I went to the PhotoPlus Expo in New York City a couple weeks ago and I wanted to share my thoughts on What’s NEW, What’s COOL and What’s NOT so great.
So in case you have never been to one of these large photography expos – I highly recommend that you try to go, but maybe not for the reasons you would expect.
Who was there
It goes without saying that all of the major camera manufacturers were there – Nikon, Canon, Sony, Olympus, Panasonic, Fuji, PhaseOne and even Pentax! The same goes for the lens companies – Tamron, Sigma and Tokina– The lighting companies – Interfit, Hensel, Arri, Wescott – and the peripherals companies like Tether Tools, MagMod, Lumiquest, Roque, Think Tank, Manfrotto, SKB cases and, well, a few hundred others!
This year’s show was much bigger than last year’s AND it was much more exciting because there were a lot of big announcements that were timed to happen either right before or during the show.
Before I tell you all about that stuff, I want to tell you what is the coolest part about these shows for me. It’s not the gear — however, this is one of the few weekends each year that I geek out over gear and embrace my inner GEARtographer– for me it’s the people. Where else can you go and spend four days with thousands of people who all share the same interest as you? Where else can you go and rub elbows with and talk to all of your photography idols – without having to pay to do so?
And of course for a YouTuber like me, it is a great opportunity to meet the people behind the usernames that watch my videos, like you guys!
I did run into a few other content creators at Photo Plus, like my buddy Mr. Robert Vanelli who writes for PhotoFocus. One of the highlights was seeing my friend Manny Ortiz, but more importantly finally meeting his much better half Diana and the fellow YouTube photographer that I was most excited to meet – all the way from Great Britain – the incredible Mr. Gavin Hoey. If you don’t know Gavin Hoey and you like my videos, be sure to subscribe to his channel here. Gavin also works out of a small home studio and he is a Micro 4/3rds shooter and an Olympus Visionary – which was the second reason I was very excited to have an opportunity to chat with him at PhotoPlus – but more about that later. As photographers we share a lot of the same values and his work is simply incredible.
What was there — tons of gear!
The second coolest part of a show like this is simply being able to see different gear in person, to touch it, to test it and often times to be able to talk with the people who actually invented or designed the gear. I had the opportunity to chat with Mr. Quest Couch, who is the inventor behind the Lumiquest modifiers, and Mr. Spencer Boerup, who is the inventor of the MagMod speed light modifiers. I will be launching a video series in a few weeks about Speedlight modifiers and you will learn more about these two gentlemen.
So overall – in addition to having more exhibitors than recent years – the announcements were actually pretty exciting…
If you haven’t heard about the Sony A7rIII by now you must be living under a rock.
The latest in the Sony lineup boasts:
- 42.4MP from a back-illuminated full-frame sensor
- A promise of up to 15 stops of dynamic range at lower ISO’s
- 4K video recording up to 120fps
- 10fps burst shooting
- 5-axis image stabilization system with 5.5 stop compensation
- 399-point phase-detect AF and 425-point contrast-detect AF systems
- An ISO range from 100-32,000
- 650-shot battery life
- Built-In Wi-Fi/Bluetooth and Dual SD Slots
The Sony A7rIII is expected to be available at the end of November for a mere $3,198.00 for the body.
MacPhun is now Skylum
Software company MacPhun had a big announcement and that was that they are no longer called MacPhun. Their new name is Skylum. This 7-year-old company got their start as an app developer and then launched programs like Aurora HDR and more recently Luminar. Now their software is available on both Mac and PC, hence the name change.
In addition to Skylum, the California based DXO announced their acquisition of the NIK line of software from Google and they also rebranded their DXO Optics Pro to DXO PhotoLab. Both of these companies are gunning for Adobe after the recent changes to Lightroom, and the fact that companies like Adobe and Apple really seem to have abandoned photographers in favor of more broad-based consumer products.
There were some great lens announcements as well… To partner with your new A7rIII Sony announced a 24-105mm f/4 G lens, and more interestingly, the development of a FE 400mm F2.8 GMaster lens.
Olympus added to their Pro line of micro 4/3rd lenses with a 45mm f/1.2 and a 17mm f/1.2
Sigma announced a new 16mm f/1.4 “C“ lens — that stands for Contemporary lens– that will be available for the Sony, Olympus, and Panasonic, where it will be equivalent to a 24mm f/1.4 lens. According to Sigma reps at the show its optical design will rival the best of the “Art” series lenses.
Switching gears to color calibration across multiple devices… X-Rite’s new i1Studio aims to make color calibrating across a range of devices more streamlined.
The kit includes a new spectrophotometer to profile monitors, projectors, scanners, mobile devices and printers. There’s also the new iStudio software for creating and saving color profiles of your various devices. It also offers a new black-and-white print module that creates five custom profiles for black-and-white images.
The i1Studio includes a 24 color patch target for building custom profiles and custom white balances. It works with a mobile app to calibrate iOS devices, and it’s shipping now for $489.
Another aspect of the expo this year is that there were several large format film camera manufactures there. It is great to see the view cameras and even the old school press cameras still being made.
So what was the not so cool part?
Two things really. One: the GEARtographer in me wanted to buy one of everything – but that’s not practical. More importantly–and this is the second thing– one of the things that I found very interesting was the China Pavillion that was set up in the middle of the show floor. This included a whole bunch of Chinese companies that were showing everything from speedlight flash units to tripods, light stands, lots of LED lighting, and a bunch of other things. Before you jump to any conclusions – I am not about to go bashing the Chinese or spouting some America first crap – but I do want to just plant a thought in your minds, something for you to consider when you purchase these products.
A lot of the gear in the China pavilion was really nice. It was well designed and well made and definitely a lot cheaper than many of the brand names that we are more familiar with.
My concern is that there is a bigger picture here that I think we all have a responsibility to be aware of.
Let me start by admitting that I have purchased gear in the past from some of these Chinese companies that are essentially producing knock-offs of bigger, more well-known and more expensive brands. They reverse engineer the products and sell them for less – often times much less. Let’s face it – we all like to save money.
Companies like Yonguo are a great example of a company that is basically taking another company’s innovation and making a profit from it. They have shown a blatant disregard for intellectual property by basically cloning Canon flashes and lenses.
The problem with this situation is that the companies who are being copied are the companies that are paying for the research and development and the strategizing to bring us new, innovative and better quality gear. If the photography community is going to support these companies who are simply undercutting the major manufacturers, then we will reach a point where it is not profitable for these big companies to innovate. And when they stop innovating, we all suffer.
If you dig deep into the product lines of many of these companies, you will find a few that truly understand the industry and are working to make a difference – I would give you Godox as an example.
Unfortunately in many cases, you will find companies that clearly don’t have an understanding of the photography industry and just view it as a target with easy-to-replicate products and the ability to create large profits because of their cheaper manufacturing costs and little-to-no overhead from researching development.
On the flip side, the bigger brand names have a greater responsibility to work to improve their efficiency and keep their costs down without sacrificing quality. I give you Wescott as an example. Here is a company that in my opinion has well-made gear but inflates their prices.
So for me, I have stopped buying from these Chinese companies unless they’ve demonstrated a true understanding of our industry and the needs of photographers, like Godox. I have also made it a point to speak out and to stop buying from companies who overcharge like Wescott.
When’s the next show?
The next big show in the US is Imaging USA in Nashville Tennessee in January, followed by WPPI in Las Vegas in February, and in March there is the Photography Show in Birmingham, England and next September is Photokina in Cologne Germany. I hope to see you at one of those shows!
As always – I hope you find this useful. You can watch the rest of Episode #80 of TogChat in the video below.
And until next time, go pick up that camera and shoot something, because your BEST shot is your NEXT shot. So keep learning, keep thinking, and keep shooting. Adios!