Saving It For Photokina

DSCF8392This year we get another Photokina – the Köln-based photographic extravaganza that showcases all the new equipment and programs. While other shows in the US and Japan are important, traditionally this is the Big One for the trade. When I was engaged in shop work I was never selected to go as part of a company delegation and I don’t suppose that there is much of a chance of it now…but I can watch the press reports and probably gain as much insight into the thing as most of the visitors.

For instance – right now the lights are burning long and hot in all the major oriental camera makers’ development sections as they try to get the Photokina equipment ready – the September date is drawing near. Of course the bulk of the planning is done and the goods are on their way to Germany with teams of display erection staff planning how to set up the stalls. It is more than just card tables with blankets thrown over them these days.

No, the basic strategies are decided, but I am willing to bet that 25% or more of the gear is not working…or at least not working well. They are probably frantically de-bugging even as the advertising pamphlets are rolling off the presses, and it will be a desperate race between the techs and the sales team to get the demo cameras and lenses on show on time.

There is always the fall-back of exhibiting a new item under glass. When the new camera is under the prying eye but away from the poking finger, you can act as if it is real, even if the body is carved out of soap with a leatherette covering. The staff are instructed to smile, nod, and look inscrutable while making peace signs and “click, click” sounds.

If the new camera is at least screwed together, rather than glued, and can be picked up, the fact that it is inert can be excused by leaving out the battery. Or telling people that it is in “beta-testing”. No-one actually knows what this means but they’ll all nod sagely.

If worst comes to worst, the staff are instructed to stick Hello Kitty decals on the stock and wear traditional dress. Kimonos and inscrutability can deflect most criticism.

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