Special Reports From The PMA Show: What Alliances Might Bring

The main focus of this issue is on our reports from the Photo Marketing Association (PMA) Show, the annual trade show of the photo and imaging industry held this year in Orlando, Florida. We had a large team of reporters on site, each assigned a number of coverage categories that matched their expertise and disposition. Their assignment was to bring you the best and brightest of the show, with a special eye out for new tools and techniques that add excitement and creative potential to picture making.

As you look through the reports you'll find both description and perspective on these products.

While there were many new products at the show, perhaps the most interesting news is who is sharing a podium together these days. In a rather startling opening-day press conference, Olympus, Panasonic, Sigma, and Leica brought together their head honchos to proclaim the resurgence of the Four Thirds System and their plan to cross-pollinate in development of products or at least in the support of this digital photography format. While each brought their own products to the table (reports on which you'll see in this issue) perhaps the most intriguing was the new Leica zoom lens for the Four Thirds setup for the coming Panasonic digital SLR. The lens has click stops and manual zoom and...well, you'll just have to read our lens reports to find out more.

Additional alliances of note include the Pentax/Samsung digital SLR co-developments. At the show we saw a Samsung digital SLR that was a Pentax with Samsung trade dress. But this is the "first to market" Samsung digital SLR, which will be followed by many more developed along with Pentax. The folks at Samsung assure us that they are making a very strong commitment to the serious photographer market (read advanced digicams and coming digital SLRs). Time will tell how this will all play out.

Sony is said to be adding a digital SLR camera to their line-up soon, but it struck me that if this were the case then PMA would be the place to reveal it, but no news came out about a real, live product. Minolta digital SLR owners probably would like to know about this, as the coming Sony products are said to use the Minolta lens mount, but again, time will tell on this one.

Perhaps the most interesting "alliance" was between a technology and companies that now have made a commitment to it, that being pigmented inks and Canon and HP. I was very happy to see these new printers, as it opens up choices for printmakers and advances the cause of permanence while increasing the ease of handling color management. The new printers are aimed at the "pro" and all serious printmakers, and herald a new line of printers and enhanced technology to come.

As these and other products become available you can be sure that we at Shutterbug will be putting them through their paces, with in-depth reports and opinions. Our focus now is on image quality, and it seems that the trend in the photo industry is to deliver products that speak to just that point.

I'd like to close with a big thanks to our reporters who worked hard at the show and after as they did their stories. The energy of a convention can be overwhelming at times, but pros like our writers can focus in on the important matters without allowing the noise and hype to get in the way. We hope you enjoy their reports and always welcome your feedback on our Forums at www.shutterbug.com.