It was almost hit and miss with Focus this year, I got an urgent job in on Tuesday which had to be turned around by Wednesday, the day I wanted to go down to the NEC, so I worked like a loon to ensure not only was the job shot on Tuesday but processed and off to the client before the end of play.
When Wednesday morning rolled around I was off. So with my ticket safely packed in my laptop bag and the Focus on imaging app installed on my iPhone, it was down to Birmingham to spend the day at the NEC to look at all things photographic.
On the way down in the car I studied the app (I wasn't driving) so that I had a general idea who was going to be there and where they would be, there's a map in the app (see below).
First stop was to the nearest coffee emporium to top up on caffeine, then it was off to meet up with Nathan from FujiFilm, he had a X-1 Pro and an X100 for us to play with, that lead to coffee number two as we sat discussing these two cameras and had a play with them. Without seeing results from the X-1 Pro it's difficult for me to comment on it's performance, but the build quality and attention to detail on the camera are superb. I've seen prints produced from the X100 and would be quite happy to buy one of these little beauties, especially now the price has taken a tumbled from £999 down to £754.
I next made a B-line for Bob Rigby Photographic, just wanted to thank Simon for getting my camera cleaned and sent back to me so quickly. That courtesy sorted I was off on my travels again around the halls. There is a great deal that I bypass at focus, wedding albums, framing (I have a local guy Dennis who does all my framing, he's very good) and the inkjet paper companies.
I did have a good look around the lighting equipment exhibitors and spent some time tyre kicking various lighting gear, there wasn't to much there that I hadn't seen or heard about, Bowens had some new Lumiair Softboxes in all the usual shapes and sizes, but with the front baffle set deeper into the front of the softbox. This left room for Egg Crate type grids to be mounted to them, all I can say is, finally! The rest of the stand contained their usual fair of flash heads, kits and reflectors.
Other kit that caught my eye was the 'Safari' portable lighting kit on the Lencarta stand, interesting and very reasonably priced. The new Lithium Ion Battery Box for Elinchrom's Ranger Quadra RX, but be warned though it meets airline standards some airlines might still reject it, so best keep some of the old batteries if you're travelling by air.
I spent some time at the Phase One stand, played with a Phase One camera and IQ160 Back, very nice, the V-Grip Air is brilliant, it makes the camera feel like a big DSLR and definitely improves handheld shooting. I did stare longingly at the screen as the images taken with this back and the IQ180 were scrolled through, I'd better keep buying the lottery tickets I think.
Canon, of course, had announced the 5D MkIII just days before Focus kicked off and they had 4 or 5 examples of the camera on their stand. After standing around for what seemed like forever I finally got my hands on one and had a bit of time to get acquainted. It feels good, all the dials and buttons are where I'd expect them to be on a top flight Canon camera, the proof, as always is in the output. I think I'll be playing with one of these pretty soon to see how it works in my normal working environment, then who knows...
Well that's about it for my Focus visit, I did have a wander around the camera stores to see what offers were on, but I came away empty handed this year. I did bring home a load of catalogues and a very nice free cotton bag from Manfrotto, but that's all folks!