Random Notes from Photokina 2012

Even if you are remotely interested in photography, you’ve probably heard about Photokina — the world’s largest trade show held bi-annually in Cologne, Germany. Photokina is huge, and the amount of stuff on display is simply mind-boggling. Although I didn’t have much time, I managed to zoom through most of the halls and take a brief look at a handful of newly-announced cameras. Since I’m not in the market for a new camera, I examined the latest and greatest camera models from a purely academic perspective.

Being a Nikonista myself, my first stop was Nikon’s booth. I was lucky to be there early Tuesday morning just before the first wave of visitors hit the floor, so I had some quality time with Nikon D600. So what can I say about Nikon’s new DSLR? It’s a camera and it takes photos. The camera’s house features the FX logo, which means that D600 can probably do some effects. Jokes aside, there is little point in repeating what is already being reported by other photography outlets on the camera’s specs and initial impressions. And if you want to get more info about D600, you should probably contact Canon: a couple of guys wearing Canon badges put D600 through some serious testing at Nikon’s booth. Anyway, touted as an “affordable” full-frame DSLR, Nikon D600 is way too expensive for many enthusiast photographers, including yours truly. Interestingly, Nikon had the venerable D90 on display, too. I was pleasantly surprised that despite its age, D90 is still pushed by Nikon as a viable alternative for amateur photographers.

Nikon D600 in all its beauty

I also played a little bit with the Coolpix S800c Android-based compact camera, and the hands-on experience hasn’t done anything to dispel my initial skepticism. It’s an average camera with an older version Android bolted on top of it. Why Nikon decided to waste time and resources on a product like this is beyond me.

Samsung Galaxy Camera represents a somewhat better attempt to couple a compact camera with Android. The camera itself is rather large for a regular point-and-shoot, but it does feature an impressive touch screen on the back. The interface for controlling camera settings is slick, but it’s still no match for dedicated hardware controls like buttons.

At Canon’s booth, I checked out two cameras: PowerShot S110 as a possible upgrade for my S90, and the all-new EOS-M mirrorless system camera. The former really failed to impress. The specs are largely unchanged, and cosmetic tweaks don’t really improve the camera’s overall appearance. S110’s body is a big step backwards compared to the understated black metal, yet classy look of S90. Wi-Fi functionality and touch screen are nice additions, but they won’t set the world alight. EOS-M looks like a much better mirrorless solution than Nikon 1 in many respects, but I need to spend more time testing it before I could form an informed opinion on it.

The compact camera that really piqued my interest was Sony RX100. No, not the mind-blowingly expensive full-frame RX1, but its smaller sibling. I tested it only briefly, but I really liked what I saw. It seems like a no-nonsense camera without all the gimmicks like touch screen, GPS, and Wi-Fi connectivity. In fact, this camera will be at the very top of my list when I decide to upgrade my Canon PowerShot S90.

I went to Photokina worrying that my gear acquisition syndrome would flare up again. So, in a way, I’m relieved that none of the new cameras were tempting enough (with the possible exception of Sony DSC-RX100) for me to start saving money and selling my existing equipment.

Tech writer covering Linux and open source software

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