Photo by recep-bg via iStock
The photography industry is in continual flux. Companies are constantly improving, pushing forward, and devising new innovations that make our jobs of capturing the perfect shot much simpler. The same goes for creating videos - the process of filming, editing, and producing high-quality videos is easier than ever before.
Now, this isn't to say that generating beautiful images and impactful videos is easy. It's still a lot of work! But, some brands in this industry have developed products that make the process far easier. So I figured, why not highlight some of the brands that I find the most helpful in my photo and video work?
This guide pulls the curtain back on some of the most innovative products I've used in 2023. This is a growing list, too, so check back frequently to see which new products I add to the list!
Table of Contents
When you think about photography lighting, you probably think of traditional continuous lights, flash guns, light stands, and so forth. And who can blame you? Most lighting companies have been around for a while and offer the same old thing.
But most companies aren’t Hobolite…
Photography lights are usually an afterthought on set. They’re functional items that are behind the scenes and do their job. But Hobolite believes that beautiful gear can inspire you to create more beautiful photos, and I wholeheartedly agree.
I’ve field-tested numerous lights from Hobolite over the last several months (like the Micro and Mini shown above), and I can tell you first-hand that these lights make me want to take more photos (and better photos!) more often.
However, the aesthetic appeal of Hobolite’s classic design is only part of the equation. Another feature that makes Hobolite an innovative company is the quality of the light available from such small packages.
A great example of this is the Hobolite Micro - a light that fits in the palm of your hand yet offers features like a high CRI/TLCI of 96+, a magnetic mount for accessories, bi-color output from 2700-6500K, and a built-in battery. It even has NFC capabilities to operate it from your phone.
Again, these innovative features are in a light that weighs just .52 pounds and can be used with a host of accessories like barn doors, gels, a fresnel lens, a frosted dome, and much more. Of course, these and other features are available in the lights throughout Hobolite’s product lineup.
In this way, Hobolite products aren’t just tools but are an expression of the creativity of those who use them. This is true whether you’re using the entry-level Micro, the professional-level Hobolite Pro, or something in between.
It’s worth mentioning that Hobolite isn’t just about lights, either…
In addition to its broad range of lights, Hobolite offers many different accessories to complete your lighting kit, from softboxes to light stands to batteries and chargers. I’m currently testing a new product called LiteDock that will add another layer of innovation and functionality when it comes to market.
In other words, while Hobolite might not be the oldest lighting company around, they have certainly made a name for themselves. That’s hard to do in a niche like photography lighting that’s crammed to the brim with established companies.
However, this just speaks to Hobolite’s dedication to disrupting the lighting space with beautiful, functional gear for photographers and videographers who demand quality and portability at an affordable price. If you need to upgrade your lighting equipment, partnering with an innovative company like Hobolite is a smart move!
Another brand that has really impressed me in 2023 is RØDE. But unlike some of the other companies on this list, RØDE isn't new to me...
I've used RØDE mics for years both in and out of the studio, and I've been thoroughly impressed. I have various models, from the RØDE VideoMic NTG to the Wireless Go II. I also use RØDE's NTH-100 headphones when I'm in the studio and the RØDECaster Pro II for audio production in my studio as well.
And while these products have all been impressive, the item I want to discuss as the most innovative from RØDE this year is its Wireless Pro mic.
The Wireless Pro microphone is a game-changer in terms of design. It's incredibly compact, ensuring that your focus remains on the person in the video, not on a bulky microphone. This sleek design is perfect for content creators who want to capture high-quality audio without cumbersome equipment.
RØDE has designed the Wireless Pro with versatility in mind as well. It seamlessly works with a wide range of devices, from my MacBook Pro and iPhone to professional cameras like my Canon EOS R5 or R6. This universal compatibility streamlines your workflow and lets you switch between devices effortlessly.
With a generous 32GB of internal memory per transmitter, you have over 40 hours of onboard record time at your disposal. This eliminates the need for constant memory card swaps, making the Wireless Pro perfect for extended recording sessions.
RØDE has incorporated timecode capabilities into the Wireless Pro as well, revolutionizing audio syncing in post-production. This feature dramatically reduces the time and effort required to synchronize audio and video, eliminating the need for an external timecode system. Talk about innovation!
The Wireless Pro also takes audio quality to new heights with its Intelligent GainAssist technology. It provides flexible output gain control and a safety channel to ensure that you capture the best audio when recording to your camera. Say goodbye to clipped or distorted audio.
RØDE's Series IV 2.4 GHz digital transmission with 128-bit encryption ensures highly stable audio transmission over an impressive range of up to 850 feet. This ensures that your audio remains crystal clear even when shooting at a distance. And RØDE doesn't overlook the details. The inclusion of locking 3.5mm TRS connectors ensures a secure and reliable connection, further enhancing the microphone's reliability in demanding shooting environments.
The 32-bit float on-board recording feature provides a safety net for your audio, too. It allows you to recover audio in post-production, whether it was too loud or too quiet, ensuring that you capture the perfect sound every time. The Wireless Pro also offers headphone monitoring with on-board level control, giving you real-time feedback on your audio quality while recording.
And RØDE goes above and beyond by including a comprehensive accessory kit with two Lavalier II microphones, MagClip GO mounting clips, various cables, a smart charging case, and an accessory case. This ensures you have everything you need to enhance your content creation experience.
In summary, the RØDE Wireless Pro microphone is a testament to RØDE's commitment to innovation. It addresses the common pain points of content creators, offering a compact, easy-to-use, and versatile solution that delivers exceptional audio quality. Priced at around $400, the Wireless Pro provides immense value for its cost, making it an attractive choice for both professionals and budding content creators.
RØDE's dedication to improving and evolving its microphone technology ensures that this product truly knocks it out of the park for creators in 2023!
In the realm of photography and videography gadgets in 2023, the GoPro Hero 12 stands out as one of the most innovative and sought-after devices. This sentiment is shared by many enthusiasts and professionals alike, who, like me, have a deep appreciation for GoPros.
Over the years, I've amassed quite a collection, including the GoPro Hero 12, Hero 11, and Hero 10, and while the newer models are enticing, there's something uniquely captivating about a GoPro. These small, compact, highly functional, and versatile cameras can adapt to various applications, making them indispensable tools for creative expression.
However, it's not just the inherent brilliance of the GoPro that makes the Hero 12 exceptional; it's the potential to enhance its capabilities with a range of accessories that sets it apart from the rest.
The GoPro Hero 12, as the latest addition to the HERO series, is a powerhouse of an action camera that redefines the boundaries of what you can capture. It raises the bar for image quality, firmly establishing itself as the best HERO camera ever created. Let's delve into the remarkable features and specifications that make this camera a standout choice.
At the core of the Hero 12's innovation is the introduction of HDR (High Dynamic Range) video and photo capabilities, ushering in an era of more vivid and breathtaking imagery. With stunning 5.3K and 4K video resolution, this advancement is a game-changer for anyone who demands exceptional video quality, whether you're capturing breathtaking landscapes or the most thrilling adventures. The Hero 12 ensures your memories are faithfully preserved in all their splendor.
Another standout feature of the Hero 12 is the upgraded HyperSmooth 6.0 video stabilization, which takes the concept of smooth footage to an entirely new level. The addition of the 360° Horizon Lock guarantees that your videos remain incredibly steady, no matter the level of action unfolding in front of your lens. It's the perfect companion for those on-the-go shots, whether you're navigating a rocky trail or conquering white-water rapids.
With an industry-leading 177° field of view, the Hero 12, when combined with the Max Lens Mod 2.0, allows you to capture a broader scene and create cinematic, immersive footage. This is particularly thrilling for videographers looking to push the boundaries of their creative content.
Never missing a moment is crucial, and the Hero 12 excels in this regard with its redesigned power management system. It offers improved thermal performance and up to 2x longer runtimes, ideal for those who require extended shooting sessions without worrying about battery depletion.
For those who value pristine audio quality, the Hero 12 introduces Bluetooth audio support, enabling the use of devices like Apple AirPods for wireless sound recording and voice control. This feature enhances your ability to capture clear audio and issue voice commands remotely.
The Hero 12 offers a wide range of video resolutions, too, including 5.3K60, 4K120, and 2.7K240, catering to a variety of filming needs. Whether you seek ultra-high resolution for stunning visuals or ultra-smooth slow-motion for dramatic effects, this camera has you covered.
Beyond its video capabilities, the camera's large image sensor captures an ultra-wide 156° field of view in an 8:7 aspect ratio, ensuring you capture more in each frame. It can also extract stills with an impressive 24.7 megapixels from video, providing ample room for creative post-processing.
The GoPro Hero 12 doesn't just excel in performance; it's also built to withstand the elements. With waterproofing to a depth of 33 feet, it maintains GoPro's legendary durability, ensuring you can take it on any adventure with confidence.
Furthermore, the Hero 12 introduces the ability to wirelessly synchronize multiple cameras simultaneously using Timecode Sync, a feature that's perfect for multi-camera setups and advanced video production. Additionally, it includes GP-Log and LUT support, catering to professionals who require precise control over their footage.
So, it's clear that the GoPro Hero 12 stands as a revolutionary action camera that redefines the standards of image quality, stability, and creative potential. This camera embodies the GoPro spirit of durability, ensuring you can capture the perfect shot, regardless of the environment. Whether you're an extreme sports enthusiast, an aspiring filmmaker, or simply someone looking to document your travels with unmatched clarity, the Hero 12 is the ideal companion for your journey into the world of photography and videography in 2023.
A brand I wasn't familiar with until 2023 is GVM. These guys have various products for video production, from mono lights and panel lights to teleprompters and microphones (and many other goodies!).
Yet, despite not using any of their products until earlier this year, GVM has quickly gained my admiration, and more importantly, my trust. I use the GVM PRO-SD300B 300W Bi-Color Monolight (shown above) as my primary light in my studio and the GVM BD45R tube light (shown below) as a backlight for my videos. I also have the GVM YU150R PRO LED Video Light Board RGB & Bi-Color Studio Light in my studio for added lighting for my video content.
In each case, these lights have been thoroughly impressive...
For starters, these lights can be controlled with a companion app for iOS or Android. That means I can quickly and easily turn the lights on and off as a group. I can also make color or brightness adjustments on my phone, among other things. Nice!
The quality of the light is impressive as well. Each of these lights has a CRI and TLCI of 97+, which means they produce accurate color and realistic object colors on camera. Better yet, you get that high-quality light at a price that's a fraction of other lights on the market. It's the best of both worlds - beautiful light for less money!
It's worth mentioning the build quality of these lights, too. The PRO-SD300B is made from aluminum alloy, which not only helps reduce its weight for better maneuverability, but it also ensures this light can stand up to the rigors of constant use. The YU150R PRO LED Video Light Board also has a solid all-aluminum structure that enhances durability while making it a lightweight option for my studio lighting needs.
I have to tip my hat to GVM for innovating how lighting algorithms work, too. You see, GVM has a new algorithm that allows these lights to maintain consistent brightness across color temperatures - something that many other lights cannot do. Now, I can adjust the brightness of the lights without worrying about how the color temperature will change. This might seem like an inconsequential change, but if you spend a lot of time in front of a camera like I do, the value of having consistent brightness cannot be understated.
In other words, GVM has stormed onto the scene, and I've enjoyed every minute of it. These lights are easy to use, solidly built, and have superb light output. And as I said earlier, you get these and many other features with a surprisingly low price tag!
If you're ready to level up your lighting game, GVM is a worthy consideration. Their innovative products can be game-changers for you if you're a photographer, videographer, or both!