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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Six More Cameras From Leica Announced At Photokina

Leica S-E (Typ 006)
Leica S-E (Typ 006)

I have never seen Leica release so many cameras at Photokina, Leica is really on a roll. Other than the two rangefinders – the M Edition 60 LCD-less digital rangefinder and M-A film rangefinder camera, Leica has also announced 2 medium format cameras, a couple of compact APS-C cameras and two rebranded Panasonic cameras.

First up, the pair of Leica medium format S-series cameras. The Leica S-E (Typ 006) is an “entry level” model in their lineup, featuring a 30x45mm, 37.5 megapixel CCD sensor with a 12-stop dynamic range. The 2GB buffer lets you shoot up to 32 full-size DNG photos at 1.5 frames per second before slowing down.

The Leica S-E has a dual shutter system, comprising of a conventional focal plane shutter which lets you shoot at up to 1/4000th of a second. Used in conjunction with the electronic shutter of Leica CS lenses however, and you can shoot at up to 1/1000.

The weather-sealed S-E also has a 3″ 922k-dot LCD display made from Corning’s Gorilla Glass to protect from scratches. Yours for just €13,000 or US$16,900.

Leica S (Typ 007)
Leica S (Typ 007)

The next medium format is the top-of-the-line Leica S (Typ 007) featuring a 30x45mm 37.5megapixel CMOS sensor paired with Leica’s Maestro II image processor. It’s capable of shooting up to 3.5fps in stills mode, and 4K, 60fps 4:2:2 video in video mode. The AF system has been improved for faster and more accurate focussing, and the camera also comes with Wifi and GPS.

Like the S-E (Typ 006), the S (Typ 007) also features a 3″, 922k dot LCD display made of Corning’s Gorilla Glass. You can pre-order yours from B&H for just US$25,400.

With the big guns out of the way, let’s talk about the smaller cameras.

Leica X (Typ 113)
Leica X (Typ 113)

The Leica X (Typ 113) is a premium minimalist compact camera with a 16.3 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor. It also does 1080p video at 30fps like any other modern compact. The lens is a fixed Leica Summilux 23mm f/1.7. Featuring full manual controls, it’s capable of up to ISO 12,500 and shoots at a maximum of 5fps in either JPEG or DNG. No viewfinder though, so you’ll have to compose on the 3″ 920k-dot LCD. Price? US$2,300.

Leica X-E
Leica X-E

The Leica X-E is basically like the Leica X but without the video capabilities and a slightly slower and longer lens in the form of a 24mm f/2.8 Leica Elmarit. The LCD is also smaller at 2.7″. It’s slightly cheaper, at US$1,800.

Leica D-Lux (Typ 109)
Leica D-Lux (Typ 109)

Finally, we have a pair of rebadged Panasonic cameras. If you think the recently announced Panasonic LX100 is not classy or expensive enough for you, you can opt to pay US$300 more to get the red dot treatment in the form of the Leica D-LUX (Typ 109). Specs wise, everything is exactly the same as the LX100. It’ll cost US$1,200.

Leica V-Lux
Leica V-Lux

If you want both the red dot treatment AND a long zoom, then the V-LUX is the camera for you. This is essentially a Panasonic FZ1000, but with the Leica price premium. It’ll cost US$1350.

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Panasonic Announces the Lumix DMC-LX100, Lumix DMC-GM5 and a Pair of New Lenses

Panasonic DMC-LX100
Panasonic DMC-LX100

Panasonic has announced a new member to the LX family – the DMC-LX100. Unlike the previous LX-series compact cameras like the highly successful LX3, 5 and 7, the LX100 incorporates a 16 megapixel Four Thirds sensor. This effectively moves the latest LX camera into the Micro Four Thirds category along side the other Panasonic models such as the GM1.

The LX100 features a 24-75mm equivalent lens with an aperture of f/1.7-2.8 and supports 4K video recording at 30p. It also features WiFi and NFC for easy pairing to smart devices. This little compact also has a built-in EVF with XGA resolution and a fixed touch-capable 3″ LCD. No pop-up flash but a clip-on external flash is provided in the box.

The camera will be available in October, but no pricing information is available at this point of time.

Panasonic DMC-GM5
Panasonic DMC-GM5

Next up, we have the Panasonic DMC-GM5. Last year, Panasonic released the very compact DMC-GM1. It is well-loved for being almost similar to a compact camera in size, yet delivering images that much better as it has a Four Thirds sensor. One of my main gripes about it is that it lacks a viewfinder.

Today, Panasonic has addressed that by announcing the DMC-GM5, a compact Micro Four Thirds camera with a built-in EVF having 1.2m dots. That’s not all, it also has a hotshoe! Panasonic calls it the World’s Smallest Interchangeable Lens Camera with Live View Finder as of today. It also does 1080/60p HD video recording and features WiFi and NFC. There’s also a 24p mode with a max bit rate of 24Mbps for that cinematic look in your videos.

The DMC-GM5 will be available at US$899.

Lumix G Vario 35-100mm
Lumix G Vario 35-100mm f/4-5.6 ASPH MEGA O.I.S
Lumix G Vario 14mm
Lumix G Vario 14mm f/2.5 II

To go with the new GM5, Panasonic announced a pair of lenses – the Lumix G Vario 35-100mm f/4-5.6 ASPH MEGA O.I.S and Lumix G 14mm f/2.5 II ASPH. Both the lenses are designed to match the GM-series cameras with their compact. retractable design. The 35-100mm is a compact telephoto zoom covering the equivalent of 70-200mm and as its name implies, it features Optical Image Stabilisation. The 14mm II is a revised version of the previous 14mm.

Each of the lenses will be available for US$399.

YS: Some really quick thoughts here: I’m looking at both the GM5 (what is with the arbitrary jump in model numbers) and the LX100 and I have to say, I’m torn between both of them. Panasonic are starting to really raise their game here after a series of ho-hum Micro Four Thirds cameras like the GF5 and G6 and I’m liking it.

There’s also a firmware update for the GH4, which adds tethered shooting, which is really useful for some work, as well as features to make using 4K video to obtain stills less unwieldy. I’ve always been of the opinion that 4K video as a method for stills capture is currently hobbled by the software side of things: No one wants to sift through thousands of photos to get a few tens of keepers. Panasonic’s additions are somewhat vague now, in that the camera will set “optimum parameters for photo shooting” for recording format, photo quality and, um, brightness levels. If they are smart something like Nikon’s old Best Shot Selector and its variants found in the Nikon 1 would be a good start.

Mmm, makes me want to upgrade to the GH4.

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