View Full Version : Photokina news

Christopher Nisperos
30-Sep-2004, 19:20
This is actually a response to Tim Atherton's question about Photokina news which just appeared in my emailbox but hasn't yet seemed to appear on the "recent topics list" of this forum. Sorry to start a whole new topic, but it's late here in Europe and I wanted to answer Tim's question without waiting till the wee hours (too late.. it's 3:am as I finish this). As accurately as I can compile from my faulty memory and a couple of brochures, here's an incomplete report (for example, I failed to note most prices ... sorry gang).

I was at Photokina yesterday (29 Sept. 2004) for a quick visit and to show a prototype for a product idea I have. It seemed to be a leaner and slower show than usual, with --- as expected -- digital products everywhere to be seen.

SCHNEIDER, even in the face of the digital onslaught, has brought out two new "Fine Art" lenses designed for use by the ULF photographer (BRAVO!). The lenses, a 550mm f/11 (78° angle of view at f/22) and a 1100mm f/22 (45.7° angle of view at f/22), will cover formats up to 20x24 inches (both have a 900mm image circle) and are supplied in BRASS PLATED barrels, with the focal length and f/stop written in script on a black band around the rim (old-timey lookin'). Schneider will also provide free engraving of your name and will re-engrave for a new owner (according to brochure).

They come in Copal 3 shutters, or if you want to obtain an effective f/14 on the 1100mm, you can order it without a shutter. There are filter threads on both ends, so for example you can combine a yellow filter and a polarizer, etc. These lenses are touted to be excellent (Schneider claims, for example, that the 550mm has practically no visable distortion). In any case, they're really beautiful to look AT too.

KEITH CANHAM showed me a very nice looking prototype of a 6x12 panoramic camera which combines his neat little motorized rollfilm back with a metal body made by Mike Walker/Walker Cameras. It was very classy looking, with the precision quality and finish that you'd expect from Canham. Also on display was a rather huge Canham (20x24in. ?) mounted with one of the the above Schneider Fine Art lenses. Made my heart swell. Looked just right.

A new company, FOTOMAN CAMERA (two Americans living in China), presented a low cost medium format panoramic cameras (6x12 and 6x17). The camera offered lens interchangability (and a mounting kit, if you mount your own) and comes with a viewer, and a 6x6 ground glass back, which you use when you first install a lens to check critical focus. The body has a helical mount and manual film advance (by twisting a knob and looking through the little red window on the back of the camera to see the number on the film's paper backing). Certainly not the same quality as Keith Canham or Linhof, but probably will have fans.

ARCA SWISS showed their award-winning Misura, among other new items. What a great little camera (see elsewhere on this forum for details). I don't know why, but everytime I see this camera, I think "Porche". Philippe Vogt, Arca Swiss' director (and designer of the Sinar Nora), also showed me a new, lighter weight back for his regular 4x5 line, inspired by the technology used to develop the Misura. Nice, nice, nice.

CAMERA BELLOWS, the UK bellows manufacturer, had a really cool little built-it-yourself 4x5 "kit camera" made out of pressboard. Whatever the price, the nicely made bellows are sure to be worth 95%! I want one for Christmas. (no..change that... I'll take the Misura).

B&W FILM , PAPER & CHEMICAL MANUFACTURERS SEEN: Foma, Oriental, Kentmere, Lucky (China), Calbe --makers, among other things, of R09 “rodinal-type“ film developer, according to their handout. I didn't see Mitsubishi, but it doesn't mean they were'nt there. (this year's B&W casualities seem to be Ilford and Forte. Agfa, nearly. Kodak products, soon?)

B&W FILM , PAPER & CHEMICAL RESELLERS SEEN: The best news I found was that FOTOIMPEX/ADOX/J&C, is working hard to save what remains of the black and white market and make sure there will be products available into the foreseeable future. I spent a great deal of time speaking with the owner, Mr. Mirko Boddecker, and I can tell you that these guys have more than the profit motive in mind (and at heart) . . . they seem really committed to the user. Their new Adox CHM 125 and Adox CHM 400 film (available in 35mm and 120), is FP4 and HP5, reloaded from master rolls (for the 35mm) or re-packaged (for the 120 ---which comes in a resealable plastic container, much like a 35mm container). This AdoxCHM/Ilford information is not official, but rather my assumption based upon excellent information. In any case, I guess it's worth testing a roll if you're interested. As a dedicated HP5+ user myself, I know will (though I've had great luck so far with Efke sheet film in PMK).

FotoImpex, while being a tiny outfit, has been long known as a specialist in having films made in "off-sizes" such as 127, 620 and certain sheet sizes. Mr. Boddecker combed through central and eastern Europe from the early 1990's to establish contacts at factories such as Efke and, according to a German friend of mine, is even thought to have helped saved the company from going under. In any case, I really believe that FotoImpex deserves support.

Their other new products, in addition to the films mentioned above, include a line of ultra-high resolution film developers and many specialty products for lab use (wetting agents, pre-mixed farmers reducer, Calbe chemicals, Moersch Amidol and Lith paper developers, Moersch staining film developer, etc, etc.) FotoImpex now also offers a low cost sheet film, Classic 100 ECO—and a really low priced liquid emulsion (I don’t know what the “landed price“ would be in the U.S.). Check out their catalog online.

I stopped by BERGGER but was not given a catalog or the "tour", and I had no time to visit the MACO stand.

PATERSON put on a brave face and dislayed their timeless products as well as a new line of oval reflectors (the type you twist and collapse)in gold, silver, white. Used horizontally, good for headshots, vertically, good for 3/4 body shots. Look to be of good quality.

The only enlarger I saw was the DEVERE 504DS, their famous model 504 converted for digital printing. Their DigiLite head is equipped with a 250w lamp and a shutter. The machine creates a “virtual“ negative which can be enlarged and exposed in the traditional way (nice transition for us dinosaurs). Lets you print up to 20x24 inches and comes with a 60mm Rodenstock lens and a PC.

PROFOTO showed a great looking flash-head-in-a-fresnel-lensed-spotlight. Also on deck was their new 4800ws power pack, the D4 4800, designed with tight color temperature and f/stop stability parameters (with digital photography in mind). The pack even has an USB port so you can control it (or, up to 127 packs !) from your laptop. In fact, the pack is set-up like four seperate generators in one, so you can control the output of each head individually (over an 8 f/stop range in 1/10th f/stop increments) directly from your computer. That means you can take a test shot from the computer, and, if your digital back is also connected, you can see the result and readjust the lighting again. All without leaving your bed. By the next Photokina they're sure to add a coffee machine!

Also new at Profoto were a series of striplights which resemble the old repro “arc“ lights of yesteryear. Good for lighting broad areas or for large copywork. As usual, Profoto equipment exhibited the clean design and ease of use that they’re famous for. (I can’t wait to try a few of those spots and the 4800 pack for some Hollywood-style portraiture in 8x10).

Lastly, EBAY had a stand (!!).

Well, that’s all I can remember for the moment. Hope it has satisfied your appetite until the articles hit the photo magazines.


Christopher Nisperos
30-Sep-2004, 19:43
PS.. what made the Profoto spotlight/flashhead unique was its small size ... not like the gigantic, television-sized versions now on the market, but no bigger than a slightly deflated volleyball. You can pack three or four in a large Pelican case.

Glenn Kroeger
30-Sep-2004, 20:02

Thanks! Nice report.

tim atherton
30-Sep-2004, 20:24
"(this year's B&W casualities seem to be Ilford and Forte. Agfa, nearly. Kodak products, soon?)"

Okay - have I missed something during my travels? Forte?

Christopher Nisperos
1-Oct-2004, 08:17
Yes, Tim. I spoke with Guy Gerard, director of Bergger, at the show. He indicated to me that Forte had filed --or would be filing -- for bankruptcy. I don't suppose this information is secret.