of higher quality so a customer can design and upload their own images. They pay for the products and have orders shipped directly to themselves. Pinhole then issues a 10 percent royalty payment to the photographer for orders that used their code.
Lighting & Lens Accessories
Lighting equipment manufacturers always have a large presence at WPPI, along with album and book producers of course. This year Photogenic unveiled its first new flash unit in a number of years. It is a 250 watt-second model in the PowerLight range. Westcott showed off its Spiderlite TD6 continuous lighting unit that has six 50-watt daylight fluorescent lights that put out the equivalent of 1200 watts.
Quantum unveiled its Qflash Trio Basic — a version of the tough on-camera flash that does not cost a lot more than dedicated flashguns from camera manufacturers. Graslon is a new company that showed off yet another diffuser unit for on-camera flashguns. There are two sizes available of the unit that contains an internal reflection system that disperses the light before it is further diffused by the plastic dome cover.
It’s always fun to seek out new products from small companies at trade shows. It’s where new companies, often started by a single person, seek to show off their products without the benefit of a large ad campaign. Two such companies were found at the International Supplies booth.
LensSkins was attracting a surprising amount of looks with its variety of printed skins that are placed on a lens to draw attention. Women photographers, who incidentally seemed to make up the majority of attendees at WPPI, seemed particularly drawn to the designs, seeing them as a way to stand out in a crowd and be remembered for having unique looking lenses. It is also possible to upload a logo or your own artwork to lensskins.com and have personalized skins created.
DeluxGear has developed a couple of innovative accessories and its latest addition is PinPoint, a small box that mounts under a camera or lens and projects a green laser beam to assist autofocussing in low light or low contrast situations. One pushes a button to project the laser beam just long enough for the camera to focus, so it is not on continuously. The inventor says the laser has such low power that it is not harmful.
Film Is Not Dead?
Film is not entirely dead, as Kodak unveiled its latest Portra 160 film. Company officials said anecdotal evidence continues to show more and more younger photographers experimenting with film for the first time, and some are even finding it a way to differentiate themselves from mainstream photographers. While nobody is suggesting film will make a comeback it certainly appears there will always be a niche market for film.
There were plenty of photo labs promoting their services but one in particular caught the eye of visitors. Yes, Costco had a large display showing off prints that can be processed at Costco 1-Hour Photo labs. It is the first time Costco has ever had a display at a photographic trade show. Although they might not like to admit it many pro photographers have been attracted to the print products offered by the giant company for a number of years.
WPPI’s organizers are reporting that close to 16,000 professional photographers registered for the week-long conference and accompanying trade show. The record number of attendees reflected the continued growth in the market for wedding and portrait photographers, not only in the U.S. but elsewhere. A large number of photographers from 44 countries made the trek to Sin City to learn more about their craft and found much to interest them as they compete for bride’s dollars.