Archive for March 5, 2009

PMA ’09: New Samsung and Panasonic systems form in the digital camera universe

Samsung-NX-camera-PMA

At this year's rather sleepy PMA, some attendees looked like astronomers searching the night sky, not just for stars, but constellations and galaxies. Solar systems, if you will.

This was particularly true at the Samsung booth, where the camera maker had on display a case full of new Samsung NX-series digital cameras, and video screens running slide shows of the new model. Like the Panasonic Lumix DSC-G1 announced last year, these new point-and-shoot cameras take interchangeable lenses. Many of us simply stared, creating elaborate theories from what we viewed in the display case (at right) and on the video screen.

The reason we were simply gazing was because there were just a few sketchy details: the Samsung will use an APS-C sized sensor, instead of a Micro Four-Thirds sensor, and it has no mirror box (like the Lumix G1). Aside from that, there was no information or specs from the manufacturer, although the slide slow suggests it will have wireless features. So, in essence, the formation of this new Samsung Micro-Four-Thirds type of camera (as well as any related lenses and other accessories) is still in the early stages, although the first NX models might appear in the latter part of this year.

Panasonic-GH1-MicIn a much more substantive way, Panasonic announced that it’s expanded its Micro Four-Thirds universe in two ways. First, it introduced its second Micro Four-Thirds camera, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1 (left). Second, it has broadened its line of lenses for this camera by adding two new zoom lenses. There also appears to be more accessories for the Lumix system.

As Panasonic pointed out last year, the Lumix DMC-GH1 includes video functions, such as the ability to record High Definition (HD) AVCHD 1080p/24p video. In addition, the camera also ships with a longer kit zoom lens, the LUMIX G VARIO HD 14-140mm /F4.0-5.8 ASPH./MEGA O.I.S or 28-280mm (35mm camera equivalent). An important aspect in this lens is that since it has optical image stabilization (in the lens), the company claims they've designed it with a silent motor, so it won’t affect the audio on your video. Additionally, it will also have the ability to continuously auto focus. Both are features not found on the lens for the G1.

Panasonic lens 007014front_slant

In addition to the 14-140mm lens, Panasonic also unveiled an ultra wide-angle zoom, the LUMIX G VARIO 7-14mm/F4.0 ASPH (right). Although the zoom range is small, it appears to be a really cool, compact, lightweight lens, since the 7-14mm is really a 14-28mm (35mm camera equivalent). And let me tell you, 14mm is really wide. There are more details on these new products in Panasonic's press releases.

Lastly, Olympus, a third company with intentions to create a point-and-shoot that uses interchangeable lenses, again had on view the same "concept" it showed at Photo Plus Expo, in New York City late last year.

—Terry Sullivan

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