The mir­ror cracks with new sys­tem

Pana­sonic jumps gun with new mod­els, writes Jen­nifer Dud­ley-ni­chol­son

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Gadgets -

NEW dig­i­tal cam­eras have be­come smarter, smaller, tougher and even cheaper. At Aus­tralia’s big­gest dig­i­tal pho­tog­ra­phy expo on the week­end, cam­era mak­ers strived to re­cruit photo buffs and en­tice en­thu­si­asts to up­grade.

But it was com­pact-sys­tem cam­eras that emerged as the hottest prod­uct of the PMA Imag­ing and En­ter­tain­ment Expo, as ex­ist­ing mak­ers launched slen­der shoot­ers and new firms re­vealed their plans.

Switched On sur­veyed PMA’s booths to re­port be­low. in­ter­est in the cat­e­gory is at an all-time high in Aus­tralia.

‘‘ Mir­ror­less cam­eras are one of the fastest-grow­ing seg­ments and we ex­pect this sec­tor to dou­ble this year, grow­ing from 12 per cent of the to­tal in­ter­change­able lens mar­ket to 24 per cent by next year,’’ Robins says.

The de­mand is grow­ing as con­sumers try to take their pho­tog­ra­phy to the next level in qual­ity while seek­ing to avoid ex­tra weight, he says.

Com­pact-sys­tem cam­eras achieve smaller, lighter bod­ies by elim­i­nat­ing the mir­ror in op­ti­cal viewfind­ers, us­ing elec­tronic viewfind­ers or LCD screens, and use smaller sen­sors and lenses to re­duce bulk.

A Con­sumerS­cope GfK sur- Smil­ing both sides of cam­era: A woman shows her de­light with Pana­sonic’s slim-line Lu­mix GF3 vey showed 13 per cent of cam­era buy­ers con­sid­ered a DSLR cam­era late last year but opted for a com­pact cam­era— a prime mar­ket for com­pact­sys­tem cam­eras.

‘‘ We know that the con­tin­ued bar­ri­ers to pur­chase have been the per­ceived weight, size and com­plex­ity of SLRs,’’ Robins says.

To ap­peal to this mar­ket, Pana­sonic launched the Lu­mix GF3 that weighs 222g, of­fers a fo­cus time of 0.18 sec­onds, res­o­lu­tion of 12.1 megapix­els and new cre­ative modes for be­gin­ners, and will be avail­able in Au­gust in a sin­gle-lens kit for $899.

The Lu­mix G3 a more ad­vanced, 16-megapixel model, will launch next month for $1099. Ri­coh is also look­ing to ap­peal to up­wardly mo­bile pho­tog­ra­phers, us­ing the expo to show off the first in­ter­change­able lens adapter for its GXR cam­era.

Launched two years ago, the cam­era is a shell to which users at­tach a lens unit. Units con­tain an im­age sen­sor and lens, let­ting users up­grade their cam­era with ease.

The lat­est ad­di­tion, called the M Lens Mount Unit, comes with a 12-megapixel APS-C sen­sor but ar­rives with­out a lens. It lets users add lenses from their col­lec­tion, Ri­coh sales man­ager Martin Shock says.

‘‘ The feed­back we got is that users loved the idea be­hind the GXR, but a lot of peo­ple were highly lit­er­ate in pho­tog­ra­phy and they al­ready had a col­lec­tion of lenses,’’ Shock says. ‘‘ They wanted to be able to use those lenses with this cam­era.’’

When it launches in Septem­ber, the GXR lens mount will ac­cept M mount lenses from brands in­clud­ing Le­ica and Carl Zeiss.

Ri­coh also plans to ex­pand its cam­era sys­tem fur­ther, show­ing some pos­si­bil­i­ties in­clud­ing a GPS unit, pro­jec­tor and even a printer that could be added to the cam­era body. Photo en­thu­si­asts should brace for even more com­pact­sys­tem cam­eras.

Sony will add a faster, slim­mer cam­era to its Al­pha NEX line next month in the C3 ( as re­viewed) that comes with a 16-megapixel res­o­lu­tion and a price tag of $849.

And Olym­pus, the com­pany that kicked off the trend, is tipped to re­veal new cam­eras in its pop­u­lar PEN range in Syd­ney to­mor­row.

More tra­di­tional cam­era mak­ers are join­ing the trend for the first time, too.

Pen­tax will launch a lenss­wap­ping cam­era named Q in Septem­ber with a 12-megapixel res­o­lu­tion and a pop-up flash, and high-end cam­era brand Le­ica will launch its take on com­pact sys­tem cam­eras at the Pho­tok­ina expo in Septem­ber next year.

Two of the big­gest names in cam­eras have yet to show their hands in the com­pact sys­tems mar­ket, how­ever.

Nikon and Canon are yet to par­tic­i­pate, al­though Canon spokesman Andrew Giles says the com­pany has con­sid­ered it.

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