Photokina 2008

2008, Photography

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

32 thoughts on “Photokina 2008

  1. Thanks for your report Wouter. It was a very good and informative report.
    Can’t wait to go there tomorrow and also have a chat with Ricoh and give them my feedback.

  2. Great report and images Wouter…photojournalism is also in your blood. Let’s hope that Ricoh stays in touch with you and that they work on image quality to the point that one day, I can sell off my DSLRs and do paid work with a Ricohs! 🙂 The G10 sounds very, very tempting, especially if it does well in low-light conditions. Keep up the great work!

  3. thank you for checking the shutter for me, sweetie! i hope everything else went well…

    Cristian — work on those Ricoh boys! the handling of their camera is second to none. it would be the sweetest if we could have the look of Sigma with all the joys of a Ricoh.

  4. Nathalie: I hardly had the time to check the 5D. There was so much crowd for the 5D, but I like it more than the Nikon D3. The high ISO performance is excellent, and I like the camera for the fact that you can use it without a battery grip (making it less obtrusive than the D3). If I would be a professional photographer I would certainly consider a 5D Mark II with 28, 35, and 50mm prime lenses.

    Mark: Admitted, the G10 seems like a very good camera indeed. But I have no particalur manufacturer as a favorite. And I dislike the ongoing Canon versus Nikon battle.

    Cam: If I would be a dentist I would absolutely know on what camera I spent my money. The show was awesome, but my feet hurts like hell.

    James: Thanks man! I hope I can get in contact with Ricoh, and I would love to know there roadmap for the GR D and GX series. A slightly larger camera with an OVF and larger sensor I hope.

    Cristi: Have fun and make sure to speak to a certain Dirk at the Ricoh booth. He knows a lot about the cameras, and he isn’t a salesman.

  5. I have been using the 5D for a while now and my only bones of contention are the grain at 1600 ISO and the lack of self-cleaning sensor – all of which are addressed in the new model. I can’t wait to get my hands on one. I was tempted by the D3 for the quality of the images at high ISO settings but not anymore… Woohoo!
    My favorite prime lens for portraiture is the 85mm 1.2. That’s the one lens I would keep if I could only have one.

  6. Fantastic report Wouter. Lots of good information in there. I’ve always been impressed with Canon G series cameras. The only major misstep in my opinion was leaving RAW out of the G7. Wish I could be there! -Amin

  7. Thank you Amin. I had serious doubts about the pixel count, but it was much better than expected. Really much better.

    The show isn’t really around the corner. For me it was only an almost 2 hour trainride.

  8. Wouter,
    As soon as the G10 was announced I was intrigued.
    Your impressions of the camera make that interest far stronger.

  9. Thank you for your inspiring reportage, Wouter! Truly exciting things are happening! Unfortunately, I won’t be able to attend Photokina 2008. I am, however, due to your reporting, going to check out the D-LUX 4, DP2, and G10, when available, here in New York.

    Thank you, again.


  10. I also had at first really great difficulties with the LX3 menu system. And the screen appeared too bright. But I soon got used to both – and the screen brightness can be controlled, if you just find the right menu… It is really an excellent little camera.

  11. Hi Andrew, The G10 and D-Lux 4 will probably be available in October. And with any luck the DP2 next year in October, but hopefully earlier. Sigma gave no date, so that camera must still be in development.


  12. Hi Juha,

    I know you can adjust the brightness of the LCD screen, and I eventually found the right menu too. The brightness was set at default. The screen of the Canon G10 looked so much better to me, and the camera was still a preproduction model!
    Especially in comparison to a Ricoh camera, the Panasonic lacks intuitivity. You’ve written it well on your blog: “It seems that the more advanced Panasonic cameras may have a common flaw: they are developed by engineers for engineers, not photographers.”

    But the camera felt solid indeed.

  13. Well done Wouter !

    That was the best Photokina walk around that I’ve seen lately
    (B/W or not). I wish I was there !

    About the new compact models:
    I think that, after so many years of waiting for the “dream” compact camera, we will have it in 2009. Let’s see…

  14. Uitstekend verslag. Ik krijg echt het gevoel dat ik erbij geweest ben. Ik heb het twee keer ‘gelezen’. Een keer voor de tekst en een keer voor de foto’s. Die foto’s zijn echt heel erg goed. Geven de sfeer heel mooi weer.

  15. Thanks for further info on the LCD screens of G10 vs. LX3.

    Learning to use the LX3 definetely takes some time, but on the other hand the camera responds quickly and has a quality feeling, as if more than just the lens would be Leica.

  16. It is absolutely a serious compact camera. The lens is absolutely amazing and fast too, but it is not a real Leica lens. It is a Panasonic lens built with Leica specifications. Have fun with the LX3, and keep posting those fantastic landscapes from Finland!


  17. Hi Wouter,

    OK, I’ll wait for some initial testing and reviews of the D-LUX 4 and G10, and try each out myself. Too bad we have to wait so long for the DP2…



  18. About Panasonic cameras with Leica lenses, I can confirm Wouter’s post saying not a real Leica lens. There was an one page advertisement on one of the Canada’s daily newspapers for Panasonic compacts with Leica written on the lenses and it says Leica QA (Quality Assurance) in the small notes. QA from wikipedia means the process or set of processes used to measure and assure the quality of a product. Again from wikipedia, QC (Quality control) means the process of meeting products and services to consumer expectations. Therefore it can be concluded that lenses are Panasonic and quality control is done by Panasonic within Leica’s quality standards / specifications. So I guess it can be same for D-Lux 4.

  19. Wouter, this photo-essay is really great. Some very strong photographs and useful information in it – showing me the side of Photokina that I would have liked to see (especially as a Nikon amateur, 😉 )!
    Interesting that you liked the D-Lux more than the LX3. Anyway, it has it´s price…
    The Sigma DP2 sounds nice, but I think I prefer 28mm.
    Well, maybe 2011 will be THE year of serious compacts! 😉

  20. Sigma stated the DP2 will be much faster than the DP1. Unfortunately there is no plan to upgrade the DP1 too. If the DP2 would have a 35mm lens, than that would be a perfect camera. My prediction is 2012 as the year of the serious compacts. 😉

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