Other Photokina Announcements

bythom photokina 2016 logo

As I come across Photokina announcements other than major body/lens announcements, I’ll add them to this page, newest at the top.

  • The problem with everyone using the same Sony sensors for the same thing is that everyone’s product starts to look alike. That’s really evident in the action cam market, where we had GoPro and Nikon launch nearly identical models. But they weren’t the only ones playing the game: Rollie’s Actioncam 430 (no, it doesn’t record 430 degrees) looks like an older GoPro, even uses the same accessories, and has basically the same 12mp stills, 4K/30 fps, 1080P/120 fps. Yep, a small LCD on the back and a full frame fisheye lens out front, offset in GoPro style. 
  • Pentax announced that a firmware update to the K-1 model (1.3) will add electronic first curtain shutter in Live View, a 1:1 crop format, and add bracketing for the AA filter simulator.
  • Elinchrom announced the EL-Skyport Plus for Olympus, which provides high-speed sync capability (up to 1/8000 second) with the compatible Elinchrom lights. This US$250 accessory is kind of big and clunky for the small Olympus m4/3 bodies, but it provides a very useful ability for sports and action photographers.
  • In his presentation launching the three new Sigma lenses on Monday, Yamaki-san had an interesting stat: he showed CIPA numbers that have lens sales down an estimated 40% since 2012. He followed this with a slide that had the Art, Sports, and Contemporary lens designs on it and announced that since introducing those new lens lineups in 2012 (at Photokina), Sigma’s lens sales were up 27% from 2012 to 2015, counter to the overall market.

bythom lowepro photostream
  • ThinkTank isn’t the only one ready with a regional jet capable roller: LowePro announced the PhotoStream RL 150 with very similar dimensions as the ThinkTank Airport Advantage, though it is heavier due to the use of a different padding and protection system. Also, LowePro announced three new Flipside Trek combo-packs for carrying camera and recreation gear.
  • Western Digital (SanDisk) is showing off a new 1TB SD card prototype. Yes, 1TB. No details yet on speed, price, or availability.
  • ThinkTank’s new Airport Advantage was introduced just prior to Photokina, but this is its first appearance, especially in Europe. This new addition to the Airport lineup is a wheeled pack that is designed to fit into the overhead bins on regional jets.
  • Tether Tools introduced the new US$160 Case Air Wireless Tethering System, a camera controller that connects to smartphone, tablet, or computer. At only 1.7 ounces, the small unit connects to the cameras USB socket and can either fit in the hot shoe or hang via lanyard. 
  • Nikon acquired Mark Roberts Motion Control, a small UK-based company that develops and makes robotic camera solutions, mostly for broadcasting and film production. Their products have been used in hundreds of recent motion pictures, and are used by a number of sports and event broadcasts, particularly in England. Nikon themselves says this acquisition will have no material impact on their consolidated financial statements, meaning neither the cost of acquisition nor the income from the acquisition’s ongoing business will really change Nikon’s financial results. So one has to really wonder what is going on here. Nikon recently stopped going to NAB and IBC, the primary film/video production trade shows. Mark Roberts Motion Control goes to them (and is at Photokina, too). Is this Nikon’s back-door method of staying connected to the video and film industry?
  • Some of you caught that I was using a MeFOTO tripod in Botswana. Well, the new MeFOTO designs being introduced at Photokina have a feature I like, and one I’m not sure about yet. The feature I like is removing the centerpost, which is a weak point that contributes to some additional vibration when you’re using these small, low-cost tripods fully extended. The feature I’m not sure of is the new leg lock system. I can tell you that the weakest point of the old versions was the rubber on the leg locks: the cement they used tends to dry out and you lose the grip necessary to lock/unlock the legs. But the new leg design uses a single new lock mechanism. Turn it and the leg extends as far as you let it. I’m not yet sure how well the leg “joints” stand up in this new design. It could be that convenience (fast set up) has been gained but stability has been lost. Only time and use will tell. 
  • Phase One introduced new 45mm f/3.5 (US$5990) and 150mm f/2.8 (US$6990) lenses for their medium format system. the first is a wide angle 28mm equivalent, while the latter is a short telephoto 95mm equivalent at the usual Phase One frame size.
  • Nikon’s KeyMission 360 has another competitor, the Kodak Pixpro 4KVR360. Indeed, the specs and design look very similar, though they were independently created by JK Imaging, the company behind the Kodak license these days. Pricing is also likely to be about US$500, though the Pixpro doesn’t have waterproof or shockproof ratings. Instead, it goes more the traditional route with additional buttons and an LCD on the top housing, as well as a microphone. Also the Pixpro’s lenses aren’t symmetrical like the KeyMissions: the front lens is a shallower 155° angle of view—mostly so that it can act as a traditional action cam when desired—while the back camera wraps around with a 235° view. Meanwhile, 360 degrees seems to be a trend these days (Ricoh’s Theta was an early pioneer here): Seitz Phototechnik AG announced the Roundshot Livecam 3, a 360° web cam that captures a stitched 66mp panorama every 10 minutes while capture 1080P video in between. This is an industrial type camera used for tourist locations and businesses due to its high price and complexity, but it goes to show that Nikon and Kodak (and Ricoh) are shooting low with their feature sets.  
  • A trend is developing in lighting: more and more companies are expanding beyond the Canikon E-TTL/i-TTL duopoly. Profoto announced that Sony has provided them the information necessary to bring compatibility to TTL-S for their Air Remote systems in early 2017.  PocketWizard announced a version of their FlexTT5 that supports the Panasonic DMW-FL360L and FL580L flash units, but currently only with the GH4 camera. Price will be US$186.
  • Voigtlander announced a new Sony FE lens, the 65mm f/2 APO-Lanthar macro. This old manual focus design brings the Voigtlander FE lens count to five. No word yet on availability or price.
  • Voigtlander announced a new version of the 58mm f/1.4 Nokton SL II, distinguished by an S instead of an N. The optics haven’t changed, the the lens sports a slightly smaller filter ring and front size. In counterpoint to the current fad of modernizing lens looks, the new 58mm actually doubles down on the old Nikkor AI-styling, including a version with a front silver ring (instead of black). Because the lens is chipped, it can be used with modern digital bodies, though it remains manual focus.
  • The Leica Sofort is the slightly expensive route to produce Fujifilm Instax printed images (1.8 x 2.4” instant images). With a 60mm f/12.7 three-zone focus lens (which makes for a 34mm equivalent capture), the Sofort specs look pretty much like a Fujifilm Mini 90 Neo for more than double the price. Personally, I don’t see the reason to go upscale in hardware for a low scale medium. 
  • Metz introduced the Mecablitz M400, a new compact flash system with a GN of 131 feet (40m for 105mm at ISO 100), coverage from 24-105mm (plus 12mm via integrated diffuser), 90° vertical and 360° horizontal swivel, an OLED display on the back, TTL support including high-speed sync, and an integrated 100 lux video LED. Support for Canon E-TTL, Fujifilm TTL, Nikon i-TTL, m4/3 TTL, Pentax P-TTL, and Sony ADI flash mode is provided. The unit can act as master or slave for Canon, Nikon, and m4/3, as a slave for Pentax and Sony systems.

  • Technically they sent the press release at the end of last month, but Photokina is the first place where they’re showing the new device: foolography has a new Kickstarter campaign for their latest Unleashed product. For Nikon users there are the N1, N2, and N3 models, while for Canon users we’ve got C1 and C2 models. Which you need is depending upon the remote control connector on your camera. What is Unleashed? It’s a tiny Bluetooth accessory that communicates with foolography software on your smartphone to control your camera remotely. It also provides a link to external GPS devices, which is how all those GPS tracks in my latest Botswana blog came to be. Yes, there are other ways to do this—including, for example, the WU Wi-Fi adapters Nikon makes—but foolography has been making small and frankly more convenient products for a number of years now (though the currently available version only supports GPS devices). The newest version just unleashed (oh dear) seems particularly unobtrusive, adds the camera control features, and does not require anything in the hot shoe like other devices. Nor does it use big long cables that are guaranteed to hook on something and pull the device out. The bad news? This item isn’t expected to be available until late Spring 2017.
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