Lensbaby made a name for itself by providing selective-focus lenses and adapters for various dSLR mounts. For the uninitiated, the system allows you to use its various special-effects lenses, such Double Glass, Single Glass, Plastic, and Pinhole, in a special adapter that tilts in order to produce standard or odd depth-of-field effects. And it's not surprising that the company decided to branch out into the new interchangeable-lens (ILC) camera systems, starting with a Micro Four Thirds (MFT) mount. What is surprising is that the company's MFT debut includes a gratifying double bonus: it split the Composer into two … Read more
Olympus on Tuesday unveiled two new telephoto zoom lenses for its Micro Four Thirds system, and also updated its current 17mm optics with a new color chassis.
The company is touting the M.Zuiko Digital ED 75-300mm F4.8-5.6 lens as the smallest 600mm-equivalent lens (Micro Four Thirds cameras have a crop factor of 2x) on the market with a diameter of 2.8 inches and a length of 4.5 inches. Weight-wise, it tips the scale at less than a pound. This glass also comes with a new focusing motor that delivers silent and precise AF, which makes … Read more
While TVs have been facing the 3D onslaught since last January's CES, we who cover cameras and camcorders have still been bumping along on the shallow-depth-of-field video bandwagon. Now there's another fad to compete for our attention.
Though Panasonic claims its HDC-SDT750 is the first consumer 3D camcorder, in fact DXG also announced Tuesday that its $599.99 pistol-grip dual-lens 3D Pocket Camcorder bundled with its 3D 7-inch Media Player is expected to ship via Hammacher Schlemmer on August 6. The DXG records at a relatively low VGA resolution, though.
The HDC-SDT750, however, is a tweaked version of … Read more
Micro Four Thirds cameras such as the Olympus E-PL1 and Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 pride themselves on being smaller in size than dSLRs, and that's due to the removal of the mirror components. However, this implementation means such shooters can utilize only contrast-detection autofocus (AF), which is slower than phase-detection AF found on dSLRs.
A recent patent by Panasonic revealed that the company appears to be working on an adapter that'll allow phase-detection AF in Micro Four Thirds cameras. This attachment fits between the snapper's body and the lens. It seems that within the attachment, there's a … Read more
There's lots to like about Olympus' Micro Four Thirds cameras--the E-P1, E-P2 and E-PL1--but their seriously slow autofocus performance, most notably with nonprime lenses, can be a significant drawback for many casual users who rely on AF. The firmware update released this Thursday is yet another attempt on Olympus' part to bring performance for its entire PEN series into line with competitors from Panasonic and Samsung.
In addition to addressing AF speed for still capture for all the models, the firmware upgrade also tries to get a handle on the E-P2 and E-PL1's AF tracking accuracy--that is, the … Read more
It won't be shipping for a couple of weeks, but I got a chance to shoot a bit with a production model of Olympus' new 9-18mm f4-5.6 Micro Four Thirds (MFT) mount lens. Though MFT cameras from Panasonic and Olympus have been around for a few generations, they're new enough that the companies are still actively building out their stable of lenses. The eagerly awaited $699 9-18mm, a smaller version of Olympus' full-size Four Thirds-mount lens, delivers the least expensive wide angle available to date; Panasonic's 7-14mm model runs around $1,000.
It also incorporates internal … Read more
Panasonic may have been first company to market with its interchangeable-lens camera, but its early models made some missteps. The relatively reasonably priced Lumix DMC-G1 lacked video capture capability, and the video-capable GH1 came with an optimized lens that made it a pretty expensive package. The GF1 didn't really address the same market segment; instead it went after enthusiast users, a small group, as Olympus' E-P1 did.
With its two latest Micro Four Thirds camera announcements, Panasonic seems to be finding its footing at last. The new Lumix DMC-G10 ostensibly targets one of the major groups these cameras were initially intended for: diverting potential entry-level dSLR buyers seeking to upgrade from their point and shoots. Price is key here, and until Olympus announced its E-PL1 kit at $600, these cameras had been significantly more expensive than their dSLR alternatives. I say "ostensibly" targets because Panasonic has not released pricing information, but it did indicate that it will probably be the least expensive model in the line, which puts it somewhere between the E-PL1 and the Samsung NX10.
At the same time, Panasonic introduced its replacement for the G1, the Lumix DMC-G2; this time, it can capture video. In a feature twist, Panasonic endowed the G2 with a touch screen, the first in any consumer interchangeable-lens camera, including dSLRs (medium format digital cameras have had them for a while). Although I haven't seen the implementation, based on the product photos it seems like it'll be relatively intelligent.
The touch screen enables capabilities like touch focus and metering, which have been available in point-and-shoots for a few generations; however, it looks as if there are still plenty of direct-access buttons and navigation controls so that you're not stuck using touch when it's not the optimal interface. There's also a dedicated Intelligent Auto button to provide a one-touch override, which makes more sense to me than putting it on the mode dial. It also has a movie record button, which Panasonic didn't put on the G10, instead sticking with a specific capture mode. (A tentative thumbs-down on that decision.) Like the G10, Panasonic won't provide pricing and availability information until about 30 days before they cameras ship. I expect the G2's price to be pretty close to the G1's.… Read more
If you have a Micro Four Thirds camera and are looking for a fast lens, a really fast lens, Noktor has announced the HyperPrime 50mm f0.95. Wow, f0.95! Now that is a wide aperture. The lens has an affective focal length of 100mm when used on a Micro Four Thirds camera with its 2x magnification factor, and its f0.95 aperture is more than 2.5 stops faster than a traditional f3.5 kit lens.
The HyperPrime 50mm is a fully manual lens; both aperture setting and focusing are manual. No electronics to communicate with the camera body, … Read more
The first round of interchangeable-lens cameras offered a lot to appeal to enthusiasts, but at prices upward of $800, not quite a no-brainer for point-and-shooters in search of an upgrade. The bigger sensors in these models can generally deliver better photo quality at somewhat higher ISO sensitivities than the smaller snapshot models and they support video capture, but the alternative has been the moderately larger dSLRs with action-friendly optical viewfinders and kit prices starting at a significantly lower $600. Even the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1, which delivers the right set of performance and features for these folks in a compact, attractive design, comes in at an ouch-worthy $900 or so. Olympus' sleek E-P1 and E-P2 have attracted a lot of attention, but without a built-in flash they're simply not the right camera for snapshooters, especially at their relatively high prices. So Olympus is trying again to lure this lucrative audience to its Micro Four Thirds camp, this time with the more consumer-friendly designed and priced E-PL1.
At $600 for a kit with the 14-42mm (28-84mm equivalent) lens, a boxier but not unattractive aluminum body that's definitely smaller than a dSLR and this time with a pop-up flash, this latest model might just be a contender. (Unfortunately, I only had a preproduction model to play around with, so I can't address key aspects like performance and image quality.)
If you're one of the crowd attracted by the low price, though, keep in mind that even though both Olympus and Panasonic make compatible lenses for the system, because it's much newer there are still a lot fewer choices in Micro Four Thirds lenses than for dSLRs, and they tend to be more expensive than their SLR-compatible counterparts. For example, Olympus' 14-42mm lens lists for $299, while both Canon and Nikon's staple dSLR 18-55mm lenses run $199. The Micro Four Thirds lenses and bodies are more compact, though, and people are historically willing to pay more for less bulk.
While the elder E-P models mimic a traditional film design, the E-PL1 takes its design cues from digital cameras like the Canon PowerShot G series and Panasonic Lumix LX models. It will come in blue, champagne gold and silver and black, and the black and silver model still has a somewhat retro look. The plastic and aluminum body doesn't feel quite as tanklike as the E-P models, but it feels sturdy, with a relatively large, comfortable grip. Still, I found it just a tad slipperier to hold than I'd like, especially with winter-dry hands.
Some basic specs compared to its linemates:… Read more
Updatable firmware is a mixed blessing. On one hand, it can help keep your hardware from obsolescing as new accessories ship; fix bugs; and expand feature sets on older models. But it's also beginning to feel like camera manufacturers have jumped on the (annoying) ship now/patch later software bandwagon.
More and more, companies seem to announce firmware updates within weeks of a camera's widespread availability: the Canon EOS 7D, Pentax K-7, Olympus E-P1 are all among the cameras that had firmware updates available within the first few months after shipping. The latest to add to that list … Read more