(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 laptop.
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 6×8-inches, at 14.5 seconds per print. (4×6-inch prints take approximately 8.4 seconds while 5×7-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 clicking here.
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.