photokina 2016 :: Imaging Unlimited
by Elmo Sapwater
Held September 20-25 in Cologne, Germany. With a population of over one million people, photographers brought the city to new heights. This is something to be looked forward to for a city established over 2,000 years ago along the Rhine River.
The industry, having gone through many changes in recent years, were keenly watching to see if photokina (www.photokina.com) remained the place to be when it came to photography. This international photographic showcase takes place every two years unlike many other annually held trade shows. No matter where you might come from or what language might be spoken photography is universal.
Hall after hall was filled with something for everyone. Walking was about the only option to get from one area to the other. One day alone just couldn’t do photokina justice either. When all as said and done the numbers in 2016 were respectable. Visitors attending the event came to 191,000, up from 183,300 in 2014. Exhibitions fell a small bit to 983 from 1074 exhibitors showing in the previous photokina.
Today, the megapixel count and ISO ranges don’t seem to matter as much. Perhaps, it’s time to concentrate more on the features. That said, let’s take a look at some of those things that caught our eyes. You might be surprised.
Mirrorless medium format became a reality thanks to Hasselblad (www.hasselblad.com) and Fujifilm (www.fujifilm.eu). Hasselblad had previously announced the X1D, a compact 50-megapixel Camera, in June. Think of it as a big and yet, compact rangefinder that is about the size of a bigger DSLR but without all the weight. Originally founded by Victor Hasselblad its first camera was introduced in the 1940s. There is no doubt that Victor is proudly smiling from the clouds when it comes to the X1D.
But, then Fujifilm came to town with the GFX, 51.4-megapixel model. While the product was leaked prior to the show it still made quite a positive effect on those attending the Fujifilm press conference. The reaction was that the X1D might not be such a sweet camera after all. The X1D had a list price of $8995 USD for the body only. Add a 45mm F3.5 lens and body would retail for just under $12,000 USD.
Fujifilm’s GFX is sweet in that it has a optional rotating viewfinder that is really wonderful. Because it is such a new direction for the company new lenses had to be designed as well. The system also feels like a big DSLR or perhaps a film-based 645 camera.
After examining both systems in-depth we see the X1D for those photographers who want to get outside to take beautiful images. Perhaps, this is a photojournalist’s “big” field camera. On the other side, the GFX will be loved by wedding and portrait photographers. It’s more of a system camera.
Hasselblad’s H1D is shipping now. Fujifilm’s GFX will be on the market in early 2017. The later is said to be priced aggressively under $10,000 USD. Rather than imply one is better than the other we believe both cameras will be big sellers for both companies. We could live with either one and be truly happy.
VIRTUAL REALITY PHOTOGRAPHY
VR (Virtual Reality) ready to take off thanks to a lot of new cameras. Back in January at the Consumer Electronic Show held in Las Vegas, Kodak and Nikon announced their line of VR cameras. Kodak, working with JK Imaging, showed its line of PixPro (kodakpixpro.com) VR 4K action cameras. Nikon demonstrated KeyMission (europe-nikon.com) action cameras ranging from 360˚ to 170˚. Both had press conferences announcing that cameras were shipping. Interestingly enough, the later, however, focused only on its KeyMission line of cameras – no mention of DSLR or point and shoot cameras.
VR photography is a lot of fun. These cameras have multiple lenses capable of stitching images and video on the fly. This is fun stuff and provides a whole new way of creating images.
While some companies have only had mediocre success at this point with VR we believe that aggressive pricing and competition will take effect among professionals and amateurs. It’s one of those things that can apply to many markets such as real estate, travel photography, action video, and documentary projects…just to name a few.
What about GoPro (www.gopro.com)? Here’s one company that really built its reputation on action. But, recently the camera company has fallen into tough times due to increased competition. The company has left a lot of people questioning its ability to bounce back. Never fear because GoPro announced the Hero5.
The Hero5 is a bit smaller than the Hero4. You’ll find one-button shooting, 4K video and 10-megapixel still images. Using your voice you can control the camera with simple commands. This one is waterproof down to 10 meters. One thing we really liked was the removable front lens filter opening up the door to creative filters galore.
When it comes to accessories you’ll still be in the game since most of them will still fit. GoPro truly has tons of accessories, too.
The GoPro Hero5 is shipping now with a great price point. It comes in at $300.
Hero5: manual settings, auto exposure mode, 4K video, 10mp stills; removable front lens filter; waterproof down to 10 meters; voice controls with simple voice commands; one-button shooting. Lower price at $300 USD. Available October 2.
Panasonic (www.panasonic..eu) introduced four new digital cameras. The first is the GH5 Micro Four-Thirds DSLR, the G85 DSLR, the FZ2500 fixed lens, and a Lumix LX10 point and shoot. What’s special is that they support 4K images and video. And, this is just the beginning. All of these companies are already looking at 6K and 8K in future models. Panasonic is smart to tout 4K. It gives them a niche that it continues to nurture.
We’re hearing that in a couple of years 6K will arrive. But, it’s funny how 6K may just disappear to make way for 8K sooner than anyone believes.
Sony updated it’s Alpha 99 full-frame DSLR. It’s now the Alpha 99II a 42.4-megapixel beast. It can shoot 12 fps at full resolution. During the press conference it seemed that it went about 60 frames in rapid succession before it even slowed down.
Regardless, Sony has done quite well with its sensors and professional cameras. Look for the Alpha 99II to be another big winner for the company.
Olympus threw a big press party to announce its new flagship, the E-M1 Mark II DSLR. It’s compact thanks to Micro Four-Thirds. It has 4K video and can capture 18fps Raw at full resolution or 60fps in Pro Capture mode. For whatever reason, Olympus left out Full Res Handheld. Look for the E-M1 Mark II in 2017.
While we enjoy the party it was evident that Olympus spent a large sum of money to host the event. Perhaps Olympus could have saved money by giving us all new E-M1 Mark II DSLR cameras.
Every show seems to have something that just grabs you and makes you look at it twice. This happened to be the M1, a Micro Four-Thirds mirrorless camera from Yi (yitechnology.com). The M1 packs a 20-megapixel sensor and can shoot at 5fps in continuous shooting. Then, there’s 4K video capability along with Bluetooth and WiFi.
While more lenses are coming, there are two for the M1 body now. There’s a 12-40mm zoom as well as a 42.5mm with macro, both with image stabilization built-in.
The M1 is shipping now. Prices tops out at $700 but starts at $500 USD for the body and the 12-40mm lens.
The next photokina takes place in 2018, September 25-30. Make plans today to travel to Cologne, Germany to see the world’s greatest international photo event.