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CP+ 2019 Report

The annual CP+ imaging show opened in Yokohama on Thursday February 28, providing an opportunity for anyone interested in photography to view the latest equipment. Occupying a single hall, this show is much smaller than the long-running Photokina trade show in Cologne, Germany. But it’s compact and well-laid-out, making it easy to cover in a day, and with Photokina 2019 having been cancelled, it provided the main showcase for equipment manufacturers this year.

Show visitors had to wait for up to 40 minutes for hands-on time with the latest Canon cameras and lenses.

Most of the key products on display were pre-announced weeks – or in some cases months – before the opening date and have been covered already in Inside Imaging. Pre-announcing products has become the norm over the past 8-10 years, since it gets consumers ‘revved-up’ and wanting to get their hands on the new gear, and gives the spinmeisters two bites at the editorial cherry. Many stands had lines of eager customers prepared to wait for up to 40 minutes for a brief ‘touch and try’ session.

Pre-announced products
Canon, Fujifilm, Nikon, Olympus, Panasonic and Sony all got in ahead of the show with new camera and/or lens announcements. In Canon’s case, it was the new EOS RP, which we’re hoping to review shortly. Slotting in below the EOS R, it is smaller, lighter and cheaper, although with a listed price of $2099 for the body alone, it’s not cheap.

Canon’s display of EOS R and RP cameras and lenses also included a limited-edition gold EOS RP, which is unlikely to be offered in Australia.

On the DSLR front, Canon had only products that have been around for a long time on its stand. However, rumours suggest the  EOS-1D X Mark III is being field-tested ahead of next year’s Olympics. It’s also been suggested that a ‘professional’ EOS R with 8K video is in development, along with a 100-megapixel model with in-body image stabilisation. Maybe these features will be included in the next Canon EOS DSLR?

Canon also showcased five ‘concept cameras’ that are designed to complement smartphones by adding features like telephoto lenses (100-400mm zoom), motorised housings, a pan and tilt mechanism, swappable panels and built-in games. We’re not sure if they’ll be sold outside Japan and nobody on the stand was able to enlighten us.

The next addition to Fujifilm’s GFX medium format line-up is the ‘flagship’ GFX 100, which boasts a 100-megapixel sensor and a new body design with both horizontal and vertical grips plus a detachable EVF.

Fujifilm unveiled its X-T30 mirrorless APS-C camera on Valentine’s Day, two weeks before CP+ opened. It offers many of the features of the higher-featured X-T3 in a smaller and lighter body, which augurs for decent sales. It also announced the new Fujinon XF16mm f/2.8 R WR lens, a compact, lightweight partner for the X-T30 body.

More exciting was the prototype of the up-coming GFX 100, which was displayed on a rotating turntable in a locked glass box. The tech specs for this camera are still being finalised but the body design seems to be firm enough to show.

Although thinner than the original GFX 50S, it has a similar detachable EVF plus relatively deep vertical and horizontal grips. Fujfilm has adopted a similar dual battery system to that used in the Olympus OM-D E-M1X, to overcome the capacity limitations associated with mirrorless cameras.

Known features include a back-illuminated sensor with copper wiring to provide faster readout speeds and lower power consumption. The sensor is also covered with phase-detection AF pixels, using a similar structure to the sensor on the X-T3. The new camera will support in-camera 10-bit 4K/30p video recording. Release dates and pricing were not disclosed.

Nikon appeared not to have anything new to announce at CP+, having revealed the Z7 and Z6 cameras at Photokina and launched the Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S lens on Valentine’s Day. Nonetheless, there were long lines for hands-on time with the mirrorless Z-mount models and associated lenses and there were plenty of people trying out Nikon’s DSLR cameras, both ‘full-frame’ and cropped-sensor models.

Interested photographers examining the Nikon Z6 and Z7 cameras and Z-mount lenses at the ‘touch & try’ benches on the company’s stand.

Olympus concentrated on its recently-released ‘pro’ camera, the OM-D E-M1X, relegating other models in the OM-D and PEN lines to the back of the stand. Displays on the back wall showcased key features of the E-M1X, including its revolutionary stabilisation system and the design process that delivered the final body shape.

This set-up enabled visitors to the Olympus stand to see the degree to which the sensor module cam move during the image stabilisation process.

Olympus also had a mock-up of its up-coming 150-400mm f/4.0 PRO lens on display in a glass box, alongside the associated M.Zuiko Digital MC-20 2x teleconverter. Going by the latest Olympus lens roadmap, we might see this lens at CP+ 2020.

While the new S1 and S1R cameras took pride of place on Panasonic’s stand, where they attracted a great deal of attention, the company was careful to affirm its on-going commitment to the M4/3 format by showing a mock-up of its 10-25mm f/1.7 zoom lens, which was flagged at Photokina 2018. Few details were available but this lens is substantially larger than the current 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0, as you’d expect with its constant f/1.7 maximum aperture.

Although many people expected to see the long-awaited Sony α7S Mark III, this didn’t eventuate. After unveiling the α6400 cropped-sensor camera in mid-January, Sony followed-up on the eve of CP+ by announcing the FE 135mm f/1.8 GM, a fast telephoto prime lens, designed for the company’s ‘full-frame’ cameras but can also be used on models with APS-C sized sensors.

Yutaka Iwatsuki, senior manager in Sony’s Product Planning Department.

We had a chat with Yutaka Iwatsuki, the senior manager in Sony’s Product Planning Department, who stressed the company’s commitment to include innovative features while keeping products as small and light as possible. The new lens features fast autofocusing and an optical design that delivers high resolution across the image frame. It is surprisingly portable for such a fast lens.

A number of other companies chose CP+ to announce new lenses.  Cosina showcased three Voigtländer-branded lenses: the Nokton 50mm f/1.2 Aspherical lens, Nokton 21mm f/1.4 for Sony E-mount and a Nokton 21mm f/1.4 Aspherical short telephoto lens for Leica M-mount. The Nokton 50mm f/1.2 Aspherical for E-mount is arguably the most attractive, being both compact and light (434 grams) and featuring a 12-bladed iris diaphragm.

Leica also announced its first lens developed as part of the L-Mount Alliance. The APO-Summicron-SL 35mm f/2 ASPH lens is designed for the SL mirrorless cameras but can also be used on the upcoming Panasonic and Sigma cameras. Like other lenses in this category, it features a Dual Syncro Drive (DSD) stepping motor for fast autofocusing. It is scheduled for release in mid-April.

Tucked well away from the cameras was this special display case containing Nikon’s up-coming Z Noct 58mm f/0.95 lens.

Nikon had a cut-away Z Noct 58mm f/0.95 lens in a special case at the edge of its stand. Designed for the Z-mount mirrorless system, it features new coating technologies and an integral tripod collar. As expected, there’s a lot of glass packed inside its metal barrel. Details of the AF system are obscure as yet.

Ricoh, which owns Pentax, used the show to present a mock-up of its HD Pentax-D FA* 85mm f/1.4 prime lens but didn’t offer much information about it. The main centres of interest on the Ricoh/Pentax were the displays of the Ricoh GR III and the Ricoh Theta Z1, which is designed for recording 360-degree images and introduces RAW file support.

Aside from cameras, there were plenty of lenses on display from specialist, third-party manufacturers. Among them were new companies from China, who are slowly breaking into the mainstream market, sometimes with quite innovative products.

One of the more interesting products was the Laowa 24mm f/14 2X Macro Probe, which can focus from 2:1 macro to infinity and provides an extended depth of field. The barrel of the probe is waterproof and there’s an LED ring light encircling the lens. Laowa lenses are on sale in Australia and this lens was actually released last year, although it’s the first time we’ve heard about it. Maybe the distributor needs some PR support.

Sigma tagged 11 existing Art series lenses that will be brought to the L-mount format via the MC-21 mount adapter, enabling them to be used on new cameras like the Panasonic S1 and S1R. All are prime lenses, with focal lengths ranging between 14mm and 135mm and providing full support for the cameras’ AF and in-camera stabilisation systems.

This illustration shows the use of the MC-21 mount converter that enables Sigma to adapt existing lenses to the L-Mount.

We had a behind-the-scenes view of Sigma’s approach to the L-Mount Alliance on the Sigma stand, where we were able to see how the company was moving existing products into the L-Mount system through a mount conversion module.

Other lens manufacturers to participate in the show were Kipon (which produces both lenses and a wide range of lens adapters), Kowa, Tamron, Tokina, LensBaby and Zeiss.

There were plenty of tripods from leading manufacturers like Manfrotto, Sirui, Slik and Velbon as well as some nifty camera bags from Manfrotto, ThinkTank, Lowepro and others. Some products shown are not available in Australia, which is a pity as we think they would sell well.

Eizo and BenQ had small stands displaying monitors, while X-Rite occupied a small section of another company’s stand. That was about it for screen technology. Adobe was the major software exhibitor, conducting demonstrations at intervals throughout the show. Silkypix had a smaller stand.

Epson has a small display showing one if its professional wide-format printers, along with a range of media and accessories.

On the output front, Epson had separate displays showing consumer and professional products as well as a display of its inkjet media. Ilford showcased a wide range of papers, including a range labeled ‘Tesuki-Washi EchiZen‘, which appeared to simulate traditional Japanese handmade paper and looked very interesting from an aesthetic viewpoint. Awagami, which is distributed in Australia through Starleaton and Camera Electronic, had a more extensive display of washi inkjet papers.

Drone manufacturer, DJI, was there with a working display of both small and large drones, which attracted plenty of attention.

There were a few displays of lighting equipment, among them a stand showing Nissin flashguns, several stands with LED lights and a ProFoto stand displaying professional lighting equipment. On the video front, SmallRig displayed a wide range of video cages and other accessories for photographers who use interchangeable-lens cameras for shooting video clips. There was also a small display of gimbals on a separate stand and one exhibitor, DJI, demonstrating drones.

Figures provided by CIPA, which organises the event, show an increase this year of just over 1500 in visitor numbers on the 2018 figures. The highest numbers were on the third day, a Saturday, when 23,730 people attended the show. It’s not a patch on Photokina, which last year attracted approximately 191,000 visitors, but numbers are increasing at CP+, whereas Photokina’s numbers have remained stable since 2016.
– Margaret Brown


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