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The Litra Torch

28th March 2018

Tiny LED Lighting


As I was walking through the WPPI Expo, the display to the right caught my attention. And so I stopped to talk to the rep. Here is a small aquarium filled with water. At the bottom are two small cube devices. Both of them were brightly shining to demonstrate that they are waterproof.

The small device is the Litra Torch – a cube about 1-1/2″ in size and weighing a mere 3 ounces. It provides up to 800 Lumens of continuous daylight balanced light but is also adjustable to 450 and 100 Lumens. With it’s 80 degree coverage, it’s usable with most wide angle lenses. The Torch also has a strobe mode – useful for special effects while shooting video.

There are a variety of options for mounting the Litra. The body has two standard 1/4-20 tripod sockets. Its back is magnetic for attaching to a metallic surface.

For close up work, you can attached the diffuser (see below). It includes a mount when used with a GoPro. Rep Andrew Siminoff showed me a GoPro mounted with a pair of Torches that was set up for video recording (see below right).

The Torch is powered by a rechargeable lithium ion battery that provides about 30 minutes of light at the high 800 Lumens setting.

Litra also has a set of accessories for the Torch including bicycle mounts, head mounts, several handheld mounts, miniature tripod and filters.



 

The Torch is an accessory that you can literally carry around in your pocket to provide a convenient light source. Suggested price is $80 and includes the diffuser, belt clip, GoPro mount, USB charging cable.

For more information please visit Litra.

 

 

Written by: Arnie Lee

 

 


 

 

Keeps your camera close at hand


At this year’s Wedding and Portrait Photography International expo, I spent a considerable amount of time talking to many of the 200+ vendors of cameras, equipment, accessories and services. Spider Holster was one of these vendors that caught my attention.

The Spider Holster set of accessories provides a way to carry one or more cameras conveniently at your waist. The system uses a pin (ball-joint) mounted on a plate that attaches to your camera body. The ball-joint pin securely slides into a slot on a waist-mounted holster. The camera literally “hangs” at your waist leaving your hands free until you are ready to shoot again.



The camera hangs at the shooter’s waist with the lens facing backwards. If the shooter kneels, the lens will remain facing backwards and out of the way.

The pin bracket screws into the camera’s tripod socket. Notice that there are two positions to mount the pin. One position is for a left-hand holster and the other position for a right-hand holster.


The holster attaches to a waist belt. The ball-joint slides into to holster and has a safety latch to prevent the camera from inadvertently detaching.

Representative Ashley Cavanaugh is sporting a single holster. You can also attach a second holster to the waist belt enabling you to swap between two cameras.

To the right is a variety of brackets and plates. One of the plates lets you mount the camera directly on tripods that require an Arca-Swiss mount..

The SpiderPro single camera system includes the holster, the camera plate, the pin and single cam belt. The suggested price of the single camera system is $135.

The dual camera system includes two holsters, plates and pins and a dual cam belt. The suggested price of the dual camera system is $235.

For more information, please visit Spider Holster.


 

 
Written by: Arnie Lee

 

 


 

 

WPPI 2016

28th March 2016

The Wedding & Portrait Photography International Conference and Expo

Can you guess who the target audience is for this convention?

For those professionals who want to enhance their skills – posing, lighting, equipment, marketing – the WPPI is a week-long “university” taught by experts. This year’s WPPI took place March 3rd through March 10th at the MGM Conference Center in Las Vegas. WPPI organized more than 250 classes and seminars for 13,000 anxious attendees. These classes were taught by 175 instructors including notables such as Joe McNally, Tamara Lackey, Lindsay Adler, Roberto Valenzuela, Bambi Cantrell, Hanson Fong, Kevin Kabota, Jerry Ghionis and Gary Fong to name a few.

In addition to the conference, the expo highlighted 270 exhibitors showed the newest cameras, lenses, equipment, lighting, accessories, supplies, marketing material and services. All of the major camera manufacturers will set up booths to demonstrate their latest equipment.

Following is a look at those items that caught my attention at the this year’s WPPI a couple of weeks ago.


Presentations and Seminars

There were many opportunities for everyone to learn new posing and lighting techniques right on the expo floor. All of the camera makers and many vendors were holding demonstrations conducted by well-known photographer/educators.






DXO One

This small unit is a camera that works in conjunction with an iPhone. With a large 20mp 1″ sensor and f/1.8 lens you attach it to your iPhone to control settings. It also works “off-phone” if you want a small, lightweight camera. Though small, it can capture RAW images too. I found it very straight-forward to use and the images were quite good considering the convention hall lighting.

Suggested price is $499. For more information please visit DXO



MagMod

MagMod makes a set of accessories to improve the quality of light from your flash unit. These include a snoot to narrow the light to a beam, a sphere to diffuse and soften the light and a bounce that reflects the light output and avoid harsh shadows, gel which add various colors to the light and grid to focus the light.

What is unique about these accessories is that become part of your flash unit using a magnet for instant attachment. Price for the complete set is $235.

For more information please visit MagMod



RL Handscrafts

I received two demos at this booth. One was for their Derringer above left for carrying from 1 to 3 cameras. You wear the strap on both shoulders with wide padded straps that relieve pressure points and back. The straps are adjustable for easy access to any of the cameras. Price is $485.

For carrying two cameras, the Clydesdale above right can help you more easily carry your equipment. The strap attaches solidly to the camera’s tripod socket. RL makes several styles differing in weight, padding, air holes for easier breathing, color. Prices start at $205 to $425 for the deluxe version.
For more information please visit RL Handcrafts



Sony G Master Lenses

Sony is the undisputed leader of mirrorless cameras. They have been rapidly adding lenses to support their highly acclaimed full-frame models: A7R II and A7S II cameras.

Three of Sony’s new lenses made it to WPPI for demoing. These are the 85mm f/1.4 GM, 70-200mm f/2.8 OSS and 24-70mm f/2.8 GM. Prices are $1800, $2900 and $2200 respectively. For the 70-200mm lens, Sony is also releasing 1.4X and 2.0X teleconverters. Sony claims a higher resolution of the G series lenses compared to others and superior auto focus performance.

For more information please visit Sony



Spider Holster

Spider makes a holster with a unique locking-clamping device for conveniently carrying your camera at your waist. The holster is adjustable and is worn like a belt to either side. The clamping device is solid and easily slides into the holster for hands-free carriage. Price for the Spider Pro holster is $135.

The company also has a variety of heavy duty hand straps that come in a variety of colors. All are made of durable material, attach to the camera with a tripod plate and include a removable wrist strap. Price for the black model is $65 and $75 for other colors.

For more information please visit Spider.


Written by: Arnie Lee
 
 


 
 

Saved Again

16th October 2015

Why I use filters instead of lens caps

Note: This is a followup to an article written more than a year ago.

It happened just a few days ago. As I was getting out of my car, one of my cameras slipped from my grip and dropped onto the cement floor. I picked it up believing that it would require a trip to the repair shop.

On further examination I could see that the lens filter was shattered. I turned the camera’s power on and to my delight the viewfinder lit up brightly. Next I pressed the shutter half-way and was even happily surprised to see that the autofocusing was also working.

I felt lucky AGAIN for this isn’t the first time that a filter gave up its life to save an expensive piece of glass.

In my photography early days, I was a faithful user of lens caps. Whenever I wasn’t shooting, I would snap the lens cap onto the lens. I considered this a safe way to care for my equipment. Of course, most of us also enclosed the entire camera inside its companion leather case. Yes, we were very protective of our precious equipment. And yes again, I spent a lot of time looking for misplaced or buying replacement lens caps.

When I acquired my first SLR at age 14, I quickly fell out of the habit of using lens caps. I may have inherited this trait from my photography mentor for whom I worked while still a student. John explained that removing a lens cap required too much time when you are trying to capture the action.

Instead, I began to using a filter on the lens to protect the front glass element. The filter prevents dust and dirt from accumulating on the lens surface. And the filter is easier and safer to clean. To this day I use either a high quality UV or Skylight filter for most of my shooting.

Now that digital cameras have replaced film cameras I also notice that leather cases have all but gone out of style. I see very few them of them these days. But I do notice that many photographers still use lens caps to protect the glass in front.

I’m not here to make a political case for or against lens caps, only to suggest that filters offer more than dust protection for your lens. In addition, they can protect the front lens element from nasty scratches.

Here’s my latest proof. I was carrying this camera into the house when it slipped out of my hand and onto the floor. As you can see the filter is shattered.

Of course my heart missed a few beats as I watch the camera as it hits the floor. However, after removing the filter I can see that the front lens surface remains untouched.

In spite of the fall, the camera is working perfectly. Apparently the lens barrel took the brunt of the fall so I’ll have to repair the lens’ electronics.. But the glass is still pristine.

Again this isn’t the first time that I’ve had a mishap such as this. Actually, this is the third forth time that a filter has saved the front glass element of one of my lenses. This alone tells me that I should keep on buying filters for each of my lenses.

 

 
Written by: Arnie Lee

 

 


 

 

 

 

Joby Wrist Strap

27th March 2014

Another “Handy” Accessory

Earlier this month I stopped by the Joby’s booth at the Wedding & Portrait Photographer’s International Expo. There I picked up one of their DSLR Wrist Straps.

While this is not a particularly sexy accessory, I’ve found it to be quite practical. Instead of a conventional shoulder strap which I have to slide off my shoulder in order to use the camera, the wrist strap lets me hold the camera conveniently and safely. It’s especially useful when I’m shooting from a single location and am not transporting the camera distances. The camera is there in my hand ready to shoot immediately.


The strap attaches to one of the camera strap lugs. The adjustable “loop” slides snugly across your wrist giving you a safe grip.

This inexpensive DSLR Wrist Strap is made of heavy-duty webbed material and costs about $15. For more information please visit Joby’s online website.
 
 
Reviewed by Arnie Lee
 
 


PhotoPlus Expo – ZipShot

12th November 2013

Tamrac’s very compact tripod

For photographers who like to travel light, Tamrac has introduced the ZipShot.

 

This is a very small and lightweight tripod.

Weighing less than a pound and only 15″ long when folded, it’s easy to carry.

Alana, the rep for Tamrac is showing me how the compact ZipShot easily unfolds for setup.

If you’ve set up a camping tent that uses fiberglass shock-cords, then you’ll understand how the ZipShot works.

It has aluminum legs that stand 44″ above the ground and has a heavy duty ball head.

Alana told me that the ZipShot can be used with equipment weighing up to 3 pounds so it won’t be useful for long, heavy telephoto lenses.

She also showed me the Quick-Release accessory kit for the ZipShot.

Place the base to the ZipShot’s ball head and you can quickly attach/detach your camera to the tripod.

Price of the ZipShot (TR406) is about $59. The Quick-Release kit (A120) sells for $20.

 

 
For more information about Tamrac’s ultra-light tripod see ZipShot

 

 
Written by: Arnie Lee

 

 


 

 

Add Soft Lighting to your off-camera flash

The modern day external flash unit is a vital accessory for indoor portraits, still life, food shots and more.

Light that originates from a small source such as an external flash unit is harsher than light that originates from a larger source. To “soften” the lighting especially for portraits, photographers often use “modifiers” to alter the lighting to something more pleasing. Most of the modifiers work by spreading the light out over a larger area.

LumiQuest has been a well-known maker of modifiers for many years. Among their bestsellers is the Softbox III. When I was attending the WPPI Expo, Heidi one of LumiQuest’s principals gave me a quick demonstration of this lightweight device. I was so impressed that I ordered one when I returned home.

The concentrated light from the flash bounces inside the reflector of the Softbox III and passes through the translucent material covering its face. Instead of harsh light originating from the small flash head, a softer light originates from a much larger reflector.

Follow along as I show you how I’ve used the Softbox III to improve the lighting on some of my recent portraits.

When it’s disassembled, the Softbox III folds flat to a 8″ x 9″ size, making it convenient to take anywhere.

As folded, it easily fits in the outer pocket of my camera bag so is always available when I’m carrying my external flash.

(more…)

Wedding & Portrait Photographers International Convention – Part 3

Last Wednesday was the last day of the WPPI Trade Show and I again walked the aisles to take it all in.

Most of the attendees are at WPPI to learn techniques that they can harness for their wedding and portrait photography businesses. To promote their products, companies provide floor demonstrations that show ways that their products are used.


For example over at Canon‘s booth, noted photographer Clay Blackmore was demonstrating how he uses Canon’s portable strobes for making portraits.

Here he is shooting in this on-floor studio. His setup uses a softbox strobe and background strobe triggered by his on-camera flash and a pair of reflectors.

His demo attracted many attendees who were interested in seeing the results of using simple equipment and techniques. His camera was equipped with a wireless transmitter which immediately sent the images which were displayed for the audience.


One of the largest group exhibitors were the photofinishers. The competition was less based on price and more based on selection and customer service.

As you can see by the exhibits, there is a tremendous selection of size, finishes, variations and mountings. Albums, postcards, posters, t-shirts, more….


Pictage

Bayphoto

WHCC

Color Inc

Shootsac makes camera accessory bags that don’t look like camera accessory bags. Designed with the female photographer in mind, they’re both practical and fashionable.

For more information contact Shootsac.


Triple Scoop Music is in the business of licensing music. They have a large library of more than 7000 songs.

Photographers that want to use music for slideshows and/or videos can license any of these songs which can then be used royalty-free.

Having licensed music in the past, I am convinced that having a single point of contact makes for a hassle-free way to add music to your productions.

For more information contact Triple Scoop Music.


Having heard about Fuji‘s 3D camera, I stopped by their booth for a demo.

The Fuji W3 camera is an advanced point-and-shoot with two lenses. When you snap a photo, the two images are combined to form a single “.mpo” file which you can immediately view on the specially designed 3-1/2″ LCD without using glasses.

Plug your camera into a 3D television, pop on a set of glasses and you’ll see amazing 3D effect of this camera. Below is an example. When viewed, I was able to see the 3D effect of my outstretched hand. This stuff is cool.

For more information see Fuji


As a frequent trade show goer, I’m sometimes blasé about walking up and down aisles. But this week, I could sense real excitement from both exhibitors and attendees. I too came away excited about the WPPI show.

This trade show is mainly about small businesses – photographers seeking the know-how to profit from their skills. They want to stay ready for the opportunities that arise as the economy recovers. I’m heartened to share the energy.

As an aside, I am a frequent visitor to the Las Vegas trade shows – 2 to 4 a year for the past 30 years. From my un-scientific measure, it’s been 4 years since I’ve seen Las Vegas as busy as this week. With concurrent conventions taking place the hotels, casinos and restaurants were filled. I’m hoping that this is a sign that things are looking up for economic growth all over.

 

Written by Arnie Lee

 


Wedding & Portrait Photographers International Convention – Part 2

Here’s a follow up to yesterday’s report from the WPPI Convention. Below are several more of the exhibitors with whom I stopped to talk about their products.


The Spider Pro Camera Holster is a safe, hands-free way to carry your camera. A study bracket mounts to the bottom of your camera and securely clips to a wide, padded belt. The unit can be locked to prevent the camera from accidentally falling. The price is about $135.

A second lightweight model is designed for smaller point-and-shoot cameras.

For more information, contact Spiderholster


HiTi was showing their P110S portable, “on-the-go” printer.

This rechargeable battery-powered unit weighs less than five pounds and is typically carried in a shoulder bag and tethered to your camera. It prints 4″ x 6″ thermal prints in about a minute.

The P110S is useful for fast, portable printing, for example event photographers who want to deliver “instant” prints.

The price of the P110S is less than $400. For more information contact HiTi


Recently, I reviewed the Eye-Fi Wireless SD-card here. The Eye-Fi transfers your images from the SD card (while it is still in your camera) directly to your PC or Mac computer via your wi-fi network.

At WPPI, I ran into Ziv Gillat, one of the co-founders of the company. Ziv showed me this adapter into which you can insert an Eye-Fi card to add the wireless capability to DSLR cameras which use CF-cards. It’s compatible with later model DSLRs which support the UDMA protocol. He tells me that the CF adapter is available for about $20.

Ziv was also excited to tell me of an upcoming firmware upgrade for all Eye-Fi users in a few weeks. This upgrade lets you configure your Eye-Fi card to automatically upload your images to a server of your choice via a iPhone or Android phone. This is especially useful for making a backup of your images.

For more information, contact Eye-Fi


I’m back tomorrow after I attend the last day of WPPI exhibits.

 

Written by Arnie Lee

 

Wedding & Portrait Photographers International Convention – Part 1

February 21, 2011

The WPPI holds its annual convention here in Las Vegas. My original plan was to fly here from Grand Rapids on Sunday. But the weather man kept telling me that Sunday was going to be a no-no because of the umteenth snow storm that was closing in on the midwest. So I rescheduled my flight and arrived here late Saturday and beat the foot of snow that closed highways, schools and activities.

The convention started on February 17 and runs through February 24th. There are two parts to the convention.

  • the first part are dozens of seminars led by some of the best names in the wedding and portrait photography business. Many of these professionals are versed in the creative styling, equipment selection, lighting techniques, printing selection and workflow while others are experts in the selling, advertising, promotion and business end too. I counted more than 100 different seminars with diverse titles as: “The Art of Light and Motion”, “Lightroom – step by step workflow for beginners”, “Winning Marketing Strategies”, “High Fashion Meets Wedding”, “The Power of Video Marketing” and “Your Wedding Business from Scratch to Success”.
  • The second part of the convention is the trade show with more than 300 exhibitors including the major camera, lighting and photo printer services.

The WPPI management was predicting 13,000 attendees – an impressive number mostly owing to a very full and robust set of seminars. The high attendance suggests that these individuals understand the importance of investing in their profession.

Today I spent some time at the trade show. Here’s a few of the exhibitors with whom I stopped to talk about their products.

Here’s a look at some of the attendees crowding around one of the camera manufacturers booth. The major camera makers were there: Canon, Fuji, Leica, Nikon, Panasonic, Sigma and Sony.

There were also dozens of lighting manufacturers, makers of camera bags and backpacks, tripods, backdrops, wireless flash syncs and printers.

In full force were photo printing services. With so many wedding and portrait photographers attending, they were keen to show them the huge range of photo services offered.

Most of the recent cameras can now capture video. Switronix showed me this portable LED that provides lthe equivalent of 50 watts of daylight balanced lighting. This is the TL-50 and includes rechargeable NiMH batteries which can power the LED for an amazing 3 hours.

Dave was handholding the TL-50, but the unit is lightweight and conveniently mounts on the flash shoe.

Price is about $250. For more information, contact Switronix.

For portable flash units, LumiQuest makes several models of diffusers and bounce devices. Here Heidi is showing me the company’s most popular model, the Softbox III. To use it, you unfold the 8″ x 9″ flat package to this shape and attached it to the flash with velcro straps.

I found that the unit was very study and can be used on-camera or off-camera.

Price is about $45. For more information, contact LumiQuest.

At the Hoodman booth, I had a demo of their Cinema Kit Pro. Designed especially for the videographers, the mounting bracket sits on the flash shoe and swings up and down to provide a magnified view of the LCD without any reflection or interference from sun or room light.

If you have trouble seeing the LCD as you capture videos, this device makes it easy to monitor the detail.

Price is about $180. For more information, contact Hoodman.

Epson had many of their professional line of printers on display.

I had my eye on the new Epson 4900. The printer was spewing out gorgeous samples of 17″ wide photos and uses ten color cartridges.

Designed especially for high quality, professional applications, the printer includes an in-line X-Rite SpectroProofer for exacting color management.

Price for the 4990 is about is about $2500. For more information, contact Epson.

I’ll have more news from the show shortly.

Written by Arnie Lee