Photokina 2016: What’s New in Imaging at the Big Show?


Photokina, the giant photo exposition held in Cologne, Germany, every two years, is widely regarded as the top international venue for showcasing imaging in all its forms. This is a stunning achievement when you consider that Germany was the leading player in the worldwide photo industry when the show debuted in 1950, and much of the equipment on display is now made in Japan, China, and other Asian countries. Certainly one of the main reasons for Photokina’s enduring success is the venue itself—the cavernous Cologne Messe fairgrounds is an imposing group of 14 interconnected exhibition halls, each the size of a football field, situated right on the Rhine river not far from the Dom, the largest authentic Gothic Cathedral in the world. Despite international tensions, Photokina 2016 attracted huge crowds of visitors from all over the world, eager to view and touch the latest cameras, lenses, accessories, to check out services of every possible description, and attend the dozens of photographic exhibitions and conferences covering almost any imaginable theme.

Photokina offers a prime opportunity for announcing new products because it’s always intensively and enthusiastically covered by hordes of reporters. This year’s Photokina certainly didn’t disappoint, but not all of the pre-show rumors panned out, and some of the most exciting new cameras on display were simply prototypes exhibited under glass, often with scant technical details. Nevertheless, there was certainly plenty of exciting new stuff that you could get your hands on and experience firsthand, even though not all of it was slated for immediate delivery.

Olympus Gets Serious

One of the coolest new cameras I got to play with was the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II. Usually, cameras with that type of model designation are merely tweaked versions of previous models, but while the Mark II bears a close physical resemblance to the plain E-M1, this new 20.4 MP Micro Four Thirds format mirrorless camera and the new lenses released along with it show that Olympus is serious about capturing a larger segment of the pro/enthusiast market. One of the main upgrades in the Mark II is its AF speed, which is exceptional, thanks to an expanded AF array of 121 focusing points, all cross pattern, and each providing both phase and contrast detection! The array covers an impressive 80% or so of the imaging area, and it’s claimed to be the fastest AF system of any Olympus camera to date. The result: The Mark II, which features a dust-, splash-, and shockproof body, can capture full-res bursts at an astonishing 60 fps, up to 18 fps with full AF using its electronic shutter, and up to 15 fps using its mechanical shutter. The shutter is an “isolated” or floating type that’s not attached to the camera body or frame, to minimize shock.

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera

Unlike typical electronic shutters, the one in the new Olympus minimizes any “rolling” effects or other artifacts, and the mechanical one exhibits no “rolling” at all. The Mark II employs an advanced TruPic 8 VIII image processor, enabling the sensor-shift image stabilization system to deliver claimed 50MP eqivalent images in High Res Shot Mode, but only with slow-moving or stationary subjects like still-life setups. Other high-end features: Cinematic 4K video capture at 24 fps with full control of aperture, shutter speeds, framing rates, bit rates, etc., an HDMI out port accepting third-party devices for transferring Pro Res files to a separate SSD, and dual card slots that can be configured for video and still, JPEG and RAW, or mirrored storage on separate SD cards. Finally, the customization facilities have been upgraded, enabling Pre Focus settings for astrophotography, and AF limiters for enhanced performance when shooting sports or high-speed actions. The new model will definitely be available by early 2017, and possibly by the end of this year.

Three New High-Performance M. ZUIKO Lenses

If that doesn’t sound serious enough for you, Olympus has also unveiled three new lenses aimed especially at OM-D E-M1 Mark II fans, but useable on other OM-D models, as well. The new M. ZUIKO 25mm f/1.4 PRO 50mm equivalent) is said to be “the sharpest, most perfect normal lens Olympus has ever made,” surpassing all others in terms of edge-to-edge optical performance, even at f/1.2, with smooth, natural bokeh giving captured images an “immersive 3D effect,” and exceptional correction for coma. The 19-element, 14 group lens has 1 Super ED element, 1 E-HR element, 3 HR elements, 1 ER element, 1 aspheric element near the rear 2 ED elements, and a 9-bladed rounded diaphragm.

The new M. ZUIKO 12-100mm f/4 PRO (24-200mm equivalent) is intended as a high-performance “universal zoom” for critical shooters, and its built-in 5-axis image stabilization system interfaces with the 5-axis stabilization system in the OM-D E-M1 Mark II body to “calibrate and coordinate” the overall system for optimal performance. It is claimed to provide a 6.5-step anti-shake-effect advantage in handheld shooting—the highest in the industry—virtually eliminating the need to carry a tripod.  Combined with the Mark II, it provides a weather-and dust-sealed, self-contained unit that should be a boon to photojournalists on assignment, and adventure seekers. The 12-100 should be available in late October or early November 2016. The third new lens is a compact, lightweight M. ZUIKO 30mm f/3.5 Macro that focus’s down to 14mm from the front lens element for a maximum magnification ratio of 2.5x—the highest in its class. The new macro is said to be very sharp.

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100mm f/4 IS PRO Lens

Rounding out the news from Olympus is a new compact 16.1MP Olympus Pen E-PL-8 mirrorless that will replace the E-PL 7 in the lineup, with improved ergonomics, a “self-guided” selfie touch-screen option with an easy interface, and a variety of consumer-aimed in-camera modes enabling, for example, 1, 2, 4, and 8-second video clips to be integrated in-camera to create a final production video, complete with background music. The basic concept: image quality surpassing smartphones, with enhanced opportunities for creative imagery that can be uploaded intuitively to smartphones or social media via Wi-Fi. In short, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em!

Olympus PEN E-PL8 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera

Panasonic Teases but Also Delivers

The biggest buzz at the Panasonic booth was generated by the appearance, at least under glass, of the LUMIX GH-5, said to be the world’s first 4K 60p/50p video recording single-lens mirrorless camera (DSLM) featuring 6K Photo, a system that can extract approximately 18MP still images from ultra-high-quality video with about 9 times the pixel count of Full-HD. Enticing, but alas that’s all we know about the new LUMIX GH5, except that it’s scheduled to go into commercial production and reach the global market in early 2017.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH5 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera

We were able to get our hands on the new compact LUMIX DMC-FZ2500, which has a 1-inch 20.1MP CMOS sensor, and the newly developed 20x (24-480mm equivalent) optical zoom LEICA DC VARIO-ELMARIT lens announced along with it. The lens features inner zoom structure that enhances stability, providing smooth zooming. By combining built-in ND filters, 4 modes of ND filtration are available directly -2EV (1/4), -4EV (1/16), -6EV (1/64) and AUTO. Users can record videos while keeping the exposure level the same with a fixed shutter speed or with a fully open aperture, even in very bright environments, and the camera provides seamless iris control with a nine-blade aperture diaphragm and new galvanometer-type actuator.

Lumix DMC-FZ2500 has built-in ND filters

The new LUMIX FZ2500 also enables unlimited 4K video recording, is capable of recording Full-HD videos with an ultra-high bit rate of 200 Mbps (ALL-Intra) or 100 Mbps (IPB) without any duration limit. Other video features include live image output via an optional micro HDMI cable simultaneously while recording video, VFR (Variable Frame Rate), Slow & Quick motion, and Dolly Zoom. The camera’s Contrast AF System features DFD (Depth from Defocus) technology, enabling AF in as little as 0.09 seconds, and a full-res burst rate of 12 fps (in AFS mode) and 7 fps (in AFC mode), for a maximum of 100 JPEG or 30 (RAW) images. You will also find an OLED LVF (Live View Finder) with 2360K-dot resolution, free-angle 3.0-inch approximately 1040K-dot touch-control monitor, and Wi-Fi connectivity. The FZ2500 is slated for November, 2016 delivery.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ2500 Digital Camera

Medium Format Rocks: A Brace of Modular Mirrorless Digital Hasselblads

The new X1D-50C follows Hasselblad’s traditional modular concept but takes it to a new generation with neo-Bauhaus styling that generated lots of excitement from the crowds ogling it in its glass case. Said to be inspired by Hasselblad’s classic V-series mechanical film cameras, this stunning 50MP camera was a non-functional prototype, but we were assured it’s slated for production “fairly soon.” The palm-sized X1D features an advanced 50MP CMOS sensor that can “capture extremely detailed images with super-accurate color rendition and will be compatible with all 12 existing H-system lenses, as well as a new line of dedicated autofocus lenses.” The X1D system also provides a wide range of shutter speeds, has full flash sync to 1/2000 of a second, and its robust weather-resistant body weighs only 725 g. Other features include HD video capture, Wi-Fi, and built-in GPS capability.

Hasselblad X1D-50c Medium Format Mirrorless Digital Camera

Hasselblad has also released two versions of the H6D, the latest member of the esteemed long-running H line. The new Hasselblad H6D-100c has a 100MP CMOS sensor, and the H6D-50c employs a 50MP CMOS sensor. Both models offer an extended range of shutter speeds—60 minutes to 1/2000 of a second, an expanded ISO range, a higher burst rate, and a new USB 3.0 Type-C connection that results in a much faster data transfer. The H6D-100c also includes 4K video capture, a high-definition touchscreen LCD, Wi-Fi connectivity as standard, and an HDMI connector for use with external monitors.

Hasselblad H6D-100c Medium Format DSLR Camera


No word about the"x" series from Hassleblad !