Shutterbug’s Exclusive photokina Coverage; Formats Aplenty, Printer/Camera Workflows, And A 3D Comeback

The photokina trade fair held in Cologne, Germany, every two years has a solid reputation for previews and announcements meant to shake up the practices and worldviews of photographers, be they amateur or pro. This can come in the form of products real and imagined, with some making it to shelves and others just a wistful dream of designers and engineers who hope what they propose will become the next big thing in imaging. We had a bit of both at the show, with some interesting developments thrown into the mix.

This year we had a staff of reporters who moved through the massive halls seeking products new and interesting, with background information as part of their beat. Their reports follow. In this introduction I’ll include what I considered some of the highlights of the show. I’ll be brief as a more comprehensive survey is to be found in our reporters’ articles. As usual, a show this size features more products than one can realistically cover. If we miss anything I am sure we will be made aware of it. The reports here are basically about products that caught our attention at the show and that we thought would be of interest to you.

Panasonic Lumix G1

New Formats, Or Not?
While you might think from all the buzz there are a few new formats to deal with this year, including the so-called Micro Four Thirds and the other so-called Leica Pro Format, they really aren’t anything radically new and in fact are variations on well-known themes. In fact, the new “Micro Four Thirds” format isn’t a new format at all, just the same 4⁄3-size chip in an EVF (non SLR) body. The Four Thirds group will all be getting into the Micro game soon, with Olympus announcing intentions and showing a prototype and Panasonic showing an actual working product at their booth. The new approach has some supposed benefits, stated in comparison to the Four Thirds System standard.

According to the joint comminque: “The Micro Four Thirds System enables users to capture the same high-quality images of the Four Thirds System’s 4⁄3-type image sensor in a much more compact body. It also takes advantage of significantly more compact lenses, particularly in the wide angle and high-power zoom range. The Four Thirds System offers the benefits of compact, lightweight performance, and the new Micro Four Thirds System takes this even further to enable development of ultra-compact interchangeable lens type digital camera systems unlike anything seen before. The new Micro Four Thirds System also incorporates a greater number of lens-mount electrical contacts for the support of new features and expanded system functionality in the future.”

Leica S2

In other words, the camera bodies and lenses are said to be smaller and lighter. One way they do this is to eliminate the mirror assembly, making these non-D-SLRs, as there’s no reflex viewing action, but an EVF (Electronic Viewfinder) in the finder. (We are working on our naming convention. Right now there are two possible acronyms: IL-EVF (Interchangeable Lens, Electronic Viewfinder) or IL-DC (Interchangeable Lens, Digital Camera.) I handled the Panasonic Lumix G1 D-SLR at the show and found it pretty much the same size as present small Olympus and Canon D-SLRs, although my expectation that the EVF would be as miserable as they had been in the past was not met. Indeed, the view through the finder and the articulated LCD was very impressive. Live View in the G1 is especially impressive and is to me the “livest” Live View yet. All this, says Panasonic, is thanks to their broadcast camera technology. The Olympus effort seems to be more in the direction of an interchangeable lens rangefinder body type, as opposed to the small D-SLR mode adapted by the G1, which would be quite cool and perhaps bring the old interchangeable lens rangefinder-type cameras back into play, albeit digital style.

Fujifilm FinePix 3D camera

barvelou_ray23's picture

There is some kind of old touch to this camera. The design as well as the overall taste is really old school. - J. Kale Flagg