The great Photokina 2014 round-up

Keeping track of everything new that's announced at Photokina can feel like something of a labour of Sisyphus. So rather than cover every new product with an individual article and drive everyone to distraction, we've opted to summarise as many as we can in one place. This is Photokina 2014. Enjoy!


After what amounts to years of speculation, Canon has finally announced the EOS 7D mark II. The basic spec: APS-C, 20 megapixel sensor; ISO 100 to 16,000 but expandable to 51,200; dual DIGIC 6 processors; 65-point auto-focus; top shooting speed of 10 frames-per-second; and built-in GPS. All for $1,800, body-only.

The Canon EOS 7D mark II. At last.

Three new lenses have joined the line-up, too: an EF-S 24mm ƒ/2.8 STM for $149.00; an EF 24-105mm ƒ/4.0L IS STM for $599; and the EF 400mm ƒ/4.0L DO-IS II (USM) at $6,899.

There are also three new compact cameras. The premium G7X with its 1", 20 megapixel sensor and DIGIC 6 processor; top sensitivity of ISO 12,800; and a 24 to 100mm lens with a maximum aperture of ƒ/1.8 at its widest and ƒ/2.8 at the telephoto end, for $700. The SX60 superzoom with its 65× optical zoom for $550. And the N2, which, like the Powershot N, leaves me baffled.

The G7X


Fujifilm announced an update to its much-loved X100-series; the X100T. This one comes with an improved hybrid viewfinder, enhanced controls, and faster shuttre speeds. All for $1,300, in either black or silver.

The X100T with a silver finish

The X20 has been upgraded to the X30. The improvements to Fuji's point-and-shoot focus on a new viewfinder and a tilting 3" high-res LCD. You can order one for £600.

Fujifilm X30 compact

There were also two new lenses: the X-F 56mm ƒ/1.2 R APD (85mm quivalent in 35mm format) for $1,500. (APD is apodisation. It is designed to give even smoother bokeh than the normal XF56. Great for portrait work.) And the weather resistant 50-140mm ƒ/2.8 R LM OIS WR at £1,600.

And don't forget the graphite-look X-T1 for $1,500 body-only.


Roll-up, roll-up, get your suction cups from Joby! Adding to its range of twisty, bendy, go-anywhere camera support devices, Joby has unveiled two suction cups, designed to provide industrial-strength hold on all types of smooth, clean, and non-porous surfaces. One has a locking arm, that's best for use in vibration-prone situations, such as in cars or on board boats (£33). The other has a Gorilla-pod arm, a quick-twist, flexible option that's better for windows, walls, and inside cars (£25).

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There's also the Pro Sling Strap, designed for dSLRs, to keep your camera close to your body but easy to pull up to your eye (£57); the GorillaPod Focus + Ballhead X is the strongest and largest GorillaPod to date (£140); and the Flash Clamp and Locking Arm, which helps to transform everyday objects into lighting assistants with the two articulating ball joints that let you position your flash at any angle (£35).

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Leica announced a laundry list of new cameras at Photokina:

  • Leica M 60 Edition - an LCD-less camera, limited to 600 units, and costing $18,500 with a 35 Summilux stainless steel lens
  • M-A
  • X - Type 113; and X-E
  • S - Type 007; and S-E
  • V-Lux - Type 114
  • D-Lux - Type 109, basically a Panasonic LX100

And a goodly selection of lenses, too. Leica enthusiasts couldn't have known which way to look first!


Nikon's big announcement was the D750: an FX-format camera with 24 megapixel sensor and EXPEED 4 processor, 51-point autofocus system, sensitivity ranging from ISO 100 to 12,800, a tilting LCD, built-in wi-fi, all crammed into a smaller-than-expected body. For $2,300, body-only.

Nikon's new D750

There was also the new Nikkor AF-S 20mm ƒ/1.8G ED and the SB-500 Speedlight.


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As well as announcing the E-PL7, Olympus brought out its E-M1 in silver (body-only for $1,400) and a new 40-150mm ƒ/2.8 lens for $1,500.


Panasonic came up with two new cameras and a new lens, together with the re-branded Leica cameras under the V-Lux and D-Lux badges.

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The new LX100 camera is available for $900. It has a Micro Four Thirds sensor, a 4-75mm Leica DC lens (ƒ/1.7-2.8), and comes with an external flash. The GM5 mirror-less camera comes in black or red, with a 12-32mm lens, for $900.

And there's also the Panasonic G Vario 35-100mm ƒ/4.0-5.6 ASPH lens for G-series cameras, costing about $400.


Samsung let loose a new camera, lens, grip, battery, and charger on the public in Köln. The camera is the 4K-video-enabled 28 megapixel NX1 for $1,500 body-only and the lens the 50-150mm S.

4K-video-enabled, for under $1,500


As well as the 50 mm T1.5 AS UMC cine lens, Samyang also announced its 12 mm ƒ/2.8 ED AS NCS fish-eye lens, which has been designed for full-frame cameras. We don't have a price or release date yet for it, but I am looking forward to seeing it.

There's no price or release date yet for Samyang's full-frame fish-eye


Sigma announced its dp1 Quattro camera, with a Foveon direct image sensor that is similar to traditional colour film in that its multiple layers capture all of the information that visible light transmits. It also announced two different versions of the same lens: the 150-600mm F/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports and the 150-600mm F/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary. The sports version is, probably quite obviously aimed at sports and wildlife photographers. The contemporary label is more compact and portable.

Both 150-600mm, one bigger, one smaller

There was also the 18-300mm F/3.5-6.3 DC Macro OS HSM Contemporary lens.

A new macro lens from Sigma


Just before Photokina, Sony announced two new lens units, to attach to smartphones. These were the QX1 and QX30. During Photokina, a slew of camcorders, video cameras, and accessories were unveiled, too. The things that caught my eye was the flash unit, the HVL-F32M for $300.

The winners of the Olympus & Exhibtr.com student photography competition

In October last year Olympus and Exhibitr.com launched a competition for students, looking for the best images representative of 'People and Portraits'. After 2,000 entries and a great deal of deliberation by the four judges—professional photographers R.Cleveland Aaron and Jay McLaughlin, Jon Bentley of Channel 5’s Gadget Show, and Jack Harries of the extremely popular JacksGap website and YouTube channel—one winner and two runners up have been selected. Winning an Olympus Stylus 1 each for their images in the runners-up slots are Elliott Gunn, studying at the University of Gloucestershire, and Alecsandra Raluca Dragoi of Portsmouth University.

Speaking of Elliott's image, Jessa, R.Cleveland Aaron said: 'Elliott Gunn’s slightly abstract image gives the impression it was painted by brush as opposed to light. The perfect balance between creativity and technique is what makes this image a winner.'

Alecsandra's image, Freckled Boy, elicited the following comments: 'Alecsandra Raluca demonstrates great technical ability here in this image of a young boy. The clarity, the use of light and aperture control brings the boys features to the fore front of the image and our minds.'

And the winner? Water is Life, by Jasper Wilkins of the University for the Creative Arts, which topped the list because of its '... clever and powerful use of light in his composition communicates, with great eloquence, the title of this image. The viewer's attentions are kept solely on what’s important, the children and the water they crave. This image epitomises the power of photography,' according to Cleveland. Jasper has won an Olympus OM-D E-M5.

Water is Life, by Jasper Wilkins
Water is Life, by Jasper Wilkins

Olympus' Stylus 1 feels like a curate's egg of a camera

The best way that I can describe Olympus' new Stylus 1 premium compact camera is as a curate's egg: it's good in parts. Some elements of it really appeal and some leave me indifferent at best. For a camera that Olympus had hoped would shake up the top end of the compact camera market it feels rather lack-lustre. Channeling the OM-D series of cameras, but scaled down in size

For a start, the zoom range is impressive. At the equivalent of 28 to 300mm, it beats its Nikon, Canon, and Fujifilm rivals into a cocked hat. None of those (the Nikon P330, Canon S120, Fujifilm XQ1) goes beyond 120mm. And the Stylus 1 has a constant ƒ/2.8 aperture across the range; there's no dropping down to ƒ/5.6 as you zoom in on your subject. But this is where some trade-off comes in. The others have bright ƒ/1.8 apertures at their lenses' widest angles, which narrow as the focal length increases. What would you prefer?

I'm not convinced by that 'hump' in my pocket

The standard resolution for this type of camera is 12 megapixels and Olympus hasn't deviated from that. Is there any need to? There's wi-fi, which you'd expect; a customisable lens ring and to button to put your most-used functions where you want them; it has a sensitivity range of ISO 100 to 12,800; and everything is powered by a TruePic VI processor.

Aesthetically, the Stylus 1 is channeling the OM-D E-M series, a look that is driven home by the inclusion of an EVF that comes with a 'hump'. This is a strange addition for something that is designed to slip into a pocket; it measures 116 by 87 by 56.5mm, but would you want something lumpy sitting against your thigh? There appears to have a disconnect between the camera's technical intentions and its ergonomics. It's not a design that's blowing back my hair and I'd be inclined to pass it over in favour of the Fujifilm XQ1.

All the controls you'd expect from a top-end compact

The biggest disappointment, though, is the 1/1.7" sensor. Fujifilm squashed a 2/3" sensor into the XQ1 and Sony has managed a full-frame sensor in a compact body. We know that it can be done and this is where Olympus really could have broken away from Canon and Nikon, but it hasn't. And at £550 (or $700), it feels very unsatisfactory.

There are things to like about the Stylus 1, but for me, there isn't enough. Olympus, you could have done better.

Another Olympus Image Space pop-up event

Olympus' second pop-up event, Image Space @ Icetank, kicks off on Saturday 2 November in London's Covent Garden. A series of activities has been scheduled that includes workshops, talks, debates, and interviews. There will also be opportunities to go hands-on with Olympus' new OM-D E-M1. Sessions include the chance to assist Damian McGillicuddy when he photographs model Ulorin Vex on a commercial shoot, a discussion of the power of the personal photographic project, and an introduction to social media for photographers.

You can see the full run-down of of what's available and book yourself onto a session or two on the Olympus website. All of the sessions are free but you do need to reserve a place.

Olympus Images Space @ Icetank runs from 2 to 9 November 2013 at 5-7 Grape Street, LONDON WC2H 8DW.

Olympus getting out of cheap compact cameras? Good!

The news that Olympus is ditching their compact camera division this week caused quite a stir, but I can't help but think that the camera manufacturer is on to something. I've long thought that entry-level compact cameras are a Bad Idea. Nikon's line-up is a great example: Their SLRs are phenomenal. The Nikon 1 series are incredibly capable machines. But their $80 entry-level cameras are best avoided. It's not a particularly closely guarded secret that they're contract manufactured in a completely different factory, the design isn't done by the core Nikon team, etc. Basically, the entry-level cameras don't look or feel like Nikons.

The same goes for Olympus, but they also have a couple of other challenges they're facing.

I think Olympus is probably better off without these fellas.

There are two ways to look at this:

1) If your first camera is a cheap Olympus camera, you might be happy that it didn't break, and you'll buy another Olympus further down the line

2) If your first camera is a cheap Olympus camera, you might be appalled by the build quality, and decide to go elsewhere.

It's a hard gamble, because for cameras that are sold for less than a ton, it's pretty obvious that camera manufacturers have to cut corners somewhere. Cheaper enclosures and naff colours mean that they look and feel cheap. Cheaper LCD screens makes it hard to see how good your pictures came out. And cheaper lenses, sensors, and processors means that the camera will be slow, that there's a physical limit to how good the photos can be, etc. On top of that, the cheapest cameras often end up in the hands of people with the least of a clue - the very same people who could benefit the most from having a more 'intelligent' camera.

So, in deciding to pull the plug on their cheapest cameras, Olympus is making a wise move: They probably can't (and shouldn't) compete in a market that's a race to the bottom: Developing a cheap camera that is designed to be as good as it can be means spending a metric arse-tonne of cash on development, then another huge amount on manufacturing an enormous quantity of them, then piling in the marketing dollars to shift 'em. And even then it's a gamble, hoping that Nikon or another bottom-end manufacturer didn't happen to release a slightly better (or slightly cheaper) model a couple of weeks before you did.

Good riddance, I say: Olympus can now continue focusing their attention on the spaces where they are true innovators: The Olympus OM-D, the other mirrorless cameras, and their superzooms.

TIPA 2013 - who won what

logo-tipa-2013 Once a year the Technical Press Imaging Association, or TIPA, meets in a desirable location—this year it was Hong Kong, last year in was Cape Town—to settle on which manufacturers have produced the best easy-to-use compact cameras, most innovative tripods, and the swishest top-end dSLRs over the past 12 months.

There are in fact 40 different categories that are decided on by representatives from TIPA's 27 member magazines, as well as the Camera Journal Press Club of Japan.

Canon took most of the dSLR spoils, winning best entry-level with the 100D, best expert with the 6D, and best video dSLR with the 1D C; Nikon, however, won the advanced category with its D7100.

When it came to compact system cameras, or mirror-less cameras, or EVIL cameras, Fujifilm, Olympus, Panasonic, and Samsung all had a look-in. Fujifilm's X-E1 won the best expert CSC award; Olympus took the entry level CSC honours with the PEN E-PL5; the professional CSC prize went to Panasonic for its GH3; and finally the advanced prize was won by the Samsung Smart Camera NX300. If you can wade your through the difference between 'professional', 'advanced' and 'expert', then you're a better woman than I am.

The compact camera categories were split between Nikon and Panasonic. Nikon walked off with awards for its Coolpix S01 in the 'easy' class and its P520 superzoom. The rugged camera was Panasonic's prize, though, for the FT5 (or TS5, depending on where you are).

Canon, Fujinon, Nikon, Sigma, and Sony all won prizes for their lenses, ranging from 'best CSC prime' (the Fujinon XF 14mm ƒ/2.8 R) to 'best professional lens' (Canon's EF 24-70mm ƒ/2.8L II USM), via best entry-level dSLR lens (the Sigma 17-70mm ƒ/2.8-4 DC MACRO OS HSM).

As for best premium camera, that was the Sony RX1; best professional camera was the Leica M; and best imaging innovation was awarded to Samsung for its 45mm ƒ/1.8 (2D/3D) lens.

If you want to check out the rest of the winners, which includes best media storage, imaging monitor, and photo TV, you can see the whole list on TIPA's website.

I can't help but feel that with a carousel of categories where the differences in criteria aren't necessarily discernible, it's more a case of 'These were all really good products and we need to find some way of showing that.' I can't say that the awards will encourage me to buy a Nikon superzoom, but it must be gratifying for the manufacturers to receive a pat on the back.

Potential law suits left, right, and centre at Olympus

Olympus has announced that it's considering embarking on legal proceedings against current and former executives for landing it in one of the juiciest accounting scandals in the history of Japanese business.

An external investigation has pointed fingers at ten individuals, one of whom is Shuichi Takayama, the current President of Olympus, who should bear responsibility for the ¥100 billion cover-up. If it were to sue them on the advice of the investigating panel - details of which will be released tomorrow - it could be for damages amounting to ¥90 billion.

As if law suits against directors past and present weren't sufficient, and not forgetting the on-going legal investigations, there's also talk that Michael Woodford will sue the company for unfair dismissal. Well, woudn't you, when you were sacked under the pretence of your manangement style not meshing with the company where you'd worked for 30 years, but most likely it was for uncovering a multi-million yen scandal? Thought so.

(Headsup to the BBC and Financial Times)