Product Parade

What happens when you let loose a team of crack photo and digital imaging reporters onto the floor of America's biggest photo and digital imaging show? Read on.

Each year, the Photo Marketing Association holds its annual trade show. The event, held this year in Orlando, Florida (the backyard of Shutterbug world headquarters), is where virtually every photo and digital imaging company breaks the news on new products, services and new technologies that will affect how imaging is done for years ahead. Some of the items become available right after the show; others are shown as teasers and may not appear on store shelves for a few months. In all, the show serves as a symbol of trends and developments in this exciting field. It sets the high tide mark for the flood of products that will soon compete for your attention and your money.

Though the show is geared toward and mainly attended by dealers and distributors, it also creates an imaging environment that tells us where photography is heading. And while digital imaging products have come on strong and indeed may have dominated the show, there was plenty there for practitioners of film-based photography as well. The hundreds of booths ran the gamut from digital SLRs to medium format rangefinders to new ball heads and film.

Covering the show is a daunting challenge, but one that I believe our team of reporters handled with grace, aplomb, and dedication. Their task was to report on both the trends and the items that caught their eye. The "kid in the candy store" approach meant that each reporter brought their own unique perspective to their area of expertise and delivered information that appealed to their own photographic passions as well as that of their constituency--you, the reader.

Each reporter was assigned their specific area of interest, although each was free to editorialize about their overall impression of the events. As you read through the reports you will see how each one handled their own interests in their own unique way. No one report can give you the big picture, and we assume in covering the event that the sum of the individual impressions will be greater than all the parts.

If we hopefully inspire you to follow up on some of the items mentioned we have provided a summary list of contacts for every article on page 250. We have also made arrangements to get review samples of many of our favorite items for a more comprehensive set of reports in future issues of Shutterbug.

This sort of coverage makes it necessary for us to mention items in all too brief fashion here. But we hope that the following reports give you a good taste of the flavor of this show, and an indication of where photography is heading in the years ahead.
--George Schaub