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Photokina 2012 Report

David Clapp was once again over in Cologne for Photokina and here's his quick round-up of some of the show's most interesting products.

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After getting myself settled on the Vanguard stand where I was giving talks, I got the chance to spend some time wandering the halls, looking for the alternative sides of the biggest photography trade show in Europe. I’m not reporting on the latest black cameras and bags, but looking for some more innovative products.

Canon EOS 1 DC

OK, here’s a contradiction to what I just said, but I thought I would show my excitement for the Canon EOS 1 DC, as it has my initials on it. It’s a 4k video camera as well as a stills powerhouse, with a refrigerated sensor. Those small doors on the right hand side give you access to a fully stocked beer fridge, easy to insert a straw.

This incredible 24mm lens is fully manual and fits the standard EOS mount. But before you get excited, the body alone is €10000 so I didn’t dare ask what the lens would cost. Fully endorsed with a DC, by DC, but I am sure this will be the only time I handle it!

Looking more like an orbiting satellite, this is the C500 video camera. Remarkable looking technology, with a 35-300mm lens attached, it oozes confidence and creativity to say the least.

C500 video camera

What I found to be absolutely fascinating was the incredible new histogram that was visible in the viewfinder. Lights and darks are on the vertical axis, with wavelength across the horizontal. Moving your hands in front of the lens is so incredible to watch, I am praying it ends up on professional cameras.

SuperGigaPixel Stand

SuperGigaPixel had a really interesting stand. The gargantuan screen was gesture controlled. Swipe the air left or right and the gigapixel image pans. Up and down, push and pull all work to zoom in and out with staggering detail. A great display to say the least.

For those who fancy a go at 3D modelling, this incredible tent was attracting a lot of attention. Sixteen cameras, taking images, encircle the model, object or product all with full control over the cameras as individuals.
3D modelling

Six offer a new approach to video with their modular video system. Buy parts, handles, plates and rests, which allows the photographer control over price and customisation. A great and innovative design, matched with superb manufacturing.

Six, a modular video system.

For those interested in smaller hand held video, Glidecam make the best solution for smooth video. A superb off centre handle makes this steadycam silky smooth and far easier to control than the pivot based competitors. A touch with the left hand can pan the camera around the scene while lifting. This is leagues above the rest in design and feel, which I should hope for €300.

Glidecam steadycam

Off topic but worth a mention was PNY Imaging Solutions. This racing simulator was so incredibly slick, it’s the nearest thing I have ever seen to driving the real thing. Powered by super fast graphics cards, they designed the entire cockpit to go with it as well. The steering was responsive with excellent feedback, but it was the driver who fails as I never made it onto the leader board.

PNY Imaging Solutions

If you fancy looking like Chewbacca in the landscape this season, then this is the accessory for you. Lie in the undergrowth and frighten other photographers to death on location with this excellent disguise, or simply save for Halloween / New Year's Eve and become the life and soul of the Star Wars theme party, with a twist.

Need a Mediterranean backdrop feel to your images? There was plenty of artistic creativity to complement your use of bokeh. Although I can’t see it replacing my travel and landscape work, the potential of this screen printed backdrops was certainly convincing from a distance. Especially useful for the landlocked or urban portrait photographer needing a selection of atmospheres for their studio.

Mediterranean backdrop

In among the sea of yawn worthy black bags there is a push to feel accessorised. Literally every Chinese bag company is offering a full range of stealthy, or beautifully designed and manufactured camera bags. These from Maxir were well made, with great attention to detail.


F-stop had a great selection of adventure sports camera bags, using hiking technology and light materials rather than the heavy fabrics found on the usual black camera bags. They feel and look streets ahead of the competition. Take a good look at F-Stop to see where one of the leaders in outdoor design camera bags are headed.

F-stop adventure sports camera bag

There was some exceptional photography all over Photokina, from award winning exhibitions like the Hasselblad Masters to the Sony Awards, but I also found some outstanding exhibitions as I started to wander. This space in particular was utterly captivating. These incredible shots are courtesy of Fachcolor Bühler, but the vision of Frank Sirona. He’s a German landscape and fine art photographer and these looked utterly jaw dropping. Over a meter and a half long, these prints are exposed on Kodak Endura Professional with an OCE Lightjet 500 XXL Laserprinter and mounted on glass, something I have never seen before.

Frank Sirona exhibition

If you have always fancied a monster ballhead, but could never afford it, then have a look at the new Benro range. This brute, which can take L brackets, is magnesium alloy and is a mere £180. Until now, I would expect the Kirk equivalent to cost around twice that. Quality machining and superb feel, both in the hand and in use.

Benro ballhead

Other companies that made rail systems as well as this great tripod leveller was from Chinese company Sunmayfoto. Again, superb quality, affordable and exceptionally smooth in use.

Sunmayfoto rail system

Getting sick of black? Well how about some colour with this range from PhotoClam. Although I am finding it a bit of a clash, I have to say it's great to see someone address the sea of black with some bling. Great to operate and beautiful finish. All I need is a custom paint job on my camera bodies to match...

PhotoClam Heads

Lifting prestigious T.I.P.A awards takes some strength, but Christophe Regnault picked up another two this year for Vanguard and its innovative product range. The company has had huge success, stabilising its position as affordable, quality manufacturer of tripods and camera bags.

Christophe Regnault

This is Buzz Aldrins Hasselblad, need I say anything more!

Buzz Aldrins Hasselblad

On the Lee filters stand, they were proud to announce that the waiting times for their high demand products is now over. They are in a far stronger position to turn out higher volumes of their filter kits and big stoppers. They were also keen to show off the new range they have produced for smaller cameras. It’s aimed at mirrorless camera systems, as well as high end compacts like the G15, G1x and equivalents.

Lee filters

Boblbee are a camera bag manufacturer with a difference. Aimed at adventure sports, motorcycling and mountain biking, these technical bags are armoured with superlight plastics to take impact in style. Design features put them in a niche of their own, with an array of great designs, from hold alls to waist packs. Three new designs are underway and it's so good to see such a bold and futuristic product.

Boblbee camera bag

Additional Photokina 2012 Coverage can be found here.

Article by David Clapp  -

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