It was a fairly late decision to attend The Photography Show at the Birmingham NEC this year, mostly due to it now being a 1100 mile round trip.

While some of my friends who live around 100 miles from the NEC failed to make it due to snow, we had a fairly uneventful 9 1/2 hour drive down through Glencoe, around Glasgow, over the border and down the M6 where some of the driving would not have been out of place in the first lap of a BTCC race.

Having used the FujiFilm X series cameras for the last few years I was keen to try the new X-H1. Although it is aimed mostly at movie makers when used with the new MKX 18-55 and 50-135 cinema lenses the X-H1 felt much more ‘snappy’ for still images than the previous X series models with fast autofocus, very responsive shutter button and a lag-free electronic viewfinder. A year on from its debut, the medium format GFX 50S continued to draw crowds to the FujiFilm stand and it remains a very impressive package, check out the image below made at ISO 12800.

Sadly the same cannot be said for the Hasselblad X1D. From an aesthetic point of view this is my favourite camera by a mile but I noticed no differences at all from when I tried it at the show last year, it still takes an age for the focus to lock on, there is still a lengthy viewfinder blackout after taking a photo and the white balance still seems very haphazard. Despite Hasselblad’s claim that ‘one of the many strengths of the X1D is its ever-evolving firmware’, it still seems to be a very frustrating camera to actually make images with. The X1D was available at the show with a whopping £2000 discount so draw your own conclusions…..

Chinese newcomer Venus Optics displayed their growing range of Laowa lenses. I was particularly keen to try their 15mm f/2 FE Zero-D manual focus lens for Sony A7 full frame cameras, it features high build quality with a nice feel to the focus and aperture rings and close-to-zero distortion. An electronic connection to transmit EXIF information to the camera, as the Zeiss Loxia lenses do, would be the icing on the cake. Interestingly I noticed a number of ‘Zeiss people’ looking at the lenses on the Laowa stand.

The show itself has become rather stale with most of the big stands in the same places as previous years and, discounting the Live and Super Stages, lots of the same speakers. However, it remains the best place to try new cameras and lenses and to catch up with friends and associates from the trade.

Here is a selection of images from The Photography Show 2018;