Thursday, 11 March 2010

Focus on Imaging 2010

I have to apologise for my absence of late, since the Manchester shoot things have been busy busy, with very little time spare to keep you guys updated. But I wanted to post a bit of an update on here regarding the last few days.

Late last night I got home from spending a couple of days at the Focus on Imaging show at the Birmingham NEC, as I'm sure a few of you reading this also did.  While nowhere near as big as Focus has been in previous years, I had a great time at the show.  I got to meet up with a good few people I've chatted with online for months but hadn't actually met before from a couple of sites I visit and got to catch up with some others I haven't seen for a while (Hi AnnMarie, Roze, Steve, Ace, Daniel, Marcus, Lenz, Karen, Monmodel, Mr Nutley, Matt, Kevin - apologies to those I missed off the list).  It was a great pleasure hanging out with you guys on Tuesday, and getting to meet some of you for the first time.

Tuesday was pretty much a social day, and I had great fun.  I didn't get to see much of the show though, that came on Wednesday.

Surprisingly, I didn't max out all my credit cards at the show, although the opportunity was definitely there and ended up coming home with a couple of packs of Ilford Galerie Smooth Pearl, a couple of packs of Harman Crystaljet Luster, a Strobies XS bracket (couldn't find a beauty dish though), and some Lumiquest bits.

Even more surprisingly, my first port of call on Wednesday was to see the folks at Canon.  I have to stress though, we're talking printers here, not cameras.  After getting an introduction to the Canon large format printers at the Spring Fair International last month, Peter and I went to go over and have a chat and look at the full range of large format printers they had on display at Focus - and by Wednesday, the deals available for those with cash were pretty outstanding, but due to lack of space I've decided to hold off for now (it's not so easy to find a home for a printer that's 6ft wide).

The next stop was the Ilford stand (the real one).  I didn't actually realise until yesterday that Ilford and Ilford Galerie are two different companies.  The original Ilford went bust several years ago, and it was bought out by a small group of people who are continuing to produce their black and white film papers under the Ilford name, and boy are they beautiful.  They do, however produce a range of inkjet papers under the brand name Harman. The company that produces the Ilford Galerie inkjet paper is based in Japan and the paper is produced by them under license.

After looking at the samples available, the Harman Crystaljet Luster just jumped right out at me as being a very very nice looking paper, and at a mere £13 per pack of 100 sheets, I had to grab a couple of packs to give it a good workout.  I did also head over to 1st Camera and pick up a couple of packs of the Ilford Galerie Smooth Pearl too, as mentioned above, and initial tests show the two as being very very close with regard to quality, colour and contrast.  The wife actually prefers the look of prints on the Harman Luster at almost 1/3rd the cost of the Ilford Smooth Pearl.

My next stop was to see the folks at Jacobs Digital to pick up an Interfit Strobies XS bracket.  I hadn't realised until I saw it at the show that the Strobies XS bracket came with a 7" dome reflector, which is quite a nice little addition to throw in the box.  I am a little concerned that the SB-900 sticks out very far on the front compared to the image on the box, although the gentlemen I spoke to at the Interfit stand assures me the product was designed specifically with the SB-900 in mind and it sticks out at the appropriate distance, however if I need to throw a radio trigger or TTL cord on that flash, it's definitely going to be sticking out too far, so I'll have to have a play, try a bunch of different light modifiers and see what's what before I'm convinced of its usefulness.  I might have to pick up a second hand SB-800 to use with this as there is a fairly substantial size difference between the two.

We wandered about a bit going past variou stands, had a play with the Wacom Intuos 4 tablets (very sexy, very expensive, but worth every penny), a quick look at the Cintiq, then passed various software stands (On1, Portrait Professional, etc), before finally making our way over to the main Nikon stand.

I've been wanting to have a play with the D3s for a while and I finally got my chance.  I fired off a few test shots with the D3s and Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 at ISOs ranging from 200-12800, so once I've had a chance to unpack and go through those images, I'll pop up a little mini review.  I had my D300s with me, and I have the original Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 VR lens, so I was curious how the new VRII compared.  Had a good little play with that one, shooting handheld all the way down to 1/8th of a second.  VR isn't something I use all that often on my 70-200 as I'm generally shooting in bright daylight, higher ISO or using flash to freeze moving subjects, but I have to admit, I was impressed.

But, back to the D3s, even more impressed.  I'd forgotten how big full frame was compared to DX, as it's been a few years since I ran any film through the N90s, but I think I'll definitely be looking into the possibility at some point in the future, although it's not a high priority.

I did get a chance to look at the Bowens stand and ask them a bunch of questions too.  I haven't really used studio strobes all that much, so it was good getting to chat to somebody who could actually explain to me the differences between the various models.  Something else that's not on the high priority list, but there were some nice bargains available on the Bowens gear at various retailers.  I think that'll be one to pick up next year.

That's it for now.  I'm going to get another coffee, and start to unpack. :)


  1. I went to Focus on the Sunday, and while I didn't buy anything (well, a memory card reader) I was amazed by the Ranger Quadra flash kits on The Flash Centre - never seen them before (although it appears they've been around for a while now) and they seem rather impressive.

    The Fuji/Noritsu drylabs were good as well - much better than I was expecting them to be. Great image quality from a chemical-less process. The size of them is a bit more manageable than a 6ft Canon monster ;)

  2. They may be a bit more manageable, but those 6ft Canon monsters do look impressive. I had a chat with the Canon guy, and he was trying to cut me an amazing deal on one.

    £3750+VAT was their show price, he hadn't sold one when I spoke to him on the Tuesday. He was going to throw me in a stand, and a couple of 25ft rolls of canvas. I was *really* *really* tempted, but the wife would've killed me. ;)