TEST 01: DESIGN
Which of our three cameras takes the honours in terms of build and layout?
The PEN-F takes its retro style from the original PEN-F of the 1960s/70s
The Fujifilm X-Pro2’s rangefindertype layout – whereby the controls are prominently placed on the top plate – really encouraged us to get hands-on and experiment with it. However, unless you owned the previous model, the X-Pro1, it’s not really for picking up and using straightaway, because the ISO light-sensitivity settings are somewhat hidden – you need to lift the shutter-speed button and twist it to reveal them. The construction of this camera is reassuringly rock-like, though, thanks to a four-sided magnesiumalloy build that matches the hefty price tag.
Olympus has a longer heritage in camera manufacture than its rivals here, thus its aluminium-build PEN-F has the luxury of being able to take its retro style from the original PEN-F of the 1960s/70s. As it’s another rangefinder-style camera (Olympus’s first), its design is similar to the X-Pro2’s, with manual top and frontplate dials and knobs aplenty, just like in the film days. Here, we get a tilting LCD, plus a 2.36-million-dot OLED viewfinder. As with the Fujifilm, newcomers may require a period of familiarisation – but if you’re going to spend circa $2K on a camera body, it’s not really about selfies or machine-gunning. We’re not fans of the tiny backplate buttons, but generally the design and handling impress.
Panasonic’s GX85 is all about classic handling, but it still boasts its fair share of modern comforts, including a tilting LCD screen that swings outward from the body, to go with the alternative of ultra-highresolution eye-level electronics, appealing to purists who prefer to compose shots with the camera held to their face. This tiny screen also features a built-in eye sensor, which automatically activates or deactivates when it detects an eyeball in the vicinity, saving both time and button presses. Even with a compact 12-32mm lens attached, the body feels commendably solid in the palm, suggesting it’s built to last (this despite the camera costing half as much as the alternatives here).