Tuesday, July 6, 2010
DSLR Performance In A Point-And-Shoot Size?
The new class of cameras—mirrorless, interchangeable-lens models—gives serious nature photographers some interesting options
Micro Four Thirds System cameras have a good selection of lenses available, from a 7-14mm zoom to a 45-200mm zoom, which are equivalent to 14-28mm and 90-400mm zooms on a 35mm camera. And these lenses are much smaller than equivalent lenses for DSLRs. You can use a Four Thirds mount adapter to attach regular Four Thirds System lenses if you need more “reach”: Olympus’ 70-300mm ƒ/4.0-5.6 zoom is equivalent to 140-600mm on a 35mm camera, and Sigma’s 300-800mm ƒ/5.6 “Sigmonster” is equivalent to a 600-1600mm zoom on a 35mm camera! Although that may be a bit much for such tiny camera bodies, it’s still 1600mm! Adapters also are available to attach other popular-mount lenses to Micro Four Thirds System cameras. Bear in mind that some of the non-Micro Four Thirds lenses aren’t compatible with the cameras’ contrast-based AF systems and will have to be focused manually.
Samsung’s NX10 uses a new NX mount. Three NX-mount lenses were introduced with the camera: a 30mm ƒ/2 “pancake” lens, an 18-55mm ƒ/3.5-5.6 MEGA O.I.S. stabilized kit zoom and a 50-200mm ƒ/4-5.6 MEGA O.I.S. stabilized telezoom. With the APS-C sensor’s 1.5x “crop” factor, these provide focal lengths equivalent to 27mm through 300mm on a 35mm camera. More lenses are in the works, including a 60mm ƒ/2.8 macro, but they’re all expected to be within the 18mm through 200mm focal-length range.
Sony’s new NEX cameras use a new Sony E mount, and the initial E-lens lineup consists of a 16mm ƒ/2.8 “pancake” lens and an 18-55mm ƒ/3.5-5.6 OSS stabilized kit zoom. The Alpha NEX Camera Mount Adapter will allow users to attach existing A-mount lenses for Sony DSLRs. Sony’s A-mount lenses range in focal length from an 11-18mm ƒ/4.5-5.6 zoom to a 500mm ƒ/8 Reflex (mirror) lens, providing 35mm-camera-equivalent focal lengths from 16.5mm through 750mm, including macro lenses and some excellent albeit bulky Carl Zeiss lenses. Note that the adapter does not provide autofocusing capability.
While the mirrorless, interchangeable-lens cameras aren’t pocketable when the larger lenses are attached, special flat “pancake” lenses are available for all of them, which keep size down: Olympus’ M.Zuiko 17mm ƒ/2.8, Panasonic’s Lumix G 20mm ƒ/1.7, Samsung’s 30mm ƒ/2.0 and Sony’s E-mount 16mm ƒ/2.8.
Olympus Pen E-P1
The first of the “flat,” mirrorless, interchangeable-lens cameras, the E-P1 was inspired by Olympus’ “Pen” 35mm cameras of the mid-20th century. Its stylish design won many fans (and sales) early on, and its feature set didn’t hurt: 12.3-megapixel, Four Thirds-format High Speed Live MOS sensor, built-in sensor-shift image stabilization with all lenses and sensor-dust removal system, 3.0-inch, 230,000-dot LCD monitor, a full complement of auto and manual shooting features and more. The E-P1 can shoot 1280x720 HD video and 640x480 SD video, both at 30 fps, with stereo sound via a built-in microphone (Olympus is a big name in audio recording, too). Six Creative Art Filters let you add such effects as Soft Focus and Grainy Film to both JPEG and RAW images in-camera. As a Micro Four Thirds System camera, the E-P1 can use all Micro Four Thirds System lenses and (via adapters) Four Thirds System and other lenses. ISO settings range from 100 to 6400. Dimensions: 4.7x2.8x1.3 inches. Weight: 11.8 ounces. List Price: $799 (with 14-42mm zoom).
Featuring a stylish and rugged, retro-style, “flat” body like the E-P1, the E-P2 comes in a more discreet black color that may be less conspicuous when trying to approach photogenic critters in the wild. The E-P2 also has a 12.3-megapixel, High Speed Live MOS sensor with ISO settings up to 6400. It can do 1280x720p HD and 640x480p SD video at 30 fps, with stereo sound, but—unlike the E-P1—slows you to set shutter speeds and apertures manually. Like the E-P1, the E-P2 has built-in sensor-shift stabilization that works with all lenses, a sensor-dust removal system and a 3.0-inch, 230,000-dot LCD monitor (an optional detachable eye-level EVF is available, too), and can use all Micro Four Thirds System lenses, plus (via adapter) regular Four Thirds System and other lenses. The E-P2 features eight Creative Art Filters, adding Diorama and Cross Process to the E-P1’s six filters. As with the E-P1, you can display one image on the LCD monitor and record another over it. Dimensions: 4.7x2.8x1.4 inches. Weight: 11.1 ounces. List Price: $1,099 (with 14-42mm zoom and EVF).
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