Well, Canon and Olympus not having bothered to turn up did have some benefits for the visitors to the show:
Bjorn asked above whether camera trade shows have a future. I'd say a definite "Yes" though they would certainly be diminished if the big players fail to turn up.
But, to take an unrepresentative sample of one incident, not turning up may also backfire on the manufacturers concerned. While I was waiting in the queue at one major retailer's stand a gentleman in front of me asked for a Canon 5D Mark II which was duly produced. But as soon as he started opening the box he was told quite curtly that the cameras weren't there for demonstration, only for sale. Just "Day One" of the show and I definitely got the impression that one retailer at least was not at all happy that Canon had effectively tried to offload camera demonstration duties by not turning up. Olympus presumably suffered likewise and I do find it strange that both companies should take such an attitude when they had new models they could have shown.
But turning up isn't everything. I took the opportunity to visit the Sony stand and they had gone all out, reserving lots of floor space and even providing a few circus skills (hoops, juggling etc) for the edification and photografication
of the punters. Not up to Cirque du Soleil standards, of course, but full marks for effort. But it all went a bit awry as I spent ten minutes or so enjoying an intimate discussion about various aspects of the NEX-5 camera with an attractive lady demonstrator and neither of us managed to find out how to change the ISO setting. Gordon has already gone into that aspect of the NEX firmware at depth and it only took me a moment to find the answer once I got home and looked at the manual but it did leave me wondering if Sony should have spent less on the entertainment budget and more on staff training!
But back to Bjorn's question. I thoroughly enjoyed the show and I'm sure that enjoyment will translate into sales in due time. I saw some very nice Epson printers, a gorgeous EIZO monitor and even got hands on with a Leica M9 (demonstrated, I might add, at another booth occupied by the same retailer who was refusing to demonstrate Canon's products!). I also saved myself from future wasted time by getting hands on with some other kit that was on my wish list but which I can now forget about. But in addition to checking out loads of hardware that probably is never on display outside the major city centres there was also an opportunity to learn more about products and services which don't normally make the headlines, such as the British registered charity The Disabled Photographers' Society
. Yes, that was a gratuitous plug I just gave them but we have had occasional enquires from photographers with various disabilities so it's nice to at least have a UK link to share in future.