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Photokina: all the news from the world's biggest imaging show

Photokina is the biennial photography convention where NIkon, Canon, and all the other camera big shots compete for attention with their latest products and best new innovations. Follow this stream to learn about all the new announcements, from more affordable full-frame shooters like the D600 and EOS 6D to slim new mirrorless cams like the Sony NEX-6 and Olympus E-PL5.

  • Sam Byford

    Sep 27, 2012

    Sam Byford

    How mirrorless camera upstarts are beating the giants at their own game

    sony nex-7 stock
    sony nex-7 stock

    Mirrorless cameras are a great solution to the biggest problem facing the camera industry — with smartphones obviating the need for dedicated compact cameras, the promise of a huge leap in image quality without the bulk of a DSLR is a compelling one. The numbers back it up, too, with research firm IDC reporting rapid growth for the category; in Japan mirrorless cameras make up around half of all interchangeable-lens camera sales, an undoubtedly worrying figure for traditional DSLR leaders Canon and Nikon. However, the camera makers themselves have often seemed unwilling participants in the revolution, hamstrung by history and an inability to let go of the past.

    Companies like Nikon, Canon, and Pentax have spent the better half of the past century producing excellent single-lens reflex cameras with a dedicated fanbase and a wide-ranging selection of quality lenses. Mirrorless cameras, however, require the SLR mechanism to be jettisoned, ideally along with the lenses; cameras like Olympus' PENs and Sony's NEX series achieve their small size by reducing the distance from sensor to lens, which necessitates new native optics. This poses a tough question for traditional SLR makers. How can they leverage their history while producing a solid product for the present?

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  • David Pierce

    Sep 26, 2012

    David Pierce

    Full-frame goes mainstream: your next camera's must-have feature

    Leica full-frame
    Leica full-frame

    Much has been made of the death of the point-and-shoot camera, obviated by the ubiquity and improving imaging power of the smartphone. At Photokina 2012, there was evidence of that everywhere: only a few entry-level cameras were even announced, and all were afterthoughts displayed off in a remote corner of the companies' giant booths. Some of them even ran Android, if the inspiration wasn't already clear enough.

    But the rise of the cameraphone has impacted more than just cheap cameras. It's forced manufacturers to make the case for every product it makes, to convince consumers why it's so much better than a smartphone that it's worth your money. Manufacturers have also turned their attention upward, to products with obvious advantages over your cellphone. "The DSLR is becoming much more important for people," said Nikon Product Manager Sander Van Velzen. "The market is growing, and we have a lot of enthusiasts… they want to step up, they want to make even better pictures." In today's market, if you're buying a camera you expect a huge upgrade in quality over the devices you already carry, and you want it for a price you can afford. Those two things — affordability and quality — have long been diametrically opposed, but at this year's Photokina in Cologne, Germany, they're coming together inside a series of small, affordable, decidedly consumer-friendly full-frame cameras.

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  • Sep 20, 2012

    Vlad Savov

    Android, apps, and Wi-Fi: why your next phone may be a camera

    phone camera
    phone camera

    Stick with a "tried and trusted" strategy long enough and you're guaranteed to see it fail. In the world of consumer electronics, even brief periods of stagnation can be lethal to a company's wellbeing — just witness the demise of Sony's TV leadership or Nokia's rapid decline from mobile leader to current also-ran.

    It's probably not a coincidence that Samsung was the company to supplant both those former greats. The Korean giant, unhindered by any traditions or commitments of its own, has been able to enter these industries with an odd sort of late mover advantage. Learning from the mistakes of those who came before it, Samsung has invested in the right sort of research and development, and exploited a combination of vertical integration and ruthless pricing to keep chipping away at the lead of more established competitors. Now Samsung has its sights set on the consumer camera market.

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  • Sep 18, 2012

    Vlad Savov

    Leica M: hands-on photos, video and preview of the $7,000 rangefinder

    Gallery Photo:
    Gallery Photo:

    Like fellow luxury brand Porsche, Leica keeps the design of its products almost painfully uniform across generations. The all-new Leica M, successor to the M9, maintains that tradition faithfully, sticking to a bulky brass and magnesium construction that's as heavy as it is reassuring in the hand. The few external changes you might notice are an enlarged 3-inch 920k-dot LCD on the back, an anonymous button on the front to let you activate Live View Peaking, and a dedicated movie-recording button. Yes, this Leica rangefinder has a Live View mode and 1080p video recording!

    Unlike its ascetically restrained external tweaks, Leica has really overhauled the innards of its new M series camera. Gone is the beloved CCD sensor of the M9, to be replaced by a new 24-megapixel, full-frame Max CMOS sensor — produced by Belgian supplier CMOSIS, but designed specifically for Leica — which works together with the so-called Maestro processor to support the new HD video mode while maintaining the famous Leica image quality. Or so the company tells us. As usual with pre-release camera hardware, we weren't allowed to take away any sample images or video, but the responsiveness of the camera as a whole was easy to see and appreciate.

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  • David Pierce

    Sep 18, 2012

    David Pierce

    Testing Nikon's first Android camera, the Coolpix S800c

    Nikon Coolpix S800c
    Nikon Coolpix S800c

    Two companies lead the Android camera charge, and at Photokina in Germany both are going way out of their way to talk about it. Samsung held a press conference nominally to announce two lenses, but mostly to talk about the new Galaxy Camera; Nikon's event introduced no new products but spent a long time telling us about the Coolpix S800c, and why Android is the future for digital cameras.

    The S800c piqued our interest perhaps even more than the Galaxy Camera, because it's a much bigger departure for Nikon. Samsung already makes plenty of Android devices, so slapping a big lens on a 4.8-inch Galaxy Player doesn't seem like much of a stretch. Nikon, on the other hand, is a photography behemoth, and we've seen it and its competitors mostly stay their technological course. Nikon's also one of the few companies that can bring a feature to the photography mainstream by sheer force of will, so if it can make a great Android camera others will undoubtedly follow suit quickly. Unfortunately, though, if our first impressions are any indication then Nikon's first Android effort is pretty seriously lacking.

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  • Sam Byford

    Sep 18, 2012

    Sam Byford

    Leica shows off Paul Smith-designed X2 limited to 1,500 units

    leica paul smith x2
    leica paul smith x2

    It wouldn't be a day of Leica announcements without an extravagant special edition, and the legendary German camera maker hasn't disappointed. Following the introduction of the new M and M-E, Leica has also unveiled a Paul Smith-designed edition of the X2 premium compact. The fashion designer has decked out the X2 in orange, yellow, and British racing green stripes with a lightbulb engraving on the flash cover, as well as creating a taupe calfskin case and strap for the camera.

    We're unconvinced that the gaudy design is altogether appropriate for discreet street photography, but the Leica collectors among us are unlikely to care too much. The Paul Smith edition X2 is limited to 1,500 units, and while there's no word on a date or price you can expect the expensive.

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  • Dan Seifert

    Sep 17, 2012

    Dan Seifert

    Leica M-E rangefinder is a refreshed M9 with a bare-bones feature set

    Leica M-E
    Leica M-E

    Along with the brand-new Leica M, Leica has also announced the M-E, a stripped down rangefinder with familiar parts. Essentially a refresh of the M9, the M-E has the same 18-megapixel full-frame CCD sensor and minimalist design as the older rangefinder. Unlike the new M, the M-E doesn't record video, doesn't offer Live View, and doesn't have a large 3-inch LCD.

    Traditional rangefinder shooters will feel right at home with the M-E, though, as it offers familiar manual focusing and exposure features and Leica's signature solid build quality. Leica has added leather trim and improved the camera's grip for better handling, but at its core, the M-E is a purist's camera (or as close to a purist's camera that a digital camera can be). The Leica M-E is available at Leica retailers now for $5,450 in the US and £3,900 in the UK.

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  • Dan Seifert

    Sep 17, 2012

    Dan Seifert

    Leica's new M rangefinder features a 24-megapixel, full frame sensor, HD video recording

    Leica M
    Leica M

    Leica has just unveiled its new flagship digital rangefinder, the Leica M. The M is the latest version of Leica's venerable rangefinder series, and features an all-new 24-megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor, enhanced focusing features, and the ability to record 1080p HD video. Despite the modern improvements, the M still carries the traditional Leica look and feel, and wouldn't look out of place on the shelf of a 1950s camera store.

    Leica says that the new sensor was designed from the ground-up for the M and its M- and R-series lenses. Replacing the CCD sensor that was used in the M9, the new Leica Max CMOS chip is said to have the same color characteristics of the old sensor, while providing improved low-light capabilities and better power management. Images captured by the new sensor are run through Leica's Maestro processor — the same chip used in the Leica S SLR cameras. This new sensor and processor lets the M shoot 1080p HD video — a first for Leica's rangefinder cameras.

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  • Sep 17, 2012

    Vlad Savov

    Canon's schizophrenic 6D can't decide whether it's for amateurs or pros

    Gallery Photo: Canon EOS 6D hands-on pictures
    Gallery Photo: Canon EOS 6D hands-on pictures

    The EOS 6D won't be an outright replacement for any product in Canon's portfolio, though it's clearly a combination of multiple well-liked older models. Physically, it's about the same size and weight as the cropped-sensor EOS 7D, plus it's about as rugged thanks to a magnesium alloy frame and a similar level of weatherproofing. The control scheme is altogether different, however, as the 7D's column of left-handed controls have been dismissed in favor of a more frugal button layout that puts the emphasis on right-hand operation. Handling the 6D feels like an odd mix of the 7D and the smaller, more consumer-oriented 60D.

    The DIGIC 5+ processor inside the 6D can be considered a trickle-down feature from Canon's flagship 1D X and 5D Mark III DSLRs, though it'd be unfair to depict it as purely a Frankensteinian concoction of older Canon hardware. The 6D's 20-megapixel sensor is altogether new, its AF system rather embarrasses Nikon in the low-light sensitivity stakes by being able to focus right down to -3 EV, and it breaks new ground among high-end cameras by integrating Wi-Fi and GPS into the body instead of requiring separate dongles. The question the 6D doesn't seem able to answer is whether it wants to compete in that high-end professional realm. Its neat novelties are offset by weird cutbacks — most infuriating among which is the lack of a headphone jack, severely hampering its utility as a pro video camera.

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  • Dan Seifert

    Sep 17, 2012

    Dan Seifert

    Panasonic targets the pros with new Lumix GH3 Micro Four Thirds camera

    panasonic gh3_stock
    panasonic gh3_stock

    The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2 of 2010 was never marketed or intended to be a camera for professional users, but its solid video quality and compact design made it a favorite of many pro videographers (including the video team here at The Verge). Two years later, the Japanese camera company is hoping to capitalize on that interest with the new Lumix DMC-GH3, a bigger, badder version of the GH2 with a host of pro-friendly features. A member of Panasonic's Micro Four Thirds family, the GH3 is the highest-end mirrorless camera the company has ever produced, and is loaded with top-level features.

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  • Jeff Blagdon

    Sep 17, 2012

    Jeff Blagdon

    Olympus announces E-PL5 and E-PM2 Micro Four Thirds cameras, XZ-2 flagship compact

    Gallery Photo: Olympus EPL-5, EPM-2, XZ-2 pictures
    Gallery Photo: Olympus EPL-5, EPM-2, XZ-2 pictures

    The E-PL5 is the sequel to the mid-range E-PL3 (the number four is bad luck in Japan) and feature-wise there are few changes from its predecessor. Outwardly, the biggest differences are the addition of a hand grip and improvements to the articulating LCD, which can now swivel 170 degrees upward to let users take self portraits, and adds touchscreen controls including a single-touch autofocus and shutter. Inside, the same 16.1-megapixel sensor and TruePic VI image processing engine from the well-regarded OM-D E-M5 combine to give you an increased dynamic range and maximum ISO of 25,600 — one stop higher than the 12,800 maximum setting on the E-PL3.

    The E-PM2 is the successor to the entry-level E-PM1, and aside from the same improved sensor and image processing found in the E-PL5, it's largely unchanged, save for a new hand grip. Look closely, however, and new touchscreen controls give the E-PM2 the same tap-to-shoot shutter found in the company's more expensive Micro Four Thirds cameras.

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  • Sep 17, 2012

    Vlad Savov

    The Verge is live from Photokina 2012!

    photokina
    photokina

    Barely a fortnight has passed since our last escapades in Gemany, but we're back in Angela's realm this week to cover the biggest show in photography: Photokina. This biennial convention brings Nikon, Canon, and all the other big camera makers together so they can compare their latest products and do a bit of bragging about their best new innovations. Nikon went public with the full-frame D600 last week, and today Canon has responded with its own full-frame shooter in the shape of the Wi-Fi-equipped EOS 6D. Those will surely be the big highlight items on the DSLR front, but stay tuned for a ton more photography news as Photokina develops — mirrorless, point-and-shoot, and maybe even medium format cameras are all likely to cross our path as we venture through the halls of the Koelnmesse.

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  • Sam Byford

    Sep 17, 2012

    Sam Byford

    Canon announces S110 with Wi-Fi, G15 with faster lens, and SX50 HS with 50x zoom

    Canon S110
    Canon S110

    If smartphones really are threatening the compact camera market, it stands to reason that the higher-end point-and-shoots will be the last models standing. Canon's had more success than most in this arena, and today is announcing updates to its most capable PowerShot compacts ahead of Photokina. The company promises across-the-board improvements in autofocus performance and shutter lag, and has reshuffled its lineup to give it more focus. There's a lot more difference between the S and G series than in previous years, for example, making the decision on which to buy come down to more than just the figurative or literal size of your pockets.

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  • Nathan Ingraham

    Sep 17, 2012

    Nathan Ingraham

    Canon announces the EOS 6D, a full-frame DSLR with built-in Wi-Fi for $2,099

    Canon EOS 6D
    Canon EOS 6D

    Nikon threw the photography world for a loop last week by announcing the D600 — a full-frame DSLR that hits a reasonably affordable price point. Apparently, Canon has its sights on the exact same market, as the company has just introduced the EOS 6D: the lightest, smallest, and least expensive full-frame DSLR the company has ever produced. Canon's latest entry not only compares favorably with the D600, it also provides a compelling alternative to photographers who don't have $3,500 to spare — but are nonetheless enamored with the 5D Mark III's stacked spec sheet.

    However, the 6D is far more than a repackaged 5D Mark III with some corners cut to achieve its $2,099 retail price — the camera is Canon's first DSLR to contain integrated Wi-FI and GPS capabilities. This opens up a wide variety of features for users, including an EOS Remote app for iOS and Android that lets users remotely connect and control the 6D from their smartphone. It also allows users to view all the photos on the camera on their phone or tablet; full metadata is displayed and photos can be rated right on the device, as well. Of course, photos can be transmitted right from the camera to other devices.

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  • David Pierce

    Sep 17, 2012

    David Pierce

    Fujifilm XF1 has retro good looks, more palatable price

    Gallery Photo: Fujifilm XF1 pictures
    Gallery Photo: Fujifilm XF1 pictures

    Fujifilm is using Photokina 2012 to expand its X series of digital cameras, and to make the lineup available to a lot more people. The company's latest announcement is the XF1, a high-end point-and-shoot that adopts a retro style similar to the X100 or X10 but at a much friendlier $499.99 price.

    Like Sony's RX100, the XF1 fights above its weight class: it has a fairly large 12-megapixel, two-thirds-inch sensor, an f/1.8-4.9 lens with 4x manual zoom beginning at 25mm equivalent, ISO range up to ISO 12,800, and DSLR-like shooting speeds. It can shoot 1080p video, and has a new scene recognition feature that adapts to what you're shooting. The XF1 is also designed to operate like a DSLR, though the screen-focused controls make it more akin to shooting with a mirrorless camera.

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  • Sam Byford

    Sep 14, 2012

    Sam Byford

    Panasonic Lumix GH3 revealed in video commercial

    lumix gh3
    lumix gh3

    We've already seen the alleged spec sheet for Panasonic's Lumix GH3 Micro Four Thirds camera, but here comes further confirmation from a decidedly more authoritative source — Panasonic itself. The company's US arm has uploaded a lengthy commercial to its YouTube page that shows off the mirrorless camera's body, its features, and some of its output. It has a dust- and splash-proof magnesium alloy body, a 16-megapixel sensor, and an option for a battery grip.

    The GH2 was a much-loved camera amongst videographers in particular, The Verge video crew included, so we're looking forward to spending some time with its successor. With Photokina coming up next week, we might not have long to wait.

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  • Sep 13, 2012

    Vlad Savov

    Nikon launches the D600, its smallest, lightest, and cheapest full-frame DSLR

    Nikon D600
    Nikon D600

    "I am a game-changer."

    Such is the immodest claim Nikon attaches to its brand new D600 DSLR, but when you look at the full combination of specs, dimensions, and price, this camera could come close to justifying the bluster. Built around a newly developed 24-megapixel, full-frame CMOS sensor, the D600 is the smallest and lightest shooter of its kind, with a starting price that's also the lowest we've yet seen: $2,100 in the US, £1,956 in the UK, or €2,386 elsewhere in Europe. Canon's stalwart 5D Mark II is still selling for a little bit less, but that shouldn't detract from what is groundbreaking pricing by the typically conservative Nikon.

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  • Sam Byford

    Sep 12, 2012

    Sam Byford

    Sony NEX-6 official: $850 mirrorless camera with Wi-Fi and three new lenses

    sony nex-6
    sony nex-6

    Sony has announced the latest in its NEX line of mirrorless cameras, the NEX-6. As previously leaked, the NEX-6 has a large 16-megapixel APS-C sensor inside a body similar to that of the company's flagship NEX-7. The layout has been tweaked a bit, with a traditional DSLR-style PASM dial sitting on top of a mode-specific control wheel, but otherwise the buttons, OLED electronic viewfinder, and rear dial are laid out in the same way.

    Like the recently-announced NEX-5R, the NEX-6 features Wi-Fi support, both for transferring photos to mobile devices and for using apps and uploading to Facebook directly from the camera itself. The NEX-6 also uses the 5R's new hybrid autofocus system which combines both phase and contrast detection methods for faster, more accurate subject lock-on. At around $850 for the body and $1,000 with a 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens, the 6 will slot right in between the 5R and 7 in Sony's NEX lineup when released this November.

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  • David Pierce

    Sep 12, 2012

    David Pierce

    Sony bets big on small full-frame cameras with the RX1, A99, and VG900

    Full frame
    Full frame

    In the digital camera world, Sony's still a relatively small name next to Canon or Nikon. But the company's hell-bent on changing that, and its primary tactic has been simple: shove gigantic sensors into tiny cameras. The RX100 and the NEX lineup are great examples of that, but the company's gone a giant leap further today. It's released three new full-frame cameras, including the Cyber-shot RX1, which might just be the smallest full-frame camera we've ever seen. The RX1 launches alongside the Alpha A99 DSLR and the NEX-VG900 camcorder — all three have gigantic sensors, and together essentially redefine Sony's top-tier offerings.

    The Cyber-shot RX1 is the real technical achievement of the bunch. It's always been simply assumed that full-frame cameras had to be big, in order to handle the large sensor. Full-frame DSLRs are typically large, heavy, and more suited to a tripod than to mobile shooting, but apparently that doesn't have to be the case. The 24.3-megapixel RX1 measures only 4.5 inches by 3 inches, and weighs just over a pound. It's closer in size to Sony's NEX cameras than to just about any DSLR, despite internals that promise far better image quality. Its native ISO range goes up to ISO 25,600, and can shoot 1080p video at 24 frames per second.

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  • Sam Byford

    Sep 11, 2012

    Sam Byford

    Pentax Q10 mirrorless camera and K-5 II flagship DSLR out in October

    pentax q10
    pentax q10

    The Pentax Q is a curious thing; a tiny, beautifully constructed mirrorless camera with an equally tiny 1/2.3-inch sensor that gives results on par with an average point-and-shoot for $800. Pentax has called its sales "disappointing," but nevertheless is producing a followup in the shape of the Q10, adding a grip and a new red color option. While the Q10 will sell for a slightly more reasonable $599.95 with a kit lens, the camera hasn't changed much and that still seems like an awful lot to pay for the presumably similar results.

    We'd expect better things of the $1,195.95 K-5 II, however. It's a long-overdue update to Pentax's K-5 flagship DSLR with a new autofocus system, an air gap-free LCD, and the same weatherproofing as before. There's also a special K-5 IIs model that omits the anti-aliasing filter for maximum resolution in controlled environments, similar to Nikon's D800E. Both K-5 II models and the Q10 will go on sale in October.

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  • Sam Byford

    Sep 6, 2012

    Sam Byford

    Fujifilm X-Pro1 firmware update v2.0 to fix focusing performance and more

    Gallery Photo: Fujifilm X-Pro1 hands-on pictures
    Gallery Photo: Fujifilm X-Pro1 hands-on pictures

    The update also reduces the camera's minimum focusing distance, has some further interface tweaks for manual focusing, and makes writing to a memory card twice as fast. Fujifilm similarly went back to fix the X100's autofocus performance after release; hopefully the recently-announced X-E1 will work better out of the box.

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  • David Pierce

    Sep 6, 2012

    David Pierce

    Fujifilm debuts the X-E1, an affordable and gorgeous retro camera

    Fujifilm X-E1
    Fujifilm X-E1

    Camera manufacturers are showing off their latest and greatest ahead of Photokina later this month, and as always seems to be the case, with a new set of announcements comes a new gorgeously retro shooter from Fujifilm. This time it's the X-E1, effectively a more affordable version of the ultra-high-end X-Pro1. Of course, "more affordable" is a relative term: the X-E1 will still set you back $999.95 for the body alone, or $1399.95 with an 18-55mm X-mount kit lens. The new camera justifies its price, though, offering a 16.3-megapixel APS-C sensor, a 2.36-million-dot OLED viewfinder, and blistering fast autofocus. It can shoot six frames per second, and records 1080p video at 24 frames per second.

    Of course, one of the biggest hooks for Fujifilm's X-mount lineup — from the X-Pro1 to the X100 and X10 — is the beautiful retro styling, and the X-E1 continues the trend. It's a much smaller device than the X-Pro1, but its silver or black chassis offers the same textured look. Fujifilm also says the camera's image quality should equal the X-Pro1's; the only loss seems to be some measure of manual controls. We'll be able to tell how it measures up when it ships in November, but we can already safely say it's a looker.

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