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Notable Toys & Tools from Photokina 2008

By Allan Weitz

Photokina, the monster photo-fest held every two years in Cologne, Germany, is where photo industry movers and shakers unveil all of their new toys just in time (coincidentally) for the holiday season. While we plan on having detailed reports about many of these products in upcoming holiday newsletters, here's a rundown of some of the noteworthy products scheduled to hit our store shelves between now and the up-and-coming winter solstice.


From Canon we have the Canon EOS 5D Mark II, which is noticeably improved over the original EOS 5D. The resolution of the camera's full-frame, DIGIC 4-driven CMOS sensor has been bumped up to 21.1-megapixels, and the ISO range can be taken up to a ridiculously high 25600. The new camera also sports Live View and HD Live View video capture, up to 3.9-fps burst-rates, and a 3", 920,000 dot/VGA screen for viewing and editing your images

Also new from Canon is the APSC-format Canon EOS 50D which along with a 15.1-megapixel DIGIC 4-driven CMOS sensor, features an ISO range that goes up to 12800, Live View, up to 6.3-fps burst-rates, and like the 5D Mark II, a 3", 920,000 dot/VGA screen for viewing and editing your images.

Nikon's new kid on the block is the Nikon D90, which features a 12.3-megapixel DX-format CMOS sensor, one-button Live View with 24 fps HD D-Movie mode for video clips up to 5 minutes in length, an EXPEED image processor, burst-rates of up to 4.5-fps, a 4-frequency ultrasonic sensor cleaning system, and a very bright 3, 920,000-dot LCD. See our detailed review elsewhere in this newsletter.

The Nikon D90 The Sony Alpha A900

The Sony Alpha A900 is Sony's first full-frame DSLR, and at 24.6-megapixels is the highest-resolution DSLR in its class. Other features found on the A900 include In-Camera image stabilization, a 5-fps burst-rate, 100% coverage optical viewfinder, and a 921,000-dot LCD display. A pre-production preview of the A900 can also be found in this issue.

The Pentax K2000

New from Pentax is the K2000, which is an entry-level DSLR kit that includes the new 10.2-megapixel camera body, a new lightweight 'DA-L'-series lens- the smc PENTAX DA L 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 AL lens, and the PENTAX AF200FG Auto Flash.

Digital Rangefinders

If it looks like an 'M', feels like an 'M', and shoots digital image files, it must be a Leica M8. Leica's update of the original M8 includes several new features including an 'S' mode, which is like a Program mode that also automatically adjusts White Balance and the ISO rating to better ensure clean, well-exposed images. Other upgrades include improved brightlines, a quieter shutter, and a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal LCD display.

Tweeners (Digicams somewhere between DSLRs and Point-&-Shoots)

Canon's PowerShot SX10 IS contains a 10-megapixel CCD, a DIGIC 4 image processor, a 20x (28-560mm equivalent) zoom lens, image viewing via electronic viewfinder (EVF) or 2.5" LCD, and a MovieSnap mode that allows you to capture high-resolution stills while filming video.

The Olympus SP-565UZ contains a 10-megapixel CCD, a 20x (26-520mm equivalent) zoom lens, a choice of viewing through the camera's EVF or off a 2.5" 230,000-dot LCD, dual image stabilization, a Pre-Capture mode that archives 10 images before you press the shutter button all the way to better ensure you capture killer photographs, and up to 13.5-fps burst-rates.

Casio's Exilim EX-FH20 is a 'simmered-down', yet still 'excitable' version of the Exilim EX-F1, and with a top speed burst-rate of 40-fps, the FH20 is certainly no slouch. The camera contains a 9.1-megapixel CCD, a 20x (26-520mm equivalent) zoom lens, sensor-shift image stabilization, and a built-in flash that can knock out up to 5-fps.

Panasonic's Lumix DMC-G1, which is available in Black, Red, and Blue, is a first-generation Micro 4/3-format 'Tweener'. The new 12.1-megapixel camera is compatible with all Micro 4/3-format optics as well as standard 4/3-format optics. The new camera sports full-time Live Video, a 3" 420,000-dot LCD, and a host of image enhancing features.


Fast glass seems to be the order of the day according to all the press releases we've been seeing. From Canon we have the 24/1.4 L II USM, which is a greatly improved - optically and mechanically - update of their popular low-light, wide-angle heavyweight.

21/1.4 ASPH
24/1.4 ASPH
50/0.95 ASPH
24/3.8 ASPH

Leica unveiled two new wide-angle speed-queens in the form of a Summilux-M 21/1.4 ASPH and a Summilux-M 24/1.4 ASPH. For opening up the darkest of shadows Leica has also introduced the world's fastest aspherical lens, the Noctilux-M 50/0.95 ASPH, which in case you're curious, is over a full stop faster than the Summilux-M 50/1.4 ASPH, and noticeably heavier. Less exotic, but far less brutal on your wallet is the Elmar-M 24/3.8 ASPH, a compact wide-angle optic that will surely find its place in the hearts, minds, and camera bags of M' enthusiasts.

If you shoot with a Canon, Nikon, or Pentax, you'll soon be able to reap the joys of shooting with a Carl Zeiss 21/2.8 Distagon T*. The new lens, like comparable optics in the Zeiss Z'-series, should prove to be a sharp, full-toned, manual-focus image-maker.

Sony is introducing a duet of new lenses to compliment their growing Alpha line of DSLRs, a Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar 16-35/2.8 ZA for the wide angle crowd and a 70-400/4~5.6 G-Series for those who wish to get a closer look at distant subject matter.

Owners of Canon EF-S format digicams seeking a lightweight all-in-one lens will be delighted to hear about the EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS, which is a 35mm equivalent of a 29 to 320mm lens.

On a similar note, the Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, the official kit lens for the new Nikon D90, has a 35mm equivalency of a 27 to 157.5mm lens, and is also available separately for owners of other Nikon DX-format DSLRs.

From Pentax we have a second DA-L-series lens, the 50-200/4~5.6 DA-L, along with two new DA-Star-series optics: the smc PENTAX-DA 60-250/4 ED IF SDM and smc PENTAX-DA 55/1.4 SDM, both of which feature ED glass and water and dust resistant construction. Also new from Pentax is the smc PENTAX DA 15mm F4 ED AL Limited and a smc Pentax-DA 1.4X Rear Converter SDM teleconverter.

Medium-Format Digital

Those of you shooting with medium-format cameras might want to take a look at the Mamiya ZDb Digital Back, which is an update of the capture back introduced last year. Improvements include twice the buffer (up to 22 RAW files) and support for SDHC memory cards. There's also a beta version of a remote capture software available for those who wish to shoot tethered to a computer.

Memory Cards

Ever-growing – and ever faster - imaging sensors require ever-more-powerful memory cards, which brings us to the SanDisk 32GB Extreme III CompactFlash, which can down data at the rate of 30 MB/s.

Owners of Eye-Fi memory cards will now be able to upload images from their cameras to their computers at twice the current speed. Other service enhancements recently announced include Web Sharing for sending images to printing, blogging, and other web sharing outlets, HotSpot Access to over 10,000 Wayport hotspots, as well as geotagging. Each of these new services is available for an annual fee.

There's also a plethora of new point-and-shoot cameras making their way toward our shores as we speak, but this will have to wait for one of our upcoming holiday newsletters.

And before you spend your last dime on any of the above, have you heard about Leica's 37-megapixel S2 DSLR? Click here if you really want to go nuts!

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