THE BIG GUNS
In the run-up to Photokina, both Nikon and Canon announced the Z7, Z6 and EOS R respectively so neither company has much extra to shout about other than the cameras we already know of. Olympus, too, doesn’t have much to show, although it did hint that something big is on the way for its 100th birthday next year.
Likewise Sony, now officially the best-selling full-frame camera brand, is in no rush to update the A7III and A7R III just yet. Instead, Sony was happy to concentrate on sharing news of 12 new e-mount lenses (to add to the existing 48) that will be released over the next two years. Its popular eye-tracking autofocus feature will also be getting an upgrade, enabling it to follow animal eyes as well as humans, making it a perfect fit for wildlife photographers.
Instead, the really big news was left to the likes of Panasonic, Fujifilm and Leica, all of whom are clearly nailing their upcoming cameras to the mirrorless mast.
The big news from Panasonic is its hotly-anticipated full-frame mirrorless camera and with image stabilisation in both body and lens, plus 4K video at 60fps it certainly won’t disappoint.
Two models are set for launch by spring next year – the S1R and the S1. The S1R is a 47Mp camera for those seeking the very highest image quality as required for the likes of product shots, portraits and landscapes. Meanwhile, the S1 is a 24Mp version that promises to serve hybrid photo and video creators. Both cameras are capable of 4K video at 60fps with dual image stabilisation.
Interestingly, they come with double card slots, one for SD and the other for the relatively new XQD card format. A 3-axis tiltable LCD makes it easier to get those low-angle shots, while a high resolution electronic viewfinder promises to the industry’s highest precision, giving you a view of what your camera sees that is almost on a par with human vision. A high precision, high-speed shutter also enables the highest flash syncro speed.
With Lumix cameras already hugely popular with videographers it’ll come as no surprise that Panasonic is keen to keep the momentum going, which is why the Lumix S series will include 4K video at up to 60fps with dual image stabilisation (in the body and lens).
Durability is also high on the agenda and the Lumix S will include weather sealing on all its dials and buttons and promises to function at extreme temperatures. To prove this point, a Lumix S was sent to the South Pole where it had no trouble operating at temperatures as low as a -40C.
Of course, everything ultimately comes down to the lenses and this is where Panasonic has shown pure genius. Thanks to a tie up between Leica, Panasonic and Sigma, their new L-Mount will mean the S-series will launch with a huge range of lenses (see below).
What is an XQD card?
Created by Sony for its high-end video equipment, the XQD offers blisteringly fast read and write speeds up to 400Mb/s and a potential storage capacity of over 2TB. With only Sony and Lexar making them at the moment, prices are expensive but in August Nikon announced they would be selling their own XQD cards and with any luck the increased competition and wider market should help to bring prices down.
WHY THE L-MOUNT COULD BE A GAME-CHANGER
One of the biggest announcements at Photokina wasn’t some big product launch but was actually about the coming together of three brands – Panasonic, Leica and Sigma – to create the L-Mount Alliance. With Canon and Nikon both launching new mounts recently, it seems like everyone is getting in on the act but the Alliance’s new L-Mount is different because it will enable Leica and Panasonic photographers to share a lens mount that works as well for full-frame as it does for APS-C cameras.
With Sony, Nikon and Canon all producing their own lens mounts, Leica, Panasonic and Sigma would have struggled to put up much of a challenge on their own but the L-Mount changes all that and gives the established players something to worry about as they make their move into mirrorless.
As a luxury brand, Leica is out of reach of many photographers, while Panasonic’s innovation has captured a big chunk of the video market. The unification of these three brands will enable Panasonic owners to benefit from Leica glass. As well as giving owners of both brands access to a wide range of lenses, it should also lead to two price points, making the lenses more accessible generally. Perhaps most importantly of all, it also makes it easier for you to switch brands at a later date without having to reinvest in a whole new series of lenses.
Leica originally debuted the mount in 2014 and has six lenses out now with five more planned over the next couple of years. Meanwhile, Panasonic has confirmed that it’s working on three L-Mount lenses and promises to take this to 10 by the time the Lumix S1 launches next spring. Sigma plans to start making lenses next year.
FUJIFILM ANNOUNCES NOT ONE BUT TWO NEW MEDIUM FORMAT CAMERAS
When Fujifilm made the decision to skip full-frame and instead develop a medium format camera, it seemed an odd choice to many but as a result, Fujifilm has largely had the medium format market to itself until recently. Cementing its position in this market, the company has announced details of two new models in the pipeline.
The first of these, the GFX-50R follows the GFX-50S launched two years ago. It boasts a 51.4Mp sensor and is 25mm thinner and 145g lighter than the GFX-50S, making it around 775 grams (without lens). Although that makes it heavier than Sony’s A7R III, you have to remember this is a medium format camera.
Making sure it can take whatever you throw at it, the magnesium body is weather sealed and dust resistant. It also comes with a new electronic viewfinder with 0.77x magnification and an OLED screen that sports 3.69 million dots. However, this is now fixed, rather than the detachable version we saw on the GFX-50S. With a 3fps burst mode it’s fairly slow and is far from ideal for videographers because it offers only 1080p video at 30fps.
One new feature you’re certain to appreciate though, is Bluetooth connectivity. This means you can pair it to your smartphone or tablet when you need a fast transfer rate in the studio or out in the field. Like its predecessor, it comes with dual UHS-II card slots, a 2,360K tilting touchscreen and ISO range from 100-12,800 (50-102,400 extended). The battery is predicted to last 400 shots
Due to launch in November, the GFX-50R will set you back $4,500. This makes it the cheapest medium format camera money can buy and with a resolution that compares favourably with the competition.
A WORLD FIRST
While the GFX-50R might sound impressive enough, that’s only the warm up. The second medium format camera on show, the GFX 100, blows all the others out the water thanks to a 102Mp sensor. Yes, you read that right, it’s not a typo. This makes it the world’s first medium format mirrorless camera with such a spec. Incorporating in-body image stabilization, phase detection autofocus across the entire sensor and 4K(30P) video, this is the company’s top-of-the-range model. Due at some point in 2019, details are scant at the moment. Interested? A price tag of $10,000 (excluding taxes) has been mooted so you’d better start saving now.
Not everyone wants – or, indeed, needs – a mirrorless camera, a fact that Ricoh is hoping will work in its favour when it launches its new GR III with a 24Mp APS-C-sized sensor, a huge leap up from the 16Mp sensor in the GR II. As well as increased megapixels, the sensor introduces phase detect autofocus and in-camera stabilisation, with the GR III’s sensor able to shift in three directions.
The lens has seen an upgrade too and the GR III now sports a redesigned 28mm equivalent F2.8 lens with a minimum focus distance of 6cm (down from 10cm). Just like its predecessor there’s also a useful inbuilt 2-stop ND filter. On the video front the GR III is now capable of 1080/60p video (up from 1080/30p).
From the front, the camera’s design is very similar to the GR II, but the back now sports a touchscreen 3-inch fixed LCD. Although there’s no Bluetooth, wi-fi is supported. Available in early 2019, no price details have been released yet.
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