I mentioned that I met Gordon Lewis, late of the popular Shutterfinger blogsite, at PhotoPlus Expo* in New York. Gordon and I have been colleagues for decades, since we were both Contributing Editors of the old Darkroom Photography magazine, but had never actually met in person. I drove down to Ramsey NJ from the Fortress of Solitude in the Finger Lakes, then took the train into the city, and Gordon took the train to Penn Station from his home in Philadelphia. We geeked out together at the show all day last Thursday, and had the kind of fun that only photo-dawgs think of as fun.
Here I am with the new Leica SL, which, turns out, is not as big as it looks. I can't see any reason why the camera should be especially popular, but I can't see any reason why it would be unpopular either. (Don't say price; some people find high price appealing, because it promises quality, and delivers, at the least, exclusivity.) I thought the SL had a nice viewfinder, good hand-feel, and crisply responsive action. Note that the visible portion in this picture looks like a whole reasonably-sized camera, then consider that I'm holding on to the grip end, which extends quite a bit farther.
And of course, like many mirrorless cameras, it's usable with a wide variety of lenses. I think it would be a fun camera to get to know. I would love to try it with some of my favorite R lenses, for one thing. Sort of low in the pixel department for the $$, though. Not that I'd personally want more.
That's TOP reader Leilani Suguitan, who we met at the Leica booth, in profile on the right. Her recent exhibit at the Leica Store in SoHo was on view from August 2nd to September 12th. Wish I could have seen it.
While the SL doesn't read as "too big" to me, it probably is the single biggest mirrorless camera extant. Can anyone think of a bigger one?
Photo of me and the SL by Gordon.
This is Eddie Murphy (really) of Epson, demonstrating the new Epson P800, which replaces the 3880 as Epson's mainstream enthusiast/semipro desktop printer. Eddie is so animated it was tough to get an exposure of him that didn't have motion blur; after listening to him for a little while, you think, okay, okay, I'll buy three.
The black-and-white samples looked especially nice.
And by the way, Epson is indeed sending me a P600 to review.
Speaking of big, the Zeiss Otus 28mm we were discussing recently, here proudly displayed by Nicole Balle of Zeiss, is even bigger than it looks. About as large as a cat or a baby, and heavier than a cat. Okay, I'm exaggerating. As big as a pitcher of beer. No, I'm still exaggerating. As big as a brick; but heavier than a brick. Okay, never mind, I can't do this. Ignore me.
It is magnificent. There—that is true. I asked Nicole if it was the biggest 28mm prime ever made, and she answered, "probably!"
The "relief" of the comparison between 2000 and now will soon fade with familiarity, so I just want to quickly list a few changes I noticed between then and now:
- The show seems to be thriving. Lots of exhibitors, lots of attendees. My impression is that the show is smaller in size overall, but if so it's well disguised.
- The relative health of companies is reflected in the size of their booths, and that landscape always shifts. There were some new companies (Canson was not at the last show I attended, I don't think); some old ones still thriving (Nikon and Canon); some former big players greatly reduced in role; some former stalwarts gone with the wind.
- There were lots more pictures on display than in years of old. I know because I reflexively look for pictures, can't help it.
- Several companies had on-site kiosks highlighting their repair and/or service departments.
- Make-your-own photo book companies were numerous.
- No darkroom companies, of course; far fewer lighting companies. Maybe I was just aware of view cameras in the old days, but it seemed like view cameras used to be displayed here and there for people to admire, and now they're not.
- There seemed to be less emphasis on the profession.
- The mood seemed lighter and the people seemed younger. About fifteen years younger on average, if I had to put a number on it. Whoops, wait, that's just me!
A few random products
Speaking of no. 5. above, one product both Gordon and I liked was "The Layflat Album" from a new company called Artifact Uprising. The product is sort of a cross between the upload-it-yourself photobook and a child's board book—each page is a flat card, and when you open it up, true to the name it lays flat and there's no gutter apart from the line of the crease. It's a nice variation, we thought, and dresses pictures up nicely. Might be a useful option to know about for you wedding photogs out there, among others. Gordon also noted that the company's example photos were a cut above.
We skipped the Canson booth somehow (I still strongly recommend getting your own Discovery Pack if you haven't yet—just a tactile, nearly sensual pleasure to see and handle those beautiful papers in person), but a couple of papers I liked were Moab Juniper Baryta Rag and a paper called "Fine Etching" from a company I know little about called—can I find it? Oh yeah, here it is—Durico.
One thing to look for when you're evaluating papers if shadow separation. Note that this example picture is a photograph that doesn't need shadow separation, and in fact probably looks better without it; so that would be one thing to be on the alert for if you give Durico Fine Etching a try.
Nice surface, though. Elegant.
Durico is a South Korean company that manufactures many materials and also imports into South Korea several German and Japanese papers. Durico Fine Etching 310g might be the same as Hahnemuhle German Etching 310g, or it may be something similar; Durico imports Hahnemuhle into South Korea—does it then export it under its own name? Stranger things have happened in the paper world, which is internecine and constantly shifting. I can't figure it out from the various websites. Maybe some paper maven with weigh in with the deep demystification.
Shows and presentations were all over the place, of course. Here's a film being made at the Manfrotto/Gitzo booth, probably by one of the big digital camera sites. I don't recognize the interviewer, but maybe you do.
I love my carbon fiber Gitzo, so power to 'em. It's one of the few photographic products I own that I have no desire to upgrade.
There was a big informational show going on at the Nikon spread when we passed by, but I didn't stop to see what products they were talking about. A fair number of show attendees are professionals keeping their edge by staying current on the latest technologies.
Nikon also maintains this crow's nest so Nikonians can see the view through the company's long telephoto glass—one of the big assets of Canikon that even Sony doesn't compete with.
Speaking of which, we missed the Sony booth. Rats! Just so much to see.
By the way, I'm not trying to diss Canon. Gordon shoots Canon, but we got shooed off from Canon not once but twice! Gordon did get a big hug from his friendly contact, but said contact's boss then told us that they had work to do and we were in the way. Happens at these shows—you can't always get to see what, or who, you want to see.
Here and there there are models you can shoot with your own equipment, same as it ever was. I asked this model to please pantomime a bored expression, which she did. But she turned out to be friendly and thoughtful and told me she wasn't actually bored, that she was having a nice, restful day meeting photographers. She said she would like it if I took a better shot of her. So I did, despite my ludicrously wide lens. This is that one, not the "bored" one.
You can get your own picture taken, too. Here I am in an Instax print holding my Fuji like a proper geek at the Fuji Instax display—old-fashioned instant photography lives at PhotoPlus 2015!—and with a pretty model at the Focus Camera booth.
Best of show
I'm sure I'm leaving some things out that I meant to mention, but I'll leave you with a mention of the best show at the show—
—Namely, the PDN "Faces" Contest winners display, which featured reasonably-sized unframed prints by many photographers, and was a delight. (Actually there might have been more than one show at the display, which featured what looked like well over a hundred pictures—I didn't parse it out.)
Since I have a special interest in photographs of photographers, I especially appreciated the portrait of Mary Ellen Mark you can see at the bottom left in this shot. (Although I would have moved the camera up or down so the lintel of the door frame doesn't appear to be balancing on the crown of her head. Sorry, always the critic.) It's by Joshua Kogan and here's a bigger version. [UPDATE: the link isn't displaying properly. You'll have to find it yourself at the PDN contest winners' site. Click on Sean Penn and then use the right arrows. Sorry! —MJ]
Another photographer whose picture I liked in the show was Santosh Kumar Korthiwada, who showed a photograph of two jump-roping girls he took in a village in India. I looked through the PDN site several times but couldn't find it, which is what leads me to believe there was actually more than one show grouped together. There's a small B&W version on his Facebook page. Santosh is currently pursuing Masters of Fine Arts in Photography at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. (My shot of his picture was motion-blurred, which means I need an A7sII, right? No? Rats.)
*"The PDN PhotoPlus International Conference + Expo is the largest photography and imaging show in North America, attended by over 21,000 professional photographers, photography enthusiasts, filmmakers, students and educators from around the world. PhotoPlus features over 100 educational seminars, Photo Walks and Master Classes, and over 225 exhibitors displaying thousands of the latest products and services for you to touch, try and compare."
Gordon Lewis comments: I'd like to add an observation, which I honestly don't intend to be snarky:
PhotoPlus 2015 for me was in many ways similar to attending an auto show: There was lots of shiny stuff to look at and a few minor spectacles here and there, but at the end of the day I didn't see anything that made me want to rush out to buy something new. Sure, it's fun to dream about owning the 2015 model, but if you've already got the 2012 model and it gets you where you want to go in relative comfort, you have no compelling reason to "upgrade."
That said, what I enjoyed most was the opportunity to see everything I might want to see, all in one place. Fully stocked photo retailers are rare these days, especially if you live in a smaller city, so for many attendees this was their one and only opportunity to actually handle equipment rather than just stare at screen images of it.
Original contents copyright 2015 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved. Links in this post may be to our affiliates; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
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Featured Comments from:
Mark: "First time in years that I have not had to either attend or work PhotoPlus. Sorry I missed a chance to meet you Mike. The show certainly has come quite a long way from its beginnings as the NY Photo Guild show out at JFK airport but it still somehow maintains that small show feel. I have always liked this show for just that reason along with the wonderful diversity of the attendees. See you at some other show!"
Colin K Work: "Funny, I'm 'suddenly seeing wide' too. After many many years of 'longer is better,' I'm finding my Olympus 9–18mm is becoming my most-used lens. Not sure why, but I think it's something about putting subjects in context rather than isolating them. Might be because its more challenging—the more elements in the image, the easier it is to get it wrong! Might also be that with age comes more confidence and less self-consciousness. Not afraid to get close."