Sunday, 7 March 2010
Focus on Imaging 2010
This years 'Focus on Imaging' exhibition was a bit of a letdown. Other than the announcement of the Panasonic G2 and G10 cameras and the first chance for me to try the Samsung NX10 there was not really much to see.
The usual models on stage were also very rare and aside from a few places most did not even have models.
Also the printer manufacturers have become really cheap an you can't even get some good prints done for free as in previous years.
The best stands were from Panasonic, who also had the biggest stand, and Sony.
Panasonic took the opportunity to announce and display the G2 with touchscreen and HD video and the G10, the entry level m4/3 camera with a normal LCD screen and a cheaper kit lens with plastic mount and no IS but the same quality as the more expensive lens.
The G2 and G10 both are uninteresting to me and have a really cheap build with a plastic shell and the usual fake dSLR design known from the G1. The touch screen however works really well and is especially useful to quickly determine the AF point.
They also showed three new lenses for the m4/3 system, the eagerly anticipated 28mm f2.8 lens, and the 8mm f3.5 fish-eye lens which should be released in the 2nd half of the year. They also showed the 100-300mm f4 lens which was pretty small considering the specs but is for me uninteresting.
At the Jacobs booth I could get my hands on the new Samsung NX10 and was pleasantly surprised. The camera is much smaller than I would have thought from the pictures and feels quite good. The LCD screen is great as is the EVF but neither are as good as on the G2 or the Ricoh GXR, which still has the edge.
The 30mm f2 pancake is very small and the AF with it and the kit lens is quite fast. What is not as fast is the write times and even worse is the shutter lag the camera has. When pressing the shutter the cameras focuses, then the screen goes black and then after a few ms it takes the picture. Looking at the NX10, the GXR and Sigma DPx cameras, I don't think APS sensors are good enough to be used in live-view only cameras and with contrast detect. None so far realy deliver a good performance in this area, it looks like m4/3 cameras are still ahead.
From taking a few pictures I can also say that it has a horrible JPG engine and NR algorithms which produce red fringing around everything black. Turning the NR off improves the JPGs but there is noise visible even at ISO 200 so I am not sure the Samsung 14MP APS sensor is that good.
Samsungs aggressive pricing strategy could pay off however as the NX10 costs less than the G2, EP2 or GF1 and a half the price of the GXR. To achieve such a low price however Samsung has used mounts on the kit lenses, as Panasonic has done on the G10 lens, in order to save money and the lenses feel very light but plasticky.
The 30mm pancake lens has a metal mount however and feels better while still being very light.
I got one interesting bit of information while questioning the fake dSLR design of the NX10, the Samsung representative there told me too keep my eyes open for a NX5 which might have a more Rangefinder-like styling.
While at the Jacobs booth I could not resist the temptation and ended up walking away with a brand new GF1 and 20mm f1.7 lens.
Other than that, I had an interesting chat with Panasonic representatives and put forward my wish to see a L2 or a m4/3 camera designed like it.
Since I just bought one of their cameras they were kind enough to let me test the 7-14mm f4 lens and also the Leica 45mm f2.8 lens. Both lenses are fantastic and seem to justify the high asking price.
I had the GXR with me and quite a few people asked me about it and the quality of it's EVF. All were quite impressed by the build, quality and EVF but all were pretty much as disappointed as I about the slow and unreliable AF of the A12 module.
It is a shame Ricoh did not have a booth or rented some space at one of the retailers to showcase their GXR, even with the slow AF, I am sure it would have been quite a big hit with people.