The PhotoPlus Expo in New York City provides the opportunity to see what manufacturers are premiering just before the holiday season. Don’t worry, we’ll be putting together the consummate 2015 Holiday Buyers Guide for all your video and still image shopping needs, but here’s some highlights from the well-organized show. We’ll be continually updating this page, so stop back often to catch up on the latest developments.
Like many manufacturers in the next phase of their growth, Peak Design is looking to expand beyond their excellent Capture Pro camera mounting system (see our Peak Design Capture Pro review… —Ed.). Earlier this year, they did come out with the Slide, a camera sling strap, which lost some market momentum when the release date kept getting pushed. However, at PhotoPlus this year, Art Viger was on-hand to show off some new Peak products that he and his team recently designed.
Their new Everyday Messenger Bag and Field Pouch ventured the California company into the dense waters of camera carrying bags. The messenger bag has got a cool latching system, an innovative padded-divider system, and an outer material that seems to be trending (see Incase below), but at the $250 price point, there’s a lot of other options vying for your cash in this crowded arena. Another new product, the Shell, is a water-resistant camera cover meant to shield your rig from the elements while it’s dangling from the Capture Pro. It has some nice design touches, including a lens shade and cinching system, and is a nice extension of their core competency.
» 4-way stretch fabric is seam-taped to resist rain, snow, dust and abrasion
» Access viewfinder and controls without removing
» Completely cinches closed for safe camera stowage
» Packs down small into its built in storage pocket
» Lifetime guarantee
Peak Design’s Everyday Messenger Bag retails for $249.95; the Field Pouch fanny pack costs $39.95 and the Shell will set you back $44.95. They are available now for pre-order.
Italian company HPRC was on hand to present two distinctly different lines. The HPRC hard case lineup, as well as the high-end Barbershop softbags and camera carry straps. HPRC had two interesting hard cases that caught our attention, a 3500 backpack model, which can either be foam filled, or has a padded interior bag, and a wheeled square case, the 2700W.
Barbershop bags has a variety of canvas and leather shoulder bags available, as well as some dual camera carrying straps that should appeal to fashion-conscious sports photographers.
» HPRC Approvals
— STANAG 4280
— DS 18-41
» Tested for watertight integrity, drops, UV Color Protection
» Comes in Black, Orange, Ferrari Red Colors (2700W)
» Variety of interior options
HPRC’s 3500 and 2700W street for about $100 and $200 respectively.
Lisa Janssen was on hand from GoalZero, a mobile power management company with a bevy of dynamic offerings to keep your production powered in the wild. GoalZero had one of the best product catalogs at the show, which combined subtle branding, quality paper, storytelling and compelling product imagery, if you didn’t happen to score one of them at the show you can direct your browser to their website, which demonstrates how adroitly their positioning themselves in the market.
GoalZero has several Solar Recharging Kits, which consist of a folding solar panel and a battery pack. Considering the performance of other companies we’ve tested, we’re a little suspect of the claims these products tout as far as charging times and their ability to charge products in the field. Thus, we can’t make a recommendation on any of the GoalZero products without it going through our rigorous field testing. That said, the company does has several offerings from the $119.95 Guide 10 Plus all the way up to the $1999.95 Yeti 1250. And if you need more solar juice, the panels can be chained together.
GoalZero also showcased several utility lighting products, which would be welcomed on any remote location at night. The Lighthouse 250 and the new Lighthouse Mini are two USB-rechargeable LED lanterns, which also have the capability to charge cell phones and action cameras. Innovative fold down legs, built-in hooks and magnets offer several hanging or positioning options. The 250 features a hand crank in addition to USB and solar charging capabilities.
» All-In-One Solar Panel/Power Pack Kits
» Variety of Price Points
» Innovative Lighting Products
GoalZero has several Solar Recharging Kits and Utility Lighting options available.
Concepter’s Chief Operation Officer, Oleg Malenkov, was on-hand to showcase version 2.0 of their micro iblazr camera phone flash and light. The new iblazr 2 is a native, camera-synced LED flash compatible with both iOS and Android smartphones and tablets. It comes with a specialized camera app, called Shotlight, which directly communicates with the outboard light to provide Bluetooth synchronized flash. A temperature control touch sensor allows operators to change the look of pictures and videos in either warm, cold or neutral colors. Shotlight can also be used as a companion app for the iblazr flash family, allowing users to sync up to ten iblazr 2 flashes and customize them individually.
» Touch Sensor
» Adjustable Color Temperature: 3200К to 5500К
» Multiple iblazr lights can be used at a time
» Flexible Charger / Stand
— Flash mode – up to 300 Lux at 1m
— 1st power mode – 20 Lux at 1m
— 2nd power mode – 120 Lux
» Dimensions and Weight:
— 1.57″ х 1.1″ х 0.39″ (40mm x 28mm x 10mm)
— 0.7 ounces (20 grams)
» Battery capacity: 130 mAh (approx. equal to 300 flashes)
» Constant light duration:
— 1st power mode – up to 3 hours
— 2nd power mode – up to 30 minute
Concepter’s blazer 2 costs $60. Optional accessories include a cool flexible charger /stand, a mount clip, a cold shoe stand, a silicon diffuser with a keychain, and a micro-‐USB to USB charger.
OP/TECH’s Leslie Jackson gave us the full rundown on their new camo Natural pattern for their expanding Soft Pouch Digital D Series neoprene cases. Known as “Mossy Oak” to hunters, the natural pattern, allows nature photographers / videographers to conceal their gear in the wild, as well as the subway. The covers all provide enhanced protection from dust, moisture and knocks, and come in a variety of sizes. We haven’t tested these particular pouches, but the concept is sound.
» Impact Protection
» Conceal Your Expensive Gear
» Moisture & Dust Resistant
» Camouflage Pattern
OP/TECH USA’s Soft Pouches range in price from $19.95 to $45.95.
Our Editor-In-Chief flipped over Vadym Chalenko’s BeastGrip, a smartphone exoskeleton, which allows you to not only get a better grip on your mobile, but also add a variety of attachments with its tripod 1/4-20, cold-shoe mount for external lights or audio, and its 37mm lens mount. BeastGrip comes with a couple of their own lenses, Fisheye and Wide (each lens has a removable element providing Macro capability), which fit the 37mm thread and it also comes with an adapter to mount Canon lenses. According to Chalenko, an Ukrainian expat based out of Chicago, the Canon adapter does degrade the image quality, how much so we’ll determine for you in a future review.
» Universal/adjustable works with most camera phones
» Simple and Convenient in use, works with or without protective phone case
» Easy access to phone buttons, USB and charging ports
» Modular design with removable lens mount assembly and handle
» Can be used as a simple tripod mount or full-featured camera rig
» Standard 37mm threaded lens/filter mount
» Standard cold shoe mount for attaching LED lights, microphones, and other accessories
» Five standard 1/4″-20 threaded mounts for attaching to supportive photo/video gear
» Wide-Angle Lens:
— 37mm threaded mount
— 49mm filter threaded mount
— Ability to capture approx 2x’s more image
— Detachable macro lens part
» Fisheye Lens:
— 37mm threaded mount
— 180° field-of-view
— Detachable macro lens part
The BeastGrip costs $80 and the kit with two lenses retails for $135. Both are available for pre-order.
TetherTools continues to push into new product categories as the company matures. Moving beyond the PowrGrip, MaxClamp, EasyGrip and SuperFlex Arm, the company developed a proprietary adhesive, which claims to stick the new Q20 GoPro and SLX Speedlight mounts to any smooth, painted or lightly textured surface. The kicker? The adhesive easily removes without damage, or leaving any residue.
» EasyPeel Tabs for Quick Installation
» Removes Easily
» Does Not Damage Surfaces
» Leaves No Residue Behind
TetherTools RapidMount SLX costs $24.95 and the RapidMount Q20 retails for $29.95.
Kodak was on hand to show off their PIXPRO SP360 Action Camera. The micro-sized, “yellow submarine” action cam has a specialized 360° Spherical Curved Lens for capturing the full monty – a complete 360 degree panorama. While that’s exciting in of itself, what really got our juices flowing was a brand new Dual Mounting Kit, which places two SP360’s back to back for a virtual reality perspective, which is supported by new Kodak software for stitching the two videos together.
Although we couldn’t see this in action and haven’t tested the technology, Kevin Cruz was on hand to confirm that the software not only fuses the video captured by both cameras, but it also can encode and upload the VR directly to YouTube.
» 360° Spherical Curved Lens
» 16 MP Sensor
» 1080 HD Video
» 10MP Pictures with 10 FPS Burst Shooting
» 2m Shockproof / -10°C Freezeproof / Dustproof / Water Resistant
» Wi-Fi/NFC Connectivity
» Control Wirelessly with iOS & Android Devices
Kodak’s SP360 costs $299 and is available now. No official pricing has been announced for the Dual Camera kit.
Light & Motion
Heidi Hall gave us a nice overview of Light and Motion’s new Stella, high-output, battery-powered light systems. The Stella Pro5000, 2000 and 1000 are water-resistant down to 100 feet and run for about 90 minutes before needing a recharge.
Stella Pro5000 Features:
» High Output “Chip on Board” LED
» Certified TLCI 93, CRI 90, CCT 5000 Kelvin
» Integrated Rechargeable Li-ion battery for 1.5-12 hours of cord-free operation
» Sophisticated flicker-free firmware design
» Regulated lumen output – does not fade during use
» Dimming with continuous or stepped control
» Fan-free thermal management for silent operation
» Controlled focus from 120° down to 50° & 25°
» Broad range of accessories including Profoto and Chimera adaptability
» OLED Digital Display for precise readout
» Runs off wall power, DTAP, 24V
» Fast Charge of 2 hours, 80% Charged in 1.5 hrs
» Certified performance (FL-1 Standard)
All this run ‘n’ gun, water-resistant portability doesn’t come cheap, the Stella Pro5000 will set you back $2300.
Light & Motion
LumeCube, sparked on Kickstarter, is a new, portable and water-resistant light source for your action camera. The light has a lot of great features including the ability to dim, sync to slave flash, a magnetic mount and a companion app, which provides additional and remote control. The small light kicks out 1500 lumens, insanely bright for it’s diminutive size. There’s even a “Dualie” mount, containing two LumeCubes and a specialized GoPro mount.
» 1.5″ cube encased in water resistant silicone shell
» Flash or constant video mode for GoPro® Hero Camera or smartphone
» Fully controllable flash & brightness duration via smartphone app
» Smartphone app allows you to individually control up to 5 Lume Cubes
» Dimmable between 0 – 1500 lumens
» Magnetically mount or suction to most surfaces
» 1/4 20 mount for attachment to tripods and action cam accessories
» Easily sync to slave flash via optical sensor
» Approx. 2 hours battery life with usb charger – 1 hour to fully charge
» Sold as a single unit, 2 pack or 6 pack in a variety of colors
» Proprietary mount and water proof case made to be used with the GoPro’s Hero camera
The LumeCube costs $79.99 and the Dual Kit will set you back $169.99.
Nanuk by Plasticase, debuted a couple of new products including the Nanuk Nano, a small, waterproof prosumer case for the action market. The Nano comes in three sizes, and a multitude of colors, and is made from “ultra resistant” polycarbonate with Nanuk’s excellent watertight seal. It includes several thoughtful ideas, including a “Lid Web” for pinning your smartphone to the case, several belt loops for securing the Nano to a daypack, and a “Smart Strap.”
Nanuk also showcased new foam inserts made for DJI drones and stabilizers. The 940 Ronin-M has a specialized foam-insert tailored specifically for the brushless 3-axis DJI handheld stabilizer with the rest of Nanuk’s rugged features onboard, including their patented PowerClaw latching system. Also available is the 950 DJI for their Phantom Drones and the 940 3DR Solo.
The Nano’s start at $19.99 and the specialized DJI cases start at $249.95.
Westcott showcased version 2.0 of the IceLight. The IceLight2 is 50% brighter than it’s predecessor with multi-voltage capability and a removable li-ion battery. It has a myriad of uses, and could be a nice on-the-go portrait solution. The removable battery means that you’re no longer relegated to a little over an hour of runtime. The IcePack accessory kit adds barn doors, a flexible tripod, a car charger and other goodies.
Westcott’s IceLight2 costs $550 and is available now.
Rogue Photographic Design showed off Kevin Deskins awesome beard (Thanks to Cliff’s Beard Balm), as well as their revamped FlashBender portable speedlight tool. Kevin has a lot of dynamic speedlight modifiers, but their FlashBender 2 is 25% lighter than the previous model, and has a redesigned attachment to avoid unscheduled dismounts. The FlashBender can morph into a snoot, reflector and even a soft box. Makes a great stocking stuffer!
Rogue’s FlashBender2 Soft Box Kit costs $65 and is available now.