New Canon products shine at photokina 2018

In the Canon area at photokina, visitors walk down an area lined with gallery images, a Canon logo above them.
Crowds flocked to see new releases at the Canon stand at photokina 2018.

With photokina 2018 wrapped up, we reflect on the highlights from the product-packed Canon stand at the international imaging trade show. Enthusiasts and professionals stood side-by-side in bustling test and try areas on the Canon stand. Photographers and filmmakers inspired, amazed and imparted invaluable information on the Spotlight Stage. And demonstrations of Canon's pro printing solutions captivated thousands of European visitors as they moved through a gallery of Ambassadors' work.

Set throughout five expansive halls at the Koelnmesse in Cologne, Germany, this was the final September edition before the show returns as an annual event held in May, from 2019.

"It's been a fantastic year for Canon, with the launch of the EOS R. This has been reflected in a celebratory display on the photokina stand that looks to the future of photography, with test and try areas catering for everyone from consumers to professionals: lenses and DSLRs to mirrorless cameras and Canon printers," said Richard Shepherd, Marketing Manager for Canon Europe Pro.

In a record-breaking year, the Canon space attracted tens of thousands of visitors each day. Here are the highlights from the Canon stand and around the event.

A man delivers a talk on the Canon stage, watched by rows of people sitting and standing.
Throughout photokina 2018, visitors were able to hear Canon Ambassadors give inspiring talks about their experiences in the field.

1. The future of photography: the EOS R System

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Photographers and filmmakers were invited to try Canon's highly anticipated full-frame mirrorless EOS R System. A captivating display of dance and kinetic sculpture allowed attendees to test its market-leading AF response. This was staged against a backdrop of inspiring imagery on pillars, shot by Canon Ambassadors Paolo Pellegrin, Daniel Etter, Helen Bartlett, Brent Stirton and Ulla Lohmann. 

Richard Shepherd explained why the Canon EOS R System is an interesting proposition for professional photographers: "It offers them something slightly different to what they have in their DSLRs. Maybe they're a sports action shooter using the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II to capture the action, but then perhaps a Canon EOS R in the pit lanes or the changing rooms to get a slightly different angle, given that you can shoot silently. But really, the most important thing is the lenses we're able to put on it. 

"The way we have designed the mount enables us to produce RF lenses with such high image quality that it really makes a difference to what photographers are shooting."

2. Seeing in the dark

In a room entitled The Low Light Experience, entrants looked through a letterbox-sized window into a dark space where the outline of a display of objects could just about be made out with the naked eye. Then, a monitor showed what could be seen through the EVF of a Canon EOS R pointing at the same display: colours and details of the objects were suddenly visible, demonstrating the low-light capabilities of the full-frame mirrorless camera. Visitors were encouraged to play with the autofocus of the camera and see just how fast it focused even in near pitch dark conditions.

A long desk is manned by Canon staff in red shirts talking to people about their cameras. Behind them is a large photo of Brent Stirton.
At the Expert Bar, visitors could ask any question about any piece of Canon equipment.

3. All about the glass

The Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L IS USM lens on a red and black background.

The craft behind Canon's EF 85mm f/1.4L IS USM lens: the developers reveal all

The developers of the Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L IS USM break down the work that went into creating the lens.

At the aptly named Expert Bar on the Canon stand, visitors were able to ask any question they might have about any piece of Canon kit. It didn't take long before a trend emerged: "Really, it's all about the lenses," said Canon expert Dave Parry. "People want to see the latest generation, including the [TIPA 2018 'Best DSLR lens' award-winning] Canon 85mm f/1.4 IS USM, which is an absolutely beautiful, sharp lens. They want to try them out, and compare them to previous generations. People bring their own cameras along and physically try the lenses here, and that's what it's all about – seeing is believing."

Unsurprisingly, a lot of people were asking about Canon's new full-frame mirrorless system, the EOS R, and its groundbreaking RF lenses – including Dave's favourite, the Canon RF 28-70mm f/2L USM, which will be available at the end of 2018. "It's an f/2, so it's a big and heavy lens, but what this lens is all about is showing you what's possible with the new system," said Dave. "Using it is like having three prime lenses – it's such an amazing, sharp lens."

4. Meeting the pioneers

In a highly-anticipated lineup of celebrated speakers on the Canon Spotlight stage, Brent Stirton told the story of his pangolin project, and touched on his first experiences with the EOS R System. "The new camera is a big deal," said the South African Canon Ambassador and photojournalist. "It has been a seamless transition for me." Showcasing work from his Namibia shoot, and talking about his ongoing work documenting the demise of pangolins, he espoused the virtues of the new system.

He spoke alongside Helen Bartlett, Clive Booth, Thorsten Milse, Christian Ziegler, David Noton, Ulla Lohmann, Richard Walch, Katya Mukhina, Julia Blumenthal and Gil Gropengießer, Guia Besana and Nicolai Brix, with advice, stories and inspiration exciting the crowds about the future of photography.

In the Canon area at photokina, visitors walk down an aisle lined with gallery images, two Canon logos above them.
The gallery and professional printing solutions area of the Canon stand at photokina 2018.

5. Business insights from the pros

With a packed programme of insightful talks at the Canon Spotlight Stage and CPS Lounge, as well as the photokina Professional Stage and Wedding Zone, it was hard not to come away from the event inspired and informed. The CPS Lounge was an exclusive area for members of Canon Professional Services (CPS) to relax, have a drink, chat to experts and watch Ambassador talks, all while having a free camera sensor clean. It proved a popular area, with over 900 sensor cleans completed.

Wedding photographer and Canon Ambassador Katya Mukhina revealed the one clever move that branded her as a destination wedding specialist and attracted clients who would pay for the passion she dedicated all her spare time to: travelling. 

"I realised that for the clients to find me, they would need to see wedding photos shot by me at their wedding location, so I took wedding dresses on several personal trips and tried to find women on location who would pose for me. Then I posted those pictures with captions saying 'I'd love to travel to Cuba and I'm available to shoot elopement weddings, engagements, anything.' I spent a lot of money on that, but it was an investment."

People look at three photos on a display - the left of yellow flame-like flowing fabric, the middle a close-up of a middle-aged man, the right of an older African woman in colourful printed clothes.
Canon Pro printer experts put Canon's range of professional photo printers to the test, showcasing their gallery-quality output.

6. Pro printers put to the test

The print gallery on Canon's stand had been expanded considerably compared to previous years, with a large, inspiring selection of Canon Ambassadors' photography. At the printing station, pro printing experts put Canon's range of professional photo printers to the test, showing visitors how they can transform digital files into gallery-quality, precision-coloured prints. A broadcast-quality HDR monitor enabled people to compare the colours on screen to prints, proving just how faithfully they're reproduced.

7. Printing with a three-dimensional look

To showcase the difference that Canon's new printing software will make when it's released in December, prints made with and without the Professional Print & Layout software were shown side by side in the Crystal Fidelity Room at Canon's stand. For the first time, the new software will be able to read the data of a Dual Pixel RAW (DPRAW) file and apply sharpening selectively to focus areas, making prints look visibly sharper and more three-dimensional.

"Now, there's even more reason to shoot in DPRAW, whether you're shooting wildlife, portraits or weddings where you've got blurred backgrounds and want the subject to really pop. If you're printing for exhibitions or competitions, this is the way you should be doing it," said Suhaib Hussain, a senior product marketing specialist at Canon Europe.

A panoramic shot shows a woman dancing with silks on a stage, with people in a circle around her photographing her with Canon cameras.
Dynamic shooting subjects in the Canon touch-and-try areas at photokina included the motorcycles ridden by adventurers Chasing Borders, dancers from the Birmingham Royal Ballet, the graceful Air Fountain kinetic sculpture by Daniel Wurtzel and stunning botanical constructions, while inspirational video and stills featured heavily throughout the show.

8. A celebration of award-winning work

As well as getting your hands on the latest equipment, photokina was a chance to see some striking, award-winning imagery at the exhibitions dotted around the halls. The ProfiFoto New Talent Award – powered by Canon – displayed phenomenal work by talented young photographers with fresh approaches to portraiture, reportage, still life and even computer-constructed subjects.

The Atlas of Humanity exhibition was a striking display of portraits of men and women from all corners of the world, from Nepalese sadhus to Texan cowboys and North Korean museum officials.

And the United Nations – People on the Move exhibition gave an insightful perspective on the lives of refugees around the world between 1950 and now. "Of the many global challenges we face, human mobility is one of the most paradoxical and misrepresented," read an accompanying quote by UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres – a reminder of why photography is so important.

9. A filmmaking future

At the Motion Stage, visitors found out everything they needed to know about modern filmmaking: how to transition from stills to moving images, and how to master a variety of cinema kit components. There was also plenty of inspiration for videographers at the Canon stand, not least from Nicolai Brix, who was the first ever videographer to shoot a video with the Canon EOS R System.

Nicolai said he was surprised by how useful he found the full-frame mirrorless camera for his needs: “I work with bigger cameras now, having swapped my DSLRs for the Cinema EOS line, and my initial thought was that the EOS R would be a step backwards, going back to a small camera. But I have to say, I was surprised in a good way. You have all the video features on there that you need in order to work smartly. The biggest thing for me was Dual Pixel Autofocus and touch-and-drag focus, because it helped me concentrate on the story,” he said.

Meeting fellow photographers and filmmakers at a show like photokina was a good chance to do what Nicolai did when he transitioned from shooting stills to moving images: “I’ve taken some courses, but the best training I got was getting critiqued by my colleagues,” he said. “If you show your work to your wife or your friends, of course they’re going to say it’s fantastic. But photojournalists and video journalists are not nice to each other. They’re quite direct, and that was pretty tough sometimes, but they have good intentions.”

Coming back as an annual event, photokina 2019 will take place from 8 to 11 May 2019 at the Koelnmesse in Cologne, Germany.

Autors Kathrine Anker and Emma-Lily Pendleton

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