Reading the Photokina Tea Leaves

Media Preview Day tends to give one an idea about who might have major product announcements at Photokina. Currently, the following companies have big press conferences scheduled the day before the show opens to consumers: Canon, Fujifilm, Leica, Nikon, Olympus, and Panasonic. 

But the tea leaves in the press announcements are interesting: Canon's press conference will be in German, which I would generally take as indicating that Canon will have already made their global product announcement prior to Photokina and are just doing a German-market and show presentation of a prior announcement. Nikon is doing their press conference at their booth, which I also take to mean that the products likely will have already been announced in some way prior to Photokina. In both cases, this may simply mean that this is the first true hands-on type experience with recently announced products for much of the press. Both are expected to show new mirrorless cameras. (That's a plural of plural for those of you trying to parse my writing.)

I could be wrong about all that, but as I noted, we're reading tea leaves here.

One interesting thing is that Nikon actually has a major press conference scheduled at all. That generally hasn't been the case at the last couple of Photokina shows, so I'd interpret this as Nikon wanted to make a big splash. As for why do it in the booth, it might be a cost consideration. Nikon likely already has a speaker area set up for its ambassadors, why not use it instead of renting another room?

Olympus, meanwhile, doesn't have an official booth at Photokina, but instead will have a Perspective Playground featuring future technology demonstrations and things for show attendees to photograph. Their press conference might mostly be centered around that.

For Leica, of course, Photokina is home court. I fully expect them to launch some new products at the show, though they've often done that off-site in prior years. 

Fujifilm is probably the busiest of the camera companies in terms of new product intros—even busier than Sony—as it continues to try to catch up to the Duopoly in terms of a full product line that's compelling.  Fujifilm is also very "leaky," so it's already believed that the XT-3 is likely to launch at Photokina, as well as some new medium format variation of the GFX50s. 

The company that seems most curious in the major press conference list is Panasonic. They're relatively current on most of their m4/3 lineup, so I'm hoping that this is the venue they use to launch an LX200. It's been four years. So much was so right with the LX100, but it was basically let down by its sensor, which at ~12mp already felt out-of-place when the camera launched, and now definitely feels wrong.

Other things I can't write about will be happening, too (press NDA). Overall, this is shaping up to be an interesting—and perhaps the most significant in years—Photokina. Sadly, though, the actual exhibitor show floor space in use appears smaller than in previous shows. Fewer of the buildings on the Cologne campus are being used, and I note that there are still a lot of booths that aren't attached to anyone. 

Thus, I'm expecting a compact, but relatively exciting show. The industry may have collapsed downward in size, but the big players are seriously jockeying for visibility and buzz. 

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