Focus on Imaging 2012

Yesterday was the start of this year’s Focus on Imaging exhibition. I decided not to attend last year, as Canon weren’t attending and there wasn’t anything specific I wanted to have a look at. This year though was set to be full of anticipation, with Canon’s recent releases of the 1D X and 5D MkIII, not to mention Nikon’s D800 and D800E.

I had originally decided to go out of curiosity, to have a look at the 1D X, but then of course with all the rumours and subsequent release of the 5D MkIII, it took on a new edge, as it was a camera that was more in my price range or more to the point a price range I could justify, based on my level of sales. Then the week before the exhibition, I received an invite from Canon Professional Services (CPS) to a demonstration of the 5D MkIII, so my first stop on arrival was the CPS stand, next to the main Canon auditorium, to book a session.

My overall impression of Focus, was that there were less people there than I remembered from two years ago. However, it could just have been that they were all crowded around the 5D MkIII and 1D X stands, as you couldn’t get anywhere near them when I arrived, such was the interest and the corridor in that area was completely blocked. The usual range of show offers from the various exhibitors were in evidence, including a good price for a Black Rapid strap and a set of small Interfit 5-in-1 reflectors, but as usual, the paper I usually use was noticeable by its absence, despite a couple of exhibitors having a selection from Hahnemuehle (including Hahnemuehle themselves).

Then the time came for the demonstration and I will make another post with my impressions (along with some impressions expressed by the rep) of that and the subsequent quick testing afterwards. After that, I also made a beeline for the area where they had the only sample of the pre-announced 200-400 with built in extender. First of all, I picked it up and was immediately surprised by the weight, or rather the lack of it. It was much easier to handle than my 300mm f/2.8 IS (original version). I think this was partly due to the lightness and partly due to balance. I would say it’s only marginally heavier than the 300mm f/2.8 but much better balanced. I then had a chance to try it on a 1D MkIV. I wasn’t able to get any real impressions beyond seeing the difference between the extender in and out, but it’s very easy to reach the switch to flip it in and out with your left thumb. If it has the same image quality of other super teles (which I’m sure it will have), then it will be a lens to lust after.

All in all, it was worth attending and it was a good opportunity to see the new cameras and upcoming lenses. For anyone who is considering attending over the next couple of days, I would say get on the train or in your car and take a trip.

Canon 5d MkIII, 7D MkII or Something Completely Different?

I don’t normally post anything to do with rumours of upcoming cameras, but today, a series of images was posted, purportedly taken by a tourist in Kenya, who was in the same vehicle as a Canon employee testing the new 600mm MkII and the announced 200-400mm with built-in 1.4x extender. The photos look a pretty good match for released images by Canon. More interestingly though, not only does there appear to be a 1D-X being tested, but also a mystery smaller format camera. Speculation varies as to whether it is the future 5D MkIII or the 7D MkII, but it is clear that the layout appears to be an evolution from that of the 7D, which isn’t really unexpected. It also appears to not have a pop-up flash and the size of the pentaprism would suggest it is full frame. Beyond that though, it is anyone’s guess.

See the images for yourself:

http://blog.apertureacademy.com/2012/01/canon-200-400mm-and-600mm-prototype.html

or read the discussions:

http://www.canonrumors.com/forum/index.php/topic,2963.0.html

Having had some time to digest the available information, the following summarises the salient facts.

  1. Pentaprism size suggests larger than APS-C, perhaps full frame.
  2. Some of the visible buttons might suggest high speed shooting.
  3. Button layout is a combination of 1D-X and 7D.
  4. Longer format rear screen might suggest greater emphasis on video.
  5. Lack of Creative Auto setting on mode dial – departure from both 5D and 7D lines.

So, lots of ifs buts and maybes, that don’t really do much to answer the questions. When the specifications of the 1D-X were released, some of them had me interested, for example, the better low light and overall image quality. However, the price is out of my range and the move to full frame would lose me “reach” over the 7D, which would be the obvious camera to replace. The thought of a possible small format version of the 1d-X (with its cheaper price point) does interest me and if it just happened to have  1.3x crop (i.e. the now supposedly defunct APS-H format) and around 22MP, so that it would offer improved image quality over the 7D, then I would probably be planning on a purchase in the future. Even full frame at around 25MP if it had improved image quality, better tracking and improved dynamic range and sensitivity over the 5D MkII would spark interest, as I could then keep the 7D for when I need the reach and use the new camera for all other circumstances, effectively replacing the 5D MkII.

Time will tell in the end and ultimately, we just have to wait for the announcement. The Camera and Photo Imaging Show starts on February 9th in Japan and with Focus on Imaging a month later, it is an ideal time coming up for Nikon and Canon to make some high profile announcements.