Four words for Photokina’s camera offerings

Mark Vincent Villa
Four words for Photokina’s camera offerings
From the long-awaited DSLRs, a whole load of lenses and some amazing compacts, here's a round-up of the event with four words that best describe this year’s Photokina

MANILA, Philippines – Photokina wrapped up its September 16 to 21 run, and it was stellar. It was expected from a show that describes itself as the world’s premiere imaging fair. Happening only every two years in Germany, it is the place to be for new imaging products and innovations.

This year saw new products unveiled, some of which were revolutionary while others were just questionable. From the long-awaited DSLRs, a whole load of lenses and some amazing compacts, here’s a round-up of the event with four words that best describe this year’s Photokina.


The most anticipated products in the show were the successors to the Canon 7D, the company’s prime crop-sensor camera; and to the Nikon D700, Nikon’s first compact full-frame DSLR.

It was a long time coming for Canon fans as they patiently waited for the second coming of the Japanese brand’s prime APS-C camera. The massive firmware update in 2012 helped the frustration as it gave the camera a great update.

The waiting game ended though as Canon announced the new 7D Mark II. It boasts a 20.2MP Dual Pixel sensor with two DIGIC 6 processors. 65 AF points that are ALL cross-type (its AI Servo AF is similar to that of the 1D X) and can capture images at 10fps and rated to last up to approximately 200k clicks.

Canon continues to avoid the 4K wagon as it only put Full HD video recording at a decent 60p in either .mp4 or .MOV formats. It can be recorded on the CF and SD card slots or have a clean uncompressed file in an external recorder through the HDMI port. It’s also backwards compatible with the Mark I’s LP-E6 battery, albeit with a more limited capacity compared to the new LP-E6N. The Canon 7D Mark II will be available in November for $1,800 (body only) or with an EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM for $2,150.

For its part, Nikon announced the new D750 ahead of Photokina which only made people more excited, and they have all the right reasons to be. It has been 6 years since the D700 was released and two years since it was overshadowed by the D800 series. People want an update to the semi-pro, more affordable full-frame camera and Nikon finally delivered.

The Nikon D750 is labeled as an ‘enthusiast-level’ full-frame offering, sitting between the entry level D610 and the pro-grade D810. It’s powered by a new 24.3MP CMOS sensor run by EXPEED 4 engine – same as the D810 and D4s. It has a frame rate of 6.5fps and a 51-point (15 cross-type) AF system that is the same as their high end models. It is also the company’s first full-frame DSLR with a tilting 3.2” screen.

But what makes the D750 more amazing is that its video capabilities was taken straight out of its bigger brother, the D810 – literally. All the video capabilities of the D810 placed in a more affordable body. It also has an internal intervalometer, WiFi and will be available soon for $2,300 (body only).

LUMIX CM1. Image from Panasonic.

The most surprising comeback though was made by Panasonic as they returned to the smartphone market after the demise of their Eluga line a couple of years back. Now you’re wondering why does a smartphone matter in Photokina? Well, the Panasonic Lumix CM1 happened to have a 20MP, 1-inch sensor in a 4.7-inch Android 4.4 phone that is also capable of recording 4K video. The phone itself is powered by a 2.3Ghz quad-core processor with 16Gb of internal memory that can be expanded to 128Gb.

The camera is not forgiving as it has manual operation to the fundamental controls like shutter speed, ISO, focus (yes the camera has a focus ring) and white balance. Add to that the 28mm f/2.8 Leica DC Elmarit lens and that is some serious glass for a smartphone. Sadly, as interesting as it is, most of us won’t get to touch it because it will be only available in France and Germany.


Speaking of glass, Photokina saw a lot of new lenses from major companies. Below is the rundown of all the new lenses to go with some great new cameras:

  • Canon EF 400mm f/4 DO IS II USM
  • Canon EF 24-105 f/3.5-5.6 IS STM
  • Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM Pancake
  • Nikon AF-S 20mm f/1.8G
  • Sigma 150-600 f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM/Sports
  • Sony 28-135mm f/4G OSS
  • Tamron SP 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD
  • Zeiss Loxia 2/35 FE
  • Zeiss Loxia 2/50 FE
  • Zeiss Otus 1.4/85 (for Canon and Nikon)
  • Zeiss Vario-Tessar T* FE16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS
LUMIX LX100. Image from Panasonic website.


Panasonic turned heads not only for their CM1 but also because of their latest combo of compact, beastly cameras.

First is the Lumix LX100, a compact camera that houses a 12.8MP Micro Four Thirds (MFT) sensor and sees through a Leica DC Vario-Summilux 24-75 f/1.7-2.8 lens which is pretty big for a compact camera. It can shoot continously up to 11fps and has 4K video recording at 30p (Full HD at 60p). What’s great about the LX100 is the manual dials found on the body itself. On top are shutter speed and exposure dials while around the lens is an aperture ring, just like in the film days. It will be available in late October for $900.

Then there is the Lumix GM5, a tiny camera that features a 16MP MFT sensor in an interchangeable lens body design. It now has Full HD 60p recording, electronic viewfinder and a hotshoe in place of a very small flash. Inside was also a vast improvement, being able to capture images at 5fps with the mechanical shutter and 10fps with the electronic shutter at full resolution, to 40fps at 4MP mode. The GM5 with 12-32mm lens is priced at $900 and will be available soon.

THE LEICA M-A. Image from Leica press release.

The real showstealer though was the one at home. Leica announced not three, but EIGHT cameras at the show. Don’t worry, not everything costs an arm and leg.

Leica celebrates the 60th year since the first Leica M was announced back in 1954 and they did it in the form of two cameras. First of which is the M-A, an analog camera that doesn’t even have the tiniest bit of technology like a light meter found in other analog cameras. It has all the fundamentals to take a picture and nothing fancy to distract you. Even the signature red Leica dot is absent to further emphasize it’s focus on photography and nothing more. Despite in its basic form, the camera will be available for $4,750 in either black or silver.

Unlike the M-A, the Leica M Edition 60 is digital but still maintains the purity of the other model. It has the essentials – shutter speed, ISO and aperture. What made this tricky for a digital rangefinder is the lack of an LCD screen forcing you to go back to the basics of the art. It will be packaged with the Summilux 35mm f/1.4 and will set you way back at $19,425.

Moving from rangefinders, Leica also unveiled a slew of digital compacts – the Leica X, X-E, D-Lux and V-Lux.

LEICA X. Image from Leica press materials.

The Leica X is the lead of the pack, having 16.3MP APS-C CMOS sensor that can shoot images at 5fps and capture Full HD at 30p. It has a low-light friendly Summilux 23mm f/1.7 infront and is bundled with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom upon purchase at the price of $2,300.

The X-E is second in line with some features of the X taken out. It has the same sensor and capture rate but doesn’t have video recording and has a slower lens at f/2.8. It will retail for a chill $1,800 with the Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. Both the X and X-E are made in Germany.

If you want something more bang for the buck, Leica still have you covered. The D-Lux is simply a rebranded Panasonic LX100 I said earlier. 12.8MP MFT sensor, 4K video, Vario-Summilux 24-75mm f/1.7-2.8 all of that for $1,200 because apparently the red Leica dot is pricey.

But if function over form is your thing, then the V-Lux is for you. It has a bigger body than the previous models and features a 20MP Panasonic MOS sensor inside. It can capture images at either 12fps (mechanical shutter) or a staggering 50fps (electronic) and can also record 4K video at 25fps. It has a Vario Elmarit 25-400mm f/2.8-4 lens and priced at $1,350.

For the professionals, Leica updated their medium-format offerings with the new S and S-E. The S is a DSLR sized camera featuring a 37.5MP Leica CMOS sensor that shoots at 1.5fps and is capable of 4K video recording at 60p. It also has built-in GPS and WiFi, no optical-pass filter and 16-bit files.

The SE is almost identical to the S but it’s a CCD-based camera without the bells and whistles. Same megapixel, CF and SD slots, framerate but doesn’t have GPS, WiFi and video. The S will sell for $25,400 and the SE at $16,900.

POLAROID SOCIALMATIC. Image from Polaroid.


Polaroid finally showed prototypes of the Socialmatic at Photokina. The concept first made the rounds in the internet back in 2012 as a functional Instagram logo and was taken up by Polaroid in February 2013. Now more than a year later and with the hype gone down, there’s still no final product.

The Socialmatic is an Android-based camera with a 14mp camera in front and 2mp at the back. It has a 4.5” touchscreen interface, GPS, WiFi, Bluetooth to connect to your smartphone and features 2”x3” Zero Ink Printing.

Instead of a useful, big LED flash in front like a Polaroid One Step (which the Instagram logo was loosely based on), they gave the space to “Mood Assistant” that shows the cameras ‘emotions’ and placed the LED flash into a tiny circle above the lens. It even has speakers at the back, 4Gb internal memory and can be expanded by Micro SD. It measures 5.12”x5.12” and is 1.25” thick. Its set to be available early 2015 for $388.

This year’s Photokina was a great impact to the photography world at both ends – from the casual users to the pros. 4K continues to make waves among manufacturers while the megapixel wars finally stopped. Hopefully at the next Photokina, we won’t see a ‘Why’ but ‘Finally.” –

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