DigitalCameraReview.com
Photokina Wrap-up: Camera Hits & Misses
by Dragan Petric -  9/24/2012

The hottest topic at the biggest global camera and imaging technology fair was how to stand up to smartphones and equip digital cameras with a quality which makes users take more and more photographs with their cell phones - Internet connectivity. Biannual Photokina is the biggest global camera and photography technology fair held in Cologne. This year, the photo fair saw a record attendance.

Whoever is at least an occasional photography buff surely loved Photokina. This fair nurtures year-long tradition and apart from the most evident - global premiers of new cameras - it also brings a touch of art, German organization, even calmness, which turbulent shows like CES, IFA, MWC etc. lack.

Apart from cameras and lenses, Photokina also featured many guest appearances of the most crucial global photography exhibitions, the most expensive top-of-the-line products, famous designers, directors, editors and everything else that goes with professional photography.

Photokina 2012Photokina 2012

After all, together with the visitors, they are all left with the impressions on new trends which the industry has yielded during the show. This year, the main topic was ? connectivity. Everyone finds it clear that we are living in the Instagram era, when anyone with a bit advanced smartphone has the opportunity of being an "art photographer", which is eating away the photography industry like an invincible virus. To resist it, it needs to strike back the main smartphone advantage over cameras, which is Internet connectivity.

Thus, all leading photo giants presented their solutions for connecting cameras and other devices - especially smartphones and tablets - while Canon went the extra mile and installed a Wi-Fi chip, which acts like a router, to all of its latest models, from compacts to DSLRs. Photographs can be transferred from cameras to any device, i.e. a photo album on an iPhone can be sent to social networks at the push of a button.

Canon has announced it was working on an automatic storage project of photographs taken by its devices in cloud, which makes them permanently available from any location and via any device, with automatic tagging, sorting, categorizing.

Photokina 2012Photokina 2012

Olympus and Nikon have also found solutions for connecting their devices with the Internet - whether by adding a special module with Wi-Fi support (Nikon), whether by using SD cards that act like W-Fi routers (Olympus uses such Toshiba SD cards). Manufacturers whose photographs cannot be posted to Instagram or Facebook like images taken by a Canon, Olympus or Nikon fell in the background of Photokina.

The second hottest trend was the entrance of full-frame sensors to, conditionally stated, the entry-level camera category. In fact, a cheaper variety of professional DSLRs with a full format of photosensitive chip is in question, but at a price of around 2100 dollars, which is cheap for full-frames, but steep for anyone who is not in the photography industry to make money.

Despite the unclear market niche, Canon and Nikon models (called EOS 6D and D600) from this new camera category were surely the biggest hit at Photokina. I had the opportunity of trying Canon's EOS 6D and you can read my first impressions at DigitalCameraReview.com.

On the other hand, Sony has presented a camera of compact dimensions with a full-frame sensor (in the Cyber-shot series, not Alpha, which holds professional cameras), which seems equally interesting and odd. Of course, this product has also turned many heads at Photokina.

Photokina 2012Photokina 2012

However, most new models belonged to the mirrorless category - cameras with interchangeable lenses that have a flip mirror in their body, which means they can be produced with significantly smaller dimensions than "real" DSLRs with the preservation of image quality.

When it comes to this issue, most was expected from Panasonic, which coined this exceptionally successful market category, and its latest model Lumix DMC-GH3. Unfortunately, this device was disappointing, most of all due to its bulky dimensions and shape. Still, is has many worthy qualities, like built-in Wi-Fi support and compatibility with a wide range of additional equipment for recording videos. You can read my hands-on review at DigitalCameraReview.com.

The most interesting mirrorless cameras were presented by Olympus (two new PEN models), Nikon, Canon and others. Among these, most attention was paid to Olympus' PENs because the manufacturer has built in a sensor as well as a processor which it otherwise uses in its flagship OM-D. I tried both models and you can read my impressions at DigitalCameraReview.com.

Next Photokina will be held in two years' time, in September 2014, again in the European imaging technology capital, Cologne on the River Rhine.