Photokina 2016 winners and losers – Fujifilm and Olympus steal the show

Amy Davies was on the ground at Photokina 2016 this week and has picked the winners, losers and best cameras from the year’s biggest photography show.

There’s been a good deal of buzz around the halls of Photokina in Cologne.

Just about every major manufacturer dropped something of interest, and there’s been plenty to gawp at and lust over as you make your way from one end of the Kolnmesse to the other.

But, because we’re humans, we obviously like to pick a winner and not treat everybody equally, so the question of who announced the best camera at Photokina springs to mind. In fairness, it’s quite a tricky one to answer.

Canon announced all of its stuff before Photokina, so for the purposes of this we’re going to discount them (although the EOS M5 is rather nice). Panasonic’s announcement of the Panasonic GH5 development is good, but as we weren’t able to actually touch one – it was behind a thick plastic case the entire time – it’s hard to get overly excited. The specs, with its 6K video shooting, look pretty damn good, though, and we’ll be keen to try it out as soon as it actually becomes available.

Nikon was a little disappointing for many. Some had hoped for a Nikon D820. Others had thought maybe a new exciting mirrorless was on the way. Instead, we got two new action cams, which is nice but not hugely awe-inspiring – especially when GoPro was busy over the pond unveiling not only the Hero 5 but the Karma drone as well.

Another little spanner in the works was delivered courtesy of Sony, who dropped the A99 II (pictured below) rather than another full-frame mirrorless camera, as we’d all been led to believe by the rumour mill. Maybe that was Sony’s doing to hide its true intentions…

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Sony A99 II

The A99 II is looking to be a very good camera for sports and wildlife photographers – and offers great competition for Nikon and Canon – but trying to persuade photographers to ditch an entire system for something unfamiliar is an uphill struggle. We’ll be watching Sony with interest over the coming months.

By far and away the camera that drew the most literal oohs and ahhs (not to mention actual whooping and clapping) during the press conference was the Fujifilm GFX system. It’s not surprising to see a bunch of camera geeks (us included) feel a pang of excitement when a brand-new format from Fuji is announced.

Fujifilm has decided to delve into the world of digital medium format. For the uninitiated, that means a sensor which is significantly larger than full frame – the ones that most professionals use in studios for the ultimate in image quality. Fujifilm has managed to do this in a body which is not as massive as you might expect. In fact, it’s similar in size to some DSLRs.

We already know that Fuji is capable of producing some cracking cameras with the X series, so what it can do with medium format is pretty much the stuff of dreams. But, and it’s a big but, that’s exactly where it will stay for most ordinary people.

The GFX 50S when it launches will set you back something like £10,000. The price has yet to be confirmed, but it will certainly be in that region. Even seasoned professionals are likely to baulk at that price tag, let alone the rest of us mere mortals.

So for us, the real winner on this occasion has to be Olympus, which has produced an extremely impressive camera that non-pro photographers and normal people are actually likely to buy. Again, we don’t have a confirmed price yet for the OM-D E-M1 II, but we know there’s no way it will get anywhere near 10 large.

Related: The 11 best cameras of Photokina 2016


Why do we like the OM-D E-M1 II so much? Well, despite its annoyingly cumbersome name, it’s got some genuinely awesome specs which should make it an extremely interesting proposition for all sorts of photographers.

Traditional manufacturers should sit up and pay attention, because Olympus has completely redesigned the camera from the inside out. Outwardly, it looks almost identical to its predecessor, but on the inside you’ve got something which is capable of super-fast shooting. It can shoot RAW files with continuous autofocus for a whopping 18fps. If you’re happy to fix autofocus at the first frame, it can shoot an incredible 60fps – all in full-res RAW!

It can also offer up to 6.5 stops of compensation thanks to its optical image stabilisation system, which translates into being able to shoot handheld for two-second exposures and still get a sharp image – assuming your subject isn’t moving. It’s faster in almost every single way, plus Olympus has increased battery life and it’s all still in a package that won’t give you backache after working with it for a couple of hours.

We can’t wait to get our hands on a full working production sample of the OM-D E-M1 II, and while that’s also true for Fujifilm’s camera, the E-M1 II is something we’re more likely to be able to afford and could use every day.

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Who won Photokina 2016 for you? And who disappointed? Let us know in the comments below.

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