PHOTOKINA WINNERS & LOSERS :
It is always difficult to express an unbiased opinion on which products/companies were the most successful at a fair. After all, a fair is first aimed at gathering orders from dealers (or find importers) and the degree of innovation or the number of new products from one company do not necessarily translate into bigger sales number.
But the idea, here, is to share which brands had the most interesting new products and which products seem to be both innovative and/or fill a gap on a brand line-up. Of course, a photo fair is NOT JUST about cameras & lenses and there were many booths with interesting new products in the accessories section. In the next few weeks, I will publish short articles about some very cool new accessories seen at the fair. For now, here is my take regarding this fair for cameras & lenses :
This one is relatively simple : The top three brands of digital camera seem to be off their game to different degrees. In third to last position I would include Sony which did not have much new to offer except the long-awaited A99 II SLT.
Next up on this losing list is Canon with a somewhat controversial 5D Mark IV and a new mirrorless body (Canon M5) which is a nice camera in search of lenses. Finally, without a doubt, Nikon had a weak fair (see my comments on the first installment of my Photokina coverage). Clearly,Nikon seems to be confused. Ironically, the Nikon outdoor space located in front of the South entrance of the fair seems like a cruel metaphor of Nikon confusion of where to go next (hence the picture above).
Ok, the first one is a no- brainer. The BIGGEST winner of this fair is MIRRORLESS. Indeed, whichever brand you look at, the four or five most-talked about camera introductions, i.e Hasselblad X1D, Fuji GFX 50s, Olympus EM1 mark II, Canon M5, Panasonic G80/85 are ALL mirrorless and the first two on this list clearly shows that mirrorless is not limited to a few sensor sizes.
Another category which is clearly stronger after this fair is MICRO 4/3rds. Both Olympus & Panasonic introduced exciting models like the EM1-II and the G80/85 and several new lenses on which is already the widest lens line-up of ANY mirrorless system.
There is even a new member of the m4/3 system. At photokina a chinese company called young innovators introduced its first M4/3rd products with a camera model called YI M1 and two lenses (one 1.8/42.5mm prime and one entry-level zoom).
Now, as mentioned earlier , I consider the most important trend of this Photokina to be the advent of two Medium format mirrorless cameras, a category which simply did NOT exist before. While the Fuji GXF 50s and the Hasselblad X1D share the same 50 MP Sony sensor, they have a very different, if not opposite, approach. Contrary to what has been said on some Youtube previews, I do not think that this means one of the two is going at it the wrong way. In fact, I think both Fuji and Hasselblad are making the right decisions based on their collection. let me explain :
It is not rare to read on photo forums about people complaining about any camera brand which does not have a 35mm sensor option. Contrary to those claims and given the current state of sensor technology,I would argue that it makes NO sense for most (if not all) camera companies to have system in all sensor sizes.
In terms of volumes , there is no doubt that APS sensor is by far the biggest selling size in serious size sensors (I am not including devices with a 1/2.3” sensor).
Canon and Nikon may be making nice margins with their pro 35mm DSLR’s but the bulk of the sales is with APS cameras whether DSLR or mirrorless.
For Mirrorless cameras manufacturers who have a full APS system , it makes very little sense (both from a financial and a product development perspective) to develop a 35mm sensor system as well) and Fuji has already a fullly developed APS system.
With the GFX50, Fuji is making clear is that there is NO Fuji 35mm interchangeable camera system coming in the foreseeable future. Sure, the GFX system is going to compete with some of the current Medium format camera makers but, more importantly, aims to compete with the big 35mm camera makers, chiefly Nikon and Canon.
Indeed, I would go further as to say that Fuji GFX 50 and the Hasselblad X1D while both being mirrorless are cleary aimed at very different customers. In my opinion, the X1D is really a model aimed at portrait, landscape and, last but not least, travel photographers. The Fuji model is more versatile and might be used equally well in the studio. Speaking of the Fuji, I read a lot of reports from Photokina claiming that the GFX will have the advantage of giving more lenses options than the Hassy. I do not believe this to be the case and this is why : Hasselblad after the fair has already three lenses and plans to develop 5 more in 2017. Fuji has shown six lenses but only three would be available at camera launch sometime in early 2017. The other ones are planned for later in 2017. Hasselblad has also promised an adapter to use most, if not all , of the H lenses already in the catalog for the H models.
The Fuji GFX becomes a super 35mm on steroids.Indeed the Fuji looks a lot like a inflated dslr at least when seen from the front. A view from above shows that the camera is going to be much deeper because of its swapable EVF and tiltable LCD. As a result , the Fuji camera is going to be more modular than the Hasselblad X1D, while the swedish design makes for a less bulky camera and features a very modern touchscreen user interface…
In my opinion, the Swedish company is the big surprise winner of the show. As mentioned earlier, Photokina brings two new examples of a new breed mirrorless medium format but while the fuji GX is at still level of a prototype shown under the cover, the X1 D announced three months ago can be handled at the show and a first batch has already shipped even if future buyers probably will have to wait a while (now next shipping estimated at the end of November at B&H). I am assuming the delays are based upon the too pessimistic predictions made by Hasselblad ( supposedly,Hasselblad had already sold in two days at the fair what they were planning to sell in a full year).
I was able to play with a X1D and to say I was impressed is an understatement. The body is not only beautifully crafted, it feels like a very comfortable and practical design. The camera was designed and built in Sweden and weighs only 725 grams(body only) which is no small achievement considering the sensor size. Even more impressive is the size of the body.
The evf is comfortable and up to the current standard of 2.36 millions pixels.
I still have some questions regarding the buffer size when shooting high quality jpgs and Raw+ jpegs since final firmware needs to be confirmed but it is real an innovative product. The product looks and feel gorgeous and well built up to the smallest detail
One small detail that I regret. It seems that the X1D is going to be provided with a wrist strap (this is going to be the case for the limited black edition). Yes, I get it that the body is light but with any lens on it , I think a wrist strap is being a bit optimistic .I was surprised about the strap lugs but maybe I am mistaken).
This new system already features 3 new lenses of 35, 45 and 90mm corresponding respectively in 35mm equivalent to 23mm, 35mm and 70mm focal lengths. Each of those Hasselblad X1D lenses have a built-in shutter in the lens which helps to keep the body size down.
Hasselblad also show a prototype of another camera concept named V1D as well as a complement for smartphone, proving it has now a really innovative and daring approach to the future. It is hard to think this is the same company which was a few years ago busy rebadging Sony cameras and reselling them at insane prices with some fancy wood grips. Hasselblad has come a long way over the last few years.
As a traveling photographer, I am hoping to be given the opportunity to realize an in-depth test of this exciting new system.