Sunday, 9 October 2016

News: Even better enthusiast cameras

The Photokina trade fair is recently over, and we have had some more announcements in the time after that. In summary, I think this was the most exciting Photokina for Micro Four Thirds users, ever.

Both Panasonic and Olympus announced their new high end models, the Lumix GH5, and Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II. On top of that, we also got a lot of new lens options.

Looking at recently announced compact mirrorless cameras for enthusiast users, I think it is fair to say that there has been a revolution in terms of features. The image quality has probably not changed much, but a lot of useful features have been added. More cameras get articulated touch screens, and we get better video options and better image stabilization.

Here is a summary of some important models:

CameraSize, weightPriceCropArticulated screenVideoIBISLayoutWeather protected
Lumix G80/G81/G85128 x 89 x 74mm, 505gUS$9002xYes, touch4k30pYesSLR styleYes
Lumix GH5133 x 93 x 84mm?, ~600g?US$2000??2xYes, touch4k60p @ 8 bit, 4k30p @ 10 bitYesSLR styleYes
Olympus E-M1 Mark II134 x 91 x 67mm, 574gUS$20002xYes, touch4k30pYesSLR styleYes
Fujifilm X-T2133 x 92 x 49mm, 507gUS$16001.5xTilt only4k30pNoSLR styleYes
Sony A6300120 x 67 x 49mm, 404gUS$10001.5xTilt only4k30pNoRangefinder styleNo
Sony A6500120 x 67 x 53mm, 453gUS$14001.5xTilt only, touch4k30pYesRangefinder styleNo
Canon EOS M5116 x 89 x 61mm, 427gUS$10001.6xTilt only, touch1080 60pNoSLR styleNo



Lumix


From my point of view, the most interesting camera is the Lumix G85, to be called G80 in Europe. It retains the classic, ergonomic photographer friendly SLR layout of the G-series, but gains in-body image stabilization (IBIS), and further refinements to the featureset. Ok, so US$900 is still a steep price, but the features you get are just staggering.


So, is this a cheaper and smaller Lumix GH4? No, I don't think so. The advantage of the GH4 these days is more that it is able to record videos in V-Log L, for better post processing. That is still reserved for the GH series. Also, the GH4 can record higher bitrate 1080p video, and even 10 bit video if you use an external HDMI recorder.

While the Lumix G85 can record 4k video, most recent cameras can, it cannot do the more advanced video stuff.

The Lumix GH5 is also very interesting. The camera itself becomes a bit more beefy in size, probably to accommodate the extra processing power needed. It also appears to lose the built in flash.

But the main news is of course 4k video recording capability using the whole sensor area, and at up to 60 FPS. This is very good for a consumer camera, previously only seen in higher end, very expensive pro cameras.

Olympus


As I see it, the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II is a "more of the same" upgrade. It gains 4k video recording capability, a must have feature today. There is also a promise of handheld high resolution mode, but it is unclear how effective it is.


For the target segment, I think that getting an updated camera with the same feel and better features is what's important. And the camera appears to deliver on that. The framerate is very impressive at 18FPS, with continuous autofocus at the same time.

Fujifilm


It is probably fair to say that Fujifilm users tend to be more conservative when it comes to camera look and feel, and the lack of a touch screen will probably not deter them.

Rather, the Fujifilm X-T2 catches up with DSLR rivals in terms of focus speed, even for AF-C, and framerates, which I think removes some of the last hurdles which have kept some users from going mirrorless. Fujifilm also continue their transition to a 24MP sensor, as the market now moves firmly away from 16MP.

Sony


The unexpected news from Sony is that they upgraded the Sony A6300 after a fairly short time. The A6300 is a very good camera, combining 4k video recording with a very fast and accurate continuous autofocus based on a hybrid PDAF and CDAF sensor.


But the Sony A6500 adds a touch screen, making focus pulling easier. Also, with the built in IBIS image stabilization, you can expect smoother videos, even when using non-OSS lenses.

The problem with the camera, though, is: Where are the lenses? Sony's fullframe A7 line has been an enormous hit, pushing APS-C lenses to a lower priority. So there is not much to choose from in terms of quality lenses designed for this camera. Many product images show the camera used with fullframe G-branded lenses.

Canon


While the Canon EOS M5 is a big improvement from the first Canon EOS M mirrorless cameras, it is still not very competitive, and appeals mostly to Canon fans. Especially with the limited lens supply. But Canon is getting their mirrorless house in order now, with a hugely improved continuous autofocus performance, using the "dual pixel" PDAF capable sensor.

Conclusion


I think that 2016 has seen a big hike in enthusiast camera features. The cameras we get now are so full of features, it can make your head spin. At the same time, the manufacturers have also increased the prices noticeably.

With that in mind, I think the Lumix G85 is one of the more interesting options. The price is still fairly reasonable, and the camera is very user friendly in terms of ergonomics and features.

Some may frown upon the 16 megapixel sensor, thinking it is 2012 technology. It is not. Even if the sensor has the same number of photosites, that does not mean it is the same as older sensors.

It is the variant that does not have an antialiasing filter, and, hence, also has new image processing. And as the image processing is the key to high ISO performance these days, I'm guessing this camera further improves upon the predecessor, even if not by a big margin.

I'm pretty sure the Lumix G85 is my next camera.

4 comments:

  1. According to 43rumours' ‘trusted sources’, GH5 will have IBIS: http://www.43rumors.com/ft5-confirmed-via-trusted-sources-the-panasonic-gh5-has-5-axis-stabilization/ .
    I personally am not interested, as I do not need such video capabilities nor am I willing to spend that much, but for videographers it's going to be a heck of a tool.

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    1. I think that if the GH5 gets IBIS, it would have been announced at Photokina. But I agree that it is not entirely certain. Perhaps it gets IBIS as well.

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  2. I don't know where the idea that the G8* is called G81 in the UK came from, but it's not true. I've just been to every Panasonic website (slow day at work) and these are the local names:

    G8
    Japan

    G80
    Belgium
    Bulgaria
    Croatia
    Czech Republic
    Denmark
    Estonia
    Finland
    France
    Hungary
    Italy
    Ireland
    Latvia
    Lithuania
    Luxemburg
    Malta
    Netherlands
    Norway
    Poland
    Portugal
    Romania
    Slovakia
    Spain
    Sweden
    Switzerland
    UK

    G81
    Austria
    Germany

    G85
    Africa
    Australia
    Canada
    Middle East
    New Zealand
    Singapore
    USA

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    Replies
    1. Well, that is good news! Less confusion that way.

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