Cologne and Photokina
Now we’re in Germany, and the first stop is Cologne. The big attraction here is generally the cathedral, which is insanely large and dominates the downtown area right next to the river where we tie up.
This trip, however, held a bonus for me. Photokina, the largest camera trade show in the world, is held here every 2 years, and this is the week. The concierge on the ship got me all the information, and off Gail and i went.
Most trade shows are closed to the public, but Photokina is not. There is a clear distinction between trade and public events, though, with the largest manufacturers having dedicated areas to entertain their big buyers and cut deals. The hoi polloi are not welcome there, but I hardly felt excluded–the show is hundreds of thousands of square feet of exhibits of all the camera equipment porn an enthusiast could want.
There is enough eye candy to keep anyone involved and interested for hours. Many of the companies set up a place with models and lights where people take photos, although I have never understood it. If someone else has a concept, hires, dresses and makes up a model, sets up the lighting professionally, why would I want to take a photo and claim it showed my skills? What do the people huddling around furiously clicking get out of this? It’s beyond my understanding.
One booth had something dirrerent–a mime, covered in gold paint, who was, in Gail’s word, “adorable”. He brought people onstage and posed with them so their friends could get fun photos.
The Canon booth was the largest, taking up an entire exhibition hall. But I shoot Nikon and Sony cameras, so who cares?
Sony makes some incredible cameras, including my “little” camera I carry in my pocket. I wanted to see the latest iteration, the RX 100 III. It has some great features, but not enough to justify trading in the worn and battered one that is with me most of the time–all the photos in this post came from that camera.
Nikon has failed to update the D300, the large model I use for serious stuff. When it came out, it was one of the most popular models they had ever produced, and now 6 years later the photo world is crying out for an update and refresh. Canon just came out with what would be the perfect example, if only all my Nikon lenses would fit. But they won’t. Somehow this situation will have to change or Nikon is going to lose a significant market sector. I hoped to find some news, or a realistic substitute, at the Nikon booth, but they let me down once again.
On the other hand, they had the director of one of their advertising promo videos onstage to talk about the making of the film, and he was fascinating.
It’s a film about 3 great photographers and how deeply involved with their work they are–this is not a job to them, it’s a passion. The film was intriguing, and we enjoyed seeing that the director travels with his wife and 14 month old daughter, combining home and work.
Along the side of the stage, Nikon has mounted cameras with the very long, and expensive, lenses that the pro sports shooters use. People got to try them, and pretend that they were in the big leagues.
After we finished looking, we headed back to the cathedral area. Because it was Saturday, there were many weddings happening, which are on an assembly line–each group forms outside the cathedral, are let in for a few minutes for the ceremony and then are ushered quickly out so the next group can have its turn. There is a large cheer for each exiting couple, from their friends and from the hundreds of people waiting in line for the tour.
Gail and I had lunch across the street in a lovely outdoor terrace full of tourists and locals who came for the fancy ice cream concoctions. I had a bowl of pesto pasta that filled me up for 2 days, Gail had a savory crepe that she wisely did not finish. Nobody goes hungry here.
Back on board, it was time for the drill. Not a lifeboat drill, because there aren’t any. But then if the ship sinks, the sun deck will still be above water, because the river isn’t very deep. We all had to clamber up there in our silly looking life vests, but it’s always a great photo op.
The ship offered an excursion at night, to go bar hopping and try the local beer. That wasn’t for me, so we stayed in and played bridge in the lounge. There is inevitably some yokel who needs to walk by and yell “7 No Trump!”, as if that were clever. And that life on the river.