This week, the first wave of pre-Photokina announcements started to come ashore. Panasonic, Fujifilm and Samsung unveiled new digital cameras. There’s a lot of ground to cover, so let’s roll:
Panasonic Compact Line Features Posh, Practical LX5
Panasonic unveiled five new compact digital cameras, including the long-awaited successor to the LX3, the street-savvy DMC-LX5, a posh system compact with a fast 24-90mm (35mm equivalent) f/2.0-3.3 lens and slightly larger-than-average 1.163-inch sensor. It’s borrowed several features from the GF1, most significantly a data port for the optional LVF1 electronic viewfinder and claims an improved dynamic range. Then there's that wider-than-usual, and very practical for HDR, 3EV exposure bracketing range, which Jack Howard likes. The LX5 be available next month for around $500. Read more in the Panasonic press release.
Panasonic also announced:
• A new ruggedized camera, the TS (tough stuff?) 10, saying it’s waterproof to 10 feet, freezeproof to 14 degrees F, shockproof to 5 feet, and dustproof (press release);
• An ultraslim model, the 14MP FX700, which sports a fast 5x optical f/2.2 Leica zoom lens, 1080p HD video, and a 3-inch touch screen (press release);
• A 24x superzoom EVF camera, the FZ100, with a 14MP CMOS sensor, full 1080p HD video, 11 frame-per-second burst rate, and something they call “Happy Mode” which optimizes color, saturation and brightness, which presumably would bring happiness to concerned photographers everywhere. (Press release)
The new cameras join Panasonic’s Micro Four Thirds models, the G2 and G10, as well as the small form-factor G-F1, which was introduced over a year ago.
Fujifilm Squeezes 15x Zoom Into Pocket-Sized Camera
There are always compromises when you shrink camera gear, but Fujifilm has gone to great pains in the past to minimize problems when putting impossibly long lenses on impossibly short cameras. Meet the Fujifilm FinePix F300 EXR, which sports a 24-360mm f/3.5-5.3 zoom lens and a 23mm-thick camera body. Like the top-line EF-10, the F300 is packed with features, including EXR technology, high-speed AF, 3-inch 460K resolution LCD, 12MP sensor, intelligent image stabilization, motion panorama that can capture up to 360 degrees, and 720p HD movie capture. It’ll cost around $329.95. Read the full press release.
Other new cameras announced by Fujifilm:
• Finepix Z800 EXR: A 3.5-inch touch screen dominates the back of this super-thin, ultra-stylish 5x zoom 12MP camera. A dual phase detection/contrast AF system assures top focus performance in varying light. Press release;
• Finepix S2800HD is an EVF with an 18x (28-504mm equivalent) zoom lens and near-DSLR form factor. It has a 14MP, ½.3-inch CCD sensor, 720p HD video, and all the high-end trinkets you’d expect. Press release;
• The JX280 is Fujifilm’s budget entry, a 14MP unit with a 2.7-inch LCD monitor, 5x wide-angle lens, and all-metal body that’s only 18.5mm thick. Press release.
Samsung Expands its Dual View Line
It looks like the Samsung Dual View ST camera, introduced earlier this year, is a hit—judging by Samsung’s announcement this week of two new Dual View cameras, the ST600 and ST100. Dual View means there are two LCD panels: a larger one in the back, and a smaller one in front so the people you are photographing can see themselves in live view as you’re shooting. It’s a nifty idea and it’s gained traction for Samsung. In both new models, the dual view front LCDs measure 1.8 inches, a slight increases over the predecessors’ 1.5-inch monitors. The difference between the two 14MP cameras? The ST600 has a 5x zoom lens that starts at 27mm and more standard body design, while the ST100 has a periscoping internal zoom that starts at 35mm, and is a bit smaller.
Samsung also announced a standard-design compact camera, the PL200, with a 14MP sensor and 7x zoom, designed for the budget-minded shooter at $179.95.
Rumor mill: Nikon, Canon working on MILC cameras?
The race to be the cream of the MILC (Mirrorless Interchangeable-Lens Compact camera) crop may be on in earnest (Read my blog post on this topic) since the Top Two are dropping serious hints, according to widely-recognized news sources. Business news wire service Bloomberg says Nikon has a “new concept” digital camera in the works, although no timeline was provided, quoting President Makoto Kimura as saying the new camera may be mirrorless and have enhanced video functionality.
Meanwhile, Reuters is reporting that Canon is working on a “smaller high-quality camera”. Their source? Masaya Maeda, head of the Image Communication Products division at Canon. He is quoted as saying: "It's not a question of whether or not you have a mirror. There is a consumer need for good-quality cameras to be made smaller. We will meet this need."
Sony: World’s First Consumer Interchangeable Lens HD Camcorder
Further blurring the line between still and video capture, Sony has introduced the NEX-VG10E, a full HD Video camera with interchangeable lenses using the same E lens mount as the still NEX-5 and NEX-3 MILC cameras that hit the shelves this month. The camera features a 3-inch LCD viewfinder, a 14.2 effective megapixel APS-sized CMOS sensor (sounds familiar? That’s what the still NEX’s have) that captures 1080p full HD in AVCHD format up to 24Mbps bit rate. Unlike its still counterparts, there is no limit on video length. The camera comes supplied with an 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 zoom lens, optimized for video, and a Quad Capsule Spatial Array Stereo Microphone that offers better stereo separation and cancels unwanted noise. Press release.
So, which should you buy—an NEX 3, 5, or VG10E? With this announcement, Sony has made that a very interesting question, indeed, although the camcorder’s $2,000 price tag might help answer it.