Panasonic Lumix GH2 Review
Text, Photos and Video by Jason Thompson
The PanasonicLumix DMC-GH2 is the updated version of its predecessor, the GH1. While still utilizing the same Micro Four Thirds system (see more about Micro Four Thirds here), this new generation camera boasts several upgrades. Panasonic redesigned the image sensor, increasing the maximum resolution to 16.05-megapixels. The GH2 also has a slightly faster contrast based auto focus, as well as a touchscreen display. The one touch video button allows for instant switches to and from High Definition video recording mode. The combination of Panasonic’s Micro Four Thirds system and Electronic View Finder allow the GH2 to maintain a very lightweight form. Even when combined with the 14-140mm f/4.0-5.8 kit lens (with silent drive focusing) that I tested it with, this mirrorless camera maintains an overall weight below many in its class. The GH2 lens mount is also compatible with the 3D Lumix G 12.5mm f/12 3D-capable lens.
Sony NEX-VG10: High Definition Consumer Camcorder with Interchangeable Lenses
Text and Images by Tony Gomez
With the NEX-VG10, Sony has at last answered the call for a consumer-based High Definition camcorder with interchangeable lenses. My expanded review package included not only the kit 18-200 mm zoom, but also the following E-mount interchangeable lenses: 18-55 zoom ($300) and 16mm/f2.8 ($250). Also the following Alpha lenses were provided via the Alpha/E-mount adapter ($300): 16mm/f2.8 ($250), 30mm/f2.8 Macro ($200), 35mm/f1.8 ($200), 50mm/f1.8 ($150), and the Zeiss 85mm/f1.8 ($1,400).
Canon EOS 60D
Text and Images by Lynne Eodice
Video by Dennis Eodice
The EOS 60D is Canon’s most recent digital SLR aimed at the enthusiast/serious shooter market, and is the next generation of the EOS 50D. This camera is a good upgrade for photographers seeking to move into more professional territory, beyond, say, the entry-level Canon EOS Rebel T2i. But it’s so user-friendly right out of the box that photo hobbyists can easily go from a point-and-shoot camera to shooting with the 60D.
Overview of Features
The 60D features an APS-C sized 18-megapixel CMOS sensor (as compared to the 50D’s 15MP), and a new DIGIC 4 Image Processor. I was impressed with the quality and color rendition of the images I captured, especially compared to those taken with my Canon EOS Digital Rebel from several years back. The 60D also offers an ISO range from 100 to 6400. This can even be expanded to ISO 12800 to shoot under extremely dimly lit conditions. But for most low-light situations that you’re likely to encounter, ISO 6400 is more than adequate, and ISO 12800 is bound to reveal digital noise.
Canon EOS 60D
click thumbnails to enlarge
The 60D’s mode dial offers the typical standard basic scene zone (including Portrait, Landscape, Close-up, Sports and Night Portrait modes), as well as a basic zone (Full Auto, Flash Off, and Creative Auto), and a creative zone (P, Tv, Av, M and B) for more advanced shooting. What I really appreciated was the addition of the more conveniently located on/off switch right under the mode dial (with my other Canon EOS cameras, this switch is located on the bottom right side on the back of the camera). There’s also a lock button in the center of the dial to prevent accidental operation.
ISO 100, 400, 3200, 6400
click thumbnails to enlarge
Canon has switched from a AF-point-selecting joystick in the EOS 50D to a multi-control dial on the back of the 60D. With this dial, I found it very easy to scroll through images that I had previously photographed and to change the auto-focusing points. You can also correct white balance, move the AF frame or the magnifying frame during Live View shooting.
The 60D is also the first EOS DSLR to include a 3-inch Vari-Angle LCD monitor, which flips out from the back of the camera body. It allows you to set menu functions, do Live View shooting, shoot video, and play back images and video. You can also rotate the angle of the LCD monitor, which is a great tool for times when you want to shoot a subject that’s positioned low to the ground (but when you don’t want to get down low yourself), or when you want to shoot over the heads of a crowd and actually see what you’re shooting. I set several menu selections and really enjoyed playing back my images on this screen. The only issue I had was with shooting still images with the Live View screen. I found that auto-focusing operated slower when using Live View than when I used the viewfinder.
The Ambience option in the basic scene modes is a new feature in the 60D. For example, you can choose from vivid, soft, warm, intense, cool and brighter settings. Each ambience is a modification of the respective shooting mode’s image characteristics. You can also select the “Lighting or Scene Type,” which is very similar to a list of white balance presets.
Also new are the Creative Filters, which enables you to apply Grainy black-and-white (seen above), Soft Focus, Toy Camera, or Miniature filter effects to an image in-camera and save it as a new file. I had fun with several of these (particularly Grainy BW). The 60D offers a RAW conversion mode too, which allows for a range of camera settings like Auto Light Optimizer, Noise Reduction, White Balance and Picture Style to be applied to a RAW file.
This camera also offers the ability to tag your images, which makes it easy to find and filter your photos, or as a way to organize slide shows. These tags are also accessible through the supplied software or even third-party packages like Adobe Lightroom and Bridge.
One of the ways you can purchase the 60D is in a kit with an EFS 18–135mm f/3.5-f.6 IS (image stabilizing) lens. I put the camera and this lens through its paces at several local scenic areas. To begin with, I found the camera easy to handle and on the lightweight side (especially compared to my sturdier EOS 5D Mark II). I used some of the basic scene modes (Landscape, Action, and Close-up), as well as the Av and Tv modes. I found that the image stabilizer enabled me to get sharp images without using my tripod, and several times I was shooting indoors in rather low light. I also enjoyed experimenting with a few of the Creative Filters after the shoot.
The D60 is capable of shooting full High Definition (1920×1080) and (1280×720), as well as Standard Definition (640×480) and (Crop 640×480) movies. My videographer husband shot video with this camera, and was impressed by the sharpness he got, even with moving subjects. The camera has several manual controls—shutter, aperture, ISO speed and audio recording—which allow you to customize your videos. Another plus is the camera’s capability to use an external microphone for greater audio quality. The only limitations are the lack of true AF and automatic zoom. The maximum recording time for one movie clip is 29 minutes and 59 seconds.
Overall, I found the Canon EOS 60D to be a great and highly user-friendly camera. The image quality is wonderful, it has great ergonomics, and an awesome feature set.
ISO 100-6400, expand to 12,800 with a custom function
Auto pop-up E-TTL II auto flash, Live View, Creative Filters
Canon EF mount; Compatible lenses: Canon EF lenses (including EF-S lenses)
(35mm-equivalent focal length is approx. 1.6x the lens focal length)
EOS 60D Body, Eyecup Eb, Wide Strap EW-EOS 60D, USB Interface Cable IFC-130U, Stereo AV cable AVC-DC400ST, Battery Pack LP-E6, Battery Charger LC-E6, EOS Digital Solution Disc and Instruction Manuals “Great Photography is Easy” Booklet and “Do More with Macro” Booklet
Rechargeable Lithium-Ion LP-E6 battery; Built in battery (date/time backup); Optional AC adapter
The K-r falls into the PENTAX lineup as an entry-to-mid-range DSLR, most similar to last year’s K-x (reviewed here), with upgrades that bring it a few notches up toward the flagship K-7. The 12.4-megapixel K-r comes in red, white or black (I reviewed the red model, which attracted the attention and compliments of plenty of onlookers), and at $849.95 MSRP, the kit includes a DA L 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 lens.
Although the K-r is in fact feature-packed, there’s the sense that the camera is refreshingly gimmick-free and straightforward in its intention to be, first and foremost, a tool for capturing quality images. Its ease of use is just what a photographer might want when making the move from, say, a prosumer compact digicam to the world of SLR shooting.
Design & Ease of Use
click thumbnails to enlarge
Despite its compact size and plastic body construction (the lens mount is stainless steel), the K-r feels like a serious piece of equipment in-hand; it is heavy enough to feel sturdy and yet light enough to hang from your neck for extended periods. Note that’s ever so slightly larger than the petite K-x. Another feature to make the shooting experience feel undoubtedly professional is the loud, satisfying click of the shutter release. The layout of menu buttons, the big wedge of a handgrip, the contoured thumb grip on the back, and the placement of the shutter release all align for shooting comfort. The 3-inch LCD with Live View is impressively bright and clear, having been bumped up in resolution from that of the K-x (921,000 dot versus 230,000). And then there’s the viewfinder, with its thick rubber padding—especially comfortable when standing with an eye smashed against it for long stretches of time while photographing surfers, as I did. Once again PENTAX has included the green button on the camera—this time right behind the shutter release where it can be accessed quickly and easily—which can be programmed to quick-jump to a feature of the photographer’s choice so as to bypass wading through many layers of digital menu.
The K-r shoots stills in JPEG and RAW and 720p High Definition video in .AVI format. Memory records to SD/SDHC memory cards, with the option now for SDXC memory card compatibility via a firmware update. Another smart upgrade is the fact that the camera is Li-Ion battery compatible and can also be adapted to use AA batteries, so that the photographer has flexibility—incredibly important for traveling to a place where you might not have access to outlets for charging.
Night Scene HDR versus Auto Picture Mode click thumbnails to enlarge
PENTAX has loaded the smallish, stylish K-r with options for advanced shooting—Manual, Program, Sensitivity Priority, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority—but they have also made it easy to capture in Auto Picture mode and through scene modes tailored for specific shooting situations, such as: sunset, surf & snow, night, and kids & pets for fast-moving subjects. New to the K-r is the built-in Night Scene HDR mode which captures three images, with exposure optimized for dim lighting, to generate a single HDR (High Dynamic Range) image. I actually found that the Night Scene HDR mode worked well in daytime shade, helping me to capture close-up shots of howler monkeys in the jungle of Costa Rica without a disturbing flash. In addition to scene modes, the K-r includes a similar menu of Digital Filters to that of the K-x. In reviewing the K-x last year I was slightly dismayed by the filter that tries to replicate the look of shooting with a Fish Eye lens, and had hoped that an upgrade would be made this time around, but unfortunately that isn’t the case. The other filters, Toy Camera in particular, are fun to use.
For shooting action, the fast 6fps burst capture capability was great, and the built-in optional Shake Reduction feature was extremely helpful in snapping sharp shots of fast-moving subjects when I didn’t have a tripod. The advanced 11 point SAFOX IX autofocus system tracked the subjects quickly as they sped across the frame, with additional aid from the AF assist lamp.
click thumbnails to enlarge
Once again PENTAX has produced a stylish, intuitive mid-range DSLR that takes quality pictures, all for a very competitive price. With upgrades including a higher-resolution LCD, built-in HDR capability, faster 6fps capture, and an advanced autofocus system—all for under $900, including the lens (found for less than MSRP elsewhere), the K-r is a serious piece of equipment to consider as a first DSLR or even an upgrade.
$849.95 (comes with a DA L 18-55mm lens)
4.9”W x 3.8”H x 2.7”D; 19.7 oz., loaded
12.4-megapixels, CMOS, 23.6 x 15.8mm
4288 x 2848
Still Recording Format:
RAW (PEF, DNG), JPG (EXIF 2.21), DCF 2.0 (design rule for camera file system), DPOF, Print Image Matching III Movie (compression): AVI (motion JPG)
Video Recording Mode:
HD: 1280×720 (16:9) at 25fps in .AVI format
3-inch TFT color LCD (921,000 dots), wide angle, Live View; Optical Viewfinder (96% Magnification)
Program, Sensitivity Priority, Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority, Metered Manual, Video; AutoPicture, Portrait, Landscape, Macro, Moving Object, Night scene portrait, Flash off; Scene modes: Night scene, Surf & Snow, Food, Sunset, Kids, Pet, Candlelight, Museum, Stagelight, Night snap, Night scene HDR
ISO 200-12800, expand to 100-25600
TTL open aperture, 16 segment metering Sensitivity range: EV 1-21.5 (ISO 200, 50mm F1.4); Multi-pattern, center-weight, spot
Built-in pop-up flash, Live View, Face Detection, Creative Filter Modes (Toy Camera, Monochrome, Retro, Color, High Contrast, Soft, Extract Color, Star Burst, Sketch, Water Color, Pastel, Miniature, Slim, HDR, Posterization, Base Parameter Adjustment, Custom)
PENTAX KAF2 bayonet stainless steel mount; Usable lenses: PENTAX KAF3, KAF2, KAF, KA (K mount, 35mm screwmount, 645/67 med format lenses useable w adapter and/or restrictions)
Li-Ion Battery D-LI109, Battery Charge Cradle K-BC109, AC Plug Cord, USB Cable I-USB7, Strap O-ST53, Hotshoe Cover FK, Eyecup FQ, Body Mount Cover, Software CD-ROM S-SW110
Rechargeable Li-Ion battery D-LI109, AA BATTERY HOLDER D-BH109 (optional) for 4X AA
CES 2011, Las Vegas—Sony has just announced the world’s first compact digital still cameras with full 1920 x 1080 at 60p High Definition video capability and 3D still image capture. The five new 16.2-megapixel CMOS sensor Cyber-shot models—DSC-TX100V (image above), DSC-TX10, DSC-HX7V, DSC-WX10 and DSC-WX9—will range from about $220 to $380 in price and will be available in March. See the full press release, and more images, from Sony below.
Sony DSC-TX10, DSC-HX7V, DSC-WX10 and DSC-WX9
click the thumbnails to see full-size images