Earlier this month on Monday March 5 I paid my second visit to the Focus On Imaging exhibition at the NEC near Birmingham.
I combined this with some family business which meant I had to attend on Monday instead of Tuesday as last year. It was far more crowded so if I go next year it will be on Tuesday or Wednesday.
What caught my eye? Well as a Canon user the new EOS 5D mark III was the obvious attraction, and having finally got to the display counter I had a play with one fitted with a wide angle lens. Very nice, felt good in my hands, not as heavy as I was expecting. Excellent rear screen and menu option, and superb viewfinder.
The downside was the price. At least three dealers there were taking pre-orders for the body only at £2999. At that price your have to think ‘is it worth it and will it make me take better pictures’? The answer for me is probably no on both counts. If I was to buy one I would go to B&H or Adorama in New York where it costs 3499$ (US) + sales tax. I did the maths quickly and for the difference in price I could have had a 3 day trip to New York from LHR (including 3* hotel) with British Airways, and picked up some more bargains whilst I was there.
One advantage of shows like this is that you get to see and get your hands on a lot of equipment that you only normally see in magazines or dealers’ catalogues. Slow moving stock holding is a big no-no in todays climate. The only local firm I noticed was Colorworld from North Shields. I had a good look at several lighting and flash products such as Pocket Wizards, Lastolite, Bowens, Lencarta, Elinchrom etc and spent some time looking at and trying out Hasselblad and the Mamiya/Leaf up-market systems. One can dream anyway!
I resisted looking at the Nikon stand as I am a Canon user, and it was just as crowded as the Canon one. I then spent almost two hours listening to speakers demonstrating OnOne Software’s Perfect PhotoSuite 6. I use this software and was keen to have a few queries sorted out, which their speakers did both formally and informally. They also kindly gave me a hard copy of the software I had downloaded as I was having trouble getting it to work with Photoshop Elements 10
By now the exhibition halls were getting really crowded, and quite warm. You dress for winter outside but it is shirt sleeve order inside so I made a mental note to bring a backpack next time to put my topcoat in.
What did I purchase? Just a few things really. A Spyder4 Express monitor calibration kit with a free Spyder Cube (This helps set white balance etc if you include it in your first shot). A Rogue FlashBender device which controls bounce flash lighting better than a diffuser does.
A reduced price Black and White guide from the Digital Camera publishers (60% off) plus they gave me a spirit level and a combined grey card and lens testing chart.
After about five hours I had had enough of the heat, and went back by train to Birmingham city centre to retrieve my wife from the shops. On the following morning I went to find the local branch of The Flash Centre to see what the quality was like of their rental equipment. Not bad at all, and worth the 4 mile detour from our hotel. I had to be back home by late Tuesday afternoon, so that was that for another year.
Will I go again? Yes but as previously mentioned not on a Sunday or Monday. A Wednesday might be a good idea as some dealers sell their stock off at reduced prices, and we all like a bargain don’t we?