Now this is an interesting thing. When it went on sale some time ago, I thought it was a great concept, but a wee bit too expensive for what it actually was. And what is it? Well, I’d describe it as a pocketable compact camera aimed at actual photographers.
What’s it got? Well, there’s a fixed 23mm lens (no zooming, no swapping), which as the camera has an APS-C sized sensor (the same as in most consumer DSLRs), gives the same field of view as a 35mm lens on a full-frame camera like my Canon 5D Mark III. That’s a nice format for street photography, and indeed a lot of general use, and with 12 megapixels being captured by the sensor allows for a bit of cropping where needed.
It’s got a nifty “hybrid” viewfinder, which works as both a proper optical one, which allowing for a bit of parallax for closer subjects, shows you much what the sensor sees with some useful information overlaid, or as an electronic viewfinder (EVF), which unlike early versions of such things, is bright, clear and sharp, and can display lots of useful information. And of course, you can compose using the LCD screen on the back, but I think most of the target market for this camera will prefer the viewfinder.
It’s got the shape and feel of a more or less traditional rangefinder camera, even down to the aperture control being a nicely clicky dial set around the lens, and a proper dial on the top for exposure control. Even exposure compensation is set with a dial. All of this means that you can pick up the camera and immediately check your settings before it’s even turned on, which is nice.
There are, of course, a load more settings controlled from the extensive menus, but most of the controls you’ll need are immediately accessible from the clearly marked buttons. This is very nice.
So, having read lots of reviews, looked at some sample images and thought about it, and waited for the price to come down. And then decided that I should probably buy myself a present for that significant birthday that I’m still denying having today. After doing the usual shopping around thing, I decided that if I was going to treat myself, I might as well do it properly and get the limited edition all black version, which comes in a big box with a leather case, a lens hood and a protective filter. Like so many other things, I got it from Amazon, and got the usual quick delivery.
In the first few days, I didn’t get much chance to take it out and give it a proper test, but I did get some shots I was pleased with, like this one:
Shutter speed: 1/60s
Focal length: 23mm
Taken: 24 October, 2012
But yesterday gave me a proper opportunity to play with it. In the tricky lighting in the Doctor Who Experience, and shooting in RAW, I was able to get some nice images of some of the exhibits. I particularly like this Weeping Angel – this image has been cropped quite a lot to show the details:
Shutter speed: 1/25s
Focal length: 23mm
Taken: 2 November, 2012
So, my early impressions are that this is a very nice camera indeed. The leather case does an excellent job of protecting it, and opens up nicely to allow access to all the controls. It even fits in the quite large pocket of my winter coat, which is a bonus.
Given that it’s a fixed lens camera offering “only” 12 megapixels, it’ll never replace my Canon 5D Mark III as my main camera – it would be utterly useless for airshows, for instance, but as a moderately discrete go anywhere camera, it’s ideal. It lacks some of the fun features of my Pentax Q, and it’s somewhat bigger, but I do like a proper viewfinder, and being able to switch between optical and electronic is seriously nice.
More pictures will follow…
 But remember to take the lens cap off
 As I generally do