Friday, August 3, 2012

Well, Is It Sexy? Thoughts On the "X-Factor" And Camera Designs

New Panasonic Lumix DMC-G5
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I have been sorely tempted with some great deals on used Leica M9s recently, almost to the point of giving in. Now that's a sexy camera. In fact, it's hard for me to come up with any other reason for wanting it. I have a Leica M8 that I am fond of, but use much less than my Lumix DMC-G3s.
In tussling with myself over whether to buy an M9, which even at a great used price is super expensive, I took my M8 out this morning, after a long hiatus. The M8 is also a very sexy camera and I had a blast shooting it today. The images were truly no better than I got last weekend with my DMC-G3. The M9 would get me a full-frame sensor, and moderately better high iso performance. That's it. And, the M9's 2.5X the cost of the M8.
I have built my Leica lens set pretty well around the cropped sensor of the M8, with a 25mm Zeiss Biogon (33mm equivalent full-frame), old 35mm Summilux (47mm equivalent), and Voigtlander 75mm f2.5 (100mm equivalent) as the main kit. All of these work great on the M8. So, full-frame doesn't mean much.
Better high iso performance is meaningful. But, to be honest, my DMC-G3 has far better high iso performance than I could expect from the M9.
Again, it's the sexy factor, the "x-factor" that attracts me to the M9.
I read a post on that discusses this very thing.
(Click Here) to read the post on dpreview.
This post talks about how the Panasonic camera designs are great technically, but rather pedestrian in style. In some ways, I do agree, even though it's obvious how much I like Panasonic. The G3 sure doesn't feel like a Leica in my hands. But, as I've said, in many ways it outperforms.
The post also talks about how the Olympus OM-D has the x-factor. I can see that - the retro styling is very nice. But, still not like a Leica, in my opinion.
I sort of see this like comparing a Toyota and a Porsche. Obviously, Panasonic is the Toyota analog, Leica the Porsche analog. I own a Toyota, and have owned two Porsches in my life. I rely on the Toyota now, and don't own a Porsche. The Toyota is definitely more reliable, economical, and reasonable; I still miss my Porsche.
Toyota makes some performance cars - the Supra twin turbo is a performance legend. I'm sure it's also reliable. So, maybe the right solution is a Panasonic camera with the right styling and features to be both reliable and exciting.
And How About This Toyota? Panasonic - Make Us A Camera That FEELS Like This
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Is the DMC-G5 that camera? It looks pretty good to me. The grip will add a lot of feel, compared to the G3. If the sensor is as good or better than the Olympus OM-D, that will be great. It will never be a Leica, but it may just have some x-factor to it.
I think Panasonic could learn something of design by looking at the Leicas, and at the Fujifilm XPro-1. Fujifilm certainly put some x-factor into that design (closely modeled on the Leica).
I was thinking about what I'd like to try out in Micro 4/3 gear in the near future as I considered a great deal on a Leica M9. I figured out that I could buy a DMC-G5, Olympus 75mm f1.8 lens, Lumix 12-35mm f2.8, add in a new DMC-GH3 body when it's available (maybe that will be the sexy one?), and still spend less on these (all new) than I would on a single Leica M9 body only, USED!
So, I'll keep my Leica M8 for times when I just need that feel, but I won't upgrade to the M9.
I still miss my Porsche.
Panasonic, please try to build some x-factor into your upcoming designs. We'll be willing to pay for it, I promise.