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Friday, 01 February 2008

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Mike, I've got to disagree with you on this type of flip out LCD being better than the E-3 style. I've got a Canon S2 IS with the same style screen as the E-3, and the first thing I thought of when seeing this screen was "why didn't Sony use the flip and twist style?" There are quite a few contortions I've put mine through that this type of screen can't do.

You can still do waist level shooting with flip-and-twist, but the screen will not be centered behind the camera. That seems like a small thing, when your hands will be in a very awkward position to begin with, in order to operate the controls. (I've tended to use my thumb on the shutter button, with fingers underneath the camera.)

Plus, as a benefit, the flip-and-twist style (on mine at least) can be closed with the LCD facing the camera, hiding and protecting it.

Two pounds for a "normal" zoom? Wow.

There are often internet forum debates on what constitutes a pro photographer/pro-level equipment vs. amateur. I have a new definition: equipment I would carry around only if I were paid to!

I can't figure out which I find more impressive about the "flagship". The fact that it will include a full-frame sensor with VR/IS/SSS/AS/OS/WTF, or the fact that it will NOT include a vertical grip.

I thought for sure that Sony was going to include a vertical grip in order to give the camera that big-camera-aura-of-professionalism. Omitting it shows both gumption and wisdom. Omitting a vertical grip is no problem, provided that a rigid, high-quality add-on grip is available.

The best thing about Sony's drive into the dSLR market is the pressure it will put on Nikon and Canon to improve/add features and lower prices.

Best,
Adam

David,

I've never used a flip-out LCD screen, but I have to admit that my initial reaction was the same as Mike's. It seems to me like the action of flipping and twisting an LCD like the E3's would put more strain on the screen and the joints than Sony's approach. Do you have an opinion on this? I haven't handled an E3 so it is hard for me to judge how solid the joint is and how likely it is to hold up for 3-5 years of daily use (not that you necessarily flip out the LCD every day...). Plus, I would have thought that for most purposes the range of articulation of the Sony LCD would be sufficient, though your comment obviously indicates there are exceptions.

Best,
Adam

From B&H website:

Canon 24-70 f/2.8: 2.1lb (950g)
Nikon 28-70 f/2.8: 2.06lb
Nikon 24-70 f/2.8: 2lbs (0.9kg)

Seems to be about par for a professional OEM standard zoom.

Best,
Adam

Heady times for those in the DSLR game. I suppose its good news for consumers, but I can't help but think their may be one too many players in a game where the combatants show no mercy. I worry about that quirky little company with a passion for unusual lenses.

Charlie

Hear hear to David's comment! I've loved the flip-and-twist LCD ever since I got my first digital camera: a Canon Powershot G2.

I've bent it every which way possible taking street shots, candids in crowds, concert photos over the heads of tall music fans, and more. Between the G2 and the G6 I eventually upgraded to, I don't think there's a screen position I haven't tried.

If someone would put this style of screen into a high-end DSLR, I'd be giddy. Especially if that someone were Nikon - my beloved Nikkors want to do some behind-the-back-sideways-at-shin-level shooting.

Wow, 33.3 oz.! I thoght my new Nikkor 24-70 2.8 was heavy at 31.7 oz. I'd have to hire a bearer to haul this bad boy around.

Your readers may be interested in PhotgraphyBlog's Sigma booth tour, with shots of the DP1.

http://www.photographyblog.com/images/pma_2008/sigma/

and of Sigma's massive 200-500mm zoom lens, which I'm sure would qualify as "professional" by Robert Roaldi's criteria.

The problem with a "flip-down" screen is that it doesn't help for taking vertical pictures at non-eyelevel.

Christopher,

So the extra 1.6 oz. makes such a big difference? Next time I buy a lens I will try to bear in mind that 32.0 oz. is the dividing line. Anything under: no problem. Anything over: sherpa territory.

Please don't be offended, I'm just kidding around. ;-)

Best,
Adam

Jonathan - Olympus already did it on the E-3. I don't know why others haven't followed suit.

Bill - Exactly! That's one fairly common way I've used it, among other, like with the lens pointed at 90 degrees to the direction I'm facing in either orientation.

Adam - I doubt the hinges that allow the movement of the Sony LCD are any stronger than those used on the Canon EVF/P&S cameras or Olympus E-3. I do a good bit of nature photography - I've had it on safari, and I'm going to the amazon soon - and I haven't had any problems with it at all over 2 years of use. It works just like day 1, and I know I've bumped it and jostled it quite a bit too.

Adam,

No offense taken. Since I had the foresight to retain a Sherpa when I bought my 24-70 and my D3, I think the dividing line for the lens is more like 16 oz.

Chris
http://writtenbythelight.blogspot.com/

Sony's version of live view seems unnatural to me - these cameras are like DSLR's with built-in phone cameras. Sony has lost quite a few merits of using actual imaging sensor for preview and focussing...

Phew !

For those not-particularly-rich amateurs among us who took a deep breath and chose Sony for our entry to digital SLR territory, these are happy days.

Announcements like these help to quash that little nagging fear of ending up with a historically curious camera with no product support and no development path... My last SLR was my first and lasted me twenty years. I guess I'll change my A100 sooner than that, but knowing that Sony are here and serious lets me concentrate on photography rather than residual values...

For you Oly and Pentax users - fingers crossed there's room for you too !

Y

Having spent too much time discussing the new Sony stuff on dpreview and dyxum, I've come to the conclusion that Sony has the best LV implementation right now for the consumer market. It's very friendly to people who buy cameras who don't really want to be "photographers". I'm sure it will prove handy in some ways to some enthusiasts, but it comes with a few steep compromises. None of the cameras offer DOF preview and because the LV image is taken through the focus screen it would be inaccurate if it was available. LV shows 90% coverage, not 100% and the histogram, WB, etc. are all based on that focus screen/2cd sensor combo. It only offers 2X magnification for manual focus, and the optical VF is about the size of the older Canon dRebel VFs, offering 10% less magnification than the pentamirror finder on the A100 & A200.

Basically, it's a great piece of work by Sony for the camers it's in (though the 14MP model is a bit odd) but it's an implementation that doesn't propagate upwards in the lineup.

A great analysis is here:
http://photoclubalpha.com/2008/01/31/how-the-live-view-a300-and-a350-will-work/

Having spent only a little time with each kind of articulating LCD, I prefer the speed, simplicity and robustness of the flip-up screen over the flexibility of the tilt-swivel.

I'm sure preference is largely dictated by the type and style of shooting. For me, the eye-level finder works for the vast majority of situations. When it doesn't, I most often want a look-down view. Most other common situations can be handled, I think, with a combination of the flip-up LCD and manipulating the camera angle and position. For me that is the simpler, faster, surer, and less disorienting way to get those angles.

Of course, cropping is likely to be necessary in those latter situations. Maybe that's what the optional extra 4mp are for...

Canon needs fierce compitition of this type to wake up and smell the end of their monopoly in full frame market. Just as 5D was a breakthrough camera in its price range (and kudos to Canon for that), I hope this full framer from Sony is available with the same sensor in two types of bodies - a bullet proof, weather sealed, mandatory battery grip based body for pros who are required to shoot in any and all conditions, and a moderately weather sealed body sans battery grip for people (many of whom are pros) who don't HAVE TO shoot in any given weather condition but have a great degree of freedom and control over it.

I hope this news gives Canon enough incentive to produce a no compromise 5DMkII, otherwise many of us will jump ship in a heartbeat if the Sony full framer debuts at a competitive price to 5DMkII. That Zeiss lens alone may be the reason some of us are already salivating at getting into the Sony system down the road.

After a recent hellish encounter with Canon Service (3 weeks and $130 to fix a slightly broken zoom head on a 580ex-many phone calls got them to drop the repair fee but they still have my flash), I'm ready to jump ship for the first pretty face. That Sony flagship looks pretty sweet.

Is it weathersealed? That would be the proverbial icing on the proverbial cake...

"I thought for sure that Sony was going to include a vertical grip in order to give the camera that big-camera-aura-of-professionalism. Omitting it shows both gumption and wisdom. Omitting a vertical grip is no problem, provided that a rigid, high-quality add-on grip is available."

Adam,

Please give credit where credit is due. The omission of the built-in vertial grip was originally a Minolta conceit: The Maxxum 9's vertical grip was also an option.

In fact it goes a step further: some die-hard Minolta fans poo-poo'd the A700 grip (and the 7D grip) because it wasn't as well designed and thought out as the grips for the film 7 and 9.

The new Sony flagship with 24mp sounds very interesting if accompaned by first class Zeiss primes.

This is edging into the area of the capability of a good film 35mm camera as far as detail resolution.

"The implementation of live view on the A300 and A350 is promising. First of all, the camera offers a simple flip-up LCD viewing screen, which I personally think is even better than the articulated digicam-style screen on the Olympus E-3."

Let's call these new Alphas the "Columbus Cams": It seems like Sony just "discovered" the Olympus E-330.

Vertical grip on the "flagship" - it'll be solid. I've had VC grips on three cameras - my Minolta Maxxum 600si and 7 film cameras, and my K-M Maxxum 7D. The sort of "modern" grip they have was also available for the 700si, 800si and the 9. They've got a lot of years of experience designing them, and the grips fit well, and solidly. Starting with the 7 and 9, and continuing to the 7D and now the new A200/3x0 cameras, they changed the grip ergonomics for the better. It's great to have it available, but it's also nice to remove it if you just need to travel light for some reason.

An interesting point about Sony's Live View is that it doesn't use the main sensor. It uses a (relatively) low-resolution secondary sensor located in the mirror box.

Offhand, this seems to be a concession to the people who want to hold the camera at arm's length to take pictures, and not so suitable for the serious photographer who wants to preview the precise image that will be captured, focus and all.

Also, the implementation requires that the viewfinder optics use a pentamirror rather than a pentaprism (one of the mirrors actually moves to switch between live view and viewfinder). Which is probably why the A700 doesn't have Live View.

I'm still waiting for that rogue Minolta engineer to sneak in some exposure mode expansion cards, a thumb lever for cocking the shutter, and a leaky LCD screen...

I also wonder how good the optical VF in the 300 and 350 will be.

However, i am quite impressed by Sony, though i never liked that company...

But they know a thing or two about design, and now they show up with absolutely serious dslrs and finally we get a fullframe without built in grip but built in IS!

As to the Carl Zeiss lens - what exactly does this name mean on a modern day lens design? Is the name equivalent, of say, Canon's "L" series of lenses? Carl (or his company) hasn't been making much of anything for quite some time now, so I'm just trying to understand what "Carl Zeiss Optics" really buys us in today's world (besides a premium price tag). Does Sony make these lenses, or are they farmed out to someone else? I'd just like to know...

"Carl (or his company) hasn't been making much of anything for quite some time now"

Huh?!? Are you insinuating that a product not made by Carl Zeiss *personally* isn't worthy of the corporate name?!? The optics division of Carl Zeiss was rejuvenated in the 1990s by the cooperative agreement with Sony, and the previously shrinking employee roster tripled. It has grown since then. The division is now a small but thriving integral part of the much larger company. It's true that it's a design and marketing company as much as a manufacturing one, but then, that's true of most modern companies, and there are certainly many lenses and other optical products that are currently being manufactured in Oberkochen. No, not by Carl Zeiss *personally*, due to the fact that he died in 1888.

Mike J.

Has anyone considered the fact that you can set up the flip LCD screen as for a lap photo and then place the camera in the verticle orientation? The only other part is that you have to move to the side to view it. It will then seem that your subject is straight ahead of you but in fact is 90 to the left or right depending which verticle orientation you use. There should be no trouble with orientation as pointing the camera down will cause the image on the screen to move down. Left and right will also be correct. This is different from a right angle rinder where the image does not rotate with the eyepiece - it only rotates with angular rotation of the camera and does not do that in an intuitive way. Again the only inaccuracy is that your subject in reality is either to your left or right.

Carl Zeiss has been directly manufacturing lenses that are rather good...such as the 15mm Distagon and 85mm Sonnar for the Zeiss ZM Camera. If you go thru the Zeiss website you will find that they are producing for industrial users lenses with a numerical aperture of .93 capable of resolving detail 1/1000th the diameter of a human hair. This may seem rather mundane to others but to me it is quite impressive.

Zeiss produces a wide range of optical products that has little to do with photography.

Zeiss in its work with Sony and Cosina is doing photographers are real service by providing some real competition to Leica and Canon to name a couple of firms.

The Zeiss lenses in ZM mount has already induced Leica to come out with the new Summarit series. Sony and Zeiss together will do much to keep Canon on their toes.

Zeiss has made on "modern days" wonderfull line of lenses for Contax/Yashica cameras.
I haven't seen those Canon lenses, but many pros use Zeiss' ones on another vendor's cameras. That includes Canon, so thare must be a reason.

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