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tirsdag 25. april 2017

The LX200 .....Loading....Loading....

It really shouldn't be a surprise that the LX100, which came as a thunder bolt to the rather nichey enthusiasts compact market. A true wonder of shoe horning and mischievous use of an mFT sensor, something which I and many others forsaw years ago.

Where this camera should have placed is in the professional compact market, which is basically anything a pro will take as a back up camera and use for more candid or photo journalist work, or when taking a big camera would be impractical or attract the wrong sort of attention. That includes these days some serious work being done on top end Android and iPhones, so really image value counts more than absolute technical image quality.

Surely then the LX100 takes better shots than say an Olympus PEN of 1965 vintage, used by some of the true greats of the genre of candid, political leader imagery? What is pro-quality ? It can be argued that even medium format 120 Ektachrome shots are less than the equivalent 20mpx, and mid end lenses can't actually resolve below 12 on APSC!

Anyway, there are some features pros 'need' like a large buffer and outstanding autofocus apparently, funny how any of them made a living with thumb winder levers and 36 frames per reel  in days of film.  Pros though have always made their true living in the after work it has to be said, in terms of everything from choosing the coolest frame on a set of contact prints to burning in the salient areas for high contrast impact. So yes pros these days want high image quality OOC so that any lossy or other wise subtractive after effects don't influence the final output, which is likely to be printed at only 330 dpi anyway if you are lucky, or shown as a fragment on a 1080 resolution screen.

The LX100 seems to have attracted controversy and 'haters' from the word go. Some of them had pretty thin profiles on the chat rooms at DP review and elsewhere it has to be said, and perhaps there was some outright comercial trolling going on from areas which would rather no have such a plumb camera with such a fast lens at such a good price point. There are though enough 'flamers' out there looking to comfort their older purchases or appear like geek gods that this is unlikely., but I was surprised how much negative buzz the camera attracted and how several of the negative threads include no images from the OP nor on their profile!!

For a travel camera you are generally looking for something which does the wide to mid end admirably and you are able to live with some compromises. In the good old days, and for many ILC compact users today, that means planting a 35mm lens on and enjoying a jacket pocket sized camera which could be hidden from Genoa's worst street thieves, known to grapple SLR owners to the ground by their camera straps! Shoving a zoom with a bit of reach ( and a crop zoom) plus image stab' meant that cameras like this and some of the Canon G's are much more than an ILC with a 35 despite being smaller!

Expectations and Wish Lists for the LX200

There is some debate as to whether Panasonic will launch the 200 or not - given they came with the LX15 - but just as the LX100 came as a pleasant surprise I reckon that they will be launching one this autumn or latest at consumer electronics shows in the spring 2018.

They can afford to take their time. The camera was a little GH3 in some of its workings but with the wow factor of 4K video, which technically is not all that difficult. So our first expectation can be that there will be some exciting elements in the 200, while also it will pull from established Panny technology.

Here I think we will see a crop factor to the mFT 20 mpx chips, because is it not the case that it is a cropped 16 now? Or a 14mpx mFT sensor? Now this doesn't really help 4k much, because it is a compression to 8mpx per frame so the more in, the more processing and resulting heat in those hard coded compression circuits.

20 Mpx though means that the alternative crop aspect ratios will perform better for stills though, and that any application of digital zoom will be far superior in this new outing for the 'hundred' series LX

Upgrading to a newer sensor may also bring better high ISO performance, which has been criticised with 1600 quoted as the top 'workable'. There may also be some better colour rendering and better microcontrast, but the main issue with all this technical chip IQ improvements will be the resolving power of the lens, and the buffering and write to SD ability of the wee black box itself.

A lens upgrade is 'demanded' by the sceptics and pixel peepers who see the soft edges wide opened and also point to the lens's 'front focus' problem. These are to my mind non issues in the 200 - the latter was/is an annoying foible in landscape fotography which can be worked round in several ways, the former is well, what do you expect? A lens as good as the 'pro' level mFT wide end zooms? It is a compromise not worth adding extra size to the camera snout over imho.

The next upgrades which are 'anticipated', or rather would be on the project punch list if this was a crowd funded camera, are to do with the wee screen at the back. To me the ethos of this camera is that you have far more control over how you actually capture and you will most likely not just be sitting in a P modus, you will be flicking around. The screen being a 2010 vintage type is not an issue , it is a place to do menus and check an image quickly for sharpness, composition and so on. But there are whole armies of photographers out there  who just must have a tilting screen so they can get those catwalk shots from above the madding crowd, or capture that bee on that flower on the ground because no bee has ever pollinated a daisy before nor will ever again. Once in a life time that you have to be able to tilt, and live with an extra chunk of plastic box and a very big, vulnerable mechanical system to go wrong or get damaged. No, the screen for me can just have touch ability for menus and focus point as an upgrade.

One thing I do expect is an upgrade in the price though. The camera sold more initially than anticipated, going onto back order in some outlets,  but there are rumours that it is just a steady seller and that Canon has stolen its' muster. I expect that they will use a price hike to sell some units of the LX100 out in the supply chain and make way for the new on as the display model and soon, only one available.

Now here I come to my own point, that Panasonic should sod the casual photographer who thinks they could maybe go pro, or the enthusiast who wants great value for money, and get this camera to really work at pro level. This would mean a sharper lens and something cool like weather resistance. In fact why not just make as near to the 12-35 as possible and shoe horn it down as a collapsing lens ?  Then you have a camera which could retail for maybe three times the current list prices for the LX100 on the internet shops. It is a margin- volume trade off though, but that is where their once rich adoptive child, Leica, still play of course when they are left to their own devices.

I expect rather that the price point will be up around 15% over the launch price in 2014, and that the camera will have a touch screen, 16 mpx effective sensor, touch screen, better EVF and some form of connectivity to microphones and headphones since the 4K is so darned good. Also I think we will see what all enthusiasts 'hate' but which always helps sell more units to 'dumb people' who want to take fireworks. In this I think we will see more on the in camera pre-effects, such as with focusing and digital bokeh - waf-fer thin deh-oah- eff monsieur Creosote? Soft focus, high key photos?

To bore you all then I hope that the camera is more about internal evolution rather than external, bulky revolution. There will be changes and they will be for the better and there will be of course an LX200 You read it here, April 25 , 2017!