A trip to Cologne you say, lots of Schnitzel and strudel you say, an entire exhibition centre of camera porn….oh go on then 🙂
The biannual camera fest that is Photokina took place at the end of September and i felt that a little trip was in order. I’ve been several times before (I even remember when Kodak and Fuji were two of the biggest exhibitors) and have enjoyed it every time. Much like Photo live, or it’s predecessor Focus on imaging, this is a trade show for all of the manufacturers to display their latest wares and encourage your Gear Acquisition Syndrome (no? just me then). Unlike the Birmingham shows there is also a huge amount of actual photography on display with Leica providing an entire hall of images, converting an exhibition hall into a large gallery for the event.
All of the big players are present and this is generally the event where they will release their latest bit of kit with much ceremony and hype. Some get it right and other may be a little off target.
For me personally, the winner at this event (I start to wonder if there actually is a prize?) was Fuji. Yes they released some nice new kit, mirror-less medium format system etc, but why i think they ‘won’ was down something they didn’t do with hype and ceremony; they provided a pleasant, interactive experience on their stand and thoroughly excellent customer service from all of their knowledgeable staff. I appreciate that these shows are really all about flogging gear, but the best way to do that, surely, is make good gear and provide your customers with a good experience as well. Fuji did just that. From make your own cards with their instax printers to photobooth stations to cameras cleaned and serviced on site, it really was very good. Excellent demonstrations on the stand (I even got hauled up on stage for the demo) by known names in the industry, all provided free of charge.
To be fair, there were a lot of free demo’s by a wide variety of manufacturers. Nikon had a good demo of their new 360 camera, there were some great lighting demos from ProFoto (and most of the other lighting manufacturers i’m sure) and the usual amount of ‘freebies’ and tat to take home.
What this show does so well, unlike the Photography show in the UK, is to actually show some end result along with all of the gear. As mentioned above there is a whole hall turned over to photos (yes, real, actual printed photos on display!) and I happily spent an hour or so taking in the variety of work on offer, accompanied by a fresh cup of tea from the Leica cafe.
The other excellent addition to this show, which is often overlooked, is Cologne itself. A lovely, compact and friendly city with lots to do and see outside of the exhibition centre. The City is only 5 minutes away by train and is well worth a look.