Showing posts with label Sony. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sony. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Review: Panasonic LUMIX GX7 16.0 MP DSLM Camera with LUMIX G VARIO 14-42mm II Lens and Tilt-Live Viewfinder (Silver)

Panasonic LUMIX GX7 via
I love this camera. I even love the fact that Panasonic didn't choose to make it retro like Olympus or Fujifilm. It is what it is and doesn't try to be anything else. Since Panasonic first came out with a micro 4/3 camera in 2008 I've been waiting for this camera. It fits my wants perfectly. It's not the best in any category but it's almost there in almost every one. The Sony NEX offers better dynamic range and Fujifilm X-trans models offers better low light performance. The GH3 offers better video with jacks for microphone and headset. The Olympus EM-1 offers weather proofing and better in camera stabilization. None of them give me the exact package that the GX7 does when it comes to external controls, portability and ergonomics. That's not to say that other cameras wouldn't fit you better. There are some excellent choices out there.

*In body image stabilization.
*Super fast focus.
*Wi-Fi (It has NFC for supposedly easy connection. My iPhone won't do that so I can't comment on ease)
*Will focus in very dark conditions. (not quite as quickly but very accurately)
*Good video quality (try the black and white setting at 24 FPS for an old time movie look!)
*Lots of external controls.
*Very good image quality, as good as the EM-5 or GH3.
*Built in EVF and a good one that tilts up.
*Tilting LCD screen.
*Excellent build.
*Excellent hand grip.
*Flash shoe.
*3 User programmable settings on mode dial.
****It just feels good in the hands!!

*Stabilization doesn't work in video mode (unless you have a stabilized lens).
*The strap rings are too low on the side and get in the way of hands, especially the left one.
*No auto ISO in manual mode. (Fuji has it. Sony doesn't.)
*No microphone jack for use in video, though the stereo built in mics are pretty good for casual vids.
*No weatherproofing, though no other rangefinder competitor has it either.
*All the programmable buttons may overwhelm the less experienced.
*Not good for sports shooting, though I don't know anyone who has used a rangefinder style camera for sports anyway.

I listed a number of minuses but don't consider any of them a big deal. Your mileage may vary. Bottom line, this is the camera I've been waiting for and I'm not disappointed in any way.

P.S. A more personal take.
The camera's grip is shaped such that I hold my right elbow closer to my chest than with the squarish grip on my NEX camera, which tends to push my elbow out and up. With a camera this light that's probably not a big deal but may make for a more stable shot.

I'm not particularly impressed with the stabilization. It's a step in the right direction and does help but it is nowhere near as nice as Olympus OM-D, which I've rented. Since I haven't shot it for about 4 years all I can do is guess, but I'd say it's about as effective as a Pentax K20D, which is 3 generations old. It's better than nothing and helps when using an old model Panasonic 20mm. I'm glad to have it. I wouldn't count on it for handholding a long lens. Since I don't have one, again, that's a guess.

The buttons have a nice positive feel and are sufficiently far apart that I can hit the right one without worrying about it. I've been playing with the buttons while watching videos, which is how I normally learn a camera. Since I've only had this for 4 days I don't have the layout worked into muscle memory.

It's the same with the menu system. I have a Nikon D600 and a Sony NEX 6. I'm going to sell the NEX as it does much the same thing as I intend for the GX7. The menus make more sense than Sony's which can require multiple dips into them to change some things like using extended dynamic range. Also, compared to the NEX, I'd say that the Panasonic has better jpegs and a better metering system. That said, there are a lot of potential ways to program the many function buttons and I'm going to be a while getting the camera set up just the way I want.

I also like the GX7s ability to use a phone as a Wi-Fi remote. Sony does that too but requires the purchase of separate apps for different functions. The Sony is also slower when using the phone as a remote. It takes longer to focus and has a shutter lag. I haven't noticed that with the GX7.

I like shooting a small camera with primes and Sony has a lack of focal length equivalents lower than 50mm. There are some Zeiss ones that are good but they are bulky and expensive. The M43 choices are much more extensive and the lenses are much smaller and less costly, so the total package is smaller and lighter and less expensive. I've been shooting mostly with the Panny 20mm, which seems made for this camera. Next up is the Olympus 12mm, but that's expensive and I'll have to save for it.

What more can I say? This camera is fun to shoot. It just feels right in my hands. That's such a subjective point and may be totally different for others. Everything is fast. It turns on fast, focuses fast, allows me to shoot a number of shots in quick succession and doesn't bog down. I don't use the burst mode. I wish the GX7 had a true 100 ISO mode as I sometimes to take longer exposures in daylight. I'll just need a stronger ND filter to to so than I have.

I've printed a couple of photos from the GX7 at 13X19. That's as big as my printer will go. I can't tell any difference at that size between the GX7 and the NEX 6 at ISO 200 or 800. I do prefer the 4x3 format rather than the 3x2 of an APS sensor. It's closer in shape to the 11x14 inch or 16x20 inch frames that are easy to pick up at Michael's or Target.

One thing I didn't mention in the review is how the camera is totally silent when using the electronic shutter. Turn that off and the camera turns off all other sounds. I think of it as stealth mode. Us that with the touch shutter on the view screen and it's possible to take photos and nobody has a clue. I do mostly street or documentary shooting and I love that ability. Even when people know you're photographing them a shutter can be distracting.

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Saturday, September 29, 2012

PlayStation Vita 3G/Wi-Fi Bundle (Video Game) Review

PS VITA (PlayStation Vita)
PS VITA (PlayStation Vita) (Photo credit: ė•„ėš°íŽė†Œ(
The PS Vita is a fantastic handheld: Sony has a tendency to always go hi-tech and all out when they release new hardware, and the Vita is no different. This particular console adds the ability to connect to mobile 3G networks using a SIM card (sold separately!). I'll be honest with you: with as much Wi-Fi as there is around me, and as much hassle as I get when it comes to trying to manage a mobile data plan, I'll probably never use the 3G feature: mine came as part of a bundle, with discount, that included an 8GB card I would otherwise have bought separately, so it made better economic sense. Whether you're dying for 3G or could care less, it makes sense to shop around Amazon aStore for the various bundle deals: like me, you may find one that suits you. The rest of the PS Vita is as cutting-edge now as the PSP was when it was released.

So what makes a PS Vita so special?

Every piece of the Vita has something to do with interaction: you not only have dual sticks, shoulder buttons, a D-Pad, the familiar four-button layout and Start/Select/Home, you also have really smooth gyroscopic and accelerometric sensors that let you tip, tilt, and roll the unit to play some games. The generous front screen is also a touch-screen with slick responsiveness that makes my smartphone jealous. The back has touch sensors that aren't just for fingertips--Uncharted: Golden Abyss has a jaw-dropping interactive moment where you hold the back of the PS Vita up to the light to 'read' a faded piece of parchment. Last, there are digital cameras on both the front and back for taking pictures and video. All of this can be saved to a memory stick, but the downside is that Sony has changed formats on us again: old Memory sticks are NOT compatible with the Vita. The newer storage system is proprietary to the PS Vita.

The screen is bigger than the PSP and about the same size as the top screen of the super-sized Nintendo 3DS XL. While it is as sensitive to direct sunlight as your average laptop, it does boast a bright screen in just about any other lighting condition. Just like the PSP and PS3, there is a menu bar that lets you customize all sorts of settings including brightness and power-saving modes. Touching the front screen is very smooth, with complicated gestures easily translated by games.

In addition to gameplay, the PS Vita offers the same kinds of multimedia features as the PSP: music and video streaming, including Netflix (which works very well over Wi-Fi). There is a feature called "Near" that will tell you what friends near to you might be playing, or let you look for a new friend nearby with the same game interests. GPS is also built in as part of the unit and you can use it to navigate if you wish. I haven't really used this or the 'LiveArea' that lets you share your gaming details with other people, or the IM feature that lets you message people. I've been more inclined to use my PlayStation Network / PlayStation Store account to pull down games, including my PSP and PSOne favorites, and play them on a larger, brighter screen.

One of the neat things about the interface is the 'peel off' way it's organized: the home screen has round 'bubble' icons that you can tap to access an application. Each application has a base page that organizes the basic things you might do, such as 'read the manual', 'check for updates', or the most-often-used, 'launch the game' and its corner sticks up like a curled piece of paper. If you're in-game and press the home button, the game is suspended and you're dropped back to this screen. Closing the home screen is as simple as using your finger to peel that corner down, like turning the page of a book: the application is closed and you are back at the 'bubble' icon home screen. The PS Vita has a built-in browser, and mostly I use it for accessing features off the base page, such as 'Help' or 'Support'.

The way accessories are designed now follows the 'USB cable' design: your PS Vita will have a charger plug, a tiny power box it plugs into, and from there a USB cable leads from the charger to the PS Vita. The connector on the Vita is also proprietary, and that means that whether you're using an AC adapter, a car charger, or just connecting to a computer, you can't do it without that proprietary connector-to-USB cable.

If there's a drawback to the PS Vita, it's that the high price sticker reminds us that this isn't a kids' console. The unit is large and unwieldy. It feels fragile and because it's expensive one of the first things you'll want to do is pick up a good protective case for it. You won't be able to stick it in the average pocket and you'll definitely not want to leave expensive hardware like this lying around or it'll grow legs. If you have the money though you won't be disappointed in this hi-tech handheld: it is top-drawer gaming technology at its best.

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