Photokina is nearly over, and as the dust settles over the big camera announcements, we took a look around the rest of the show's launches for the good, the bad and the ugly. Let's start with the ugly: the is a perfectly acceptable entry-level dSLR, but someone dropped this version from the ugly tree, hitting every branch on the way down and apparently landing in a big bag of broken stained glass.
Yes, it's our old favourite: the Swarovski crystal-studded gadget. No trade show is complete without a bunch of cheap-looking diamante thingies glued over an otherwise perfectly serviceable piece of consumer electronics. Manufacturers put their heads together to work out why mostly boys buy gadgets, and when trying to think of ways to entice more ladies, they come up with making the thing pink. Then they move on to thinking of ways to both entice ladies and charge more.
At this point, the Swarovski sales rep is conjured in a puff of smoke from whatever corner of design hell they inhabit, probably wearing some kind of crystal-studded cape. "We'll add our crystals to your gadget," goes the sale pitch, "and all it will cost you is... your immortal souls!" Burbling about new demographics, going forward and cross-brand synergies, the manufacturers sign in blood, and are all mysteriously decapitated by freak accidents within three months.
At least, that's how we envision it happening. Business meetings would be so much more interesting if Crave had its way. Anyway, click through the links for more gadgets, bargains and outrageously expensive bits of kit, but absolutely no more crystals. -Rich Trenholm
Anyone with a serious interest in photography knows it ain't the megapixels, it's the sensor -- which is why no blinkin' mobile phone will ever replace a camera. Phase One makes sensors, and now it's parlaying that knowledge into dSLR design with the 645 camera system, packing a gobsmacking 60-megapixel sensor. With a price of $41,990 (£22,650) it's one for the pros, and will ship by the end of the year, followed by an 80mm leafshutter lens and a vertical grip. Leica, Mamiya and Hartblei will knock out third-party lenses, in case anyone's bothered.
Lenses may be exciting if you're a true photo geek, but one thing they aren't is fun. And they never have proper names. As clever as the new Pentax DA 60-250mm F4 ED IF SDM may well be, it just doesn't sound as cool as Lensbaby's new offerings: the Composer, the Muse and the Control Freak. These lenses allow you to focus tightly on one spot and leave the rest of the image blurry. The composer, pictured, costs $270 (£150) and has a ball-and-socket joint, which effectively makes it a tilt-shift lens.
Tilt-shift fans who, unlike us, don't have an overdraft bigger than the GDP of a developing nation, can also invest in the Hasselblad HTS 1.5 tilt and shift adaptor for £2,950 from next year. It now works with a wider range of lenses, but still doesn't have a very cool name.
With HD video appearing in dSLRs and ever-higher resolution cameras leading to bigger file sizes, memory is as important as ever. Step forward Pretec, which has magicked a 100GB of storage into a CompactFlash card. That's a lot of raw files.
Meanwhile, Eye-Fi is still beavering away at making large memory redundant by providing Wi-Fi transfer straight to the cloud. As well as doubling wireless transfer speeds to 700KBps, Eye-Fi has made the process of transferring images from its SD card, pictured, to the Web simpler with three new services. The Eye-Fi Manager Web application acts as a portal to beam your images to any of more than 20 photo sharing sites, social networks or blogs -- now including Apple's MobileMe -- for $9.99 (£5.40) a year. There's also a geotagging tool and access to Wayport hotspots and open hotspots in the States. Yes, there's still no sign of the Eye-Fi coming over here, but when it does, this Craver, for one, will be all over that shiznit.
Speaking of geotagging, Jobo is making it less fiddly to add location information to your snaps with the photoGPS, a hotshoe-mounted accessory based on the Geotate system. This stores location information for around 1,000 locations in 128MB of onboard memory. It will cost about €159 (£125) from next month.
General Imaging, the General Electric brand of cameras,to much fanfare (okay, one Crave story), but so far you'll still struggle to find the little fellas on any shop shelves. That hasn't stopped GE punting out the E1055W and A1030, both packing a 28mm wide angle lens and a 5x optical zoom. The E1055W will cost an eye-openingly reasonable £120 and the A1030 a jaw-droppingly cheap £80.
While the other big names in the photography sphere went for headline-grabbing big announcements --, or -- Kodak stayed quiet. In fact, Kodak's been quiet for a while, and if it wasn't for the launch of the EasyShare Z1485 IS we'd be going round to knock on it's door to check if everything was alright, worried we'd find a stack of unread mail by the door and neighbours complaining of a strange smell. The Z1485 is a 14-megapixel snapper with 5x optical zoom and high-definition video.
With Quantum of Solace just around the corner, budding Bonds with an interest in the totally pointless may be tempted by the Minox DSC mini digital spy camera. Measuring 86 by 29 by 20mm, the 5-megapixel spy snapper saves hastily photographed secret dossiers to a microSD card and comes with a bolt-on flash that also includes a 38mm (1.5-inch) LCD.
Do we expect you to talk? No, Mr Bond, we expect you to buy.
Finally, if you thought 60 megapixels was a lot, try this bad boy on for size: the Seitz 6x17 Digital captures no less than 160 megapixels. The first digital 6x17 camera, it creates seamless digital panoramas without the need for stitching. The fastest exposure speed is 1/2000 second per pixel, which works out at one second for the entire 6x17 scan, even at full resolution. The class clown will have to seriously improve their 100m sprint time to show up at both ends of the school photograph when this bad boy is calling the shots.
And that's it from Photokina. See you in two years!