The show's most noteworthy new gadgets and gizmos.
Shoe-mount geotagging system
In recent months, thanks to Google Earth and flickr.com's new geotagging features, GPS coordinates are becoming a more integral part of photography than anyone would have predicted just a year ago. Now, JOBO, the German darkroom and hand-held digital storage specialist, is getting in on the longitude and latitude act with a camera-mounted GPS receiver called photoGPS. Sliding into a DSLR hot shoe, the small, lightweight receiver automatically stores longitude, latitude, date, and time to its internal memory as pictures are made. With no cables, buttons, dials, or fuss, the shoe-mounted receiver automatically checks with the orbiting GPS satellite whenever a picture is taken. It memorizes time and location, then falls back into a low-power dormant mode until another trigger signal arrives through the hot shoe. Later, in post production, JOBO software automatically marries the images in a user-specified folder with the receiver's GPS data by comparing time stamps. The coordinates are downloaded as EXIF data from the receiver through a USB connection.
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After downloading, the software uses the coordinates to add additional searchable information to appropriate EXIF fields. Relying on an extensive built-in database, it adds the country, region or state, city, postal code, street, and nearby points of interest to each file. Afterward, with compatible image browsers, a photographer can search and sort images by location, without ever having to manually input such data. A user could, for example, instruct a browser to retrieve all photos taken on Malibu Beach in California in 2006, and thumbnails of the appropriate files would be immediately called up and displayed.
JOBO's photoGPS is expected to be available in the summer of 2007, retailing for $149. For more information visit jobo.com.
WESTCOTT ASYMMETRICAL STRIP BANK
A Why-Didn't-I-Think-Of-That light
Strip lights are tall, narrow softboxes most often prized in studio and location portraiture for their ability to light a subject with little of their output spilling past to expose a cluttered background. The problem? Strip lighting a full length portrait usually means feet and face receive equal illumination -- not always desirable. To put more emphasis on the face, photographers often block the lower half of a strip light with black flocking so legs and feet recede into shadow.
A new strip light from the F.J. Westcott Company does this automatically. Called the Bruce Dorn Asymmetrical Strip Bank ($399.90, street) in honor of the photographer who designed it, the light modifier places the strobe head toward the end of its length, instead of the traditional central placement. This asymmetrical orientation puts almost three stops more light on a subject's face than feet -- usually a good thing. If you want a more even output from your strip light, this 18x42-incher can provide it with three removable front diffusion panels that feather its output exactly as the situation requires.
For more, visit fjwestcott.com.
MANFROTO 561 FLUID MONOPOD
A smooth-panning monopod for video
Second in Manfrotto's line of unique fluid-motion monopods designed for use with Mini DV and HDV camcorders (plus still), the new 561 fluid monopod ($220, street) is heftier and taller than its stablemate, the 560, and can support cameras and camcorders weighing up to 8.8 pounds, or nearly twice as much as the 560.
The smooth panning motion comes from a fluid cartridge built into the base of the monopod. It allows for unusually smooth rotation of the monopod's length, producing a silky pan.
For additional support, the 561 adds three pivoting feet that retract from the bottom section and help hold the monopod in place for jump-free, as well as jitter-free, panning.
Sold as a kit, the 561B includes a modified 701RC2 video head, which adds a super smooth +/- 90 degrees tilt action, for an overall weight of 4.4 pounds. The 561 raises to almost 80 inches from a contracted height of just under 31 inches, and will arrive in stores this month.
For more, visit bogenimaging.us.
LASTOLITE HILITE BACKGROUND
For crisp, white portrait backdrops, location portraitists often head out with a minimum of two lights (plus what's required for the subject), softboxes or umbrellas to modify the background lights, background stands, a crossbar, and paper or cloth backdrops. Now, Lastolite cuts the gear requirements to just two items: a strobe (with reflector), and the new HiLite portable white background.
Setting up in minutes, the HiLite collapses to fit into a 4x4 foot carrying case, and, here's the best part, in use, is completely self supporting. Internally lit by a single strobe, the system offers strong, even backlighting that's bright enough to allow subjects to stand as close as 16 inches from its surface without casting a shadow.
The HiLite is available in 5x7- and 6x7-foot sizes, with an optional, washable, Vinyl train that attaches easily for full-length portraits, including feet. Don't want a white background? Just throw a gel on the strobe.
The HiLite will be available in Spring '07.
For more, visit bogenimaging.us.