The Photography Show NEC Birmingham March 20th. 2016

To be honest one of the main reasons for me going to the photography show wasn't looking at gear at all. As last year I met up with Heather and Mathieu from Mirrorlessons and we had a chat about things photographic over lunch. As ever I'm impressed by their dedication to making their site the best it can be and for me it's still pretty much the most interesting out there. 

Big shows aren't that much fun and it's a real slog getting round the stands. This year I even came away with a nasty cough, so they aren't that healthy either!! In terms of looking at stuff, my main purpose was to get my hands on the Leica SL (Typ 601) and I did a post on that here. I also wanted to check out the Irix lens, which I did here. 

My overall impression was that numbers were down on last year, though that could have been the different day. But this is the only big photographic show in the UK and it was a Sunday afternoon, so I would have expected more. The 'lectures' and presentations were well attended though and David Bailey was apparently there somewhere.

One thing I did notice was the cameras people were toting around were more mirrorless than DSLR's, which is the first time I've seen that. Again I wouldn't read too much into that, but in previous years this show and it's predecessors have very much been BIG camera, BIG lens territory. Incidentally I shot everything with my Leica Q (Typ 116).

In addition to Leica, the two stands I spent some time at were Panasonic and Ricoh / Pentax. Though the latter was a bit of a dispiriting experience. Every time I walked past the stand it was more or less empty. Lots of people standing around waiting for punters. They didn't seem that keen when somebody, i.e. me, turned up either. I wanted to have a look at the K1, since in my film and early digital days I was a Pentax user. And since Pentax first announced their intention to create a 'Full Frame' DSLR over 13 years ago I was fascinated to see what it was like. I did manage to do that, despite the fact that I was attended to by a French Pentax representative. Nothing wrong with that apart from the fact he didn't seem to understand what I was asking and I couldn't understand him either. He also gave me the impression he really didn't want to be there. 

However, the K1 was actually very impressive. Nice to hold and use, fast AF and a lovely clear EVF. The camera uses the Sony sensor from the A7r and Nikon D800, so the quality should be very good. I tried it with the 24-70mm f/2.8, which was relatively small. So Pentax have come up with something decent here I think. However, it's WAY too late. It will keep Pentax users happy, but there really aren't very many of them left. And no one is going to sell their Canon or Nikon systems to buy into this. So, all in all, I found it a bit sad as Pentax was very much my brand of choice with the MZ and 645 film cameras and the digital *ist range.

Panasonic seemed to have more staff than customers and for some reason they had set up a circus ring in the middle of their stand. But they were very helpful. I asked to see what the 100-400m zoom felt like on a GX8 and they set that up for me. And it is staggering just how manageable that lens is. Considering that I'd previously picked up the Leica 90-280mm zoom, which must be 1.5kg. if not even heavier than that, m4/3 is still the mirrorless system that really makes the most of the possibilities that the small sensor provides. A very nice lens, though if I bought one how often I used it would be a consideration. Nice for those who need that 'reach' however.

Also on the Panasonic stand I tried out the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ100.


Now I really like this camera. It's going to be a real 'pocket rocket'. 1" sensor, decent zoom range and 4K video. The viewfinder was OK too, yes it's very much like looking down a tunnel, but it works and means that this camera can be used in bright sunlight, without problems. I had one on pre order but then Amazon put back the arrival date, so I'll be looking around to see who has them in stock. Whether I buy one or not depends on my decision on the Leica SL and if I don't buy one of those I may well go out with my Leica Q and this little marvel. Again for me, Panasonic seem to get things like this right. However, Olympus still sell more cameras than they do, which means that style over content still rules.

Now I would have liked to tell you about the Sigma sd Quattro, but they only had a 'mock up' of it there. I saw little point in looking at a non working model and to be honest this is typical Sigma, who must have the longest announcement > in the shops cycle of anybody. No wonder they sell very few of the Foveon sensor cameras. 

So another show visited and I have to say I have my doubts how long something like this can be viable. A few years ago the 'Focus on Imaging' shows were packed on Sunday afternoons. Though they were in a smaller hall with fewer exhibitors. Now the Photography Show organisers do get all the major manufacturers there, who all had pretty big and impressive stands and all the latest gear was on show. So it is still a way of seeing gear 'in the flesh' rather than imaging what it's like on the internet. And when I stop coughing I might appreciate that fact!!!