5 Cool Things We Spotted at PhotoPlus Expo Test Drive

October 20, 2016

PhotoPlus Expo is in full swing and show attendees and journalists had a chance to eyeball some new tech at Test Drive, an intimate table top preview of new and forthcoming products. Here’s a few that caught our eye.



WhiteWall Ultra HD Prints
The print provider WhiteWall has a new photographic print process that it claims delivers “twice the resolution of conventionally developed pictures” with photos that “appear significantly more realistic” than your standard print. The prints are produced using solid state laser exposure alongside a new media handling procedure and a proprietary software development process.

According to WhiteWall, the photo papers used in ultraHD prints are climatized in a special room with constant humidity and stable temperature to minimize laser beam dispersal. In order to prepare the images and make the most of the exposure technique, WhiteWall uses proprietary software to optimize the color intensity and sharpness of image files.  UltraHD prints are available in any size or picture format you like, from circular to portraits in sizes up to 97.6 x 48 inches. They can be mounted to acrylic as well.

As you’d expect, you’ll pay a premium to have your work produced using the ultraHD process. For instance, a 12 x 8 Lambda Print on Fuji Crystal DP II paper would set you back $10.9. An ultraHD print at the same size would cost $13.95.



Sound Shark

Football fans have likely seen Sound Shark Audio’s huge parabolic audio collectors on the sidelines of NFL games. The company has slimmed those huge discs down to something that can easily fit on the hotshoe of a camera. The parabolic unit helps collect directional audio at greater distances than on-camera mics alone, providing about a 6x boost.  You can purchase the Sound Shark without a mic (you bring your own) for $285 or with a mic for $360.


GDU Premiere Drone

Shipping in November, the GDU Premiere drone features foldable props so the drone easily packs down into a backpack (fun fact: GDU beat both GoPro and DJI to the concept of the foldable drone with earlier iterations of its product). What’s also fairly novel about the drone is its interchangeable gimbal system. While the Premiere ships with a small 4K camera onboard, it’s actually built to carry payloads of up to 5 pounds. Forthcoming gimbals for cameras like Sony’s a7 will let you swap out cameras on this drone just as you would swap lenses on a camera.

Heavier payloads will reduce battery life however. With the 4K camera on board, the GDU Premiere gets about 32 minutes in the air–with a Sony a7 camera and lens in tow, flight times drop to 5-7 minutes. The Premiere will retail for $999.



BenQ SW320 HDR Monitor

While the creative public migrates to 4K displays, there’s an equally important shift toward High Dynamic Range. BenQ showed off its new SW320 display, an HDR monitor capable of displaying 99 percent of the Adobe RGB color space. Ideal for visual creatives, the 32-inch 4K monitor will retail for about $1,200 when it ships in November. It has a wired remote control that lets you easily change viewing modes or input sources. It offers HDMI 2.0 inputs to handle HDR sources. We had a chance to view a before/after demo with HDR on and off and the results are striking (our modest iPhone snapshot doesn’t do it justice).


Vuze VR Camera
The Vuze was announced at CES early this year but still isn’t ready to ship–it will likely arrive by year’s end and ship in quantity early next year. The camera uses eight HD cameras to create three dimensional footage (360 x 180). Using desktop software, the eight independent video feeds are rendered and stitched automatically creating a single spherical video that can be viewed in VR viewers. It delivers high-quality resolution, 4K per eye, so the footage takes a while to render. On a computer with a robust GPU, it should render in real time with one minute of footage stitching in one minute’s time.

What Else We Learned….

Zeiss is readying a new ExoLens for the iPhone 7, which should ship next month. It will feature a slightly slimmer case. A version for the iPhone 7 Plus is taking a bit longer to develop as the company seeks to work with that model’s dual lens design.