Castle Cameras Spring Shoot
Tuesday 16th May saw the return of the annual Castle Cameras Spring Shoot in Dorset (which it seems has been running for years; I must have been living under a rock or something). Boasting a decent selection of traders, portrait demonstrations, falconry demonstrations and a host of talks and seminars from some of the pros in the industry, the recipe certainly sounded promising.
The event took place at the Hamworthy Club in Poole and was of a decent size; obviously not the size of the Camera Show at the NEC, but that was to be expected especially when it was free to get in! The trade stands took over the main show hall, and definitely made use of all the available space. It did feel a little cramped in places; made worse by a large number of people attending, something I was not expecting at a mid-week event.
Castle Cameras, the hosts of the show, commanded the prime spot right inside the door and had a huge stock of lenses and other accessories for sale, with decent show discounts. There were definitely many bargains to be had there! Sigma, while not actually selling anything, had a great display of all their new lenses, including the recently released 100-400mm Contemporary and the 135mm f/1.8 Art. Both lenses looked and felt great, so definitely ones to consider in the future. Unfortunately, they had no news on the eagerly awaited 14mm f/1.8, although they anticipated a release sometime in the next few months, but we will all just have to wait and see on that one.
While Manfrotto had a large selection of tripods and bags on display, it was Sirui who grabbed a lot of people’s attention with a great choice of carbon fibre travel tripods. While not the cheapest, the quality looked very high, especially the gorgeous looking gimbal mount.
The two big names were there, with Nikon and Canon showing off their latest wares, with some very, very big glass on display. It was great to finally get up close and personal with the 300mm f/2.8 and the mighty 600mm f/4. While they are wonderful lenses to behold and use, I am not sure the budget will quite stretch to either of those two just yet.
Sony had a large stand, with portrait photography demonstrations throughout the day using one of their A7rII cameras. While they had a good choice of cameras and lenses on display, including some of their new, bigger focal length glass, they didn’t have the new A9 to play with which was a shame; I was looking forward to getting my hands on one for the first time.
The surprise of the trade area though was Panasonic. They had the biggest stand, dead in the centre of the hall, and it certainly stood out. They had a large choice of cameras suiting all styles and budgets, including the new GH5. I had a good opportunity to get hands on with that and was very impressed. While the EVF was a little off putting at times (there was still a bit of lag and light flicker interference), being able to see the exposure right in the viewfinder is a nice feature. It’s of a decent size, moulding nicely to the hand, and feels incredibly light. The lack of longer lenses will put off some people, but for the more casual-photographer it seemed like a great choice. The video output was equally impressive, with the test unit I was using hooked up to an Atomos Ninja external recorder, capable of outputting full 4K/60p in V-LOG. For the price, I don’t think anything comes close in terms of video quality.
Outside of the trade hall, there were seminars and talks from some top names in the industry including Danny Green, showcasing some stunning wildlife work around Norway and the Arctic. John Clements also came along, giving some tips and ticks on lighting. For those with a taste for something faster paced, South Wilts Falconry brought along some very well behaved birds for some flying demonstrations. They certainly proved a challenge to capture, especially in the pouring rain!
All in all, for a small, local show, it was a great day out with some nice bits of kit to get hands on with. The guest speakers were great, although next time I’d recommend some air conditioning in the conference room!! I look forward to seeing what 2018 brings.