by Mike McNamee Published 01/04/2010
Mike McNamee gets to walk about Halls 9 and 10 Focus on Imaging was later than normal this year but the walk across the Siberian wastes of the car parks was no more pleasant - at least it never rained!
The cold did not seem to deter the punters. Many of the stands were overwhelmed on Sunday and Monday. Wednesday was reasonably quiet, although some significant deals were being struck for the larger items of kit.
The Societies' stand took very heavy traffic for much of the time and this was reflected in a record take of new members. The stand was even busier when lectures were being delivered, despite some heavy audio competition from across the open space between ourselves and other stands!
As ever, a busy lecturing schedule for your Editor left little time to roam the highways and time was spent between resting, eating and getting to see people. An analysis of the stand listings revealed nothing unusual, other than a decrease in companies from the Far East and (perhaps) an increase in companies offering training (eight at least). Albums, presentation and framing were well represented with 17 stands including newcomers Blurb and recent exhibitors Moo.com. Inkjet papers were well-represented on 12 stands, including new arrivals, Canson and Tecco. The camera makers Canon, Nikon, Sony, Phase One and Linhof were present. There was thus something for everyone and many stands reported excellent business.
Amongst the scramble to get around the halls the following items stand out. Many will, hopefully, be followed up in detail at a later date: Fotospeed were showcasing a new baryta paper from Canson. One of four barytas in their range, the new baby is called Baryta Photographique 310gsm. From the limited look we had at a test print, we can confirm that the Dmax is very high indeed at 2.40. It has a high base reflectance at 98.5% and is just 0.5 Lab points cooler than neutral.
Visually, however, it has a slight cream appearance. There is no OBA lift in the spectral trace although it does reflect quite strongly in the UV Booth. Our intention is to compare this paper with the other Fotospeed barytas as part of a mini-test. The three established barytas took the members' vote in the past two year's Trade Awards and so these papers are well regarded.
Permajet were showing their new Ultra Pearl Paper, one we had fully tested ahead of Focus and reported in the last issue of Professional Imagemaker. They do seem to have found a little gem here and they sold out in the first two hours!
Overall they were very bouyant, having had their best Focus ever (up 22½ per cent), busy all the time (including Wednesday) and doubling their sales of their EcoFlow system.
Wacom had a new wireless Intuos 4 tablet along with a new version of their state of the art Cintiq, the 21UX. The wireless Intuos 4 is a welcome development as the trailing wires from either a tablet or a mouse are always something of a pest in the working area. During the demonstration at Focus the systems seemed as responsive as the wired, Intuos 4, which impressed us such a lot a few issues ago. We look forward to doing a full review in the near future, along with our first look at the Cintiq systems One of the most interesting chats was with Andy Bennett, the recently appointed 'category manager' for Kata bag products. Andy has an evangelical zeal for all bag-related matters and took great delight in showing off his new babies - prototype bags of the new, lightweight designs.
They have certainly worked hard, shaving weight from every nook and cranny of the bags, along with inventive use of new and modern materials, allied to good old-fashioned Ripstop nylon. They have got the Bumblebee 222 down to an astonishing 1.5Kg (3.3lb). It is the first bag that I have seen with an 'airflow brace' intended to lift the rear face of the bag away from contact with the back of the wearer. This has been used with success on climbing,/walking rucksacks for some time and certainly is a boon for wearer-comfort, my own rucksack has it and it doubles as a camera bag. The Bumblebee 220 is slightly larger and weighs in at 1.8kg (4lb) with capacity for two or three DSLRs and up to eight lenses (and a 500mm large-limit).
The largest, Beetle 282, also complies with current airline carry-on luggage sizes but is a roller bag. All the series have compartments for laptop computers. Our intention is to perform some field-testing of these bags in the near future.
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