Traditionally the day before Photokina is a press day, filled with overlapping press meetings from dawn till late night. As I am not (any more) a journalist and don´t have (any more) a press card, I (can) only visit those meetings I am invited to attend. This year I dropped by at Olympus, Canon and finished the day at Leica party. The exact information and specs of all the new stuff can be found all over the internet and on manufacturer sites. I am not going to copy them here. Just some notes from my point of view.
The new PENs have just the same capability as OM-D if you think about purely about image quality potential. Same sensor, same processor. Although they look superficially the same as earlier PENs, they are totally new cameras. Of course they are otherwise stripped down in many ways if you compare to OM-D. No EVF, IBIS works only 2-ways and so on.
New PENs have a really nice and working connectivity through Toshiba´s new Flash Air card. The card creates automatically a password protected hotspot which is just as automatically found by iPhone and Android phones. Olympus has a free app for both platforms. This app reads automatically thumbnails from the card inside camera and then you can choose what to do with images; save them in phone, send them to facebook or other social media, send as emails, send to Apple photo stream or what ever. Flash Air hotspot is turned on and off in camera so it draws power from camera battery only when needed. Olympus app will be downloadable in October when cameras start shipping and Toshiba Flash Air card is included with each PEN.
You can use Flash Card and Olympus app also with OM-D but there is no password protection and the card is on all the time if camera has power on. Hopefully we have firmware update for Flash Air support for OM-D and suitable older models. This was one of my requests for Mr. Terada from Olympus.
Olympus intoduced a new, black mFT 15mm f/8 Lens Cap. They really call this lens as Lens Cap and it is listed as among accessories, not lenses. It is thin as a body cap, has lens cap feature when closed and has 3 lens elements. It has two settings when open: hyperfocal focusing with DOF from 1m to far away and close-up focusing with DOF starting from 30cm up. Image quality should be almost on the same level as with kit zoom at same focal length and at best aperture which is not bad at all. Price starting at 79€ but I guess it will soon be more like 50€ or given away as an extra.
Previously announced mFT 60mm f/2.8 Macro is now ready to be shipped. It focuses up to 1:1 magnification. This black lens is weather sealed and has internal focusing. The focusing mechanism is the most complex of any Olympus internal focusing systems including zooms. There are three groups that move relatively to each other by stepper motors while focusing. Actually the lens is surprisingly light and small, even filter thread is 46mm. I have been told from inside Olympus development that the image quality is better than with the famed FT 50mm f/2 Macro. Price is set at 499€. Lens hood, which is a very clever collapsible model, is not included. It should be, even if the price was slightly higher. As said, 60mm Macro is ready to be shipped and I was promised a test example next week.
Olympus showed a working prototype of mFT 17mm f/1.8 wide angle. This lens has similar construction (no weather sealing), finish and snap manual focusing feature as mFT 12mm f/2 lens. It is shorter but a little fatter than 24mm lens as seen in the image above. Again I have been told that image quality is very high, although I heard yesterday it being compared to a lens which I do not see as high enough in my scale... Hopefully expectations are fulfilled as this is for me THE most expected lens of all, otherwise I will be VERY, VERY, VERY disappointed. I should be getting a test example later this year and shipments should start early next year. I know that many of you don´t like it but the color is silver only at this point.
And then there is also the already infamous Limited Edition Black 12mm f/2 lens. The price with matching black metal lens hood and metal lens cap is an outrageous 1000 euros. In my book this fact is just as stupid as Hasselblad Lunar. Olympus, this not the way to treat enthusiast and pro shooters! Luckily we in Finland have the reasonable Olympus Finland which has set for every black 12mm set, which they can import, a price of 850 euros. Sadly they could get less than 100 sets.
Olympus has upgraded XZ-1 into a more ambitious XZ-2.
One thing I also have researched lately is video sound, and I have tried these Olympus recorders. Sadly I have not enough knowledge and background experience to write about my experiences as yet.
Canon introduced EOS 6D, which is their smallest and lightest full frame DSLR. It has also built in GPS and wifi. If I was still interested in this camera category for my own use, I would be very interested in EOS 6D. Looks and feels good. When I compare EOS 6D to Nikon 600, they feel like cousins and one could see them even as twin brothers. It all depends on what you are looking for. Pricewise they also start at same level slightly above 2000€, but I would see them both dropping very soon just below 2000€. APS-C size has another dent in it´s shield.
Of all Canon news, the most interesting is Project 1709, which goes now into closed beta. This peculiar name contains a cloud service for images. For Canon it is partly about strenghtening their brand and extending their product portfolio better from equipment into service and content. Actually this extention means now the general audience as in b-to-b field Canon is there already. Canon´s cloud is not only for keeping and indexing images, it is also for printing them out as various products. And that´s one area where Canon is strong with its printers and digital printing machines. The screenshot above shows how you can build a timeline of images inside Project 1709.
Other than these and new printers Canon had excellent food, company and weather at their 25th Anniversary of EOS System at Rheinterrassen.
Directly from Canon it was time to move to Hall 1, which is now taken by Leica. While Canon presentation was typically Canon, which means strict company hierarchy plus slide with three points after slide with three points, Leica was very casual and smiling.
More than smiling, it was also touching when Nick Ut and Kim Phuc were called on stage. In 1972 Kim Phuc was 9 years old when she and her brothers and cousins were hit by American bombing during the Vietnam war. Kim Phuc was burned by napalm. Nick Ut was then a 22 years old photojournalist who took pictures of them running away from continuing bomb blasts. Nick went on to drive Kim Phuc to hospital and only after doing this took care of his images. One of images with naked and burnt Kim Phuc in the center, and those other children, some soldiers and bombing around her, caught the attention of everyone who saw it. Nick won Pulitzer Prize and this image is now part of our collective memory.
Later Nick Ut traced down Kim Phuc and helped her in her life and they have stayed in touch. Kim Ut was now awarded into Leica Hall of Fame. To see these two people on stage and hear their stories about this image (which I have seen so many times) and their lives was already worth coming to Cologne.
After this, the lights went on and we had the chance to see the extensive photgraphy exhibition Leica has gathered in their Hall. Well done Leica, superb!
Leica introduced also new products:
- Paul Smith designed Leica X2 version, which, for me, means just a very colorful color scheme. However, for me the Leica way of pimping camera models is kind of honest way to do it as they don´t pretend to be anything else than what they are. Leicas.
- The Leica M, THE real news, which is now a true full format mirrorless system camera. It can be used as a traditional rangefinder camera but just as well as a modern fully digital camera with EVF and live view monitor for both stills and HD video.
- The Leica M-E, which is slightly stripped down and adjusted successor of M9
- The Leica S, which is a slightly scaled down and enchanced version of previous model S2.
Leica is getting rid of model numbering in their earlier fashion of M8 > M9 > etc. Leica M is from now on Leica M just like Porsche 911 has always been Porsche 911.
New products caused a huge hulabaloo around them with everyone taking zillions of pictures. And then everyone was ready to party!
But now, I must leave to a meeting at Leica Hall where I have a better chance to see and try new cameras. Maybe more of them later...