Kodak to abandon cameras

After inventing the digital camera in 1975, and resisting it heavily, now Kodak is abandoning the digital camera market all together during their bankruptcy, to reorganize, refocus in order to exit as smaller company. They won’t stop making disposable film cameras though, which is part of the film division.

Source Kodak press release and C|Net.

While this seems to be saddening, it is the reality of the business, and I understand this one.

Kodak was in the low-end of the market, their camera weren’t really great, albeit sufficient in the consumer market. But with the declining market for consumer compact digital camera, totally taken over by cell-phones, it seems to be the logical decision. Even the Japanese makers saw a serious fall this year, but most have a higher-end product line to sustain the business.

My only hope is that they don’t end up getting out of the film business ; the current press release does clearly state they continue. The end of Kodachrome was an unfortunate decision they had to make, and consolidating their film product line seemed to be sane ; they still make good products and it would be very sad if they discontinued them.

We’ll see.

Olympus OM-D

This is just out, Olympus officially announced the long rumored OM-D (or E-M5), their new high-end m4/3 camera.

Quick hands-on by DPReview:

Longer presentation by Photography Review, with a size comparison with the E-P3:

The short specs (from DPReview):

  • 16Mpix m4/3 sensor
  • EVF 1.44M dot
  • Swivel LCD touch screen
  • 5 axis IS
  • High ISO 25600 – whether it will be good or not is a different question
  • Supposedly fast everything
  • Weather sealed

As the DPReview preview shows, it looks like the same size as a Panasonic G, slightly bigger than the E-P3.
There is also an optional grip.

The price will be $999.

Olympus also announced a 75mm f1.8, a 60mm f2.8 Macro 1:1 and a flash. They are really getting more serious, and it is a prelude to the death of the Four-Third standard as m4/3 is taking over.

Olympus OM-D website.

Update (Feb 9): OM-D is the product line, like Pen Digital, and E-M5 is the camera name. It seems clear that they might have more OM-D cameras.

Kodak filing for bankruptcy

Kodak just filed for bankruptcy in the US. This was almost expected as business has been declining over the years, being unable to make a come back from the decline of film.

The film division, still profitable after a reduction of costs, simplification of the product line like abandoning Kodachrome development isn’t big enough to sustain the rest. After deciding in November 2011 to sell their image sensor division to an equity firm, it sounded obvious that Kodak management didn’t know where to go.

Now several concerns:

First, what will happen to the film division? I’m sure that this is part of what they will try to offload for cheap. It is not growing anymore, quite the opposite, but they still have good film products and it would be a great loss to lose them.

Second, their patent pool is like a nuclear warhead that they are gonna sell to the highest bidder who will use it for patent warfare. Kodak has been known to litigate in the past to try to bring in some cash, unsuccessfully.

We’ll see how the reorganization goes.

Nikon 1

Nikon 1 is the just unveiled Nikon mirror less system. It seems to be a trend. First, m4/3, then Samsung NX, Sony Nex, Pentax Q and now Nikon 1.

2 cameras:

  • Nikon J1: 10.1 megapixel “CX-sized” sensor (x2.7 crop), electronic shutter, pop out flash, 1080p HD video, lot of colors. $649 with the 10-30mm.
  • Nikon V1: more advanced that the J1. No flash, accessory port, built-in EVF, higher resolution LCD, mechanical shutter, stereo microphone input, fewer colors. $899 with the 10-30mm.

The camera feature interchangeable lenses, SD card (high capacity), PSAM exposure modes, autofocus, etc. And NEF raw files.

4 lenses, 1 prime, 3 zooms:

  • Nikkor 10mm F2.8 pancake
  • Nikkor VR 10-30mm F3.5-5.6
  • Nikkor VR 30-110mm F3.8-5.6
  • Nikkor VR 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6

Two accessories for the V1: a flash and a GPS unit for $149 each. According to DPReview there will be a F-mount lens adapter coming as well. The availability in the US will be 20th of October 2011.

More at Nikon USA.

(Price are US list prices in USD)

My opinion, without having seen it. The new mount and the small sensor are two things that could hinder the camera success. The sensor, “CX size”, smaller than the one of m4/3, but still bigger than the one of the Pentax Q, make it more difficult to contain the noise at high ISO. I haven’t see samples yet to make myself an opinion. Also the new mount means that the lens will be specific to the system. I do believe Nikon could have benefited from joining the m4/3 gang instead and could have introduced Nikon lenses to the mix for the variety. It is one of the reason m4/3 cameras are popular.

On the other hand, the GPS accessory, while a bit overpriced, seems to be a welcome addition that virtually no other maker has. It is not Nikon’s first attempt.

New Olympus Pens

Olympus announced new Olympus Pens and lenses in the micro Four-Third format. Three models and four lenses:

  • E-P3: the successor of the E-P1 and E-P2. Gain a flash.
  • E-PL3: the successor of the E-PL2, with a slimmer design and flip out screen. But it lost the flash. DPReview has a preview.
  • E-PM1: an even smaller Pen camera, even more simplified.

All three cameras feature a new UI, a new sensor, a new engine that should solve most of the slowness criticism, better noise management, 1080p video in AVCHD with Dolby Digitalâ„¢ sound, etc. Not much changes in the number of pixels and this is actually good news for the image quality.

  • M. Zuiko Digital 12mm f2: a wide angle prime lens.
  • M. Zuiko Digital 45mm f1.8: a short telephoto.
  • M. Zuiko Digital 14-42 f3.5-5.6 II R: A slight restyling of the second version of the kit zoom.
  • M. Zuiko Digital 40-150 II R f4.0-5.6.

All the lenses come as MSC “Movie & Stills Compatible” (ie very smooth and silent autofocus).

Pentax Q

Pentax just announced the Pentax Q, a mirror-less camera with interchangeable lenses and a small sensor of 1/2.3″. There will be 5 lenses available.

As usual, DPReview has a preview.

Just a few comments after reading the specs and the preview:

  • Small sensor. I already find the m4/3 to be noisy due to its size. 1/2.3″ is significantly smaller and the quality will likely converge to a compact: lot of noise at higher ISO.
  • Barely smaller than the Sony NEX (or a micro 4/3), according to the picture on DPReview, despite a much smaller sensor.

Also the lenses will include a “standard” prime (kit) 48mm equivalent, “standard” zoom ($300), a fisheye with manual focus and fixed aperture f5.6 ($129) and for less than $100, two “toy” lenses, one wide (28mm equiv.), one (100mm equiv.) telephoto whose image look will remind of the Diana or Lomo.

At $800 with the prime lens, I don’t really see where the Pentax Q fits in the market. That reminds me of the Pentax Auto 110 film SLR.

Leica 25mm for m4/3 and Panasonic GF-3

News from the micro Four Thirds front:

Panasonic GF-3: more compact than the GF-2, still no viewfinder, even more stripped down:
DC Resource previewDPReview
In July 2011 with the 14mm f2.5 for USD$699. August for USD$599 with a kit zoom.

Leica Summilux 25mm f1.4 DG: fast sharp “standard” lens:
DC ResourceDPReview
Price unknown, for August 2011.