Combined Show Reporting By Nick Devlin & Kevin Raber
Maybe I am just getting older, but this Photokina wore me out far more than previous Photokinas. I arrived on Monday, September 19th and headed home on Saturday, September 24th. I am still trying to wrap my head around this show, but it was quite different than I anticipated. Strangely, there was a lack of excitement in the air. As expected, the Fuji X-T2 and GFX were the talk of the town; rightly so, when you consider what Fuji has accomplished this year.
I want to thank Nick Devlin for accompanying me on this trip. Michael and I had made plans to attend this Photokina earlier in the year, but with Michael’s passing, Nick stepped up and offered to cover the show with me. Prior to the show, Nick and I met up with a friend of ours and toured Italy and the gorgeous Dolomite mountains. We then spent two nights in St. Moritz, where another friend of ours has a residence. Then we took a fun road trip to Cologne. Prior to all of this I was on a trip with Chris Sanderson, scouting Greenland for next year’s workshop. Overall, it was a nonstop, three-week adventure. It sure feels good to be home, although that will be short-lived, as Chris and I are heading out again next Sunday for a one-week production of this year’s “Shooting With The Masters.”
I had a few things to check off the list on our last day.
Who doesn’t want a Wacom Tablet? The Wacom Booth was crazy busy this year with dozens of folks wanting to try out the various tablets Wacom offers. They also had several presenters showing off their Photoshop skills using the Wacom devices.
If there is one thing I love, it’s a great monitor, and Eizo makes some of the best monitors out there. This is one of their 27″ models, and the picture has such beautiful tonality and color. It might not be too long before I add this monitor to my own workflow.
You can always find something different at a show like Photokina. Have you ever had to hang out on a photo shoot, waiting for the right light? Now you can wait in comfort with the help of a Walkstool. I have seen some folks with these at past workshops. Maybe I’ll bring one with me next summer when I’m out shooting bears in Alaska. It would sure beat sitting on cold, wet rocks.
Speaking of strange things, how about Mazda exhibiting at a photography trade show? I think they must have gotten their dates messed up. Nevertheless, there were a lot of people visiting their booth. The Miata seemed to be the popular car of choice.
HP Indigo 12000:
Digital presses are everywhere these days, as they provide custom printing on demand. HP Indigo Presses are best known for doing short-run books and prints. The HP Indigo 12000 is a mammoth machine. It was pretty impressive to watch it crank out large sheets of paper and prints.
We have been mentioning Peak Design in numerous articles about camera straps and attachments. It’s a great modular system. Peak Design is also known for their successful (viral) Kickstarter campaign for camera bags and packs. While their bags might not be quite right for my personal work style, they are certainly popular with many photographers.
Sigma Foveon SD Quattro:
I really hope I don’t have to pronounce this one in an upcoming video. Everyone is still trying to figure Sigma out. The Foveon SD Quattro camera’s sensor is a Foveon sensor, and while revolutionary, it has yet to catch on with consumers. The image quality from the camera is really good, but the development software is tedious and painstaking. Like everything Foveon, this camera has an odd shape, but for the first time ever, these cameras will have interchangeable lenses. I keep wondering if this is the last iteration of this camera. I guess we will just have to wait and see. Sigma has gotten so good at their core business of making lenses, one can’t help but wonder why they are still playing around with this. Maybe I am just missing something?
Earlier this year, I had the chance to sit down with Perry Oosting, the new CEO of Hasselblad. Since that time, Hasselblad has been very busy. Perry was kind enough to spend over an hour with Nick and me, sharing what Hasselblad has been working on and openly discussing the industry and common challenges for all modern camera makers. Perry and I will be sitting down for another interview at PhotoPlus East next month. By then, the X1D should be shipping and we’ll have plenty to talk about!
Here’s Nick’s summary of our visit:
I just want to thank Hasselblad and Perry for sharing some of their precious and coveted time.
Not too long ago, many of us would have seriously doubted that Hasselblad would even be at Photokina 2016, much less stealing the show with two of the most exciting products on display; but here we are. Much of the credit for their turnaround must go to their new CEO, Perry Oosting, under whose leadership the company has released the well-received H6 Pro Body and the groundbreaking X1D.
For me, the three points of technical excitement at this show were the aforementioned X1D, the Fuji GFX-50, and a beyond awesome square-format concept camera, also presented by Hasselblad.
While the Fuji is big news, being the first medium-format system camera, the X1D represents a bolder attempt at innovation. Small, elegant, and driven by a touch-screen menu, the X1D is a visionary camera. Whether it will be a commercial success remains to be seen, but it has paved the way forward, and looks amazing while doing it.
Someone with exquisite taste must have spent a whole lot of time making this triumphant piece of industrial design. A bBeautiful and functional design is something we didn’t see nearly enough this year, despite the hundreds of thousands of square feet of camera-tech on display.
The X1D’s design was no accident. The V1 concept camera was, if anything, even more fetching. Sparse and minimal, yet deeply sexy, this digital re-imagining of the iconic Hasselblad V camera body was immediately desired by everyone who saw it. If the new X lenses cover the diagonal of a squared-down version of the current 100MP Sony Sensor, this camera could take its place in a new pantheon of truly 21st century cameras.
Why is no one else in this industry trying to design devices that a photographer will want to own, simply for their beauty and simplicity? Anyone heard of a little company called Apple? It’s a small California startup that seems to be doing okay. It grounds itself in the premise that our most intimate devices should be both elegant and easy to use. How has the camera industry missed this?
If the tech of the V1 matches its appearance, Hasselblad may be on the cusp of a real winning streak.
One of the nicest upgrades to this year’s Photokina was that Hasselblad’s ever-crowded “touch-and-try” booth was staffed, not by sales people or hired help, but by the actual V1 design team. I can only image how gratifying it must have been for these talented Swedes to proudly show off their handiwork to their adoring fans.
Under Mr. Oosting and the current design team, Hasselblad could be back in a big way; but then again, money and merit don’t always meet in this industry (e.g., Samsung). As a lover of cameras, I for one have my fingers crossed for them.
P.S. We were also shown this clever Hasselblad True Zoom add on to the Moto-X Phone. It’s actually pretty cool. We’ll try to do more coverage on this little gem in the near future.
The show is over now and we have to wait two more years for the next Photokina. That said, the show has lost some of its familiar charm. Camera makers will announce new cameras throughout the year and won’t necessarily wait until the next Photokina. While many think this is all we’ll get this year, I happen to believe there are still a few surprises to come. The camera industry has had a tough year, with the earthquake in Japan slowing down chip and camera production. Nevertheless, things appear to be improving and there may still be a few significant announcements on the not-so-distant horizon.
Looking back, the cameras that caught my fancy were few and far between, but impressive in their own right. The Fuji GFX-50 is sure to cause all sorts of speculation and chatter. We will be doing a video interview with Fuji management at PhotoPlus next month, and I hope to come away with a better understanding of where the GFX is heading.
The Hasselblad X1D was quite impressive to behold and operate. Kudos to Hasselblad for creating this camera, and to their CEO Perry Oosting for getting them to focus on their core business again.
Fuji should also be commended for their X-T2 and X-Pro2 cameras. In a few short years, Fuji has become a respected player in the camera business. Their dedication to good design and excellent optics, and their commitment to supporting their existing cameras with firmware upgrades should be a model other camera companies aspire to.
Olympus may not have gotten all the praise they deserved. Their new camera, the OMD E-M1 Mark II, is a brilliant piece of engineering. For such a small camera, its capabilities are quite impressive. We’ll be looking at this camera a bit closer over the next moth or so.
A lot of us are scratching our heads about the Canon M1. Canon finally appears to be trying to step into the mirrorless market, but it may be too little too late. I sincerely want Canon and Nikon to jump into the mirrorless world with a splash, but it seems they are staying the course with their big mirror-box DSLRs. Time will tell if that is the right move for them.
It was obvious that Sony, who introduced seven new cameras this year, isn’t about to slow down. Sony remains committed to the marketplace, and is on the cusp of delivering a camera line that professionals will have to take seriously. The next few years are going to be really interesting.
I’m still trying to figure out Leica. I was surprised we didn’t see a new M camera from them this year. I found it odd that they opted to add an instant camera to their product line. That said, I would like to thank them for putting together such an incredible gallery for the show. That alone was worth the price of admission.
No matter what, it was fun. I had the chance to spend some quality time with Nick Devlin and delve into some much needed shoptalk. We met up with other content providers like Tony and Chelsea, and the guys from the Camera Store, and caught up on the latest Internet business. The only thing that was missing this year was our dear friend Michael. He was so looking forward to attending this show. He was there in our thoughts and in spirit.