While it was gratifying to be spot-on with quite a few of our predictions for new product announcements at this year’s Photokina, we were wrong about one thing… hardly any of them were announced at the show itself. No sooner had we gone to press with our September/October issue than the flood gates opened – Fujifilm X30 and X100T, Nikon D750, Canon EOS 7D Mark II, Sigma dp1 quattro and more.
Only Leica actually waited until the show opened and then rewarded us with – as we had predicted – a CMOS-equipped version of its S medium D-SLR and a production version of the (very) limited edition M-A (pictured)… it’s been a long time since there was a new film camera announced at a Photokina.
But Leica didn’t stop there… there was also the M Edition 60, the S-E, a new version of the X, the X-E and new D-Lux and V-Lux Series models which are sourced from Panasonic and have also now adopted the ‘Typ XXX’ system of model identification rather than conventional consecutive numbering. It’s not the end of the world, but surely it’s simpler just to call the latest S model the S4 rather than the S (Typ 007)? No matter, Leica is on a roll right now and was really the star of the show given pretty well everybody else shot their bolts before the opening ribbon was cut.
Gone, then, is the big anticipation build-up to Photokina which used to be followed by a frantic rush around the main halls to find out what was new, interspersed by a solid schedule of press conferences. The press conferences still happen, but mostly to actually show what’s been already announced. And while we journalists may like surprises, they’re not especially good for business as visitors paying good money to go to a show like Photokina actually prefer to know exactly what they’re going to see… so now it’s all about pre-announcements. 
Nevertheless, the first chance to be ‘hands on’ with something new still makes it worth being there, and quite a number of the newcomers were generating plenty of excitement… notably Panasonic’s LX100 and GM5, Samsung’s NX1, the X100T and, of course, all the Leicas (which includes its version of the LX100). Both the major D-SLR announcements had been long anticipated so there were no surprises there except that Canon has been so quiet of late and everybody is starting to wonder what’s going on. Either the company has dropped the ball – which seems highly unlikely – or it’s cooking up something really revolutionary. Either way, it can’t ignore the march of mirrorless and 4K video for much longer.
Perhaps the biggest change at Photokina is how new product information is delivered to us journalists. We used to end up with excess baggage such was the weight of the paper press kits collected during show week, but then we slowly moved to DVDs, then to USB drives and then to… nothing. This year just about every press kit was a download so it all ends up on your laptop or tablet ready to be worked on… luxury! But if you have something special to say, it seems you can’t beat printed materials as Samsung proved with the beautifully-produced brochures supporting the NX1. See, ink-on-paper – you still can’t beat it for making an impression.
Paul Burrows, Editor.
For our Photokina 2014 coverage, click here and here