Monday, February 13, 2012

OM-D E-M5 on order and Pentax takes a belly flop

Quite recently, I commented on some interesting cameras showing up on the market. Since then, Olympus has made the then-speculated about "OM-D" official, and it appears to be about what everyone expected, which can be unusual these days.

The rumors and multiple "leaks" (which really no one believes is anything but controlled release of information from Olympus, they saw how well it worked for Fuji) were pretty much on target. While a lot of people wished for some magic to make existing 4/3 glass autofocus more rapidly, that was but a pipedream and no on-sensor PDAF ala Nikon 1 materialized. Then again, this was all wild speculation with not even a solid rumor to back it up.

What we did get is a nice evolutionary step in the micro 4/3 system. A compact, apparently quite well built camera with a 16MP sensor, integrated EVF and weathersealing that means business. No real surprise, but no disappointment either. The styling seems to be a point of heated debate on the 'net, but my personal opinion is that it nicely recalls the look of the original OM series while remaining fairly modern and up-to-date. Featurewise it seems fully loaded, including a pretty nifty "Live bulb" mode where you can see the exposure build up during long exposures. I am guessing that this will save some trial and error time when doing low light / night shooting where exposure times can run in the minutes. The camera overall made a nice enough impression on me that I placed a pre-order including the 12-50 (which seems an average performer but does have weathersealing unlike other current micro 4/3 glass). Silver, of course.

Meanwhile, Pentax went from rumor to disappointment in what seems to be a few days. The "K-01" started popping up on various rumor sites and in camera forums some time back; at that point it looked like an interesting development: A K-mount mirrorless. Since K-mount means a fairly long registration distance I expected this camera to have a new native mount and a capable K-mount adapter that retained autofocus and other niceties. With Pentax' huge list of K-mount glass from the 1970s onwards, it seemed like a potentially big hit. The few leaked pictures of it made clear the design was, well, unconventional, but I thought it looked like a cool and very different little machine. Then it showed up.

And really, the design is not bad. It does have a "duplo brick" thing going for it, but there is nothing really wrong with that. What is wrong with it: size and lack of viewfinder. There is not even an add-on EVF available. I really have no idea just what Pentax was thinking with this one. Having the native K-mount means you have to leave the big empty space where the mirror used to flop around, making the entire rig nearly as big and thick as a DSLR. So we end up with a rig that marries the disadvantages of both mirrorless (no phase detect AF (except for the Nikon!)) and traditional DSLR (size!). But hey, it is at least available in bright yellow.

Pentax themselves claim it is for the "fashion and design market". Good luck with that.

No comments: