Wi-Fi, 35mm sensors, interesting product mash-ups, and more dominated the biennial festival of photographic art, commerce, and gear this week at Photokina in Cologne, Germany.
Photokina 2012 was a watershed moment in the development of digital cameras. Full-frame cameras (DSLRs and otherwise) proliferated, while Wi-Fi made its way into a growing number of cameras from point-and-shoot to pro tools. But there was much more than that. It seems the megapixel war, thankfully, has stalled (at least when it comes to compact cameras) and the focus has turned away from low-end point-and-shoot cameras in favor of more sophisticated technology. We saw MILCs continue to be refined, and many manufacturers are now boasting negligible lag time, a very welcome development that addresses one of the most frequently-aired complaints among point-and-shooters and some MILC owners.
Some interesting corporate moves made headlines: Google announced that is has bought Nik software, while Hasselblad went into a partnership with Sony, which provided the sensor for the still-in-development Hasselblad Lunar. Canon, Leica, Nikon and Sony all introduced full-frame 35mm-sized sensor cameras, ranging from compact (Sony) to low-cost DSLRs (Canon, Nikon) and high-end pro rangefinders (Leica). Almost every camera introduced boasted significant reductions in shutter lag and focus acquisition time, and at least half of the cameras introduced had some form of Wi-Fi connectivity.
Here’s an exclusive Adorama overview of the cameras first, then significant lenses and accessories introduced at Photokina.
New Digital Cameras at a Glance
Here’s a very quick rundown of key cameras introduced at Photokina; click on the links for exclusive Adorama News Desk articles about them.
Canon introduced four new cameras, including the Canon EOS 6D, a full-frame 20MP camera with built-in Wi-Fi and GPS, the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS, the world’s longest-range superzoom compact camera with a 50x optical zoom, the Canon PowerShot G15, featuring a fast f/1.8 lens and a 53% reduction in lag time, and the pocket-sized Canon PowerShot S110, with a new 5x optical zoom lens and Wi-Fi.
Fujifilm announced the Fujifilm X-E1, a high-end EVF that costs $700 less than the top-line X-Pro 1, the Fujifilm XF1, a posh, retro pocket camera and the Instax Mini 8 instant film camera.
Leica launched a virtual avalanche of new cameras and lenses, including the new flagship Leica M and relatively low-cost Leica M-E 35mm rangefinder digital cameras, two new compact cameras, the Leica V-Lux 40 with a 24x optical zoom lens with a constant f/2.8 aperture, and the Leica V-Lux 6, a compact camera with a fast 5x zoom lens that starts with f/1.4 and HD.
Nikon unveiled its lowest-cost, smallest and lightest full-frame DSLR, the Nikon D600 featuring a 24.3MP sensor, full 1080p HD video recording, and virtually no shutter lag.
Olympus revamped its pioneering Digital Pen lineup with two new models, the Olympus Pen E-PL5 and Olympus Pen mini E-PM2 , both designed around the same 16MP sensor as the OMD, and the Olympus Stylus XZ-2, a premium system compact camera with a fast f/1.8 lens.
Panasonic announced the Panasonic Lumix GH3 , a new flagship EVF Micro Four Thirds camera with ruggedized construction to keep out spray and sand, and a feature set that may appeal equally to still and video photography pros and serious hobbyists.
Pentax debuted the ruggedized Pentax K-5 II and K-5 II s DSLRs, featuring a newly-developed sensor (the K-5 IIs comes without an anti-aliasing sensor), and the Pentax Q10, the latest version of their tiny interchangeable-lens camera featuring a new 12MP sensor.
Sony introduced its first full-frame SLT-type DSLR the Sony Alpha SLT-A99V, a rugged advanced amateur/pro model, the Sony DSC-RX1, the world’s first full-frame compact digital camera, and the Sony NEX-6, an $850 MILC with a fast shutter release, 16MP sensor, Wi-Fi and a hi-res electronic viewfinder.
But Photokina was about much more than just cameras. Let’s look at some exciting new lenses and accessories that were unveiled this week.
In addition to the Lensbaby Spark, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 and Tamron 90mm Macro lenses (click on the links to learn more), several interesting new lenses were unveiled:
Sigma reorganized its lens lines into three categories, and introduced a new lens for each. The lightweight Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4 DC MACRO OS HSM is in the Contemporary category. It is designed for cameras with an APS-C sensor and covers a range equivalent to 25.5 to 105mm on a 35mm camera. An upgrade to its predecessor, which was released in December 2009, this general purpose lens offers a new design and a more compact build.
The Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM is in the “Art” category and according to Sigma, provides photographers with a state-of-the-art alternative to the more conventional 50mm. This lens’ axial chromatic aberration is minimized, which renders a cool and smooth out-of-focus image. At small apertures, it is said to perform like a wide-angle lens; when opened up to f.1.4, it will provide background bokeh and make the subject pop like a mid-range telephoto lens.
The Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM, which is in the Sports category, is an update from its predecessor released in February 2011. This high-performance lens offers a maximum focal length of 300mm and a wide-open aperture of f/2.8. This lens, like the other Sports category lenses to come, is dust and moisture resistant, and allows users to adjust the focus speed and the focus limiter via a button on the lens.
All the new lenses will be available at the Sigma store at Adorama, at prices and dates to be announced.
Voigtlander released the Voigtlander Ultron 21mm f/1.8 in a Leica M-mount. Featuring 13 elements in 11 groups with one aspherical element, it has 10 aperture blades and an all-metal design and a nonremovable lens hood. Look for it to ship early next year with a price of approximately $1500. Visit the Voigtlander store at Adorama.
Zeiss has developed three new autofocus lenses for Sony and Fuji MILCs, both of which are based on APS sensors. The autofocus lenses are: Zeiss 12mm f/2.8 (35mm equivalent: 18mm), 32mm f/1.8 (35mm equivalent: 48mm), and 50mm f/2.8 (35mm equivalent: 75mm). All three lenses will be available in Fujifilm X-Bayonet and Sony E-Bayonet mounts, and while availability and exact prices are not yet known, they will likely be in the $1,500 range each. Visit the Zeiss store at Adorama.
Lexar introduced the world’s largest capacity SD memory card, the Lexar 256GB SDXC UHS-1 memory card, claiming a 400x minimum guaranteed sustained read transfer speed and a 60MB minimum speed—ideally suited for capturing, storing, and transferring high-res images and 1080p Full-HD and 3D video. Lexar recommends the new Lexar Professional USB 3.0 Dual-Slot reader for the fastest transfer rates for this card. Check the Lexar store at Adorama for availability and pricing.
Datacolor announced SpyderCAPTURE PRO, a bundle that allows photographers precise control over color from image capture to post-production and final prints. Photographers, designers and imaging professionals can calibrate autofocus in cameras and lenses with the SpyderLENSCAL, control contrast and white point balance with SpyderCUBE, control color balance with SpyderCHECKR, and calibrate displays, such as a computer monitor or laptop, iPads, iPhones, televisions (optional upgrade) and projectors, with Spyder4ELITE. Datacolor SpyderCAPTURE PRO will be available from the Adorama Datacolor store for $399.
If you are looking for simple color management, X-Rite has announced X-Rite ColorMunki Smile, an entry-level color calibration system. ColorMunki Smile includes a color measurement device and very simple software. Thanks to a wizard-based user interface that uses graphics and video animation, users just need to follow the on-screen instructions that walk them through the quick and easy calibration process. Best of all, users don't need to know anything about color science to get good quality results with the ColorMunki Smile. Using the same color profile technology as X-Rite's professional-level color calibration products, ColorMunki Smile provides color accuracy on commonly used LED and LCD displays. Users can also calibrate multiple monitors to accurately show colors. ColorMunki Smile software automatically detects when multiple monitors are connected to a single Mac or PC computer and allows users to color correct each one. Look for the ColorMunki Smile soon at Adorama's X-Rite store for $99.
What will you carry all your fancy new gear in? Think Tank Photo introduced the CityWalker, a messenger bag series (above) designed for street photographers and photojournalists. A sound silencer on the main flap, extra flaps for small lenses and lined velex inserts are among the features. Airport Navigator is the first photographer’s rolling pilot’s case. It lets you get to your gear from either the front or top of the bag. It holds two pro-sized bodies, three to six extra lenses, and most 15.4-inch laptops. Both bags will be available from the Think Tank store at Adorama in November; prices to be announced.
Tenba expanded its line of Roadie Video bags with two new larger sizes. The new Roadie Video Backpack and Roadie Shoulder Bag will be about 20 percent larger than the bags that were launched earlier this year. Both bags are designed to fit the latest digital camera / video systems, including DSLRs from Canon (5D Mark III, EOS-1D X) and Nikon (D4, D800), and larger gear from RED (Epic, Scarlet), Canon (C100/C300/C500) and Sony (FS100/FS700), along with a laptop and a full assortment of accessories. The new larger sized bags include the same video-specific features as the existing Roadie Video bags, which are designed to meet the demands of image makers who switch between DSLR and full-size video camera systems. Features include monopod/shotgun mic pockets, quick-access audio compartments, padded integrated laptop storage, wide, unobstructed openings, oversized pockets for large batteries, hard drives and cables. The larger Roadie II Video Backpack and Shoulder Bag will be available from the Adorama Tenba store in January 2013.
Induro announced the DR Hi-Hat TableTop tripod. First shown at NAB 2012, the Induro LFB100S DR Hi-Hat Tabletop Tripod Set received rave reviews. Just like its slightly bigger brother, the new Induro LFB75S, which was announced at Photokina, was designed with both photographers and videographers in mind. This unique support system provides a range of capabilities that makes this tripod compatible with the requirements of still cameras as well as video platforms. Supporting up to a 165 lb. load, the new DR Hi-Hat Tabletop Tripod Set consists of both a short Aluminum Alloy tripod with 75mm Bowl, and a 75mm Half Ball Adapter. Look for the Induro LBF75S at the Adorama Induro store in December. Price to be announced.
Sekonic unveiled the Sekonic Litemaster Pro L-478DR/D, new photo/cine meters with the world’s first color touch screen. You operate both models via a 2.7-inch color LCD monitor. The Sekonic Litemaster Pro L 478R uses exposure profiling via X-Rite ColorChecker targets, works with PocketWizard wireless radio technology and uses Data Transfer Software to calibrate the meter to the camera in use,. The Sekonic Litemaster Pro L-478D meter offers two motion capture modes offers numerous other cine-friendly features. Pricing and availability to be announced. Look for the latest products in the Sekonic Store at Adorama.
Film and Inkjet Paper
OK, very little new film was exposed at Photokina. Mainly, it came from Impossible, the breakaway company that has refused to let the Polaroid 600 and SX 70 formats die. Impossible PX70 Instant Film is a new color film for Polaroid SX 70 cameras, while Impossible PX680 is designed for Polaroid 600 instant cameras. The big improvement? Unlike the first generation of Impossible films, which were sensitive to light once ejected from the camera, these new emulsions will not be affected by ambient light during the developing process. They will cost approximately $23.50 per pack of eight sheets. Visit the Impossible store at Adorama.
Ilford added three new Galerie inkjet papers. GALERIE Prestige Gold Mono Silk is a black and white media that is acid-free, lignin-free, and fiber base. Ilford says it is optimized to look and feel like traditional darkroom-made prints. GALERIE Prestige Gold Cotton Smooth 330gsm & Gold Cotton Textured 330gsm are 100% rag products and are free of optical brighteners. They feature a traditional mould-made base from a fine art paper mill. GALERIE Prestige double-sided Fine Art Smooth 220gsm & Fine Art Textured 220gsm are double-sided papers that come in a smooth or textured surface, offering a bright white base that delivers sharpness, contrast, crisp detail and vivid color. Pricing and availability to be announced. Visit the Ilford store at Adorama.