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The Digital Show – Wandering & Musing

September 14, 2013

Had a pleasant wander around the Digital Show yesterday. Here are a few of my impressions, in no order of importance. It was relatively quiet, so products were very accessible, as were people to explain them. Sigma showed some great new lenses, as did Zeiss and Nikon. There were wall to wall cameras, accessories and printers. Lots of merchants keen to sell must-have gadgets and generally prices were good.

Sigma. In line with range improvements, the Sigma 18-35 ƒ1.8 DX was a quality lens with the new firmware adjustment connector available for tweaking parameters to match your camera. The Art Series 35mm ƒ1.4 was impressive, as was the 70-200mm optically stabilised Zoom which has had a complete makeover.

Fujifilm. The Fujifilm stand was a massive display of working cameras with unobtrusive helpers to show the virtues of any products that may have been of interest. Very heavily into quality Micro 4/3s cameras with quality lenses. The range has obvious DNA running through it and it is hard to distinguish between the top line and entry level offerings. A good move as you can start modestly, acquire lenses and move up without massive reinvestment.

Kayell. A very impressive stand with a massive number of quality products. Well staffed, but with the staff more interested in swapping yarns with each other than serving the needs of customers. Fortunately, I knew what I wanted, but It took me four attempts to buy it. I would not even have attempted to have something explained. It proves that the power of good products can be destroyed by poor customer service. Perhaps Kayell should arrange a staff catchup several days before the show so the staff can concentrate on their customers.

Conversely, the Drobo man from Singapore, on the Kayell stand was a delight to deal with and he had a great new product. The Drobo Personal Cloud. A mysterious looking device that is in effect, a personal Dropbox. He spent time explaining its virtues and when it’s approved, I want one or two.

Nikon. The Nikon stand is impressive. Well branded, well staffed and with heaps of products and people to promote them. I always have a laugh at a group of men, similarly dressed, that queue up on the elevated platform to peep through the ultra long tele lenses. These expensive giants are the exclusive realm of nature and sport photographers. There is neither at the show, but I’m sure there are sufficient short skirts and enough cleavage to warrant the interest.I understood the new Coolpix 7800 was to be shown, but after a few puzzled looks I was told it would be available in October. Surely one or two samples would have been available, but then how would they sell the excess stock of Coolpix 7700s?

Pentax Ricoh. A wall of miniature, brightly coloured Pentax cameras. Pick the most garish combination and they claim they will make it. Hello Kitty meets digital imaging. It was a lovely size with a couple of lenses and I suspect they’ll sell more basic black than variants. The Hello Kitty girls use phones. In fact they were photographing the stand with them. Amidst the bling, I was given a worthwhile demonstration of the polar opposite, the Ricoh GR. A stealth tool with an APS-C sensor and a 28mm focal length fast lens. Stealthy candids, street photography, architecture and low light is its sole purpose. It is capable, minimalist and anonymous. A great camera.

Michael’s Cameras. They were there to sell product and they were, lots of it. Gadgets galore and well priced.

Leica. A nicely designed and restrained stand with the latest digital offerings from Panasonic, elegantly dressed in Leica livery, at inflated prices. They do it well and if you are into badge engineering they are the way to go. THe products that Leica built its reputation on are there as well and are beautifully engineered, purposeful and minimalist. The lenses, as always are superb. Leica do brand heritage with the same philosophy as Porsche, and they do it brilliantly.

Epson. Epson had a large presence at the show. Their printers are the choice of professionals and with good reason. They do a great job.

Canon. Canon had a stand a bit smaller than Nikon, but obviously their main competition. I’m Nikon biased so I didn’t spend any time there.

Olympus. The Olympus stand was impressive and well stocked, but like Kayell, it was staffed by people more interested in social chit chat than promoting products. I hope Olympus have put their financial woes behind them and have a range of products that will sell themselves, because I wouldn’t rely on their staff. The products interested me, but being the subject of an impromptu staff competition to see who would be the unlucky recipient of a customer enquiry didn’t and forced me to move on.

Lytro. I have been fascinated with this product since it was launched last year. They had a modest, but well designed stand with mainly dummy products and salespeople to match. I was interested in talking to them, they were interested in talking to each other, so again, I moved on.

In Summary. I enjoyed the show, but didn’t see as much as I would have liked to. I was disappointed that neither Panasonic nor Sony were there, as they each have some great camera offerings. For those that were there, I suggest to manufacturers and sellers alike that after spending a fortune on display space, stands, transport, product and staff, spend a bit more time and money on staff selection and training. Slack jawed yokels chatting socially with each other while customers wait is why Australian retail has been decimated. Myer & David Jones are cases in point. They sell necessities as well as luxuries and aren’t making it.

Cameras and electronics are definite luxuries and depend on the faithful. The products are complex and require commitment and knowledge. As a teacher, I know how much confusion there is about cameras and their use, even the simplest ones. Recording memories is a strong motivator for aquisition, but the young use phones, not cameras to record their memories, so your customer base is shrinking rapidly. Don’t piss off the hard core customer base that remains, or your staff will have plenty of time to chat amongst themselves in empty stands, or the dole queue.

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