Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Photokina 2012

Two years ago I was in a much different frame of mind when I went up to Cologne for the annual Photokina, one of the world's largest trade fairs for photography. Not being a business-minded photographer but more one who enjoys it as a means of artistic expression, I had had my share of gear addiction and had done a great deal of pixel peeping and ISO testing, something enthusiast amateurs do. So the last time I was fascinated by all that the vendors had to offer. I got to try out the new Sony 55 then, which ushered in a real revolution in consumer photography and was chosen by TIME magazine as one of the top new things in 2010.
So why was this time different? On September 12th Sony had officially announced the long awaited full-format camera, the Alpha 99. After reading the specs and seeing that it was aiming as much at the DSLR videographer market as that for still photographers, I surprised myself by quickly deciding I wasn't interested in it. It just wouldn't make sense for me to "upgrade" from the A77's 12fps to 6fps (and a reversed hot-shoe and no built-in flash and heavier) for €2800. Not that the number of frames per second is what is important to me. It's just that I've put my priorities elsewhere now and know that my gear is rarely what is going to make a difference in my ability to realize my visions.

Christian asks a Canon rep about a macro lens.

Canon and Nikon came out with their relatively cheap full-format cameras a week later, the Canon 6D and the Nikon D600. Those announcement were more interesting to me simply because all my photographer friends were talking about them. And at €2100 each, they certainly should have been!

We spent a lot of time looking at light formers and sources.

No, I went up to Cologne not with cameras in mind but with my friends in mind. I met Jim and Christian and enjoyed learning by watching them ask questions about lighting systems, lenses and the rest. Besides that, I was on a mission to find the best solution for a photo book that I'll be making for a nice couple's wedding next August. I learned enough there to come to a good decision.

Check out Jim's new website at www.jpalik.com

I noticed how much I had learned in the past two years or at least how much my priorities had changed recently. Again, away from gear and toward visions. You should almost always envision your shots before you make them. This also holds true for street photography, even though the time between the vision and the shot may be only a split second.

Part of the wild bird show at Photokina

With all this in mind, I felt like quite a snob there, inwardly criticizing the newbies who were hoping that 10 more megapixels, 100 more millimeters or 10,000 ISO more would make a difference to the overall quality of their photographs. Hanging out with my two pro friends - and considering my acquired knowledge over the past years - I was disappointed in most of the vendors' pitches. The few exceptions included the very knowledgeable and friendly Canadian gentlemen from Lenspen who cleaned my dusty sensor, taught me how it was done and sold me a kit so I could do it for my friends and myself.
Also the nice people at Sun Sniper were able to help us. I had gone to them to ask if the tattered edge of the sling was a known problem and they said it was just normal wear and tear.
However, they freely admitted that their older camera sling system had been improved upon to such a degree that they changed both Christian's and my swivel screw that attaches to the base of the camera.
The old patent not only wasn't well constructed, causing it to get stuck and not turn freely as it should but it also rubbed its metal carabiner on the bottom of the camera, causing scratches. I forgot to show them what a year's worth of use does to the bottom corner of the camera!

Now what would a photo-event be without the desire to make some pictures?

Shadows on the wall

Seemingly all alone

While I was at the Photokina, I realized how important the hostesses are who show the visitors around the stands. I want to dedicate this post to all those hard-working people!

Hosts and hostesses

And finally, the Deutzer Bridge, where love locks hang, having been put there by lovers as a sign that their love will never end - no matter how old they are: young...

...or old(er).