It’s not every day that a camera company launches two major models the same day, but Pentax has done just that with the Q10 mirrorless interchangeable and the K-5 II / IIs cameras. The Q10 joins its equally tiny stablemate, the Q, to round out its line of mini-sensored, playing-card-sized cams that still let you change lenses. The new model boasts the same bokeh control and effects dial of the original Q, but adds a new grip and several color options, like the now-ubiquitous red shown above. Other features include a K-mount lens adapter, an included 15-45mm zoom telephoto, improved AF performance, full HD video recording, anti-shake technology, 5 fps continuous shooting capability and a pop-up flash. The new mini-shooter will go on sale in October at around $600 with the kit lens.
If you have bigger (and deeper) pockets for something more sporty, Pentax has also announced it’s top K-5 II and K-5 IIs models to replace the popular K5, which has been around since 2010. The weather- and cold-resistant, dustproof DSLRs retain the same 16.2-megapixel resolution of their predecessor, but Pentax claims the new SAFOX X AF sensor has improved sensitivity in low-light conditions and improved auto-focus. The K-5 IIs eschews the anti-aliasing filter found on its sibling, but is otherwise the same, with a 3-inch, 925k LCD, 7fps burst mode, magnesium alloy / stainless steel body and RAW data retrieve function. These models will also appear in October and dent your wallet to the tune of $1,200 and $1,350 for the K-5 II and IIs, respectively. All that might address some of the AF and light sensitivity beefs we heard before, but we’ll have wait for the next round of reviews to find out.
Remember the NEX-7? Ever since a days-long shooting session back in September, Sony’s prized mirrorless cam has eluded us — and the rest of the world. As you may recall, the flagship Alpha ILC was hit by the Thailand floods, resulting in delay after delay, eventually missing the holiday shopping season entirely before resurfacing late last month. Another week later and our beloved Sony Alpha NEX-7 has finally arrived, ready to take on the streets of New York City. So what exactly is the NEX-7, and why does it cost as much as a mid-range DSLR? First off, the 24.3-megapixel APS-C ILC captures, well, 24.3-megapixel images, offering the highest resolution of any mirrorless model on the market. Its APS-C sensor is identical to the one found in Sony’s A77 DSLR, measuring larger than Micro Four Thirds and on par with most full-size digital SLRs.
If having the ability to capture mural-size images ranks fairly low on your digicam wish list, you may take comfort in some of the NEX-7′s other features, such as its gorgeous and durable magnesium alloy body, built-in XGA OLED electronic viewfinder, 3-inch, 921k-dot articulating LCD and unique tri-navi control interface that enables direct access to key settings adjustments, including both aperture and shutter speed in manual mode. There’s also 1080/60p HD movie capture with full manual control and microphone input support, a 10 frames-per-second continuous shooting mode (with exposure and focus locked) and a BIONZ image processor that’s capable of delivering low-noise images all the way through ISO 16,000. These features combine to make the NEX-7 one of the most powerful mirrorless cameras to date, but are they enough to justify the $1,200 body-only price tag? Join us past the break to find out.
Remember the Lumix GF1? It was one of Panasonic’s first Micro Four Thirds cameras, setting the bar quite high for models to come. But the GF1′s successors — the GF2 and GF3 — did not live up to expectations, with the company gradually shifting the series towards transitioning point-and-shoot users, and away from early adopters who grew accustomed to the performance and build quality offered by that beloved early mirrorless cam. Now that familiar look and feel is back, in the form of the Lumix DMC-GX1. The 16 megapixel ILC includes a Live MOS sensor and Venus engine, with a maximum ISO of 12,800. Like other Panasonic G-series cameras, the GX1 uses a Micro Four Thirds mount, and is compatible with both Panasonic and Olympus lenses, including the standard 14-42mm zoom that ships with the $800 kit, or the Lumix G X Vario PZ 14-42mm retractable lens that comes packaged for $950. Existing lens owners can pick up just the body for $700.
What we really missed was the solid feel of the GF1 — everything from the housing to the controls felt well-made, while the design of later GF models, was… underwhelming. Picking up the GX1 helped to restore our confidence in the series — it was a pleasure to hold. There’s quite a bit of power under the hood, too. We weren’t able to test the GX1, which is expected to hit stores in mid-December, but Panasonic promises autofocus speeds of 0.9 second — you can focus simply by touching your subject on the 3-inch, 460,000-dot touchscreen. There’s also an external EVF option, which attaches to the camera’s hot shoe and offers a 1.44 million-dot display with 100-percent field of view. Movie buffs can capture 1080/60i HD video, with either MP4 or AVCHD compression. It goes without saying that the GX1 can shoot in RAW, and offers the complete gamut of advanced shooting modes. Of course the features don’t stop there, so jump past the break for the full PR from Panasonic.
Most of the interchangeable lens cameras we’ve seen to date seem to follow a standard mold: they have similarly sized bodies, comparable designs and either an APS-C or Micro Four Thirds sensor at the core. But recently, some manufacturers — namely, Nikon and Pentax — have begun shrinking camera bodies in an attempt to make them even more appealing to point-and-shoot users. The result: a smaller, lighter, more fashionable ILC — that also happens to have an itsy bitsy image sensor. Sensor size, not megapixel rating, translates directly to image quality, but also lens and body size, so you can either have an incredibly small body with an incredibly small sensor, or a larger body with a larger sensor. Are you willing to pay a premium for the “world’s smallest” interchangeable lens camera, even if it has the same size sensor used in many point-and-shoot cams available for a fraction of the cost? Pentax seems to think that you are — to the tune of $800.
The 12.4 megapixel Pentax Q is tiny — it’s so small, in fact, that you wouldn’t be alone in mistaking it for a toy. There is a fully functional camera inside that petite magnesium alloy housing, though it’s admittedly not as powerful as you’d expect an $800 camera to be. The pricey kit ships with an 8.5mm f/1.9 lens, and you can grow your collection from Pentax’s modest selection of Q-mount lenses, which also happen to have laughably small focal lengths (a 3.2mm fish eye, anyone?), due to the 1/2.3-inch backlit CMOS sensor’s massive 5.5x multiplication factor. So how does the Q fare when it comes to performance and image quality? Jump past the break to find out.
Nikon unveils V1 and J1 mirrorless cameras: 10.1MP CMOS, 1080p video, ships in October for $650+ (video)
Rumors of a Nikon mirrorless camera have been floating around the web since the middle of last year, and recent leaks have made us wonder not if the company would release a compact ILC — only when such an announcement would be made. Well, we finally have our answer. We journeyed to a secret location in midtown Manhattan tonight, with nary a peep from Nikon about what to expect until just before the clock struck midnight — and only after more than two hours of laptop-free house arrest and live Counting Crows. Only the rumored mirrorless cam seemed worthy of such unusual precautions, so we were relieved to discover that Nikon had managed to justify this late night adventure. The company has finally announced not one, but a pair of compact “1 System” mirrorless cameras, and the company seems totally fine with putting the focus speed up against the self-proclaimed champ. Head on past the break for more details!
Remember that cute little Micro Four Thirds camera that Olympus unveiled in June? Well, we just got word that the PEN E-PM1 Mini will ship next month, with an equally petite $500 price tag — including a 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens. The company is positioning the 12.3 megapixel camera as an upgrade for point-and-shoot users, as “the easiest PEN to use,” thanks to a new, simpler user interface and 23 Scene-Select modes. Still, the E-PM1 is a very capable interchangeable lens camera (ILC), and includes a 3-inch 460k-dot LCD, 1080i HD video capture, RAW shooting and a maximum sensitivity of ISO 12,800, along with Manual, Aperture Priority, and Shutter Priority shooting modes. The Mini will be available in purple, pink, brown, white, silver, and black — our color of choice. Jump past the break for the full scoop from Olympus.
Sony is on a roll with some fairly incredible product unveilings this morning. The Alpha A65 is almost an afterthought when compared to today’s NEX-7 and A77 announcements, but this $900 (body only) DSLR targets the vastly popular entry-level category, while still including a new OLED electronic viewfinder, 24.3 megapixel CMOS APS-C sensor, and 1080 / 60p AVCHD video capture. Many of the A77′s other features made the cut as well, including Sony’s Translucent Mirror Technology, an ISO range of 100-16,000, object tracking autofocus, and a high-speed shooting mode (though the pricier model can shoot 12 fps, compared to 10 fps on the A65). You will be missing out on the A77′s nifty three-way tilt and swivel LCD, though the A65′s display does support tilt. Also missing is a 19-point AF sensor (the A65′s has 15 points), a secondary text LCD, and support for an optical vertical grip. Jump past the break for a brief video walkthrough from Sony, along with a sneak peek at the A77.
Without a doubt, today’s biggest news on the NEX front is Sony’s 24.3 megapixel NEX-7. But for photographers looking for a bit less power (and a lower $600 body-only price tag), the NEX-5N delivers some of the 7′s headline features in a slimmed-down magnesium-alloy body. Sony boosted the NEX-5′s sensor from 14 to 16 megapixels in the N, also adding 1080 / 60p AVCHD video capture, a 10 fps continuous shooting mode, a touch-enabled 3-inch LCD, and a maximum sensitivity of ISO 25,600. The mid-range NEX cam also supports an optional XGA OLED electronic viewfinder, which attaches to its accessory port and carries a price tag of $350. We should note that although the accessory port appears to be similar to that used on the NEX-C3 and previous gen NEX-5, the OLED attachment is only compatible with the 5N. Want to know more? Jump past the break for a brief overview video, and check out the rather comprehensive gallery of press shots below.
There’s no question that Canon and Nikon still dominate the interchangeable lens camera (ILC) market, but with Olympus, Panasonic, Sony, and now Pentax all launching compact, inexpensive, mirrorless models in recent years, the legacy manufacturers have some catching up to do. In an interview confirming the restoration of pre-quake production levels in Japan, Canon camera division head Masaya Maeda told Reuters that the company is “considering the technical aspects” of creating a mirrorless camera, following up by saying “we will launch an interesting product next year.” The comment doesn’t exactly make a mirrorless Canon a sure thing, but it’s as solid a commitment as we can expect for now.
One possible concern for Canon is that entry into the new ILC category would cannibalize the company’s higher-end point-and-shoot offerings, which likely offer higher margins. But if mirrorless models gain market share over traditional DSLRs and Canon doesn’t have its own cam to match, the company could find itself racing to catch up, rather than dominating the ILC category as it has done in the past. Competition from Canon isn’t likely to start a price war, since there isn’t much elasticity at this point, but it could put pressure on other manufacturers to push the limits with image quality, accessory selection, and perhaps even lead to a future lens standard — though we’re probably more likely to see a Pentax Qthat can actually capture DSLR-quality images far before manufacturers decide to adopt a universal lens mount.
Yesterday, the Sony NEX-C3 was the world’s smallest interchangeable lens digital camera. It’s not anymore. That title now belongs to the Pentax Q. To achieve the camera’s incredibly small body size, Pentax had to shrink the sensor as well, making the Q not only the world’s smallest interchangeable lens camera (ILC), but also the cam with the world’s smallest sensor in an ILC. The Q uses a 12.4 megapixel, 1/2.3-inch backlit CMOS image sensor, manufactured by Sony — significantly smaller than the 4/3 and APS-C sensors used in Micro Four Thirds and Sony NEX-series cameras, respectively. As image quality is dependent on sensor size, the Q won’t be able to compete directly with any other ILC — instead, its images are most comparable to those you’d capture with a traditional digital compact (which, ahem, don’t cost $800).
The Q will ship in late September or early October with a 47mm f/1.9 kit lens for about $800, and will be available in black or white — abandoning the incredibly diverse color palette offered with other Pentax DSLRs. It will also be compatible with a 27.5-83mm zoom ($300), a 160-degree fisheye ($130), and 35mm and 100mm “toy camera” lenses ($80 each). The ILC will shoot 1080p/30 video with h.264 compression, 5 fps stills, and includes an HVGA-resolution 3-inch LCD and unique pop-up flash. A dedicated bokeh filter makes up for the camera’s natural inability to capture images with a shallow depth of field. During our brief hands-on, images captured at up to the Q’s highest available sensitivity of ISO 6400 appeared to be usable, at least based on a magnified LCD view (we weren’t permitted to capture images to our own SD card). The cam offers traditional DSLR capture modes, in addition a a variety of creative modes and Smart Effect Options, including an HDR capture mode. The version Pentax had on hand wasn’t fully baked, but jump past the break for our video walkthrough with a product manager.
Last week, we caught a glimpse of the Lumix DMC-GF3, a new addition to Panasonic’s ever-growing family of Micro Four Thirds shooters. Turns out, the camera we spied in that YouTube video was legit: the company just made it official and yes, it’s missing a hot shoe. Available in four colors with 12.1 megapixel resolution, it uses Panny’s latest imaging processor, shoots 1080i AVCHD video, and has a 3-inch touchscreen, ISO range of 160 to 6400, and the usual array of intelligent Auto enhancements. Unlike the GF2 — which isn’t going anywhere, by the way — it’s designed with the greenest of novices in mind, which means it forgoes things experienced photogs might like, such as a hot shoe and viewfinder. This one has a mono, not stereo mic, and swaps in a simple scroll wheel on the back side. Panasonic also rejiggered the touch UI to make certain settings easier to find, and added a miniature art filter — already a staple on Olympus’ PEN series. Oh, and as a beginner-friendly camera, it looks more like a point-and-shoot than a DSLR — it’s 15 percent lighter than the GF2, and 17 percent smaller.
The GF3 will be available in July for $699 with a 14mm lens, to be followed in late August by a $599 kit that comes with a 14-42mm lens. In the meantime, head on past the break and check out our impressions after spending a few minutes with a not-final unit and a 14mm lens. We only got to play with it in a fluorescent conference room, alas, but hopefully our handful of test shots will give you a taste of what you can do with the depth of field should you spring for the higher-end of the two kits.
Right on schedule, Panasonic’s gone and made its thinly-veiled Lumix DMC-G3 Micro Four Thirds shooter official. The Micro Four Thirds shooter succeeds the G2with a a 16 megapixel sensor, support for 1080p AVCHD video recording with stereo audio, 4fps burst shooting at full resolution, and an articulating, 3-inch touchscreen that supplants some of the dials adorning the last-gen model. In addition to poking around menus, you can touch that display to focus on your subject, and slide your finger to tweak exposure, white balance, and depth of field — all in all, not unlike how you might interact with a smartphone camera. And, at 11.8 ounces, the aluminum-clad body weighs about ten percent less than its predecessor. Look for it in June for $700 in brown, red, and white — in addition to your garden-variety black. In the market for something more compact? Panny also trotted out the Lumix-FH7, a 16 megapixel point-and-shoot with 4x optical zoom and 720p movie recording. Oodles of photos below with a press release after the break.
At this point, we’re guessing that it’s just a matter of time before the likes of Pentax and Nikon toss their hat into the ever-expanding mirrorless camera ring, and at least for the former, it looks as if that could come sooner rather than later. If the (predictably grainy) image above is to be believed, the NC-1 is dangerously close to being ready for primetime, and according to leaked materials, it’ll be the world’s smallest mirrorless camera when it gets official in May / June. Purportedly, we’ll find a 14 megapixel sensor and a pair of lenses to choose from — an 8.5mm f/1.9 prime lens as well as a 5-15mm f/2.8-4.5 standard zoom. Crazier still, the NC system could be followed by a larger system in the summer, with that fellow sporting an APS-C sized sensor and compatibility with K-mount lenses. ‘Course, we’d invite you to chase all of this with a dash of salt for now, but you can bet we’ll be scrounging for more.
In case you’re still wondering if Panasonic’s mirrorless Lumix GH2 is worth your $900, we’ve rounded up a handful of reviews to provide a pointer for your next big purchase. While most reviewers agree that this Micro Four Thirds camera appears to be very similar to its predecessor, they universally praise the subtly improved ergonomics, speedy liveview autofocusing, and refined image quality, especially with its 1080p AVCHD video recording (although Digital Camera Resource Page did notice some artifacting in its clips). Noise is also a non-issue up to about ISO 800 or 1600, though it’s apparent that the 16 megapixel stills are comparatively dull and, like those from many other MFTs, aren’t quite on par with DSLRs — expect plenty of manual processing work here, as demoed by the good folks over at Digital Photography Review. All in all, the GH2 is a great kit for high quality video capturing, bundled with a pretty good still performance that requires some extra TLC afterwards — kinda ironic in a way, but hey, this isn’t a problem for lovers of video bokeh. Head over to the links below for some in-depth analysis and walk-through before you leave a small dent on your bank account.
Today is the day that budget-minded Panasonic lovers have been waiting for, when the company finally announces what it’s going to charge domestically for the Lumix GF2 and a suite of other models it’s announced in the past months. The Micro Four Thirds interchangeable lens GF2 will ship this month for an MSRP of $499.95, body alone. If you want the new 14 – 42mm GF2K lens you’ll be looking at $599.95, the 14mm prime GF2C lens will cost $699.95, while the 12.5mm/F12 Lumix G, which captures pictures in 3D, is a relative bargain at $259.95. Pansonic also unleashed a flurry of MSRPs for other Lumix compact models unveiled at CES, with the FP5 and FP7 costing $200 and $230 respectively, the FH2 and FH5 priced at $140 and $150. More details and numbers in the pair of PR after the break.