July 16th, 2015

Panasonic GX8, FZ300 Deliver 4K Recording, Faster Processing While Company Eyes Focus-Free Future

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Panasonic continues to expand the number of 4K cameras in its arsenal with the introduction of the new GX8 and FZ300. Beyond the new models, Panasonic said it was prepping a Lytro-like “post focus” capability for its new cameras that would leverage 4K recording and touch screens to allow users to adjust the focus point after capture. New lenses, too, are also in the works.

Let’s start with the cameras.

GX8

In addition to 4K video, the Micro Four Thirds-based GX8 is the first in Panasonic’s lineup to offer a dual image stabilizer–one for the camera body, the other for the lens–that work in tandem to combat camera shake at all focal lengths. According to Panasonic, most of its image-stabilized lenses will be able to work with the new dual stabilizer system in the GX8. When filming videos, the GX8 will employ a 5-axis hybrid stabilization that combines sensor shifting and digital corrections and is similar to the system used in the company’s video cameras.

The GX8 features a new 20.3-megapixel image sensor and quad-core Venus Engine CPU to drive continuous shooting at 8 frames per second in AFS mode and 6 fps in AFC mode. Dynamic range has been improved by a 1/3 stop over its predecessor, the GX7.

Like most recent Panasonic cameras, the GX8 will record 4K video (3840x2160p30) as well as 1920x1080p60 video in either AVCHD Progressive or MP4. Similar to the G7, the GX8 features a 4K Photo Mode that lets users shoot 4K video in any aspect ratio and isolate an 8-megapixel clip from a 4K video file during playback. According to Panasonic, the virtue of using 4K Photo Mode versus simply grabbing stills from 4K video is the ability to change aspect ratios and the faster shutter speed of 1/500 sec. that keeps 4K Photo Mode stills in sharper focus than 4K video frame grabs. The color range is also wider in 4K Photo Mode than it is during 4K video capture.

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There will be three new 4K photo modes in the GX8.

A 4K Burst Shooting mode captures frames at 30fps for the duration of your shutter press (up to 4GB worth of data). A 4K Burst S/S (Start/Stop) mode starts consecutive shooting with a single press of a shutter button and stops it with the second press. Finally, a 4K Pre-burst mode automatically records 30 frames before and 30 frames after your shutter press for a total of 60 4K video frames to choose from.

Other features of the GX8 include:

* a tilting OLED Live Viewfinder with a magnification ratio of 1.54X and a 100 percent field of view

* a free-angle 3-inch OLED touch screen display

* 240 fps Contrast AF system with DFD (depth from defocus) technology that 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 to deliver a .07 sec. AF speed

* 49 AF points

* 1/8000 mechanical shutter speed and a 1/16,000 sec. electronic shutter

* improved low-light focusing down to -4EV with a Starlight AF mode to help users shoot stars in the night sky using autofocus by narrowing the AF zone

* Wi-Fi and NFC

* weather proof magnesium alloy die cast frame

* in-camera RAW processing

* focus peaking

The GX8 is due to ship in mid-August in two versions: all black and a model with a silver top with a black bottom for $1,200 (body only).

The FZ300

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Panasonic also rolled out the successor to the FZ200. The new FZ300 delivers a similar optical package with a 25-600mm f/2.8 built-in lens with optical image stabilization and adds 4K recording and a new Venus Engine image processor to improve ISO sensitivity to a max of ISO 6400.

The FZ300 features a 12-megapixel image sensor, 4K video recording and the same 4K Photo modes as the GX8 above.

You can frame your compositions through a 1,440K-dot OLED LVF with a 100 percent field of view when shooting in 4:3.

Additional features of the FZ300 include:

* 3-inch, free angle LCD

* 12 fps continuous shooting in AFS mode or 6 fps in AFC

* .09 sec. AF speed with DFD technology

* low light focusing down to -3EV

* Wi-Fi

* 5-axis hybrid stabilizer for HD video recording

* focus peaking

* in-camera RAW processing

The FZ300 will ship in mid-October for $600.

Coming Soon: Post Focus Mode

According to Panasonic, a new Post Focus mode will leverage a 4K burst mode to compile multiple exposures which a user would then use to freely determine a focus point in the frame using a touch screen. Post Focus mode will come to both the GX8 and FZ300 later this year via a firmware update as well as future models not yet announced by the company.

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Beyond the focusing capabilities, Panasonic also said it was working with Leica to develop a Leica DG 100-400mm f/4-6.3 telephoto lens for its Micro Four Thirds lineup. The lens would offer a 35mm equivalent focal length of 200-800mm and a dust and splash-proof build. Panasonic said its light weight and image stabilization would allow for handheld shooting out to the very end of the focal length.

The company is also prepping a Lumix G 25mm f/1.7 prime lens. Release date and additional specs for both lenses are not yet available. Product photography is preliminary.

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February 5th, 2015

Olympus Unveils OM-D E-M5 Mark II

E-M5MarkII_BLK_right_M14-42EZ_BLK Olympus got an early jump on the CP+ Show camera news with the announcement of the new OM-D E-M5 Mark II.

The new mirrorless camera delivers what Olympus is calling the most powerful optical image stabilization system on the market according to CIPA standards. The E-M5 Mark II offers a five-axis stabilization system that delivers up to five EV steps of stabilization. Olympus claims you can shoot handheld at 1/4 sec. shutter speeds and still enjoy crisp images.

The camera features a 16-megapixel LiveMOS sensor, a 3-inch, vari-angle touch screen display and a TruPic VII processor capable of a brisk 10 frames per second in continuous shooting mode. The camera is also capable of 5 fps continuous shooting with continuous AF engaged. You’ll also find built-in Wi-Fi, mechanical shutter speeds up to 1/8000 sec. and a silent electronic shutter with speeds up to 1/16,000 sec.

While the E-M5 Mark II has a 16-megapixel sensor, it can create a 40-megapixel image using a new High-Resolution Shot mode. In this mode, the camera captures eight images in a row over the course of a single second, moving the sensor by .5-pixel steps between each shot. The M5 Mark II then takes two additional seconds to process the photos into a single, 40-megapixel image. Images can be captured at up to f/8 with a shutter speed of up to eight seconds and a sensitivity of up to ISO 1600. A tripod is recommended.

E-M5MarkII_BLK_back_dialUnlike its other mirrorless rivals, Olympus choose not to add 4K video recording to the M5 Mark II, arguing instead that its ability to record 1080p video at 60 fps with excellent hand-held stabilization delivers a more relevant value for videographers using interchangeable lens cameras. Your mileage may vary.

When shooting 1080p videos at 30 fps, the M5 Mark II is capable of a maximum bit rate of 77Mbps. You’ll enjoy focus peaking,  the ability to add art filters, select AF points, electronic zoom and exposure controls while shooting video. Time code and recording to external devices via HDMI are also supported.

The body of the E-M5 Mark II is dust, splash and freeze proof. The viewfinder has been upgraded to be identical to the 2.36-million dot EVF found in Olympus’ current flagship, the E-M1.

The E-M5 Mark II goes on sale this month for $1,100 for a body-only kit.

Speaking of which, Olympus also announced that new firmware for the E-M1 camera will push its continuous shooting from the current 6.5 fps to 9 fps.

Olympus is also updating its M. Zuiko Digital ED 14-150mm f.4-5.6 zoom lens.

Equivalent to a 28-300mm full frame focal length, the lens is able to focus on objects as close as 13-inches away from the front of the lens and features a quiet, internal zoom motor. It will retail for $600 when it ships in March.

Finally, Olympus will bring a new Stylus Tough camera to market in April.

The TG-860 sports a 16-megapixel backlit CMOS image sensor, a 21-105mm (35mm equivalent) f/3.5-5.7 lens, Wi-Fi and a 3-inch display that flips up for selfie taking. The camera is waterproof to a depth of 50 feet, drop proof for up to seven feet and can withstand up to 220 pounds of pressure.

The TG-860 delivers 1080p video recording at 60 fps or 854×480 videos at up to 120 fps. The camera will be sold in a choice of black, orange and white for $280.

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May 10th, 2013

Olympus Announces PEN E-P5 Micro Four-Thirds Body

P5_best_si+14-42Olympus today announced a very retro looking addition to its PEN lineup, the E-P5. While many of us thought the original Olympus PEN E-P1 styling harkened to the company’s half-frame PEN cameras, the E-P5 does it one better. An all metal casing contains a number of upgraded features:

  • 16MP MOS Four Thirds sensor
  • Dual top plate control dials with a “2×2″ function changing option
  • 1/8000 sec top shutter speed (first in a mirrorless body) and 1/320 sec flash sync
  • ‘5-axis’ image stabilization with automatic panning detection
  • ISO 100-25600
  • Up to 9fps shooting (5.0 fps with continuous AF)
  • Focus ‘peaking’ display for manual focus lenses
  • Intervalometer and Time Lapse movie creation
  • 1.04m dot 3″ LCD touchscreen display
  • Built-in Wi-Fi for remote shooting and image transfer to smartphone or tablet

After a short hands-on experience with the camera, the dual control dials, focus peaking, 9fps, and remote shooting/wifi features jump out as being the most interesting. But there is no denying that Olympus has done a good job overall with the E-P5. Just on style alone, it should find its way into many a camera bag. But the added features and improved specs should give even the popular OM-D E-M5 a run for its money.

The Olympus PEN E-P5 will be available in May 2013 in the following configurations:
Body only, available in Black, Silver or White, $999.99
Black or Silver body with black M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 17mm f1.8 lens and VF-4 Electronic Viewfinder lens, $1449.99

More information and images can be found at:

http://www.getolympus.com/us/en/digitalcameras/pen-omd/e-p5.html

April 24th, 2013

Panasonic Announces DMC-G6 Micro Four-Thirds Body

Panasonic today announced its latest micro four-thirds camera body, the DMC-G6. It slots in between the GF6 and the GH3 in Panasonic’s lineup, a mid range body with some new features and a solid, if not class leading, feature set.

Panasonic G6

Panasonic G6

G6 feature highlights:

  • 16MP Live MOS sensor
  • ISO 160-12,800 (extendable up to 25,600) 7 frames per second continuous shooting, 5 fps with AF-tracking
  • 3.0″, 1.04 million dot touchscreen LCD
  • 1.44 million dot OLED electronic viewfinder with eye sensor
  • AVCHD video in full 1080/60p  with  manual control
  • 3.5mm external mic socket
  • Wireless Connectivity via Wi-Fi / NFC

As with other Panasonic bodies, the G6 is styled very much like a small DSLR and looks to continue Panasonic’s typical solid handling with its generous grip and multiple “function” (Fn) buttons. The sensor is the same previously class leading one that was used in the GH2 though Panasonic claims that its new Venus Engine speeds processing time and improves noise reduction significantly in the G6. This allows a maximum native ISO sensitivity of 12,800 (25,600 extended) and an increase to 7 frames per second shooting rate. An external mic input and full manual control over video recording are always welcome features in any body. The G6 is Panasonic’s second body, along with the GF6, to offer NFC (Near Field Communication)/WiFi connectivity. This allows users to connect the camera with a properly enabled device simply by touching them together. This means no more entering wifi details on a tiny screen or searching for bluetooth pairings. However, while becoming more common on Android devices, the feature may be of limited use to many photographers as Apple has yet to embrace NFC for its iOS devices.

Full specifications available via the DMC-G6 press release and Panasonic’s website. Pricing and availability have yet to be announced.