The Photography Show NEC Birmingham 2021

The Photography Show was back at NEC Birmingham for 2021 after a 2 year break due to Covid 19.

The set up was a little different to previous years, starting with a Covid status check before entering the building. Inside, the aisles were a lot wider and there was a lot more space given over to catering. In years past visitors have had to sit against the wall on the outer edge of the exhibition halls to consume any food and drinks they have brought with them.

We started on the outer stands and, once we had completed the circuit, we then worked our way down each row of exhibitors. This is a normal routine for us.

It was our great pleasure to see Paul Sanders (of ‘Still’ fame) at the Fotospeed stand where we stocked up on some of their wonderful papers. Paul was due to give a talk on the Fuji stand later in the afternoon so it was a given that we would be attending that.

We called at the 1901 stand where Mark took the opportunity to order a customised neck strap for his Olympus camera. Mark found it a genuine pleasure to meet Mark Lewis on this stand; he was very knowledgeable and helpful.

Next on our visit list was the ‘Analogue’ area where it was Colin’s turn to spend some money! Something he has been interested in trying is Pyro 510, and he managed to speak with James Lane who makes the chemistry in the UK for this film developer. He also had a chance to meet Max of Intrepid Cameras (we hope to plan a visit to their workshops later this year). On Colin’s purchase list too was some more 5×4 black and white film, this time something different from his ‘safe’ standards. He purchased some Ilford Ortho 80 film after some persuasion from Mark and the young lady on the Ilford stand.

Mark has been interested in upgrading his printer, but sadly there were no outstanding deals to be had this year, so a small setback there. Mark comments, ‘There have been struggles with production and supply. Wex photographic, a big UK company, had a deal on an Epson P700 giving a saving of £50. However I was concerned about after-sales service as they do not have an agent local to me.’

Mark adds ‘A lady from Billingham Bags was sharing the Wex stand. She had some of their products there but not their full stock. Like many companies they have been hit by Covid, hence the shared stand. This saddened me as they sell great award-winning products. It reminded me that we are ‘not out of the woods yet’.

After a break for lunch we resumed our tour around the stands. We spoke with the owner of Canvas Bay regarding the supply of frames and print mounts. Hopefully we will soon be putting some business their way.

Later we made our way back to the Fuji stand to hear the Paul Sanders talk. This was thoroughly enjoyed by all who attended.

What was our overall impression of the show this year?

It was certainly a different experience to previous years. There were obvious absences which were mainly European and Far Eastern exhibitors, and this can be put down to current regulations regarding Covid and foreign travel in their relevant countries. Yes, there was more space between aisles and more room for catering – this, we would say, was a big plus. Trying to cram too much into too little space spoils the experience for all concerned.

Will we be attending the Photography Show in 2022? Once again we must say that we are as yet undecided. Watch this space!

Update from Mark 2.11.21 – Thoughts on my new camera strap and printer

I am very pleased with my camera strap that I ordered from 1901. It is now fulfilling its function by providing me with a stylised individualised strap for my Olympus camera. I am delighted with this product so far. It is early days, but the quality tells me it may possibly outlast me if looked after appropriately.


Yes, I finally have my printer! I was hesitant about buying another Epson as my old Epson printer seemed to have acquired an ‘attitude’. It had a distinct unwillingness to operate effectively and consistently! However, the second level range won me over. They stock printers for standard family use and then the second level is for serious/professional photographers. This grade becomes more expensive depending on the size of paper it prints onto. The A2 printer does not so much need a corner as a room to operate in. Price correlates to capacity. My purchase, the P700, is at the lowest end of this superior grade. It is an A3+ printer which is smaller than the A2. The quality of the print is absolutely brilliant and it inspires confidence as it seems to be built to a higher level than the base models. It does need a different quality of ink and paper. The printer has 10 individual cartridges which is becoming an industry standard now. Each cartridge costs around £28, but then ‘you get what you pay for’.

To date, I am still on a learning curve with my new printer. For example, the controls are quite different from the previous model I owned. It feels more like a mobile phone because it has a touch screen. In making my decision I felt there were 3 levels of purchase: what you can get away with, what you need, and what you would like. My Epson fits the second category and I am pleased to find there is a depth and a richness in the printing which is very good.

I have only one criticism of the printer so far – it is a dust and finger-print magnet which is very noticeable because it has a glossy black surface. To alleviate this problem I have purchased a commercially available printer cover. So far, so good!

Colin and Mark


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