Some gear observations from The Photography Show in UK

pdk42

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I went to The Photography Show in the UK today. It's the one big annual camera gear show in the UK. It's not as big as it has been in years gone by, but nonetheless all the big guys are there as well as most of the smaller players too. The only real missing name of note is Leica.

I didn't really have any specific gear intentions (and I didn't buy anything either) but I thought it would be good to checkout the G9 and the A7iii. I also looked at a few other things that caught my eye. Anyhow, here's a bit of reportage, if you're interested...

Panasonic G9 - I was expecting big and I was expecting ugly and I wasn't disappointed! It really has reached the point now where the "Pro" m43 cameras are emulating DSLRs from a styling perspective. So much for progress! The same is almost true of the EM1.2, but it's just that little bit smaller and so still manages a sort of "cutsy" look. I know this is all rather superficial and personal, but there you go. Part of the reason for me getting in m43 was to get away from the big black blobs that Canikon cameras have become.

However, from a usability perspective, I have to admit that the G9 is actually very nice. The button defaults suit my tastes better than Olympus and the drive dial is much easier than pressing a button and selecting from an on-screen list. I also really like the AF selector switch and the AF joystick. Then there's the EVF - it's superb; a bit of pincushioning but really nothing that's a deal breaker. My eye was also drawn to the sort of shimmering that happens during AF. It's quite weird really, but again, not a deal breaker. What I really did like about the display is that you can set zebras at 105% - that's great since it really should allow better control of exposure to control highlights. Menus etc looked very nicely laid out - no complaints. About my only gripe is that the positioning of the front dial, being set behind the shutter, didn't naturally feel right - but I'm sure i'd get used it it. 9/10 :)

I shot some test images with it, and the IQ looks pretty much the same as my EM1.2. Again, 9/10.

So would I get one? - probably not. I still don't like the styling and that sort of matters for me. I also would miss some Oly features like LiveComp and LiveTime. However, they are both excellent cameras and I can't see how anyone could go wrong with either.

Sony A7iii - It feels not too dissimilar to the A7rii that I had. Slightly deeper grip and some nice new controls (e.g. the joystick and the AF-on button) but really it still feels very much like a Sony A7. And that's the problem really. With the 24-70 f2.8 on it, it feels huge. I know most of us have been around the whole m43 vs FF debate, but the truth is that whilst you can pick and choose lenses to keep an A7 system small and reasonably low-cost, to build something equivalent across the two systems would result in a kit that is a lot bigger, heavier and more expensive. That's just how it is. I knew when I handled it that my decision to cancel the pre-order was the right one :).

Fuji X-H1 - Yeuk. I don't know why (maybe I was suffering show-fatigue by then), but the X-H1 didn't inspire me at all. Again, it's styling, but I found it big, angular and ugly. The surface contours around the top-display are so sharp that it looks like a prototype. I also found the reverse black of the little top LCD not to my taste. All this is personal I know, but there it is. I also found the Fuji lenses big and heavy (e.g. the 16-55 f2.8 is almost as big as the Sony 24-70). In comparison the 12-40 or 12-35 feel amazingly small and light. The Fuji 100-400 is a beast as well. About the only thing I do like about the Fujis is the way that the rear LCD tilts in both dimensions without swinging out. I really wish that Olympus did that!

Panasonic 50-200. WOW! This is a very nice lens. Light and compact but with a great feel to it. If I didn't already have the 40-150 f2.8 I'd buy this in an instant (well, the price might make my eyes water!!!). I think this is going to be a very successful lens for Panasonic. With 1.4 and 2.0 TCs available too, it'll be a very versatile option.

Olympus 17/1.2 - Another WOW. I was more impressed with this lens than I thought I would be. I'd firmly convinced myself that it didn't offer a lot more than the 17/1.8 that I already have, but truth be known it does! It's definitely sharper, even at f1.2 and the extra subject isolation is quite noticable. Another amazing optic from Olympus. At a tad short of £1000 though (that's almost $1400), I won't be buying it in a hurry.

Laowa 7mm f2. They had this on a "deal" for £449 - which still sounded too high for me. Optically it seems OK - but wide open the edges and corners are pretty poor. IMHO this is not a lens worth this sort of money. If it were £250, or even 300 I'd feel differently - but at this price it's overpriced.

Pentax - well, it's been said before but their range is bizarre. The K1 is a beast (in features and size/weight), but there's a serious lack of lenses. The APSC cameras don't seem to offer anything over the rest of the DSLR pack. Then there's the 645z which seems an ace camera and actually has a decent lens line up for it, but compared to the Medium Format marketing noise that Fuji and Hasselblad were making at the show, Pentax seemed like they'd blown their budget earlier in the fiscal year and had nothing left for the show! I left their stand wondering where they are heading. I suspect they're the most likely to fold when the inevitable industry consolidation kicks in.

"Kodak" - I put it in quotes since it's clearly only Kodak in name - just a face on JK Imaging (whoever they are!). Whatever the name, the company are producing quite a range of kit now, including some m43 gear. However, in what was in most ways a very busy show for all exhibitors, whenever I looked at their booth/stand (which was pretty large) it seemed like an island of empty space with most visitors just walking by. I think there's quite a brand image problem there. I suspect most people when they see Kodak today think cheap Chinese point and shoot wrapped in a faux Kodak wrapper. I wonder if they'll survive?

MF Digital - Fuji and Hasselblad - there was a lot of interest and marketing activity on their stands - especially Hasselblad. It's not remotely where my interest lies so I didn't really play around much, but it does seem that at least for photographers MF is alive and well. I guess the high-end studio and fashion guys will be drawn to it.

Canon - huge stand. Probably the biggest at the show (although Fuji, Nikon and Sony were all huge too, with Oly a little behind). I played a little with the EOS M5. It's probably at the same level as the E-PL3 was back in 2012. The basic camera is fine, but the features and usability are still lagging m43 by a way. They have some catching up still to do. I also played with the G1Xiii. I was impressed with the size and feel of it, but images I took revealed a less than stellar lens and of course it's pretty slow so I suspect it doesn't in reality offer much better IQ than the G5Xii which uses a 1" sensor but has a much brighter lens. It also lacks some basic features important to me such as back-button focus and highlight blinkies/zebras.

Nikon - sorry, but my eyes glazed over and I fell asleep as I approached their stand. I felt like I was stepping back 10 years! Maybe they'll wise up to mirrorless at some point?

Anyhow - that's about it. Just a few observations. Hope it wasn't too boring!!
 
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jpx019

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Thanks for the field report! Any pics?

Looks like Panasonic really is pushing the G9 for photographers / GH5s for videographers agenda. Would like it more if they had a better GH5s / G9 hybrid (GH5 upgrade?) coming up this year. Don't know if Sony is pushing the A7III as their hybrid candidate but I see a lot of photographers and videographers hyped on this one, until the release of A7SIII.
 

knikki

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I also trundled along to the show and like pdk42 also found it not as big as it had been in the past.

However I missed the Panasonic G9 but did look at the Fuji X-H1 and think it is an intresting design I think influenced by the GFx50s however horses for courses I liked it :)

The MF cameras the Fuji GFx50s and Hasselblad X1D are really interesting I found the Fuji to be like an old style MF camera from the film days everything on the outside and easy to reach and setup, if your used to Fuji X system then the GFX would be a breeze to use.

The Hasselblad on the other hand is a design master piece, beautifully made and the interface touch screen was not hard to figure out, however I found it felt heavier in the hand than the Fuji plus the view finder I did not think was as good as the Fuji's.

Would I buy one?

Yes I would and the Fuji would be my choice.

Had a mooch around the Olympus stand and played with the 17mm f1.2 which I like alot and on the OMD5MkII felt nice and well balanced. But is it worth the jump fom the Panny 17mm f1.7 I currently have? Really not sure on that.

Nikon and Canon stands were huge with lots of kit on them, certainly busy but we only looked at the printers on the Canon stand.

Picked up a couple of things and LOADS of brouchures which was great. There were a few bargins to be had if you looked around, glad I went but think it will be afew more years before I go again :)
 
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I was there yesterday as well. Both the Oly and Pana stands were very busy. The 50-200 did look very nice, and I would be tempted, but the price was way too much for my taste, and it didn't include the teleconverters either.. I ended up buying the Laowa, and a used 75mm/1.8. Not a great deal of stuff that made me go "wow", or want to move from MFT to be honest.
 

ijm5012

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I find your report about the 17 PRO funny, mimicking what everybody says about the PRO primes. “too big” “too heavy” “not much to offer over the 1.8 primes”.

But once you get a chance to handle them, shoot with them, and look at the files, it all starts to make sense. They’re simply fantastic lenses. I own the 25 and 45, and am on the look out for a good deal on a 17 PRO so that I can take it to Hawaii on vacation later this year. Worst comes to worst, I’ll probably buy one at full retail price (something I almost never do with any body or lens).
 

JDS

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Panasonic G9 - I was expecting big and I was expecting ugly and I wasn't disappointed! It really has reached the point now where the "Pro" m43 cameras are emulating DSLRs from a styling perspective. So much for progress! The same is almost true of the EM1.2, but it's just that little bit smaller and so still manages a sort of "cutsy" look. I know this is all rather superficial and personal, but there you go. Part of the reason for me getting in m43 was to get away from the big black blobs that Canikon cameras have become.
...

So would I get one? - probably not. I still don't like the styling and that sort of matters for me. I also would miss some Oly features like LiveComp and LiveTime. However, they are both excellent cameras and I can't see how anyone could go wrong with either.
...

Fuji X-H1
- Yeuk. I don't know why (maybe I was suffering show-fatigue by then), but the X-H1 didn't inspire me at all. Again, it's styling, but I found it big, angular and ugly. The surface contours around the top-display are so sharp that it looks like a prototype. I also found the reverse black of the little top LCD not to my taste. All this is personal I know, but there it is.

The Hasselblad on the other hand is a design master piece, beautifully made and the interface touch screen was not hard to figure out

The Industrial Designer in me is loving this thread. Design matters, people are sometimes afraid to say it but it's true. It's a huge reason that I'm drawn to Olympus, all out of proportion to it's capabilities as a tool for photography (if Olympus cameras were unpleasant to shoot with or had poor image quality, that would be another thing). Fuji started on a fantastic path with the X100 (from a design perspective), but they sure haven't carried that into their DSLR-style cameras. Panasonic often does an outstanding job with the design of their lenses, but they are so ridiculously inconsistent.
 

knikki

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I find your report about the 17 PRO funny, mimicking what everybody says about the PRO primes. “too big” “too heavy” “not much to offer over the 1.8 primes”.

But once you get a chance to handle them, shoot with them, and look at the files, it all starts to make sense. They’re simply fantastic lenses. I own the 25 and 45, and am on the look out for a good deal on a 17 PRO so that I can take it to Hawaii on vacation later this year. Worst comes to worst, I’ll probably buy one at full retail price (something I almost never do with any body or lens).

Oh I don't disagree with you, I have seen the images on the web for all the new Olympus f1.2 primes and they are fantastic, however at the moment I have not full got my photo mojo back, so at the moment the cost for getting the 17 f1.2, for me, is not worth it.

I shoot alot with the 17mm and having played with it at the show I think I will at some point pick one up :D I will wait till they start to appear on the used market :D
 

pdk42

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I find your report about the 17 PRO funny, mimicking what everybody says about the PRO primes. “too big” “too heavy” “not much to offer over the 1.8 primes”.

But once you get a chance to handle them, shoot with them, and look at the files, it all starts to make sense. They’re simply fantastic lenses. I own the 25 and 45, and am on the look out for a good deal on a 17 PRO so that I can take it to Hawaii on vacation later this year. Worst comes to worst, I’ll probably buy one at full retail price (something I almost never do with any body or lens).
LOL - it's the law of diminishing returns I guess. However, I think that once you've been doing photography for a while, subtle differences become more obvious to us. Whether the average viewer would see the same is another thing.
 

ijm5012

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I shoot alot with the 17mm and having played with it at the show I think I will at some point pick one up :D I will wait till they start to appear on the used market :D
I really like the 35mm FoV, so the 17 PRO definitely appeals to me. I own the other two PRO primes (25 & 45), but bought both of them used at a ~25% discount over new, so will likely do the same with the 17 PRO as well.
 

ianpiper

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The Industrial Designer in me is loving this thread. Design matters, people are sometimes afraid to say it but it's true. It's a huge reason that I'm drawn to Olympus, all out of proportion to it's capabilities as a tool for photography (if Olympus cameras were unpleasant to shoot with or had poor image quality, that would be another thing). Fuji started on a fantastic path with the X100 (from a design perspective), but they sure haven't carried that into their DSLR-style cameras. Panasonic often does an outstanding job with the design of their lenses, but they are so ridiculously inconsistent.
I completely agree with this. Design definitely matters. I still have Fuji cameras and lenses. The 35mm 1.4, 18mm f2 and 55-200mm lenses are amongst the best I have ever owned, and will never sell my X100T. But I think they have lost their way in both body and lens design. I can't take to the X-H1 at all, and their newer lenses are either ugly (the WR f2 range) or far too big and heavy.

I like Olympus design values (my first camera was an OM-10 and I still have one of these and an OM-1). The compact size and solid build appeal to me.
The jury is out for me on Lumix ILCs; I went to look at the new GX-9 but ended up picking up a GX-8. Time will tell how well I stick with it. I agree too on their lenses; some are outstanding (the lens on my LX100 is phenomenally good) and others are a bit meh.

One area where I think Lumix scores over Olympus is the menu system. I find the Olympus menus baffling, and the Lumix UI is much better laid out.

Right now my favourite M43 camera is my Olympus Pen-F. It looks great, fits my small-ish hands perfectly, is really well-built and has enough of its controls on the outside to require minimal trips to the menu system. That, with the 17mm f1.8 lens, is close to a perfect system for me.
 

ianpiper

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The Hasselblad on the other hand is a design master piece, beautifully made

I went along on the first day - it's a good place for checking out the different kit without feeling any sales pressure. I spent a long time on the Hasselblad stand exploring the X1D and if I had the funds I would probably have walked out with one. For some reason they were reluctant to accept my offer of £500 for the model on the stand, as it after all was shop-soiled :)
 

BigTam

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The Industrial Designer in me is loving this thread. Design matters, people are sometimes afraid to say it but it's true. It's a huge reason that I'm drawn to Olympus, all out of proportion to it's capabilities as a tool for photography (if Olympus cameras were unpleasant to shoot with or had poor image quality, that would be another thing). Fuji started on a fantastic path with the X100 (from a design perspective), but they sure haven't carried that into their DSLR-style cameras. Panasonic often does an outstanding job with the design of their lenses, but they are so ridiculously inconsistent.
Design was a major factor in my decision to buy the original X100. That and the manual controls. At that time I had a Nikon 7200, and it went mostly unused for almost a year in favour of the X100. Then the Olympus E-M5 came out and I swapped the Nikon for it, again, partly because of the design. But the design (or lack of it) of the Olympus user interface drove me to Panasonic. Nice compromise.
 

BigTam

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... my favourite M43 camera is my Olympus Pen-F. It looks great, fits my small-ish hands perfectly, is really well-built and has enough of its controls on the outside to require minimal trips to the menu system. That, with the 17mm f1.8 lens, is close to a perfect system for me.
Looks as if I might have to look at the Pen-F. Cross between X100 and my GX7...
 

RichardC

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I went to The Photography Show in the UK today. It's the one big annual camera gear show in the UK. It's not as big as it has been in years gone by, but nonetheless all the big guys are there as well as most of the smaller players too. The only real missing name of note is Leica.

I didn't really have any specific gear intentions (and I didn't buy anything either) but I thought it would be good to checkout the G9 and the A7iii. I also looked at a few other things that caught my eye. Anyhow, here's a bit of reportage, if you're interested...

I went on the Saturday. I own an EM1 and EM5. I made the mistake of handling the EM1 mk2. I now own one of those as well :biggrin: (It was a great price though).
 

ianpiper

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Looks as if I might have to look at the Pen-F. Cross between X100 and my GX7...
I agree - it's worth checking out.

When I first saw a Pen-F I thought "gimmick - style over substance". How wrong I was. It really is quite like the X100 (I have an X100T) in feel. One of the "gimmicky" aspects - the creative dial on the front - was what put me off originally. I thought they wanted to just put something there to make it look like the dial on the original half-frame Pen-F. But as it turns out I use that creative dial all the time; it's a very effective way to keep custom settings.
Also, the Pen-F is solid and very reliable. And the looks are excellent. This is something Olympus do really well.

I just wish Olympus would sort out their menu system design; Lumix and Fuji systems (hey, even Nikon) are far more usable. In my experience their user interface design is inconsistent, obscure and difficult to follow. I try to set up things to avoid visiting the menus where possible, and that's a bit of a shame as there are a lot of very useful features lurking in there (somewhere).
 

pdk42

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I agree - it's worth checking out.

When I first saw a Pen-F I thought "gimmick - style over substance". How wrong I was. It really is quite like the X100 (I have an X100T) in feel. One of the "gimmicky" aspects - the creative dial on the front - was what put me off originally. I thought they wanted to just put something there to make it look like the dial on the original half-frame Pen-F. But as it turns out I use that creative dial all the time; it's a very effective way to keep custom settings.
Also, the Pen-F is solid and very reliable. And the looks are excellent. This is something Olympus do really well.

I just wish Olympus would sort out their menu system design; Lumix and Fuji systems (hey, even Nikon) are far more usable. In my experience their user interface design is inconsistent, obscure and difficult to follow. I try to set up things to avoid visiting the menus where possible, and that's a bit of a shame as there are a lot of very useful features lurking in there (somewhere).
I Ike my Pen F too, but I never use the "creative" dial since I never shoot JPEG. I wish I could reassign it as a focus mode dial.

As to Olympus menus - I actually quite like them! The one in the E-M1ii is much improved over the other cameras though.
 
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