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Photokina Report _ 2006.09.26 17:50PM EST

Ron Eggers is in Cologne, Germany, reporting from Photokina. We'll post his updates on Bonus Content as they come in.

This is a radically different Photokina. Even before the show started, it was obvious that things were going to be different this year. The entire West Messe complex, which served as the heart of the show in past years, had been gutted. Only the exterior walls were left standing. It looked like a bomb had hit it. It reminded me a little of pictures I had seen of Dresden after World War II, just the shells of the buildings.  This year, all the action was east of the tracks that divide the massive Messe grounds.

For show goers, particularly people like me, who have attended Photokina for many many years, the main impact was totally confusion. Asking directions didn't help, since many of the people who should have known what was going on were more confused than the show-goers. It was amazing the amount of misinformation that was out there, to the point that finding some things that should have taken minutes took hours. That decreased productivity for anybody who wasn't anchored to an exhibit booth.

The show is a lot more low-key this year than it has been in the past. Many of the companies with new product announcements prereleased their introductions, so much of the anticipation that has been a traditional part of Photokina just isn't there.

But that doesn't mean there isn't much to see at the show. With more than 1600 manufacturers, distributors and suppliers from 45 countries, showing off their wares in 11 massive exhibit halls, it could still be called the center of the photographic universe, at least for the week.

—Ron Eggers