Our PMA Special Reports

We are pleased to dedicate most of this issue to our Photo Marketing Association (PMA) reports, which cover just about every aspect of the show held this winter near world headquarters in Orlando, Florida. We had a very large team at this, the largest photo trade show held in the US, and each reporter was assigned various categories and the picking of their Best of Show. Coming on the heels of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which is becoming more and more a photo/imaging show as we get immersed in the digital world, and photokina, the granddaddy of them all, you might think we were hard-pressed to come up with new gear to reveal. In some cases we did see products that were just making their US debut but that had been already shown overseas, but there was enough to keep us all scampering around the hall for the four-day duration of the event.

While I won't give away the reports in the issue, some of the highlights included new printers from HP and Epson that should really appeal to fine art and demanding printmakers in every field; a new raw converter software from a company called Pixmantec that might just change the way you convert those proprietary files; the good news that Ilford is back; new digital SLRs from Nikon and Canon, one for the sports and reportage trade and one for everyone who has been tempted by this format; numerous portable download devices; new films from Fujifilm and Kodak; and a host of accessories for both film and digital photographers, including everything from lighting to tripods to bags and cases to carry all the new gear on the trail and in the air.

One of the main topics of interest at the show was image permanence, and how reliable the current formats, ink jet papers and CDs and DVDs, might be for long-term storage of images. Epson released its long-awaited white paper that put, as our dearly departed colleague Bob Schwalberg put it, a "whiff of grapeshot" across the bow of those whose ink/paper permanence testing methods have been recently challenged. We'll be printing that white paper in a future issue of Shutterbug with the hopes that it will continue the debate and perhaps encourage all to agree upon some testing standards.

Indeed, one industry insider told me before the show that, to paraphrase, any print you make today would outlast any hard drive or CD on which you might have stored the image. That's a fairly profound statement, and one that shows the importance of having standards for all sorts of recording materials, including those of electronic or paper form. Some of the new printers/inks debuted at the show are now claiming from 100-200 year stability, especially when you work in monochrome. That's very reassuring news, and we are very glad that the dedication some of these companies have to photographers is manifest in the work and development of these stable materials. And from Henry Wilhelm (www.wilhelm-research.com) comes an actual seal of approval, granted to those companies whose products withstand a minimum of 25 years guarantee. That's a start, and his seal is already appearing on some paper packaging today.

By the time you read our reports many of the products shown in Orlando will be appearing on store shelves. And, we can assure you, we are already in the process of testing many of these products for future issues of Shutterbug. I want to personally thank each and every one of our reporters for the yeoman duty they did in applying their knowledge and expertise in compiling these reports. Covering a show like this is no mean feat, and each carried out their assignment with dedication and professional skill.

As a final note, I encourage you to visit and participate in our Forums, a new feature on our website at: www.shutterbug.com. Many of our writers and reporters are also involved with the Forums, as well as Shutterbug readers and photo experts from around the world. Here you'll find topics and threads of interest to everyone involved in the exciting and diverse world of photography.