Sunday, 20 April 2014

Focus peaking with Lumix GM1

In 2013, focus peaking became a must have feature. The Lumix GH3 was released just in time to not get this feature. But all future camera releases now need to provide this feature.

Simply put, focus peaking is a form of assistance for manual focusing. It provides a highlight around the edges of objects that are in focus, so that you can quickly see where the focus is at. With the Lumix GM1, you can combine this with another commonly seen focus assistance, magnifying the image for more precise focus assessment.

Here is a video illustrating how focus peaking works with the Lumix GM1. I use the the Leica 25mm f/1.4 lens in the demo, as well as an old Nikon 24mm f/2 AIS on an adapter.



Thursday, 17 April 2014

Lumix G 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6 review: Small and brilliant!

The most remade lenses within Micro Four Thirds are the kit zoom lenses. Panasonic now have five kit zoom lenses, and so do Olympus, and this is not even counting the colour variations. While this has upset some fans - why don't they spend the effort designing high end lenses? - this makes perfect sense.

Most people who buy a Micro Four Thirds camera, get one with a kit lens supplied. Hence, the production volume of these lenses is big, and constantly improving them is a good idea. Also, to sell camera kits, they need to follow the trends. For example, the Lumix G 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 did not match the current trends, with a matte plastic exterior. The market now wants shiny metal-like materials on consumer electronic products, and in comes the Lumix G 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 II.

And the newest Lumix kit zoom lens is all about following trends. It is like the existing Lumix X PZ 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 in the sense that it is a collapsible pancake lens. However, the new Lumix G 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6 also keeps in line with market trends by having a smooth aluminium body, with a simple shape. Both lenses are seen below:


Saturday, 12 April 2014

Third party battery for the Lumix GM1

A spare battery for a digital camera is a good thing to have. If the battery runs out, the only way to charge it would be to remove it from the camera and place it in the charger, provided you are somewhere with a power outlet. This means not being able to shoot for an hour, at least.

If you carry a spare, charged battery with you, you can just exchange the battery in a matter of seconds, and be ready to shoot again. However, original batteries often cost a lot. The GH3 battery can easily cost US$80 new.

With the GH2, the third party batteries did not let the camera see how much power was left, hence, you would not get any "power bars" in the camera display. And even worse: When the battery eventually run out of juice, the camera would just die instantly, and the images in the buffer, not yet written to the memory card, would be lost. If you were recording video while the battery died, you would lose the video footage.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

JVC joins MFT, and launches large sensor 4K video

The big news this week is that JVC (JVC Kenwood) is joining the Micro Four Thirds format. So far, they have announced two 4K video cameras. The GY-LSX2 is a camcorder style video camera, while the GW-SPLS1 is a modular camera unit:

JVC GY-LSX2JVC GW-SPLS1
(Image from dpreview.com)(Image from dpreview.com)

These cameras have a Micro Four Thirds mount, of the "active" type. This means that you can use autofocus, you can set the aperture from the camera, and operate OIS.

Larger sensor!


However, in one way, they are very different from Micro Four Thirds cameras: The sensor is larger. The cameras will use the Altasens AL41410C sensor. Just like the Lumix GH4, it can record 4K video in 3840x2160 (Quad HD) and 4096x2160 (Cinema 4K).

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Life after the GH4

The Lumix GH4 was recently announced, with a ground breaking feature for a consumer mirrorless camera: 4K video. Now that this milestone has been reached, what can we expect from future cameras? After all, the development still continues.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

New 20mm f/1.7 lens is less noisy!

The Lumix G 20mm f/1.7 pancake is a classic Micro Four Thirds lens. Being the first Panasonic prime lens, it is widely considered to be very well performing. But it has some shortcomings: Due to the old fashioned focus design, where the whole lens assembly moves back and forth during focusing, the autofocus is rather slow. Also, the large focus assembly makes it very noisy when focusing.

Also, when using the lens on some cameras at high ISO, many users report annoying horizontal stripes. Some believe this is due to a spiral coil spring inside the lens, which is one of the ways in which it is different from other lenses that don't exhibit this aberration.

In 2013, Panasonic updated the lens. It is well known that the new lens is largely a cosmetic redesign: The optical layout is the same, and the focus method is the same. But is the new lens better? The new lens is available in black and silver, and you can see the silver version to the right below:


Old (left) and new (right) versions of the Lumix G 20mm f/1.7

LensLumix G 20mm f/1.7Lumix G 20mm f/1.7 II
Lens elements/groups7/57/5
Aperture diaphragm blades77
Minimum focus0.20m0.20m
Diameter63mm63mm
Length26mm26mm
Filter thread46mm46mm
Weight100g87g
Hood includedNoNo
Optical image stabilisationNoNo