Photokina Day 1

logo_messe.gifYesterday was the first day of Photokina. I spent much of the day on the Microsoft stand talking to people about Expression Media. I did get a chance to walk around a little and stopped by the Canon stand over in Hall 3. Most of the interest was around the 5D Mark II and to a lesser extent the 50D. All of Canons new cameras use the DIGIC 4 processor, which does lots of new fun things including 14-bit colour resolution and 1080p video. With the mad throng of people around the 5D Mark II, I didn't actually get a chance to play with one, but I did take some video. Sadly, I left the appropriate cable at home and probably won't get a chance to upload the video until I get back next week.

The Canon G10 was of surprising interest, since I thought it was just a minor update to the G9. It too uses DIGIC 4 but more importantly has a wider lens than the G9 (28mm versus 35mm on the G9). This makes quite a noticeable difference as you'll see when I post the video. It also does better face detection, can do face detection at oblique angles, has more megapixels, a higher resolution LCD display and a larger optical viewfinder. Interestingly, they've move the exposure compensation settings to a dedicated dial where the ISO settings used to be. The ISO dial and mode dial now sit atop each other on the right hand side, completing the G10's rangefinder-like look.

Another interesting new camera is SD990 IS, which also uses DIGIC 4. Even though it has even more megapixels than previous models, the use of DIGIC 4 apparently means lower noise, so Canon's message is now all about processing power rather than just sensor resolution or noise. The SD990 comes in black or silver and looks very smart indeed. I'm a sucker for metal boded cameras and this does not disappoint, feeling reassuringly sturdy. It is even contoured (in the shape of an athlete's back apparently) and this gives it a somewhat organic softer feeling than if it were an angular slab of metal. Another interesting move and one which hasn't really been well publicised is the use of H.264 as a video codec across the new Canons. The 5D Mark II uses it for its 1080p HD and the SD990 uses it for its VGA quality video, enabling them to put more video on a card. Not sure what the bitrates are, but I'm sure we'll find out soon enough.

On the video side, there were no surprises and nothing new - all the new updated consumer camcorders were there (HF11, etc.) and the tapeless HD ones are AVCHD based. There were no new tape-based units as far as I could see, perhaps signaling a deinvestment in tape formats in the consumer video space.

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