News Round-up: Photokina Early Announcements

Olympus E-PL7
The first wave of announcements for Photokina arrived over the past week, and usually are not the “Plan A” cameras that the manufacturers will be bringing to the show. So let us start with the more significant camera, the Olympus E-PL7, which is mostly significant in that it seems to signal Olympus’s downsizing of the PEN line. With dual control wheels and a set of specifications pretty much from the OM-D E-M10 (16 megapixel 3-axis stabilised sensor, 3″ WVGA touchscreen, 1080p video at 30 FPS, built-in Wifi), this looks like the PEN update for the next product cycle. Not really surprising too, as the E-M10 at its current price point more or less makes a high-end PEN redundant, and as profit margins are needed to clear Olympus’s debt it looks like the low-end E-PM line is also getting the boot. It’s not a bad camera, though having the LCD flip downwards for the selfie mode seems a bit unfriendly for tripod use.

Arrives later this month for US600 for the body, and US$700 with the 14-42 EZ kit zoom. Also coming is the 12mm f/2 in black without the “Special Edition” price US$800.


Moving on, Sony has an interesting update to the QX series of smartphone camera companions with the QX1, which has an E-mount with a 20 megapixel sensor similar to that of the a5000. Unfortunately the overall consensus on the QX cameras (which I agree with) are that the execution of the idea is not that great. There was lag, long connection times to the phone, and occasional hiccups. It just was not a great experience.

You know what this would have been really good for? A UAV/Drone camera. Its lighter weight as a result of not carrying superfluous parts would have made it a great flier. Alas it lacks a HDMI output and a remote jack. What could have been, eh? If you are still interested, it will be available in November for US$400 sans lens. There does not seem to be any word on a kit.


Pentax with the K-S1 was one of the more bizzare products announced, its main claim to fame as an entry-level DSLR is that line of LED lights adorning the camera’s futuristic design. I guess it is somewhat geeky? Still not sure if it will actually influence anyone’s purchasing decision.

The rest of the camera is more like the K-50, with a new 20 megapixel stabilised sensor, a 3″ VGA LCD, a very nice pentaprism viewfinder offering 100% coverage with 0.95x magnification (a rarity in entry-level DSLRs), and 1080p video at 24,25 or 30 FPS.  Continuous shooting tops out at 5 FPS, and bizzarely Pentax is still relying on a special Flucard for Wifi connectivity. Oh, that and a shutter speed that has a maximum speed of 1/6000. I suppose that is better than the usual 1/4000.

If you like green LEDs flashing on your cameras, the K-S1 will arrive later this month of US$750 for the body or US$800 with the 18-55 kit lens. That does make it a bit pricier than most entry-level DSLRs, including its predecessor, the K-50!


Finally there is the Fujifilm X30 high-end compact. The main change is the switch from the optical tunnel to a XGA EVF not too different from the one in the X-T1. Personally I am all in favour of it as optical tunnels are generally not very useful, even though the X20 had a really bright and large one. The parallax errors are just enough to drive one nuts.

The X30 has a 2/3″ 16 megapixel Trans-X sensor, a new control ring on the lens like the Canon S series compacts or the Sony RX series compacts, 60 FPS 1080p video at 36Mbps bitrate, and a new tilting 3-inch VGA LCD. Like most modern compacts Wifi is included.

It is a pretty good compact camera on those specs, but the kicker is the price of US$600 – There are lot of mirrorless system cameras to be had at that price. Sure the kit lens might be slower but the sensor size difference will make up for it. I guess the trump card is the EVF, but will it be enough? Arrives later this month.

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