Monday, November 07, 2011

Nikon V1 will get a shot

I’m still shooting mainly with the Sony Nex-5N and lately, the Panasonic FZ150. The Nex-5N is giving me pleasing photos, but there are three things that bother me:

1) The AF speed is not very fast. It is good for most shots, but I’ve missed some prime moments due to AF hunting.

2) The HVL20S flash uses the battery power from the camera so the recycle times can get very slow. Not only that, it can only tilt upwards so you can’t shoot vertically if you want to bounce the light.

3) Most lenses are too big. The kit lens is fine although still not that compact, but the 55-210mm and the 18-200mm are monsters.

Are these deal breakers? Not yet. While the AF speed is not great, it is miles better than the Fuji X100. I do miss the amazing X100 files as the 5N doesn’t quite match it, but it just got too frustrating using the Fuji. I’ve seen a lot of samples from the Fuji X10 and I’m not blown away. They are definitely good, but its smaller sensor is a noticeable step down from the 5N and X100.

Amid all this Nex-5N testing I added the FZ150 which has a generous 25-600mm zoom. The image quality is very, very good. Much better than the HX100V or HX9V. It’s still a compact cam sensor though so it has severe limits. The AF is actually very fast, maybe a hair faster than the 5N and the burst 5.5fps mode is wonderful as it autofocuses between each shot. I’m not sure how long term the FZ150 will be, but it’s a lot of fun to play with for now.
The surprise

I thought the new Nikon 1 system looked like a dud, but it does appear to deliver most of what it promises. What’s got me intrigued about the Nikon 1 system is that it addresses all three annoyances of the Nex-5N. The AF is super fast with leading class object tracking, the V1’s external flash recycles fast AND can twist as well as tilt, and the lenses are much more compact with the exception of the super zoom. I’ll be trying one out soon and will have to see whether the 5N, Nikon V1, or FZ150 stay.

The disappointment 

Panasonic just announced the GX1, the true successor to the pro-friendly GF1. The features that are attractive to me are the wealth of buttons and dials, the fast AF speed, the nice grip, the promise of better high iso performance, and the availability of a kit with the newer compact X zoom lens.

The buzz kills are that early samples of the X zoom lens appear to have focus/stabilization problems, there is no 1080p 60p option, the rear LCD is still 480K and not tiltable, and it has no built-in EVF. The lower spec video is probably my biggest grip. That said, it uses the same battery as the G3. I still have two spare batteries for that camera (knock-offs), so if Panasonic hasn’t locked them out in the GX1, that could be enough of an excuse to give the camera a try eventually.

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