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Equipment of Interest
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Equipment of Interest
The idea of this thread is discussion about new or upcoming equipment which we for a reason or another find interesting. Photography equipment being a bottomless pit into which pour any spare money.
What caught my eye now is
Olympus PEN E-P1
, Olympus' first take on new µ4/3 form factor. My colleague actually got his hands on one already, being one of the first ones here in Finland in fact. Based on his test photos and description I'm very impressed. First of all the image quality was in fact very good. RAW format is in fact so new that very few programs support it but even shooting JPEG the image quality was quite impressive. One of the best I've seen in a 4/3 system ever, including Leica's take on the subject. Stock lenses aren't quite in par with Leica's ones though but the technically the camera is quite excellent. Couldn't pull out very detailed review of the camera's use out of my coworker but based on the little that he actually said about it, in terms of usability etc. it seems to be OK at the very least. Autofocus is apparently a bit on the slow side but that is pretty much the case with any CD-AF system nowadays. If it's just a bit slower than the phase detecting system that's used normally that alone is quite impressive. I'll probably get my chance of testing one sometime in the later half of next month. More about it then.
Now the reason I'm counting the pennies in my piggybank... It's small. Very very small, considering that it has a crop 2 sensor and a vast variety of fairly fast lenses available for it with an adapter. 17mm pancake delivered with it is actually much better than the 25mm one sold for normal 4/3 systems. I can say without a slightest doubt in my mind that I've never seen such performance in such small package. I'm very impressed. Next in line with similar launch is Samsung, though needs to be said, given their track record in cameras I'm not holding my breath.
As for something a bit closer to home for me personally, though quite a bit farther in future (if that). There are quite persistent rumors about Canon launching a range of fast 35mm prime lenses for the EF-S bayonet. At least F/1.4 and F/1.8 are expected. Prices probably in range of $200-250 for the F/1.8 and $550-650 for the F/1.4. Those would probably make the first viable choices for a fast prime normal lens for the Canon's crop bodies. Current F/2 being a bit so and so in terms of picture quality and being so slow focusing that I dare not to recommend it to anyone more than 10 years old due to risk of dying of old age before it actually focuses.
Quite looking forward to what the F/1.4 one has to offer. A must buy for me. If they ever end up making one.
The Olympus PEN E-P1 seems like a very exceptional camera in terms of design and technology, but boy is it pricy (which is to be expected).
It's pricey alright, then again it's basically Olympus E30 in a package about half the size an for a bit less green. So compared to the camera it's most closely related to, it's a bargain. Not that anyone in his/her right mind would ever buy a E30. Frankly you're still better off with Canon EOS 50D and especially with Nikon D300 which are somewhat in it's price range. Then again having that in a pocket sized camera is pretty darn epic.
It's easy to put a price tag on something that has no competition. Panasonic's G1 can't really be considered one despite of being a µ4/3 since it's quite big and Sigma DP2 hasn't got an interchangeable lens. I don't expect it getting significantly cheaper in a hurry either. The closest thing of a competitor it's going to have probably for at least a year or so is the (with all probability) P.O.S. Samsung coming out sometime in fall. Big guys Canon, Nikon, Sony and Pentax will probably come up with something eventually but right now they were caught with their pants down.
Well I've always had a preference for something thats ready on the go and very movable (aka fits in the pocket). However with something like the E-P1, even though its pocket sized, I'd feel more comfortable caring such a piece of equipment around my shoulder or neck opposed to a jacket pocket.
Well do have to agree on that, even as it actually based on what I've heard is something you could quite safely carry around in your pocket. The word on the street is that it's superbly built out of very sturdy materials. My guess is that at least the 17mm pancake has a screw-in lens cover so even that shouldn't cause problems. At least the normal 4/3 25mm pancake has. 14-42mm probably has normal lens cover but then again with it E-P1 is a bit beyond pocket sized.
I'd like an E-P1, eventually. I'm already an Olympus user, so I have an overly wide assortment of standard 4/3 lenses and a flash that can be used with the E-P1. Of course, the main draw of the E-P1 is to have something very tiny, so I doubt I'd find myself mounting the (comparatively) huge 4/3 lenses to it.
CD-AF is slow all around, as escimo pointed out. For day-to-day usage it's probably fine. I'd like something a bit wider than 17mm - my main purpose for this camera would probably be capturing the sky or landscape-like scenes at specific points. As a standard prime, 17mm isn't bad.
Did some brief testing on Panasonic DMC-GH1 and it surprised me in many aspects. I still don't quite get it as a camera but it has many redeeming factors and surprisingly biggest being the AF. Like PEN it uses CD-AF and in GH1 it's in fact quick, I mean properly quick. I've tried many cameras with phase detecting AF-system that have been quite a bit slower. This is actually quite promising concerning PEN as well being based on the same form factor and image sensor. Processor is different though but with some optimizing CD-AF shows some real promise. And given that my colleague said that PEN is just a bit slower it might actually be pretty frisky right from the get go.
Now for the things I don't really get... It's practically just as big and heavy as any conventional SLR. This coupled with the fact that the stock lenses are HUGE, it all comes out as a bit confusing. OK it's slightly narrower but the height and depth of the body are actually very little different and it's ergonomics are horrible. In terms of ergonomics and size it provides all the cons of a µ4/3 without any of the pros. Menus and button layout are very confusing. So in terms of usability it's quite poor. It also applies noise reduction to RAW images which can be very annoying, especially considering that it doesn't even use a very sophisticated system.
For the good points. Lenses are good in terms of quality. Picture quality of 14-140mm was a real jaw dropper albeit it's not exactly what you can call cheap. Video quality is superb, even audio is fairly good and considering the placement of the microphones provides even some stereo impression.
Anyway an odd technical exercise but provides quite a bit of promise for the µ4/3 form factor.
Olympus PEN E-P1
First Hands On Impressions
Not often do I come across a camera which delivers exactly what was expected when expectations were as high as this. The last thing I can remember really was Canon EOS 300D, being the first consumer level DSLR, in terms of price at least. 10 minutes of testing and I placed an order for one double kit.
So, what's so special about PEN? Quite simply, the size. It's small. In fact it's very small even with the 14-42mm when the lens is contracted while it still provides pretty darn nice image quality and versatility, thanks to interchangeable lenses. As a real treat Panasonic has already µ4/3 adapters for Leica's M and R mounts making µ4/3 cameras a real legacy lens heaven. Even the compact size isn't all sacrificed with these adapters since they were made for a range finder camera in the first place.
As for what it's like. It's actually very usable. The body feels very sturdy. It basically feels like a solid lump of metal which is very nice. Lenses are a bit flimsier but at the very least OK still. I would have hoped for metal housings for them to keep a similar feel with the body but it's a minor moan. Menus are OK. Still a bit confusing at some parts but all the basic adjustments you could think of ever needing are collected very nicely under an overlay menu and can be easily adjusted using the two dials.
I was a bit concerned about the AF. Well it doesn't get a perfect score in my book. In full auto it tends to favor corners of the image for the AF area. Luckily the AF area is selectable. Manual focus is absolutely epic. There's not a single conventional DSLR which would provide even near the same level of usability. Two thumbs up. There's a combined mode for AF where you can use both manual and autofocus simultaneously, which works great as well. AF speed is OK. The second best CD-AF I've tried and loses to the Panasonic's one by a very very small margin. In fact it's not really any slower than any phase detecting system that I've tried in the similar price range. Stock lens isn't mechanically the fastest focusing one on the planet, though I assume that you can't really speed up the focusing much by changing it to one with faster motors. I got the feeling that it was just fast enough to keep up with the camera. Full frame Canon with L-series lens beats it hands down but for example Canon's crop bodies with non USM lenses struggle to keep up.
This is really the first Camera release in ages in the price range in reach of us mere mortals to actually get excited about. In fact the first truly innovative release in for who knows how long.
I don't have many sample shots and the ones that I have are rubbish so if you want then you'll have to ask for them.
I'm probably getting one for testing sometime next week so more in depth look into it then. Seems I have to wait a month or two for the delivery of my own camera. Pancakes seem to be hard to come by.
Canon calls quits to the Megapixel race and brings back PowerShot S-series. - Powershot G11 and PowerShot S90
Someone has been able to beat some sense into Canon's camera department, finally. They introduced a while ago their new 1/1.7" CCD sensor for compact cameras and to much of a surprise of, well, everybody it has fewer megapixels than the outgoing version. The new has 10mpx while the old one was 14.7mpx. I for one welcome this. This new sensor is apparently quite a bit more sensitive than the outgoing one, which should be welcome news for compact photographers. As of late the noise has been fairly outrageous. The new sensor will be fitted to the new PowerShot G11 and PowerShot S90.
is just as idiotic as the G series has been for the few past years. Big, bulky and hideously overpriced. Around here, with the price of the new G11 you'll almost get a EOS 500D (Digital Rebel T1i) and you
get a EOS 450D (Digital Rebel XSi) if you can find one, kit lens included. Though I do have to say US prices are a fair bit more reasonable.
on the other hand is very interesting. It has almost all the features of G11, well lacking flash mount, rotating screen, almost half of it's weight and here in Finland about 200€ in retail price. The few sample shots I've seen, taken with G11 were very very impressive. For a compact the dynamic range and the noise were outstanding, frankly rivaling a number of DSLRs out there. Lens seemed a nice performer as well, so in terms of performance G11 is not a complete miss. So if the S90 has even close to the similar quality in optics it's going to be a real treat. Lens even is fairly fast in the wide angle end, F/2. It's actually faster than G11's one, which is F/2.8.
Both of these capture RAW images and there are even rumors that they had bumped up the RAW bit depth to 14 bits. They also have aperture priority, shutter priority, full manual and program shooting modes.
While I think you'd have to be nuts to buy a G11, I'm seriously considering about buying the S90 myself as a second camera. (yes I came to my senses and didn't buy a PEN
) Either way both will probably be very good cameras for someone who's looking for a camera which allows to explore a bit more creative approach to photography but aren't quite yet prepared to buy a DSLR. And S90 particularly ought to be very good choice for a second camera for people like me who are generally too lazy to haul the DSLR along.
Panasonic GF1 (PEN E-P1 killer) Pictures leaked
Panasonic is bringing out their own interpretation of a small form factor µ4/3,
. Very little is know so far but would seem to be even smaller than E-P1 and quite frankly I personally expect it to be a better camera. RAW quality of the E-P1 loses a bit to GH1 which GF1 is expected to be largely based on. In exception of video features which are quite a bit more limited. There's even speculation that the Panasonic's excellent EVF would be available for GF1 which is good news. This much is known, it's going to work with all Olympus and Panasonic µ4/3 lenses and all the regular 4/3 lenses which support CD-AF. One kit lens option will be 20mm pancake which in my opinion is a step to the right direction in comparison to Olympus' 17mm which is actually a bit short.
A few test shots with Panasonic DMC-GF1 + 20mm F/1.7 pancake kit lens, pre-production versions.
Equipment of disinterest.
Leica announced three new models yesterday. As the press conference was held at 09/09/2009 9:00am (EDT), it's probably not a great surprise that the number one release was a successor for Leica M8 rangefinder. Naming it M9 wasn't probably any more surprising.
is the company's first full frame digital rangefinder.
I really and honestly can say that I wanted it to be good but unfortunately I have to tell that it's not. Not even near. Don't get me wrong it's still built with a precision of a Swiss watch and the chances are it will withstand a century of abuse but the electronics, for the lack of a better word, suck. M9 uses Kodak's 18mpxl sensor which judging by the sample shots is about 5 years behind in development to it's peers. That coupled with a price tag closing in on 7000 USD... Well... I think you get the idea. If they just have picked up the 24.5mpxl Sony sensor used for in Nikon D3x the story would have been quite different.
Then there was the
. I'll admit it's a bit more reasonable piece of equipment than M9 but still almost 3000 USD for what is essentially a Sigma DP2 with slightly inferior image quality doesn't make much sense either. Yet again the blame falls on sucky Kodak sensor.
Third launch was
, which saw a paper release a while back. Now they showcased the final production version. This actually shows some promise as a camera, even image quality seems quite OK for a mid-sized system (which is for the moment trailing behind the 35mm systems) but the price tag... 30000 USD for the body. Shees...
Samyang 85mm f/1.4 IF MC
Also sold with brands Polar, Sakar, Walimex and Vivitar (Series 1).
Fast 85mm manual lens available for Canon EF, Nikon F, Pentax K and Sony α / Minolta A mounts. And since it's a full manual lens it can be used in several other mounts with an adapter as well. What makes this interesting (enough for me to order one
) is the price/performance ratio. It's cheap, I mean borderline free. You can probably find one for less than $300. As for performance, apart from flare control it beats almost anything out there wide open and isn't really bad stopped down either and all this for the price which is around 1/10-1/5 of the price of it's competitors. Beating for example such lenses as Leica 80mm F/1.4 and Nikkor 85mm F/1.4.
More about it once I get my hands on it.
Samyang has also fairly large collection of other lenses, mostly hard to get oddball stuff like T2-mount reflex lenses and very weird zoom lenses like 650-1300mm F8-16. (You read right...
Sony Alpha NEX-3 and NEX-5
Sony teased us with tiny mirrorless interchangeable lens camera mock up at PMA in February. Now they're out for real. And yes they're ridiculously small. Both beat PENs and GF-1 hands down in terms of size. Furthermore they feature a 3/2 ratio APS-C sized 14mpxl sensor. Albeit Samsung NX-10 has the same size sensor compared to the Sonys it's HUGE and most probably can't really keep up in terms of image quality. Need to wait for proper reviews.
DPReview has previewed both so check it out for more information.
Boy I'm glad I didn't buy PEN yet.
NEX-3 double kit is going on order soon.
Samyang 35 mm F1.4 AS UMC
Fast normal lens for APS-C bodies available for Canon EF, Nikon F, Pentax K, Sony α / Minolta A, Samsung NX, and 4/3 (albeit here it would be counted as a short tele) mounts. Yet again a fully manual lens so if you can find an appropriate adapter even more systems are supported. No word on price yet and I haven't come across any tests or sample images but judging by the previous Samyang lenses this is probably going to be around $300 and image quality is going to be superb for the price.
I'm looking forward to seeing what this baby can do. Relatively cheap Sigma 30mm F1.4 was a bit of a disappointment but I'm actually expecting this to be slightly better in terms of image quality and for about half the price.
Equipment of disinterest.
Nikon V1 + Nikon J1
I'm sure the first thing that comes to mind when picking up a Olympus PEN or a GF-series Panasonic is, "Damn I wish the sensor would be even smaller..."
So Nikon to the rescue. New mirrorless Nikons have a sensor with 2.7 crop (crap) factor. Making most of the existing Nikon lenses pretty much useless adapted. Furthermore it has a proprietary flash hotshoe so you'll end up not being able to use any of your existing Nikon equipment with it nor being able to use accessories you've bought for it if you trade up.
What on earth were they thinking...
Haven't tried it and still can give a recommendation on it...
µ4/3 equipment of interest
Panasonic Lumix GX Vario 12-35 mm f/2,8 ASPH
Again something a bit on the pricey side of things but judging by the first reviews a absolutely fantastic piece of glass.
Panasonic Lumix GX Vario 35-200 mm f/2,8
or something or other...
A longer counterpart of the pair with 12-35mm. This thing will probably set your wallet back by quite a bit but if matches the apparent performance of the 12-35mm this will be one incredible lens.
Both are apparently going to be weather sealed! So chances are that there's a weather sealed Panny µ4/3 camera should be on the way as well.
Kodak jumping on the µ4/3 bandwagon.
Kodak announced some time ago a partnership with JK-imaging, which will be handling the manufacturing of Kodak branded cameras in the future.
Now Kodak announced the
µ4/3 camera. Not all that many details available yet but it will apparently feature backside-illuminated Sony CMOS sensor which promises good image quality and built in WiFi and/or Bluetooth. Release is expected on Q3 this year.
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