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Monday, 03 March 2014

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Seems like a relatively small amount of money, but then there are also operating costs and I suppose it makes the books look just a little better. But what do I know? I'm not an accountant and don't own any large buildings.

I do know I'm glad I don't have to figure out the camera business right now.

There's always Fujifilm

My main concern would be the sensor business, as Sony's mind-numbing lineup shifts drove me away long ago. Pentax Nikon and Oly make excellent use of Sony sensors, so as long as the fab plant is running I can relax.

However, they are an exceedingly confusing company to engage with A Mount FF, Amount DT (APS-C) E-mount APSC, E-Mount FF, 2 lens adapters, then 4, now 2, 2 flash mounts Locking legacy, new shoe. I've about had it with the devaluation of accessories while trying to stay somewhat current.

You can logically write off a prosumer body against film/processing. But the glass/flash is killing me. And their new wonder toys usually including necessary items e.g. the NEX7 which I own and like is a dog at focus with confusing menus and tiny buttons. Oh go to the upcoming Alpha 6000 and your flashes now sit on rickety adapters, or go A7/A7r and everything is useless.

Personally I'm thinking get out while I can taking the loss. No more pro work some maybe Fuji? Despite my respect for Ctein, I'm leery about MFT. Maybe foolishly but... actually I should download a few E1 raws and play and print my max.

Anyway Sony is bringing nifty toys and abandoning you when you get them.

bill

Ah, well. Just what I needed to see the day I traded my Canon Eos 1Dx on an A7r with the Zeiss 35 & 55 lenses plus a Metabones adapter…

Actually, my single concern when I hear of the demise of a multinational is the jobs that will be suppressed. Unemployment is the only condition that affects people irreversibly: we can overcome the grief of losing someone close to us and we learn to cope with a lot of hardship; unemployment, however, produces permanent damage. People feel the life they've become used to is collapsing and everything starts to fall apart. Unemployment is arguably the principal cause for suicide. It's funny that we think of unemployment statistics as mere figures and forget that those are actual people who will be enduring the worst times of their lives.
So excuse me if I think of the repercussions of Sony's troubles on photographic equipment as a frivolity. Right now I couldn't care less. And I really don't feel sorry for Sony's shareholders and CEOs. They'll be sinking another big company any time soon and will get away with it once again.
Anyway, Sony has no reputation in the photographic industry: whatever reputation they have, they bought it out of purchasing Minolta. Even if they've built on Minolta's know-how, they're newcomers, like Panasonic. They won't be sorely missed. Of course there are all those extraordinary sensors made by Sony for Nikon, Olympus and Pentax, but there are sensor manufacturers who can do even better. (http://www.dpreview.com/news/2014/03/03/red-epic-dragon-jumps-to-top-of-dxomark-sensor-charts-with-score-of-101?utm_campaign=internal-link&utm_source=news-list&utm_medium=text&ref=title_0_1)
We're discussing Sony's drainswirl and the dwindling supply that ultimately may see Canikon establishing what would be a 'de facto' duopoly. Whatever. One day everyone will be using smarphones for digital photography anyway, so who cares? It would be far worse if we were talking about the demise of Ilford Photo.

the great Ben Stein! Unfortunately I'm afraid you are correct about the possible loss of inventiveness in cameras. I am a long time (four decades) user and believer in Nikon. But it seems as though they and Canon are right where the US was in automobile design and production back in the 80's. I own and am enjoying Fuji(XE-1) and Sony (Nex6, A7) cameras. Since the D700 there has been nothing Nikon has produced that caught any of my interest. And that is sad for me.

I've long since dismissed Sony's still cameras (soulless pieces of brilliant technology that I simply do not enjoy having in my hand and working with), but they have sensors everywhere. Nikon, and I think Pentax, have started experimenting with other fabricators (Toshiba and Aptina, in the case of Nikon), but most of their cameras and all of Olympus and Fuji's cameras have sensors manufactured by Sony.

Still, even this is of little concern to me. If there's red on Sony's balance sheet, it may well be coming from photographic divisions, but is highly unlikely to be coming from their sensor division. So I imagine Sony sensors will be around for a long time to come. While I might miss the competition-fueled innovations that Sony's presence in the consumer market brings, I wouldn't miss their cameras or those cameras' mount confusion and criminal lack of lens support.

Ironically, Sony's latest professional video cameras (the F5, F55, and even FS700) are wonderful tools to work with and I'd hate to see them leave the market. This, too, seems unlikely.

I am a long time Sony Camcorder user. When Sony hits nobody can touch them.
This thread made me drop by B&H camera to search Sony Camcorders just out of curiosity.
If you do this you will get 28 hits on consumer cameras and 59 on the pro side.
Prices range from $149.00 to $132,864.95 less lens.
In my forty years of TV news photography Sony has only unleashed one mutt. That was the profoundly unloved 1976 vintage DXC1600 which had to be carted around like a bag of Pings and needed the light of ten thousand suns to make a smeary, crappy picture.
After that stumble it was one brilliant camera after another (no sarcasm, I really mean it).
From my vantage point I can't help but wonder if perhaps Sony needs to take a corporate breath and consider thinning the herd. I'm not sure they need to be serving the video community in $50 increments.
Can't speak with authority on the still side. I'm a Nikon user and I'm too old and broke to trade in for a bag of Fuji goodies.

In the broadcast videotape era, interchangeability was paramount, both in-house and between stations. Sony was notorious for introducing new formats as they felt like it. At one stage in the early 90s I remember counting seven different Sony tape formats in our station alone. U-Matic, U-Matic H, Betacam, Beta SP, Digital Beta, C-Format (not Sony proprietary, admittedly) ... I've forgotten the rest.

They made superb machines which were so reliable that we got little experience fixing them, but the format confusions! No other manufacturer behaved like this.

I wonder if Sony's prosumer camera lines are profitable? If so, Sony may need to keep up R&D as they downsize.
I contrast this to the situation with Kyocera's decision to stop making its Contax cameras. I felt very secure making a significant commitment when I bought my Contax 645 and three lenses. Kyocera had deep pockets and could absorb losses in the camera business.
Turned out, they could also easily drop the business, since it was non-essential.

Sony isn't going away. They are getting out of particular markets but as they "own" the sensor market I don't see them leaving either that or the still or video camera business in the hear future.

"There's always Fujifilm"

But they depend on Sony sensors (yeap, XTrans is a custom Sony sensor with a different CFA). They could swap to another sensor manufacturer if need be. They already use Toshiba for their small sensors. Panasonic is another option (another camera division in trouble but the sensor division is part of the core strategy).

The one worry for Sony camera owners is their pursuit of 35mm cameras like A7. This takes them head to head with Nikon and Canon who already have the lenses for 35mm. Sony doesn't. They should, like Fujifilm, focus on APS and build out to 35mm later.

If Sony do build their own medium format camera based around their own 645 sensor then you know they're doomed through lack of focus :-)

Sony has within the last few months turned its back on its historically core consumer lines such as TVs and PCs. Now that it's dispensed with such brand recognizable Sony and Vaio high volume consumer gadgets, it can turn its attention to the next product tier down.

Such as consumer cameras. If we think this is not in its sights right now we're probably dreaming. I hope it can pull through, but when profitability is at stake, Sony is showing resolve not to get dragged down by even more traditional Sony lines, of which consumer cameras are not one.

Just as Panasonic is shedding its consumer electronic toys to focus on the commercial space, so could Sony. For example, Sony can continue to manufacture sensors and other components for other consumer products manufacturers, as well as high end professional video equipment.

I've heard some say that PlayStation is a great success, but then I've also heard they don't really make money on the PlayStation per se. But that's another story.

Sony is just streamlining, nothing to worry about really. Don't underestimate Japanese pride in Sony. They would never let it fail. If the corporate malfeasance of Olympus can survive, then Sony has nothing to worry about. When Sony puts their mind to it, they are worldbeaters and on par with anyone in any industry. Look up their SCD-1 or TA –n1, tA – E1 high-end Audio Units sometime. And that stuff was niche product for them, if they can put that kind of quality into something that's a total niche piece, watch out when they really focus on a mass market area. Even though they bought out Konica/Minolta's camera system they've improved on it 10-fold since then. Sony has learned more in the camera industry, quicker, than any other player. They've gotten up to speed amazingly fast, along the lines of the way Kia and Hyundai have taken over parts of the car market from Honda and Toyota. Sure, they have made mistakes along the way. But to consider them anything other than a powerhouse would be foolish and shortsighted.

From what I read here on the net, from what Sony has said and the way they've structured themselves 'portable' and 'imagery' seem to be forming the core of the 'one sony' emerging from the wreakage of the 90's so I think (or perhaps just hope?) sony cameras are safe for a little while.

What will be interesting is Sonys approach moving forward and how we respond to it. I have a theory here - Sony is an electronics company, for us that means they make their money selling cameras not lenses. Frankly they dont care if you buy their or sigma or canon or nikon or tamron lenses - just buy their cameras. Thats why e and fe mounts are critical to Sony. The E/FE mount means they just have to have just enough 'native' CZ and G glass to get by (after all, Leica manages with variations of what? 9 focal lengths?) then they'll licence their mounts, let others worry about producing lenses. Less stuff to buy in, less SKUs to manage, less diversion into off-core areas.

The questions are a) will other lens makers come to the party and fill out the line-up and b) will we tolerate being 'forced' to dreaded third party providers.

I read a lot about Sony's 'crazy' strategy having proliferated multiple lens mounts but I've got to admit I'm a little surprised that this is a criticism. After all by that measure Nikon and Canon are almost as bad, each having three mounts. The only difference is that by and large they treat their mirrorless options as a sideshow with no real dedication to the system, isolating them from their cash cows and deliberately constraining their capability whereas Sony has committed to theirs, linking it to their other formats.

At least with the Sony every lens I own can be used on my e mount cameras, and all but 3 can be used on the A mount cameras. Yeah I have to use an adapter but its something designed for the system, supported by the camera maker and a workable solution (for the time being). Is it a long term solution? I certainly hope not but it does mean I can make the switch from A mount to FE mount at my own pace which is cool.

Dont get me wrong - Sony has made any number of screw-ups so far and I'm 90% sure that its current situation is more likely the result of random attempts to find a killer breakthrough than a concerted long term strategy. Its just that, perhaps by sheer coincidence, Sonys cameras right now, present a really interesting, diverse and strangely sort of integrated line-up that gives it (and us) real options (though not without some risk).

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