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Focus on Imaging 2004 - first details

Focus on Imaging 2004 - first details - Find out who's going to be there this year and what they will have

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Over 22,500 visitors are attracted to Focus on Imaging every year to see the leading names in the industry launch a whole range of new products. It gives visitors the chance to see, feel, peer through and pore over products and discuss the latest developments with the technical teams who brought them to reality.

Each year Focus grows and what Fujifilm's Tony Lawrence calls "the only show in town", has a steady stream of newcomers adding to the existing exhibitors

This year the merger between Konica and Minolta means they will be working together at Focus to underline the enormous range of products they now have in their joint catalogue.

Fujifilm have moved from their usual spot between the two NEC halls into Hall 10 - with sister company Fuji Hunt having their own stand for the first time. Kodak have taken their biggest ever stand. Polaroid have bounced back on to the exhibitor list with a stand of their own again. And at the time of writing there are more than 30 new exhibitors including fotoLibra and Minox UK, who are both making heir first major public appearance at the show.

Although some big names are keeping a lot of new products up their sleeves we do have details on a whole variety of recently unveiled gear that Focus visitors will have their first chance to see.

Canon, for instance, have confirmed they will be showcasing their ground breaking EOS300D digital SLR and their latest range of consumer imaging equipment, including 35mm and APS cameras, digital cameras, camcorders, binoculars, EF lenses and all major photographic accessories as well as bubble jet printers and scanners. They will all be set up in a "hands on" format, enabling visitors to try them out for themselves.

The company's full range of consumer digital cameras and Direct Print Card Photo Printers will also be at the NEC - including the PowerShot G5, PowerShot S50 and the stylish Digital IXUS i in four eye-catching colours - along with their camcorder range which feature the latest in advanced imaging technologies, such as the MVX10i which lets users shoot movies and stills with great detail.

Since their debut at Focus 2003, Casio have become the fastest growing digital camera brand in the UK, according to official industry figures. The company returns in 2004 with additions to their award winning Exilim and QV-R series as well as debuting their compact projectors for the first time in the UK. Last year's show saw the UK launch of the EX-Z3, since named EISA Mini-Digital Camera of the Year 2003-2004. Back in October, Casio announced two ultra-bright, compact projector models, XJ-350 and XJ-450, designed and engineered to add a new dimension of portability to the data projector market, along with a new 4-megapixel CCD multi-function projector camera system (YC-400). With launches for the new projectors scheduled for release into the business and education markets between January and March 2004, Casio say they hope to revolutionise the data projector market in the same way that they have the digital camera market.

Leica will have their Digilux 2 5MP camera on view while on the Sigma stand will be the new SD10 10.2Mb digital SLR and a whole battery of new lenses, including a 12-24mm aspherical lens with a 122deg angle of view at 12mm, a 17-35mm aspherical lens with a super-wide 104deg angle of view, a 55-200mm telephoto zoom lens, a 28-300mm macro lens and a lightweight, compact 18-50mm lens.

Fujifilm will be unveiling a host of new digital cameras and compact film cameras, as well as a number of new professional and consumer films. In addition, the company will be announcing their 2004 Envisage marketing programme for professional photographers and pro labs, and will launch a range of new photofinishing products, including Fujitrans and Fujiclear paper, and a Colour Management Programme.

The autofocus H1 camera has been a success with both photographers and photo critics alike, has been in great demand since its launch and has won numerous industry awards. Now Hasselblad have added two high-performance lenses for the system, the HC 3.5/50 and the HC 4/210, and both will feature strongly on the company's stand along with a wide selection of other camera and lens ranges.

On the same stand, the latest Mecablitz flash guns, including the 54 MZ-4 which has been designed for use with Nikon digital cameras, and three units designed for use with the new Canon EOS300D digital camera, will be on show, together with new Mountaineer tripods from Gitzo and the latest offerings from Quantum, including the Turbo Compact power pack.

Kodak Professional will be staging a number of demonstrations and presentations for their DCS 14n digital camera and Photodesk software, and will also be a demonstrating their complete range of thermal printers including the Kodak 8500 desktop printer, the Kodak 8660 Desktop Roll Printer and the ML500. A number of new digital and thermal products will be launched.

Alongside their new digital camera, Leica are also showing their MP rangefinder camera and the Leica D-Lux digital camera, which were introduced shortly after Focus last year. Other new products introduced during 2003/4 will also be on display including the Leica Ultravid binoculars, Leica APO-Televid/Televid 62 rubber armoured spotting scope, Leica Macro Elmar-M 90mm f4, Leica MP Edition Hermes, Leica APO-Elmarit-R 180mm F2.8, Leica Vario-Elmarit-R 28-90mm F2.8-4.5, Leica/Billingham combination bags and the most recently introduced Leica CM compact 35mm camera and Leica SF24D flashgun.

Minox is a well-established brand, very well established in fact, but Minox UK is a brand new company who will be making their first major UK appearance at Focus 2004. For the past 35 years or so Minox products have been distributed in the UK market by Leica Camera of Milton Keynes. Minox could see that their growing product range not just of traditional Minox cameras but also of digital cameras, binoculars and telescopes needed their own sales and distribution operation. As Leica also had an interest in digital cameras and optics, both companies were competing in the same market. The solution was simple - start up Minox UK Limited and on November 1st the new company, based in the same Faringdon, Oxfordshire, building as Newpro UK, was born.

Polaroid will be showcasing their new 2004 range of instant products and say that there will be a number of "exciting new product introductions" throughout the year in both the consumer and passport areas. All of the new products will be demonstrated with opportunities to win them during the show.

If visitors want to buy a camera - or indeed any other piece of kit - Focus 2004 will as usual have strong representation from the dealer and retailer community. Cameraworld, for instance, will be featuring the new Nikon digital SLR, the D70. This 6MP, feature packed camera is expected to retail at a body only price of around £800 but Cameraworld will be offering discounts for orders taken at Focus along with discounts for D70 body, lens and memory bundles.

DV Warehouse will be offering show deals on a wide range of printers, scanners and digital camera accessories, including batteries, memory cards and card readers, as well as digital camcorders, lighting and products from Canon, Epson, Fujifilm, Manfrotto and other leading brands.

The emphasis on the Jacobs stand will be on Canon and medium-format and range finder products, with a range of second hand kit complementing new equipment. Jacobs will also have digital memory and printer consumables at special show prices.

Designer Vincenzo Silvestri will be on the Morco stand and will be happy to talk to visitors about the Silvestri range of cameras and accessories, some of which will be on show for the first time. The Morco stand, the company's biggest yet, will also feature Beattie Intenscreens, Morco focusing cloths and inkjet paper and so on, with Lee filters available for sale.

Mr Cad's calling their stand a 'ONE STOP STUDIO SHOP' with film and digital tungsten and flash lighting, Kepcor flash triggers, Multiblitz flash heads, latest super boom arms and background systems from Tristar, as well as Condor flash balls, Fondali backgrounds and much more besides all to the fore. It goes without saying, of course, that "Mr Cad" and his team will be continuing to offer the wide range of quality used products they have come to be associated with.

A new range of tripods will be joining the existing Benbo and Bilora models on the Paterson Photographic stand - more details will be revealed closer to Focus's opening day. The company will also be featuring their rapidly growing range of Interfit lighting and studio accessories with particular emphasis on their revolutionary "Flat Panel Lighting". Darkroom workers however will not be forgotten with Paterson's traditional range of equipment and chemistry fully featured.

AJ Purdy have expanded to two stands for Focus 2004, one close to Nikon's where the emphasis will not unnaturally be on Nikon products - there will be a number of special deals on Nikon kit - with the Delsey range of professional camera bags exclusively on show alongside lenses from the Sigma range which will also be on special offer. The second stand, next to Canon's, will feature Canon products with deals available on, for instance, camera/lens/printer combinations. There will also be a wide range of second hand equipment on offer.

Tudor will be displaying a selection of their vast product range with an emphasis on the new frames and albums that are to be launched at Focus along with a number of new mouldings, gift frames and album designs. The stand will also feature demonstrations of the Ilford Galerie Premium Digital Enlargement System, which is based on the latest digital print technology from Ilford and Epson and includes an Epson 7600 24" Printer and Ilford Galerie RIP. Ilford will also be demonstrating the new Epson 4000 printer. The stand will also exhibit products from Tudor's wholesale range including cameras and accessories, digital cameras and storage media, inkjet cartridges and media, film and batteries.

Visitors to the Epson stand will be able browse a broad line up of digital imaging products, including the company's new range of inkjet printers. The new photo inkjet range includes the Stylus Photo R300 with CD/DVD print functionality and offers a range of card slots compatible with a wide range of cameras in UK market. The high end Stylus Photo R800 A4 printer introduces the new UltraChrome Hi-Gloss ink with an ink droplet size of just 1.5 picolitres. The latest scanners, digital PhotoViewers and all-in-one devices will also be on display, with Epson large format printers being profiled on the Calumet, Fuji Hunt, Ilford, Nikon, Bodoni and Rapid stands.

Photography, whether conventional or digital, needs just the right amount of light to get the best results and with three new compacts and two new packs in the range, the Elinchrom RX system, available through the Flash Centre, delivers all the speed, portability, power and control that today's creative photographer could need. The units are super stabilised with a six f-stop range in 1/10ths. They feature ultra fast flash and recycling, they're fan cooled and have independent modelling control, auto power dumping and audio signal. Trigger voltage is 5v.

Compact and lightweight, the range also features full digital control of every function using either the digital control panel, a two way remote control or directly from a computer. This will enable up to 64 RX compacts and digital packs in as many as four studios to be controlled all at once, by studio or individually.

Combining the best of traditional and digital imaging, dark room specialists Nova will be giving practical hands on demonstrations of their popular print processors and archival washers, showing off Pictorico inkjet media and offering a darkroom design service which will enable the beginner to start printing "straight from the box". The company's product range has grown, with the Lupo range of lighting, accessories and lightboxes topping the list. There's an extended range of products aimed at the larger scale user, such as colleges, institutions and commercial operations and a new range of photographic accessories. Last but not least, Nova will be unveiling the Digicolor ll colour calibration system.

The De Vere section of Odyssey Sales will be showing the latest version of the new digital 504DS enlarger. The 504DS converts digital files on to photo paper, any size up to 20x24in. Multiple exposures can be obtained by using a roll easel. Outstanding quality is achieved as standard photographic material is used and exposures are made via exposing light as has always been the traditional method, not electronically. The company claims that "spectacular" results in both colour and black and white can be obtained. The enlarger makes an extremely affordable digital printing unit that can fit into a wide range of situations. Alongside the enlarger, the new Mullersohn printer-processor DigiPro 812 will be fully demonstrated.

Secol will be showing their versatile new ASCD2 Multi File for storage of CD ROMs, prints and film for the first time at Focus. As the latest addition to Secol's world famous A-S Archival Storage System, the ASCD2 will instantly fit a vast range of existing systems both in hanging drawer format and four ring binders. The page is manufactured from 100% archival polyester based material and will hold two CD or DVD ROMs with an ingenious retaining flap to keep the disc secure in whichever direction it is stored.

Sonus Security Products will be exhibiting at Focus for the first time with a range of security boxes. Aimed at both the enthusiast and the professional, Sonus boxes allow camera cases, tripods, lighting units and other valuable items to be securely locked away. They also provide protection against damage whether in the home, studio or on the move.

Digital imaging has spawned a vast array of innovative and often leading edge products and Focus is where so many of them get their first UK airing.

New for 2004, for instance, Vosonic's X'S Drive Pro (HD portable storage and MP3 Player) will be taking centre stage on Cardmedia Europe's stand. Cardmedia is the UK distributor for Vosonic Technology Corporation and will also be displaying and demonstrating digital portable storage devices designed for use by digital camera users, both professional and amateur. These devices will include Vosonic's X'S Drive II (HD portable storage), the DiGi Viewer (TV viewer), the V-MP3H (multimedia player, HD portable storage). The DigiMagic (CD Burner) from Nex-1 will also be on display

Also new to Focus are FixerLabs, creators of pioneering plug-ins for Adobe's Photoshop, Photoshop Elements and Jasc's Paint Shop Pro. The suite includes the brand leader FocusFixer, which received a rating of *****/9.1 in MacWorld UK and which has revolutionized the work of digital photographers by allowing photographers, for the first time ever, to remove focus blur after the picture has been taken. NoiseFixer, ShadowFixer and TrueBlur complete the range with new plug-ins due for release in early 2004.

Fotoware will be showing Fotostation Pro version 5 for the first time in the UK. It is only just available for the PC and has been well received by the press but the company hopes to have a preview showing of the full OSX version for Mac as well. Fotoware had hoped to have a version for OSX much sooner, but rather than develop a limited version, a whole new application has been written. The fully featured PC release will appear in mid January 2004.
Extra steps are being taken to enhance the support for the consumer versions of the software at the company's design offices in Norway in anticipation of another new product release. Details will be available at Focus.

Fo2PiX will be launching a world first at Focus 2004, an automatic photo painting feature-set, with which any photograph can be automatically transformed into a painting - and allowing the user to view the brush movements as it does so. At the same time, the company is launching, again exclusively at Focus 2004, an "exciting" new range of MAC OSX standalone and plug-in products, as well as new products for the PC.

Ilford will be showcasing new products in the Galerie Professional inkjet desktop range at Focus 2004 and there will be regular daily demonstrations on how to achieve the best results when using Galerie media. The new Galerie Premium II Professional Enlargement System will also be demonstrated at the show. Galerie Premium II lets high street photographic retailer customers create digital enlargements up to 20"x24" straight on to pre-mounted board from digital files, traditional photos or negatives in a matter of minutes. It's available with a range of media, including fine art, gloss and pearl, and allows users to convert photos into black and white, remove red-eye and banish scratches and marks.

In their fourth appearance at Focus, Permajet plans to show a new range of fine art papers, with textures similar to traditional silver halide fibre based papers, Permajet FS Colour wide format printer cartridges and Permaflow systems for the popular Epson 2100 printer with the company's own unique "universal" black.

Sangers are majoring on Delkin Devices memory cards this year. Delkin is one of America's top digital memory manufacturers with products designed for both amateur and professional use. Delkin digital memory cards come in various storage capacities for digital cameras, PDAs and music players and are 100% compatible with their respective hosts. Sangers say they're so confident about the performance and quality of the devices that they are able to provide all their customers with warranties from five years to a lifetime on all products throughout the Delkin range.

SmartDisk's "hot product" at Focus is to be FlashTrax, an innovative handheld device that allows photographers to expand the use of their digital camera and multimedia files. With simple controls and high-speed transfers, FlashTrax allows users to store, view and play all sorts of media files, all in one palm-size, portable device. FlashTrax has already won the DIMA award and the HOT2003 award in the US.

Wacom will be showing their range of Pen tablets and Interactive Pen Displays for digital imaging, including the recently launched Graphire3 range. The three tablets in the range, the Classic, Studio and Studio XL, are aimed at amateur photographers interested in digital photo and video editing as well as graphics applications. For more professional users, Wacom is demonstrating the Intuos2 Graphics Tablet System. Aimed at anyone involved with digital design, Intuos2 is a series of five different tablet sizes delivering unparalleled levels of productivity, control and flexibility, for example when retouching or masking. Also on display is the Cintiq 18SX, an Interactive Pen Display that provides the perfect pen-paper alternative.

Bodoni Systems, one of the founder members of the Epson ProFocus Group, specialise in wide format printers and colour management, running courses, offering remote ICC profiling and distributing a range of specialist tools from Colorvision, Gretag Macbeth and other manufacturers. Hardware on display on their stand will include the Imacon range of scanners.

The Pantone Colourvision Spyder will come under the spotlight on the Tetenal stand. This inexpensive configuration system calibrates an LCD or CRT monitor in minutes, with quick, step by step measurements of display characteristics and calibration to selected standards to create an accurate monitor profile. Tetenal will also be showing the three ranges of their Spectra Jet inkjet paper, office photo, photoquality and fine art.

The Focus exhibitor list has always been very strong in support services for photographers, with all of the main professional bodies taking stands, along with companies offering processing and printing, stock checking and invoicing software, insurance and finance and the often unsung but crucial elements in any photographic presentation, albums and frames.

After a successful debut at Focus 2003, Dipinto, a company at the forefront of digital technology but with 70 years experience in traditional photographic service behind it, returns to the NEC with their Preview Album proofing system for photographers. This uses the latest digital printing technology to produce a preview album for images captured digitally.

Dunns are set to double the size of their schools department for 2004 and the upgrade to DigiCourier, the company's free Internet print ordering service, will be launched at Focus, giving clients greater control over order placing and file transfer. For the photographer offering pictures for sale over the web Dunns already provide a complete fulfilment, order packaging and delivery service direct to clients and two new products, Photostream and MyEventpictures.biz will extend this capability by providing web connectivity for print, image upload, picture hosting and management facilities. Spring will see the restructuring of Dunns' main lab with an additional 30% print capacity being added to meet the growing demand for digital and film print production.

fotoLibra is a brand new company which is to be formally launched at Focus. Their an on-line picture library which for the first time lets every photographer and picture collection owner market pictures to professional picture buyers. Everyone can upload digitised images to the fotoLibra site, which then markets them worldwide. All images are securely stored and watermarked both visually and digitally, and each image is allocated a DOI, a Digital Object Identifier, which allows it to be found and purchased through any search engine on the internet, independently of the fotoLibra site. fotoLibra automatically puts a DOI on to every image uploaded to the site, securing the owner's copyright and massively increasing the picture's marketability.

Another company at Focus for the first time is House of Darragh which will be using the show as the launch platform for their "Lios Darac" range of unique photographic frames, hand crafted in Ireland from exclusive Italian wooden mouldings.

Jorgensen Albums and SWPM have established themselves in the UK as one of the top suppliers of high end wedding albums. With the move in recent years to more contemporary style photography to include, amongst other things, candid shots, formal photos and digital images, UK photographers were looking for alternative albums to enhance and complement their work. Enter Jorgensen Albums with wood, metal, leather and vinyl covers in a range of colours, along with their fun mats and flip pages. Photographers quickly adapted to making bespoke albums that were as individual as they were. Now with their revolutionary workflow/album design software, creating these unique albums is even easier. JAD will help photographers design, preview and order the album and then compile the images ready for the lab.

Leather Craftsmen Custom Bookbinding has been creating time honoured wedding, special event and portrait presentations for over 60 years, having established itself as an industry leader in album creation Stateside in the early 1940's. Combining skills learned from fifth generation bookbinders, with the finest quality materials and with album styles varying from traditional to contemporary, fine art to full digital, Leather Craftsmen is able to accommodate a wide range of photographic expression and presentation. Leather Craftsmen albums are handcrafted one at a time and are covered in genuine leather for a life time of viewing enjoyment.

The MagicTouch, with 12 years experience, has helped many companies to benefit by adding photo gifts to their product portfolio through the development of the image transfer process and Focus 2004 will see the debut of a host of new and exciting products to complement the company's existing range. These include a new "Mug Printing Process" (no computer required), new white base Mousemat that enhances photo images, new personalised bags, coasters, wooden jigsaws and placemats, all adding a new level of quality to this unique process.

Middlewall will be showing their entire range of hand crafted wedding albums and associated products, emphasising in particular their extensive range of Reportage products. They will be adding to that range with the launch at Focus of their new book-bound Reportage Album while some of the company's Post Bound Albums will be seen in new colours for the first time.

Online digital photography specialist, PhotoBox, is to launch their Professional Gallery service at Focus on Imaging 2004. The new PhotoBox Pro Gallery facility enables professional users to create an online showcase of images and to offer prints and gifts for sale to the general public. Pro Galleries are not just aimed at professional photographers; organisers of sports clubs, event organisers and social groups can showcase their photos and generate income from them - possibly for the first time. Free to set-up, Pro Galleries enable consumers to buy photographic products from the gallery owner via the award-winning PhotoBox website. PhotoBox then completes the orders via their state-of-the-art printing and fulfilment service.

Smurfit Print's stand will feature new CD packaging which can be individually personalised with a photographer's or retailer's own details.

Spool Multi-Media, which will be promoting their products and services with particular emphasis on photo-CDR and associated products and packaging, is one the UK's leading CD manufacturers, supplying both blank CDR media and custom printed CDRs. SMM produces high quality printed photo CD-R to create company or product line branding, perfect for transfer of photographic images.

Spicer Hallfield is to unveil an innovative solution for professional photographers wishing to create and supply truly bespoke matted albums and custom digital magazine style books. SH2 will be offering photographers both the software and product range required to satisfy the desires of today's most demanding clients, both for the social and commercial market. The album covers and formats within this range are contemporary and stylish meeting the needs of photographers that are leading the changing trend in image presentation. This service allows great flexibility, including the choice of how much of the initial work a photographer may choose to undertake in formatting digital page layouts for books and incorporating simple drag and drop on screen page building for bespoke overlay based albums.

Budding professional photographers, especially those who have ambitions of making it in the world of social photography, will be able to get advice from Barrett & Coe, whose franchise programme includes full training, nationwide marketing assistance, technical and business support and whole host of other services all of them crucial to matching business success to creativity.

Freelancers who want to boost their earnings will be welcome at the Bureau of Freelance Photographers' stand where they can register for two months' free trial membership and see the range of books published by the BFP, including the Freelance Photographer's Market Handbook.

The 146 winning entries in the Royal Photographic Society's International Print Exhibition will be taking centre stage on the society's stand where members and visitors can meet members of the RPS staff, Council Members and RPS volunteers and listen to a series of short presentations given by RPS members who are acknowledged experts in their field.

RPS members can gain Distinctions during the show with Assessment Panels - for prints only - held on Sunday 22nd for Licentiateships and on Monday 23rd February for Associateships in Visual Art. Applicants must book a place in advance by ringing the Distinctions Department on 01225 325761, who will give them full information, and should bring their work on the day. These assessments are open - any Focus visitor who wants to see the submissions and hear the comments of the judges can drop by the stand at any time.

But Focus is far more than simply somewhere you can go to try the latest cameras, squint through the latest lenses, check out the latest accessories and use your flexible friend on a whole bunch of introductory offers, end of range bargains and special show deals.

It's become a must for photographers and those who work with them who want to add to their fund of knowledge as well as to their hardware armoury. Focus Talks is one reason, a three day programme of talks, seminars and demonstrations given by some of the best known names in the imaging world. Keep an eye on the Focus web site (focus-on-imaging.co.uk) for details of the Focus Talks programme as it is confirmed.

Then there's the constant buzz in the exhibition halls as visitors crowd around or on to stands, large and small, to pick up hints and tips on how to get the best from the products bearing the exhibitor's brand - with many of the hints and tips given by personalities just as well known as the names on the Focus Talks bill.

Focus on Imaging 2004 opens at the NEC on Sunday, February 22nd and runs until Wednesday, February 25th. Trade and professional visitors can pre-register for the show and jump the queues at the doors to Halls 9 and 10 by logging on to www.focus-on-imaging.co.uk where there are also full details of the Focus Talks programme and a regularly updated exhibitors' list.

Non-trade visitors, including amateurs and hobbyists, are equally welcome - admission on the door costs just £6.00.

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