October 16th, 2013

Sony Unveils Full-Frame Mirrorless Cameras, New Lenses, and High-End Superzoom Model

Sony-7R_frontSony went where no camera manufacturer has gone before this morning, unveiling the world’s first full-frame mirrorless cameras: the 36.4-megapixel Alpha 7R and 24.3-megapixel Sony Alpha 7. Both compact system cameras use 35mm-sized Exmor-branded, CMOS image sensors but the Sony Alpha 7R has no optical low pass filter over its chip to help it capture more detail in photos. The Alpha 7, meanwhile, boasts a new Hybrid AF system, designed to quickly lock in focus on subjects.

Both cameras will go on sale this December, with the Sony Alpha 7R retailing for $2,300, body only, and the Sony Alpha 7, selling for $1,700, body only; or as a kit with a new 28-70mm F3.5-5.6 lens for $2,000.

You could also pair these full-frame mirrorless cameras with five new full-frame E-Mount lenses that Sony just unveiled. The new Sony E-Mount lenses include three Carl Zeiss-branded models: the Sonnar T* 55mm F1.8 ZA ($1,000) and Sonnar T* 35mm F2.8 ZA ($800) prime lenses, and the Vario Tessar T* 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS mid-range zoom ($1,200).

We’re curious what PDN readers think of the new Sony Alpha 7R and Alpha 7 mirrorless cameras. Does the addition of full-frame sensors make you want to give these these high-end compact system cameras a second look or do you plan to stick to your DSLR?

Read more of this story here with details on all of Sony’s announcements this morning and then leave your thoughts in the comments below.

August 1st, 2013

Panasonic Intros DMC-GX7 Camera and Fast, f/1.2 Micro Four Thirds Prime Lens

Panasonic-GH7s-CameraPanasonic has announced the mirrorless, interchangeable lens DMC-GX7, the successor to the two-year old GX1 camera. The DMC-GX7 camera is built around a new, 16-megapixel live MOS sensor that Panasonic promises will deliver better image quality, increased saturation (by 10 percent) and 10 percent higher sensitivity. The sensor offers an improved S/N ratio of 6dB and, with multi-process noise reduction, the new camera may well be able to take advantage of its higher ISO range, which maxes out at 25,600 and can be extended down to a minimum ISO of 125.

The camera is well-equipped with features and functions, including wifi, NFC and focus peaking. While the Panasonic DMC-G6 also offers focus peaking, the GX7 provides on-screen (versus in-menu) adjustable detection levels and a choice of focus peaking colors. For manual focus, a magnified picture-in-picture is available for better accuracy. Autofocus options include magnification for pinpoint AF, and low-light autofocus has been enhanced to -4 EV (versus previous models at -3 EV). A new highlight/shadow on-screen curve adjustment feature allows users to tweak each parameter separately. Among other features, a silent shooting mode is also built into the camera.

In addition to the standard exposure modes and HD video, the GX7 adds new filter effects including Rough and Silky (softer) monochrome options. It also has the ability to use yellow, orange, red and green filters on monochrome to simulate the filter/black and white combination shot on film, bringing the total Creative Control functions up to a total of 22. The GX7 also features creative panorama, time lapse, stop motion and clear retouch.

Interestingly, Panasonic—whose lens optical image stabilization, we think, is quite effective—has added sensor-shift IS to the GX7, so it can maintain stabilization even when used with older, non-image stabilized lenses. However, when paired with an OIS lens, the lens stabilization takes priority over the in-camera stabilizer.

I spent a short time with a pre-production model and while I can’t comment on performance, I have to say that I really like the look and feel of the camera. Physically, the black-and-silver GX7, magnesium alloy body and design (all-black models should be available elsewhere but not in the U.S.), clearly reflects the retro-styling that has become so popular. At 4.83 x 2.78 x 2.15 inches and a fully loaded weight (including 14-42mm lens) of 1.13 pounds, the camera is, overall easier to handle than one of my current favorite cameras, the Fuji X-E1. But the GX7 is more compact and, from the short time I spent with the camera, more comfortable to use.

An eye sensor automatically switches between the 3-inch, tiltable, 1040K dot touchscreen LCD and the 2.76 million dot viewfinder. The latter, can be flipped up 90 degrees so that you’re looking down into the EVF (almost like a Rollieflex, except the viewfinder is considerably smaller); a special optional eye cup accessory can be added.

The camera is fully loaded and has far too many features to list here, but you can find out all the details on www.panasonic.com.Panasonic-lens-nocticron

But that’s not all. Panasonic also just announced a new, fast, f/1.2 lens for G-series cameras: the Leica DG Nocticron 42.5mm lens. However, that’s about all we know. Product specs, release date and price are TBA but Panasonic suggests a visit to  panasonic.net/avc/lumix/systemcamera/gms/lens/index.html to view its lens road map.

Meanwhile, the GX7 is slated to ship in September. The body only will run about $1,000; while a bundle with the updated 14-42mm lens will cost around $1,100.
Body only: $999.99
Kit with updated 14-42mm lens: $1099.99


–Theano Nikitas