The title should have read, “A Festival, not an Exposition” instead. Because only after having that in mind, one would understand the idea behind this show. I found that there were three things one might look for when told that there is such an event going on - something to “see”, something to “snap” and something to “listen” to. The festival this year offered all three but compared to yesteryears, the proportion had certainly changed.
At least they got the venue right. The KL Photography Festival is back at the Mid Valley Convention Centre will definitely bring in plenty of punters - it was at StarXpo in 2016 and Publika last year. But they had competition since at the same time, a coffee and tea expo was going on right next door ...
When I say something to see, I meant new gears on display for us eagerly sample and should there be a good offer, might buy. There would also be something to “snap”, as there would be models and shows on stage for those with long lenses to capture with the organiser providing lights and competition for those photographers to participate in. Used to be a highlight of the festival.
And lastly, there would be plenty of forums to attend. From photographers showcasing their work and technique to vendors showing off their new products.
Let's go through this one by one. Previously, the show floor was a buzz with activities - take this event in 2012 or 2014 for example. Many vendors showing their products, clamouring for customers. I remember being exposed to drone photography when DJI came to town back then. I also got hold of the Spyder kit and SpyderCube, which I still use today from the exhibition in 2012. Unfortunately, this year there were mainly third party vendors at the show. I saw a few specialist kiosk from Canon, Epson, 7Artisan and Sigma. But the rest were just mainly camera shops opening a pop-up store displaying mix of business they have at their main shops. Even Nikon with their newly launched Nikon Z, decided to have a store at the Megamall main foyer, going at full tilt akin to giving the festival a snub.
I also find it curious that Huawei could have launched their - it was happening on the Saturday during the festival - new flagship the Huawei Mate 20 at the festivals. After all, it is a camera-centric phone, and launching it the festival would have a great coup for the organiser. But it was not to be.
Canon on the hand had some presence with the new EOS R making the rounds. Otherwise, the vendors mainly were displaying third party lenses, tripods and compact cameras. You don’t really need to come to a show to see those. There ware plenty of those cameras for you to try walking around the malls.
While there might not be many things to see, the festival made up with plenty of forums and photography programs. Certainly there would be plenty of models to snap as there would be competitions running through the weekend. Almost half the floor space was dedicated to photo exhibits and the forums would be running all day. But unfortunately, at least 80% of them would be running in Mandarin. This would be a turn off for visitors like myself would can’t speak the lingo!
7 years back, I got to sample new products - my first taste of Sony cameras were from here - but clearly not much this time. Forget about getting the premium companies to come over. I was hoping to at least sample Fuji’s medium format range. But what I got was a Fuji vendor showing me compact cameras and not even having the XT-3, their latest launch ready to sample.
On the whole, this is not an event for camera buyers but more for camera enthusiast wanting to connect and see works on display. Almost no new gear were shown here exclusively which was a shame. I felt that now that the organiser had returned to a better venue, much more could be done to satisfy the punters .... I should have got the clue when the main sponsor for the event was Opposed rather than any big traditional camera makers.