Digital Imaging Reporter’s State of the Industry 2018

Digital Imaging Reporter’s State of the Industry 2018

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Millennials Are on Everyone’s Minds. As we planned our State of the Industry 2018 report, we really didn’t know what themes would evolve. Our e-mail to imaging industry leaders asked them for their impressions of the industry as it stands, and where we’re headed in the future.

We all know the industry is certainly in a very dynamic state. Consumers continue to take more images than the year before. Moreover, the appreciation of photography has evolved from a hobby to a daily pastime.

My own experience extends to a vacation I recently took to Iceland with two families that included four millennials. They all had their smartphones at the ready (I, of course, had “real” cameras). Each stop along the way was recorded as still images as well as “stories” for their Instagram posts. I noticed two things. They spent most of their vacation thinking about how they were going to create their stories for their friends. And due to the first thought, they spent an awful lot of time looking down at their phones rather than up at the spectacular sights we were witnessing.

I realized that throughout their vacation experience, they were living through their pictures—something we’ve all been doing for generations. But were they planning on printing their stories? Their thoughts were less about preserving memories for the future and more about telling their stories for the next 24 hours.

Millennials are clearly on the minds of the contributors to this issue. Fujifilm’s Manny Almeida remarks, “We have learned that the experience is more important than the journey. That the delight is worthwhile and that millennials will return for more, once they are comfortable with the experience.”

Canon’s Kazuto Ogawa offers, “Millennials and generation Z crave two feelings: autonomy and versatility.” And HiTi’s Charlie Lin says, “With the millennial mindset in the market today, everything must be quicker, faster and now, including photo printing.”

We are in an interesting phase of our industry. New products are driving growth, with mirrorless models answering the call for smaller cameras that still produce high-quality images. DSLRs are continuing to drive the prosumer market, and smartphones own the “camera in our pocket” space and are always there.

“Consumers can now choose from an exploding array of digital cameras, smartphones, pet cameras, AI-based wearable cameras, action cams, drones, 180º and 360º cameras, instant print cameras and camera glasses,” notes Hans Hartman. It is clear there are growing imaging choices that will continue to drive our industry.

The challenge is for the imaging industry to “own” the future as well as the mindshare of the coming generation of consumers. One way is to depend on our younger employees to lead the way. “This generational difference is causing great consternation with retailers. The challenge is not whether there is still passion for our industry but rather how do we learn the language of today’s consumer quickly enough? The answer is to trust younger employees more to help market the business,” says PRO’s Mark Leonard.

We also need to recognize that the new array of image capture products should be sold in photo stores where consumers can appreciate the true experience not available on the Internet.

“According to MarketWatch,” notes Humaneye’s Jim Malcolm, “The VR industry is forecast to exceed $33 billion by 2022. As an industry, it’s our responsibility to provide visual creators the innovative and immersive tools they need to bring their stories to life in this newly established medium.”

Moreover, AEE’s Mike Kahn offers, “Camera resellers will see an incremental boost in sales by positioning the drone as a high-end still camera as one of its many unlimited creative features, thus addressing the specialized needs of their customers.”

In addition, the printing story is also incredibly positive. “The photo output market is still big business,” says Keypoint Intelligence/InfoTrends’ Ed Lee, estimating that more than 38 billion traditional prints were produced worldwide in 2017. And according to Don Franz, “What if we consider prints that are being used in photo cards, photo books and those being made from social media sites? Our analysis of the U.S. photo output market indicates that these are all growing, with a 2016–2018 CAGR of 12.9%, 5.1% and 26.2%, respectively.”

Additionally, the new markets we need to reach out to are not confined to millennials and gen Z. “People care as much about their photos today as they have for the past 50 years. The only difference is the volume of photos being taken, rather than their intrinsic value,” says APPO’s Cathi Nelson. “In fact, there is exploding interest in archiving and family history that translates to opportunities for the photo industry.”

Further, Vivid-Pix’s Rick Voight offers, “Considering the trillions of printed family photos waiting to be digitized and that there are even more documents that help tell the genealogy/family history story, the opportunity for scanning, digitizing, organizing and related services is enormous!”

Our industry is certainly poised for growth, given the next generation has been weaned on smartphones from an early age, thus gaining an appreciation of the inherent joy of photography. But the winners will be those companies and retailers that realize the world continues to evolve and today’s customers are faced with more imaging choices than ever before.

“General interest in photography is higher than ever, thanks to smartphones,” says Aki Murata of Olympus “As long as manufacturers attract the people who want to express themselves better with photography, the camera market, specifically for mid- to high-end products, will continue to grow.”

Thanks to all of the contributors on the following pages for offering their perspectives for our State of the Industry 2018 report.—Jerry Grossman

Digital Imaging Reporter’s State of the Industry 2018

MANUFACTURERS

Mike Kahn, Chief Marketing Officer, AEE Technology
Growth of the Drone Industry

The drone/UAV industry continues robust growth in 2018. Collectively, industry pundits are forecasting nearly double-digit growth once again in 2019. It is high time for the photo industry to move drones into the mainstay of camera/video offerings.

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Mike Kahn

BI Intelligence, Business Insider’s premium research service, expects sales of drones to surpass $12 billion in 2021. A December 2017 study by McKinsey & Company projects by 2026 “commercial drones—both corporate and consumer applications—will have an annual impact of $31 to $46 billion on the country’s gross domestic product.”

Drones continue to shed their mysterious shrouds and are becoming integral and mainstream tools of a wide-range of businesses and governmental organizations. There are several verticals that require special solution selling and insights outside of the photo channel expertise. At the same time, the increased demands of hobbyists and aerial photographers need to be addressed.

Many associate drones only with high-end video recording when in fact they can do so much more. Camera resellers will see an incremental boost in sales by positioning the drone as a high-end still camera as one of its many unlimited creative features, thus addressing the specialized needs of their customers.

AEE, through its partnership with Qualcomm Technologies, continues to develop drones that are safer and easier to fly using advanced technologies like smart obstacle avoidance for all classes of customers’ drone-flying enjoyment. AEE’s Mach 1 utilizes the current generation of Qualcomm Flight, while the next generation will address smart obstacle avoidance. This will allow the photographer to concentrate on capturing images rather than manning the drone itself. aeeusa.com

Kazuto Ogawa, President and Chief Operating Officer, Canon USA, Inc.
Technology to Inspire Consumers’ Visual Storytelling

Canon is home to visionaries; it is a place where we all work collectively to help cultivate creative talent in the communities we serve. We all have an innate passion for storytelling; it is one that will never recede. As such, there will never be such a thing as a mature market when it comes to the business of creating.

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Kazuto Ogawa

Consumer habits are changing but the fundamental principles are not. Manufacturers today find themselves presented with the unique, but noble, challenge to work hard to find new opportunities and avenues that will keep storytelling alive and well for the next generation of visionaries.

At Canon, our business is a mirrored reflection of the talent in our industry. We create technology for the people, technology that will push our consumers to create, collaborate and envision the world in new ways. From incorporating voice into our consumer printers, automated intelligence in our new speedlite flash, machine learning in our enterprise workflow solutions, and more, we are constantly challenging ourselves at Canon to develop imaging solutions that test the traditional confines of optics.

Millennials and generation Z crave two feelings: autonomy and versatility. In 2019, we plan to continue to challenge ourselves to create solutions that will do just that for our customers. We will provide them with the tools they need to successfully create and collaborate without restricting their productivity.

Canon has an innate passion for storytelling—one that will not waver as the industry evolves. It is our hope and intent to project the same creativity and forward-thinking approach we embody as we create technology into the world around us. usa.canon.com

Manny Almeida, President, Imaging Division, Fujifilm North American Corporation
Where Consumer Delight = Retailer Delight

We have all heard that “photo printing is down.” But we have also learned that when you offer the right concepts, consumers will love them.

Fujifilm’s Wonder Photo Shop has now been open for two years. At this single photo store in the middle of Manhattan, we still hear: WOW…SO COOL… I DIDN’T KNOW I COULD DO THAT.

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Manny Almeida

Wonder Photo Shop delights consumers every day. While offering a warm, relaxed environment where consumers can be creative, it takes the simplest of approaches to printing their pictures.

Fujifilm has been in the U.S. since 1965, yet we are still surprised that consumers are amazed by what they can actually do with their pictures. Millennials grew up digital natives. They do not flinch at using their phones as a camera. In fact, they flinch more at using their phones to make a phone call. They live in an acronym world of CGI, AI and AR. Yet they are surprised and delighted by an instax picture being ejected from a camera seconds after they push the button. Is it really a picture? For millennials, it is just another form of social communication.

So what has Fujifilm learned in the past two years? We have learned that the experience is more important than the journey. That the delight is worthwhile and that millennials will return for more, once they are comfortable with the experience.

How does it all translate into Retailer Delight? Printing is not dead! Consumers want to print, but they want the journey to be an experience they can relate to. The glossy 4×6 print was not a choice. Give them a choice, make it fun, provide a clean, warm environment and they will enjoy the journey. fujifilmusa.com

Paul Meyhoefer, Vice President, Marketing & Sales, JK Imaging Ltd.
VR 360º Content Will Be a Major Area of Growth

From the inception of virtual reality technology, general consumers faced technical challenges alongside a lack of accessibility and understanding of how to incorporate 360⁰ content into their photography. This reality was largely due to the necessary investment in VR headsets and external editing stitching software to fully create and comprehend the immersive

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Paul Meyhoefer

experience of virtual reality. The costly investment and leap into uncharted technology deterred general consumers from adopting the technology and named gamers the chief consumers of VR at that time.

Fast-forward a few years to the present. The industry now is witnessing both hardware and software technology advancements, making VR content more readily accessible to the consumer sector. Vital features of 360º cameras now include internal stitching as well as image stabilization. Moreover, we are seeing a shift to enhanced features such as cinematic editing and real-time social media posting as the technology evolves. 360º cameras’ “overcapture” capabilities enable consumers to capture immersive 360º footage in a single take and easily edit in postproduction.

Empowering consumers to orient their audiences and pan around the frame as they see fit makes the 360º camera an exciting tool for creatives and general consumers alike to create and share content in social spaces.

With VR and 360º camera technology now more readily available to general consumers for adoption and easy integration into the social media experience, we anticipate 360º VR content to be a major area of growth not only in the consumer sector but also among countless vertical markets in years to come. kodakpixpro.com

Jay Vannatter, Executive Vice President, Nikon Inc.
Blending the Spirit of Innovation with Nikon’s Heritage

This year marks the beginning of an exciting new century of innovation for Nikon. Our industry has been waiting for the next leap in optical performance, and a next-generation system that enables customers to capture stunning images and video content.

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Jay Vannatter

To that end, we will continue to surpass customer expectations with the release of the full-frame mirrorless Nikon Z system, as well as the continued development of groundbreaking DSLR solutions, like the amazing D850.

As the industry stabilizes and millions of people using social media discover a passion for photography, demand for high-quality tools that blend performance, reliability and connectivity is rising. This demand mirrors Nikon’s recent shift in strategy, as we refocus our efforts on delivering more advanced cameras and lenses for this new generation of image makers, as well as our vast installed base of passionate enthusiast and professional users.

Our objective is to blend this spirit of innovation with Nikon’s heritage of optical expertise and uncompromising design philosophy to create high value-added products for all levels of photographers and content creators. Whether it’s a DSLR or full-frame mirrorless camera, these tools will attract a new generation of customers to tell more profound, engaging stories.

It’s an incredibly exciting time to be discovering photography. This also creates an opportunity to attract new customers, while simultaneously driving the innovation that keeps loyal customers delighted.

Today more than ever, our industry is dependent on the consistent development of new and innovative technologies that drive customers to make purchases. But while the customer is evolving, many of their needs remain the same; it’s still true that the retailers that position themselves to communicate those new technologies to the end user through education, engagement and content are going to win customers and continue to grow their business. nikonusa.com

Aki Murata, Vice President, Sales & Marketing, Olympus America Inc.
Mirrorless Is Taking a Hold in the U.S.

In the past, photographers in North America had a tendency to choose products and technologies they were familiar with. They were typically not convinced by new concepts, like mirrorless, as quickly as photographers in other parts of the world. The current market demand substantiates this is no longer the case.

Aki-Murata
Aki Murata

Photographers are seeing the advantages of mirrorless cameras over traditional DSLRs—lighter, more compact, faster and better for capturing video. There are now fewer technical reasons why a DSLR might be considered over mirrorless. Photographers understand it is more important to have a camera that fits their needs than a mirror system.

Olympus recently introduced the OM-D E-M1 Mark II with an incredibly fast autofocus system supported by an extremely powerful image stabilization system. We also announced three F1.2 series PRO lenses that are among the most versatile, high-performing prime lenses ever manufactured.

The OM-D E-M1 Mark II is the perfect companion for adventurous situations and shooting fast-moving subjects. The F1.2 series PRO lenses are ideal for creating images with beautiful “feathered-bokeh” without sacrificing resolution.

The barrier of “brand switch” is decreasing, and general interest in photography is higher than ever, thanks to smartphones. As long as manufacturers attract the people who want to express themselves better with photography, the camera market, specifically for mid- to high-end products, will continue to grow.

Our vision is to provide the best compact, lightweight system, including a superb lens lineup, for photographers of all types. Olympus will celebrate our 100-year anniversary next year. The market will continue to witness our innovations in 2019 and beyond in an effort to maintain the high level of interest in photography. olympusamerica.com

Darin Pepple, Group Marketing Manager, Panasonic Consumer Electronics Company
Engage Consumers in a Meaningful, Personalized, Responsive Way

It should come as no surprise that the growth of online marketplaces and the evolution of new e-commerce-only brands have dynamically changed retail. The pace of change in marketing tactics alone is so fast it’s even baffling to seasoned marketing

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Darin Pepple

veterans. But for brick-and-mortar retail, change can still bring opportunity if you know where to look. Through the noise of digital marketing, more than ever it’s proving consumers will reward brands and local retailers for being personalized and responsive in their on- and offline interactions.

LUMIX grew out of a new generation of photo and video creators through the use of social listening and then delivering on those desires through product and firmware development. Imagined by Creators and Built by LUMIX are not just words. They are the cornerstone of the LUMIX brand DNA, and it’s why social tags like #LumixLounge were born online.

Today LUMIX asks #WhereLumixGoes and #HeyLumix, which are less passive and more engaging. And our online support now actively monitors social channels not just to solve support issues but also to understand what consumers are thinking. Also, LUMIX is increasingly engaged with retailer social events away from the sales floor that engage consumers on their terms.

This consumer touch and try, combined with active brand listen-and-learn moments, should not be limited to manufacturers. It’s a core strength often overlooked by regional brick-and-mortar retailers. Popular new economy online-only retailers seem to have evolved from brick-and-mortar retailer DNA. Therefore, they engage in a meaningful, personalized and responsive way, and dedicated customers will follow. panasonic.com

Kaz Eguchi, President, Ricoh Imaging Americas
Dedicated to Providing Unique Value

With the photographic market continuing to decline as the imaging capabilities of smartphones improve, Ricoh today is laser-focused on meeting the needs of photographers and serious photo enthusiasts. This segment of the market appreciates the unique combination of high image quality; rugged, weatherproof body construction; and powerful capabilities that have long been the distinguishing characteristics of PENTAX-brand cameras.

PENTAX has an extremely loyal customer base. Moreover, we are pleased to report that we are seeing a whole new generation of photographers discovering the value of PENTAX DSLRs, lenses and accessories.

Our new PENTAX K-1 Mark II camera, like the K-1 model before it, has been incredibly well received. We are especially proud of the achievements of our engineering team in developing the K-1 line as well as the new generation of PENTAX’s acclaimed Star-series lenses.

To quote a recent reviewer of our new 50mm f/1.4 Star-series lens: “We really found no faults with the Pentax-D FA★50mm F1.4 . . . In fact, it may be the best 50mm lens we have ever used.”

While the photographic market continues to challenge, Ricoh is committed to serving those markets and customer segments where we believe we can provide the most unique value. ricohimaging.com

Rick Booth, Marketing Director, Sigma Corporation of America
Helping to Create Trends in Imaging

Sigma Corporation is really in the business of expanding creative opportunities for everybody. This includes professional, emerging and advanced enthusiast photographers, filmmakers, cinematographers—and of course the knowledgeable dealers who serve them.

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Rick Booth

Sigma’s dynamic offerings are aimed at motivating shooters to engage with photography at a higher level. Outstanding optical performance is more important than ever in the imaging industry. Users of super-resolution DSLRs, 8K video cameras and pro-caliber full-frame mirrorless systems demand and deserve interchangeable lenses that exceed their expectations. And Sigma’s Art, Sports, Contemporary and Cine lens lines deliver.

Recently, we unveiled nine Sigma Art prime lenses in the Sony full-frame E mount. They include the critically acclaimed 105mm f/1.4 DG HSM, known as the “Bokeh Master,” and the superb Sigma 14–24 f/2.8 DG HSM Art in Canon, Nikon and Sigma mounts.

We also announced an extensive range of 10 Sigma Cine Prime and Zoom lenses, including seven FF Primes: from the Sigma 14mm T2 to the 135mm T2. We also offer the ingenious Sigma MC-11 mount converter that lets shooters use Canon EF or Sigma SA lenses on Sony E-mount bodies.

In addition, Sigma’s exclusive Mount Conversion service is available for new Sigma lenses. It allows your best customers to protect their investment by seamlessly switching their present lenses to another camera mount.

As for the future: Sigma will continue to innovate in optical designs for established and emerging imaging platforms. For example, the 14–24mm f/2.8 Art lens offers an option to modify the front hood for Virtual Reality imaging arrays.

To put it succinctly, Sigma doesn’t just follow the latest trends, such as the current upsurge in full-frame mirrorless offerings—we help create them, establish them and expand them. That benefits everybody, from beginners to professionals, and especially photo specialty dealers. sigmaphoto.com

Neal Manowitz, Vice President, Imaging Solutions, Sony Electronics
Developing Innovation and Community

The appetite for producing high-quality imaging content has never been stronger. As an industry, we must continue to evolve in order to meet these intense demands.

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Neal Manowitz

At Sony, we have been developing two key principles: innovation and community.

Innovation is core to every Sony imaging product. We have consistently shattered all preexisting barriers of what a camera can be expected to do. And we will continue to push the limits. Some notable examples include our full-frame a9 camera, which is making waves in the professional world thanks to features like 20-fps completely silent shooting, its incredible 693-point AF system and more.

Additionally, the acclaimed a7R III and a7 III full-frame models offer excellent still image and video capabilities; incredible focusing performance, including Eye AF capability; plus the added versatility of multiple card slots and long-lasting battery life. Each of these cameras takes full advantage of our growing assortment of 29 native full-frame E-mount lenses.

Community is an equally important concept. Community in the sense of truly connecting with our customers. We make it a point to create an open loop between our products, our brand and all of today’s creators that are shooting Sony. This builds the foundation for a strong long-term partnership between brand and creator. It also allows us to develop extremely strong community ties.

These two principles can be easily applied to our larger industry. Let’s all make a point to get out there more, to innovate and to deliver on not only what our customers have asked for but also what they never knew to ask us for. This is how we will continue to succeed in these exciting times. sony.com

Gregg Maniaci, President and CEO, Tamron USA
Photography Continues to Capture Consumers’ Excitement

I first heard the Japanese term “sunset industry” more than 20 years ago. Yet the imaging industry continues to evolve. It has seen changes and challenges over the years; manual focus to auto, film to digital, “rise” of the cameraphone. But with each of these changes and challenges, photography—as it was once known—endures. It continues to capture the curiosity and excitement of consumers worldwide.

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Gregg Maniaci

As an independent lens manufacturer for multiple industries, Tamron has the unique opportunity to work within these changes. We see how the technology affects multiple aspects of different industries. For imaging, technology advances on the sensor side increase the need for higher control of light. Moreover, that is something Tamron was prepared for when we relaunched the Superior Performance lineup in 2015.

CIPA statistics show that as of July, year-to-date lens unit sales to the U.S. for interchangeable cameras increased a little over 6%. APS-C is relatively flat and full-frame increased nearly 17%.

I expect that over the next few years, more consumers will be drawn back to imaging products designed for imaging first rather than a feature on their phone. Today’s cameras are producing better-than-film resolution, sensors are performing near miracles in low light, the line between “photography” and “cinema” has forever been blurred—and all the while the body sizes are shrinking.

That trend was the drive behind one of our newest introductions, the Tamron 28–75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD for Sony FE-series cameras. It is a lens that was designed from the ground up to be the perfect match for a compact, full-frame mirrorless camera with a high-density MP sensor.

Personally, I think it is an exciting time in our industry, more like a “sunny afternoon” rather than a “sunset.” tamron-usa.com

RESEARCH

Ed Lee, Group Director, Consumer and Professional Imaging, Keypoint Intelligence/InfoTrends
Our Best Photos Deserve to Be Printed

The photo output market has gone through major changes since digital cameras replaced film photography. Film had to be developed and printed in order to see the photos. So there was a minimum ratio of one-to-one with prints. Thanks to smartphones, we are now taking more photos than ever before. However, only a fraction of them will ever make their way onto a print or photo product (more than 1.2 trillion images were captured globally by cameras and smartphones in 2017).

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Ed Lee

Even so, the photo output market is still big business. Keypoint Intelligence/InfoTrends estimates that more than 38 billion traditional prints were produced worldwide in 2017. The market is expected to stay relatively flat, declining to 36 billion prints by 2020.

The personalized photo products market is slowing down after several years of growth. We estimate that fewer than 1.4 billion units of photo merchandise products (including photo books, cards, calendars and wall décor items) were produced worldwide in 2017. Moreover, that number will grow to just over 1.4 billion units by 2020.

Beyond photo books, the biggest growth opportunities are in the wall décor segment, with products such as canvas and metal prints.

Given how carefree some people are with their photos, and how easy it is to lose or delete a digital photo, there is a great danger that the most important memories shot today will never be seen by future generations. Traditional prints and photo products are tangible memories that stand the test of time—an important message to communicate to today’s consumers. keypointintelligence.com

Bill McCurry, Chairman, McCurry Associates
The Best Year of the Century

We’re poised for the best year this century. Many retailers are having great years despite the media predicting Retail Armageddon. Best Buy, given up for dead by some analysts, has been very lucrative for their long-term shareholders. The PRO buying group just paid out their largest patronage dividend (profit sharing) ever.

Bill McCurry

Manufacturers are having success. The triumphant Nikon D850 is celebrated worldwide. The Fujifilm X series proves cheap prices are not the answer to retailer or manufacturer profits. Sony announced they had “overtaken and held the No. 1 overall position in the U.S. full-frame interchangeable-lens camera market.” These successes should point the way for new product introductions at profitable prices for manufacturers and dealers.

With industry-wide support, the Imaging Alliance is making a voice for using “real cameras” and the “Power of the Print” to educate consumers on the real joy of photography.

Sony’s successful assault on the market leaders is a sign of strength for our industry. The leaders won’t give up their position without a fight, including offering consumer promotions and courting retailer support. As Sony repudiated the model of “manufacturer as a competitor to their retailers,” their successes continued. Is Sony management the only ones who see the risk of being beholden to an unrestrained Amazon?

Photo specialty retailers (and yes, even Best Buy) are doubling down on their investment to keep photo aficionados engaged. They are offering classes, events and tours that drive passion for photography as well as the sales of equipment. Scarcity and properly allocated shipments of new products can feed the sales cycle toward retailers who will build imaging customers for the future and continued purchases.

If cool heads and great products prevail, 2019 could be our best year of the century. mccurryassoc.com

Don Franz, Publisher, Photo Imaging News;             Ron Leach, Senior Editor, Photo Imaging News
The Growing Photo Output Market

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Don Franz

We all hear that the number of prints being made from images continues to decline. But is this really the case? Certainly the number of single prints from all camera types combined is falling (2016–2018 CAGR for DSCs, 10.1%; film, 12.9%; cameraphones, +7.6%). But what if we consider prints that are being used inphoto cards, photo books and those being made from social media sites?

Our analysis of the U.S. photo output market indicates that these are all growing, with a 2016–2018 CAGR of 12.9%, 5.1% and 26.2%, respectively.

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Ron Leach

This year, we attended IPI Member Network’s IPIC convention.While we have watched sadly as some independent photo retailers close their doors, often through lack of succession, there were many new attendees at this conference.

Those retailers who are able to transition their business models, and add appropriate services and equipment, are enjoying the growth opportunities offered by digital. Seeing the enthusiasm of the attendees was very encouraging.

By educating “consumer” customers that photo products can be valuable in also promoting their company activities, they and other retailers are helping to promote photo output. Industry suppliers have talked about creating an educational campaign to inform people about the almost unlimited uses of photos, but by working with all retailers, suppliers obtain a real chance of getting this message to the right audience. photo-news.com

Hans Hartman, President, Suite 48 Analytics; Chair, Visual 1st
Transformation: Long Tails of Cameras, Visual Formats & Monetization Options

It’s not a new phenomenon: consumers want—and are getting—more finite choices for buying exactly the types of products they want. Specialty retail stores are making a comeback. SMBs with niche products can get nationwide (and beyond) distribution through Amazon. Furthermore, big brand vendors keep adding collections of targeted brands to address a proliferation of use cases and consumer segments.

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Hans Hartman

The same diversification phenomenon is happening in our industry. After the days of dual camera categories (DSLRs, compact cameras), with smartphones added in, consumers now have a long tail of choices as to how to capture photos or videos.

As we reported in our The Long Tail of Cameras study, consumers can now choose from an exploding array of digital cameras, smartphones, pet cameras, AI-based wearable cameras, action cams, drones, 180º/360º cameras, instant print cameras and camera glasses.

What type of visuals do they capture and share? It’s no longer either photos or videos but a long tail of anything in between. They range from animated GIFs and cinemagraphs to Apple Live Photos and Instagram Boomerangs.

Not surprisingly, along with these long tails of cameras and visual formats, we’re seeing a diversification of how entrepreneurs are monetizing their users’ visual engagement. Selling (accessories to) cameras and print products were the traditional photo monetization models.

Today, innovative entrepreneurs not only sell apps but app subscriptions, advertising, brand sponsorships, photo enhancement services, photo rights enforcement services and crowd-sourced stock photos. We will address these in the “Emerging Monetizing Models for the Photo and Video Ecosystem” panel at our Visual 1st conference.

The long tails of visual capture devices, formats and monetization options are fundamentally changing our industry. Now is the time to assess if your products and services are diversified enough to leverage these transformative consumer imaging trends. suite48a.com

OUTPUT

Cliff Reeves, Director of Sales, DNP Imagingcomm America
Bullish on the Future of Photography

Today, the quality of photo prints that retailers provide is better than ever. Customers have many options, receive their photos quickly and get a great value. However, the technology and business model shifts in our industry have been massive. Moreover, it’s critical retailers understand and adapt to these changes to maximize future profitability.

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Cliff Reeves

At DNP, we see the highest level of growth in the event and entertainment industry with nontraditional photographers. These businesses are drawn to dye-sublimation printers because they are easy to operate and have a long shelf life. In addition, they produce superior-quality prints with predictable costs.

The dynamics of the photography industry have changed drastically. A few years ago, we pointed to the staggering number of images (over one trillion) being captured each year with the proliferation of mobile devices. Now, we turn our attention to the more than 60 million photos uploaded daily to Instagram.

At DNP, we are very bullish about the future of photography. We understand the dynamics of the market have changed and will continue to do so—even at a faster rate. But we have also seen our customers adapt and develop their businesses to adjust to new trends.

Photo professionals know they can continue to count on us to provide the industry’s highest quality dye-sublimation print technology and support them in managing the continuing evolution of the photo industry. dnpphoto.com

Charlie Lin, Vice President, Global Sales, HiTi Digital
Answering the Call for Faster, Flexible Print Solutions

Though mobile displays have seemingly reduced photo printing inthe past few years, at the same time they have boosted the numbers of pictures available to print. Almost everyone has a phone to snap and record their daily lives and memories.

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Charlie Lin

With the millennial mindset in the market today, everything must be quicker, faster and now, including photo printing. Consumers today don’t want to wait in line or wait days for their online orders to arrive.

HiTi Digital has just the technologies for the market today. Our X610 and X620 Tandem Printer series prints at 1.5 seconds per 4×6-inch photo. Furthermore, the printers are compact enough to fit in a storefront or a kiosk. With almost zero machine prep time, photo labs can print and ship their orders with a simple mouse click.

Another trend we see in the market today is that size matters, even more so now than ever before. With tech giants Google and Facebook rolling out platforms for 360º photography, these photos can no longer be viewed easily on screens. However, HiTi X610 and X620 Tandem Printers are the perfect panorama solution to provide fast, professional-quality photos of any length up to 56 inches.

We are excited with the latest advancements in the imaging world and pleased to offer the market our newest solutions at competitive costs. hiti.com

James Chan, Director, Marketing, Visual and Imaging Systems Division, Mitsubishi Electric U.S.
Broadening Product Offerings & Operational Efficiency

The market for printers and media for regular printed photo output has been very challenging. More so in the past year, when the race to the bottom among printer manufacturers intensified. Some were more aggressive than others, in hopes of favorably shifting shares toward themselves. But in the end, the market normalized beyond the initial sales dip or spike.

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James Chan

Each brand inevitable settled and maintains its own original market position. This is a sign of a mature market.

As a printer manufacturer whose brand is committed to quality and reliability, Mitsubishi Electric builds durable printers that print beautiful photos for many years. This explains our favorable position in the market of top integrators worldwide. This is true whether they are major photo booth manufacturers or large-scale photo service providers in the event, amusement and tourism verticals.

Excelling in helping integrators broaden their product offerings without burdening their operational efficiency is our key to success as a dye-sub printer manufacturer. Being the only Japanese brand in the U.S. market to offer a media “rewind” function in its line of dye-sub printers, we position our printers to be super easy to manage and roll out in terms of operational efficiency.

By enabling the systems of large-scale integrators to print multiple sizes from a single media type without waste, we became their printer of choice. We enable them to offer an efficient way to run a photo business without limiting their product offerings. With Mitsubishi printers, integrators and system providers can offer multiple print sizes, ranging from 2×6 all the way to 6×21 panoramic prints, from a single system using just a single SKU of media. This means less inventory-management headaches, reduced inventory levels and lower operational costs to maximize their profits. mitsubishielectric.com

Glen Hart, Vice President, Imaging Sales, Noritsu America Corporation
Print the Whole Story!

When I first started working in the photo industry, 3½x5-inch prints dominated. I remember when 4×6-inch prints were first offered and many people thought they would not catch on. It did not take long for 4×6 prints to topple the smaller size prints as the most popular print size.

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Glen Hart

Over the years, I’ve heard many labs state that they are in the 4×6 print business. Today, I don’t think anyone would still make that claim. The more successful labs have transitioned to higher margin products for some time now, to replace the revenue lost from the decline in 4×6 printing.

Today’s successful photo labs are well rounded and offer a wider variety of products to their customers than ever before. As labs continue to transition and look for profitable ways to meet the needs of their customers, we encourage them to print the whole story. For major events in people’s lives, offering a wider variety of products and services helps them to tell and share their story in a more meaningful, impactful and profitable way. When that happens, everybody wins!

There will always be a need for printed photos and photo books around the major events in people’s lives. At Noritsu, we are committed to assisting our customers by offering the best photo printing systems in the world. By offering to print the whole story for consumers, it helps to make those major events in their lives that much more special! noritsu.com

TOOLS & ACCESSORIES

Jim Malcolm, General Manager, North America, Humaneyes Technologies
A Flourishing Visual Communication Industry

The progressive evolution of consumer behavior for capturing a moment in time to sharing life over time is relentlessly challenging the established norms of our industry. Some recent trends have rendered newly created business models worthless.

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Jim Malcolm

Others have stripped profit from long-standing go-to-market strategies. Meanwhile, a visual communication industry is flourishing around us, built on a foundation of imaging and accelerated through technology.

Just a few short years ago, who would have guessed a new No. 1 full-frame player would be crowned? Or that growth in ASPs would restore profitability to select segments? There is no doubt that the evolving visual communication industry is a beacon to attract new consumers and enterprises.

Virtual, augmented and mixed realities are all rooted in visual communications. Consumers don’t don a VR headset to read or type a reply; they jump into an immersive environment, experiencing firsthand complex emotional stories delivered through pictures, video, sights and sounds.

Innovative products like the upcoming Vuze XR dual camera lead creators of all types through the creation of basic 360º pictures to immersive 3D-180º VR experiences that realize their full potential when experienced in a VR headset.

Fueling this newly established industry are the world’s brightest minds, building hardware, networks, computing solutions and of course, content creation. According to MarketWatch, the VR industry is forecast to exceed $33 billion by 2022. As an industry, it’s our responsibility to provide visual creators the innovative and immersive tools they need to bring their stories to life in this newly established medium. humaneyes.com

Marco Vidali, President, Vitec Imaging Distribution, U.S.
Creators Will Continue to Push Innovation

Creators are driving the overall imaging industry with theirpassion for capturing, creating and telling stories from every corner of the world with transparency that we’ve never seen before.

There will be a continued rise in the penetration of CSCs, where smaller cameras no longer mean sacrificing quality. And Vitec has solidified our core with the portability and stability in our Manfrotto Befree Advanced and Befree GT.

Marco-Vidali
Marco Vidali

Joby is helping young entrants into the market by creating GorillaPods to accommodate not only smartphones and cameras but also additional accessories. These include lighting and recording devices.

With 400 hours’ worth of video uploaded to YouTube every minute, video will continue to expand with independent content creators leading the way. Again, cameras with more features in smaller packages eliminate the need for larger rigs. Instead, smaller form factors such as Manfrotto Befree Live and Nitrotech video heads and kits allow content creators to be nimble and efficient without sacrificing quality.

Carrying solutions will continue to evolve as creators have the desire to be at the ready with their gear at a moment’s notice. Bags such as the Lowepro Freeline address these needs with superior camera protection and flexibility to carry personal items.

As the barriers to entry continue to fall, creators will push the boundaries, both physical and creative, and in turn continue to drive us, as manufacturers, to adapt. Vitec Imaging Solutions has and will continue to adjust our thinking and innovation based on the ever-changing needs of creators, no matter where their story takes them and how they want to share it. vitecgroup.com

David Vaskevitch, Chief Executive Officer, Mylio
Changing the Way the World Remembers

It is the best of times, it is the worst of times . . . it is the age of wonders. People are taking more pictures than ever: we all know that. In the Snapchat world those pictures all disappear. However, in the real world, memories are more important than ever. Memories are the true opportunity for the digital imaging industry.

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David Vaskevitch

In the previous century, the average person took 5,000 pictures over the course of a lifetime. Today, with a modern smartphone, the same person can take 5,000 pictures on a single trip or at a key event. This means that libraries with hundreds of thousands of images, gathered over the years, will be the norm, not the exception.

At Mylio, our mission for the last six years has been Changing the Way the World Remembers. As I write this, Samsung is about to start shipping the Galaxy Note 9 with 512GB of storage. That means I can have tens of thousands of pictures and documents with me—at the tips of my fingers—always, wherever I am.

Two years ago, for the first time, documents “scanned” with phones overtook those scanned with scanners. Are these pictures or are they just another type of memory? Again, this is all part of our opportunity.

Focusing on memories—professional and personal—is a revolution. We ask everybody in the industry to join us in helping make that revolution happen. The revolution places digital imaging in the centers of the lives of billions of people at home and at work. That is a big enough opportunity for all of us for a very long time. Let’s do it. mylio.com

Jeff Seidel, Director, Sales & Service, OmegaBrandess Distribution
Welcoming & Accommodating All Forms of Photography

Being in photo retail these days is not for the faint of heart. It requires the energy to be focused on the changes occurring in the imaging industry 24/7. Otherwise dealers get left behind quickly.

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Jeff Seidel

You also need to be ever-present in your customers’ minds via a vibrant web presence and engagement with the community through classes and workshops. We need to welcome all forms of photography as an opportunity to grow our business, no matter what imaging device the customer uses. To that end, we recommend dealers stock a variety of products that cater to the smartphone shooter as well as unique products that target the prosumer and professional photographer.

OmegaBrandess has always endeavored to provide a wide range of products that do just this. For the smartphone photographer we have the recently announced Hyperdrive 7.5w wireless charger USB-C hub. The device not only charges the phone wirelessly but also provides a fast, 8-port USB-C hub for all those photographers using MacBooks with limited input options.

For the serious amateurs/professionals out there, we offer the Cactus line of radio transceivers and flashes. This line, exclusively distributed by OmegaBrandess, is the only one to offer cross-brand TTL. This allows users to mix various camera brands and flashes while maintaining TTL & HSS, all with one trigger system. This is a benefit to both the consumer’s wallet and the dealer’s inventory costs!

These are just a few examples that illustrate the OmegaBrandess effort to provide dealers with the latest gear that appeals to a wide demographic. A key to success for us all. omegabrandess.com

Paul J. Zakrzewski, Director, Marketing, Sirui USA
Evolving and Expanding with Imaging Trends

The amazing thing about the imaging industry is that it is continually evolving and expanding in traditional and nontraditional ways each year. With this being said, cameras as well as mobile phones are a huge part of the future of our industry. Sirui, as an accessory manufacturer, has to be prepared for this evolution.

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Paul Zakrzewski

Sirui continues to evolve right along with the industry by creating innovative accessories for cameras and phones that help support the amazing art that photographers are creating every day.

With traditional photography and the trend of smaller and lighter cameras, we continue to develop ultracompact solutions. These solutions are dedicated to those lighter weight formats while still providing professional-grade quality, stability and precision.

For those who prefer larger formats, we have evolved our line to bring the most stable products ever. This includes entirely new series of products, like our SR series that represents the most stable and heavy-duty tripods ever offered by Sirui USA.

Mobile accessories also continue to be a very important part of the imaging industry. As the mobile phone continues to grow in importance as the primary camera for a significant portion of the population, Sirui is committed to this group of photographers. We have developed easy-to-use solutions that enhance the photography experience. They include dedicated lenses, cases and support devices that work with virtually every brand of phone and tablet.

At Sirui, we anticipate growth over the next three years. As more manufacturers come to the table with new mirrorless options, this will encourage transition from older formats and also draw in new users. We are looking forward to this growth and anticipate being a big part of their accessory needs. siruiusa.com

Rick Voight, Chief Executive Officer, Vivid-Pix
Is the Glass Half Empty or Half Full?

I have this conversation with photo “old timers,” “newcomers” and those not involved in the photo business. As “imaging” is growing astronomically, I find myself in the half-full camp.

Consider this. Keypoint Intelligence reports 1.2 trillion photos were taken in 2017. Compare that unfathomably large number to an equally large one: the number of reported Google

Rick-Voight
Rick Voight

searches is 1.2 trillion (reported by Google for past several years). This illustrates one important point; consumers love photos for a whole host of reasons.

Other insights. Baby boomers control more than 50% of our nation’s wealth, and every day 10,000 people turn 65 years old. Moreover, these consumers value photos—old and new, digital and printed—at a high level. Direct-to-consumer genealogy tests more than doubled during 2017 and now exceed 12 million tests, according to industry estimates. In addition, most of those tested are in the U.S. This suggests around 1 in 25 American adults now have access to personal genetic data (MIT Technology Review).

Conclusion. Considering the trillions of printed family photos waiting to be digitized and that there are even more documents that help tell the genealogy/family history story, the opportunity for scanning, digitizing, organizing and related services is enormous!

The question is, where and how do you cast your line? A good friend of mine sums it up: “Fish where the fish are, and fish when the fish are biting.”

At Vivid-Pix, we’ve expanded our award-winning RESTORE software to include Mac and Windows consumer programs, commercial software for operators to improve efficiency and profitability, and an API allowing other companies to integrate our patented image-improvement into their offerings.

Dive in, the water’s fine! vivid-pix.com

INDUSTRY GROUPS

Cathi Nelson, President and Founder, Association of Personal Photo Organizers (APPO)
Imaging Industry Opportunities in the Genealogy Field

Are Mobile Phones Killing Photography? How Instagram Is Killing Photography. Is Photography Dead? These are just a few of the titles that appear in my social media newsfeed on a regular basis. In my opinion, all of these questions are overinflated.

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Cathi Nelson

People care as much about their photos today as they have for the past 50 years. The only difference is the volume of photos being taken, rather than their intrinsic value. In fact, there is exploding interest in archiving and family history that translates to opportunities for the photo industry.

Here are some vital statistics about the growing interest in genealogy that is often accessed by photos. Disney Pixar’s Coco, which is about the value of legacy, grossed over 700 million; 22.7 million stories were added to FamilySearch in 2017; 12 million people tested their DNA in 2017; and Harvard Medical School published a recent study on the importance of using photos to share your legacy.

There is no question that today consumers are plagued with chaos regarding their photos and videos. Thus, the need for professional photo organizers continues to grow. There are now hundreds of professionals actively offering services to clients. The most frequent requests are for help organizing and curating digital photo collections. And for ways to share and enjoy photos.

The imaging industry needs to develop a strategic plan to educate consumers on ways to organize, preserve and share their best photos and stories. Our voice and expertise belong in the genealogy field. appo.org

Tom Gramegna, President, Bergen County Camera
Own and Promote the Joy of Photography

We would be remiss if we did not acknowledge the many challenges the imaging industry faces in 2018. I’d argue that we own the peerless 200-year worldwide legacy of photography. We thereby possess formidable weapons and are uniquely equipped to respond creatively to these headwinds.

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Tom Gramegna

Primarily, we must embrace the near magical aspirational and inspirational power of photography. Our industry’s future success lies in collectively codifying, coordinating, promoting and owning “the joy of photography.” And effectively telegraphing that message.

Important organizations like PRO, IPI and TIA are incubators of ideas and connect many industry dots. It’s crucial these organizations fostering community among imaging industry members thrive. New ideas for success are born amongst the camaraderie and sharing these groups foster, thriving through innovation and collaboration with visionary leadership, respecting past lessons while integrating new technologies to continually grow more relevant and successful.

The variety of ways that a photography store can stand out by differentiation today is endless. Paul’s Photo takes clients on worldwide photo safaris. Lakeside Camera and Fullerton Photographic wow their customers with consistently new ways of delivering stunning, high-value physical photographic products.

Bergen County Camera exploits photography’s emotional appeal by tapping into the history of photography as a fine art. Moreover, it fosters appreciation for photographs by vintage and modern masters, its own employees, and its customers.

We’ve also instituted concierge level one-on-one training; many noteworthy stores emphasize and promote their specialist niches in Leica, used, rentals, education, framing, analog, etc. They do this under the all-inclusive umbrella of a 21st century photographic business. Our Kodachrome was taken away, but if we own and promote the joy of photography as an industry, our individual and collective success is assured! bergencountycamera.com

Gary Shapiro, President and CEO, Consumer Technology Association (CTA)
How Imaging Technology Is Powering Future Innovations

Most of us remember a time before digital photography. Back then, the primary elements of imaging were obvious. You’d capture your image, wait for a developer to process the image and receive the output—the glossy piece of paper bound for a scrapbook or picture frame.

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Gary Shapiro

Then came the digital camera; the capture, processing and output all happened in a moment. This was revolutionary enough, but it’s nothing compared to what we’re seeing today. Instead of imaging covering only photographs or film, we’re seeing it embedded everywhere, from security cameras to hospitals to gaming.

CES®—the world’s gathering place for all who thrive on the business of consumer technologies—has come a long way from showing just the newest cameras. Imaging is key to some of the most cutting-edge technologies and applications. Robots have “eyes” that scan areas and collect information. Artificial intelligence products process that information and generate insights that assist seniors and people with disabilities. AR/VR products—an emerging technology predicted to grow to $1.7 billion in revenue in 2019—allow users to experience new worlds and concepts. And this is all through imaging technologies that capture, process and output in milliseconds.

For any company, the biggest challenge is to take the core of what you do and find ways to stay relevant. And the imaging industry is rising to the challenge. This is just the beginning. We couldn’t have imagined the iPhone camera decades ago. And there’s no way we can envision what images we’ll see take shape in the decades to come. cta.tec

Jerry Grossman, Executive Director, The Imaging Alliance
Moving the Imaging Industry Forward Together

The Imaging Alliance made great strides in 2018. We now have 27 corporations and 25 retailers as working members. This makes us the first truly integrated trade association in the history of the imaging industry. The incredible cooperation we’ve built within the industry toward our shared goals has led us to a broad array of initiatives. They range from encourage printing (#printyourbest) to using real cameras (#realcamerasrock). In addition, we are developing a testing ground for VR/360º cameras at retail.

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Jerry Grossman

We’re also now working with retailers to develop a “first 15 days” onboard training program for new retail employees. We also have extended our Portraits of Love program. We are now offering firefighters, police and first responders free family portraits at retail locations.

The Imaging Alliance has proven over the past year that our industry is at its best when we work together toward common goals. We are very optimistic that the prevalence of smartphone camera usage over the years is growing a new generation that was exposed to the joys photography at an early age. Moreover, we believe they will graduate to “real” cameras over the coming years.

We also see the growth of photo organization and restoration services. Moreover, we have addressed travel bloggers and genealogy audiences on the importance of passing down family legacies to future generations through capturing and printing family histories.

We hope to continue to attract new members for 2019 to join our efforts. Using our collective strength and creativity, we can move the imaging industry forward. theimagingalliance.com

Ron A. Mohney, Executive Director, IPI Member Network
Collaboration, Consultation and Creative Partnering

It is no longer the “photo industry.”

Photo, printing, graphics and signage have melded together to create a new industry. Today we must think creatively about where images, signage, graphics and printing are used and work to build solutions.

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Ron Mohney

The opportunities are limitless when you think broadly about all the places you can provide services to your target buyers.

Collaborative B2B relationships are essential. Moreover, the largest member successes happen when unconventional opportunities are explored and recognized.

Consultative selling is crucial. You must change your approach from behind-the-counter sales to coaching your customers through how their needs meet all the possibilities you can offer.

Creative Partnering! Help your clients explore all that you can offer by saying YES. In addition, you should take advantage of the networking, vendors, marketing programs, educational services, personal consulting and annual conferences that your association provides. Understanding and using all of these concepts and services has helped many members build a path to great success. ipiphoto.com

Mark Leonard, COO, Vice President, Photographic Research Organization (PRO)
Learn the Language of Today’s Consumer

Young people love photography. Just not in the way that many of us did growing up, and certainly not with the same tools. This generational difference is causing great consternation with retailers. The challenge is not whether there is still passion for our industry but rather how do we learn the language of today’s consumer quickly enough? The answer is to trust younger employees more to help market the business.

Within the PRO buying group, there are many examples of store owners allowing less senior staff to help guide their messaging via Instagram, Facebook and also blogs. The more we allow our coworkers to have a sense of emotional ownership through these endeavors, the better engagement a retailer will have with the community.

If you don’t know what Facebook Live or Instagram Live is, how to properly tag and share posts or how to add content to a blog, then it is time to ask for volunteers among your crew to create content and start speaking the language of today’s consumer.

Moreover, earlier this year PRO launched the Unplugged series of professional monolights. Acceptance has been extraordinary. Entering this category, in the wake of the success of Specialist professional tripods and HGX Prime filters, has demonstrated that ProMaster product quality has evolved substantially in the past two years.

ProMaster gear delivers extraordinary value to end users. It is also provides exceptional profit to locally owned camera store owners in the U.S., Canada and Australia. Dozens of new ProMaster products will be unveiled on October 1 during the 60th annual PRO Convention in Scottsdale, Arizona. promaster.com

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