Friday, February 1, 2008

PMA 2008: Colour and Creativity

The 2008 PMA EXPO is currently underway in Las Vegas. Occupying just two floors in the south hall of the Las Vegas Convention Centre, the show is nowhere near the same magnitude as CES. However, it's a must-attend for anyone involved in the photo industry.

This year, it appears that the major camera manufacturers have convened on the lower level, while the top level houses more accessories and nifty gadgets.

Although the show seems a bit quieter this year in comparison to last, products are full of colour and creativity. On the lower level, we see digital cameras with sexy, classy, and vibrant new colour options, along with all of the fancy features we discussed in last week's blog post and in individual product announcements at Meanwhile, exhibitors in the upper level are showing off every which way to display captured images creatively, in an obvious effort to encourage people to make more prints. This includes everything from printing personalized photobooks, to even imprinting images on puzzles, jewelry, and neckties! Sure, making prints on a T-shirt or coffee mug isn't a new concept, but the options have certainly been kicked up a notch this year.

HP is heavily involved in keeping prints alive via its Print 2.0 strategy, which looks at ways that customers can get excited about making prints and becoming their own "publishers", so to speak. This includes everything from new retail photo labs and kiosks that make printing easy; to an innovative photobook option that puts the creative process right into the customer's hands.

Also, there looks to be many more camera bag manufacturers on the show floor this year, offering designs that are more ergonomic, comfortable, and permit easy access to the equipment inside. Another important aspect observed in many bag designs is weather-proofing, which helps keep equipment protected from the elements. A company called Naneu pro was showing off a few nifty bags that include removable (and funky orange!) inserts that can be taken out, converting the bag into a "regular" backpack or messenger bag.

Speaking of weather-proofing, water-proof digital cameras seem to be all the rage as well. Olympus, for example, has expanded upon its SW series line with the new 1030SW. Panasonic will be debuting a neat and red-finished camcorder called the SD-RSW20R that can be submerged in up to 5-feet of water, and it's also shock-proof. It will sell for about $450.

Canon will also be focusing heavily on camcorders this year with its new Vixia line that will be shipping around the April/May timeframe. There are 5 models in the series, including three standard-definition and two high-definition. All but one offers the ability to record to both an internal hard drive (8GB or 16GB) or an SD memory card. We can likely expect to see many new camcorder models gravitating toward flash memory given its versatility, and ability to be used in a multitude of devices. In fact, some of Olympus' new models will ship with a microSD card adapter so that customers can easily use the same memory card across devices, even including camera phones or other portable gadgets.

As predicted, face detection, image stabilization, and "cool" capture modes that simplify the picture-taking process were evident in every company's offerings.

On the accesory side of things, I didn't see as many digital photo frames as I had expected on the show floor (although there certainly were a few). Surprisingly there were likely more standard wood and metal frames being exhibited!

All in all, there was plenty to see at PMA 2008, although holding the show right on the heels of CES may have hampered attendance slightly. Not to mention that it's SuperBowl weekend!

Visit for more new product announcements from the show as well as video demonstrations of many of the products discussed here (; and industry members can stay tuned to the March issue of Marketnews for a full show report. Also, we'll be featuring and reviewing many of these new products in future issues of here's how! magazine. Visit to subscribe, or find out where you can pick up a copy of the magazine.

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