Our Special Report From The Big US Photo Show

Every year the PMA (Photo Marketing Association) convention brings together all things photographic to one spot and attracts visitors and exhibitors from around the world. We see the show as a way to gather information about what's new, and perhaps as important, what's coming in terms of technology in the months and even years ahead. To accomplish our task we have a team of reporters covering every important aspect of the show, each one an expert in their field and a specialist in the product segment they have been assigned. I can say with some degree of pride that we have the best and the brightest working the beat.

Our goal at the show is not just to come back with a laundry list of new product announcements; that would be both endless and excruciating, as each of the hundreds of exhibitors had a story to tell and we simply do not have the pages or patience to create such a report. While the sheer volume of interesting products in some categories makes some reports necessarily longer than others (for example, new D-SLRs vs., say, new film), our aim is to showcase products that are both interesting in their own right and exemplars of coming trends and technology.

For example, we saw a raft of "smart" cameras at the show that use image processing to supposedly solve the curse of the ancient photographer--excessive scene contrast. We also saw how exposure is now being tied to subject and scene in ways one could not imagine before--such as tying face recognition to a sort of spot meter to correct for candid portrait backlighting. We even saw some silly tech, such as "Smile" Snap mode, which literally awaits the subject to smile before the camera will release the shutter--best of luck to all parents and grandparents, who may have to wait a considerable time before they can move onto the next picture. Yes, some of this new tech is in lens shutter cameras clearly aimed at the amateur market, but D-SLR users should not look down their noses, as this tech will no doubt migrate up to at least middle-range D-SLRs soon.

In addition to their category reports each of our contributors were asked to pick their "Best of Show," which could be outside their beat. Take note that this is not intended as any kind of "product of the year"-type pick, as in many cases all we saw were prototypes or working models we were not able to test. Some of the picks, including one of my own, were just announcements, albeit ones that might just shake things up later this year.

We also include our annual "Weird and Wonderful" report, which is meant to celebrate the ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit of the maker or inventor and marvel at the kinds of things photographers find attractive, useful, interesting, and, quite often, just plain fun.

Note that our report does not include products and manufacturers that did not attend, which I think is only fair to those who had to suffer through a trade show, and is certainly not meant to be a be-all and end-all of products displayed. While we do our best to cover what we consider highlights, we do sometimes bypass worthy products that we trust will be called to our attention by
those concerned.

I hope you enjoy this issue and that you will take it in the spirit in which it is intended--a mid-year look at some of the tools of the craft and a sneak peek at what's ahead.