Photokina 2010 Day 0: Leica Drives a VW; 20-Foot Chase Jarvis; Canons Along The Rhine
SEPTEMBER 21, 2010
Dan Havlik, PDN's Technology Specialist
The 31st annual photokina imaging trade show kicked off in Cologne,
Germany today promising scores of new imaging products, inevitable
marketing hype, and more scantily clad booth babes than you'd find
this side of Las Vegas. And oh yeah, there's also huge vats of
Kolsch beer, a Cologne specialty that's served in beaker-sized shot
glasses at every restaurant in town.
We arrived here yesterday and got a chance to make the rounds of
some of the press preview events which give journalists a sneak
peek at what will be debuting at the biennial show. (And yes, there
was plenty of Kolsch to go around.)
Though the effects of the Recession continue to rake most regions
of the world -- the number of "pro" product announcements is
noticeably down in 2010 -- there's still some interesting
technology on display at photokina, which is the largest imaging
show in the world. (It's worth noting, however, that the American
press contingent at photokina 2010 is minuscule compared to
previous years. Travel budgets certainly aren't what they used to
Here are some of the highlights from press preview day. (Check PDN
Gear Guide for more photokina 2010 reports throughout the
The First VW-Designed Titanium Leica M9 Goes to Steve
The Leica press preview event at photokina is always the hottest
ticket in town and this year the company pulled out all the stops.
No, there wasn't another Leica S2-type announcement like the one from photokina 2008, but
there was a somewhat unusual collaboration between Leica and German
car manufacturer Volkswagen.
VW's head of design, Walter de'Silva, designed the new Leica M9
Titanium model, a limited edition camera that's sure to make Leica
aficionados drool with something akin to blood lust.
Though it's hardly a major redesign of the M9, a full-frame-sensored digital
rangefinder that's already attracted a lot of gadget envy since it
launched last year, de'Silva's added some sparkling touches to it,
including a new textured grip made from the same leather used in
the interiors of Audi automobiles (VW and Audi are jointly owned)
and that crushingly fetching silverline Titanium exterior. We
didn't get a chance to play with the camera -- Leica kept it at a
safe distance from the press' grubby fingers -- but the Titanium
exterior should make it lighter than the original M9.
Other style pieces we liked about this pimped-out M9 include the
spokes-like lens and hood attachment -- an obvious nod to
de'Silva's VW background -- and the slightly bizarre leather
shoulder holster cross-chest carrying strap. There's also a Rube
Goldberg-esque box packaging for the Titanium M9 which Leica
describes in its press release as "an elaborately handcrafted black
The camera will be limited to 500 units and available from Leica
dealers beginning in November. Even though the as-yet
unannounced price -- which includes a Leica Summliux-M 35mm
f/1.4 ASPH lens -- is sure to be through the roof, there will be
likely be a long waiting list for this camera. Maybe the
Recession really did end in June 2009
as recent news reports suggest.
part of the festivities at the Leica preview, company CEO Dr.
Andreas Kaufmann presented a Titanium M9 to Steve
Sasson, the inventor of the digital camera. Sasson, who
worked for Kodak at the time of his invention,
built the first digital camera in 1975 from spare parts he
found around Kodak's headquarters in Rochester, NY. According to
Kaufmann, the Titanium M9 given to Sasson represented the four
millionth Leica camera.
We caught up with Sasson after the ceremony and he seemed clearly
jazzed at receiving the limited edition Leica.
"It's fantastic," Sasson told PDN Gear Guide. "The digital camera
afforded us the opportunity to make something completely different
since there are no moving parts. But there's something first-class
about what Leica has done (with the M9) by taking something that
was already a classic and melding it with digital technology. It's
a great marriage and a very elegant design."
Chase Jarvis' Big Nikon D7000 Movie
Pro photographer Chase Jarvis was on hand at the Nikon press
preview to show off
his short fllm, "Benevolent Mischief," which was shot
entirely in HD with
the new Nikon D7000. Though Jarvis posted the film on his
blog last week, this time he got to show it on a 20-foot
screen in front of a several hundred members of the press.
1080p HD looks beautiful," he told us. "I spent a lot of nights at
three in the morning putting this together and I can't believe how
it came out. (The D7000) is really an advanced camera for the price
and you can do a tremendous amount of things with it."
Jarvis said the film was shot almost entirely at ISO 1600 and 3200
and even though much of the HD footage was captured in difficult,
dim lighting conditions, the footage still held up when enlarged
for the big screen.
"More than 50 percent of the work I do now is motion," Jarvis
noted. "This is the tip of the iceberg. The convergence of
photography and video is going to grow bigger and stronger. It's
A Canon Birthday Party
While Canon wasn't showing off anything new at its press preview at
a restaurant along the Rhine river, it was celebrating the 10th
anniversary of its IXUS line of compact digital cameras, a brand
that's known as ELPH in the U.S.
As part of the event, a giant IXUS birthday cake was wheeled out.
Between sips of Kolsch, the press made short work of the massive