« Whoops! Bad Man, Bad Man | Main | The Golden Age (an Analysis of Sony's Sensor Markets) »

Tuesday, 02 December 2014


I tend to agree. For me, it's a rock and a hard place: Fuji has the lenses I want, but I can't afford them. Sony doesn't have the lenses I really want, but they come kinda close, and I can afford them. Meanwhile, the main justification I have for buying a genuinely 'new' camera calls for phase detect AF ... and a fast, cheap, zoom. So, Sony...except none of their zooms meet that description.

I swore I'd never buy another DSLR. I can't justify buying one to be used a few times a year.

Now what?

Well, we all make our choices. I bought a Sony a850 (on your recommendation, Mike, just saying' ...) and have used nothing but Minolta glass on it. Still pretty satisfied, but when this body dies, I don't know what I will do. Of course, I also don't yet know what might be available if and when.

I suppose this shouldn't be any surprise, given Fuji's history of making medium- and large-format camera lenses since the 1940s.

Sony, on the other hand, was started as a consumer electronics company (also in the 1940s), but only became serious about cameras when they bought Konica-Minolta's camera division in 2006 - only eight years ago.

Things might have been different if Sony had invested more in updating Minolta's Maxxum lens lineup, but instead they focused on what they knew: consumer products. Result: lots of innovation in camera bodies, but a much slower and disorganized pace for the lenses.

Sony is not a lens maker. True. But, Zeiss is. The Sony/Zeiss partnership ensures that there are top notch lenses for e-mount cameras in APS/C and FF formats.

Well, who does make those Sony lenses?

It would equally incisive to observe that Sony is a mega electronics behemoth and Fuji is not. That is also to say that Sony owns the heart of all Fuji cameras -- the sensor. (By one report Sony is on path to control nearly 100% of the small camera sensor market.)

I don't think that opinion is entirely fair to Sony. They are moving aggressively with the FE lenses lineup, and 2015 will be a crucial year for the company; with some lenses like 28 f2 and 35 f1.4. The FE lens system is quite well catered for in terms of zooms, like 16-35, 24-70, and 70-200. Already we have primes like 35 f2.8 and 55 f1.8.

It's the lenses for crop E cameras that seem to be in some limbo these days, but to be honest, there are already the 24 f1.8, 35 f1.8, and 50 f1.8. Plus a high quality zoom like the 16-70 f4.

As for Fuji, yes, they have more lenses now, but 2-3 years ago, people were also complaining...

I agree 100% and have shared similar sentiments on some other forum. Fuji built a system for photographers. Sony builds stuff. If you can find what you want in all that stuff, some of it is really good stuff (particularly recent bodies; Sony's technology is excellent and engineering are excellent, and their cameras are pretty usable, now that they've abandoned the old NEX menus.

After the first Olympus Pen came out, I planned to buy a mirrorless camera prior to a trip to Disney, and opted for the NEX-5. The initial lens rollout seemed odd to me (a 16mm pancake, but no normal ?) bit I figured they'd remedy that. By the time I bought it, I believe there was a road map that showed a "portrait prime". The portrait prime turned out to be the 50/1.8 (a FL on APS-C that's too short or too long for most everything, IMO). And a pancake normal never showed up. I still have my 16 and 18-55, along with the surprisingly good 18-200 (which was originally purchased for video recording). I don't use them because (a) I grew to despise the NEX-5 and (b) I have a DSLR kit and an RX100. I thought about picking up a NEX-6 on clearance to make use of the lenses ... maybe add a Sigma 60 to the kit. The A6000 is, on balance, more attractive (though the EVF isn't as nice and Sony inexplicably dropped the on-screen level), so at $448, I dropped a hint for my wife that I wouldn't mind if one appeared under the tree. We'll see.

The FE lens rollout is more sensible. A nice set of three f/4 zooms, the 35/1.8 and 55/1.8 and at least a couple more primes on the way. It's almost as if a completely different group at Sony was tasked with coming up with the lineup. (Maybe they hired someone from Fuji, but I still don't think the FE lenses have the same consistent quality ... the 24-70/4 in particular is pretty mediocre according to tests).

What I'd really love to see is the Sony 24MP sensor in Fuji's cameras.

At least Sony makes a reasonably priced fast 50mm equivalent for the E mount. When I start to fantasize about getting an A7ll, which appears to be improved and a real deal, I look at the lenses and can't find any kind of affordable 50 for FE, nor much of anything else really. The cart is there, the horses are not. Nice cart.

Your description of Fujifilm as a lens maker is the reason I am moving from Nikon APS-C cameras to Fujifilm's X series cameras.

I've waited several years for Nikon to make APS-C specific prime lenses for the DX camera bodies and I am waiting no longer.

I really rather stay with the Nikon 5XXX series of bodies because they are the perfect weight and size. They are very easy to hold with one hand.

Other reasons include the articulated screen and the best Info screen on the planet. Using the graphical interface I can see at a glance how the camera is set up.

Battery endurance is also a big factor.

But lenses designed just for the DX are few especially in the wide to normal primes.

I may buy one lens from Nikon before I move to Fuji and that's the 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6.

Then again I may not.

@ Dennis: "the 50/1.8 (a FL on APS-C that's too short or too long for most everything, IMO)"

Well, it is just the thing for taking detail shots of motorcycles, and also.... also.... er... I have a Pentax 50mm f/1.4 and I think the best thing I can do with it is to buy a X1.4 teleconverter and keep them together...

...And Fuji seems to get software, too. The latest A6000 firmware is inexplicably incompatible with Yosemite. I don't own a Windows computer or another Mac running Mavericks, so I'm waiting for Sony to address this. So far, they've given no indication that they plan to.

Sony make appliances...

I think this current Meme of Sony "no good with the lenses" will soon be over. With over 20 native FE lenses promised by FY 2015 (I believe that runs into March of 2016), Sony is on a pace very similar to what Fuji did with the X lens lineup.

Add to that all of the Minolta/Sony/Zeiss A-mount lenses available for the system right NOW, plus current E-mount, plus rangefinder glass and you have one of the most impressive lens catalogs in the history of the format.

Taking a larger view, it also strikes me that Fuji is a film company (heck it's right there in their proper name), whereas none of the other remaining contenders are. So, they have a unique perspective and history in the industry that, I would imagine, informs their whole pipeline.

And I obviously can't say for certain why, but since making the switch from Canon to Fuji, this hardened monochrome shooter has started shooting much more colour. I have to think that it's, at least partially, a result of that deeper understanding of colour coming from Fuji's film days.

I was very interested in Sony mirrorless, primarily because it is truly one of the only "shutterless" cameras available. Even a lot of the M4/3rd's cameras have shutters, they close when you press the release, and then open again. We are having a lot of problems with shutter life at work, using Canikon cameras in constant "live view", and tethered to the computer. The shutters seem to last only about a third of the 'cycles' they're claimed to get.

BUT, there are a lot of things cropping up about the Sony that are disquieting. Yes, a very limited line of lenses, and it's looking like their design program is going to be filled with either lenses that just aren't going to be good enough, or lenses that cost too much.

I know a lot of different manufacturers DO make lenses for other camera companies, but I'd be happy if they just said they got in bed with Tokina or Tamron and came out with a line of f/2.8 primes.

Unfortunately, when looking at the specs from tests on SLR Gear, a lot of the Carl Zeiss stuff is no picnic either. I'm a lover of Zeiss, but they can make some dogs too (Hasselblad first series 50mm CF anyone?) and other 'margnial' lenses that depend more on image contrast than actual sharpness to 'get by'. I'm pretty amazed at how bad the sharpness is on some of their Sony stuff.

Couple this with the fact that I read an interesting story about Sony lately, and how it's 36mp camera is really not the same as Nikon's D810, and uses more interpolation, hence a less quality file, and you can see that it has more than a few thinks to wonder about. (Wouldn't mind reading more on those file differences someplace).

The joy of Fuji is that they ARE a lens maker, and they make fairly good lenses, and mostly, they make primes sized and priced for APS-C, something I've been begging for, from Nikon, for years! Now I'm not a fan-boy of Fuji, I can tell you I was using their view camera lenses in the 70's and didn't think they were anywhere near as good as Nikon, I also know pro video people, and they'll take a Canon or Nikon video lens over a Fuji any day; BUT, I do think when I was working with the Fuji 120 camera back in the late 90's, those lenses were in many cases, as good or better than some of my Hasselblad stuff. As for their new digital APS-C stuff, they also make one of the most 'pro' usable kit lenses for those cameras too. Way better than other camera companies kit lenses, without going to the 1500 dollar f/2.8 zoom to get the quality.

And after all, isn't that the way pros buy equipment these days? Get the glass, and the bodies will eventually follow. Even the DSLR Fuji XT1 body isn't really better than M4/3rd's, but the next one will be, and you'll have the glass.

BTW, we have a 'pro' shop camera store in the city I live in now, one of the few cities this size to still have one; and I was talking to one of the people there the other day, and telling them how I was digging the multi-format aspects of M4/3rd's and was thinking about switching over; and she said they've had more professionals coming in and switching from both Canon and Nikon to the Fuji system, and it's been all about the lenses, and especially the reasonably priced and sized prime lenses!

Ever since my personal digital conversion from film, I'd wanted an digi-equivalent to a Leica M camera.
Small, very good lenses, quiet, RELIABLE, etc.
My Fujifilm XE1 camera, combined with the 23mm(35mm-e) and 14mm(21mm-e) lenses, has provided all that to me.
At roughly ONE-EIGHTH the cost.
Did I peddle-off my Nikon FF stuff? No.
The dimness and time-lag of the current EVFs prevents such a move for now.

"So, now I'm in the list for an A7II which will be used only with manual-focus lenses. That is not a problem for me since I'm 63."

That sounds like a non-sequitur to me. Is it "I'm still young enough that I can focus manually."?

Or is it something like "I'm so old that I can afford to just futz around with old stuff for fun before I die."? Or???

I'm really not being flip; I don't understand what you meant to say.

70, with a large stash of OM mount Zuikos and other brands, but almost exclusively using AF µ4/3 lenses, mostly zooms. And not because I can't see well enough to focus manually. I can see very well, but prefer MF for its quickness. µ4/3 AF lenses allow MF fine tuning just by using the focus ring.

It's true. But Sony is an electronics company and it shows; compact bodies, quality electronics with all the latest tech, the best sensors. It's about picking one's poison. Personally I find that the raw processing issues of Fuji are a serious probalem, but many people like Fuji, so there are obviously differing views on that one.

This is among the reasons I just sold my Nex-7 and bought an X-T1. I had the Sony kit zoom, the Sigma 19 and 30mm primes and a Sony 55-210 I seldom used.

Now I have just the Fuji kit zoom (a full stop faster) and the lovely 23mm f1.4. They feel like real lenses (the kind I had on my Minolta SrT101 45 years ago), with aperture rings and everything! Instead of guessing what the knobs are doing

So far, so good. The only thing I have noticed is that there's even less 3rd-party support for the Fuji than there was for the Sony: no flashes, even fewer 3rd party lenses, so I'm counting on Fuji. I hope they continue rolling out the goodies.

In the meantime, I've noticed that Sony is really gaining momentum, adding more models, more lenses, more 3rd party support in other accessories and seems to be on a roll.

>Taking a larger view, it also strikes me that Fuji is a film company (heck it's right there in their proper name), whereas none of the other remaining contenders are.

Yep...see their devotion to "film simulation modes," which in their latest cameras are no longer laughable; they kept at it until they got it right.

I'd also argue that Fuji is a company with the heart of a camera geek, not a "device" maker. The truly brilliant thing about the X100 series is the combination of absolutely top tier image quality with the kind of haptics that would thrill a mere fondler (if they could look past Leica, that is).

Not only is Fuji's lineup extensive and great, but they're building it out exactly as you'd want. They started with a classic 28/50/90mm-e set, and they've added more or less the lenses that most seem to be missing. A year ago, I looked at the lineup and thought "they're missing a fast 24 and a 135 f/2.0." Of course, those are the next lenses to come.

Sure, Sony is making promises with their FE lineup. Even forgiving that they've already missed some of their announced releases, the roadmap looks a little scattered and the focal lengths are coming in an order that leaves certain holes for too long (while duplicating other lengths as well). Finally, the ratio of six lenses to four bodies does little to suggest that they learned any lessons from their APS-c lineup (which also seems to have been wholly abandoned).

As for Fuji, the low-hanging fruit is mostly taken care of now. I have no idea where they'll go next, but my hope is for a line of leaf shutter lenses. Given the success the x100/s/t has had with the strobe crowd, it seems a sensible choice (also one not offered by any sub-medium format systems). Of course, I'd perk up at a medium format X-series as well, and that seems to be much more sensible than a move into full frame.

Sony is a consumer device company; the idea of a long-term relationship between them and a consumer is simply not in their universe of discourse. They have no experience with anything like the system camera user and our long-term engagement with a brand.


It means that for most of my photographic life I focused manually and so I am quite used to it. I began to do photography when I was 16.

Fortunately I don't require glasses yet, not to drive, not to read, not to focus the camera.


Panasonic is neither a camera maker nor a lens maker, yet, hey.

That doesn't explain Samsung either - I rate the NX lens lineup a lot higher than the Sony E lenses.

Samsung I'll grant. But Panasonic gets no pass. Sure, Panasonic camera owners have access to Olympus lenses, and they've built out a great set. But Panasonic? An 8mm Fisheye, a 14mm prime, a nearly-identical Leica branded 15mm prime, a 20mm prime, a not-far-off 25mm Leica branded prime, a very pricey (albeit lovely) 42.5mm Leica branded prime and a not-quite-as-pricey 45mm Leica branded macro prime. 7 prime lenses, one a fisheye, covering roughly 4 *different* focal lengths is better than Sony only in that the 3 focal lengths that are double-covered (more or less) make for a more useful set than you could put together with Sony's in-house offerings.

The FE lens lineup is still new. At this stage in Fujifilm's X-mount infancy, they had more gaps in their lineup than Sony FE mount has now. I own both X-mount and FE mount cameras (X-T1 and A7S) and I think that both systems have their distinct advantages as-is and I expect that Sony's system will develop in time. I don't know why there is this mantra that Sony doesn't have it together when it comes to their FE lens lineup. It's merely very young.
Also, Sony already has numerous lenses available or announced that at the very least offer the same coverage as Fujifilm:

Fujinon 10-24/4 -> Sony FE 16-35mm/4
Fujinon 35mm/1.4 -> Sony Zeiss FE 55mm/1.8
Fujinon 23mm/1.4 -> Sony Zeiss FE 35mm/1.4 (announced)
Fujinon 27mm/2.8 -> Sony FE 35mm/2.8
Fujinon 18mm/2 -> Sony FE 28mm/2 (announced)
Fujinon 50-140mm/2.8 -> Sony FE 70-200mm/2.8
Fujinon 60mm Macro -> Sony FE 90mm/2.8 Macro (announced)
Fujinon 16-55/2.8 (announced) -> Sony FE 24-70/4
Fujinon 18-55/2.8-4 -> Sony FE 28-70/3.5-5.6
Fujinon 18-135/3.5-5.6 - Sony FE 24-240/3.5-5.6 (announced)

The focal lengths that Fujifilm has covered (or at least planned) and Sony has not yet announced:

Fujinon 14mm/2.8 - Need a fast FE 20mm prime, although arguably covered by the FE 16-35/4
Fujinon 16mm/1.4 (announced) -> Need a fast FE 24mm prime
Fujinon 90mm/2 (announced) -> Need a fast FE 135mm prime
Fujinon 56mm/1.2 -> Need a fast FE 85mm prime
The FE mount has only been around since December of 2013. That's just a year. I'm frankly impressed by their progress in such a short time.

After reading some of the responses from Fuji fans, I can only surmise that many of them are oblivious to the artifacts and false details that are produced by the X-Trans sensors. What is the point of putting a nice lens in front of a flawed sensor?

I forgot to add in my previous comment that whereas the current native FE lens lineup is somewhat thin, such is the case with all new lens mounts. Sony may be an electronics manufacturer first and foremost, but they are not insensitive to the needs of their customers. This must especially be true now that they are aggressively pursuing the professional market. A host of new lenses are in the pipeline, and I am confident that many of them will be excellent. Who cares if they are manufactured by Sony or Zeiss or some other lens maker?

"Taking a larger view, it also strikes me that Fuji is a film company (heck it's right there in their proper name), whereas none of the other remaining contenders are. So, they have a unique perspective and history in the industry that, I would imagine, informs their whole pipeline.

Actually Fujifilm are a cosmetics company today. That's where they make most of their profit. It's mostly in face creams. Really!

A slightly wider view is Fujifilm is mostly a specialist chemical company. They design, patent, synthesize and manufacture high value organic chemicals. They make dyes (e.g. the pthalocyanine dyes that are used in a sensor's color filter array and others that are used in camera films) and pigments (e.g. an insoluble dyes for inkjet printing) amongst other things.

They do still make film for cameras. And cameras. And have an optics division (Fujinon) that used to make excellent binoculars too (they still do). But like other Japanese companies (such as Olympus and Ricoh) they runs these divisions more along the lines of "hobby business" as an example of something their company is known for rather than to make money.

This addresses the second sentence above with understanding the "history of their company" and that has fed back into good film simulation in camera something that other camera companies don't seem to understand. Why has nobody from Kodak licensed their film look to other camera makers? They could have not "Classic Chrome" but "Kodachrome", "Ektachrome", "Kodacolor", "Portra", "TriX", "SuperXX", "Plus X" and all the other tradename looks. Oh, well.

The Fujifilm camera division was in the black this year for the first time in a long time but it brings in a negligible amount of money compared to the rest of the company. This is not the "American Way" and perhaps explains the lack of American camera companies.

This view of the camera industry is one to keep in mind when the coming market crunch arrives over the next few years. Do you bet on a company that really wants to make money (Nikon? Canon? Leica? Samsung? Sony? Panasonic?). Or do you bet some a company that might keep the camera division around because a feeling for tradition (Fujifilm? Olympus? Ricoh/Pentax?).

The comments to this entry are closed.