22 October 2015

critical mass for K-gear

An interesting challenge has come with my most recent lens sales.

My Pentax gear has reached a new minimum - three primes, three zooms - with great plans to update once our home-refi package is complete.  However, this situation also allows other brands to make a case for their gear with its different set of strengths and weaknesses; since I'm less deeply into Pentax it would be easier to make a transition.

I hadn't really thought about that!
Samsung and their NX300 made a strong run at my Pentax kit early in the year, and the NX500 sounded ideal.  Once it arrived and the complainers chipped in their tuppence I shook free of the spell and stuck with my K-r bargain purchase, and reloaded with more nice lenses. But now they are gone.

image from adorama.com
This time it's Lumix (Panasonic) and their G7 working on me.   
Wow: it's really pretty in charcoal! 

Ah, but what does it do?? How does it compare to the small K-s2 that was in the plans?

On the down-ish side, it uses a smaller 16Mpx 4:3 sensor.  A bit less resolution, a pinch more potential noise, and it's not free of the low-pass "AA" filter like recent Pentax models.  It's also nearly the same size as the K-s2 in len×wid×height specs.  The lenses focus with fly-by-wire imprecision compared to what I'm used to (though the Q does too and I manage).  Also, weather seals are absent.

Now for the upside, as I see it -
  • 4k video and its many benefits*, with autofocus available in all video modes
  • focus to EV-4 (K-s2 is stupid-good at -3, I didn't know -4 existed!)
  • much less overall weight despite similar size
  • far less bulk lens-wise, thanks to the smaller sensor
  • quiet operation (I've never heard a K-s2 to compare)
  • different technology but with very good results
  • easy in-cam panoramas and can shoot at 16:9, 1:1
  • prior Lumix experience (LC40 compact and G1, GH1, GF2) & raves from my brother about his G3
* 4k videos are sharper overall even on most HD televisions, and the G7 allows you to extract an 8Mpxl still image from anywhere within the video - so it can be used as a burst mode at 24-30 frames per second but with reduced image size.  That's both cool and convenient.  Full HD is 2Mpxl (1980x1024), 4k is twice those dimensions so four times the area.  The result is 8Mpxl but 4k description - go figure.  Oh I just did!

The Lumix has a touchscreen for many of its features but buttons/menus that can do the same, which is a feature I really liked on the the NX300.  I used its touch-focus ability often for both still shots and video.  I also liked the sweep-panorama mode which can make a longer lens pretend to be more wide-angle - and that's on the G7 too.  This one has both flip-out screen and the EVF where the NX300 had tip screen and no VF.  I'd prefer tip and VF myself but catering to just me is not common (though the NX1 has this).

On the nearly-a-draw side, both have flippy screens with good resolution, and both have some form of viewfinder.  I prefer optical VF generally but I've heard the newer EVFs are mighty good.  It hasn't received its sensor performance ranking at DxO but 4:3 sensors tend to score below most current APSc models, but very similar to the K-r.. and I have always liked results from that sensor!!  This is only as relevant to images as you decide how useful the DxO system is, in any case.

I hope to be shopping at holiday time for bargains, so the estimated expense looks like this:
Pentax: K-s2 (or higher) body, HD16-85 zoom, and a prime/macro ~$1200?
Lumix: right now (no pre-holiday deal) I can get a body + 2 lenses = $895!  + a free boom microphone
Note - the Lumix deal has ended.. ah well.

My 50/2 and 100/2.8 would do well on the G7 with a $30 adapter, other Pentax lenses too with a more expensive one.

As to brand-name loyalty and legacy: I began both film and digital days with Kodak before moving up.  In 1973 I went from Sears/Kodak 126 box camera to a screw-mount SLR and then to Pentax about ten years later.  In digital my first post-Kodak camera was the talented 4Mpx Lumix LC-40.  Therefore both brands have a claim and good vibes in their not-quite-separate eras!

We'll see where this dreaming goes - but clearly it's drawn some rather serious research so it's not a fast-passing fancy!  The holiday prices could make a difference.. I saw on mu43.com that the G7 was once $599 so that's a good base to work from.