Monday, September 1, 2008
Does Your Camera Have An Evil Twin?
What’s in a camera’s DNA? We’ll show you the features and technologies that have trickled down from the top-end models to the popular sweet-spot cameras.
After Olympus introduced the first few Four Thirds System digital SLRs, Panasonic and Leica joined the party, working, in part, with one another. Panasonic’s first D-SLR, the Lumix DMC-L1, and Leica’s first, the Digilux 3, are twins under the skin, featuring the same lens mount, mirror box, viewfinder chamber, AF and metering sensors, and 7.5-megapixel Panasonic Live MOS image sensor. The body configurations are near-identical, too, with a Leica look and all controls in the same locations. Each camera is even sold with the same Leica D Vario-Elmarit 14-50mm ƒ/2.8-3.5 ASPH zoom with Panasonic’s Mega O.I.S. optical image stabilization. (Olympus’ out-of-production E-330 also shared much of this technology and basic configuration, although it incorporated a second Live-View sensor and a tilting LCD monitor.)
The DMC-L1 and Digilux 3 feature Live-View shooting via their 2.5-inch LCD monitors (with manual focusing or phase-detection AF), the effective Supersonic Wave Filter sensor-dust reduction system introduced by Olympus, a built-in pop-up flash (ISO 100, guide number 10, in meters), three image aspect ratios (4:3, 3:2 and 16:9), a proprietary lithium-ion battery good for about 450 shots per charge, a top shooting rate of 3 fps, 49-zone metering (256-zone in Live-View mode), storage on SD or SDHC cards, ISOs from 100 to 1600, eye-level porro-mirror viewfinders, 3-point phase-detection autofocusing, shutter speeds from 60 to 1⁄4000 sec., plus B, and straightforward operation. Shutter speeds are set directly via a shutter-speed dial, and apertures are set via the lens’ aperture ring (Four Thirds System lenses lacking aperture rings also can be used.)
There’s a major price difference, the Leica appealing to the sort of photographer who prefers Leica film cameras, while the lower-cost DMC-L1 appeals to the more budget-minded photographer who likes the look, features and performance of the camera.
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