At the beginning of January, I was among the first journalists to bring you quick preview of the new Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ100. The camera looked very promising and finally I got a production sample for a week to play with. I was very anxious to check if the camera lived to its expectations and to find out if this might be the best travel camera of 2016.
On march 29. Sony announced new full frame E-mount lenses and next incarnation of its popular RX10 bridge camera. The lenses are FE 50mm F/1.8 and FE 70-300 F/4.5-5.6 G OSS. 50mm lens is particularly interesting for its attractive price tag – $250. This will be very popular alternative to quite pricey Zeiss FE 55/1.8 (around $1000). I can allready see it as part of a three prime lens combo (28/2, 50/1.8 and currently non-existing affordable 85/2).
2016 will be the year of the cameras for Canon. After the flagship EOS 1DX mark II, Canon recently released semi-pro model EOS 80D. This is a successor of the EOS 70D which was released back in the summer of 2013. Canon 80D brings a lot of improvements: 45 point AF module (all are cross type and central works down to -3EV), enhanced dual-pixel live view focusing system, improved video mode (1080@60p, mic input + headphones output) and finally a new 24 megapixels sensor which should give significant boost in image quality.
2016 is going to be Canon’s year. No less than five DSLR cameras are expected and three of them are top of the line models. They might not sell in huge numbers like entry level cameras, but are very important for working professionals as well as company image; Canon cannot afford to make just an ordinary products. The expected cameras are 1DX mark II, 5D mark IV, 6D mark II, 80D, 1300D and probably a replacement for 100D.
Recently I had the chance to try the new pre-production Panasonic Leica 100-400mm F/4-6.3 lens. Now it’s officially announced and I can give you a quick hands-on preview. This lens covers 200-800mm range in 35mm equivalent, weighs just under a kilogram and is only 17cm long – good luck finding a lens like this on full frame. This will be a perfect sports, wildlife and birds lens for micro 4/3 users.
Panasonic just announced the new pocket ultra-zoom: the Lumix DMC-TZ100. I had the chance to try the pre-production model and it looks quite promising. Main selling point of this camera will be large 1″ type sensor combined with the 10x optical zoom. Sensors of this size are found in Sony RX100, RX10, Canon G7X and Panasonic TZ1000 cameras. It has 20 megapixels and because of its size will offer superior low light performance compared to compact cameras with smaller sensors. Until now all compact cameras with a sensor as big as this one had limited zoom range – 3 or 4 times. Panasonic TZ100 has 10x optical zoom – 25-250mm in 35 mm terms and this might just be the reason to buy it for many photographers. This is more versatile zoom range than the one found on Sony RX100 and the camera is still small enough to fit in a pocket.
Recently, DP review published an article which made quite an impact in online photo community and it regards Samsung NX1 being discontinued in Germany. Since this is their flagship mirrorless camera and got superb reviews all over the internet’s, the news was quite a surprise (some say it was expected). Soon, more countries announced this model will no longer be available and so it became clear something is happening.
To me, this was not such a big surprise. I live in a small mid-europe country called Croatia, and at one point during the spring when I asked new cameras for review, local Samsung office replied digital cameras will no longer be sold in Croatia. We are a really tiny market and if they are leaving it, there must be problems even on bigger ones. It is now obvious NX system did not meet sales figures Samsung was expecting and many suspect they might even shut down entire camera business.
It’s the time of year when a lot of people get new gear, so it’s time for a shopping guide. What makes this article different from most of similar ones is that I will recommend gear I have reviewed personally and liked it enough that I would consider buying it myself. That means I will skip a lot of good cameras because they have something that would bother me if I had them; it doesn’t mean cameras not listed here suck: they are just not to my personal taste. If for some camera category I think there are no good cameras I will simply recommend avoiding purchase and saving the money towards something better.
I will focus down to what is available on the market right now and at current price points. That means some good but currently in my opinion overpriced cameras might not be recommended at all. Sorry but for most of us money dictates what we can afford.
Panasonic GX8 is the latest and beside GH4 the most advanced Panasonic mirrorless to date. With the current price of around 1200 USD without the lens it is not what one might call affordable, but in return offers a rather unique set of features some of which are not found anywhere else. It is still the only camera with tilting electronic viewfinder what turned out be a great feature I used all the time. Build qulity is superb and includes weather sealed magnesium body with a wide range of manual controls most of which are fully customizable. Fully articulated LCD has touch control and uses OLED technology just like EVF. GX8 offer 4k video straigh out of the camera as well as full range of manual video controls. A detail that might be most interesting is the fact it has on sensor stabilization which can work together with in lens stabilization. If you allready have Olympus micro 4/3 lenses (which are not stabilized – Olympus uses only on-sensor stabilization) or a huge set of old manual legacy lenses, GX8 can stabilize all of them. The camera is extremely fast in operation – both in terms of auto focus and overall response and can operate in full silent mode – essential for street photography. Anyway, take a look at my detailed video review:
And click continue reading to see some image samples:
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300 is the latest pretender for ultra zoom throne. While not having insane optical zoom range – only 24x when competitors have 50x-83x, it makes it up with other specifications most of which are way above those found in competing cameras like Nikon P900, Canon SX60HS or Sony HX400. Panasonic FZ300 is the only one with constant F/2.8 aperture through the entire zoom range, 4K video recording and weather sealed body. It also offers RAW file format, articulated touch LCD and OLED electronic viewfinder, 1/16000 shutter speed, 12fps burst mode, 4k photo mode (30fps in 8MP resolution), microphone input, full manual controls both for video and photo, built-in flash with wireless flash control, hot-shoe and most advanced control configuration options in the class.
Well, there’s no point keeping you in suspense; for me this is the best ultra zoom ever made. It has more options and better image and video results than any other similar camera. Yes, it is the most expensive one and 24x does not sound as much, but in reality it is enough for all typical usage scenarious. Take a look at my (longest yet) video review.