Monthly Archives: March 2011

A visit to Focus-On-Imaging 2011 (part 2)

In the second part of my report following my visit to Focus-On-Imaging 2011, I take a look at some of the latest products and innovations from many of the manufacturers you will know and a few interesting ones that you won’t.

That’s the great beauty of Focus, you will see industry giants like Nikon within shouting distance of a niche frame maker, which is why a day there is such an informative, eclectic and illuminating treat for any photographer or anyone interested in getting the very most out of their digital imaging work.

So let’s take a look at some more examples of who was exhibiting what…

Kodak

Kodak offer a great range of affordable pocket video cameras that combine great styling with real power and are just great fun to handle and use.

On the Kodak stand, you could take a look at the really funky Play Sport pocket video camera, which was no bigger than a Smartphone, offered a range of really funky colour choices and backed that styling up with genuinely powerful video capturing power at full HD 1080p, 720p and offers WVGA recording modes plus 5MP stills.

The Play Sport also boasts numerous features including on-camera editing, expandable memory and comes complete with a free HDMI cable.

As the name suggests, the Play Sport is all about the bump and grind of taking video out in the field and really does make an impact while allowing you to take video with impact! It is waterproof to a depth of 10ft, shockproof to a drop height of 1.5m and dust and grit proof.

A cracking little video camera, earn more about it by visiting http://bit.ly/hNe9Cp

I Am The Future Of Photography…

In my third and final article in this series, I will be devoting my attention to what Nikon had to offer at their spectacular central stand.

But in advance I would like to highlight their stellar ‘I Am The Future Of Photography’ student photography competition which offers a once-in-a-lifetime career opportunity for aspiring students looking for a career in photography and needing that all important boost.

The winner of the competition will win a paid three month internship with fashion and celebrity photographer, John Wright – a literally priceless opportunity.

Any final year student studying a higher education photography based course at a college or university in the UK or Ireland can enter.

To learn more about this fabulous opportunity, visit www.nikpnfoundation.co.uk

Epson

Over on the Epson stand, there was a great opportunity to take a look at numerous examples from their market leading range of printers, with fantastic helpful advice on-hand from their incredibly knowledgeable team of experts.

For the home user like me, I was particularly interested in the Epson Stylus Photo PX660.

It is a great desktop printer that allows you to take real pride in your photography, with this superior home all-in-one.

It not only prints photos that exceed lab quality but also scans and copies making it great for archiving photos and as a great addition to your home office.

www.epson.com

BXRi

Studio lighting specialists BXRi were in attendance and as usual offered a definitive range of lighting solutions with brilliant back up support and advice, helping customers to make the right choices that best suited them and their personal projects.

BXPi’s attendance at Focus 2011 followed their recent award win for “Best Studio Lighting’ in SWPP’s 2011 Trade awards.

BXRi commented:

“We were delighted to receive the SWPP award for ‘Best Studio Lighting’ for the Elinchrom BXRi 500/500 kit. With stiff competition from the Elinchrom Quadra Kit, the Elinchrom D-Lite-it 400 kit, Bowens Gemini 500 and the White Lightening Ultra 1800, we believe our BXRi is a deserving winner and are very grateful to the many members of SWPP who thought so too!”

Learn more about the BXRi range of professional standard studio lights and buy now by visiting http://bit.ly/h3tYBL

Going Digital

As well as the latest products and solutions, Focus is also a fantastic place to learn and sharpen your skill set with free seminars, lectures and demonstrations on every corner.

You could spend a whole day just moving from seminar to seminar all of which are hugely informative and superbly presented by some of the best in the industry.

Its also a great opportunity to talk with professional course and training organisers and to book up too.

‘Going Digital’ offer photography workshops about getting the very best from the a Lumix G camera, in more than 100 locations across the UK.

The aim is simply to help attendees to get the very most out of their photography using this benchmark Panasonic camera easily and enjoyable in small, friendly groups.

You can learn more, find the nearest course to you and book, by visiting www.goingdigital.co.uk

Panasonic

The Panasonic stand was fantastic.

As you would expect, there was a fabulous opportunity to take a look at and try the very latest generation models in their hugely successful Lumix range of cameras with expert advice readily on hand.

What really caught the eye though was their ‘Is Britain Great’ photo exhibition which showcased everdyay images of Britain from abandoned roadside cafes and crumbling bridges to vibrant street scenes and busy days on the beach.

All images were captured using the Panasonic Lumix G1.

A fantastic exhibition of images that really captured the people and modern urban geography of the UK from the mundane to the inspirational.

It was brilliantly presented too, using as it did, an old two wheel caravan that wouldn’t look out of place on ‘Carry On Camping’ serving as the gallery!

www.panasonic.co.uk

In the third and final part of my series of articles about Focus On Imaging 2011, I’ll take a look at what Nikon had to offer and wrap up what was a fantastic event – and one that I wholly recommend that you consider attending next year!

Simon Baker
Copywriter

Choosing a monitor to suit a budget…

We often get asked advice about choosing a suitable monitor for a particular budget, so, without further ado; ‘What are the key factors when choosing a monitor to suit a budget?’

Something for the professional:

The most popular professional monitor size is 24″, of which Eizo and NEC share the market with their CG243  and SpectraView Reference 241W respectively.

Professional monitors such as these have top grade panels and are supplied – as standard – with a monitor hood and direct hardware calibration software (the addition of a monitor calibrator is required).

The NEC Reference models benefit from a Dead Pixel and Sub Pixel return policy, whereas standard ISO specification allow for a number of dead sub pixels in such a product (just no complete dead pixels).

Although the Eizo CG monitors do not cover dead ‘sub-pixels’, they do include a monitor swap-out for warranty repairs that cannot be resolved during an on-site repair visit.

On the other hand, while slighty more expensive, the NEC SV Reference 241W has newer technology and slightly higher specification than the Eizo.

Decisions become slightly harder when dropping down to the next grade of monitors as you are effectively sacrificing quality and/or features in order to meet a budget. So, it is helpful to understand how each limitation will affect ones specific requirements.

At an inc . vat street-price point of £700-£900 (a saving of 25-45% from the cost of a 24” Professional model), key current choices are as follows…

The Choices:

24″ NEC MultiSync PA241W

24″ Eizo SX2462W

23″ NEC SpectraView 231W

22″ Eizo CG223W


The 24″ Choice:

Firstly the 24” models. The 24″ NEC PA241W and the Eizo SX2462 models are comparable to each other.

The street price of the PA241W is nominally lower than the Eizo SX2462, but the PA241W is a newer product with a slightly higher specification – providing 14 bit LUTs against 12 bit and a maximum contrast ratio of 1000:1 against 850:1.

Both models have IPS panels (similar to the professional equivalents), with the NEC benefiting from P-IPS against the slightly older S-IPS panel technology in the Eizo.

However, a lower price means you do lose some features compared to the professional models:

  1. A monitor hood is not included (but can be added with an equivalent quality PChOOD.
  2. Monitor Uniformity – a far lower specification of uniformity across the panels.
  3. Lack of direct hardware calibration – a higher level of monitor calibration (and less user interaction) is provided through the direct calibration software supplied with the SpectraView and CG monitors.
  4. Features specific to NEC or Eizo professional models (as highlighted above), are not included.

Overall these are a lower grade of monitor. An alternative option could be to drop the size rather than quality.

22″ – 23″ Choices

This introduces the NEC SpectraView 231 and the Eizo CG223.

These models also benefit from a price point slightly lower than the PA241W and SX2462 models, but are 1 or 2″ smaller. So what do you gain from the smaller sized SpectraView and CG specification, in comparison to the 24″ SpectraView and CG models? And equally, are they the same spec as the larger equivalents?

  • NEC SV231W – This is a SpectraView (not a SpectraView ‘Reference’ model).  It has a smaller colour Gamut than the reference models and although a monitor hood is not included, a PChOOD can be added for £60. It also does not benefit from the Zero sub-pixel policy.
  • Eizo CG223 – This is a CG model, but unlike the CG243 which benefits from having an IPS panel, this model has a VA panel, as does lower cost 24″ CG241.

The choice between this pair of monitors is very much down to priorities, for example; the balance of the NEC SV 231W with an IPS panel against the VA panel, but larger colour gamut of the Eizo CG223. It’s also baring in mind that you get a 1″ larger and higher resolution with the SV231W.

The Decision process – a buyers guide:

Step 1 – Can you justify the budget for a 24” Eizo CG or NEC SpectraView? Even if you don’t necessarily need the 24” size, you will not get comparable quality from the smaller models. If not move down to step 2.

Step 2 – Decide on your preference of benefits between the Eizo SX2462 and the NEC PA241W. Similarly repeat the exercise for the lower cost 22” and 23” models.

Step 3 – Decide between your preferred 24” model and 22/23” model. Although the 22/23” model is smaller and lower cost that the 24” options, they may have benefits in quality/specification that are appropriate to your needs.

Still out of your price range?

Step 4 – if they are all out of your price range, consider the NEC P221 or the Eizo S2243. Both monitors will benefit from the addition of a hood. The higher cost of the Eizo is justified through its higher resolution (equivalent to a 24” display within a 22” screen), resulting in a sharper image, but smaller menu display.

Lot’s on information to consider. If you’re still un-decided, or need more advice, give us a call or get in touch and we’ll help you work out which monitor is best for you.

Simon Prais
Technical Director

A visit to Focus-On-Imaging 2011 (part 1)

Focus-On-Imaging is the centrepiece exhibition of the year for all things photographic, digital imaging and beyond and a default entry in the diary of any serious photographer from hobbyist to professional.

Focus 2011 was the biggest event yet and combined a really eclectic mixture of big brand exhibitors along with a real mix of smaller, more niche manufacturers and service providers which made for a fascinating event that provided real inspiration and food for thought.

Alongside the opportunity to take a look at the latest products and see them demoed by the experts, there was also a great chance to see some incredibly illuminating lectures, attend workshops and sit in on seminars to truly sharpen skills, learn creative tricks and leave the event with a little more in the skill set armoury.

I enjoyed a great opportunity to spend an afternoon taking a look at those new products, watching those demonstrations and sitting in on those seminars for myself and came away with the opinion that, if you have any interest in investing in your photography skills, a trip to Focus in 2012 is absolutely essential.

Getting to Focus is easy too. The show takes place at Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre, which is well served by both the Motorway and rail networks and is also conveniently adjacent to Birmingham International Airport if you are flying in as many people do.

Parking is plentiful and well sign posted, and although perhaps a little steep at £8, you do enjoy a full day in a security patrolled car park that is only a short walk from the main exhibition halls.

Refreshments, eating and drinking are also plentiful too, both in the actual exhibition hall in the shape of a dedicated self-service café, offering drinks snacks and light meals and in many branded franchise outlets such as Subway and a Wetherspoons public house in the outer atriums that surround the main hall.

So, all in all, easy to get to, refreshments are plentiful and the show itself is unmissable!

So what was new from a product perspective?

As I said, one of the great things about Focus On Imaging is the eclectic mix of exhibitors that you will encounter.

You are just as likely to see the latest innovations from Sony and Nikon as you are specialist frame makers and innovative solutions from tripods and lenses to handmade albums and further education options.

Color Confidence

Europe’s largest Colour Management and Digital Imaging specialists occupied a vibrant central stand that offered a great mixture of new products from the likes of RAIN design, Hanvon and NEC displays.

What really differentiates Color Confidence from their competitors is the depth of knowledge and expertise that their technical experts possess and this year that was harnessed in their free Colour Clinic surgery where visitors to their stand could enjoy face-to-face advice on any aspect of colour management or digital imaging.

In addition, a limited edition ‘introduction to colour’ magazine was on offer to visitors to the Color Confidence stand which was a tremendous way to gain an initial understanding of workflow and how to get the very most out of digital imaging.

From my vantage point, the Color Confidence stand was buzzing and lively all day with a combination of demonstrations, seminars and lively debate along with lots of sales making it a great year for these leaders in their field.

You can learn more about Color Confidence by visiting www.ColorConfidence.com

Sony

Sony dominated the left hand side of the exhibition hall with a stylish and expansive stand, manned by a number of the black shirted technical gurus who spoke to a seemingly endless stream of Sony aficionados keen to discuss the latest innovations and doubly keen to try them out.

Much of the Sony team’s activity and when I spoke to one of their advisers myself seemed to be focussed on their Nex-5 and Nex-3 cameras.

These great looking cameras which are available in a range of striking metallic colours represent the world’s smallest digital interchangeable-lens camera and it looks great.

As their brochure, which I picked up from a very helpful Sony adviser describes them:

‘The revolutionary new Sony Nex-5 and Nex-3 both deliver spontaneity, interchangeable-lens creativity and DSLR image quality in a stylish, ultra-compact package. – wherever and whenever you need it. Combining the thoroughbred heritage of Sony’s digital SLR system with outstanding operating ease and full HD video recording, the Nex-5 and Nex-3 take ultra compact photography to the next level’

A fantastic little camera, bursting with features that demoed very well on the day and well worth a look in my opinion.

You can learn more about Sony’s incredible range at www.sonyphoto.com

The Image File

One of the smaller exhibitors at the show who were promoting an interesting concept that one of their team took a great deal of time to explain to me in a a really clear, informative way was The Image File.

The Image File offer web solutions for the serious photographer.

Since 2002, The Image File has been dedicated to providing  not just great web sites and online sales solutions but a complete web strategy fro serious photographers.

The Image File provides a browser driven system, allowing you to log in from a PC, Mac, iPod or smart phone and no software ever needs to be installed.

The Image File currently store more than 20 million images for their users.

A help desk and numerous online articles are available 24/7 to support their customers every step of the way, from registering a domain name and forwarding a dns to creating great special offer pricelists encouraging your customers to access and buy your images as quickly and easily as possible.

You can learn more about The Image File and enjoy a free, no obligations trial for a month by visiting www.theimagefile.com/try.

In Part 2, I will overview what the expansive Nikon stand had on offer, take a look at the Epson printers stand and also work my way around some of the smaller exhibitors who were offering some really interesting new products.

See you next week!

Simon Baker
Copywriter

Friday round-up

It’s been a busy last few weeks here at Color Confidence towers.

As we blogged in our last post, March for us is a crazy month with Focus on Imaging to prep, attend and ultimately debrief. In truth, most of February is also spent doing the same thing, and this year was no exception!

From my point of view, the last few weeks have been especially busy, particularly as this was my first ever show! I’d always had half-an interest in photography, or at least a grand idea that one day I’ll follow the England cricket team around the world photographing them along the way. Having worked at Color Confidence for just over 6 months now, I’ve come to realise just how much there is to photography; from input calibration techniques to making sure you print out on the right paper. Might have to put that dream on hold for a little while!

Focus further opened my eyes to the photography world. I’ve learnt as much in 4 days talking to you guys as I have in the day-to-day workings here. I can now fully demonstrate how to use a Color Checker Passport and ColorMunki Photo (just about) – which isn’t bad considering I’d never heard of them 6 months ago!

The show was hard work, but great fun. Having a quick look around (mainly when nipping to the loo!) there appeared to be plenty on show too, hope you enjoyed it?

Of course, what all this really means is that seeing photography through your eyes, and chatting to you guys throughout the show means I can see things from your perspective. I now know just how much work you all have to put into creating the perfect image, and just how many options there are available to you.

From this blog perspective, it also means I’ve got a better idea of the sorts of questions, queries and ‘problems’ you might go through. I really hope this blog eventually turns into a technical masterpiece for you, full of wonderful information, hints and tips to help you on your photographic journey… We should be posting the latest of these technical postings next week.

So, what’s in the news this week?

A few new products and/or coming soon products for you.

I mentioned choosing the right paper earlier, Tecco paper have just released these three new papers suitable for a variety of photography styles.

We actually had the Tecco stand with us at Focus, so I got to see their paper first hand. The image quality of the paper had to be seen to be believed, especially when viewed under a viewing booth or one of our Grafilites. In fact, we’re actually offering a money back guarantee on our Tecco paper range, and also free delivery this month… either way you can’t lose, why not give them a go? (And let us know how you get on)

We’ll soon be stocking the latest offering from Booq too, including a range of swanky new camera bags – if the prototypes are anything to go by, they really are very cool bags – and also a Booqpad for your new iPod2!

Technical post up next week, but as ever, please get in touch if you have nay questions or need help.

Adam Borriello
Social media & marketing