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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

Labels: CamerasD-SLRs

This Article Features Photo Zoom

Olympus E-PL1
The lowest-priced member of Olympus’ “flat,” mirrorless, interchangeable-lens triumvirate, the E-PL1 is probably better suited to the compact-camera user moving up than to the DSLR user. It’s simple to operate in point-and-shoot mode, but harder to set things manually than with the E-P1 and E-P2. The E-PL1 does have an advantage over its stainless-steel brethren: a built-in flash unit. It also—like the E-P2, but unlike the E-P1—accepts an accessory eye-level electronic viewfinder, a boon to the DSLR user. Features include a 12.3-megapixel, High Speed Live MOS sensor, Supersonic Wave Filter sensor-dust remover and sensor-shift image stabilization with all lenses, a 2.7-inch, 230,000-dot LCD monitor, ISO settings from 200 to 3200, six Creative Art Filters, and the ability to shoot 1280x720/30p HD and 640x480/30p SD video (with a button to enter movie mode directly). Dimensions: 4.5x2.8x1.6 inches. Weight: 10.4 ounces. List Price: $599.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1
The second Micro Four Thirds System camera (the first was the DMC-G1, recently replaced by the DMC-G2), the DMC-GH1 features a “mini-DSLR” form factor, with a built-in, eye-level electronic viewfinder to complement its free-angle 3.0-inch, 460,000-dot LCD monitor. It features a quicker-than-usual, contrast-based AF system that functions in video as well as still shooting, including continuous AF for moving wildlife subjects. The GH1 can shoot 1920x1080/60i video in AVCHD format, 1280x720/60p video and 640x480/30p and 320x240/30p video, as well. Other features include a 12.1-megapixel, Live MOS image sensor, built-in pop-up flash (a more powerful accessory flash unit also is available), ISO settings from 100 to 3200, stereo sound via a built-in microphone, plus a jack for an external stereo mic and a sensor-dust removal system. There’s no built-in, sensor-shift image stabilization, but a number of the lenses feature MEGA O.I.S. optical stabilization. Dimensions: 4.9x3.3x1.8 inches. Weight: 13.6 ounces. List Price: $1,499 (with 14-140mm zoom).

Panasonic Lumix DMC-G2
The new DMC-G2 features a 3.0-inch, 460,000-dot, free-angle LCD monitor like the GH1, but the G2’s also is a touch-screen that lets you set camera functions and even trip the shutter merely by touching the appropriate icon on the screen. There’s also a high-resolution (1,440,000-dot), quick-refresh, eye-level EVF. The G2 can shoot 1280x720/60p video in AVCHD Lite format and 1280x720/30p, 848x480/30p and 640x480/30p video in QuickTime Motion JPEG format. The 12.1-megapixel Live MOS sensor is complemented by a new Venus Engine HD II with more processing power and better noise reduction. ISOs run from 100 to 6400. A built-in microphone records mono sound, and there’s a jack for an external stereo mic. Like all Micro Four Thirds System cameras, the G2 can use all Micro Four Thirds System lenses, plus other lenses via adapters. There’s a built-in pop-up flash, and a more powerful external flash is available. Dimensions: 4.9x3.3x2.9 inches. Weight: 13.1 ounces. List Price: $799.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-G10
Introduced with the G2, the G10 shares the G2’s compact dimensions, 12.1-megapixel, Live MOS sensor and Venus Engine HD II processing, and built-in pop-up flash unit. The basic differences: The economy-model G10’s 3.0-inch, 460,000-dot LCD monitor doesn’t swivel or provide touch-screen features, its built-in, eye-level EVF provides lower resolution, and it lacks the G2’s AVCHD video format (top video format is 1280x720/30p Motion JPEG). Like the G2, the G10 offers a built-in, sensor-dust-removal system, compatibility with SD/SDHC/SDXC memory cards and 3.2 fps shooting (with Live View off; 2.3 fps in Live View). Dimensions: 4.9x3.3x2.9 inches. Weight: 11.9 ounces. List Price: $1,499 (with 14-140mm zoom; $599 alone).

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1
Panasonic’s only “flat” form-factor, mirrorless, interchangeable-lens model, the GF1 basically combines features from Panasonic’s “mini-DSLR” models in an even more compact package. There’s a 12.1-megapixel, Live MOS sensor, a 3.0-inch, 460,000-dot LCD monitor (nonswiveling), a built-in pop-up flash unit (a more powerful accessory unit also is available), quick contrast-based AF, an optional clip-on eye-level electronic viewfinder, ISO settings from 100 to 3200, shooting up to 3 fps, and compatibility with SD/SDHC (but not new SDXC) memory cards. You can shoot 1280x720/60p video in AVCHD Lite format, or 1280x720/30p, 848x480/30p, 640x480/30p and 320x240/30p video in Motion JPEG format. Sound is mono via a built-in microphone. Dimensions: 4.7x2.8x1.4 inches. Weight: 10.1 ounces. List Price: $899 (with 14-145mm zoom).


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