Photokina 2008 round-up

This year's Photokina looks to have been one of the busiest ever. With new releases and some interesting developments, I'm looking forward to what the next year will bring in the way of both software and hardware. The barriers between technologies are now looking greyer than ever as convergence is continuing to be something to be reckoned with. Several DSLRs are now offering super high pixel counts and HD quality video. This is a feature which you will no doubt see more of as journalists start using the cameras which combine photo & video in one chassis. You'll no doubt start seeing the top range models incorporating this feature as well.

The resolution issue is rapidly disappearing and as good as the capabilities and potential of non-Bayer-based technologies appear to be (e.g., Foveon), I've yet to see anything approaching the pixel counts of conventional chip technologies in these competing systems. There were, however, several new professional and medium format type cameras featuring resolutions which were in the 50 megapixel area.

For the average person the capabilties of their camera phone is proving to be a real winner, because requirements are being met more than adequately. Apple have fallen behind here because the iPhone is way behind the resolution camera phone standard of 5 megapixels. Newer mobile phones are incorporating video more and more and again convergence is making its presence felt. I mention mobiles because many sites have remarked on the reduction in the number of compact digicams being shown. To be honest I've alway felt there were way too many models offered, the less-is-more school being my favored approach to dealing with the market. Manufacturers have been forced to pay attention and adapt.

Hardware seems to have been the primary focus for a lot of the coverage from other sites, but there has also been a lot of activity in areas of software and services aimed at both the amateur and professional photographer. One growth area has been print-on-demand sevices and products where many photographers are now able to produce short run editions of their photography in bound and folio versions. There has also been much movement in large format output services, making it easy for photographers and imageers to reproduce their work for resale and display. Photokina had a number of these service providers present and showing their wares and services.

The growth in the number of software solutions on offer for handling RAW files and processing images is now making it a real chore to try and figure out which way to go, when picking tools to work with. Adobe (Photoshop CS 4, Photoshop Elements 6 & 7, Lightoom), Corel (Paint Shop Pro), Apple (Aperture) and many others (e.g., Nik Software, ACD Systems, etc., etc.), announced and/or showed their photography workflow and editing tools.

We’re not going to attempt to even look into things in too much depth, as there were over 1600 exhibitors at Photokina this year, but we will cover as much as we can.


Adobe Corp
Adobe have released a whole range of new products including both consumer and pro level tools. At the consumer end they have released Adobe Photoshop Elements 7 and Premiere Elements 7, both of which offer some innovative ways for consumers to interact and work with their content. At the pro level they have released CS4 of their toolkit. This of course includes the latest versions of Photoshop Creatuve Suite 4 and CS4 Extended. New features include enhanced 3D support, tabbed document Windows, enhanced support in Bridge, enhanced viewing & handling of panoramic content, and faster application start-up.


BenQ
BenQ showed their E1050 which is according to them the world’s slimmest camera with a 3-inch LCD screen.


Canon
This year's offering from Canon has seen some of my past predictions come true. I'm a current user of the Canon 5D and with the Mk II introduced and seeing what it has to offer I've gottten itchy with anticipation. The combination of high ISO and enhanced resolution, combined with 1080P video capture is burning a hole in my wallet. Canon have also introduced the following new products;

Digital SLRs
Canon EOS 50D

Lenses
Canon EF 24 mm F1.4L II
Canon EF-S 18-200 F3.5-F5.6 IS

Consumer Digicams
Canon PowerShot SX1 IS
Canon PowerShot SX10 IS
Canon PowerShot G10
Canon PowerShot SD990 IS / IXUS 980 IS
Canon PowerShot SD880 IS / IXUS 870 IS
Canon PowerShot SX110IS
Canon PowerShot E1
Canon PowerShot A2000 IS
Canon PowerShot A1000 IS


Carl Zeiss
Carl Zeiss showed the compact Tele-Tessar T* 4/85 ZM, which is a new addition to the ZM line of rangefinder camera lenses. They also showed their Distagon T* 2.8/21 - 21mm super wide angle lens for SLR cameras. Carl Zeiss are also expanding their manual focus SLR lenses to include the Canon EF mount on the new ZE range.


Casio
Casio intro'd a number of consumer digicams including the Casio Exilim EX-Z85, Exilim EX-Z300, Exilim EX-Z250 and the Exilim EX-FH20.


Epson
Epson showcased a variety of products including their portable storage solutions, the P-6000 and P-7000. They also showed the brand new Artisan line of all-in-one inkjet printers including the Artisan 800 and 700. The Epson Stylus NX100/NX200/NX300 all-in-one consumer models were also on show. For those of you who have stuff to scan the Epson Perfection V300 was presented as a unit to consider with its 4800 x 9600 dpi maximum hardware resolution, 48-bit color scanning and 3.2 dynamic range.


Fujifilm
Fuji intro'd their new FinePix 3D which is a twin lens/sensor camera and print/display system which allows recording and display of 3D images. Fuji also showed the latest version of Super CCD, EXR, using a new color filter array to improve pixel binning which offers the twin benefits of high resolution and expanded dynamic range. They did show the following new Consumer Digicams:

Fujifilm FinePix F60fd
Fujifilm FinePix S2000HD
Fujifilm FinePix J150W
Fujifilm FinePix J110W
Fujifilm FinePix J120
Fujifilm FinePix J100


GE
GE showed their A1030, a slim 10 megapixel digicam which has a 2.5 inch LCD screen, 3x optical zoom and uses AA batteries. The E1055W features a 10 megapixels sensor, wide-angle 5x zoom lens and a 3-inch LCD screen. GE also showed the E1050TW which in addition to a 3.0" touch screen LCD and 28 mm wide-angle, 5x zoom lens, offers 1280 x 720 pixel HD movie recording, plus Face, Blink and Smile detection functions.


Kodak
Just to prove that film isn't completely dead Kodak showed their Professional Ektar 100 a new ISO 100 smooth-grain color film which has high saturation and ultra-vivid color, and offers the finest, smoothest grain of any color negative film available today.


LaCie
LaCie showed their 730, 724 and 720 Monitors which offer Ultra-wide gamuts of up to 123 percent of Adobe RGB colorspace. A must see for anyone involved in imaging and photography.


Leaf
Leaf have intro'd a number of medium format cameras and digital camera backs. These are the AFi-II 10, 7 and 6 digital medium format cameras and the related Aptus-II 10, 7 and 6 digital backs. The AFi-II 7 and 10 feature the first 90° tilting LCD screens. The AFi-II 10 and Aptus-II 10 uses a 56 megapixel, 56 x 36mm sensor. The AFi-II 7 and Aptus-II 7 use a 33 megapixel, 48 x 36mm sensor, whilst the AFi-II 6 and Aptus-II 6 use a 28 megapixel, 44 x 33mm sensor. All of the new cameras/backs feature 3.5" touch screen LCD displays, 12 stop dynamic range, a 50-800 ISO range and 16-bit output. Another new feature is Leaf Verto which is an internal sensor rotation dial on the side and bottom of the AFi-II 7 and 10 that allows photographers to rotate the sensor without removing the digital back.


Leica
Leica showcased their new S2 Digital SLR which features a larger medium format 37 megapixel sensor. This camera is about the size of the Canon 1DS MKIII. Leica's other camera and lens offerings were somewhat overshadowed by this camera, but include the digital rangefinder based Leica M8.2 and the D-LUX 4 and C-LUX 3 consumer digicams. Leica also showed the Leica NOCTILUX-M 50 mm f /1, SUMMILUX-M 21 mm f / 1.4 ASPH, SUMMILUX-M 24mm f / 1.4 ASPH and the ELMAR-M 24 mm f / 3.8 ASPH as well as some prototypes including the rather nice looking 30mm Tilt & Shift CS lens.


Lensbaby
Lensbaby showed three new lenses called Composer, Muse and Control Freak. The Muse and Control Freak replace the current Lensbaby Original, 2.0 and 3G lenses. The Composer is interesting in that it features a ball & socket type assembly, which according to Lensbaby offers greater precision and ease of use. All the new lenses feature a new Optic Swap System which allows the user to choose from four interchangeable optics — double glass, single glass, plastic and Pinhole — and which also extend the future capabilities of the system.


Mamiya
Mamiya unveiled the ZDb digital back and the recently announced 645 AF DIII featuring their 22 megapixel Dalsa CCD sensor. Mamiya also showed some of its high-end glass including the new leaf shutter based Sekor AF 80mm F2.8 D L/S and their Mamiya Remote Capture software.


Microsoft
Microsoft showed the recently released Photosynth. This innovative product allows the association of images to create 3D scenes. Photosynth allows you to relate these images and analyses each image for similarities. Photosynth then uses this data to build a 3D model of where the photos were taken.


Minox
Minox showed the DC 1033 a 10 megapixel digicam with 5x zoom lens and the Minox DCC Leica M3 Gold Edition which is a 5 megapixel digicam based on the Leica M3 featuring a striking design in black and gold.


Nikon
Nikon sort of jumped the gun with its product announcements but its showing didn't disappoint. Nikon showed their new D90 DSLR featuring a 12.3 MP CMOS sensor and the D3/D300/D700's 3.0-inch screen with live view and continuous shooting at up to 4.5 frames per second, and 720P high definition video mode. Nikon also showed several other products, including:

Consumer Digicams
Nikon Coolpix P6000
Nikon Coolpix S710
Nikon Coolpix S610c
Nikon Coolpix S610
Nikon Coolpix S560
Nikon Coolpix S60

Lenses
Nikon 18-105 mm F3.5-F5.6G VR


Olympus
Olympus surprised a lot of folks at Photokina with a mock-up of their Micro Four Thirds camera concept. The mockup measured around 4.7" x 2.5" x 1.2" and looks like it'll appeal to a lot of folks who want something versatile but compact. Olympus also showed another prototype of a DSLR which will fit between the E-520 and E-3 models. They also showed several consumer digicams in the form of the 10 megapixel Mju/Stylus 1050SW and the 10 megapixel Mju/Stylus 1040. At the lower end they showed three new 'FE' models; the FE-20, FE-360 and FE-370.


Panasonic
Amongst its product showcase Panasonic showed its new Micro 4/3 Camera, the Panasonic DMC-G1 and several new lenses including the 14-45mm/F3.5-5.6/O.I.S. and the 45-200mm/F4.0-5.6/ O.I.S, and a Micro Four Thirds adapter.


Pentax
Pentax showcased its brand new K2000(K-m) and the associated lenses. This camera features an image stabilized 10 megapixel sensor and is small, light and easy to use. Pentax showed the following lenses: the DA 60-250mm F4 ED IF SDM, the DA 55mm F1.4 SDM, the DA 15mm F4 ED AL Limited, the DA L 18-55mm F3.5-5.6AL and the DA L 50-200mm F4-5.6AL. They also showed the DA 1.4X REAR CONVERTER SDM prototype.


PhaseOne
Lens Sep 4 PhaseOne 45 mm F 3.5 TS


Sigma
Sigma showed its SD15 Digital SLR and the worthy Sigma DP2 consumer digicam, both of which feature sensors based on Foveon technology. Sigma showed a number of lenses including the 24-70mm F2.8 EX DG HSM, the 50mm F1.4 EX DG HSM, 4.5mm F2.8 EX DC HSM Fisheye Lens, 10mm F2.8 EX DC HSM Fisheye Lens and the Sigma APO 1.4x EX DG and Sigma APO 2x EX DG Tele Converters. Sigma also showed the Macro EM-140 DG flash for Pentax and Sony.


Sinar
Sinar showed their Hy6 65 medium format system which includes the eSprit65 back which is first to produce DNG files onboard. Sinar also showed a dedicated architecture camera, the arTEc, which was developed in collaboration with architecture photographer Rainer Viertlboeck. The 1.5Kg, relatively compact camera offers +/- 5 degree tilt, rotatable through 360 degrees and +25mm/-15mm shift vertically and +/-20mm horizontally. The Sinar eXposure software developed with architecture photography in mind is available from the company's website.


Sony
Digital SLRs
Sony Alpha 900 [preview]

Consumer Digicams
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T700
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T77
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T500

Lenses
Sony SAL1635ZA
Sony SAL70400G


Tamron
Lens Sep 2 Tamron SP AF90 mm F2.8 Di Macro
Lens Sep 2 Tamron SP AF10-24 mm Di II
Lens Sep 2 Tamron SP AF70-200 mm F2.8 Di LD IF Macro [review]
Lens Sep 2 Tamron SP AF18-270 mm Di II VC


Tokina
Lens Sep 24 Tokina 16.5-135mm F3.5-5.6 [review]


Zeiss
Lens Sep 19 Zeiss Distagon T* 2.8/21
Lens Sep 15 Zeiss Planar T* 1.4/50
Lens Sep 15 Zeiss Planar T* 1.4/85


On the storage front there have been a few new developments but nothing noteworthy speedwise. The biggest advances have been in the way of storage capacity and format.

Delkin
Delkin released its new USB external 4X Blue-Ray Disc drive and a line of archival quality Blu-ray discs. The discs have 25GB capacity and purportedly have a 200 year lifespan. A 25GB disk can be burned in 30 minutes using this drive.


Kingston
Kingston released its 32GB Class 4 SDHC card.


Lexar
Lexar 16 GB UDMA CF card


Pretec
Pretec 64 GB CompactFlash, 233x
Pretec 100 GB CompactFlash, 233x
Pretec 32 GB CompactFlash, 333x
Pretec 32 GB CompactFlash, 333x


SanDisk
SanDisk showed their new Extreme III 32 GB CF card, Extreme IV 16 GB CF card and the Extreme III SDHC card.


Digital Foci
Digital Foci announced Photo Safe II, a portable storage solution which can act as a portable card reader and USB hard drive. It copys all data off memory cards including RAW and video files.


Lenovo
ThinkPad W300


Lowepro
Lowepro announced a number of bags including the Terraclime; The PrimusMinimus AW and CompuPrimus AW which are made from 51 percent recycled materials. The compact PrimusMinimus can haul a DSLR with a moderate-range zoom attached in addition to one or two extra lenses. The CompuPrimus AW, which has space for a DSLR, up to five lenses, and features a laptop compartment large enough for a 15.4" notebooks, The Primus line feature an all-weather cover and tripod attachment hardware. Also new is the Flipside 400 backpack which will easily fit a DSLR with pro-grade zoom and up to six extra lenses, the SlingShot 330 AW which is a side-opening bag that can accommodate a DSLR and several lenses alongside a 15" laptop.

The most comprehensive coverage of the show can be found at http://www.photokina-show.com/ which has been put together by LetsGoDigital.