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Category Archives for "REVIEWS"

Hands On First Look of the New Platyball Ballheads and Their Kickstarter Ends Soon

I recently had a chance to see and touch two groundbreaking photo ballheads at Imaging USA 2020 in Nashville, TN called the Platyball Ergo and Platyball Elite. The main reason why I’m excited about them is the way in which they can “lock down” a camera and lens with just a few presses of a button on the front. They also, due to their inverted design, allow you to take panoramic images while keeping the horizon level. The one Platyball prototype that I tested at the show (Platyball Elite) felt very solid when I held it in my hand, and it responded well when I pressed the buttons on the front. I also have to give the manufacturer props for the way they made the Quick Release (QR) work. I’m not a big fan of the way most Arca-type QR systems work, but they’ve designed an elegant turning mechanism that looks to me to be a big improvement.

The best way to truly see how the Platyball works, and why it’s different from all other ballheads, I would highly recommend taking a look at these two videos:

and

A Note About ALL Kickstarter Campaigns

As Sharky James, host of the PetaPixel podcast always says: “Kickstarter is NOT a store,” so it is possible that you will not receive this product, or anything that you back on Kickstarter. However, based on my experience as a backer of multiple Platypods (another fantastic product which you can find by searching for the word: platypod), I have faith that the company will deliver quality products on time.

Where to Find Out More or Order a Platyball

Because I believe that the Platyball Ergo and Platyball Elite products are worth recommending, I have decided to use the Kickbooster platform to become an affiliate for this campaign, which means that I will receive a small commission if you use my link to visit the campaign site and make a purchase. You can also just search on your favorite search engine for Platyball if you’d prefer not to use my link for any reason. To see the Platyball’s campaign on Kickstarter (Ends Sun. 3/15/2020 at 4:30PM EST) , visit THIS PAGE.

PhotoPlus Expo 2019 New York City Review and Show Specials for Everyone (not just attendees)

Show Floor and NYC (plus my head!) reflected in the glass, PhotoPlus Expo NYC 2019  © Andrew Darlow (click on image to see it larger)

I visited the PhotoPlusExpo 2019 in New York City yesterday, and as usual, it did not disappoint! It was a smaller show than some of the shows in the past, but it was still jam packed with a lot of great gear, and one of my favorite things of all…high-end photo papers! In fact, I think that it’s worth the trip just to see the printed samples in the booths of the companies I’ve listed below.

In addition, for this post, I will list some specials that are happening online and at the show. That’s a “Super Tip”: Whenever there are big trade shows, look for special offers from the companies who are exhibiting. They know most of their existing and new customers are not able to come to the show, so they will often share promo codes and offer other specials while the trade show is live. The show continues until Saturday, 10/26/2019 and Expo-only tickets are now just $25 (free expo passes ended on 10/23). You can purchase passes on-site if you haven’t already, and HERE is the main website for the show.

Also, in case you missed my article with information about the many presentations happening on the show floor (updated 10/25), you can see that article HERE.

PAPERS, PAPERS, AND MORE INKJET PAPERS!

As I mentioned above, one of my favorite things to do at the PhotoPlus Expo (and any photo trade show), is see the wide range of high-end inkjet papers that are on display. Often, different papers are presented (with the same image on each print) in racks like you might see at a store that sells posters. In the case of this year’s show, large, very impressive prints are generally displayed to showcase what’s possible when you pair exceptional images, a high-end printer, and a high-quality paper. Here are some of the booths that I saw and recommend checking out at PhotoPlus Expo 2019 (or you can, of course, check them out online and order sample packs of their papers to do your own testing.)

• Canon USA (Booth #121) – Link to Canon’s Large Format Printer Page
• Canson Infinity (Booth #449)  – Link to Canson Infinity’s Site
• Epson (Booth #701) – Link to Epson’s Site
• Hahnemühle USA (Booth #237) – Link to Hahnemühle’s Site
• Moab Paper (Booth #629) – Link to Moab Paper’s Site

And I would be remiss not to mention Blazing Editions (Booth #748), whose dye-sublimation prints on aluminum always amaze me. The prints start out as inkjet prints that are then infused into aluminum panels using heat and pressure. Below is a photo from their booth.

Blazing Editions’ Booth at PhotoPlus Expo 2019 © Andrew Darlow (click on image to see it larger)

There is also a fantastic exhibition of the work of Jay Maisel and Stephen Wilkes at the Icon Gallery located next to the Blazing Editions booth (Booth #737).

SPECIAL OFFERS

B&H Photo (Booth #451) has many show specials, which you can find HERE. As noted on their site, some of the special offers require a promo code, which is PPEBH19.

Hunt’s Photo & Video (Booth #362) has special pricing on many items on the flyers they are distributing at the show. I assume they are the same price on their website, but you could always ask them if you call the store to order. You can find many of their current special offers HERE. One item in particular that caught my eye is the Lowepro Fastpack BP 150 AW II ($59.50).

PhotoflashDrive.com (Booth #861) is offering  20% off all of their products (Expires 10/26/2019). If you are at the show, I highly recommend stopping by to see what they do, and don’t miss seeing their amazing PlayBook Video Player.

Skylum Software is in Booth #149, and they are doing continuous demos during the show, as well as speaker presentations (you can see a Google Doc overview of their talks HERE). They just announced their Luminar 4 software, and it looks extremely impressive. If you don’t use Lightroom or Adobe Camera Raw for your editing (or if you want to access some of Luminar’s unique tools as an external editor/plug-in), I think you will love it. Full Disclosure: I have an affiliate partner with Skylum, so I receive a small portion of sales when you use the links I provide. To see all of what Luminar 4 has to offer, including a lot of amazing bonuses when you pre-order, including a free 1 year subscription on Smugmug.com, visit THIS PAGE. (Luminar 4 ships Nov. 18, 2019).

ONE MORE THING!

I have one more thing I’d like to share from the Expo. I was very impressed by a company called My Case Builder. Basically, you choose what case you have, and they will then custom cut foam for your gear that fits perfectly in the case. For more information, visit www.mycasebuilder.com. They had a show special printed on a postcard at the show, but I don’t see it offered on their website, so I don’t think it’s right to share it. However, you can call or email them and ask if they will apply their current show special to your order.

IN-PERSON OFF-CAMERA FLASH WORKSHOP IN PRINCETON, NJ – 11/2/2019

I’m really looking forward to teaching a workshop titled: Mastering Off-Camera Flash at Rising Star Photography Society in Princeton. NJ on Sat. 11/2/2019. For full details, visit THIS PAGE.

Podcast Review: Founders Podcast by David Senra

I listen to a lot of podcasts, and one of my favorites is called ‘Founders,” hosted by David Senra. Every week for about the last 90 weeks, Senra has shared insights and quotes from many amazing biographies and autobiographies in a very friendly, “let’s learn and grow together” type of way. I can’t put into words how much I’ve learned from his synthesis of so much information. I have also purchased a number of the books, including the one pictured below, which helps support the hard work of the authors.


Cover of the book: Insisting On the Impossible: The Life of Edwin Land by Victor K. McElheny

I especially enjoyed David Senra’s overview of the book: Insisting On the Impossible: The Life of Edwin Land. Polaroid cameras and instant film have been such an important part of my life, both personally and professionally. Much like with electricity, automobiles, planes, etc. (Senra covers the people behind those stories as well!), it’s easy to take for granted the incredible amount of time and effort that went into creating Polaroid’s various instant films and cameras. It’s also fascinating to learn how much Edwin Land influenced Steve Jobs. I doubt Apple would be the same company today had it not been for Dr. Land and Polaroid.

PERSONAL & PROFESSIONAL STORIES

I can remember my family taking photos with Polaroid cameras from a very early age, and the sound of a Polaroid sheet of film coming out of a Polaroid film pack is one that’s etched deeply into my memory banks. For years, as a photographer in New York City, I also used Polaroid film backs on a Hasselblad camera, which gave me and my clients a sense of security re: the exposure and the overall look of an image before shooting the job on 120 roll film. I also have fond memories hiking with a dear friend and using a Speed Graphic 4×5 camera with a Polaroid 545 Film Holder and Polaroid Type 55 Pos/Neg film. If you want to see those exact items on one page, I found a website with them HERE. And I can’t leave out Polaroid Transfers, which I created for years using 35mm slides and a Vivitar Polaroid Instant 35mm Slide Printer. This page has a nice overview of Polaroid transfers and “emulsion lifts,” which you have to see to believe!

To see thumbnails of all the books David Senra has read and distilled on his podcast, as well as podcast episodes, you can visit his show’s website HERE. He has decided to have a premium model for his show, which means that some of his podcast episodes are reserved for those who become supporters of his show. That’s why you’ll see that some of the episodes are short “previews.” But more than half are full episodes, which probably totals about 75-100 hours of audio. I would recommend downloading his episodes through a podcast app on the Apple App Store (Overcast is my favorite, but you can use Apple’s Podcast App) or Google Play Store (Pocket Casts is free and an excellent choice) so that you can listen to them on the go.

Hugs and all the best,
Andrew

P.S.- As I mentioned a few days ago, I’m a partner once again for The Complete Photography Bundle VII from the folks at 5 Day Deal, and this year, it has an estimated value of just under $3,000 for only $89.  The amount of video training, presets, e-books and much more from a wide range of professional photographers and video professionals is incredible. Also, 10% of all sales is donated to charities (about $1.5 million has been donated to date, and more than $50,000 has been raised in the first three days of the event). Whether or not you decide to purchase the bundle, you can enter a $10,000 giveaway that includes a free copy of a piece of software for everyone who enters from Skylum Software called AirMagic. Just look for the entry form toward the bottom of the 2019 Bundle Page. There are only two days left to take advantage of the bundle (ends on 10/8/19), and you can find it HERE.

 

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