Photo Review attended the opening day of the first post-COVID CP+ Camera & Photo Imaging Show in Yokohama, Japan on 23 February.

Members of the press and VIP ‘guests’ line up at the entrance to the exhibition hall waiting for the show to open.

Having been impressed by the size and scope of the 2019 show, we looked forward to attending the opening day of the renewal of physical shows after four years of online-only events due to COVID restrictions. Unfortunately, this year’s show was something of a disappointment as it was at least 30% smaller than the 2019 event. It was also totally Japanese-focused. Very little information was provided in English and we only encountered a few of the people staffing the stands who could be seen as truly multi-lingual.

Canon, Fujifilm, Nikon and Sony had the largest, most complex stands.

Canon devoted a small section of its stand to a demonstration of VR (virtual reality) equipment – but it was all in Japanese.

Fujifilm showcased its Instax instant printing systemby demonstrating a variety of output options.

A number of important manufacturers were also absent from this year’s show – although they had stands and displays at the 2019 show. Industry leaders like Canon, Fujifilm, Nikon and Sony had large, well-staffed and enticing-looking stands along the back wall of the exhibition building. OM Digital Solutions had a slightly smaller, but well stocked, stand just inside the entrance to the show. Panasonic had a similar-sized stand s little further along followed by Sigma (which showcased its L-mount range and had plenty of lenses on display along with several cameras sporting Foveon sensors but not the promised ‘full-frame’ model). It was followed by Tamron, which made the most of its link with manga imaging through an impressive collection of colourful creatures that invited photographers to ‘shoot; them.

The slightly smaller stands operated by OM Digital Solutions and Panasonic also provided displays of current products with an emphasis on the newest releases.

Cosina-Voigtlander was disadvantaged by having its stand at the far end of the exhibition hall. Most of the lenses on display were under glass so there were no opportunities o try them out.

Missing, however, were important manufacturers like Eizo, Epson, Ilford, Lowepro,  Pentax-Ricoh, San-Disk, all of which exhibited in 2019. Cosina-Voigtlander had a medium-sized stand at one end of the exhibition hall, while at the other the accessories sales are, which had occupied an upper floor in 2019, was crammed into a small space a few metres deep at the opposite end of the hall. Other companies exhibiting tended to mount smaller displays and/or share composite stands. Atomos, Kenko Tokina, Lensbaby, Rode Microphones, X-Rite & Datacolor, Think Tank, Domke and storage/accessories manufacturer, Angelbird fell into this category.

Several companies that had larger, individual stands in 2019 opted to participate in composite stands and mounted smaller displays this year.

There were plenty of lenses on display, although Laowa, which had a large stand in 2019, had a small part of a composite stand this year. The same was true for Samyang and few (if any) other Chinese manufacturers had mounted displays, although there were a number of new brands on show in 2019. Sirui, which also manufactures lenses, stocked its stand with tripods instead.

Laowa’s display focused on cinema lenses and was much smaller than its 2019 display.

Fresco Giclee, a Japanese manufacturer, had the only display of fine art inkjet paper.

Metal Print was another media company with products on display in a small stand.

The only paper manufacturer we saw was Fresco Giclee, which appears to sell only in Japan. They had a small, but high-quality range of media on display but, in line with the rest of the show, nothing available in English. There was another company promoting printing on metal but, again, nothing was available in English.

The 2019 show was noteworthy for the wide range of interesting accessory and software manufacturers with small stands spread along the centre line of the show. A few such manufacturers had small stands this year or participated in composite stands. All the presentations were in Japanese and they were held on the exhibition floor, rather than in separate rooms. No translations were provided during the time we were at the show.

Seminars were presented on the exhibition floor and tended to consistof interviews rather than demonstrations. The ones we saw were only in Japanese.

A large area of ‘free’ space occupied the space between the OM Digital Solutions stand and the accessories sales area. Most of it had bench seats, although part was set aside for the regular ‘Zooms’ photo exhibition, which was also rather small this year (compared with 2019). Only one of the exhibitors attracted our interest; the rest were rather mundane.

The Zooms photo print exhibition was somewhat smaller and less engaging than the 2019 display.

Professional level vlogging equipment was on display in use on the Sony stand.

One thing we did notice was the number of ‘vloggers’ reporting during the Press/VIP only period between 9:50 a.m. and midday of the first day of the show. Technologies used for reporting ranged from smartphones (with and without accessories like gimbals, selfie sticks, microphones and lights) to full professional rigs. The abundance of this kind of reporting could be partly responsible for the comparatively low levels of attendance at this year’s show vs the 2019 show. Another reason for the low numbers could be COVID-related; Japan only opened up to visitors in late 2022 and is still not accepting large volumes of tourists from China or other countries that have been seriously affected by COVID.

A couple of roving vloggers who appear to work for Japanese media.

There’s also the fact that nothing really new was announced at the start of the show; all the cameras, lenses and important products on show had been announced at least a week before the show opened and covered quite extensively in online reports. You’d have to see this strategy as a better option for even the leading manufacturers. Shows like CP+ cost a lot to participate in and that comes out of the company’s budget so it must affect the price at which individual products are offered for sale.

Even in tough economic conditions, everyday consumers still like to get hands-on experience with interesting equipment, as show in this photograph of an attendee trying out a lens on the Lensbaby stand.

Couple that with everyday consumers all over the world tightening their purse strings and it seems like we’re approaching the end of the viability of large, one-site product showcases. Photokina, once the ‘essential’ camera/imaging showcase, has ceased to exist and the major US-based show is CES, which is essentially an electronic show in which imaging companies are permitted to participate. Announcing and showcasing products purely online has to be a better option for most manufacturers; they can announce when it suits them and know they have a global audience and the overall cost of promoting new products remains relatively low.

It will be interesting to see the overall attendance numbers for this year’s CP+ show and how they compare with the 2019 figures. We’ll publish a report once the figures are released after the show. It will also be interesting to see how the organisers handle the 2024 exhibition.