Panasonic has announced the pricing of the GF2, a somewhat smaller and simpler successor of the GF1. It'll come in black, silver, red, and white models and have a suggested retail price of $499.95. Availability is imminent—the middle of this month.
And speaking of mirrorless developments, Ricoh Camera has just announced the so-called "GXR Lens Mount Unit," in development for release next fall. You remember the GXR—that's the camera with the interchangeable self-contained lens-sensors units. The Lens Mount Unit will enable the use of Leica M mount lenses in a unit that contains a 12.9 MP APS-C sized CMOS sensor behind a focal plane shutter. In other words, exactly what many enthusiasts were barking for when the exotic GXR was first treed.
And speaking of Ricoh...it's a company that has long had a very low penetration and a low profile in the U.S. market. Think of Ricoh (the camera division, I'm talking about—the company also makes business products and much else) as being roughly analogous to Subaru—a proud but quirky little company that goes its own way, and that has a user base sometimes described as a "cult following." Small but dedicated. For years, Ricoh bypassed the U.S. for its cameras, feeling its products got lost in the crowd. In the last decade, however, it has quietly re-entered the U.S. market with at least four dealers: Adorama, Tony Rose's PopFlash in Thousand Oaks, California, and Rich Pinto's Photo Village in New York City, and it has just struck an agreement to sell directly through Amazon. So at least non-gray Ricoh cameras are available here again, and have been for at least six or seven years now. Still, Ricoh remains a very minor presence in the U.S.
And speaking of "regionality" where cameras are concerned...take the following with a grain of salt, because I'm no expert on the international camera market—this is just a report of rumors, none of which has an official source. But I hear there are some significant regional aspects to the popularity of various cameras and brands. For example, evidently it's mainly China that's keeping the global pipeline for the Leica S2 dry as a bone: the S2 is rampantly popular among newly minted millionaires there (and to a lesser extent in India). The country that's turning the Pentax 645D from a prestige loss-leader into a viable cash-cow product is India (and to a lesser extent China), where the camera is in great demand. And the Brazilians (they of the most recent economic miracle) are apparently wild for Sony NEX cameras. NEX 5's are apparently just the hottest thing going there. Or so rumor has it.
Of course, the opposite happens sometimes as well: The Fuji X100 was reportedly conceived as a niche boutique product principally for the Japanese home market, but is now slated for a worldwide rollout because of all the attention it got in the wake of Photokina.
Finally—on a matter of extremely local concern*—can anybody steeped in Oly links 'n' lore fill me in on the current status of the rumored upcoming "pro" Micro 4/3 camera? Any camera that takes my current favorite lens is of at least a little interest to me.
*Here in my office, or, you might say, inside my head.
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Original contents copyright 2011 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.
Featured Comment by Russ: "In New Zealand Subaru are very popular and Ricoh not so much, so even your comparisons are localised!"
Featured Comment by Jeff: "My understanding is that the largest proportion of late model Leica M film cameras (MP and M7) have been sold in Japan."
Mike replies: Thank you Jeff. I forgot that example.