Picturing the Future | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 26.09.2002
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Picturing the Future

Digital photo technology is seeing a boom worldwide - a development reflected at the Photokina 2002 in Cologne. Despite this trend, the trade fair is also showing a range of new products in film camera technology.


Photography has come a long way since its start more than a century ago

Digital cameras are radically changing the way people use images, the head of photography firm Kodak said at the Photokina trade show in Cologne on Wednesday.

Speaking to the BBC, Kodak boss Dan Carp said the company was being forced to adapt to consumers’ new habits due to the increasing usage of digital cameras and the net.

“The internet explodes the number of people that have access to pictures”, he said.

Products reflect trend

The increasing popularity of digital photography is a trend companies cannot ignore, one which is clearly reflected at the current Photokina photography fair.

The fair, which takes place every two years, kicked off in Cologne on Wednesday. In 2000, it attracted 160,000 visitors. This year, 1,550 suppliers from 46 countries are showing their products, ranging from lenses and accessories, to film projection and digital imaging.

Huge development

“Visitors to Photokina will gain an overview of the present and the future of photography as well as every kind of imaging and service system for visual images”, according to Dieter Werkhausen, chairman of the Photo Industry Association.

Speaking at the opening of the show, he said Photokina 2002 demonstrated how photography today had developed far beyond the level of snapshots one used to take for the family album and that this year’s fair revolved around the "globallý accessible image."

Digital images still too complicated

But in order to make images globally accessible, the consumer must be able to obtain prints of digitally made photos, without having to spend an entire weekend dealing with lengthy home printing procedures, Werkausen says.

The Photo Industry Association therefore reckons with an increase in printing technology, including essentials such as inkjet paper and cartridges by around 10 percent in 2002. 3.6 million packages of inkjet paper and 58.3 million colour cartridges were sold alone in 2001.

At Photokina, exhibitors will be offering the latest in technical systems for improved printing and the newest in digital camera technology, memory cards and online photo services, to improve the distribution of digital images.

Huge market

According to the Photo Industry Association, the world of imaging is worth some $350 billion, including segments such as printing and graphics systems, medical technology, networks and services. Around $91 billion are expected to be spent on the analogue and digital photo market this year.

Fotografen auf der Photokina

In Germany, the photo market grew in the past year by 12 percent, especially due to the introduction of new imaging products such as printers, scanners, memory cards and inkjet materials. In 2002, it is expected to reach more than eight billion euros.

Industry boost

According to Werkhausen, “the breakthroughs in digital technology have opened up previously undreamed-of possibilities for taking pictures and processing, producing, transporting and applying images”.

In Germany, electronics company Sony expects the photo market to grow by 10 percent - mainly due to digital camera sales which have grown by 64 percent in the first half of the year and which Sony expects to increase by 80 percent by Christmas. According to executive director Leopold Bonengl, digital camera sales may well overtake analogue cameras next year.

Still more analogue cameras

But according to Werkhausen, the new technologies are not replacing the old ones. Instead they are supplementing and expanding on them, he says, referring to possibilities to switch from one world to the other thanks to new types of cameras and high-performance image processing software.

This year, 2.4 million digital cameras and 3 million analogue cameras are expected to be sold in Germany.

It may well be film’s convenience that is helping it to survive. But it is also a fact that most people still have a camera that uses film. Dan Carp, Kodak CEO, told the BBC that it will be decades before people stop using film altogether. “Unlike some innovations, such as the CD replacing the LP, digital does not jump over the benefits of film far enough to create the kind of transformation that CDs did to records”.

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