Sunday, 26 January 2014

Put APS-C sensors in Micro Four Thirds cameras

By far the most common sensor size for system cameras is APS-C. As the name suggests, the size is derived from the Advanced Photo Systems, a still image film format introduced in 1996. Almost all mirrorless camera systems use APS-C, with the exception of Nikon 1, Pentax Q, and Micro Four Thirds. There is also the Sony A7 with a full frame sensor, but it still has a very small volume.

On top of this, all consumer DSLR cameras use the APS-C format. Again, there are some exceptions: Some full frame cameras that sell in smaller volumes.

While never officially confirmed, there is a strong belief that all recent Olympus M4/3 cameras use sensors from Sony. They are: E-M5, E-PM2, E-PL5,E-P5, and E-M1. In addition, the Panasonic GH3 is said to use the same sensor.

The imaging sensor is one of the most expensive items in a digital camera. And the cost is strongly correlated with the sensor size. Hence, some have speculated that the choice to use a sub-APS-C sensor size in Four Thirds and Micro Four Thirds cameras is more related to economy than an evaluation of what the optimal size is: With a sensor that is approx 40% smaller, Micro Four Thirds cameras can be sold at a larger margin, compared with APS-C cameras.

However, there is more to the cost of production: There is also economics of scale. As Sony is producing a massive number of APS-C sensors, I suggest to use this sensor size also in Micro Four Thirds. That would probably cost pretty much the same as a 4/3 size sensor, given that they don't need to support one more sensor size.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Comparison @ 100mm

As the Micro Four Thirds lens lineup grows, there are more and more lenses covering the 100mm focal length. I have compared the image quality of four of them here:

From left to right: Lumix G 100-300mm f/4-5.6, Lumix X PZ 45-175mm f/4-5.6, Lumix X 35-100mm f/2.8, Lumix G 14-140mm f/3.5-5.6. The lenses are shown with the original supplied hoods.

Monday, 13 January 2014

Beware of fake SD cards

Memory cards are important for photography and videography. As cameras can take higher resolution images and higher bitrate movies, you need larger cards to be able to accommodate your images. Also, with cameras being able to record many high resolution pictures per second, you need faster cards. For example, the Nikon 1 series of cameras can take full resolution images at 60fps, very impressive.

When you buy a memory card, you are paying for speed first, then capacity, and somewhere between there, the brand name. Since many who use the cards may not know how to test the actual speed, this leaves the marked vulnerable to counterfeiters.

On a personal note, I happened to buy a reasonably priced Sandisk Ultra 64GB Class 10 Micro SD card. This card is fairly fast. For use with a Lumix GH3, I would get the somewhat more expensive 45MB/s rated card, but the one I ordered should be good for most amateur uses.

I chose to buy one of the least expensive on Amazon. When it arrived, it looked quite ok after breaking open the package:

However, some features of the package did not look right. There was a sticker on the package saying 64GB, but underneath it, it said 2GB. This looks fishy:

Thursday, 2 January 2014

2013 as haiku

E-M1 is cool
But will shutter shock rock me?
Can't rely on it

Breaking news arose
There is plastic in lenses
I am horrified

GM1 so small
But flash sync one fiftieth?
That is appalling

Canon made M2
Still using same old sensor
What a joke it is

Full frame is a must
Sony has made A7
Sell your crop system

Nikon goes retro
So many dials and buttons
Have they gone too far?

In twenty fourteen
Please use your gear in good health
Take more pictures now

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Mirrorless camera sales statistics from Japan

BCN Ranking in Japan publish annual sales statistics. The two last years, they have split the system camera category into DSLRs and mirrorless cameras. In each category, they list the 20 most selling camera models. To better interpret the results, I have categorized the 20 cameras by system:

First of all, note that these statistics are not complete. They are only based on the 20 most selling camera models. They do provide some more information, though, for example that the total market share of Micro Four Thirds cameras in 2013 was 43.8%, i.e., M4/3 cameras beyond the 20 most selling, amount for an additional 7%.