Mon, Oct 04, 2004 - Page 11 News List

Digital photo convention goes beyond photography

IMAGE MAKING Products like cellphones, PDAs and printers -- usually only seen at computer shows -- were in abundance at this year's Photokina fair


"Imaging is more" was the motto for this year's Photokina, the world's largest digital photography and imaging convention, held from Sept. 28 to Oct. 3 in Cologne.

The motto is shorthand for the idea that modern image creation is much more than the simple photography of earlier days. All of this means that the one-time photography fair has turned into a showcase for a variety of products that could just as easily be shown at Hanover's CeBIT computer fair or the International Wireless Exhibition in Berlin.

The Cologne fairgrounds will henceforth be filled not just with cameras, scanners, and laboratory technology, but also printers, PCs, laptops, digital assistants, beamers, cellphones and Internet services.

All these devices serve in one way or another for the creation, editing, or viewing of photo and video files. A sign of this trend: Firms like Nokia and T-Mobile for the first time bought exhibition space among the roughly 1,600 exhibitors.

It will be a few years yet, industry experts feel, before cellphone cameras -- camphones, to those in the business -- push compact cameras to the side.

"Camphones remain snapshot cameras," said Mika Setaela, acting director for multimedia/imaging at Nokia.

The goal remains to improve image quality and to offer technically ripe, pocket-sized products. It is in this vein that Setaela introduced the Nokia 6630, which the firm claims is the smallest 1-megapixel camphone in the world.

Samsung already offers a cellphone with 3.2 megapixels and a 3-times optical zoom. The SPH-S2300 is already available in Korea and looks more like a compact camera with telephone functions added in.

The camera will not make the trip to Cologne, however, because its cellular technology is not yet compatible with the GSM standard that is popular in Europe, a company spokesman said.

Signs of change

* For the first time firms like Nokia and T-Mobile bought exhibition space among the roughly 1,600 exhibitors

* Also new to the show were printers, PCs, laptops, digital assistants, beamers, cellphones and Internet services

* Products focused on the creation, editing, or viewing of photo and video files

* Camera phones (camphones) are gaining ground

Source: DPA

Lenses in particular are one area where the cameras to be shown in Cologne will distinguish themselves from their predecessors.

"Image stabilizers to compensate for hand movement will play a large role," says Constanze Clauss from the Photo Industry Association in Frankfurt.

The association is one of the co-organizers of the trade fair. Most manufacturers, such as Panasonic with its new Lumix DMC-FZ20, have put stock in a system of movable lenses.

Konica and Minolta by contrast have cast their lot on a movable chip that can compensate in seconds for shaky hands and hence make the snapshots more focused. This technology will be on display in models like the Dynax 7 Digital, expected in the spring.

According to Clauss, the quick and significant forward progress of new cameras depends on the interplay of all components: lenses, chips, software, and storage cards.

"The pixel counting has long since lost relevance," Clauss said.

To remind visitors that the fair is about more than this panoply of technological novelties, the organizers of the Photokina introduced a "Visual Gallery" two years ago: The photo exhibition in Hall 7 has tripled in size this year to 3,000m2, with a focus on the works of world-famous professional photographers and the winners of various competitions.

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