The Photography Show at the NEC

Yesterday I went to The Photography Show at the NEC with my good friend Richard to look at the latest toys and get some inspirational ideas for our product ranges (i.e. what else we could be selling).

In general, lots of good stands showing the latest and greatest stuff ranging from cameras and lenses, stills and video, 360-degree cameras, printers and papers, albums and photo-books, aluminium and acrylic bonded prints, and plenty of opportunities to spend large amounts of cash.

I was keen to get my hands on one of the latest wide-angle primes from Olympus for my OMD-EM10. They kindly let me put on the very dinky and desirable little M.Zuiko 17mm f1.8. I could only get a brief impression of it “in the hand” and that impression was very good.

M.Zuiko 17mm f1.8
M.Zuiko 17mm f1.8

Small, very solid, it felt very good on the camera and I’m certain it would be a pleasure to use in the field. The show hall was fairly dim so I was getting very slow shutter speeds and very wide apertures even at ISO 800 but the few shots I took show very nice sharpness at the focus point and very nice textures in the out of focus areas, as can be seen in this shot of my beloved EM10’s successor, the EM10 mark 2. I’m pleased to note they’ve changed the awkward on-off switch of my model and it’s now on the top plate. The old design was (and still is for me) a bugger with gloves on:

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OMD-EM10 Mark 2 taken with OMD-EM10 Mark 1 and 17mm f1.8 lens

…and another shot, this time of my own battle-scarred 14-42 lens:

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My battered 14-42mm pancake taken with new M.Zuiko 17mm f1.8

While at the Olympus stand, they very kindly gave my camera a full clean and service for free – top marks! They couldn’t do anything about my broken battery cover though.

We went to the Epson stand to look at the latest P800 printer. I’m still using an old (but great) 2100 while Richard is on the more recent R3000. Both of us would like to upgrade to bigger prints. Richard had brought some of his wonderful pictures from his recent trip to the Lofoten islands and the Epson man kindly loaded them up and made a couple of A2 prints of them. Much more quickly than I expected (about four to five minutes for an A2 sheet) the prints were ready and looking wonderful.

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Richard with A2 Lofoten print from Epson P800
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Lofoten panorama from Epson P800

Richard had been interested to see how his Sigma Merrill shots would stand up to that level of enlargement. The answer was wonderfully well. Richard later got his wallet out and ordered the P800. I hope he’ll let me make a couple of prints to see how my EM10’s 16 megapixels stretch to that size.

It was good to meet an old colleague of mine from many years ago, Tim Parkin of On Landscape magazine. I’d like to say that I worked with Tim before he was famous 🙂 He’s done incredibly well in the imaging world since then.

Richard and I both really liked the range of aluminium, acrylic and glass bonded borderless prints available. We both think they’d be really saleable but the prices are currently about twice what we’d need them to be to make them saleable for us.

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High gloss aluminium print from Loxley Colour
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Very attractive wooden prints from Loxley Colour

Richard is an enthusiastic Sigma user and we wanted to see the brand new SD Quattro. It was a little bigger than we’d expected but felt just perfect in the hand. It didn’t have either battery or lens so weight was difficult to judge but fairly light, I think. Obviously a whacking great zoom lens might change that a little. The controls fell to hand really nicely but I was only guessing as to their assumed function as I couldn’t turn it on to check. The killer for me though would be lack of Lightroom support.

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Richard and Sigma SD Quattro

This was my first time at the show but I think I’ll definitely be back next year. I was really impressed by how friendly all the stand staff were, such as the Blackmagic Design guys who let us play with their 27″ 5K imac even though we weren’t actually interested in the Blackmagic products and the Epson guy who made the prints for Richard.

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