Every two years the photo manufacturer fraternity descends on Cologne in Germany for the industry's largest show to unveil their latest and best cameras. And in 2014 it certainly didn't disappoint, with releases big and small, prototypes, new colour finishes and plenty more.
In among the high-end compact cameras coming from every direction, and some interesting new thinking from Panasonic in its Lumix cameraphone, we also saw some new compact system cameras of varying sizes and big-guns Nikon and Canon each introduced an important new DSLR.
But what's hot and what's not in the camera world? We've cut through the halls at the show to bring you our best of Photokina round-up, featuring the best cameras coming this year - all of which we've handled to bring a fuller assessment - alongside the absences from some major manufacturers.
Looks like an exciting year for photography fans. Make sure to follow our dedicated preview links throughout if you want to know more about any one camera.
Panasonic Lumix LX100
The first Micro Four Thirds compact camera might be the Fujifilm X30's nemesis
It finally happened: Panasonic has sunk a Micro Four Thirds sensor into a compact body. The Lumix LX100 delivers a slightly chunky top-spec compact camera that's got a thing or two to show the Fujifilm X30 and Sony Cyber-shot RX100 III competition.
In the Panasonic LX100 you get a 24-75mm f/1.7-2.8 (equivalent) Leica lens complete with aperture dial, alongside a bunch of manual control dials that make it quick to use while giving it that of-the-moment retro feel. Shame there's no lens ring to control the zoom (that's handled by a zoom toggle instead) and the build quality doesn't surpass the Fujifilm X30 in our view - but there's a lot to love here, including a built-in electronic viewfinder.
READ: Panasonic LX100 preview
The Panasonic Lumix LX100 will be available from 16 October, priced £799 and available in black or silver.
Panasonic Lumix GM5
Small but mighty, compact system camera adds viewfinder and hotshoe
Last year we were treated by the Lumix GM1, an interchangeable lens camera that, in many respects, was small enough and packed with all the goodies to be considered an alternative to a compact camera - it was of that scale.
In 2014 its follow-up model crams even more in, including a decent electronic viewfinder and hotshoe for accessories. It's slightly larger than the original, and pricier too, but if small is key for you then what's not to love?
The Panasonic Lumix GM5 will be available from November priced £769 with the 12-32mm (24-64mm equivalent) kit lens, or £1,049 with the 15mm (30mm equivalent) Leica f/1.7 option. Finishes are available in black or red if you're feeling more adventurous.
Panasonic Lumix CM1
Cameraphone combines 1-inch sensor with powerful Android smartphone
This cameraphone was an unexpected little number, and although it won't be making its way to the UK upon launch it's just too interesting a product to miss out from this list. By that we mean some will see it as a game changer thanks to cramming a 1-inch sensor into a top-spec Android smartphone - that's not been done before - while others will see it as a useless and expensive smartphone that's too thick to carry around everywhere.
The CM1 impressed us a lot more than we thought it would. Yes it's thick by smartphone standards given its maximum 21mm depth - even the chunky Lumia 930 Windows Phone is 9.8mm - and heavy at 204g. But in camera terms the aluminium construction is thin and lightweight.
There's a 4.7-inch 1920 x 1080 Full HD screen and Android 4.4 runs really well on its quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 chipset, while the camera has its own dedicated Venus processing engine that means both elements run super smooth whatever you're doing. Clever.
A guilty pleasure of Photokina. The Panasonic Lumix CM1 will be launched in early 2015 in Germany and France in the EU, and while there's no confirmed price we wouldn't be surprised to see it cost in the €800 region based on the specs alone.
Specialist high-end compact is the best X100 model yet
The X100T isn't a camera that will suit many as there's no zoom lens, it looks kind of whacky (we love it) and it's not small. Oh, and it costs £1,000. But its fixed 23mm f/2.8 lens (that's a 35mm equivalent in usual terms) is superb and a hybrid viewfinder system marries electronic and optical finders into one impressive unit like no other.
This is the third generation model and it goes one better than the previous two by adding a small neutral density panel into the viewfinder to act as a "digital rangefinder". This always-on electronic projection of the focus point assists with accurate manual focus, while the electronic frame edge now adapts for parallax error unlike its predecessors. Sounds small, but makes a big difference in use.
READ: Fujifilm X100T preview
The Fujifilm X100T will be available from November priced at £1,000 in either black or silver finishes.
High-end compact is bigger, bolder and better than before - but does the Panasonic LX100 see it limp?
The update to the X20 (which was one of our favourite compact cameras of last year) the new Fujifilm X30 is larger than its predecessor on account of a new electronic viewfinder. No more optical finder may seem questionable, but having used the new electronic one we can see why the decision was made. It's a 2.36m-dot finder with 100 per cent field-of-view and 0.65x magnification, making for a large view to the eye. There's also a 3-inch tilt-angle LCD on the rear.
Pair those features with the same 28-112mm f/2.0-2.8 (equivalent) lens and 12-megapixel 2/3-inch sensor as found in the earlier X20 and the new Fujifilm X30 has some strong features to shout about. Its main issue isn't a fault of its own though, it's the presence of the forthcoming Panasonic Lumix LX100 (see further up the page) with a much larger sensor and smaller body size that may see fans turn away from this Fuji line.
READ: Fujifilm X30 preview
The Fujifilm X30 doesn't have an official release date or price just yet. We anticipate it will cost £500 (perhaps more given the new features).
Full-frame DSLR adds tilt-angle screen, the 24MP lovechild of Nikon D810 and D610 models
The Nikon full-frame DSLR lineup goes from strength to strength, now with an offering to suit all thanks to the D750 and its tilt-angle LCD screen.
If you're keen on that large sensor format, but don't want the 36-megapixel resolution of the D810 or the fixed screen of the D610 doesn't then the D750 should appeal. It features a 24-megapixel sensor and having played with the camera its autofocus abilities and resulting picture quality looks great to us.
READ: Nikon D750 preview
The Nikon D750 will be available from 23 September, priced £1,800 body only. It will also be bundled with Nikkor 24-85mm and 24-120mm lens packages with £2,250 and £2,350 respective price points.
Canon EOS 7D MkII
Brand new 65-point AF system makes this the likely king of APS-C DSLR cameras
For some the Canon EOS 7D Mark II won't just be the biggest release of Photokina, it'll be the most significant camera release of the last five years - i.e. since the original 7D was launched.
Crammed into the 7D II is an updated 20.2-megapixel sensor (as found in the excellent EOS 70D), a brand new 65-point autofocus system, burst shooting to a maximum 10 frames per second, and other top features such as faster processing and Full HD video capture.
In short: the Mark II does what the 7D did well before, but even better this time around. The focus system is sublime, the increased burst capacity will be of great use for many and many will see this as the pinnacle APS-C DSLR camera. No surprises there, as it really is rather good. Canon makes it look kind of effortless.
The EOS 7D Mark II will be available from November, priced £1,600 for the body only.
Canon PowerShot G7 X
Company's move into 1-inch compact territory - but too little too late due to the Sony RX100 line?
Canon has made a move into the 1-inch sensor compact market, realising that small scale and ultimate image quality is what many are looking for. It's a good first stab at the concept too, refreshing the G series range with added vigour, but as it's now a couple of generations behind the Sony RX100 line it's perhaps less accomplished overall.
With a 20-megapixel sensor paired with a 24-100mm f/1.8-2.8 equivalent lens and touchscreen autofocus on that tilt-angle (selfie-capable) screen there's a lot to like. Something to keep Fujifilm on its toes for sure, as the G7 X is smaller than the X30 (further up the page) despite its larger sensor size.
The one thing lacking from the G7 X that both Fujifilm and Sony offer is a built-in viewfinder. And without a hotshoe it won't be possible to add one either. In that regard the G7 X feels like a first-generation camera - but it's still a solid and capable bit of kit.
The Canon PowerShot G7 X will be available in October, priced £579.
Some might new features and super-fast functions - but the notion of 'compact' system camera is lost
The Samsung take on "compact system camera" is interesting, but not for all. The NX1 crams in some absurdly good and super-fast features, but it's so large that the idea of "compact" system is gone - it's just as large as a DSLR.
But roughly as good and, in some areas, far more capable overall. As the "1" implies this is the company's top spec model. A 28-megapixel APS-C sensor at the core meets a weather-sealed body with 3-inch tilt-angle touchscreen LCD and built-in electronic viewfinder. There's a serious processor on board too capable of capturing 15 stills a second even with continuous autofocus active, or even 4K video.
READ: Samsung NX1 preview
No final word on the Samsung NX1 release date or its price, but we expect a £1,300 body-only price before Christmas 2014.
K-S1 is a dazzling disco ball display of lights, with some interesting tech behind the scenes
We knew about the K-S1 DSLR some time prior to Photokina, but it's the first time we got to see this curious camera. Its headline feature are various LED lights - found around the shutter button, to the rear rotational mode dial and "ok" button, and included in a vertical-run strip on the front grip - to help "guide" users. Other then for use in the dark, we didn't feel that about the camera at all, but they certainly make for an eye-catching design, as do the 12 available colour options.
Thing is, the K-S1 didn't really need all that "look at me" lighting, as there are some interesting features. The 20-megapixel sensor has a special "AA filter" technology to counter the effects of moiré that can be turned on or off as required, while the 11-point autofocus system did a good job of focusing even in middling dim light.
READ: Pentax K-S1 preview
The Pentax K-S1 is available now, priced £599 with the (rather noisy-to-focus) 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens.
Sony didn't dabble in presenting any new cameras at the show, but with good reason: it wants to shout about its advance in lenses. It introduced a full-frame FE (E-mount) Zeiss 16-35mm f/4 with suitable for its top-spec Alpha compact system cameras, plus presented a road map in its press conference of how many more lenses would be coming in the next couple of years. A full-frame FE (E-mount) 90mm f/2.8 macro will also appear in the coming months.
But we get the sense a big camera is just around the corner, most likely somewhere between the Consumer Electronics Show 2015 in January and the CP+ (the Japanese photo show) in February of next year. For now take a look at our Sony A7S review and imagine what will come next.
READ: Sony A7S review
Another Japanese company keeping things on the quiet, Olympus seemed to be holding back the big news. We saw the E-M1 in a new silver coat, caught glimpse of a probably smartphone camera mount, and re-lived our earlier experience with the E-PL7 compact system camera.