The Wedding & Portrait Photographers International (or WPPI as it is fondly known) is a photography conference and expo in Las Vegas, Nevada. WPPI is the place to be for the ultimate portrait and wedding photography enthusiast.
This year’s show featured an array of announcements from top camera brands Canon, Nikon, Tamron, and more. It was also full of opportunities to test out all sorts of photographic equipment.
Here is our review of some of the coolest new gear to hit the market in 2018!
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Lensbaby Burnside 35
The Lensbaby company are known for their innovative effect lenses and optics. This company’s newest pride and joy is the Lensbaby Burnside 35, an f/2.8 lens.
The Burnside 35 features the iconic ‘swirl’ bokeh that Lensbaby is famous for. This effect is seemingly influenced by the Petzval objective which causes a swirly bokeh and vignette.
Pairing two doublet lenses with an aperture stop in between is the way to create this effect. The first lens corrects spherical aberrations and the second corrects astigmatism.
But together, the pairing creates the swirly distortion we’re all familiar with.
I was very intrigued by this camera lens’ unique feature: a built-in vignette slider.
This means that you don’t have to darken the edges of your photograph in post processing. You can use an in-camera effect and save yourself the editing trouble.
You can adjust the intensity of the swirly bokeh by changing the aperture. F/2.8 will be most intense, while something like an f/16 won’t have any swirl at all.
For me, saving time on the editing front was a real plus about the Lensbaby. Having all of the effects in-camera/in-lens comes in real handy.
This 35mm lens is also nice and wide. It can focus up to 6 inches away from the glass itself, making it excellent for macro photography.
I was exceptionally pleased with how fluid the manual focus was as well as the vignette slider. Both moved with ease and can be adjusted with just one or two fingers!
This lens is exceptionally sharp when the focus is right, making sure that your subject is very clear. The equipment is lightweight and easy to carry, another welcome characteristic in lenses.
ExpertPhotography recommends: Lensbaby Burnside 35
Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2
The 24-70mm is one of my personal favourites. And I really enjoy comparing this lens across all different camera brands.
Tamron’s SP 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 is one of the new kids on the block that I got to see at the WPPI.
Improving upon their previous 24-70mm version, this new lens is said to be significantly faster than its predecessor. Tamron also promises top-level image quality due to the new image stabilization performance.
The final benefit of Tamron lenses is the optional TAP-in Console. This allows you to configure the focus and image stabilization.
When I tried the lens, the first thing I noticed was how incredibly sharp the lens was. It focused immediately on my subject without much help from me.
The back-of-the-camera result was vibrant, clear, and every detail perfectly brought to light. This lens felt about the same weight-wise as Canon’s equivalent, with a similar comfortable build.
The extremely fast focus is what stays fresh in my mind as it was very impressive. I could already tell this would be a great lens for wedding photography.
ExpertPhotography recommends: Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2
Much like the 24-70mm lens, the 70-200mm is my second favourite focal range. It’s also a really popular lens choice. All lens brands have a version of this and the comparisons are rather fun.
This telephoto lens dons similar features to the 24-70mm mentioned above:
- very fast auto focus
- improved vibration compensation stabilization
- a brand new optical system
- close focusing distance
- teleconverter compatible
This lens does work best on full-frame bodies but is compatible with crop sensors as well.
When I first tried the lens, I did notice it feels a little heavier than some of its comparison models. That being said, the 70-200mm focal range will always bear a noticeable weight. The Tamron SP 70-200mm is one of the lighter telephoto lenses for sure.
The colours it resulted in were beautiful and vibrant. And the accuracy of the focus is certainly a contender in purchasing this lens.
For wildlife photographers, this lens’s fast and accurate focus will impress. I was able to lock on to my subject immediately (even in lower light situations).
Keep in mind that this lens comes in Canon mount and Nikon mount only.
ExpertPhotography recommends: Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2
Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG HSM ART
You’ll often hear “Sigma” in the same breath as Canon, Nikon, and Tamron. Their announcement at the WPPI was the brand new 14-24mm f/2.8 DG HSM ART.
This is a full-frame lens with APS-C compatibility. The lens build features dust and splash proof construction with weather sealing. Sigma also promises virtually zero distortion at infinity focus.
This ultra-wide lens is designed for 50-megapixel plus cameras for outstanding high-resolution image quality. An updated Hyper Sonic Motor (HSM) provides fast and accurate auto-focus. 3 FLD and 3 SLD glass elements, 3 aspherical lens elements, and 1 large-diameter aspherical element minimize chromatic aberration results in extremely sharp images. (https://www.sigmaartisans.com/lenses/)
I immediately noticed the amazing quality of every shot I produced with it. My one complaint would be the stiffness of the zoom and focus rings. It took considerable force to rotate either one.
I was genuinely impressed by the lack of chromatic aberration results. It even stood the test of photographing dark objects on a very white backlit background.
ExpertPhotography recommends: Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG HSM ART
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 180-400mm f/4E TC1.4 FL ED VR
Seeing the soon-to-be-released AF-S NIKKOR 180-400mm f/4E TC1.4 FL ED VR lens in person was quite possibly the best part about the WPPI.
The first of its kind for Nikon, this lens has a built-in teleconverter. The lens is sealed against dust and moisture, and features a fluorine coating on the front element that helps repel water and dirt. The tripod collar rotates and is removable.
This lens is primarily addressed to wildlife and sports photographers, who require as much versatility as possible. It can turn from a 180-400mm into a 252-560mm lens at the flip of a switch due to its built-in teleconverter.
It’s able to shoot at fast burst speeds, and capture consistent exposures at very high frames per second.
At the WPPI, I had the chance to try the only model currently on display in the United States pre-shipping. The aesthetic of the lens itself caught my eye immediately. The beautiful black finish with gold accents makes the 180-400mm a sight to behold.
This lens weighs significantly, as can be expected by its focal range. But it is significantly smaller and thinner than similar lenses from other brands.
It was rather easy to switch the teleconverter on. The switches are very conveniently placed for easy hand access. The aperture is consistent, which aids a lot in ensuring nothing changes while you’re shooting.
However, all of the grand features that make this lens an epic selling point also limit it significantly. It is only compatible with certain Nikon bodies (the full list can be found on the lens’s description page on Nikon’s website).
Priced at a whopping $12,399.00, this lens is not for the faint of heart.
Canon EOS M50 Mirrorless
Another exciting announcement came from Canon – their newest camera body, the EOS M50 Mirrorless.
Mirrorless cameras are becoming more and more popular. And the M50 sets itself up to be a big contender.
The EOS M50 captures 4K UHD 24p video, alongside vibrant photographs as a result of the 24.1 Megapixel (APS-C) CMOS Sensor using the built-in Electronic Viewfinder or Vari-angle Touchscreen LCD.
What I found best about this photography camera is how comfortable it was to hold. It’s also very lightweight and portable.
Also new new for the M line of cameras, the Vari-angle Touchscreen LCD is a major selling point. The screen has a flexible tilt range ideal for high-angle and low-angle shooting. This means you don’t have to lay on your stomach or shoot blindly to get your ideal composition.
Tap the screen during Live View while taking photos or videos and the EOS M50 will quickly lock focus to that location in the image.
The ability to make adjustments right on the screen ensures silence when shooting video. No annoying button noises anymore! (https://www.usa.canon.com/internet/portal/us/home)
This camera is available for pre-order currently, and will be retailing at around $899.99.
ExpertPhotography recommends: Canon EOS M50 Mirrorless
This is most likely the best known body in Nikon’s line now. With a whopping 45.7 effective megapixels and ISO sensitivity from 64-156000, it’s a great this camera is an asset for any Nikon user.
The D850 is able to shoot 7 frames-per-second and up to 9 frames-per-second with the battery pack. This is the first Nikon FX-format DSLR to offer full-frame 4K UHD video and 8K time-lapse sequences.
From landscapes to wedding photography, this camera is versatile and adaptable. It also features a touch-screen, ideal for video shooters who need a silent way to adjust their settings.
And you can also tilt the screen.
The body feels great in hand. The grip is very comfortable and the weight isn’t so remarkably heavy that your arm feels like it’s getting ripped out. Everything felt very sturdy and durable.
The menu and ease of use is spectacular, and its low light capability is a sight to see (very minimal noise).
Much of Nikon’s booth at the WPPI was covered in absolutely massive prints. They were all taken by the D850 to showcase its maximum capabilities.
Finally, video shooters will rejoice again. This body features an ‘Attenuator’ mode for the camera’s audio capture. This rolls off any loud noises to avoid unpleasant clipping sounds.
ExpertPhotography recommends: Nikon D850
Tiffen Variable ND Filter
A neutral density filter the amount of light that enters your camera.
This allows you to shoot at your desired aperture without worrying about it being too bright outside!
Photographers use this to create motion blurs. But the main setback of ND filters is needing to carry so many different ones that are all different shades.
The Tiffen variable ND filter aims to change that. By simply rotating the outer panel of the filter, you can adjust an approximate range of 2 (ND 0.6) to 8 (ND 2.4) stops.
What I really liked about this filter is the ease with which I could adjust the stops. The rotation was very smooth and fluid. The filter itself was lightweight and featured Tiffen glass.
While using this filter, you can immediately see how the adjustments affect the image. This way, you can maintain the integrity of the shot you want to take.
This filter is well-worth adding to any photographic collection.
ExpertPhotography recommends: Tiffen Variable ND Filter
Tiffen PRO100 Series Camera Filter System
This new filter holder enables you to use up to two Tiffen 4mm thick glass Motion Picture/Television filters at once. You can then create some amazing new effects and overlays.
The frame is built of aluminum, which makes it look robust. What really stood out to me was how easily I could attach it to the lens. Just two components (the adapter and product itself) and it is sturdy.
The filters are also very securely attached with no possibility of slipping out.
I enjoyed the fact that you could easily loosen it up and slide the filters around. You’re able to adapt the resulting effect to your liking.
Another very welcome feature is the edge sealing that prevents light leaks.
Check out our full guide to lens filters for more information.
Steadicam Air Monopod
One of the biggest reasons for photographers to miss a shot is equipment that is difficult to adjust. Monopods usually require twisting and screwing to modify their height. This is a major downfall for any fast-action photography where every second counts.
Steadicam Air aim to rectify this with their new monopod, featured heavily at WPPI.
This carbon built monopod uses a gas spring and a foot pedal to help photographers quickly and easily adjust its height. It takes no effort at all and is very smooth.
I have very little strength myself, at 98lbs and 5′ 5″. And I was able to very easily and efficiently adjust the monopod up and down.
The monopod also has a twist lock that allows for a full 360 degree rotation, which I quite enjoyed. The entire monopod only weighs about 3 pounds. It’s definitely not the heaviest piece of equipment a photographer will be lugging around.
The monopod’s collapsed height is 28 inches and its fully extended height stands at 62.5 inches.
Fotodiox Pro TLT ROKR – Tilt / Shift Lens Mount Adapter
On my last go-around the convention on the final day, I stumbled upon Fotodiox. They’d recently unveiled a new lens mount shift adapter, something I had not personally seen before.
Basically, this little mechanism turns most any lens into a tilt-shift. A tilt-shift lens is a lens in which the optics can be tilted and/or shifted in relation to the image sensor.
You can tilt up and down and shift side to side individually. The cool thing about a tilt shift is that it allows you full control over the perspective.
You can fix the perspective with a tilt shift or alter it to be even more imaginative. Make big objects small and small objects big, fix crooked walls, and so much more. Many architectural photographers love a good tilt shift for this reason.
The awesome thing about the shift lens mount adapter is that you no longer have to buy a specific tilt shift lens. The adapter allows a lens a 20mm total shift and 10 degrees of tilt.
There is also 360 degrees of rotation built in that can bring new life to vintage work horse lenses. The build itself is meant to have a very high tolerance.
This adapter is intended for Pentax lenses and either Nikon or Sony bodies only.