Photokina: An Easy-to-Follow Guide on the Latest in Cameras! (And then some)

Last week, 180,000 photo fans from all over the world came together in Cologne, Germany for Photokina.

What’s a Photokina? It’s Disneyland for photo nerds!

WEDONOTKID. We saw lenses the size of buildings, ladies swinging from the ceiling, zoetropes made of Legos and so much more.

It’s the world’s biggest photo conference that comes around only every two years. Along with the conference came camera announcements.

And with it, a flood of tech specs.

If it seems to have blurred into an indecipherable cloud of hyphenated terminology, allow us to translate!

A Guide to the Latest in Digital Cameras

p.s. Woot! We teamed up with our chums at Threadless to help you pack sweet threads + photo gear for your next trip. Enter here.

All New Instant Cameras

beforeWhat’s new? The Impossible Project’s Instant Lab and 8×10 film, Polaroid’s Z2300, and the Instax Mini 8.

  • The Instant Lab

    This is where it’s at when it comes to the future of phoneography. The innovators at the Impossible Project combined phoneography with analog and came up with this amazingness.

    It’s a modified Polaroid-esque camera that fits a phone on top to expose your phone photos directly onto instant film.

    That essentially means you’re turning your phoneography into instant prints, and that’s socool.

    Dave Bias of Impossible demoed it for us!


  • The Polaroid Z2300

    Digital analog mashups are the jam (we made a funny!).

    The Polaroid Z2300 pretty much does everything a lover of digital and analog would want it to do. It shoots your photos at a decent 10MP and gives you instant prints at your behest.

    Oh, and those prints come with sticky backs, so you can stick your photos on album pages, in notebooks, or a bathroom stall ’cause you’re a rebel like that.

    You can actually find this one in the Photojojo Store!


  • 8X10 Impossible Film

    This is hands down the most analog newbie you’ll find at Photokina.

    The Impossible Project are magicians, we say. They snatched up the last known 8×10 Polaroid machine in 2009 and have successfully made 8×10 integral film — meaning the film contains the chemicals needed to make a photo, good ‘ol Polaroid style.

    See the 8×10 prints they had at their booth!


Camera + Smartphone Hybrids

beforeWhat’s new? Nikon’s Coolpix S800C and the Samsung Galaxy.

Walking Photokina, you’ll notice most new cameras have added Wi-Fi, Instagram-ish filters, or Android!

You might be wondering what the difference between a phone with a camera in it and a camera with a phone in it is? And whatever happened to shoes with phones in them?

We were wondering, too, and here’s what we found.

  • Nikon’s Coolpix S800C

    The main difference between this camera and your smartphone is that it shoots photos on a higher-res 16MP sensor and has a 10X optical zoom (to compare, the iPhone 5 gives you 8MP & 3x digital* zoom).

    So, it leans a little more towards camera than phone, and lets you do all your favorite Android stuff via WiFi like geotag photos and upload to Instagram or Facebook.

    One tidbit: the camera runs separately from the older Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) that it runs on, so the camera can open faster without having to wait for Android to load.


  • Samsung’s Galaxy Camera

    Samsung’s played a competitive match in the smartphone game with their Galaxy S III rivaling the iPhone 5. Now they’ve taken that over into point-and-shoots.

    This camera runs on Android’s latest version, Jelly Bean, and shoots with 16MP sensor and 21x optical zoom.

    It can also connect to 3G, 4G, and WiFi, which is pretty rad since it means you can upload your photos from anywhere — instead of being dependent on WiFi as is with most digital cameras right now.

*Why does optical vs. digital zoom matter? Digital zoom is like enlarging your photo and cropping it around your subject. Your photo ends up losing resolution and looking all pixelated, which is sad pandas if you ask us.

Optical zoom means your optics do the work, so you get to keep your image nice and high-res. This is more of a happy pandas situation.

See our photos of the Samsung and the Nikon.

Über-Fancy Mirrorless Cameras

beforeWhat’s new? Hasselblad’s Lunar Camera and the Leica M (and the ME & Monochrom).

  • Hasselblad’s Lunar Camera

    Hasselblad was the first camera on the moon, and their new mirrorless camera won’t let you forget it … which may be in part because it costs a fraction of what it does to get to the moon ($6K!).

    It does all the good stuff a mirrorless will buy you, like a 24.3MP sensor, up to 16000 ISO and can 10 frames per second when in burst mode. Plus, it has a handsome Don-Draper-esque design that doubles as an ergonomic extra.

    One thing folks have pointed out is that this camera is awfully similar to Sony’s NEX-7 ($1K), which would make sense considering the two companies have partnered and this camera is compatible with Sony lenses.

    Check out our photos of the Lunar up close!


  • The Leica-M

    Leica had us at hello, and then it wooed us with its lustrous magnesium alloy body.

    After you’re blinded by its good looks, you remember that it’s a camera and that you can shoot with it.

    So here’s what you need to know about that: a 24MP full-frame sensor, an upgrade from the M9’s 18MP not-full-frame sensor, a faster Maestro processor (their speediest processor yet which also allows for a longer battery life because it’s just that efficient), and Live View, which includes an electronic viewfinder.

    Why would you get this pricey camera instead of a cheaper DSLR? A few reasons. Maybe you’re a big Leica fan, maybe you’re looking for a smaller-bodied camera that can deliver images comparable to a DSLR’s (you can thank the full-frame sensor for that), or maybe you just fancy.

    See our photos from the rad Leica booth.

Nikon & Canon’s All New DSLRs

beforeWhat’s new? The Nikon D600 and the Canon 6D.

  • Nikon’s D600

    Someone needs to drop balloons from the ceiling because this camera’s one to have a party about.

    It’s the cheapest full-frame sensor Nikon DSLR! Ever! Its specs place it a notch above entry-level DSLRs but at a level that’s more affordable than say, a Nikon D800 ($2000 vs $3000).

    This is awesome because that makes it available to serious photographers who don’t necessarily need all the trims.

    For a quickie comparison, it has a full-frame 24MP sensor, while the D800 has a full-frame 36.6MP and the entry-level D3200 has a 24.2 DX sensor, which is quite a bit smaller in size (about 2.3x smaller).

    AND it’s lighter and smaller than most pro-cameras, and we think that merits confetti cannons.

    Nikon had a Lego zoetrope at their booth among other things! Check out our photos.


  • Canon’s 6D

    It’s like Canon read Nikon’s mind … or vice versa!

    The 6D is the most affordable full-frame Canon DSLR yet! Balloon drops all around!

    It’s also priced at $2000, making it almost $1500 cheaper than a 5D MarkIII, Canon’s benchmark pro camera.

    Since you might be wondering about how the sensor compares, here it is: the 6D has a 20.2MP full-frame sensor, the 5D MarkIII a 23.4MP full-frame sensor.

    Two things that are making some photographer’s ears perk up:

    • Built-in WiFi and GPS. (Other Canon DSLRs need extra gizmos in order to use WiFi or GPS.)
    • The same video modes as the 5D MarkIII, meaning you can make some pretty mean video.

    Here’s what Canon’s booth was like. Pretty epic.

  • Cameras That Surprised Us!

    beforeWhich ones? The Fuji XF1 and the Casio Exilim EX-ZR100..

    I know, right?

    • The Fuji XF1

      With DSLRs and shiny mirrorless cameras everywhere in sight, little did we expect a point-and-shoot to catch our eye.

      Lately, Fuji’s been all about retro bodies and outfitting their cameras in dapper leather wrappings.

      And that’s what we like about the XF1! It has a super slim (1.2″) rangefinder-esque body that comes in a several faux-leather colors.

      What we found especially fun when we played with it is that it comes with a manual focus lens, which zooms in and out from 25-100mm. It’s 500 bucks, but sometimes you just need things.

      This is what it looks like in real life! Cute, eh?


    • The Casio Exilim EX-ZR100

      You know that part in the Exorcist, when her head rotates in ways it just really shouldn’t?

      That’s kinda like the Casio’s Exilim EX-ZR100! Except less scary and more handy.

      The ZR100 rotating screen is totally optimized for the most convenient selfies (kewl new slang for self-portraits). It rotates to face you, so you can see what you’ll look like in the photo. The screen simultaneously acts as a stand, so you can prop your camera without having to set up a tripod! Smart.

    Camera Style at Photokina

    beforeSo who goes to Photokina? You’ll find a mix of dealers, distributors, and companies having to do with any kind of camera-related gizmo you can think of.

    Then, there are simply photo fans who come to see what’s up.

    We picked some especially stylish Photokina attendees to feature in a fashion roundup for a better idea of who you might find there!

    See all of their photos on our Tumblr post!

    The 10 Craziest Things We Saw at Photokina

    Pretty much any camera-related company that you can think of has a booth at Photokina. Each one shows off their best, and if you look closely, you’ll find some really unusual stuff.