Posted on Oct 21, 2020
Hähnel is a long established name in imaging accessories, but in the fast-moving world of retail, the company recognised the need to branch out to survive some years ago. So, PN caught up with Chris Hähnel to talk about Hähnel’s latest strategy and introduce the new names in its product portfolio
SPONSORED BY HAHNEL
Hahnel Industries started up in Germany and opened a production company in Ireland, which is where the company is now based. It’s well-known for its excellence in imaging accessories and if you visit any reputable photo retailer, you’ll very likely find a display of its innovative products. Indeed, you may own a Hähnel remote release, rechargeable battery or flashgun. The brand’s reputation for innovation is second to none and you don’t have to look any further for evidence of this than the popular proCUBE2. It’s a battery charger, but no ordinary one. Available for a host of brands and camera models, the charger features intelligent microprocessor-controlled charging for two batteries simultaneously – but add a plate and it can charge four AA cells from the mains or in the car. It’s a great innovation and it’s products like this that has cemented Hähnel’s reputation as leaders in the photo accessory sphere.
“For more than 30 years we concentrated on selling our own products and with our smaller product range compared with other distributors, we could bring more dedication, focus and attention to what we sold,” says Chris Hähnel, director of Hähnel Industries. “But as the photographic market levelled off and then started to decline, we looked at our strategy and said OK, the world is changing so it was time to change that strategy. That’s how we became a distributor of other brands in the UK and Ireland, and we started to gradually broaden our base.
“Obviously the brands that we deal with now did not come about immediately and we were very selective about the brands we brought on. What interests me, for example, is if you look at Leofoto and Litra and our own brand, is that there are lots of common denominators. They are all high-quality products, very much design driven and none really compete at the bottom end of the market.”
Of the current brands in Hähnel’s portfolio, Litra was the first with a small, unique product range. “We often get feedback that Hähnel products are over-engineered and that’s something I am happy to be guilty of, and I think Litra products are the same. The lights are incredibly well engineered for their purpose and I am very comfortable with that philosophy,” he says.
Next came along Tokina lenses. “Such an iconic brand in our industry. I have been involved in marketing lenses since 1986 and when Tokina lenses approached us and shared its roadmap, they also gave us the confidence that they were looking for a long-term distributor in the UK and Ireland. I am a firm believer in the optical quality of its great products and the brand has huge potential. Tokina is going through a rapid change at the moment with an aggressive product roadmap for 2021-22, and it’s diversifying its current range, which is very much DSLR-based at the moment, to more mirrorless products,” says Chris.
“A big change in the lens business over the last few years has been the success of mirrorless and the lens market is now very fragmented in terms of mounts. It’s no longer just Canon EF and Nikon F mounts and we have several significant lens mounts in the market.”
It was about a year ago, that Hähnel took on the distribution of Leofoto tripods and heads.
“The reaction to this brand has been absolutely phenomenal,” says Chris. “What interested me in the brand was that the products are exceptional and they are carbon fibre only, but also what goes on in the background and the consistent way the brand goes to market across the different countries of Europe, which helps photo specialist retailers.
“Lastly, we have Zhiyun, a market leader in gimbals with solutions for creatives across the world and who are at the forefront of technology and always pushing boundaries.”
In these precedented of times, it’s clear that Hähnel is well prepared for the challenges that lie ahead, not just with its own product line-up, but with the distribution in the UK and Ireland of world-renowned quality brands. Let’s focus now on those brands.
Zhiyun is a multi-award winning, market-leading manufacturer of motorised gimbals for phones, stills and video cameras. Highlights in its range include the Weebill S, the Crane 2S and the Crane 3S.
The small and lightweight Weebill S suits mirrorless and DSLRs, and has plenty of versatility for creative shooting. For larger cameras, such as the Panasonic S1H, the Crane 2S is the gimbal of choice, while the unique modular Crane 3S has a payload limit of 6.5kg.
Zhiyun has a solution for creative people everywhere, helping the user capture better quality photos and video footage.
For more information, please visit the Zhiyun website.
Litra LED lights
Litra is an award-winning manufacturer of LED lights for professional and enthusiast creative content producers. Its products are renowned for their rugged build and robust engineering, so will deliver a reliable performance time after time in demanding environments. All three Litra products are certified MIL-STD-810G, a US military standard where products are tested in extreme conditions to determine if they are field-ready.
They are also compact, making them perfect for travel and location shooting, as well as for use in unusual situations, such as in action photography and mounted on drones.
The LitraTorch 2.0, at £100, is a small light that’s impact resistant, waterproof down to 20m and powerful, with a high 90+ CRI rating. It also gives flicker-free light, so perfect for video use, as well as for fill-in during stills work with its consistent 5700K output.
If more power and control is needed then the LitraPro is the unit to look at. It’s small enough to be camera-mounted, while its powerful output can be dimmed from zero to 100% and the bicolour LED arrangement means colour temperature is adjustable within the range of 3000-6000K.
This unit is waterproof down to 30m. A fully charged battery gives up to ten hours shooting at low power and 40-45mins at its maximum 1200 lumens output.
Top of the range is the LitraStudio, a bicolour unit that gives 3000 lumens of flicker-free output with an adjustable colour temperature range of 2000 to 10,000K. Light spread is even with no central hot-spotting, thanks to the precision-designed microstructure lens. Like the other Litra unit, this light is rugged and waterproof, down to 10m in this instance.
The LitraPro and LitraStudio can be controlled remotely with the free app, available for Android and iOS.
If you need reliable, continuous lighting that can be used anywhere, check out the Litra range.
For more information, please visit the Litra website.
As an optics brand, Tokina is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year and currently offers top-quality lenses for the latest high-resolution DSLR cameras, with mirrorless models also now being catered for. Its atx family of lenses is well established and a recent addition was the atx-m 85mm f/1.8 FE, a fast aperture telephoto for Sony E-mount mirrorless cameras. It features ten lens elements including one SD low dispersion element to deliver excellent resolution across the whole image frame with minimal aberrations.
The atx-i series is very popular, particularly the atx-i 11-20mm f/2.8 CF and atx-i 11-16mm f/2.8 CF. Both are high-performing, ultra-wide lenses and the only lenses of their type available for APS-C format Canon and Nikon DSLRs.
Tokina has also recently introduced the Opera and Firin ranges. Three lenses are in the Firin collection, the 20mm f/2 FE MF, the 20mm f/2 FE AF and 100mm f/2.8 FE Macro, all available in Sony E-mount. Meanwhile, in the Opera range, there are two lenses for full-frame and APS-C format cameras with Canon EF and Nikon F mounts.
The 50mm f/1.4 FF is a premium standard lens, designed to satisfy the needs of the most demanding users and the 16-28mm f/2.8 FF is a fast aperture zoom, covering the most popular wide-angle focal lengths – ideal for various subjects, including documentary, landscapes and portraits.
For more information, please visit the Tokina website.
Leofoto photographic supports
In a crowded marketplace, you need to have products that stand out from the crowd and Leofoto pro-level camera supports do just that. With each product coming with a ten-year warranty, you know the quality of Leofoto products is going to be exceptional. The products are designed by photographic experts and feature the best components and materials, are great to use and, most importantly, provide the best support to make the most of high-resolution cameras and advanced optics. The company offers only carbon tripods and uses Toray 100% ten-layer carbon fibre that features a cross rhombus structure for maximum strength and to keep vibrations to a minimum for great stability.
One of its popular models among enthusiast photographers is the Leofoto Ranger LS-324C, which is sold with the LH-40 Ballhead at a guide price of £349.99. Weighing in at 1.88kg, this portable four section tripod can take a 15kg load yet folds down to 48cm, extends to 139.5cm at its maximum and, because of its centre column-free design, it can give a camera position as low as 16.8cm without any fuss. If a greater height extension is needed, a centre column is provided in the bag and this fits between the tripod and the ballhead.
The LH-40 Ballhead is a low profile unit that accepts Arca Swiss-compatible plates and L-grips. It’s rated to take a 20kg load and the three precision-locking knobs keep the camera/lens held in the desired position with no creeping. The large knobs also make it usable with gloves on.
The Ranger LS-324C and LH-40 Ballhead is just one tripod/head combination – whatever your support need, Leofoto has a solution.
For more information, please visit the Leofoto website.
You can read more about Hähnel‘s wide range of quality accessories by visiting the Hähnel website.
As featured in issue 82 of Photography News.
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