Multi-Brand Photokina 2016 Recap
Dozens of cameras and lenses, but none with a Pentax badge.
By deadwolfbones in Photokina 2016 on Sep 21, 2016
Photokina is the granddaddy of camera industry trade shows, and unlike CES, CP+, and PhotoPlus, it only comes around every other year. That means manufacturers roll out the red carpet, showcasing major updates and exciting new products on a global stage.
Well, some manufacturers, anyway…
While Pentax and Ricoh were virtual non-entities in Cologne this week (announcement-wise), other brands showed off plenty of exciting new cameras and lenses. Here’s a quick roundup of most everything that has come out of the world’s biggest camera show.
(To read about the Pentax booth, see our separate Pentax booth tour.)
Canon was the first big name to announce a new product at Photokina, and—to everyone’s surprise—it’s actually pretty exciting. The new Canon EOS M5 ($979) is the brand’s first serious effort at a mirrorless camera, offering the imaging pipeline of the EOS 80D in a compact form factor. That includes a 24-megapixel APS-C sensor with Dual Pixel autofocus, sensitivity up to ISO 25,600, 9fps burst shooting, 1080/60p video, a 180-degree tilting screen, 2.36M-dot EVF, and built-in WiFi and Bluetooth LE.
Of course, a serious new EOS M camera demands more lenses, so Canon also outed an 18-150mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM ($500). Unfortunately, even with that addition, the EOS-M system is still hobbled by an anemic ecosystem. The EOS M5 could be a great camera, but Canon will need to create a great lens line to match if it wants to attract users from other mirrorless brands.
360-degree view of the Canon booth taken with the Theta S (click to pan and zoom)
For Canon’s old-school DSLR users, it’s been a pretty boring show. The company's only other announcement is a rather pedestrian new EF 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 IS II USM ($550), which replaces its decrepit predecessor.
Arguably the biggest announcement of this year’s show came from Fujifilm, but it's not a new X-Pro or X-T camera. Instead, the company decided to skip directly from APS-C to medium format, revealing the 51.4-megapixel GFX 50S.
Now, before you start throwing your money at the screen, bear in mind that Fuji only announced development of the camera, and that the target price is “well under $10,000” for the body and a 63mm F2.8 prime lens. Yikes! But then again, that price is similar to what the Pentax 645Z cost at launch, and comparable to the likewise mirrorless Hasselblad X1D 50c.
360-degree view of the Fuji booth taken with the Theta S (click to pan and zoom)
Alongside the camera, Fujifilm announced development of at least six lenses for the new medium format G-mount lens system, including five primes (23mm f/4 R LM WR, 45mm f/2.8 R WR, 63mm f/2.8 R WR, and 110mm f/2.8 R LM WR, 120mm f/4 Macro) and one zoom (32-64mm f/4 R LM WR). The first of these is slated to arrive in “early 2017,” which should give us some sense of when the camera itself might show up.
This was a big show for GoPro, with the company announcing new flagship and entry-level action cams, as well as a new subscription service and even a drone.
Leading the way is the new GoPro Hero5 Black ($399), which brings 4K/30p recording to the company’s top-of-the-line model. (Finally!) The Hero5 Black is waterproof to 33 feet (or 10 meters) even when swimming naked, and it features a large touchscreen that completely covers the back of the camera. It’s also $100 cheaper than past GoPro flagships, making it even harder for other brands to compete.
Hero 5 Black
The entry-level GoPro Hero5 Session ($299.99) is a tiny little cube without a screen or many physical controls, but it packs most of the same guts as the Black Edition. Yep, that includes 4K/30p video and the same native water resistance.
Then there’s the new subscription service, GoPro Plus. Essentially, it’s a cloud storage solution designed specifically for GoPro users, sending footage to the cloud while the camera charges. It can then be edited from any machine, and you can use an included library of music to sync your kickflips to some sweet tunes. The service asks $5/month, but tacks on a 20% discount on GoPro accessories, plus premium support.
Not stopping there, GoPro also outed its first drone—the long-awaited Karma. It’s a pretty middle-of-the-road quad copter that has one neat trick: it folds up to fit inside a padded box. It’s designed to be especially newbie-friendly, with one-touch takeoff, a touchscreen controller, 3-axis stabilization, built-in no-fly zones, and a feature that will pilot it back to you when it’s out of range or low on juice. You’ll be able to pick it up this October 23rd for $799.99 solo, or bundled with the Hero5 Session ($999.99) or Hero5 Black ($1,099.99).
Four years ago, Hasselblad was the butt of everyone’s Photokina-related jokes after the release of absurd Haselblad Lunar—a Sony NEX-7 decorated with bits of wood and marked up by about 600%.
This time around, the company is taking a more sensible path by promoting some very nice medium format gear of its very own, including a 75MP square-format V1D concept and a $12,995 special edition of the mirrorless medium-format X1D. What’s special about it? Well, it’s black. Apparently, the new non-color is a celebration of the company’s 75 years of camera-making. (Whatever the year, black is always in.)
Special edition Hasselblad X1D
If you’re already in the Hassy system, you’ll also be pleased to hear that the XCD 30mm f/3.5 prime is significantly closer to becoming an actual buyable product, with actual specs and everything. No price yet, but stay tuned!
In 2014, Leica announced a whole boatload of new cameras and lenses, but this year the legendary German marque was content to release exactly one product: a $300 instant film camera. The new Leica Sofort uses Fujifilm’s Instax film and packs a 60mm f/12.7 lens, with shutter speeds ranging from 1/8 to 1/400 of a second. Leica will also offer its own film, but we suspect there might be some sticker shock involved.
360-degree view of the Leica booth taken with the Theta S (click to pan and zoom)
The majority of the Leica booth this year was a large photo gallery.
Coming off a rather busy CES and CP+, it should probably come as no surprise that this is a low-key Photokina for Nikon. Earlier this year, the big yellow giant unveiled both the long-awaited semi-pro D500 APS-C DSLR and the full-frame professional D5—both landmark cameras in their respective genres. And that’s to say nothing of the (still vaporous) DL-series cameras and the usual slew of point-and-shoots.
360-degree view of the Nikon booth taken with the Theta S (click to pan and zoom)
This fall, Nikon has limited itself to a pair of new action cameras: the 4K-ready KeyMission 170 ($399) and the less-serious KeyMission 80 ($279). As you may have guessed, those numbers refer to the cameras’ field of view, just like the earlier KeyMission 360 (which finally seems ready to ship). And just like that first KeyMission camera, these models are shockproof and waterproof (though the toughness varies from model to model). All three cameras should be in stores next month.
Canon and Nikon seem content to cede the show to mirrorless this year (with Canon even helping things along), and Olympus has risen to the occasion. The M43 leader used this year’s Photokina to announce development of a new flagship OM-D E-M1 Mark II, but also unveiled a new entry-level body (the $549.99 Olympus PEN E-PL8), a trio of lenses, and a waterproof flash.
The E-M1 Mark II is big news for M43 fans, offering a 20-megapixel Four Thirds sensor that can shoot RAW at 18fps. The new sensor also brings improved dynamic range and reduced noise, while a totally redesigned autofocus system offers 121 cross-type AF phase-detection autofocus points and allegedly improved tracking. The E-M1 II can also shoot 4K video at up to 236mbps, and the new “Pro Capture” mode pre-buffers shots when you half-press the shutter and keeps the last 14 before you actually press the button. Pricing is still unknown at this point.
360-degree view of the Olympus booth taken with the Theta S (click to pan and zoom)
The PEN E-PL8 is decidedly less fancy, but still pretty impressive given its price point, since it’s basically just an E-M10 II without the EVF.
Alongside the new bodies, Olympus outed two new Pro lenses, including a delicious-looking new 25mm f/1.2. According to Olympus, the company’s engineers started from a blank sheet with the goal of creating the perfect lens (sounds a bit like the Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 and Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art, no?), and the result is this $1,199.99 prime. The other new high-end lens is the $1,299.99 12-100mm f/4 Pro, which covers a huge zoom range with a constant aperture, making it a great candidate for the perfect walkaround zoom. Finally, on the more affordable end of the price spectrum, we have the new 30mm f/3.5 Macro, which offers a maximum magnification of 1.25x for just $299.99. All three new lenses will be available by November.
Did you think we were done? Nope! As an afterthought, Olympus also took the wraps off its new FL-900R waterproof flash, which should pair well with its weather-resistant bodies and Pro lenses. Okay, now we’re really done.
On the other side of the M43 fence, Panasonic also made a big splash at Photokina. The new Lumix DMC-GH5 looks set to do for M43 videographers what the E-M1 Mark II will do for stills shooters, and like its Olympus rival it's currently in development. Most notably, the new flagship will boast 4K/60p recording in 4:2:2 10-bit fidelity. There will also be a 6K Photo mode that pulls 18-megapixel shots from burst footage, alongside Panasonic’s existing 4K Photo mode, which produces 8-megapixel stills. No pricing or availability has been announced.
A couple steps down the food chain, the company also introduced the Lumix DMC-G85 (aka G80), which upgrades the Lumix G7 with weather sealing, a better EVF, improved image stabilization, and in-camera focus stacking. There’s also a new electromagnetic shutter that should cure the G7’s shutter shock issues. The new body will sell for $899 body-only, or $999 with the 12-60mm kit lens.
If you prefer not to change lenses, Panasonic still has your back. Alongside the new Micro Four Thirds toys, it announced two new point-and-shoots: the Lumix LX10 (aka LX15) compact and the Lumix FZ2500 (aka FZ2000) superzoom.
360-degree view of the Panasonic booth taken with the Theta S (click to pan and zoom)
The former is an enthusiast-oriented rival to the Sony RX100 IV and Canon G7 X Mark II, with a 1” 20-megapixel sensor, 24-72mm f/1.4-2.8 lens, and plenty of physical controls. The lens is particularly enticing, since it’s a half stop brighter than any competitor, and it also shoots 4K/30p video and offers Panasonic’s 4K Photo mode. Price-wise, it will be pretty competitive, asking just $699 when it goes on sale this November.
The latter is a largely video-oriented upgrade to the highly regarded Lumix FZ1000, once again taking on Sony (in the form of its RX10 II). The new superzoom boasts a 24-480mm f/2.8-4.5 lens with internal zoom and optical image stabilization, paired with a 1” 20-megapixel sensor. Other upgrades include a variable ND filter, a larger EVF, and 4K/30p video with 10-bit 4:2:2 output over HDMI (in either DCI or UHD 4K format). Like Panny’s other video-oriented cameras, it also offers mic and headphone jacks. It’ll ring the till at $1,199 this November.
While the upstart Korean lens maker may have recently moved into the autofocus market, that doesn’t mean it’s giving up on the manual focus glass that made its name. At Photokina 2016, Samyang announced a new “Premium Lens Lineup,” and introduced the first two members: the Premium 85mm f/1.2 and the Premium 14mm f/2.4.
The 85mm f/1.2 is the company’s widest-aperture full-frame lens thus far, and it’s certainly one of the most exotic. Inside are 10 elements in 7 groups, including an aspherical lens and three “high refractive lenses,” which the company says eliminate aberrations and deliver as much light as possible to the sensor. With an aluminum alloy body (unusual for the plastic-prone Samyang), it should also be one of the company’s best-built lenses. For now, it seems that it will only be available for Canon EF cameras.
360-degree view of the Samyang booth taken with the Theta S (click to pan and zoom)
Meanwhile, the 14mm f/2.4 incorporates a staggering 18 elements in 14 groups, including two aspherical lenses, one hybrid aspherical lens, two extra-low dispersion lenses, and one high refractive lens. That’s a lot of specialized glass. Again, this lens has an aluminum alloy body, but this time it will be available for Canon EF, Nikon F, and Sony E cameras.
Pricing has not been revealed for either Premium lens, though Samyang says they should ship before the end of the year.
There’s good news for cinematographers, too, as Samyang has also announced its Xeen 16mm T/2.6 cine prime. This rarefied optic offers a huge 114mm front element, a declicked aperture, 11 blades for a perfectly circular aperture, and a super-smooth focus ring. Like other Xeen lenses, it’ll work with Arri PL, Canon EF, Micro Four Thirds, Nikon F, and Sony E-mount bodies. Again, no price has been announced, but it should be shipping soon.
Sigma has been on a real tear since the launch of the Art series of lenses back in 2012, and the pace of development shows no signs of slowing. At Photokina, the company took the wraps off of two new Art lenses, along with a Sport-series super-telephoto.
First up is the 85mm f/1.4 Art prime—perhaps the most consistently wished-for lens in company history. Anyway, it’s finally here, with an optical design purpose-built to deliver “the attractive bokeh sought by discerning photographers,” as well as “an exceptional degree of sharpness.” Sounds like marketing nonsense until you look at Sigma’s other Art lenses and realize it’s actually very likely. According to Sigma, a new HSM autofocus motor will offer 1.3x the torque of previous designs, which should help speed the heavy elements along. The MSRP is $1,199, and it should be available in late October.
360-degree view of the Sigma booth taken with the Theta S (click to pan and zoom)
Next is the 12-24mm f/4 Art zoom, which should complement the Art line’s other zooms rather nicely. It shares the 85/1.4 Art’s new autofocus motor, and also boasts multiple FLD (fluorite low-dispersion) elements that Sigma says provide excellent edge-to-edge sharpness. It’ll be available in October with a $1,599 MSRP.
Finally, Sigma is also bringing out an all-new 500mm f/4 DG OS HSM Sport lens for sports and wildlife shooters. It uses two FLD and one SLD glass elements to remove aberrations, and is compatible with Sigma’s teleconverters for extra range. Get ready to refinance the house, though—this one will cost you around $5,999. (Admittedly about $3,000 less than the Nikon or Canon equivalent.)
Unfortunately for Pentax (and Sony) fans, all three of these lenses will only be available in Canon, Nikon, and Sigma mounts.
Sony only brought one new camera to Photokina 2016, but it was a doozy: the Alpha A99 II. Thought SLT was dead? So did we, but I guess we all need to think again.
360-degree view of the Sony booth taken with the Theta S (click to pan and zoom)
The new magnesium alloy body conceals a 42-megapixel full-frame sensor, 5-axis image stabilization, and 4K video recording at 100mbps with no pixel binning. There’s also a pretty impressive-sounding autofocus system that includes a 79-point dedicated phase-detect AF sensor paired with 399 on-chip PDAF points. (Sony calls this Hybrid Cross AF.) According to the manufacturer, this system works down to -4EV, which is, um… pretty dark, and it can capture bursts at up to 12fps with AF and AE tracking.
The A99 II will hit the market in November at an asking price of $3,200.
While Tamron didn't announce anything new at the show itself, the company introduced two new autofocus teleconverters and an updated version of the 150-600mm F5-6.3 telephoto zoom lens earlier this month. Neither is available for Pentax, but like Sigma, Tamron is pushing out new lens technology at a rapid pace.
360-degree view of the Tamron booth taken with the Theta S (click to pan and zoom)
Yeah, don’t feel bad if you find yourself asking that question. Yi is a small Chinese brand (though it’s backed by Xiaomi) that recently made modest waves with its action camera. Now, it’s getting into the ILC game with the YI M1, a 20-megapixel Micro Four Thirds body. It’s a rangefinder-style design in the vein of the Panasonic GF series, or Olympus’s PEN bodies, but the unusual thing here is that it’s almost entirely devoid of controls. Instead, there’s a big smartphone-style touchscreen.
Still, that doesn’t mean Yi has skimped on controls or features. Indeed, it can shoot 4K/30p video, offers continuous AF (though it’s contrast only), RAW capture, and 5fps burst shooting. There’s also built-in WiFi and Bluetooth LE, for easy sharing. Also on the odd side, the company is selling the YI M1 with a two-lens kit, featuring a 42.5mm f/1.8 prime and a 12-40mm f/3.5-5.6 zoom. Both lenses offer IS (the body doesn’t). Of course, you can use any M43 lens you like, if the first-party offerings aren’t up to snuff.
The YI M1 kit will hit the Chinese market in late September, though there’s no word yet on U.S. availability. Pricing is already announced, however, and it’s eye-poppingly low: $329 for the camera plus the zoom lens, or $449 for the two-lens kit. Not bad, Yi. Not bad.
A Zeiss announcement these days is more or less a Sony announcement, but here we go anyhow. At Photokina, the storied German lensmaker trotted out a new addition to the Loxia line of mirrorless lenses: the Loxia 85mm f/2.4. As usual, the lens is compact, all-metal, and designed exclusively for Sony’s E-mount cameras. Like other Loxias, it can also be de-clicked for cine use. The relatively simple 7 elements / 7 groups design can focus down to about 0.8 meters, and weighs around 1.3 pounds. Zeiss says it’ll ship in December, at an asking price of around $1,399.
360-degree view of the Zeiss booth taken with the Theta S (click to pan and zoom)
This about wraps up our multi-brand coverage of Photokina 2016. It was a busy and exciting show that reflects the rapid changes technology and user trends. It's time to turn our attention back to the quieter Pentax world— stay tuned for our Photokina interview, which will be live by Thursday.