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Focus still unique after 20 years - This year's Focus on Imaging will take place between Sunday 22nd and Wednesday 25th February and the show will be celebrating its 20th anniversary.
A couple of minutes before 10.00am on the morning of Sunday, January 14th, 1990, Mary Walker was getting ready to open her first exhibition, Focus on Photography.
It had taken her 18 months of hard work to get to that point but she had had tremendous support from right across the industry. As she waited for the clock to tick towards ten o’clock she knew she had succeeded in putting together an exhibition which had so exceeded her early expectations that she had had to have a marquee erected at the back of The Pavilion at the NEC to accommodate everyone who wanted to be there.
Now the only question was “Will the show attract enough visitors – and of the right quality – to make the whole thing a complete success.”
The answer, as everyone connected with the show will tell you, was “yes” and from then onwards Focus has grown in both size and, arguably more important, reputation. However, even now, as Mary puts together the final details for the 20th Focus, now Focus on Imaging of course, she takes nothing for granted and is more than happy to confess that she will still have butterflies when she picks up the microphone to declare Focus 2009, the biggest ever, open.
So much has changed in those 20 years, including the name which Mary presciently changed in 1992. So many well known names have vanished – or at least are now shadows of their former selves while companies which once had no connection with photography – or “imaging” as we now know it – are now market leaders in that industry. Film is now a sideline product. Mobile phones now routinely feature cameras whose “megapixellage” was once thought all but unachievable. The internet has become a real rival to the High Street.
Throughout this time, Focus has provided a unique platform for innovation and product launches that new and emerging technologies have helped create but one thing hasn’t changed, the unique ambience that is Focus on Imaging. Focus is large enough to have a major impact on the imaging world, it’s Europe’s biggest annual imaging industry showcase after all, yet it retains a very personal, almost intimate, persona.
Not easy in an industry where some of the biggest companies in the world hold sway but where Focus scores – and scores heavily – over other exhibitions, is that even after 20 years, it’s still Mary Walker herself who pulls the whole thing together every year. It is still very much “her” show, just as that first one was back in 1990 but Mary has no plans to sit back on her laurels. Indeed with Focus 2010 already demanding her attention she’s already looking at ways of making that “coming-of-age” show even more of a success than its predecessors.
It hasn’t been an easy 12 months for anyone since Focus 2008 and the imaging industry has not been immune to the problems affecting the rest of the economy but one thing is clear from this year’s Focus exhibitors’ list – there’s a determination among both the giants and the giants-to-be of the industry to project a positive, “business as usual” message to the 33,000 or so visitors expected to make their way to the NEC over the four days the show is open, Sunday, February 22nd to Wednesday, 25th.
So, what can those visitors expect to see? First of all, a great many of the products which were unveiled at Photokina will be getting their UK debut, some of them indeed getting their first full debut in production rather than pre-production form.
They will be able to say “we were there” to share the excitement as a flurry of new companies set out the kind of thinking which allowed George Eastman to take the Kodak concept from his mother’s kitchen table to international status.
They will able to listen and learn as some of the best known names in the industry show how they do it, how they turn a fiver into fifty quid, how they use their computer as much as their camera to turn a perfectly acceptable photo into a top class Photo with a capital “P”.
And they will leave with their bags full of show special offers and end of range bargains, brochures about products they will want to investigate further, samples of different types of paper they can use at home, quite possibly with that special new lens they have been saving for or with the complete paperwork for the purchase of a new dry minilab or studio lighting system or wide format printer for delivery immediately after the show.
Memories are precious, says photo album specialists, Bob Books, but the rapidly increasing use of digital cameras has meant that the age-old delights of family photo albums are declining. Photographs are now stored in the memory of our computers, yet the desire for the emotive, tactile experience of photographs remains – and this is where Bob Books comes in.
From your computer simply download the Bob Books software. Use the formatting options to choose your desired layout, add your text and images to personalise your book; then just wait for delivery – it's that simple.
The quality of our binding sets the benchmark, says Bob Books, which claims to offer the highest available production standards from its bookbindery in Switzerland where the company enjoys a reputation as one of the world leaders in bookbinding production.
The stand will also feature some brand new software but for now Bob Books will only say: “You’ll have to wait to the Focus doors open to see exactly what it does.”
Broncolor claims to have long set the benchmark by which all other lighting manufacturers are judged and says its new Scoro range sets a new level to which the competition must aspire, as it sets no less than four world bests.
With the new Swiss-built Scoro power packs, you can let your artistic imagination run free. With their uniquely convenient control systems, you can deal with even the most complex lighting setups easily every time. No other flash system gives you so much creative capability – and no other holds so many world records.
A recharging time of 0.6s at 1600 joule and 0.4s at 1200 joule, a 10 f-stop control range with stable colour temperature, adjustable colour temperature (at 200 K intervals), and three independent channels with exactly the same colour temperature – with Scoro, broncolor has set no fewer than four new world records, and remains the industry benchmark in modern flash technology. With its versatile and unparalleled capabilities for power distribution with consistent light quality, this new power pack is the ideal light source for digital photography.
Creativity Backgrounds will be offering 10 percent off all orders taken at the show. A great opportunity to stock up on your Arctic Whites and Blacks and to try one of the 50 colours. Why not go for a Carnation pink for children or wedding photography, or stimulate your imagination with a chromagreen backdrop. This show they will be highlighting the fact that they deliver direct to your studio or any location in the UK for only £5 (or £8 for next day). As a preview have a look at www.creativitybackgrounds.co.uk . This is a brand new website, which makes ordering dead easy. The company is also running a prize draw for a full-length 2.72mx11m roll per day. It’s free to enter, just put your card in the box or fill in a form on the stand for the chance to win.
Digital Photo Solutions, one of the UK’s leading suppliers of large format printers to the photographic and fine art markets and an authorised specialist dealer for over 30 digital imaging brands, will be demonstrating leading print to finish workflow solutions at Focus on Imaging 2009.
Visitors to the company’s stand will also be to test drive and compare the latest large format printers from Epson and HP, learn how to move seamlessly from image to print to finish to frame in less than 30 minutes, ensure your monitor's colours are displayed correctly and match the output you are looking for with Datacolor's industry-leading range of Spyder 3 monitor and printer profiling hardware calibrators.
They’ll also be able to see the latest version of the acclaimed Shiraz Focus software, explore the extensive range of DPS specialist media and see how you can increase your profits in the photographic, fine art and canvas printing markets, discover how to enhance your print service with the HotPress JetMounter and dind out how to protect your inkjet canvas prints and stretch them on to frames faster than ever before with the DPS QuickMate.
Dunns Imaging Group will be showing their new flex workflow, a complete production and web hosting solution specifically designed for shools and nursery photographers. There will also be demonstrations of their new innovative album creation software Creative Albums. Both products are set to play a major role in Dunns product offering during 2009
If you visit the Extensis stand N8, you’ll find a team of experts showcasing Portfolio Server 8.5, the latest version of their digital asset management solution. Portfolio Server 8.5 provides the core set of capabilities you need to keep your images on-the-move—for routing to other users/departments, for final delivery to clients, partners or vendors, or for secure archiving. Included with Portfolio Server 8.5, Project Sync for Adobe CS3 seamlessly integrates with Adobe CS3 to offer powerful database searching, flexible archiving and automated web delivery—all from within the Creative Suite environment.
Some photographers jump from lab to lab searching for the lowest prices, reckons Portuguese company, Floricolor, adding that others search for a lab to work with them in partnership, to ensure quality, fair pricing and short delivery times.
Floricolor claims to have been pioneers in the protection of digital albums through lamination, and has recently introduced varnish UV protection, pointing out that this is the best system of protecting photos against heat, humidity and scratches, while maintaining the unique touch of photographic paper. Floricolor combines the best in two worlds, the highest technology of digital print (Frontier, two Durst Theta 51s, Laserlab 76, Fuji and Kodak Professional0 and the hands of skilled craftsmen with many years of practice.
“The number of new costumers we have attracted indicates that we are on the right track,” said a company spokesman. “We are looking at the future with optimism because innovation is an inseparable element of our work philosophy.”
Fujifilm UK has expanded its range of professional inkjet media, with additions that include a popular new satin finish canvas type and an outstanding genuine fibre base gloss baryte. Satin Canvas 350gsm is one of two new canvases introduced by Fujifilm UK. Satin has become the canvas finish most favoured by US consumers, a trend the UK is expected to follow. The other new Fujifilm canvas is Fine Art Natural Canvas 290gsm, a single-weave natural matt.
But, says Fuji, the big news in Fine Art must be that two completely new baryte type papers have joined the Fujifilm range of large format print media. The extensively tested new papers are available in gloss and matt, the base paper is genuine fibre based baryte media.
The new Fujifilm baryte papers have a premium look and feel, wide dynamic range, luminous neutral whites, and hold deep, rich blacks, even have the scent of traditional baryte papers, and they give exceptional, museum standard, archival life.
Fujifilm UK have also introduced Boxiprint, an innovative instant canvas wrap box frame product, aimed at retail applications. Boxiprint box frames are supplied as single sheets of high quality satin canvas mounted on carton board. They come pressed and scored with a patented scheme of ingenious folds, enabling each board to be simply folded by hand into a finished box frame canvas, just minutes after printing on an inkjet printer.
Boxiprint instant canvas box frames can be printed on most professional inkjets that have a straight paper path and a 'board' setting, allowing them to accept boards up to 1.7mm thick. This includes all Fujifilm Epson Stylus Pro printers supplied as GreenBox bundles, as well as many other printers. The product is ideal for retail photo labs, and is also suitable for portrait studios, art and framing businesses, and the gift and card sector. Boxiprint is easy to use, but for added peace of mind the product is supported with ICC colour profiles for many Fujifilm Epson Stylus Pro printers, and print templates for Fujifilm
Graphistudio is to launch Graphiware, a new design of software created to give photographers an amazing tool in today’s competitive and highly creative market at Focus 2009.
It’s powerful, yet easy to use. You can gather your images and design your own layout with the option to use Graphistudio’s renowned multi-award winning templates, modify them to suit your needs or even design from scratch your own. The simple drag and drop logic of Graphiware will enable you to design stunning layouts in minutes, adding effects, re-touching elements with Photoshop and much, much more.
At the same time, Graphistudio has created a new on-line ordering system, dedicated to making production faster, efficient and more cost effective Gone are the days of hand written or typed orders. Now with a few taps of the keyboard the huge choice of sizes, orientations, covers and copies can be chosen and directly loaded into the system live at the same time as you upload your order or it will await delivery of your disk, negatives or prints.
Very few companies worldwide can look back with pride over such a long and rich tradition as Hahnemühle. Since its founding in 1584 Hahnemühle in Dassel has demonstrated its superb mastery of a traditional craft, creating uniquely beautiful papers from pure spring water and premium cellulose.
Using this rich experience enables the company to be at the forefront of the ever evolving digital inkjet market as well as the realm of traditional artists paper. Recent technological advances such as its true Baryta papers which enable photographers to recreate darkroom prints digitally, newly released papers available in a 64 inch format to match the latest Giclee printing technology and environmentally friendly papers made from highly renewable resources such as bamboo and cotton rag.
To celebrate its 425 year anniversary Hahnemühle will release an exclusive Anniversary Collection Box. This Anniversary Edition consists of an elegant cotton rag paper with a particularly smooth texture for Fine Art images as well as other special anniversary products. It’s all packaged in a unique presentation box designed exclusively by Prat, Paris.
There is another exciting new addition to our environmentally friendly range of products. Hahnemühle Sugar Cane is made from 75 percent sugar cane fibre. The organic by-product of sugar cane processing is used to make a pulp. This pulp or “bagasse” is an eco-friendly renewable resource endorsed by environmental organizations. Cotton fibres extracted from recycling our own paper surplus make up the remaining 25 percent of raw material used to produce the paper. The result is a natural white Fine Art paper extremely resistant to ageing. The premium inkjet coating guarantees Fine Art images rich in contrast and detail, and the texture of this artist paper has a wonderful feel to it. Hahnemühle Sugar Cane is ideal for warm toned colour and monochrome prints of Fine Art photography and art reproductions. This Paper will have its UK debut as an exclusive preview at Focus.
Luminati says that once again it will be setting out to capture photographers’ imaginations, delivering a range of acrylic frames which are said to push the boundaries for the professional image maker.
Clear2C Professional with its diamond polished flush fronted finish and unique magnet back panel, has been a great success following its launch at Focus on Imaging 2008. Launched as a 15mm thick frame, the range was extended to include the sleeker 9mm thick Impression range. Following customer feedback Luminati also introduced a range of panoramic formats.
This year sees Luminati extend the Clear2C range further with their Capture, and Snap frames. A unique front image holder allows images to be mounted and changed with ease, whilst the frame hangs on the wall. The Clear2C Professional, Impression, Capture, and Snap frames are available in a range of colours, and in single aperture, multiple aperture, and panoramic aperture formats. Luminati experts will be on hand to demonstrate the range, but are just as keen to discuss visitors’ needs, and would welcome discussions regards the need for unique sizes and formats.
Middlewall remain one of the few British wedding album manufacturers who continue to produce quality hand made, non imported traditional albums, ranging from size 5x5 to 12x12.
They have extended their range of Digital Albums with various styles and sizes including silk and aluminium finishes and see the latest ‘Triangle’ Digital Album.
The Oxford (sticky!) album can be designed to any specific requests with a choice of adhesive or non adhesive pages, embossed photo relief frame, a vast choice of material finishes, personalisation and corners.
Middlewall have recently launched MacLab Limited a new sister company, which specialises in digital printing with full photographic prints on Fuji Crystal Archive paper, up to an astounding 24ins x100 ins.
This year for Focus onOne Software will be showing new products, including the brand new PhotoFrame 4 and the new plug-ins for Adobe Photoshop Light Room and Apple’s Aperture, along with many of its existing highly successful software products.
Every day of the show visitors will be given the chance of winning Lastolite equipment worth £250 if they buy an onOne software product. When the customer makes an onOne software purchase they will be given a raffle ticket and entered in to the draw, all they have to do is return at the end of the day with their raffle ticket and their receipt as a proof of purchase and wait for the winner to be called.
On show will also be the new Essentials for iPhoto. This is very similar to the Essentials for Elements, as they both have “Make it better” (the ColourTune half of PhotoTune), “Frame it” (reduced version of PhotoFrame) and “Enlarge it” (reduced version of Genuine Fractals). The difference between the two is that Essentials for Elements has “Cut it out” (reduced version of Mask Pro) and Essentials for iPhoto has “Blur it” (full version of FocalPoint). Not forgetting products such as Genuine fractals 5, Mask Pro 4 and PhotoTools 1.0, PhotoFrame 3.1 and PhotoTune 2.2 these plug-in favorites are still going strong and will be making an appearance at Focus
There’s also the all-new PhotoFrame 4 which comes in two editions - Professional and Standard – and new plug-ins for Lightroom and Aperture
The Open College of the Arts is a creative arts college specialising in distance learning, with courses, which can be entirely studied at home, spanning a wide range of disciplines, and including three new ones, People and Place, Creative Digital Film and Visual Studies. The OCA’s Photography courses have been written by Michael Freeman, one of the world’s most widely published photography authors. Course materials are practically based and set out clear programmes of work that develop practical expertise and stimulate critical and formal awareness.
All OCA courses are supported by one-to-one tuition. OCA tutors are experienced teachers and practising artists in their fields. This combination of professional expertise with a strong background in teaching means you can be confident in your tutor’s ability to help you develop your skills and to provide supportive and constructive feedback.
OCA courses are open to anyone and you can enrol at anytime. You can study with us for pleasure, to explore your creativity, to learn new skills or to gain a degree.
New Eco-Flo systems for the new Epson R1900 and R2880 will come under the spotlight on the Permajet stand along with a new addition to the Portrait family of papers. Portrait Velvet 310gsm has a 100 percent white cotton rag base with an ultra smooth surface that has all the characteristics of Permajet’s popular and successful Portrait 300 and Portrait White 285 product.
“The moment you pick up this beautiful velvet smooth surface,” says the company, “you immediately appreciate the paper for what it is, a wonderful fine art product that exhibits an extremely high Dmax making it ideal for monochrome as well as colour reproductions.”
The stand, which will feature a number of special show offers, will also showcase a range of photoBooks developed for the artist, photographer, graphic designer, educational market and others. They’re described as ideal for photographic/fine art work, personal portfolios, photo books, albums, school projects and much more and “best of all,” adds Permajet, “no heat binding is required.”
As well as offering live quotes Photoguard will be giving visitors the opportunity to photograph a professional model, something which was well received last year with many professional and budding photographers scrambling to get a good picture.
Photoguard will also be offering a free-prize draw, worth up to a value of £500. No need to answer any difficult questions, simply fill in your contact details and drop your entry into a box for a chance to win.
In addition, the stand will be offering 10 percent off the cost of policies to all those who take a leaflet, so when it’s renewal time test our quote and find out how we fare. “We’re so confident in our prices we offer a price guarantee of double the difference if you find a better deal elsewhere,” says Photoguard.
Photomart will once again be featuring “loads of exciting new products” on their Focus stand. Alongside the UK's leading "nanobook" press, the Imijit, exclusively by Photomart, in the limelight will be latest retail solutions from Sony including the new "Super" Snaplab and Sony kiosk, Mitsubishi Electric’s new EasyPhoto consumer station and their high volume drylab solution or "MPU", Fujifilm’s Frontier DL-410 and Silverlab’s ML-9000 drylab solution. Fomei, the people who helped develop bandw multicontrast paper emulsions, will have their range of wide format media on display as well as their latest retail offering, the MicroLab system. On the studio side, some of the biggest names in photographic studio lighting will be featured with live lighting demonstrations by top photographers and models. There will also be demonstrations of the “amazing” PhotoRobot. This heralds in a revolution in product photography for the web allowing the viewer to see a product from any angle by manipulating the image along any three-dimensional axis with the mouse pointer.
First time Focus exhibitors at Focus, Premier Ink and Photographic is a family-owned photography retailer, based in Leamington Spa, founded seven years ago, and still run by the original core staff. Its stand will be packed full of “Show Specials”, with something of interest for all photographers, professionals, amateurs and enthusiasts alike.
There will be a huge range of photographic consumables on display, and available to buy on the day, including: square filters, circular threaded filters, DSLR camera batteries and battery grips, memory cards, inkjet papers and inkjet cartridges. There will also be “Show Deals” across our entire range, with products from many manufacturers, including Epson, Canon, HP, Ilford, Kood, Cokin, Energizer, Hahnel, and Sandisk.
Praktica’s back at Focus again, this time with a more prominent stand which will help the company place special emphasis on developing links with independent high street retailers. National sales manager David Grandison will be on hand to show current and prospective trade and retail customers the company’s 2009 range of digital cameras, digital frames and binoculars.
With over 20 years experience in the UK recording, broadcast and film-making industries, Protape is a provider of quality blank recording products, offering a wide range of digital data storage, video and audio formats to customers throughout the UK. Established in 1989, the business is located in London’s West End.
Protape supplies a wide range of quality blank recording products that come directly from the UK branches of the world leading manufactures such as Sony, Fuji and Panasonic and are stored in the Protape's local depot to ensure a swift delivery. The products include digital data storage, hard drives, memory sticks and accessories, audio and video tapes, making them perfect for a wide range of customers, and they are available for purchase online and over the phone.
At Focus it will be offering a range of recording products at discounted rates, together with a range of consumer hard drives, CDs, DVDs, memory sticks, Blu-ray discs and other popular formats.
Bob Rigby's will be showing their range of imported lines, including Acratech Ball Heads, Wimberley Gimbal heads, Pinhole Cameras and the Shutterbeam system. A full range of tripods and heads from Gitzo, Manfrotto and solutions for computer work from Wacom tablets and OnOne software. There will also be a range of accessories for all photographic needs, be it digital or traditional
SRB-Griturn is a manufacturer of adaptors and supplier of camera and photographic accessories. It will be introducing its very own slide copier for use with DSLRs and compact digital cameras, as well as showing its better known, filters, adaptors, stepping rings and much more. The company also has its own specialist manufacturing service, which it will be happy to discuss with Focus visitors.
Towergate Camerasure is one of the UK’s leading providers of insurance to the photographic, video and multi media industries, and offers competitive quotations whilst providing one of the most comprehensive policies within the market.
It will be offering exclusive Focus 2009 rates across the whole range of products available and, once again, there will be the Towergate Camerasure Free Prize draw where a year’s free insurance up to the value of £1500.00 can be won.
“Be inspired this Focus” is the message from Annabel Williams’ Contemporary Photographic Training with Catherine Connor and Jane Breakell hosting informal sessions for photographers needing training advice and support. Sessions are completely free and will give advice on which is the best training route, in order to meet both photographic aspirations and educational needs. The CPT stand will host a team of experts, dedicated to ensuring those that visit the stand gain the best form of insight and direction.
Zund UK will be exhibiting for the first time at Focus 2009. It will be showing one of its digital cutting systems complete with the appropriate tooling to show all aspects of finishing. With its modular tooling concept the system can be configured to X/Y trim roll or sheet fed media such as photographs, posters, banners and so on. A simple tool change is all that’s needed for the system to produce photo mounts or even rout thicker substrates such as acrylic, Perspex and so on.
Sometimes companies invest heavily in equipment such as digital printers without any consideration as to how the printed product will be finished, thus causing a bottleneck and inefficiencies in the production process. The Zund range of products is said to fit perfectly into the workflow eliminating these scenarios.
Focus on Imaging 2009 takes place as usual in Halls 9 and 10 at the NEC. It opens on Sunday, February 22nd, and runs until Wednesday, February 25th.
Check out the Focus on Imaging website to find everything there you need to know and a whole lot more as well about Europe’s biggest annual imaging event.
Trade, business and professional visitors can pre-register for free admission via the website. Admission for non-trade or non-professional visitors, including amateurs, who are also very welcome, remains at £6.00 but they can save time on the day by registering in advance via the Focus website.