While the DSLR category of cameras continues to evolve and proliferate, the amorphous group of bodies without reflex finders but with interchangeable lenses is exploding. It may be hard to pin down this category and give in one specific name; CSC (Compact System Cameras) is popular at the moment, as is MILC (Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Cameras). Whatever you call it, it’s growing fast.
The latest entry is Panasonic’s Lumix GX1, an apparent effort to re-engage the more serious shooter crowd that so enthusiastically embraced the earlier GF1. This is a Micro Four Thirds camera with a 16MP sensor, new optional electronic viewfinder, and a new line of premium “X” branded lenses.
Apparently, Fujifilm is not too far from announcing a follow-on to their very well received X100 which speculators are referring to as LX10 (see mockup here). This model will have interchangeable lenses and an optical viewfinder (doubts so far as to whether or not it will be a hybrid finder as in the X100). Sensor format is not yet known, nor is the type, though there are lots of rumors about an “organic” sensor. Fuji has made some strong bids of late, including the X10, which though it has a smaller sensor and fixed zoom lens, the simple optical viewfinder and many excellent mechanical ergonomic features make it very appealing.
Nikon threw their hat in the ring not long ago with their Nikon 1 J1 and V1. With a sensor smaller than m4/3 (2.7x crop-factor), many folks are scratching their heads, but some are liking it too (see Rob Galbraith’s comments here).
Continuing concerns right now are the on-going delivery delays resulting from the Japanese earthquake and tsunami in March and the floods in Thailand more recently. Many of the newer models are simply not available yet for real-world testing of production versions and the resulting independent reviews. However, a few early reports on the Sony NEX-7 are beginning to show, though whether these are based on pre-production or actual shipping models is a little hard to decipher.
And here’s an interesting twist that’s just surfaced. Leica previously made known they would be bringing out a compact mirrorless system camera fairly soon. Since then, Kodak—previous supplier of sensors for the M9/M9-P/S2 bodies—has sold its sensor business. Now inquiring thinkers are merging hints and wondering if the next round might come from Fuji? Leica has made a remarkable recovery from just a few years ago and their current profitability and growth plans suggest some very interesting products in the not too distant future.
For a more extensive rundown and discussion of CSCs/MILCs, see Bob Adkins’ article. There’s a lot to choose from now, and there’ll be more very soon.