(Rangefinder magazine’s Technical Editor John Rettie just spent a few days roaming the floor of the trade show at the 2012 WPPI Convention, which opened on Sunday and continues through Thursday at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Here’s his report on some of the interesting photo gear on display at the show.)
The annual Wedding and Portrait Photographers International (WPPI) Convention and Trade Show in Las Vegas continues to grow in size and importance. For many photographers, it has become the “must attend” event for wedding and portrait shooters from all over the world.
Although there were no major new camera announcements at WPPI these last few days, it was the first opportunity for photographers outside of Japan to get their hands on the much talked about 36.3-megapixel, full frame Nikon D800 pro digital SLR.
Not surprisingly, given that Nikon is aiming this camera at wedding and portrait photographers as much as anyone, Nikon’s booth was inundated with Nikon users immediately after the doors opened to visitors.
Canon, Nikon and Sony all had well known photographers such as Jerry Ghionis, Cliff Mautner and Brian Smith at their booths, pulling in the crowds as they presented their photo techniques.
Lighting It Up
While the major camera manufacturers might steal the limelight at these shows, it’s often the small companies with new gizmos that attract as much interest and there was no shortage of new accessories and services being shown for the first time. These are some of the ones that caught my eye.
Lighting is naturally an important element in portrait photography and it was amazing how much new portable lighting gear was being shown at WPPI. Thanks to LED, it’s becoming increasingly easy to develop lightweight portable lighting units that can deliver sufficient light, of the right quality, for lighting weddings and portraits.
Last year Jerry Ghionis, one of the most popular speakers at WPPI, demonstrated a portable light that he had been using. Upon reflection, it was obvious he was teasing, as this year he’s turned it into a product that’s now on sale. Ghionis had models walking around the show carrying these handled Icelights, which look more like a lightsaber from Star Wars, so photographers could snap pictures on the move. (www.theicelight.com)
Lowel demonstrated a prototype of an upcoming product the GL-1, which looks more like a large electric drill. The gunlight, as it is also called, is used for painting light over a small area and the light pattern can be changed in size. Full details will soon become available on a special website: www.thegunlight.com.
Rotolight has been available in Britain for some time but is only now becoming available in the US through RTS Inc. It has an array of LED lights in a circle that can be placed on camera and even placed around a hot shoe mounted mic. It includes a set of gels for changing the color and white balance. (www.RTSphoto.com)
Get a Grip
Ever wanted to put an iPhone on top of your camera so you can shoot video at the same time or perhaps take some still images for immediate transmission to Facebook or a client. Now, rather than having to hold the iPhone, you can just use the simple DaisyGrip, which attaches to the hot shoe on a DSLR and can hold up to one pound in weight. For child photographers it could be used to hold a stuffed animal to help get the child in the right mood. (www.daisygrip.com)
If you hate photographing a red carpet at an event, here’s a unit that can take the photographer out of the picture, so to speak. The Outdoor Photo Booth is a self contained unit that assembles in minutes. It includes a Canon DSLR, a flash unit, touch screen monitor and printer. A person or group that wants to be photographed can pose using the monitor to preview their image. They press a button and the picture is snapped in three seconds. (www.openairphotobooth.com)
Visitors to Launch Pad, held on the afternoon before the trade show opened, had the opportunity to get a sneak preview at several products from individual entrepreneurs who were not quite ready to spring for the cost of a booth. These included CameraMator, a company that’s almost ready to introduce another new app for remotely controlling a DSLR on a laptop, iPad or iPhone. In the demonstration, captured images were displayed very rapidly on an iPad. It will also be possible for someone to view images remotely through an Internet connection. (www.cameramator.com)
Photo Clothing, Video Albums, Online Portfolios and More
If men need pockets in their pants when shooting they have cargo pants or vests they can wear. One can imagine most female photographers would not be seen dead in this sort of wear, especially when photographing a wedding. Now Julie Watts has come to the fair sex’s rescue with photopantz.
It’s difficulty to tell from the photograph but these smart looking pants have plenty of pockets and pouches for holding stuff, such as a cell phone, cards, and even jelly beans, as Watts suggested as she modeled the pants to a receptive audience of photographers. In an enterprising setup she even had a changing tent on her booth at Launch Pad, so women photographers could try them on for size and buy on the spot. (www.photopantz.com)
Wedding albums and services provided by photo labs are obviously an extremely important part of any show for anyone attending WPPI. Among the many traditional albums of all shapes and designs we found a new one. The Video Book Company, as its name suggests produces one that includes a video screen. They take a regular album and carefully cut out sections of the pages and insert an Android tablet with small speakers in the pages.
The album can then be placed on a special stand that incorporates a wireless charging device to power the album. Considering the amount of money brides spend on wedding photography the added cost of burying an Android tablet in a high end album is probably not as extravagant as it sounds at first blush. (www.thevideobookcompany.com)
As you’d expect, there were numerous companies promoting services to build website and online portfolios. However, one company in particular made a big splash with a unique large square box. Squarespace has been in business for over eight years as an alternative content management system to WordPress. It is about to launch an entirely revamped version that it has designed with photographers in mind.
Visitors who stepped inside the cube were able to see how easy it is to create portfolio websites that only require one hi-res image to be uploaded. Squarespace then automatically resizes and redraws screens to match whatever size screen is being used. One can set a focal point on an image and that will always stays in the same place even when viewed on an iPhone or on a 27-inch monitor. Squarespace does not use Flash, so websites are correctly displayed on any platform. (www.squarespace.com)
Until now SmugMug Pro has used Bay Photo and ezprints as its affiliated photo labs. At the show SmugMugPro announced it’s added WHCC, one of the most popular full-service labs with wedding photographers to its list of partners.
Speaking of WHCC, it made news at the show as Canon announced it will be the first customer to purchase a Canon DreamLabo 5000 Printer, which was easily the largest and most expensive piece of equipment on display at WPPI.
The DreamLabo 5000 features automatic double-sided printing, which is especially convenient when printing photo albums and on-demand two-sided documents. It requires only 72 seconds to print a 20-page A4 size photo album. Canon says the DreamLabo 5000 production inkjet printer will offer the retail photo printing and high-end print-on-demand (POD) markets optimal performance and productivity.
This year’s WPPI Trade Show appears to be a hit, with individual photographers spending anywhere from a few dollars on props to those splashing out on new cameras to a major lab spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a major printing press.