Photokina 2012

CHOICE heads to a major photographic trade show in Europe.
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01 .Day 1 - Sony, Samsung and Pentax

There are so many cameras to see at photokina it can be hard to know where to start. 

Take a look at the gallery to see some of the highlights from day 1. Click 'Show info' for photo descriptions.

Some of the cameras on show are upgrades to existing models like the Sony NEX-6 which adds some improvements to the NEX-7, and yes the numbers are correct. It’s a nice camera in many ways, but the viewfinder is still stuck out at the side, which looks and feels a bit odd. 

If you’re in the market for a really high-end camera you should probably have a look at the full frame Sony Alpha 99. It’s bigger and heavier than the Panasonic GH3, but it’s for serious photographers and will no doubt come with a serious price. I did notice the viewfinder had some serious problems with high contrast edges resulting in red edge effects. 

This could be because the one on display was a pre-production model. We’ll have to wait and see. Sony also has the DSC-RX1 on display. It’s a full frame camera in a compact body with a fixed 35mm lens. It’s to be seen whether there really is a market for this camera. 

The Samsung NX1000 looks similar to the Sony NEX-6 in some ways, but lacks a viewfinder. It and all the other Samsung cameras at photokina have built-in WiFi. 

The Samsung Galaxy goes one better and has an Android operating system with WifFi, 3G and 4G connectivity. Sadly you can’t make calls with it. I’m told the feature is there, but it’s been disabled. I’d say it’s a good bet the feature will appear on a camera in the near future. The one odd thing about this camera is its size. It’s quite large for a “compact” format, but that does mean you get a really big and bright screen. 

Pentax have their new K-5 II on display. It’s quite compact for a camera of this style and its robustness and weather sealing will appeal to Pentax fans looking for a high-end camera they can rely on in unpleasant surroundings. It could be a threat in the future, to Panasonic’s claim that they have 40% of the mirrorless camera market at present. 

One of the casualties of the digital age in photography has been the humble photo album. In its place is a new industry of on-demand printing. Judging by the claims of 20 million books printed (and size of the booth) CEWE printing are doing well in Europe. There are quite a number of other companies doing this around the world, so if you’re wondering what to do with all those digital images on your PC, putting together a book might be a good idea.

Tomorrow at Photokina 2012, we'll get to see what Canon and NIkon have for us.

For more information about digital cameras, see Electronics.


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Canon and Nikon are the Titans of the camera world at present and they are at photokina to show their smaller and newer competition that they are far from a spent force.

Nikon recently released the D600, a smaller version of the D800 with a full frame sensor and a lot of very attractive features. You can tell because it’s very difficult to get through the press of middle aged men in camera jackets huddling around it. For all its impressive specifications it is still a relatively bulky camera and designed for the enthusiast.

In a similar vein, the Canon EOS 6D is impressive on a spec sheet, almost impossible to get near at the Canon booth and I suspect one for the buffs.

Canon also have the smaller PowerShot SX50HS which has a very long zoom which gets to 1200mm optically, then can just about double it using a digital crop. It feels reasonably comfortable in the hand, but even with image stabilisation you’ll need to be concentrating to get exactly the shot you want.

At the other end of the scale the Nikon Coolpix SO1 is really small and light. It comes with around 7MB of internal memory and in lots of bright colours. It’s hard to see it taking off though, given the irresistible march of camera phones that have a similar appeal to some segments of the market.

The Canon PowerShot D20 has an odd shape, but can work under water to a depth of 10 meters and with a protective case to 40 meters. Nikon have a protective case for the Nikon 1 series as well which looks a bit like something from the movie Star Wars.

Casio have been a bit off and on in Australia, with changing distributors, but they have produced some very functional and good value compact cameras in the past. The Casio EX-ZR1000 looks interesting as it has all the usual speedy Casio start-up and shooting times, with a HDR and a macro function that uses a number of frames shot at different focus points to build a composite picture with lots of depth of field. Let’s hope it makes it to Australia.

Almost all the major manufacturers have one or two professional photographers showing some of their work and telling us what a joy it is to use the camera they were supplied with for the shoot. There are hundreds, if not thousands of images throughout the eleven exhibition halls and many are worthy winners of competitions sponsored by camera manufacturers.

But the ultimate purpose of this exhibition is the business of selling photographic gear. As a consumer it has all the fun of the fair, but ultimately you have to decide whether you really need all the bells and whistles.

For more information about digital cameras, see Electronics.


Panasonic has launched the GH3 micro four thirds camera, aimed at the high-end user, today at photokina in Cologne. 

Panasonic admits this is going to become a crowded section of the market and that its competition is only going to get stronger. 

The Panasonic GH3 is impressive on paper with a 16mp sensor, lots of movie options, OLED touch screen and viewfinder, built-in WiFi, a solid metal body with some water and dust protection along with physical controls that make DSLRs that much easier to use than bridge or compact cameras. 

Some of the images and movies taken by professional photographers using pre-production models suggest it will probably live up to many of the claims, but we’ll have to wait until it has been put through its paces in our lab to be sure. 

This model is definitely one to watch if you’re in the market for a new high-end camera.


About the event

The press release for photokina 2012 states "photokina is the year’s key event for the international photography and imaging specialist trade.".

photokina comes around every two years and this year it will be held in Cologne from the 18th to the 22nd of September. Chris Ruggles from CHOICE will be there to see what's new in the world of photography.

Best of all, the reports will be brought to you by CHOICE and no one else. Unlike almost all of the media attending, our coverage is not funded by any industry-related company.

This means if any products announced are underwhelming, we'll tell you!

What to expect

At photokina 2012 two of the trend themes are taking movies with digital still cameras, and photography with mobile telephones or smartphones. A large amount of exhibition space is dedicated to both of these technological trends.

Worldwide around 700 million smartphones are expected to be sold in 2012. These days, every third mobile phone sold in Europe is a smartphone. In the USA, the portion of pictures taken with smartphones grew from 17% to 27% in 2011.  Just recently Samsung and Nikon have announced cameras that have the Android 4.1 operating system and wireless capability, bringing them closer to the mobile world.

It'll be busy - organisers expect approximately 1200 suppliers from more than 40 countries to attend the fair in 2012. More than 180,000 visitors from over 160 countries attended the World of Imaging in 2010.

It won't be all cameras though. There'll be a wide variety of photo associated products ranging from specialist papers for high quality prints, to camera bags and other accessories. Not to mention the obligatory photo exhibitions. 

However, Chris won't get to see much of the latter because he'll be spending at least one day in meetings with the other consumer organisations that test cameras, to work on keeping our testing methodology robust and up to date.

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