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Photokina 2018: What to expect

Will Panasonic join Nikon and Canon with a full-frame mirrorless model?

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Steve Dent
September 20th, 2018

Starting on September 25th, camera obsessives will converge on Cologne for Photokina 2018, the world's largest camera show. This year has been the the busiest for cameras in a long while, with Nikon and Canon unveiling their much-anticipated Z6/Z7 and EOS R full-frame mirrorless cameras. That doesn't mean there won't be surprises and big launches, though. We might see some more full-frame mirrorless cameras, a new medium-format model and a lot more.


Panasonic has never strayed from its Micro Four Thirds roots, but that could be about to change. 43 Rumors is pretty convinced that it will unveil a full-frame model at its Photokina press conference on September 25th at 11:30 AM CEST (5:30 AM ET).

It will reportedly be a prototype with non-final specs, and pack a new, high-resolution sensor. As you'd expect, given the GH5 and GH5s models, the camera would be a strong video performer and feature 10-bit, 4:2:2 recording. It may, however, lack in-body stabilization. If the rumors are true, the camera will supposedly cost $3,000 and go on sale in March, 2019.


Fujifilm just unveiled the brilliant-looking $1,500 X-T3 with an all-new 26.1-megapixel X-Trans APS-C sensor, so you might think it won't have much to show at Photokina. But rumor has it that the Japanese company will unveil the GFX 50R, a more compact, less costly alternative to the medium-format GFX 50S launched at Photokina 2016.

The GFX 50R would reportedly cost around $4,500, about $2,000 less than the GFX 50S, and look like a stretched version of the rangefinder-like X-E3. Other specs include dual SD card slots, a fixed EVF and a two-axis tilting touchscreen.

That's not all. Fujifilm will also reportedly announce development of the GFX 100S, a medium-format camera with a huge 100-megapixel Sony back-side illuminated sensor, according to Fuji Rumors. All will be revealed at Fujifilm's Photokina press conference at 1:30 PM CET (5:30 AM ET) on September 25th.


Sony first launched the A7 and A7R cameras five long years ago in 2013. It has kept an incredible pace of development since, with its latest A7 III and A7R III cameras being technological tours de forces. Those helped make Sony the top-selling full-frame camera manufacturer in the US, forcing Canon and Nikon to finally introduce their own models.

So far, Sony has launched the standard A7 III and A7R III high-resolution models, but there's no A7S III yet. That has led Sony Alpha Rumors and other sites to believe that Sony will introduce the A7S III at Photokina. As a reminder, the A7S series is more video-centric, with 4K video and low-resolution, very low-light capable sensors. If accurate, the next model could have an all-new, even more sensitive stacked CMOS sensor with onboard memory and 4K HDR video.

Sony could also unveil a high-end camera that would be an APS-C version of its flagship A9, according to another rumor. It is very likely to introduce a couple of full-frame FE lenses, including 24mm f/1.4 and 135mm f/1.8 models. Finally, and least likely, it might unveil a basic full-frame mirrorless model, possibly called the A5. We'll know all after its press conference scheduled for September 25th at 10am Berlin time (4AM ET).


If Nikon had more news after launching its crucial Z6 and Z7 full-frame mirrorless cameras, I'd be pretty shocked. Instead, you can expect it to try to get the public pumped up about those models, along with the all-new D3500 DSLR, at its press conference oat 4:15 PM (10:15 AM ET)

There's a lot to like about the Z6 and Z7 so far. The new mount looks great, the Z6 can do a full-sensor 4K video readout, both have in-body stabilization and the electronic viewfinders are excellent. Now comes the hard part of swaying mirrorless buyers away from Sony.


As with Nikon, the full-frame EOS R (below) is Canon's most important launch in maybe a decade, so expect that camera to be the centerpiece of its show. It's a very promising start for Canon's full-frame mirrorless lineup, with a new RF mount and four excellent lenses at launch. Autofocus looks really good, especially for video, and the 30.3-megapixel resolution will please photographers and videographers equally. Canon Germany will hold a press conference on September 25th at 3:00 PM, but don't expect any major announcements.


At Photokina 2016, Olympus unveiled the OMD-EM1 Mark II flagship, but it doesn't look like it will launch anything this year. Rather, the company will reportedly unveil a new flagship or other high-end mirrorless camera sometime in early 2019 -- CES, maybe?

Whatever it comes up with will have to be pretty good to stand out against the big announcements from Nikon, Canon and, potentially, Panasonic. Olympus won't be holding a press conference, but will let the media play with various models at its Olympus Perspective Playground starting at 5:30 PM on September 25th.

Leica, Hasselblad and everyone else

Leica and Hasselblad mostly make cameras for rich folks and pros, but both have introduced intriguing models recently -- Leica with the $2,795 CL mirrorless and the $9,000 Hasselblad X1D. While Hasselblad won't have a new model to show this year, it recently released some major firmware updates to the X1D, so we'll try to get a look at those.

Leica, meanwhile, might launch a new full-frame mirrorless camera called the C-M, said Leica Rumors (yes, there are leak sites for every camera maker). This may or may not be done in association with Panasonic, with whom Leica has worked before. Leica's press conference will take place on September 25th at 11:30 AM CET (5:30 AM ET)

We were expecting the GoPro Hero 7 action cameras either at or just before Photokina, and indeed, the camera did arrive today, spoiling a potential Photokina launch (see our review). RED cameras might show off a new generation of "affordable" 8K cameras built in conjunction with Foxconn. Finally, Samsung might take on imaging goliath Sony with full-frame and APS-C sensors that it supposedly built in conjunction with Fujifilm and Ricoh-Pentax.


Photokina has been held every two years, but that's about to change. This year marks the last time it will be held in the fall, as Photokina 2019 will take place from May 8th to May 11th, 2019. It will then be held annually around that time and shortened from six days to four.

The last bi-annual show should be a treat, with plenty of launches and new cameras to see. You may have noticed that I barely mentioned the term "DSLR" here, as all the focus this year is on mirrorless. That's not to say that reflex-mirror cameras are dead, but right now, it's mirrorless (and full-frame in particular) that's truly capturing the public's imagination.

Follow all the latest news from Photokina 2018 here!

Images: Ina Fassbender / Reuters (Photographers and Leica camera)

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