April 14th, 2015

Panasonic Will Give GH4 New Tricks, Adds 4K Video Camera, New Action Cam at NAB

 

AG-DVX200Panasonic hit NAB with an update to its GH4 mirrorless camera plus a new point-of-view camera and preview of a new video camera we can expect to see in the fall.

With a Version 2.2 firmware update at the end of this month, the GH4 will be able to record anamorphic video content to mimic the widescreen, cinemascope aspect ratios used by cinematographers. With the new firmware, GH4 owners will have be able to shoot in 4:3 Anamorphic Mode to capture video at  3328×2496 at a frame rate of either 23.98, 24, 25 or 29.97 fps.

The GH4 will also get a faster electronic shutter speed with the new firmware, maxing out at 1/16,000 sec. after it’s installed.

Panasonic will also launch a new 4K camera in the fall. The AG-DVX200 (pictured above) is a fixed lens camcorder with a new Four Thirds CMOS image sensor capable of 12 stops of dynamic range.

The DV200 will record 4K (4096×2160) at 24 fps as well as UHD (3840×2160) at up to 60 fps and HD up to 120 fps in either MP4 / MOV file formats to a pair of SD cards.

According to Panasonic, the DVX200 will feature the same tonality and colorimetry as the company’s VariCam lineup.

On the optics front, you’ll find a 13X Leica Dicomar f/2.8-4.5 zoom lens with three manual rings for focus, iris and zoom. The lens uses a five-axis hybrid image stabilizer to keep footage blur-free. Additional features include time-code in/out, 3G HD-SDI and HDMI 2.0 (4K) video outputs.

Panasonic plans to ship the DVX200 in the fall for under $5,000.

A1_Slant1_DPanasonic also launched a new point-of-view action camera. The New HX-A1 is an HD camera weighing in at a svelte 1.6 ounces. It’s waterproof to a depth of 5 feet without a housing, shockproof up to 5 feet and freezeproof.

It features built-in Wi-Fi for remote control and image sharing via a mobile device. It can also send a video stream to Panasonic’s W970 and W870 camcorders to merge its video in a sub-window with footage captured by either of the two conventional camcorders.

A loop recording function enables continuous recording by erasing earlier clips after you’ve recorded for more than an hour. You can shoot up to 120 fps at 848×480 or up to 60 fps at 1280×720. Full HD is captured at 30 fps.

When connected to a computer via USB, the A1 can double as a webcam. Pricing and availability were not announced.

 

January 7th, 2015

The New Memory Cards of CES 2015

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Spare a moment for the humble memory card. While they certainly don’t get top billing at CES–how can they when socks now warm themselves–they remain an invaluable photographic tool. CES saw several new memory cards announcements.

And here they are:

Lexar launched 1000x microSDHC and microSDXC UHS-II cards for use in action cams, smartphones and other devices needing the tiny card format. The 1000x U3 cards boast read speeds of up to 150MB/s and will be sold in 32GB, 64GB and 128GB capacities for $60, $110 and $190, respectively.

They’re due in the first quarter of 2015 and will be backwards compatible with UHS-I cameras/readers and non-UHS-I devices, though performance will dip to Class 10 speeds.

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Toshiba has updated its FlashAir wireless SD card. Now on its third generation, the Class 10-rated FlashAir III creates its own wireless LAN access point, allowing up to seven devices to access the card’s contents remotely. New photo sharing and image management features let you access the card’s contents from a web browser and, thanks to its Internet pass-thru capability, lets you access both the card and the Internet on your home or office router.

Images can be transferred from the card to other devices directly using the card’s Wi-Fi access point. Smartphone and tablet users can connect to the card to view or transfer images using the free FlashAir app for Android and iOS devices.

The FlashAir III ships in March in 16GB and 32GB capacities for $80 and $100, respectively.

Panasonic Memory CardsPanasonic will update its line of 4K-capable UHS-I type SDXC/SDHC memory cards with a maximum read speed of 95MB/s and a maximum write speed of 90MB/s. The cards will now be available in capacities from 32GB to 128GB. Pricing and availability were not announced.

Eye-Fi will extend its cloud offering beyond memory cards thanks to a new partnership with Olympus. The two will bring the Eyefi Cloud online photo sharing and management service to Wi-Fi-enabled Olympus cameras.

Olympus cameras that support the service will automatically upload images to the Eyefi Cloud where they can be viewed by others using the Eyefi Cloud app. Supported cameras were not announced.

Eyefi Cloud is a subscription-based service and Olympus camera owners will get an extended free trial plus discounted subscriptions when Eyefi Cloud integration goes live sometime later this year.

January 6th, 2015

Smartphone Photography Advances at CES 2015 as Kodak, Panasonic Hit U.S. Market

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While high-end camera announcements have been few and far between at CES, smartphone vendors kept things exciting with new phones that push the smartphone photography envelope.

Panasonic disclosed that its Lumix CM1, originally announced at Photokina for European markets, will be coming to the U.S., though pricing and carrier availability were not announced.

Like Samsung’s Galaxy Camera, the CM1 fuses an Android smartphone with some serious photography parts. How serious? How about a 1-inch, 20-megapixel CMOS sensor, the same one found in the company’s FZ1000 camera and a huge upgrade to the tiny sensors crammed into even the highest-end smartphones.

There’s also a 28mm, f/2.8 Leica lens with a manual ring to adjust aperture, ISO, focus and shutter speed. The CM1 has a mechanical shutter and offers DSLR-style shutter priority, aperture priority and manual exposure modes too.

Not to be outdone, it can also record 4K video at 15 frames per second (fps) or 1920 x 1080 video at 30fps.

As far as its smartphone parts, the phone runs Android 4.4 (Kit Kat) on a 2.3GHz quad-core processor with 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage and a microSD card slot for memory expansion. While the lens juts out of the phone body more prominently than most phones, the overall package is just .8 inches thick, which is slimmer than the Galaxy Camera’s 1.4-inch waistline.

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Asus also trotted out what it dubbed was the world’s thinnest Android smartphone with a 3x optical zoom lens. The 13-megapixel ZenFone Zoom features a 10-element lens with an aperture range of f/2.7-4.8 and optical image stabilization. It measures in at .47-inches thick at its thickest point. The phone uses a laser autofocus system and boasts an HD display that’s 5.5-inches in size.

No firm word on when the ZenFone Zoom will hit stores but it’s said to retail for $400.

Announcing the KODAK IM5 Smartphone: Simplifying the Smartphone Experience

Kodak (yes, them) has also thrown its hat into the smartphone fray in conjunction with the Bullitt Group. The 1.7GHz Kodak IM5 will be an Android-based phone with a 13-megapixel image sensor and on-board photo editing software for tweaking, sharing and printing images. It features a microSD card slot, its own apps store, and a 5-inch HD display.

No word on pricing but the Bullitt Group said the phone will start its journey to end-users in Europe in the second quarter with worldwide availability thereafter.

Intelligent Flash_02

Finally, Lenovo introduced its Vibe Xtension Selfie Flash for illuminating your mobile self portraits. The Xtension plugs into your phone’s audio jack and uses eight diffused LEDs to shed light on your visage. Lenovo says the $30 flash is good for 100 flashes per charge and that it will offer 100 percent sync with your phone.

 

 

 

January 5th, 2015

Panasonic CES 2015 Digicams: Zooming In, Getting Tough

panasonic zoom

Panasonic pulled back the curtain on several long zoom compact cameras and a pair of rugged waterproof models at CES 2015.

The Lumix DMC-SZ10 features a 16-megapixel CCD sensor and a 12x optical zoom lens (24mm wide angle equivalent).  It features a 2.7-inch flip-up display, 720p HD video capture, 15 creative filters, and Wi-Fi connectivity.

The SZ10 will retail for $200.

The DMC-ZS45 swaps the 16-megapixel CCD sensor for a 16-megapixel CMOS sensor and a longer 20x optical zoom lens (24-480mm, 35mm equivalent). You’ll find a 1.04m dot, 3-inch tilting LCD, Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity and 1080/30p HD video recording.

The ZS45 will retail for $300.

Rounding out the long zoom compact line is the ZS50 with a 12-megapixel CMOS sensor and a 30x optical zoom (24-720mm, 35mm equivalent) Leica lens with an aperture range of f/3.3-6.4 and a control ring on the lens for controlling exposure and zoom. The lens is kept steady using the company’s 5-axis Hybrid O.I.S. Videos can be recorded up to 1080/60p in the AVCHD progressive codec.

The ZS50 will support still photography in both RAW and JPEG image formats. In addition to a 3-inch display, the camera will offer a .2-inch Live View Finder with an eye sensor. It also features Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity and will retail for $400.

lumix tough

Panasonic also updated its lineup of rugged point-and-shoots with the new Lumix TS6 and TS30.

The $300 TS6 can be submerged in up to 43 feet of water, dropped from as high as 6.6 feet, is dust proof and can withstand up to 220 pounds of pressure. It features a 16-megapixel image sensor, 3-inch display, built-in GPS, a 4.6x optical Leica lens (28-128mm, 35mm equivalent) and 1080/60p HD video recording. You’ll also find a built-in Wi-Fi and NFC plus a compass and altimeter.

The 16-megapixel TS30 can’t take as much of a beating as the TS6–it’s rated for dives as deep as 26 feet underwater and falls from as high as five feet. The $180 TS30 features a 4x optical zoom lens (25mm, 35mm equivalent) plus a 2.7-inch LCD and 12 creative filters.

September 15th, 2014

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

 

LX100k_slant

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.

panasoniclumixlx100

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.

resize for webLUmix 14mm

 

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.