Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Report Card is in

BCN Ranking posted the dSLR market share for the Japanese market in 2009.

Amongst the top 20 cameras

Canon has 37.9%
Nikon has 28%
Panasonic 8.5%
Olympus 4.3%
Pentax 4.3%
Sony 4%

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Why I would choose S90 over LX3


- I prefer the Canon because it is a true pocketable PnS
- Fully retractable lens which does not protrude like the LX3
- Built in auto lens cap, not like the LX3 with detachable lens cap which can be easily dropped
- Lack of a flash hotshoe keeps profile pocketable. If I want to lug around a flash, I will use an SLR
- The Canon is lighter and smaller than the LX3

Image Quality:

- Numerous reviews by and showed that the S90 does better than the LX3 in high ISO, especially in RAW. Camerablabs even finds it to outperform G11. The new 10mpx sensor have definitely overtaken the aged LX3 sensor in terms of high ISO performance.
- More useful zoom range 28-105mm instead of the LX3's 24-60mm which is more restrictive.
- The Canon colors is more preferable to me than the over punchy Panasonic colors. I am not into Panasonic colors, even the GF-1 cameras have a funny tone curve.


- The Canon powershot UI is easy to use. Very similar to IXUS and other Canon PnS
- The customizable control ring is convenient
- For those using Canon dSLR, the S90 is a natural choice because you can use the same set of software, DPP to handle all raw files from S90 to 1Ds Mark III.
- Canon does not restrict the use ad 3rd party batteries as strictly as the Panasonic. Panasonic requires users to use original Panasonic batts.

To LX3 credit:

- It is faster but not as fast as an SLR, so the difference in speed does not make a lot of difference to me
- Flash hotshoe. As mentioned earlier, if I want to lug flash and stuff, I will carry a dSLR
- LX3 supports lens adapters. This will again add weight and bulk to the system. For those using S90, you can buy Cokin add-ons if you want to use filters and adapters.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The new Sigma 17-70 f2.8-4 HSM OS

A few days ago, Sigma launched a new version of its prize winning standard zoom lens. Equipped with HSM, faster aperture and OS, Sigma is leveling the playing field against the original manufacturers. This lens is aimed squarely at the new Canon 15-85 f3.5-5.6 IS and the Nikon 16-85 f3.5-5.6 VR. Since the new Canon has recently been receiving favorable reviews, I would like to do a rough comparison in case anyone is deciding between these two lenses:

For the Canon 15-85:

- The 15-85 is a very sharp lens, as compared to similar lenses and very comparable to its Nikon counterpart (finally) while having a marginally wider zoom range. From the manufacturer published MTF figures, I think the 15-85 could be slightly sharper than the new 17-70 OS wide open. Currently measured figures shows the 15-85 to outperform the current 17-70 marginally.
- The 15-85 has a wider range (24-136 equiv). As a walkabout lens it is about as wide and as much tele as you need.
- The 15-85 seems to support MF better with a smooth focus ring. The 17-70 was thought to be a little stiff
- Being a Canon lens, its profile is available on DPP, so auto correction of vignetting, CA, distortions can be done at a click of a button.

For the Sigma 17-70 OS:

- The 17-70 is faster(2.8-4.0) than the 15-85, its max tele aperture is slightly bigger than the original 17-70 (2.8-4.5).
- From the charts, the 17-70 seems to show an improvement in terms of sharpness when compared to the 17-70 and could be closer to the 15-85. Actual measured results could be different though. We will never know until more data is available.
- The 15-85 is considerably more expensive. as an indication, on Amazon, the 15-85 is about US$700 while the 17-70 is about US$450.
- Other considerations include: Size/weight, Inclusion of a hood
- Vignetting performance is likely to be better than the 15-85 at certain apertures, but as mentioned, since the Canon lens profile will be available on the DPP, this is easily corrected.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Time for the Crystal Ball

It is December, the last month of the year. 2009, despite being a recession plagued year, has been a rather busy year for camera manufacturers. Numerous update models from the top manufacturers were launched. We also see a host of new innovative cameras in the form of the the Leica M9, X1, Canon 7D, the micro fourthirds based EP1, EP2, GF-1 and the interchangeable module Ricoh GXR.

There were also a host of sensor technologies being introduced this year, namely the Sony EXMOR-R, the Fujifilm Super CCD EXR and Canon's new 18mpx high sensitivity sensor which delivers impressive high ISO images despite being packed to the brim with photoreceptors.

Of all the manufacturers, Canon is most expected to release a number of new dSLR in the coming few months. Let me share my take on what will be released:

I think Canon will likely release the 550D around March and not forgetting the 2000D as well. From BCN ranking, while the 500D still dominates the chart, there are signs that sales is slowly weakening.

As of now, Canon has a strong set of offerings against Nikon in the 7D, 5D2 and 1DIV. They are still lagging Nikon in the D3x, D90, D5000, D3000 markets. The other manufacturers of the m43 cameras are also putting a lot of pressure on Canon in the low end dSLR market.

I expect Canon to address some of this. Thus releasing the:

1) 1Ds Mark IV vs Nikon D3x - I suspect only 30+mpx (not the widely speculated 40+mpx) with an improved AF system. Maybe the same 45pts all selectable, mostly crossed points like the 1DIV. I will not be surprised if Canon introduces some high-end video camera features into the 1DsIV. This would help Canon bring the 1DsIV into their traditional high end DV market as well, strengthening their position. Nikon was caught back footed when the market switched to digital and Canon being an electronic manufacturer capitalized on this and lead Nikon for a great part of the dSLR age. Now the market is slowly moving from still dSLRs to a hybrid video/still dSLRs. Again Canon, being a leading manufacturer of high end video cameras should capitalize on their expertise in this area to continue leading the market.

While Nikon's handicap in electronics can be mostly solved by buying sensors from Sony, it is a lot harder to buy video camera features from anyone.

2) 550D vs Nikon D5000 - I expect Canon to put in the 18mpx sensor from 7D into the 550D and that would be a killer cam. Also, they are largely expected to increase the number of cross AF points and up the video specs to 1080p 30fps (from 20fps).

Other enhancements may include adding the gapless LCD screen, flash commander mode, electronic leveling. That should put the 550D ahead of the competitors. On the other hand, keeping the Af points to 9, shooting speed to about 4fps (single DIGIC), the penta-mirror viewfinder at 95% coverage and non weather sealed lightweight body would differentiate it enough from the 7D.

3) 2000D vs Nikon D3000 - This may spot a 12mpx or 15mpx sensor. It would be nice if Canon can reduce the size of the 2000D to make it more competitive towards the m4/3. Perhaps Canon should introduce some chic styling into this range to make it less scary to first time dSLR users and more attractive to the PnS upgraders.

4) 60D vs the D90? - I don't really see a market segment for the 60D anymore. Nikon created the D90 because they wanted a low end built-in motor body to complement the AF-S D5000(D60 previously). A well engineered 550D can take on the D90 and D5000 at the same time, giving them more focus and make it less confusing to the consumers. Before long, the 7D's price would have dropped to somewhere close to the targeted launch price of the 60D anyway. Unless ofcourse, Canon decides to merge the xxxD series with the xD series.

5) EVIL camera? this could be in the SX20 or Pro1 format. I don't see Canon releasing a new lens mount.

I don't really see a market for the 3D. Unless it is a 5D mark III...