Photokina is MASSIVE!
Most UK photographers are fairly used to going to Focus on Imaging at the NEC in Birmingham. Especially if they are after some new piece of equipment that they want to get their hands on and compare to others from a competitor.
It kinda makes sense to walk into a place and be able to look at two or three different solutions to something you want to sort.
Over the last couple of years Focus has suffered. Attendance has fallen off and hard times means that some exhibitors didn’t turn up – even after paying for their booths! An often heard complaint was that Focus was becoming a wedding photographers show – not that there is anything wrong with that, it’s just that there were more people selling photo albums and frames the there were camera manufacturers.
So off I went to Photokina to have a look and help out a friend on their lighting stand. Arriving on Thursday evening having driven through some of the most spectacular thunder and lightning storms, I was well set up for my first day at the show. The first thing that strikes you is… It IS massive. I’m not sure that a single person spending 6 days at the show would actually make it around all of the 18 halls. There were manufacturers from every corner of the photographic universe, including a few that just didn’t make any sense at all (one was a polish lady selling milling machines – obviously useful if you were inclined to make your own screws or spare parts for your cameras. The other one was a guy selling puppets… actually more like ventriloquist’ dummies – problem was that he was a terrible ventriloquist, and at €140 a pop that’s an expensive toy. Having said that, you know the expression that goes – “if it can be used for photography…”).
I did my research before leaving and there were some interesting possibilities that were on the brink of being launched – Canon 1Ds mk4, something from Nikon maybe even something new from Hasselblad or Phase. It didn’t take me long to bump into one of the Nikon staff staying in our hotel for me to hear a story that was regularly repeated by everyone I spoke to. Photokina is no longer a show that manufacturers use to launch their new products. I was curious as to why and this is what everyone said: ‘Why would a manufacturer choose to release their new product at Photokina when their competitors would then go on to release something else?’ The moment of glory typically lasted for hours before your competitor released something newer or better. Every manufacturer I spoke to said that by leaking new products on the internet it gave them more hype for longer than ever before.
So back to Photokina.
The highlights were few and far between. Everyone I met said it was a disappointing show. Equally everyone was very impressed that all the major players had not only turned out, but had spent a fortune on their stands. In the brief walks that I managed I saw everything from skate boarders to circus acts, fast cars to famous fashion photographers all touting their wares for one company or another. Just to set the record straight, I had no intention of blogging Photokina, but come the last day I couldn’t help myself from doing a couple of interviews with people or products I found interesting. In the back of my mind, I couldn’t help wondering why anyone would go to Photokina (unless you actually lived in Cologne) so when I met a blogger from Canada by the name of Klyment (http://www.youtube.com/user/Klyment) I had to ask.
How many Photokinas have you been to?
Klyment “This is my third”
Why do you keep coming back to Photokina?
Klyment “Every Photokina I see something that changes the way I shoot”
You know. That’s good enough for me. If I could see something every two years that changed the way I worked, I’d travel half way around the world to see it! Klyment has a number of interesting videos from Cinec and Photokina which are worth looking at.
Anyone who is seriously interested in what was at Photokina and is looking for information on something in particular should pop over and visit the DP Review website (http://www.dpreview.com/) they have done a brave job of getting out there and reporting back on just about every new release that the show had to offer. They have extensive product reviews and many sample images shot with the new cameras.