October means many things. Fall, cooler weather, leaves turning color, Halloween, and photography. Every October, the Jacob Javits Center in New York City hosts the PhotoPlus Photography Exposition. I used to travel to this show every year, but now I go on even years the coincide with the Photokina show in Cologne, Germany. I can’t afford tickets to Cologne, so New York City is the next best thing.
There is no real way to make sense of this show, so I am going to present the information in the order that I encountered it:
Ricoh/Pentax was showing off their new full-frame 35mm DSLR the K-1. Billed as a pro camera, it retails for $1,999 and has a full range of accessories. Pentax shooters have been waiting a very, very long time for this camera to be produced. The K-1 has in-body image stabilization and is weather proof.
Here is a shot of the articulating rear LCD screen. The camera next to the K-1 is the K-70.
If you thought the K-1 was a big camera, get a load of the Pentax 645z. This is a budget medium format DSLR and it is humongous. Also, by budget, I mean that among medium format DSLRs this one is the least expensive at $6,995. The 645z is not new for this year, but production is finally up to demand and the cameras are readily available.
The Ricoh Theta 360 camera was on display as well. I couldn’t get close to it. 360o cameras are all the rage now as virtual reality becomes more mainstream and content providers are racing each other to put images in front of eyeballs. Here is a stock image:
Irix is a joint venture between a Swiss optics company and South Korean manufacturing facilities. The first fruit of this joint venture is a pair of manual focus wide angle full frame DSLR lenses in Canon EF, Nikon F, and Pentax K mounts. The Irix 15mm f/2.4 and Irix 11mm f/4 come in two flavors: Firefly – a lightweight lower cost version and Blackstone – a more rugged all-metal weather sealed version.
Slik tripods had some new travel models on display. These travel tripods are available in aluminum and carbon fiber and come in three sizes. When folded for travel, the tripod head is covered by the legs making is smaller than competing travel tripods. They also include an LED flashlight in the bottom of the center column.
Tokina had their new FiRIN Lens on display as well. The FiRIN lens line is designed for mirrorless cameras. Their first entry is a 20mm f/2 lens for Sony full frame mirrorless (FE mount). The lens on display was a prototype and I was not allowed to take pictures with it. Pricing and availability are not set at this time, but it is expected by next year.
Makers of some of the most unique optics in the business, Lensbaby had their new Trio 28 f/3.5 lens on display. The Trio 28 is three 28mm lenses in one: Sweet, Twist, and Velvet. Sweet is very sharp in the middle with soft edges, Twist is based on a Petzval design and has swirly bokeh, and Velvet is buttery smooth with vintage glow. The lens retails for $279.99 and is available in mirrorless mounts only (Sony E, Fuji X, and Micro 4/3).
Fujifilm’s booth was large and super crowded. They had their recently announced flagship X-T2 mirrorless camera on display. I couldn’t get near it. They have quite a hit on their hands.
Also on display (under glass for me – I’m not that special) was the GFX mirrorless medium format digital camera system. This camera is setting up to shake up the medium format segment. Available next year, it will retail for “a lot less than $10,000 with body and lens.”
Sigma shook up the mirrorless market themselves earlier this year with the announcement of their SD Quattro line of mirrorless cameras. Sigma, a company known for making bold moves of late, decided that their entry into the mirrorless market would leverage their existing base of DSLR lenses and accessories. The SD Quattro sports Sigma’s Foveon Quattro sensor turning in a 39 megapixel image. The SD Quattro has an APS-C sized sensor while the SD Quattro H sports and APS-H sized sensor which records 51 megapixel images. The most amazing thing about this camera is the price: $799 body only.
The SD Quattro is a camera for photographers who want maximum image quality. It is not a sport shooter by any stretch of the imagination. Also, Sigma informed me that the real weak point in their system (Sigma Photo Pro) will be addressed in a firmware update that will add the industry standard DNG file format to the SD Quattro and SD Quattro H.
An “undocumented feature” of the SD Quattro is its removable IR cut filter. Sigma decided to make the IR cut filter separate from the sensor in the camera. The filter can be removed to allow the sensor to be manually cleaned. This had the unintended side-effect of allowing the SD Quattro to capture infrared images by adding an IR pass filter to the front of the lens. You get two cameras fro the price of one!
I also got to try the Sigma 30mm F1.4 DC DN|C lens on my Pen-F. On a Micro 4/3 camera, this lens acts as a slightly long normal lens (60mm eFoV). It is very fast at f/1.4 and very sharp based on my limited use of it at the booth. A bargain at $339.
Sigma also had their newly announced Cine lenses on display as well. Built for professional filming these lenses are much larger than their photographic equivalents.
Olympus had a fairly large booth this year complete with technicians performing cleaning, adjustments, and minor repairs of Olympus cameras. Headlining their display was the recently announced flagship camera, the OM-D E-M1 Mk II.
These were also non-functioning display models. I am very certain that functioning prototypes were squirrelled away somewhere in the back for bigwigs to see and touch. As my wig is not so big, I got to look in the distance. Olympus did have available their three new lenses: the 25mm f/1.2 PRO, the 12-100mm f/4 IS PRO, and the 30mm f/3.5 Macro lens. Everyone at the counter wanted to see the 25mm f/1.2 PRO lens (as did I) but there weren’t enough to go around. I was able to try the 12-100 f/4 IS PRO lens and I have to say it is very, very nice.
You will need a grip on the Pen-F to balance this lens as it is very solidly built and weatherproof. This lens is also a bit of an odd duck as it is a Pro level superzoom. Superzoom lenses usually have a rather broad range from wide-angle to telephoto and this one is no exception. With an eFoV of 24-200mm this lens would be the go-to lens for travelling light if it did not cost $1299. Why so expensive? Well besides the weatherproofing and “PRO” moniker, this lens is actually very sharp throughout its range. Usually superzooms are compromised designs that are weak in some areas and stronger in others. Not so with the 12-100mm. Here are some test shots at the extreme ends of the range:
12mm f/4 minimum focus distance.
12mm f/4 medium focus distance
100mm f/4 medium long focus distance
Kodak lives on as a shadow of its former self. They are now jumping on to the VR craze with their new SP360 4K Dual Pro Pack cameras. Basically, this is a pair of fisheye 4k action cameras mated back-to-back with a single controller board allowing for 360o filming at 4k resolutions.
While DJI did not have a booth per se, their product presence was felt all over the show. Here at the B&H booth they had a drone cage set up and were flying the new DJI Mavic drone which was surprisingly quiet for a quadcopter. The Mavic folds to roughly hand size when not in use and can record in 4k.
The Mavic is one of the smartest drones ever made with active obstacle avoidance and a host of features to appease the FAA. You still need a drone pilot license to use this commercially.
Part of the Manfrotto group of companies, Bowens showed me their new Generation X line of strobes. The XMT strobes are battery powered units that compete with the Profoto B1 Air. The XMS strobes are line powered unit for the studio. Both support TTL (Nikon, Canon & Sony) and Hypersync.
Metz is a German company that makes high quality speedlights. I used to own a Metz flash when I had Nikon gear and my Nikons could not tell the difference between it and a Nikon speedlight. Metz recently announced a new M Series speedlights which are 33% smaller than conventional speedlights, but pack the same amount of light as their larger siblings. The M400 unit (pictured below) retails for $279.99 and has a GN of 40 and comes in Nikon, Canon, Sony mount with Fuji and MFT on the way.
The Canon booth is huge as always and covered every aspect of their business: photo cameras, video cameras, lenses, printers, etc.. The major announcements here were:
The Canon 5D Mk IV is the latest iteration of the highly successful 5D series. Now sporting a 30 megapixel sensor and 4k video recording, demand for this camera was so high that I could not get near one. Retail price $3,499 body only. At the other end of the spectrum is the Rebel 6T/Ti, Canon’s latest entry-level DSLR. Retails for $599 with a pair of kit lenses.
Last, but not least, is the Canon M5. Did you know that Canon makes mirrorless cameras? This little camera has been flying under the radar as Canon has really placed more emphasis on their DSRL lines for professionals. This camera retails for $1,099.
Just as dominating is the Nikon booth. Nikon had all of their photographic wares on display. New for this year is the KeyMission VR action camera. the D500 and the D5 pro body. New lenses included a revamped (again) 70-200mm f/2.8 VR zoom and a 19mm tilt-shift lens.
Sony introduced two cameras this year: the A99 Mk II and the A6500. The A99 Mk II is the long awaited updated to their flagship A-mount camera. The A6500 is an updated version of the A6300 that was announced earlier this year. The rapid release of the A6500 on the heels of the A6300 has many Sony users flummoxed.
And here is a shot of the entire Sony Alpha product line up:
That about does it for my show review. If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to leave them below. As always please share this article with all of your friends and if you buy any of the equipment mentioned here, please use the links from the stories to help me out.