The Photography Show 2014

PhotoShow 2014

As my quick post on Monday mentioned I went to the new “The Photography Show” and if I wasn’t still suffering the after affects of the flu after driving to and back from the Birmingham NEC I might have posted my thoughts later that night. Instead after having my dinner I flaked out in front of the TV 🙂 .

Richard Brown who I went to the show with has already posted his thought’s you can find his post here, he also has a very nice photo of Joe McNally taken with his Leica M4.

We arrived at the show earlier than needed, it was open from 09:00 but only for retailers so we had to wait about 30 minutes until 10:00 when the “general public” are allowed in, so we had to have a coffee – from Subway – I have to say it was awful and I don’t know how they call what I had a Latte but you pays your money and you takes your chance. Not long after finishing the coffee we were told that they were letting people into the show a little early. After quickly checking the map we worked out where to head first.


As as I was most interested in Fuji we first visited Hall 11 and was walking past the Calumet Store (C10) on my way to the adjacent Fujifilm stand (D10) when… is that the Fuji Battery grip… for the XT1…and is that the Black X100s…the same price as the Silver X100s… and only £750?….Oh dear major GAS alert.

Calument Logo

After some deliberation I managed to reel myself in (a bit) and settled for the Fujifilm X-T1 battery grip and a reasonably priced (£45) Genuine NP-W126 battery. Although the grip was no cheaper than anyone else, no-one else has any in stock so I’m happy to have one of these now. Speaking to the people on the Calumet store they did say that they sold all of their X-T1’s on the first day.

So after deciding that the Black X100s (with free leather case) was not on my cards for the day we walked away, I could see that Richard was VERY tempted but managed all day to not get one, he stuck to his guns and settled for an Epson R3880 printer at only a bit more than the X100s too.
So onto the Fujifilm stand. I have to say that going here first and relatively early in the day was the best idea I had that day as you couldn’t get to the stand as it was so busy later. The Fuji Staff were all very friendly and were genuinely interested in what you did and wanted to try they were also very knowledgeable too. One of them noticed that I had my Fuji X-T1 around my neck and asked what I thought about the camera; I of course reported that I was loving the camera and had only two issues. The first is that the cursor keys/D-Pad on he back of the camera needed to be raised a bit as they are hard to press and if the D-Pad was slightly bigger it would be better too. The second problem (and this goes for all of the X-series cameras) is that the exposure bracketing range is limited to 3 frames at +/- 1EV; we really need the option of 3, 5 or 7 frames with +/- 3EV to make this useful for HDR photos. I don’t think that I wasn’t telling her anything that she hadn’t heard before but it was nice of them to ask. We both agreed that the second problem could probably be rectified in a future firmware update, she couldn’t promise anything but the Exposure bracketing feature request was very high up on a list of asked for updates – we’ll have to wait and see about this one.

Whilst I was at the Fujifilm stand I was allowed to try any of their lenses on my Fuji X-T1 – I was amazed that they allowed this. They were very open and didn’t rush me to finish with the lenses. So I used this opportunity to try out some of the lenses I don’t own (yet). 🙂

Fuji 23mm f1.4 (35mm FOV = 35mm)
This is an awesome lens (is already on my wish list), the weight and feel is just right and the manual focus clutch mechanism is even better than the one on my 14mm! There is a nice long travel from the closest focus distance to to infinity. On the X-T1 I could see me manually focusing at least 50% of the time, this lens also enabled me to see the split-screen focusing window in the Picture in Picture viewfinder window of the X-T1. The quality of the pictures was great too. Having a true 35mm (35mm FOV equivalent) lens provides the missing focal length form Fuji’s range, the only previous way you could get this was to use an X100/X100s.

Fuji 56mm f1.2 (35mm FOV = 84mm)
This is another lens that provides a classic focal length (the 85mm portrait lens). I tried this wide open at f1.2 and the reduced depth of field was wondeful, this is clearly one of the main selling points. This lens does not have the manual focus clutch mechanism so you manually focus this like all of the other Fujinon lenses. Interestingly there is no OIS. The picture quality is as always very good and this is another wish list lens.

Fuji 10-24mm f4 OIS (35mm FOV =15-36mm)
This was the last lens I tried and I have to say my least favourite. For me it is almost redundant, I have the excellent 14mm as well as the competent and slim 18mm lens too. Although the zoom lens is more versatile and provides and even wider 10mm, the 14mm is wide enough for me but at f4 is also slower. The zoom ring on this lens was quite stiff and the aperture ring had no markings which is stange as this is a constant aperture lens. Whilst the 23mm and the 56mm were clearly production ready lenses, the 10-24mm was showing signs of being a pre-production lens. The Fujifilm staff did say that it was the only one in the UK at the moment and has to go back to Japan straight after the show finishes.

XF Weather Sealed Zoom Lenses
Fuji also had full size mock-ups of the 3 new weather resistant lenses and surprisingly I was allowed to handle them to check their size against my current 18-55mm lens which was back on th X-T1 by this point. I was also told that the weight of the lenses are very close to the final production models; both of these f2.8 lenses seem quite large, the 16-50 dwarfs the 18-55 lens on my X-T1, the 18-135mm is more like the current XF 55-200mm lens in size. The XF 18-135 f3.5-f5.6 OIS should be available this summer whilst the XF 16-55 and 50-140 f2.8 OIS zooms will be released later in the year – Autumn/Winter 2014

Whilst at the show I also tried to look at the new Canon G1X Mark II but could not see one at the show and the Canon stand was as always busy. There was nothing else of any real interest to me at the moment.

Sony and Bags
Sony was noticed by its absence, however I did see one of the Sony reps working the Camera World stand. I know that he works for Sony as I see him at the LCE stores occasionally when we are having Sony events. Camera World which was always busy also had some of the current Vanguard bags there too and it was nice to see these bags up close and you can actually get a sense of their size, it looks like their Up-Rise bags might be the most suitable for the gear that I want to carry, the Lowepro that I use at the moment isn’t quite large enough.

On the bag front I also got to check out the entire Manfrotto range as well as the Thinktank bags – I was keen to see the Thinktank Airport Essentials as this is the bag that Zack Arias uses to transport his Fuji X system. I have to say this bag is perfect for that but the show price was within £5 of the Amazon price so I decided to hold off this for now.


3 Legged Thing
One of the most surprising stands that impressed me was the “3 Legged Thing”‘s stand. I had heard about these tripods but was unaware that they were a UK based company (although a lot of the manufacturing takes place in China). I have been interested in getting hold of a travel tripod that could fit in a smallish bag and they had 2 models that fit the bill. They are all named after guitar players. The smaller of the two (weighs under a kilo) is called “Tim” and the slighter larger tripod is called “Brian” and he weighs just over a 1.3 kg but unlike Tim can extend to your height and can have a leg removed to make a mono pod too. Check these guys out here.

We spent a little time at the Nikon stand and spoke to the staff there about the D-f. We both liked the feel of this in the hand, we liked the D4 sensor and even the quasi digital/analogue controls that could have been better designed is forgiveable but the price is simply too high. I suspect that Nikon didn’t expect to sell many as this is marketed as a niche product, smaller runs of models cost more. The Nikon staff hinted that this the case and had clearly heard Richard’s question many times too: “What I wanted was the D4 sensor in the D800 body”.

The other stand that spent any real time at was the Epson one and this allowed Richard to ask some questions about the R3880 printer he was thinking of buying (at that time).

Joe and wrap up
The final thing that I will talk about is the Joe McNally talk which was as ever very entertaining. Joe showed a lot of his amazing photographs some of which I had seen before but he also went into detail how he got the shots and occasionally showed some behind the scenes photos too. I have to say that Joe is a braver man than I as there are some situations I would never have gotten into, the other eye opener is the sheer cost that some of these photos cost to take (we are talking hundreds of thousands of pounds) and only a relativity small amount of that went to Joe. This is the second time I have seen Joe and I enjoyed this event as much as the first one. Thank you for visiting us here in Blighty Joe, please come again.

As I said at the beginning of this post I really enjoyed my time at the Photo Show as did Richard and I look forward to next years which is taking place mid-March 2015.