Ode to the iPhone

“The best camera is the one you have with you” — Chase Jarvis

For a long time I disliked point and shoot cameras in the era of film. Often clunky to use, poor performance or quality, this dislike trumped the reason to have them: not missing a shot. I probably missed a lot. Still, I bought an Olympus mju-2 (aka Stylus Epic) to have something in my pocket. This is a film camera, one that was the best compromise, one I could shoot slide film with, and that had a fast prime sharp 35mm f2.8 lens. This was before cell-phone had cameras.

Cell-phone cameras where horrible for a while. My Motorola clamshell phone camera was awful. This was before the original iPhone, which was the first to actually gather interest as being, at the time, decent. I didn’t get one.

In 2010, I got a Nexus One, liked the phone as a communication device, had a camera with nothing to rave about. I started using Instagram which had been released for Android. Then in 2012, I got a Samsung Galaxy Note (long story short, I won it): better camera, hated the phablet and the software. Still using Instagram. Later, in late 2013, I upgraded to the Nexus 4. Better camera, using it more, still posting Instagram. But it didn’t come close to the older 2012 iPhone 4S that my partner used. Each time I used it I fell it was so much nicer.

Taken with the Nexus 4, processed in Instagram:
Last Sunday. Habitat 67.

Later on, I got a Sony Xperia Z3c. I had a nice camera, but due to the reason I had this device I didn’t have the proper software than made the camera better. Distortion, lesser ISO performance, this made it unsatisfying, even if as is it was better than the Nexus 4.

As you can see the Sony Xperia Z3c camera has a visible pincushion:
In Montreal you have wine cellars in the subway.

Looking for a proper replacement communication device, and not considering an Android that wasn’t Google, I got an iPhone SE. It was cheaper than the Google flagship Pixel.

Why do I love it?

Like any other phone, I always have it on me. It is in my pocket, on my desk, etc. This camera, has great software: it is pleasant to use and generate good quality pictures. Better than any previous phones I have had. Quality and user experience is what make it shine ; it is a camera that is more reactive.

In 2016 I spend most of the year, commuting to work, not carrying a camera but my phone. I took few pictures with it, despite plenty of opportunities.

In April 2017, I went for two weeks to Cologne in Germany. I did lug my photo back pack with the Fuji X-Pro1 and three lenses. I ended up using the iPhone mostly to take snaps, when previously I would have used the bigger camera, I even used it to take some moves and timelapses. I used the Fuji on a few walkabout and even then I used the iPhone as a second camera, more often than before. And I felt that my yield of keepers is higher with this phone than ever. And I end up using Instagram more.

Head down

This iPhone beats hand down lots of compact cameras: quality, reactivity, lens.

Same subject, day, night. iPhone SE processed in Instagram:
To the platforms
To platform 4

Making movies

Today every camera can do movies. 1080p is the “standard”, 4k is one that few reach. Canon needs expensive DSLR for that. But the iPhone, it can do it. I’ll be honest, I don’t feel the need for 4k, but two things: 4k is where things are at right now, and 4k allow zooming for a 1080p output, which is what most people will target anyway.

The iPhone has incredible quality for a small camera. It can do slo-mo, time lapse, shoot 1080p at either 30 or 60fps, 4k at 30fps, slo-mo 1080p at 120fps, 240fps if you go down to 720p. In short, you have choice. Even with the front facing camera, which makes it practical for vlogging.

Last but not least, it comes with iMovie. “Shot, edited and upoaded on iPhone”. That’s right you have all the workflow in one device.

This is not to say an Android phone could be as good. Just that so far the one I had weren’t and, and as a communication device they get
obsoleted too quickly. Even the Pixel, that dollar for dollar, cost as much as an iPhone 7.

Smartphone have clearly evolved as a photographic and movie making tool. They are capable of doing things no one expected a few years ago. And they are clearly eating into the compact camera market.

Needle in the sky

And now the conclusion

The iPhone SE really made me tilt over using the smartphone as a photographic tool more often. I felt successfully creative with it. Not that it is a big innovation, it is just that as a whole it works better. Gear doesn’t make the photographer, but gear that you are not comfortable with (that frustrate your) is ultimately hindering your process. Ultimately I will not abandon my other cameras, but I’ll be more inclined to leave it home for circumstances where I believe the iPhone will work.

Losing the X-Pro1 viewfinder eyepiece

After over 5 years I finally lost the X-Pro1 viewfinder eyepiece that has often been loose (pun intended). I have dropped it a few times in the previous years, including in the first weeks of use. Not sure when this happened but I found out when I was in Cologne, Germany in February. While this doesn’t prevent from using the camera, I think I do need to replace it.

X-Pro1 viewfinder
X-Pro1 viewfinder missing the eyepiece.

It seems to be a recurring problem amongst X-Pro1 shooters: link, link,

I’m trying to locate a proper Fujifilm replacement, which is part # FZ09210-100. Digging up the forum I get various stories, with a common point: contact Fujifilm. Some say “you have to send the camera in”, some say they got a replacement in the mail (no mention of cost though, but I’m not expecting it to be free since the camera is no longer covered by the warranty).

Apparently a 19mm eye piece for a Nikon F3 works fine and these go for a reasonable price. I’m ok with that.

On a side note, I lost the flash PC sync cover eons ago and back then it was CAD$7 + shipping for a replacement from Fujifilm. You can find replacements on ebay quite inexpensively.

I’ll keep you posted.

Meanwhile, with the missing eyepiece, here is the status of the camera:

Fujifilm X-Pro1 camera
My X-Pro1 setup in February 2017 – Flickr

My X-Pro1 is back

As I mentioned back last April, my X-Pro1 failed badly.

It cost me over CAD$600 but I got it back from Fujifilm a week or so after. Kudos to Fujifilm service. At the same time they cleaned up the camera and replaced the back screen glass that had a scratch as well as some of the body.

But 2016 hasn’t been very photographic for me as I haven’t really taken a lot of pictures. I used to carry my camera bag to work, and this year I didn’t. Nor did I post here.

Bye bye X-Pro1

Last Saturday as I was wandering around in a park in Laval, QC (northern suburb of Montréal) my X-Pro1 decided to stop working, shutter stuck closed — the camera turn on but doesn’t respond to anything ; it will respond to the firmware flash mode triggered by [DISP] + power on. A quick search lead to other people with the same problem and with a a claim of a $500~$800 (USD?) servicing cost. When a X-Pro2 cost CAD$2000, it might be a no-brainer.

The camera is now in the shop, in the hands of Fujifilm Canada technicians, and I should know soon.

In the mean time, back to shooting with the Canon 5DMkII. It is even more sad that my 2005 Canon 20D still work.

Sony Alpha 7

The Sony Alpha 7 and A7R have just been announced and feature a full frame interchangeable lens mirror-less camera for around $2000. This niche was held so far by the Leica M at a much higher price point. Unlike the Leica, this is not a range finder.

Brian Smith has a field test that show what we can expect: an IQ Sony style (pun intended), ie good.

I believe that for a modern design system, “full frame” is possibly overkill, and Fuji has shown us that you can get top notch IQ with an APS-C sized sensor. Most DSLR systems, like Canon EOS, Nikon, Sony or even Pentax were designed for 135 film, as well as their lens, hence the “full frame” bias. This is also why I considered the RX-1 overpriced and overspeced, even though some people have found it worth it ; and with a top image quality as well. At $2000 body only the A7 can even be cheaper than the RX-1.

But this Sony is an E-mount (like on the Nex), with a short flange distance, that allow an easy adaptation of older lenses via easily available mount adpaters, including M-mount. This is probably why this camera has a lead off the m4/3 or even the Fuji. You get the real deal, the same field of view on your older lenses as they were designed. The only other alternative today is the Leica M type 240, which is both much more expensive (several time the price), hard to come by, and for which adapted lenses require either the use or the rear LCD or the external EVF.

I do believe that the A7 and A7R will find their way in the hands of people that have a large collection of lenses to adapt, and we can be largely confident that the image quality will continue to meet the expectations. Sony has really shown leadership on a market that was dominated by Olympus and Panasonic, and show that Nikon and Canon have to worry given their disappointing incursion into mirror-less land.

Olympus E-M5 hands on presentation

I just came back from a presentation of the Olympus E-M5 at Lens & Shutter. This was quite exclusive as the Olympus representative was in Vancouver with the only camera in Canada, showing us, most of the crowd being from the Vancouver Four-Third Flickr group, the new OM-D camera the Olympus E-M5.

I would like to thank Eric for alerting us, Mike from Lens & Shutter, and Yannick from Olympus Americas for giving us the opportunity to see the camera in real life.

The size

This has already been established, and will be repeated: the Olympus E-M5 isn’t much bigger than an E-P2. With the viewfinder, the E-P2 is actually a bit taller. Here is the comparison (unfortunately kinda out of focus :-/), both with the 45mm f1.8:

E-P2 vs E-M5

Handling

The pre-production model passed around. It is hard to say in so little time, but my first impression is good. The camera handles well, the front dial is accessible, the back one less. The EVF is clear and the camera respond well to the autofocus.

Olympus E-M5 (back)

The default grip works fine, better than the E-P1 in my opinion. The optional grip that will come later has the option to remove the extra battery pack if not needed provide a better grip without too much extra volume. In both pictures the external flash was missing. Also another funny thing is that despite being unnecessary, the EVF from the Olympus Pens do indeed work on the E-M5. Proof that the accessory port is exactly identical.

As the camera was a pre-release model, we were not allowed to get images, so I won’t be able to talk about image quality. Fair enough, pixel peepers will tell us in a bit.

The price will be $999 for the body only, available end of March or early April in Canada at first camera store and not in big box stores.

Bottom line

I could be convinced to get one. I don’t really see how the Olympus Pen position themselves now beside a lower price point. Or maybe that’s the differentiator. In both case it seems to be obvious that the m4/3 system will be growing. To be continued.

Olympus E-P1, a dive into Micro Four-Third

I wanted a more compact camera than my DSLR but still with the versatility. The Micro Fourth-Third system (m4/3) was presenting the best compromise, so in November 2010 I bought an Olympus E-P1.

The Micro Four-Third system

m4/3 is a camera system developed by Olympus and Panasonic for a mirror-less through-the-lens digital camera. It is an evolution of the Four-Third system that included a mirror for the viewfinder. By design m4/3 is more compact as it remove that mirror box to use substitute the reflex viewfinder with an EVF. The system standard does not seem to be as “open” as the previous, but it does not really change anything as only Olympus and Panasonic are making cameras, like in Four-Third: the Leica Digilux 3 was just a rebadged Panasonic and Kodak never did anything.

Olympus is very serious about it now that they just announced the OM-D line, starting with the Olympus E-M5, the latest in the m4/3 system, meant to be the spiritual successor of their OM film SLR camera series.

The Olympus E-P1

The Olympus E-P1 or Pen Digital is the first camera Olympus released for m4/3. With a design deliberately retro, it features a small package with a LCD screen in lieu of a viewfinder, interchangeable lenses, no flash (but a hot shoe) and in-body image stabilization. It features a 12 Megapixels sensor with a crop factor of x2, which is quite enough for virtually everything.

Olympus E-P1 camera

I compared it to the E-P2 and the Panasonic GF1. The E-P2 offered the same as an E-P1 with the addition of an accessory port that allow connecting an EVF, with a higher price. The Panasonic GF1 does not have the IS but allowed and EVF. And it was supposedly a bit faster (more on that later). In the end I chose the E-P1. I love the IS and I miss a viewfinder.

In term of ergonomics, the camera has a rotating selector to select the shooting mode (PSAM, movie and misc), thumb roller to set the aperture or speed depending on the mode, and exposure compensation button and a rotating wheel with 4 direction controller and a central OK button. That last is probably the most cumbersome for my big thumbs as I always end up pressing it when I didn’t want. It allow quick access to ISO, White balance, Auto focus and shooting mode / delay when pressing on one of the four direction. Odd if you try to use the wheel to change exposure in M mode. Maybe it is too small, maybe it should just be the wheel configured differently. I disabled the quick access. You can also configure the 4 way control to set the AF point.

Viewfinder

The camera does not have a viewfinder, just a rear LCD with all the advantage and inconvenience.

Advantage: you can shoot freestyle, from the hip or with awkward angle and still be able to see. It is through the lens, and you have info displayed on it.

Inconvenience: hard to see in the sun, lack the stability of the eye level finder, use the battery.


E-P1, Leica Summilux 50mm f/1.4, 1/40 f1.4, ISO 1600

There is an optional optical viewfinder for the 17mm f2.8 lens that you mount on the hot shoe, but I haven’t tried it. Unfortunately there is no accessory port for the EVF, that’s left to the other models.

Despite the situation not being ideal in my mind, I managed to be able to use the camera without much trouble. It gets used to have a back LCD only, and it is really a bit of a guestimate when in the full sunlight.

The lenses

When I bought my E-P1, it wasn’t available with the 17mm in the store, and buying the body only was more expensive than with the 14-42mm f3.5-5.6. So I got the kit on sale and started with that. The lens is decent, a bit slow on the longer end.

Later I bought the Olympus 17mm f2.8 “pancake” that has become the mostly permanent lens on my E-P1. Excellent choice as it gives an equivalent field of view of a 35mm on 35mm and is reasonably fast.

Other lens choices are the Panasonic 20mm f1.7, then later the 14mm f2.5. These two “pancake” lenses provide excellent image quality. Today Olympus added a 45mm f1.7, a 12mm f2, and there is a bunch of zoom and other third party lenses, including a Leica-Panasonic 45mm Macro f2.8 that is extremely sharp. It is not the lack of choice, and I haven’t listed them all.


E-P1, Pentax Auto 110 70mm f2.8, 1/320 f2.8, ISO 400

If you have an old film camera system, there are plenty of adapters for older manual focus lenses, and that itself is responsible the price rise of older SLR lenses on eBay. There is one for almost anything: Pentax K and M42, Pentax Auto 110, Canon FD, Nikon F, Leica M and LTM. Even better, Olympus sells one for their OM mount. I could never find one for the Fujinon-X mount, probably because these cameras were not very common.

The E-P1 firmware has been designed with that usage in mind. For example the in body image stabilizer must be tuned to the focal length. While this is transparent when the m4/3 lenses are being used, with the manual focus lenses, you set it in the camera menu. While not perfect as it might be a problem with a zoom, it is pretty slick and this alone make it very well suited for that.

Focusing

Using the autofocus is nothing different. It is not super fast, but on overall it is usable. There is also face detection. It sounds like a gimmick but it actually helps if you are taking pictures of people as the autofocus will use it as a target.

To perform manual focus, either on a m4/3 lens or on a “legacy” lens, you have a magnifier on screen. It allow a nice precision, but the camera shake makes it harder than necessary. This is where you miss the EVF. The m4/3 lenses have manual focus by the wire – ie rotating the focusing ring controls a motor that will adjust focus. It works quite well, and it automatically switches the magnifier on as do it. There is also an AF+MF mode that allow full time control while still using autofocus. You can always achieve defocused image or just re-adjust as you please.


E-P1, M.Zuiko 17mm f/2.8, 1/30 f/3 ISO 1600

Still there are cases where it doesn’t cut it. I tried to use the E-P1 to take picture of dogs at a Boston Terrier meetup, and it didn’t work out well.

In the field

For a while the E-P1 was the only camera I used. The Canon 5D MkII was left behind. It was much lighter and still very capable.

I heard lot of complaint about shutter lag and autofocus speed, which to be another aren’t that fast, but in general it performs as expected in the streets and in bad weather.

I went on train trip from Vancouver to Toronto, 3 days and 4 nights each way. I decided to not use the 5D MkII an stuck to the E-P1, with only the 17mm. No regrets, I could get what I wanted when I needed, which is what one would expect. In fact during the whole trip I only use the 5D MkII on two situations. One for low light portraits, where 50mm f1.4 helps, and once because I needed a wider angle inside Union Station with the 24mm. I surely could have done without.

The image stabilizer works pretty well, whichever lens you use and that itself can justify going Olympus vs Panasonic. This is even more important since you lose steadiness by holding the camera in front of your rather than against you with an eye level finder.

The sore point with the battery life. It is not that great and I ended up needing to recharge it every 200 shots or even less, as the LCD drains down power. Fortunately I had an extra battery always ready, and recommend anybody to get that extra.

When shooting outside in plain sunlight, it gets harder. The LCD is completely unreadable. It is not specific to this camera ; even my phone can’t be used in this circumstance.


E-P1, M.Zuiko 17mm f/2.8, 1/320 f/6, ISO 100

Low light

One of the things one expect with a modern camera is to be able to shoot in low light. The m4/3 system has a few fast prime including the Panansonic 20mm f/1.7 or even the M.Zuiko 17mm f/2.8.

At ISO 1600 the camera really show noise. It is still usable, but it gets a bit too grainy to my taste, even more compared to other DSLR (with a larger sensor). Nonetheless it will beat most of the point and shoot that have a smaller sensor. Of course, ISO 3200 is even more noisy.

The user base

Shortly after my purchase I discovered that there was a Vancouver Four Third group on Flickr with a bunch of dedicated users to Four Third and now mostly Micro Four Third. They love the system and beside some film camera, only use that, sometime with a mix of Olympus and Panasonic bodies and lenses.

That offered me the possibility to test the Pentax Auto 110 70mm, the Panasonic 20mm f/1.7, the Panasonic 45mm f2.8 Macro, and others.


E-P1, Panasonic 20mm f/1.7, f/2 1/400, ISO 100 – color shift in Aperture

This reminds me of RFF meetups. I don’t remember Canon dedicated user base.

In conclusion

The Micro Four-Third system is very capable and thrive with a decent choice of body and lenses, where both Panasonic (with Leica) and Olympus are committed, helped with other third parties and “legacy” lens adapters. There is a good selection of fast prime lenses as well as more consumer oriented zooms.

If I had to redo the choice, I’d get the E-P2 because of the EVF (today it would be the E-P3 that is also faster). I also wouldn’t buy it with the 14-42 and instead get it with the 17mm, and maybe another lens, like the 45mm. Today when you compare the E-P2 + EVF with the newly announced E-M5, it is highly possible that the E-M5 is the way to go.

I still feel uncomfortable with the LCD as the only viewfinder, and this may explain my interest for the Fujifilm X-100 and now the X-Pro1: the hybrid viewfinder presenting the actual innovation in that area.

Today, the E-P1 gets a premium place in my bag as the camera I have with me over the DSLR or any of my film gear, even though, sometime, I may have the Ricoh GR-D 2 on my belt instead.

Gallery

Below a few more pictures I took with the E-P1. Some might have been a bit post-processed.


E-P1, Leica Summicron M 90mm f/2, 1/500 f/2, ISO 400

E-P1, M.Zuiko 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 @29mm, 1/50 f/7, ISO 400

E-P1, M.Zuiko 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 @14mm, 1/10 f/5.6, ISO 3200

E-P1, M.Zuiko 17mm f/2.8, 1/320 f/8, ISO 100

E-P1, M.Zuiko 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 @42mm, 1/80 f/8, ISO 100

E-P1, M.Zuiko 17mm f/2.8, 1/15 f/2.8, ISO 400

Fuji X-Pro1

Fujifilm has announced a bunch of new cameras at CES. Amongst them, one that had leaked a little while back and that is now official: the Fuji X-Pro1. In April, I was talking about camera renouveau, and I think it could have come.

The Fujifilm X-series was started with the Fujifilm X-100, a compact camera with fixed prime lens and an hybrid viewfinder. It came with mixed reviews, with clearly very good reviews from user that appreciate the viewfinder and the compact nature. The sore points are the firmware user experience, that as of today Fujifilm hasn’t addressed. Still even with that it remains a perfectly capable camera with a very good image quality, thanks in part to the decent size sensor.

The Fujifilm X-10 came second. It dropped the hybrid viewfinder, added a zoom with manual control, coupled to the optical viewfinder, and a smaller EXR sensor. But it remains an excellent camera, with decent low light performance. I had it in hand for 15 minutes and I really liked it.

I’ll skip the Fujifilm X-1 that just got announced directly go to the X-Pro1 that was announced Monday at CES.

The Fujifilm X-Pro1 is a “retro-styled” camera with interchangeable lenses, an hybrid viewfinder, and an APS-C sensor. So far, déjà-vu, almost.

Note: I will be talking about a camera without having actually tried it. I’ll try to provide the information based on what is publicly available. Mistake or omissions are not deliberate. I would love to be able to review it and when I can get my hands on one, I’ll review it. This could take a while though.

Interchangeable lenses

The new Fuji X-mount designed specifically for this camera. Nothing special except a shorter flange, more appropriate for shorter lenses on small sensors. And a completely electrical coupling like most modern systems.

One would think they could have used an existing mount, like m4/3. m4/3 would be impractical due to the sensor size, and there is no other mount they could use, short of the older mechanical mount like M or M42 or LTM that don’t carry elecronic.

The good news is, there will be a M mount adapter. Let’s hope there will be adapter for other mounts as well. I remain confident.

APS-C sensor

The size of the sensor matters much for image quality and we have seen that an APS-C sensor is good compromise.

The difference with that sensor is its color matrix. Instead of using a 2×2 it uses a 6×6 color pattern with alternating positions for the 3 colors. The claim from Fujifilm is that it should avoid the moiré effect and provide a more natural image. We’ll see what it actually does and I do believe RAW processing software vendor might have a fun time to support it. Fujifilm called this the “X-trans CMOS”.

The hybrid viewfinder

First, this is not a rangefinder camera. Nonetheless the viewfinder is the single feature that would drive the adoption of this camera within a certain segment of the photographer market.

The hybrid viewfinder of the X-Pro1 is an evolution of the X-100 viewfinder: optical viewfinder with electronic overlay, switchable to EVF. To manage the different field of view from the different lenses, there are two “mechanisms” in place.

The first one is a system of frame lines from the overlay, changing depending on the effective field of view (the focal length). This is not unlike a rangefinder camera. But the electronic natures do not preclude zooming.

The second one is an optical magnifier. The problem with frame lines is that the longer your lens is, the smaller the frame lines become. To compensate, there is a magnifier that slide in font of the viewfinder. This is not without reminding us of the Leica M3 goggles.

The firmware allow setting the focal length manually for the viewfinder, which clearly indicate that, like m4/3 cameras, older manual lenses will be able to be used. How the focusing will work using the EVF remains to be seen. But it can’t be worse than what m4/3 camera with the back LCD can do. Let’s hope.

Lenses

For now 3 prime lenses have been announced:

  • Fujinon Lens XF 18mm f2 R
  • Fujinon Lens XF 35mm f1.4 R
  • Fujinon Lens XF 60mm f2.4 R Macro

Wide, standard, short telephoto with macro. Quite a standard range to start with. Rumor has it that this is just an early set and more are to come.

There is no in-body image stabiliser, unlike in the Olympus Pen.

Price

The prices are rumored to be $1700 for the body, and $600 for each lens. Quite not low end, more than the average m4/3, but still largely more affordable compared to a Leica M9.

Fujifilm hands-on preview video

The Fujiguys from Fujifilm Canada have a couple of videos to show product. It gives you a good idea of what it does (but this is not an independent review) and give you a good overview of the overall ergonomics.

It seems to be clear that the gripes people have about the X-100 firmware have been addressed, at least to some extent, in the X-Pro1 as the hands-on preview shows.

Part 1 (view on YouTube)

Part 2 (view on Youtube)

Would I get it?

On the paper all of this sound really appealing. It seems to be the affordable digital rangefinder everybody has been waiting for, without being actually being a rangefinder.

My biggest concern is Fujifilm commitment to their customers. The lack of real update on the X-100 firmware is not encouraging ; it remains be seen how well they will do with the X-Pro1. We’ll see, maybe they will address the X-100 as well.

Still I remain tempted.

Sample Pictures

It is somewhat early for sample pictures. Fujifilm posted the mandatory demo pictures. Also, DCFever has its own set of pictures (in Chinese). And there is a set from hugo poon hp on Flickr (no full size pictures). But lot of other testers were not allowed to even take the pictures “home”.

Read more

Is there a camera renouveau?

The world of digital cameras has been a bit boring lately. Not much innovation seen from the outside. Just a convergence of still and movie, and the mash-up of technologies, every increasing high ISO and image quality.

But is there a camera renouveau? Something that would reinvent the camera as we know it? Let’s see.

Convergence of still and movie is the added capability to shoot movies with a still camera. This feature has been around for a while on point and shoot cameras. Most of them have been shooting movies, low-res mostly, but increasing every now and then.

But the real break was when, after addressing the technical limitations, Nikon, then Canon, release DLSRs, the Nikon D90 and the Canon 5DMkII able to shoot video in HD. In 720p for the Nikon and 1080p for the Canon.

A lot of professional filmmakers got their hands on the 5DMkII, for good, as it represented an unprecedented image quality for a price point that was lower than dedicated video cameras. Second units, TV series, reporting were main consumers of this technology. Even after Canon released firmware updates to address most of the issues found the movie mode.

Nikon was first, Canon was best. This seem to have opened the gate for a flow of new DLSRs capable of video; now even the low end Canon Digital Rebel shoot at least 720p.

The mash-up of technologies came by way of the micro Four Third standard (m-43 for short). Not to be confused with Four-third. The 4/3 is IMHO doomed: a smaller sensor than the current line of DLSRs, marginally smaller camera size, as the low-end Canon Digital Rebel and Nikon have been getting getting smaller does not seem to make it a good alternative. Also it now seems to get less developments now from Olympus, and Panasonic seems to have stopped ; and this is probably because of its limited success. I’m purely speculating, but I do believe that 4/3 is gonna be phased out. I could be wrong.

On the other hand the m-43 seems to be taking speed. Take a point and shoot camera design, put a interchangeable lens mount, make it a standard, cook it with another manufacturer (or more) that will make lenses and body, and you have the micro Four Third standard. Olympus initiated it, as a spin-off of the 4/3, with the help of Panasonic. It represents a good trade-off between size and image quality: bigger sensor than in (almost every) point and shoot, interchangeable lens like a DSLR, it makes the almost perfect system in-between pocket cameras and DLSRs.

It even inspired Samsung with their own lens mount, and Sony with the NEX (featuring a bigger sensor, APS-C size and a slightly smaller body than Olympus or Panasonic) and the E-mount. Even more, Panasonic and Sony both have video cameras using their respective mounts ; same lenses as the still cameras but dedicated to video.

So what about the renouveau? I think it could be coming from a known player that, sometime, just come with very innovative products. And that would be FujiFilm, with the Fuji FinePix X100.

The Fuji FinePix X100 is a compact camera with a 23mm f/2 prime lens and an APS-C sensor. The photographyblog has a complete review with samples. You can also read Luminous Landscape review.

The originality for the X100 comes in the viewfinder. The trend in the recent years has been to remove the viewfinders, including on micro-4/3 cameras, to replace them with the back LCD. This has been bugging me personally and I still feel uncomfortable when using the back LCD. The alternative is the DSLR, which does not make for a pocket camera. That’s not the case of the X-100 that features a unique hybrid optical-electronic viewfinder. On paper it looks like the best innovation in viewfinders in recent times.

We’ll see if that’s the renouveau, the innovation that will invert the trend.