An outstanding year for Focus - that's not only the
view of exhibition organiser Mary Walker, but also of exhibitors from every
sector of the industry. The expansion into the third hall, Hall 11, proved very
successful. The show featured 30 new exhibitors and attracted a record
attendance of more than 21,800 over its four days at the NEC.
Many companies also took the opportunity of the exhibition to present products for the first time in the UK. On the Nikon stand you could check out the latest D1H and D1X versions of the widely-acclaimed D1 digital camera, along with three new and exciting film scanners. Fuji had stocks of the recently introduced NPC160 professional colour negative film. The Introphoto stand provided the first chance to handle the outstanding RF645 medium format rangefinder camera. Lighting companies were also showing new products: Hensel the Contra Fly, Elinchrom their Style heads, and Calumet the updated Esprit 2. Meanwhile, Kreonite used Focus for the European debut of the Eikona Digital Print System.
A Focus visitor gets hands on experience of the new Canon SLR
In fact, the minilab sector of the show was especially strong, and companies involved in the conventional photographic market or in digital imaging or with a foot in both camps and those which provide services in
support of those core companies also reported a very busy show.
Robert Wilson, FotoStop Express Group Marketing Manger, said that the show had exceeded expectations.
'Nothing beats face-to-face contact,' he says. 'Focus gave us the opportunity to spread the word about the group, to meet new and existing members, show the latest equipment and technology, and to introduce our new on-line product MyFotoStop.com. The showalso enabled us to educate potential customers about the wide range of products and technical advice available from FotoStop.
'The cancellation of PMA means that Focus now provides the major UK arena for promoting products and services in our industry. Its position as a forum for getting people together from all areas of the photographic and imaging community has been greatly enhanced, in my opinion, by the professional management of this year's show.'
His view was echoed by Mark James of Complete Minilab Supplies, who said he and his colleagues now had a great many serious leads to follow up.
'Most of them are from existing minilab operators looking for alternative suppliers, but there are also a number of start-ups among them. We have been in business for nine years and Focus has helped us raise our profile. We have also been able to promote the new equipment we have introduced to help smaller operators in particular offer digital services without having to invest heavily in complete new minilab systems.'
Fantasy Backgrounds where exhibiting their latest colours
New to Focus were US-based computer memory
manufacturers Kingston Technology, who linked up to be at the show with
resellers Upgrade. Both companies are coming to imaging from the computer world
and joined the Focus exhibitors' list to get to know the industry better. Tim
Maynard, from Kingston's Peripheral Products Division, says he is 'very
impressed' by the response of visitors, while Chris Gordon from upgrade says the
show will definitely help them build their web-based customer base.
For EagleEye Optic Zooms, it was not just a Focus first, it was also the first time the company had exhibited anywhere, and EagleEye's Carlo Bonacci says it has been very good for them.
'As a small company that's still making its name in the UK market, we were very, very impressed with what Focus did for us, and I would certainly recommend other companies like ours to be here in 2002. We will be.'
Pentax, as usual, had the tallest stand, with an upstairs meeting room...nice!
Photographers from every sector of the profession, from police to portrait, from television to stills, looking for specialised lighting for use with digital equipment kept Photon Beard busy throughout the four days of Focus - so busy in fact that even before the show had closed the company had
decided to book a bigger stand for 2002.
'The response was tremendous, absolutely amazing,' says Alan Gooch, adding that the reaction to the website Photon Beard will soon be launching for women photographers had also been superb.
Kinetronics' Bill Stelcher has travelled from the States to support the company's UK distributor, and the had been, he said, 'successful'.
'Focus is a very well managed show, and we were able to discuss our anti-static products with a wide cross-section of users, from serious amateurs through to professionals.'
Kinetronics was another first-time Focus exhibitor, but it was just first-timers who were delighted by response at the 2001 show. Andy Leigh, of DW Viewpacks and Viewboxes, long-time Focus exhibitors, says: 'We did as much business on the first day as we did in all four days last year.'
The new Elinchrom Style studio flash - but where's the glamorous model?
By far the oldest company at Focus was Broadhurst, Clarkson and Fuller. It was founded around 100 years before Fox Talbot recorded that window at Lacock Abbey. BC&F brought some of the latest technology with them for their first Focus visit - computerised astronomical telescopes made by America telescope giants Meade.
'This was the best show we've ever been to,' says the company's David Winser. 'Astronomy is one of the fastest-growing activities in the country, and photo retailers are now among our biggest customers, especially as astronomical scopes are year-round sellers.
We came to Focus looking for new accounts. We have been largely successful in doing this and we will be passing on a lot of enquiries from people wanting to buy telescopes from existing stockists.'
Deals from CameraWorld - one of the retailers who attended Focus
Focus is now not only the sole UK show to provide a serious platform for the industry as a whole, it's also increasingly seen in a wide European context and the number of serious enquiries for next year - from new, previous and existing
exhibitors - guarantees even further growth.
2002 is already looking good!