The nail biters among us gear-lust-driven photographers can almost start breathing normally again. Photokina 2014 starts in less than a day and it seems that most new product announcements are now over and done with.
Most important of all, Canon officially announced the EOS 7D Mark II, its long-awaited successor to the 7D action camera. More about that later.
Generally, though, this Photokina doesn't see anything groundbreaking. Some nice new stuff, no doubt about it, but nothing that hasn't been done before in some shape or form. That's not surprising as it's been clear for quite a while now that the digital photography industry is maturing.
To me the biggest shock is the fact that I now have to start taking Samsung seriously. Sorry, but I never did. I did hear good things about the brand, but the form factor of its cameras never appealed to me. With today's introduction of the NX1 that changes. That camera looks like a real camera with awesome capabilities. I reserve full judgment, though, until I've held it in my hands. I'm sure image quality and all will be just dandy and that it can perform all kinds of neat tricks, but more and more I think a camera is made by how it feels in the hands of the photographer.
Read on beyond the break for a quick overview of the major announcements today and a few from the last days that I've so far overlooked.
I have no hands-on impressions to offer, as I haven't even tried to get early info on these releases. What I heard in the rumor mills wasn't enough to get me excited. Since then, I've asked for review copies of the Fuji X100T, the Nikon D750 to compare it with the Canon 5D Mark III and I've pre-ordered the new Olympus 40-150mm/f2.8 PRO lens. I also hope to review the new Canon and some of the lenses that various companies announced. No rush, though.
The announcement that undoubtedly garnered the most interest was the Canon 7D II. The original 7D is five years old, was widely admired and due for replacement. I haven't read the forums yet to see how happy or sad Canonista are about the specifications of the new camera, but it appears to me that Canon has done a rather conservative yet sensible upgrade that speeds everything up enough to keep sports, bird and wildlife shooters happy.
The main specs:
20.2 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor
Dual DIGIC 6 image processor
ISO 100-16,000 (expendable to 51,200)
10 frames per second
Dual Pixel CMOS AF system
65 all-cross type focus points
Buffer capacity of 31 RAW images
1/8000 maximum shutter speed
1/250 flash sync
Available in November for $1,799
What's not clear is to what extent the 7D II's sensor has the kind of improvement in dynamic range at low ISOs that matches the Sony sensors used in Sony's and Nikon's full-frame cameras. Canon isn't touting the dynamic range of the new sensor, so it stands to reason the company isn't ready yet with a sensor akin to the Sony one. The camera lacks 4K video capabilities, which many will probably lament.
My take is that this camera is aimed at a large, but relatively narrow market segment: those needing high speed and long reach but who are not in the market for an expensive professional DSLR like the Canon 1Dx. With that in mind, this camera might well be the right tool for the job.
Interestingly enough, Canon is also offering matte focusing screens for the new 7D II, something many often wish for in their DSLRs to make working with high-end manual focus lenses easier.
Now we're going quickly.
Canon also announced three new Powershots: the G7, the 65x zoom SX60 HS and the squarish N2 and three new lenses, the EF 400mm f/4 DO IS II USM (yours for $6,899), the EF 24-105mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM (a smaller alternative to the 24-105mm f/4 at $600) and the EF-S 24mm f/2.8 pancake lens ($150, for APS-C cameras only).
The Samsung NX1 is that company's first aim at the upper end of the mirrorless camera market.
28 megapixel BSI CMOS APS-C sensor (for better light gathering and faster AF)
ISO 100-25,600 (expendable to 51,200)
209, yes 209, focus points covering 90% of the frame
Maximum shutter speed 1/8000
Flash sync 1/250
15, yes 15, frames per second
4K video output
WiFi & Bluetooth
$1,500 body only
Samsung introduced two matching weather-resistant lenses, a 16-50mm f/2-2.8 lens and a 50-150mm f/2.8 lens.
Panasonic announced the DMC-LX100, a small camera with four-thirds sensor and 4K video recording. The company also introduced the Lumix DMC-GM5 with four-third sensor and micro four-third lens mount in a small body with built-in EVF. Two lenses join the Panasonic stable: a Lumix G Vario 35-100 f/4-5.6 and a 14mm f/2.5 II.
Olympus announced the long-awaited M.Zuiko ED 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO lens, its second PRO lens for the OM-D line. The lens is the equivalent of a 80-300mm full-frame setup and is dust, splash and freezeproof. It'll cost $1,500. The company also announced a 1.4x teleconverter at $350.
Like Fujifilm with its X-T1, Olympus now offers its flagship mirrorless OM-D E-M1 model in silver as well as black. And it's also upgrading its firmware for the E-M1, adding tethered shooting, improved EVF lag and in-camera keystone compensation, among other improvements. The firmware and the tethering application will be available September 24 at 10 PM EDT.
Sony added a new lens to its line-up for the A7 series, the FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS, with stabilization and dust and moisture resistance. It also introduced the HVL-F32M flash for Alpha cameras. Lens will cost $1350, flash $300.
Finally, a few days ago Sigma and Tamron announced a few lenses. Tamron said it's working on the 15-30f/2.8 zoom with vibration correction. Sigma announced the 18-300 f/3.5-6.3 DC Macro OS HSM 'C' lens for APS-C cameras and two versions of a 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM lens.
And as a PS, the Profoto B1 now is capable of TTL with both Canon and Nikon. Previously, it only could do TTL with Canon cameras.
So, what didn't materialize that people had been hoping for or spreading rumors about:
a full-frame and/or 24 megapixel Fuji X-series camera
a 48 or 54 megapixel Canon sensor
a Canon sensor with dynamic range to match the Sony/Nikon sensors
a medium-format digital Fujifilm
a higher-resolution Sony camera
a Fujifilm X-Pro2
a successor to the Nikon D300 or D700
And so the wait continues, as ever.
By John van Rosendaal