For the last few days we’ve been rounding up the best new products at this year’s PMA exhibition in Sydney – on Friday we saw some great photo editing software and on Saturday we saw the coolest accessories at the show. But of course, what we really schlep around Darling Harbour for is the cameras. And there were plenty of them.
This year, it wasn’t the two majors, Canon and Nikon, who stole the show (despite their enormous stands); rather it was some of the smaller manufacturers who created a buzz.
Probably the hottest camera on display came from an unexpected source – Fujifilm. Its new, retro-styled, Leica-esque Finepix X100 was so popular you had to queue to get your hands on it.
This great-looking new camera ticks off a surprising number features I’ve had on the wishlist for yonks: a fixed length, 23mm f2.0 lens (equal to 35mm full-frame) that allows you to get as close as 10cm; an APS-C sensor in what’s essentially a compact camera; an old-school optical viewfinder and an electronic viewfinder; an aperture ring (!); and, most importantly, totally classic stylings.
Handmade in Japan, Fujifilm have had trouble meeting demand for the X100, not only because of its popularity, but because the roof of its manufacturing plant fell in during the recent earthquake. However, representatives assured me they’re doing much better of late.
Also channelling the Leica vibe is Ricoh, whose new GXR system finally allows Leica system lenses to be mounted on a compact camera – for well under $2000. Ricoh’s G-series cameras, which have been around for the last couple of years – follow the trend of mirrorless interchangeable cameras (like Micro Four-Thirds), but skew the concept by including an interchangeable sensor with the lens. This means the camera body can be used for other, slightly strange uses, like GPS units. While the concept is admittedly odd, Ricoh’s determination to innovate is indeed laudable.
Another company that’s trading on Leica’s popularity is – surprise, surprise – Leica, which announced a new variation on its beautiful M-series, the M9-P. Essentially, the M9-P is a purely aesthetic overhaul, adding a grippy surface and a brushed-metal trim to its $10,000 full-frame rangefinder system. That doesn’t mean I don’t still really, really want it.
But it’s not all about the most expensive toys; there were some great offerings at much lower price-points. GE’s making some rather suave point-and-shoots that feature leatherette fronts and slide-out USB plugs, which will no doubt be incredibly popular with people who want a no-frills snapper that looks good.
And, Sydney-based company Ozical is producing a 1080p, 3D video camera for all of $340 bucks, which is pretty impressive when you think about it. (Tom from Ozical, apart from being a good dude, spent the entire day in a rash vest and snorkel, an effort that deserves at least some recognition.)