Full-frame Realness, The Medium Format Renaissance And More Camera News

By Adam Kerr

Photokina is by far the largest camera and imaging trade fair that happens once every two years (though it’ll become an annual event starting next year). While we’ve already seen some huge launches in the weeks leading up to the event, we round up some of the biggest products that stole the limelight at the fair, along with other stuff you might want to keep your eyes on if you’re looking to upgrade your photography arsenal.

Full-frame mirrorless cameras are all the rage

Sure, mirrorless cameras – cameras that don’t come with a reflex mirror, making it much lighter yet still as powerful as DSLRs – aren’t exactly a leap in technology. But we’re slowly seeing more brands enter the realm of full-frame mirrorless cameras. Leica launched their first full-frame mirrorless M9 in 2009, while Sony became the first to unveil their auto-focus full-frame mirrorless interchangeable-lens camera, the a7, five years ago.

While Nikon and Canon debuted their full-frame mirrorless offerings prior to Photokina, Panasonic, Zeiss and Sigma have also just thrown their names in the hat.

Sony has been dominating this space since 2013, and it’s about time that they got some competition. It’s a good thing, really; this means Sony won’t be resting on their laurels and will have to work harder. And for consumers, it just means more choice.


Panasonic Lumix S1

Without revealing too much, the Japanese multinational electronics corporation unveiled the Lumix SR1 and S1, both with a 35mm full-frame image sensor offering 47- and 24-megapixel goodness respectively.

They’re also claiming that these will be the world’s first full-frame cameras that will be able to shoot full 4K 60fps videos and come equipped with Dual I.S. (image stabilisation) to enable shooting in dark or distant scenes that would otherwise require a tripod. They’re both packing dual slots for XQD and SD memory cards, which is a first for Panasonic.

And to sweeten the announcement, they’ve also teamed up with Leica and Sigma to create the L-Mount Alliance, a collab where new interchangeable lenses will be produced across the three brands using the L-Mount standard (yay more options for us).

You can expect them on the market early next year. 


Zeiss ZX1

We all know Zeiss as the expert in the field of optics and lenses. But this year, they’re pulling focus on their latest offering, the ZX1. This is their first full-frame mirrorless camera, which boasts an integrated Zeiss Distagon 35mm f/2 T* Lens and a proprietary 37.4-megapixel full-frame sensor.

While you won’t be able switch up the lenses, you can however forget about memory cards as it also has an internal storage of 512GB. You can even do your edits right in the camera itself on the 4.3-inch multi-touch display, with the help of the fully integrated Adobe Photoshop Lightroom CC. And once you’ve worked your magic, share the photos directly to your other gadgets via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or USB-C.

We’re expecting this fancy point-and-shoot to come with a hefty pricetag when it’s available early next year.


Following the announcement of the collab with Panasonic and Leica, Sigma has also revealed that they’ll be developing full-frame mirrorless cameras as part of its adoption of the L-mount system some time next year.


Medium format is not dead

TBH, it has never gone away. It’s just that everyone’s more used to shooting with a phone or a DSLR these days; and that’s fine. But there’s so much more to photography.

Historically, medium format usually means using a 120-size film – as opposed to the standard 35mm format – which usually creates images of a much higher quality. But in the digital realm, medium format refers to cameras that have adapted from its medium format film predecessors, or cameras that have sensors that are much bigger than the usual 35mm film frame.

We’re not going into the science of it all, but know that if you’re thinking of venturing into this format, there are a couple of cameras you might want to keep an eye out for.


Fujifilm GFX 50R

General Manager of Fujifilm’s Optical Device and Electronic Imaging Products Division Toshihisa Iida has mentioned in an interview that they won’t be entering the full-frame mirrorless market because they “don’t have that legacy”.

Instead, they’ll build on sticking to what they’re good at: APS-C for cameras made for the masses (like the new XT-3) and a bigger focus on their mirrorless medium format offerings, which is what they did at Photokina.

Enter the wildly ambitious GFX 100 and the GFX 50R. The former was introduced as a concept camera that’ll probably take the title of the world’s first 100-megapixel mirrorless camera AND 100-megapixel medium format next year.

The GFX 50R on the other hand, boasts a large sensor (about 1.7 times larger than the full-sized 35mm image sensor) with 51.4-megapixels, high-speed image processing engine X-Processor Pro, built-in Bluetooth and two SD card slots.

There aren’t any solid details on the GFX 100, but you can expect the GFX 50R to be available starting next month for about US$4,500.


Leica S3

Good ol’ Leica, the brand that continually makes drop-dead gorgeous cameras that take just as equally drop-dead gorgeous photos, but pegged with a drop-dead pricetag. Salt aside, they’ve they’re finally introducing a successor to the Leica S2 after 10 long years: the S3.

The obvious upgrade of this medium format camera is an up on the resolution, from 37.5- to 64-megapixels. Similar to its previous iterations, the S3 will be sporting the same ProFormat sensor that was specially developed for the Leica S-System, giving you a wide aperture (f/stop) range and a max ISO sensitivity of 50,000.

It’ll be out within the first quarter of 2019.


Other honourable mentions

Not a fan of wielding a big camera around? These might be more favourable, albeit a tad quirky.

Ricoh GR III

Ricoh GR III. Photo credit: Ricoh Imaging’s Facebook page

This is the ultimate compact camera for anyone who wants to take fuss-free street-style photos. You can’t zoom or change lenses, but the all-new GR III comes with a f/2.8 28mm prime lens, a 24-megapixel APS-C sensor and a touchscreen that makes street photography a walk in the park. It makes for a pretty nifty travel companion. Out early 2019.

Vuze XR

HumanEyes Vuze XR

Once upon a time, 360-degree cameras were poised to be the next big thing. While that didn’t really take off, it didn’t stop the guys behind HumanEyes from developing a new product. This neat little device (it really looks like Wall-E, huh?) has two cameras that lets you shoot (and even live stream on social media) 180- or 360-degree 5.7K videos at 30fps (or 4K videos at 30fps). Now available online.

Canon PowerShot SX70 HS

Canon PowerShot SX70 HS

Obviously Canon would discuss their first ever full-frame mirrorless camera, the EOS R, at Photokina, despite launching it prior. Nonetheless, they managed to squeeze in an extra reveal, which succeeds the SX60. The new SX70 has a 65x optical fixed lens zoom lens (comparable to a 21-1365mm focal lens), the same DIGIC 8 Processor in the EOS R, a 20.3-megapixel CMOS sensor and auto lighting optimiser. You’ll also be able to shoot 4K 30fps videos. Out in November.