As noted in our earlier article, PMA at Sydney’s Exhibition Centre in Darling Harbour was way better than the previous iteration of the photography exhibition held at the same location about three years ago, and it was also way better than the recent CeBit also held at the same location.
PMA had some great toys to look at and play with, and from a variety of different genres and vendors.
For instance, SanDisk announced their new 32G SDHC card. This is a card that, conceptually, lets you shoot in raw format on a camera like the Nikon D300, and it saves it data at just about the same rate as you’re shooting at. Obviously this card won’t fit into the current D300, but for illustrative purposes, I’m sure you get the idea.
And Olympus had the new four thirds micro Pen F camera on hand to play with.
For several years, I’ve been wondering about the future of the four thirds format. As a DSLR concept, it’s been swamped by the APS sensor cameras from Canon and Nikon, and has really failed to gain any real traction in the market. And that has held true for all of the manufacturers playing in the four thirds sandpit: the cameras have been there, but there’s not really been a whole lot happening.
By reviving the old Pen F name, I think that Olympus have, at least from a marketing perspective, finally identified just where this format needs to be placed in the market. In the days when we shot on film, the Pen F enjoyed a very well deserved reputation as a good solid working camera that offered its users something different: a 35mm half-frame format. It shot two half-sized frames onto normal 35mm film stock, giving you 72 images on a standard roll of 36 exposure 35mm film. The camera was of a high quality as was the glass. This made it possible to shoot very good images using a quite compact camera.
The new Pen F fits just perfectly into this sort of framework, except of course that it doesn’t shoot film. While we’ve not yet seen a camera for review, the quick play with it suggests good build quality in a nice compact body, and I can see this camera becoming the professionals’ second camera of choice, where that second camera need is to be satisfied by something in the compact realm. This is the area previously filled with cameras like the Canon G9/G10 or Panasonic’s G1.
Take the Olympus’s build quality and add in some decent glass, and you are looking at a potentially very formidable system. And there’s already a plethora of lens adaptors that will let you fit glass from Nikon, Canon, Pentax, etc to this body …
So, mostly the show was good, but …
The Bad, and The Ugly
First of all, I need to declare my interest. I have a relationship Eternal Fortune (HK) Pty Ltd. They are the people who manufacture the Phottix range of photographic accessories, and they trade on eBay as HK Supplies. They are good friends of mine, and they provide a small amount of financial support to a photography forum that I run There is no formal commercial relationship.
Having learned of the then upcoming PMA, Eternal Fortune made contact with the organisers in order to come here and display their wares, establish contacts with local photographers and traders, and hopefully create longer term business relationships with potential distribution points. In order to perform these tasks they arranged for the taking of a stand at PMA, and for the shipment of samples of their products to the show.
The nature of their business is that they manufacture a wide variety of products, small in size, but covering a wide gamut of the photography realm. The nature of the photographic business is that there are many different avenues of opportunity, and in order to establish relationships with the various types of entities involved, they needed to be prepared to to address all of the visitors to their stand.
As they were.
However, the organisers of PMA saw things a little bit differently.
First of all, their terms and conditions clearly permitted the sale of sample products
Second, on their own website, they had a page named “Consumer and B2B Visitor Specials”. The name of the page appears to advocate that their will be something available, on the site, for their visitors. Specials, in fact. When one looks more closely at that page, one sees a number of items that would be clearly available for purchase, on the day, on the site.
Consider some of these examples, taken directly from their website …
“Crazy Offer: A free 5″x 7″ professional parent album or 3m x 6m gauze backdrop will be available for every 3m x 6m mottled muslin backdrop purchased at the show (our handpainted mottled muslin backdrops are available for only $119 each including GST!!!!!). This offer is valid until all relevant available show stock is sold out so don’t miss out!”.
“Visit our stand #516 and enjoy special show discounts. 20% discount off FOMEX / BOLING / METTLE studio lightings and equipment. 15% discount off BENRO professional tripod, monopod or ball-head. Extra bonus gift set for combined purchasing of carbon ﬁbre tripod and B- or J- series ball-head.”
Yes, we saw people walking away with stock from this stand.
“Special Show Pricing on the following titles Dﬁne® Viveza® Silver Efex Pro™, Color Efex Pro™, NIK Complete Collections and NIK Sharpener Pro™ software. NIK Software is a recognised leader in digital photographic ﬁlter development and produces award-winning technology and plug-in products for digital photography and imaging professionals.” Yes, we saw people purchasing Nik software and taking it away with them.
“Visit Photo Direct on the HP stand for great Photo Jewellery, Photo Travel Mugs, Photo Cards, Posse Pouch Camera/Phone Bags, Photo Book Presentation Covers, 3.5″ Digital Frames, Camera Screen Guards, SLR Sensor Cleaners and much much more, prices start from just $5.00, walk away with your show bargain. “
Is there a part of this that suggests that purchases at the show may not be made? We actually have video footage of a transaction being made, and there was a sign on this stand indicating that they would only entertain sales in “consumer quantities”.
This is just a small sample of what was available for purchase at the show. Other stands displayed signs stating which credit cards they accepted. Others displayed “Show Only” special prices, supplying stock from boxes on their stand. A friend of mine even purchased a small camera bag at the Pentax stand.
None of the foregoing examples were different in any way from what the good people at the Phottix stand were doing, yet the organisers of PMA decided, for no good reason, to shut them down! The stated reason was that they were selling stock, and when it was pointed out to them that others were selling stock, they refused to listen to that point of discussion.
The term “double standard” comes to my mind.
So, why did they do this?
As noted above, I’ve declared my interests in this. My understanding is that a very senior official within the PMA organisation has a connection to the distributors of Pentax cameras and accessories in Australia. My understanding is that another senior official within the PMA organisation in Australia has a very close connection with the Ted’s Cameras group in Australia.
My understanding is that some of the people within the PMA organisation were somewhat miffed at the fact that the Phottix stand had a range of accessories that were of good quality, keenly priced, and that the stand was a popular place amongst visitors to the show. My understanding is that they were miffed at the fact that this was happening with someone who was not a local trader.
Despite what appears, to me, to be a potential conflict of interests on the part of some of the organisers, my understanding is that the relevant people did not exclude themselves from the decision making processes.
Well, PMA organisers, I’m sorry about that, but that is what is called ‘competition”. It is wrong, and it is inappropriate for you to interfere with honest competition.
You had already agreed to permit Phottix to participate in this show. You accepted their payment for the stand, but you then refused to permit them to fully participate in the show, despite the fact that you openly and readily permitted and encouraged other participants to do exactly what the people from Phottix were doing.
You should be ashamed of yourselves. You did the photographic industry in this country a great deal of harm.
What you did was bad, and it was ugly.
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