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First-hand PMA Report #2258
02/28/06 03:18 PM
02/28/06 03:18 PM
Joined: Mar 2005
Florida
Jim Garvie Offline OP
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Jim Garvie  Offline OP
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Florida
Linda and I spent a few hours yesterday roaming around the Orange County Convention Center here in Orlando at the 2006 PMA International Conference. I wish we could have spent more time but workload issues limited our visit to 3 hours. People spend days at this event so I apologize in advance for the cursory report.

First stop for us Canon users was the Canon booth. After wading through waves of rabid photographers, I finally got my hands on the 30D, Canon's able upgrade to the 20D. Besides a larger LCD and a bit of modification to the handgrip, the 30D handles just like the 20D which is very well indeed. The Canon folks didn't seem all that defensive about the new model's lack of increased sensor resolution. And why should they be? The 20D's sensor is one of the best in the business. Canon feels this will be a good entry-level pro/consumer model and a viable upgrade to those folks with 10Ds and Digital Rebels.

We were actually more interested in the new Canon large-format, pigment ink printers just announced. They had some mock-ups there but no samples and no price points. But clearly, with these announcements and the new HP models (also large-format and pigment based) the gauntlet tossed down by Epson with its 1800 and 2400 printers has been picked up.

Naturally, we next went to the HP booth where they had some pre-production Pro B9180 printers and samples to look at. Output looked great (you'd expect it to look lousy?) but since these are pre-production models, we'll have to see what the real thing performs like. Price point is $699 which undercuts the 2400. Since Epson has years of experience with pigment inks, Canon and HP have some catching up to do but if they can, it will be a major advantage to the industry. And you can bet that Epson will do cartwheels to keep their position atop this category.

Next, we moved to the Nikon booth where the most significant item was the Nikon/Nik software collaboration of Nikon Capture NX. While we're not currently a Nikon shop, this piece of software looks pretty interesting and very sophisticated.

An aside: it seemed to us that the most interesting things coming out of this PMA were the strategic alliances on the software side -- Nikon and Nik, Bibble and Picture Code (Noise Ninja), Bibble and Kodak. It appears that it's time for the software side to deal with issues such as sensor noise, color correction and lens distortion/softness that take lots of development time and expense to fix from the hardware side.

On another front, I've not been a fan of the 4/3 system introduced by Olympus and Panasonic but the presence of Panasonic at this show is hard to ignore. And I guess when you team a technical giant such as Panasonic with an optical wizard like Leica, you really can't ignore them. But with everything else in visual technology moving wide-screen (HDTV is 16:9), the 4/3 format seems at best anachronistic or a blatant nod to those telephoto freaks out there that just can't get enough reach (you guys on this forum know who I mean .)

Elsewhere, there were the prerequisite tweaks to Aperture and LightRoom; lots of new consumer cameras; new lenses (and significantly some in the 4/3 format i.e. Sigma); new CF cards from SanDisk and Lexar in 8MB sizes; and new viewers from Jobo and others to challenge the Epson 2000 and 4000.

I wish we could have spent more time but we saw what we came to see. With Photokina coming later this year, I suspect that the "blockbuster" hardware announcements will come then. This show was about holding ground for the top-end companies and refinement of the state-of-the-art in the form of software and peripherals.

The good news: I left the show not feeling that I had to go out and buy another camera to be competitive. That . . .was very refreshing.

Jim


Jim Garvie
www.jagphoto.biz
Re: First-hand PMA Report [Re: Jim Garvie] #2259
02/28/06 06:36 PM
02/28/06 06:36 PM
Joined: Feb 2005
Manhattan, New York, New York
James Morrissey Offline
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James Morrissey  Offline
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"Naturally, we next went to the HP booth where they had some pre-production Pro B9180 printers and samples to look at. Output looked great (you'd expect it to look lousy?) but since these are pre-production models, we'll have to see what the real thing performs like. Price point is $699 which undercuts the 2400. Since Epson has years of experience with pigment inks, Canon and HP have some catching up to do but if they can, it will be a major advantage to the industry. And you can bet that Epson will do cartwheels to keep their position atop this category."

************
Hey Jim,

Thanks for compiling all of this. Curiously, did you see any addition of new Canon papers? My biggest gripe with Canon printers has not been the machine itself, but the lack of decent papers to go with it. Epson has always had a much better line of papers to produce a much more professional looking product (at least, in my opinion).

-James

Re: First-hand PMA Report [Re: James Morrissey] #2260
02/28/06 09:05 PM
02/28/06 09:05 PM
Joined: Mar 2005
Florida
Jim Garvie Offline OP
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Jim Garvie  Offline OP
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Florida
James,
Canon is promising new paper but that comes under the heading of "we'll see". HP is dealing with the paper issue by teaming up with Hahnemühle for some of the more exotic sheets so maybe Canon will do the same.

As I said, Canon was in the announcement mode and HP was in the demonstration mode. Very different.

Jim


Jim Garvie
www.jagphoto.biz
Re: First-hand PMA Report [Re: Jim Garvie] #2261
03/02/06 06:39 AM
03/02/06 06:39 AM
Joined: Feb 2005
Manhattan, New York, New York
James Morrissey Offline
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James Morrissey  Offline
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Joined: Feb 2005
Manhattan, New York, New York
"I've not been a fan of the 4/3 system introduced by Olympus and Panasonic but the presence of Panasonic at this show is hard to ignore. And I guess when you team a technical giant such as Panasonic with an optical wizard like Leica, you really can't ignore them. But with everything else in visual technology moving wide-screen (HDTV is 16:9), the 4/3 format seems at best anachronistic or a blatant nod to those telephoto freaks out there that just can't get enough reach (you guys on this forum know who I mean .)"

Hey Jim,

I love the idea of Olympus - and have been watching them with interest. Never in the past willing to go back, but watching with real eagerness. I would really like the idea of a Oly camera with 1000mm FOV equiv. lens. The new Leica lens is also quite interesting to me. Curiously, Michael Reichmann's recent comments about the 4/3 system is that he perhaps had been wrong when he initially called the E-1 at an 'evolutionary deadend.' Olympus has really been working hard to innovate the product line and seems to be pushing hard to get other manufacturers to produce material for the 4/3 system. I am eagerly anticpating the e-1 replacement, though the proof ultimately is in the pudding. Can the sensor produce?? Can they beef up the AF performance as well and improve the flash system? The lens line-up is really coming along...and that is huge.

-JM

Re: First-hand PMA Report [Re: James Morrissey] #2262
03/02/06 02:26 PM
03/02/06 02:26 PM
Joined: Mar 2005
Florida
Jim Garvie Offline OP
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Jim Garvie  Offline OP
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Florida
James,
I've owned Olympus and I love their glass. The problem with their DSLRs is a lack of technological sophistication compared with Canon and Nikon.

Now you have Panasonic and Leica adopting the format. Panasonic can certainly help in the technology area with better sensors and processors and Leica also has great glass.

But for me, the format is simply not practical. I'm looking for larger sensors, lower noise and the ability to use wide-angle lenses that actually cover wide angles. Looks like there's a 5D in my future .

Kinda makes you wonder what Olympus/Panasonic/Leica could accomplish if they applied their talents to full-frame DSLRs instead of investing all that time, technology and money trying to establish a market for yet another format.

Jim


Jim Garvie
www.jagphoto.biz
Re: First-hand PMA Report [Re: Jim Garvie] #2263
03/02/06 08:25 PM
03/02/06 08:25 PM
Joined: Aug 2005
Wiltshire, England
PeteD Offline
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PeteD  Offline
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Wiltshire, England
Hi

I went to "Focus" in Birmingham this week and was disappointed with the lack of real info available about new printers so I have just ordered a tried and tested Epson 7800. They were so keen to do the deal I have a RIP included, monitor calibration kit etc etc. I decided I didn't want to wait any longer. I was also gutted that Canon had chosen not to attend this year - to me it speaks volumes that they had nothing new worth shouting about.


Regards PaparazziPete www.marlboroughphoto.co.uk
Re: First-hand PMA Report [Re: PeteD] #2264
03/02/06 10:57 PM
03/02/06 10:57 PM
Joined: Mar 2005
Florida
Jim Garvie Offline OP
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Jim Garvie  Offline OP
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Joined: Mar 2005
Florida
Pete,
I'm with you: I think the Canon announcement was intended to counter the HP product debut but it's still a long way from getting into the marketplace. And even when they do roll out (assuming they actually do), Epson has had their products out there for several years and a few iterations. These iterations of the 1800 and 2400 -- and the new K3 ink set in the 2400-- are pretty refined.

Like you, I'm going for the Epson product. Now, which one? Decisions decisions.

Jim


Jim Garvie
www.jagphoto.biz
Re: First-hand PMA Report [Re: Jim Garvie] #2265
03/03/06 05:59 AM
03/03/06 05:59 AM
Joined: Feb 2005
Manhattan, New York, New York
James Morrissey Offline
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James Morrissey  Offline
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Carpal Tunnel

Joined: Feb 2005
Manhattan, New York, New York
Hey Jim,

On a slightly different note, I am pretty excited. I just spoke with an Oly rep this morning. They report that they are sending me an Oly 330 to test out while I am in Las Vegas and Death Valley (with Steve Kossack). I asked specifically for an 'all around lens' and an ultra-wide. I was told it would be in the mail today.

-JM

Re: First-hand PMA Report [Re: James Morrissey] #2266
03/03/06 05:33 PM
03/03/06 05:33 PM
Joined: Mar 2005
Florida
Jim Garvie Offline OP
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Jim Garvie  Offline OP
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Florida
James,
cool! Should be fun. I can't wait to see some photos.

Jim


Jim Garvie
www.jagphoto.biz
Re: First-hand PMA Report [Re: Jim Garvie] #2267
03/06/06 03:34 AM
03/06/06 03:34 AM
Joined: Feb 2005
Manhattan, New York, New York
James Morrissey Offline
I
James Morrissey  Offline
I
Carpal Tunnel

Joined: Feb 2005
Manhattan, New York, New York
Hey Jim,

It is in. I have not really had a chance to play with it. I have been (don't spread this too far, LOL) reading the instruction manual.

-James


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