Hands-on from Photokina: 5 cameras we wanted to bring home

First impressions count, and we wished we could have taken these new snappers back with us
Hands-on from Photokina: 5 cameras we wanted to bring home

Photokina in Cologne, Germany is simply immense, with 11 halls of camera-derie all in one place.

After two days of photographic madness, we’ve picked the most noteworthy ones for you here. Since these were pre-production units with limited shoot opportunities, you’ll have to stay tuned in the future for our reviews to get a more in-depth look.

Fujifilm X-T1 Graphite Silver Edition

Fujifilm X-T1 Graphite Silver Edition
Fujifilm X-T1 Graphite Silver Edition

The X-T1 Graphite Silver Edition and X100T might both be product updates and not new models in Fujifilm’s acclaimed X-range of cameras, but they’re still great additions. Making good cameras better is always welcome, after all. Both cameras also get the Classic Chrome film simulation mode first seen in the X30, which gives great documentary-style images without the need for editing.

The Graphite Silver edition of the X-T1 is largely similar to its predecessor, but the new finish on the camera’s metal bits is really quite something. The gun-metal like colour looks fantastic, the result of a complicated six-step process, and the smooth texture succeeds in offering a greater sense of refinement.

Button haptics for the arrow pad when pressed are greatly improved with satisfying clicks too, which was one of the few bugbears on the original X-T1. Most of the other upgrades including the electronic shutter will soon be on all X-T1s with a firmware update though, so the only reason to get this would mainly be for the new finish.

Fujifilm X100T

Fujifilm X100T
Fujifilm X100T

As for the X100T, it’s a nice evolution of last year’s X100S, upgrading the advanced hybrid viewfinder with a new graphic interface. More importantly, there’s now an electronic rangefinder, placing a live view focus electronic viewfinder window in the optical viewfinder. It’s quite a nice touch, though we’ll have to take it out and shoot to see how useful it really is.

The camera still feels great to carry around and use, but there are also some subtle cosmetic changes to appreciate, as you can see from the side-by-side comparison. The LCD screen has been improved in terms of brightness and resolution, there’s new detailing on the top dials, the revolving ring on its predecessor has made way for a regular arrow pad, and the function buttons on the rear panels have been changed too.

Leica X

Leica X
Leica X
Leica X
Leica X

Leica’s new digital offering is surprisingly light given its M camera-like size. Being so thick, it’s rather easy to grip with the premium materials in its construction giving a good solid feel. Many of the settings can be adjusted easily via the buttons on the back and a jog dial, but the shutter speed and aperture dials are still a nice touch.

Focussing is also quite a simple affair, with the focus ring’s smooth operation also pulling up a rangefinder window on the frankly disappointing LCD screen. Looks like you’ll still have to wait till you get home to see how your 16MP shots really turned out. The 35mm equivalent F1.7 lens is quite quick though, with autofocus being nice and snappy. The round built-in flash is quite a nice design touch, though we wish the camera came with a viewfinder instead of having to buy the EVF attachment. 

Samsung NX1 Smart Camera

Samsung NX1 Smart Camera
Samsung NX1 Smart Camera
Samsung NX1 Smart Camera
Samsung NX1 Smart Camera

A marked difference from Samsung’s other NX cameras, the NX1 is huge in comparison, almost reaching full DSLR size and weight. Similar to their approach with smartphones, Samsung has stuffed the NX1 full of impressive features, which helps to explain the bulk. It even has a plasticky feel to go with it!

But we weren’t kidding when we said the features were impressive: the top has an LCD display like a pro DSLR, the camera can shoot up to 15fps, it’s capable of 4K video, it’s got a 205-point autofocus system, and it’s the world’s first 28MP APS-C backside illuminated CMOS sensor. Talk about overachieving.

However, it’s still got a way to go in way of usability. It might be able to shoot really fast, with a decent electronic viewfinder and vibrant images appearing beautifully on the tilt-enabled touch display, but adjusting settings isn’t quite so speedy. Might just be a matter of getting used to where all the dials and buttons are. The camera does live up to its “Smart” moniker though, with connectivity encompassing Wi-Fi, NFC, and Bluetooth for seamless communication with smart devices. 

Olympus PEN E-PL7

Olympus PEN E-PL7
Olympus PEN E-PL7
Olympus PEN E-PL7
Olympus PEN E-PL7

Another camera for the selfie-takers, the E-PL7 is suitably portable, being very compact and light. It looks good too, carrying Olympus’ retro genes well in both black and white. Operation is also made simple with the command dial on top, with a wide range of creative modes to choose from to boot. Yes, that includes a few portrait modes, which isn’t a surprise given the camera’s selfie-taking emphasis.

In that regard, the highlight is undoubtedly its folding touch-enabled screen, which can manoeuvre into a variety of positions, not least one that flips 180 degrees to face front below the lens. We didn’t take any selfies, but the camera is light enough to be used in any position in search of favourable angles, with the bright and clear screen capable of showing your face superbly.