While Japan's prominence continues to wane when it comes to consumer electronics in general, the country remains enormously relevant in the digital imaging space. Canon and Nikon dominate the market, alongside other mainstream players like Sony and Panasonic. Manufacturers like Casio, Fujifilm, Olympus, Sigma and Ricoh continue to release compelling models, too -- your own camera probably got its start in an office tower near Tokyo, as other shooters will for years to come. Each year, Japanese consumers gather at CP+ in Yokohama, a four-day trade show that's served as a venue for camera makers to show off their new products to local audiences for more than 50 years. Following the final PMA show in 2010, CP+ has been an important event for us as well -- CES hasn't caught on with the camera industry, and with Photokina held only once every two years, this February photo fest is the place to be.
This year, manufacturers opted for practical improvements over headline-grabbing features like absurdly small designs, gigantic LCDs or Android-powered UIs. But that doesn't mean 2014's lot skimps when it comes to innovation. Much to our surprise, Casio offered up one of the most interesting models. The EX-100, which is currently only expected to hit stores in Japan, includes a unique bracketing mode that varies not only exposure, but also white balance, focus and other settings in order to capture the perfect shot without a lot of photo know-how or prep. Sigma's dp Quattro was another showstopper, with its unusually wide body, highly capable sensor and a trio of fixed lenses. We were also very impressed with Canon's PowerShot G1 X Mark II, which delivers DSLR-like image quality in a package that's smaller than most mirrorless cams.
There was also a bit of innovation on the storage front. SanDisk's new U3 SDXC card is fast enough to capture high-bitrate 4K video. You'll need one of these to capture 4K clips with Panasonic's new GH4, or to take full advantage of the Fujifilm X-T1, which caught our eye with a weather-resistant housing, speedy performance and a bounty of dedicated dials. Olympus, meanwhile, caught us off guard with its Stylus SP-100, a 50x superzoom that includes a unique gun sight -- a laser-projected bulls-eye helps you aim the camera quickly when you're targeting a fast-moving subject way off in the distance. On the other side of the hall, Sony's Alpha 6000 was one of our favorites in the mirrorless category, with super-fast focusing performance and a full suite of features, such as a bright OLED viewfinder and WiFi (the latter of which could be found on just about every camera at CP+). It was a fantastic show all around -- and we're already counting the days until Photokina, which kicks off this September in Cologne, Germany.