2006-03-02 1221 Opinion: == What was hot, what was not == <b>More from the Focus on Imaging</b> Yesterday we took a trip . . .

What was hot, what was not

More from the Focus on Imaging

Yesterday we took a trip to the Focus on Imaging at the Birmingham NEC. Walking around the booths is a great way to gauge what’s big and going to be big in the photography world.

Here’s a taster.

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What’s hot

  • Printers, and the bigger the better. HUGE printers dominated. If you want to wallpaper your house using your digital images, you’re in luck. The quality of paper designed for these roll-fed behemoths has improved too. Canvas quality prints from a roll is definitely a possibility now.
  • Medium format film. Yep, film is here to stay, ironically in the older 120 and 220 roll film format. Even Ilford were doing more to promote their paper than their excellent black and white emulsions, but medium and large format cameras were very evident. Look out for boxwood large format like the beauty below.
    I want one
    The union of medium (and higher) format cameras and high-quality digital backs continues with both Phase One and Hasselblad showing off their latest wares. As the bottom end of the digital market continues to improve, the higher-end sees increasing demand too, it seems.
  • Studio backdrops and Portable studios. There’s clearly a demand for compact, great quality studio gear. Lights and reflectors were in abundance, but it’s the backdrops and small setups that fold flat for storage that got the attention. Especially popular were table-top setups that are ideal for those shoot straight-to-ebay needs. If you’re looking for sheer white backdrops, a few lights on claps and fold-away simplicity, you’re in a good crowd.
  • Going to extremes. Cameras are either becoming very small or very large, with not a lot in between. At the one end come teeny-tiny 6 mega-pixel ultra-compacts that look more like scale models than real cameras, but are still packed with plenty of features for even the most finicky shooter. At the other end of the scale are the “look at me!” digital SLRs that demand Schwarzenegger ‘s biceps and bank balance. Only a few cameras wander the middle ground that includes the larger compacts and the lighter DSLRs. I suspect it’s an area that will diminish over the coming year.

What’s not

  • 35mm film. It’s not dead yet, but it’s becoming more of a specialised taste. Compact digitals are at a quality point that’s more than acceptable for compact 35mm film users, and digital SLRs are close enough to the quality point for most would-be 35mm film SLR users. Where 35mm film is still thriving it’s in the disposable market, manual SLRs or specialist areas like Hassalblad’s wonderful XPAN. Sad, but true.
  • Video. While most digicams will shoot video too, not a lot is being made of this feature, still. Maybe next year.
  • Innovation. We saw tripods, cameras, lenses, lights, software and backdrops, but nothing truly innovative. There aren’t many products out there that are willing to stray from the comfort zone and offer something original. There are bucket loads of “digital slideshow”, “electronic album” and “easy photo tools” and most of them are pure tat. The only gem of the show on the innovation front was Metaza, a device that prints on metal.

There you have it. I look forward to next year!

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