THE world's biggest camera show took over the German city of Cologne last week, attracting more than 180,000 visitors from around the world and more than 1000 companies keen to show off new and upcoming creations.Despite Photokina's global attendance, camera makers are facing a tough road.
Consumers increasingly turning to smartphones are buying fewer digital cameras, printing fewer photographs.
In Australia, camera sales fell 5 per cent last year. Compact camera purchases fell 8 per cent in the last six months of 2011, according to the Canon Digital Lifestyle Index, while digital SLR sales jumped 26 per cent.
The industry is hardly selling a doom-and-gloom story, however, with manufacturers keen to find new ways to encourage photographers to upgrade and stick with dedicated cameras.
Below are some of the top trends from Photokina 2012.
Full-frame digital cameras are so named because their image sensors are almost as big as a 35mm frame of film. They can capture more detail as a result, and lenses added to these cameras offer the same focal length as their name suggests (a 50mm lens offers a 50mm field of view).
Canon and Nikon both revealed new full-frame DSLR cameras aimed at enthusiast and beginner photographers.
Canon's new EOS 6D, for example, is a 20.2-megapixel full-frame camera that can shoot full high-definition video, 4.5 photos a second, and arrives in the lightest body for a camera of its kind at 770g. It's expected to sell in the range of $2400 in December.
Rival Nikon has beaten Canon to the punch, releasing its full-frame camera for enthusiasts almost immediately. The D600 comes with a 24.3-megapixel resolution, 5.5 frames-a-second shooting speed and a $2599 price.
Nikon product marketing manager John Young says the D600 is an important addition to the line-up.
"In a market that's declining, it's important to get our customers interested in upgrading."
Sony also joined the trend, launching an unorthodox full-frame camera, the RX1, that features a large sensor in a compact body, and a full-frame SLT camera in the Alpha 99, while Leica showed off two new full-frame compact cameras in the Leica M and M-E.
SMART BUT COMPACT
While compact digital camera sales are faltering, sales of compact system cameras are rising.
Sales of these cameras - which offer changeable lenses and small bodies - grew 156 per cent in the past year and now represent 18 per cent of all interchangeable lens cameras.
Olympus professional photography manager Lucas Tan says the company expects these cameras to represent 25 per cent of this market by Christmas.
As such, Olympus launched two new Pen cameras at Photokina this year, including the Pen Lite E-PL5 and the Pen Mini E-PM2. Both feature the same 16-megapixel sensor, image sensor and fast autofocus as the company's OM-D camera, and both offer touchscreens that can be used as shutter buttons.
Sony also released a new compact system camera in the NEX-6, featuring a 16-megapixel sensor and full HD video capture.
WIRELESS FOR SHARING
Photographers are sharing more photographs digitally than in print and camera makers are catching the trend.
Both Samsung and Nikon have launched phones that use Google Android software, with the 4G-ready Galaxy Camera and Coolpix S800c both able to share photos immediately and use apps such as Instagram.
Yet more cameras will feature built-in wi-fi without making a big deal of the inclusion. New internet-ready models include the Panasonic Lumix GH3 and Canon 6D, while Toshiba plans to launch a range of FlashAir Wi-Fi SDHC memory cards that will connect cameras to computers and smartphones.