Panasonic launches LF1 enthusiast compact with EVF, upgrades G6 with speed and Wi-Fi


posted Tuesday, April 23, 2013 at 8:10 PM EDT

Japanese consumer electronics giant Panasonic has today launched two new cameras aimed at enthusiast use. If you've been shopping for an enthusiast compact, but you've been put off by the lack of a viewfinder, the Panasonic LF1 might be the camera for you. Let's face it, we don't all like shooting at arm's length -- the traditional camera-to-the-eye stance has a number of advantages, not least of them the better visibility under harsh sunlight. It's also easier to hold the camera steady in low-light shooting, and you feel more intimately connected to your subject. The Panasonic LF1 provides all this in an enthusiast compact body, thanks to the addition of an in-camera electronic viewfinder -- and yet it's significantly lighter and smaller in every dimension than Panasonic's existing Lumix LX7.

Pricing and availability haven't been disclosed at this time. More details on this model can be found in our Panasonic LF1 preview.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LF1 adds an electronic viewfinder to an enthusiast compact body.

The Panasonic G6, meanwhile, follows on from the Lumix G5, a camera we rather liked thanks to refinements throughout its design. It might seem a little soon for a followup just six months later, but the successor to that Dave's Pick-winning camera is now here, and Panasonic has again been hard at work finding areas in need of a tweak. The Panasonic G6 shares a lot with its predecessor, including its image sensor, but boasts a new body with more external controls and improved ergonomics, plus a new image processor, LCD panel, and viewfinder. There are several changes in the camera's software, too, likely hailing from the new processor.

More details in our Panasonic G6 preview; again, pricing and availability haven't yet been disclosed.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-G6 mirrorless camera is faster, has improved metering and autofocus, and sports both Wi-Fi and NFC wireless communications.

Finally, alongside the new cameras Panasonic has revealed a new optic, the Lumix G Vario 14-140mm F3.5-5.6 Asph. Power O.I.S. Compared to the existing HD version of the lens, it's about 18% smaller by volume, and a fair bit less than two thirds of the weight. This is achieved with a significantly less complex optical formula involving 14 elements in 12 groups, including 3 aspheric and two extra-low dispersion elements. There's still a seven-bladed aperture diaphragm. Interestingly, though, its maximum aperture is somewhat brighter across the range, starting from f/3.5 at wide angle, and falling to f/5.6 at telephoto. It also focuses more closely from 14mm to 21mm, to just 30 centimeters; beyond that it focuses to 50 cm like the existing optic. As you'd expect, it accepts smaller 58mm threaded filters.

Panasonic's new 14-140mm optic is smaller, lighter, and brighter than the existing equivalent.