Panasonic Australia announced a huge update to its Lumix camera range last week, adding smaller, lighter and faster tech to its range. So what's the damage to your wallet likely to be, and are they any good? We went hands on in the freezing cold light of rural dawn to find out.
In total, Panasonic announced five new cameras across its compact, high-speed and zoom lenses last week with the three flagship announcements coming in the form of the interchangeable lens, micro four thirds DMC-G5, the compact DMC-FZ200 and the quaint-looking DMC-LX7.
What Is It?
The DMC-G5 is Panasonic's latest foray into the "enthusiast" market — it's not quite a professional replacement but its out to compete with other mirrorless cameras on the market, the likes of which include the Olympus OMD EM-5 and the recently announced Canon EOS-M.
The G5 packs a 16-megapixel CMOS sensor, a sizeable touchscreen with built-in trackpad capabilities that allow you to drag your finger to refocus an image and a full-time AF tracking system that lets you re-focus 1080p video for shooting on the run.
The G5 comes in three kits: a body-only option for $999, a single lens kit which includes the body and the Lumix G Vario 14-42mm lens for $1099 and the twin lens kit, which adds the 45-150mm zoom lens to the package for a grand total of $1299. The body and single lens kits will go on sale in September in black, but the twin lens kit version — which also comes in silver — will be out in October.
• Super light chassis and wicked-fast time to first shot means you can grab something as it's happening.
• The 3-inch, flippable touchscreen is handy and it also doubles as a touchpad so that you can drag and move the focus point around while you're looking down the viewfinder.
• I'm guessing this was an issue with the fact that the G5s the journos were testing were production models, but nobody — and I mean nobody — could auto-focus an image correctly the first time round. We all needed help to get it going from Panasonic's product ninjas, and even then, the lens required considerable refocussing before the auto-mode picked up anything worth opening the shutter for.
As well as outing a new mirrorless camera, Panasonic also updated the FZ series last week, with the FZ200 and the FZ60 welcomed to the world.
What Is It?
The FZ200 carries with it a 12.1 megapixel sensor, a 25mm wide-angle lens capable of 24x optical zoom and aperture of 2.8, which Panasonic is claiming as a world-first.
It's smaller brother, the FZ60, sports the same 25mm wide-angle lens and optical zoom capabilities, but brings with it a 16.1 megapixel sensor.
The FZ200 will run you $799, while the FZ60 will cost $599. Both will be out next month.
• Normally I'd never consider a super-zoom, simply because a few years down the line I'd like to be able to switch up my glass and give myself the look and feel of a new camera. Plus if you knacker the lens on a super-zoom, that's pretty much the camera done-for. The FZ200 though is a great little camera that lets you shoot an awesome image really quickly and easily thanks to the Intelligent Auto function.
• Flippable touchscreen is here and it's still as handy as ever, especially for stabilising images when you go handheld.
• HD video is smooth as butter
• You won't be able to customise your glass. Ever.
• A tad on the pricey side considering you can get the bigger, badder G5 for $200 more.
• The zoom controls are on the lens barrel, meaning that you'll zoom in to the closest point you can by accident every time you go to stabilise your camera while looking down the viewfinder. It takes a bit of getting used to, that's for sure.
The super-cute DMC-LX7 rounds up the flagship announcements Panasonic made overnight, as it boasts a 12.8 megapixel sensor, 24mm F1.4 lens and a 3-inch touchscreen on the rear.
The LX7 is also out in September for the not-so compact price of $649.
Is Panasonic on your radar for cameras?
Luke Hopewell travelled to the NSW Central Coast as a guest of Panasonic