Focus on Imaging 2010
8th March 2010
This years Focus on Imaging show was the 21st since it began. We took time out to have a day looking around, to see what new gadgets were about to help us with our photography, what new or expanded services were now available and to see if we could gauge what was currently the market mood.
As usual it was in the same two halls of the NEC, halls 9 and 10 and although not as many stands, or even variety of stands as at previous shows over recent years, there were more sitting and chill out places it was still worth the visit to find out who was still in the market place. Of course the big names like, Nikon, Canon, Epson, Fuji, Lastolite, Jacobs, Wacom, Sigma, SpeedGraphic, and more were there as well as membership organisations and some of the photo magazines such as Outdoor Photography and Digital Photographer as well as many of the smaller retailers and manufacturers of products.
So what took did we look at this year.
Of course at this show you not only get to see the latest technology and accessories but many stands are attracted to attend by the ability for us to be able to purchase direct from them while we are there. Many if not all offer show discounts if you buy or sign up right now. Well we did buy a couple of items, useful gadgets I think you'd call them.
On the same stand we also purchased the Phottix Lambancy - Flash Diffuser a device, similar to a Lightsphere, which fits onto your speedlight flash to give bounced flash light in locations where light cannot be bounced easily. Its portable, lightweight and easy to carry around. At a cost of around £25 its a good addition to your camera bag. As well as an article looking at it in more detail, we also have one which compares this with other methods, see Flash diffuser - lambency compared.
Staying with light, there was another product called Litepanels Micro, which were miniature lights similar to what is used by television and broadcast news. They fit on the top of your camera where the flash would go, but give out constant light from their LED panels. They get their power from using 4 AA batteries. They are said to be flicker free and heat free and the light remains constant. They also come with a dimmer switch so the amount of light they emit can be from 100% to 0, giving front on soft light. They are in fact a portable version of studio Cool-Lites. See our article Cool-Lite's Explained to find out how these work and what their benefits are for a studio situation. Now you can have the same by mounted on your camera and you're not restricted to staying indoors. For more information on the Litepanels see www.litepanels.com.
There are now a number of instant canvas framing kits on the market. It is now possible to print at home your photos on canvas and with these framing kits, frame it yourself and hang within minutes and with no specialist tools or knowledge. This year the only noticeable thing was that there are now more suppliers of these kits of differing designs, and the prices have come down considerably. Last year I saw the Hahnemuhle Gallerie Wrap System in operation, with the ability to buy kits that would take both A4 and A3 sized canvases, so you could print the canvas on your office/home A4 or A3+ printer. Everything is included in the kit, their starter kit which produces 2 x 12"x8" pictures includes 2 x A3 canvas sheets, 2 x 8" stretcher bars and 2 x 12" stretcher bars, 4 x positioning corners, 1 bottle of glue and metal corner pins, today this will set you back £21.99 from Warehouse Express. They now have two ranges the Gallerie Wrap Standard which has stretcher bars from 8 inches to 24 inches and Gallerie Wrap Professional which has six different stretcher bar lengths from 13 inches to 40 inches, so much larger pictures can be achieved, although of course at the larger sizes can't be printed on your home/office printer.
At this years show I took at look at the Wunderbars System which has been produced for Fujifilm and was on their stand. This system has been produced with constant tension stretcher bars and they come in a range of sizes from 8 inches up to 48 inches. They have self tensioning corner blocks and they claim is stays taught and will contract and expand to the rooms temperature and humidity. Each frame has a spring pin mechanism which automatically stretches the canvas and ensures it stays that way, no wedges are needed. To put the canvas picture together the only tool you need is a staple gun. The stretcher bars come in two different woods, Tulip Wood and Scandinavian Pine. This system seems a lot easier to put together with no messy glues or glue tabs and with it's constant tensioning system you don't have to worry about canvas sag, so it should last. An A3 frame would cost you £14.03. For more details on this system and a short video showing you how it goes together see www.wunderbars.com.
Another area I particularly wanted to look at and update my knowledge on was photobooks. There are many companies now in this market from do it yourself at home packages, the local supermarket, to online suppliers, to quality producers for top quality bound versions used by wedding photographers etc. The books also come in a range of qualities and styles. Most if not all have start prices for just one copy, so no large volumes have to be purchased. So it now possible to create your own coffee table book using your images, simply put together with online or free downloaded software and it arrives with you 7-10 days later once printed. At the show Paper Spectrum were showcasing their Pinnacle range of print your own Mybook Photo Books in A4 and A3 sizes with prices starting at £17.24 for 20 sheets of paper (40 sides). Blurb were showing their system of downloading their free software onto your computer, create your book using their standard layouts at your own speed in your own environment, choose tjhe size of your book from 6 pre-defined sizes and your cover and upload, place your order. They also have a Share or Sell facility where you can price, promote and sell your books in their online bookstore. Paperback books start at £6.95. BobBooks system allows you to create a coffee table book and come with a fully photographic gloss wrap around cover, custom made to your requirements. So you download their software, put together your book offline, choose your book format, drag and drop photos where you want them, add text and then send completed book to them online. In 7-10 days it arrives with you delivered to your door. Fotoboox took the time to show me how their software worked, it was simple once its downloaded onto your computer, you merely drag and dropped your images into the pages, you could add page backgrounds, text, styles and loads more. They have 6 sizes of books from A5 to A3 and prices start at £9.99. If you are already into selling your photos and working for clients and you want to offer this service to your customers then they also have an application that allows you to add this facility with your own branding to your website, but the orders go straight through to them where they take the money on your behalf and get the product printed and despatched to your customer. There were many more. If you are interested in finding out more about photobooks, how you go about creating them and where to get them printed then see our articles on this topic Making your own Photography Book Printing Photo Books Yourself and others.
portrait view modes but it can also rotate through 180 degrees in either direction allowing you to position it to your natural arm movement. It can also be colour calibrated to match other displays as well as output devices. The pen has been designed to have a more natural feel with a contoured barrel that minimizes grip effort and makes it more natural to use, the pen nibs are also removable and the pen stand not only holds the pen but comes with compartment containing different pen nibs and a pen nib removal tool. At a cost of around £1,500 it's not cheap but you are getting two products in one a 21" screen and a tablet and if you do a lot of photo editing you may find this more useful than you think. For more details see the Wacom website.
The show was busy and although probably no headline grabbing product which jumped out and said buy me, with today's market of having to buy more online it is a good place to go to each year if nothing else just to get to see and feel the products on offer. If you didn't get there this year, then try and make time for next years show.
Next Years Focus on Imaging Show at the NEC, Birmingham is on:
6th to 9th March 2011
See Focus-on-Imaging website for more details and update on who and what will be exhibiting.