Photokina has come and gone, Europe’s biggest photographic equipment trade show held in Cologne. Its been a great show for photography in general with two lower cost full-frame models finally hitting the market from the big 2 Canon and Nikon. But the most interesting developments from my perspective have come from Leica and Olympus.
Firstly Leica have announced the ‘M’ a full frame rangefinder which will use a CMOS sensor with NO AA filter! And its not just the same new Sony that everyone else is using either, it has been developed just for Leica by a Belgium based company. Apparently it should give noise-free results to 6400, Leica don’t tend to make claims they can’t back up. The M has live view which feeds to a connector near the hotshoe which accepts the superb Olympus VF2 electronic viewfinder (of course you can buy the Leica model at twice the price if you’re an arse)
Now if that wasn’t good enough already, Olympus have stated that they will be bringing out an improved EVF which uses some ‘new technology’ to offer higher resolution and a clearer image. So we now finally have what I have been waiting for, since I got my M9. Namely a digital body with an excellent sensor, capable of clean low light images and of using Leica lenses. On top of this we will be able finally to see what we are actually going to get in the viewfinder through a top quality EVF. Sure, it would have been nice to have a built in EVF but frankly I’m glad Leica went with the Olympus one. At least now we wont have to wait around for 2-3 years for Leica to develop something new. As fast as the technology emerges, you can bet that Olympus will be bringing out upgraded EVF models for their range of pens and OMD’s.
This will all go to making the digital M user experience so much more enjoyable. The rangefinder focusing system can be useful, and happily the new M retains this method, but for precise framing, real-time exposure feedback and improved accuracy especially with longer lenses, electronic viewfinders are so much more useful!
Today I was helping someone how to get the best from her DSLR. Having not used an optical viewfinder for a long time, it struck me how much I have come to rely on and enjoy the real-time exposure feedback one gets when using a good EVF. I was explaining exposure compensation to her and when I had to say, “then you may just have to check if you’ve compensated enough by reviewing the image on your LCD” I thought geez, when I shoot I ‘know’ its right when I take it because I am seeing the effect of the compensation in my EVF before I take the picture! One day we will all use EVF’s and people will wonder what all the fuss was about. One thing that really shocked me though, was the sheer size and weight of this DSLR! It was only an APS sensored Canon 30D but it was heavy and huge compared to my OMD.
As great as all this news is for the advancement of full-frame photography, the fact remains that this solution, as stunning as the end results will surely be, will still be one which relies on manual focusing lenses. And no matter how incredible the optical quality of the Leica lenses, there are still times when manual focus just wont cut it. So I still need two systems to cover the broad range of photographs I like to shoot. The micro four thirds camp had some great announcements of their own this week including Panasonic’s well received new camera the GH3. And as if we don’t already have a plethora of wonderful lenses for the MFT system (including some of the best primes on the market) apparently there are 12 new lenses coming out for the system and most of them high quality superfast primes! It really has been a great year for the any photographers who are willing to stray from the mainstream.