Derrick Story

Innovative temptations at Photokina

Before you read about the following announcements at Photokina in Cologne, Germany, freeze your credit card in a block of ice. Hasselblad, Sony, Canon, and Panasonic put forth tempting—bordering on extravagant—photo delights that will empty your wallet faster than a carload of hungry teenagers.

Hasselblad Lunar

We don’t even know how much some of this stuff will cost. For example, Hasselblad’s entry into the mirrorless universe is aptly named the Lunar. Cheeky comments about its possible stratospheric price tag aside, the Lunar is the product of a new Sony partnership that resulted in an E-mount mirrorless body that houses a 24MP APC-C sensor powered by the Bionz processor.

That’s all Sony technology for those of you keeping score. You can put any Sony NEX lens, or even Sony A-mount glass on the Lunar via an adapter.

Lunar in red

The Lunar will be available in a variety colors and grips, including carbon fiber, natural wood, and Italian leather. No firm price was announced at the time of this writing, but you can bet that it will cost more than a Sony NEX-6. Rumors are in the $6,500 range.

Speaking of Sony, it was displaying the Cyber-shot DSC RX1 behind plexiglass. At this point, we can look, but not touch the $2,800 full frame compact. The Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* 35mm f/2.0 lens dominates the camera’s aesthetic when you see it in person. It’s handsome.

Sony Cyber-shot RX1 with Zeiss Lens

One nifty display in the Sony booth was the Exmor sensor size comparison board that showed the 35mm Full Frame, APS-C, and the 1.0 type all side by side. Sony pulled off quite a feat getting that large full frame sensor in a very compact camera body.

Another full frame sensor on display was Canon’s new EOS 6D. We don’t know the actual price yet, but it’s looking like a bargain at $2,100 or so. Since when is two grand a deal? Compared to its big brother, the 5D Mark III that weighs in around $3,500, that’s when.

Sony sensor comparison

The 6D cuts budget corners by employing a less spiffy autofocus system, more like what we’ve seen in the past from Canon. Other 6D comparisons to the 5D Mark III include a 20.2MP sensor vs. 22.3MP, 97 percent optical viewfinder coverage vs. 100 percent, and 4.5 fps burst mode vs. 6 fps.

Canon 6D Top LCD with GPS

But the Canon 6D has something that the 5D Mark III does not: built-in GPS and WiFi. I played with the menu system on the 6D and was able to configure it for a local network, and enable the GPS. The GPS in particular should be tempting to travel and landscape photographers who want a full frame sensor DSLR with a huge line-up of lenses.

Another manufacturer putting out some great glass right now is Panasonic. They showed me the new 35-100mm f/2.8 zoom for micro four thirds. Since you double the focal length for these cameras (Olympus included), that works out to be a 70-200mm f/2.8 zoom.

I’m currently using the 12-35mm f/2.8 Panasonic lens on the Olympus OM-D, and it’s a beauty. The 35-100mm will complement it wonderfully. The new zoom will be available in November. The guess on its street price will be around $1,600. But we’ll have to wait and see.

Panasonic 35-100 zoom

Based on many of the banner announcements so far at Photokina, you have to wonder if there’s really a recession going on outside its doors. Well, there is. But I remember a remark by Steve Jobs when he first became iCEO at Apple. The economy was in bad shape then, as was Apple. In essence, he said that they were going to innovate their way out of tough times.

I’m picking up a similar vibe inside the halls of Photokina. Many manufacturers seem determined to try something new, and make a sizable investment doing so. Projects like Hasselblad producing a mirrorless camera and Sony figuring out how to put a full frame sensor in a compact unit display quite a bit of risk.

Judging by the reactions to this hardware at the show, many attendees appear excited. Whether or now they take their credit card out of the deep freeze to purchase them, remains to be seen.

All photos © Derrick Story.

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