The bi-annual Photokina show going on in Germany right now is the most important photography tech event in the world. We see some awesome gear, yes, but we also get a get a glimpse for what lies ahead. This year's show is particularly interesting because it falls just as digital imaging reaches the crossroads between the standalone camera and the camera attached to your phone. Here's the coolest stuff we saw.
Now, the cameras below aren't the only interesting products out there right now, and it's worth noting that some companies choose not to show off their biggest announcements at Photokina, precisely because there's so much going on. Still, these cameras are a nice snapshot of what lies ahead in photography in the coming years.
Canon EOS 7D Mark II
The Canon 7D Mark II was overdue. DSLRs with their clunky old mirrorboxes are likely going to die as a mass-market product, and this 7D overhaul might be the last small sensor DSLR anyone cares about.
Announced just over five years ago in 2009, the Canon 7D is a classic that many photogs still rely on today. At the time, the blazing 8 frames per second continuous shutter speed was unheard of for a camera this relatively compact and affordable. The 7D cost thousands of dollars less than less than powerhouses like the the 5D and 1D professional DSLRs.
The new 7D Mark II brings a lot of necessary upgrades, plus some of the best video you can get for less than $US2000. Our early tests indicated that the camera lives up to its good name
Canon PowerShot G7 X
It's not unfair to call the Canon PowerShot G7 X a clone of Sony's incredible RX100-line. Over the last couple of years, if you wanted a badass point-and-shoot, you bought an RX100 or of its two successors. Their one-inch sensors dominated the 1/1.7-inch sensor Canon S-series cameras we'd previously loved so much.
With the PowerShot G7 X, Canon claws its way back into the fight with a 1-inch sensor point-and-shoot of its own. It hopes to compete with the RX100 III with a zoomier lens and touchscreen controls.
Over the last couple of years we've seen integrated lens cameras that use basically every sensor format out there. Everything from one-inch sensors to APS-C to full-frame. But we've never seen the micro four thirds sensor size leveraged like we have in Panasonic's LX100.
More than just rehash of a large-sensor camera in small body, the LX100 is kind of brilliant. You could argue that micro four thirds is maybe the best suited larger format because it allows you to reap both the benefits of a bigger sensor while also keeping the over all package compact. Micro four thirds sensors are small compared to APS-C, so where APS-C point-and-shoots like the Ricoh GR use prime lenses to keep the size down, the LX100 is able to pack a 24-70 zoom lens inside a compact, if not exactly totally small body.
Samsung has never really been taken seriously by enthusiasts as a manufacturer of quality cameras, but the NX1 is so interesting that this could change. Along with the Panasonic GH4 and LX100, the NX1 is one of the first photo-centric cameras on the market to shoot 4K video. Beyond the video powers, the camera sports some impressive, industry-leading guts. Its 28-megapixel sensor is the highest resolution APS-C sensor in the world. It's also the largest sensor to use difficult-to-manufacture backside-illuminated design, leaving room for larger photodiodes on the front of the camera.
"Smartphones are the future of photograpy!" we're told, so maybe its unsurprising that Photokina's biggest surprise was an Android phone from Panasonic. The CM1, which will be available only in France and Germany at launch, is really a camera that happens to have a phone attached to it. Besides cramming a 1-inch sensor in a 4.7-inch handset, Panasonic also built-in a manual control ring and 4K video capture. That's a lot for such a small package. More than any other camera on this list, we'd be a little sceptical since the CM1 looks more like a proof of concept than a product Panasonic is really serious about. Either way, the concept is intriguing.