For those who want something that looks as good as the pictures it takes, here’s our roundup of the latest retro-style cameras.
1. Olympus Pen E-P5
Inspiration: The original Pen, born in 1959, used regular 35mm film, but was the most compact camera to do so. By shooting half-frames, it also got over 70 shots out of a single roll of film.
Specs: Wi-Fi, 16.1 MP full HD video. Micro Four Thirds sensor, ISO 100-25,600. 3” touch screen (1,040k pixels), RAW/JPEG.
Verdict: It’s definitely the best styled and most capable of the Pen series. Its sub par video and inability to correct camera shake are compensated by one of the most compact designs in this segment and good Wi-Fi tethering with your smartphone, allowing you to post pics on the go.
Price: Range from B33,990-B39,990
2. Sony Alpha 7
Inspiration: Those gorgeous all-black magnesium bodies hark back to Nikon’s 35mm film reflex cameras. But while retro-style cameras tend to be a bit baroque (and silly) in their attempts to look just like the real thing, the Sony has a clean, sleek design of its own.
Specs: 24.3 MP full-frame sensor, 2.4 million dot electronic viewfinder, full HD video with uncompressed HDMI output, RAW/JPEG, Wi-Fi with NFC capability and downloadable apps.
Highlight: If you’re still watching Nikon and Canon duke it out for the top DSLR spot, you’re looking at the wrong fight. Sony has been putting both to shame lately, and this particular model is just superb in terms of design, build quality and performance.
3. Nikon DF
Inspiration: It looks like a classic 35mm Nikon FM, particularly because of its large, angular optical viewfinder, which promises an image area a nudge above Canon’s 6D.
Specs: Top continuous shooting speed at 5.5 frames per second (full resolution), ISO 100-12,800, 16 MP full-frame sensor, RAW/JPEG. 3.2” (921k dots)
Verdict: This camera’s guts are the same as the insanely high-end D4, minus the video. That, and the fact that it comes with a similarly retro looking 50mm lens, shows you’re really meant to use this one as a serious photographic tool.
4. Fujifilm FinePix X100s
Inspiration: The Finepix X100 really launched the retro-style trend, evoking the rangefinder Leicas of great photo journalists like Cartier Bresson. And the X100s looks just like its processor.
Specs: 16MP sensor, RAW/JPEG. 2.8” LCD Screen (460k pixels), full HD video, 2.8” screen (480k pixels), Built-in flash.
Verdict: The compact magnesium alloy body makes this a favorite for stylish photographers. But do note that this camera comes with a fixed 35mm equivalent lens that is not interchangeable. That’s a pretty serious limitation that old-school street photographers actually feel boosts their creativity, but it might not work for those seeking a casual camera. The sensor, lifted from the Fuji X-Pro1, is superb, though.
5. Leica M240
Inspiration: Its very own ancestor, the Leica M3, which launched in 1953, was the first Leica to combine a viewfinder (for framing the picture) and rangefinder (for determining focus) in one big bright window.
Specs: 24MP sensor. RAW/JPEG. 3” TFT Display (920k pixels). Full HD video (25 fps only).
Verdict: No-delay start up (750ms), long battery life and a much quieter shutter than its predecessor (the LEICA M9) show Leica is still clearly aimed at dedicated street photographers. Still, owning a Leica is a bit like owning a luxury car. You’re paying a lot for design and branding, too.
6. Panasonic - Lumix DMC-GM1
Inspiration: As you can now tell, this is another rangefinder lookalike based on old Leicas, except the scale is off. This thing’s face is about the size of a credit card, making it more Rollei 35S than Leica M.
Specs: 16 MP sensor, RAW/JPEG, Wi-Fi, 3.0-inch, 1036K dot 3” touch-sensitive LCD, full HD video recording at 60i/30p, built-in pop-up flash. Micro HDMI output.
Verdict: The size is truly amazing, given that this thing packs as much might as much larger competitors. And we love the-wide angle 24-64mm equivalent kit lens. Probably the most likely to compete for attention with your phone.