Thursday, January 12, 2012 – 8:00 AM PST
I'm leaving Las Vegas today after 2 days at CES and PMA. I must say that CES is pretty crazy. The sheer number of people attending is overwhelming.
PMA felt more like a ghost town, there was some cool vendors there, but there just wasn't a huge photographic presence. I'm not sure what to think about PMA going forward.
All that said, I will attend Photokina next September in Germany (any excuse to get to Europe really) and I'm also looking into attending NAB in April here in Las Vegas.
Now onto another vendor of interest.
I had met the folks at Jobu Design nearly two years ago at a show in Toronto. At the time I had just bought Wimberley gimbal heads for my lens rentals business and then became aware of Jobu Design.
What is relatively unique about Jobu Design is their range of different gimbal head sizes. The same head isn't required for a Canon 600 f/4 and a 100-400L, so why pay for a really large head?
From Jobu Design
Our unique BWG line of tripod heads suit both pro and amateur photographers alike. With three basic sizes and modular design components it is easy to configure a product to your own exact specifications and price-point.
Made proudly in Canada by Devonshire Manufacturing Group, Inc. We ship our products to happy customers the world over, from Tasmania to Iceland and all points in between.
I hope to do a full review of some Jobu products in the future. I'll probably take one to Ecuador with me next month.
Wednesday, January 11, 2012 – 5:30 PM PST
I spent the afternoon at the Venetian talking to people at the PMA show. It was about a half hour walk away from the convention center, and didn't quite have the same traffic or showmanship of the main show. However, there was still some cool stuff being shown, especially in accessories and printing technologies.
BETA Shell Cases
The first product I hadn't seen before are the BETA Shell Cases for lenses. They have no distribution in Canada, so I've never had the opportunity to run into them in stores.
For those that don't know, they're basically indestructible cases for individual lenses. They're priced extremely well and are easy to use. They'd be fantastic for people that take their lenses into areas you don't want to drop a lenses. They'd probably also make the shipping of lenses safer for rental businesses and the like.
Rigid, water-proof, and shock resistant – our patent pending BETA Shell™ protective cases are constructed unlike any other case.Our cases are designed to provide a lifetime of unsurpassed protection to your expensive photo & video gear. Now you can travel in the harshest conditions and the most extreme environments with complete confidence! Travel with us, travel protected!
They have cases that will fit lenses up to the 70-200 f/2.8L IS II and 100-400 f/4-5.6L IS without the tripod ring attached.
Wednesday, January 11, 2012 – 12:00 PM PST
Day 2 at CES didn't start with the same level of excitement, as we saw a lot of great things on day one. I will be writing more about Canon and Nikon in the coming hours. I had a pretty long stretch with both the 1D X and D4. I must say the choices at the top end of the pro DSLR segment has never been better. The Nikon 85 f/1.8 was also quite different from the Canon offering, it's a lot wider and has more of a presence on the camera.
Off to Sigma
The first place I wanted to head to was Sigma and checkout the new Sigma 180 f/2.8 OS Macro lens. It's the first 180mm f/2.8 macro lens ever produced. Sigma hasn't yet issued an official press release on the lens. The other lenses announced by Sigma were for the mirrorless market.
It's an impressive size for a macro lens. It's larger than the Canon 180 f/3.5L by a fair margin. Especially in width. The front element is quite impressive and it weighs accordingly. The tripod collar seems extremely solid and the switches on the side are of decent quality. The fit and finish on the lens is about what you'd expect from Sigma. This is another lens that no longer has the spray on hair coating of Sigma lenses in the past.
The lens didn't have a lens hood on, so I have no idea how much that would extend the size of this large macro lens. I've yet to use a macro lens that isn't sharp, and by appearance alone, this will probably continue the trend. I only hope Sigma has used quality parts inside the lens and quality control is up to par at launch.
Availability & Pricing?
The official word I received from the representatives at the Sigma booth was the price was unknown and it would begin shipping in March.
I asked about more Sigma lenses in the pipeline and received the usual “no comment” and a smile.
Tuesday, January 10, 2012 – 4:00 PM PST
I walked the floor some more and visited Canon again, more on that later.
One camera that caught my eye at CES, is the much hyped Fuji XPro-1 mirrorless camera. The 16mp, APS-C rangefinder styled Fujifilm entry into the mirrorless interchangeable lens market. The camera will come in at around $1700 and the lenses about $650 each.
There are a few reasons this camera matters to the Canon crowd, and photography folks in general. This is possibly the first “high-end” mirrorless camera, the type of camera I have wanted Canon to make when they enter the mirrorless market. It has a large sensor, and a good body size. It feels like a camera and has great technology inside. Fuji's hybrid viewfinder never fails to impress.
Look & Feel
The camera looks like a rangefinder, and a pretty attractive one at that. It doesn't weigh as much as the M9, but it still feels solid. It definitely feels better than the X100. The camera is laid out very well, all the controls are in a logical spot. The dials on the top have the right amount of tension and are in the perfect spot. The grip on the camera is relatively nice, there was no slipping to speak of. I found the missing branding on the from of the camera a great feature. It really does have a low key appearance.
I'd love to see a full frame version of the above camera, as well as an APS-C type sensor model. Maybe we'll see the G1 X sensor inside of a mirrorless camera. It would make a lot of sense that things would develop that way. We'll probably see Canon's cards sometime in 2012.
Tuesday, January 10, 2012 – 1:00 PM PST
I know I am going to bore most people with this update, but new printers do get me excited!
I spent a few minutes with the folks from Canon talking about the new Pixma Pro-1 A3+ printer. This printer was announced alongside the EOS -1D X back in November. For most people, it was just a footnote in the excitement of a new flagship DSLR.
It's an absolute behemoth in person, and especially for an A3+ printer. It looks to be built to the highest standard for a professional desktop printer. I think you're going to need a lot of space for it, especially if you front feed like I do. With the 9500 Mark II, it was light enough to move around each time I wanted to print with it. The Pixma Pro-1 is 61lbs!
Just what is the new “Chroma Optimizer” ink tank? It's one of the 12 tanks that this printer takes that potential is the biggest evolution to the Pixma line. In essence, the Chroma Optimizer is a coating that will add depth to the color as well as expanding the colour gamut. It really brings deep blacks and beautiful color and contrast. The printer also has 5, count the FIVE! monochrome ink tanks for the best black and white performance in the A3+ segment. The examples they had at the show were stunning.
I was told we should be seeing shipment of the printer soon. I wasn't give an exact date. I have had the printer on pre-order since it was announced and cannot wait to get printing with it.
Tuesday, January 10, 2012 – 12:00 PM PST
Doors opened and we ran off to the Canon booth to checkout the G1 X, 1D X and C300. I also really dig printers and wanted to see the new Pixma Pro-1.
Canon's booth is a moderate size, they didn't take up the floor space that I saw at Photokina. On display they have their consumer and professional printers, the full EOS and PowerShot line, as well as most of the EF and EF-S lenses. There was also a small display for their projectors. The full video line from Vixia to the C300 were also on display. After seeing the 14.5-60 and the size of it, I kind of understand the price now.
Canon PowerShot G1 X
The first product on tap to check out was the new Canon PowerShot G1 X. The large sensor, perceived game changer, in the high end of point & shoot cameras. Lots of people have asked since the Sigma DP1 for Canon to make a larger sensor, great ISO performing PowerShot. It took a few years, but Canon has finally delivered.
Hands on first impressions
There was a lineup to see the camera up close and personal. The Canon reps mentioned that none of them had spent any more than 3 minutes with the camera in their hands. I had to wait about 10 minutes to get to it.
The first think you notice is the size of the camera. It's nearly the same size as the PowerShot G12 at first glance. The one glaring size difference is the rather large lens. Even when the camera is at it's widest focal length, the lens sticks out a fair bit. Zoom in and the lens extends further.
The camera has a very nice weight to it. I've always been against making point and shoot cameras too light. This one feels like a camera in your hands. The viewfinder is adequate, but I wouldn't use it too often. The 3″ articulating screen is bright and beautiful. One of the first things I noticed was the removal of the ISO dial at the top of the caemra like on the G12. I would miss that in day to day use. There is an ISO button on the back, but that isn't as intuitive to me. The exposure compensation dial is still on top along with the mode dial, which is great news.
Roaming around the camera you find the dials and buttons are pretty small for hands my size. However, once the camera is set up, I can't see needing to mess around with too many things on the back of the camera.
When we hear Chuck Westfall say the new G1 X will have better ISO performance than the 60D and 7D, I think most of us sit up and pay attention. Having a small camera with excellent lowlight ability makes one (me, less so my wife) giddy inside.
As per all the unreleased cameras that Canon is displaying, I was not able to put a memory card in the G1 X to get some sample images. However, one of the first things I did was switch the camera to ISO 12,800 and take a couple of pictures and view them on the big 3″ screen. If the display is accurate, the performance of ISO 12,800 is fantastic. You can see some noise reduction smoothness, ut the detail and file quality is there.
This wasn't the ideal way to test a camera for ISO performance, however I think most of us have pretty trained eyes when judging through an LCD.
I was told we'd see the first shipments of the G1 X in February.
Tuesday, January 10, 2012 – 9:00 AM PST
We've ( my wife and myself) have been in Las Vegas since Sunday, checking the sites, eating well and getting ready for the show this week.
All coverage of the show will be in this page, I will update it throughout the day, you'll see the date and time at the top of each post to know what's new.
I am obviously going to hit the Canon booth first today. I will be checking out the G1 X, 1D x, C300 and whatever other goodies are at the Canon booth. I hope to get a few short interviews with the folks at Canon, and lots of hands-on thoughts.
I will also be visiting a lot of third party vendors, and maybe even the “dark side”, Nikon. I would like a hands on with the Nikon D4.
There will be no other announcements from Canon during the show, so we'll just have to enjoy what has come to pass.
We're about an hour away of getting into the show, so I'm going to drink more coffee and get ready.