Japan may not have invented photography, but it's the spiritual home of the form. Almost every major camera manufacturer is based here, despite the country having lost leadership in most other areas of consumer technology, and many of the greatest photographers of all time are Japanese. When I travel to other countries, I'm always briefly taken aback by how few people are carrying cameras.
So, while the camera industry may be in global decline due to the rise of smartphones, the CP+ show is always worth attending. Held in Yokohama every February, it's where Japan's camera manufacturers unveil their products for the upcoming months. Are these incremental upgrades in the grand scheme of things? Sure. But however great a camera the iPhone may be, CP+'s attendees — myself included — will continue to pore over the smallest of sensor tweaks and the slightest of body slimming with interest.
The camera industry is rarely one that changes the world; it's one that keeps finding new ways to solve a solved problem, all because its devotees actually do care. Long may it remain.
Panasonic Lumix GF7
The spectre of the selfie looms over camera makers at CP+, and here's Panasonic's solution: the Lumix GF7 is a cute, diminutive Micro Four Thirds with retro looks and a flip-up screen. I feel like the reason selfies took off is because people love using their smartphones rather than loving their smartphones' camera image quality, but if you want to put some extra effort in then this could definitely up your Instagram game. It's a neatly designed, well-built camera that's ultra-portable when paired with the collapsible kit lens.
Nikon's astrophotography-focused D810A is making its first appearance at CP+; it's behind glass and below a dramatic photo of... something in space. A convention center in the middle of the day would be the exact wrong time and place to test out this camera, designed as it is exclusively for pointing at the night sky, so there's not a lot to say beyond that it does look almost identical to the regular D810.
Canon PowerShot G3 X
Canon made a big splash with its pre-CP+ announcements last week: the 50-megapixel 5DS is the highest-resolution full-frame DSLR yet, and the EOS M3 is the most serious mirrorless camera the company has ever made. You can read my impressions of both here, but at CP+ the upcoming PowerShot G3 X got its first outing in prototype form. It's a premium compact camera with a 1-inch sensor and a hefty 24-600mm-equivalent lens that unsurprisingly stretches the definition of "compact." Canon was only showing the prototype off behind glass, so there's no way to judge its performance just yet, but it should be one of the most versatile cameras around when it eventually launches.
Pentax says its new K-S2 is the smallest weather-resistant DSLR in the world. Out in March for $799.95 with an 18-50mm f/4-5.6 kit lens, it's the first Pentax K DSLR to feature Wi-Fi and a vari-angle display. While it isn't quite as colorful as some of the company's other models, the orange strip at the bottom is a neat, distinctive touch.
Pentax full-frame DSLR prototype
Unbelievably, Pentax has never released a full-frame DSLR. That will change this year, however; the company has a prototype on display at CP+, and promises a release by the end of 2015. There are few details beyond the fact that it'll be designed to work with APS-C lenses in crop mode, but Pentax will have some way to go in building up a line of modern full-frame-compatible lenses.
Pentax 18-50mm lens
This 18-50mm f/4-5.6 lens is the kit lens for the K-S2, and Pentax says it's the physically shortest zoom in the world at 41mm when collapsed. Like the body it's paired with, the lens is also weather-resistant. Pentax has a tradition of producing compact lenses for its DSLRs, and this is very much in keeping with that.
Olympus Air is the company's take on Sony's QX line of wireless cameras and mounts that connect to smartphones. Olympus' first model, the A01, has a Micro Four Thirds sensor and lens mount; you can attach any Micro Four Thirds lens you like and transfer photos to your phone. If the CP+ showing is anything to go by, though, Olympus Air isn't a much better performer than Sony's models — it takes a couple of seconds after pressing the touchscreen shutter button to transfer your photo or return to the shooting mode. Perhaps that's why Olympus says it'll only be selling the Air through its website.
Olympus Air camera shell
In case you do happen to buy an Air for whatever reason, though, this prototype accessory is kind of awesome. It's a transparent plastic shell shaped like an Olympus PEN camera, complete with optical viewfinder and Rube Goldberg-esque contraption that triggers the shutter on the lens mount; simply slot your Air into the body and it's almost like having a real camera.
Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II
The E-M5 Mark II is the latest entry in Olympus' pioneering OM-D line of SLR-style mirrorless cameras. It features much-improved video capability, a vari-angle LCD, and a crazy mode that uses the sensor-shifting stabilization to take eight slightly different photos that combine for a single 40-megapixel image. In some ways, this is the most advanced OM-D to date; the top-of-the-line E-M1 doesn't hold a great deal over it.
Olympus pro lenses
Olympus is reinforcing its focus on its series of excellent Pro lenses. Next up for release are a 300mm f/4 telephoto, an 8mm f/1.8 fisheye, and a 7-14mm f/2.8 wide-angle zoom.
Sigma DP0 Quattro
Sigma's DP2 Quattro stole the show last year with its wild design, and the company has a new model to show off in 2015. The DP0 Quattro pairs a 14mm f/4 wide-angle lens with the same APS-C Foveon sensor, known for its gorgeous color reproduction, high resolving power, and poor low-light performance in equal measure.
Sigma 24mm f/1.4 ART lens
Sigma's Art series of lenses is well-regarded by many, and the latest is long awaited: the full-frame-compatible 24mm f/1.4 will be out in March for $849. There will be versions available for Canon, Nikon, and Sigma's own cameras. It'll be joined by a $1089 150-600mm f/5-6.3 telephoto zoom in Canon and Nikon mounts.
Like Panasonic’s Lumix GF7, the Fujifilm X-A2 is intended to be an accessible mirrorless camera primed for selfies; its screen flips up to face forward in the same way. While the X-A2 is compatible with Fujifilm’s impressive range of ultra-sharp lenses, its sensor doesn’t use the same X-Trans technology as other models, meaning it’ll handle things differently at the sub-pixel level and might be a little less sharp than the likes of the X-T1. Pictured on the left is the tiny upcoming 24mm f/8 body cap lens with built-in photo filters.
Fujifilm lens roadmap
Fujifilm’s range of X-mount lenses continues to grow, and the company announced a new roadmap ahead of CP+. This year will see the launch of a 16mm f/1.4 wide-angle prime, a compact 35mm f/2 lens, and a 90mm f/2 portrait lens, to be joined next year by an 100-400mm zoom lens and a 120mm f/2.8 macro lens. The company will also release its first teleconverter for the system in 2015.