Former Sony VP Mike Kahn brings new “gig” to The Big Photo Show

Mike Kahn newYou probably saw our recent announcement that Entertainment Radio News will once again be broadcasting live from The Big Photo Show, and we are very excited to welcome them back. ERN will broadcast their nationally syndicated and internet radio programs including Popular Technology Radio, Working Mother Radio, and Popular Science Radio from the show. You also might have noticed, when reading that announcement, a name very familiar to many in our industry among the show hosts: Mike Kahn.

Yes, it’s that Mike Kahn, our good friend and former Vice President of Partnership Marketing at Sony Electronics. Mike recently became host of  Popular Technology Radio, in which, along with Pop Tech’s impressive array of regular contributors and guests, he covers all the latest news, products and gossip concerning the wide field of consumer technology and entertainment.

Popular Technology Radio broadcasts via syndicated radio every Saturday from 9:00-11:00 AM PT on 41 stations nationwide in markets including; Chicago, San Francisco, Phoenix, Seattle, Orlando, St. Louis, Nashville, Grand Rapids, Memphis and Jacksonville.

Mike has also shaken up the consumer technology world with the advent of the Pop Tech Testers program which allows consumers to try out the latest and greatest technology first-hand. Testers are given the opportunity to provide real, relevant feedback live on Popular Technology Radio.

Kahn commented, “I am thrilled to be hosting Popular Technology Radio for ERN. My mission: share new technology that makes our lives better, easier and most importantly, fun.”

He will be doing just that at The Big Photo Show in Los Angeles on May 17. Be sure to listen in!

Sony develops waterproof smartphone


sony underwater phone 2

Waterproof cameras are becoming commonplace. Waterproof high-end smartphones, not so much.

For those who want to dunk their expensive electronics to capture some HD video underwater, Sony is offering the Xperia ZR “featuring the highest level of water-resistance,” the company says. “By combining Sony’s leading camera technology with the highest level of water-resistance, you will never miss another moment.”

The Android smartphone has a 13-megapixel camera and 4.6-inch display. It can be submerged 1.5 meters in fresh water for 30 minutes. Pricing was not announced.

More information is here.

sony underwater phone


On the DIMAcast: What Sony learned about imaging consumers and more at The Big Photo Show

New DIMAcast 2.0 logoIn this week’s DIMAcast, Mike Kahn of Sony talks about his company’s experience at The Big Photo Show. Listen and discover who the most passionate photography consumers are and what they are most interested in; how Kahn knew The Big Photo Show would be a hit when others doubted; and how he suggests photo business can capitalize on the enthusiasm for imaging among consumers today.

Download the interview here or at, or listen without downloading, using the player below. (Interview begins at 06:08.)

Sony Brings Fireball Tim Lawrence and His Hollywood Show Cars to The Big Photo Show

The DeLorean from "Back to the Future" is one of several famous cars coming to a Sony exhibit at The Big Photo Show

The DeLorean from “Back to the Future” is one of several famous cars coming to a Sony exhibit at The Big Photo Show

Kudos to Sony for bringing even more excitement to The Big Photo Show, with Fireball Tim’s Hollywood Car Showcase! The showcase will be adjacent to the Sony exhibit at The Big Photo Show, May 4-5, 2013, at the Los Angeles Convention Center. One of my all-time favorite movies is Back to the Future, and I can’t wait to see that famous time-traveling DeLorean! I wonder if it has a flux capacitor?

Among the other “star” cars Fireball Tim will be bringing to The Big Photo Show for attendees to see and photograph are the 1966 Batmobile, the Grand Torino from Starsky and Hutch, the 1968 Mustang from Bullitt, the 1977 Firebird from Smokey and the Bandit, “Rod Riguez,” a hot rod built in Japan, a 2013 Camaro convertible, a 2013 Mercedes SLR, and a 2013 458 Ferrari Italia.

“Sony is excited to be exhibiting at The Big Photo Show, and to get our latest, most innovative imaging products in front of thousands and thousands of the most passionate photography enthusiasts who will be attending the event,” said Mike Kahn, Director of Alpha Camera Systems for Sony Electronics. “We’re also very pleased to provide a once-in-a-lifetime shooting opportunity, with Fireball Tim and many of the world’s most famous movie and TV vehicles. Fireball Tim is also going to be teaching seminars on how best to capture vehicle shots, both still and video, at The Big Photo Show.”

Fireball Tim is a car designer for Hollywood films. He has created show vehicles for Disneyland, Universal Studios, and more than 400 movies and TV programs, including Avengers, Priest, Knight Rider, Batman, Son of the Mask, Pitch Black, Jurassic Park, X-Men, and Gone in 60 Seconds.

In addition, Fireball Tim is a funny and unique automotive TV host. His blogs, hilarious original series and webisodes have an international audience of millions. Past TV projects on the Speed Channel, TLC, Discovery and The Auto Channel have exceeded one billion viewers. Fireball Tim currently has a new show in the works with Pilgrim Productions.

He is also a children’s book author, and will be signing his book, “Fireball Tim’s Big Book of Wacky Rides” at The Big Photo Show.

For more information about exhibiting or sponsorship opportunities at The Big Photo Show, contact Jeff Frazine at

On the DIMAcast: Sony at The Big Photo Show, Instant Rebate alternatives and more

Mike Kahn

New DIMAcast 2.0 logo

For the new episode of the DIMAcast, I had the chance to interview our good friend Mike Kahn, Director of Alpha Camera Systems for Sony Electronics and president of PMDA. We talked about Sony’s exhibit at The Big Photo Show, being held in Los Angeles, May 4-5, 2013, and all the innovations being introduced to consumers there. He also discussed his vision for the imaging industry over the next few years, and what it will take to bring that vision into being. Lastly, you won’t want to miss his update on Sony’s forthcoming alternatives to Instant Rebates, which Kahn first announced at 2013 PMA@CES last January.

Listen in here, or use the player below.

Sony unveils ILC, SLR, and compact cams



Just when you thought all the major players were done for the immediate future with making many new additions to their camera lines: Sony comes out with five models in not one, not two, but three distinct lines: compact, mirror-free interchangeable lens, and not-quite-traditional SLR [Sony’s camera has a non-moving translucent reflector].

And all this comes not only on the day when Sony’s major news is its latest PlayStation game console — but also when rumors point to even more ILCs to debut next month…

The cameras were announced in Europe, not the U.S. — but without further adieu, this weeks models are:

The Cyber-shot WX300, billed as the smallest, lightest camera that packs a 20x optical zoom — with optical image stabilization that the company says is “now around twice as effective at high-zoom settings as the previous-generation.” Also, the autofocus is approximately 3.6x quicker than the previous HX20V. The camera’s WiFi works with a smartphone as wireless remote control, “ideal for self-portraits and group shots when you want to be in on the action,” Sony notes. You can also send photos and videos to a smartphone or tablet. The 18-megapixel camera is $329.

The DSC-HX300 has an SLR-style with a 50x zoom with enhanced optical steadyshot. “The position of a second group of lens elements shifts rapidly to correct for tiny hand tremors,” Sony says. The 20-megapixel camera is $499.

The TX30 is a slim compact that’s waterproof down 10 meters, with a 5x zoom. A macro mode uses LED lights. The 18-megapixel camera is $349.

The WX300 and TX30 have the new Beauty Effect that automatically re-touches photos to remove skin blemishes, widen half-closed eyes and whiten teeth.

• The newest NEX interchangeable lens model lowers the weight and the cost from previous designs. The 3N weighs just 210 grams. It has a tiltable 3-inch touchscreen, and 16-megapixel APS-C  sensor. With a $500 price and built-in flash, Sony is clearly making this an even easier step up from a compact cam.

• The α58 interchangeable lens camera has a translucent mirror for speedy autofocus, and a new Exmor APS sensor with 20 megapixel resolution. The OLED electronic viewfinder “accurately shows the results of adjusting camera settings in real time,” the company says. “Instantly see the result of adjusting exposure compensation, aperture, ISO, white balance, and other parameters before you shoot — not after.”

 [Hat-tip to DP Review.]


Sony’s Mike Kahn talks about instant rebate changes and unilateral pricing

Mike Kahn

I promised you I’d write about some interesting comments made during Thursday’s 2013 PMA@CES Official Business Session. After the moderator had completed his list of questions for our Visionaries Panel, emcee Mark Comon took questions from the audience. Bill McCurry posed a tough one. He said he has heard several retailers complain that they can’t pay their bills, because so much of their money is tied up in instant rebates. What could be done about that?

Sony’s Mike Kahn said the instant rebate trend has arisen in response to the earthquake in Japan in March 2011, followed by flooding in Thailand, which impacted manufacturing. “The concept, originally, with instant rebates, was to draw attention to being back in stock and coming out with our inventory, and then offering a sale,” Kahn said.

Kahn acknowledged that photo retailers are being forced to carry the cost of the instant rebates while waiting to receive their sales credit from the manufacturer.

“Once you start going down the instant rebate road, it’s hard to turn the ship. You wind up getting into more and more and more, if you don’t have a response, you’re not considered competitive,” Kahn said. “[Sony is] trying different ideas. We’re starting to do a little more bundling with accessories, sometimes bundling with lenses, and still offering a value by not relying necessarily on an instant rebate.

“I’ll tell you what,” he continued. “If you can partner with me on promoting the products, advertising them and getting the flyers out there, I’ll commit to you that we’ll help you fund that vehicle, and together we can come up with a different solution.”

What kind of different solution? Sony is uniquely positioned to provide consumers with some other valuable perks, in place of the instant rebates, he said.

“We’re looking at ideas. The nice thing about Sony is, we make more than cameras, TVs, and tablets. We also have a music industry; we also have a movie industry. I want to try different tactics, like giving customers opportunities when they come into your stores to buy a camera,” he said.

For example, giving retailers the ability to provide customers with a shooting experience from Sony, or an exclusive invitation for retailers to bring customers onto a Sony movie lot. “Valuable? Absolutely. But no hard dollars are changed, so you don’t have to worry about rebate checks making you whole at the end of the month. How does that sound? Are you excited about that kind of idea?” Kahn said. The audience answered with enthusiastic applause.

  Mat Inkley of the Imaging Depot in Ogden, Utah, then asked how brick and mortar independent retailers can compete with online dealers who can acquire equipment at a lower price.

“One of the things we have done at Sony, and I think you will start seeing more and more in the industry, is that we have created Sony Unilateral Retail Execution — SURE unilateral pricing,” Kahn said. “SURE pricing ensures that if you’re selling a Sony Alpha camera or NEX, whether you’re online or in the store, it’s going to be the same price, regardless. If an authorized retailer breaks SURE, then for 30 days they aren’t selling our product. Break it again, 120 days. Break it again, and we can stop the contract. We will stand behind that.”

Sony closes lens plant

As part of its cost-cutting restructuring, Sony is “consolidating certain manufacturing operations and expediting measures to reduce its headcount” — and among the measures is the closing of one camera lens-making plant.

“The manufacture of interchangeable lenses and lens blocks currently being conducted at Sony’s site located in Minokamo, Gifu Prefecture, will be absorbed by its site located in Kohda, Aichi Prefecture,” the company says. The Minokamo site has a total floor area of 49,913 square meters, and 840 employees. It manufactures interchangeable lenses for SLRs, lens blocks, and mobile phones.

Sony already owns more than 11 percent of issued shares of lens-maker Tamron, and, perhaps more importantly, its recent investment in Olympus may yield Zuiko glass for future Sony cameras.

The announcement is here.


Olympus and Sony confirm business and capital alliance

Sony Make.Believe LogoOlympus and Sony announced the two companies entered into a business alliance agreement and a capital alliance agreement, through which, “the strengths of the two companies will merge,” Olympus says, making it possible for it “to contribute to world medical progress by developing a variety of new medical devices that would not be possible by Olympus alone. In the field of digital cameras, we will seek to achieve collaboration in a manner that further improves the competitiveness of the two companies.”

More to the point for the PMA audience: Sony say it “also believes there are many potential opportunities for collaboration between Olympus and Sony’s digital camera businesses, and are confident that by building on our respective strengths we can also enhance and grow our presence in this market.”

Olympus and Sony say they plan to “explore opportunities for collaboration between their respective camera businesses including transactions involving core components primarily for compact digital cameras, with the aim of enhancing the corporate value of each company.”

The companies say the business and capital alliances are expected to allow them “to combine Olympus’s lens and optical technologies, as well as the strength of its brand and R&D, with Sony’s broad range of technologies including digital imaging technologies and apply them in the rapidly growing medical market.”

The two companies “also aim to enhance their competitiveness, primarily in the area of compact digital cameras, by exploring opportunities for mutually beneficial transactions and collaboration between their respective camera businesses, including the supply of Olympus technologies such as camera lenses and mirror cells to Sony, and the provision of Sony image sensors to Olympus.”


Olympus says it “has been pushing to enhance its financial strength and weighing the possibility of a business and capital tie-up for greater business synergy in the core business domains of medical and imaging.” Olympus decided to ally with Sony, “which is strong in image sensors and other image-related technologies. Partnering with Sony will provide great advantage to Olympus and enable the two companies to exchange various complementary competencies. Investment from Sony will help strengthen our financial base.”

Sony adds it is “aggressively pursuing the growth of our medical business, with the aim of developing it into a key pillar of our overall business portfolio. The business and capital alliances we have agreed with Olympus today will be integral to these plans. By combining Sony’s cutting-edge technologies in areas such as digital imaging, 3D, and 4K with Olympus’s long-standing experience and established foundations in the medical market, we believe that we will be able to create highly innovative and competitive products and generate new business opportunities in surgical endoscopes and other related areas where significant future growth is anticipated.”


The capital alliance agreement calls for Olympus to issue 34,387,900 new common shares to Sony through a third-party allotment. Sony’s ratio of voting rights after the third-party allotment will be 11.46 percent. The price is 1,454 per share.

Sony to invest $642 million in Olympus

Sony Make.Believe LogoSony is about to become the biggest shareholder in Olympus, getting a 10 percent stake for a $642 million investment,

It’s not likely to be about cameras, however: Sony will set up a joint business with Olympus to develop new medical equipment, Reuters reports.

Olympus has been plagued with accounting scandal this year; Sony reported bad fiscal results itself, with a lower operating profit.

The full report is here.