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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

So Retro!

The proliferation of high-end, back-to-the-future, retro-design cameras has style as well as substance


This Article Features Photo Zoom
Fixed-Lens Retro, And Not
Fujifilm's 12.3-megapixel X100 was its first compact APS-C-sensor camera, featuring a built-in 23mm lens (equivalent to 35mm on a 35mm camera) and a classic Leica-style look. It also introduced Fujifilm's unique Hybrid Multi Viewfinder that lets you switch instantly between an optical eye-level finder and an electronic one. The former provides the brightest image and minimizes shutter lag, while the latter provides an excellent live view of the image.

The X100S improved upon the original X100's APS-C sensor with a 16.2-megapixel Fujifilm X-Trans II APS-C sensor with on-chip phase-detection AF sensors to complement the unique X-Trans filter array (see the main article for details on that) and a higher-res version of the Hybrid Multi Viewfinder. So you get pro image quality and good AF performance, all in a stylish, much-smaller-than-DSLR package. The X100S measures 5.0x2.9x2.1 inches and weighs 15.7 ounces. Estimated Street Price: $1,299.

Actually, now there are a number of excellent fixed-lens cameras with compact bodies and DSLR-sized image sensors, although lacking a classic retro look. Leica's X Vario features a 16.2-megapixel, APS-C CMOS sensor and a built-in 18-46mm zoom lens (equivalent to 28-70mm on a 35mm camera). Dimensions are 5.2x2.9x3.7 inches and 24 ounces. Estimated Street Price: $2,850. Leica's X2 features the same sensor and a built-in 24mm lens (equivalent to 35mm on a 35mm camera). It measures 4.9x2.7x2.0 inches and weighs 11.2 ounces. Estimated Street Price: $1,995.

Nikon's Coolpix A features a 16.2-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor and a built-in 18.5mm lens (28mm 35mm-camera equivalent). It measures just 4.4x2.6x1.6 inches and weighs 10.6 ounces. Estimated Street Price: $1,099.

Ricoh's similar GR has a 16.2-megapixel, APS-C CMOS sensor and a fixed 18.3mm lens (28mm 35mm-camera equivalent). It measures 4.6x2.4x1.4 inches and weighs a mere 8.6 ounces. Estimated Street Price: $799.

Sigma offers three DP Merrill cameras, all featuring the unique Foveon X3 image sensor that records all three primary colors at every pixel site. (Conventional sensors record just one color at each site, producing the missing colors at each site by interpolation using complex proprietary algorithms and producing color moiré that generally requires use of a blurring optical low-pass filter; the Foveon sensor doesn't need the OLPF filter and thus can deliver higher resolution for a given pixel count.) The DP1M has a built-in 28mm lens (equivalent to 35mm on a full-frame camera), the DP2M, a 45mm equivalent lens, and the DP3M, a 75mm equivalent lens; all three lenses were designed specifically for the Foveon sensor. All three DP models are 4.8 inches wide and 2.6 inches high; due to the different lenses, they differ in depth (2.5mm, 2.3mm and 3.2mm, respectively) and weigh 12.0, 11.6 and 14.1 ounces, respectively. Estimated Street Price: $899 (each).

Sony offers two versions of its RX1 full-frame "pocket camera": the RX1 features a 24.3-megapixel, full-frame Sony Exmor CMOS sensor with an OLPF, and the RX1R, a similar sensor without the OLPF. Both have a built-in 35mm ƒ/2.0 lens designed for the camera and sensor, measure 4.5x2.6x2.7 inches and weigh 17.0 ounces—the most compact full-frame digital cameras available. Estimated Street Price: $2,799 (each).


 

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