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Photokina Report Part 2 - David Clapp is back with more news from Photokina 2010.
Another day of exploring the virtual floating city that is Photokina. Thinking I would become completely overwhelmed by the shimmering spectacle of it all, I started off the day with a free massage, how wonderful. I am thoroughly enjoying my visits and talks with smaller businesses in particular, alongside the industry behemoths. It is this juxtaposition that makes Photokina a great experience. So here are today’s round up of impressive products and concepts that firmly caught my attention.
Canon ‘world’ was as busy as ever with every conceivable product on display except the one thing I wanted to look at, the new EF 8-14mm f4L zoom. From printers to digital compacts and top flight DSLRs, the array of products and company presence is phenomenal, swallowing never ending floor space. The new EOS 60D was naturally seeking attention but it was great to see the fan club satisfied with a line of long telephotos too as well as prints and digital compacts. These huge companies feature so heavily in all our minds (due to the overwhelming press attention), that it's literally hard to become excited, more like confirmed by their line-up.
As a complete polar opposite, I visited a new company FLM (whose FLM C48FT I featured in a recent review) after nearly twenty minutes of trade-show bewilderment. Completing the line up of tripod accessories is a new series of carbon fibre tripods (to be released next April) with build quality and engineering that arguably rivals the monsters of the tripod world. With clever new leg lock features, extendible leg spikes and a waterproof bottom leg section (pushing water up into carbon fibre, especially sea water, is not a good idea) it is great to see innovation flows through this small family-run German business.
Slightly left-field, Kowa were flying the digiscoping flag with some wonderful ideas alongside some exceptionally huge binoculars using micro 4/3s adapted cameras. With compacts capable of HD video featuring heavily in their birdwatching marketing, it's nice to see some products translating familiar technology in different ways. Swarovski and other scope manufacturers also attract a crossover, keeping photographers excited about all optics and not just lenses.
|Olympus Pen on an 800mm lens.|
REDGED are a relatively new company specialising in tripods that make a great array of choice at very competitive prices. With a Gimbal based head system and huge carbon fire tripod effortlessly gliding a 600mm f4L around, Gitzo / Wimberly etc have some stiff competition.
|Redged Gimbal / Wimberly style head and carbon fibre tripod.|
Ekasilp Industry from Thailand (rolls off the tongue doesn’t it?!) gave the biggest smile today with their range of unusual air-filled camera and accessory bags. With snap shut magnetic locks (what a great idea), the squashy plastic and muted urban colours looks very funky and playful, just like a beach ball.
|Ekasilp airfilled camera bags, very unique and protective at the same time… or is it a seat?|
FotoROBOT enlightened me to a whole new arena of photography I had overlooked, showing the true power and the importance of trade-shows. In these days of internet retail, they offer distributors an automated push button solution to a day's worth of arduous product photography (just imagine consistently shooting 500 different bottles of wine for a living). With rotating plinths and a huge automated robotic camera arm, the product spins whilst the DSLR camera runs through a pre-programmed sequence, which keeps web pages looking extremely professional.
|Press the button and then open a bottle of wine.|
Visiting the Lee Filters stand is always a pleasure thanks to the gallery of superb prints they display to mesmerise the customers. I was particularly interested in the Lee Big Stopper (which has a depressing 2000+ back orders for those of you interested) and the Lee / Nikon 14-24 filter system which was available for a hands on demo. Supporting 150mm Lee resin filters on a precision made custom holder means that at last the problem of circular polarisers and ND Grads is over for Nikon users.
|My Canon 1Ds3 with a Nikon 14-24 has certainly turned heads at Photokina.|
Kinomatic had a truly spell binding display of technology to enhance the concept of in-camera HD movie production. Somewhere in among an array of black boxes, precision wheels, counter balances and eyepieces was sat a very claustrophobic Canon 1Dmk4, with models designed around the 5Dmk2 and 7D range also on display. The concept is so incredible, it’s easy to leave the stand feeling somewhat guilty that you haven’t started shooting intimate landscape footage or time lapse, as the video screens mesmerised the audiences with some truly stunning material.
|Is it a camera or a experimental satellite system? Look for the 1Dmk4 in the centre…|
Thinktank were busy on their stand making the public aware of their new Urban Disguise series of discrete camera reporter style camera bags. Stylish, youthful and low key, the concept is particularly appealing to the city user, with space for a modest array of equipment and accessories.
Now for the exotics
Medium format digital seems to be very popular among the crowds. Leaf have just announced an astonishing 80mp digital back. With a superior sensor that has a staggering 12stops of latitude, the compact Alpa body teamwork (another superb Swiss company) makes the whole system seem only a shade bigger than a pro series DLSR. Using large format lenses, the demonstration set up shows resolution beyond belief, which is bound to ensure that advertising and commercial photographers are kept very happy.
|Not much larger than a pro series DSLR.|
Need a billboard? Last but not least, the Seitz company, who are responsible for the only 6X17 digital camera in the world, were pushing their new automated Roundshot series of automated panoramic camera systems. Tether a conventional DSLR or prepare to be totally blown away by their internal digital back. This technology uses a tall, slim sensor that compiles an image from strips of exposures taken of a given period as the camera rotates. It can be set and programmed to rotate through 360degrees, shooting bracketed exposures at any increment and period of time using high quality Rodenstock or Schneider large format optics. Highly inventive and financially crippling photography.
Ok, one more day of rummaging on my final day at Photokina before I leave on Thursday night.