No last minute surprises here. All new products were announced prior to the show.
It is useful to keep in mind that Pentax-Ricoh like most japanese companies prefer to announce big new products during the fairs in Asia.
The biggest news, in the literary sense of the word is the new Pentax Z, the new digital medium format of the company featuring the 50 MP Sony sensor and a weather-sealing that makes this camera a good choice for wealthy and demanding landscapes photographers.
Going the other direction towards the extra small, one also notice the Pentax QS-1 which in my view is more a cosmetic refresh of the Q7 than a new product.
Finally we also have the Pentax KS-1a odd-looking DSLR which is supposed to appeal to smartphone users.??
From the Ricoh side we get the new RICOH WGM1 waterproof-shockproof camera, a potential competitor to the go pro camera.
Oddly enough there seems to be a “ONE mania” at Pentax-Ricoh lately as FOUR OUT OF THE FIVE products announced this year feature this number 1 (the three mentioned above and the Pentax XG1 a bridge announced earlier). Only the medium format managed to escape that silly numbering scheme.
Some people on Pentax forums have been excited after some mention of a full frame (read camera with a 35mm sensor) coming next year from Pentax-Ricoh.
Personally I think Pentax-Ricoh would be very ill advised to develop yet another SENSOR size in a full system with interchangeable lenses. That would make a total of FOUR sensor size system and that is unheard of in this day and age and would be too much of a burden on a company like Ricoh- pentax and i suspect they know it.
My guess is that we are more likely to see a camera with a 35mm sensor AND a fixed lens of some kind. Pentax has oriented a lot of its product development towards “smaller is better” and now the technology is there to allow the design of a 35mm digital camera with a relatively small lens
There is a new m4/3 body at the Olympus booth, the EPL-7 which is basically an OMD 10 without the viewfinder. More interestingly, we have a new pro zoom 2.8/45-150mm that remains to be holdable by hand (at least for a while) has a very effective lens hood and is said to be super-sharp. Of course, in true Photokina fashion, you get the “temporary firmware” excuse to prevent visitors from testing the lens.
There is an 1.4 X Extender also introduced but alas this extender seem to be designed ONLY for the above-mentioned 40-150mm zoom lens.
Although I do not use any Panasonic product, it is very clear to me that Panasonic has very cleverly streamlined its digital cameras products for the last 15 months or so and has now a very coherent line of products all but one featuring the same sensor size but targeted at very specific users.
The GH4 is probably the hybrid camera that illustrates the best choice for still photographers who needs serious video pro features.
The GX7 is a well designed successor to the GX previous models.
The GM1 is a tiny camera with a m4/3 sensor and mount that shows the possibility of the m4/3 sensor size to allow for serious image quality while still providing compact solution.
Earlier this summer, Panasonic also introduced the FMZ-1000 (with a smaller but still decent 1″ sensor size) a bridge with impressive still and video features that made it the only alternative to the Sony RX-10 in the “expert bridge” category.
Now at photokina we get two more cameras :
The GM5 comes to complete the GM1 with new colors and more importantly better control of some parameters.
For me both GM cameras are too small to allow a comfortable handling (although the optional grip does provide some help in this regard) and will make a very odd combination with some of the longer and/or heavier lenses available from several manufacturers in the m4/3rd lens catalog.
But comfort is a personal preference and varies according to several factors (and chiefly the size of your hands) and no doubt that such a tiny camera will appeal to certain customers.
That being said, there is no doubt that Panasonic main introduction for this Photokina is its new LX100. Chronologically , this product is the successor of the popular LX7 but this is much more than that. The new LX100 feature a much larger sensor.
Though it is sometimes presented as a m4/3 sensor, it is in use smaller. The reason is that Panasonic chose to adaptor a multi format sensor so the 16 MP sensor chip turns into a 13 MP camera in most ratios.
While not as compact as, say, the new Canon G7X or the Ricoh GR, the camera when turned off manages to keep a very reasonable size that should git any COAT pocket or small pouch.
The sensor size provides an imaging area 1.5 time the size of the popular 1″ sensor size and therefore better control over DOF and probably better dynamic range and possibly lower noise at the higher ISO’s.
The larger size provides in my opinion for normal size male hands a MUCH better grip than the Canon G7X or its sibling the Sony RX100 (all versions).
The amazing feature of the camera is to feature a very bright 1.7 to 2.8 retractable zoom lens covering the equivalent of a 24 to 75mm zoom lens in 35mm terms.
I am eager to see the first tests to see how well this lens performs in the field.
In an ” Only at Panasonic ” fashion selecting the image ratio is achieved through a lever switch at the lens barrel and not through the menu system.
The build of the camera seems very satisfying and most of the controls are well placed. There is no dedicated mode dial on top of the camera but access through the PASM modes is achieved by choosing or leaving the A (for automatic) position on the shutter speed dial on the top of the camera or the A lens aperture mode located on the lens barrel (like in the Fuji X100 and some Leica models to name a few).
There are THREE direct functions buttons and a quick menu that can be customized as well so customization should not be an issue on the LX100.
It appears that the REC button cannot be customized (only turned off/on). At least, it is located far enough from the camera edge to be turned on by accident.
The same cannot be said of the ia (for intelligent automatic, I assume) which is located too close to the on/off dial on top of the camera.
The top plate of the camera also features a filter button which allows to choose directly special effects filter at the press of a button. BUT, unfortunately Panasonic has decided again, like for the FZ-1000, NOT to include a built-in ND filter which is going to be one of the weaknesses of this camera.
The compensation dial on the top right is now calibrated for a +/- 3 range and has enough detent that it should not rotate inadvertently.
The camera comes in black finish or in a silver and brown combination. launch price is $899 in the USA ( and most likely 899 € in Europe). As it is the tradition now, You will find a Leica Clone of this camera for 300$ more. It is worth noticing however that in Europe retail price difference between both models seem to be only 96 Euros (899€ versus 995€)
Check the few differences between the two models on my post about the leica booth