Friday, March 06, 2009

Some Food for Thought - Hybrid Cameras

Well, Panasonic have made the GH1 (previously rumoured to be as G1-HD by the Pana community), which IMO is the first "perfect" hybrid interchangeable lens camera with a not-so-small sensor (a 4/3 one, which is by no means large for a DSLR, and is even smaller than the 135 cropped APS-C):-

While I am now tempted to buy the GH1 (which I have been waiting for and knew that it would come) as my compact all-in-one DSLR and Full HD movie camera that can be carried around more easily, I have some hesitations on the image quality and workability of its EVF (Electronic ViewFinder), which I think this Pentax poster has started a thread whom has stated out most of my main concerns:-

Anyway, Pentax and Nikon already filed patents for hybrid viewfinder designs which can have both overlaid colour LCD/LED display integrated with an optical viewfinder. Whilst such similar designs may be able to get the best of both worlds, I think there should be some trade-offs on the other hand, e.g., degradion of viewed image quality both optically and electronically and even worst metering accuracy might be affected (as there is no free lunch on Earth). You can have a look at the Nikon's design (As for the Pentax design, I have lost the link for the patent. But if anyone read here knows, please provide it at the "Comments" section at the bottom. And I must thank you :-)).

Now, Samsung has shown a mock up of their new NX hybrid camera at the PMA, I just wonder if they can make it better than the Pana (I do have no good experience with Samsung for their AV products, Pana always blows them out of the water clearly in most performance, accuracy and reliability aspects). And, the question we should think about is that: Is there actually any practical real meaning if they will make the NX with a K-mount form factor? (which IMHO is very unlikely, I bet. It is just because Samsung will also need to make the NX system smaller and thus shortening the back register distance from the mount to the "film" plane is inevitably required).

Well, to use the camera as a true and fully functional movie camera, the lens needed to have the ability to control the aperture and focus at full time, and more importantly, silently. That's why Pana needed to introduce their new GH1 kit lens, the 10X superzoom 14-140 HD G Vario, not only for the providing the zoom power, but also and mainly for the sake of full-time slient operation of both functions, which are crucial for real movie recording, as I have just said. Otherwise, the HD movie camera will just work like a 5D MkII, that is, when the user takes the movie, there is no real-time AF (and even if AF is required, the movie recording must be stopped) nor the exposure can be adjusted with the change in scene.

Despite one of the two major shortcomings of such "DSLRs" which lack a reflex mirror is the limitations of the EVF, the Micro 4/3 and NX etc. actually have many other advantages. And with the advancement in technologies which have to become more and more mature, the edges will become more and more differentiative when new features become more useable. Just say metering and AF, i.e., exposure and focus control, are WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) with those LiveView "DSLR" and thus they are more accurate undoubtedly. And, with the additional features and functions like Live Histogram and Face Detection etc. which are now possible and the LCD monitor, like the design of the G1/GH1 already, can be made more versatile, those new type "DSLRs" are really very attractive, especially when they are treated as the most updated gadgets.

In fact, everything you get with such a LiveView only "DSLR" is WYSIWYG, including framing, which can be easily made 100% without any misalignment.

Another major shortcoming of any "DSLR" in LiveView mode or just DC I would say is that it does need some time to discharge / reset the imager before it can take the real picture (for more technical details, you can read my earlier technical article for all about LiveView here). Thus, this introduces some time delay and lag. On the other hand, without the reflex mirror, time for raising the mirror (and thus the time lag involved) is saved.

Nevertheless, talking all the above are actually not so meaningful or can be even totally irrelevant as far as Pentax's products are concerned, as there is nothing, nor there will be one as told! And probably, by the time Samsung launch the NX (K-mount or not), I would probably have already acquired the GH1 and also, I am quite sure that those Chinese made adaptors in K-mount (to m4/3) will be available everywhere. And, I shall yet once again be able to put my excellent Pentax glass on my new GH1, as I have done that for many of my Pentax film glass on my Canon 5D, and have been using them for quite a while now (instead of hopelessly waiting things from Pentax - but there is just nothing). In the meantime, I will not buy the K-m (which I have been considering for quite a while), as I would rather save my money for the GH1 - after the PMA, the decision making is just much easier.

So, as you can see, for a company whom is always late and without any innovation now and never to be the first one but only the last one, they will get little to no market share in the end. As such, finally they will die - the world is cruel but this is the reality. Even sad, when it really happens, we have to face it.


Anonymous said...

Live MOS sensor from panasonic is worst sensor with worst colours.

Anonymous said...

That is not true. The 4/3 DSLRs have received some pretty good scores in the IQ aspect, at least than many Pentax DSLRs.

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