Photography / News

7 Off-Beat Products from PhotoPlus Expo

The PDN PhotoPlus International Conference and Expo is underway in New York City! More than 225 exhibitors are showcasing their products and services for 21,000 photographers and photo enthusiasts over the next three days.

If you find yourself near New York City and you want to see the latest and greatest from the world’s major camera manufacturers and photography brands, this is the place to be. Nikon, Canon, Leica, Olympus, Fujifilm, Sony, Tamron, Tokina, and more have huge displays, helpful staff, and tons of gear to get your hands on and experience at the show.

So, we all know that the big companies are showcasing their newest toys, but let me take you on a side trip through PhotoPlus and tell you about seven interesting things I saw that aren’t completely mainstream in the world of photography.


JPEGmini's booth

Unless you just entered digital photography today, your hard drive space is likely at a premium. JPEGmini Pro Photo Optimization Software magically performs some kind of lossless reduction of JPEG files up to 80%. You can use the stand-alone software or the Lightroom plug-in to shrink your JPEGs and open up space on your drives. It supports file sizes up to 60MP and the files can be used for social media posting, Web-based portfolios, or even printed just like you would a normal JPEG. Also, the world’s computers and mobile devices will not know the difference between your smaller JPEG and any other JPEG file; only that it opened faster and saved faster!

Hill & Usher Insurance

Photography insurance t-shirt

My father, a career insurance broker and photographer, always said, “You can never have enough insurance.” A lot of photographers never give any thought to insuring their gear, their businesses, and even themselves. Hill & Usher is at PhotoExpo to remind photographers that insurance can be critical in many ways.

I personally have known uninsured photographers who have had their gear stolen. It’s gone. There is nothing you can do but spend your hard-earned money to replace it. I had a lens stolen once. It was insured. I got a check from my insurance company a few weeks later for the new value of the lens. I have also lost job opportunities because I didn’t have the required personal liability insurance to shoot different sites. No one wants to buy insurance but, if you do, you may likely be grateful that you read this article one day. If you don’t, you might kick yourself.

Unicorn Printing



Photo on paintbrushes Photo on Philips-head screws Photo of pasta sauce on pasta

Attention, all MFA candidates looking for alternative printing ideas! There are a lot of photo printing services showing their wares at PhotoPlus Expo; Unicorn Printing caught my eye. Yes, there are places that print on aluminum, glass, wood, canvas, etc., but when I saw an image printed on a collage of Philips head screws precisely aligned and screwed into a wooden board, I stopped to have a look. I spoke to company vice president Robert Lee and he gave me the impression that they can print on any substrate that is narrower than 2 inches. The Expo display had photos printed on paintbrushes, nails, cassette tapes, and more.

When asked what the most popular substrate was, he replied, “We might get 1,000 orders to print on 1,000 different substrates.” When asked what the strangest request was, he said that a smoothie company had Unicorn print photos on fruit. No mention on whether the ink was edible.

My Case Builder


Foam options Custom foam cutouts

At first, I thought this booth was another in a long line of hard cases for photography gear. On closer inspection, My Case Builder designs and cuts custom cut-outs for your existing hard cases. The company sells the cases, too! The days of making a foam mess on your living room floor are done! My Case Builder’s website allows you to completely customize your insert to match your photo gear precisely, using an extensive library of cameras, lenses, and accessories. If the library doesn’t have your brand-new Leica SL, you can take a photo of your Leica SL with your smartphone and use the My Case Builder website to create a custom cutout for the camera.

Water jets cut out the shapes! The clean cuts look über professional—not like your Xacto blade handiwork of yesterday! Also, if you are too busy to design your own, just tell them what gear you have and their Pro Design services will do the work for you.

Shenhao Professional Camera


Canon DSLR on a 4x5 camera Shooting the 4x5

There were actually a few large format camera companies showing products at PhotoPlus. I don’t recall seeing as many in the past. Maybe large format is making a comeback?

If it is, the wooden large format cameras from Shenhao Professional Camera will help! What caught my eye at their booth? Seeing a Canon DSLR mounted on the back of a 4 x 5 view camera. Huh? What? Shenhao makes film back-sized mounts for modern SLR and DSLR cameras that allow the mounted camera to reposition on the “film plate.” So, you can mount your digital camera on a 4x5 view camera and create your own multi-shot virtual large format images with the digital camera you own now and your dusty large format camera and favorite large format lenses. I could feel the cash trying to leap out of my wallet as I played with the beautiful wooden view camera and eyed the Fujifilm X mount in the case below.

Berlebach Wooden Tripods


Wood tripods Panning ball head

Tripods are not in short supply at PhotoPlus. They are there in all shapes, colors, and sizes, but only one company there makes wooden tripods and Berlebach, one of three wood tripod companies in the world, has been making ash tripods in Germany since 1898. According to Jan Gernegross, wood is still vastly superior to carbon fiber for vibration reduction while the camera takes an image. As an owner of a wooden tripod, I can tell you that they are wonderful to use in the field and, not only that, they look great in your home or apartment. Very classy.

Not only do they make tripod legs, they also make precision tripod heads. Their Pegasus tripod head is a ball head that also works as a pan head with the flip of a satin metallic switch. Imagine a silky smooth ball head that doubles as a silky smooth pan head and you imagine Pegasus.

Lume Cube


Lume Cube Lume Cube aquarium 

Like tripods, there is a lot of lighting at PhotoPlus. Studio strobes, LED panels, fluorescent lights, and more light the displays from all the big lighting companies. Wait; what is this little light I see over here? It is the Lume Cube!

Waterproof, USB rechargeable, Bluetooth/mobile app controlled, 1500 lumens, ¼"-20 socket, and smaller than my 350-lumen bike light! The Lume Cube is a tiny but powerful continuous or strobing light source for action-camera videos or still photography. It is waterproof to up to 100' and has an optical slave trigger for studio use. At full power, it can give you up to 25 minutes of illumination at full power.

Goal Zero Venture 30

Venture 30

In today’s digital world, power is everything. For those who take photos far from electrical outlets, this is a major concern. Goal Zero has been making solar-powered charging products for years and the Venture 30 is its new tool of choice for photographers around the world. This USB recharger can be recharged with wall power, or 5-10 hours of sunlight and a Goal Zero solar panel. Not just for camera batteries; once charged, you can recharge any and all of your USB-powered devices with its two 2.4 A USB power ports. One customer claims to get 3 to 5 full charges of his Sony a7R II batteries with a fully charged Venture 30.

It also has a convenient LED flashlight function, is IPX6-rated, and shockproof. Goal Zero’s Lisa Janssen said that, if you drop your Venture 30 into the mud and dirt gets into the USB ports, you can simply “hose it out” and keep on charging away. Pretty cool!

Cool stuff! See you at the B&H booth at PhotoPlus Expo and don’t forget to wander a few blocks into Manhattan to visit the B&H Photo SuperStore!