After a very difficult time for the photography industry, it was great to see The Photography Show taking place recently at the NEC in Birmingham.
While visitor figures were understandably down compared to the last show in 2018, the event was still well attended, with retailer and camera maker stands thronged with people eager to see new gear or bag or a bargain. I was at the show all four days, so here are the highlights
Canon EOS R3
On the subject of thronged stands, the Canon area was particularly busy. The big attraction was the new Canon EOS R3, the company’s latest pro-specification mirrorless camera.
Key features include a 24.1MP stacked CMOS sensor, a very wide ISO range of50-204,800 (extended) and an eye-watering 30 frames per second shooting, along with powerful in-body stabilisation.
With a price tag of just under £6000 (body only) this is clearly aimed at sports photographers and anyone else needing pro speed. Canon also showed off its new RF 16mm f/2.8 and RF 100-400mm f/5.6-8 telephoto zoom lens.
A much more affordable (£899) but still very stylish and powerful mirrorless camera, the retro-looking Nikon Zfc also attracted a lot of stand visitors. The camera, which features a 20.9MP sensor and up to 11 frames per second burst mode, takes the fight to Fujifilm’s range of retro-styled APS-C mirrorless cameras, with top dials for controlling shutter speed, ISO speed, and exposure compensation. The Zfc comes with a new 28mm f2.8 lens and is impressively light – the body only weighs 390g.
Sony Alpha 1
Another big draw at the show was Sony’s latest flagship mirrorless camera, the Alpha 1. There is lots of power on offer, with a high-resolution 50.1MP full-frame sensor and the ability to shoot at a dizzying 30 frames per second, You can shoot at 50MP and 30fps while adjusting focus and exposure between frames and the Sony also records 8k video. As with the Canon EOS R3, it’s hardly a budget choice at £6500.
Amongst photo accessories, the LaCie Rugged Boss SSD 1TB drive caught my eye. As well as a generous storage capacity, the device features a built-in battery, so you can back up your images on the move. Even better it works as a USB hub and power bank, so you could use it to charge up your camera via USB. The bright orange colour means you are less likely to lose it too, and the device is very sturdily made while being relatively light.
Film, film, film
This was also the first Photography Show in recent memory that had a dedicated section for film/analogue photography. The film revival has been going for several years now, but it seems more than a passing ‘hipster’ fad. Noteworthy products included the Pinsta camera, a pinhole camera with a built-in darkroom for developing your film. You can also use it as a negative enlarger. Pinsta is still at the Kickstarter stage but we hope it gets off the ground: www.pinstacamera.com.
Film specialist Ilford also had a busy stand, as did Analogue Wonderland, which is shaping up as a leading supplier of film – as well as doing lots to encourage and support the film photography community. It was gratifying to see so many younger people thronging the film photography stands.
There were some great talks from leading photographers at this show – a major reason for attending next year. Highlights include Rankin, now one of the UK’s best-known photographers thanks to his recent TV shows, and Charlie Phillips, a black British photographer who is finally getting the recognition he deserves. I also really enjoyed the new Shutter Street area, dedicated to street photography – this featured one of my favourite street photographers, Alan Schaller. Do check out his striking minimalist black and white work.
There was also a showing of a great documentary movie about the legendary Picture Post magazine, which will be available for digital download soon. It celebrates the contribution that Picture Post made to the development of British documentary photography – you are probably familiar with the work of Bert Hardy, who was one of the publication’s star photographers.
Fingers crossed there is another Photography Show next year. Even if you aren’t in the market for new kit, it’s great to mingle with other photographers and we defy even the most frugal visitor to come away without buying at least one accessory!
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