A couple of months ago a friend mentioned that the world’s largest photography fair would take place in Cologne this fall. I checked plane and hotel prices, and it turned out to be very cheap. I decided that it would be a fun thing to go there, since I have become obsessed with photography and camera equipment in the past few months. Now I’m at the airport about to go home after 2.5 days in Cologne. Below some notes to self for future similar trips:
- I got to look at and try every camera and lens from basically every manufacturer.
- I got to listen to an inspiring talk by Julien Mauve, one of my favorite photographers.
- I travelled low budget, and stayed in a hostel that for once was super-clean and fresh, with a nice owner and free coffee. Yay!
Un-nice things (aka "learnings")
- I wasted too much time here. One night would have been enough. It would have been possible for me to see all that was interesting about Photokina in one day.
- For some reason I had the impression that I would be able to buy stuff at all the different booths. I had planned to go around shopping at Photokina. It was impossible to buy anything whatsoever at this fair. Which made it about 30% as fun and interesting as I had hoped for.
- I often tell myself that I should go on a solo trip so that I get more time to myself. Time to think, to work etc. What I find every time though, is that I am like 20% as productive when traveling as when I am at home. When traveling there is the constant struggle against noisy environments, a hard time finding a nice place to sit down and work, bad wi-fi, distractions in form of practical concerns such as where to eat my next meal etc. I should stop fooling myself that I would get better ideas or become more productive when traveling.
I learned that photos at 20 megapixel and larger, taken with a sharp lens of course, tends to become very nice prints, even large ones like 1.5 x 1 meters. Prints of photos from 16 megapixel cameras tend to look not so nice when blown up beyond A3. I learned that a high resolution full-frame camera, like Sony A7R II at 42 megapixels, can produce photos of such high quality that you can make a print 3x2 meters and it still looks really good. These things can be handy to know. I learned this by looking at lots of prints with accompanying camera/lens info hanging in the different camera manufacturer’s booths.
This photo by Julien Mauve was shot with a 42 MP camera (I think). It looks great despite being as tall as me (around 1.8 meters).
Julien Mauve talking about his inspiring photography projects. I think it seems like he has a nice life. Travelling around with his girlfriend doing photo projects and getting paid for it. I wouldn't complain :)
Why buy inferior stuff at high prices?
I really don't get why people buy small sensor mirrorless cameras like the Panasonic GX8 in the picture, or the Fujifilm X-T2. For less money you can buy a Sony A7 and get a full frame camera with more resolution, better colour and more light-sensitivity.
In the same way I cannot understand people who buy full frame DSLRs. They pay a lot more money than if they would have bought a Sony A7 or A7ii, and they get the same image quality, but with a camera that is much bigger and heavier. I felt bad for all the people at the fair carrying around their huge Nikon D810s and Canon 5Ds. Poor necks and backs. I guess the brands of Nikon and Canon, as well as the concept of the DSLR itself, is still so strong and embedded in popular culture, that it draws people in. Hell, I was close to buying one myself before I realized there are alternatives which are cheaper, smaller, and lighter. But the numbers are clear, DSLRs are dying. But the big dragons seem too slow to react to the entry of mirrorless full frame from Sony. The whole thing reminds me of the arrival of the iPhone, and how it took like 6-7 years for Nokia and Sony Ericsson to react. Too late.
I passed by a shop and felt that I had to buy one of the unicorns with pink hair. I have started a collection of cuddly toy animals, but I only buy ones that are really, really cute. Not many qualify, but this one did!