After the big news from Panasonic and that company’s partnership with Sigma and Leica, we had the biggest Photokina news. This was of course also because various manufacturers had already made their major introductions in the weeks leading up to the fair. Think of the Canon EOS R, the Nikon Z6 and Z7, the Fujifilm X-T3 and the GoPro Hero 7. During our presence at the fair, we mainly focused on products that were actually announced this week and are therefore brand new. So new sometimes that they won’t even be on the market this year, but we were able to take a brief look at them. That is why we have highlighted three new interesting products in this article.
Fujifilm GFX 50R
Medium format cameras are not normally the primary focus of us, mainly because of the high prices. We make an exception this time for the Fujifilm GFX 50R, because it fits in with the many full-frame announcements of recent times for two reasons. Fujifilm has a nice range of X-mount cameras and lenses and offers options for amateurs, experienced amateurs and professionals. About a week before the Photokina, the X-T3 was announced, the top model of the moment. Just like its predecessors, this seems to be a very interesting camera with neat specifications and good image quality. Anyone interested in a full-frame equivalent of this for one reason or another, for example because of a need for a higher resolution or smaller depth of field, can’t get it from Fujifilm.
With its cameras, the company cannot compete directly with the full-frame cameras from Canon, Nikon, Sony, Pentax and soon also Panasonic. But with a smart strategy, Fujifilm seems to have an answer to that. The GFX 50R, a somewhat slimmed down and less richly equipped version of the 50S, should cost 4500 euros, Fujifilm told us during the fair. That is of course a lot of money, but still quite affordable for medium format. For comparison: the 50S costs about 7000 euros and that is even very ‘economical’ compared to Phase One or Hasselblad. Fujifilm therefore positions the 50R in terms of price more or less in the same segment as the Nikon D5, Nikon D850, Nikon Z7, Canon 5D IV and Sony A7R III.
The pros and cons of full frame versus aps-c also apply to medium format versus full frame. The 50R, like the 50S, has a 51.4-megapixel sensor that, at 44x33mm, is 1.7 times the size of full-frame’s 36x24mm. A larger sensor also means larger and heavier lenses, but Fujifilm has also anticipated this. Of course it remains an oversized device, but for a medium format camera it is quite compact. It’s not much bigger than a full-frame DSLR. But of course there is a difference with full-frame mirrorless cameras. Due to the lack of cameras with a full-frame sensor, Fujifilm seems, very cleverly, to push the 50R forward as a possible alternative. Especially for advertising, portrait and architecture photographers, for example,
Another point we noticed about the GFX 50R is that the viewfinder sits on the left side of the body, rather than on top. This saves some space in the height and that position actually looks quite nice when you look through the viewfinder with your right eye. The magnification of the viewfinder is somewhat smaller than with the 50S. The LCD is tiltable up and down and touch sensitive. It shoots up to three photos per second and can film in 1080p. A double card slot has been fitted with space for two SD cards and no xqd as a second slot, as we have recently seen with competitors. At 775 grams, the weight is quite low for a medium format camera. The camera is somewhat lighter than a Canon 5D Mark IV or Nikon D850, while the sensor is therefore a lot larger.
Sigma 60-600mm f/4.5-6.3
Traditionally, the Japanese Sigma announced a number of lenses at Photokina. These are a 28mm f/1.4 and 40mm f/1.4 Art, the 70-200mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM and 60-600mm f/4.5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports, and the 56mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary. The latter is a lens for crop sensors, in this case for Sony’s E-mount and microfourthirds. The other lenses are suitable for full-frame cameras, but can also be used on compatible aps-c bodies.
We found the 60-600mm especially interesting, because this is quite a different range, which is far from common. Sigma also has 150-600 mm in its portfolio, but the new 60-600 mm is a bit wider. These types of lenses are mainly used for wildlife photography, such as birds and wildlife, but they can also be used for sports, although the brightness for indoor situations leaves something to be desired. Lenses with such a large focal length are usually mainly used at the extreme telephoto positions, but the zoom range makes you extremely flexible. It is not often that it is necessary, but on a safari, for example, it can come in handy that you can react quickly to changing situations. Because you can zoom back quickly, from 600 to 60 mm, for example, you won’t have to change lenses as quickly. This can be very useful in certain areas and situations, for example to prevent dust from getting on the sensor. The lens itself is quite large and heavy, which can also be seen in the large tripod collar. That was to be expected for this range. It extends when you zoom in with it.
The 60-600mm reminds us of the 50-500mm that was introduced about fifteen years ago. At the time, this lens, nicknamed Bigma, was popular among amateur photographers because it offered flexibility on the one hand and, on the other hand, was not too expensive for a lens with such a focal length. The first versions did not yet have built-in image stabilization, but it was added later. The latest version is still for sale .
Initially, we were unable to give us any pricing information on the price and availability of the new 60-600mm at the Sigma stand, but we later learned that the US price will probably be $1999 and that it will be available at the end of October.
Ricoh GR III
Finally, we visited Ricoh, owner of brands such as Pentax and Theta. Ricoh has announced a successor to a camera that is very popular among a certain target group: the GR III. The original GR appeared in the analogue era, but the series became especially distinctive with the Ricoh GR from 2013.
This camera, like its successors, looked like an ordinary compact camera, and that was precisely the goal. Inside, however, it was a camera of a completely different caliber. The small body contains an aps-c sensor that offers corresponding image quality. To keep everything compact, it does not have a zoom lens, but a fixed focal length of 28mm with a brightness of f/2.8. That sounds like nothing special, but for such a compact camera with aps-c sensor it is.
So who is this camera for? Most consumers value a zoom lens for a compact camera, which the GR does not have. And also in terms of price, it will be too expensive for many people. The older GR II currently stands for about 670 euros in the Pricewatch and the GR III will certainly become more expensive. How expensive they could not say at Ricoh, because it will only be published in 2019, but in any case ‘under 1000 euros’.
The Ricoh GR series is especially popular with people who prefer not to stand out too much with a large camera, but who do value a relatively large aps-c sensor with better image quality than a smartphone or normal compact camera. The GR series is especially popular among street photographers, just like the Nikon Coolpix A and the Fujifilm X70 in a distant past. A street photographer prefers to photograph people in their natural pose and environment on the street. A large camera can lead to negative reactions, but above all it attracts unsolicited attention, so that a photo loses spontaneity.
Where the GR II was a relatively minor update compared to its predecessor, the GR III seems to bring more innovation. The 16-megapixel sensor has been exchanged for a new 24-megapixel one, which also features integrated autofocus diodes for faster focusing. In addition, the sensor is stabilized, so you can shoot by hand at slower shutter speeds. The lens has been redesigned and the minimum focus distance is now just 6cm. Also unique to this series is a built-in ND filter, which makes it easier to use the lens wide open in bright situations. It can also film, but only in 1080p and not in 4k. The screen on the back is now touch sensitive.
During the Photokina we were able to hold the GR III in our hands for a while, although it was a mock-up. In any case, the design and button layout felt familiar. It’s a camera for a niche audience, but we think enthusiasts are already looking forward to early 2019 when the camera should hit the market.