Compacts take the lead

Photography isn’t go­ing out of fash­ion, but the way in which we take pho­tos is chang­ing dra­mat­i­cally, writes Jen­nifer Dud­ley- Nicholson

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - FRONT PAGE -

TEN per cent of all photographs ever taken were cap­tured in the past 12 months. It’s clear our love af­fair with photography con­tin­ues un­abated, which was demon­strated in Aus­tralia re­cently with more than 80 ex­hibitors show­ing off new cam­era and print­ing tech­nol­ogy at the Dig­i­tal Show in Mel­bourne.

But the means with which we cap­ture th­ese im­ages is chang­ing dra­mat­i­cally.

Film is out, dig­i­tal is in, and smart­phones are play­ing al­most as big a part as ded­i­cated cam­eras.

But amid the tur­moil, one cat­e­gory of ded­i­cated cam­eras is grow­ing in pop­u­lar­ity. Com­pact sys­tem cam­eras, also known as mir­ror­less or in­ter­change­able lens cam­eras, are

en­tic­ing more Aus­tralians to put down their phone cam­eras and com­pose im­ages in a more tra­di­tional way.

Olym­pus Imaging Aus­tralia mar­ket­ing man­ager Kristie Galea said the chal­lenge to tra­di­tional cam­eras was ob­vi­ous.

Re­search by the firm showed 90 per cent of dig­i­tal SLR cam­era users stopped us­ing their cam­eras within six months of pur­chase due to their lack of con­ve­nience.

Smart­phones, by con­trast, are om­nipresent and an easy pho­to­graphic op­tion.

“We, as a pho­to­graphic in­dus­try, have to de­velop tools that de­liver much bet­ter re­sults than phone cam­eras,” Ms Galea said.

“Within the next 12 months we’ll see this [ com­pact sys­tem cam­era] mar­ket re­ally open up.”

Com­pact sys­tem cam­eras are named for their small size, while re­tain­ing the abil­ity to swap lenses and eas­ily con­trol depth of field.

The pop­u­lar­ity of this type of cam­era is clearly grow­ing in Aus­tralia, with the cat­e­gory claim­ing 14 per cent of the cam­era mar­ket in July, ac­cord­ing to Ger­man re­search in­sti­tute.

Olym­pus is plan­ning to add to the mar­ket next month, in­tro­duc­ing a new top model to its com­pact sys­tem line- up.

The Olym­pus OM- D EM- 1 is a 16.3- megapixel shooter with dual- aut­o­fo­cus that uses phase dif­fer­ence and con­trast de­tec­tion, a sharper built- in elec­tronic viewfinder, and a new im­age pro­ces­sor for cor­rect­ing chro­matic aber­ra­tion.

The EM- 1 will also cap­ture up to 10 pho­tos a sec­ond, change photo colours in Live View mode, and its body is built to re­sist wa­ter, dust and tem­per­a­tures as low as - 10C. It will go on sale next month for $ 1599 ( body only).

But Olym­pus will be com­pet­ing with a grow­ing list of com­pact sys­tem ri­vals.

Fu­ji­film last week an­nounced its fourth X- Se­ries cam­era, the X- A1, with a 16.3- megapixel CMOS sen­sor, 330g body, and a quick pro­ces­sor with a half- sec­ond start time. It will go on sale for $ 849 next month.

Pana­sonic launched its new flag­ship CSC this month, the GX7, which of­fers built- in im­age sta­bil­i­sa­tion and a viewfinder, as well as a 16- megapixel sen­sor and 4.3- pho­tos- per- sec­ond- shoot­ing for $ 1249.

Nikon, mean­while, is plan­ning to take a dif­fer­ent route, in­tro­duc­ing a wa­ter­proof and shockproof cam­era to the bur­geon­ing mar­ket.

The Nikon 1 AW1, due next month, can be taken up to 15m be­neath the wa­ter’s sur­face, us­ing two wa­ter­proof lenses, one 10mm lens and another 11- 27mm lens.

Nikon also prom­ises the cam­era can be dropped from up to 2m, but whether any user will want to risk break­ing the 14- megapixel shooter with a US price of $ 800 is yet to be seen.

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