Thursday | April 24, 2014

Silly Rabbit, TRYX Are For Hip-Hop Stars!

Casio Tryx2Casio’s new TRYX camera has an innovative swivel frame and LCD, plus lots of special effects

I’ve probably been to hundreds of press events showcasing new cameras and imaging devices, and some have been pretty exciting—from helicopter rides into the Grand Canyon to yacht parties around Manhattan. However, Casio’s launch party for its new TRYX compact camera, held in the Best Buy Amphitheater in Times Square on April 7, 2011, was one of the more unusual to date. The invite described a VIP press conference to show off the camera (which was announced at CES in January), followed by public performances from hip-hop stars Nicki Minaj and The Roots.

Check out a few product shots of the new Casio TRYX

Now, I know much more about sock hops than hip hop, and I’ve got to admit that before this event I was about as familiar with Nicki Minaj and The Roots as they probably were with a band called The Monkeys. From the colorful outfits and attitudes displayed by the singers and their supporters, it’s also a good bet we shop in clothing stores located in alternate universes. But that only made the event more interesting, while two disruptions made the event more “unusual”.

The first was a technical glitch, and the second was a technical foul. The glitch? As the president of Casio greeted the crowd and began his speech, the DJ controlling the sound on the opposite side of the stage took nearly twenty seconds to turn the sound up! Ok, technical problems occur, and prove that you can never be too prepared. But minutes later the DJ took another eternity to turn up the sound as the president of Best Buy appeared on screen to announce an exclusive partnership with Casio for the TRYX. Remember, we were at the Best Buy Amphitheater, so you’d think the sound crew would be better prepared. Thank god they weren’t in charge of the press event I attended by helicopter in the Grand Canyon!

Ok, maybe I’m being too harsh on the sound crew, since they were at least working to make it a successful event. That was in direct contrast to the group that caused the technical foul. About half way through the press conference, Nicki Menaj—wearing a one-of-a-kind beehive-style wig just like the one I always wanted—skipped onto the stage waving a special edition hot pink TRYX. Very entertaining! But as she did so both she and the stage around her lit up under a barrage of flashes unlike any I’d ever experienced at a press conference.


This video posted on the NYDailyNews web site shows Nicki Menaj in her wild outfit and with a cool pink Casio TRYX. But in the video you’ll see the barrage of strobe flashes she had to endure by some obnoxious paparrazzi.

At first I thought “half the people in this room must be taking flash pictures right now!” But then I noticed that right in front of the stage, which had been fairly dark till now, a contingent of about a dozen photographers were madly clicking away. Insanely, at least three or four of them had their flash units turned to high-speed strobe mode! So instead of taking a shot of Nicki every time they pressed the shutter button, these few were holding the shutter down and capturing images at 8-10 frames a second for several seconds at a time (most likely till the buffer filled or the flash unit needed to recharge.) Call me old fashioned, but pointing the camera in the direction of a still subject a few feet away and shooting at 8-10 fps with high speed strobe going off isn’t photography, it’s a variation of vacuuming the scene! (A term first applied to camcorder owners who recorded everything around them nonstop instead of creating short clips of interesting subjects.) A better name is “Strobing”. Unfortunately, advances in technology have made strobing possible, as newer DSLRs can fire at high fps with newer flash units set to FP mode, memory cards can hold a bazillion JPEG photos, and imaging software and fast computers can help photo editors sort their favorites out from the thousands of images vacuumed up by a non-skilled camera-holder.  The problem is that high speed strobe barrages not only cause a night mare on stage, but they can create overexposed images for most of the other photographers present who are shooting at normal rates.  It even messes with video captured at the event, as shown in the following video:


Within the first 20 seconds this ArtisanNewsService video clearly demonstrates how the obnoxious use of high speed flash by paparazzi can wreck the image quality of video footage (it gets really bad at the 1:25 sec mark). Strobing, as I call it, can also overexpose or leave white bands in still photos taken by experienced photojournalists.

 
To add insult to injury, seconds after Nicki Menaj left the stage the entire contingent of paparazzi (about a dozen or so) got up and left. Not quietly either, and apparently with no concern or respect for the fact that the press conference was only half way through! Who were they? I’d never seen any of them before, but I quickly deduced that they had to be the paparazzi covering the hip-hop scene. Not your average photojournalists, as you might have guessed.  I’d describe the group as approximately half men and women, mostly in their mid thirties, dressed like slobs, and extremely overweight on average. In addition to camera and flash gear, every one of them carried a stepladder and several backpacks filled with who knows what— making for quite a noisy exodus. I assume the stepladders served a dual purpose as seats and as platforms to get above the crowds.

New term for lousy photographer: Strober.

It’s a bit ironic that the use of high-speed strobes and cameras would be used to mess up a Casio press conference showcasing its new cameras. After all, Casio was the first company to push the high-speed camera envelope with the introduction of its Exilim EX-F1 in 2008, a camera that could shoot 60 fps in 6 MP res without flash, and 6 frames a sec with flash. Since then, a number of Nikon and Canon DSLRs can be synced with their external flashes at speeds of 6-10 fps, and ISO’s can be set much higher without appreciable noise, allowing your strobed flash to reach further. So setting the flash to high speed FP mode and vacuuming up the scene makes a lot of sense if you don’t have any skills at capturing the moment. But don’t kid yourself! Using this technique doesn’t make you a photographer, it makes you a “Strober”! And to the rest of us who not only know how to use our cameras at an event, but actually respect the other photographers and videographers around us, you are a pariah (Look it up. That’s a derogatory statement. Now you have two words to look up.)
Unfortunately, the “strober” is here to stay, and you’ll find them where ever the paparazzi gather. But we don’t have to let them into private events, so if you’re a PR agent thinking about promoting your products using hip hop or even rock musicians, let the paparazzi wait outside on their portable ladders.

 

About Author

Michael J. McNamara
Michael J. McNamara

Michael J. McNamara is the Editor in Chief of the McNamara Report, Principal Analyst at In-Depth Focus Labs & Studio, and Photographer at McPhoto Video.