Here’s a rundown of what I checked out at WPPI today:

LowePro Pro Roller x200 – a two-in one suitcase and camera backpack that splits into separate parts as needed for carryon vs. checked bags. The outer bag has an official TSA lock, plus a screw mount for a makeshift tripod or accessory in the extendable suitcase handle! (Clever, but maybe not entirely practical.) More details on the x200 >

Another camera bag I tried out was the Tamrac 5770 Velocity 10x. This is one of those “sling” type bags, that rides on your back, but unlike backpacks, has only one strap. This allows you to swing it around from front to back when you need to pull out your camera. I think of this like a hybrid car – not really perfect in all situations, but great in specific situations. After trying out this pack I still prefer a backpack for longer hikes and a shoulder bag for quick access. That said, I like what Tamrac is doing with their designs. Their part of the photo market – carrying camera gear – is really competitive, and new companies are competing head-to-head with established ones, because — at least in my mind — there really is no perfect camera pack for all situations. For what it does, I like the Tamrac 5770 Velocity a lot.

By far the most compelling backpack I tried on was the Think Tank Streetwalker Pro. It’s the right size, the right weight, the right design, at the right price. I like that it will hold my camera with my longest lens attached. And if needed, it will hold two bodies plus several lenses. This is the next camera backpack I will buy. But I admit that I — like many other photographers — am a compulsive camera bag buyer, so this will certainly not be the last.

Hahnemuhle papers has announced a new partnership with Harman papers, and the new product looks great. I’m always surprised and glad when inkjet paper takes big steps forward in quality, longevity and price. These new papers excel in all three areas. This partnership was just announced this week, so details are still sketchy online, but I’ve seen the product and it’s worth keeping up with.

I spent some time at the Tamron booth looking at their new lineup of AF lenses. Although my bag currently contains only Canon L-glass, mainly because I use full-frame dSLRs like the Canon 5D Mark II, I’ve used Tamron lenses for years and I like them a lot. In many ways, I believe they are the leading lens company in the business, but explaining that would take more effort than I can muster at the moment. After shooting with them just on the show floor, I can say the 17-50 and 28-270 VC (vibration control) lenses are great quality lenses, at great prices. I think these two lenses represent enormous potential on the road. They are fast, light and produce really sharp photos. I would like to pair these Tamron lenses with the Canon 50D or 7D. More work with them in the field would be necessary to confirm the performance, of course, and reading more reviews would help, but at this point I would have no hesitation buying either of these lenses for APS-C sensor cameras.

I next met with Ron Henry, the inventor and founder of Black Rapid. Like camera packs, I’ve tried all kinds of straps … and at this point, I believe Black Rapid is it for me. Not to get too geeky, but Black Rapid represents the best of innovative thinking and development (my words, not theirs). This is stuff that works. But… straps and products that you wear on your body are things you have to try for yourself to find out if you like the feel and function of them. And just for women – Black Rapid has developed a unique strap coming into the market very soon. Stay tuned!

Then I looked at music. Well, listened to music. And looked into buying some. Adding music to photo presentations is something that lots of wedding, portrait and event photographers have needed for a long time. But I’m a travel/scenic photographer, so what do I care about music? Well, since you asked 😉 these days I’m thinking a lot more about creating “experiences” with my photography. Slideshows with music present lots better than without. And my work has started to include video. Remember the term “multimedia”? This is where photography is headed. “Experiential” was a touch-word I heard a lot at this show. So, I’m thinking about how music can add to my visual art. The best solution I saw at this show was Triple Scoop Music. One of the owners and co-founders, and an accomplished musician, Ali Handal, explained it to me: basically, you find a song you like, you pay $60 to license it for life, and you can use it in any media except broadcast (for which you’d just need to call them to work out the fee). I listened to lots of their music, in all genres and from all kinds of artists, and it was really good. Definitely worth looking into.

After checking out all those products, I was ready for some real education. I got lucky and stopped by the Canon booth just in time for a great presentation by Bruce Dorn called “The Moving Portrait” about shooting video with modern dSLRs. Really great stuff. I also saw demos by Bruce and his Canon Explorers of Light fellow Hanson Fong about using Canon Speedlight flashes in studio lighting. This is the kind of learning experience that makes spending time on the trade show floor really worth it.

Inspired by Bruce and his explanation of camera support for shooting video, I went over to the Induro booth. I’ve been using the Induro CX114 for several years and really like it. It’s sturdy, light and well-made. I think Induro tripods are a very good value. I was interested in a monopod for shooting video and found out about the CM25. Along with a fluid pan head, I think this will make a good mount for mobile video shooting.

Later in the Canon booth, I watched a fun and inspiring presentation by Photoshop Hall of Famer recipient Eddie Tapp. He demonstrated all kinds of creative photo editing techniques in Photoshop and Adobe Camera Raw.

Finally, to round out the day, I met and chatted with Jeff Payne, a regional Hasselblad rep I met at the booth for Pictureline, a camera and imaging retailer in Salt Lake City. Jeff invited me to demo the new Hasselblad H4D40 medium format digital camera system, which I did shortly thereafter. I’ll write about that exciting experience in a separate post.

Stay tuned!

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