The PMA Show: 8Mp Digicams,
Digital SLRs...And Much, Much More
This issue contains our
reports from the Photo Marketing Association (PMA) Show, the biggest photo
and imaging trade show in the US. Covering this show is a major task,
but our crack reporters--Peter Burian, Joe Farace, Dave Howard, Chris
Maher, Bob Mayer, Jack Neubart, Uwe Steinmueller, and yours truly--spent
the days and nights tracking down new products and spotting trends that
will affect how we shoot, light, store, and manipulate our images, and
carry all that gear, in the year and years ahead. As you might have guessed,
much of what was new at the show was in the digital realm. That includes
the new 8-megapixel cameras, digital SLRs, scanners and printers, software,
and exciting new memory cards with even greater capacity and speed. But
there were also new films from Kodak, some very affordable yet high-tech
film SLRs and a host of accessories for both the film and digital realm.
This show also noted the passing, for all intents and purposes, of the
APS film format.
Though not a surprise, we all got our first look at the new crop of 8-megapixel
digicams. The question no longer is whether or not you can have enough
megapixels in your digital camera--it becomes, just how many megapixels
do you need, and what's the price you pay (not dollars) in terms
of all those pixels on such a small chip? Uwe Steinmueller raises some
interesting points in his report and it's something we'll
continue to test as soon as we get our hands on these cameras.
Cameras like the new Canon EOS-1D Mark II we report on in this issue and
others that are sure to follow may sound the bell for 35mm film SLRs.
The question is: will they do the same to medium format film cameras?
While medium format scanners combined with the beauty and resolution of
medium format film makes for an image quality combination that's
hard to beat, simple economics may prevail. It will take some very clever
marketing, and a very strong message about ultimate image quality, to
keep medium format viable. True, large format cameras are still sold,
and there will remain a dedicated core of enthusiasts who will stick to
their medium format guns.
For now, it seems that when it comes to megapixels the bar, now defined
as 8 megapixels for medium to high-end digicams, will continue to be raised.
Frankly, we thought that digicams would stop at 5 or 6, but now that 5s
are going for what 2s sold for a few years ago and 6s for what 4s brought
not so far back, everyone questions when it might end.
One factor that might help you decide to get into digital is just how
you can transition, or adapt from one system (film) to another (digital).
It might become easier for owners of Minolta and Pentax SLRs, now that
both companies have, or have announced digital SLRs that will take their
previous lenses. The Pentax *ist D is already available; the Minolta announcement
at the show was that they will have a digital SLR with Maxxum lens compatibility
ready in the fall. And Leica R owners will also have a digital back for
their current R bodies.
But I don't want to give away all the goodies we have in store for
you in this issue. I can promise you that our reports have something for
everyone involved in photography along with a few surprises, and of course
our annual Best of Show picks from each of our contributors.
All in all, a show such as this is about new tools for practicing the
art and craft of photography. Admittedly, this is a gear-laden issue,
but we wanted to do justice to how this show serves as a bellwether for
all things photographic, and how the tools of the trade can, in part,
define and hopefully expand our ability to express our visual creativity.