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Sunday, 09 November 2008

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I wrote once that sites like The Online Photographer post "reviews with soul". And posts like this one are a clear evidence of what I meant then.

BTW Mike, I expected some more posts regarding the K20D (in particular, one explaining why it is best to shot in Pentax proprietary raw format, then convert to DNG), but either they were not published or I missed them. Can you please give some updates about that?

So -- you gonna buy one?

Mike,
I'm glad you enjoyed yourself so thoroughly during the past week. I'm sure a few people will be inspired by your words to at least get their hands on one at the local camera store, but a few people will insist that because it isn't made by their favorite brand, then it's no good. That doesn't make sense to me, but oh well, too bad for them.

I look forward to the final review, er, um, I mean, write-up :)

Funny that you still seem to be so taken by the perception of disposability in today's DSLRs such as the A900, which, if properly used and cared for, could easily deliver stellar results for at least the next 3-5 years, depending on your frequency of usage.

Isn't that a more-than-justifiable ROI (leaving aside the "blast" factor)?

3-5 year ROI? I still have a camera that's perfectly usable that I inherited from a relative who died well over a decade ago. It was made in 1958, when I was one. Sure, DSLRs can offer perfectly justifiable ROI. But they're still essentially disposable. I don't mean theoretically, I mean in my experience. I only made a slight profit on one digital camera I ever had...the value of all the rest essentially went to zero. That just does factor in to considerations of what to buy and how much to spend...for me, maybe not for others.

Mike J.

Isn't that what we mean by disposable: three to five years? I'm on third and fourth DSLR, having sold the first two. We tended to keep film cameras longer than that.

I'd second Mike's sentiments on disposability (disposableness?). Just this weekend I was taking some photos with Dad's old camera - also made in 1958. Still works just the way it did (even if it's terrifyingly simple). just like any good film camera.
I've already forgotten 2 digitals in a mere 5 years.

Yeah, disposable. We even seem to have picked roughly the same lifespan (3-5 years generally, now). I've been preaching this to people asking for camera advice over in the Livejournal photographer's community recently.

It's a major sea-change in how you have to think when picking equipment. The body used to be of relatively low importance. That went up with the focal plane shutter, went up again with built-in metering, yet again with auto-exposure, yet again with autofocus (that's a huge jump in the importance of the body there, for people doing the kinds of photography that need AF), and once more with digital (the sensor and the backing software are as important as the lens!). The body is no longer, in my opinion, of only moderate importance; it's now a really key piece of equipment. And we're still in the infancy of digital photography, it's evolving tremendously rapidly.

Oh, and a Sony-specific rant for just a moment: Sony is the company that deliberately put malware on music CDs they sold, and has yet to show any signs of remorse (though they did stop doing it). I personally will go to considerable effort to avoid giving them any of my money, and I want to make sure other people are familiar with this situation. Anybody who doesn't know the details already can find thousands of words on it on the web easily enough, so I don't have to beat this any further into the ground.

Sony too many years ago was a simple
electronics company making good products; these days it is an ugly conglomerate
as with so many companies.
Mind they do manufacture sensors for other camera builders.
Their attitude and that of many others is
screw the customer.

Must admit when Mike rented the A900 thought that maybe he was doing like all of us would
like to do; rent a piece of hardware before purchase. Good one Mike! And somehow wished
he could have had the Pentax for a similar rental.

As one who has realized a chemical addled
brain (due massive chemotherapy for cancer
over the last three years) means improper judgements have been made on my own part about digital as an imaging process. Trust me, two D200's, a pair of D80's, a D100,
a D50, and more than a handful of various
non-Nikon point and shoots have passed
through my hands; and all have been sold,
traded or discarded and spending gobs of
money in the process. I must admit too
that digital hardware is probably meant to
be long-lived however the technology that
produces them means the hardware is obsolete
before it's first year of being on the market
is over. Bottom line now have a D40, which is basic, works and is satisfactory, for me.

Must admit even here in Canada where prices
are so much higher than stateside, $3000.00
for ANY camera is just too much money,
for anybody. You're buying a computer to which a camera is attached. Is your existence, want, need, requirement worth
that much money? In this economic climate?

Disposable cameras just because their digital? I'll say the same thing I used to tell people about their old computers, if you don't mind running the original software, even an old 386 does great word processing. It's when you try to upgrade to the latest bells and whistles that the old machine can't handle it. Now, my old Sony 717 is getting long in the tooth, but I still enjoy using it when I know I won't be printing over 8x10. With the resolution of the Sony 900, how many years from now will it be before you cannot actually make a good print from it? Come to think of it, I guess my old Nikon F2 became disposable when autofocus came out.

Basic agreement with all of the above. My main film camera is a Yashica Mat from around 1980, still working as new. I also use a Voigtländer folder from 1950 or so, but with that one it's getting clear that both lens design and film quality really has progressed a lot since it was made.

My current digital camera on the other hand is a bit over two years old and starting to show its age. Not so much the sensor and software - it does all I need it to do quality-wise, and I've finally learned how to get the most out of it - but the overall mechanical design is clearly not intended to last for the long haul. Things are, well, not breaking, but starting to get just a little creaky. There's a lot of electromechanics and electronics in a modern DSLR so there's a lot to wear out or break. Five years sounds about right; at that point the body will no longer be worth enough to repair.

I also concur with David above: I'd be happy to take a look at the D900 if only it wasn't made by Sony. They are not getting my money no matter how shiny their newest toys are.

One of my Hasselblads is 30 years old and nowhere near ready for the trash heap. It works beautifully. But for electronic gear at the current pace of evolution, 3 to 5 years seems to be about max. That, by my personal definition, is "disposable."

As far as Sony's questionable ethics in the entertainment field go, I think it's important to realize that Sony is a HUGE organization with branches of branches and spin-offs of spin-offs, none of which even talk to the others. I'd worry about it only if they start putting malware into their camera firmware.

I wonder if they really have to be disposable, assuming they do not break in a way that is too expensive to repair. (Definitely possible, of course.) My D700 has enough good pixels to make pictures the size I make, a viewfinder I can see through, decent low light performance, terrific lenses available, incredible handling, i.e., like a top end professional 35mm camera. I am not going to be making bigger prints, so I should not need more MP. APS cameras did not have the lenses and viewfinder of a 35mm. My bet is that the D700 and other good FF frame cameras, if made well, might be plenty good for years.

just found your blog, great info on the Sony A900, can't wait to see more pics.

"I mean in my experience. I only made a slight profit on one digital camera I ever had...the value of all the rest essentially went to zero. "

(1) You made a profit?!

(2) All my film's resale value went to zero pretty quickly too. (Even the brick which is only 3-5 years old in my cupboard.) And that stuff was really expensive!

I get a bit nostalgic too sometimes, my dad saved up to buy a Nikon F at university, and was still using it the day he got mugged in the late 90s. That's never going to happen to us.

3-5 years, yea, that's disposable. I still have and occasionally use my Olympus OM-1 from 1978. After going through 2 Nikon's, D70 and D300 in 3 years, I jumped off that boat. The D300 was made "obsolete" in less than a year. (Yes, I know it still takes photos as good as ever.) Any more purchases over the next several years will be lenses. I would not consider digital camera equipment an investment of any type.

I have no objections to switching brands (except for losing use of my lens), but I am still very wary of Sony products. Nearly every product that I have ever purchased from them has failed well before expected.
As I mentioned here before, in Japan people refer to the "Sony timer" an expression that means the product fails the second the warranty expires. It must be a wide-spread belief.

Although I agree with much of what has been said, my Canon 1DsMKII is 4 years old and still takes photos very comparable to my MKIII. I can't imagine that it won't be usable 5 or more years from now.

I confess that your enthusiasm made me smile. It's like guy who stumbles out of the Alaskan wilderness (=film) after being lost for fifty years, and is loaned a Pontiac Aztec. Most beautiful thing he ever saw! 8-)

If you'd really like to try a sophisticated device, I will loan you a D3 and some lenses for a week. (Or for that matter, an M8 and some lenses.) Let me know...

JC

The ROI/lifetime discussion here is interesting.

Whilst I've not used my oldest digital camera - and Olympus E-1 - "in anger" for a while, I know it still works.

And I expect it to work for a while yet. It's built like a tank! To be honest, the problem on it won't be the sensor, or anything electromechanical.

I think that the main problem with getting it to work in say, two decades, will be twofold:
Media/connectors and batteries.

CompactFlash has had a remarkably long run. When I started looking at digital photography, the race was between CompactFlash and SmartMedia. Now it's pretty much won by CompactFlash, with SD cards and their smaller variants taking the lower end of the market.
(And Olympus and Fuji pushing xD cards, and Sony pushing memory Sticks. But we can ignore those.)

At some point, CompactFlash may be replaced.

If CompactFlash doesn't become useless, then maybe it'll be the USB cable that will become redundant.

Either way, I pessimistically anticipate a time when the camera might still take pictures - but how do I get them off the blasted thing if nobody's producing cables/card readers that can work with it?

And then there's batteries. Olympus, so far, haven't changed their battery types. There's a slimline battery for their slimline E-4xx cameras, but every other E-Series has used the good 'ol BLM-1 so far.

Oh, the E-1's optional grip uses a strange custom battery, but that just means that the grip won't be usable once those batteries are degraded and I can't buy replacements. So the grip will probably become useless before the camera does.

However, nothing lasts forever. In twenty year's time, the BLM-1 battery format may be ancient history. In which case, I may not be able to power the camera up to take pictures with it...

For any modern "professional" camera, I think that the design is such that lighter usage - thousands of shutter actuations per year, or low tens of thousands - will not be a problem.

The real danger lies in the availability of the consumables in the future.

Which is something digital cameras share with film cameras. As film supplies of people's preferred types "dry up", many old mechanical cameras become doorstops. Perfectly working, mechanically sound, but useless nonetheless.

There are of course parallels here with lenses that were once great but now are soft on the latest digital sensors. Any camera setup has a useful lifetime that's as long as its weakest component...

Of course, the reason we buy into camera systems is to help work around this. Every body I bought came with, effectively, a free spare battery. I can change media/batteries/lenses from body to body with no hassles. I've been putting off buying an E-4xx because it uses a different battery, and I suspect that Canon's recent battery change will be inconvenient for many long-time users of their system. Not a huge problem, but having to factor in new spare batteries etc. - you'd be surprised at how that kind of hassle delays an upgrade for some people!

Anyway, consumables. That's where it's at. The A900 will probably outlast the consumables with considerable ease, so why worry about its ROI?
If you want to use it for ten years, then as long as you still have working batteries and media, you can do so. There's nothing stopping you!

Disposable, schi-mosable.

In 2007, the shutter in my (ex-demo) Canon MkII bit the dust while I was shooting MotoGP morning practice at Laguna Seca. I walked back to the car, and pulled out my Canon 1D, which was almost *6* years old when I pulled it out of the trunk. It performed flawlessly for me for the rest of the weekend, and produced absolutely beautiful photographs, rich, colorful, and superbly detailed.

http://photos.imageevent.com/puma_cat/motogp2007/ChrisT9.jpg

I have to admit that your interest in this camera is a bit surprising given what I know of your photographic sensibilities. You like to shoot low light, handheld w/o flash, something the Canon 5D and the new 5D MkII excel at compared to the Sony, which from your previous posts, and hard data available from DPReview, has only fair at best high ISO noise performance (the old 5D trounces it pretty good in this respect).

I have to admit I am a bit confused; your posts about the A900 are quite focused on the resolution of a camera that was developed as part of a meaningless megapixel race so that one can print large (from Sat. Nov.1):

"I saw a sports magazine that was produced entirely digitially, and the double-trucks (full spread) pictures looked pretty bad, with lots of intrusive grain and noise and not enough detail for the repro size. Pros very urgently needed more pixels. Today's 10-, 12-, and 14-MP cameras look much better at that repro size."

With all due respect, no, they don't.

I don't know whose double-truck spreads you saw, but I can assure you that a 14 or 15 megapixel camera is not necessary to print a double-truck spread of high quality. The current 1DMkIII has only 10 megapixels and pros are having beautiful double-truck spreads printed that camera printed every week. Many are still using their 8 megapixel MkII N's, and the fact of the matter is that the old, disposable, 4-megapixel 1D was quite sufficient for for double-truck spreads, as well.

But if we're discussing fine printing quality, here, let's realistic and acknowledge that a screened or half-toned 4-color litho of a mass-market sports magazine is not a good basis for judging print quality.

"For most 13"-wide printers, the current crop of 12- and 14-MP cameras will be good matches."

Pish-tosh.

I've thought perhaps I should send you a print I made in 2005, Mike. It is of a motorcycle racer going about 75 mph through a fairly slow corner, and you can see every thread, seam, ventilation pinhole, and the pebble-grain of his leather in perfect clarity. It's a reasonably large print, almost 13X19". It sits above my desk at work, and it's sharpnesss, detail, and clarity has literally caused folk's mouth to drop open when they see this print.

It was made with my *4 megapixel* 1D.

My point here is that one doesn't need 24 megapixels to make beautiful, detailed, large prints, or anything even close. It's really much more about good workflow and printing technique.

Given that I can make a 13x19" print with this amount of detail with a 4 megapixel camera, I could very easily print at 24X36" with an 8 megapixel ID MkII with exactly the same workflow, and likely a 30X40" one with the 12 megapixels of the 'ole snaggle-toothed, gamy-legged, "disposable" 5D (in lower light, no less).

And let's be realistic, how many people print larger than 13X19" often, and have 24X36" prints matted and mounted in 30X40" frames hanging on their walls?

Not very many, I'll wager.

To wrap up, I know you've never shot with a Canon DSLR....but I seriously think you should try one sometime.

Perhaps a friend, or a retailer, or a dealer, will lend you a 5D with a 24-105/4 and a 17-40/4 for a coupla weeks, just so you can live with it...and find out what everyone's been talkin' all about.

Knowing your sensibilities from reading TOP the last 2-3 years for shooting in low, available light, I think the camera for you is a 5D, or a 5D MkII, not an A900. And both have all the resolution you're ever likely to need for printing.

My best regards...

Neither digital nor film cameras become displaced in our hearts because they stop working well enough to take acceptable photos. My Leica M2 still gets used. It did need a CLA after 35 years ownership, when it was over 50 years old. Its descendants introduced a better rewind crank and advisory TTL metering, in the ensuing years, hardly obsoleting it. Lenses did get a lot crisper.

But that is a rather hermetic sect to use as an example. My Olympus E-1 sits idle because the E-3 came along (an ice age later, 3 years) and did everything that the E-1 did with better autofocus, twice the resolution, and a much thicker owners' manual.

As for Sony, the camera people (unlike the movies and music divisions, which are based in Hollywood and NY) are close to Sony's engineering core, which has always had an uneasy relationship with usability. Things must be improving, if you found things to be natural in use.

scott

Big argument on the disposability of digital cameras.

I think a lot of the reason we move on from digital cameras is because we want improvements. At the time digital came about, film cameras were pretty damn good. Lets take an example from the PoV of a Minolta user circa 2003.

So our film user has a Dynax 7 and he likes it. Viewfinder is great, AF is acceptable, metering is really good, nice features like metering read-out and DoF preview, 4fps is ok, build is good. I don't really want very much more from a film camera - I went straight in at the top-end with this purchase and I was happy.

Digital comes - Mr Film Man goes for the top of the range Minolta digital - an A2. He loves the lens - 28-200 at 2.8-3.5. He loves the fact that it's digital. He likes the video mode, loves the weight, loves the IQ at ISO 100 & 200, loves 8mp of detail, LOVES the AS. He hates the noise above ISO400, hates the shooting speed, hates the AF. So in many ways he's moved backwards. It's not long before the A2 with its wideangle lens and battery grip is on ebay.

7D then. Likes the build and controls, likes the RAW output all the way to ISO 800 this time - 1600 at a push. Viewfinder is OK. Doesn't like the overall feel - it's sluggish compared to a 7 and the AF is pants. Doesn't like 3fps, doesn't like the flash exposure, doesn't like the 9 shot buffer, doesn't like the crop factor.

A700 is up next. Likes it a lot - finally beaten the 7 for AF speed. FPS has its uses, flash seems sorted, ergonomics mostly ok when you're used to them. Viewfinder and crop factor are the only things holding him back. (I never actually took my A700 out of the box - I'm basing this on a couple of friends')

A900. Mr Film Man is happy.

My prediction is that we might have reached the point where you don't need to upgrade every camera model, simply because what you've already got is so good. Personally I think I'm damn close with an a900 - I really can't see myself upgrading my camera body anytime soon. Put in a better AF model off the centre point and soon might become ever. Canon might even have got there - sure they added AF adjustment to the 50D, but they made a mess of the IQ while they were at it - a lot of 40D owners won't upgrade. It's definately going to take something huge to make me upgrade from my a900, and when I do I'm pretty sure someone else is going to take a lot of pleasure from it.

I think as the feature sets of DSLRs have become more complete, their "disposability" continues to decrease. My first DSLR, an Olympus E-500, lacked only one thing I really wanted: image stabilization. That's the only reason I upgraded to an E-510. Now that I have IS, my only reason for a new DSLR will be if this wears out or breaks. I certainly don't need more MP or any new bells and whistles. The A900 also seems to fit the bill for a camera that won't quickly become obsolete.

"It's like guy who stumbles out of the Alaskan wilderness (=film) after being lost for fifty years"

Huh? Not me. I've been shooting digital for years.

Mike J.

John Camp,
I think a better analogy for the A900 might be the original Acura NSX...a great car, loved by its smallish base of adaptors, denigrated by the mass of enthusiasts (most of whom never bothered to drive it, n.b.) because it didn't have the proper Italian nameplate on it and didn't have overpowering horsepower.

To each his own....

Mike J.

The old cameras may still be around, but how many of the original camera manufactures are still in business. Very few I believe. I think Canon is one of the only ones that makes all of it's own stuff for the pro cameras. For a company to stay alive it needs to produce new products and have a steady income.
As a photographer if I relied on the agency that used the photo's I took for 25 years--I would have gone out of business. Model T Fords work fine but you don't see many of them on the road today. I'll leave it at that--- the car companies are in big trouble because they are still making cars that take film, old cars work fine but the film they use will be very expensive in the future. If you shoot a lot of photos, digital is actually very cheap compared to hundreds of rolls of processed film. When was the last time any one shot ISO 25,000 film?

In Spring 2005 I bought a Dynax 7D for EUR 1,050; a year later I bought another for EUR 500 (not because the first broke; I just wanted two bodies). Since then I fired more than 25,000 frames which on film would have cost me approx. EUR 3,500 for cheap film and drug-store processing, or twice that for high-quality film and pro-level processing. And that's still far from heavy-duty shooting; others will fire that number of frames in just a few months.

Being able to fire away with no nagging thoughts about film cost and not being forced to fumble with the camera's back door every 36 shots in the middle of the action did more to my results than 20 years of film shooting ever did---impossible to express *that* benefit in dollars and cents (or whatever your currency may be).

Today, my two 7D cameras are still going strong. They have paid for themselves several times, simply by eliminating film and processing cost ... even when taking expenses for CF cards, USB hard disk drives, and image-processing software into consideration I'm still on the plus side. If the cameras would break down tomorrow, after 2.5 and 3.5 years of use, then I'd happily plunk down the money for another DSLR immediately ... most likely an A900.

-- Olaf

"The D300 was made 'obsolete' in less than a year..."

David - Really? What made it obsolete? And I don't mean that in a rhetorical "still takes great pictures" sense. I mean that Nikon hasn't made anything in that range to top it. The D3 and D700 are full frame, which is a different beast and doesn't change the D300 being top dog of the Nikon DX cameras. The D90 added video, so I suppose if you require video, all other SLR's (except the 5DmkII) are obsolete. Otherwise, I think calling the D300 obsolete is pretty hyperbolic.

Sony engineering - one thing to remember is that the guys working on these cameras are from Minolta, and a lot of Minolta bodies (once they got over the 101 button phase) were just a delight to use. The fact that I was able to move from a 600si to a Maxxum 7 and then to my 7D with the same basic control layout was really nice. I still think the Maxxum 7 was a brilliant camera, and I still use mine. Mike's description of how using the A900 felt reminded me of how my Maxxum 7 felt to me the first time I used it, and how nice it is every time I do go back to it.

My biggest gripe ergonomic gripe with the A700/A900 is that Sony dropped the left control dial for exposure and flash comp. I've used a friend's A700, and I missed the dial. Given the ease of access, I've gotten in the habit of using the flash compensation dial a lot in particular, since it was just so easy for me to move without even taking my eye away from the camera. Same with exposure comp. Sure, with RAW it's easier to fix later than with film, but I still do it.

Digital components -- the sensors somewhat, the processing chips certainly, and the printed circuit boards emphatically -- have a relatively fixed lifespan in terms of powered hours. There are things that can be done about this, but they involve expensive over-design and sacrificing features for lifespan, which the market isn't going to thank anybody for.

While there will be individual cameras (like there are individual PCs) that make it to 10 years in perfect working order, that is very much not the way to bet.

I figure what one is really buying into the is the lens system, which is a whole 'nother set of optimization decisions. (Even leaving out questions like "when do you think cheap diamond lens elements will become available?" :)

The first camera I ever bought was a Konica-Minolta A200; I still have it and really liked it, and if they had not been bought by Sony I would probably have bought a DSLR from them. (I'm very much with David on the issue of buying anything from Sony.)

"I fired more than 25,000 frames, which on film would have cost me approx. EUR 3,500 for cheap film and drug-store processing, or twice that for high-quality film and pro-level processing."

Given the number of images Olaf produces, it's obvious that the more inexpensively he can do so, the better. Not everyone is or needs to be as prolific, however.

Still, if I understand the point Olaf is trying to make, you're not just buying a camera, you're buying the ability to produce photographs. The tricky part is determining how much money is reasonable to spend given the number of photographs you produce.

For someone like Olaf, almost any DSLR is a bargain compared to a film camera. For someone like Mike, who is more, shall we say... *measured* in his output, it can be a struggle to decide how much to invest in such rapidly changing and improving technology. (And when I say "invest" I mean pay in exchange for the ability to produce digital photographs, not the notion that a camera or lens will appreciate in value. It could happen, but it's hardly what anyone would consider a wise investment strategy.)

Just a couple of comments on points raised:-
I've always bought my DSLRs as "last year's model" and only lost money on resale of the 4th.
As one grossly inflicted with an anti Sony prejudice I just had to tell myself that I was buying a Minolta when I acquired a "new" Alpha 100 with 18-70 lens for £229 ($357)a few weeks ago.

Cheers, Robin

Mike -

What about the 135mm STF lens? Haven't heard anything about it, and it is a pretty unique piece of equipment from what I have read.

"Mike - What about the 135mm STF lens?"

Jeff K,
Sadly, it never came out of its deluxe bag. Busy week, and the last day, it rained. Maybe next time.

Mike J.

I wonder if there's a market for selling stick-on 'Minolta' labels you can put over the bit on the front where it says 'SONY'?

That Minolta STF lens and the prospect of Zeiss 25mm and 20mm lenses is making me think pretty hard about getting the Sony.

If there were a lens as good as the one on the R1 available for it ( best wide angle wide open at the corners performance that I am aware of ) it would be a no brainer.

Then again the 25mm is coming in EF mount pretty soon...

Any physics types know if it would be possible to for a lens be sharper than "diffraction limited" using the STF technology?

Gordon Lewis wrote:
"Given the number of images Olaf produces, it's obvious that the more inexpensively he can do so, the better."

Please note that I didn't say I produced 25,000 images. Instead, I said I fired 25,000 frames (in 3.5 years).

-- Olaf

"I wonder if there's a market for selling stick-on 'Minolta' labels you can put over the bit on the front where it says 'SONY'?"
- I'll buy one!

Cheers, Robin

I believe Sony is gunning more for mind-share with A900 than market share. When I was looking to buy a DSLR last year, I had pretty much made up my mind to go with Nikon. I did look at Canon offerings but Sony, Olympus etc were not even on my radar. Now I'd be sure to have a look at Sony stuff when I buy my next DSLR.

I haven't had a chance to pick up and play with the A900, but I have done so with the A700 and all I can tell you is that something happens to you when you pick up an Alpha as opposed to a 50D or D300 or D700, it's just amazing. I used to own a Canon Mark II 1Ds and I wasn't really impressed. I've played with the Nikon D300 and D700 and found them both to be a bit gimmicky and overweight without the grip. The Sony Alpha 700, on the other hand, was awesome to hold, the menu and toggle are amazingly intuitive and user-friendly, and the shutter speed is unreal, not the fps which is quite good but the actual shutter response is unbelievably fast, and the image quality and built-in stabilization (especially with telephoto lens) is remarkable. I don't care about Canon or Nikon anymore. I was going to get a 5D Mark II, but now that it's on backorder till February I've had time to think and I really don't want to get it. So I guess I'll sell my L-series lens and have that to spend on a new Sony (in addition to the money made back selling the Mark II 1Ds just in time). After using all three, I say Sony all the way. Hell yeah, I'm a Sony!!!

Digital has offered unparalleled convenience while playing catch-up to analogue quality for many years. As others have noted, we seem to be reaching a point where digital cameras are transcending the threshold where analogue tops out, and with all the convenience inherent the medium in tow. Does this put some kind of cap on developmnet or demand? The A900 might be the first DSLR I'd ever considered buying the 5-year warranty on, but part of that is the secret desire it will fail 4 years and 11 months from now and get me the newest thing for free. I'm not sure that each passing year will give us the sort of leaps and bounds DSLRs have been making in the past 5, but I'm sure we'll be presented with technological advances that will have us reaching for our wallets at the same pace nonetheless. Modular cameras anyone? Swapping in different sensors that emulate different films? etc... there will be reasons to spend money at any pace you can set, that much is for sure.

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