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Friday, 21 September 2012

Comments

Sure. Just as the Leica S2 (and now the S) are a big-sensor DSLR, why not a big-sensor mirrorless ILC? It probably wouldn't appeal to those who are satisfied with "good enough", so I wouldn't expect it to be mainstream -- it probably needs to be a premium product in order to be successful.

To paraphrase:

If they build it they will buy it
or
If they build it I will buy it

Sense has very little to do with it.

Depends.

If you're used to RF glass (setting aside the whole angled light rays thing), then you have the same mental thing that SLR users have: you're used to a 50 looking like a 50, not a 75 or whatever.

Otherwise, the main advantage touted in a dSLR: better, brighter viewfinder is not applicable to mirrorless.

Yes, someone will trot out the whole low-light argument, and all things being equal a bigger sensor will give you better low-light performance. That being said low-light is really good now across the board, even with M4/3. If you're one of those extreme edge cases than I concede a larger sensor is an advantage, otherwise you're probably splitting hairs.

I'm not sure of any other arguments that I find compelling.

...then I concede...

I'm not sure what best the compromise between body/lens size and sensor size would be for mirrorless cameras. If full frame is a good compromise then we should have full frame cameras. In the recent past I remember hearing that there would never be full frame mirrorless cameras. I guess that was incorrect.

Yes, I believe that full frame makes sense for a mirrorless camera. Perhaps we may see the digital equivalent to the Leica M3 or M4. Mirrorless full frame has the potential to significantly reduce the size, and possibly the cost, of full frame systems. I suspect that Sony's RX1 is both a test of the market for full frame compacts as well as the basic platform to be later developed into an interchangeable lens system, as with the Fujifilm X100 transformed into the X-Pro1.

Oh my goodness, YES! I dream of the day I can use my ZM Sonnar at an actual 50mm focal length, the way God intended.
Sorry Leica; can't pay, won't pay!

Of course it makes sense. Viewfinder size isn't the only issue. Why make a Leica S2 if sensor size didn't matter? The bigger the sensor, the better the low light sensitivity, the larger the pixels, the more control of depth of field, and the better the image, at least in theory. The only downside is size. But why should mirrorless cameras be required to be small any more than DSLRs?

Yes, definitely.

A full frame mirrorless camera would make sense for me because the legacy manual-focus lenses that I love love to use were designed for full-frame and I want the shallower DOF that you get with a larger format. My current digital camera is an Olympus E-P2 (with the optional EVF), and it's pretty much impossible to get wide-angle results with it using legacy lenses because there are very few old lenses shorter than 18mm and those that do exist are huge, heavy, and expensive.

Why not? My Olympus XA is and has always been so :-)

Ask my Olympus XA, or Hexar AF. (In other words: YES!)

Absolutely.

Next question please.

One of the reasons we sent back the Fuji X10 I bought for my wife was because it was just impossible to get any kind of shallow depth of field, except in the most extreme situations. And for the right image, I love shallow DOF. I want shallow DOF for most of my portraits.

If someone releases a FF compact, and it can give me a shallow DOF like an SLR, I might actually have to own one... depending on all the other factors in the word, of course.

It made sense for rangefinders, so, yes.

I think mirrorless makes sense for full-frame. Seems to me mirrorless viewing has huge advantages for studio, product, architecture and landscape - all areas that call for the image quality of full-frame. Or medium format.

Yes, because of the rapidly increasing advantages of EVFs, including the elimination of the noise and delays caused by SLR mirror mechanisms.

As EVFs improve, it also looks more and more worthwhile, for the sake of robustness and weight, for some cameras not to have a rear screen. Images or previews can be transmitted wirelessly to a remote iPad, iPhone, or equivalent, if remote control or a more detailed review than can be provided by the EVF are needed. It also seems possible to allow esoteric options, including app-like capabilities, to be chosen for relegation to remote control.

Yes, if the things you like about mirrorless cameras are not related to the small size of lenses or mounts. (I.e. you like the small bodies, CDAF, excellent live view, etc. and don't care about the size of the lenses.)

Definitely,
The sensors either get more sensitive or higher resolution.
I get shorter depth of field.
I can use good Leica lenses.
Look at Leica - the above reason is some of the reason why M9 became such a success even if the price is astronomical.

Interesting question.

The bigger the sensor, the bigger the mirror -- and the bigger the mirror, the more one benefits by getting rid of it. So put me down for a tentative "yes".

There are already mirrorless full-frame cameras: Leica M9s. The RX1 will also qualify, right? Neither is quite what one usually means by "mirrorless", but they still might be instructive examples.

Mirrorless makes sense no matter what the size of the captor.
The trick of getting a mirror in the light path, then flipping it out of the way and back was only intended to try and let the photographer see what the film will see for framing and focusing. This was difficult and expensive, and limited by the mechanical precision of the mirror positioning.
This is now pointless because we can see in an EVF what the sensor will see without having to manage complex and precise mechanics. We are not far from EVF resolution that surpasses the eye separation power, and sufficiently short lag as to be imperceptible. We will get there in a short time, so let's admit that mirrors are obsolete. Notice that I never mentioned sensor size, because it is not relevant in my opinion because the question is really OVF vs. EVF.

Yes if you have already depleted your 401K on all your favorite Leica glass. No if you are just starting up and want a compact and yet "affordable" mirror-less system.

I haven't seen any manufacture other than Leica that sells a full frame mirrorless lens with a very high performance/size ratio and doesn't look ridiculous on the body the lens is designed for. Not all of the Leica glass of course, but many of them.

yes it does, mirrorless is the next step on the evolution, and its not about sensor sise, its about the concept, a new aproach on making cameras, Digital was the first step, removing the mirror and prism was the second (EVF are evolving everyday), the next step will be the removal of the mechanical shutter (replaced by a fully electronic one), and so on...

I think people are looking at mirroless as a more portable or second camera, but i think that is not the case, one day we will see mirrorless cameras as big as SLR's, but lighter and faster, without the heritage or outdated concept of cameras that were originally designed for film... Sony's SLT's are half way there.

Absolutely, in the same way that I think something like the Mamiya 7 (and other rangefinders) makes (made?) sense in medium format.

Absolutely! Anything that increases production volume (and thereby decreases prices) makes sense in my book.

Yes but not as much as 6x6cm Mirrorless. For me of course.
Until I sold it, that was pretty much the way I was using my 5D mk2.

I'd love the Nikon d800 sensor in a minimalist mirrorless body as long as at least a little consideration was paid to using the camera vertically which is the second or third worst thing about the NEX. Lack of flash synch in most of the NEXen and wired remote in all of them are the other two worst things.

Silliness. Not saying it won't happen, but silly nonetheless in current conditions and at current pricing models. The lens investment would be punitive. (That said, if it's Contax G mount, sign me up:)

Yes: my Trip35 was tiny and simple yet full frame with awesome image quality. I'd love to see a digital camera like that... Reminds me I really need to get a new Trip35, perhaps one of the cool colored refurbs at silverprint.co.uk :)

I can get one of them, a fridge full of Tri-X, and the fridge for what the digital variant would cost (which, at least for now means a 'no' re: the original quetion).

Once EVFs get to be high enough resolution and large enough (and they are getting there fast I think) there will be no reason to have mirror reflex cameras at all, so then the size of the senseor becomes an unrelated component of the camera design. And continued miniaturisation of components will mean no need for a big box to house a FF sensor. This will give the consumer a choice between sensor sizes that is not about box size or viewfinder type.

No, I don't. I could stop here, but I was taught to always justify my assertions, so here it goes.
At their incception, mirrorless cameras were meant to be small. When Olympus and Panasonic got the ball started, they took the 4/3 sensor in order to manufacture smaller bodies and - crucially - smaller, narrower lenses that retained good optical properties due to the shorter flanger distance and the 2X crop factor.
Then came Sony with the APS-C-equipped NEX series. Big lenses in small, point and shoot-like bodies which make the option for these cameras hard to justify (with those enormous lenses you might as well buy a DSLR, which has better ergonomics).
This evolution towards a larger format brought full frame to the mirrorless debate, but with a full frame mirrorless camera you are negating the very purpose of the whole concept. Even if you have a shorter flange, allowing for narrower lenses, the latter will still be too large for small(ish) bodies. Mirrorless or not, you'll still need high quality - hence bulky - lenses to take benefit of the increased resolution. A DSLR will always be a better option. Does it make any sense to hold a huge, heavy lens mounted on a small body? You'll get streaking at longer exposures - and the increased resolution of a full frame sensor will do nothng to mask it!
In my view at least, "full frame mirrorless" is a contradiction in terms. Besides, I find full frame to be slightly overhyped: I understand many prints offered here by TOP are made from photographs taken with micro 4/3 cameras. And they're great - just like my own prints of pictures taken with a now archaic Olympus E-P1.
Which prompts me to ask if we really need all the extra resolution a full frame sensor is capable of.
In a nutshell - want full frame? Buy a DSLR.

No, I use an OMD and think the sizes of the lenses are excellent. A larger sensor requires a bigger lens.

In so far as 6x7 made sense for the Mamiya 7, yes. It certainly wouldn't make sense if it was promoted as a suitable *standard* for mirrorless cameras.

It makes sense if it sells.
If I'll buy mirrorless, it will be because of size and weight, so it will certainly not be full frame.
Stefan

Yes - it would allow use of many Leica M and other legacy lenses with no FOV change.

Well, if some company will do it, I don't see who it hurts. It may turn out to be innovative/useful, depending on how it is implemented, or it may be ignored. Since I don't own stock in camera companies, the upside is much better than the downside...

I can see a FF mirrorless marketed as a niche product like the Mamiya 6/7 rangefinders, with maybe 3 primes and a modest midrange zoom option. Otherwise, I see the best option being mirrorless cameras in existing DSLR mounts - like Sony's A99, only truly mirrorless (AF challenges going that route). Or FF NEX following the VG900's lead, with APS-C crops for eMount lenses and adapted A mount lenses, maybe a couple of FF e Mount lenses down the road. I'm not sure a comprehensive FF mirrorless system makes a lot of sense.

If you start with the Sony RX1 and add the possibility to put a 24mm a 50mm and a 85mm on top of the 35mm, wouldn't it be desirable?

Exhibit A: Leica.

Exhibit B: Sony.

Now, if they can just stop with that stupid 3:2 aspect ratio, I might get remotely interested. Not as if I'm going to be buying a full frame camera anyway, what with the prices being like they are now.

"Full frame" is technically not even applicable to mirrorless systems, or to put it another way, they're already "full frame." There are no crop-sensor mirrorless systems to contrast with, after all. It's not like you can choose between Micro Four Thirds and Mini Micro Four Thirds.

You're really asking about extra-large sensors for mirrorless systems. The mirrorless systems were clean-sheet designs, and the designers went with the sensor size that played well with the design goals of the cameras. If larger sensors would have made sense, wouldn't they have chosen them from the outset?

I think at this point in time the real advantage would be DOF control. An 85 1.8 or even a 50 1.4 are going to have an advantage when it comes to shallow depth of field.

On a side note and with personal experience I'm now scratching my head over Mirrorless in general. Especially with cameras like Sony's A57 around. Is small size that important when it comes at the expense of ergonomics? Just sayin'.

'Do You Think Full Frame Makes Sense for Mirrorless?'

In this digital world - Leica Camera, and their M9 and M9-P users, seem to think so ...

Yes, because mirrorless makes sense for using legacy manual-focus lenses. I am considering a Fuji X-E1 or maybe Pentax K-01 for use with my Pentax MF glass. The optical finder on my K5 is good, but it's not optimized for fast lenses, so MF errors are common. Live view is ok but full time Live View would be the best.

Using mostly legacy lenses, having the legacy field-of-view for those focal lengths would be appealing. The APS crop is my biggest deterrent in jumping on an X-E1 or K-01. The M4/3 crop is worse yet, I would not buy M4/3 because of it.

Absolutely. If Nikon were to make a mirrorless FX camera compatible with everything back to AIS (maybe without the screw motor to cut down on size), it would be a massive hit. Knowing Nikon, that's probably why they're not doing it...

Mike,
Yes, full frame makes sense [1] for mirrorless cameras [2].

[1] Fast, wide-angle lenses can give you less depth of field, seemingly more cheaply in dollars and mass, in front of a full frame sized sensor. I'm interested in lenses that are equivalent to my favorite 80mm f/3.5 lens made for 6x6 medium format film. My understanding is that the amount of blur at infinity* can be predicted by the absolute size of the aperture, about 23mm in this case. The equivalent on full frame would be a 35mm f/1.5,** but on APS-C, would be f/1.0, clearly a difficult design to manufacture.

I would be just as satisfied with a 80mm f/3.5 on a 52mm square sensor, or possibly a 135mm f/5.6 on a 4x5 sensor,*** but there is little to no hope of there ever being affordable sensors of that size. Film is right out.

[2] Why not stick with DSLR technology? All of the usual reasons. For me? The freedom to build a camera that doesn't look like a SLR. Looking a giant black plastic and metal mask held up to the face of the guy taking my picture - with an enormous glass eye embedded in a petal-shaped lens hood at the end of a long black snout is intimidating. I don't like it, and I'm a photographer. A fellow peering down at a little black box balanced on their belly is not so scary.

Will

*my understanding is that blur at moderate distances falls off at a much slower rate on smaller formats, but I've never done the math or the experiment to prove exactly how much.
**you get the same angle of view vertically and horizontally with 35mm. If all you care about is the long dimension, 50mm is close enough on FF, and 35mm is just fine on APS-C, and a 20mm works for micro 4/3. I like squares, so 35mm for me.
***that would probably be an uncomfortably big camera.

That's a very weird question. In 5-10 years from this moment, 95% of all cameras will be "mirrorless". It's like asking if the full frame sensors by themselves make sense any more.

If a full frame sensor can fit into the Sony NEX-7 and Fuji X-Pro1, does APS-C make sense? It's just a matter of how much someone wants to spend on a camera.

Also, when EVFs and sensor-based autofocus become really good, people will wonder if SLRs are obsolete. I'd say full frame mirrorless will become the standard camera for pros and enthusiasts.

Yes - a) if it works well in the corners with wide angle M lenses, b) if it is not bigger than an M9/M, c) has focus peaking in its EVF, and d) it would be nice to have IS but not a deal breaker

The bes lens designs definitely improve as format sizes increase. Just using the Hasselblad 40 distagon on a Mirex adapter on the Nikon D800 has made me realise how much this affects the final rendering if images.

The purpose of the mirror was to make 35mm cameras easier to use by showing the operator the image that the film would see, preview depth of field and make focusing easier and more precise. Electronic viewfinders do the same things and permit a smaller and lighter package. So of course a full frame mirrorless camera makes sense.

Full frame? Absolutely. But, as others have commented, I'm also dreaming of a mirrorless camera that would cover the Mamiya 6x7 lenses, and I don't honestly expect to ever see or afford that.

Oh, but imagine the images...

More realistically, I'm hoping Sony puts out a 36mp full-frame mirrorless using the chip from Nikon's d800 and also manufactures an excellent adapter with an included tripod mount to add alpha-mount lenses in front. But then, I'm a landscape photographer addicted to resolution, so YMMV.

What does N/t. stand for by the way? No thanks? Or Not tested?...

YES

Total no brainer.

The chance to use pretty much any glass ever made, on a good sensor, with good focus and exposure provisions, simply by using a handful of machined aluminum rings and cones?

Do please sign me up! Put a good video codec in there, and (forgive me, still photography purists), and it just gets better. Yes, yes yes indeedy.

Of course it makes sense as much as a 4x5 sensor makes sense. It would be great...

However, as a happy XPro1 owner I'm not totally sure I would buy into it. I like that the XPro1 costs just $2300 with a lens. The WOULD charge more than that for the full frame model. Unless it competes with the 5D Mark III in a serious way, very few people would consider it a worthy investment, in my guess. How many people are really going to buy the RX1?

I'm just a happy camper that Zeiss will be making lenses for my camera. If Fuji and Zeiss keep the glass fast, and fix the (few) remaining quirks, I'll never need a DSLR. I already use my XPro1 for weddings, I don't think full frame will make my images much better than the current or upcoming generations of the X-Trans.

Actually, I am looking forward to the day when they build a mirrorless medium format 645.

Bigger pixels, better pixels! Or more pixels! So yes. And a square sensor please.

Yes.

I am hoping Fuji will release in the next year or so to expand the x line. I am very happy with the x-pro1 and the lenses are excellent.

Oh go on then. Who exactly decided that "full-frame" was restricted to meaning 135-sized? Up where it counts at 5x4 we are also mirrorless ;]

Far better to have a cheap yet gorgeous old full-frame prime lens and smaller sensor to crop to just the middle of the image-circle, than to have to afford huge new glass, as long as the pixels are good enough. That probably means I'll settle for APS-C/DX for now.

The question for me is "Does mirrorless make sense for full-frame?"

As someone who photographs frequently in settings where a completely silent camera is the ideal (not leaf-shutter-tick "quiet"; I mean silent) -- and having purchased as a complement to my FF Canons a complete Nikon V1 system solely for that reason -- I can't wait for mirrorless full frame.

1. With between 80 and 100 million Canon and Nikon full-frame lenses manufactured to date, I can't picture 24x36-sensor cameras disappearing from the market in the next decade.

2. With ever-improving EVFs and LCDs, I can't believe that all full-frame non-Leicas a decade from now will have mirrors.

1 + 2 = 3. The inevitability of at least some FF cameras that are mirrorless.

Not interested. I very rarely am interested in shallow depth of field. Most of the work I really care about is one flavor or another of macro or product photography... I spend a lot of time hanging out in the junction of the two documenting handspinning and handknitted work, and the fine details appearing sharp is very important for that. Tripods are my friend. Even something as crummy as a Gorillapod produces visible improvement.

If I'm not doing the fine detail stuff, it's usually more in the landscape vein. The announced m4/3 "lens cap" lens sounded really interesting and appealing for that.

My partner will (sometimes) want train photos. He's a major railfan, and if we're not actually on a train, it can be tough to manage the needed focal lengths with a 35mm sensor. APS-C is still pretty challenging. We often find my cheap compact does better in focal length ranges where it's usable. A lot of the difference is it's easier to stabilize or adapt a support arrangement when you're using a tiny compact. m4/3 may wind up being nice for railfanning pictures, since it's relatively small, and it gets you impressive reach with short lenses.

Well, if a full frame mirrorless system followed the 4/3 to m4/3 transition, lenses get more expensive, at least for a while, and bodies don't perform as well for a while. It takes time to sort out all the kinks and get a wide selection of lenses that work well with a new system. However, the OMD and some of the newer lenses show the immense progress that can be made in a few years. Sony supposedly has a Nex full frame in the works, but of course Nex lenses are not for full frame, so it would have a different mount... Perhaps instead we will see them figure out fast alpha mount focusing without the SLT system, and the next generation, maybe the A99 mark ll, will be mirrorless. Olympus is clearly charging ahead with m43 and will likely never go full frame (unless they do some kind of co-development with Sony). They've hinted that the coming EVF's (to use in a higher level m43 maybe) will be good enough that people will not miss optical finders at all.

Yes.

So that people can made the trade-offs they need to make their photographs. You need shallow depth of field and don't mind the weight? Use full frame. If you don't use something appropriately smaller. I'd like to see compact and mirrorless cameras at "1 stop" values from 16mm (type 1.0 inch aka CX), FourThirds, APS-C and 24x36.

The "the image gets better as the sensor gets bigger" argument only applies to sensors that use the same technical generation of sensor.

For example, there are no CMOS medium format (60mmx45mm) sensors. They're all CCD and they get their butts kicked by modern CMOS sensors in low light. The Leica S2 is there for depth of field and lots of pixels in a square format using larger lenses with more relaxed lp/mm MTF requirements.

No: not in the long term, but maybe in the short term (next 5 years or so). I'm almost already convinced that one day, almost all cameras will be mirrorless. And mainstream ones for everyone up to semi-pro level will be a lot smaller than what we're used to -- or be even integrated into other devices like our phones which probably represent the state of the art in terms of overall device packaging and integration.

What convinced me was a recent alpinism trip where I used a Canon S95. With enough work (and experience) in post and with judicious exposure, it really was as good as my DSLR on a screen and up to A4 prints. We've seen this year some bold steps to make small sensor cameras better... so the march continues ...

No, it doesn't make any sense.
The system will be bigger, lenses too, and altogether more expensive. It is the total opposite of the digital promise — that one can make beautiful pictures using smaller than film sensors.

But that is exactly why they will make, it and sell like hot marshmallows.

If anything is done right then it will make sense.

Anything.

The question should be the opposite:
Do You Think Mirror Makes Sense For Cameras?

In my opinion, 10 years from now, SLR cameras will be as obsolete as TLRs are now. Then everything will be mirrorless (hah!). And yes, it will make sense to have full frame mirrorless as well.

The more I think about it, the less sure I am. I have always been one of those people touting full frame as the holy grail of photo making. However, I think that is not the case, certainly not for mirrorless. APS-C seems to hit the sweet spot between size, price and performance. As for performance, exciting things are happening right now, with Fuji and Sigma innovating sensor tech with their X-Trans CFA and Foveon sensors on the APS-C format. Fuji has problems with RAW conversions, smearing details, but on the other hand, low light performance is incredible. With Sigma, it's the other way around - low light is atrocious, but the resolution, clarity and acuity of that sensor is absolutely mindblowing. Nevertheless, technology continues to evolve, and we have exciting times ahead of us.

Complete sense. I have moved to four thirds for travel and have been very happy with the files. My d800 is too big to carry overseas and the file size require I carry a computer as well. A full frame sensor with about 18-24 mp would be adequate. As long as it came with good lenses.

Dumping the mirror box should make it possible to make wider-angle lenses, and I'd buy one just for that - once somebody makes a 9mm rectilinear.

If FF makes sense for any VF type (live view, RF, SLR, ...) it makes sense for mirrorless.

The days of the SLR are numbered. The only advantages to the design that are left involve focusing speed and VF responsiveness in low light, and the differences there are getting smaller quickly. Everything else, including focusing accuracy, are better with mirrorless designs.

Cost and size issues will probably push the SLR out of the low to middle range over the next several years or so.

Yes of course, with the recent improvements in EVF technology the DSLR is redundant outside sports/action photography.
Fuji seems poised to take the lead in this direction (they have prior experience in various sensor/film sizes from 35mm upwards).
Personally I'm happy with my APS-C sized mirrorless system but might welcome a smallish "full frame" body with a pancake lens - something like the Sony RX1 but with lens choice.

Depends on price, size, and real advantages over smaller sensors. Real meaning things for me that I can see in prints. I suppose we're are gonna get full size anyway since 35mm was chosen for film because it was the best size for takin' pictures, not some arbitrary reason. Then we can all buy new lenses again.

Why "FF" (36x24mm)? Wasn't it arbitrary enough 100 years ago? If starting over, and larger than APS-C is the goal, why not 30x30, 36x36, 48x48, 50x70 or multi-AR from the ground up (ala the Panasonic GH1/GH2 - an endlessly fascinating creative touch)? Having a dedicated 1:1,5:4,4:3,5:7,3:2,16:9,2:1 dial with constant AOV is something (quite useful) that would make the platform stand out.

Yes, a full frame 56x56mm digital equivalent of the mirrorless 6x6 Hasselblad SWC, with a 38mm Biogon.

The SWC has always been my dream camera, except for framing and focusing. The LCD display and the EVF will take care of that.

Of course, a pipedream: Hasselblad won't do that anymore. But Alpa will. In fact, it already has, almost.

I really do not understand the question or problem.

As sensors get cheaper all sorts of variations will be made.
And what is mirrorless anyway? My G3 looks like an SLR and not much smaller than my Canon A1 35 mm. TheSony SLTs are abit of both, the Fujis behave like rangefinders with OVF and/or EVF.
I have an old Fuji 69 rangefinder that is wonderful.
When in 10 years or so this can be made digital at a reasonable price, and it might. And if the price is Ok I might buy one myself.

Cameras are like PCs or other consumer rlectronics.
We now have the camera equivalent of 25000 dollar
386 based machines, with medium format being the equivalent of Unix workstations.
Prices will keep dropping as technolgy matures.
As I stated, I really do not understand the question.

And Why this obsession with size ?
People still use large format cameras as well though the smaller ones are "good enough".

If there is a market it will be made, its just a question of trchnology getting cheap enough. RED once had a plan for a 5x7 inch sensor.

Jarle

Hiya!

"N/t."

I had to Google that. Now not sure if you mean "No Thanks" or "Numbness and Tingling."

Let me modify my earlier statement. If I think of mirrorless as what we use the term for at present---generally smaller, lighter, more compact cameras, then I (personally) ain't all enamored of moving back to the old-school 35mm film size. Especially when I am not personally getting any big benefits from that except to help poverty stricken Japanese corporations accumulate more of my cash.

However, if I look at it as mirrorless replacing the mirror of dSLRs, then yes, it makes sense. As others have mentioned or implied, we are rapidly approaching a point where the only reason for a mirror is nostalgia. I guess I am answering the unasked question, "Does a mirror make any sense for a camera nowadays?"

I don't think mirror less vs rangefinder vs pentaprism needs to have much to do with sensor size. Hence a "full-frame" mirrorless camera can make sense.
However, personally, I have been very glad that the current common mirrorless cameras are smaller than the general run of SLR styled cameras and particularly the lenses are smaller and lighter.
At home it doesn't matter what size the camera is but when I'm out and about I don't really enjoy having to suspend all other activity just to lug a big camera system around but I also prefer not having to resort to a compact camera in that situation.

In a sense, the a99 is a mirrorless full frame camera. It doesn't have a mirror. Any day now, Sony is going to figure out how to do the trick Nikon did with the 1 system and put the autofocus sensors right on the sensor and eliminate the prism as well. Cameras of that form factor are considered "mirrorless" so that hypothetical Sony should be too. Panasonic G3, Nikon V1...

Connections between body and lens are almost all electronic these days, so you can imagine (in Sony world) an E mount full frame camera, with an E-to-A adapter, so that you can build simpler ultrawides...

As Kirk over at VSL is fond of pointing out, there are plenty of advantages to EVFs over optical viewfinders, beyond just size.

"What does N/t. stand for by the way? No thanks? Or Not tested?..."

Chris,
Remember, Google is your friend...

It means "no text (subject says it all)."

Mike

This is a terminology issue. Yes, bigger sensors are better, but 'full frame' is using 35mm film as a reference point. Does this really have any meaning anymore?

Re. the DOF arguement, I'd opt for a f/1.2 m43 over an f4 on a FF DSLR.

Things have moved on - FF DSLRs are the new medium format (in terms of image quality) m43 and other mirrorless formats are the new 35mm.

Colin

Oh, hell yes. I'm hoping Sony will have a NEX-9 FF. If not then I'm on board for the RX-1.

No - I like at least 3 inches of mat between the image and the frame.

Make sense? Sure. But that doesn't mean it's necessary.

I'm content with the (mirrorless) Leica M8.2. The FF M9 makes sense, but it still didn't inspire me to buy it. After using about a dozen film formats, one learns to see and adjust (and to laugh at the term FF).

Now, the new FF weather sealed M; that's another story.

the question is: by the time we get there, will it be worth it? look at the quality companies like Fuji are getting out of aps-c. in five years it'll be better than current DF sensors. people will always want more though, so I'd imagine its going to happen whether its necessary or not.

Makes sense for whom? Manufacturers or consumers?

For consumers, sense does not apply. I would hazzard a guess that most FF owners don't actually need one, they can just afford one. However a lot of those people (including me) are now migrating to CSC cameras because big SLRs are mostly a PITA to use casually - just like MF used to be - and because the IQ difference is no longer that significant.

For manufacturers? Only if there are enough consumers. That's a more complex question and will depend a lot on how things develop in the next 3-4 years, and which manufacturer you mean.

Until recently, there was a fairly seamless upgrade path from consumer SLRs to FF. If CSC cameras disrupt this path, then CSC manufacturers may decide to provide them with another upgrade path.

We may have an interesting situation where Canon and Nikon are having to rapidly develop a range of low end CSC cameras and lenses just as Fuji, Oly and Panasonic are looking to build new FF cameras and lenses.

One issue is legacy. Nikon and Canon (and Sony to some extent) have an arsenal of existing FF glass. Much of it won't get much smaller on a mirrorless system, so they may keep the lens mount as is, or build a fully functional adapter.

The other is that mirrorless cameras* are not there yet in terms of continuous AF. Given that the sports and wildlife market drives the sales of high end cameras and lenses, there may be some reluctance to give this up, at least for a while.

*Note, the Sony A99 is NOT a mirrorless camera and still uses a conventional PDAF mechanism along with CDAF.

It harks back to the argument for the Plaubel Makina 67, Mamiya 6 & 7 and the Fuji 6x9 rangefinders.

A buddy travelled to the West Coast of the US with just a pair of Fuji rangefinders (wide and standard) and came back with crackers of shots.

I think that the provision of diversity of choice is always a good thing.

And isn't the Alpa pancake camera with MF back essentially a full frame mirrorless writ large?

Cheers,

Walter

Mark Wier, Senior Manager of Technology and Marketing at Sony Electronics Inc., talks about this topic (in relation to the Sony RX1) at the link below - you have to scroll-down about half-way:

http://www.imaging-resource.com/news/2012/09/21/qa-with-sonys-mark-weir-will-full-frame-go-mirrorless-and-whats-the-deal-wi

Cheers! Jay

Why not.
A mirrorless body with a good FF sensor that could take M, K, F, and EF glass would probably appeal to many.
Available EVF, swivel screen and decent controls would likely enhance the appeal.

With short focal length lenses, yes.

Full frame and and EVF? Certainly - why not? Just make it a really good EVF. Would I buy one? It all comes down to price. $2,000 camera bodies are not unreasonable. But they're too expensive for me.

I am sure it will happen, but as others are pointing out, mirrors and their associated hardware are becoming unnecessary for their original intended purpose so the justification for SLRs is fading.
However, I suggest two tech issues could that help the problem of big lenses on small bodies that make the Sony, etc APSC cameras so clunky. Include the image stabilization in the sensor like my Olys and put the autofocus drive motor in the body too, a la the old Nikons. 35mm lenses weren't always so big!

More good lenses make more sense for mirrorless in my view. Moore's law will bring current sized sensors' performance along to the point it won't matter in a couple more years. If you want shallower depth of field, then you want a bigger sensor, it seems. I have a full frame DSLR, an APS-c and a micro 4/3 camera. Horses for courses. I didn't buy the OM-D to replace my full frame camera, sometimes I just don't want to carry a brick around. I still want to grab some good images. The whole sensor size debate is a distraction I think. The market already has most of the bases covered. I'd like to see a nice DSLR with an open software platform running it. Lay out some rules and let we the people decide what features to put into our tools. Encourage the cloud to develop the capabilities we want. Then stand back and watch what happens. That would be interesting to me. We decide what we want our computers to do, why not our cameras? They're just specialized image capture computers now. Give us some freedom!

Mirrorless is the way of the future, regardless of sensor size. The question should be, does it make sense now?

As soon as the number of people who swear by optical viewfinders round down to insignificance, they will get rid of the mirrors, and soon, some will wonder why we ever had them.

The concept in general makes sense: small is beautiful. And convenient! We'll see how Sony's implementation plays out. I left a variation of this comment on Philip Greenspun's blog, but my feelings haven't changed: I think Roger Cicala’s take is accurate (http://www.lensrentals.com/blog/2012/09/photokina-2012-the-cameras) :

"I see two possibilities. First, the Zeiss lens is of amazing quality and this becomes the cult camera of 2013 and you can’t buy one at any price . Or the Zeiss lens is of good quality, and you can buy this for half price by March, 2013."

If the lens performs like the $1200 Zeiss 35mm f/2s on the market, or in the same league as the $1300 Canon f / 1.4, and the autofocus is fast and accurate, then the camera might be exceptionally appealing to a larger number of people than you’re currently imagining. Like, say, me: I have a Canon T2i and use a Sigma 30mm 85% of the time, and I mostly shoot people and things. Having a fixed lens wouldn’t bother me, and the much smaller, more portable, and less intimidating body also means I’m a) more likely to have the camera with me and b) less conspicuous when I shoot. I assume that interchangeable lenses would make the camera physically larger and would also reduce the presumed economies of scale that come from making large numbers of a single lens, versus small numbers of multiple lenses.

Furthermore, I assume the camera won’t retail for MSRP.

In any event, these discussions are mostly moot until the testers get their copies and can tell us about the lens and autofocus.

Steve Huff has held one and loves it so far. First impressions aren’t everything, but I’m watching this camera. I’d like to replace my T2i—the outer autofocus points and lack of wireless flash are bothersome—with either a Canon 70D (when it emerges), or a cheaper 60D (if the 70D is underwhelming), or, conceivably, the RX1, depending on what happens with price / reviews.

Yes,
I am waiting for the Pentax FF version of the K-01 with an EVF that supports the K mount for my LTD lenses!

The whole point of mirrorless or to be more accurate non SLR cameras is to get rid of the mirror. The whole smallness thing is just because once you get rid of the mirror box, the prism and the eyepiece optics there isn't much left. Just because there isn't much reason to make a mirrorless camera much bigger than a lens cap with a tripod socket doesn't mean thats the point.

(Big Honkin Handle extra)

I've taken to bolting a slab of aluminum to my NEX just to have something to hold on to without touching the lens.

Every film camera larger than 6x6 that I have ever used was mirrorless with the exception of a 4x5 graflex slr and and a 5x7 stereo graflex, both of which illustrated why big SLRs are a mostly bad idea outside of a narrow range of uses, making stereo view cards and studio portraits for instance.

Flapping mirrors are mostly useful in big heavy small format cameras where the weight of the camera minimizes the vibration and the photographer is working fast and sloppy anyway. With film the first thing you do if you are using an SLR for high quality work is lock up the mirror or better yet get a larger non reflex camera ( non focal plane shutter too for that matter ). Even if you are hand holding, with a little practice you hand hold a non reflex camera at four times the exposure time of a SLR. If you want a quiet camera, ditch the mirror and if you can, the focal plane shutter. Sure, Leicas have a reputation for quiet, but only compared to SLRs. Compared to a quiet leaf shutter camera, Leicas are pretty loud.

EVF? Meh, whatever...

"Make sense" in what sense? And for whom? It's a pretty vague question.

I'll assume that by "full frame", you mean 36x24mm and that by "mirrorless" you mean a relatively compact body with a digital sensor (obviously without a mirror), and that by "make sense" you mean "make sense to own, or at least use more than once or twice". Speaking just for myself, 1) a photographer who 2) prefers manual focus and aperture over automation and who 3) cares at least as much, or more, about a lens's character as with optical perfection and who 4) owns a bunch of manual lenses designed for 36x24mm sensors that won't work on current mirror-based systems without additional optics or modification and 5) appreciates the availability of many desirable such lenses at affordable cost and 6) prefers compact bodies: then, Yes, it makes all kinds of sense (especially if disregarding cost of such a body).

Yes, because of those particular lenses. Actually I'd be happy with anything close to FF (say, 30x20mm). (And it wouldn't matter too much to me if it were 6 superb megapixels or 60 good mp, all other things being equal (though cropability is an attractive feature).)

But were I, for example, 1) a manufacturer, marketer or retailer of cameras, or 2) a photographer who prefers automated focusing and exposure or 3) is fanatical about optical perfection or 4) owns few lenses or 5) has no interest in manual FF lenses, or 6) doesn't care about size or portability, then it might make less sense, or no sense.

This is all assuming that lenses and sensors will continue to improve at their recent rate or better.

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