Panasonic’s Big Day: Lumix GX8 Announced, 25mm and 100-400mm In Development

Panasonic GX8 Front
Panasonic has made a number of announcements, and the big one is the DMC-GX8. I had thought that the middling success of the GX7 meant that Panasonic might consolidate their lineup, but here is the GX8. Slightly larger than the not-tiny GX7 it replaces, it adds a whole bunch of features, including an all-new 20 megapixel sensor, with speculation that it is likely from Sony, given their release of a 20 megapixel part. Sony has been very good at making noticeable improvements with each new generation of sensors for the past several years, so the GX8 is likely to raise the bar on image quality for Micro Four Thirds cameras. Regardless of the source it’s nice to see a new sensor being introduced!

Panasonic GX8 Top

Other new improvements include 4K video and stills modes, Depth-from-Defocus technology for fast autofocus, a proper XGA EVF, and a fully articulated WVGA OLED touchscreen. There is also improvement to the sensor shift stabilisation, which now boasts four axis (horizontal and vertical shift along with pitch and yaw) and can be combined with Panasonic’s optical stabiliser in the lens. It will be interesting to see how this pans out. Top frame advance is at 8 FPS, similar to the GX7.

A minor improvement that I like: Long exposure is now at up to 30 minutes. Previous Panasonic cameras were limited from two to four minutes, and the only cameras that provided much more than that were the GH cameras at 60 minutes. Good for those long exposures!

A downsize is in the upsizing of the camera, in both size and price. While I liked the GX7’s size, the improvements in the GX8 probably necessitated the size increase, and the need for profitability means the GX8 will debut at US$1200 for just the camera body in August. That has to be at least a 40% increase over the GX7’s debut price!

Panaosnic GX8 Back

 

Also announced were some working developments, aka “we’re letting you know so please don’t go elsewhere with your money” announcements. The 25mm f/1.7 and 100-400mm f/4-6.3 are in the works, so if you are interested in such lenses expect them to be out next year. No other details like weight and price are available.

The last announcement is an interesting one: A post-focus (think Lytro) trick that will be available to Panasonic 4K cameras that uses Depth-from-Defocus and a fast frame rate to take a scene and merge the images together. If anyone has used the Nokia Lumia 1520’s feature, this is probably what it will be like. For static scenes it will be better than a Lytro, since 8 megapixel images are better than just the measly one or four megapixels from a Lytro, and you still have a decent normal camera after that. Panasonic has confirmed just the GX8 as one of the cameras that will receive this feature.

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Sigma Photo Announces 24-35mm F2 DG HSM Art

Sigma_24-35_lrgSigma has announced a new Art lens, and this time it is a zoom lens for 35mm sensors. The 24-35mm f/2 Art is a moderate wide-angle zoom that is f/2, and while the size and weight is on the large side (nearly a kilogram), I think the image quality should be on the level of their Art releases. I’m not too excited about the focal lengths though. No word on pricing or availability yet.

CK: I think it’d be awesome if Sigma releases an APS-C or M43 equivalent of this lens for the mirrorless users. A Fuji X-mount one will be great. On APS-C, the lens would be 16-24mm f/2.0, which can be made smaller/lighter. On M43, it can be made even smaller! It could even be possible to make it 16-24mm f/1.4 on APS-C and 12-17mm f/1.0 on M43 if size is not an issue!

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Canon Officially Announces the Powershot G3 X

20150205_thumbL_psg3x_3qOk, so it is official now. You know what the camera is like, thanks to the development announcement. A few more tidbits: The camera will be weather-proofed, does 1080p video, and can do 6 FPS continuous shooting. Like the G7 X, no viewfinder of any kind will be present. The sensor is still the same 20 megapixel 1″ sensor, with the 24-600mm equivalent f/2.8-5.6 lens. Arrives in July for US$1,000.

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Sony Announces a Big Deal: The 42 Megapixel A7R II

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42 was the answer to life and the universe and everything, and it looks like it might be the answer to a lot of photographers, videographers and even small-scale filmmakers. The A7R II is a bigger upgrade over the A7R than the A7 II over the A7 was.

First up is the new sensor: While 42 megapixels really is not that big an increase over 36, this is an all-new sensor that back-side illuminated. If it represents an improvement over the already excellent 36 megapixel sensor, it will be a worthy upgrade. Continue reading Sony Announces a Big Deal: The 42 Megapixel A7R II

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Sony Announces 4K Capable RX100 IV and RX10 II

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The next set of cameras from Sony are the RX100 IV and RX10 II, successors to the line of their popular 1″ sensor cameras. The two cameras are mostly identical to their predecessors, with the upgrades coming in the EVF for the RX100 IV, which now uses the XGA resolution found in so many popular cameras, and a new 1″ 20 megapixel sensor for both cameras, which uses a stacked design.

The stacked design is basically a refinement of the back-side illuminated sensor, and further separates the light detecting section from the electronic circuitry, further boosting the light capturing area. The new sensor also has some new tricks, namely in insane read speeds, which allows for 4K video at full sensor readout without pixel binning, up to 960 FPS video (albeit in very reduced resolution), 1/32000 second electronic shutter speeds, and 14 FPS shooting rate for the RX100 IV, and 16 FPS for the RX10 II. Another odd difference is in 4K shooting times: The RX10 II can go up to 30 minutes, but the RX100 IV is limited to just five minutes. Five?

Like the A7R II, all good things come with a price bump: The RX100 IV will now cost US$950, and the RX10 II US$1300. Both cameras will be available next month in July. Picture of the RX10 II after the break. Continue reading Sony Announces 4K Capable RX100 IV and RX10 II

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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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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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Nikon Announces the Nikon 1 J5

Nikon 1 J5 Front

After weeks of speculation Nikon has announced the Nikon 1 J5. The new camera has a number of upgrades, the biggest of which is the 20 megapixel back-side illuminated sensor. Could it be a Sony? I’ve always thought that Nikon using the Aptina sensors was due to the sensor readout speed, needed for both the crazy fast phase detect autofocus of the 1 cameras, as well as the impressive continuous shooting rates on them. Has Nikon managed to marry both speed and quality this time?

Other improvements include a flip LCD that goes both up for selfies and down for overhead shots, an additional command dial in the traditional Nikon thumb position (which I very much welcome) and a mode dial that has dedicated manual exposure modes. Oh, there is now a custom function button next to the lens mount too. At the very least ISO should be pegged to it.

The camera retains the speed of the J4 before it, with the 170 PDAF points and 20 FPS continuous shooting speed with continuous AF, and 60 FPS with AF lock on the first frame, which is still impressive in 2015.

Now, the other upgrade is a bit embarrassing: Nikon has given the J5 4K video capability, but at 15 FPS. Um, I am not sure who is actually going to use it at 15 FPS. Coincidentally 4K at 15 FPS has the same data rate as 1080p at 60 FPS, so it does sound like the engineers were pressured into delivering a 4K solution with whatever they had on hand for a marketing headline.

As much as I like the Nikon 1 cameras for what they are, such moves really do not help the line. Already I see the less than kind comments about it, and the last thing the Nikon 1 cameras need are more jokes to be made about them. It seems a shame too, as the cameras are slowly improving, and I really did quite like the Nikon 1 J4 despite the somewhat noisy sensor. Nikon really should have tried to address the criticisms head on, which they appear to have with the upgrades on hand, as the J5 has the better user interface, possibly better sensor, and better pricing, with the 10-30 PD kit coming in at a reasonable US$499 (US$100 less than the J4).

The Nikon 1 J5 will arrive in late April in black, silver-black, and white, with the above-mentioned 10-30 PD kit at US$500, the 10-30 and 30-110 dual lens kit at US$750, and the 10-100 kit at US$1050. I wonder if the trend in Singapore will continue, with the Singapore prices at 1:1 rates compared to the US prices. S$500 for the J5 will certainly be interesting, especially if the image quality will be up to snuff. More pictures of the J5 after the break. Continue reading Nikon Announces the Nikon 1 J5

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Nikon D810 Review

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Introduction

The Nikon D810 is a mid-life refresh of the D800 cameras, which were lauded for pretty much the best 35mm DSLR you could get your hands on. The D810 consolidates the D800 and D800E models into a single variant, and adds a lot of small little improvements across the board. We’re going to take a look at the D810 and see how it performs!

Continue reading Nikon D810 Review

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