‘Tis the season for some new $500+ plus cameras, one from Sony, one from Panasonic, and, at about twice the price, one rumored for upcoming release from Olympus.
Panasonic’s newcomer DMC-FL1 is sleek, black, and conveniently sized. It comes with a 7x optical zoom and a fast 2.0 lens (at the widest angle setting). The 12 megapixel camera includes a built-in EVF (electronic viewfinder), a far better way to compose images than the LED panel found at the back of every digital camera. It’s the kind of camera that any serious photographer ought to keep in a pocket or shoulder bag, and, for convenience, it’s possible to use WiFi to export images.
For a more detailed rundown, click on the picture of the camera and read the Digital Photography Review preview of the camera.
For the same price, Sony’s newest entry in this category, model HX5oV includes a 30x digital zoom–an idea that I’ve never loved because I’d rather the camera do the optical work and that the digital magnification be done on the computer, where greater control is possible. This camera records JPG images, but not RAW images. Taken together, the digital zoom and the lack of RAW images suggest that this camera is intended for a more of an amateur photographer who simply wants to shoot handsome images without spending much time perfecting them on a computer.
There is no electronic viewfinder, another indication of its super-amateur status. Still, this is a 20 megapixel camera that includes both WiFi image transfer and GPS. And, there’s image stabilization. On the downside, you can’t record RAW images with this camera, only JPG.
Both cameras offer some level of exposure control, and both shoot HD video. On just about any sort of a journey, either camera would be a superior companion.
As for my personal choice, I remain a big fan of Olympus interchange lens cameras in the micro-four thirds format, and for the next month or two, the buzz in that world will be about the upcoming EP-5. It’s a retro design reminiscent of the much-loved Olympus PEN film cameras, and an update of the popular EP-3. If the rumors are accurate (and we’ll know that within the next two weeks), this will be a 16MP version with the same sensor found in Olympus’s equally well-regarded EM-5. No electronic viewfinder included as part of this model, but a new add-on viewfinder is, apparently, coming, too. Here, my favorite source of things to come is 43 Rumors (the 43 refers to the micro four thirds format, an image sensor size that’s generally now fairly common for cameras in the $500-$1,000 range). For more, and for updates on these intriguing rumors, click on the Olympus EP-5 camera from the 43 Rumors site.