The rising dominance of Panasonic in compact cameras – arguably the best in each category

Written by Gary on November 28th, 2010

If one browses through a previous post of mine on which camera to buy for Christmas 2010, one quickly realises that there is one common theme:

It seems Panasonic has become THE leader in camera design for compact cameras and also for video capability!

  • best compact point and shoot – Panasonic LX-5
  • best super-zoom point and shoot – Panasonic FZ-100
  • best waterproof point and shoot – Panasonic FT-2
  • best video-optimised mirror-less dSLR – Panasonic GH-1 and GH-2
  • best compact mirror-less for beginners – Panasonic GF-2
  • best large sensor almost-affordable HD video camcorder – Panasonic AF100/101 – see here

Note that the HD video of the GH-1 and GH-2 is also better than any dSLR, and the image quality of the GH-2 HD video easily beats the new Canon 60D – see here and to quote:

  • The GH2 is stronger at high ISOs
  • The GH2 resolves almost twice the detail and resolution in 1080p mode than the Canon, 3x more in crop mode
  • The GH2’s colour and dynamic range are equal, and the GH1’s mud & banding issues are fixed
  • The GH2 does not have the serious moire and aliasing issues of the 60D in 1080p, and especially in 720p
  • 2 hour clip limit rather than 12 min cut off on Canon 60D, 7D and 5D

Panasonic are making rapid improvements to electronic viewfinder image quality, contrast-detect AF speed and HD video capabilities – all of which are critical technologies in the above market places, while their sensor development is improving quite nicely to give very acceptable image quality at higher ISO’s which has always been an issue in smaller sensors.

To my mind, Panasonic’s main weakness is in their flash technology – their cameras to date do not have the same control of flash as we would expect from high end cameras – certainly no where near as good as Olympus cameras. Fortunately, you can use Olympus flashes on Panasonic cameras, but there are still unnecessary limitations imposed by the cameras, particularly when used with legacy lenses in TTL auto mode.

And, I do  wish they would incorporate in-camera image stabilisation as well as their optical stabilisation, because it seems little to add, but which would make their cameras even better for use with legacy lenses. If you use legacy lenses a lot, then look at the Olympus Pen cameras instead.

My other main wish for Panasonic (and Olympus) is to get their flash sync speed up to 1/320th sec instead of 1/160th sec so that flash fill in in daylight could be more effective.


Comments are closed.