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As you look around the South Hall today, it probably strikes you as incredible that people once feared digital tech would kill the photo business.

The PMA Show Floor
by Donald Sutherland

The poignancy of the situation is highlighted by events like Kodak closing Qualex, and introducing version 7.1 of its Easyshare software. Its new editing tools include blemish and wrinkle removal -- retouching for the masses, who once had to settle for what their negative gave them.

While software like this targets the hobbyist, the great wonder that is Photoshop -- the ever-expanding universe that could take a lifetime to explore -- continues receiving enhancements through third-party plug-ins. One of the new ones at the show is Nik Software's Sharpener Pro 3.0, which "eliminates the guesswork typically required for achieving superior and consistent results," in the company's words. Among the new features is one called Sharpening Soft Proof, which enables detailed inspection of sharpening results onscreeen, before printing. Another new feature is the ability to use Photoshop's brush tools to apply sharpening selectively to parts of the image.

For use with Adobe Lightroom, Nik is also introducing Viveza , which enhances control over color and light. It works non-destructively, creating a new file to do its work on.

Meanwhile, illustrating that the room for growth in the imaging aftermarket is still abundant, ACD Systems has announced a public beta test of its latest ACDsee Pro 3, which introduces a number of improvements to the workflow. A new Online Mode permits uploads from within the application, to a free two-year account at the ACDsee Online Web site. Online photo-sharing, the pioneers among us will recall, was all the rage around 1998 and ' 99, with dozens of start-ups that vanished a year or two later in the so called dotcom bust. It appears that we've fixed what was busted.

All kinds of new products have emerged in recent years, with very little precedent across the history of photography. Look at Hoodman, which is showing two new hoods to make camera monitor screens easier to view in broad daylight. We didn't have camera monitor screens in 1996, so this part of the aftermarket had to wait awhile to be born. Indeed, considering that one of the new Hoodman products is designed principally for use with Live View monitors, which didn't began to appear in DSLRs as recently as four years ago, we can say that the primary market's reinvention of the aftermarket is ongoing.

None of the products described here existed in the mid 1990s, nor did anyone need them to. Now they're central to an industry redesigned, where not only cameras, but the very uses for pictures are overhauled. As gratifying and as promising as all this new stuff is, a lot of the old stuff remains with us too. For along with all the high-tech, you can still walk the show and find plenty of glass filters and ball-joint tripods.

Have an inspiring 2009.

Don Sutherland has been writing the lead articles of the Cygnus PMA Show Daily since sometime in the 1970s. See his digital photographs at