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WPPI Photo Trade Show and Red Rock Canyon

WPPI Photo Trade Show and Red Rock Canyon

Last week I went to the trade show at the Wedding & Portrait Photographers International (WPPI) convention in Las Vegas along with 16,000 attendees and 330 exhibitors. The event also featured 160 photography related classes.

I tried to mix the convention in with a little relaxing vacation time, which included photographing Red Rock Canyon just west of Vegas.

Somehow, my vacations seem to be too tied in with photography expos like Photoshop World or Macworld. Maybe I should just go on a plain, ordinary vacation, no camera and no computer.

I’m not sure what traveling would be like without being weighted down with all the necessary electronic gadgets: iPhone, cameras, computers and such. Everyone pretty much knows what I am doing thanks to Twitter and Facebook.

Maybe I have gone off the high-tech deep-end.

Getting backing to the WPPI trade show, which was a nice experience because of the number of vendors showing off their wares, best of show for me was checking out the new Fujifilm FinePix X100 camera. There’s already been plenty of Internet hoopla about this camera, which somewhat resembles a miniature old-school Leica.

This camera features a single Fujinon 23mm F2 lens, which is the equivalent of a DSLR 35mm full-frame lens. This just hit the mark for me.

With its small profile, it packs a wallop with a DSLR-like 12.3 megapixel APS-C, CMOS chip for high-quality shots and it handles great with easy-to-use knobs on the top of the camera. The price is at around $1,200, which might take it out of the purchase range for many camera enthusiasts, especially when you consider it’s locked into one single-length lens.

The standout feature that really captured my attention was the special optical rangefinder. Most compact cameras, except DSLRs, are dropping this feature. It does make cameras larger but I really miss it on cameras that don’t have it. I’m not really comfortable shooting looking at the screen on the back of the camera. I need to have the camera up to my eye.

The FinePix X100 features a special hybrid optical viewfinder that really brings the camera to a new level of photography. It gives you the choice of a plain, clear window or one with optical lines and your focus point or the actually digital image.

The magic happens when you’re able to click a frame through the normal optical viewfinder and then have the digital image pop up in the same window. Your eye never leaves the window.

Again, best of show for me.

Other exhibitors that caught my eye were products from Lowepro, Spider Camera Holster and LumiQuest.

Lowepro, which makes camera bags, featured a nifty new belt pouch, the S&F Lens Exchange Case 200 AW, which makes it a snap to change lenses on your camera without having to set the lens down on a table or ground or hold it under your arm. This innovative design helps alleviate the problem.

SpiderPro Camera System has a heavy duty belt and clip for those who don’t like using a camera strap and who would rather carry the camera around a belt.

LumiQuest showed off a line of simple-to-use light modifiers for small strobes like the SoftBox LTp and Soft Screen.

(Check out the video above to see the products.)

During this trip to Las Vegas we made enough time to take photographs at the spectacular Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.

It’s about 15 miles west of Las Vegas and features dramatic red rock formations. If you visit, be sure to take the 13-mile loop drive inside the park. There are plenty of small parking areas along the way so you can get out and hike or take photographs.

Park hours vary depending on the time of year, so check their website.

Read more reviews and photography tips by Robert Lachman

5 Comments

  1. March 3, 2011, 8:09 am

    Robert: Nice camera, the Fuji X100, but what's the advantage of this over my Epson RD1 digital, which has a rangefinder and uses the lenses from my M-Series Leicas (M2, M6 and M4-2)? DAVE KINCHEN

    By: dada
  2. March 3, 2011, 4:24 pm

    The Fujifilm X100 offers a larger sensor which should offer better quality and less noise especially in lower light. And, my favorite feature is the optical viewfinder which lets you see your digital snapshot without taking you eye away from the camera.
    It always seem counter productive when you need to drop the camera to check the LCD screen on the back to check the image. This made it so I didn't need to take my reading glasses on and off to check the results.
    Like I said in the blog post, a disadvantage for some might be the single focal length lens.
    In order to keep the camera high quality, and a smaller profile, the designers couldn't offer a zoom or multiple lens choices.
    The one advantage of the Epson RD1 which appears to be discontinued or unavailable on the Epson site is the ability to use a variety of other brands of lenses. If you have a nice selection of compatible lenses for the RD1, it' a great choice for you. Most camera companies want you to buy their proprietary lenses.
    Since I haven't used both cameras in a side-by-side test it's hard to make a quality caparison between them.

    By: Robert Lachman
  3. March 6, 2011, 7:33 am

    actually, that is a viewfinder, not a rangefinder — a rangefinder is an optical device to find the range (distance) and focus the lens.

    interesting you say it looks like a leica and has features that try very hard to be a leica — if you are willing to take the extra step to have your negatives scanned, you could buy an actual leica for the same money and have interchangeable lenses to-boot.

    By: summicron1
  4. March 6, 2011, 12:10 pm

    […] WPPI 2011 Video Check out my video from WPPI in Las Vegas […]

  5. March 7, 2011, 1:34 pm

    You're correct, technically the camera only has a viewfinder not a rangefinder. It uses the lens and sensor to calculate the distance with the autofocus. When you look through it, it does give the appearance of a rangefinder.

    You can find many used film Leica cameras for less but I'm not ready switch back to film. In the early stages of digital maybe, but the quality of the DSLRs and cameras along with the digital Leica M9 can boast higher quality than film with so much more convenience.

    The high-end cameras have surpassed film especially in low light conditions.

    Scanning negatives is another issue with film. Unless you have a quality film scanner, you're adding one more step in the equation which may give you less quality.

    Since I haven't been able to test drive the FinePix X100 it's tough to make a quality comparison. I don't think I am ready to trade in my DSLR camera for it right now.

    It would be a more of replacement to carry instead of a compact camera for me.

    By: Robert Lachman

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