DEMA 2011: Conclusion and overview

DEMA 2011 Final thoughts.

DEMA is always the best and most comprehensive window into manufacturers’ plans for the next year, and an event where the trends are created and set. Some analysis is hence a good idea, as these are going to effect the way we shoot and the equipment we will be using.

Canon were meant to be exhibiting at the show, but didn’t turn up, with the rumor being that they have had budgets reduced for all PR and marketing. Nikon’s last significant release was the D7000, and this was over a year ago. This has meant that from the new SLR housing point of view, the manufacturers had little to show. When the companies eventually release new models, I have no doubt that there will be a slew of new housings to follow. The growth of new and upgraded models for the EVIL market is significant, with almost all the major housing manufacturers now offering compatible port and housing systems for at least one model. I found it interesting to note though that not one was offering or discussed planning to offer any support for the Nikon 1 series cameras.

In video as well, the picture seems to be a slow down in the development of new housings. Extreme top-end support for digital cinema continues apace, as does support for consumer cams via a few universal housings, but the mid-range doesn’t seem to have changed much. 3D is still developing, albeit at slower pace and in the consumer, rather than pro sector.

Hence, DEMA 2011 seemed to be characterized by evolution and improvement, rather than innovation. External monitors for SLRs seemed to be a common new product, perhaps predictable since their was a lot of talk about them last year. The explosion of LED lighting witnessed at DEMA 2010 seems to have slowed somewhat, with a few brands exerting more dominance. New battery technology will be the driving force in the development of new models for the future, with talk of an LED light that will match a strobe’s output in the next few years.

Many manufacturers were noting that the market was difficult. Money is tight and people may be delaying major purchases longer as a result. By contrast, retailers were very bullish. The good news is that this has got people thinking about the accessory market more, with innovative products for both camera control and lighting in the works.

The major overall winner at DEMA this year was GoPro. There were significant queues for sales of their cams at their stand, so much so that they ran out of stock. GoPro may serve to “democratize” the capture of video underwater. For a few hundred dollars, enterprising or aspiring filmmakers can get a cam underwater and record what they see. It would be great to see them embraced by the organizers of the Image Resource Center (IRC) and exhibit under its banner next year (they were separate for this year). If for no other reason they would pull a lot of foot traffic into the IRC.

Overall, the show seemed well attended in terms of both exhibitor and visitor numbers. There are new regulations in force for consumer entry, and it is significantly more expensive and complicated for people to get in, so this may have curbed the presence of big groups of dive center staff for example. Official stats are released by DEMA later on, and it will be interesting to see how the numbers stack up.

The Wetpixel/DivePhotoGuide really lived up to its billing this year. It was definitely the social event of the show, and a veritable who is who of the underwater imaging world. Plans are already being discussed for the party at DEMA 2012, stay tuned for details closer to the time.

Lastly, a series of thanks. The manufacturers/suppliers give up a great deal of time to support our reporting from the show. This is not only “on the shop floor”, but extends into informal conversations throughout. They give this time freely and willingly and for this we are very grateful. The sponsors for the party took this one stage further, and paid out hard-earned money to help us all have a good time. Again, many thanks. Lastly to team Wetpixel (Alex and Abi), who had to endure my crazed moods from too many 2 o’clock uploading sessions, apologies and thanks.

See you all in Vegas next year!

For the rest of the show coverage, please visit these links:

Tuesday 1 November: Pre-show set-up.
Wednesday 2 November: Booth visits.
Thursday 3 November:Booth visits.
Special report: Shawn Heinrichs receives the Sea Hero of the Year Award.
Slideshow of images from the Wetpixel/DivePhotoGuide Pool party.
Friday 4 November: Booth visits
Saturday 5 November: Booth visits
Slideshow about the “people of DEMA”