British Photographic Industry News December 2021 & January 2022

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Photographic British

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DEC 2021 / JAN 2022 • £5

Putting the photo trade in the picture for over 35 years

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END OF YEAR SPECIAL:

LESSONS LEARNT FROM THE PANDEMIC THE UK PHOTO TRADE SPEAK OUT!

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K’S THE U O TRADE PHOT AZINE MAG

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IN THIS ISSUE…

NEW YEAR, NEW GEAR

TRANSCONTINENTA

REVIEW OF THE YEAR

BUSINESS ADVICE

An expertly curated selection of new announcements and innovations coming our way to stimulate sales and engage a new generation of ‘content creators’

The ever-growing UK arm of the Netherlands based distributor has added a wealth of brands over the past 12 months, sharing with us further plans for 2022

BPI News casts an eye over another tumultuous year for the photo industry, seeking out pockets of normality & positivity that suggest future possibilities

As a reaction to and a buffer against uncertain times, we explore how diversification and creativity can prove effective in attracting custom and profit



Editorial | December 2021 / January 2022

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Photographic British

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EDITOR Gavin Stoker Tel: 020 8274 0578 Tel: 07990 974 367 ART EDITOR Michael O’Connell EDITORIAL ENQUIRIES Please direct all editorial requests, news and press releases to info@bpinews.co.uk ADVERTISING ENQUIRIES Please direct all advertising enquiries and sponsorship opportunities to gavin@bpinews.co.uk Publisher’s Office: 31 New Road, Richmond, Surrey TW10 7HZ. Legacy Media Ltd accept no ultimate responsibility for accurate reproduction of digital artwork created by third parties. Insurance and carriage of products submitted for inclusion in reports rests with the owner. News, data, prices, interviews and opinion are printed in good faith E&OE. Content including advertising artwork created by Legacy Media Ltd or its agents is ©2022 Legacy Media Ltd. ISSN: BPI News (Print) ..................................ISSN 2634-1344 BPI News (Online) ..............................ISSN 2634-1352

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couple of years back the comedian Stewart Lee named a book and tour ‘Content Provider’; at the time a wry, selfeffacing acknowledgment that his music reviews for the Sunday Times, satirical columns for the Guardian and indeed comedy routines were, increasingly, not being viewed as the insightful Gavin Stoker, works of art he’d once intended, but Editor as merely fulfilling media companies’ insatiable need for ‘content’. gavin@bpinews.co.uk @GavinStoker Increasingly too, we’ve noticed ‘content creator’ replacing the word ‘photographer’ in the press releases we get sent for new cameras and accessories. Laziness on the part of the PR, perhaps, as a catch-all term that does for both photographer and videographer, or simply a deft application of the latest buzzword, now that every Tweet or Instagram post we make is creating a never-ending stream of ‘content’ for someone? With what’s viewed and by how many controlled by sophisticated software, we’ve all become, as Grace Jones might sing if she was to re-do her ‘80s hit, slaves to the algorithm. It’s no secret that over the past two years the need for fresh content has only accelerated, and y for S l l that more people a u e ann BPI NEW b i – both retailers r c s r b e Y

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and photographers – have focused on how they can do more online, or at least make the worldwide web work harder for them. While this has encouraged some to set up podcasts and livestream videos to try and cut through to consumers in an engaging fashion, while encouraging customers to invest in kit to do the same, it’s also created a lot of digital noise. While it’s easier than ever for us to potentially increase our reach and be accessible 24/7, it’s also arguably made it harder to make an impact. With the above in mind – and given that the end of one year and the beginning of the next is traditionally time to take stock – we’re forgoing our usual Christmas wishes and New Year resolution questions this year and instead asking members of the trade to tell us what the pandemic has taught them and how they’ve navigated its challenges, in the hope that their personal experience might have wider resonance and benefit us all. You can read the results on our centre pages. We’ve also filled the issue with our usual curated selection of the industry news that matters, helping you to filter out the noise and get to the nitty gritty of what matters and why. In a digital age we believe print can still have an impact and a publication’s niche audience become its strength. Plus it’s content that will inevitably last longer than today’s tweet. See you back here for our first issue of 2022!

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BPI News | December 2021 / January 2022 3


News

NEW WEX STORE FOR NEWCASTLE Photo specialist Wex Photo Video is continuing its expansion into new territories with the announcement of a new bricks and mortar store north of Newcastle – its fourth such launch in less than two years, following on from the recently reported new shop in Leeds. Open seven days a week, the latest Newcastle retail space comprises 2,000 square feet and is said to include ‘hitech play tables’ and modern furniture, with used gear being sold alongside new. There are also Wex rental and Fixation repair desk facilities provided.

“Opening our eleventh store is a key business milestone that cements our positioning in the North of England and indicates our continued commitment

Hähnel axes direct sales to UK, enlists Transcontinenta Blaming Brexit for changing the way that Ireland can trade with the UK, Hähnel says it’s made the ‘difficult decision’ to stop direct sales after 25 years and instead enlist the aid of a distributor. From January 1st, 2022, the accessories specialist has chosen BPI News regular Transcontinenta UK to be responsible for sales, marketing and after sales of Hähnel, Leofoto and Zhiyun brands over here – but in fact the collaboration will cover not just the UK, but also other central European markets. Until the end of the year Hähnel directs the trade to order from its Ireland office as usual. It adds that it has ensured it has ample inventory to meet expected sales volumes. www.transcontinenta.co.uk

Photographic British

Industry

to multichannel growth to serve our customers all over the UK,” says Wex Photo Video CEO Louis Wahl. www.wexphotovideo.com

MAY THE ‘FORZA’ BE WITH YOU Chinese portable lighting specialist Nanlite – for which MAC Group Europe has recently taken over the role of distributor – has announced a new addition to its compact spotlight range in the Nanlite Forza 150. This is described as offering a comprehensive upgrade in terms of power, control and interaction, ‘putting no limits on content creators and film makers’. Weighing 1.36Kg, output is 27,960 lux at one metre, with reflector. An optional DMX adapter cable at £16 SRP adapts a 3.5mm plug to a standard five pin dual XLR to allow for the connection of the Forza 150 to a DMX console, while another possible extra sale is a hand-held V-mount battery grip (£32 SRP), described as aiding swift mobile shooting scenarios. MAC Group’s Nanlite Product Marketing Manager Terry Caws enthuses: “Simplicity over complexity is the slogan used by Nanlite for the launch of the Forza 150. Nanlite’s clever use of the Forza 60 FM mount has resulted in a very lightweight spotlight, packed with professional features yet offering easy navigation.” SRP for the Nanlite Forza 150 is £535. www.macgroupeu.com

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‘L’S BELLE FOR PANASONIC Direct your L-Mount mirrorless camera owning customers to a new bright aperture fixed focal length lens in the Panasonic Lumix S 35mm f/1.8, available now at £579.99 SRP. The latest addition means its manufacturer now has a quartet of fixed focal length lenses compatible with that particular mount – the others being 85mm, 50mm and 24mm. The nitty gritty is that the compact and lightweight (295g) lens is comprised of 11 lens elements in nine groups,

including three aspherical lenses and three ED (Extra Low Dispersion) lenses. In more general terms the lens’ natural angle of view makes it most suitable for street photography and portraits. Minimum focusing distance is 0.24m. In related Panasonic news, it’s introduced new Version 1.1 firmware for its Lumix GH5 Mark II camera (below), available now via the Lumix Global Customer Support website. The tweak claims to enhance video streaming performance and usability. Chiefly, it is now possible to livestream using multiple cameras and Lumix Tether PC software, plus stream via USB tethering with a smartphone. www.panasonic.co.uk

A firm message from Canon The photo stalwart has announced firmware tweaks for its EOS R5 and R6 (both v1.50) plus the EOS-1D X Mark III (v1.60). We’re told the cameras are being gifted enhanced detection features – including, for the R5 and R6, the ability to select ‘vehicles’ as the main subject and track racing cars and bikes, as well as improved eye and face detection when the subject is wearing a mask – along with seamless file transfer and optimised support for lenses. The EOS-1D X Mark III, meanwhile, gets improved head detection for winter sports subjects wearing goggles and helmets. As regards lens support, the R5 is being made compatible with Canon’s EOS VR System and its RF 5.2mm f/2.8L Dual Fisheye lens (see also News last issue). Direct your Canon EOS owning customers to www.canon-europe.com/ support/ for more, where updates became available from December 2nd. In related news, the brand has recently celebrated 10 years of its Cinema EOS range of dedicated cameras

NIKON AIMS WIDE

and lenses aimed at the filmmaking fraternity. It claims some 13 cameras and 30 cinema lenses have followed the range’s initial launch back in 2011. www.canon.co.uk

A ‘winter 2021’ sales start date has been given to what Nikon calls its smallest and lightest full frame ‘Z’ series prime lens so far in the Nikkor Z 28mm f/2.8. Suitability includes landscapes and streetscapes as well as ‘situational’ portraits, according to the manufacturer. Minimum focus distance is 0.19m, it offers a 42mm angle of view when alternatively used on a DX format Nikon Z camera should your customers wish to do so, plus it’s claimed the optic is as adept for shooting video as it is stills, with focus breathing dramatically reduced. Weather sealing is sufficient to cope with both dust and water droplets. SRP is £249. www.nikon.co.uk

BPI News is your mouthpiece to reach peers in the photo trade, so use it. Send ad bookings & press releases to info@bpinews.co.uk @bpi_news

BPI News | December 2021 / January 2022 5


News

PHOTOTEQ’S CLEVER IDEA TO POWER SALES Whether you are selling your next customer a new camera, or a refurbished trade-in, PhotoTEQ claims to have the perfect battery or charger to partner with it. Run by industry stalwart Paul Genge, PhotoTEQ has recently agreed exclusive distribution of Polish company Newell for the UK. “Now that many new cameras no longer include a specific mains charger, and you always need to add an extra battery to the sale, you need the best 3rd party alternative to put against the manufacturer original. That is where Newell comes in,” he states. “Or, if your team has traded in a camera, but the customer omitted to include the charger, we can help with a simple USB charger in 38 different fitments; it’s only £4 to the dealer”. Further Newell products will be added to the distributor’s portfolio next year. Meantime, the Newell battery and charger kits are in stock via PhotoTEQ now.

Get in touch via paul@phototeq.com or call 01280 811199 to order. See the three PhotoTEQ adverts in this issue for more – including an extra 10% off an initial order. www.phototeq.com ADVERTISEMENT

FIELD SERVICE ENGINEER Based near Peterborough, Capix Ltd is a well-respected and long-established supplier of film and paper processing equipment to the Photographic, Industrial X-Ray and PCB Film markets. Our customers include Government, Universities, Colleges, Police, Health Sector and large industrial customers. Due to expansion and new product launches, we are looking to recruit a Field Service Engineer to join our team.

Savage move by Vitec The current period of photo industry acquisitions and buy-outs continues with the news that Vitec Imaging Solutions, a division of the hardware and software provider Vitec Group PLC, has agreed to acquire Savage Universal Corp and its affiliates. Established way back in 1937, Savage is described as a global market leader in backgrounds for the professional studio photographic market, and is based in the US, where it manufactures an extensive range of specialist seamless paper backgrounds and backdrops with a flat, crease free surface. www.vitecgroup.com

The ideal candidate will have experience working across similar market sectors, along with proven knowledge in wet film processing, general electromechanical and computing skills. They will be self-motivated, a good organiser and able to fit into a small team of supportive, committed professionals. Full training will be provided, however there is an expectation that the successful candidate will demonstrate the required skills and be self-sufficient in a short timeframe. The nature of the role will primarily be remote working on customer sites conducting servicing, fault finding and installation activities. There will also be a requirement to work from our warehouse and workshop to prepare for site visits. Working days/hours and salary to be agreed and dependent on experience. In the first instance, please email an overview of your skills along with supporting information to demonstrate your suitability for the role to jobs@capix.co.uk.

Value what you’re reading here? Then ‘Buy BPI a brew’ to help us continue publication. Donate via www.paypal.me/bpinews 6 December 2021 / January 2022 | BPI News

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NEW FUJI INSTAX IS ANALOGUE & DIGITAL COMBINED Fujifilm has launched what it’s calling a ‘unique’ Instax mini Evo Hybrid instant camera – so claimed because it combines analogue instant camera functionality with the capabilities of digital photo technology. Just missing the lucrative Christmas market with availability in the UK and elsewhere from February 2022, pricing is yet to be confirmed, but we’re told is expected to be close to an already announced €199.99. The new mini Evo offers ten integrated lens modes and ten film effect filter options that when combined deliver up to 100 different combinations, says the manufacturer adding that the device also delivers the highest quality ‘i’ instant prints to date, at 600dpi, when printed directly from the camera. Bluetooth connectivity is further offered this time around, meaning that via a smartphone app, images from the camera can be transferred to a mobile phone. Cleverly, the transaction also

works in reverse, meaning that the camera’s built in printer can be used to print imagery from the smartphone’s camera roll. With a battery life of a modest 100 shots, a 3-inch LCD on the mini Evo itself allows for images to be selected and edited as desired. “The Instax mini Evo is a high end addition designed to give photographers the flexibility to choose an analogue or digital experience,” confirms Fujifilm Europe President Toshi Ida. “Offering 100 ways to capture images and the highest ever Instax print quality, all in a timeless classic design, the mini Evo is a unique companion for chronicling and sharing life’s milestones in an instant.” Announced alongside the camera is a new Stone Gray instant film, which provides what’s claimed is a ‘stylish grey border’ and is likewise available from February. www.fujifilm.co.uk

Lexar’s ‘Gold’ standard for speed The storage media specialist has another new offering for photo retailers and their customers in the new Lexar Professional 1800x SDXC UHS-II card Gold series. With speeds up to 270MB/ sec promised, the pitch here is that the workflow of DSLR or mirrorless camera owners will be dramatically accelerated. The 1800x cards are also claimed to be waterproof, temperature proof, shock proof, vibration proof and X-Ray proof, as well as being backwards compatible with UHS-I devices. Available now, SRP’s are £36.99 for the 64GB version, £64.99 for £128GB and £119.99 for 256GB. www.lexar.com

SAMYANG KEEN ON PREMIUM XEEN Does this bag fit the ‘Bill’? Mirrorless camera and mid sized DSLR owners are being targeted by premium bag manufacturer Billingham with its made-in-England Mini Eventer, which, as well as space for a camera of that ilk, also purports to offer room for an iPad or tablet up to 11-inches in size. The bag, which itself is sized to sit somewhere between the Hadley Small Pro and Hadley Pro 2020 in its maker’s line up, comes with an SP50 shoulder pad, a removable padded insert and a padded divider set for £380 SRP. It’s available in a choice of colours and either canvas and leather or FibreNyte and leather combinations. “For decades the Eventer has been one of our most admired bags,” enthuses the company’s director Harry Billingham. “After listening to feedback from our loyal customers we have created a Mini Eventer with a few customer favourite, practical features added on.” www.billingham.co.uk

The lens specialist, formerly with Intro 2020 and now exclusively distributed in the UK and Ireland via Holdan Ltd, has announced a new XEEN Premium lens range, launching with the XEEN Anamorphic 50mm T2.3, plus the XEEN Meister 35mm T1.3, 50mm T1.3 and 85mm T1.3 lenses – all aimed at the pro video, broadcast and photography sectors. Samyang’s XEEN brand first appeared in 2015; its new optics range covers full frame and larger sensors and is designed for high-end digital cinematography. The XEEN Anamorphic 50mm T2.3 lens is available in PL mount only, while the XEEN Meister lenses will be available in PL mount, Sony E mount and Canon EF mount. Contact sales@holdan.co.uk for more. www.holdan.co.uk

BPI News is your mouthpiece to reach peers in the photo trade, so use it. Send ad bookings & press releases to info@bpinews.co.uk 8 December 2021 / January 2022 | BPI News

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BPI News Product Focus

TRANSCONTINENTA UK OFFERS STRENGTH IN NUMBERS Having added a host of brands during 2021 in Lexar, Bushnell, Desview, Hollyland and Velbon – and with Hahnel, Leofoto and Zhiyun joining for 2022 – Transcontinenta UK continues to strongly support photo specialists

I

t’s been another very busy year at Berkshire based Transcontinenta UK, with the profile of the distributor and its portfolio of brands both on the up. With the latest news being it will act as UK distributor for Hahnel and its Leofoto and Zhiyun brands from January 2022, it’s worth recapping that it has also taken on distribution for familiar names Lexar, Bushnell, Desview, Hollyland and Velbon during 2021, as reported previously in these pages. As if that wasn’t enough for Transcontinenta UK to claim status as a veritable one-stop-shop for photo retailers wanting a broad range of high quality added-value product, the other brands on its distribution slate read like a who’s who of the photography trade. They further include Angelbird, B&W Cases, Cullmann, Godox, Hyper, the Kodak Instant 4P range – along with founding brand partners and perpetual innovators Peak Design and premium lens manufacturer Tamron.

MANY BRANDS, MANY OPPORTUNITIES For sharing in its successes so far, Transcontinenta UK MD Simon Coleman has a message for BPI News to pass on to photo specialists: “Thank you for your support through this year, which

has once again been full of challenges but also many opportunities.” One such opportunity was the resurgent The Photography Show back in September, which enabled the distributor to reach out to end users via its show stand for brands Tamron and

Above: A new smartphone friendly ‘Mobile’ range of accessories from Peak Design sees Transcontinenta expanding its offerings for retailers and customers. Above, right: The Photography Show allowed the distributor to showcase Tamron’s offerings direct to customers, including its popular new lenses for Sony and Fuji mirrorless cameras (bottom, left)

Peak Design. It’s also been proactive in communicating with customers – for example via the hashtag #MyTamronStory and inviting video contributions – more about which can be found at www.tamron.eu/uk/news/mytamronstory/ It’s worth noting that Tamron has recently added to its Sony FE lens line up with the 35-150mm f/2.0-2.8 VXD lens and the new 28-75mm VXD G2 lens, plus its first Fujifilm X series lens has debuted in the 18-300mm Di III-A VC VXD, seeing it hit the ground running. Pro grade camera accessories specialist Peak Design has also introduced new colours and products as well as going ‘Mobile’ with a new range of portable and elegant iPhone cases, mounts, accessories and charging solutions (See video at https://youtu.be/U2YQKSQdMMY), all fitting seamlessly into the environmental credentials that are a huge part of the Peak eco system. “From January we will be adding new brands to our portfolio, with more details to follow, and we will have new Transcontinenta UK team members to introduce to you,” enthuses Simon. “We also look forward to the return of some additional shows in 2022, giving us more opportunities to interact with our customers face to face. In the meantime we wish you a safe and successful Christmas and will be in touch soon with more plans for 2022.” If any of the above brands catch your eye and resemble suitable candidates to add to stock, get in touch with Transcontinenta UK head office direct via sales@transcontinenta.co.uk or call them on 0203 9665947. www.transcontinenta.co.uk

Transcontinenta UK Christmas opening hours: Closing 2pm Dec 24th. Open 10-4pm on Dec 29/30/31st. 10 December 2021 / January 2022 | BPI News

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BPI News: Pandemic Feature

‘WHAT THE PANDEMIC HAS TAUGHT ME…’ As the New Year looms into view, what valuable lessons can we take forward with us from this one; regarding how we do business and interact with each other as a united photo industry?

R

ather than asking the trade for Christmas wishes and New Year hopes this year, we’re asking our contacts to address the biggest issue of our time.

After two years of living with Covid-19, what are the lessons to be learnt – and how can those lessons aid us as the clock ticks forward into 2022?

Robin Whetton, MD, PermaJet Being in the industry for 40 years I have seen many changes: most notably two recessions and the digital imaging revolution. These, along with many other things, we learn to take in our stride as the times change and our industry evolves. Learning to make the changes needed is just one part of being a business owner – and this helps us develop our skills to manage our way through life. The combination of Covid and Brexit has made every business owner in every sector stand up and look at the wider picture more than we have done in previous years. It’s like there is a gale that is blowing one way, then another, and there are no experienced people to look to for advice. The way the world will change over the coming months and years is anyone’s guess, but I have always viewed business as People, Products and Processes. In future, we may have to deal with more things that haven’t yet come to light, things that will change suddenly that we have little if any control over and precious little time to react to. But People, Products and Processes will still always be at the heart of your business.

Craig Bird, Tetenal Marketing Manager What have we learnt over the past two years? In some ways nothing has changed and in other ways, everything has changed. During the numerous lockdowns, Tetenal had to operate on a reduced number of staff but managed to maintain regular communications and service to our customers. The importance of continuing to speak with customers who were going through a tough time, having their stores forced to close, was critical to our thinking. We never wanted any of our customers to feel like we had forgotten them, and I think that has stood us in good stead as we’ve come out the other side in the second half of this year. I think the takeaway message is to never take your customers for granted – something we hoped we could never be accused of anyway – and understand that there are people behind the business who are going through things that we may never know about. The phrase ‘be kind’ has never been more apt.

Thank you to all in the photo industry who took the time to respond during what we realise is traditionally the busiest time of year for retailers, suppliers and manufacturers.

What have we learnt in business from the past 18 months? We must accept that the world of retail and our industry within it is changing at pace.” David Parkinson, Wilkinson Cameras

Charlotte Kemsley, General Manager, Nikon UK The pandemic has put undue levels of pressure throughout the supply chain, but these challenges have been more than offset by the delight as photographers used the slowing down enforced by lockdowns to stop and take in the joy of photography. We’ve seen this through the engagement in our Create your Light campaign, and by photographers’ amplified desire to connect and learn through the Nikon School community, both virtually and on location. Interest and sales of binoculars have jumped as more people spent time in their gardens enjoying nature and bird life in particular. So despite all the economic and business pressures, the silver lining is surely found in that consumer joy; priceless.

Paul Reynolds, General Manager Sigma UK There’s nothing quite like a pandemic to force us into changing how we work. However, we’ve learnt that even through a global crisis people still want to take pictures – and buy camera equipment! Being able to work remotely has proved invaluable and we brought in new systems to allow this early on. We also launched a range of online initiatives at the start of lockdown such as Speak with Sigma and Facebook Live events to maintain communication with our customers and increase interest in our products. We’re all pleased that restrictions are looser than they were at one time and shops are open again, but I’m sure the online way of working is here to stay.

Does your own business’ experience of the pandemic marry with those trade figures we’ve canvassed here? 12 December 2021 / January 2022 | BPI News

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BPI News: Pandemic Feature Colin Jones, CEO, The Societies of Photographers It never ceases to amaze me what a fantastic industry we work in, and it could be said that Covid has only made us all stronger. During the pandemic, I’ve witnessed so many people clubbing together to help each other. Whether it was sharing tips, helping with business and marketing, sharing enquiries, the trade collaborating on marketing opportunities; and the industry as a whole coming together to support each other. We’ve all learnt to adapt to the ‘new normal’, mainly by utilising online resources more than ever before, which has also helped us all reach new audiences. Whilst I believe we’ll see more online opportunities become available as a result, I know photographers are still really looking forward to getting out, shooting with colleagues, networking, learning new skills, and seeing the developments the industry has been working so hard on, whether that be in-store, at events, at camera clubs, in magazines or online; 2022 is looking to be a bumper year for the industry and I’m looking forward to meeting up with everyone.

Not looking back but forward, what will be our future? By talking with our customers and trying to give that extra bit of service, we can hopefully gain profit to stay in business, profit to pay staff, profit to pay rent and profit to pay suppliers.” Alex Falk, Mr Cad

Danny Williams, MD, Swains The last 19 months have been extremely challenging with store closures, coupled with Brexit and shortages of stock. We as a company, like I am sure many others, had to use the government’s furlough program, which added more pressure on the few staff we retained to give the best service possible during this extremely challenging period. The main thing we have learnt during this time is that customers with active web sites and a reasonable following have done extremely well during lockdown. If I was to suggest anything, I would advise any retailer to re-look at their site, making sure they have the facility to sell on line. It’s also important that they try and build up traffic to their site by keeping it updated on a regular basis. Customers can find all images for the product lines we distribute in the Swains Google drive on our home page. I am pleased to announce that all our staff have been back at work since the end of July and, coupled with the launch of our Discover Photography campaign, we have seen sales exceed our best expectation. The future does look good and there is definitely a buzz within our business.

Tracey Fielden, Marketing Director Canon UK Over the last 18 months, photography has continued to play an important role in our lives. Despite the impact the restrictions had on our pro customers, many took the opportunity to invest in their learning and upgrade their kit. Early on, we decided that driving interactions online was key, and we’ve managed to do this through our Live Chat, Test Drive and a variety of seminars – which have only been possible in partnership with the industry. We continue to be impressed by the resilience, determination, and innovation from the trade. Moving forward, we’re keen to remain flexible to the challenges ahead by maintaining our hybrid approach to supporting the industry and our customers.

Theo Georghiades, General Manager, Fujifilm UK Photography is all about connecting with people, nature, wildlife, sports, travel and so much more. So imagine being plunged into a world of lockdown where you have to be tucked away and you can’t capture anything apart from the four walls around you? Like many businesses we had to adapt very quickly and along the way we’ve learnt a lot about the good, the bad and the challenges we face on a daily basis. During 2020, when consumers’ creativity was hampered, we saw many people going back through their photos and bringing them back to life. The photo printing market exploded around the world, which was amazing to see and be a part of. Fast forward to 2021 and the appetite in photography couldn’t be stronger, but the challenges over supply chain, availability of raw materials and cost increases has given us new hurdles to overcome. That said, it’s been great to reconnect with all the people in the industry and consumers who want to get back out there and capture amazing photos.

Gary Sutton, MD, MAC Group Europe In the work environment, with staff working from home, I have learnt that we can still hold meetings, collaborate on projects, and run the business successfully. Our team has coped fantastically and I thank them for this. It was never a question of counting how many hours they were at their laptops; work was being done on time and to a high standard, just not in the normal 9-5 office hours. We will work on a more flexible, hybrid working model going forward. Personally, Covid-19 has proven that my family and their health are the most precious things in the world to me.

If you have anything to add that would aid and encourage your peers, get in touch via info@bpinews.co.uk @bpi_news

BPI News | December 2021 / January 2022 13


BPI News: Pandemic Feature

Gray Levett, Owner, Grays of Westminster What the pandemic has taught me, amongst other things, is that one cannot simply sit and wait for things to improve by themselves, even if it might seem at the time that there is no other solution. 2021 was an exceptionally challenging year; not only did camera retailers have to deal with the consequences of the pandemic, but also with a concatenation of unpredicted misfortunes that would have sorely tested the stoicism of even the most philosophical of dealers. First of all, the knock-on effect of the blaze in the Renesas factory in Japan in October 2020, which produced computer chips for cameras, mobile phones and cars, drastically affected the global supply chain. Then in March 2021, the Suez Canal was blocked for six days after the grounding of Ever Given, one of the largest container ships in the world. This prevented an estimated US$9.6 billion worth of trade. Included in the gridlock was a large shipment of new Nikon equipment. When it eventually reached Europe there were problems at Customs: the new post-Brexit paperwork held up supplies of Nikon equipment reaching camera dealers for at least two months! This series of unfortunate events created a severe bottleneck and a lack of predictability in the supply chain for all camera retailers. Our answer to the challenges we had to face? It was time to go live. Our first live-stream aired with Becky Danese on the 17th March, 2020 with four or five live attendees. We did this week in and week out with a streaming slot of Friday afternoons at 2:15 p.m. That handful of Nikon fans has grown weekly to a live audience of over two hundred, with many more people watching the live-stream after the fact, due to time differences or work commitments. Becky was joined by Konstantin Kochkin, and by December 2020 Google informed us we had over one million views of our You Tube channel and that nearly six million had visited our website during a four week period. Our weekly podcasts and live-streams have given us a whole new perspective of this post-pandemic world. Things do not stay the same and despite the difficulties our solution has given us a worldwide public whom we would otherwise not have reached by other means. Despite the naysayers, Nikon ended the year with the triumphant release of their game-changing flagship mirrorless camera, the Z 9. It broke all our pre-sales records eclipsing both the D3 and the D850 in the number of orders we achieved. The recent announcement by the Nikon Corporation of its plans to construct a new Head Office in a vacant plot of land on the premises of the Oi Plant in Shinagawaku, Tokyo, is a bullish statement of their confidence in the future. So what has the pandemic taught me? Perhaps, this: That in spite of being faced with the random results of a series of unaccountable, unforeseen misfortunes, one should not take a step back, but instead, a step forward.

There’s nothing quite like a pandemic to force us into changing how we work. However, we’ve learnt that even through a global crisis people still want to take pictures – and buy camera equipment!” Paul Reynolds, Sigma

The importance of continuing to speak with customers who were going through a tough time, having their stores forced to close, was critical to our thinking. We never wanted any of them to feel like we had forgotten them.” Craig Bird, Tetenal

Alex Falk, Owner, Mr Cad What a difference 20 months makes. Life in our beloved photographic trade will never be the same. Am I the voice of doom and gloom, or am I the voice of reality of what has happened to our photographic industry, and what will happen? The great personalities of this industry have now retired and let me assure you that we run our business by getting stock from people we know and trust, and who in turn trust us to pay on time. Not looking back but trying to look forward, what will be our future? How do we bring our loyal customers back into our stores and stop them from buying their favourite products via the Internet and from various other multiple sources? By talking with our customers and trying to give that extra bit of service, we hopefully can both gain profit to stay in business, profit to pay staff, profit to pay rent and profit to pay suppliers. We will be celebrating our 60th Anniversary next April so I think we are in it for the long haul!

The photo printing market exploded around the world, which was amazing to see and be a part of. But the challenges over supply chain, availability of raw materials and cost increases has given us new hurdles to overcome.” Theo Georghiades, Fujifilm

David Parkinson, MD Wilkinson Cameras What have we learnt in business from the past 18 months? We must accept that the world of retail and our industry within it is changing at pace. Staying alert, being willing to change and try new markets is essential, whilst still investing in the future of both the virtual and physical world. New faster and more engaging web sites, impeccability serviced by a team of knowledgeable and enthusiastic people who care, in combination with new style stores offering much more of an experience – rather than just a box collection service – is the way I see Wilkinson Cameras thriving in this world of change. Let’s hope we see more stock in 2022 to meet the growing demand for the amazing quality of technology now available.

How is your own business adapting for 2022 to counter the challenges of the pandemic? Let us know via info@bpinews.co.uk 14 December 2021 / January 2022 | BPI News

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BPI News Product Focus

THIS TIME IT’S ‘PERSONAL’ SAYS DPS GROUP & EPSON

Demand for personalised photo gifts showing no signs of slowing. So, as 2022 dawns, make sure you’re ready to fulfil customers’ orders by installing Epson’s wide format 24-inch SC-P7500 and 44-inch SC-P9500 printers

O

ne way for retailers to increase the likelihood of not only repeat custom but also regular, reliable profit is via the provision of personalised photo printing services. So, whether you’re looking to expand your existing set up, replace an old model past its prime, or move into a new area of business, your first port of call should be to contact official Epson re-seller the DPS Group and ask them to supply and install the manufacturer’s wide format, 12-ink SureColor P7500 and P9500 printers. DPS Group MD Maneesh Patel advises seriously considering both workhorse options. “The 7500 and 9500 are brilliant, cost effective replacement printers for the hundreds, maybe thousands of Epson, Canon and HP large format printers already in retailers that are definitely due an upgrade. This Epson duo will improve productivity, provide even higher quality prints and, as they are more efficient than previous generations, save users money.” Both P7500 and P9500 printers boast a solid, proven construction and the flexibility of printing on fine art paper, canvases, photo paper and more. The media the printers deploy – also available direct from the DPS Group – is worth highlighting too: the 12 colour Ultrachrome Pro ink set with K3 technology claims to offer exceptional dynamic range and can be individually replaced if the inks run low, meaning that there’s no more choosing between ink sets. Speed and accuracy is also a hallmark of the Epsons. The machines’ print heads use up to 800 nozzles for each colour, producing accurate dot placement and eliminating misprints, while printing up to 4.3x faster than prior generations.

Epson’s flagship SureColor P7500 and P9500 printers will boost your print and photo gifting options, while the cost of investing in either can be spread over three years if required

A comprehensive ink set can deliver 99% Pantone coverage for increased accuracy when it comes to print

SPREAD THE COST As an extra incentive to install these printers and open up a new revenue stream, why not ease any impact on your cash flow by taking advantage of the tax efficient Photolease scheme? This allows the outlay for your new printer to be spread across three years, avoiding the need to tie up large bundles of your business’ cash in these continuing times of Covid-19 uncertainty. “Why not lease them instead of buying?” Adds Maneesh. “Paying the monthly rentals will be easy after just a handful of prints and canvases are charged for.” Also making sound financial sense is a second scheme in Print & Save, a contract with Epson, facilitated by the DPS Group, which is for businesses able to estimate how much ink they’re going to use over a three-year period. If businesses make that commitment, they get a better price, with extended printer warranty support too. “It’s as straightforward as a phone contract,” Maneesh explains. “A set direct debit goes out every month to Epson, and via its manufacturer’s secure online portal, dealers request ink, maintenance tanks and other supplies up to the contracted value. Plus there is the peace of mind of Epson’s three-year enhanced warranty. It’s for discerning companies and customers and is a very beneficial way to give customers lower prices for ink and supplies, as well as full support and warranty on any new

printers purchased.” Under the Epson Print & Save direct debit scheme the customer merely logs on to a web portal to ask for, for example, five ink sets to be delivered, and Epson will ship them out. Interested parties are strongly advised to get in touch NOW about Epson’s ‘P’ series printers via sales@dpsb.co.uk or by calling 020 8466 7230. www.thedpsgroup.co.uk www.dpsb.co.uk

Epson SC-P7500 & SC-P9500 at a glance: Both wide format printers offer identical class-leading features, including: 12-colour ink set delivers Epson’s widest ever colour gamut with 99% Pantone coverage for increased accuracy Advanced print heads use up to 800 nozzles for each colour High speed & quality are combined, thanks to a μTFP12 print head with 300dpi resolution and 12 channels 4.3-inch touch panel LCD with a range of configuration options Deeper blacks achieved via black enhancement over-coating technology, producing even more striking and dramatic prints Support given for fine art papers, canvases, photo paper and more

Make it ‘personal’ in 2022. Contact the DPS Group about Epson’s ‘P’ series on 020 8466 7230 or email sales@dpsb.co.uk 16 December 2021 / January 2022 | BPI News

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BPI News Review of the Year

2021: THE YEAR IN REVIEW

Blink and you may have missed some important developments that occurred these past 12 months. Fortunately we’ve got your back with this timely reminder…

W

e began 2021 just as we’d left 2020 – under another national lockdown. With vaccines being offered to the general population from the spring, however, there was hope on the horizon that things might just return to something like normal this year. Life and business has certainly felt a lot more like pre-pandemic times since July this year, reinforced by many of us in the trade being able to

finally meet up in person at The Photography Show in September. As we end the year with a new strain of the virus emerging and shoppers being told to ‘mask up’ again – at least this time around it feels we’ve been here before and can apply lessons learnt. Plus, I think, with a lot more empathy. So, without further ado, let’s review the year that was...

The Photography Show, which announced another two-day online-only stopgap event. Likewise seeking to do things differently was Fujifilm UK, which placed its differing Photo Imaging, Electronic Imaging and Optical Devices divisions under the collective umbrella of Fujifilm Imaging Solutions UK. The re-structuring inevitably led to a period of consultation and redundancies, with Theo Georghiades becoming overall General Manager for merged divisions. The same month Nikon announced it was closing two factories in Japan and moving more of its production to Thailand.

APRIL / MAY

FEBRUARY / MARCH The first new BPI News magazine of the year reported that Olympus’ imaging division was starting the year with a new name: OM Digital Solutions Corporation. It would end 2021 with the replacement of Olympus branded product with the related, but less recognisable, ‘OM System’. In the same issue another long familiar name, this time Mitsubishi, announced its exit from the photo printer market, with final hardware shipments scheduled for March 2022 and media shipments due to cease in March 2030. Sony however was sticking around and promised a March 2021 arrival and a £6,500 price tag for a new 50MP Alpha 1 flagship camera. Also with its eyes on March was

This month began with a sense of déjà vu – Jessops was calling in administrators again. By the end of the year it would have almost completely disappeared from the nation’s high streets, with just a literal handful of stores remaining. There was change in the air at London Camera Exchange too, though on a more upbeat note, with the company placed under staff ownership and the announcement of a new LCE store for Bristol. Also opening a new store – its 10th – was Wex Photo Video, suggesting those naysayers who were forecasting the imminent death of the high street during the pandemic were still a little wide of the mark. Having had a successful March virtual event that drew in visitors who hadn’t previously visited its real-life show at the NEC, The Photography Show’s organiser Future suggested that online events were here to stay – though we’re still to hear news of any forthcoming Internet-only event. The same issue Canon finally unveiled its much rumoured and teased new pro-end mirrorless camera body in the EOS R3 was in development. And, no joke, Fujifilm told us it had completed its internal re-structuring as of April 1st, with its House Of Photography flagship store finally re-opening to the public on April 12th.

JUNE The start of the summer saw an awardsfestooned issue of BPI News, with our own delayed trade awards coinciding with the announcement of the winners of the annual TIPA Awards. The same issue we announced BPI News would be the newest publication to join TIPA itself. Other news included the fact that Fuji had set up a new online photo retail brand: myFujifilm. We also heard that The Photography Show was set for a faceto-face return in September, all being well, and Panasonic unveiled a second generation of its Lumix GH5 mirrorless, coinciding with 20 years of the Lumix brand itself (BPI News attended the unveiling of its first ever Lumix compact at its Osaka base in 2001).

Dates for your photo trade diary for 2022: The Societies of Photographers Convention & Trade Show, March 16th to 19th. 18 December 2021 / January 2022 | BPI News

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BPI News Review of the Year promoted to the new CEO of The Societies. Elsewhere Wilkinson Cameras’ Chester store, acquired pre-pandemic and formerly the home of Camera Solutions, was announced to be finally open. The industry mergers and acquisitions continued with the reveal that Lumesca Group had acquired B2B photographic supplier Keyphoto Limited. Those of us with slightly longer memories will recall that the ever-growing Lumesca had previously added The Flash Centre and Elinchrom brand to its portfolio. Distributor Transcontinenta UK revealed that its Tamron brand had developed its first ever lens for Fuji’s X mount cameras; simultaneously the 18-300mm telephoto was also made available for the popular Sony E-mount. Perhaps the month’s biggest news, however, was Nikon taking the wraps off its gorgeous retro-styled Z fc mirrorless; classic looks, yet high-tech features, was the sales pitch here.

We also caught up with distributor Intro 2020 which showcased its extensive photo accessory offerings to the trade. Little did we know it was soon to be acquired and its products placed under the umbrella of Holdan. Getting back to the TIPA Awards for a moment what was interesting this year was that Pentax’s K-3 Mark III was the only traditional DSLR to feature, underlining the much repeated industry observation: ‘the future is mirrorless’.

had taken over distribution for Chinese lighting brand Nanlite – and that young people had apparently spent the pandemic growing their photographic skills! Which augurs well for all of us.

NOVEMBER We reported back on The Photography Show’s return to the NEC and weighed up its successes. Elsewhere we said hello to the Nikon Z 9 and learnt that Olympus was officially a photo brand no more – from now on we were to refer to the ‘OM System’ instead. The Societies confirmed to us that its next Convention and Trade Show, which had missed out on 2021 entirely, would return for March 2022, broadly occupying the springtime calendar slot that ‘TPS’ had once done. Canon’s EOS R3 finally moved out of development and into actuality, while a new fisheye lens from the same manufacturer gave photographers and videographers the chance to move into VR technology using, yes, the likes of the R3. In the same magazine we learnt that dye sub print specialist DNP was offering the trade a new modular minilab system in the DS-Pro1, already proving a hit with retailers and their customers in Europe. And that Swains was supporting retailers and helping them entice custom around Christmas by providing a 16-page ‘Discover Photography’ brochure.

JULY / AUGUST Our annual combined summer special revealed the elder Jones generation of Phil and Juliet were taking a backseat and that son Colin had been

SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER As the clocked ticked forward into September the news finally broke that Intro 2020 had indeed been officially snapped up by Holdan Limited, a division of Midwich Group PLC; while familiar names including Nikon started to mention their plans for The Photography Show, taking place from the 18th through the 21st of the month. After a quiet time of late, Fuji re-emerged with the announcement of a new high-end medium format camera plus lens combination for less than £4,000 in the GFX 50S II and GF35-70mm. There was also a new X series camera in the X-T30 II and several new X series lenses to boot. The EISA Awards were also announced this month – and for the first time for a while the likes of Olympus and Panasonic were nowhere on the list of the judges’ choices. We also learnt that MAC Group Europe

With that recap bringing us up to date, the question we’re all asking ourselves is ‘what’s next for the photo trade?’ Like most things in life at the moment, a large part of the answer depends on circumstances beyond any of our control. But as long as there is passion, positivity and enthusiasm, then half of the battle is already won.

The Photography Show, September 17th to 20th. Keep an eye on bpinews.co.uk for more! NEVER MISS AN ISSUE! Read BPI News online at issuu.com/bpinewsonline

BPI News | December 2021 / January 2022 19


Business Advice

E H T F O TALES D E T C E UNEXP

All I want for Christmas… is some certainty. Does it look like we’re going to get it? With a new Covid-19 variant having emerged and mandatory mask wearing returning for shops and public transportation in England, at the time of writing potentially things are about to get worse again before they get better. So how can businesses plan for the unexpected?

‘B

usiness needs certainty’ has been the oft-repeated mantra since the 2016 Brexit vote and the first emergence of Covid-19, coming up to two years ago. But during these past five years it seems to be very rarely, if ever, that we’ve actually had certainty. Throw in a shrinking camera market and a period of mergers and acquisitions since England opened up again in July and frankly, we’re all exhausted. But, as we head into a just-asuncertain 2022, in the words of the late Michael Winner it’s time to ‘calm down, dear’… and let BPI News act as your balm with some practical advice and a welcome injection of positivity. The good news is that as we go to press we’re hearing reports that, having got wind of possible shortages of supply and insufficient stock to meet demand, consumers have begun their festive shopping early; perhaps given an additional kick start by the annual bargain hunt of Black Friday just gone. Stores were also bringing their final delivery dates for Christmas forward in an attempt to manage expectations.

Interestingly though, business experts are increasingly advising on focusing on delivering an exceptional customer experience instead of pursuing money-losing

new gear are focusing on second-hand sales and photo printing – both of which were resurgent during lockdown and offer a much better profit margin. Indeed, photo

Business experts are increasingly advising on focusing on delivering an exceptional customer experience instead of pursuing money-losing discounts” discounts. Yes, consumers may be lured to spend with you when they’re offered a bargain, but will they return and spend at full price at a later date? Only if you’re coaxing out customer loyalty by offering an extra level of service and engagement they’re not finding elsewhere. That’s long been how premium stores have got away with charging premium prices. And now that cameras are, increasingly, coming with high-end price tags, sprucing up your customer service offering will stand you in good stead. Of course, faced with narrow margins and high overheads, many photo retailers have decided to leave the box shifting to the online warehouses, and rather than pushing

printing has appeared to be ‘lockdown proof ’, with orders having risen during the pandemic as those of us stuck at home finally found the time to design a photo book or order a set of prints we’d long be meaning to. Many customers will have found the process of going through old photos and reliving happy memories a source of solace and comfort during the crisis; photography as an aid to good mental health.

THE ANTIDOTE TO UNCERTAINTY IS DIVERSITY For the retailer the on-going pandemic – the greatest health crisis in a century, which still

Got your own ideas about how the photo industry can counter the challenges arising from the pandemic, 20 December 2021 / January 2022 | BPI News

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Business Advice: Forward Planning Special

feels a way off being resolved – has meant it’s even more important to be fully across every avenue of possible income, and that means every sales platform; bricks and mortar and digital. But sometimes even that hasn’t been enough and there’s been the need to pivot to other sales avenues, with minilab specialist PhotoXport selling facemasks, hand sanitizers and even temperature detecting camera systems during the first wave of cases (revisit our June 2020 edition online: bpinews.co.uk/project/bpi-news-june-2020). While it was city centre shops that have suffered most from reduced footfall during the pandemic, it’s been the ones in market towns that have little immediate competition and a ‘captive’ local audience that have done the best. Shop local campaigns with the message of ‘use it or lose it’ have had a positive impact here, with us all realising that we’re literally the poorer for it if we lose the immediate accessibility and convenience of local shops. That’s worked in the favour of the independent camera shop or mini lab that pre-pandemic might have felt increasingly isolated or overshadowed by the online giants and the race to the bottom on price. At the same time, while it’s not quite killed off the high street, the pandemic has accelerated a move to online shopping in greater numbers than ever and that has no doubt proved habit forming. Why

Many customers will have found the process of going through old photos and reliving happy memories a source of solace and comfort during the crisis; photography as an aid to good mental health” brave the sleet and snow and parking charges at this time of year when we can stay in the warm and have that nice man in his white van come to us? Meaning we can all spend more time online ordering more stuff. Capturing that online audience has been a key focus of specialist retailers and manufacturers alike over the past couple of years, with product unboxing videos and live streams all vying for consumer’s eyeballs and pockets. Looking to ‘inspire’ your customers to visit your store – whether physical or virtual – is key. Don’t have your own YouTube channel or Instagram page? Now’s the time to set one up and what’s more it’s free to do so. ‘Free’ itself is going to continue to be another way of hooking and reeling in customers as we move into 2022 – with, for those selling online, the offer of free delivery removing some of the alternative advantages of going to an actual store, paying for the product and walking out, over a virtual one. Surveys have consistently found this is a more effective lure than slashing costs on the products

themselves. That said, with postal pricing having increased at ever shorter and more regular intervals during the pandemic – and posting to the EU now additionally a customs form completing headache – you’ll want to make sure this sort of promotion is a viable one before implementing it. A time-limited promotion is the way to go so as not to too adversely affect your bottom line. Local trade is important trade – with word of mouth still one of the best sales tools of all. So keep up those seasonal window displays and promotions; customers will be actively looking for some normalcy in the chaos, after all, particularly if the latest Omicron variant turns into another governmental omnishambles. The best advice of all is to keep on keeping on; when we put this section of the magazine to bed this time last year, talk of vaccines for Covid-19 was still just that – talk. So it’s worth remembering how far we’ve come in the space of a year, even if the news around us does all feel a little bit too familiar as we press the ‘print’ button on this issue.

or care to share what’s working for you (without giving away trade secrets)? Then do get in touch direct via info@bpinews.co.uk @bpi_news

BPI News | December 2021 / January 2022 21


News

TRAVEL MORE ‘KM’ WITH AGFA PHOTO The Agfa Photo brand has returned in the shape of two compact cameras intended as dash cams for your customers’ cars: the KM600 (up to Full HD video resolution) and KM800 (up to 4K video resolution). The cameras feature the likes of a G-sensor, which isolates videos of impacts or accidents when they occur thus providing irrefutable proof in the event of a dispute; parking monitoring, which starts recording if a tremor or impact is felt when the vehicle is parked; plus loop recording, which replaces older videos with new ones. In each case recorded video footage is saved to a microSD card. www.agfaphoto.com

Britain’s least Instagramfriendly locations named by Wex Not content with announcing a new store for Newcastle, Wex Photo Video has been back in touch with its suggestions for photographers of, for a change, not the most ‘Instagram-able’ locations, but rather the least. According to the retailer’s own research, some of the places least likely to find themselves immortalised on the social media platform are Middlesbrough Steel Works; (below) West Croydon train station (right); Maid Marion Car Park, Nottingham; Churchill Square Car Park, Brighton; and Drakelow Power Station, Burton-on-Trent. Wex’s pitch is that with the right equipment and a bit of know-how (both of which are of course its stock-in-trade) anywhere – even these more visually challenged

‘Buttery smooth’ budget lens

Chinese manufacturer and wide aperture lens specialist Zhong Yi Optics has launched what it describes as a budget alternative to the legendary Leica Summilux-M in the Mitakon Speedmaster 90mm f/1.5 portrait lens. The new optic with a medium telephoto angle of view is available in Leica M, Canon RF, Sony FE and Nikon Z mounts and is described as offering ‘buttery smooth bokeh’ (example shown) to portrait photographers. This is in part due to its 9-bladed round iris design, with the lens construction comprising 9 elements in 6 groups. Its maker also claims great results for night photography, thanks to that f/1.5 fast aperture. Retail price is quoted by the company as between $599 and $649 depending on lens mount, with the ability to find out more via sales@zyoptics.net https://zyoptics.net/

locations – can be photographed to a standard that will have any Instagram follower hitting that ‘like’ button. “The great thing about Instagram is how accessible it makes photography,” enthuses Wex’s Marketing Director Paul Wareham. “We’re seeing more and more people take an interest in capturing good shots – they want to understand how to use an image to tell a story and they want to share their pictures with the world. Our goal is to encourage photographers of all skill levels to keep learning, trying new things and pushing boundaries to take an excellent picture.” www.wexphotovideo.com

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