Three Guys’ Picks and Pans of 2013

Introduction

Well, 2013 was a quiet year, mainly with the two giants not releasing much, and everyone struggling to stay relevant in times of weak sales brought about by competent cameras that reduce the need to upgrade and convenient cameras in the form of smartphone cameras that make it easy to share photographs. Still, it was not all bad, and we have a list of last year’s most notable products. Read on and find out what they were! Continue reading Three Guys’ Picks and Pans of 2013

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Olympus Announces OM-D E-M1 and M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO Lens

Olympus E-M1 with 12-40mm f/28 Pro lens.

After all the leaks (including a gaffe by Engadget), the Olympus OM-D E-M1 has finally been announced. The 16 megapixel sensor now has phase detect pixels on it, allowing for 37 AF points. Sadly, PDAF is not available in movie mode, as well as single shot AF with Micro Four Thirds lenses. The big upside however, is that all those Four Thirds lens owners finally get a contemporary camera to use some of that fantastic glass on.

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Olympus Releases PEN E-P5, PEN Lite E-PL6

Olympus E-P5 with M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 14-42mm f/3.5-4.5 Lens
Olympus E-P5 with M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 14-42mm f/3.5-4.5 Lens

After weeks of rumours, Olympus finally launches the much anticipated PEN E-P5. Continuing from their highly successful PEN series of Micro Four Thirds cameras, the E-P5 maintains the retro styling that has now become very popular with camera manufacturers.

The E-P5 is modelled after the 50-year old Olympus PEN F SLR, and the E-P5 is launched to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the legendary ancestor. Like the OM-D E-M5 launched last year, the E-P5 has the same high-end technologies including the same 16-megapixel CMOS sensor, AF system, 5-axis image stabilisation and more. It also has a mechanical shutter capable of speeds up to 1/8000th of a second – the world’s first on a digital compact camera – according to Olympus. This allows photographers to achieve shallow depth of field in bright daylight conditions or when the situation calls for super high shutter speeds.

For photographers who would like to use manual lenses, the E-P5 features focus peaking, highlighting the in-focus areas in either white or black pixels. Like many recent cameras, the E-P5 now has WiFi connectivity built-in. Using the Olympus Image Share 2.0 app, you can use your smartphone as an external display, remote or GPS for the camera.

YS: Ugh, focus peaking! This brings to me one point:The E-P5 (and the G6) are both very nice cameras, and unfortunately, they both carry the problem of having features that the higher-end (and only slightly older – the GH3 is not evey half a year old) model should have but doesn’t. This is a real marketing problem when aiming at enthusiasts – no one likes having to decide between two cameras that are supposedly one bracket apart, but the higher-end model is lacking desirable features the lower-end one does. The consumers deciding on buying such a camera normally freeze up and don’t buy. I have seen this happen enough, so Olympus and Panasonic need to be careful of the message they send out to prospective buyers in this rather small market (DSLR shipments still dwarf that of mirrorless system cameras).

CK: In other news, Olympus also launched the PEN Lite E-PL6 in Japan. This is an update to the E-PL5, adding several features that are on the newly released E-P5 including a shorter shutter lag, intervalometer and time-lapse shooting. It’s also compatible with the VF-4 viewfinder and how feature a dual-axis electronic level.

Like the EP-5, the E-PL6 also has the same 16-megapixel CMOS sensor as the flagship OM-D E-M5, bringing the high quality imaging system to a more mass market level. It also features WiFi connectivity so that you can view or control the camera via the Olympus Image Share app on your smartphone.

Photographers (like YS) who like to complain about the relatively large AF area of the E-M5 will be happy to know that both cameras now have smaller AF areas via the Super Spot AF feature. This allows you to more accurately focus on even extremely small subjects.

YS: This better be present on the E-M6.

CK: The PEN E-P5 will be available in May 2013 for US$999.99 (body only) or US$1,499.99 (with M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 17mm f/1.8 lens and VF-4 electronic viewfinder). The E-PL6 will be available from end of June 2013.

(Image Credit: Olympus Press Images)

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Three Guys’ Camera Picks of 2012

As Christmas, the New Year and possibly the end of the world nears us, we bring to you our picks of various kinds of digital cameras.

Compact
Small and light, compact cameras lets you bring them around with you everywhere you go, never missing a shot. They are also a great complement to your DSLR gear. We bring you our picks for the more advanced compact cameras.

Sony RX100

Sony Cyber-shot RX100

Sony’s latest addition to the high-end compact market. Featuring a 20-megapixel 1” sensor (same size as the one on the Nikon 1 series), a large aperture of f/1.8-4.9 and a 3.6x zoom (28-100mm equivalent), it’s quickly becoming the favourite of photographers looking for a high-end compact camera to complement their SLR setup.

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All the new things!

Here’s a quick update of what else arrived in Singapore in the last week. Firstly the Nikon 1 V2 is now available, and the basic kit price is at over S$1,000. I have yet to try the camera personally, unlike CK who managed to spend some quality time with it in Japan, but I don’t think that whatever the improvements are, it is going to be worth that kind of price premium. A camera like the D3200 is almost 20% cheaper, despite costing more to produce. Nikon really needs to re-evaluate their pricing on the 1 line if they are going to be competitive with the other mirrorless system cameras. Along with the V2 also comes the Nikon 1 18.5mm f/1.8 lens. So if you want a fast prime for your 1 system, this is a good start (and currently the only start, if you ask me).

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Olympus Announces the Stylus XZ-2 High-end Compact Camera

Olympus Stylus XZ-2

It appears that the high-end compact camera market is heating up with every major camera maker launching their latest models. Not wanting to be left out, Olympus launched their Stylus XZ-2, a high-end compact camera with a fast 6-24mm (equivalent to 28-112mm on 35mm full frame) f/1.8-2.5 4x zoom lens. This is an upgraded version of the previous XZ-1 released last year, offering 12 megapixels of resolution instead of the XZ-1’s 10 megapixels. It also features the same TruPic VI processor found on the Olympus OM-D E-M5 camera, bringing high image quality and processing speed into a compact camera. Like the other high-end compacts, Olympus has touted this to have excellent high ISO performance, allowing you to capture blur and noise-free shots even in low light.

With the prices of the mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras (and non-interchangeable ones too) cameras, one may wonder if there’s still a market for these high-end compacts since their prices can be rather close. Personally, I think there still is, and there’s probably still a good use for them.

Such cameras are now made with lenses as fast as f/1.4 (e.g. Panasonic Lumix LX7) and this is something that the mirrorless cameras not have yet. Most of the mirrorless cameras are not as pocketable once there’s a lens attached, and if you use a pancake lens, you lose out on the longer focal lengths. High-end compacts on the other hand offer a decent zoom range with a fast aperture and good high ISO performance, all in a nice compact package. And that’s important for some photographers.

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Olympus Launches PEN E-PL5 and E-PM2

Olympus PEN E-PL5

Olympus just refreshed the popular PEN series of Micro Four Thirds cameras with 2 new models – the E-PL5 and E-PM2. Both cameras uses the same sensor as the highly-acclaimed OM-D E-M5, bringing that level of quality to more people. As with most modern consumer cameras now, they also feature touch screens which lets you focus and shoot by your touch.

It’s good to see that camera makers are trickling down the features of their higher-end cameras into the more consumer-oriented models. This makes these features and higher image quality accessible to a larger user base and also caters well to the needs of users who may not need all the bells and whistles of the higher end model.

It’s a little disappointing however, that Olympus opted to retain the 460,000-dot LCD screen of the previous models instead of upgrading to at least a 921,600-dot LCDs increasingly found on newer cameras.

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