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Family commitments prevented me from attending last year’s TIPA Award’s judging and so AV Group managing editor, Jez Ford, did the honours instead. Consequently, I was the rookie at the judging for the 2012 awards, although there were a few other first-timers too, including Adam Scorey from Photography Monthly in the UK and Katherine Anker from Professional Photographer, another UK title.

We were assured by the old hands that it would be a comparatively painless affair, but with some categories being pretty hotly contested after the recent deluge of new product launches, I was prepared for there to be blood on the floor. As it turned out, there was some spirited debate, but it was all fairly civilised and it was immensely enjoyable to be part of a group of highly committed editors and technical editors, all keen to ensure the best imaging products of the year gained the recognition they deserved.

Being the editor of a photo magazine in Australia means you’re one of a very small handful of people with similar interests and concerns, so being in a room with 25 other like-minded people was quite a treat. They had come from Spain, Germany, Greece, Italy, France, The Netherlands, the UK, Hungary, Canada, China, Japan and South Africa (well, we were actually in South Africa, but you know what I mean).
The Technical Image Press Association comprises 29 titles (four editors, including those from the USA and Poland, couldn’t make this year’s judging) from 14 countries, plus a group membership for the Camera Journal Press Club group of Japanese magazines. These magazines nominate a representative who has one vote at the judging session.

TIPA’s Technical Committee first draws up a shortlist of potential winners in each the Award’s 40 categories, which is circulated to the all the editors a few weeks before the judging for comment, changes or additions. As the make-up of the imaging industry continues to change, so do the TIPA Awards categories which, this year, included more for Compact System Camera (CSC) products and also a revision of the video-related categories to reflect the growing importance of the HDV-enabled D-SLR, the explosion of accessories in this area and the introduction of professional video cameras such as Canon’s Cinema EOS models.

Finding a winner from the short-listed products in each category is the job of the Awards judging session which involves all the member magazines (the absentees nominate a proxy to vote on their behalf). Even at this stage, changes can still made – even the rejigging of the categories – but everything has to be put to a vote and you have to be prepared to put up strong arguments if you want to persuade the rest of the room to see things your way. All debate takes place in English, but interpreters are provided for those members who are less proficient English speakers.

Thanks to the ground work put in by the TIPA Technical Committee, the winners in quite a few categories are pretty easily selected and, when further discussion was required, it was managed efficiently with the subsequent voting via a show of hands. I think that 26 people from 13 countries managed to pick winners in 40 categories with rarely a raised voice and without running over time represents a remarkable example of the democratic process at work... TIPA should be running more than just a global group of magazines! Importantly, too, I feel we ended up with a list of really worthy winners, very much representing both the best that’s available in their respective categories and the benchmarks for whatever follows.

The vast majority of these products are available in Australia. The winner of the Best Photo Service – Fujifilm’s Fotoservice Pro – is currently only available in Germany, but has a number of unique features which made it stand out and there is the likelihood it will be available in other markets before too long. The Epson Stylus Photo 1500W – winner of the Best Expert Photo Printer award – is sold as the Artisan 1430 in Australia.

Edited judges’ citations are provided in the captions for the winning products illustrated on these pages. The full citations can be found on the TIPA Website at www.tipa.com