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10-23-2016, 07:48 AM - 3 Likes   #1
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Report from PhotoPlus Expo and some thoughts

I'm hesitant to start a new thread as I am far from an expert here, but no one has commented about this so here goes....

Was up at PhotoPlus Expo in NYC on Thursday the 20th of October, 2016. Thanks to Service Photo in Baltimore for providing 2 buses for the trip for their customers. Although I have to say that the demographic was depressing: everyone mostly my age (60) or older. The only bright spot was both racial and gender diversity, but that has been a quiet characteristic of Service Photo in Baltimore for a long time. It's a good place, so if you are in the area you should stop in----although they are mainly Nikon/Canon oriented, with Fuji, Sony, Leica and a tiny dash of Oly tossed in. I hope they will do Pentax one day, but....

Once again Pentax was at PhotoPlus Expo, with a little more presence even than last year. Unfortunately the combination of off-to-the-side placement, smaller booth, smaller show and thus a lack of vendors down that side of the hall made the booth seem a little lost. Fortunately it did seem to be getting consistent traffic throughout the day, as I wound up being over there multiple times.

This year the K-1 was out of the case for handling, so that was drawing interest. The Z's available seemed to be getting consistent interest, and this year they had a guy from Japan there who seemed to know more about it than the US guys did last year. That's not necessarily a knock on the Pentax guys, as they are salespeople first. I now a lot of people in sales from different places, and the most important thing in sales is being a good salesperson, not an equipment expert. That's why there are tech reps. And there aren't enough of them among any of the equipment makers, not just Pentax.

There was also a lot of interest in the Theta, and this year I paid a bit of attention, too, as some work related stuff coming up puts us in the need of time lapse capabilities, and 360 VR could be cool. I have to say I was impressed with this little, relatively cheap gadget for that purpose. Not sure if it could work for us, since it is battery and memory limited----we need it to run for 8 hours straight at a time. The price is right though, and so are the results for what we would do for it, and the ability of the end-user to manipulate the results on their computer, especially with a touch screen.

But back to the Z: I was able to once again speak to several people at the booth and give them constructive criticism about what I felt were related needs in terms of support----the need for real support, and the need for availability of accessories in the NA market. I didn't get into our lens needs. This year I had my friend Lydia Thomas with me, who is an independent sales rep in the NA mid-Atlantic market with me, and was able to speak directly with her sales manager. Of course he got that pained/frozen expression on his face when these guys get these sorts of comments, but basically he took it well and mainly agreed.

I didn't see a ton of people looking at the APSC offerings, and fewer than I'd hoped looking at the K-1.

I did go over to the Fuji booth, of course. It's very clear that Fuji is red hot right now. After the Canon, Nikon, and Sony booths, I'd say the Fuji booth was the next most busy, and one of the busiest at the show, followed closely by Oly. That new medium format camera? Well, it was under a vitrine, but even so it was startling: Basically, not much bigger than a K-1. Pretty impressive, I'd say, and head turning. Except the funny thing was that it wasn't getting a ton of attention---it's not where the crowds were. And half the people who were standing near it were actually trying to shoot the models on the stage behind it (yes, the Fuji booth had a stage this year....). Nor was there any real signage from Fuji pointing out what the camera was. Odd! Also odd was how few people knew what it was----I sort of feel like nowadays with the internet how can you not know about something like this, if you care about photography.

So, I came away from that experience thinking that Pentax needs to do more with medium format, a feeling I didn't have so strongly before. So, in addition to better accessories and accessories availability, I feel like we really need a refresh of the 45, the 33-55, a new 25, and maybe a tele (even though that would not be on my purchase list).

And since Fuji decided not to do it, which I think is a colossal mistake, then how about a "compact" fixed lens (could be a short zoom, or could be a mild-wide prime) medium format camera. Get that in under $5K usd and watch them fly off the shelves, under or around $4K and never keep up with demand. Imagine being able to travel light with a medium format camera that would fit in your coat pocket (maybe Barbour coat, but still...). You realize that Sony actually raised the price of its RX1RII recently, months after its initial release.....

As for the rest of the show, a little disappointing this year, smaller with many fewer of the interesting little vendors, especially from China. Although the Netherlands Cambo was there, with their adapted rail view camera system that now takes the K-1!

10-23-2016, 08:47 AM   #2
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Thanks for the observations. I found your post very interesting, especially after I had an opportunity to talk to some of the people at the largest camera shop in my hometown and their comments seemed similar to your observations. It does seem that a split among consumers is happening. Some want smaller but powerful cameras and they are looking at mirrorless. Others are looking at the best quality image and are looking at full frame DSLR or medium format. The APS or crop sensor DSLR is still popular but that popularity is decreasing. It must be tough for all camera companies to predict and then develop product in a timely fashion for these trends.
11-08-2016, 07:09 AM   #3
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I thought it was interesting that Phase One was offering a "scorched earth" trade in/credit-towards-purchase deal for 645z bodies & lenses
Basically, Phase One wants to get as many 645z off the street as possible, right now
Apparently shutting out 645z from Capture One isn't enough
11-08-2016, 10:43 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Tom Marvel Quote
I thought it was interesting that Phase One was offering a "scorched earth" trade in/credit-towards-purchase deal for 645z bodies & lenses
Basically, Phase One wants to get as many 645z off the street as possible, right now
Apparently shutting out 645z from Capture One isn't enough
Yeah, well, good luck with that, Phased Ones.

---------- Post added 11-08-16 at 12:50 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by Glen Quote
Thanks for the observations. I found your post very interesting, especially after I had an opportunity to talk to some of the people at the largest camera shop in my hometown and their comments seemed similar to your observations. It does seem that a split among consumers is happening. Some want smaller but powerful cameras and they are looking at mirrorless. Others are looking at the best quality image and are looking at full frame DSLR or medium format. The APS or crop sensor DSLR is still popular but that popularity is decreasing. It must be tough for all camera companies to predict and then develop product in a timely fashion for these trends.
Tom, reading your reply made me think of something. The glory daze of big box store sales of cheesy digital cameras to every Tom Dick and Harry are over, IMO. Now the manufacturers can "forget" about all that gross, amorphous mass of "consumers" and go back to concentrating on those who give a cr@p about photography and are willing to pay a bit more for better goods.

Too bad, therefore, that in chasing those easy consumer dollars in the digital photography bubble of the '00's to maybe 2012 +/- the manufacturers undercut MRSP and more in their eagerness to attract/appease mass marketers and probably irreparably damaged the smaller photography specific retailers---which they need now again.

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