Once every two years Photokina takes over Cologne, turning the German city into the centre of the photographic world with more than one thousand firms coming to show off their wares. We've spent the last few days trawling the halls to discover and try out the best cameras, lenses, and other photo accoutrements. Read on to see what we found.

As ever, it's been the major camera firms dominating the Photokina headlines with cameras which were released just in time to show off here. Big announcements included the Fujifilm GFX, Panasonic GH5 and the Olympus E-M1 Mark II. And we've already had hands-on sessions on with upcoming cameras including the Canon M5 and the Polaroid Snap Touch, with plenty more to follow shortly.

But Photokina isn't just about these headline grabbers, it's about the whole imaging sector. As such there are smartphone camera accessories, point-and-shoot cameras, printers and high-end video production systems, all on show across the vast exhibition center.

VR cameras were all over the exhibition this year too. There was barely a stand without a VR viewer of some description, and Nikon even had a metal container full of them outside to show off footage from its KeyMission 360 camera.

There was also a prevalence of drones and gimbal stabilizers dotted around too. While the big boys of DJI and GoPro were undeniably the biggest draws, there were still plenty of others which stood out from the masses of wannabes out there, we were quite taken with the Luuv stabilizers.

Bags and camera straps are things photographers will always need, and there were new options on show from the likes of LowePro with its FlipSideTrek split bag, and BlackRapid showing off its new Breathe range of camera straps which are designed to get less sweaty.

But perhaps the most unusual boom in products was the retro revival, with firms like Leica even getting in on the instant camera action, alongside Fujifilm, Lomography, and Impossible Project which was showing off its I-1 Bluetooth analogue instant camera.

But Photokina wasn't all tech gawking, there were plenty of chances for people to actually use their cameras and take photos too. While this consisted of the dated "standing pretty woman" variety, there were also more technical demonstrations and chances for manufacturers to show off their cameras' capabilities – such as Olympus' E-M1 Mark II being used to shoot paint splattering and parkour displays. Sony chose to demo the fast-focusing of its A99 II with martial arts displays.

There were also interesting options with a highlight being Olympus's Perspective Playground, where visitors who were willing to make a 15-minute shuttle bus journey got to borrow a camera and snap away at the art exhibition. There were also plenty of photo walks where people got to snap the almost obligatory shots of Cologne Cathedral.

To see the other things which caught our interest at Photokina, including news and new releases we weren't able to fit in, check out our image gallery.

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