Friday, December 13, 2013

Panasonic GX7 First Look Review

Wow!

What can I say, just received the GX7, finally m43 is back in the game for me. Three years back I bought the GF1, I was so impressed with it together with the Panasonic 20mm, and it could take some great pictures. I then knew that the m43 and Panasonics would be the camera format for me. I invested in the PL 45, and it blew me away. These three items could have been all I had needed for a long time. The satisfaction also made me invest in more lenses: 8mm, 14mm, 25mm, and 14-140mm. It also made me invest in some more camera bodies: GH2, GF2 and G3.

Back to some weeks ago, for the first time I questioned if m43 still should be the playground for my photo future. The reason: None of the camera bodies I had bought since the GF1 had given me the same satisfaction and joy in using. They seemed too cheap, artificially crippled and more designed as toy then a tool for a photo enthusiast like myself. At the same time, Fuji was rolling out the X-E2 and some impressive lenses.

I seriously looked into selling all my equipment and go for the Fuji format, I basically was a checkout button away from buying the X-E2 with 14mm, 23mm and 35mm lenses. However, something held me back. Would a move to Fuji really make me take better pictures? I spent a lot of time researching the lenses of the format and comparing them with the m43 lenses on review sites, Flickr, forums, etc. My main comparison focus was between the X-E2 with the 23mm and the GX7 with the 20mm. I decided to give m43 one more chance, figuring I could always change later. The key was that I really liked the 20mm I already had, and the size would be much smaller. Even as I was waiting for the GX7 to arrive, I still wondered if maybe I should have gone in the other direction, especially with the good deals going on with Fuji right now.

Fast forward for today, the GX7 arrived. All my doubts faded. Finally Panasonic delivered the real follow-up to the GF1, what took them so long?? The camera has the right size, the EVF is fantastic (Really do not understand the issue to the reviewer at DPreview at all), the grip is great and “grippy”, the fast response, focus peaking, the stabilization for my primes, the two control wheels, the lcd and finally the Panasonic sensor is up to speed with the competition. The camera have a good premium feel to it.

I highly recommend the GX7, right now I would rate it 5 stars (and hopefully will in a couple of months as well). Now I will spend some time to streamline my camera and lens collection, I intend to keep the GX7, 14mm, 20mm, PL 25mm and PL 45mm, they are all great. I might look into replacing my 14mm with the 12-35mm lens as well.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Path to Micro Four Thirds

Photography is a hobby that has grown on me lately. A couple of years ago I started taking photos with my phone, even though the picture quality was low, photography appealed to me. (Click the pictures for a better view).

Picture of my girlfriend taken with the Samsung SGU-600 mobile phone.

In 2008 I bought a Sony DSC-W300 after reading a couple of good reviews, and the ball started rolling. After first being very happy with the picture quality in the Sony, I realized that it was still some way to go before reaching the level of the pros. This was in terms of knowledge, technique, equipment, and post processing.

Picture taken with the Sony DSC-W300 in Molde, Norway.

Picture taken with the Sony DSC-W300 at Preikestolen, Norway.

Panasonic recently introduced the innovative Micro Four Thirds format, promising SLR picture quality in a more compact offering. After reading many favorable reviews of the Lumix GF1 and the Lumix 20mm f1.7 lens, I decided to go for the combination. To me this has been a perfect camera to learn the in and outs of photography, the camera is small compared to the SLRs, so its easy to bring on most occasions. With the bigger senor and the manual controls, it was easier to learn about the interactions between aperture size, shutter speed and iso. I also upgraded my software from iPhoto to Aperture, to get the most out of the RAW format.

Picture of my girlfriend taken with the Lumix GF1 and 20mm lens

Molde, Norway, taken with the Lumix GF1 and 20mm lens

My parents, taken with the Lumix GF1 and 20mm lens

Recently I have done some video creation/editing in some projects at my work. I have found it to be creative and rewarding, so after reading many great reviews for the Panasonic Lumix GH2, I decided to purchase it. The camera has gotten a lot of attention and praise from both pro photographers and videographers in comparison with the best from Canon. There are some beautiful videos on Vimeo.com that shows of its potential, personally I like these two very much:

By Pilpop.... Lumix GH2 Test !

Crop Dusting

Compared to the GF1, the GH2 has less noise at high ISO values, it has an electrical viewfinder that is more convenient than I thought it would be, 5 fps (or 40 fps with reduced mega pixels), articulated screen, multi aspect sensor, better grip when using large lenses, increased mega pixels and of course a lot better video record possibilities (higher bit-rate, higher resolution, HDMI out, stereo sound and possibilities for external mic). So it is a worthwhile upgrade. With that said I will keep the excellent GF1 as a backup camera and for its compact size. Together with the GH2 I got the 14-140mm lens which is sharp, covers a large range and is optimized for video with step less aperture and silent focusing. Together with the 20mm f1.7 they make an excellent pairing, that I expect will cover most of my photographic needs. Still interested in the 7-14mm, the 45mm macro and maybe the 100-300mm lenses though. Here are some shots I took at mostly ISO 6400 with the B&W Dynamic film mode in my dark apartment, all handheld:

Basketball shoes, ISO 6400, f/5.8, 1/10, 73mm (X2 for 35mm equivalent)

ISO 6400, f/5.8, 1/500, 140mm (X2 for 35mm equivalent)

ISO 3200, f/6.3, 1/1000, 22mm (X2 for 35mm equivalent)

The Micro Four Thirds has proven to be a great standard, the quality of my pictures and videos are not any longer restricted by my equipment, but by my skills. The Micro Four Thirds size/performance/flexibility/price ratio hits the sweet spot, it shows in the enthusiasm for the format by bloggers, reviewers and award givers.The system is easy to use for beginners and flexible and powerful for the experienced.

If you are looking for a camera, I highly recommend any of the Panasonic or Olympus Micro Four Thirds cameras. If you are looking for the best video capabilities as well, you should go for the Panasonic GH2.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

3G iPhone vs HTC Touch Diamond vs Nokia E71

The iPhone gets a lot of praise these days for a good reason, it's a beautiful crafted phone with great functionality and it's easy to use. Apple's competitors have not slept in class and HTC and Nokia has each come up with their own compelling handsets. Looking for a new smart phone myself, I have decided to compare the iPhone, Touch Diamond and E71.

Screen:
1. Touch Diamond.
It has 640*480 pixel resolution and is 2.8" big, making the viewing super smooth.
2. iPhone.
Large 3.5" screen, but the resolution is a step down from the Diamond at 480*320 pixels.
3. E71.
Its has both the smallest screen at 2.36" and least pixels at 320*240.

Size:
1. Touch Diamond.
102*51*11.35 mm and 110 g.
2. E71.
114*57*10 mm and 127 g.
3. iPhone.
115.5*62.1*12.3 mm and 133 g.

The thinness is the most important factor when carrying phones in your pocket. The original iPhone was a brake trough in this regard.

Design and build quality:
1. E71.
The device has mostly metal casing and Is real solid. I have never seen a mobile with full QWERTY keyboard that I liked, but Nokia pulled it of.
2. iPhone.
The iPhone looks very elegant, but I'm not sure how much I like the rounded glossy backside. It definitely looks like a fingerprint and scratch magnet.
3. Touch Diamond
It looks nice, definitely a big step from earlier models, but the "Diamond" pattern on the back looks kind of tacky. It also has the glossy look that is supposedly a real grease magnet.

Design can be a little hard to review as people has different opinions, I have focused most on the build quality.

Battery:
1. E71.
With the biggest battery a Nokia phone has ever had with 1500mAh and the smallest screen this phone definitely has a great battery life. Some reports say they have used the device 5-7 days without recharging.
2. iPhone.
The original iPhone had a decent battery life as long as you didn't use the screen to much. Going to 3g haven't weakened the battery performance according to Apple, some of the reason can probably be accredited to the increase in its size.
3. Touch Diamond.
with the smallest casing the Touch Diamond had to sacrifice something, it seems to be the battery with only 900 mAh.

With little detail of the iPhone battery, I have to come back later to see if my assumptions that the iPhone battery is better then the Touch Diamond one.

Camera:
1. E71.
3.2 Mega pixels with auto focus and a LED flash.
2. Touch Diamond.
3.2 Mega pixels with auto focus.
3. iPhone.
2 Mega pixels.

None of these handsets are typical camera phones, so it you want the best camera you should probably look elsewhere.

Operating system:
1. iPhone.
It has an elegant and intuitive OS that is build around touch input from the ground. They locked out the 3rd party applications in the beginning, but now developers are flocking for the new SDK.
2. E71.
It uses the well tried Symbian OS, with the S60 platform. It is stable and has lots of 3rd party applications ready for use, but it lacks some of the "flash" of it's competitors.

3. Touch Diamond.
The new TouchFLO 3D interface works nice, but its still the unintuitive Windows OS behind the scenes and the first models have reported to be a little slow at times. Personally I wish they could do without the stylus.

Mail/Messaging/Calendar:
1. E71.
With its designated buttons for mail and calendar and the nice keyboard will make adding events in the calendar and answering mail a breeze.
2. iPhone.
Many was sceptical to the screen keyboard, but that was until they tried it, it works great. It can never fully replace the real deal though. For a fee, MobileMe is going to be a good way to synchronise your mail, calendar and address book. MMS is left out thought, I guess they figured out that email would do.
3. Touch Diamond.
A good screen based keyboard here as well, but with a smaller screen the buttons are getting pretty small. Alternatively you can multi touch your letters like a regular phone.

Web browsing:
1. iPhone.
The iPhone redefined web browsing for mobile phones. There are also many sites who have made tailor made web apps for the iPhone. With the new 3g version the surf speed is good without a wifi connection as well.
2. Touch Diamond.
Opera makes some great browsers and the resolution in this device gives you much detail. There are reported some bugs in the earliest versions, but they will probably be ironed out.
3. E71.
The smaller screen on this device make it inferior for surfing compared to the other two. But it still works pretty well.

Multimedia:
1. iPhone.
Being an extension of the iPod, the iPhone does the job even better. This is a music and movie powerhouse! Unlike the other phones this has a standard 3.5 mm headphones jack as well. You can listen to music a whole day without the need for a recharge.
2. Touch Diamond.
The 2.8 screen is still large in the mobile world, and will be good for movies. I still have my doubts about the battery though.
3. E71
Once again getting last because of the screen, but the music playback time is probably good.

Conclusion:
Lets give two points for first place and one for second and summarise:

iPhone 10 points.
Nokia E71 10 points.
Touch Diamond 7 points.

A draw between iPhone and Nokia E71. I think i prefer the E71 for its battery life, a thinner profile and the buttons, What do you think? I'm setting up a poll on the sidebar, you decide.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Starting a blog, Blogger vs iWeb/MobileMe

Last week I decided to start my new blog. As I have been very satisfied with my Macbook pro and the iPod touch, I decided to use iWeb and try out the .mac service. I went and bought a copy of iLife 08 and got started. So here is my experience:

The design of the templates of iWeb looks pretty neat and I created a blog that I was happy with. Then I uploaded it and then I started getting a little skeptical. First of, the site was very slow, I asked some friends and they said the same thing. The fonts had a different color than they had in iWeb and some of the links also had different colors. This might be a minor thing, but when Apple locks everything so thight that you even can't access the HTML code, it better work. Then there were absolute no statistics information, you could but a web counter there, but that looks to old school. So I went to check out Google analytics to compliment my solution, but you had to put some HTML into your page, witch in iWeb I don't get access to. I found a work around for this with applescript, but it turned me off. The last thing that bugged me was the internet adress I got, it looked like this: http://web.mac.com/ivar.brekke/pitofknowledge/Tech_blog/Tech_blog.html. Soon Apple will replace .mac with .me and call it MobileMe, but exept that, they are still going to use the same clumsy adress, It's to long and it's not practical.

All this made me look for another solution, and after trying out blogger, I found it so much more open and accessible than iWeb. All the problems I had with iWeb went away. It was fast, I could quickly edit the HTML, and http://pitofknowledge.blogspot.com is a far better address. Blogger is also a free service while .mac cost 99$.

The one thing that was better at .mac was the design templates. But is that worth all the trouble? I'm setting upp a poll on the right side, you decide.