The Fujifilm X-T1’s got a clear mission: to score a direct hit on the Olympus OM-D E-M1.
Both are pro-level compact system cameras with weatherproof bodies, lightning-fast autofocus and enough twiddly dials to occupy an entire spec-ops team. But does the X-T1 have the firepower to shoot down our 2013 Camera of the Year?
If there’s one thing you can say about Sony’s digital camera business, it’s that they’ve experimented with many different concepts. From SLRs with dual autofocus systems and Translucent Mirror Technology to its NEX mirrorless line-up, Sony has gone down virtually every avenue in digital imaging. Its latest products - the Alpha 7 and Alpha 7R - may be the most exciting products to come out of the Sony labs in some time. The company has managed to create full-frame cameras which are about the same size as the Olympus OM-D E-M1. In other words, the Alpha 7s are much smaller than their full-frame interchangeable lens peers (such as Nikon’s D610 and the Canon EOS 6D), an achievement made possible primarily because they’re not SLRs.
In addition, Sony is also unifying the Alpha and NEX brands, so all future interchangeable lens cameras will now fall under the Alpha umbrella. Being mirrorless, the a7 would have otherwise likely been prefixed with the letters NEX.
The a7 and a7R are identical in terms of physical design, with the main differences being the sensor and autofocus system. The a7 features a full-frame 24 megapixel CMOS, while the a7R has a 36 megapixel CMOS sensor with no optical low-pass filter. The a7 uses a Hybrid AF system (with on-chip phase detection) similar to the one found on the NEX-6, while the a7R has traditional contrast detection. The a7 is also capable of electronic first curtain mode, which allows for a quieter shutter, and reduces the potential for ‘shutter shock’ vibration; this is absent from the a7R. Both cameras use Sony’s latest Bionz X processor and also have XGA electronic viewfinders, tilting LCDs, Wi-Fi, and weatherproof bodies that resemble that of the Olympus E-M1
Until recently, the only way to get your hands on a system camera with a full-frame sensor was to buy a Leica M-system camera, a practice that typically involves remortgaging your house. By placing a 35mm full-frame CMOS sensor into a mirrorless compact system camera, Sony created not one but two world firsts: the Sony A7 and its stablemate the A7R.
While the two models are very similar there are several key differences, chief among which is that the Alpha 7R boasts a significantly higher resolution of 36.4MP, compared to the Alpha 7’s 24.3MP. It’s got a few other tricks under the bonnet too, as you’d expect given the fact that it costs a few hundred pounds more. So, is it worth the extra cash?
Okay, that’s it. You’ve had enough of highly compressed video codecs that crap out on detailed shots and make decent color grading a pipe dream. Now that Blackmagic’s $995 Pocket Cinema Camera (BMPCC) is RAW-ready, isn’t it time to make the jump to higher bitrate video? Perhaps. The company’s latest pint-sized weapon does produce magnificent images using a downsized version of its first Cinema Camera sensor, yes. But it’s not quite as simple as laying down the money and raking in the 12-bit video. There are limitations to the camera itself, plus a steep learning curve and the likely need for further investment that could more than double the price of the camera. As you’ll see, whether it’s worth that depends completely on your needs and, particularly, your expectations.
Polaroid’s story over the past decade or so has been an ironic one, to say the least. Buffeted on all sides by cheap digital cameras and smartphones, the instant camera maker opted to stop production of its iconic analog camera and instant film line-up back in 2008. Fast forward six years and not only are Fujifilm and the Impossible Project making millions selling instant cameras and film to the market Polaroid had prematurely abandoned, but the most popular photo platform on Earth, Instagram, is designed to essentially be a digital recreation of a Polaroid instant film camera, right down to the icon. Talk about squandered opportunities.
Given this tragicomic corporate journey, it’s no wonder that when I stopped by the official Polaroid booth at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas last year, two of their floor representatives were openly drunk as they gave me a tour, because why not? All they were showing off were cheap iPad cases. But this year, Polaroid is actually showing something cool: the long-awaited Socialmatic camera, a cleverly designed instant camera that looks like an app icon and mashes-up Polaroid’s iconic heritage with the digital/social networking age that followed.
The Olympus Stylus 1 is a retro-style compact camera. Most of the big camera-makers are keen on retro styling these days, but Olympus is perhaps the most obsessed of the lot. Its OM-D models like the Olympus OM-D E-M1 have gained fans far and wide thanks to their combination of modern technology and timeless appearance.
The new Olympus Stylus 1 looks to take the winning OM-D formula and apply it to a compact camera. There’s no denying that the Stylus 1 is an attractive compact, but will it deliver performance in-line with its £550 price as well?
theQ sets out to be the ultimate hipster camera by fusing the low-fi aesthetic of a Lomo with the social sharing of a smartphone.
Trendy features include wide angle lens, manual focus and an attention-grabbing ring flash. While built-in 3G lets you send photos instantly to your private online archive and share them on your preferred social networks. But, despite these unique features, theQ is like a “surprise” third child: it struggles to carve out space for itself … and you’re not even sure you wanted it in the first place.
Last we heard of Polaroid’s Socialmatic camera, which promises to bring back instant prints with a modern flair, it was bound for store shelves in the first quarter of 2014. Here at CES, the firm’s announced that the hardware is cruising for a fall release now that it’s finalized the necessary legal agreements to make it a reality. For those in need of a refresher, the device runs Android to make sharing images a snap and packs a 14-megapixel cam on its front, a 2-megapixel rear-facing sensor, 4GB of storage with expansion via microSD, a 4.5-inch touchscreen and built-in WiFi.