As many photographers are aware, this weekend, PMA Australia is being held at the Exhibition Centre in Darling Harbour, Sydney.
We went yesterday. I hadn’t visited PMA since the Brisbane show in 2008, and before that the 2006 show in Sydney, which was then called Photo Imaging World.
There was a lot happening at the show. As well as all the usual product and service displays, there were talks, numerous photographic exhibitions, and the judging of the APPAs (Australian Professional Photography Awards).
We arrived a little after 10am, when the show opened.
On the gear front, I didn’t look at much, as I am not in the market for anything. However, I did look at a few Canon L-series lenses.
I took the opportunity to look at the Canon EF 800mm f/5.6L IS USM, which was about one of the only super-teles I had not seen or used.
Afterwards I had a play with the Canon TS-E 17mm f/4L. A friend of mine owns this lens, and I had used it once, but we were chasing light and I didn’t have much time to play with the lens, as I was more interested in getting the shot. It’s a lens I would find useful for my interior and exterior photography, but it’s definitely in the ‘want’ category rather than the ‘need’ category.
I also took the opportunity to look again at the Canon EF 200mm f/2L IS USM, which I first inspected at PMA 2008 in Brisbane. It’s a superb lens, but again, not a need, and at $6K or so, it’s good to not need it.
Lastly, I looked at the new, and not-yet-available Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II USM. While its predecessor is unquestionably a stunning lens, on par with its 300mm cousin, what floored me the most was the weight — or the lack thereof.
The original 400/2.8L IS weighs 5,370g, which is too much for hand-holdability. The mark II weighs an incredible 3,850g, which is a significant reduction in weight and for me, makes it quite hand-holdable. It’s similar to the 500/4 in weight, but the objective element is closer to the camera, so the rig is not as noticeably front-heavy.
One thing I did buy on the day was a Think Tank Hydrophobia 70-200 Rain Cover. We happened across the L&P stand and when I saw this, I seized it. For a long time I have been needing a splash guard for my seascape photography. I have taken a few hits from big splashes and waves in my time, and have even lost a camera to the power of the ocean. Thus, I needed adequate protection for my gear. The rain cover is an excellent unit, and will accommodate a 70-200mm lens. While I don’t use mine for seascaping, it’s good to have the capability.
One of the events we wanted to attend was the judging of the APPAs. During an Easter weekend in the Hunter Valley this year, we met Canberra-based landscape photographer Chris Morrison and his wife, and had planned to meet up with them at PMA. Chris had several images in the APPAs, and to his and our delight, one of his images won a gold award. There was a lot of judging taking place, and some very good images on display. Unfortunately with three judging booths and a rapid pace, there is too much happening to absorb in a single session.
Throughout the day, I met up with a few people I know, and ran into a few other familiar faces I also took the opportunity to meet William Long, who is an active campaigner for photographic freedom and photographers’ rights.
At 2pm we attended a talk by Darran Leal on travel photography. Darran runs a company specialising in photographic tours, and the company is the only licensed travel agency in Australia which designs and operates photographic tours. We’re considering taking one of his tours, as he travels to destinations most people would never see, let alone photograph, and the tours are designed with photography in mind rather than tourism.
Later in the day I also took the opportunity to chat to Ken Duncan and see how things are going with his rally against the bureaucratic rules and laws eroding people’s rights to photograph in iconic Australian locations such as Uluru, Sydney Harbour and Bondi Beach. Last August, Ken held a public rally in Campbell’s Cove to raise awareness of the issue. Ken told me that there has been some traction, and that positive legislative changes are close at hand. After speaking with Ken, we headed to the Arts Freedom Australia stand and picked up a couple of “I’m a photographer, not a criminal” tee-shirts. We spent a while chatting to one of the AFA reps about issues and experiences.
All in all, it was a full day with lots happening. While I looked at a few items I’m not planning to purchase (and as an aside, it’s a very good position in which to be, when gear is not the limiting factor in one’s photography), there was more value to be found in talks, exhibitions, the judging of the APPAs and meeting and greeting. I did come home with a much-needed item that had been on my list for a while, as well as making a contribution to an organisation whose aim is to protect my photographic freedoms.