Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Which is the lightest travel kit for shutterbugs?

I am obsessed with weight. To me the image quality of the dSLR is as important as the weight. Many vendors can make a good dSLR but to make it good but at the same time lightweight, it is very very difficult. Here is a list of cameras, divided into different weight categories and what they are suitable for...

- Suitable for traveling with family (with lots and lots of kids), business trips, bulk averse ladies/gentlemen, or as a backup camera. Apart from the GF-1 the other PnS are not comparable to dSLR in terms of image quality

Canon S90 - 175 g
Fujifilm F200EXR - 175g
Panasonic LX3 - 229g
Canon G11- 355g
Panasonic GF-1 - 315g + 150g(14-45 OIS lens) = 465g

500g-700g - Suitable for family trips (with a few kids), business trips with a bit of tolerance of weight and individuals who are demanding on image quality
Panasonic G1 - 360g + 150g(14-45mm lens) = 510g
Panasonic GH1 - 385g + 150g(14-45mm lens) = 525g
Olympus EP-1 - 355g + 150g(14-42 M.Zuiko lens) = 505g
Olympus E450 - 426g + 190g(14-42 Zuiko lens) = 616g

700g-1kg - Suitable for business trips, family trips and individuals who are particular about image quality and who are quite tolerant of a little bit of weight

Mostly entry level dSLRs with kit lens
Canon 1000D - 502g + 200g(18-55 IS) = 702g
Canon 500D - 520g + 200g(18-55 IS) = 720g
Pentax Kx - 580g +225g(18-55 AL) = 805g
Olympus E620 - 515g + 190g(14-42 Zuiko lens) = 705g
Nikon D3000 - 536g + 265g (18-55 VR) = 801g
Nikon D5000 - 590g + 265g (18-55 VR) = 855g
Nikon D90 - 703g + 265g (18-55 VR) = 968g
Sony A230 - 490g + 210g(18-55) = 700g
Sony A380 - 519g + 210g(18-55) = 729g
Sony A500 - 630g + 210g(18-55) = 840g
Sony A550 - 632g + 210g(18-55) = 842g

It seems like the A230 with 18-55 is the lightest kit around - apart from the olympus E450. Note that the E450 does not have in body IS. Up to this point I have to say that, on paper at least, the Panasonic GF-1 is unparalleled in terms of weight vs image quality...

>1kg - The options are quite limiteless. Suitable for photography trips. Enthusiats, prosumers, semi-pros and professionals. I did not include the kit lens weight as most users of this range of cameras would probably not stick with basic kit lenses...

Nikon D700 - 1074g
Canon 5D2 - 850g
Canon 7D - 860g
Olympus E3 - 890g
Olympus E30 - 665g
Nikon D300(s) - 938g
Sony A900 - 895g
Sony A850 - 895g
Sony A700 - 768g
Pentax K7 - 750g

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

My Thoughts on the S90

The in camera JPEG tends to be a little soft above ISO 400 as opposed to LX3 which has a much aggressive sharpening. As a result the LX3's JEPG is a little more grainy but seems to have retained more details. However, if you look closely, due to higher contrast, some subtle color transitions may be lost in the LX3 images but retained in the S90.

The general consensus is the real power of S90 will only be unleashed when shot in RAW. A properly processed RAW from the S90 can give it a 1 stop improvement. From my observation, when shot in RAW, the S90 can come within 1 stop of the micro fourthirds (out-of-camera JPEG). ISO 400 in raw is definitely usable. At ISO 800, the raw file can be used in the same way as ISO 1600 of MFT, in smaller prints.

When compared to the G11, although the S90 has the same sensor, it loses out when compared to details delivered by the G11. This is probably due to the superior lens of the G11 as the comparison was done with RAW and not out-of-camera JPEG.

Lastly, I think the S90 is a nice 'true compact' camera to carry around. I call it a 'true compact' because of its built in lens cover and minimalist design make it pocketable. Design wise, the S90 is closer to the Fuji F200EXR than the LX3 or the G11 which have hotshoe mounts and bigger profiles. I also find the 28-105mm zoom range to be significantly more useful than the 24-60mm of LX3.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Ricoh GXR - Reincarnation of Minolta Dimage EX 1500?

Someone commented at engadget that the idea behind the Ricoh GXR is in fact not new. Minolta had a very similar idea/concept in the Dimage EX1.

hmmm... why did it fail again?...

Apparently Minolta only ever created two modules for this camera. Ricoh launched the GXR with two modules as well. Is it just me or there is an uncanny similarity between the two systems? :D

Ricoh GXR - m4/3 killer?....nah

Ricoh has always been known to make classy point and shoots with good image qualities. Today, they are going to launch an innovative camera system never seen before in the compact digital camera market. One with not only interchangeable lens, but an interchangeable sensor as well! In fact, the sensor and lens are a module which you can slide out and change at the same time.

The first two modules to be launched are:

1) The 50mm F2.5 A12 module has a 12mpx CMOS sensor and shoots video in HD mode. APS-C size.

2) The 24-70 f2.5-f4.4 VC S10 module has a 10mpx CCD sensor and shoots video in 640x480 mode only. 1/17" size (Probably the same Sony sensor as in G11 and S90)

£419 (US$549) - for the base
£600 (US$830) - 50mm module
£330 (US$440) - 24-70mm module
£219 (US$257) - EVF (920k)
£239 (US$280) - Flash

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Is that the E-P2 or your E-P1 is just happy to see me?..

I have expected the E-P2 to be a minor upgrade to the E-P1, but definitely did not expect it to be this minor.

Basically, what Olympus did was to include a port for an EVF, thus allowing an external EVF and microphone to be mounted on the E-P2. I suspect Olympus timed the E-P2 to be launched after Epson's 1.44mpx EVF goes into production not long ago.

Other improvements include
- TruePic V (is this just a renaming of the TruePic III+?)
- 2 new Art Filters (Cross Processing and Diorama),
- iEnhance
- AF Tracking.
- Full Manual Control of shutter/aperture in Movie Mode
- HDMI Control of camera's playback function using the TV Remote when connected to HDTV

I suspect these other enhancement could be added to the E-P1 via firmware upgrade.

What about the single most important improvement that we are all looking for? AF Speed. cnet-asia reported this about the AF speed.

"The unit we tried was a prototype, so we weren't not able to find out whether Olympus has fixed the slow focusing problem which plagued the E-P1. We'll know when a commercial unit arrives in our Labs."

In my opinion, there may not be a major jump in AF speed. I remember that dpreview tested the AF speed of E-P1 with multiple lenses, pitting E-P1 against the GH1. (link)

The conclusions are:
- AF speed is highly dependent on the lens used. The M.Zuiko 14-42mm produces the slowest AF speed amongst all the lens tested, namely the 17mm and the 14-140mm. The 14-140mm being the fastest.
- Even when using the same lens, the GH1 was 50% faster than the E-P1, except for the 17mm.

So, while there is hope that Oly may improve AF speed of the E-P2 with TruePic V, I am doubtful it will be drastic. Not if the same 14-42mm kit lens is used...

*sigh* so it is possible that Olympus packed in some new features that many do not care for into the E-P2 and left the single biggest issue with the camera, AF speed, unfixed.

Oh ya, the most improvement of the comes in BLACK!!!

At the same time, Olympus launched 2 new lenses for the m4/3 mount:

  • M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 9-18mm F4.0-5.6 super wide-angle zoom lens (first half of 2010)
  • M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 14-150mm F4.0-5.6 high-power telephoto zoom lens (first half of 2010)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Leaked Specks for EP2?

The improvements are rumored to be:

1) True Pic V+
2) External EVF 1.44mp
3) 3″ LCD 460k
4) 1080p 30fps
5) Flash Sync 1/180 or 1/250 and below
6) 3.5 ~ 4 fps shooting speed

Hope TruePic V+ will bring about a much faster AF speed compared to E-P1....