The Best New Gear From Photokina 2010

Our guide to this week's new cameras, lenses and accessories worth your attention.

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Panasonic DMC-GH2
It was back at Photokina 2008 when Panasonic first introduced Micro Four Thirds, so it made total sense for them to use this event do drop their newest MFT body. New features like 3D compatibility (when using the interchangeable 12.5mm f/12 3D lens) and the "world's fastest autofocus" make it a step ahead for the format as a whole. Of course, Panasonic has also picked up a lot more competition in this arena since then, most of which was on the show floor this week. More coverage: Hands on gallery
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Casio Exilim HG20
While it isn't breaking much ground on the photographic front, Casio's new Exilim compact has one of the most robust suites of GPS mapping functions ever presented in a compact. Not only does it come equipped with maps that are viewable on the LCD screen, but, thanks to a motion sensor, it can add geotags to images shot inside, where normal GPS signals can't go. It can even be used as a digital compass in a pinch.
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Leica D-Lux 5
While Leica's rebadge job on the V-Lux 2 wasn't exactly awe-inspiring, the D-Lux 5 has more going for it. It has basically the same guts as Panasonic's flagship Lumix LX5 compact, but that's a good thing. The body itself is everything you'd expect from a Leica at this level and that's important for any camera sporting the red dot. More coverage: Hands On Gallery
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Fujifilm Finepix X100
One of our favorite announcements at this year's show has to be Fujifilm's retro-inspired digital rangefinder. The model we checked out on the floor was just a prototype (No sensor makes demoing an electronic viewfinder pretty difficult), but seemed very promising. We hope to get our hands on one when retail units drop early 2011 for right around $1,000. More coverage: Hands on gallery
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Leica Titanium M9
Easily one of the swankiest parties at Photokina this year was Leica's bash to show of their Audi-designed M9 Titanium. The camera is basically the same as every other M9 we have ever seen, but the metal parts are machined from solid titanium and the leather wrapping is borrowed from the interior of high-end Audi automobiles. It also represented the 4 millionth camera to roll out with the iconic Leica badge. More coverage: Hands on gallery
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Joby Gorillapod Video
When it comes to bendy-legged tripods, Gorillapod is the name to beat. They're trying to keep it that way by extending their range to further accomodate the growing number of pocket-sized cameras capable of shooting HD video. The head on the Gorillapod Video allows for smooth 360-degree pans and 135-degree tilts to keep things from getting shakey. The legs are equipped with Neodymium magnets to give it even more positioning options. Plus, despite being made of durable machined aluminum, it weighs only 2.8-ounces.
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Profoto D4 Air
The newest pro lighting rig from Profoto builds off of their incredibly versatile D4 system, adding in a host of wireless firing features to make them even more appealing to high-end pros. Using the Profoto Air Remote or Profoto Air Sync transceivers, you can fire the strobes from up to 300m away with an incredibly small delay (1/1600s). Plus, the new Air USB receiver lets users control, save and recall light settings from a Mac or PC. It comes in 1200, 2400 and massive 4800 Watt packs.
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Samsung NX100
The dew-drop inspired interchangeable lens compact was announced before Photokina started, but Samsung has used the show to seriously show off what its new camera is capable of. For many people, including us, it's the first time we really get to spend time with the i-Function system, which relegates control camera functions like ISO and shooting to a ring on the lens.
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Sigma SD1
Sigma users waited quite a while for the arrival of the long-talked-about SD15 DSLR, which is what made the SD1's announcement even sweeter. Sigma has improved just about evey aspect of their DSLR offering, bumping the Foveon X3 sensor all the way to 46 megapixels (three individual sensors with 15.3-megapixels each). It's also tougher and has faster new AF. Best part: It will be out early next year.
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Lowepro S&F System
The Street and Field series existed before, but Lowepro has given the system a loving and rather awesome overhaul. You can use a vest, harness, belt or bag (or any combination there of) as a base and expand the system using velcro loops to fit your exact shooting needs. We were extremely impressed with the The S&F Lens Exchange Case 200 AW. More coverage: Hands on gallery
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Sigma APO Macro 150mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM
It's the longest f/2.8 macro around and now it comes equipped with Sigma's four-stop optical stabilization system. They also announced a new version of their 120-300mm f/2.8 OS superzoom.
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Athena Electronic Device
If you're looking for an even more elaborate and expensive way to mount your DSLR, Manfrotto's motorized Athena mount should do the trick. This $8,000 system allows full, neurotic control over every element of a camera's position from a remote PC. You can tweak the angle of the camera, the rate at which it moves from place to place and many more, saving presets for later use. We did notice, however, that the Athena was a little noisier than we had expected. It may just be that this is a prototype, but we would think quiet operation would be key for a product like this, especially if nature photographers are in the target demo.
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Clik Elite Contrejour 40
Clik collaborated with six pro ski and snowboard shooters in Utah in order to give this bag everything it needs to survive the rigors of the mountains. With its metal frame and special harness straps, Clik's winter-sports-specific pack is probably overkill for the casual adventure shooter, but it has an access door on the side as well as a main flap on the back so gear is well-protected and easily accessible. The straps on the outside can be used to hold a tripod, skis or a snowboard. You can get it in black, but we were big fans of the blue and white colorway that Clik is just now rolling out (in several of their models) in the US.
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Clik Elite Clik Sit
A foldable stool might not seem like an essential piece of photo equipment, but if you ever find yourself on assignment in the forest, or almost any location for that matter, you'll be happy you have it. The Clik Sit folds up extremely flat and, because it's made from aluminum, it's strong and light enough that you'll hardly notice it packed up. Plus, even if you don't sit on it, it can be great for having models pose without a full-blown stool or simply holding gear that you don't want to put on the ground.
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Crumpler Bellissima Collection
Crumpler bags are almost always immediately recognizable because of their unique and generally awesome style. The Bellissima collection stands out, though, even in their booth because of the incredible ornate stitching that decorates each bag. The designs aren't printed on like many other decorative bags--each swirl is actually stitched into the fabric, giving it a unique look and texture that's different from most everythign else we have seen.
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Leaf Aptus-II 12
Leaf has a relatively modest booth here at Photokina, but the incredible 80-megapixel digital back they're showing off is a lot less subtle. We got a chance to check out the images on the 3.5-inch display and then check out the resulting captures on a MacBook Pro. The images are, predictably, enormous, but the capture time is surprisingly speedy, especially when you consider the sheer volume of data being handled.
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Sinar P SLR
Sinar announced their super-high-end mount that allows the attachment of Nikon and Canon DSLRs to Sinar view cameras. According to Sinar, the P SLR isn't quite available for purchase, but the one we were able to demo feels amazingly well-built. Adjustments are incredibly precise and the whole rig felt as stable as can be. It's likely well worth the almost $2,000 price tag for high-end studio or architecture shooters.
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Spyder LensCal
For cameras that allow microadjustments to their autofocus (most prosumer and up DSLRs), the LensCal can be a very useful tool. Focus on the black and white boxes and take a picture with the camera level to the LensCal. Then, when you review your photo in an image processing tool, you can see exactly where the focus landed using the ruler to the right. I actually got a chance to try it on a Canon 7D and 17-40 f/4L and it did seem like an improvement. It should be available now or at least very soon.
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SpyderChecker
The other new calibration solution from Spyder is designed to make sure the color in your photos is as accurate as possible. A foldable case holds two cards. One side shows off resin squares of specific colors, while the other side acts as a gray card. Since the squares aren't cardboard or painted, they last and retain their accuracy much longer. The red box in the bottom left corner of the Checker will eventually fade to yellow, signaling that it's time to order more color cards. To use the calibration tool, you simply take a photo of the Checker in the light you're shooting with and use Lightroom or Photoshop to correct your color settings. The results we saw in the demo were impressive and the process only takes a few minutes from start to finish.
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Tamrac Evolution Camera Bags
Tamrac announced their new sling/backpack style bags a couple weeks ago, but we got a chance to check them out on the floor at the show. The bags feel very sturdy, as you would expect from Tamrac, and the ability to get at your gear from any of three openings is extremely nice. We have noticed a lot of bags sharing this hybrid backpack/sling design lately and that's fine with us.
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Kodak Portra 400 Film
It's not often we get to write about film anymore, but Kodak's revamped Portra 400 offering is definitely worth mentioning. It replaces their trusted Portra VC and NC lines, offering super-fine grain for an ISO 400 film and color reproduction that aims for accuracy. It's available in all of the most popular sizes, including 35mm, 120 and large-format sheets.