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Friday, 21 September 2012


It depends what you mean by "mirrorless Full Frame."

For Me, a Sony A99 without a mirroebox and SLT mirror makes sense. And a Sony NEX 7 Full Frame Doesn't. I don't often use wide angle lenses, mostly 135mm or longer. A NEX-7 weights about 11 Oz and a Sony/Zeiss 135mm f/1.8 weighs a little more than 2Lb. Changing the 135mm f/1.8 to E-mount won't significantly reduce the weight, and a FF sensor won't significantly raise the body size and weight. So you would end-up with a small FF NEX body and a very large 135mm lens. Meh!!

No-one has ever complained about the Ads i've shot with an APS-C Canon camera. I like the size/weight of the NEX-7, but there are no Sony E-mount lenses in the lengths I use.

Cameras are simply tools, and a FF Mirrorless is a tool I can do without. YMMV

On the otherhand an OM-D E-M5 looks very tempting! Tempting enough to rent an E-M5 and a 75mm f/1.8 lens for testing.

If it's like my Rollei 35 or Leica CL, of course....

I was thinking that the Sony A99 and Leica M define the beginning of a transitional period in camera design in a way that is more obvious than the Fuji X100 and X-Pro1. One is an SLR and the other is a rangefinder, but they've each got one foot in the old world of optical viewfinders and stills, and the other foot is in the new world of EVFs, live view, and video.

Two additional distinctions are the position of the viewfinder (centered or in the corner) and the flange back distance (long or short). Now that I think about it, there are various tradeoffs to each and everybody has their preferences in handling and working style, so I'll revise my previous conclusion. I bet photographers who rely on telephotos will gravitate toward SLR-style cameras, while everybody else will lean toward rangefinder-style cameras. Those who need, want, or don't mind video will go for EVFs, and those who specifically avoid video will prefer optical viewfinders. Maybe Fuji should start getting serious about video.

Yes, of course. It's doubtful prices will ever come down to the level of APS-C cameras, or m43, however.

35mm dominated film photography because it was what the market considered the best compromise of size vs. quality, and miniature formats like PEN half-frame or APS-C fell by the wayside. Digital sensors can probably deliver the same quality as film in half to a quarter the sensor size, but so did the progress of film between the 50s and 90s, and it's not as if better emulsions like Velvia or T-Max swung the balance from 35mm to APS-C or smaller.

I am waiting for one as I do not want to buy D600 after switching to Sony and Sony did have a full frame under E mount (on the video section). For the scenario that I might use A99, I think A77 is actually better as it is APS-C and my lens (waiting) 70-400mm would be even better. Hence, I am waiting for the full frame E mount. I quite like my Nex5N with the A mount lens (and adapter) e.g. the 35F1.8 and the 85F2.8 cheap plastic lens. Hence, give me a full frame E mounts (and allow A mount lens to go full frame only) is good.

It is there (900) just not there for me. US$2,000 for a E mount full frame and I would spend the other US$2,000 for the 70-400 A mount. How about that, Sony?

(I walk more shops yesterday D600 is now US$2,043. I still have the 28-300 and some old AIS lens. hence ... may get D600 as a travel one with my Nikon N65 for film ... RX1 in steriod.... struggle a lot.)

BTW, get the other full frame one (assume it is just 8x10 and even get the smaller "mirror less" version in 4x5 as well).

Sense to whom? And that really is the question.

In the days of film, you paid for image size with every shot you took: there was a direct physical cost for the media upon which you captured, and cost varied with size. Thus, economically there was a sweet spot. The film makers kept looking for a smaller sweet spot (because they could mask margin increases when math illiterate customers couldn't figure it out), but never found one because of the size/quality constraints.

In those film days, hardware manufacturers had only performance and features to compete with.

Today, it's different. Capture size is a one-time cost to the customer, and once incurred, you're free to take as many photos of that size as you wish. There are still size/quality constraints, though. The question is whether there is a sweet spot, and if so, where it's located. I think it very safe to say that the sensor size sweet spot is very much smaller than people think it is, probably around 1". The number of people who truly do things that require a larger sensor get exponentially smaller as the size goes up.

But let's look at the hardware vendors' view of the world. We have 10 or so significant makers, of which only a couple are profitable at the level you'd expect of an ongoing concern, and many of which lose money on cameras. They're all looking for something, anything, that'll differentiate them enough and which has enough potential profit margin to change their fate. When they see an emotional and significant response to the question "should we make a full frame mirrorless camera" at least one of them will jump, in hopes that this is the thing that'll secure their future.

The problem, of course, is the low barrier to entry for almost anything the camera companies are doing (and in some cases, the near zero barrier, as in making an Android phone). There's no IP that stops you from making smaller/larger sensor cameras. It's a simple engineering task, which these companies excel at.

While I seek quality in my equipment I think that I and others in the photo community are getting far too caught up in the small picture and missing the big picture: what is it we're really trying to achieve?

The D3 was the first camera that really brought that home to me. Some people were asking for even more low light ability (and we've gotten it), but frankly, what was that going to do for me?

I'm amused that Fujifilm thinks they need to do a full frame X-Pro. Have you shot with the current X-Pro? It's a very good camera. What exactly does full frame give you that the APS version doesn't, and do you need that? The answer is what I said above: exponentially fewer do as you up the size. And a number of those that say they do are looking for bragging rights more than shooting differences.

So my original sentence is the answer: Makes sense to whom? Not to me; it'll add nothing to the photography I do. To you? Maybe. But are you sure you know what you need versus what you want emotionally?

Size does matter!!!

Camera - as small as possible

Sensor - as big as possible

Years ago there were plenty compact cameras which took 35mm film (I still have some!) and I long for the day when digital manages to catch up.

I'd buy one - just as soon as they can get it down to the size of my Minox 35gt.

Yes, you should buy RX1 :-)

I suppose it always makes sense if people buy it. Will it result in lowering the price of cameras with full-frame senses and interchangeable lenses? If that is the case, then yes. If not, good luck to the people who can afford one.

Wrong question.

The question is, does an actual reflex viewfinder make sense for any kind of digital camera? It adds weight, cost, increases frequency of repair, makes noise, complicates lens design (requires long flange distance to clear the mirror), and adds camera shake.

Right now, phase-detect autofocus is still significantly faster for high-end requirements, but between integrating phase sensors on the main image sensor, and improving contrast-detect AF, the better non-PD systems are catching up; may have caught consumer DSLR AF (we don't have good tests for this that produce simple numbers that map to people's actual experience). But note that the current DSLR PD AF is an amazing kludge; secondary hinged mirrors and semi-silvered spots in the primary mirror and so forth, and the accuracy depends on the consistency of all that mess.

"What the world needs now,
Is a digital Zeiss Ikon.
It's the only thing
That there's just too little of."
Sing damn you, SING!!!

Yes, why impose an utterly ridiculous and arbitrary restrictio on what a 'mirrorless' should be?

I think for TOP's readership, the real issue is whether FF makes sense, period. I think the percentage even of those on TOP that *need* the advantages of FF is by now fairly small due to APS/m43 being so good, and generally receiving the latest developments in sensor design (with notable exceptions). The question of whether FF should have a mirror is sort-of beside the point.As others have stated above, mirrors are a pox on camera reliability and increase cost. If they can be removed and cost lowered with reliability improved, I say get rid of them. There is no reason a mirrorless FF camera needs to be tiny, and if it meant improving ergonomics, it could be the same dimensions as a traditional SLR (a la OM-D EM5). Some criticize the faux mirror box, but it does contain electronics up there.

All that said, even if I had crazy lottery money, I doubt I'd buy into FF, as I just don't need it. My pictures wouldn't be noticeably improved with a Leica S2, and I'd rather not carry that beast around.


I don't know what it means for a camera type to "make sense".

If someone builds a 35mm film format, interchangeable lens, digital camera with TTL electronic viewing, and it poses some advantage for some purpose, people will buy it. How much it costs and how well it performs will determine how big an audience it has and subsequently how many will be sold.

So the question back to you is "What advantage do you suspect a FF 'mirrorless' camera has that it might 'make sense'?"

Sense, what's that?


Well, I was all set to purchase a Leica X2 this month or next month - until this RX1 thing came out. A game changer really. Full frame is so much larger than APS-C. I really have no choice now but to purchase the Sony (Sony?!). I just wish it had a shutter speed dial instead of the that pointless whatever dial on the top.

It will make sense to me when I can get a full frame 6x6cm and put a nice Zeiss Tessar 75/3.5 in front of it for less than $1000. Until then, not so much...

Absolutely! It won't be made by Canon or Nikon.

Yes, but for me only if I can get afford one with a great wide angle lens...and I mean a number probably starting with a 1.

If it can be done in a body retailing for $1000 USD, sure. If not, I don't think it's worth the increased cost and size of the lenses over APS-C.

No, small is beautiful.

It depends. If you have full frame optics (Ex. Leica M or Canon's Eos), yes. For me, it does not matter as I own one lens only, Fuji's 35mm XF, that fits my X-Pro1 perfectly.

I always feel sorry for people who come to my art shows to see my 2ft x 3ft prints made from jpegs I saved as tiffs from my Fujifilm S2 Pro which was made in 2004 or thereabouts.
They insist I must have used "medium format digital" and wonder how I achieved "the range of tones". They are really unhappy when I tell them they don't need to keep on buying cameras which promise "better quality".
It's like people who think they need to buy the most expensive musical instrument, in order to make good music.
So, "full-frame" is pretty irrelevant to me.

No. I don't even think APS-C makes sense for mirrorless, and I'm the happy owner of an APS-C camera(*)---it "feels" like a large format camera rather than the happy compromise that was 35mm film, even if I can't think of a logical reason why it'd be so.

And speaking of feeling, it might just be that m4/3 isn't it either; my 1/1.7" camera feels a lot less "too small" than my APS-C one feels "too large", so for now I'm placing my bets on the RX100. And, technically, that Nikon as well ;)

(*) What can I say, Sony prices their products sanely in my country, while Panasonic doesn't.

I don't care what size the sensor is. Just please don't keep sticking us with 3:2!

Yes, because f/2 is a sweet spot for lens design and gives good shallow depth of field on a full-frame sensor. The same DoF on an APS-C sensor requires an f/1.4 lens, which entails more design compromises, giving poorer overall performance. m4/3 cannot achieve that DoF with practical lenses (would need to be f/1).

Also, to take full advantage of the excellent Leica and Zeiss manual focus FF lenses - with focus peaking, of course.

It will all be mirrorless in the future, I read on petapixel where a French company has perfected a 5 million pixel view screen. The goal is to get rid of as many moving parts as possible, and the whole mirror/shutter assembly is just another weak link, no matter how robust; that's why videographers adore digital card memory over tape drives. My pal is one and when he goes around the world, they used to have to take two cameras 'cause the tape drives would always die. No More.

Cost is another issue. You can build the highest quality EV camera for far less than a quality shutter/mirror box assembly, and it'll last longer as well...

I can also manually focus far easier on a NEX-7, than I can with my Nikon APS-C that has a "light-pipe" screen instead of a ground glass; can't focus that thing at all, just have to believe the lights...

Well, I want it; but I am not sure we have enough info to answer the "makes sense" question. (And make sense to whom? Manufacturers? Consumers?) If consumers, the question comes down to price. If a supermega billionaire decided to fund the project and give away such a camera for $US 600 per unit, then I think even nay-sayers would be hard pressed to pass up getting that amount of chip real estate at such a low cost. If Epson made it, but concluded that the market for such a camera was 10,000 units at a cost of $3,000 (like the RD-1) then you might have new old stock sitting on dealer's shelves 5 years after the camera was introduced (although to be fair a universal lens platform would appeal to millions of potential customers, unlike the RD-1, which only appealed to owners of M or LTM lenses). If, because of the chip size, the price point was between a used M9 (say $3500 and a new Canikon DMk-(insert Roman numeral here)) I think you'd price a lot of casual photographers out of the market.

From a manufacturer's perspective, I think it only makes sense if you are not in the business of protecting a proprietary lens mount and the revenue stream from those lenses. But it is a bit of a standoff, isn't it? If I am Nikon, then I could see selling a lot of bodies and steal market share from Canon and Sony, but my consumers no longer a reason to stick to my lenses. They could, e.g., cherry pick the best 35mm lens, regardless of manufacturer, and stick it on the box. So I could sell a lot of bodies, but I would kill my lens sales and would have to be in the body business. Same logic for Canon, Sony, Pentax-whoever. And 18 months after I introduced my box, the other guys are going to come in and introduce me-too boxes. If this logic is correct, the universal box would be more likely to come from, say, Panasonic or Samsung, who aren't really in the lens business (at least compared to Canon and Nikon).

For me? Man, I'd buy that thing so fast I would have to nap for a week just to catch my breath. The notion of a proprietary lens-mount has been an annoyance since I started buying gear. If I could wish away its economics with my superpowers it would have been gone years ago.

We are only gadget hamsters running in a wheel of technology advancement greed.

Technology evolves and becoming less expensive. We are here to spend our hard earned money. Gimme the newest stuff!

I have enough trouble thinking full frame makes sense for dSLR! You know, for hobbyists, enthusiasts, people who frame photos with foresight, use their tripod intelligently, make art, don't hit "100%" button obsessively, and everyone who ever got the slightest joy out of a 35mm SLR or rangefinder; what do they gain from full frame sensors?

Full frame made sense for mirrorless film cameras.

As an early adopter of mirror less micro four third cameras, the answer is a definitive yes... EVF's are fantastic, and are the main reason I am there.

Why stop at full frame... This is the obvious path for medium format... So I will be skipping the full frame and waiting for the medium format EVF to come along with some maturity...

Sure, but make it 32x24 mm - not 36x24.

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