This issue marks our annual
foray into what's new in the photo/imaging world and contains our
exclusive report on happenings at the annual Photo Marketing Association
(PMA) Show. We went to PMA with a full staff of reporters who covered
their respective beats and who fanned out across the booths and exhibits
to bring you the latest news and technological news from the show. True,
we concentrate on the gear here, but overall the show acts as a mirror
on the many changes in our world and how each will affect how you make
pictures, store them, and share them in the months and years ahead. Each
reporter did a great job in covering their assignments. While we all did
our fair share of running from one meeting and press conference to the
next, we did catch each other on the fly throughout the show and all came
away with a great sense of excitement about what's ahead.
The challenge in all this is discovering trends and boiling the information
down into a sense of how photography is evolving. There's no doubt
that the show was dominated by digital doings, but we also noticed that
film and film cameras are still coming on strong. Those who every year
predict the demise of film are always stymied by new films, great new
film cameras, and ways for photographers to find digital solutions for
utilizing their film images. Along with new scanners and printers comes
a tendency to label even tripods and bags and even lenses as "digital"
this and that. But film is still an essential part of what's happening,
and we can't wait to check out all the new gear--digital and
"conventional"--that made its debut at the show.
For this reporter some of the highlights included a new Leica manual rangefinder
35mm; a host of new lenses that are smaller, lighter, and faster than
ever; two new slide films from Fujifilm; a Canon digital SLR that breaks
price barriers; the coming Olympus and Pentax digital SLRs; new printers
from Canon; a great new Nikon VR lens; a host of new digital imaging organizing
software; a proliferation of walk-up digital kiosks; and new OLED screen
technology from Kodak that makes viewing previews on digicams easier and
more satisfying than ever before. There was also a quartet of new film
SLRs, some very cool digicams, including Nikon's stylish SQ and
the Kyocera/Contax Tvs digital, and the continuation of the ever-smaller
digicam trend with models from Pentax, Canon, Casio, and Minolta.
In fact, all of us felt like the veritable kid in the candy store, and
whatever our beat or interest there was more than enough to keep us happy.
It seems that rather than hurt photography digital has added new lifeblood,
with many new and innovative companies making their debut here at the
show. In essence, what's happened is that the digital camera has
changed from being a cute and handy computer peripheral to becoming the
lead as the most exciting and engaging digital product available today.
But making that "digital decision" is not a heavy matter;
in fact, digital is now so accessible that getting digital image files
from film will be as easy as checking a box on your film photofinishing
envelope. That way you can stick with film and prints and still take advantage
of what digital has to offer. You can do it yourself with lower-priced
scanners or simply have the lab scan your images for you. More and more
finishing options are now available in labs that will just scan your negatives
before printing anyway.
And, as a real kicker, digital may be the answer to a really pesky problem--redeye.
You can now handle redeye in your digital images automatically with some
new software in NikonView 6 and other new editing programs, or you can
send your film to Kodak's Perfect Touch lab and they will get the
red out for you. Now if that's not a benefit of digital technology
we don't know what is.
So we hope you enjoy this issue and all the new products, gear, and services
we report on from the show. While our reports cover lots of ground and
in some cases pay short shrift to some amazing gear, be assured that we
will be doing tests and reporting on the new gear and technology in the
coming months ahead.