I popped by the IT Show '08 for the second time yesterday. Today's the fricking third time, but that's for another post. The first time was on Thursday, to recce (or racky, or raq-key. However the hell you spell it. Short for reconnaissance, ok?) I collected Fujifilm, Nikon, Sony, Exilim, and maybe a couple others. My budget was $250, $300 maxed out. And for that price (those brands that had an option around that area anyway), no brand could beat Sony. In itself the camera(s) already have such wonderful specs, and to top it off with fireworks (or cream-shrouded cherries) they were offering freebies galore.
One thing I noticed. Maybe I wasn't paying too close attention at previous shows, but many major camera brands were SPAMMING memory cards like they were all mini-timebombs. Olympus offered 3 2GB xD cards. 6GB of memory? Are they that disposable nowadays that you can offer people too much memory just to buy your camera? Even if you were one for card-switching, and I honestly can think of no reason why you wish to make your life such a misery, you don't frigging need that much memory.
Ok carrying on...
After dashing around yesterday, Jerrick and I had narrowed it to either Sony or Panasonic. For Panasonic the Mega O.I.S. was the star attraction. For Sony, its lenses, image sensor, and clarity were unmatched. Samsung pranced into the picture for awhile, with good physical looks, good snapshots, and a good screen to display them, but when we realized that they were trying to market it as an all-in-one PMP-camera, it immediately fell out of the league because we didn't wish to pay for something we weren't looking for, more so since we both already have dedicated PMPs.
In the end, Panasonic as an overall image capture brand triumphed in these two consumers' minds. The Mega OIS totally won us over. I had quite a tight budget of 250. While Jerrick had abit more liberty, he wasn't about to go crazy with the 7-800 dollar options anyway. So I took out a loan of a hundred from him and decided on the FX12 selling at $299, while he with a hundred more went for the FS3 at $399. I'll just gloss over the FS3 first.
The main attraction of this camera would be the Intelligent Auto system, known in short as iA. In a nutshell, iA assesses the photography conditions and assumes the appropriate mode, totally eliminating the need for the mode dial, as well as plenty of flustered users. Very good for 1) tech idiots, and 2) lazy geeks. For example if you wanted to snap a hi-res picture (8.1MP) of someone's festering pimple for further examination in the comfort of your room, and you brought the camera really close to the guy's face, iA kicks in and switches to Macro mode. Quite snappy, as far as my limited experience with it goes, but I dunno just how intelligent the program gets. Jerrick?
Read about the FS3 at its official product page.
The FX12 keeps in line with earlier generations of Lumix cameras. The quintessential mode dial is there, as are the buttons and round-the-shutter zoom lever, but subtle improvements have been made to smoothen the user's experience. Modes on the dial have been shifted around in terms of usage, new modes have been added. A major add-on is the Intelligent ISO mode, which is supposed to assess the best ISO to suit the lighting conditions. Alot of scene settings have been added in as well, including a much-welcome aerial photo scene mode. More detailed specs:
- 7.2 megapixels
- 3x optical zoom + 4x digital zoom (total 12x)
- f=5.8-17.4mm (35mm equivalent: 35-105mm) (whatever the frick that means)
- Leica DC Vario-Elmarit Lens
- ISO: Auto / 100 / 200 / 400 / 800 / 1250 (High Sensitivity Mode: 3200)
- Scene modes:
- Portrait, Soft Skin, Scenery, Sports, Night Portrait, Night Scenery, Self-Portrait, Food, Party, Candle Light, Fireworks, Starry Sky, Beach, Aerial Photo, Snow, High Sensitivity, Baby 1&2, Underwater, Sunset, Pet
- Motion picture: up to 640x480 30fps / 848x480 30fps
- 4GB SDHC
- SD(HC)/MMC Card Reader
- Official Lumix Camera Leather Case
- Screen Protector
- Lens Cleaning Kit
- Mobile Phone Charger
- Extra battery with case!!!
For Jerrick's FS3, they gave memory cards instead of the extra battery, making me all the more happy with my purchase. 4 + 2 + 2GB... for what you tell me. -.-" The card reader's just another China-made one, complete with horrid English, but that's one product I don't need a brand for. The camera case is just sexeh, the usual magnetic snap-close leather case. The screen protector, I'm impressed with its transparency and applicability. You have to be very careful about it, but when you do it right, it glues on like a magnet, with no bubbles. Fantastic. That mobile phone charger is that thing where you slot an AA battery into an aluminium tube and plug it to something or the other and it can charge on the go... perfect for flat phones and devices. The ones old leering uncles try to sell you for anywhere between $16-$22.
I got it free. Bite that you mothercheaters.
Panasonic must have snatched alot of customers with that extra battery there, only thrown in as additional enticement on the third day. While we were off deliberating, we zipped past the Lumix booth again and Jerrick noted that the FX10, the 6MP brother of the FX12, had already been sold out. That one was running for either 249 or 259. Today, the last day, I brought my aunt's good friend in to get another FS3, and pink was already gone. By the time she filled the order form, black was only collectible two days later. Finding it a bother, she picked the silver and brought it home immediately. If I can remember correctly, the FX55 was also totally sold out as well.
Roaring business I tell you. Congratulations to you Panasonic. The result of good, revolutionary R&D.