Photokina 2008


People gathering at the south entrance prior to the opening of the show

It was crowded at photokina 2008, I mean really crowded. Especially Canon had large amounts of visitors. Most of them were interested in the new EOS 5D Mark II. An impressive full frame camera for sure, but I visited Canon to take a look at the new G10. And I must admit, that I really liked it. It felt very solid, the dials gave resistance and a clear click and worked superb. The screen was pretty good, and the OVF was larger too (than the G9). I made a few photographs at ISO 400 and ISO 800 and was amazed by the details and the amount (or should I say lack) of noise. Only some noise to be spotted in darker areas, but much better than my GX200. Their response on my question of a G11 with a CMOS sensor was: “Could be, who knows?”
For those interested in a hands off with the 5D Mark II and the G10, have a read here. And there is already a first impression from a Canadian wedding photographer of the 5D Mark II.


At Canon size does matter

At the Panasonic booth it was all about the Lumix G1. Admitted, the EVF is much better than expected, but you can’t compare it with a real viewfinder. Funny though that all G1 cameras on display were still preproduction models. I tried to figure out why they opted for a very conservative SLR form, instead of a more rangefinder like body. And their answer was that they aimed for buyers who don’t want to have a real and heavy dSLR. For the next coming year Panasonic definitely don’t plan a smaller RF like camera. And for those who are interested in HD video. It will be released in the G2 next year, in combination with a newly developed AF zoom lens. They didn’t want to introduce video in the camera, when it can’t focus. Something most photo cameras can’t do, not even the new Nikon D90. The design of the 20mm pancake prime lens looked very sweet and incredibly small.


People trying the new Panasonic G1

Further up the booth you could check the LX3. It felt good, the grip was pretty nice, and it was a very quiet camera too. I compared the RAW write times with the GX200 and it was already comparably fast (on internal memory). With a fast SD card it will be faster than the GX200. I didn’t like the screen though. It was too bright, and I just didn’t like the Panasonic menu.


Taking a welcome break

Even more than Canon, it was all dSLR cameras at the Nikon booth. I didn’t even bother about the GPS device P6000.


Are these the typical Nikon amateur photographers? You dirty wankers

So I quickly moved on to the Leica booth below. OK, it is too expensive (I am no collector or dentist), but I really wanted to check out the Leica M8 and M8.2. I made a promise to someone to compare the noise of the shutter between both cameras and the M8.2 is absolutely quieter. It felt so great, had a very solid feel, and the rangefinder was very bright. And how great, they added a stupid auto setting too on the camera so the dentist now really can’t afford not to use the camera anymore. Just a quick note about the new S2, one mighty camera. A medium format camera equally sized as a EOS 1D Mark III or D3. Will do well I think in the rental business.


Japanese Panasonic representatives photographing the Leica D-Lux 4

On the other site of the Leica booth it was all about the new Leica D-Lux 4. I personally like this camera more than the LX3. It felt nicer, and had a more classic look. The accessories were really nice, liked the grip and the leather bag (but all simply overpriced). The camera will be sold with Capture One 4, instead of Silkypix that comes with the Panasonic LX3 (are the RAW files different too?).
I also asked the representative about a possible digital CL, and he didn’t say NO. “It could be possible”, he said.


“I need to sell more cameras”

Behind Leica was the booth of Zeiss. Loved the look and feel of their Ikon rangefinder. And I am sorry, no mentioning of a digital Ikon from the representative. And Voigtländer are definitely not building a digital Bessa RF.


A reflectioned moment

At the Olympus booth the only thrilling news was the mock up of their micro Four Third camera. There is no roadmap yet, but the camera will definitely be released next year according to one of their spokeswomen.


The Olympus micro Four Third mock up on display at the Olympus booth

I think it is a pity that Olympus doesn’t have any serious Camedia cameras anymore, like the C5050 and ultimately the C8080.


“Where to go next?”

The news at Sigma was the new DP2 without any release date. Sounds familiar? Probably next year, but they said it would be faster than the DP1, because of the new image processor. Don’t expect an improved DP1 with 28mm, and the DP3 could have a different focal length too.
But the best thing of all was that one of the photographs from Ronald Bunnik was on display. Congrats, Ronald! More of the displayed Sigma photographs can be seen here.


A visitor views the exhibited photograph of Ronald Bunnik at the Sigma booth

And what about Ricoh? They had a booth in the same hall as Sigma, but their booth was very small. Absolutely nothing spectacular. I asked them some questions about the GX200 in comparison to the GX100 (lens, sensor). They said that they didn’t improve the lens after some problems with dust. “From who did you hear about dust problems?”, they asked. They, in some way, admitted that dust could enter the camera either through the lens (the retraction system sucks it in) or through the battery compartment. They probably improved the sealing of the battery compartment. Although the camera wont be pocketable anymore, they said that the HA-2 adapter with a UV filter would form the best protection against dust. So, for those in doubt about the dust (like me) and not concerned that the camera will become larger, I suggest you buy the adapter and a filter.
At the moment there are no new developments at Ricoh (or at least they are not talking about it), but they made clear that they will commit themselves to improving the GX and GR series. Especially concerning the image quality, since they already have superb camera handling. They think there is a strong demand for serious compact cameras. I left behind my blog url and acknowledged that I would love to participate for feedback to Ricoh.
When you still plan to go to photokina, make sure you check the books from the German photographer Stefan Maria Rother at the Ricoh booth. He published two books about two streets in Berlin, and all the photographs in those books were made with the GR Digital 1 and Ricoh GX100.


The gigantic Lomo wall

It was eventually not all about cameras. I checked the booth of Blurb. I am planning on making a photo book and might use blurb as a publisher. I was impressed by their software and some of the printed books on display.


The most comfortable shoes for a day of photokina

Although the Adobe booth wasn’t as big as expected (not even close to Cebit, the news about the new Creative Suite 4 was big. I liked it how they improved the user interface of Photoshop, too simplify the most important tasks. And they introduced the target adjustment tool too in Photoshop (borrowed from Lightroom). Next to Adobe was the booth of Nik. Nik done impressive things in my opinion with their new plug-ins for Photoshop and Apple Aperture. In particular I liked Silver Efex Pro.


Some took a break at the Visual Gallery

If you are still planning on going to Photokina make sure to check the Visual Gallery. There are some fantastic photographs exhibited, like some work of Salgado, Nina Berman, Hollywood actor Dennis Hopper, and many others.

Was that all? Off course not, Hasselblad had a fantastic booth and their MF cameras were absolutely gorgeous. In general I think there are more people interested in a MF cameras with a digital back.


It was packed with photographers at the Hasselblad booth

I didn’t mention Pentax and Samsung, nor did I Sony. It seems unlikely that Sony will introduce a follow up for the DSC-V1 & V3, and won’t create a digital Hexar either.


The Sony booth packed with Full HD screens

At the booth of Fuji the only interesting news was their new EXR CCD chip that will create more dynamic range, less noise, and should perform better than the F31fd. This new sensor will be outfitted in new cameras to come next year.


View from the south entrance to the Dome of Cologne

All photographs by Wouter Brandsma