Photography News 82 WEB



Hähnel is a long established name in imaging accessories, but in the fast-moving world of retail, the company recognised the need to branch out to survive some years ago. So, PN caught up with Chris Hähnel to talk about Hähnel’s latest strategy and introduce the newnames in its product portfolio

HAHNEL INDUSTRIES STARTED up in Germany and opened a production company in Ireland, which is where the company is now based. It’s well-known for its excellence in imaging accessories and if you visit any reputable photo retailer, you'll very likely find a display of its innovative products. Indeed, you may own a Hähnel remote release, rechargeable battery or flashgun. The brand’s reputation for innovation is second to none and you don't have to look any further for evidence of this than the popular proCUBE2. It’s a battery charger, but no ordinary one. Available for a host of brands and camera models, the charger features intelligent microprocessor- controlled charging for two batteries simultaneously – but add a plate and it can charge four AA cells from the mains or in the car. It’s a great innovation and it’s products like this that has cemented Hähnel’s reputation as leaders in the photo accessory sphere. “For more than 30 years we concentrated on selling our own products and with our smaller product range compared with other distributors, we could bring more dedication, focus and attention to what we sold,” says Chris Hähnel,

ABOVE Chris Hähnel

director of Hähnel Industries. “But as the photographic market levelled off and then started to decline, we looked at our strategy and said OK, the world is changing so it was time to change that strategy. That’s how we became a distributor of other brands in the UK and Ireland, and we started to gradually broaden our base. “Obviously the brands that we deal with now did not come about immediately and we were very selective about the brands we brought on. What interests me, for example, is if you look at Leofoto and Litra and our own brand, is that there are lots of common denominators. They are all high-quality products, very much design driven and none really compete at the bottom end of the market." Of the current brands in Hähnel’s portfolio, Litra was the first with a small, unique product range. “We often get feedback that Hähnel products are over-engineered and that’s something I am happy to be guilty of, and I think Litra products are the same. The lights are incredibly well engineered for their purpose and I am very comfortable with that philosophy,” he says. Next came along Tokina lenses. “Such an iconic brand in our industry. I have been involved in marketing lenses since 1986 and when Tokina lenses approached us and shared its roadmap, they also gave us the confidence that they were looking for a long-term distributor in the UK and Ireland. I am a firm believer

in the optical quality of its great products and the brand has huge potential. Tokina is going through a rapid change at the moment with an aggressive product roadmap for 2021-22, and it’s diversifying its current range, which is very much DSLR-based at the moment, to more mirrorless products,” says Chris. “A big change in the lens business over the last few years has been the success of mirrorless and the lens market is now very fragmented in terms of mounts. It’s no longer just Canon EF and Nikon F mounts and we have several significant lens mounts in the market.” It was about a year ago, that Hähnel took on the distribution of Leofoto tripods and heads. “The reaction to this brand has been absolutely phenomenal,” says Chris. “What interested me in the brand was that the products are exceptional and they are carbon fibre only, but also what goes on in the background and the consistent way the brand goes to market across the different countries of Europe, which helps photo specialist retailers. “Lastly, we have Zhiyun, a market leader in gimbals with solutions for creatives across the world and who are at the forefront of technology and always pushing boundaries.” In these precedented of times, it’s clear that Hähnel is well prepared for the challenges that lie ahead, not just with its own product line-up, but with the distribution in the UK and Ireland of world-renowned quality brands. Let’s focus now on those brands.

Zhiyun gimbals Zhiyun is a multi-award winning, market-leading manufacturer of motorised gimbals for phones, stills and video cameras.

Highlights in its range include the Weebill S, the Crane 2S and the Crane 3S. The small and lightweight Weebill S suits mirrorless and DSLRs, and has plenty of versatility for creative shooting. For larger cameras, such as the Panasonic S1H, the Crane 2S is the gimbal of choice, while the unique modular Crane 3S has a payload limit of 6.5kg. Zhiyun has a solution for creative people everywhere, helping the user capture better quality photos and video footage.

“We oftenget feedback that Hähnel’s products are over-engineered and that’s something I’mhappy tobe guilty of”

14 Photography News | Issue 82

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