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Sony have announced the release of the their all new Sony Alpha a6000, slated to start shipping in April.  Although the a6000 has a very ‘NEX’ look and feel, it is actually meant to be the replacement to one of our favorite cameras of the last year, the Sony NEX 6 (in our minds, the best of the NEX cameras), and is the next step in Sony’s efforts to phase out the NEX line while shifting everything under their ‘Alpha’ brand.  But does the new a6000 represent enough of an upgrade to make you forget about your favorite NEX?

What’s New?…

Although the new Alpha a6000 is the replacement for, and an upgrade to, the NEX 6, it’s actually prices a couple hundred dollars less than the NEX 6 was at the time of it’s release (the a6000 is $798 USD with the 16-50mm Kit Lens, and and $648 USD Body Only – vs. the NEX 6′s initial $1,000 USD price tag).  Sony also claim that the new a6000 has the “World’s Fastest Autofocus” system, a claim we have all heard before, but with a lag of just 0.06 seconds, thanks to the 179 phase-detect and 25 contrast-detect AF points, it’s hard to imagine that this little beastie will be anything but lightning quick. The camera can also put out 11 fps continuous shooting with tracking AF (see the video above – it’s impressive how clear each image of the moving parrot came out).   The a6000 also features a 24.3-megapixel APS-C sensor that Sony swears is different than the 24.3-megapixel APS-C sensor on Sony’s aging NEX-7, along with the latest Bionz X processor (the same one that is found on Sony’s Full Frame A7 and A7R).

Other Features

The Sony Alpha a6000 sports an OLED viewfinder with 100 percent frame coverage, a tilting 3-inch 921k-dot LCD, a pop-up flash, a Multi Interface Shoe, 1080/60p and 24p HD video capture with clean HDMI output, seven customizable buttons and 4K still image output to a compatible TV. You also have the option of using the 6 tile ‘NEX’ style menu or the new tab-style Alpha User Interface, which is much more user friendly. The a6000 also includes WiFi and NFC, allowing you to control your camera with, and transfer images to, a smartphone or tablet device via the Android or iOS app.   The a6000 also boasts an ISO capability up to 25,600 – but it remains to be seen how high you can go before files become unusable.

Conspicuous in it’s absence is the a6000′s apparent lack of a microphone input jack, which is increasingly important for a Hybrid Photographer.  So if you’re going to use the Alpha a6000 as part of your Hybrid system, you’ll need to think about picking up an external audio recorder like a Zoom H4n or Zoom H6.

My 2 Cents

On paper, the Sony Alpha a6000 looks like a worthy successor to the NEX 6, and this will definitely be a camera that we keep our eyes on.  Sony are famous for making tremendous sensors, so the Image Quality for stills and video should be wonderful.  Still, I’d still like to see a mic input jack, and although Sony have been playing catch up in the lens department, and many of those are from quality lens companies like Carl Zeiss, they’re still not quite on par with other mirrorless offerings…  yet.  Still, the a6000 checks enough of the right boxes and it looks like a glowing review waiting to happen.  In the end, it looks like Sony have another winner on their hands with the a6000, but we’ll reserve our final assessment until the a6000 sees wide release.

Buy the Sony Alpha a6000 on Amazon Here

(Video above courtesy of itsDanKReviews on Youtube)

2014 is barely 5 weeks old, yet we’ve already seen a flood of Pro level mirrorless camera systems hit the market over the last few months.  For instance, the full frame Sony A7, Sony A7R, Panasonic Lumix GX7 and the Olympus OM-D E-M1.  Now, Fujifilm are stepping up to the plate with their latest and possibly best X-series offering to date, the Fujifilm X-T1.  But have Fuji hit a home run with the newest X-cam?  Judging by the schlew of 5-Star reviews that have been steadily popping up across the photoverse, the answer seems to be an emphatic yes!  (video above from What Digital Camera)

Highlights of some X-T1 5 Star Reviews…

PocketLint says that “When it comes to retro with a modern twist has Fujifilm landed its biggest X-series success yet with the X-T1,” and they go on to rave about the X-T1′s EVF, which is one of the largest to be found on a digital camera.  “The X-T1’s viewfinder is an OLED panel with 2.36m-dot resolution, so its not only big to the eye but it looks crisp too. We’ve used it in a variety of conditions and have to say it’s one of the best that we’ve yet come to use.” says PocketLint, who also point to the camera’s retro design, stellar image quality and pro performance.

ePhotozine states that the X-T1 “offers good value for the money” and that it “is a stylish mix of new and old styling. The compact size, available thanks to the mirrorless sensor and lens mount design, makes it an appealing camera, and with the ever growing choice of high quality lenses, Fujifilm has a winning formula on their hands. More so now that this camera introduces a weather sealed body, and an impressively large and high resolution electronic viewfinder.”  They go on to say that “The X-T1 is introduced at a competitive price point, and with a number of offers at the moment on the lenses available, it could be very hard to resist purchasing this camera, particularly if you are yet to venture into the mirrorless camera market.”

PhotographyBlog call the Fujifilm X-T1 “the best X-series camera to date, and one of the best interchangeable lens cameras, mirrorless or otherwise, that we’ve ever had the pleasure of reviewing.”  They go on to say that “Image quality is very similar to the X-E2 that we recently reviewed, that is to say, outstanding. Noise is noticeable only by its almost complete absence throughout the ISO range for both JPEGs and RAW files (with the exception of the new headline-grabbing 51200 setting), with the removal of the optical low pass filter producing slightly more detail in the image. The excellent 18-55mm kit lens is also worthy of mention, with the fast maximum apertures making it easy to creatively throw the background out of focus, and delivering sharp results throughout the focal range – we’d go so far as recommending this option rather than buying the X-T1 body-only for would-be owners.”

My 2 Cents

The Fujifilm X-T1 is impressive, indeed.  Built around the same guts as the Fujifilm X-E2 – it’s 16.3 megapixel APS-C X-Trans CMOS Sensor and EXR Processor II technology are the same as in the X-E2 – the X-T1 also includes phase detection AF in sensor, a 3inch tilting screen (1040k dots), a 2.36m dot OLED EVF with eye-detection and 0.77x magnification, 8fps with continuous AF (up to 47 shots), ISO increased up to ISO 51200, Lens modulation Optimizer technology, Wi-Fi, Full HD video at up to 60fps, Mic Input/Remote socket (same socket used for either function), Mic level adjustments, Included EF-X8 flash, interval timer shooting up to 999 frames, and a weather sealed magnesium alloy body.  With an X-Trans Sensor on board, you can also count on stunning image quality that’s hard to beat.  In fact, RAW shooters might even be surprised by the delicious JPEGs that come out of the X-T1.

It’s not all wine and roses with the X-T1 though.  Reviewers point to it’s battery life, which many say could be better, but there is an optional external battery grip available which would alleviate this issue.  Also, although the X-T1 has a weather resistant magnesium alloy body, matching weather sealed lenses are only beginning to emerge at the time of this writing.  There are more promised for later in the year though, and the quality of existing X-Series lenses is generally outstanding.  Many reviewers also point out the X-T1′s video performance, which is not quite up to par with it’s competition.  This reviewer is also surprised by the lack of a touch screen, which I would think would be standard on a camera that sells for north of $1,000 USD.

On the whole, the Fujifilm X-T1 will have a broad appeal for pro photographers who demand the very best in image quality, especially in still photos.  Fuji have made great strides in improving the autofocus performance on their X-series cameras, and although the X-T1 is not quite on par with say, a micro 4/3 system, the X-T1 should be plenty quick enough for most photographers, save for maybe fast action sports.

It’s facing stiff competition from the other Pro Level systems now on the market, including the aforementioned Sony A7, Sony A7R, Panasonic Lumix GX7, Olympus OM-D E-M1 as well as the Panasonic Lumix GH3 and Olympus OM-D E-M5, but Fuji have been bringing it with image quality that’s in a class all by itself while constantly innovating and improving their products, so we feel that the X-T1 will hold it’s own just fine.

This is a great camera that will perform with the best of them, and we’re giving it Editor’s Choice status.

Buy the Fujifilm X-T1 and Battery Grip on Amazon Here

After a preliminary unveiling at CES 2014 in Las Vegas, Panasonic are announcing the release of their newest flagship micro 4/3 camera – the Lumix GH4.

Like it’s predecessor, the Lumix GH3 (which will remain available), the GH4 is designed as a “Hybrid Camera” that is ideal for shooting both top quality still photos and stunning HD video files, this time with 4k capability.  Panasonic have really upped their game in the video department with the GH4, and this is no small feat considering that video is an area where they are already at or near the top of the mountain.  The 5 SDI and 2 XLR connections on the Audio/Video Interface frankly blow me away as a video shooter, and it would seem that Panasonic, with this grip/interface, are eliminating the need for 3rd party pre-amp/interfaces like those from Beachtek or Juiced Link.

The GH4 also features a revised 16MP Live MOS sensor and an all new Venus Engine IX processor to allow for 4K video.  It’s capable of shooting up to 12 fps in burst mode and up to 1080p HD video at bitrates as high as 200Mbps.

The GH4 uses a new ‘Depth from Defocus’ autofocus system, which according to Panasonic can focus as fast as 0.07 sec with less hunting. It’s equipped with a 3″ 1.04M dot fully articulating OLED touch screen and an OLED EVF (Electronic Viewfinder) with a resolution of over 2 million dots. Other great features include Wi-Fi, which I know from personal use to be outstanding, NFC (Near Field Communication – a touch to pair feature), a PC sync port, highlight focus peaking, zebra pattern, luminance level adjustment, cinema gamma presets, shadow control, and an electronic shutter only “silent mode.”

The Panasonic Lumix GH3 is already one of the best pro level video cameras that you can get in it’s price range, and with the new GH4′s video recording capabilities – which again include 4K, 1080p with support for the IPB and ALL-Intra codecs – Panasonic seem to be aiming to be the undisputed king of the mountain. Only time will tell if they will be able to knock off their competition.

Pricing and availability will be announced at a future date.  For more info, see Panasonic’s official press release, specs and photos below.

      
 
                    

Official Press Release:

The Panasonic LUMIX GH4 DSLM (Digital Single Lens Mirrorless) Camera is the World’s First* DSLM with 4K Video Recording Capability

Designed To Meet Professional Needs for Both Still and Video Capture

Panasonic is proud to introduce the ultimate still/video Digital Single Lens Mirrorless (DSLM) camera for both photographers and cinematographers alike. The Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GH4 (GH4) is the world’s first DSLM with 4K cinematic recording capability. The image quality for both still and video is dramatically improved by Panasonic’s cutting-edge technologies.

The newly developed 16.05-megapixel Digital Live MOS Sensor for the GH4 excels both in sensitivity and response and suppresses rolling shutter effect even when using the electronic shutter. The Venus Engine image processor has been newly developed dramatically boosting its performance with a new quad-core CPU that allows high speed signal processing that is required for rich 4K video recording. Integrating superior noise reduction systems, the GH4 enables shooting at maximum ISO 25,600. Sensitivity, gradation performance, resolution and color reproduction are dramatically improved to achieve even higher picture quality. The GH4 boasts high speed burst shooting at 12 frames per second (AFS) up to approx.40 (including RAW) / approx.100 (excluding RAW) and 7.0 fps(AFC) to capture fast moving subjects.

The new GH4 has evolved into a professional video camera. One of the most prominent advances is unlimited 4K video recording (Cinema 4K: 4096×2160 / 24 fps and QFHD 4K: 3840×2160 / up to 30 fps) in MOV/MP4*2. The GH4 is also capable of recording Full- HD video with ultra high bit rate at 200 Mbps (ALL-Intra) or 100 Mbps (IPB) without recording time limit*2. Users can freely choose the format from MOV, MP4, AVCHD Progressive and AVCHD at a variety of frame rates according to the usage. For professionals working globally, the system frequency can be easily selected between 59.94Hz (23.98Hz) / 50.00Hz / 24.00Hz. The GH4 is also capable of real-time image output to an external monitor via an optional micro HDMI cable simultaneously while recording video. For more unique video expression, VFR(Variable Frame Rate) or Time Lapse/Stop Motion Animation can be produced with GH4 without postproduction processing. In addition, a variety of practical functions required for professional video recording are newly integrated.

The high-precision Contrast AF system in the GH4 is further enhanced by Panasonic’s integration of DFD (Depth from Defocus) technology which shortens the time to focus to achieve ultra high speed AF of approx.0.07 sec*3. Not only speed but also the operability is enhanced thanks to the addition of Face / Eye Detection AF or 49-point AF with Custom Multi AF mode.

The GH4 boasts newly developed high-precision, high-speed dual OLED (Organic Light-Emitting Diode) displays of 2,359K-dot LVF (Live View Finder) and 1,036K-dot rear monitor. Both the LVF and rear monitor adopt an OLED to achieve high speed response with minimum time lag while enhancing the resolution. Notably, the OLED for the LVF in GH4 boasts 10,000:1 high contrast for superior color reproduction.

To be tough enough to withstand heavy field use, the main structure of the GH4 is composed of a magnesium alloy full die cast front/rear frame. It also features splash / dustproof construction by sealing every joint, dial, and button. The shutter unit allows a max. 1/8000 shutter release and is also redesigned to be even more durable for approx. 200,000 actuations.*4

1. The World’s First Digital Single Lens Mirrorless (DSLM) Camera Recording High Quality Video in 4K – To Meet Professional Quality and Standards

One of the most prominent advances is unlimited*1 4K video recording (Cinema 4K: 4096×2160 / 24 fps and QFHD 4K: 3840×2160 / up to 30 fps) in MOV/MP4*2. The GH4 is also capable of Full- HD video with ultra high bit rate at 200 Mbps (ALL-Intra) or 100 Mbps (IPB), which does not have limit of recording time. Users can freely choose the format from MOV, MP4, AVCHD Progressive and AVCHD at a variety of frame rates according to the usage. In MP4 / MOV, high quality sound in LPCM (Linear Pulse Code Modulation) is recordable.

The GH4 is also capable of real-time image output to an external monitor in 4:2:2 / 8-bit*5 via an optional micro HDMI cable simultaneously while recording video. Even 4:2:2 / 10-bit is available which is suitable for the professional requiring serious monitoring of the footage. Users can choose to output only the recording content or the content with the menus individually depending on a display.

Plus, the VFR (Variable Frame Rate) enables recording video with slow/fast motion such as 96 fps, 4x, all in Full-HD*6. Time Lapse / Stop Motion Animation video can be produced in camera, too.

For more precise control over video image quality, the GH4 integrates Zebra Pattern to prevent white wash-out and Focus Peaking to aid with manual focusing. The GH4 even offers a Master Pedestal Adjustment with 15 steps. Gamma presets exclusively for video recording are now available in Creative Video mode – “CINELIKE D” and “CINELIKE V” for rich video expression. Synchro Scan mode is also newly available to reduce and suppress flicker. It is possible to display a Center Marker while recording.

The GH4 is equipped with functions that meet global standard for synchronous video recording. A 1KHz Test Tone and Color Bars (SMPTE / EBU / ARIB Standard) are available on the GH4. The camera also embeds SMPTE-compliant Time Code either in Rec Run or Free Run count-up methods, which makes it easy to synchronize the multiple video footage or sound source in the post production workflow. Time Code Value can be started at any point of [Reset], [Manual Input] and [Current Time]. Drop frame or Non Drop Frame time code is selectable*7. When recording the video in MOV, AVCHD Progressive, AVCHD or MP4 (LPCM), the GH4 automatically generates multiple seamless files for continuous recording. During playback, the AVCHD Progressive / AVCHD files are reproduced with seamless, interruption-free continuity.

A total of 22 LUMIX G digital interchangeable lenses offer any creative perspective according to the scene, including HD lenses allowing silent, high performance AF control suitable for video recording.

2. The Newly Developed 16.05-Megapixel Digital Live MOS Sensor and Venus Engine Achieving High Speed, High Sensitivity Image Recording

Panasonic developed a new 16.05-megapixel Digital Live MOS Sensor for the GH4 that achieves high quality, high sensitivity image recording with quick response. Approx. 50% higher speed signal readout suppresses rolling shutter effect even when using an electronic shutter or recording video. Taking full advantage of the Live MOS Sensor, dynamic range is expanded by max.1/3 stop at low ISO sensitivity.

The Venus Engine image processor is newly developed boosting its performance with a quad-core CPU that lets high speed signal processing required for rich video recording such as 4K. The advanced Multi-process NR (Noise Reduction) applies effective noise reduction and edge processing according to each component frequency. Plus, a newly added Random Filter granulates chromatic noise to be blended into the image even more naturally. As a result, a max. ISO 25,600 has been achieved. On the other hand, optimizing the combination design of new sensor, new imaging engine and low pass filter enhances the limit resolution by more than 5% while suppressing moire. A newly adopted aperture filter is capable of controlling over a wider frequency range. It adjusts the amount of sharpness according to the frequency level, resulting in faithful stereoscopic effect. The Venus Engine also improves color reproduction with accurate evaluation of each color even if it is similar not only in color phase but also in saturation and luminosity.

3. High Speed Response Required for Professionals and Practical AF Options

All LUMIX G cameras use the Contrast AF for its focusing system. Compared with the Phase difference system AF, the Contrast AF boasts higher accuracy especially in shooting with a bright lens with a small F value. With a LUMIX G digital interchangeable lens capable of digital signal exchange at max. 240 fps, the focusing is stunningly quick and smooth. The Contrast AF system in the GH4 is further enhanced by Panasonic’s integration of DFD (Depth from Defocus) technology which even shortens the time to set focus. It calculates the distance to the subject by evaluating 2 images with different sharpness level while consulting the data of optical characteristics of the current lens. As a result, the GH4 achieves ultra high speed AF of approx.0.07 sec*8. This improvement benefits more as focusing distance increases. The burst speed of shooting is dramatically faster than its predecessor, the DMC-GH3, boasting high speed burst shooting at 12 fps (AFS) up to approx.40 (including RAW) / approx.100 (excluding RAW) and 7.0 fps (AFC) to capture fast moving subjects in-focus.

In addition, the stability of continuous focusing is improved by minimizing wobbling in both still and video recording. Together with the quick start-up and short release time lag, the GH4 never lets photographers miss fleeting shooting opportunities.

The GH4 incorporates Eye Detection AF which automatically sets focus right on the eye of human face. Focus point is increased from 23 (GH3) to 49 points for more flexible composition together with Custom Multi mode in which users can freely select the blocks needed to focus out of the 49 points. Now the 1-area AF area can be seamlessly magnified not only in manual but also in auto focus mode. Tracking AF is also advanced in the point of tracking accuracy by estimating the subject’s movement. Focus point can be set on any part of the 100% field of view. The time to show magnified image can be selectable in Pin-point AF. Focus point can be magnified either with the MF ring or with cursor key in MF Assist mode. In the Touch Pad AF, the position can be set either on absolute/relative coordinate. Together with the Eye Sensor AF which starts focusing by just looking into the viewfinder, the AF/AE lock button works for AF for quick auto focusing even when using the LVF.

4. Stunning Mobility Supported by Mechanical Advancements

The GH4 boasts newly developed high-precision, high-speed dual OLED (Organic Light-Emitting Diode) displays for LVF (Live View Finder) and rear monitor. Increasing the resolution of display area to 2,359K-dot, the new 16:9 Wide Screen LVF boasts approx.1.34x / 0.67x (35mm camera equiv.) magnification and 100% field of view and eye point of approximately 21 mm. Thanks to the newly designed large eyecup, the visibility of LVF is dramatically improved. The image output between the LVF and the rear monitor is switched automatically with the eye sensor on the LVF, which features options of sensitivity – high, low and off – to reduce false operation during touching on the rear monitor. The 3.0-inch 1,036K-dot free-angle OLED rear monitor (3:2 aspect) with wide-viewing angle rotates 180° to the side and tilts 270° up and down offers approx. 100% of field of view. This rear monitor adopts static touch control for more smooth operation either in shooting or in playback. Both LVF and rear monitor adopted OLED to achieve high speed response with a minimum time lag while enhancing the resolution. Notably, the OLED for the LVF in GH4 boasts 10,000:1 high contrast for superior color reproduction. Now the excellent visibility comes closer to OVF. On the other hand, live view image can also be displayed in monochrome through the LVF enabling concentrating on contrast.

Even a moment’s waste matters in professional shooting, but it is possible to make target setting intuitively with the GH4. Three dials are equipped on the top and back of the camera and the main dial is now comes with a lock structure. A dedicated button allows direct reach to exposure compensation, white balance adjustment or ISO setting and max.5 settings can be assigned to the Fn button. All these external components are designed to be operated easily without taking eyes off the viewfinder.

Both built-in/external flash can be synchronized with max.1/250 second shutter speed.

5. Expandability for A Variety of Workflows

Easy Wireless Connectivity via Wi-Fi® / NFC with Smartphones
The GH4 integrates Wi-Fi® connectivity (IEEE 802.11 b/g/n) with NFC (Near Field Communication) technology camera to offer a more flexible shooting experience and instant image sharing with easy operation. With the Panasonic “Image App”, remote shooting of both photo and video is available by using the smartphone/tablet as a remote shutter with a monitor. Not only releasing the shutter, but zooming, focusing and settings of shutter speed, aperture, exposure compensation are all controllable with a smartphone / tablet. All these flexible shooting / browsing / sharing styles are made possible with the GH4 and the Panasonic’s dedicated application software, the Panasonic Image App for iOS / Android smartphones / tablets. It is also easy to embed geotags in the image after shooting. For the smartphone/tablet without NFC, the camera can display a dedicated QR code on its monitor to complete pairing easily by reading the code.

Output/Input Terminals
The GH4 comes with a variety of connection terminals for more flexible shooting options. The 3.5mm microphone jack is for high quality audio recording using an external microphone and the 3.5mm headphone jack which enables monitoring the audio while shooting video real-time. It is also capable of real-time image output on an external monitor via an optional HDMI micro cable simultaneously while recording video. In addition to these, the GH4 complies with AV outputs (Audio 2ch, Composite), flash sync terminal and 2.5mm jack for remote controller.
For reliable recording of rich video, the GH4 complies with UHS Speed Class 3 (U3) which is the new speed class standard of SD memory card. The UHS Speed Class 3 (U3) guarantees a constant minimum write speed of 30MB/s to respond to market needs for 4K video.

Optional Accessories
A GN58 is a powerful External Flash (DMW-FL580L) and is newly added to the LUMIX G optional accessories which allows high speed charging of approx.1.7 sec. Not only with wireless control but also LED video light function are available. The Stereo / Shotgun Microphone (DMW-MS2) which enables stereo/shotgun switch even allows more precise sound recording with selectable Super Shotgun / Lens Auto / Manual option on GH4.

6. Other Features

Luminance Level Adjustment
Just as the concept of “the ultimate hybrid DSLM camera” identifies, the GH4 supports smooth postproduction for photographers migrating to videography. In addition to the standard luminance level of 16-235*9 and 16-255*9, GH4 offers 0-255*9 which is equivalent to photo standard.

Focus Peaking
For more practical control over focusing, the GH4 incorporates Focus Peaking function that shows the peak of focus in MF and AF+MF mode. Users can see the peaking of focus while monitoring the subject in live view. It can be set to HIGH / LOW / OFF and the color can also be changed to blue, white or orange according to the color of the shooting scene during live view. Users can take advantage of this function when controlling the camera with a smartphone / tablet via Wi-Fi in both photo / video recording.

Silent Mode
This mode switches shutter from mechanical to electronic and turns all sound (AF, operation) off while suppressing the emission of the AF assist lamp and flash with just a single setting for special shooting occasions.

Highlight/Shadow Control
The Live View function is also advanced digitally making it possible to adjust highlight / shadow separately with the front/rear dial. Three patterns of settings can be customized in addition to the three presets.

RAW data development in Camera
The GH4 is capable of developing RAW images in camera. In addition to the color space setting ( sRGB / Adobe RGB ), the parameter of white balance, exposure compensation, contrast, highlight/shadow, saturation, noise reduction, sharpness or hue can be flexibly adjusted while LUMIX’s Photo Style, Intelligent D-range Control, Intelligent Resolution can also be applied.

Interface Unit (DMW-YAGH)
Panasonic offers an new optional Interface Unit (DMW-YAGH) exclusively for professional/industrial workflow with GH4 that enables more powerful video transmission. It complies with Full HD (4:2:2 / 10-bit) offering four parallel outputs and these can be used for 4K (4:2:2 / 10-bit) output – both with time code*10. The XLR input terminals (2ch) are also equipped to connect line or condenser microphone. When connecting with microphone, volume can be controlled for L and R separately, which can be monitored LED audio level display on the back of the unit. The 12V DC IN is highly compliant with large-capacity industrial battery and continuously supplies the GH4 with power*11.

Footnotes:

*For a digital single lens mirrorless camera as of February 7, 2014.
*2 Use SDXC/SDHC Memory Card compatible with UHS Speed Class 3 (U3) when using high bit rate video recording mode over 100 Mbps.
*3 In AFS, With LUMIX G VARIO 14-140mm / F3.5-5.6 ASPH. / POWER O.I.S. or LUMIX G X VARIO 12-35mm / F2.8 ASPH. / POWER O.I.S.
*4 Panasonic in-house testing.
*5 Setting the HDMI output picture quality
[4:2:2 10bit]:You can output the image through the HDMI connection in higher picture quality, but you cannot record it as a motion picture or still pictures. Ideal when the HDMI output is to be saved on external devices.
[4:2:2 8bit]:You can record the image while outputting it through the HDMI connection. Ideal for recording while checking the motion picture on an external monitor. When using 4:2:2 / 8-bit output, video is recorded in 4:2:0 / 8-bit on SDXC/SDHC Memory Card.
*6 In 24p playback. Effect value varies depending on the recording format and frequency.
*7 When system frequency [59.94Hz] is selected
*8 In AFS, With LUMIX G VARIO 14-140mm / F3.5-5.6 ASPH. / POWER O.I.S. or LUMIX G X VARIO 12-35mm / F2.8 ASPH. / POWER O.I.S.
*9 8-bit
*10 Setting the HDMI output picture quality [4:2:2 / 10bit]
You can output the image through the HDMI connection in higher picture quality, but you cannot record it as a motion picture or still pictures. Ideal when the HDMI output is to be saved on external devices. When using 4:2:2/10-bit output, simultaneous video recording on SDXC/SDHC Memory Card in the camera is not possible.
*11 HDMI output from the camera is not possible when the camera is mounted on the Interface Unit.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 specifications

Body type
Body type SLR-style mirrorless
Body material Magnesium alloy
Sensor
Max resolution 4608 x 3456
Other resolutions 4608 x 3072, 4608 x 2592, 3456 x 3456, 3264 x 2448, 3264 x 2176, 2448 x 2448, 2336 x 1752, 2356 x 1560, 1920 x 1080, 1744 x 1744, 1824 x 1368, 1824 x 1216, 1824 x 1024, 1712 x 1712
Image ratio w:h 1:1, 4:3, 3:2, 16:9
Effective pixels 16 megapixels
Sensor photo detectors 17 megapixels
Sensor size Four Thirds (17.3 x 13 mm)
Sensor type CMOS
Processor Venus Engine IX
Color space sRGB, AdobeRGB
Color filter array Primary color filter
Image
ISO Auto, 200-25600
White balance presets 5
Custom white balance Yes (4 spots)
Image stabilization No
Uncompressed format RAW
JPEG quality levels Fine, standard
File format
  • JPEG (DCF, Exif 2.3)
  • RAW (RW2)
  • MPO
Optics & Focus
Autofocus
  • Contrast Detect (sensor)
  • Multi-area
  • Center
  • Selective single-point
  • Tracking
  • Single
  • Continuous
  • Touch
  • Face Detection
  • Live View
Autofocus assist lamp Yes
Digital zoom Yes (2x, 4x)
Manual focus Yes
Number of focus points 49
Lens mount Micro 4/3 Lens Mount
Focal length multiplier
Screen / viewfinder
Articulated LCD Fully articulated
Screen size 3″
Screen dots 1,036,000
Touch screen Yes
Screen type OLED
Live view Yes
Viewfinder type Electronic
Viewfinder coverage 100%
Viewfinder magnification 0.67×
Viewfinder resolution 2,359,000
Photography features
Minimum shutter speed 60 sec
Maximum shutter speed 1/8000 sec
Exposure modes
  • Program
  • Shutter priority
  • Aperture priority
  • Manual
Built-in flash Yes
Flash range 17.00 m (at ISO 200)
External flash Yes (via hotshoe or PC sync)
Flash modes Auto, auto/redeye reduction, forced on, forced on/redeye reduction, slow sync, slow sync/redeye reduction, forced off
Flash X sync speed 1/250 sec
Drive modes
  • Single-shot, continuous, bracketing, self-timer, interval
Continuous drive 12 fps
Self-timer Yes (2 or 10 secs (single or three-shot))
Metering modes
  • Multi
  • Center-weighted
  • Spot
Exposure compensation ±5 (at 1/3 EV steps)
AE Bracketing ±3 (3, 5, 7 frames at 1/3 EV, 2/3 EV, 1 EV steps)
WB Bracketing Yes (3 exposures in blue/amber or magenta/green axis)
Videography features
Resolutions 4096 x 2160 (24p), 3840 x 2160 (24p, 25p, 30p), 1920 x 1080 (24p, 25p, 30p, 50p, 60p), 1280 x 720 (24p, 25p, 30p), 640 x 480 (25p, 30p)
Format MPEG-4, AVCHD
Videography notes Supports IBP and ALL-Intra codecs; 1080p data rates up to 200 Mbps
Microphone Stereo
Speaker Mono
Storage
Storage types SD/SDHC/SDXC
Connectivity
USB USB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)
HDMI Yes (micro-HDMI)
Microphone port Yes
Headphone port Yes
Wireless Built-In
Wireless notes 802.11b/g/n, WPA/WPA2, WPS, Wi-Fi Direct
Remote control Yes (via DMW-RSL1 wired remote)
Physical
Environmentally sealed Yes
Battery Battery Pack
Battery description DMW-BLF19 lithium-ion battery and charger
Battery Life (CIPA) 500
Weight (inc. batteries) 560 g (1.23 lb / 19.75 oz)
Dimensions 133 x 93 x 84 mm (5.24 x 3.66 x 3.31″)
Other features
Orientation sensor Yes
Timelapse recording Yes
GPS None

With the advent of cameras such as the Panasonic Lumix GH3 and Olympus’ OM-D E-M5 and the new OM-D E-M1, we have finally witnessed the realization of professional level mirrorless camera systems, complete with weather sealing.  But as MC Contributor and Hybrid Photography Pioneer Will Crockett (HybridPhoto.PRO) will tell you, “weather resistant” does not mean “weather proof.”  In the video above, Coach Crockett explains some easy and inexpensive ways to protect your camera gear, even in the harshest of Polar Vortexes.

Will Writes…

The Lumix GH3 is promoted as a “weather sealed” camera and includes a few of the lenses in that claim. How far are you willing to test this and what is “too far”? I have and have used many of these Lumix cameras and lenses, and I’ve never been known to baby my gear. Here’s a few good tips that will allow you to get comfortable with snowy day shoots, as well as how to keep the snow and moisture from ruining the shot – and the camera.

My 2 Cents…

Mirrorless cameras just keep on getting better and better, but even if you don’t have one of the flagship, weather sealed beasties and opt for a mid range model like the Panasonic Lumix G6, Panasonic Lumix GM1, Fuji XM1 or Olympus PEN E-PL5 – or even if you have an older model – Coach Crockett’s tips can save you a bunch of headaches.  I’ve personally used the ziplock bag method myself, and it works well in some sticky situations.  A word to the wise, though…  if you’re going to have your lens exposed to any of the elements, you might want to skew towards using a cheaper, kit lens vs. one of your thousand dollar plus pro zooms.

If you want to step up the level of protection for your gear, you can invest in a weather proof camera cover for less than $20 USD.  My good friend and fellow Hybrid Photographer Carol Schlintz used one when she joined me on a recent outing to Niagara Falls, USA (see video below), and believe me, there are a lot of places there where you’ll get extremely wet – including the Maid of the Mist Boat Tour and the Cave of the Wind Tour.  Just watch the video and you’ll see what I mean…  you’ll see Carol’s camera cover too, and it rocked!.

A Day at the Falls

By the way, Carol used a Panasonic Lumix GH3 and a Panasonic Lumix LX7 fixed lens compact camera, while I switched back and forth between a Panasonic Lumix G5 (I’ve since picked up a Lumix G6) and my own Panasonic Lumix LX7, which I used for the majority of the images you’ll see in the video.  When we got into places where the water was coming down hard, I tucked my LX7 under the plastic rain slickers you’ll see in the video.

Buy the Panasonic Lumix GH3, Panasonic Lumix G6, Panasonic Lumix LX7 or a Weather Proof Camera Cover on Amazon Here

MC Editor in Chief Scott Giorgini interviews Hybrid Photography Pioneer “Coach” Will Crockett about his latest projects in the world of Hybrid Photography, his upcoming appearance at the PMA Show in Las Vegas on Sunday, January 5th 2014, and what is coming in the future for Hybrid Photographers.

The topic of Will’s presentation at the show will be “The Profitable eProduct” – and he’s got some really great stuff in the works!  Best of all, you don’t have to be at the show to see the presentation.  Just go to >>  HybridLIVE.pro << on Sunday, January 14th 2014 at 6pm EST (3pm PST) and you can watch the LIVE STREAMING WEBCAST of the event as it unfolds – a PMA first!

Our good friends from Panasonic are sponsoring Will’s appearance and are offering some incredible deals in honor of the event.  For 24 hours only, you’ll be able to get your hands on one of the world’s best Hybrid Cameras, namely – the Panasonic Lumix GH3 (and Pro Lenses), at an unbelievable discount! (Will covers the details in the video above)

During Will’s presentation on Sunday, he’ll reveal a “super secret coupon code” (which will also be available on HybidPhoto.pro) that will get you one of 3 Panasonic Lumix GH3 “Crockett Kits” as the lowest price ever.  Once you get the code, just go to Shop.Panasonic.com and plug it in to get the deals.  (Limit – 5 per customer)

Please note that neither Will nor I are making commissions from any of these purchases, but we’re thrilled to have a great camera like the GH3 available to our readers at such a huge discount.

Enjoy the interview!

SG

A new year is upon us, so it’s time to look back at the year that was and compile our list of the Best Mirrorless Cameras of 2013.

Make no mistake, 2013 was a spectacular year in the mirrorless camera world, with Sony releasing the world’s first full frame interchangeable lens cameras in the Sony A7 and Sony A7R, as well as the follow up to the RX100 fixed lens compact (Sony RX100M II) and updated Sony NEX 5T.  Olympus started the year with it’s newest PEN model, the all new Olympus PEN E-P5, and later in the year, they released the successor to the highly popular (and groundbreaking) Olympus OMD-E-M5, namely their all new Olympus OM-D E-M1 (still trying to figure out the reduced model number).  Meanwhile, Fuji unleashed the Fujifilm X100s fixed lens compact and interchangeable lens Fujifilm X-E2, with an all new X-Trans II Sensor and EXR II Processing technology – replete with significantly faster autofocus ability – as well as the mid-level Fujifilm XM-1.  Not to be outdone, Panasonic unveiled their latest high end model in the Panasonic Lumix GX7, while adding a mid-range monster with high end capability in the Panasonic Lumix G6, as well as the very surprising (and very tiny) Panasonic Lumix GM1 micro 4/3 camera.  Mirrorless up and comer Samsung also weighed in with the impressive Samsung NX300.

While we’re busy putting together out list of the best of the best, we thought we’d get YOUR take, so please take a moment to cast your vote below.  The video above is from the gang over at Reviewed.com (look for the MirrorlessCentral best of the year, coming soon!).  Although they’re still among the best cameras around and are very popular, we’re omitting the Panasonic Lumix GH3, Sony RX1, Olympus PEN E-PL5 and Sony NEX 6 because they were part of our 2012 roundup.

 

What is YOUR pick for the Best Mirrorless Camera of 2013?

View Results

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Unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock somewhere, it’s hard to deny that more and more photographers are branching into Hybrid – the skillful blending of still photos, video, audio, etc. to create a new art form.  As I’ve stated many times in this space (and others), one of the most important yet commonly overlooked pieces of the Hybrid Puzzle is Audio.  Frankly, a lot of those taking their first steps into Hybrid Photography are a bit perplexed by the video aspect of it, and don’t even want to consider good quality audio, but quality audio is the key component that will make or break your Hybrid eProducts (see my article about Hybrid Audio on our sister website, HybridPhoto.pro).  Doing audio right can mean the difference between having a little kid say “I love you, Mommy” in a warm cuddly voice or having that same kid sound like they’re inside of a cold garbage can.

The good news is, doing audio right is not difficult…  provided you have the tools and know a few simple techniques.

One of my favorite tools for capturing top quality audio over the last several years has been the RODE VideoMic Pro Shotgun Microphone.  It’s been the industry standard for many top professionals for capturing high quality audio in the studio and in the field.  Now, the same folks who brought us the VideoMic Pro have released the all new RODE VideoMic Go On Camera Microphone.  But does the new smaller, lighter and less expensive microphone hold it’s own next to it’s more established sibling?

Out favorite Aussie, Blunty got his hands on the VideoMic Pro and put it through it’s paces, comparing it to the VideoMic Pro in his latest video for DigiDirectTV.

 

Here’s what Blunty had to say (plus specs on the VMG)…

The VideoMic Go is designed for the user that wants to get high-quality audio without requiring the advanced filters and level adjustment settings of the RØDE VideoMic and VideoMic Pro.  At only 73 grams it is also incredibly light weight and ideal for ‘point & shoot’ and GoPro cameras in addition to DSLR.

Lightweight Design
At only 73gm, it is RODE’s lightest camera microphone

No Battery Necessary
With the camera’s plug-in power all you need to do is plug in and GO

Rycote® Lyre® Suspension
Hard wearing and super effective isolation from bumps and vibration

Specifications

Acoustic Principle: Line Gradient
Frequency Range: 100Hz ~ 16,000Hz
Equivalent Noise: 34dBA SPL (A – weighted per IEC651)
Signal Noise: 60dB SPL (A – weighted per IEC651)
Power Required: Plug-in power required (330uA @ 2.5V)
Dimensions: 167mmL x 79mmH x 70mmD
Directional Pattern: Super-Cardioid
Sensitivity: -35dB re 1V/Pa (17.8mV @ 94dB SPL) ±2dB @ 1kHz
Maximum SPL: 120dB (@ 1kHz, 1% THD into 1kΩ load)
Dynamic Range: 96dB (per IEC651)
Output Connection: 3.5mm stereo mini-jack
Weight: 73g

My 2 Cents

I LOVE the RODE VideoMic Pro, and the new VideoMic Go looks like a winner for those just getting into Hybrid Photography.  RODE make great stuff, and the VideoMic Go is no exception.

As Blunty states in the video, it’s smaller and lighter than the Pro version, but to me, although the audio isn’t quite on par with the VideoMic Pro, it ain’t far off.  The VideoMic Go is also easier to use – no fussing with batteries or level settings – just plug it into your camera or external audio device and, well…  GO!  It can be used as both a Shotgun Mic (attached to the top of your camera) or as a Boom Mic (attached to the end of a pole).  At $99.00 USD, it’s also less than half the price of the VideoMic Pro.

Buy the RODE VideoMic Go, the RODE VideoMic Pro and the Zoom H100 on Amazon Here

Marc Hauser is one of the world’s most renowned portrait photographers, and he has a history of being on top of, if not leading, trends in the industry.  Prime example…  Marc was one of the first photographers to move away from film and embrace digital imaging, but he is also not one to sacrifice quality for the sake of being trendy.  He just recognizes when better technology emerges that allows him to more efficiently product the breathtaking images for which he’s famous.

In the video above, MC Contributor and Hybrid Photography Pioneer “Coach” Will Crockett (HybridPhoto.pro) takes us on a tour of Marc’s studio and discusses the equipment and techniques that Marc is adopting, and you guessed it, Marc’s going mirrorless.

My 2 Cents

As one of the Hybrid Heroes on HybridPhoto.pro, I’ve been blessed to work alongside some of the industry’s best, many of whom are now shooting with mirrorless camera systems.  So, I’m not surprised to see a guy like Marc Hauser get on the Hybrid bandwagon.  But I also know that Marc is a results oriented guy who doesn’t change for the sake of change.  He’s enjoyed a long and highly successful career and the main reason is simple…  his images are simply the best.

3 or 4 years ago, Marc wouldn’t have been able to make the switch he’s making today, but the imaging technology that’s built into today’s mirrorless cameras has allowed him to not only adopt a new format without sacrificing quality, it also allows him to streamline his workflow and save time on his shoots.

Marc’s camera of choice is now the Panasonic Lumix GH3, and we can’t wait to see the delicious images he’ll produce with his new system.

By the way…  if you’d like to check out Marc’s work, both past and present, be sure to check out Marc’s Facebook page, HauserTown.

Buy the Panasonic Lumix GH3 on Amazon Here

Master Portrait Photographer Marc Hauser has been a professional portrait photographer for more than 34 years and is a legend in the world of photography  Marc is renowned the world over for his work, which has literally stopped traffic – His portrait of Chicago Bulls star Dennis Rodman, used for a Bigsby & Kruthers ad on a building overlooking Chicago’s Kennedy Expressway, caused traffic jams as drivers slowed to gawk at the larger-than-life Rodman.

At age 14 he was an apprentice to renowned fashion photographer Stan Malinowski. As a teenager, Hauser produced hundreds of album covers in collaboration with Album Graphics for artists such as The Rolling Stones, The Eagles, Rod Stewart, Jim Morrison, Joe Cocker and Jerry Lee Lewis. It was on album cover shoots that Hauser developed what he considers his strongest asset—his ability to employ whatever is available for lighting, location and props.

Other celebrities that Marc has photographed include Michael Jordan, Woody Allen, Aaron Copland, Sophia Loren, Jim Belushi, John Cougar Mellencamp and Mariel Hemingway, just to name a few.  Hauser has received more than 100 awards for his work, including Omni Awards, Awards of Excellence from Communication Arts Magazine, and Clio Awards. Hauser’s “Perception and Reality” campaign for Rolling Stone earned him more than 50 awards. He received a Platinum Record for a John Cougar Mellencamp album cover. More recent credits include national ad campaigns for Jockey, NEC Computers, Levi Strauss & Co., Sears, Blockbuster Video, and Nordic Trac.

“It’s essential that the images are seen just as I intend them,” says Hauser.

As one of the industry’s leading exponents of digital imaging, Marc continues to explore the boundaries of photography.  In fact, he has recently converted his studio entirely to mirrorless cameras, leaving his large, bulky DSLR collection behind.  Marc’s new camera of choice is the Panasonic Lumix GH3, and he enjoys it’s ease of use and the ability to “Pre-process” images.  That someone of Marc Hauser’s status would adopt mirrorless cameras as his primary shooting tool speaks volumes of just how far mirrorless camera systems have come.

Hauser is also a master at lighting, and it’s his prowess in this area that really separates his work from that of other photographers.  In the video above, Marc discusses his techniques for creating unique lighting environments that serve to enhance his subjects.  Although Marc uses film cameras in the shoot, the lighting techniques he uses can be easily applied to digital cameras as well.  As an added treat, we get to look on as Marc goes through an actual photo shoot – Enjoy!

At age 14 he was an apprentice to renowned fashion photographer Stan Malinowski. As a teenager, Hauser produced hundreds of album covers in collaboration with Album Graphics for artists such as The Rolling Stones, The Eagles, Rod Stewart, Jim Morrison, Joe Cocker and Jerry Lee Lewis. It was on album cover shoots that Hauser developed what he considers his strongest asset—his ability to employ whatever is available for lighting, location and props.

Marc Hauser lives and works in Chicago. You can visit his website at www.marchauserphoto.com.  (portions of this bio courtesy of HighTidePress)

Order the Panasonic Lumix GH3 on Amazon Here

OK…  Let me say this right out of the gate.  The Sony A7 and Sony A7R are FANTASTIC Cameras!  If you’re a pro or advanced enthusiast photographer who demands the very best in image quality, and you have advanced photography/videography skills, then these full frame darlings may be just what you’re looking for.  They offer great value for the money and match up very well when compared to their DSLR counterparts (and we’re talking the very top end DSLRs), and if you pick one up, I’m very confident that you’re going to love it (if you want to know more about the differences between the two models, see our earlier article here and watch the video above).  But will the majority of shooters (including pros and advanced enthusiasts) ever really need a full frame sensor?  Is a “full frame” sensor really necessary at all?

In the video above (courtesy of This Week in Photography), Head TWiP Frederick Van Johnson sits down with Gordon Laing of CameraLabs.com to share their first impressions of the new Sony full frame cameras, and discuss how they stack up against the competition – both the full frame DSLR variety and today’s top mirrorless systems.

My 2 Cents

Like I said at the top, the Sony A7 and Sony A7R are FANTASTIC Cameras, BUT…  [controversial statement number 1] – In my opinion, the ultimate output of your camera’s sensor has as much to do with the processing engine as it does with the overall size of the sensor.  Say it with me kids…  the ultimate output of your camera’s sensor has as much to do with the processing engine as it does with the overall size of the sensor. [Forum Troll outrage commences in 3...   2...   1...]

I’m not going to get into a lengthy explanation of the above statement as I’ve already written an article on the subject that you can view here.  What I will say is that mirrorless camera technology has advanced much faster and much farther over the last several years vs DSLRs, which have comparatively stood still, and this is a big reason why [controversial statement number 2] mirrorless systems are quickly making DSLRs, even full frame DSLRs, obsolete.  They’re on the way out, folks…  no kidding. [Smoke pours from Pixel Peeper's ears]

In my opinion, the “full frame” sensors in these Sony cameras (although marvelous) are merely the latest marketing talking point, much like the number of megapixels was just a few years ago (and anyone who still thinks that you need more megapixels for better performance need only look at what you’ll get from the 16mp Sony NEX 6 vs the 24mp Sony NEX-7).

Once again, the Sony A7 and Sony A7R are FANTASTIC Cameras, BUT…  So are the Pansonic Lumix GH3, the Panasonic Lumix GX7, The Olympus OM-D E-M1, the Fuji X-E2 , the Sony NEX 6, and even the Pansonic Lumix G6, which is ostensibly a mid-range camera (and a steal at it’s current price of only $498 USD!).  Although each is equipped with sensors that are much smaller than the 35mm sensor in the Sony A7 and Sony A7R, great things come in these smaller packages.  They feature advanced autofocus systems and deliver spectacular image quality that will rival most any camera on the market – and they’ll be more than enough for 99% of the photo and video pros in the world, much less enthusiasts.  Heck, there have been big screen quality movies shot in the last couple years using nothing but a Panasonic Lumix GH2, and that’s a 3 year old camera.

It’s leaps and bounds like this, plus the fact that mirrorless systems are smaller, lighter and less expensive with no compromise on quality, that have pro photographers moving into mirrorless.  Combine that with the abundance of high quality lenses that are also smaller. lighter and less expensive (especially in the case of micro 4/3 cameras), and you have a powerful combination that’s hard to overlook.  That’s why highly renowned photographers like Frederick and Gordon above, and others like Zack Arias, Trey Ratcliff, David Hobby and Hybrid Heroes like Suzette Allen, Giulio Sciorio, Marc Hauser, Will Crockett, and even yours truly, have all gotten into mirrorless.  About the only area where a DSLR might still be preferable to a mirrorless system today is in fast action sports, but we’re just a software update and a lens or two away from that gap being erased.

But aren’t there more pixels on a 35 mm sensor?

Well, of course there are.  At least, today.  Sensor developers are constantly learning to do more with less real estate.  Like I said, those processing engines are just getting better and better, and unless you’re planning on blowing up your image to fit on your garage door, you’ll be hard pressed to tell the difference between full frame and smaller sensors.  [Pixel Peeper stomps  foot in disagreement]

Don’t take my word for it.  Grab a couple of these cameras and test them out for yourself.

Conclusion

Like Frederick and Gordon, I too am a micro 4/3 user and was drawn to that system for many of the same reasons that Gordon mentions in the video – great image quality, abundance of high quality lenses, smaller, lighter, less expensive (you might notice a recurring theme, here).  What really got me into M43 though, was the ease of shooting high quality HD video.  The Fuji cameras don’t have as many lenses from which to choose, but the ones they do have are absolutely first rate, and the image quality from the X-Trans sensors is in a league all it’s own.  As for Sony, well…  their sensors are top notch, no matter what the size.

If you’re a pro or enthusiast photographer who’s moving into mirrorless from a full frame DSLR and you have a large supply of legacy lenses, then the Sony A7 or Sony A7R may be just what you’re looking for as you lenses can be easily adapted by using a Metabones, or other adapter.  Of course, they make Metabones Speedbooster and other adapters for micro 4/3 and Fuji cameras as well that will focus the light from a full frame legacy lens onto a smaller sensor.  In the end, the A7 and A7R are great picks for a serious photographer who demands the absolute best in quality, but the same can be said for the other cameras I’ve listed as well.  I would highly recommend picking up any one of these, especially before getting a DSLR.  They’re all great Hybrid cameras that will do you proud in both photo and video.  As for how much resolution you truly need, that decision is up to you.

Order the Sony A7, Sony A7R, the Pansonic Lumix GH3, the Panasonic Lumix GX7, The Olympus OM-D E-M1, the Fuji X-E2 , the Sony NEX 6, and the Pansonic Lumix G6 on Amazon Here

When Sony released the RX1 Fixed Lens Full Frame System a year ago, we wondered out loud how long it would be before there was an interchangeable lens mirrorless system to go along with it.  Our query has now been answered, as Sony have now released their all new interchangeable lens system cameras, the Sony A7 and Sony A7R.

But just what is the difference between these two cameras, and do they live up to the standards that most people associate with the term “Full Frame?”

Chris Niccolls and Jordan Drake from The Camera Store got their hands on both models and took them out for a little Autumn shooting to test out both the still photo and video capabilities of Sony’s new Full Frame Systems.

TCS writes…

“We’ve been hoping for someone besides Leica to make a full frame, interchangeable lens mirrorless camera, and Sony has finally produced the cameras we’ve been waiting for! In this episode The Camera Store TV’s Chris Niccolls checks out the new Sony A7 and A7R, full frame mirrorless cameras with killer specs for the price. See if they live up to the huge promise they offer.  Also, Jordan Drake takes a look at the video functionality.”

My 2 Cents

There’s no doubt that the Sony A7 and A7R are hitting the market with a lot of promise.  One of the biggest arguments levied against mirrorless systems by the pixel peepers and forum trolls is that the smaller sensors in most mirrorless systems can’t compete with those in their huge, full frame sensored DSLR-a-sauruses (more on that in our follow up article).  Enter the A7 and A7R, which have a spec pedigree to match any of the big boys and juicy 24mp and 36mp Sony Full Frame Sensors respectively to boot, all packed in the smaller and lighter body of a mirrorless system.  Let me reemphasize that these are Sony sensors, because let’s face it, Sony make some of the best sensors in the game, which is why they’re used in so many cameras that do not carry the Sony moniker.  So right out of the gate, you get that Sony power while enjoying one of the chief advantages of going mirrorless – smaller size and lower weight.  But does this translate into greatness for the new Sony Systems?

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly…

The Good -  The A7 and A7R do indeed, deliver in the area of image quality (no surprise here).  You’ll get crisp and clean images, even at higher ISO, and each camera is tricked out for video as well, complete with mic input and headphone jacks.  They’re both ruggedly built and ergonomically friendly with smartly laid out controls.  They have cool, retro styling (much like the Olympus OM-D), and wi-fi is an added bonus (and is becoming a necessity in this day and age).  Price wise, they represent a huge value for the investment, especially when compare to top of the line, full frame DSLR systems, and by using an adapter, such as the Metabones Speedbooster, you can use all of your legacy lenses.

The Bad – Unfortunately, there just isn’t much native glass for these systems as of yet.  There are a few tasty Zeiss lenses you can get and Sony promise more in the future, but for now, you’ll have to rely on native zooms and legacy lenses with adpaters that will negate some of the size advantage you’ll have with an A7 system.  Sony have made strides in the area of autofocus tracking, especially on the A7 – which has phase detection pixels at the center of it’s sensor (the A7R relies entirely on contrast detection), but neither of these is ideal for fast action sports.  You’ll also have to rely on Optical Image Stabilization (OIS), as there’s none built into either body, so if your lens is not so equipped, make sure you’re using a tripod.  Also, the batteries are a bit on the smaller side, so make sure to order extras.

The Ugly - Nothing to call ugly here…  unless you don’t like the color black, because that’s the only way they come.

Conclusion

The Sony A7 and A7R hold their own very well against top tier DSLRs in most respects, and should have great appeal for the Pro Photographer and ardent enthusiast to whom a Full Frame Sensor will matter the most.  The A7R, with it’s weather sealed, magnesium alloy body and 36mp of full frame power will no doubt entice it’s share of portrait and landscape photographers, but this one’s best left on the tripod.  The 24mp sensor on the A7 is no slouch in the performance department, and this camera is actually much better suited for street photography and video (in our opinion) than the more expensive A7R.  It doesn’t have it’s more expensive siblings magnesium alloy boy, but it’s still weather sealed and solidly built.  Both of these are tremendous cameras that should have a broad appeal to high end photographers looking to move over to mirrorless, and we’re giving them Editor’s Choice Status.

Order the Sony A7 or Sony A7R on Amazon Here

‘Tis the season folks.  We’re barely into our Thanksgiving leftovers and Christmas is looming large.  The shopping season is in full swing, and as luck would have it, there are some PHENOMENAL DEALS to be had on some equally phenomenal cameras – even some of the newest releases.  Some of the things that factored into our picks were Image Quality, Video Quality, Build Quality, Handling, Ease of Use and whether or not the camera is equipped with Wi-Fi, which we believe is becoming a “must have” feature on the Hybrid Camera of today.  With that in mind…

Here are Our Selections for the Best Camera Deals

(In varying price ranges)

Top Tier Cameras

Panasonic Lumix GH3 – Now only $898 USD (Body Only)

Although it was released about a year ago, the Lumix GH3 is our pick for best micro 4/3 camera, as no other camera can match it in both still photo and video quality.  It has all the Pro level features that anyone would want, and when you couple it with one of the Panasonic Lumic Pro Zoom Lenses (12-35mm 2.8 and 35-100 2.8), you get one of the most powerful combinations around today.  For less than $900 bucks, this is a STEAL!

 

Panasonic Lumix GX7 – Now only $828 USD (Body Only)

Panasonic’s newest offering has not failed to impress in any of our key categories.  It’s a solid, well laid out and easy to use camera that has been blowing us away with the quality of the images it produces (both stills and video), and it’s low light capability is impressive, to say the least.  The GX7 stacks up very nicely when compared to Olympus’ new OM-D E-M1, but it comes in at almost $600 USD less.  It doesn’t have the all out video capabilities that the GH3 has, and we would’ve liked to have seen a mic input jack, but the GX7 remains a serious Hybrid Camera, and another steal at $828!

 

Sony NEX 6 – Now Only $748 USD (with 16-50mm Power Zoom Lens) or only $598 USD (Body Only)

Our pick for the Best of the NEX Cameras, the NEX 6 delivers in both still photos and video, thanks to those powerful Sony APS-C sensors.  The NEX 6 features a 16 MP APS-C sensor with up to 10 fps shooting and Full HD video.   It’s Fast Hybrid AF includes phase-detection for lightning quick autofocus.  The NEX 6 also has a bright XGA OLED viewfinder for 100% coverage and is loaded up with Wi-Fi® sharing and downloadable camera apps.  This is a top level camera at a mid level price, with or without the lens.

 

Olympus OM-D E-M5 – Now only $799 USD

Olympus’ popular and highly acclaimed former flagship camera is still one of the best cameras on the market.  It doesn’t have the wi-fi capabilities and some of the other goodies found on it’s successor, the OM-D E-M1, but this camera is a still shooter’s dream that still delivers some of the best Image Quality around, and it’s 5 Point In Body Image Stabilization is unmatched.  At roughly half the price of the E-M1, it’s another steal!

 

Fuji X-E1 – Now only $899 USD (with 18-55mm lens) or only $599 (Body Only)

Another great deal on last year’s model.  It wasn’t too long ago that this little beauty would’ve set you back $1.200 USD or so, but the release of it’s successor has allowed for a significant price reduction of this first generation X-Series camera.  Image Quality is where your Fuji cameras will shine – the files produced by the cameras just have that little something extra – but the 1st generation X-Series cameras have no wi-fi and do lag a bit behind the competition and 2nd generation cameras, like the Fuji X-E2 (which comes in at $999 USD), where autofocus speed is concerned.    At this point, there aren’t a lot of Fuji lenses, but the ones they have are stellar.  This one’s geared straight toward pro shooters who demand the best in IQ and aren’t afraid of manual control.

 

Mid Level Cameras

Fuji X-M1 – **Save $100**  Now only $699 USD (with 16-50mm Lens)

This camera is loaded up with a 16mp X-Trans Sensor and EXR II Processing Technology to give you top tier IQ at a mid level price.  It also features a tiltable touch screen, wi-fi and full 1080p video.

 

Panasonic Lumix G6 – Now only $534 (with 14-42 mm II Lens)

Like it’s G-Series predecessor, the Lumix G6 has flown mostly under the radar, primarily due to subsequent marquis camera releases from Panasonic (in this case, the GX7).  But make no mistake about it, the Lumix G6 is not to be overlooked (and at $534, it’s one of the best deals available today).  This baby is loaded up with a 16MP Digital Live MOS Sensor and all new Venus Processing Engine, 3-Inch fully articulating Touch LCD, One Touch Picture Sharing, Wi-Fi, NFC Near Field Communication, Full 1080p HD Video at up to 60fps – including Full Auto or Manual Video Controls and Mic Jack, Focus Peaking and comes with the 14-42mm II Lens (which is a major improvement over it’s predecessor and a darn fine lens).  The G6 will deliver in both still and video, so if you can’t afford a GH3, steal this one for $534.

 

Sony NEX 5R – Now only $538.09 USD (with 18-55mm Lens)

This is the NEX 6′s little brother, and while it may lack some of the top tier camera’s bells and whistles, as well as an EVF, the NEX 5R is packed with performance and power.  It’s loaded up with the same 16 MP APS-C sensor as the NEX 6, and can capture up to 10 fps in burst mode.  It also shares the NEX 6′s lightning quick Hybrid AF (includes phase-detection).  The NEX 5R also includes full HD movie shooting at 60p/24p with full exposure control, as well as Wi-Fi® sharing and downloadable camera apps.  A great option for those who have their heart set on a Sony, but can’t quite afford the top tier cameras.

 

Olympus Pen Lite E-PL5 – only $488.19 USD (Silver with 14-42mm Lens) or only $430.49 (Black – Body Only)

When this camera came out a year ago, many were calling it the “OM-D Lite” as it is loaded up with the same sensor and image processor as Olympus’ former flagship camera, the OM-D E-M5.  There’s now EVF or wi-fi on this camera, but it does have the OM-D’s aforementioned 16 megapixel Live MOS Image sensor and TruePic VI Image Processor that deliver fast AF with Touch screen shooting.  Most importantly, you’ll get delicious image quality and it’s compatible with the arsenal of tremendous micro 4/3 lenses.

 

Fixed Lens Bargains

Sony RX100 Gift Set – only $548 USD

Selected by Time magazine as one of the “best Inventions of 2012″ – this fixed lens camera is known for it’s small size, but big power in both photo and video.  The Sony RX100 is loaded up with a 20.2 MP Sony Exmor CMOS Sensor which produces top quality images, and the gift set includes a Sony 32GB Class 10 Memory Card, a Sony Soft Carry Case, Lens Pen Cleaning Tool, Extra Wasabi Power Battery and External Charger, 25 Free Prints, Deluxe Screen Protector, a Professional Wrist Grip Strap for Digital and Film, Focus Card reader, Focus mini Tripod and MORE.  Total savings of over $125!

 

Fujifilm X20 – only $524.65 USD (save over $75.00!)

The little brother to Fuji’s vaunted X100s, which became the darling of the Pro-Tog circuit after it was launched earlier in the year.  The X20 has a few less megapixels than it’s bigger brother, but it comes loaded with a 2/3-inch X-Trans CMOS II image sensor (with primary color filter), a Fujinon f/2.0-2.8 4x optical zoom lens, 2.8-inch advanced optical viewfinder, Intelligent hybrid AF – TTL contrast AF / TTL phase detection AF, and 1920 x 1080 movie recording capabilities.  Great Fuji image quality at a great price!

 

Panasonic Lumix LX7 (White) – only $278 USD!

Don’t get caught up in the battle of megapixels (which is basically just marketing hype), because this baby has it where it counts (and I should know…  I own one and LOVE it!).  The Lumix LX7 is one of the best bargains you’ll get in a fixed lens compact camera.  It has a gorgeous F1.4-2.3 Leica DC vario SUMMILUX 24mm Wide Angle Lens with 7.5x Intelligent zoom, there’s less ghosting because of the  Nano Surface Coating on the lens, a new 10MPhigh sensitivity MOS sensor, 60p Full HD Video Recording with Stereo Microphone in AVCHD Progressive /MP4, 9fps High Speed Continuous Shooting.  This little baby is feature rich and easy to use, and you’ll be amazed by the quality of the images it produces.  BTW – It has an INCREDIBLE Macro Mode and can easily take the place of a very expensive macro lens.

 

Pentax MX-1 – Only 269.99 USD

The MX-1 pretty much became a sleeper camera after it was released during the trade shows in early 2013, but it has proven to be a capable little performer, especially in THIS price range (it cost nearly twice as much only a few months ago).  It has a 1/1.7-Inch 12 mega pixel back -illuminated CMOS sensor for exceptional performance,  a 4X optical zoom (28-112mm in 35mm format) at f1.8-2.5 lens for outstanding depth of field control and beautiful bokeh, a large – hi resolution 3 inch 920k pixel LCD screen can be tilted up or down for easy viewing and shooting from difficult angles, a Dual PENTAX body based sensor shift & pixel track shake reduction stabilization system to ensure sharp, blur free images and video, even in dim lighting, and full 1920 x 1080 HD video with h.264 compression, complete with an HDMI out port.  For this price, you can’t go wrong!

 

These are just some of our picks for the kick off of the Holiday Shopping Season.  As always, there will be plenty of steals and deals as the season progresses, so be sure to check back often for the latest updates!

Happy Holidays!  ヅ

(video comparison of the Panasonic Lumix GH3 and Lumix GX7 above courtesy of Blunty)

Over the last several months (which of course, have been leading up to the Holiday Buying Season), we have seen the release of several remarkable cameras from all the big mirrorless camera companies, including Sony, Fuji, Olympus and Panasonic – the latter two, being the developers of micro 4/3 cameras and technology.  The M43 top dogs have not disappointed, as their latest releases represent long awaited upgrades of some of their most popular cameras.

In the case of Olympus, the new OM-D E-M1 chimes in as the successor to the highly popular, and highly acclaimed Olympus OM-D E-M5 – which has long held a rightful position as one of the darlings of the mirrorless realm.  For Panasonic, their all new Lumix GX7, which is the replacement for the long in the tooth Lumix GX1.  Where Olympus have inexplicably gone backward in model numbers fro E-M5 to E-M1, Panasonic have decided to vault forward, skipping several different model numbers to go from GX1 to GX7.  Both of the new cameras have enjoyed favorable reviews, but how will these two top tier micro 4/3 cameras fare in a head to head match up?

Kai Wong and Lok C from DigitalRevTV are happy to oblige, as they take to the streets to put these cameras through their rigors in an M43 shootout…

DRTV writes:

“The new Olympus E-M1 is arguably not the best-looking camera Olympus has released in recent years, but it’s all about the performance. After all, this is the top end Micro Four Thirds camera from Olympus, but just how does it compare to Panasonic’s top dog: the GX7? Watch this head-to-head comparison review (video above) to find out.”

My 2 Cents

Granted, Kai W is not the biggest fan of micro 4/3 cameras (he doesn’t like many of the other top cameras out there either – He is a critic, after all ;) ), but there’s no denying the quality of these two cameras.  Make no mistake, these are both quality built image making machines that deliver where it counts with top caliber image quality, performance and ease of use.  Their solid, comfortable in the hand and have intelligently laid out displays and controls, as well as tiltable LED screens.  Of course, which one looks better is a matter of personal preference.

Head to Head:

Image Quality – The removal of the AA filter on the OM-D would theoretically give it an edge in still photo image quality, but the GX7 really does put out some gorgeous images, itself.   In my opinion, this is a push.  I would recommend that you make your own judgements where IQ is concerned, but either way, you will not be disappointed.  Both of these cameras produce delicious files!

Stabilization – The OM-D E-M5′s 5 Point In Body Image Stabilization (IBIS) is rock solid, and that technology has now been built in to the E-M1.  Panasonic have countered by adding IBIS in the GX7 (until now, Panasonic have used only Optical Image Stabilization, or OIS.  In other words, it’s built into the lenses).  Speaking strictly of IBIS, Olympus have the edge.  But most of the high end Lumix Lenses are equipped with OIS that will function at about the same level as Olympus’ IBIS, and most of the time, that’s what you’ll be using when shooting with the GX7.  While you will appreciate the GX7′s IBIS capabilities when using Olympus lenses or Lumix lenses that don’t have OIS, I’ll give a slight advantage to Olympus.

Video – This is where Panasonic cameras shine, and the GX7 has it all over the E-M1 in most respects here, although like Kai, I would have liked to see a mic input jack on the GX7.

Build Quality and Ergonomics – Push

Touch Screens and EVFs – Both have bright, high resolution tiltable touch screens and EVFs.  Panasonic’s EVF also swivels upward.  Push

Value – At the time of this posting, the Olympus OM-D E-M1 is priced at $1,399 USD.  The Panasonic Lumix GX7 is priced at $898 USD and matches up well against the OM-D.  Advantage, Panasonic.

Conclusion

These are two great cameras that are tailor made for the Pro or Enthusiast Photographer, although at this point, I would have to say that the Panasonic Lumix GH3 remains the king of the micro 4/3 hill, with it’s top caliber capabilities in both still photos and video.  Still, these two do represent a step forward in sensor and processing technology, especially for those who prefer the smaller and lighter body styles of these cameras.  It’s also good to see Panasonic finally including In Body Image Stabilization on one of their cameras – a trend I hope to see more of in the future.  Both the E-M1 and GX7 produce gorgeous files and are also loaded up with wi-fi technology, which is a must have in this day and age, but by coming in at $500 lower than the E-M1 while running neck and neck in performance, I would have to say that the GX7 represents a much better value.  If you have your heart set on Olympus, you might also want to consider the E-M1′s predecessor, the OM-D E-M5 – which is still one of the best cameras around today.

Order the Panasonic Lumix GX7 or the Olympus OM-D E-M1 on Amazon Here

When Olympus released the OM-D E-M5 Micro 4/3 camera, it quickly became one of the most popular image making machines on the market, and is arguably the first camera that made pro photographers begin to consider moving away from their bulky DSLR gear in favor of the smaller and lighter M43 setup.  Who could blame them, as the OM-D E-M5 had so much going for it.  It was small and light, but still had a rugged, professional grade, weather sealed build quality; and the images produced by the camera are nothing short of breathtaking.

Now, Olympus have launched the follow up to this highly popular camera – the all new Olympus OM-D E-M1.  Yes, they’ve stepped backwards in model number, but does the OM-D E-M1 represent a leap forward in performance?

The Camera Store‘s Chris Niccolls got his hands on the E-M1 and took it our for a hands on field test (video above) to see just how the new camera stacks up to it’s predecessor.  In this test, the TCS crew “heads out to the famous Okotoks Big Rock to check out the handling, features and image quality of one of this year’s coolest mirrorless cameras.”

My 2 Cents

While the Olympus OM-D E-M5 is justifiably popular, the new OM-D E-M1 does , indeed, represent a step forward from the previous model.  It packs everything you loved about the E-M5 into a body that’s about the same size and maintains the E-M5′s cool retro styling, but with a much more substantial grip (i.e. – no need to purchase an extra battery grip) and intuitively laid out on body controls, as well as a high resolution EVF and tiltable touch screen.  The top notch image quality and rock solid in body image stabilization are still there too, with some new auto tracking features added in for good measure.

The OM-D E-M1 has decent video capabilities and can be used as a Hybrid Camera as well, but it’s not on the same level of Panasonic’s Lumix GH3 in that regard (the GH3 is still the best Hybrid Camera available today) and is better suited for still photo first shooters, who will get some amazing images from this camera.

Conclusion

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 is a fantastic camera that rightfully takes it’s place as Olympus’ new flagship camera.  At $1,399.00 USD, it’s priced at the high end in this category, and pro and enthusiast photographers may also want to consider less expensive alternatives such as the aforementioned Panasonic Lumix GH3, the Panasonic Lumix GX7 or even the E-M1′s predecessor, the Olympus OM-D E-M5, which is still one of the finest camera’s on the market today.  Another camera in the E-M1′s price range that’s worthy of consideration is the new Fujifilm X-E2.  All comparisons aside, the Olympus OM-D E-M1 is a tremendous camera that produces outstanding images, and we’re awarding it with our Editor’s Choice Status.

Order the Olympus OM-D E-M1 on Amazon Here

One of the most frequently asked questions from our MC readers over the last year has been about the successor to Panasonic’s popular, albeit underrated compact Micro 4/3 camera, the Lumix GX1.  The GX1 is a dynamite little camera, performance wise, and it’s small size, pocketability (especially with a lens such a Panasonic’s stellar 20mm 1.7 pancake) and high quality images made it a favorite for M43 shooters.  But the GX1 came out years ago and let’s face it…  it was getting long in the tooth.  It also seems that there have been rumors about it’s successor, which everyone assumed would be called the GX2, for almost as long as the camera has been in existence – not surprising as it seems that the lifespan of most camera models these days is about a year (if that).

Finally, the wait is over…  and Panasonic have thrown us a bit of a curve ball by skipping over 6 model numbers to go straight from the Lumix GX1 all the way to the new Lumix GX7.  But will the new camera perform well enough to warrant such a large leap in model numbers?

The Camera Store‘s Chris Niccolls took the GX7 out for a Hands On Field Test (see video above) to see just how much of an improvement the Lumix GX7 is over it’s predecessor.

My 2 Cents

While I have to agree with Chris that the Lumix GX7 is a little less than inspiring in the looks department, I’ll have to quote Han Solo in describing the Millenium Falcon…  “She may not look like much, kid, but she’s got it where it counts.”

Indeed, there’s a lot to love about the GX7.  The camera handles well, the menus are intuitive, it’s feature rich, it has a high resolution, tiltable touch screen and Electronic Viewfinder (which, whether you’re going to flip it up or not, you have to admit it’s pretty cool).  But what really stands out for me is the quality of both the still photos and videos produced by the GX7 (both color and black and white – see the B&W still photo and the color video below, shot by my good friend, Mark Toal in very low light conditions – You can also check these and more images out on a blog post written by Mark as he was evaluating the new camera).

Lumix GX7 Video

Lumix GX7 Still Photo

Conclusion

While I agree with Chris that I would’ve loved to have seen a mic input jack and headphone jack on the GX7, I have to say that what this camera delivers in terms of image quality (this camera easily hangs with the best of the best), ease of use, wi-fi and affordable pricing (at the time of this posting, you can get the Panasonic Lumix GX7 for only $898 USD) make the Lumix GX7 a winner, and we’re awarding it with our Editor’s Choice Status.

Order the Panasonic Lumix GX7 on Amazon Here

When Fujifilm released the X-Pro 1 and X-E1 in 2012, the photography world stood up and took notice.  The first generation Fuji X-Trans sensors and processing technology were really something special, and though the sensors aren’t “full frame”, they produce some of the tastiest files you’ll ever get from any camera, and the image quality is nothing short of spectacular.  But what these cameras brought in IQ, they also lacked in Autofocus speed.

MC Contributor and Hybrid Photography Pioneer Will Crockett is no stranger to the Fuji Cams – and the X-Pro 1 and X-E1 were two of his favorite cameras of the last year.  As luck would have it, Will is also one of the first guys to get his hands on the new Fujifilm X-E2 and put a prototype of the new camera through it’s paces.  Does the second generation X-Trans Sensor and processing technology bring the autofocus up to snuff?  Does the Fujifilm X-E2 represent a step up from the previous model?  Check out Will’s Real Life Review above…

My 2 Cents

Nobody lays out the good, the bad and the ugly of a camera better than Will Crockett, and he never holds back any punches.  After all, it was Will who first brought the autofocus difficulties of the 1st generation X-Series cameras to my attention.  So, have Fuji upped their game with the next generation?  In a word…  yes!

With the first generation X-Trans sensors, Fuji proved to be the kings of Image Quality.  In fact, in private conversations with Will, when comparing the Fuji cameras’ image quality to competitors, he has said that “It’s the difference between superb and spectacular.”  With the X-E2, Fuji have been able to maintain the deliciousness of their files while stepping up performance in other critical areas.  When Fujifilm unveiled their premium fixed lens compact, the X-100s earlier this year, it came tricked out with a new X-Trans II sensor and 2nd generation processing tech to boot.  Fuji have added some phase detection pixels to the center of the new sensors, and the X-100s suddenly had the blazing fast autofocus capabilities that photographers crave, hence it became the darling of pro photogs such as Zack Arias.  That technology is now loaded into the new Fujifilm X-E2, bringing Fuji’s new AF lightning to an interchangeable lens model.  As Crockett indicates in the video above, it’s not perfect as he alludes to some difficulties the X-E2 had in face detection mode when the subject was wearing glasses.  Will was not too concerned by this and neither am I…  This is just a software upgrade away from being fixed – and bear in mind that the camera that Will was testing was a prototype, so this issue might not exist at all in the final production model.

Note to Fujiflm:  I’m also with Will on the issue of proprietary connectors.  Please…  spare us!  I didn’t like the 2.5mm audio port on my Lumix GH2 either, but Panasonic corrected this by including a standard 3.5mm Jack on the Lumix GH3.  You would be wise to follow their example.

Conclusion

Small beefs aside, the Fujifilm X-E2 is one formidable camera, and it’s aimed right at Pros and Serious Enthusiasts who demand the absolute best where image quality is concerned.  You’ll definitely get that beautiful IQ with the X-E2, whether your shooting stills or video.  Yes, this camera is a great choice for Hybrid Photographers…  although it may not be as easy to use for video as a Lumix GH3, you can achieve those spectacular results.  Fuji’s lens selection is limited at this point when compared to say, micro 4/3 cameras, but the lenses they do have are absolutely first rate.  Add in the X-E2′s Wi-fi capabilities, which, although they’re pretty basic at the time of this posting, we recognize that wi-fi is the wave of the future (and it’s something you’ll definitely want on your next camera) and it’s not hard to see that the X-E2 is a winner! We highly recommend the Fujifilm X-E2 and are giving it Editor’s Choice Status. (See review on HybridPhoto.pro)

Order the Fujifilm X-E2 from Amazon Here

Nate “Blunty” Burr pits the brand new Olympus flagship camera, the PEN E-P5 in a shot for shot, clip for clip, side by side shoot-out comparison to find out how far ahead the new EP5 has strode past the camera it replaces, the PEN EP-3.

The new PEN E-P5 is loaded up with the same sensor and image processor as Olympus’ former flagship, the OM-D E-M5 – a 16mp chip vs the 12mp chip found in the E-P3, and Blunty’s comparison is a testament to just how far mirrorless technology has progressed in the last couple of years.  Not only does the E-P5 provide better image quality and higher dynamic range, it also boasts Olympus’ breakthrough 5 axis in body image stabilization and a host of other upgrades over it’s predecessor.

My 2 Cents

The Olympus PEN E-P5 is an impressive camera to say the least, and is a worthy successor to the OM-D E-M5 as Olympus’ flagship camera – although it’s reign might be short lived as a successor to the OM-D is expected later this year.  When compared to it’s predecessor, the PEN E-P3, the E-P5 wins hands down.  The E-P3 was a great camera when it came out.  Heck, it still is a great little camera and at $369 USD, it may be a good fit for someone who’s just getting into interchangeable lens systems and is on a budget (Personally though, if I were looking for a great entry level mirrorless system at a bargain price, I would opt for a Panasonic Lumix GX1 vs an E-P3.  Otherwise, I would go for a PEN Lite E-PL5).  Those looking to pull the trigger for a top tier camera will find a better comparison between the PEN E-P5 and the Olympus OM-D E-M5, Fuji X-E1 (which is only $799 Body Only at the time of this posting) or Panasonic Lumix GH3.

Buy the Olympus PEN E-P5 on Amazon Here

You can now get your hands on 2 of the best cameras of the last year at a significant discount.  Fujifilm have slashed the prices of their X-Series cameras by $200, so you can now get the Fuji X-Pro 1 Body for only $1,199 USD, and the Fuji X-E1 Body is now selling for only $799 USD on Amazon.  These cameras are a still shooters dream and Fuji’s X-Trans Sensors produce some of the best image quality in the business.

Buy the Fuji X-Pro 1 Body or the Fuji X-E1 Body on Amazon Here

(camera comparison above courtesy of PhotoNewsReviews)

A while back, sigma announced that they were revamping their lens lineup for micro 4/3 and Sony NEX cameras.  At the time, they offered 2 of the best budget lenses for either of these mirrorless systems – namely, their 19mm 2.8 and 30mm 2.8 lenses.  Now, the reboot is complete and the new versions of these lenses are hitting the market as part of Sigma’s new “Art” lens collection, and they’ll be joined by a 60mm 2.8 lens as well.  Will these new lenses be a worthy addition to your lens collections and do they warrant an upgrade over the previous versions?

In an episode of DigiDirectTV (above), Blunty displays quite a bit of enthusiasm for the new 30mm 2.8 lens, and in my opinion, rightfully so.  After all, I was quite impressed with the previous version, especially for the price.

But what’s the difference between the old and new versions?

Sigma 19mm 2.8 and 30mm 2.8 Art Lenses for micro 43

First up, the new versions have a better build quality.  Sigma have done away with the plastic casings of old and replaced them with a shiny metal body (you can get them in either black or silver) that feels much more solid in the hand.  They also appear to have addressed the rattling issue with the previous version (the inner mechanisms of the lenses would rattle inside the body whenever the lens was not attached to the camera body and engaged).  Manual focus rings are buttery smooth and responsive.  Each lens also comes with a lens hood and a padded case to keep it secure when it’s not attached to your camera.

OK…  so they look good on the outside, but what about the inside?

One of the biggest reasons why these Sigma lenses are among the best budget lenses that you can get (for either micro 4/3 or Sony NEX) is that they are good lenses, period.  Autofocus is quick and accurate (but in my experience, it works a bit better on Panasonic cameras like a Lumix G5, although I have not tried them on a newer Olympus camera, such as a PEN Mini E-PM2, PEN Lite E-PL5 or the new Olympus flagship camera, the PEN E-P5).  The images produces are sharp and color reproduction is accurate.  Then again, the same was true of the older versions of these lenses, so this is no surprise.

Should I get these lenses?

Speaking strictly for micro 4/3, it all depends…  If you’re just moving into micro 4/3, you need some good primes and you’re on a budget, then these Sigma lenses are great options, but if you have the budget for, or already have, some of the go-to M43 lenses like the Panasonic 20mm 1.7, Olympus 45mm 1.8 or Panasonic-Leica DG Summilux 25mm 1.4, then you can probably skip these.  Likewise, if you already own the previous versions of these, you probably don’t need to upgrade unless you really like the shiny new casings.

My 2 Cents

I would personally categorize the Sigma 19mm 2.8 and 30mm 2.8 lenses as “very good”…  even “very very good.”  While they’re not quite on par with the top tier M43 lenses like those mentioned above, or pro zooms like the Panasonic Lumix 12-35mm 2.8 lens, they’re not too far off either, and you might be surprised at just how good these lenses actually are – especially considering the price ($199 USD each).  I personally own the older versions of each (I got a killer deal on them late last year) and I’ve been extremely pleased with the results they provide, but other than build quality I don’t really see a need to upgrade and won’t be doing so.

Still, these are some of the best budget lenses for any camera system and I highly recommend them if you’re starting your collection of M43 glass – especially on a budget.

Buy the Sigma 19mm 2.8 Art Lens and Sigma 30mm 2.8 Art Lens on Amazon Here

In the video above, Protog David Hobby takes us on an in depth feature by feature walkthrough of the Fuji X100s premium fixed lens compact camera.  The X100s features a second generation X-Trans II Sensor and EXRII Processing Technology that take the already excellent performance of Fuji’s X-Series cameras to new heights.  Indeed, the X100s is turning a lot of heads and is finding it’s way into the camera bags of many highly renowned photo pros.

Buy the Fuji X100s on Amazon Here

Fuji has released a new firmware update for the Fujifilm X100S fixed lens compact camera. Firmware update v 1.03 knocks out a bug that can sometimes cause, as Fuji puts it, “a grainy image like TV fuzz” to appear on the rear screen while in live view mode. You can download the firmware update below.

>>CLICK HERE<< to access Fuji X100s firmware update v 1.03

Buy the Fuji X100s on Amazon Here


 
(Review and test above courtesy of LearningCameras.com on Youtube)

Images of Kodak’s soon to be released micro 4/3 camera – the Kodak S1 – have hit the web on DCFever (Google Translated Version Here).

The Kodak S1 is slated to be released later this year and the camera is equipped with a tilt LCD screen, hot shoe adapter, a dedicated video recording button, customizable function buttons, and a built-in WiFi and APP system that will allow control of your camera via your mobile devices.

According to DCFever…

The Kodak S1 is the first camera in a cooperative venture between Kodak and JK Imaging.   Because the S1 is a micro 4/3 camera, users will have an arsenal of lenses from which to choose, but the article also notes that Kodak and JK Imaging are planning on releasing their own lenses as well – starting with 2 micro 4/3 zoom lenses.

Check out the latest pics of the Kodak S1 below…

(via 43Rumors)

3rd party lens manufacturer Samyang/Rokinon are releasing a new 300mm f/6.3 lens for Sony NEX, Panasonic and Olympus micro 4/3, and Samsung NX mirrorless camera systems.  The new lens will come in black or silver and retail for $299 USD.  Look for the lens to be launched in July of this year (2013).  Check out more on their Facebook Page.

(via MirrorlessRumors)

Chris Niccolls and Chris Tait of theCameraStore pit the Ricoh GR against the Nikon Coolpix A – mono a mono – to see which is the better performer.  Will the GR take the crown or will the Coolpix A emerge victorious?

TCS writes…

Within a month of each other, both Nikon and Ricoh launched compact cameras with large sensors and 28mm equivalent lenses. Which is a better buy, The Ricoh GR or the Nikon Coolpix A? Chris Niccolls from The Camera Store TV met up with street photographer Chris Tait to find out which camera you should check out.

My 2 Cents

This is a head to head comparison of 2 very good cameras that offer excellent quality in still photos mode and good quality in video (although I wouldn’t choose either if I was looking for a video or hybrid camera).  The Coolpix A is the pricier of the 2 and each have their challenges, especially in low light.  Chris and Chris eventually pick the Ricoh GR over the Nikon Coolpix A, based mostly on the fact that the GR costs several hundred dollars less, and in this case I would be inclined to agree with them.  The Coolpix A will appeal to Nikon users, but if you’re looking for an excellent compact in that price range, I would recommend going with a Fuji X-100s, which in my mind is the best compact camera available today.  Likewise, the GR is a tempting option for those looking to save a few hundred dollars, but in that mid range price range, I would recommend going with a Sony RX-100, which offers outstanding video performance to go with the still photos capabilities.

Buy the Ricoh GR or the Nikon Coolpix A on Amazon Here