September 15th, 2014

Photokina 2014: Panasonic Intros Lumix LX100 and GM5 (Hands-on Preview)

 

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Panasonic pulled back the curtain on an advanced Lumix compact camera at Photokina 2014. The Lumix LX100 is the first point-and-shoot with a 1.33-inch Micro Four Thirds image sensor and borrows many features from Panasonic’s high-end head turner, the GH4, including 4K video recording at 30, 25 or 24 frames per second (fps).

Beyond 4K video recording, the LX100 looks to be fast too, with a burst mode of 11fps. It uses the same contrast AF sensor that’s found in the GH4 which, along with the company’s Depth from Defocus technology, gives the LX100 the ability to lock AF in .14 seconds and track AF during 5fps burst shooting. Native ISO ranges from 200-25,600 and can be pushed down to 100.

The LX100 sports a bright f/1.7 lens with a focal range of 24-75mm. According to Panasonic, the lens has been so precisely engineered that they guarantee the lens elements are centered to within 3 micro-meters. There’s a 3-inch tilting LCD and a 2,764-dot live viewfinder, plus Wi-Fi and NFC for wirelessly pairing with mobile devices. Panasonic’s arsenal of creative effects can now be applied to images when shooting in A/S/M mode as well.

4K Photo Mode

Perhaps the most intriguing feature of the new camera is its 4K Photo Mode. The mode lets you isolate an 8-megapixel still image during 4K recording by hitting the function button. When set to 4K Photo Mode, the LX100 sets picture quality and brightness settings that are ideal for still images and users can choose the aspect ratio they want to record in (4:3, 3:2, 16:9 or 1:1). The images are saved as JPEGs with complete EXIF data for each file. The new mode can be used in conjunction with a 4K loop record function that saves the last five 2-minute video clips so you can let the camera roll as you wait for the perfect photo op without devouring all your memory card space.

Panasonic is pitching the feature to portrait photographers in particular as a means of finding the perfect pose for a squirming subject, using still frames plucked from video instead of burst mode to stay on top of the action.

4K Photo Mode will also be available on the GH4 thanks to a firmware upgrade that Panasonic will roll out in October. The new firmware will also give the GH4 the ability to shoot tethered via USB and allow for more control over ISO during video recording.

DSC_0275Back to the LX100. Using the larger sensor, Panasonic was able to implement its Multi Aspect Ratio technology which lets you use various crops of the sensor as you adjust aspect ratio. So while the LX100′s sensor is significantly larger than the 1-inch sensor found on advanced compact cameras from Sony and others, the effective area depends on the aspect ratio you choose and is, at its largest, about 1.5 times larger than a 1-inch sensor (which is still a nice size for a camera this svelte).

We had the opportunity to get a brief hands-on with the camera and were impressed above all with its depth of field capabilities. The combination of the f/1.7 lens (which has nine aperture blades too) with the large sensor produces a very shallow depth of field  for a compact camera. While we didn’t have a chance to dim the lights and crank the ISO, we suspect it will hold up very well in low light environments as well.

Speaking of light, Panasonic decided to skip the pop-up flash on the LX100 but will bundle an accessory flash with the camera. There’s an aperture ring on the lens but no mode dial (you can pop into iAuto using a dedicated button on top of the camera and choose from Panasonic’s effects via a dedicated filter button, also atop the body). The construction is magnesium alloy, giving this advanced compact some reassuring heft when you hold it. There are dials on the top of the camera for setting shutter speed and exposure compensation.

The LX100 ships in November for $899.

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The DMC-GM5

Panasonic also announced the Lumix DMC-GM5 mirrorless interchangeable lens camera at Photokina.

The 16-megapixel GM5 sports a live viewfinder with 100 percent color reproduction and 100 percent field of view with a resolution of 1,166k dots.  A new Face/Eye Detection autofocus mode will debut on the GM5 and other AF modes, such as Pinpoint, Low Light and One-Shot, are also available for your focusing pleasure. Touch focus is available using the 3-inch touch screen display.

The GM5 can burst at up to 5.8fps with AF tracking engaged to an unlimited number of JPEGs or seven RAW image files. The maximum shutter speed is 1/16,000 and the ISO reaches 25600.

You won’t find 4K on the GM5 but it will deliver 1080/60p HD recording in either AVCHD progressive or MP4 formats with AF tracking available during movie recording. Manual exposure control is available during movie mode as well. Panasonic is rolling out a new “Snap Movie Mode” in the GM5 that lets you record short clips of between 2 and 8 seconds that can be stitched in camera with a number of creative effects and transitions to create longer video montages.

It will include Wi-Fi but no NFC. Like the LX100, the GM5 won’t feature a pop-up flash but Panasonic will bundle an accessory flash in the camera’s box.

Look for the GM5 in November for $899.

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New Lens

Panasonic also launched a new lens, the G 14m f/2.5 ASPH is a Micro Four Thirds lens with a 28mm equivalent fixed focal length.

Due in November, the lens uses a stepping motor for quiet autofocus and a seven bladed diaphragm. It will cost $399.

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February 6th, 2014

Panasonic Unveils 4K-Shooting Lumix GH4 Mirrorless, Interchangeable Lens Camera

Panasonic-GH4_H_HS12035_slant_LED1_BGGH3Photographers who also aspire to be cutting edge cinematographers can get the best of both worlds with the new Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4, which is the world’s first mirrorless, interchangeable lens camera with 4K video capture.

Panasonic just introduced the Lumix GH4 ahead of the big CP+ Camera & Photo Imaging Show 2014 in Japan next week, where it will join several intriguing new cameras. (Yesterday, Pentax announced that its newest 645D medium format camera with a CMOS sensor will also be on display at CP+)

Panasonic first teased the 16-megapixel GH4 at the CES show in Las Vegas last month, showing off a prototype of the 4K-shooting camera under glass. We were able to snap a stealthy photo of the camera during the show.

The new Panasonic Lumix GH4 looks similar to its predecessor, the GH3, which was introduced at photokina 2014 and also used a 16MP sensor.

Under the hood though, the GH4 is a whole new animal, with a newly developed 16.05MP “Digital Live MOS sensor” designed to not only capture 4K video, but reduce the wobbly “rolling shutter” effect you can get when you pan too aggressively with a CMOS-based camera. This is key because rolling shutter can be even more pronounced in ultra-crisp 4K video, which features 4,000 pixels of horizontal resolution, making it approximately four times the resolution of HD video.

We actually predicted this trend of 4K video shooting coming to more digital cameras in our piece “5 Tech Trends That Are Changing the Photo Industry Today” from last year.

Read more of this story about the new Panasonic Lumix GH4 here.

October 17th, 2013

Panasonic Announces Small and Retro Lumix GM1 Compact System Camera

Panasonic-Lumix-GM1If you like your cameras small, retro-styled, and downright cute, then you may love the new Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM1. This 16-megapixel, mirrorless, compact system camera with the miniature, throwback design, recalls sharpshooters of yesteryear but with some modern, picture-taking skills.

The Panasonic GM1, which can fit in the palm of your hand or slide into a coat pocket, comes with a 12-32mm interchangeable kit lens and will retail for $749. The GM1 uses a Micro Four Thirds-format sensor, which is bigger than what’s in point-and-shoot cameras but smaller than the imaging chips in most digital SLRs.

The Panasonic GM1′s sensor and processing engines are identical to those used in the popular and generally well-reviewed GX7 compact system camera, which we had a chance to test drive this past summer.

While the GX7 was small, the GM1 is even more petite and has to be seen to be believed. It has a 3-inch touchscreen on back and comes equipped with Wi-Fi for wireless sharing of images and HD videos. With the help of the free Panasonic Image App for Android and iOS mobile devices, you can remotely trigger the GM1 with your smartphone or tablet.

The main appeal to this camera, however, is its snazzy, compact design. It comes in silver and black, in the U.S., and weighs just over six ounces. We haven’t had a chance to test the Panasonic Lumix GM1′s image quality yet, but based on looks alone, it’s a real head-turner.

Panasonic-Lumix-GM1-top

 

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.