Panasonic Announces G7, the Affordable 4K Micro Four Thirds Camera

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If you liked Panasonic’s GH4 but did not fancy spending all that money for it, Panasonic has the G7 for you. Initially I thought that after poor sales for the G5 and G6 would have killed this line, and Panasonic would consolidate their offerings like Olympus did with the PEN line, but that is not the case.

The G7 is actually pretty tasty: There is that 16 megapixel sensor that is likely to be from the GH4/GX7, fast AF with the GH4’s Depth From Defocus feature, a high-res XGA OLED EVF, a WVGA LCD (720×480), 8 FPS continuous shooting mode, and of course, 4K video. In addition, there is now a 4K Photo mode on the drive mode dial, after it was introduced post-launch in the GH4 via a firmware update. 8 megapixel photos at 30 FPS really is not too shabby.

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In some ways, I do prefer the G7’s controles, like the customsiable Fn button behind the shutter button (how I wish all three buttons behind the GH3 and GH4’s shutter button were customisable), and the horizontal command dial around the shutter button.

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Not so nice, of course, is the directional pad that has to do double duty. I much prefer having that dedicated to moving the autofocus point.

The G7 will ship in June for US$800 with the 14-42 kit lens. A bit more expensive than the G6 before it, but unlike the G6, the G7 is using parts that are the latest for Micro Four Thirds. Hopefully this time it will do better than the G6 did.

 

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Fujifilm Introduces X-T10: A Mini X-T1

14Fujifilm has announced the X-T10, which is a smaller version of the X-T1. The X-T1 was quite well-loved by many photographers, and CK and David here at Three Guys With Cameras added it to their camera bags. The X-T10 takes most of what is great about the X-T1, including the 16 megapixel X-Trans sensor and EVF module, and puts it into the a smaller, lighter package. It also incorporates features found in the new firmware of the X-T1, so hopefully we get faster autofocus right from the start this time.

08Being a smaller camera targeted at a broader market, a few changes have been made; the two-level ISO and drive mode dial has made way for a dedicated dial devoted to the latter. Also missing is the dedicated metering mode switch. ISO and metering mode will presumably be handled by the Q menu or by assigning the custom Fn button.

A new addition is the Auto switch. Previously on most Fujifilm cameras, only the standard PASM exposure modes were present, meaning beginners who liked the camera but with little or no knowledge of photography terms would be left a little lost. The new switch is to help them, I assume. The old-timers might cringe, but having more newcomers buying into a system is not a bad idea – even if Fujifilm treats the camera business as a sideline, it would be nice to see their decision to make such nice cameras be rewarded financially.

06The X-T10 will arrive in June for US$800, with a 16-50 XC kit for US$900.

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Olympus Unveils Limited Edition EM-5 Mk2 In Titanium and Two New Lenses

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mk2 Special Edition
Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mk2 Special Edition

Olympus has announced that they will release a limited run of a special, limited edition of the popular OM-D E-M5 Mk2. As a throwback to the classic OM-3Ti Film SLR from the 90s, the limited edition E-M5 MK2 is finished in titanium, and only 7,000 units will be made available worldwide. The limited edition EM-5 Mk2 also comes with a specially-crafted leather strap, a leather card case and owner’s card numbered from 1 to 7,000.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mk2 Limited Edition +  Leather Strap, Leather Card Case and Authenticity Card
Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mk2 Limited Edition + Leather Strap, Leather Card Case and Authenticity Card

There’s price to pay for this finish—US$1,200 vs. US$1,050 for the standard edition, but hey, it’s a limited edition after all, and it’s not as exorbitant a premium to pay for compared to that German jewellery camera maker. It’ll be available in June 2015.

If Titanium-finished cameras or limited editions are not your thing but you love wide angle lenses. Olympus has announced two new lenses—the OlympusM.ZUIKO Digital ED 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO and M.ZUIKO Digital ED 8mm f/1.8 Fisheye PRO. Both lenses are lightweight and weatherproof.

The 8mm f/1.8 is a fisheye lens covering a 180º field of view and is compatible with Olympus’s underwater camera housing.

Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 8mm f/1.8 Fisheye PRO
Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 8mm f/1.8 Fisheye PRO

The 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO is a constant-aperture wide angle zoom covering the 35mm equivalent of 14-28mm. With 11 weather-sealing points, it can be used in the rain, snow or beach without any issues. The lens weighs 19oz (538g), which Olympus claims is 45% lighter than the competition.

Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO
Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO

The lenses will be available in June 2015 for US$1,000 and US$1,300 respectively.

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Fujifilm Announces Firmware 4.0 for the X-T1/X-T1 GS With Major AF Improvements

As part of their “Kaijin” philosophy, Fujifilm has announced version 4.0 of the X-T1/X-T1 GS Firmware which offers significant improvements to the X-T1’s AF system. I am sure Fujifilm is as excited about this as I am, as they’ve made the above video to take you through the improvements. This is the first time I’ve seen any camera maker do a video to introduce a firmware update!

According to the press release, the AF improvements are:-

1. A new auto focus system with Zone and Wide/Tracking modes for effortless capture of moving subjects – The auto focus system complements the fast and accurate single-point auto focus system with new Zone and Wide/Tracking modes, which use 77 autofocus points across a wider area to substantially improve the camera’s ability to track and capture moving subjects.

The Zone mode allows users to choose a 3×3, 3×5 or 5×5 zone from the 77-point auto focus area. When combined with the AF-C continuous focusing mode, the camera continues tracking a subject in the selected zone. The 3×3 and 3×5 zones at the center, in particular, offer extra-fast focusing with the use of the built-in phase detection pixels.

In the Wide/Tracking mode, the camera displays the area in focus, identified automatically out of the 77-point auto focus area (Wide in the AF-S mode) and tracks the focus area’s subject across the entire 77-point AF area (Tracking in the AF-C mode). This makes it possible to maintain focus on a subject that moves vertically, horizontally, and back and forth.

2. Improved auto focus accuracy – Single-point auto focus now divides the focus area into smaller sections to more accurately determine the distance to the subject for even greater focusing accuracy. The built-in phase detection pixels have increased sensitivity from 2.5EV to 0.5EV. This improvement delivers phase detection auto focus performance that enables fast focusing in low-light conditions and on low-contrast subjects.

3. Eye detection auto focus – The new firmware update provides Fujifilm’s Eye Detection auto focus, which automatically detects and focuses on human eyes. The function allows you to easily focus on the eyes even in difficult conditions, e.g. when shooting a portrait wide open to obtain a beautiful bokeh background.

4. Auto Macro mode – The firmware update introduces an Auto Macro function that automatically switches the camera into the Macro mode while maintaining the conventional auto focus speed. You no longer have to press the Macro button to initiate a close-up shot. This update eliminates the Macro function assigned to the Macro Button, allowing you to assign a different function to the button.

5. Auto focus improvement in Movie mode – The optimized algorithm delivers a more natural and smoothauto focus action during movie recording.

There are also other., albeit less exciting, improvements to the camera:-

Improved Shutter Speed Dial operation – When the Shutter Speed Dial is set to T, you can use the command dial to set the full range of exposure times. This means you can change the shutter speeds across a broader range without having to change camera position. This is particularly useful when shooting in the portrait orientation with the Vertical Battery Grip VG-XT1 attached.

Exposure Compensation control in Manual mode – The Exposure Compensation dial can be used to make exposure adjustments while shooting in the Manual exposure mode with the ISO Auto setting.

Finer lines on the framing grid enhances visibility – The lines on the framing grid have been made finer making it easier to view the subject.

Fujifilm cameras were traditionally never known to have super-fast AF speeds unlike something like the Olympus OM-D series and the Nikon 1 series. The X-T1/X-T1 GS is no exception. The various firmware releases have more or less improved the AF speeds to something more usable. Nothing has been as significant as this release, however. I can’t wait to see how much more improvements it can bring to my X-T1.

Among the smaller improvements, the “Improved Shutter Speed Dial Operation” will most likely appeal to photographers who prefer the more modern method of using command dials to control exposure, as opposed to the more traditional shutter speed dial + aperture ring combo.

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Canon Announces EF 50mm f/1.8 STM: Goodbye Plastic Fantastic

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Canon has announced an all new 50mm f/1.8 lens, the EF 50mm f/1.8 STM lens. The previous generation, the 50mm f/1.8 II, was a favourite for many to get into as a cheap, large aperture lens. Its claim to fame was in its price, as it was usually anywhere from a quarter to a third cheaper than comparable Nikon or Minolta or Pentax.  Not surprising, given its all-plastic construction, and a very very noisy internal focus motor.

The new lens is going to change all that: The STM version has the silent and swift stepper motor, which means it will be good for video use as well, in particular with the Dual Pixel AF cameras, and the lens mount is now metal. There aperture diaphragm now uses seven blades, so the old pentagram bokeh at moderately stopped down apertures should be gone too.

At US$130, it is a bit pricier than the last generation, but I think the improvements will be well worth it, if you ask me. I could never stand the high-pitched motor of the 50/1.8 II, and the amount of slop and play in the plastic construction didn’t help my perception of it.

The new lens will ship sometime this month.

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