Panasonic Announces the Lumix DC-G9 With 20fps Burst and Enormous EVF

Panasonic Lumix DC-G9

Panasonic has announced the Lumix DC-G9, a 20MP Micro Four Thirds Camera targeted at professional stills photographers. It’s capable of shooting at a continuous burst of 20fps, and has the same 20MP sensor as the well-regarded GH5. It is also able to produce a 80MP raw file by shifting its sensor eight times.

The image stabilisation of the G9 is capable of reducing shake at up to 6.5 stops, one of the best so far on interchangeable lens cameras. The stabilisation also works at wider focal lengths with non-stabilised lenses, and with longer focal length lenses with built-in IS, the G9 can utilise Dual IS 2.

The AF system on the G9 has 225 selectable AF points with improvements in both speed and tracking, allowing the camera to shoot at 20fps with continuous AF engaged, using its electronic shutter. When using the mechanical shutter, this drops to 9 fps. Using single AF, the camera can deliver up to 60fps of continuous shooting when using the electronic shutter, and 12 fps with the mechanical shutter. The buffer has enough space for up to 50 RAW images to be stored in a single burst.

The G9 is freeze-proof at temperatures down to -10ºC, and is sealed from the elements. The OLED EVF has a resolution of 3.68M dots with a magnification of 0.83x, making it one of the largest around. There is also the more traditional 3″ articulating LCD touch screen. There are SD card slots on the camera, and both supports UHS-II media for fast data transfers.

Panasonic Lumix DC-G9 Flip LCD

Video-wise, the G9 can shoot 4K Ultra HD at up to 60fps at a bit rate of 150Mbps. There is no crop when shooting video at any resolution, which is a good thing as you will be using the full sensor. Slow motion video can be recorded at up to 60fps at 4K, and 180fps at 1080p Full HD.

Using the same DMW-BLF19 battery as the GH5, the G9 delivers up to 400 shots per charge. A Power Save LVF improves battery life by 2.3x but putting the camera to sleep when the EVF is not in use, turning it on instantly when the shutter button is half-pressed.

While most cameras’ WiFi is still on the older 802.11/b/g/n standards, the G9 uses the modern 802.11ac standard for faster wireless file transfers to compatible devices. You can also remotely control the camera using the Panasonic Image App.

The Panasonic Lumix DC-G9 will ship in Jan 2018 at a price of US$1699 for the body alone. There is a optional vertical grip which will be sold for $349 at the same time.

 

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Olympus Announces OM-D E-M10 Mark III

Olympus OM-D EM-10 Mark III with Zuiko 14-42mm EZ.

Olympus has released the OM-D E-M10 Mark III, an update to the popular entry-level camera in the OM-D series. This new iteration brings 4K video recording at 24, 25 and 30fps and minor ergonomic improvements to the handling of the body.

The image processor utilises Olympus’s TruePic VIII, the same one featured in the flagship OM-D E-M1 Mark III. Combined with the in-body, 5-axis image stabilisation, the EM-10 Mark III delivers high quality images even in low-light situations which typically causes camera shakes.

The sensor remains at 16MP, the same as the predecessor, but the number of AF points has been increased from 81 in the Mark II to the 121 AF points in the Mark III. Continuous shooting speeds have been increased ever so slightly to 8.6 fps (from 8.5.)

The OM-D E-M10 Mark III is expected to ship in late September for US$650 for the body alone, or US$800 bundled with a M.Zuiko 14-42mm EZ lens.

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Panasonic Announces the Lumix GX80/GX85 Micro Four Thirds Camera

Panasonic DMC-LX85
Panasonic DMC-LX85

Panasonic has announced the Lumix DMC-GX85, also known as the GX80 outside of North America. (What’s with naming things differently in different regions anyway?) This is cost-down version of the GX8, featuring a 16MP Live MOS sensor and no AA filter. It also has a redesigned shutter mechanism and 5-axis Dual IS consisting of both In-Body and Optical Image Stabilisation. Panasonic claims that the removal of the anti-aliasing filter supposedly improves fine detail resolution by 10%. The magnetically-driven shutter mechanism reduces the shutter sound as well as the vibration caused by shutter shock.

The GX85/GX80 features a Live View Finder (LVF) with 2764K-dots and 100% colour re-production, covering field of view of 100%. The rear LCD is a large 3.0″ one with approximately 1040K-dots with touch capability. It tilts up by up to 80º and down by 45º.

As with the trend these days, the GX85/GX80 features 4K at 30p or 20p video recording in addition to good old full HD at up to 60fps. There are also 3 different burst modes which allow you to: capture up to 30 still images at 8MP, record 30 frames before and after you capture a shot, and finally, a 4K cropping mode which lets you extract HD video from a 4K recording, adding zoom and pan effects within the camera.

A novel feature on the GX85/80 is Focus Bracketing. This is a Lytro-like “Post Focus” feature which lets you select the focus area after the image is taken. Other features include an ISO range of 100-25,600, WiFi and RAW recording.

The GX85/80 will be available with a 24-64mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens for US$800 in late May.

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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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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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Olympus Announces E-M5 II, 14-150mm f/4-5.6 II, 8mm f/1.8 Fisheye, and E-M1 Firmware Update

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Olympus has announced the E-M5 II, which left with little surprise given the amount of “leaks” coming out during the past couple of weeks. While not featuring a new sensor, given that sensor tech has been slowed down a bit for the past two years, the camera features a number of new features and upgrades, with the headline-grabbing 40 megapixel/63 megapixel multi-shot mode that uses the sensor-shift stabiliser to do its magic being the key attention. There are also upgrades to video mode, which while still tops out at 1080p, now has selectable frame rates, from 24 FPS to 60 FPS, and much higher compression rates of up to 77 Mbps in intraframe compression and 51- Mbps in interframe compression. To aid with the more serious upgrade in video capabilities, there is also a built-in microphone jack. Unfortunately there is no headphone jack. Continue reading Olympus Announces E-M5 II, 14-150mm f/4-5.6 II, 8mm f/1.8 Fisheye, and E-M1 Firmware Update

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Panasonic Releases a GM1 with a Selfie LCD, the DMC-GF7

Panasonic GF7

This one is a bit surprising, in the sense that most camera manufacturers are slowly giving up the low-end (Olympus has more or less abandoned the Pen, consolidating what was a three-camera line into a single-camera afterthought). The DMC-GF7 is basically a GM1 with a screen that flips up for selfies, and has a few tweaks to the button layout to cater to beginners. Everything else, including the 16 megapixel sensor and the kit lens seems to be the same.

The USA pricing for it is a bit of a shock for me, since at US$600 it is what the GM1 is here in Singapore. Lately pricing can vary quite a bit between Singapore and USA; while new cameras typically have little differences, the recent cameras have Singapore street prices 25% lower than the USA street prices. Still, for a company trying to push their margins up, I don’t think Panasonic will depress the entry level camera pricing by that much. So perhaps the GF series is no longer a budget camera, but a premium compact camera that is aimed at casual users.

The GF7 will be available in February, in both silver-trimmed black and pink.

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Panasonic Lumix Launch Event

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100

Panasonic organised a launch event at the Funan Digitalife Mall over the last weekend to launch their Lumix LX100, GM-5 and GH4 in Singapore. YS and I dropped by to get a hands-on on them, including the highly-anticipated Lumix LX100 (pictured above.)

I have been a long-time user of the old Panasonic LX3. It’s a great little compact camera with good image quality, manual controls and a fast zoom which starts at 24mm (equivalent) at f/2.0. It made for a great travel camera or for social settings when I don’t want to lug a heavy DSLR around.

YS: I myself had the LX2, which was before the LX3 really defined the LX class. It still was a pretty decent camera, at a time when Panasonic cameras had relatively noisy sensors. Remember them?

CK: I skipped the LX5 and LX7 when they came out as I didn’t think the changes are significant enough (more megapixels, slightly longer reach, etc.) But when Panasonic announced the LX100 with a Micro Four Thirds sensor, a fast 24-75mm lens which starts at f/1.7, 4K video recording and even an EVF, I was excited to get my hands on one to test it out. This launch event gave me that opportunity.

Following the previous LX models, the LX100 features knobs and dials for the controls, something of a trend right now with the likes of Fuji adopting it in their cameras. In fact, the top of the camera looks somewhat like a Fuji XE2. The body is bigger than my LX3 to cater for the bigger sensor and lens, but the overall size is still pretty compact. Due to the magnesium alloy body, the LX100 feels very solid in the hands.

YS: I would say it is more of a slow evolution: The LX7 after all added an aperture ring, so the extra dials seemed like the next logical step. Not one I am too fond of, however.

The camera is definitely larger than the LX7 that came before it, and I would even say it is no longer jacket pocketable, unless you like having a large bulge in your jacket. However it is still plenty small, and I would compare it to something like a Canon Powershot G camera.

CK: Like most modern Micro Four Thirds cameras, the LX100 focusses pretty quickly, though I still think the Nikon 1 series is slightly faster on this aspect. Having used to the big and glorious EVF of the Fujifilm X-T1, the LX100’s EVF looks small but refresh rate is pretty decent. It is definitely very usable, more so than the one on the Sony RX100 III, I’d say.

From the LCD, image quality is excellent, and high-ISO performance is pretty decent too. We weren’t able to use our own memory cards on the camera as there is a long queue of people clamouring over it and we didn’t want to hog it for too long. Hope to get a review unit from Panasonic soon, so that we can do a more in-depth review.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 will sell for S$1199 here, and there’s a current promotion with an additional 16GB SD card, original case, battery and $50 shopping vouchers.

YS: That’s a pretty decent price. I think for many enthusiasts this could be the one camera for all their photography needs. The wants, however, is a different thing altogether.

CK: The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 was on display at the event, filming a water-drop setup to demonstrate still-image extraction from 4K video. Basically, a video of a drop of ink landing onto a bowl of water is captured as a 4K video, and the desired frame is extracted in-camera to obtain a still image. This might change the way photojournalism is done in future, where the photojournalist simply shoots video and select a frame later.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4

The Panasonic/Leica CM1 phone was also on display at the event, but unfortunately it’s housed behind a display case and we can’t get our hands on it. It’s less bulky than I thought, though it housed a 1″ sensor for its camera.

YS: I am pretty sure it’s a mockup. As far as I know, it’s still only going on sale in France and Germany, sort of an experiment.

Panasonic/Leica CM1 Phone
Panasonic/Leica CM1 Phone

Finally, I also spent some time with the GM5, the followup to the GM1. The camera is actually smaller than the LX100, though once you add proper lenses to it it will no longer be quite as small.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM5
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM5

The changes to the GM5 are minor, but they improve the camera handling a lot. Having a proper rear command dial makes settings easier to change, and the slightly larger frame makes it better to hold. The EVF is a real tiny affair, but it is serviceable. I really liked the GM1, so we shall see if I end up getting something silly one day. Christmas is not too far away after all!

That wraps out our coverage of the cameras on show. We will be trying to get a LX100 for review, so stay tuned!

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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 tag.at US$800.
Continue reading News Round-up: Photokina Early Announcements

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Olympus Ruins YS with Development Announcement of M.Zuiko 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO and 300mm f/4 PRO Lenses

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Olympus has announced that they have the 7-14mm f/2.8 and 300mm f/4 PRO lenses for the Micro Four Thirds mount. Try not to get too excited though; this is only a development announcement, and we will only see them in 2015. Still, an ultrawide that is an f/2.8 zoom, and a 300mm f/4? Sign me up. Slightly sad that Panasonic is not doing the 300mm though, since I would like to have seen Power OIS in the lens. Still, I have lived without IS in my lenses before, so it is now down to price for me.

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CK: So now Olympus has an answer to Panasonic’s LUMIX G VARIO 7-14mm f/4 ASPH, but like the recently released M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 12-40mm f/2.8 ED PRO, it zooms the “wrong” way (relative to Nikon) for me. I lost count of how many times the wrong direction has tripped me up while testing it out. This lens focus/zoom/aperture ring direction should be standardised!

But for those who doesn’t mind, or who feels that this is the correct zoom direction for them, the 7-14mm is a good alternative to the Panasonic. And the 300mm is there if you need a 600mm equivalent for your Micro Four Thirds system.

 

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