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All posts tagged "micro four thirds"

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Panasonic Lumix GF2 Reviewed by Digital Camera Resource Page

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 01:00 PM

"The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2 (priced from $499) is a compact interchangeable lens camera that uses the Micro Four Thirds standard. It's the follow-up to the popular DMC-GF1 (a camera I own myself), offering a smaller body, touchscreen LCD, faster performance, Full HD movie recording, support for Panasonic's 3D lens, and more. That's on top of its 12 Megapixel Live MOS sensor, beautiful 3-inch LCD with a well-implemented live view feature, a do-everything Intelligent Auto mode, and plethora of optional extras."

Here's another review of the GF2, which is strictly-speaking not quite a follow-up to the GF2. Panasonic really should have given in a different model number. Perhaps this is just the stop-gap reaction to the smaller Sony NEX cameras while Panasonic designs something new that is even smaller than the GF2. Regardless, I still think in many ways, this is better than the NEX cameras because of the larger lens system that Olympus and Panasonic have built up. Unfortunately, it looks like that tiny 14mm f/2.5 isn't quite so hot...

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Olympus E-PL2 Released; It's a Big Upgrade Folks!

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 09:12 AM

Now this is an upgrade! The E-PL2, while an upgrade over the E-PL1, makes a number of changes that make even the E-P2 look outdated. Right now, the only advantage of the E-P2 appears to be the design and construction, as well as having a thumb dial, which the E-PL2 removes. The 12 megapixel sensor remains the same, but now there is a new 3" HVGA LCD screen, a new grip that looks much better to hold, and of course, a much lower price at US$600, which includes the new 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 MSC (Movie and Still Compatible) lens, which focuses quickly and quietly.

A bit of a minor laugh comes where Olympus mentions the new lens is also compatible with three new conversion lenses; a macro, wide-angle and a fisheye. I thought the idea behind an interchangeable lens camera was to well, you know, change lenses. I do wonder if the macro and fisheye convertors are a response to keeping Olympus users from buying Panasonic lenses. If so, here's a hint: Make your own lenses Olympus.

Other features include 720p video, a built-in flash (which the E-P2 lacks) and even more Art Filters. One downside is that the camera uses a new battery type. Sorry, no bringing in your old batteries from the last camera.

Also introduced are two new hotshoe accessories. First is the MAL-1 macro light, which is essentially two LED lights with mini diffusers each attached to a gooseneck to allow adjustments. Second is the very interesting PENPal Bluetooth dongle to allow sending photos to mobile phones and computers. As I mentioned in my previous article, connected cameras are the way to go, and this is the first step. It does look a little bulky though, so Olympus needs to get ease of use and reliability of the connection right. If it is a UI nightmare or bug-filled mess, the idea will die a still birth.

The E-PL2 will be available this month. Once again, price is US$600 with the 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 MSC lens.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Things I Want to See in 2011

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Articles & Resources" @ 08:00 AM

Welcome to 2011! The last decade was a breath-taking one for digital photography, and the last few years have brought about a torrent of changes and improvements, along with the digital revolution settling down somewhat. Still, a new year brings new possibilities, and here is what I would like to see for 2011:

1. Open Platform Camera

One reason for the popularity of cameras in smartphones is the software you can add to it. Want different effects? Download an app to process them on the phone. Want to see said effects in real-time? Download an app to replace the default camera app. Want an intervalometer? Download an app for that too!

Having an open platform for developers to add functionality to the camera would be an amazing selling point. This would go beyond consumer-level gee-whiz; there is plenty for for enthusiasts too. Change button assignments, tone curves (this has existed but not always the easiest to do), even autofocus and auto exposure behaviour for the adventerous. There is also something to be said for spending less time in image editors...

Of course this would kill some manufacturers' unique selling points. Olympus and their Art Filters will probably be the first casualty. Coupled with most camera companies being conservative in nature, this is unlikely to happen from a traditional manufacturer. Anyone out there willing to take a chance on this?

2. Truly Connected Cameras

Tying in with the above point on open platforms, connectivity is the next big thing. Most of us share our photos digitally nowadays, and the Internet is the main way to do this. Standalone cameras still rely heavily on having a computer to do this. Smartphone cameras are showing the way this should be done, so where are the connected cameras? The Olympus E-PL2's bluetooth dongle (a leaked piece of news at this time of writing) is a step forward, and hopefully will set the tone for the rest of the year.


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Olympus to Release LX5/S95 Challenger in XZ-1; E-PL2 Leaked As Well

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 09:54 PM

Rumour times are abound with CES 2011 just next week, so here's something fairly concrete from Olympus. First up is their premium compact entry, coming in to the party really late. It is quite an impressive one though, with a Zuiko-branded lens that is a 28-112mm equivalent f/1.8-2.5 which is mated. That's a nice fast lens. Other rumoured niceties include a 3" OLED screen and HD video. It better support RAW image output!

The other rumour is the E-PL2, the follow-up to the budget E-PL1. The most interesting tidbit is the dongle for Bluetooth (which slots into the hotshoe and uses the connector below it) that allows the camera to send images to your phone. I have been very impressed with what one can do with photos on smartphones, and I think this is a good step towards merging the best of both worlds; the quality of a proper camera and the software on the smartphone. I wish it was integrated though. Photo of the E-PL2 after the break.

Olympus XZ-1 compact camera with a fast f/1.8 Zuiko zoom lens

Olympus E-PL2 Surfaces


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Panasonic GH2 Reviewed by Digital Resource Page

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 11:30 AM

"The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2 (priced from $899) is a hybrid camera/camcorder that uses the Micro Four Thirds standards. It's the follow-up to the DMC-GH1, and it offers a host of new features, including a higher resolution sensor, faster autofocus and continuous shooting, a touchscreen support for Panasonic's 3D lens, and an improved Full HD movie mode."

The Panasonic GH1 is a fantastic but underrated camera, and I am glad to see that the GH2 improves on it. DCResource has a review and the camera does not disappoint. Have a read, and remember that the GH2, unlike the GH1, does not require you to purchase the stupidly expensive 14-140/4-5.8, which was the main reason for the GH1's poor reception. If you are keen on shooting videos and have an actual plan to do so (unlike yours truly who bought the GH1 and has yet to publish a single video), this is a camera that should be in your shortlist.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Panasonic LUMIX G VARIO 100-300mm F4.0-5.6 MEGA OIS Reviewed by PhotographyBLOG

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 01:00 PM

"The Panasonic LUMIX G VARIO 100-300mm F4.0-5.6 MEGA O.I.S. is a new telephoto lens for the Micro Four Thirds system. With MTF bodies having a crop factor of 2x, it provides an effective focal range of 200-600mm in 35mm terms, yet only weighs just over 500g."

Need a little more reach for your Micro Four Thirds camera? The Panasonic 100-300/4-5.6 is it. I prefer it to the Olympus 75-300/4.8-6.7 for the price (US$550 vs US$900) and the extra half a stop at the long end. It might be a bit larger, but at these sizes I doubt they will make much a difference; the length and weight also means I recommend this for use with a Panasonic G or GH camera for the grip and viewfinder.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Gizmodo's List of "Budget" Lenses

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 11:38 AM

"If you're shopping for a new lens of some sort, you've come to just the right place. Here's ThePhoblographer's list of the best lenses you can get your hands on without breaking the bank."

Defnitely a budget lens: Nikkor DX AF-S 35mm f/1.8G

Alright, I know it's hard to write articles (else I'd do some more myself), but I wish some writers would write more for their target audience than for themselves. While some of the lenses in the list are indeed budget (normal lenses are usually not expensive), they're all prime lenses. I'm thinking a general techblog on this topic should include some budget but quality zooms in the list (Tamron's 17-50 comes to mind). Also, when going through the list, note that there's no distinction between the use of the lens on APS-C-sized and 35mm-sized sensors for Nikon and Canon systems. There's no mention of other systems, but hey, I guess they don't count in today's market.

And really, the Nikkor AF 28mm f/2.8D? The neutered version from the manual focus version that drops two elements and CRC (Close Range Correction System) is hardly what I call legendary. Budget certainly, but not my favourite wide angle Nikkor, which is hardly wide once you mount it on a DX camera; see my point on not making distinctions on sensor sizes when discussing lenses.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Four-way Mirrorless Camera Shootout

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 11:00 AM

"In this review, I'm going to stick to one camera from each maker. I'm ignoring the more DSLR-like cameras with optical (EVF) viewfinders, such as the G and GH series from Panasonic and the NX5 and NX10 from Samsung. What I'm looking to cover here is the cameras most likely to act as a competent compact replacement for a typical DSLR user. To that end I've narrowed things down to these four:"

Continuing from his earlier compact camera review, Thom Hogan looks at four mirrorless cameras (I can't quite call them EVIL, can I?) and not surprisingly finds them all capable of producing good photos; just a matter of what one's preferences are. Personally, I can't give up a viewfinder, so all of them are out for me. If you're looking for such a camera though, check out the article for a experienced photographer's viewpoint.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Panasonic GF2 Reviewed by PhotographyBLOG

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 09:30 AM

"The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2 is the World’s smallest and lightest compact system camera with a built-in flash. Replacing the popular GF1 model, the new GF2 is is 19% smaller in size and 7% less in weight than its predecessor, thanks largely to the introduction of a touch-control interface via the 3 inch 460,000-dot LCD screen. The DMC-GF2 also offers full HD movies at 1920 x 1080 at 60i (NTSC) / 50i (PAL) in AVCHD format with stereo sound, a new Graphic User Interface, a 12.1-megapixel Live MOS sensor, Venus Engine FHD image processor, expanded ISO range of 100-6400, a built-in pop-up flash and Dust Reduction system."

Well, the camera may not have shipped yet, but here's a review of the Panasonic GF2. PhotographyBLOG concedes that it is not quite the replacement for the GF1, but it offers much to shooters looking to upgrade from small-sensor compact cameras, and at a lower price than the GF1's launch price. I prefer to keep my external controls, so the GF2 is even less appealing to the GF1 for me. However I can see it will appeal to the more casual shooters with its slightly smaller size, the 1080p video, and the touch screen controls. The interesting thing is how Panasonic is using the 14mm f/2.5 lens in the promo shots; the smaller lens certainly makes the camera look smaller, but, like the NEX cameras, I wonder how many people will still be interested once a bigger lens with greater telephoto reach (consumers love telephoto lenses) is used.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Panasonic Lumix GF2 Announced

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 08:45 AM

"Panasonic has announced the Lumix DMC-GF2 Micro Four Thirds camera. A simplified version of the company's GF1, it inherits the same flat-body design but with revised control layout and touch-screen control. It is built around a 12MP CMOS sensor but with a more powerful processor than its predecessor, allowing AVCHD video recording of 1080i60 movies from 1080p30 capture."

So, I get busy for a few days and Panasonic decides to throw a little surprise. The GF2 gains a few things, notably 1080 HD videos, as well as a smaller size, but loses some buttons, the ability to use a remote cable, and a few flash options. Oh, and you'll need to buy a smaller battery as well. Mind, you lose a few milimetres on each side. Not quite seeing the benefits here! The camera will be available in January 2011, with a 14/2.5 kit or 14-42/3.5-5.6 IS kit, and no word on pricing. DPReview has one of their previews, so check out the link.

EDIT: Engadget has posted their hands-on preview, so have a read if you're interested in another angle.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Panasonic Releases Three New Micro Four Thirds Lenses

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 09:37 AM

Along with the Lumix GH2, Panasonic also announced three lenses: 100-300mm f/4-5.6, a 14mm f/2.5 (pictured above), and the 3D lens mentioned a few months back. Expect all three to hit the stores in November.

The most interesting item to photographers would be the 14/2.5, however, it's left me feeling a bit unimpressed. While small, 14mm isn't quite the gap that needs to be filled in the Micro Four Thirds lineup. At 14mm it's fairly close to the Olympus 17mm, and something wider would be more enticing. A 12/2.8 would satisfy a broad range of people, though I would really love a 10/2.8 Please Panasonic, pretty please? The lens will go on sale for US$400.

The 100-300/4-5.6 comes out shortly after Olympus announced the 75-300/4.8-6.7 (though both this and the 14mm have been on the Panasonic roadmap for a while), and personally I think this is the more sensible option. While it is slightly bigger (about half an inch longer and a few mm wider), it is half a stop faster, and at US$600, is cheaper by a third of the Olympus. If telephoto reach is required, a 600/5.6 equivalent in a small lens like this isn't a bad deal.

The one that'll attract the most attention (but unfathomable to me) is the 3D lens. With little separation, and a maximum aperture of f/12 (!), um, well, this should be a toy to most. At US$250 it's certainly not too expensive a toy... Pictures of the other two after the break.


Panasonic GH2 Announced and Previewed

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 06:30 AM

Ok, this one slipped by me yesterday evening; Panasonic has announced the GH2, the successor to the GH1. Main additions are a new 16 megapixel sensor which now goes an extra stop to ISO 12800 (which I hope does even better than the GH1), a slightly denser EVF that now supports the GH2's multi-aspect sensor (which means it'll not give you black bars along the edges when shooting in wider formats), a touch screen 3" LCD, a 5 FPS continuous shooting mode (up from 3), and now there's a high speed movie mode, going up to 300 FPS. I couldn't find anything about the resolutions at the faster modes though.

The slightly changed layout also means there are now 3 custom function buttons (yay for custom buttons), though I'm not liking the position of Function 1, as it's a bit too far behind on the top plate for the index finger to reach. Another interesting thing is how Panasonic has decided to "crinkle" up the plastic to mimic the magnesium build on higher-end cameras. Personally if Panasonic wants to be taken seriously, they need to make the thing serious as well. Something about design honesty here...

The GH2 will go on sale in December. Pricing for this is at US$900 for the body only, US$1000 for the 14-42 IS kit, and US$1500 for the 14-140 IS kit. I think one of the shortcomings of the GH1 was its perceived high price; the GH1 was mostly only available with the 14-140 lens, and it was not a cheap kit. Hopefully by offering it without a lens or with a cheap lens, Panasonic can sell more of them. After all, it's a pity that one of the better sensors in the Four Thirds world (and one benchmark says the best) did not get much exposure to many photographers. Photos of the back and top plate after the break.


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Olympus Announced "Black" E-P2 Kit and Two Micro Four Thirds Telephoto Lenses

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 08:30 AM

"Olympus has announced a special "all black" kit for their E-P2 Micro Four Thirds camera, and also released two new lenses while they were at it."

So Olympus has announced what essentially is a vanity kit for their E-P2 camera, and more interestingly, two new lenses. The new all-black kit doesn't come with the detacheable EVF, which I find more important than having all black accessories, but hey, I guess vanity has a price, and in this case it is a grand.

The two new lenses are telephoto zooms; there's the US$300 40-150/4-5.6 (to mimick the now very standard consumer 70-300mm zoom) and the US$900 (!) 75-300/4.8-6.7. While Olympus touts the latter as the smallest "600mm" lens, I can't help but think that for the price and the slow aperture, Olympus has made one too many compromise in making it smaller, but not small; compare Nikon's new 55-300/4-5.6 at 3.1" by 4.84" against the Olympus at 2.76" by 4.57". The Nikkor needs to make space for the VR motors as well as cover a larger imaging circle, and costs less than half the price. This is probably why all manufacturers are scrambling towards mirrorless I guess; potentially cheaper construction yet higher sale prices! Photos of the lenses after the break. Read more...

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Mirrorless Cameras Round Up

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 09:30 AM

"Having compared the size of several different mirrorless interchangeable lens systems, we'll now take a look at how much detail relative to noise is captured at any given ISO by each of these systems. "

Serious Compacts has done a really nice comparison of the various mirrorless cameras on the market, comparing them based on their size, as well as doing an ISO test. The comparison is split into two parts, so be sure to check them out.

Part 1: Mirrorless Camera Size Comparison: NEX5, NX10, E-P2, E-PL1, GF1, G2

Part 2: Mirrorless Camera ISO Signal/Noise Shootout: NEX5, NX10, E-P2, E-PL1, GF1, G2, GH1

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Panasonic To Release 3D Lens for Micro Four Thirds

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 05:00 PM

"Like Panasonic's new 3D-capable HDC-SDT750 camcorder but don't want to shell out $1,400 for a brand-new kit? Get a load of this Micro Four Thirds lens. That's right, Panny's just announced an interchangeable 3D lens that affixes to the standard Lumix G-series mount."

3D 3D 3D; it seems the manufacturers are betting big on this. Me? Well, let's see: Loss of light, lower saturation, annoying glasses, little value-add, a whole lot of expensive gear, new workflows to manage, and hope that your audience has the right gear to see it right. Nope, not convinced. Plus, two lenses separated by a few millimetres does not seem to be really doing anything worthwhile. 3D is about as bad as Kodak trying to invent a new consumer film format every 15 years or so. Those of you old enough will remember how well those turned out!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Panasonic G2 Reviewed by Digital Photography Review

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 05:00 PM

"The G2 is an evolutionary - but nonetheless solid - upgrade to the G1, that answers some of the criticisms of the original model, adding the aforementioned video mode (720P AVCHD lite or MJPEG) and tidying up and expanding the external controls. The other big news is that the G2 gets touch screen technology (seen on several Panasonic compact DSCs) - not exactly high on our list of ways in which the G1 could be improved, but in the era of the iPhone something that undoubtedly looks good on the marketing materials, if nothing else." has posted their review of the Panasonic G2, and it is another favourable one for the G1's successor. It's not all perfect though, so hit the review (which also tests the new kit lens) and find out. Also, check out their new widget that compares sample images from four cameras, and allows you select any point from their test image to enlarge. Snazzy!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Panasonic G2 Reviewed; Micro Four Thirds Continues Its Advance

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 02:00 PM

"The Panasonic Lumix DMC-G2 is a new Micro Four Thirds camera boasting a 3 inch articulated touchscreen LCD that provides touch-based functions like Touch AF/AE and Touch Shutter. Other key features of the G2 include a 12.1-megapixel CMOS image sensor, upgraded Venus Engine HD II processor, sensitivity range of ISO 100-6400, 720p HD video recording in AVCHD Lite format, a port for an optional stereo microphone and an electronic viewfinder."

Well, it looks like Panasonic has another winner on its hands. If you did read the post on BCNRankings for interchangeable lens cameras sold in Japan, sales of Micro Four Thirds cameras are on the rise. I do like some of the changes Panasonic has wrought on this release, like moving the command dial to the rear of the camera, but at the same time, it's all so incremental. Yea, there's video now compared to the G1, but there's not much on the still camera side. I wish more companies would be like Nikon, where usually a new camera really brings about change.

Oh, and if you are interested in this camera, I suggest looking for the dual-lens version that comes with the 45-200mm lens as well. I believe it is quite competitively priced (unless Panasonic decides to screw over consumers in some parts of the world).

Friday, June 18, 2010

Panasonic GH1 Firmware Hacked: High Bitrate Video Encoding Now Possible

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Articles & Resources" @ 11:30 AM

"Canon isn’t the only game in town when it comes to hacking camera firmware. The famous CHDK firmware hacks now have a rival, at least if you are shooting with a Panasonic GH1, and especially if you are using the Micro Four Thirds camera to shoot video. The hack, called PTool, doesn’t add nearly as many features as the Canon hacks, but what it does is startling. With PTool, you can up the video bitrate of the GH1 from a pedestrian 20Mbit to 32MBit in AVCHD. If you opt for Motion JPEG (MJPEG), you can shoot at an astonishing 50 Mbit/sec at a full 1080p. This, according to testers, offers better quality footage than you get from the EOS 5D MkII. Above you can see an example. To view it in its full HD glory, click through to the Vimeo page."

So I'm just a wee bit late on finding this out, partly because I haven't been visiting the excellent forums for some time. Amazingly, Tester13 (the guy who started all this) was only asking for volunteers not too long back. I'm amazed at the amount of work he's managed to do in such a short time. Short recap: The GH1 encodes its AVCHD files in 17 Mbps with no B frames, so any fast movement in the scene generally won't look good. Upping the bitrate helps, and if you follow the link, 32 Mbps in AVCHD is possible, and using MJPEG, 50 Mbps has been achieved. Check the link for more; Wired's article has a nice list of links appended at the bottom. I'm going to be messing around with this on my own GH1, and see what I get.

Monday, June 7, 2010

dpreview reviews the Olympus E-PL1

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 10:32 PM

"Stepping in to fill this void is the Olympus E-PL1, a camera that brings a stripped-down body and simplified interface to the Micro Four Thirds format. This means no control dials (and therefore an awful lot of button-pressing the further away from the automated exposure modes you venture), but it also brings a simple results-orientated 'Live Guide' interface to allow you take control of the i-Auto for people happier to point-and-shoot (sorry Mr Spacey)."

So DPReview takes a look at one of the cheapest Micro Four Thirds camera available (until the Panasonic G10 is released), and puts it through the the dpreview testing bench, and gives an overall favourable review. Still, I've tried the E-PL1 before, and the lack of any command dials makes it a little harder to use. If you're a point-and-shoot user looking for something with a bit better image quality, the E-PL1 might be worth a look.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Panasonic Introduces 8mm Fisheye for Micro Four Thirds

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 11:00 AM

"Today, Panasonic introduced the LUMIX G Fisheye 8mm/F3.5 lens, the H-F008, with a 35mm camera equivalent 16mm lens, the world’s smallest and lightest* digital interchangeable fisheye lens compatible with the LUMIX G Series, DSL Micro (DSLM) cameras."

Panasonic has announced an 8mm fisheye lens for the Micro Four Thirds system. Being a full-frame fisheye, it'll cover the entire sensor while offering a 180mm degree field of view, which is pretty much the standard ever since Nikon introduced the 16mm fisheye years ago. Now, what I have to say to Panasonic is...what are you thinking? Read more...

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