Our Reports From The Big European Show

This issue contains our photokina show report, a summary of what caught our eye at the giant photo and imaging show held in Cologne, Germany, every two years. While we concentrate our main energy on the PMA Show held here in the US (our report on that show will be in our July 2007 issue), photokina does represent a milestone in photography in its international appeal and breadth of products introduced. Our coverage is in summary form, for the most part, as it is impossible to discuss all the new products shown without turning the report into a laundry list. For further information we encourage you to visit the manufacturers' websites or www.shutterbug.com.

One of the most fascinating aspects of this show, and something we do not cover extensively in our reports, are the various and shifting alliances that are taking place within the photo industry. As we entered the show grounds we were greeted with the news that Leica now owns a majority share of Sinar Bron, effectively taking control from Jenoptik. We also saw more and more products from the so-called 4/3 Alliance, with Olympus showing Sigma and Leica lenses at their booth as proof of the growing strength of that standard. And we also saw how both Canon and HP are touting their alliance with Hahnemühle paper, which has made a very strong play for the fine art photographer/ printmaker. We also mused about the Pentax/Samsung and Olympus/Panasonic mixes and wondered where these companies would be a year from now. All, by the way, seem quite healthy and made a good showing at their booths.

While this is not a business trade magazine, there certainly are implications for readers when a company goes under, or certain products are no longer serviced. And there are even more implications when consortiums combine formats, or develop new hybrid products, or even, as is the case with Zeiss, start to act more independently and bring out new products that seem to, in some cases, pick up the slack and replace those left behind in the rush toward digital imaging.

What was also notable here was the lack of major new product unveilings by some of the major traditional camera companies. Both Canon and Nikon had long since announced their new products for the end of this year, and while their booths were packed with onlookers, there was not much new for us to report. And the Kodak booth, while large, was mostly covered with blank white walls, occasionally interrupted by a photo and logo. Their new Portra films were the top news, mainly updates to the previous emulsions.

One area in which photokina does outdo every photo show we know is in the space devoted to images. Their Visual Gallery covered one complete hall, and there were many more photo exhibits throughout the halls. In addition, the city of Cologne throws open just about every gallery and municipal space to photo shows, so you feel quite immersed in the medium even when not trolling the halls of the show itself.

On a final note, I would like to thank you all for your support and encouragement this year. We have grown in page size and circulation throughout 2006, and look forward to even more exciting times in 2007. I also want to wish you and yours a wonderful holiday season and all the blessings in the coming year.

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