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Press Release: GoPro Announces Kolor Acquisition

GoPro has announced its acquisition of Kolor, maker of the stitching software used for spherical 360-degree videos and panoramas. The video above shows what can be done with both companies joining forces. You get a interactive 360-degree video which was recorded with three GoPro Heros and stitched together with Kolor software. Viewed using Chrome, the video is fully interactive.

Now that there is a software solution in house for GoPro, they can now begin producing rigs and accessories to house multiple cameras. There are third party accessories but it can get pricey or you can make one if you have access to a 3D printer (schematics for 6 GoPros).

Continue reading for full press release.

Kickstarter: Ansix Introduces LensPacks - Rear Lens Caps for Your Camera Bag That Attach with Velcro

After successfully raising money on Kickstarter to launch its LensRacks gear storage system, Vancouver, Canada-based Ansix Designs is back with another innovative product for lens changes and storage.

According to Ansix, not having to fumble with your rear lens cap will allow you to change lenses up to 60% faster. Instead of capping your lens before putting it into your bag, you simply insert your lens into your bag and twist it into its fixed LensPacks mount.

The lens caps are said to fit into any camera bag. If a bag does not have a lining compatible with Velcro, Ansix is offering Velcro fasteners with adhesive backing.

Currently Ansix is offering Canon EF, Nikon F, Sony, and Micro Four Thirds rear caps, but it says it will support additional lens systems in the future. The company is seeking funding through Kickstarter, where it is seeking $12,000 CAD ($9,869 USD).

Continue reading for more information.

An innovative and easy-to-use Velcro lens cap system that allows for quick camera lens changes.

Meet LensPacks, the best accessory for your camera bag. By eliminating the hassle of changing rear lens caps, our patent-pending LensPacks allows you to perform incredibly fast lens changes. Its universal design is compatible with literally any camera bag so that your lenses are ready to be changed at any moment - instantly.
  • Reduce lens change time by up to 60% and never miss a moment by eliminating the inconvenience of slow, clumsy lens changes
  • Compact and universal design that would fit into virtually any camera bag, in any orientation you want
How to use?
LensPacks is very easy to use. It's designed with user-friendliness in mind.
  1. Use the Velcro fastener to attach LensPacks at a desired location inside the camera bag.
  2. Insert the lens into LensPacks and turn the lens to secure.

Deal: Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mirrorless Camera w/M. Zuiko Digital ED 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 II R Lens

B&H Photo-Video offers the Olympus OM-D E-M5 16.1-Megapixel Mirrorless Digital Camera bundled with the Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 II R Lens in Black or Silver, model no. V204040SU030, for $499 with free shipping. The camera features include a tilting 3” OLED touchscreen, 1080p video recording, image stabilization, up to 9fps, USB, HDMI, and SDXC card slot.

MindShift Gear Releases 13 Cases and Bundles for GoPro HERO

Our friends at outdoor photography bag developer MindShift Gear just alerted me that they have released 13 cases and bundles so that action camera users can find and use their GoPro cameras, attachments, and accessories with ease. The GP Series includes carrying cases for single or multiple cameras and provides easy organization for all the mounts, screws and accessories. And don’t forget, you will receive free shipping on your order.

The SpiderPro Hand Strap Now Shipping

Now Shipping.

After a highly successful crowd-funding campaign, the SpiderPro Hand Strap is now available! It comes in four different colors: Black ($65), Cream, Kodiak and Red ($75 each). You can purchase them from Spider HolsterB&H Photo and Adorama.

Be sure to follow us as we'll have a full review of the strap once we get it in our hands.

Continue reading for more information.

The SpiderPro Hand Strap
In a world of camera hand straps that simply do not work, the SpiderPro Hand Strap is set far above the rest – it's groundbreaking features, functionality and beautiful design mark a paradigm shift in how a hand strap should look, work and function.

The SpiderPro Hand Strap is designed for professional camera bodies and shooting environments, and it’s performance and ergonomics are simply unparalleled.

So why is the SpiderPro Hand Strap so revolutionary?
See the common problems regular hand straps suffer from, and how the SpiderPro Hand Strap solves these problems with ground-breaking features, beautiful design, and great functionality.

Pro Features
  • Adjustable to any size wrist.
  • Compatible with extended battery pack/vertical grips.
  • Puts your hand in a perfect shooting position.
  • Compatible with any tripod or Spider plate.
  • Clear access to your memory card slots and battery door.

Review: FLM CP30-M4S Carbon Fiber Tripod

Overview : The FLM CP30-M4S Carbon Fiber Tripod is especially suited for panorama photography. They can be integrated with an FLM Leveling able center column (available separately). The smallest CP30 has minimum stored dimensions 45cm and the FLM tripod head fits elegantly and perfectly between the tripod legs, without changing the overall stored dimensions. Each FLM Centerpod may also be used without a center column and include a changing thread from 1/4" and 3/8".

The CP30-M4S FLM Centerpod Tripod has 4 tube segments and the uppermost tube is 30mm in diameter. The height when closed is 470mm and the maximum height when fully extended with the center column is 1530mm. The weight is approx. 1.5kg and it has a load capacity of 15kg. CP30-M4S model has a retractable hardened steel tip / foot, for protection when not in use. With a few twists you can change the system from cushioned rubber to steel tip - quick and secure.

Features :
  • Lightweight: 3.3 lb
  • Load Capacity: 33.1 lb
  • Maximum Height: 60.2"
  • Minimum Height: 5.1"
  • 4 Sections
  • 8-Layer Carbon Tubing
  • Twist Locks
  • Retractable Spiked Feet
  • Removable Center Column

Adobe to Announce Lightroom CC/6

There was talk of a new Adobe announcement and it was rumored to be a new Lightroom. PCMag published their article about Adobe Lightroom CC/6 hours before the official announcement:
With Apple's Aperture out of the game, Adobe's Lightroom pro photo-workflow and editing program is even more dominant on Mac and Windows PCs, though there's still plenty of competition from the likes of ACDSee Pro, CyberLink's PhotoDirector, and DxO Optics Pro, Phase One's Capture One, and Corel's AfterShot Pro. One feature that Aperture could long claim over Lightroom was facial recognition, but now Adobe's photo workflow juggernaut has that, too.

Lightroom CC is now available as part of an Adobe Creative Cloud Photography subscription ($9.99 per month) or as the equivalent standalone $149 perpetual-license Lightroom 6 application. But the single purchase option won't include syncing photos to Adobe's mobile apps, such as Lightroom Mobile, Slate, and Voice. Adobe uses a smaller-footprint version of the photo file called Smart Preview for transmitting to Web and devices, so bandwidth and storage aren't taxed unnecessarily.

In addition to face detection and tagging, Lightroom CC/6 includes new panorama, HDR (high dynamic range), as well as significant speedups. According to Adobe, the new version renders some effects thousands of percentage points faster: For example, on a Microsoft Surface Pro 3 $1,149.00 at Amazon, the Exposure adjustment is claimed to be 2,704 percent faster, and the Distort effect is a jaw-dropping 7,931 percent faster.

HDR tools have long been available in other photo software, even products from Adobe such as Photoshop Elements. Lightroom's HDR tool lets you combine two shots of the same scene shot at different exposures to produce a result with equalized lighting. Also new are brushes for Graduated Filter and Radial Filters. Finally, the desktop programs now offer more slideshow options, including a pan-and-zoom effect and transitions that sync with music beats.

Along with the updates to Lightroom for desktop Windows PCs and Macs, the Lightroom mobile apps for iOS and Android have been updated with a segmented view that groups photos by date, an easier method of star-rating photos, improved crop, and copy-paste for adjustments.

PCMag spoke with Sharad Mangalick, Adobe Senior Product Manager for Photography, in advance of the release. Mangalick noted that smartphones and tablets have changed the landscape of photography, with not only capture but editing and organizing starting to be done on the mobile devices. In some cases, that results in harmful effects to workflow, with each app downsizing JPG files and getting more compressed.

"What we're seeing is an opportunity for Adobe to step in and streamline the workflow and clean it up so that photographers, whether you're pro or very casual, can have the best output with the highest quality and have it be really simple to use," he said.

Early attempts at mobile versions of Lightroom were wanting in some ways, but Mangolick says the goal is to get mobile and desktop work like the same product.

To view synced photos and comments, visit For an in-depth look at what Adobe's pro photo workflow software has to offer, read PCMag's review of Lightroom, which will be updated with the changes shortly.
You can purchase Lightroom 6 from Amazon, B&H Photo and Adorama.

Deal: Lexar USB 3.0 Dual-Slot Card Reader

Amazon offers Prime members the Lexar Professional USB 3.0 Dual-Slot Card Reader, model no. LRW307URBNA, for $12.95 with free shipping. Non-members can spend $35 or more to qualify for free shipping; otherwise, shipping costs $8.22. It features read speeds of up to 150MB/s and transfer speeds of up to 500 MB/s.

Adorama and B&H Photo Video charges the same.

Review: FLM QRP-70 Quick Release Plate

Overview : The QRP-70 from FLM is a dovetail quick-release plate made for cameras with a 1/4"-20 tripod thread. It allows you to quickly attach and detach your camera from a tripod, monopod or other support. The cork-coated surface protects the bottom of your camera body and prevents camera-twist.

Features :
  • Cork-Coated Surface
  • Laser Engraved Scale
Technical Specifications :
  • Camera socket (inch): 1/4 = 0.64cm
  • Dimensions (mm): 70 length x 44 width x 10 height
  • Weight (g): 56
  • Max. Load (kg): 60

Photoflex Officially Announces Sudden Closing of Business

On April 1st, Fstoppers had posted about popular photo accessory company Photoflex going out of business without warning. Fstoppers had emailed them and received this response:

Photoflex, Inc.

April 2015

Photoflex would like to thank all of our supporters over the last 30 years. They have been filled with very fond memories and challenges from our start-up days out of a garage through our multiple locations and countries we have done business in over the years.

To our employees past and present – our 30 years in business could not have been done without you and you will forever hold our thanks and support.

We do understand this may come as a surprise to most of you however this was necessary due to health reasons of our primary holder and industry changes that we no longer have the ability to invest in.

We still remain hopeful that the Photoflex brand will live on in some capacity and while we work through those opportunities it was necessary to close our office. We are still servicing our existing dealers and distributors and will do so until all opportunities have been addressed.

We hope to be able to notify all of our supporters in the next 30 days of final outcomes and at that time we will post a message on our website.

All the best and thank you for your support

Gene Kester and Sharon Reeves
I personally never used their products but it's sad to see a photography business close.

Press Release: Lensbaby Announces Velvet 56 — The Most Versatile Portrait Lens Ever Made

PORTLAND, OR and ST. LOUIS, MO – (Marketwired – Apr 7, 2015) – (ShutterFest 2015) — Lensbaby, providing creative effects lenses to photographers that ignite their creativity and expand their unique visions of the world, today announced the Velvet 56, a new high-end classic portrait lens. Velvet 56 will be on display for the first time during ShutterFest 2015, being held April 7-8 at St. Louis Union Station, St. Louis, Missouri.

Velvet 56 is a 56mm f/1.6 SLR and mirrorless camera lens with 1:2 macro capabilities. This “new classic” portrait lens delivers a velvety, glowing, ethereal look at brighter apertures, and beautifully sharp but subtly unique images as you stop down — with gorgeous, velvety tones that give digital images a film-like, organic quality. Incredibly versatile, Velvet 56 enables photographers to move seamlessly from shooting an environmental portrait, to capturing details in a subject’s clothing or jewelry. Nature and macro photographers will find its close-focus capabilities, combined with effects varying from impressionistic to just a touch of velvety smoothness, provide a set of visual tools that will expand their vision of the world.

Evoking the image style and construction quality of classic portrait lenses of the mid-20th century, Velvet 56 features the heft and smooth, dampened manual focus of these early lenses. Velvet 56, with an all metal body, will be available in two colors: traditional black, plus, Velvet SE, a special silver edition. Velvet SE will feature a beautiful clear-anodized finish, along with engraved aperture and focus markings.

Velvet 56 allows direct access to the creative process of making beautiful and compelling images. This lens is a fluid extension to the photographic experience — the touch of the flawless metal, the tactile feel of minute details etched into its surface, the sensation of smooth, dampened manual focus. Photographers can effortlessly evoke classic appeal and transition from distant subjects to macro easily, capturing a variety of details in any given scene.


“Velvet 56 is the result of our tireless efforts to offer a brand new lens design that combines the best qualities of classic lenses while eliminating the negative aspects of classic lenses,” said Craig Strong, Lensbaby Co-founder & Chief Creative Officer. “Utilizing a never before used singlet-doublet-singlet optical design, we have combined a variable glowing highlights with tack sharp latent details even at the maximum, f/1.6, aperture. This groundbreaking design, combined with macro focusing, gives photographers one of the most versatile lenses ever made, helping them create images of any subject matter with unique heart and soul. Portrait photographers can now add a new must-have lens to their bag of most-loved equipment. Nature and macro photographers will appreciate the subtle variable, buttery-smooth aesthetic.”

Velvet 56
Specs and Features
  • f/1.6-16
  • 1:2 Macro
  • 56mm
  • 62mm filter
  • Focuses from 5″ from front element to infinity
  • Metal lens hood included with Velvet 56 lenses for mirrorless cameras only
  • Dimensions (DSLR) 86mm at infinity to 112mm at Macro, 71.96mm diameter
  • Dimensions (mirrorless without hood) 94mm Infinity to 120mm at Macro
  • Weight ~400 grams
Velvet 56 retails for $499.95 (MSRP) and $599.95 (MSRP) for Velvet SE. The lenses will be available in Canon, Nikon, Sony A and Pentax mounts beginning 4/13/15 at, B&H, Adorama, and from select specialty photo stores worldwide. Mirrorless mounts including Micro 4/3rds, Sony E, Samsung NX and Fuji X will be available in early May 2015.

Nikon Announces Selfie Stick

Nikon announced a new selfie stick (model MP001) that can be yours for $59.95. You can place your order at Adorama or B&H Photo.

Even though it says it's "designed" for use with the COOLPIX, it's compatible with any point-and-shoot camera, GoPro or cellphone (with appropriate mount).

Detailed description of the Nikon MP001 selfie stick:
The N-MP001 is a Selfie Stick, which when attached to compatible cameras, allows you to conveniently and easily take “Selfies” or self-portrait photos. It is designed for use with the COOLPIX AW130, S33, S7000, S3700, S9900, S6900, and L32 cameras.

When collapsed, the N-MP001 is 7.3" in length, and when fully extended, it measures 28.5". The Selfie Stick connects to the tripod mount of the camera, and also features its own threaded mount on the bottom for attachment to a tripod or monopod. Such a configuration would give you increased length for greater versatility. A fixed pan-head allows you to easily change the position of the camera when it is attached. The stick weighs only 0.4 lb and can support a camera up to 0.9 lb.

The Selfie Stick features a foam grip for comfort and a hand strap for easy carrying when not in use. A fixed pan-head allows you to easily change the position of the camera when it is attached to the Selfie stick.

Guide: How to Buy Used Photography Gear

I'm always on the look out for photography gear and want new toys to play with. But that comes at a price...typically a hefty price. Like most people, I would love to have a brand new toy where I'm the first to touch and use it but sometimes, I don't mind used items especially if it can save me some money. Yes, it's second hand but think about the few hundred dollars that you're saving. You can put those savings towards other gear you've had your eyes on.

These are a few places you can go to buy used/refurbished gear.

Online Photography Stores
We all know who B&H Photo and Adorama are. If not, they are the two most popular go-to photography retailers to buy gear from. Both offer refurbished gear (either from manufacturer or they refurbish them themselves) or used gears from trade-ins. There are many other reputable online stores as well but not all of them sell used/refurbished items.

Online Photography Communities
  • FredMiranda — Free to join and buy. Requires membership fee to sell
  • aka POTN — Free to join, buy and sell. Requires 30 posts and 30 day membership to see Buy/Sell forum
  • Dpreview — Free to join, buy and sell
FredMiranda, and Dpreview are one of many community based forums. Photographers sign up to contribute and discuss everything ranging from gear, news, rumors, critique images or even show off their own. They also provide a place for photographers to unload their gear and to buy as well. None of these sites takes any responsibility for anything that may happen as it is a P2P (peer-to-peer) transaction. Depending on the site, it may have a feedback system so you can see seller/buyer feedback ratings from other people they have dealt with. If you're buying, always pay with PayPal and not PayPal Gift.

We all know eBay and is a great place to buy used gear. Craigslist is another good alternative to buy used gear from local sellers and a place for you to see it in person before purchasing. Since transactions are usually done in cash, make sure to meet in a public area that has surveillance and people such as a bank, mall or a police station. It's up to you if you want to bring someone with you as well and definitely bring your camera (if needed) to ensure that the item works properly.

General Tips
You'll have people who are professional photographers to novices. You'll have gear that is babied and looks pristine or those that have taken a beating not from physical abuse but from being used a lot and they value the image more than the gear itself. Majority of the photographers that I've dealt with have a thing called "Gear Acquisition Syndrome". They typically purchase gear, use it for a little bit and sell the item to either fund other gear or to upgrade to the newest and latest thing. Sometimes, the equipment may still be under warranty.

Any purchases that you make from other sellers, ALWAYS get as much detail about the product and actual pictures of the item before purchasing. Do note that any gear that is complete with packaging will tend to be slightly higher in price than and item without the packaging.

Camera Bodies
DSLRs lose their value faster than any other photography equipment. It's kind of like a car. The moment you drive it off the lot, the value depreciates. As the older it gets, the less it is worth. Of course, once a newer model of that camera is rumored, announced or released, the older model drops in price dramatically. This is great for those looking for backups or looking for that specific camera but didn't want to pay the original price tag.

DSLRs do have a lifespan and their shutters are rated for a certain number of clicks. This doesn't mean that your camera will stop completely. It can still work past the rated number of clicks but would eventually need to be replaced. Other than checking the condition, always ask the seller how many actuations are on the shutter and not based on the number that is attached to the image. EOSCount (Canon only), Nikon Shutter Count (Nikon only), Camera Shutter Count, ShutterCounter andMyShutterCount (Nikon only) are to name a few.

Even though camera bodies depreciates in value rather quickly, lenses usually do not. The reason for this is because they are built to last a long time and new versions don't come often. Like any item, always ask to see the condition of the item. Scratches on the body of the lens is OK since it is exposed to elements and accidental bumps are unpreventable but the most important thing is to make sure that the lens itself is flawless from dust inside the lens or scratches on the surface of the glass (both front and rear). If you have the ability to check out the lens in person, make sure that the autofocus motor still works well and zoom lenses move smoothly. If it moves freely where the lens is facing down and it automatically extends, it's no good.

Flashes and accessories

When it comes to flashes, they tend to hold in value in the used market fairly well. The drop in price is between a camera body and lenses. They don't drop in price as quick but will drop when a new version is released (which usually isn't often). If you're handy, sometimes you can buy a damaged flash that was dropped and replace the part yourself. Precision Photo and USCamera sells parts.

When it comes to light stands, tripods, camera bags, light modifiers and other items, you can get a pretty decent discounted price on the used market. There are a slew of 3rd party manufacturers and different variations that it pretty much comes down to personal preference and what people are willing to pay for them. They will definitely show signs of use but the most important thing to look for is that they are in working order and there are no rips or tears in the camera bags. From what I've seen with bags that are being sold are either barely used or never used. Most of the time, it's being sold because they've outgrown the bag by acquiring bigger and more lenses.

Some people don't want refurbished items because it may have been damaged prior, will have damages/scuffs or think that it may have problems down the road. I personally have no problems with refurbished because they are refurbished by the manufacturer whether it be Canon, Nikon, Sony, etc. Sometimes a customer returns a product for a refund without even opening the box or using the item at all. There's nothing wrong with it, but the item can't be sold as new and has to be offered as a refurbished product—often at a deep discount (around 15 to 30 percent).

Other types of reasons products get labeled refurbished include:
  • Shipping or exterior damage: Minor scratches or dents to the product during shipment would force a retailer to return it to the manufacturer to be repaired.
  • Demo units: Demonstration units used at trade shows, retail stores, or product reviewers may be repackaged as refurbished items.
  • Opened box: Technically, there should be no issue and the item is "like new," but the box was simply opened. It may have been used slightly but otherwise works flawlessly.
  • Production defects: If a defect in one part is found, manufacturers might repair the returned defective units and sell them or send them to retailers as refurbished units.
I actually would choose a refurbished over new because refurbished are handled and checked to ensure it is working properly by a technician. With new products, its manufactured, boxed and shipped. No one is testing it to make sure it works before being put in the box. So even though it is new, it can have issues out of the box. Refurbished are not only discounted and perfectly working items but they come with warranty and sometimes the same as what a new one would have.

Make sure you're looking/getting a factory or certified refurbished. Sometimes places such as eBay or retail stores will have items that are refurbished but by the seller and not by the manufacturer.

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