[photo] Videos

While at CP+ in Yokohama, Japan – Diginfo.TV reports that Ricoh have unveiled an omnidirectional camera that can take a full 360° panoramic image in one shot.

About the Omnidirectional Camera from Ricoh…

The Omnidirectional Camera from Ricoh

“It has two fish-eye lenses, each of which covers 180 degrees. The camera combines the two pictures, and sends them via Wi-Fi to a tablet or smartphone for viewing. The idea is, the pictures you take arrive automatically.”

“When viewing it like a regular panoramic image, you can also see up and down. When you pull out from the image, it finally becomes a circle, and you can also look at it as a sphere.”

“This camera represents a step beyond SLRs and compact cameras. The project began with the idea that, if taking spherical panoramic photos was easy, the results might be fun.”

“Currently, the camera takes still photos. But we’d like to enable it to handle video, too. We’re still just presenting this technology, so the specs haven’t been decided yet. Right now, we’re at the stage of seeing how people react. If people think this camera is fun, we’d like to commercialize it, and make it a bit smaller. We want to keep developing it, so we can offer a version for consumers.”

“This is a project we’re discussing with staff at art colleges. We think this technology could also be presented as a “panorama ball,” where the pictures are stuck onto a sphere.”

It’s always great to see camera companies trying new and innovative things, and I can already envision tons of applications for this technology.  Imagine projecting the panoramic images on a spherical screen, like in a planetarium.  You could immerse your viewers into any environment that you photograph.  Kinda like IMAX on steroids.  It’ll be interesting to see if this concept catches on.  Stay Tuned…

Hybrid Photography Ninja and Photo/Video Innovator “Coach” Will Crockett (DiscoverMirrorless.com) is back, this time showcasing a great new hand grip camera mount that he’s been using from Camtrol.

For guys like Will (who has a bum leg) and me (with sporadic back issues), having an easy way to get a low angle shot can be a lifesaver.  And the Camtrol Hand Grip, which is small, lightweight, portable, and has shutter release button built right into the handle, is one of the best solutions that I’ve see.

Will writes…

If you need to shoot high or low angle shots, but you sometimes have trouble keeping your camera steady, then this light, easy to use and super adjustable camera mount with a no-slip hand grip may be just what you’re looking for.

Whether you need special shots of the kids or you need to get those “impossible angle” shots that are so tough to get, it’s easy to see how this grip can save the shot (and maybe your back).  (Read article on DiscoverMirrorless.com)

Look for the Camtrol Handgrip, coming soon!  By the way…  Those MeFOTO Travel Tripods that Will recommends are excellent as well!

A couple days ago in an article entitled “Full Frame vs APS-C and Micro 4/3 – Does Size Really Matter?,” I laid out the argument that what matters most is not the size of the sensor, but how well it performs (and the technology that goes into it).  To illustrate my point, I used the analogy of the “Fast and the Furious” movies where, like in the video above (courtesy of MovieClips), you see the main characters racing in little 4 cylinder cars against big, 8 cylinder “muscle” cars.  The little cars should be completely outclassed.  But then Paul Walker hits the NOS button and his car gets a huge boost that allows him to win the race.  Technology 1 – Conventional Wisdom 0…

I still contend that most of the major advancements in imaging technology over the last few years has been developed for the smaller sensors of mirrorless cameras, and now Panasonic are “hitting the spray” with some new advanced sensor technology called “Micro Color Splitters.”

According to a news release on Panasonic’s website…

Micro Color Splitters “separate the light that falls on image sensors by exploiting light’s wavelike properties. Applying them to actual image sensors allows bright color images to be achieved even under low-light conditions. This development makes color filters unnecessary by using the micro color splitters that control the diffraction1 of light at a microscopic level. Panasonic has achieved approximately double the color sensitivity in comparison with conventional sensors that use color filters.”  (See diagram and sample photos below)

Translation…  A sensor equipped with micro color splitter technology has the potential to work twice as well in low light as a conventional sensor.  Is that enough NOS for you?

Mirrorless camera sensors have made major strides in low light situations over the last few years, and many perform brilliantly at high ISO.  The results in the sample image are impressive to say the least, and this is only going to get better as the technology continues to advance.  Stay Tuned…

(Read full press release on Panasonic’s Website)

Joe Fotosiamo over at  SLRLounge has posted part I of an in depth review of the Panasonic Lumix GH3, and he also compares it with it’s predecessor, the Lumix GH2.

Joe begins the article by saying…

Recently, I had a chance to test the highly anticipated Panasonic GH3, and despite only having the GH3 for around 5 days, I have come to the conclusion that the camera is a very worthy successor of the Panasonic GH2. There are enough improvements in the still image quality, video quality, operational quality, and extra features to warrant the difference in price, as well.

Joe goes on to examine the GH3 and compare it to the GH2 in several areas, such as build quality, features, size and performance, and he includes several images for comparison.

Joe’s Part I Conclusion…

I am a fan of the Panasonic GH3, and between the improvements in build quality, the better ergonomics, the weatherproofing, and the upgrade in image quality in the high ISO, there are enough reasons to upgrade from the Panasonic GH2.

There is a lot more to talk about, but I will go over it in Part 2 of my review on the Panasonic GH3. In the next article, I will cover my experience with the GH3 in the field, the dynamic range and shadow recovery capability, the movie recording capability, and Panasonic’s LumixLink remote app for iOS and Android.  (Read full article on SLRLounge – video above is a short but entertaining GH3 video test from MacWarMedia)

My 2 Cents

I’m a fan of both the Panasonic GH3 and the GH2, which is rightfully a much beloved camera and remains a favorite of indie videographers.  But even though the GH3 is technically the evolution of the GH2, these are now two distinctly different cameras.  Where the GH2 was (and still is) one of the best video cameras in existence, it will always be primarily thought of as a video camera, but the GH3 can operate equally well as both a still and video camera – holding it’s own with or surpassing the best in each category.  In creating the GH3, Panasonic have succeeded in incorporating most of the items on GH2 users’ wishlists (you’ll never get ‘em all), and have wrapped it all up in what is arguably the first (or at least the most) “Pro Level” mirrorless system, but at a price point that makes pro level performance accessible to the masses.

Buy the Panasonic Lumix GH3 or the Panasonic Lumix GH2 on Amazon Here

Rumors were swirling at the end of last year that the launch of the next generation Panasonic GX series camera was imminent (early reports had targeted November).  But November came, and no GX2.  Then December.  Then CES, PMA, CP+ – and still, no GX2.

Now 43Rumors is reporting that, according to their reader Zetton who was at the CP+ show in Yokohama, Japan, we may not have to wait much longer as he told 43Rumors the following…

While talking with the Panasonic staff, I have been told that  Panasonic will release the next GX1 soon

The GX1 is one of our favorite cameras of the last 2 years, and it delivers on multiple fronts (see review above by WhatDigitalCamera), which is why so many people are eagerly anticipating the launch of the GX2.  While this rumor is far from substantiated, it does make a lot of sense as the price of the GX1 is now at it’s lowest point since it’s launch.

If you’re interested in picking up a Panasonic Lumix GX1, Amazon now has it listed for only $449 USD with a Kit lens, and Only $319 USD Body Only.

But the best deal can be found at UniquePhoto, who are running a SPECIAL DEAL on the GX1 for only $300 USD Body Only.

While you’re on UniquePhoto, you might also want to check out the Sigma 19mm and 30mm f2.8 micro 4/3 lenses, which are also on sale for only $99 each.  These are excellent lenses, especially for that price, and will go great with a GX1 or any M43 camera!


In an interview with Masaya Maeda – Canon Managing Director and Chief Executive, Image Communication Products Operations on DPReview, Mr. Maeda admits that sales of Canon’s first foray into the mirrorless market, the EOS M, have

Masaya Maeda – Managing Director and Chief Executive, Image Communication Products Operations at Canon

been slower than expected.

In an interview conducted at CP+ in Yokohama, Japan, Mr Maeda concedes that “the EOS M hasn’t yet been fully able to exploit this market.  Looking at worldwide results, we’ve seen users are limited to certain regions – we’re seeing very positive sales in Japan and South East Asia.  Looking beyond that, we haven’t established market share yet.

My 2 Cents

It’s no surprise that the Canon EOS M isn’t performing as well as expected (sales wise) since it doesn’t perform as well as you would expect a camera emblazoned with the ‘Canon’ moniker should.  At over $700 USD, the EOS M is pretty pricy for what you get and it’s completely outclassed by virtually all of it’s peers in the mirrorless realm, including some that sell for half it’s price or less.

The video above by CheesyCamStudios does a great job of pointing out the EOS M’s shortcomings.  Heck…  they were so unimpressed that they’re actually sending it back!  As we’ve said before in this space…  At present, Canon -and to a lesser degree, Nikon – have yet to take the mirrorless market seriously.  Unless you have a huge collection of Canon legacy lenses that you don’t want to part with, I would recommend looking elsewhere for a mirrorless camera.  The list below is a good starting point.

Our Picks for the Top 10 Mirrorless Camera Systems on the market today

1. Panasonic Lumix GH3 – Best in Class for both stills and video, Pro Level Lenses and Wi-Fi make this the Best Hybrid Camera on the Planet today.

2. Olympus OM-D E-M5 – Classic styling with top notch performance and revolutionary 5 point IBIS make this one of the breakthrough cameras of the last year.

3. Sony NEX 6 – Hybrid Autofocus, Wi-Fi and most of the main features of the flagship NEX 7 make this the most advanced NEX camera yet.

4. Fuji X-Pro1 – Hybrid Viewfinder combined Fuji’s X-Trans Sensor and EXR Processing Technology deliver some of the best quality still photos you’ll get from ANY camera (35mm or smaller).

5. Fuji X-E1 – Same Sensor and Processing Technology as the X-Pro 1 in a smaller, more stylish frame.

6. Panasonic Lumix G5 – One of the best mirrorless camera values today. Delivers many pro level features and performance at a mid level price.

7. Olympus PEN Lite E-PL5 – Same sensor and image processor as the flagship OM-D E-M5 have many calling this the OM-D Lite.

8. Panasonic Lumix GX1 – Top level performance in a small, go anywhere body (SPECIAL DEAL – Get the GX1 for only $300 USD Body Only)

9. Sony RX100 – fixed lens compact named by Time Magazine as one of the Best Inventions of 2012.

10. Olympus PEN Mini E-PM2 – Sensor and processor of the OM-D E-M5, now in mini form

ePhotozine posted the latest in depth review of the Sony RX1, which is touted as the “world’s smallest full frame digital camera.”  With the RX1, Sony have have matched up a top quality 35mm sensor with a versatile 35mm Carl Zeiss Lens that’s tailor made for it.  But have Sony succeeded in packing a lot of imaging technology into a small package?

Here’s ePhotozine’s Sony Cyber-shot RX1 Verdict

The Sony Cyber-shot RX1 is currently unique in being the only compact camera with fixed lens and full-frame sensor. Due to the expense of developing a camera like this, it’s likely to be unique in its field for a long time to come, with APS-C sized sensor (or smaller) compact cameras being developed in greater numbers. The only other option is to invest in a full-frame Digital SLR and equivalent lens, with the added bulk, or look at a digital rangefinder, albeit with much higher costs involved.

The Sony RX1 is clearly capable of delivering extremely high image quality with a sharp Carl Zeiss 35mm f/2.0 lens on the front. The camera is roughly the size of a medium sized mirrorless camera with a compact fixed lens on the front, but with a full-frame sensor its noise performance is excellent, and for those who are looking for the highest quality in the smallest package available, the Sony Cyber-shot RX1 is an excellent camera, particularly if you have the money to afford it.

With a premium camera you would expect to have an external charger so that if you invested in a second battery, which is recommended due to the short battery life, you would be able to charge the battery while still using the camera, but unfortunately as charging is performed in the camera with a USB charger you will have to stop shooting. Although if you have the money to buy the camera, then buying the additional batteries, charger and accessories may not be too much of an issue. (Read full review and see sample images on ePhotozine)

Sony Cyber-shot RX1 Pros

Smallest full-frame camera available
Low noise at high ISO settings
Sharp Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* f/2.0 Lens
Excellent image quality
Extremely quiet shutter
Very good build quality
5fps continuous shooting
Built in HDR / Panoramic shooting

Sony Cyber-shot RX1 Cons

High Price / Price of accessories
RAW + JPEG option reduces JPEG image quality (to JPEG Fine)
RAW shooting not available with HDR / Creative Effects
Battery charger not included (internal charging)
Short battery life

FEATURES
HANDLING
PERFORMANCE
VALUE FOR MONEY
VERDICT

My 2 Cents

There’s no question that the Sony RX1 delivers great results (we named the RX1 Best Compact of 2012), but with a price tag of $2,800 USD it’s aimed squarely at the pro photographer or serious enthusiast with deep pockets who wants a “go anywhere” camera system without a lot of fuss. Sony got a lot right with this camera, from the quality of the materials that went into it to the quality of the images that come out of it. It is the most expensive compact on the market, and even more so when you consider the a ‘la carte options like an Electronic Viewfinder ($449.99), Metal Lens Hood ($179.99) or the thumb grip ($249.99), but by packing that much pixel power into a compact body, Sony have a great achievement on their hands, and I can’t help but wonder if an interchangeable lens version is that far off… — SG

Check out the Sony RX1 Here. If it’s not in the budget, you might want to consider the Sony RX100 or Panasonic Lumix LX7 (tied for second best compacts of 2012).

Matt Granger (aka ThatNikonGuy) reports from CP+ in Yokohama, Japan – and takes a look at the Gran Prix award winners for “World’s Best Camera” over the last 30 years.

It’s pretty fun to watch the evolution of imaging over the last few decades, from some of the gaudy Pentax models of the early ’80s, through some of the great film cameras and finally into digital, video (the Canon 5D MkII in 2009) and mirrorless (the Olympus EP-1 won the award in 2010).  But the World’s Best Camera of 2013 has yet to be named.

Which Camera do YOU think should win World’s Best Camera of 2013?

World's Best Camera - 2013

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I’ve been enjoying following the story of David Taylor-Hughes of SoundImagePlus who, due to some strong suggestions from his accountant, is carefully weighing his options as he pares his camera collection down from 4 cameras to two.  Of late, he seems to be leaning towards selling off his Nikon D-800E and Sigma DP Merrills in favor of keeping his micro 4/3 systems (a Panasonic Lumix GH3 and an Olympus OM-D E-M5).

I can relate to David’s dilemma, because if it weren’t for some strong suggestions from my own accountant, I would probably own a GH3 today.  Of course, I’m personally coming at this from a slightly different perspective as I’m building an in home studio from scratch and have been considering which camera(s) to add to my collection.  After months of research into different camera systems, I finally decided that – for me personally – micro 4/3 was the way to go (>>Click Here<< if you want to understand my reasoning a little better).  Of course, the Lumix GH3 is at the top of my M43 camera wishlist, but as I was also buying lenses, lighting, backdrops, sliders, tripods, stabilizers, jibs, etc. and not just a camera and lenses, I decided to save a few bucks that I could allocate elsewhere and pick up a Panasonic Lumix G5 and some lenses.  This way, when I do pull the trigger on a GH3, I’ll already have some lenses and a great 2nd body to use (the G5 – which is killer, by the way!).

Back to David…  His most recent article dramatically underscores why the GH3 has garnered so much attention in the Photo/Video world, and why I believe that the GH3, and the pro lenses that came out with it, are the catalysts that are starting the wholesale migration to mirrorless camera systems.

Some memorable quotes from the article…

One of the things I’ve grown to like about the Panasonic GH3 is that its a “no-fuss” camera. Its exactly what I like, a picture-taking device that lets me concentrate on taking pictures rather than constantly fiddling with the camera.

…its a camera I don’t have to fight, a camera that doesn’t require my constant attention. A camera I don’t have to fiddle with. To me it works like a Nikon. Once its set up right, I just switch it on and start taking pictures.

In my opinion, Panasonic and Olympus have been playing a game of leapfrog for the last few years, surpassing each other’s achievements with each release.  In early 2012, the OM-D supplanted the Lumix GH2 at the head of the Micro 4/3 Class.  Now, the Lumix GH3 has taken the OM-D’s place at the M43 pinnacle, and with the GH3, Panasonic have raised the bar to a whole new level.  It would seem that David would agree, as he goes on to state the following…

It [the GH3] is a different camera to other m4/3 models, and though I like the Olympus very much, it is for me a step on from the OM-D, in that it tries to give photographers more of what they need in a more accessible way.

…there is no doubt in my mind that the GH3 is something special. A camera that will change a lot of attitudes I’m sure.

In summary…

Its obvious that there has been (still is?) a good deal of complacency in the Canon and Nikon camps and their underwhelming mirrorless offerings seem to suggest that both still think that DSLR’s are still the ultimate photographic tools. And of course when a camera like the D800E appears it can seem hard to argue with that. But my GH3 is a lot faster and easier to operate than my Nikon in most situations and its also a lot more versatile in what it can offer. The Nikon will always have all those pixels, but in many ways its a camera that can seem somewhat out of date when compared to the GH3. Electronic spirit level in the viewfinder, pinpoint focus, silent electronic shutter, constant live view and flexible screen positioning are all useful photographic tools in the GH3 that make the job of getting the picture easier. These are not gimmicks or gadget-head fodder, these are the real deal and are features that once used are very difficult to give up. And it is of course because of the nature of mirrorless cameras that these things are possible.  (Read David’s full article and view photos taken with the GH3 on SoundImagePlus)

My 2 cents

One of the reasons that I’ve been enjoying reading these articles on SIP so much is that it is completely clear that David is an unbiased professional who is truly looking for the best available option while maintaining his own standards of excellence.

Again…  I can completely relate.  To me, it doesn’t matter what conventional wisdom or other people say (i.e. – Forum Trolls), what type of camera you’re using or what name is slapped on the front of the camera.  The only thing that truly matters is this…

Which camera(s) will give me the best results, for the best price while operating the way that I like.

That, plus the fact that I truly believe that everything is heading into Hybrid (Photos + Videos + Audio + Graphics = eProducts that you can deliver to someone’s smart devices, facebook, etc.) is why I ultimately chose mirrorless systems.  I wanted to be able to shoot stills and videos with equal ease and excellence, and the GH3 is tailor made for Hybrid.  Witness the video above by UKTouristAttractions – IMHO, the GH3 footage looks richer and has better color (What do YOU think – Leave a comment!).

For me, the GH3 is the real deal…

Buy the Panasonic Lumix GH3 on Amazon Here

“Full Frame”…  It’s a term that you hear bandied about a lot on most of the more prominent photography blogs and forums.  There almost seems to be an air of aristocracy to those who purport that a camera just won’t deliver quality results unless it’s “full frame.”  Whether or not a camera with a smaller sensor can deliver top tier image quality is one of the most common arguments in the photoverse, and it’s one into which we’ve delved several times in this space.  After all, I’m of the opinion that the term “full frame” is a misnomer, and that ANY camera in which the entire sensor is utilized is technically a full frame camera – and who decided that 35mm was “full frame” anyway?  I mean, 35 mm film cameras are 60 year old technology.

To me, what matters most is not the size of the sensor, but how well it performs.  Think about it…  If someone can build superior technology into a smaller sensor that makes it perform at or near the level of a larger sensor, then isn’t that what really matters?  If you’ve ever seen any of the “Fast and the Furious” movies (which are a guilty pleasure of mine), you’ll know what I mean.  Numerous times in those movies, you see the main characters racing in little 4 cylinder cars against big, 8 cylinder “muscle” cars.  The little cars shouldn’t stand a chance, right?  But then Vin Diesel hits the NOS button and his car gets a huge boost that allows him to win the race.  I’ve always contended that most of the major advancements in imaging technology over the last few years has been in the smaller sensors of mirrorless cameras, and they’re working with photographic NOS of their own.

Now, I’m not going to tell you that an APS-C ot micro 4/3 camera sensor is going to act the same way as a 35 mm sensor will, but have advances in mirrorless sensor technology closed the gap and does the size really matter any more?  I just came across an excellent article by Jordan Steele on AdmiringLight.com called “Full Frame Equivalence and Why It Doesn’t Matter” that thoroughly and articulately refutes many of the full frame vs mirrorless myths that are floating around the interwebs.  (By the way.  The video above is an animated comparison produced by Panasonic Australia)

What Came First, The Sensor or the Lens?

A diagram showing angle of view and the effect a crop sensor has on a lens’ angle of view- Courtesy of AdmiringLight.com

Within Steele’s article are in depth explanations of terms such as…

  • “Full Frame Equivalence” – which Steele argues is a way to compare angle of view, and more recently, the look you’ll get with respect to depth of field, between a full frame sensor and a ‘crop’ sensor.
  • “Crop Factor” – Where Steele says that people who tell you something like “Your 50mm lens becomes a 75mm lens on that camera because it’s a crop sensor” are WRONG. He goes on to say that “Focal length is a property of the LENS and the LENS ONLY, and it does not change in any way regardless of what camera you mount it on. What is true is that on an APS-C DSLR or CSC, a 50mm lens will have the same FIELD OF VIEW as a 75mm lens on a full frame camera.”
  • “Aperture Equivalence” – Which Steele says (and we agree) is the mistaken notion that a smaller sensor will also affect the amount of light coming through the lens and therefore, the aperture value of the lens.  I would say that the notion of “Aperture Equivalence” is the same as Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster, except that Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster are real ;)

Steele does a great job explaining the many different variables that go into creating images, such as maximum aperture, f stop, depth of field and background blur (which are NOT the same thing).  He then goes on to explain in detail why none of this matters when considering the “Full Frame” vs Small Sensor argument.

Yes, there are advantages that 35 mm sensors have over their smaller siblings, but those advantages are quickly disappearing.  Case in point, Dynamic Range.

Steele says that it used to be that Dynamic Range (the ability to capture a wider range of shadows and highlights in a single image) was one of the advantages that 35mm sensors had over the mirrorless sensors, “but in recent times, this isn’t the case.   For instance, the Olympus OM-D E-M5 has better dynamic range than ANY Canon DSLR ever made, while the APS-C Nikon D5200 is within 1/3 stop of matching the dynamic range of the Nikon D600.”  (Read full article on AdmiringLight.com)

In other words, it’s not the size of the sensor, but the way that it performs that matters most (where have I heard that before ~_^) – and these days, mirrorless camera manufacturers like Sony, Olympus, Panasonic and Fuji are adding lots of NOS to their sensors.

There are now several mirrorless camera systems on the market that can hold their own against (or even surpass) most higher end DSLRs.  At the time of this posting, Panasonic, Olympus, Fuji and Sony are the major players in the mirrorless realm, with Samsung coming on strong.  In 2012, cameras like the Olympus OM-D E-M5, the Panasonic Lumix GH3, the Son NEX 6, and the Fuji X-Pro1 and X-E1 caught the attention of many imaging professionals.  This year, as the lines between photography and videography become increasingly blurred, look for mirrorless systems to gain even more prominence.

Our Picks for the Top 10 Mirrorless Camera Systems on the market today

1.  Panasonic Lumix GH3 – Best in Class for both stills and video, Pro Level Lenses and Wi-Fi make this the Best Hybrid Camera on the Planet today.

2.  Olympus OM-D E-M5 – Classic styling with top notch performance and revolutionary 5 point IBIS make this one of the breakthrough cameras of the last year.

3.  Sony NEX 6 -  Hybrid Autofocus, Wi-Fi and most of the main features of the flagship NEX 7 make this the most advanced NEX camera yet.

4.  Fuji X-Pro1 – Hybrid Viewfinder combined Fuji’s X-Trans Sensor and EXR Processing Technology deliver some of the best quality still photos you’ll get from ANY camera (35mm or smaller).

5.  Fuji X-E1 – Same Sensor and Processing Technology as the X-Pro 1 in a smaller, more stylish frame.

6.  Panasonic Lumix G5 – One of the best mirrorless camera values today.  Delivers many pro level features and performance at a mid level price.

7.  Olympus PEN Lite E-PL5 – Same sensor and image processor as the flagship OM-D E-M5 have many calling this the OM-D Lite.

8.  Panasonic Lumix GX1 – Top level performance in a small, go anywhere body (SPECIAL DEAL – Get the GX1 for only $300 USD Body Only)

9.  Sony RX100 – fixed lens compact named by Time Magazine as one of the Best Inventions of 2012.

10.  Olympus PEN Mini E-PM2 – Sensor and processor of the OM-D E-M5, now in mini form

 

Angela Nicholson from DigitalCameraWorld gives a quick demonstration of the Wi-Fi functions of the Panasonic Lumix GH3, as she controls the camera with a smartphone via the Lumix Link App.

The best part is that you don’t have to be on the internet for this to work, as the camera and smartphone will establish their own local network to link together and function.

Wi-Fi and apps are in their infancy where photography is concerned.  That being said, Panasonic have done a great job with the Lumix Link App, which is well thought out and functions very nicely, but it should be fun to watch the evolution of wireless connectivity and the emergence of Hybrid Photography apps over the next few years.

These are indeed exciting times…

Check out the Panasonic Lumix GH3 Here

Matt Granger from PhotoNewsReviews stops by the Panasonic Booth at CP+ in Yokohama, Japan and does a side by side comparison of the old and new Lumix 14-42mm f3.5 to f5.6 lenses.

Out with the Old, In with the New

It’s no secret that I’m not a big fan of the old 14-42mm G Vario Kit lens that went out with many Panasonic Cameras over the last couple of years.  It feels cheap in the hand and it’s performance is generally in the mediocre range.  If I had to describe it, I would say that it’s “OK” – meaning that you can get some good shots with it, but I wouldn’t stake my reputation on it and primarily keep it around purely as a beater lens to use in less than savory weather conditions.  Of course, I’m not alone as that assessment is shared by virtually every other photo or video pro that I know.

One thing that has impressed me about Panasonic over the last few years is that it appears that they actually do listen to the people who use their stuff – witness the Lumix GH3, whose features are a veritable wishlist of the things for which users have been clamoring since it’s predecessor, the GH2 was released.  Judging from Matt’s hands on preview above, Panny have heard our cried for a new kit lens and things could be looking up.  The new lens is smaller, has moved from a plastic to a metal construction and appears to have better resolution.  Stay Tuned!

The new lens will be shipping with kits like the Panasonic Lumix G5, the Lumix GX1 and the Lumix GF5

 

Isn’t technology wonderful?…

These days, it seems like there’s nothing that your smartphone can’t do, provided that it’s armed with the right app – and the smartphone is now extending it’s influence into the world of photography.

2 iOS photography apps that act as remote triggers/intervalometers/multi-purpose controllers for your camera have risen to prominence in the last year, so we thought it would be fun to match ‘em up, mano e mano, to see which one would come out on top.

In the blue corner, from the same guy who made the Orbis Ring Flash,  it’s ioShutter™PRO (video below); and in the red corner, it’s the Triggertrap (video at top) from Haje Jan Kamps.

You can watch a great head to head comparison between the TriggerTrap and ioShutter on Fotobug Here (Skip to about 1/3 of the way into the video).  Unfortunately, we’re not able to embed the video on that page, but here’s the skinny…

Are You Ready To Rumble?!!!

To use either of these apps, you’ll need to connect your smart device to your camera via a cable or “dongle“.  I would assume however, that there will be wireless versions available in the future as more and more cameras incorporate wi-fi technology.

Head to Head

These apps are both easy to use with intuitive layouts, and each work extremely well, but TriggerTrap is the easy winner here,

  • It’s a better value (Triggertrap is FREE for the app, and about $20 to $30 for whatever cable and dongle combo you need to work with your camera vs $9.99 for the ioShutter™PRO App and $69.95 for the cables)
  • It has more features (12 triggering modes vs 5 for the ioShutter)
  • There’s much more control in Timelapse mode (i.e.  Timewarp, where the timelapse speeds up, DistanceLapes, where a photo is taken every time you move a certain deistance, Star Trail Mode, HDR Mode, etc.)
  • TriggerTrap is also compatible with Android Devices
  • TriggerTrap is compatible with more cameras (TriggerTrap [Check Compatibility] works with many DSLRs and Mirrorless Systems vs ioShutter [Check Compatibility], which only seems to be compatible with Canon or Nikon cameras)

Here’s some of the features you’ll find on Triggertrap

  • Works with your iPhone/iPod/iPad, using more than 12 different triggering modes.
  • You can trigger using:• Timelapse• TimeWarp (timelapses with acceleration!)• DistanceLapse (take a photo every 30 ft/m)• Vibration and shock sensors• Sound detection (Clap to take a photo!)• Facial Recognition sensor• Motion detection• Magnetic & metallic detectors• Long-Exposure HDR**• Long-Exposure HDR Timelapse• Bulb ramping• Star Trail mode• Cable Release (press to take a photo) which also supports Long-exposure shots (exposures of up to 24 hours!)
  • All the modes are fully configurable, so that you can get trigger happy with your camera – in any way you like.
  • Sunrise Mode – uses information from your GPS location to tell you exactly when the sun will set and rise where you are
  • Lag-O-Meter to measure your camera lag, for even more accurate HDR photography
  • Long Exposure HDR (LE-HDR) mode supports shutter speeds from several hours down to 1/20th second, and can do up to 19 bracketed shots with 1/3, 1/2, 1 or 2 EV steps.
  • For many of the triggering modes, you can use the camera built into your phone, but if you want the full Triggertrap experience, hook it up to your SLR camera!
  • To connect your iOS device to a SLR camera, you can buy a Triggertrap Mobile Dongle separately.
  • More than 280 camera models are supported [Check Compatibility]

Get the Triggertrap or ioShutter™PRO Apps Here

With their NEX Camera Lineup, it’s pretty much universally held that Sony are producing some of the best Compact System Cameras on the market (In the video above, Derek Yeo sings the praises of the Sony NEX-6 – the most advanced NEX camera to date and one of our favorite cameras of 2012).  The NEX Cameras are highly rated for image quality in both stills and video, and Sony’s Sensor Technology is so good that it’s being used by several other camera companies as well.  However, it’s also widely held (including in this space) that the biggest knock on the Sony NEX line is the lack of quality native (E-Mount) lenses, and of the ones that do exist, many are mediocre at best.  Now it seems that Sony are determined to erase that trend.

MirrorlessRumors is reporting that Sony are now committed to adding more lenses to the E-Mount lineup.

Sony have just posted an “E-mount roadmap” (below) and promises to release more than five new high quality E-mount lenses within 2013! That includes a new Zeiss and a new G lens! Sony also say that from now on you can expect a minimum of five new E-mount lenses to be launched every year.  Sounds Great!

My 2 Cents

This is indeed great news for the many fans of NEX Cameras. If Sony stick to this pledge, they will remove one of the major advantages that other mirrorless systems, such as micro 4/3, have over the NEX lineup.  Stay Tuned!

Check out the Sony NEX 6 Here

The Phobolographer is reporting that the long rumored firmware updates for Fuji’s celebrated mirrorless compact system cameras, the X-Pro1 and X-E1, as well as their 35mm 1.4 Lens have been released.

Here are the details:

X Pro 1 (2.03) download link

  • Allows compatibility with the new “XF14mmF2.8R” lens
  • Improved performance of Auto Focus under various shooting conditions

35mm f1.4 (2.02) download link

  • Improved autofocus accuracy and performance

XE-1 (1.04) download link

  • Allows compatibility with the new “XF14mmF2.8R” lens
  • Shutter release button now works when an external remote release is connected
  • Improved performance of Auto Focus under various shooting conditions
  • Audio performance has been optimized for the new Stereo Microphone MIC-ST1

The Fuji X-Series Cameras and Lenses are among our favorites of 2012.  Fuji have created something special with their X-Trans Sensors and processing Technology and are striving to make this great system even better.  These cameras are tailor made for experienced photographers who demand the highest quality still images and aren’t afraid of manual control.

Buy the Fuji X-Pro1, Fuji X-E1 and 35mm 1.4 Lens on Amazon Here

Star trails make for some of the most beautiful, and cool looking photos that almost surreal look – and PictureCorrect.com have posted this excellent tutorial by photographer, instructor, and author Tony Northrup, who shares with us the basics of creating beautiful star trail images.

All you need to photograph star trails (besides your camera, lens and tripod) is knowing the right technique, and having a bit of patience.

Star Trail Photography

How To Shoot Stars and the Night Sky

What you need for your camera:

Shutter Speed, aperture and ISO:

  • Keep your shutter speed at 30 seconds,
  • Set your camera’s aperture to the widest setting. An aperture of 3.5 or 4.0 is good enough.
  • Set your ISO at 1600 and take a test shot, then zoom in and check if the stars are sharp. If not, re-adjust the focus and keep taking test shots until the stars appear sharp.
  • Set the shutter for continuous shooting (where you just hold the shutter down and click – It may feel a bit odd with a 30 seconds exposure, but it works great).
  • Use remote shutter release to lock the shutter open.  Otherwise, you’ll shake the camera when you keep the shutter pressed. Your camera will now shoot a new pic every 30 seconds.
  • Once the images are captured, transfer them to your computer. Images will probably have an orange tint and bad colors (this is common with most night time shots), but this can be corrected (Tony uses Adobe Lightroom to process RAW files, as it allows you to easily apply the same settings to the entire set of images).
  • Check the white balance, and correct the exposure settings. You want the stars to be bright and nice, and the sky to be dark.
  • Adjust the black levels and white levels and apply the same settings to the entire set.
  • After this, Tony exports the set as jpeg files into a single folder, and stacks them together.

Things to remember:

  • It’s always advisable to set up your camera beforehand in the daylight so that you can see what you’re setting.
  • Carry a flashlight or headlight with you.
  • Don’t jostle your camera while you’re taking the images. Your camera has to be completely still when the images are being clicked.
  • Check your camera every 10-15 minutes. Clean the lens, with an absorbent lint free cloth.
  • Keep an eye on the sky too. Clouds might ruin your images. They might come and go just for a couple of minutes, but they’ll be locked in long exposures.

(Read full article on PictureCorrect.com)

Here’s a low cost option for night photography

One of the best deals you can get on a Compact System Camera right now is on the Panasonic Lumix GX1. Combine that camera with a good wide angle micro 4/3 lens (see above) and a low cost tripod like this one from Targus, that has a built in Bubble Level.

Well known nature photographer Scott Bourne, like many other photographers, is contemplating a switch to a micro 4/3 mirrorless camera system because of the obvious advantages in size, weight, cost and now, quality.  As a photographer, Scott says he prefers to use prime lenses whenever possible, and lists his top 10 reasons in a new article on PhotoFocus.com.

Scott writes…

“I do use some zooms, mostly because the micro four-thirds lenses don’t cover some of the focal lengths I need without zooms, but I primarily use and prefer primes. Here’s why.

1. Habit. I am older than most of you and back when I started in photography, zoom lenses were just horrible. They didn’t perform as well as modern zooms and most of us avoided them like the plague. They were slow, not very sharp at either extreme, bulky and expensive. I just got used to shooting with primes.

2. Focus. Whether you are using auto-focus, or manual focus, primes almost always focus faster/better than zooms…

3. Size & Weight. Prime lenses are more compact. They are smaller, easier to pack, easier to carry and lighter so they aren’t as physically taxing as zooms. They also tend to be more stealthy and less threatening to subjects.

4. Close Focusing Distance. Primes generally have a shorter close focusing distance than zooms. With zooms, I have to stay further back…

5. Sharpness. This is less a problem today than it was 30 years ago, but in my tests, primes are almost always still sharper than zooms…

6. Less Distortion.  Prime lenses tend to have less distortion. Things like chromatic aberration are better controlled in primes…

7. Composition. Primes slow you down and force you to make conscious lens choices – which force you to make conscious composition choices…

8. Cost. The prime lenses I own typically cost less than the high-end zooms…

9. Video. Most zoom lenses don’t work as well when I am shooting video as do primes…

10. Better Resolving Power. Resolving power translates to the ability to distinguish small details. Zooms tend to have less resolving power than primes…

There are some disadvantages to primes. You have to own more lenses if you want to cover all focal lengths. They are less convenient. etc. But to me the benefits outweigh the disadvantages.”  (Read full article on PhotoFocus)

My 2 Cents

One of the biggest advantages of a micro 4/3 camera system is the abundance of high quality lenses from which you have to choose, including those from micro 4/3 originators Panasonic (who make many lenses in partnership with Leica) and Olympus (whose M.Zuiko lens lineup is superb).  There’s also a burgeoning number of 3rd party lens manufacturers like Sigma, Rokinon, Samyang, Bowers, and Tamron who are joining the micro 4/3 party, and no less than 5 companies have also committed to making micro 4/3 cameras, so it looks like even more lenses are on the horizon.

When it comes to Prime Lenses vs Zoom Lenses, I’m pretty much in full agreement with Scott, with the exception of the new Panasonic 12-35mm and 35-100mm Pro Spec Zoom Lenses.  These are premium quality zooms with a constant aperture of f/2.8 across the zoom range.  They’re a great addition to the virtual plethora of premium primes (say THAT 5 times really fast ~_^) that the micro 4/3 standard can boast.

In the video above, Kai Wong and DRTV highlight one of our favorite M43 Primes, the Panasonic / Leica 25mm f/1.4 Summilux.  (See a list of our favorite M43 Primes below)

Our Favorite Micro 4/3 Prime Lenses

Panasonic 8mm 3.5 Fisheye lens

Olympus M.Zuiko 12mm 2.0

Olympus M.Zuiko 17mm 1.8 Wide Angle Lens

Panasonic 20mm 1.7

Panasonic Leica 25mm 1.4 DG Summilux

Olympus M.Zuiko 45mm 1.8

Olympus M.Zuiko 60mm 2.8 Macro Lens

Olympus M.Zuiko 75mm 1.8

Bargain Primes

Here are a few of the best lenses made by 3rd party manufacturers. Great lenses at a bargain price!

Rokinon 7.5mm 3.5 Fisheye lens

Sigma 19mm 2.8

Sigma 30mm 2.8

**NOTE** The Sigma lenses have been discontinued and will soon be replaced by updated versions in Sigma’s new “Art” lens lineup, which are supposed to be higher end lenses. That being said, these two lenses are great. I have both and they produce sharp, clear images and the focus is lightning fast (and quiet too, so they’re good for video). If you can still get these, I highly recommend snapping ‘em up. — SG

Best Cheap Lens That You’ll Ever Love

If you’re looking for a fun little manual focus lens, you can’t go wrong with a C-Mount lens (with micro 4/3 adapter). These little beasties were originally made for 16mm film cameras and have also been used used as closed circuit tv lenses, but they adapt extremely well to micro 4/3 cameras. They’re very similar (almost identical) to the specialty SLR Magic lenses that sell for hundreds of dollars, and the best part… you can get one for about $30 USD!  (Learn more here)

Rainbow Imaging 35mm 1.7 TV/Movie Lens with micro 4/3 adapter

Our good friend and fellow Hybrid Hero on DiscoverMirrorless.com, Marlene Hielema (ImageMaven.com) gives an excellent answer to one of the most common reader questions asked here on MC – Can you get bokeh with small sensor mirrorless cameras?

Here’s Marlene’s take…

To get good bokeh you need to know the three things that control depth of field.

  1. Aperture – The larger the f-stop the less depth of field – usually.
  2. Focal length – The longer the focal length the less depth of field. It’s really hard to get bokeh with wide angle lenses.
  3. Proximity to your subject – The closer you are to your foreground subject, the less depth of field you’ll get in the background.

all you have to do is put all three of these things together (or even 2 out of 3) and you’ll get some great bokeh shots.

Lighting considerations for best results

Keep in mind that to get these blobs of soft light in the background, you’ll need some light in the background too.

Night shots work great. You can have a closeup portrait with streetlights in the background. Christmas lights work too.

It can be natural light outdoors, or indoor light. Keep in mind that it’s sometimes hard to get bokeh in the super bright outdoors. So you might need an ND filter to help with that.

In this video tutorial, I shoot video and stills with my Panasonic Lumix GH3 camera, and I show you changes to the three depth of field properties to demonstrate how bokeh is made. (Read article on DiscoverMirrorless.com)

My 2 Cents

Can you get bokeh with mirrorless cameras?  You’re darned tootin’ you can!

Here’s our picks for the best (and most bokehlicious) mirrorless camera systems.

(Via 43Rumors)  Nikon Shooter Daniel Cox recently packed his photo bags to go on Safari in Kenya.  In his briefcase, he packed a Panasonic Lumix GH3 (with a 100-300mm F/4-5.6 lens attached) along with a 15 inch Macbook Pro Retina, cords for two external hard drives, the drives themselves, his travel docs, cell phone and “the many incidentals all of us typically travel with.”

As Daniel puts it, “In other words, the GH3, even with the attached lens, is small.”

In another bag was 40 lbs. of Nikon gear.  During the course of his trip, Daniel got to use the GH3 in numerous real world situations.  He shot in the day and in the night.  He shot stills and video, animals and landscapes and captured just shy of 12,000 images with the GH3 (You can read about Daniel’s experiences and see photos here).  In his article, Daniel details the things that he liked and didn’t like about using the GH3, but all in all when he left Kenya, he was extremely impressed with what the little camera could do. (video above is Daniel demonstrating the touch focus feature on the GH3).

Daniel’s Conclusion…

“Overall I’m extremely happy with the results I shot on my trip to Kenya. The GH3 did a superb job, especially taking into account how inexpensive this camera is, as well as the lenses that go with it. Will this system replace my Nikons at this point? No. But I can’t help thinking the cat’s out of the bag with this Micro Four Thirds camera system. I’m quite confident that any camera company not paying serious attention to Panasonic does so at their own peril. The GH3 exceeded all expectations and will remain a major part of my current photographic tools. Don’t let it’s diminutive size fool you. It’s a serious contender.”

Buy the Panasonic Lumix GH3 on Amazon Here

I have no idea what the guys in the video above are saying, but I do know they’re talking about CP+, and they seem pretty excited.

Maybe it’s because there’s no less than FIVE (count ‘em, FIVE) micro 4/3 lenses that have been announced at the event so far.  There are the 3 new Sigma lenses that we already told you about, and there are two more, as reported by MirrorlessRumors. Looks like another banner year for micro 4/3!

First up, it’s Panasonic with an update (or replacement) to their mediocre 14-42mm kit lens.  The new 14-42mm lens will have the look of Panasonic’s X Lens Lineup and is touted to be video optimized, complete with zoom motors that are nice and quiet, and will be available with the Lumix GF5 and the Lumix G5.

Here’s the Press Release from Panasonic

Panasonic is pleased to announce a new compact standard zoom lens LUMIX G VARIO 14-42mm / F3.5-5.6 II ASPH. / MEGA O.I.S. for LUMIX G based on the Micro Four Thirds System standard. LUMIX G VARIO 14-42mm / F3.5-5.6 II ASPH. / MEGA O.I.S. offers a versatile zoom range of 14-42 mm (35 mm camera equivalent: 28-84 mm) suitable for a wide range of situations from landscape to portrait. Comprising of 9 elements in 8 groups, the lens system adopts 2 aspherical lenses to achieve further reduction of both size and weight yet maintaining its high optical performance at entire zoom range. The inner focus system driven by a stepping motor assures astonishing comfort to take maximum advantage of high speed contrast AF system and in video recording.

Panasonic’s MEGA O.I.S. (Optical Image Stabilizer) makes it easy to shoot super clear shots even at tele end or in low-lit situations by suppressing the blur caused by a hand shake.

With its minimum focus distance of 0.2 m (14-20 mm) / 0.3 m (21-42 mm) even at full zoom, the new lens provides a maximum photographic magnification of 0.17x (35 mm camera equivalent: 0.34x). 7 aperture blades consists a circular aperture diaphragm and produces an attractive smoothness in out-of-focus areas even shooting at large aperture.

The new LUMIX G VARIO 14-42mm / F3.5-5.6 II ASPH. / MEGA O.I.S. for LUMIX G is refined in its external design to offer metallic color options of black and silver to offer stylish look on the digital single lens mirrorless (DSLM) cameras of LUMIX G in shooting creative snapshots.

Lens specs
Lens type Zoom lens
Max Format size FourThirds
Focal length 14 – 42 mm
Image stabilisation Yes (Mega OIS)
Lens mount Micro Four Thirds
Aperture
Maximum aperture F3.5 – F5.6
Minimum aperture F22.0
Aperture ring No
Number of diaphragm blades 7
Aperture notes Circular aperture
Optics
Elements 9
Groups 8
Special elements / coatings 2 aspherical lenses
Focus
Minimum focus 0.20 m (7.87″)
Maximum magnification 0.34 x
Autofocus Yes
Motor type Micromotor
Full time manual Yes
Focus method Internal
Distance scale No
DoF scale No
Physical
Weight 110 g (0.24 lb)
Diameter 56 mm (2.20″)
Length 49 mm (1.93″)
Sealing No
Colour Black
Power zoom Yes
Zoom lock No
Filter thread 46 mm
Filter notes Does not rotate on focusing
Hood supplied No
Hood product code n/a
Tripod collar No

Next Up, it’s Tamron…

(via the Phoblographer) Tamron has announced another lens for the Micro Four Thirds system.  Tamron of course, is a company that has become famous for its superzoom lenses, and Tamron’s new MFT lens features a whopping 10.7x zoom factor, ranging from 14 to 150mm (or 28 to 300mm equivalent to 35mm full-frame). This is now the third superzoom lens in the Micro Four Thirds lineup, after Panasonic’s original 14-140mm HD lens that was introduced with the legendary GH1, and Olympus’ 14-150mm lens. From the looks of it, the ’14-150mm F/3.5-5.8 Di III VC’ is quite a bit smaller than the two aforementioned lenses. So let’s hope it will also be a great performer optically. For the full tech specs, head past the break.

Tech Specs

  • Focal length: 14-150mm (28-300mm equivalent)
  • Max. Aperture: f3.5-5.8
  • Min. Aperture: f22
  • Optics: 17 lens elements in 13 groups, featuring one LD (Low Dispersion) glass element, two molded-glass aspherical elements and one hybrid aspherical element
  • Min. focus distance: 0.5m (19.7″)
  • Filter size: 52mm
  • Dimensions: 85.2 x 63mm mm (3.35 x 2.48″)
  • Weight: 280g (9.9 oz.)

Pricing and availability have not been disclosed thus far.

My 2 Cents

More high quality lenses for me to slap on to my G5, GH2 and soon, GH3…  Bring it on!!!

Sigma Corporation announced four new lenses at CP+ Camera and Photo Imaging Show 2013 in Yokohama, Japan – 3 of the new lenses are designed for use with micro 4/3 or Sony NEX (E-Mount) cameras.  The fourth lens is an APS-C format.

Two of the new mirrorless camera lenses are updated versions of Sigma’s 19mm f/2.8 and 30mm f/2.8 lenses (which we love – the video above by goslava101, was shot with a Panasonic Lumix GH2 and Sigma 30mm 2.8 lens), while the third is an all new 60mm f/2.8 macro lens, and all the new lenses are part of Sigma’s new Art Product Line, which will be higher end, yet still affordable lenses.

Sigma’s Press Release

YOKOHAMA, Japan Jan. 29, 2013Sigma Corporation of America a leading researcher, developer, manufacturer and service provider of some of the world’s most impressive lines of lenses, cameras and flashes, today announced the release of four new lenses for the ART product line, including three lenses for mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras and one lens for DSLR cameras with APS-C size sensors. This announcement comes at the start of the CP+ Camera and Photo Imaging Show 2013 this week in Yokohama, Japan.
The new and updated Sigma lenses include the 30mm F1.4 DC HSM, which will be available in Sigma, Canon and Nikon mounts, and the 30mm F2.8 DN, 19mm F2.8 DN and 60mm F2.8 DN lenses, which are available for both Micro Four Thirds and Sony E-Mount camera systems. Pricing and availability on all of these lenses has yet to be announced.
The 60mm F2.8 DN lens is entirely new to the Sigma lineup, while the 30mm F1.4 DC HSM and the 30mm F2.8 DN and 19mm F2.8 DN lenses are existing focal lengths that have been redesigned with enhanced optical performance and included as part of Sigma’s new Global Vision category restructuring. All three DN lenses incorporate telecentric optical designs and a linear, auto focusing motor that ensures accurate and quiet focusing for video recording. They also boast metal exteriors and a simply shaped focus ring, with varying textures to distinguish each part of the lens. In addition, DN users can choose between a black or silver finish to match their favorite equipment.
“We’re really proud of the super sharp lenses we’ve produced in the past year and these new Art lenses will continue to impress our fans and critics alike. They’re ideal for the landscape, portrait, still-life, close-up and casual photographer who values creative, dramatic outcomes above compactness and multifunction,” said Mark Amir-Hamzeh, president of Sigma Corporation of America. “The lenses are entirely made in Japan and they boast the new product line’s sleek design and enhanced quality control. We’re quite proud of these changes – and additions – to our lens lineup; they’re further evidence of Sigma’s forethought in this fast-moving industry.”

These days, there are a lot of photographers pondering whether or not it might be a good time to consider getting rid of their DSLRs and moving over to mirrorless cameras.  There have been major advancements in mirrorless technology over the last several years that has brought about major improvements in autofocus, high ISO performance, Image Quality, etc., and we’ve witnessed the release of new mirrorless systems like Sony’s NEX 7 (and now, the NEX 6), the Fuji X-Series Cameras (X-Pro1 and X-E1) and the top of the line micro 4/3 cameras from Olympus and Panasonic, the OM-D E-M5 and the Lumix GH3.  But have the advancements in mirrorless technology come far enough?

In the video above, Hybrid Photography Pioneer and MC Contributor Will Crockett (DiscoverMirrorless.com) answers a reader’s question about the autofocus performance on the Panasonic Lumix GH3 vs his Canon 650 (aka T4i) – and as Will states in the video, in most circumstances you can indeed have confidence in the autofocus performance on the GH3.

There’s no doubt that the micro 4/3 system is the most developed of any mirrorless camera system today.  There are more high quality micro 4/3 lenses available than for any other mirrorless system, and since both Panasonic and Olympus make m43 cameras, they seem to be quickly pushing each other to new heights, and soon there will be many more companies joining the micro 4/3 party.

So is it the right time to go mirrorless?

As we have reported on this site, David Taylor-Hughes of SoundImagePlus is currently facing a similar dilemma as he is paring his rather impressive camera collection (He has the Sigma DP Merrill cameras, a Nikon D800E, an Olympus OM-D E-M5 and a Panasonic Lumix GH3) down to just 2 cameras.  Though David is a mirrorless enthusiast, he has stated on many occasions that he would have a hard time parting with his Nikon D800, but in a new article on SoundImagePlus, he seems to indicate that he is leaning towards keeping his micro 4/3 cameras, the Lumix GH3 and the OM-D E-M5.

We’ve been following David’s story, and though nothing is yet written in stone, he does state that “For my own part I seem to be drifting slowly towards the decision that the OM-D and GH3 are the two cameras I’ll keep. Nothing is decided yet, but I don’t seem to want to use anything else currently.

Not a bad choice, in my mind.  These are two superb cameras that produce great results.  They’re smaller and lighter than their DSLR counterparts, and since they’re both micro 4/3, he’ll be able to swap lenses between the two without using adapters (travel small, shoot BIG!).

Image is everything

Yeah, the GH3 and the OM-D will pop out some high quality images, but that’s not quite what I’m talking about here.

You see, in assessing some important intangibles that are driving him in the m43 direction, David lays out the following revelation…

“So what is it that has changed things, why have these two cameras suddenly moved things along, and seem to have “authenticated” m4/3 as a serious digital camera system and format?

Well for me the answer is relatively simple, but involves admitting what many of us don’t really like admitting. They look right.”

Ahhhhh.  The Big Green Hairy Monster that is confronting many who are contemplating the switch to mirrorless has finally revealed itself…  “What will people think if I show up with a tiny mirrorless camera system?”

In an industry that is so driven by image, from the quality of those that come out of your camera to the coolness factor of those whose images you capture, one thing is clear.  Perception is reality, and many ProTogs don’t feel that they’ll be taken seriously if they don’t show up with a 75lb. camera system with bazooka-like lenses.

One of the first people to tackle that big green monster is our good friend, street photography guru and MC Contributor Giulio Sciorio (SmallCameraBigPicture.com and DiscoverMirrorless.com).  You see, G was one of the first bonafide pros to make a wholesale switch to mirrorless, originally to an Olympus PEN Mini and OM-D, and now he’s also added a Panasonic Lumix G5 and GH3 to his camera lineup.

In his excellent article entitled “How To Overcome the Fears of Using Micro 4/3 Cameras in a Professional Environment“, G tackles the top issues confronting pros who are considering adding (or switching to) mirrorless systems, and guess what sits on top of the list…

Fear #1 – What will my clients think?

Here’s how G addresses the perception issue…

“Q – If I show up to a job and the client is expecting X and they get Y then I could lose any further jobs from them in the future.

A – Since photography sales is a long-term relationship based sale, not a one time retail based sale, you want to be sure that your client is confident that you will do the job right.

Often times, my client’s job is on the line if they don’t put on a good show for their company or client, so looking professional needs to be a priority. If I show up not looking like the person they were expecting, then I’ll make them look unprofessional, and not only will I risk losing a client, I could also risk my client losing their job or client as well.

So how did I address this gear fear? Since photography is a “show me” business not a “tell me” business, I strive to show my clients just what I can do with a small camera. In December during Art Basel Miami, I shot street portraits of artists and art lovers. The shots came out great and I told all my clients about it. They already knew that I had the PEN, but it was typically kept in my case while I was shooting their jobs with the 5DMKII.

My clients’ reactions to the Art Basel Street Portraits were very positive, so when I told them I did the project with the tiny PEN, they were really impressed.

What I communicated to them is this -

  • The camera is fast and small, with a large chip so the quality is very high.
  • Since the camera is small, the subjects were more relaxed than if I shot with a large SLR and since it was also very fast I was able to capture the moment quickly and move on.

When I asked them how they felt about me shooting for them with a small camera The reaction was positive. Here’s an actual email -

Having a camera that people are used to as being “professional” does play a role at least in an environment when your career is on the line. It takes a lot of work and resources to earn a client’s trust but it’s so easy to lose a client if you don’t handle the challenges in a professional manner.  (Read the rest of Giulio’s Excellent Article Here)

So Which is Better?

In the end, that question will ultimately depend on your intended use for the system.  There may still be some tasks that are better left for DSLRs, but not very many, and there are many takes that are better left for mirrorless.  For 95% of photographers, mirrorless systems can and will do everything you need just as good as (and in many cases, better than) a DSLR.  Mirrorless cameras are much better suited for Hybrid Photography as well, and since technology is progressing rapidly, you can look for any remaining gaps to be closed in the not too distant future.

Buy the Panasonic Lumix GH3 and the Olympus OM-D E-M5 on Amazon Here

Here’s another CES 2013 report from Blunty3000.  This time around, Blunty gives us a sneak peek at the new Pentax MX-1 fixed lens compact camera.  The MX-1 was one of the few bright spots to come out of an of an otherwise forgettable CES Show (from a photographer’s perspective).  Of course, most of the major announcements and releases in the photo/video industry came late last year at the Photokina Expo in Cologne, Germany and Photo Plus in NYC.

Blunty writes…

“The Pentax MX-1, announced at CES 2013, is carrying on Pentax’s bold attitude toward design and producing interesting cameras to capture imagination and inspire photographers… I was caught by the rare charm of the quirky Pentax Q, and the MX-1 may just have be singing Pentax’s praises again…”

Here’s the Pentax Company Schpeil…

Classically Crafted, Contemporary Quality

With its genuine brass covers and advanced digital compact capabilities, the PENTAX MX-1 is where craft design meets contemporary quality. The MX-1′s fast F1.8-2.5 lens, 4X zoom and large 12 megapixel backlit CMOS sensor allow for bright everyday imagery inside a stylish body. As its brass wears with time, feel the good old days come back to life in your images of today with the PENTAX MX-1.

DSLR-like features in a compact body, such as textured mode dials, an exposure adjustment dial, In-body RAW development capability, HDR shooting and Custom images modes.”

My 2 Cents

The Pentax MX-1 enters a crowded fixed lens compact market that is now burgeoning with quality competition, like the Sony RX-100, the Panasonic Lumix LX7 (two of our favorite cameras of 2012)and the new Fuji X-100s and X-20.  It has a smaller sensor than the highly celebrated RX-100 and although it’s lens is bright and fast, it’s not quite on par with the LX7′s.  On paper, it also seems to come up short when matched up against either of the new Fuji Cameras.  Still, Pentax have been quietly producing some great little cameras that have mostly flown under the radar, all while amassing their own cult following.

Until we get some hands on time with the MX-1, the jury remains out.  Stay Tuned…

These days, it seems like everyone is trying to get their piece of the highly lucrative pie that GoPro have carved out in the POV (Point Of View) Action Camera market.  Some are very similar to the cameras they’re attempting to knock off the top of the mountain and others are just…  well, they’re knock offs.

As Nate “Blunty3000” Burr reports from CES 2013, Panasonic now throwing their proverbial hat into the POV Ring with an all new action cam called the HX-A100 (or A100 for short – Read our earlier post here), but the folks at Panasonic are entering the action camera market with a new idea.  They assert that the largest problem with existing POV cams is that, once you put themt on, it’s hard to control or change the settings on your unit.  So Panasonic have designed the A100 as a 2 piece unit.

  1. The camera unit, which is now a lightweight housing for the lens and image capturing unit that can be easily clipped on to say, a headband or helmet.
  2. The control unit, which comes with a neoprene arm band that will allow easy access to camera controls.  Even during shooting.

The HX-A100 is also wi-fi capable and is designed so that you can stream live video directly to USTREAM.  There’s also a dedicated app available for Android and Apple iOS devices that will allow you to control the camera settings, even selecting the range of the camera, whether you want to shoot in 160° or 118°, and watch the video straight off your tablet or smartphone.

Look for more on the Panasonic HX-A100 soon.