Friday, September 12, 2008

New Panasonic M4/3 camera

New Panasonic M4/3 camera.
Earlier than I'd expected for the first camera, nice. It looks quite promising to me. It's only a good half kilo including the kit lens, this was the sort of thing I was hoping for when they announced the Micro Four Thirds standard. If it has good image quality and fast reacting autofocus, then we may have a contender.

It looks like a small DSLR camera, but it's not, because the whole point with the M4/3 standard is that there's no room for a mirror, and that this allows for smaller bodies and lenses. Instead it has an EVF (Electronic View Finder) which hopefully has enough resolution to be useful. The EVF on my old Nikon 2400 is dreadful, highly pixillated. But for me, I'd have done just fine without the viewfinder, I'd prefer a tiltable high-rez LCD (update: I see now that it actually has that also, goody). Pressing the camera against your face just limits the camera's potential points of view, seems to me.

Omitting the viewfinder might also allow them to do even better as regards weight: this camera is only barely lighter than the Olympus E-410, and the latter is an SLR camera after all, with mirror and prism.

It seems the EVF is very good though. Imaging-Resource writes:
"Knowing that this would have to compete with the true optical viewfinders on digital SLRs, Panasonic has wisely selected a rather impressive EVF display. Using a responsive Liquid Crystal on Silicon design that is alternately front-lit by a trio of red, green and blue LEDs some 180 times per second, this display has an impressive 800 x 600 pixel resolution with full color at every pixel location, and no gaps between pixels. (Most electronic viewfinders have adjacent red, green and blue dots for each pixel, and gaps between pixels, resulting in a perceived loss of quality and "graininess" that makes them off-putting)."

See below, compared to an Olympus E-410, which is the smallest DSLR. The G1 is not really dramatically smaller, is it?
But then it seems to be aimed at giving a pretty full DSLR-like experience, rather than a "big compact" experience. I might be interested more in the latter. Like the Sigma DP-1, only without all the grim limitations of that one.

Update: because of my short attention span (if I were in school I'd be put on Ritalin for sure) I tend to read long articles in many bits over the day, so an article like this I often update many times over several hours. Sometimes I intend it originally to be just a short notice, but then I add observations as they occur to me. Just so you know.

Imaging-Resource had a positive early impression of the focusing speed of the G1. Their preview article also contains some interesting data about focusing systems. Seem that as processors become faster, contrast based focusing (taken directly off the imaging sensor) may become much more prevalent in the future, because it's inherently simpler and more accurate.

I-R is also pleased with tentative and brief testing of pre-production camera samples vis-a-vis image quality and noise. So all in all the first M3/4 entry may be a stronger one than anybody expected. Neato. It should be available in November, price unknown yet.
DpReview also has a big preview article. (Am I the only one who finds white text on black to be harder to read?)

Panasonic says that they have made it as much like a DSLR in order not to alienate Japanese buyers, and they made it not-too-small in order not to alienate US buyers... isn't it a pity that people are so conservative?

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