Nikon’s much anticipated full-35mm mirrorless camera system is confirmed, but it’s mostly all about new lenses in this issue’s news, with Sony’s unveiling its highly-desirable 400mm G Master fast supertelephoto (yours for a cool $17,999), Fujifilm revealing its X mount plans from now to 2020, and Nikon releasing details of a 500mm f5.6 supertele with a more compact design. Also Canon has upgraded both its L series 70-200mm zooms and Tamron unveils a compact and affordable 17-35mm wide-angle zoom for Canon and Nikon D-SLRs. Photokina 2018 also happens during the shelf life of this magazine so visit www.cameramagazine.com.au for all the latest new product announcements.
During the life of this issue, the world’s biggest exhibition of imaging products will again take place in the German city of Cologne. This year’s event is particularly significant because it marks the end of the biennial schedule and of the traditional September timing, which has been in place since 1966. The first show was in 1950 and was designed to promote German-made photography products. The next year it went international and, after 1952, Photokina was staged every two years – although the dates shifted between the European spring and autumn – while the 1960, ’63 and ’66 shows were, as you can see, three years apart.
From 2019, Photokina will move to an annual schedule, with the date moving from September to May, almost certainly to avoid the close proximity to the massive IFA consumer electronics show which is held in Berlin in early September and which also attracts a number of imaging companies (starting with, logically, Panasonic and Sony). This year’s show has already been pared back to four days from the previous six, and the shorter duration will now become standard.
Of course, the main reason for the change to an annual event is that two years is now virtually a lifetime in the digital era, so Photokina was starting to lose some its edge as a launching pad for new products. Although much smaller in scale, Japan’s annual CP+ show in Yokohama in late February was undoubtedly breaking more big headlines.
The first Photokina I attended was in 1986 and well into the 1990s it was wall-to-wall new releases, as manufacturers made the most of having the world’s camera press in one place. Many significant new products had their debut at a Photokina (starting with Leica’s M3 in 1954). With no social media to quickly spread leaks or rumours, there could still be plenty of surprises too… like the Contax 645 in 1998, the Bronica RF645 in 2000 or the Hasselblad H1 in 2002 (coincidentally, all 6x4.5cm format cameras). A regular Photokina routine for journalists was stripping down the numerous press kits to the most important pages and photos (prints, of course) so they could be easily carried home.
With photo shows around the world either on the endangered list or extinct (as is the case in Australia), Photokina’s organisers clearly had to do something, as it has been getting steadily smaller, especially over the last decade now that the Internet is a much easier (and cheaper!) place to visit. Whether the radical new formula will make much difference in the long-term remains to be seen, but the shorter duration already seems to be working with Photokina 2018 attracting around 700 exhibitors, confounding earlier rumours that there might be some ‘big name’ no-shows (although some are scaling back their presences). Press day – which used to be a bit hit-and-miss – now has a full program of press conferences, including Leica, Panasonic, Fujifilm, Canon, Nikon and Olympus… so presumably all these companies have something important to tell us. As you read this, Nikon’s full-35mm mirrorless camera system is likely to have just been announced, but it’s less clear when Canon’s will arrive, but at this stage, Photokina now looks unlikely
So, expect updated D-SLRs from Canon instead – and probably Nikon too – especially as both brands have upper mid-range and semi-pro models ripe for replacement… the D750 and EOS 7D II for example.
Fujifilm has been hinting that it has something big coming, which could mean a 100 MP GFX, but perhaps also an even lower-priced digital medium format mirrorless camera (and maybe RF styled). An X-T3 can’t be all that far away either. It’s likely there will be a 100 MP Hasselblad mirrorless model too, but maybe not an X1D as it’s likely this camera will be significantly revised and upgraded… so perhaps an X2D 50 and 100? Sony has been busy already with its Mark III upgrades, with the A7S II next and a possible Photokina debutante. Olympus has been fairly quiet of late so an OM-D E-M5 Mark III has to be on the cards, but perhaps also something a bit bigger as the company prepares to celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2019.
Whatever you’re wishing for, all will soon be revealed, so don’t miss our on-the-spot reports at www.cameramagazine.com.au, followed up by a comprehensive round up in the next issue.