Price: $770 (body only street price)
Still petite and sweet

THE LOW-DOWN: The E-M10 is the junior sibling in the Olympus micro four thirds range, released in February last year and now upgraded to MkII with an improved OLED viewfinder, five axis image stabilisation which works in video mode, focus bracketing and limited 4K video for time lapse sequences. The 16 megapixel sensor is unchanged. The touch-screen LCD now displays the useful Super Control Panel by default, making easy access to every major camera setting. The two knobs on the top plate give quick control of some functions, including exposure compensation which can be done by feel without taking the eye from the viewfinder. There is even a simulation of an optical DSLR viewfinder. Smartphone integration is excellent. Overall the ergonomics are very good.

LIKE: The Olympus jpeg image quality, as always, is outstanding – RAW is even better. The bundled software includes Olympus Viewer 3 which is a good RAW image converter and general Lightroom-like image editor. The in-camera correction of converging verticals is sheer genius.

DISLIKE: Panasonic’s recently released 20 megapixel micro four thirds sensor could make the E-M10 obsolete sooner than we would like.

VERDICT: We have been using the original E-M10 since its release and have usually picked it up as our preferred camera – the MkII is better. The viewfinder and new control layout have given the camera a new feel and responsiveness and – at least for the time being – without a significant price increase. We confess to a tragic addiction to the Olympus retro design style, bringing the lovely form and function of the OM film cameras into the digital era. So OK, it’s only cosmetics, but a thing of beauty is a joy forever. Or at least until MkIII arrives.

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The future is upon us, at least for today: you’ve set up your new ultra high definition television and now you want to show your pals what it can do, and specifically how it works as the ultimate photo display device. You need to create a slideshow of your best photos in genuine 4K with music and (if you absolutely must) the “Ken Burns effect” of panning and zooming on the picture. Erk!

4K Slideshowmaker (free for Windows, Mac and Linux from www.4kdownload.com/download) is the tool for the job. This is a small application, downloaded in a trice and easy to use – just drag and drop the selected photos onto its main screen, set the output in Preferences, add music and press the Make button and a file is generated in the mp4 video format. Obviously to get the most impressive effect it helps to create the source jpegs in the 4K format of 16:9 and the pixel dimensions to 3840X2160.

If your photos come from a smartphone you might need to enlarge the image slightly. The standard output from an iPhone is 3264X2448 – the wrong aspect ratio for the television. Android phones give the user more control over the camera than the iPhone provides, some allowing the aspect ratio and file quality to be set manually. To achieve that sort of control with an iPhone it is necessary to turn to third party apps.

Camera+, free from the app store, is currently our preferred add-on control unit for the iPhone. It adds on-screen control for white balance, zoom, focus, stabiliser, macro and burst mode. But most important for television display it provides for 16:9 cropping. What’s more in 16:9 mode the files are saved as higher quality TIFFs. When the pixel width is adjusted in an editing program to 3840 the pixel height is automatically adjusted to 2160. The current version of Photoshop handles this considerable degree of enlargement well, using the “Preserve details enlargement” option.

Owners of Nokia 1020 phones shoot 16:9 as the native format with pixel dimensions greater than 4K, so they get the benefit of reducing the image and increasing the sharpness for the slideshow.

While looking for iPhone camera apps we came across the RedDotCam which, believe it or not, turns your iPhone into a Leica. You get on-screen Leica-like “knobs” to control ISO, shutter speed and EV adjustment. It’s not free but it is cheap for a Leica.


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Price: $800 (street price)
Stunning video

THE LOW-DOWN: The FZ300 is a 12 megapixel “bridge” camera with a very long Leica-branded lens with a zoom range of 25—600mm in film terms. The lens is a constant aperture f2.8 and there is five-axis stabilisation. The 1440k dot OLED viewfinder is mated with the 75mm touch-sensitive articulated LCD screen. The camera shoots 4K ultra high definition video and also uses Panasonic’s 4K burst mode to capture sets of stills. Connectivity is by WiFi and NFC and Panasonic’s phone and tablet app is one of the best. The camera is dust and splash proof and feels rugged in the hand. We like the manual focus knob on the lens barrel and the use of both enlargement and focus peaking assistance. There is a microphone socket.

LIKE: Image quality is very good, helped by the modest pixel count. And 4K video is stellar. Focus tracking, exposure and white balance adjust quickly. The dynamic range is amazing with detail preserved in highlights and luminous shadows. Rendered fine detail, viewed on a 4K TV, is perfect.

The camera body is huge, presumably to offer an aesthetic balance to the big lens. We could have done without the extreme zoom range in exchange for a smaller over-all unit.

VERDICT: This camera embodies the virtues of Panasonic’s standard-setting compact LX7 and adds the phenomenal 4K video recording. When we showed the video to serious photographer friends they were all amazed that such image quality was available at such a (relatively) low price. We had to reassure them that what they were seeing was shot hand-held and in automatic mode, letting the camera do the work. Full HD 1080 video is also very good, even if your pals won’t be saying: “Gosh! Look at that.”



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Many new digital cameras come with ultra high definition video recording– usually referred to as 4K. For instance the Panasonic DMC FZ300 reviewed today records 4K video, as well as the usual 1080 line high definition format. Which raises the question: does a new camera demand a new TV?

The time has come to put the 4K system through some serious testing and the Panasonic is the camera for the job. We are impressed with the camera’s video ability and even more impressed when we viewed the output on a 4K television, in this case the Sony Bravia X83C 123cm ($2299 rrp). And while testing the video system we could also check out the television as a display device for still photos.

The X83C is one of the smallest ultra high definition sets. We are not seduced by size in TVs because the larger the screen – viewing distance being the same – the lower the subjective resolution. Also an important consideration with ultra HD is the issue of upscaling from lower definition source material. The Sony does a decent job of upscaling and our 1080 line videos look very good but 576 line standard definition free-to-air programs are sometimes barely acceptable.

The Panasonic 4K video was edited using Apple’s Final Cut Pro X which output a 4K master file, copied to a USB stick. We plugged it into the Sony and were amazed that such a picture could be created and displayed using relatively inexpensive equipment.

The rendered detail, the sharpness, colour and luminous shadows must be seen to be believed.

The Sony is also well set-up for displaying still photos. There is a set of dedicated picture styles for photos, the best of which cancel over-sharpening and high contrast and render beautiful images on a screen with no visible pixel grid. There is a slide show function for hands-free picture changing.

UHD 4K is a sort of interim technology. There are no 4K discs, but they are coming, and there is a small library of UHD programs on Netflix and YouTube. 1080 line programs on Stan, Presto and Netflix are brilliant as is BluRay source material. The quality of DVD replay is variable and is affected by the DVD player – newer players upscale better. Standard definition TV varies from unwatchable to acceptable.

The famous bottom line: we like the Sony Bravia so much that we have bought it.


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