Sunday, March 8, 2009

PMA 09 Report

I was recently able to spend a few days at the PMA trade show in vegas, and came across a few things if interest to fellow landscape photographers:

1. A new company called Clik Elite has introduced a new line of technical camera packs for active photographers.These packs use the same high tech components as the most modern mountaineering packs, making them lightweight and comfortable without the bulk of most camera packs. Their Pro Elite model has a huge capacity (2500 in a low profile pack that would be easy to fit in an overhead airplane bin. REI picked up their line of packs, I hope this startup company from Utah has great success by offering these more modern packs for active photographers.

2. A company called Trek Tech offers a carbon fiber monopod with small tripod legs on the bottom. This seems like a less obtrusive way to stabilize a camera when traveling, particularly in areas where a tripod is not allowed. I am thinking of trying one of these out on an upcoming trip to Italy. While it would not offer the same stability as a tripod, it would be better than handholding and could offer stability with a cable release in a non-windy environment. They fold up into small size to fit easily in luggage.The Trekpod XL carbon fiber would be the way to go, with a much lighter weight than the other models. They also double as a walking stick.

3. Acratech has a new GP Ballhead that weighs less than 1 pound, that can also be used as a gimbal head and as a leveling base for shooting panoramic shots. This seemed like a very sturdy ballhead and a great choice for situations where weight is an issue. We have an earlier model Acratech that we use when we are trying to go very light, I am thinking of upgrading to this model which seems sturdier and has the new features.

4. There was a profusion of digicams - I did not really spend much time evaluating those, with the advent of the smaller dslrs, such as the Sony Alpha 900 that provides 24mp resolution, I cannot see much need to add a digicam to my collection. The Sony Alpha 900 is a very exciting development, and is worth checking out for its compact size and high image quality. As a Nikon D3 user I am also looking forward to trying out the new 24mp D3x - it has the same build as the D3 but the higher resolution is a real plus for landscape photographers. There are situations where a D3 (or D3x) is more functional than using a 40 mp Hasselblad, such as very windy days, extreme weather conditions, and situations where a super wide angle is needed.

5. DIY  Photo Books are exploding onto the market - there was a great display of samples of all the photo books that you can order online. A very impressive sample book was put out by  Embassy Digital. I am thinking that they would be a good company to use to create a prototype of my upcoming book The Changing Range of Light.

6. I stopped by the Photomatix Booth and downloaded their HDR software yesterday. I have done a few new HDR images that I will be posting soon and discussing on this blog. The key with HDR is to not "overcook" images, even though it is tempting....

I will write some PMA updates on new fine art papers and other finds in upcoming posts.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Off to PMA

If we do not get 5 feet of snow on monday night I will catch a flight to Vegas to spend a few days at PMA to see what new photo gear is out there. I will post any interesting finds here on my blog, with an emphasis on what tools are out there that are of interest to outdoor / landscape photographers and fine art printers. This show is a great place to check out the latest papers for fine art printing, and also to see if there are any advancements in the display of large format prints. We are considering laminating some of our very large mounted prints that are displayed without glass, but are waiting for the right material before offering this as an option. Lexjet seems to be ready to introduce a new archival laminate that may work, will check them out at PMA.