|Don't laugh. One day your cameras will be here too|
Every year, I declare that I will not be going to the annual UK photographic show. However like a Caribou following the herd, I again found myself driving down a rain sodden M6 to the industrial wasteland which goes by the name NEC to find new and innovative ways to burn holes in my credit card.
This year I had even fewer excuses than normal to go. I have lenses My lens that cover most of my needs from a stonking zoom through a decent macro and ending up with reasonable wide angle. I am still getting to grips with my Sony A6000, and my DSLR, while long in the tooth and probably need of an upgrade is going OK. In short I had no real reason to go
That last paragraph is in fact a total lie.
|follow the light......|
As for the show itself? Well I have two big issues with this photographic show.
Firstly the show likes to present itself as a festival of photography and you would imagine that with so many photographers in attendance the organizers would take the opportunity to celebrate photography in all its forms.
Nothing could be farther from the truth.
In truth it is glorified trade fair. This can be evidenced from how they treat the photo exhibitions. These are mounted in the eating areas where you have to dodge supine members of the public lying like beached seals against the boards. I really wish the organizers would provide a gallery area with proper lighting and mounting, but I guess that would reduce the amount of selling space available.
Secondly issue is the NEC itself.
Even after you have paid for the tickets itself, the costs just mount. Despite having car parks the size of Belgium, they still feel the need to charge you £12 for your stay . A collection of adverts masquerading as a show program comes in at £5 and what is euphemistically termed food is sold at prices that someone attending a West end restaurant would feel aggrieved about.
Then there is the venue itself. For a show that should be about the art of photography, the NEC has the warmth and ambiance of an aircraft hanger.
So lets recap. I had nothing to buy, do not like the show and will be paying hover £30 for the privilege of going.
So why did I go?
Well firstly, it is close. My total journey from work or home is only 40 minutes, which makes it a temptation
Secondly is the herd thing. It is the feeling that if I was not there I could not be serious about my hobby, which is of course total bullshit.
Finally despite its limitation, it is a place where you can play around with a huge mix of products, and hopefully I would get some sort of inspiration or new ideas.
This year I could only make it half a day. This is however not a bad thing. I find any more than 3 hours and both my physical and mental muscles are tired out. After 3 hours I really need to leave since I am at my most susceptible to any sales patter and could easily be persuaded to part with a large amount of cash for a product I have no use for.
Unfortunately this meant that I had little opportunity to visit any talks or lectures. Considering the number of friends and colleagues who came home with a new printer, the one by Doug Chinnery seems to been the one to go to and I'm sorry I missed it. However I did catch the talk again by sport photographer, Bob Martin, who is always a pleasure and inspiration to listen too. When I get to go to the Olympics as a sport photographer, I am sure his advice will be invaluable :)
|Bob Martin, sports photographer extraordinaire|
I also noticed some changes this year. One welcome change was the move away from scantily clad models (mainly female) on the camera stands. This hopefully is a sign that manufacturers are growing up and being more inclusive. Another obvious change was the number of drones sellers this year showing how big drone photography has be come in recent years.
|There is always one...|
What was as interesting was the what was missing.
Sigma seemed to be the only major lens manufacturer there. Of the main camera manufacturers, Leica did not show up, maybe feeling that the venue were beneath them.
After there impressive showing last year, Serif were not hear meaning out of the photo software companies, only Adobe had any presence.
In terms of new technology, Fuji was the most interesting. I still think their cameras can take retro a tad too far, but they are a work of art and the lens line up is well thought out and high quality. I was also interested in their new medium format camera, the GFX 50S. It took fantastic images, but the suggestion that it could replace a dSLR for general work seemed unlikely due to its weight and size. However I would not be surprised to see more professional landscape photographers migrating to it, if for no other reason to differentiate themselves from full frame cameras, which are starting to filter down pro/am photographers now,
Talking of which I had a go on the Sony A99ii, which seemed a very good camera, if not a tad heavy. However its price plus the need for full frame lenses will probably be forever out of my reach.
So did I come away with anything? Well apart from a few magazines,I got a reasonable priced travel tripod for a coming holiday. I was also interested in a few products. I have a yearning for a camera trigger systems, but whenever I look at them they always feel a bit expensive for what is nothing more than a sensor trigger and a adjustable timer. I feel it is something I could knowck up myself if I had the time and inclination. I also liked the macro lights by adaptalux. I have desire to do more macro work and these looked good for lighting your subjects. Again however they seemed quite expensive for what they were, but well engineered and put together.
So after all that, will I go next year? At present, no, but I said that last year and i ended up anyway. Maybe I am approaching the show in the wrong way and I should go with a group. After all if you are going to follow the herd, you might as well be part of it