PhotoPlus 2013 Show Recap
An overview of the NYC-based photo trade show
By PF Staff in Trade Shows on Oct 29, 2013
The annual PhotoPlus trade show and conference was held in the Javits Convention Center in New York City this past weekend. We have already reported on the surprise presence of Pentax and on the K-3, but we still owe you an overview of the show, as there were many other interesting exhibitors and products on display. In this post we'll take a look at many of the interesting things that the show had to offer!
The show occupied but a small corner of this huge convention center and was therefore easy to navigate.
Pentax (Ricoh Imaging) wasn't part of the official exhibitor list for this year's show. However, while moving about the show floor, we spotted a small Ricoh banner beside the Unique Photo booth.
Upon taking a closer look, next to the banner we discovered a small Pentax exhibit led by two Ricoh Imaging Americas representatives (not Unique Photo employees). The Ricoh Imaging banner was brand new: it featured an image taken with the Pentax 645D as well as a photo of the current Pentax lineup, complete with the K-3, HD Limiteds, K-50, Q7, and WR flashes.
HD Pentax Limited Primes (Not pictured: the 35mm macro, which was mounted on the K-3) - Click to Enlarge
Although the HD Limited lenses were on display and available for visitors to try out, it's hard for us to say anything about their performance until we test them in the studio (the lenses have improved coatings and rounded aperture blades). Our set of 5 HD Limiteds is already on its way from B&H.
As you can see above, Pentax had the K-3 on display along with a handful of lenses and K-50's in many colors. We've already posted separate articles with more about the Pentax booth as well as our impressions of the K-3 from the show, so we won't be covering that here.
Pentax K-3 with HD 35mm Macro and D-BG5 Grip - Click to Enlarge
The remainder of this article will focus on other companies present at PhotoPlus 2013.
We begin with Sony, which had some exciting news to share. Sony mainly had its new Alpha 7 and Alpha 7R full-frame mirrorless cameras available for testing with a variety of new FE lenses. The Sony booth, while quite prominent thanks to two large logo banners, was somewhat easy to overlook by visitors already on the floor due to its open layout.
The first display that caught our attention was the Alpha 7R mounted on a tripod and with a large Alpha-mount lens attached. The camera proved to be surprisingly easy to hold thanks to its oversized grip, and despite its light weight, it felt well-balanced even with a lens of this size.
We immediately tested out the autofocus speed which was very fast and sure-footed. It was suspiciously-fast for a contrast detect system so we examined the setup we were playing with a bit closer.
And as it turned out, the autofocus system in this case was not contrast detect, but thanks to a bit of Sony innovation, phase detect as we know and love it in a DSLR.
The camera itself uses the E-Mount which has a much smaller register distance than the DSLR/SLR Alpha mount that was inherited from Konica/Minolta. The lens therefore had to be mounted using an adapter (in this case it was the LA-EA4 Alpha to E-Mount adapter).
This adapter has an integrated phase detect autofocus system which leverages the fixed translucent mirror technology found in later Sony DSLRs (a.k.a SLT's). Thanks to this adapter, the A7's autofocus was very fast. The adapter (as well as the LA-EA3 adapter without built-in AF mechanism) suports all exposure modes and open aperture metering. This technology comes at a price, though: the mirror in the adapter reduces the light that will hit the sensor by about one stop.
Here's a video showing the AF performance of the A7R:
Nikon had the most elaborate exposition setup consisting of a large booth with various areas. All their current cameras and lenses were on display, including the new D610 and D5300 DSLRs as well as the new AW1 underwater mirrorless camera.
A 1950's-themed diner set (complete with models) was used up as an area for testing Nikon's HDSLRs.
The D610, D7100, D800 and D4 were all mounted on tripods and connected to HDTV's to show off their video recording capabilities.
The new Nikon D610 full-frame replaces the D600 and (hopefully) fixes the infamous sensor dust issue that plagued its predecessor. The D610's other enhancements are minor; you can read more about them here.
The D5300 (not pictured) is Nikon's latest upper entry-level DSLR, complete with a 24-megapixel sensor, built-in Wi-Fi and GPS, and a large articulating 3.2" screen (coincidentally having the same size and resolution as the Pentax K-3 screen).
Shown below, the Nikon 1 AW1 is the world's first interchangeable-lens camera system to feature waterproofing. Yes, you can take this camera underwater while swimming!
Another newly-announced item is the $1699 AF-S Nikkor 58mm F1.4 normal lens designed for astrophotography and other critical work where no lens aberrations can be tolerated. Nikon kept this lens under wraps at the show even though it's expected to ship by the end of this week.
Canon's booth was probably the largest at the show and well-attended despite the lack of news. Canon had no new gear announcements - their only piece of news was a firmware update to their top-of-the-line EOS-1Dx DSLR. This upgrade adds more AF functionality to the already overly-complex AF system of the 1Dx. It also adds a new exposure mode - effectively mimicking the Pentax TAv mode by enabling auto-ISO in Manual exposure mode.
Canon Cine Lenses on Display
It is clear that Canon was mostly targeting professionals and videographers at the booth, and many exhibits and presentations were devoted to their EOS cine camera and lens lineup.
Sigma was fairly prominent at the show, and their entire lens lineup was on display and available for testing (most lenses were for Canon or Nikon, none had Pentax mounts).
Sigma's new announcement for the show was a 24-105mm F4 walkaround lens, which is designed for full-frame cameras. The lens will soon be available for Canon, Nikon, Sony, and Sigma DSLRs for a competitive $899.
The lens felt very well-built, certainly superior to both the Canon 24-105mm F4 L and the Nikon 24-120mm F4G. Like the 35mm F1.4, the lens is mostly made of metal and features Sigma's new Global Vision "Art" lens finish.
Unlike the Nikon 24-120mm, however, the new Sigma zoom lacks weather sealing. The Sigma representative at the booth told us that "weather sealing doesn't make sense without internal zooming", but we all know that this isn't quite true given the reliability of WR Pentax consumer zooms.
We got a good look at the recently announced 12 MP 1/1.7 inch sensor Leica C compact camera. The Leica C is a variant of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LF1 with a very clean and elegant design. It was much more compact than we had thought, hence very easy to carry with you at all time. But the small size makes it hard to appreciate the Leica design - the camera feels just like any other ultra-compact point-and-shoot.
The lens has a good reach being of a 28-200mm focal length in full-frame equivalent terms. While the lens is a fast F2 at the wide end it becomes quite slow at the far telephoto end boasting only a F5.9 maximum opening.
This camera has a built-in electronic viewfinder - hopefully this becomes the future trend for all future enthusiast compacts. With a low resolution of 200,000 dots this viewfinder if fine for framing your shots but less so for evaluating how light and shadows fall on the subject. There is no eye sensor - you press a button to switch between the monitor and the viewfinder.
If it wasn't for the stiff price tag, our favorite Leica would be the Leica X Vario, which has an APS-C sized sensor, a 28-70mm (eqv.) lens and an optional 1.4M dot electronic viewfinder (image to the right).
Another new announcement was a version of the Leica D-Lux 6 with a high-gloss finish.
The renowed Leica M also made an appearance at the show. Even though this camera was announced over a year ago at Photokina, it continues to be in very short supply in the US, and only recently did it even start shipping.
Adorama was a key sposor of this year's event and they had a relatively large booth which was easy to find thanks to a huge banner hung from the ceiling above their space. Adomara had numerous free photo tutorials going on almost non-stop during the event in their booth. Too bad there were no seats!
The Adorama logo could be found everywhere; it was printed on all the PhotoPlus badge holders, which didn't make B&H representatives happy!
B&H Photo took a unique approach with this show. Rather than "wasting" any booth space on gear displays, they had their area set up for taking orders for in-store pickup or mail order. To make it even easier for their customers, B&H even provided a free shuttle bus to their SuperStore. There were numerous show specials, including $25-50 rebates on most Sigma lenses.
We visited B&H after the show and like the banner above states, that's where the show continued. The store seemed at least as busy as the expo!
Fuji, Olympus, and Panasonic also had exhibits at the show, though these companies weren't our primary focus. Tamron was showing off its current lens lineup, though as with Sigma, no Pentax lenses were to be found. If you were in the market for a photo bag, tripod, or lighting equipment, there were also plenty of exhibitors showing off accessories.
In conclusion, although the show was fun to tour and there were plenty of products on display, there weren't that may new items under the sun. PhotoPlus isn't nearly as important to the photo industry as CP+ in Japan or Photokina in Germany, after all. With the possible exception of the Sony A7/A7R and the Zeiss Otus lenses, most new gear presented at the show was evolution rather than revolution. The K-3, despite its innovative AA-filter simulator, hardly got any attention due to poor visibility.
Canon and Nikon continued to dominate the scene by an overwhelming margin, though it was clear that Sony is trying to become a bigger player in the pro photo world. Just like last year, Nikon distributed thousands of free bags at this year's show, which turned the entire floor into an ocean of Nikon logos in no time. Pentax's presence at the show was virtually nonexistent, and with the exception of the small exhibit that we stumbled across, the Ricoh Imaging logo was nowhere to be seen. We hope that this changes at next year's Photokina show, where we will perhaps also see a bit more revolution from all manufacturers!
Talking about innovation - we spotted a photographer snapping away with an EXACTA SLR. Some of you may be old enough to remember that brand:
It turned out to be a DIY job - the camera had been converted to digital with a rear LCD monitor and all!