Last Thursday was the annual London Camera Exchange hosted Lincoln Photo and Optics Show 2011. I visit the show every year, its a free event and there are a lot of exhibitors and usually you get the chance to play with some of the about to be released items that you wouldn’t normally get to see.
Unfortunately with a few exceptions there wasn’t much stuff that I hadn’t already had a go with. I have a good relationship with the staff in the Local LCE and do get to try most things out. The following were the highlights of the show from my perspective:
Canon had nothing new to show, the printers were all of the current generation there was no sign of the new Pixma Pro-1 printer. There was also no sign of the new Canon EOS-1DX which I would love to have had a go with even though I’m a Nikon shooter. This is a revolutionary camera and a sign that Canon only want to have one model as their top camera. It also shows how Nikon might go, also competition is always good.
At the Nikon stand I had a play with some of the more exotic lenses that you don’t normally get to see. The were a lot of V1 and J1 cameras to play with as well as many of the lenses. Although I had played with a J1 and V1 before, it was the first time I got to play with the Nikon 10-100mm f4.5-5.6 PD-Zoom VR 1 Nikkor Lens and although it dwarfs the V1 it is a nice combination and the zoom is silent as it goes through its range.
I also had an extended play with the V1 and the other optics available for the camera. I must admit that I’m quite taken with the camera and if it was a bit more reasonably priced would probably invest in one. Richard who I went to the show with actually bought a kit from LCE who were present as they had some nice show deals on the camera. Richard is finding new features with the camera all of the time and there are some nice pictured on his blog.
The next stand I visit was the Sony one, I spent some time here as they had a couple of NEX-7 cameras to play with.
This has to be one of the most hyped and anticipated cameras of all time. The camera was a lot smaller and lighter than I though it would be; it was very responsive and the location and action of the try-navi system is a stroke of genius – these controls fall to the thumb of your right hand and can be controlled with your eye to the EVF. The EVF is simply fantastic and as good as the on on the Sony SLT A77 that I played with in previously in the local LCE store. They also had a full range of E-Series optics too and I was allowed to try any combination I liked. The rep even had the new LA-EA2 Mount Adapter:
For a bit of fun the Sony Rep attached the rather large 70-400mm f4-5.6 G SSM Lens. This was a very unwieldy combination as the NEX7 in no-way balances the lens like a full-sized SLR with battery grip would. However it focused really fast with this lens and operational was excellent. Attaching a lens this large requires mounting the lens to a tripod.
However, I was a little underwhelmed with the camera on the day as it has been so over-hyped it is in the dangerous position where the hype outweighs the photographic ability of the camera. The white balance of the camera was also bested by the Nikon V1 system. After a lot of playing with the camera the auto-braketing feature is essentially useless; the camera will only ever take 3 shots and then only with either +/- 0.3EV or +/- 0.7EV – my Panasonic GF1 is better than this.
I also had a play with a NEX-5N with the optional EVF and I was really impressed with this – it outperforms all other EVFs out there, built in or add-on (with the obvious except of the NEX-7, SLT-A77 and SLT-A65).
Finally I had another go with the SLT-A77 camera and some of the more exotic lenses that Sony have in their range including the 24-70mm and 70-200mm lenses. I’m afraid that they need to release a firmware update for the camera as it seems to be slow at switching on and sometimes there is a lag between the dial turns and the associated setting change. However, apart from that this is an awesome camera.
Around the corner from the Sony stand was the Olympus stand. They had all of the PEN series cameras on show including one with their EVF – oh dear it was dreadful; it was better then the one I have for my GF1, buy only just and it flickered quite badly too. I also had a quick play with the latest PEN cameras and they didn’t feel right in the hand at all. I was a bit disappointed with them. Unfortunately I couldn’t get to try out their new prime lenses.
The final stand I visited was the Panasonic one. They had lots of the latest cameras on show and also had the power zooms which were phenomenally light much more than I thought they could be and much lighter than the one of the Nikon 1 series cameras. Not sure how Panasonic can make a lighter set of power-zoom lenses then the Nikon ones for a camera with a sensor twice the size? Unfortunately I couldn’t see a GH2 which I would have liked to play with and there was no word from them about the GX1 either. I also got the feeling that they didn’t like users playing with the gear much. The Sony and Nikon reps were much more accommodating.
I have to say that I really enjoyed the show I just wish that the lighting in the main hall was better -it is awful to be honest – and it would have been nice to turn the heating down a notch or two – it was uncomfortably hot.