Wetpixel show coverage: Photokina 2012

Photokina 2012: Wetpixel show coverage day one.

The show is housed in the massive Koelnmesse, which has numerous entrances and 11 halls.

The underwater imaging contingent were based down in hall 5.1. On hand was Edward Lai and Phoebe Lu from Nauticam:

Rolf Sempert from Subal:

And Bodo and Herbert from Aqua foto team.

Helmut Goerlitz was also around showing his new 3D underwater video, Andreas Volz of Digideep was also doing the rounds, and there were stands also from Aquapac and Fantasea.

Andi Voeltz of Digideep.

The winners of the International Underwater Photography Olympics (aka the Epson shoot out) were displayed.

Returning to the main area, I made a bee line for the Photokina Community stand where Wetpixel publisher Eric Cheng was giving a talk about Lytro cameras.

After his talk, Eric and I had our first face to face meeting! It is a sign of the times that we could work closely together for such a long time and never physically meet.

I then went on the large stand that Sony were on. The major camera manufacturers all take whole halls for their stands, and in Sony’s case, they had built a “jungle” for people to experiment with their various cameras.

The a99 is Sony’s first full frame sensor camera. It is a large bodied camera and with an EVF and a 24.7 megapixel Exmor CMOS sensor.

Sony has also released a series of Zeiss lenses, with the Distagon f2/24mm wide-angle being of potential interest and the Vario-Sonnar 24-70mm F2.8 looking interesting as a carry lens.

Sony has also introduced two NEX EVIL camera models. The NEX-5R is an updates of the preceding NEX-5N, with a 19.1 megapixel APS-C sensor. It is Wi-fi enabled, which allows for picture sharing via the internet and Sony’s PlayMemories hosting service.

It also gives Live View and remote triggering on a tablet or smartphone at a 2 meter range. Flashes and accessories are attached via a Smart Accessory terminal. The camera has a similar control layout to that of the NEX-5N, with the addition of a control dial on the top right hand. This allows for scrolling through the menus,and should make accessing items a tad easier. It does however make it unlikely that it will fit in existing NEX housings or allow existing ones to be converted.

The NEX-6 shares the same sensor, but has many features that were originally on the NEX-7. It has a mode dial on the top of the camera, making access much easier to the controls. It has a pop up flash and a conventional hot shoe (which Sony calls a multi interface shoe) for attaching external flashes and an EVF.

This camera may well be a good choice within the NEX range for underwater use, as it has a better control map that that of the NEX-5 without the complications and expense of the NEX-7.

Sony has introduced a 16-50mm f3.5-5.6 power zoom lens for the NEX range.

Moving on the NEX series handycams, Sony had both the VG900 and VG30 models at the show. The former features a full frame sensor and the latter an APS-C one.

Sony VG900 Handycam.

Sony VG30 Handycam.

Sony has also released a GoPro competitor with the HDR-AS15 Actioncam. This has an option to shoot footage at 720 120p, which should make for great slow motion sequences. It has a wide 15.3mm lens and built in Wi-fi.

It also has removable batteries, with a projected battery life of around 2 hours.

It is supplied with an optically correct 60m housing, which unfortunately only has very limited controls.

I think that this may represent an opportunity for third party housings to suit underwater filmmakers needs.

Sony has the DSC RX1 at the show, but not available to handle. It has a full frame 24.3 megapixel sensor, with a Zeiss Sonnar 35mm lens.

Canon also had a significant presence at the show, with all their new and recently released products. The new Powershot S110 and G15 were available to view. The S and G series compact cameras have been popular choices for underwater use, and Canon has polycarbonate housings available for both cameras.

The EOS cinema range was fully represented with the EOS C100 and C500 4K cameras, as well as the EOS C300.

Canon is obviously investing significant amounts of time and effort in this category.

Of key interest from Canon is the EOS 6D. This is described as an 20.2 megapixel lightweight full frame camera. The control layout is simpler than other Canon models, although they are now using an 8 way controller set within the rear control dial for moving focus points, menu navigation and moving around images in review mode.

This may present a challenge for housing manufacturers, but many of the “superfluous” buttons that feature on other Canon models are gone. It also has Wi-fi and GPS capabilities.

Photokina provides an opportunity for photographers to try out equipment. Canon had a “long lens” display that was proving very popular.

Moving on to Nikon, the major news was its release of the D600 full-frame camera. Nikon are pushing hard with their “I am” advertising campaign and were featuring the D4 and D800 too.

The D600 is described as an entry level full-frame camera with a 24.3 megapixel sensor.

It does not feature Wi-fi, and the bad news for underwater photographers is that the control layout, although similar to that of the D7000, is unlikely to fit into existing housings.

I then moved on to camera bag company Think Tank. They have released the Airport Navigator, which is a “pilot style” roller capable of taking two large bodied cameras, with zoom lenses attached, whilst appearing very small.

I think it should be capable of taking a housing and ports too. It has a clever split strap that allows it to be leashed on to another roller bag and be rolled in tandem.

Just before the show was wrapping up for the day, I wondered past the Aqua foto team stand, Stefan Horvath of H20 Photo Tools accosted me with a new product. He has made a zoom ring for the Olympus 12-50mm lens that works in the Olympus housing for the OM-D E-M5.

This will retail at €129.95 and is great news for those wanting to use this lens.

  1. Day one: Sony, Canon and Nikon and others.
  2. Day two: Subal, Nauticam, BS Kinetics, Olympus, HGTV.
  3. Day three: Fantasea, Panasonic, Zeiss, Fuji and the Epson Red Sea Shootout.