Highlights from the 2014 PDN PhotoPlus Expo

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With PhotoPlus just a few short blocks from B&H, I was lucky enough to get out of the office and spend a few hours walking the exhibition floor. As always, I found a multitude of exciting products. Here are a few that I found to be interesting.

Samsung’s new NX-mount Premium S Series 50-150mm f/2.8 lens is a 77-231mm equivalent, this company’s version of the standard 70-200mm. It’s always exciting to test out a new product before it’s released, especially a lens like this, that is sure to be a mainstay for NX shooters. The build quality is impressive, with a strong and sturdy barrel and a smooth and precise zoom ring. Built-in Optical Image Stabilization and an Ultra-Precise Stepping Motor help ensure you’ll get sharp images.

New from Hoodman is the HSPK32 Custom Finder Kit for mirrorless cameras. As with all of their existing viewers, this mirrorless-specific loupe magnifies your camera’s LCD screen, and allows you to view it more easily in bright ambient light. The base plate attaches to your camera, enabling the viewer to attach or detach easily. Mirrorless shooters are sure to be pleased with this addition to their line.

Now, I must admit, I’m not one who usually gets excited about camera straps, but I couldn’t walk past the iMO Strap booth without stopping to browse. These hand-crafted straps combine form and function to make a product that is as comfortable and strong as it is stylish. The straps feature a padded back, quick-release buckles, and come in a variety of patterns and colors to suit almost any photographer’s style. The company also makes leather camera bags and tablet cases.

Next, I walked over to the Lomography booth, and was pleasantly surprised to see some great new cameras and lenses. Since I’m primarily a film photographer, I’m always happy to see anything that will further the film side of the industry, and Lomography never fails to add excitement to that realm of image acquisition. The first lens I noticed was the Petzval, which I’ve had the opportunity to test before, but couldn’t resist the draw of that handsome brass barrel. Funded through Kickstarter and based on Joseph Petzval’s famous optic from 1840, the Petzval creates beautiful images, with a distinctive swirly out-of-focus area.

Following in the footsteps and success of the Petzval, Lomo has teamed up with Zenit, in Russia, to make the Russar+, based on the 1958 Russar MR-2, a wide-angle 20mm f/5.6 lens. Made from chrome-plated brass, the lens has very little distortion. It is an L39 mount and includes an M-mount adapter, so it will work on Voigtlander, Yasuhara, and other L39-mount cameras, as well as Leica M-mount cameras. Hopefully this trend of revived lenses from Lomography will continue!

Of course, Lomography hasn’t forgotten its roots, and still proves to be innovative with the release of the LC-A 120, and the recently announced Lomo’Instant. The LC-A 120 is a fully automatic medium format film camera with a 38mm lens, and four-step zone focusing. The Lomo’Instant has a wide-angle lens, with optional fisheye, portrait, and close-up lens attachments. It uses Fujifilm Instax Mini film, and has a built-in flash.

Just before I headed off the exhibition floor, something caught my eye. A man had what looked like a monopod strapped to his arm with a GoPro mounted on the other side. I walked over to find out that this is the new Actiontwister from FLM, a German company known for its tripods and ball heads. Upon closer inspection, I could see that the operator was controlling the pan and tilt of the GoPro with a joystick, so I asked what kind of battery the Actiontwister runs on, only to be surprised by the fact that it is fully mechanical. At first, that might seem strange but, with the realization that no electronics means it can function anywhere, even underwater, it made perfect sense.

Those are just some of the many products that caught my eye on the first day at PhotoPlus. If you are heading to the show, be sure to check them out yourself, and drop by the B&H booth to say hi.