« Two Tips: One for Fuji X-T1 Owners, One for Apple Laptop Buyers | Main | The Ten Best Gifts for Photographers »

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Comments

I've now seen 10 and 9. I'm curious -- do you already know what the other eight are? I mean, do you already have a list? Or are you going to get down to the point where you only have three spaces left, but four cameras (like buttoning your shirt, starting with the wrong button hole?)

You led with my two biggest temptations... I have too many children for such a purchase at this time of year!

Interesting that we got two long overdue cult camera refreshes this year, Sony R1 > RX10 and Panasonic LC1 > LX100. What a time to be alive!

Hello, Mike,

Nice to see you writing about Pentax from time to time ;)

The DA 35mm f:2.8 macro Limited is definitely made by Pentax (now Ricoh Imaging), in their Hanoi factory. I have the old version, indeed a fantastic lens.
Tokina makes their own version, but wow, that thing is ugly! It's obvious those two can't possibly be made in the same factory ;)

Have fun,
Alex

I think there's a typo in the last sentence - "only one camera with you". I thought for a moment there was another mistake with "motley.".

I've never used it as a noun before, normally as an adjective to a noun "motley crew.", but I suppose it's preference.

These are the only two errors I've found in years of posts!

Incredible! (and delete this comment after if you want, no harm done, just wanted to say thanks for the great editing job you do)

Pak

Just want to point out that the B&H price for the Pentax K-3 also includes the BG-5 battery grip (which goes for $185) by itself.

I was happy with my current small bag of cameras and lenses. Then this morning's email brought news of the Phase One A Series.

Desirable. Like the Porsche I don't need but would buy if I could.

Regarding that Pentax gear, it's worth noting that the 20-40 limited is over 1/3rd off right now. Also B&H will throw in a $180 battery grip free when you order a K3 for $200 off. So if you want a battery grip thats nearly 1/3rd off the camera and grip. With the 20-40 as the "kit" lens, thats less than 1.5k for a fairly premium kit.
Are there rumors of impending replacement in the new year? Cause those seem like pretty good discounts to me.

The only thing holding me back from buying an LX100 is the fear that I'm becoming a gearhead. I've got an LX3, a GX7, and a pocketable Canon S110 - all perfectly good cameras that fit my needs. Still, that LX100 looks nice and could fill a niche, and we know it's going to come down in price. I mean, look at the great deals on the GX7 now . . .

Yay for no. 10 !

Hi Mike,

I don't see the optical viewfinder being listed as part of the package at B & H for the GR.

Michael Sheppler

I'm assuming this could never happen due to potential product line cannibalization on the Leica side but how awesome would an LX-40 be? The LX100 "body" with a fixed Leica 40/2. Given the form factor it could be a modern day CL. Bet it would have decent OOC B&W JPGs too. I'm assuming with a simpler fixed lens they could at least keep the price point the same or possibly even a bit lower.

Perchance to dream...

I support your review and reasons for rating the Leica S. It is a tad expensive. Let me know if anyone uses your link to purchase one or two.

Those Ricoh's (aw Pentax's)are like little tanks. I love my K-5iis. Thinking of adding the Real Ricoh (the GR)as a pocket camera. Yehaa!!

The best camera of 2014 for me is the Nikon Coolpix A, gotten recently via TOP. What a pleasant surprise this little camera has turned into. Build quality is beyond expectation, and image quality is like breathing fresh, clean air (after Sony.)

The GR+viewfinder deal ($566) is still active at Adorama... (12:47 EST)

Happy GAS!

Some previous-generation Pentax models are available at appealingly steep discounts right now too - the K 5IIs is in many ways most of the K 3, and is currently a lot less, and really the K 50 is most of the K 5(II(s)), and is currently ridiculously cheap for a two-dial pentaprism SLR at some of the major sellers.

I succumbed to the K 5IIs temptation not long ago, which I justified vs. the K 3 in part on the grounds that it put me ahead on being able to afford a DA Limited 35mm to go with it.

Re: the Ricoh GR. In mountaineering, the best camera is not just the one you have with you. It's the one that you have accessible at all times. And light (weight) is right. The Ricoh GR (like its film predecessors) shines in this regard. I carry mine in a MountainSmith "Cyber, small" (available from B&H ... through Mike's links) case that attaches to the shoulder straps of a backpack (it has vertical, rather than horizontal velcro flaps on its back). I like to have the case on my left shoulder strap (I'm right handed), above the sternum strap, so that my chest is unencumbered for staying close to the rock. I have a short loop of utility cord threaded through one of the eyelets of the camera. To avoid dropping the camera when in steep terrain, I clip a carabiner through a sling that I carry around a shoulder and through the loop on the camera before I pull the GR out of the pouch (the sling and carabiner are standard climbing equipment, so they serve double-duty). By having a short loop, rather than a long strap, there's little to snag on the camera itself, and also it fits neatly in the case. When in more horizontal situations, I put my middle finger through the loop for a bit of purchase. As many have written, the user interface on this camera is superb. I am looking forward to the next version which, I hope, will have IBIS and even better sensitivity.

I'd give a thumb's up for the LX100 as well. The camera just feels 'right.' It'd be nicer if it was smaller, or had more megapixels, or more zoom range, but everything is a compromise and Panasonic has made a really good one.

Saw that the Ricoh GR made the list and started lusting for it. Then I saw that the price at Adorama is 566 and change with the accessory viewfinder AND a 32 gb card. Had to have it. My Christmas present to myself. Thanks Mike. This camera will fit in my pocket.

I completely agree with Michael J. Perini that the needs of working pros are often overlooked in photo-website discussions of cameras. Very accurate inisght.

What's interesting to me is just how different the needs of working pros often are from amateurs or enthusiast photographers. This is best exemplified by how many amateurs/enthusiasts I still see shooting with large DSLRs, and how many pros that I know that want to MOVE AWAY from DSLRs. Or, actually have moved away, either with Fuji X, Olympus OM-D or the latest flavor of Sony Alpha.

What's amusing to me is reading how much griping about trivial things amatuers and enthusiasts engage in in forums, or the degree to which they get their panties in a bunch about something that pros never even think about, let alone worry about. ;-)

By way of example, in the Fuji X forums, a lot of folks presently have their panties in a twist that the forthcoming Fuji XF16-55/2.8 pro standard zoom will NOT have OIS. Merely absolutely superb image quality. "It's a deal-breaker!!!" Egads!

Never mind the fact that neither the equivalent Canon or Nikon 24-70/2.8 pro zoom have image stabilization, either. All those poor pros...not getting their work done.

"It's the end of the World as we know it...."–REM

Read the specs for the LX100 and went straight out and bought it. It has rejuvenated my photography - how long my EOS bodies and lenses will continue to wear down my shoulders and spine is a cause for thought - and a twilight walk around the city of Oxford (UK) has yielded so many images I must print one day. Trouble is, I keep using the camera at every opportunity so the printer is staying dormant!

The DSLR on the way out? When there is no other class of camera that offers more value for money these days? Right...

SLRs on the way out? I certainly hope not. Although I loved my Leicas, I also used my SLRs when I was shooting film. With digital, I've tried live view, electronic viewfinders and accessory optical viewfinders and I keep going back to SLRs as my main tool. They may be unexciting, dated and uncool but I can live with that. I'm pretty unexciting, dated and uncool myself. It's sorta a badge of honor.

I'm not aware of any pros, in the UK, moving away from DSLRs. I would guess that most of them have got too much money invested in one particular system to even contemplate it.

I had this very conversation, this morning, with an architectural photographer.

Also, if you're a press photographer, you tend to be very reliant on a decent, portable flash. The Sony A7, for instance, might be very appealing but where's the TTL flash for it? I asked a Sony rep this last week and he didn't have a very convincing reply. It's about systems....

BTW, regarding the X-T1, just yesterday Fujifilm just released firmware version 3.0 which adds 28 new features to this camera, not the least of which are the beautiful "Classic Chrome" film emulation, and the new Natural Live View feature, which makes the EVF perform even more like a true optical viewfinder. Brilliant, both literally and figuratively.

One little gem in the update is the "Phase detection AF support for Instant AF" mode, which is operated by pressing the AF-L button during manual focusing. The update enables the Phase Detection AF, providing faster focusing speeds. Pressing the AF-L locks focus, even when the lens focus ring is pulled back in the "manual" position (as on the Fuji XF14mm f/2.8 and XF 23mm f/1.4 lenses) and the photographer can then "touch up" focus using the manual focus ring. I used this feature last night, and it is really very cool.

This is now a considerably better camera than it was just two days ago.

Oh, and the firmware update was free.

Mike,

No doubt you will be proved right about EVFs driving SLRs to the margins of the marketplace. More's law will work its magic on them while the cost of flipping mirrors and pentaprisms won't be getting any lower. The net result of that is likely to be what you predict.

However, despite the rush of joy over EVFs flooding the blogosphere, I wonder if they are all they're cracked up to be. In Sean Reid's review of the XT1 he decries the dynamic range of EVFs and claims they haven't been improving in that regard. Certainly the EVFs I have used weren't very good, though better than a rear screen on a bright day (I find those impossible to use outside).

I don't have convenient access to an XT1 to see for myself. Do you find the dynamic range of its viewfinder as good as a good pentaprism? If not do you find it good enough for what you do and therefore not a concern?

OK, OK. Can't stand the suspense.

#2 Leica T

#1 Sony A7 Mk2

Interesting mix of choices. None of them my choice. Of all the cameras that came onto the market in 2014, and all the ones I bought or sold this year, the only standout to me has been the Leica X typ 113. It's a "just right" sized simple camera with an excellent lens that makes beautiful photos. Not a lot of options, not a lot of features, but simple controls, simple menus, terrific lens and sensor is all I want.

Happy Holidays!

I'd love to know how suitable you think the X-T1 would be for someone (me) who manual focus's 100% of the time. Actually I'd love to see you write a whole post about it, because I'd like to see the responses of other readers of your blog.

Dear Fuji,

Whatever you do to improve on the X-T1, please DON'T follow Mike's advice to add a lock to the exposure compensation dial!

If on the other hand you could tighten the drive mode selector so that it doesn't budge every so often as I change ISO settings, that would be most appreciated.

The Sony RX100 is small, has decent build quality, and acceptable picture quality (in good light). When I saw one in person, I was duly impressed...for about 5 minutes.

That was how long it took for me to turn my head and see the Panasonic GM1 on the counter a few feet away. After that, the RX100 paled in comparison. This isn't a slight against the RX100, it is just that the GM1 (and the Panny GM5 even more so) is absolutely astonishing. Looking at pictures of the GM1/GM5 online doesn't prepare you at all for how small these cameras are in real life.

Take a look at this: http://camerasize.com/compare/#570,332

For all intents and purposes, the Sony RX100 and Panasonic GM5 are the same size. So what are the differences?

In the Sony's favor, it has a 24-70 mm-e zoom lens that is decently fast and as a package it is slightly smaller than the GM5, which of course needs a lens. It also has a small built-in flash.

In the GM5's favor, it has an always-available viewfinder, a considerably larger sensor (there may not be much of a difference between the two cameras in bright light, but the different in low light is immediately noticeable), a hot shoe and can accept interchangeable lenses, including the Panny 20mm f/1.7 pancake lens. Or one of the small m4/3s collapsing zoom lenses. Or a Sigma 60mm f/2.8. Or a telephoto lens. Or whatever.

I'm not a big believer that interchangeable lenses are necessarily superior. But I would much rather have the GM5 with a 20mm or 25mm lens than the RX100 Mk III with it's zoom. If it was impressive that Sony was able to squeeze a 1" sensor and bright zoom lens into a pocketable camera, then it is positively astonishing that Panasonic was able to do the same with a 4/3-size sensor and an interchangeable lens camera.

Best regards,
Adam

Andrew,

See here for the TTL flash for the A7: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/898312-REG/Sony_HVL_F60M_External_Flash.html

Best regards,
Adam

D. Hufford: For the Panasonics, disable "Exposure Meter". That's the one that displays the virtual Shutter Speed and Aperture and clutters up the viewfinder.

I find Sony the worst in that regard. Extremely busy and annoying viewfinder.

Adam,

As you mentioned, putting an equivalent zoom lens on the Panasonic GM5 makes it much larger than the Sony RX100 III. Even the 20 and 25mm prime lenses add a lot of bulk to the camera, and take away a lot of the pocketability. Camera size comparison with lenses here:

http://camerasize.com/compact/#555,570.30,570.411,ha,t

FWIW, DPReview just posted it's review of the Nikon D750 and called it the "gold standard", writing "It's not often that we review a camera that does nearly everything right. The Nikon D750 is one of those cameras..."

Best regards,
Adam

P.S. I think it is remarkable (and wonderful) to see so many different cameras, from so many different manufacturers, and with so many different form-factors, on your Top-10 list.

You've got Pentax, Ricoh, Canon, Nikon, Sony, Fuji, Panasonic, Leica and Olympus on the list. Unfortunately, the pessimistic side of me can't help but feel that this may well be the last time we will have such a broad array of designs and manufacturers. Enjoy this smorgasbord while you can! #buymorecamerasnow

P.P.S.: I assume "#buymorecamerasnow" isn't a real thing...I don't use Twitter. ;-)

I think Fuji really hit a major sweet spot with their clients with the firmware updates.
Even old models get some new features every once in a while, and that's something no other company does.

Olympus started the same way, but since I bought my EM5 all got was a firmware update that made the focus points smaller. A welcome addition, but far from groundbreaking.

Yes, we know which one is #1. Still we would like to read your reasoning. And hear what other people think.

"1. C'mon. Do I really have to tell you? You can't guess? Seriously, you already know, right?"

Well, the 645Z should be on this list and since it hasn't appeared yet, it must be the choice for #1.

Where's the Quattro? :)

@ted kelley: Regarding the EVF in the X-T1: if one sets the EVF brightness setting to +2 (you can only do this with the camera held to your eye to engage the EVF) AND if you set the #2 camera menu settings for Hightlight tone and Shadow tone to -2 for both settings, this will considerably flatten the default contrast curve of the EVF in the X-T1 and provide a more accurate view of the dynamic range of the scene on a bright or high contrast day. Mike has mentioned here numerous times the value of really getting to know your gear, and this is sound advice that really pays off in that respect.

But wait, there's more! ;-)

As I mentioned in my post about the Fujifilm fimware version 3.0 release, the new Natural Live View function that Fuji implemented three days ago directly addresses complaints about EVFs, and provides a MUCH more accurate contrast curve and dynamic range when using the EVF display shooting in very bright or high contrast use scenarios. It really does perform like an optical viewfinder.

Solid choice on the Olympus E-M1. It's a terrific camera, literally built like a tank, is quite fast and very responsive, and fun to shoot if you like the current DSLR control paradigm (the dual control lever really is very clever). It's fully capable of being a true pro workhorse, too. It's image quality is excellent, as well, and the files convert very nicely to black and white.

My only gripe about the camera is that the white balance functionality is poor. The Auto White balance is not at all accurate, and in artifical lighting (and sometimes even in daylight situations), I often have to select other white balance presets just to get an approximation of correct white balance. I am now quite spoiled by the uncannily and unerringly accurate Auto White Balance of Fuji X-cams, so having to correct almost very frame for white balance is a hassle.

"Andrew,

See here for the TTL flash for the A7: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/898312-REG/Sony_HVL_F60M_External_Flash.html

Best regards,
Adam"

Thanks, Adam. I wonder the Sony rep didn't mention it?

No 1 is an iPhone right?

I agree that the single lens reflex camera design seems to be heading to the camera museum. Personally, the last "dslr" I bought was my Canon 5DIII back when it was introduced (2 years ago?). And I've no designs to buy another.

But it's really a sad irony, isn't it? The dslr is just about a perfect generalist camera. There is nearly no photographic task that it cannot do, and generally do superbly well. It's been refined to near perfection and engineered to endure rough treatment and conditions. Perfect time for retirement, eh?

Still, I believe that the Sony A7-style of body is quickly evolving to meet and exceed the dslr standards. Having spent a year with the A7R, and now experiencing the smart engineering refinements of the A7II, I am extremely enthusiastic for this camera design to become the new standard-bearer for high-quality generalist.

I too abandoned DSLRs this year (Canon 5D3 and L glass) for the Oly EM-1. And it's not just the camera. I defy anyone to handle either of their Pro series lenses and not want one.

While not a perfect system (is there one?) the EM-1 and Pro lenses must be right up there with the most pleasurable cameras to use of all time.

I believe the electronic viewfinder is the best thing since sliced bread. The ability to see what will be on the photo exactly as it will be is incredible. I'd sell my soul to have it on my primary camera instead of an obsolete matte screen.

Mike, I just needed to add my two cents to the discussion. I have rented and used the Fuji XT1 series camera and really liked it. It was light, portable and easy to use. I tested and reviewed the files and compared them to my files from my OMD EM1 and could not see a difference. Maybe it was just me, and maybe I didn't want to see any difference, because I really love the little Oly camera. Especially when I attach the Panasonic 25 to its front. It is really all that I need to have a fun day of shooting. I took it on a major trip this summer and the whole kit including a 17mm lens, 25mm and a 12-40 lens weighed less than 4 lbs. That was less than my D800 with a 24-120 lens weighted. I have since added the 45mm and will take that kit with me from now on when I travel. Just wanted to put forth my opinion to the group discussion. Your blog is great, and the comments are always insightful and interesting, you have some great followers. Have a great Holiday and a Happy and successful New Year.

"1. C'mon. Do I really have to tell you? You can't guess? Seriously, you already know, right?"

You've put yourself in quite a pickle, Mike, upsetting either the Sony A7 fans or the Pentax 645Z fans. Such is the nature of such a list though, isn't it? I've got a solution...a tie!

Why can't one of the camera companies make a "full frame" (24x36) camera that is as simple and elegant as the "best camera in the world". To my mind that would be a no-brainer for those of us who remember the simplicity of an old F1 or nikon F series camera. Replace all those annoying buttons and menus with a human brain that is fully engaged in the process of seeing and creating the picture. When I saw how clean the Leica S is, it gave me a case of camera lust that I haven't had in years. If they could do that at a reasonable pricepoint like $2000 I believe they could sell a ton of them.

Hooray for #1, the camera I have with me!! Or did the K-S1 finally get its due? :^p

I'm happy for Oly, long may they sell enough cameras to survive.

I continue to be amazed how many people there are who find a bulkier, heavier, more expensive camera better than the E-M5. Is that over sized grip that good for you/them?

I have what seems to have become a nest of µ4/3 lenses, that may be breeding, OM Pens, E-M5, GX7 and GM1 and can't for the life of me see the point of the E-M1. Had I some old, 4/3 lenses that need PD AF, sure.

As it is, it just adds some features unimportant to me at the cost of size, weight and $$.

I do hope the rumors of an E-M5 II are true. Especially if, like it's predecessor, it should usher in the next generation of sensor IQ. Or might Panny do that with a GX8?

In the meantime, I can assuage my GAS with other things. BTW, the Oly 9/8.0 lens cap fish eye is more fun and better quality than one might expect.

So you say we have to guess what No. 1 is? Then I say it's the camera we all have at this moment. After all what else have you got?

PS: After reading your post about the camera that got away I went out and purchased the lens I have been thinking about buying for some time. My problem is my plans to purchase a Fuji X system. But that may be anywhere from 6 months to a year away so I purchased the 16mm-85mm Nikkor zoom lens. I got it used at B&H. And a nice lens it is.

Happy holidays to all.

Predicting the future has always been a lot of fun, most people will not remember if you were right or wrong. Seems like most people would like a view finder but want the other functions more. It is not (IMHO) a race between the type of viewfinder so much as multiple efforts to reduce size and weight. My favorite example is the Canon (SL1), very small camera with standard SLR viewfinder. It will be some time before the electronic viewfinders meet or beat the SLR viewfinder. That said we the consumer are benefitting from the efforts to do so.
There are lots of critics out there that rave about the loss of weight etc. (next time you read this go look up the weights and dimensions for the items being discussed and calculate the percentage difference) Physics is not going to be modified by the camera maker getting rid of the SLR finder and replacing it with electronics.
IMO what is needed is a more efficient way to use smaller sensors (has to be some new disruptive technology) and smaller lenses. But in the end you still have to be able to hold and use the device, to small and people will not flock to your door.

Guess #1? Well it *should* be the GH4 Lumix, but I'm guessing you are going to go upscale to an unnecessarily-large sensor camera.

Let's hope the Camera of The Year doesn't start at $10,000.

Sony a7 if you don't go with the camera you already own - which I think you will - Merry Christmas

Chris

@Moose -- for me the value proposition of the E-M1 is in the EVF. Does any other m4/3 camera have as good of one?

"1. C'mon. Do I really have to tell you? You can't guess? Seriously, you already know, right?"

Damn, thought the 45 megapixel 5D4 had been released earlier than scheduled!

;)

People rave about the clarity and contrast of optical viewfinders, and they sure are pleasant to look through, but hey: What you see has little to do with what the sensor sees. It doesn't help that the VF has great contrast when the photo is overexposed and washed out and out of focus because the mirror was misaligned. If you are after optimum contrast and clarity you may as well look at the scene through a cardboard frame, because the viewfinder image doesn't translate into sharper photos.

With an EVF you see what the sensor itself sees. The OVF is easy to love and fetishize as a concept because it involves chunks of real optical glass, but it's not all that helpful on the end result.

Hi Mike,

For me the Sony A7s has to be the best camera of 2014. I am simply liking the results the camera produces, the file sizes too.

With a Zeiss ZM 35mm F1.4 the results are gorgeous. I have been using this combination for over a month, it is just a wonderful experience.

Best regards,
Sumanta

https://www.flickr.com/photos/30754909@N00/15884320928/

Sony has a wonderful system, it is called Konica, Minolta and Sony. I have learned so much about lenses, focal lengths and photography by using an inexpensive NEX body with older lenses. Can’t do that as well with a DSLR, at least on a budget. Sony may not be for pros, but who cares if you are not shooting as often as a pro.

Mike, you are spot on in your assessment that Sony needs to develop a more complete system. I do not think it is all bad that Sony has been concentrating on its cameras. After all, if someone buys a Sony camera, they are going to be looking to buy native lenses for it. Encouraging the use of legacy lenses with adaptors seems to be a bad business model, but think of the people who have been buying these E mount cameras so they can use their classic lenses on them. And when the new Sony/Zeiss lenses do finally arrive, I think that those people will be eager to buy some of them. As for flashes, apparently you do not need one for the A7s, right? Personally, I use the Sony flash that is as big as its name (HVL-F60M) on my A7. It's big, but it is easy to use, and works very well. I do look forward to a smaller flash, but it would also have to articulate and have a built-in diffuser and bounce card for me to buy it.
Perhaps you can start a pool on betting what new Sony FE mount lenses will be introduced and when. CES is coming up in January.

I bought the Ricoh GR and it came with the viewfinder and 32mb card. I bought mine on 12-12 14. The deal may have ended. I also bought a Sigma DP3M Merrill camera for $540! I couldn't believe it went that low. I've had the DP2M for over a year and love it. B&H Photo had some wonderful deals this year. I wish I jumped on the DP1M while they had it on sale.

"@Moose -- for me the value proposition of the E-M1 is in the EVF. Does any other m4/3 camera have as good of one?"

OK, that works for you. I happen to be notoriously VF agnostic. When the Canon 300D/Rebel came out, I bought my first DSLR. Everyone derided the tiny, dim, tunnel of a VF.

Flipping between an OM-1 or 2 and the Canon, I could surely see the huge difference in size, brightness, etc. In the field, I just didn't notice, "seeing through" to the subject, perhaps; I do have exceptionally acute vision.

The E-M5 EVF does have particularly dull red/oranges, but the fall colors are still there in the image.

As to your specific question, I'm not the one to ask. I often use E-M5 and GX7 hanging around my neck together in the field, switching regularly between them; grabbing one or the other for different focal lengths. On paper, the GX7 EVF has a few more pixels than even an E-M1 and almost the same magnification - and I don't notice any difference. Probably there, if I looked for it.

I said: "Guess #1? Well it *should* be the GH4 Lumix, but I'm guessing you are going to go upscale to an unnecessarily-large sensor camera."

Ah, now that I see that the A7 won, still too large a sensor and a camera that is a minor upgrade of the previous model, instead of the camera that introduced 4k (which is going to change still photography when still photographers 'get it'), then I must say, Mike, that your choice was not only a touch too predictable, but suspiciously corrupted by the allure of how many click-to-buy associate commissions you will get! (kidding) Mike Sells Out! (kidding)

cheers, Arg
(and thanks for bringing us along for another year of your special take on our hobby)

I really thought you'd go for the 645z. To my mind, the Sony has two weaknesses, and you only mentioned one, the lack of a coherent system, which could be fixed, except for weakness number two: Sony's predilection for screwing things up. Sony should have dominated music players forever. They don't, and haven't, since the rise of the iPod. They should have dominated home movies since the Betamax; but they don't, and haven't. They should have dominated TV manufacturing since the Trinitron; they don't, and haven't. I'm not positive, but I suspect they'll screw up camera manufacturing as well, which is why I wouldn't spend a lot of money on a Sony system.

There's also a number Three. What happens when Pentax shrinks the cost and camera size of its 645 system, but keeps the sensor size the same, so that the whole system is no larger than the FF Nikons and Canons of yore? I think the FF aspect ratio will eventually die, because it's not a particularly usable shape, unless you're advancing film...Since FF cameras once cost $8,000, and a much better camera now costs about 1/4 of that (the 750), I would expect the cost savings to eventually reach the 645 market as well -- and give the really serious users lots more (and better) megapixels to work with...

Re: Sony and Kyocera-Contax system cameras

Kyocera is also an audio company making high-end, SOTA components. While Sony makes high-end audio components—its ES line—Sony is better known for mass-marketed compact system audio, e.g., boom boxes, surround audio-video, Walkman—whose recent incarnation is the "high-end" NWZ-ZX1.

I think Sony's "spaghetti" business model for its interchangeable lens cameras is derived from audio. In high end audio, it's OK to mix-and-match. High-end audio companies specializes in components, not systems. Sony is not a lens maker, just as Sony audio is definitely not a maker of speakers.

My fearless forecast is that Sony will upgrade the RX1 to a 5-axis IBIS model (R1?); and the RX10 to a full-frame 5-axis IBIS model with a wide-to-short telephoto zoom (R10?). To paraphrase Mike, what's not to like in a Sony fixed lens camera?

"Sony's happy throw-spaghetti-at-the-wall strategy—the opposite of the Camera System concept—is, however, keeping amateurs and enthusiasts delighted and entertained."

Delighted and entertained.

Hmmm, I dunno, maybe mystified and frustrated would be more accurate descriptions. Their strategy seesms so...haphazard.

Funny how we all have different requirements and value propositions. What really works for some just doesn't for others.

I handled the (original) A7 couple weeks ago at the Keeble & Schuchat special event in Palo Alto a few weeks ago. I know some folks really like this series of cameras, but personally, I don't get it, they just don't work for me (neither did the original RX100, which I own). The A7 felt, I'm sorry to say, cheaply made.

And the shutter shock was noticeable even holding it in hand. That and the whole loose lens mount kerfuffle really gives me pause. But what really gave me pause the most was reading the blog of a working pro who recently switched to an X-T1 because he had been shooting with an A7 for the better part of a year and had to send it in twice to Sony because it was literally falling apart (his words, not mine).

Speaking of Pentax, is there a reason why camera stores outside of New York City still do not sell Pentax cameras? Playing hard to get, or what?

I agree that Sony is giving us camera-gear nuts a h*ll of a great time. Interesting stuff coming from them.

I recently launched my Canon pro-level DSLR and L-glass zoom in favor of a Sony A6000 coupled with three Sigma DN. The size and weight of the Old Beast was getting to be too much for this aging old man. After a three hour studio/location shoot I was done for.

Why did I do such a seemingly rash thing? Because, in spite of what is said about the lack of lenses, I believe Sony understands the swiftly changing market and offers exactly what the market will consume. More importantly (to me, at least) they've integrated some tasty capabilities (networking, in-camera processing) into a very small, attractive package.

Few of users are working pros and image making "generalists" in that they _need_ to own the vast range of lenses Canon offers. If they need something specialized, go rent it.

For all the rest, what's wrong with the old three lens kit? 35/50/90(equiv) lens kit works great for the vast majority of the kinds of things I see people shooting.

Though I suppose if someone wanted to impress strangers with their economic status there's still a place for DSLRs and big standard focal length zoom lenses. You can't believe the number of very high-end cameras I see (I live in Paris) where the user mounts the lens shade backwards when shooting. Maybe it's so strangers (impressed or otherwise) can clearly see the rather expensive red/gold/blue ring?

"With an EVF you see what the sensor itself sees"

With reflex viewing, you see the reality of your subject in real time, using real light rays! You see your subject with infinite dynamic range and infinite resolution in real time. No tearing, smearing, false colors, limited range of contrasts and tonality, no delay.

With an EVF you don't see what the sensor sees, you see an electronic rendering with reduced output compared to a fine monitor or print. In short, you see a useful subset, a representation, an abstraction, of the actual result.

And that's fine. For decades people knew how to view and compose and expose and zone without having to see what film actually sees at that exact moment.

Some people prefer to be engaged with their subject directly, and not in an electronic digitization of a little tv screen.

That's why some people like reflex viewing.

It doesn't have to be an either-or. Only in the marketing world do you have to choose sides and desperately proclaim at this every opportunity that this or that technology shall take over the world.

Which is really great. It's a golden age of great choices we have, long may they all prosper.

Great list! Funny thing is, to this great lineup of past accomplishment, my immediate response is: "So what's next?"......Did they intend to get me thinking this way?, or is it an unitended consequence?

I think this is an excellent list with a lot of really nice cameras on it. My only quibble is, perhaps, a certain underestimation of the power of the price-to-performance ratio. For example, one can buy two E-M10 bodies (or an E-M10 and the 25 mm and 45 mm lenses) for about the price of one E-M1. While the latter certainly has advantages over the former, when the time came to vote with my credit card, I know which way I went...

Am I really the only person who finds the Sony so ugly they wouldn't want to be seen using it in public?

As to optical view finders vs. EVF. Convenience has always been the enemy of tradition. In my job as a camera sales representative, I feel "unclean" if I do not point out the many benefits of the EVF. Why would a new or hobbyist want to fly blind?

@Sarge: regarding your comment of Sony not being a maker of high-end speakers. Actually, they do. There is a small skunk works of passionate music lovers deep within the cooperate bowels of Sony that are making true, SOTA high-end audiophile speaker, not the least of which are the Sony SS-AR1 and SS-AR2 models [$27,000/pair and $20,000/pair respectively. —Ed.]. The cabinets are handcrafted by Japanese woodworking artisans, and they even use the wood from trees in northern Japan where is it much colder and results a denser wood that is used for the multi-layered front baffle as opposed to the less dense woods that are used for the sides of the cabinets. These efforts are led by Mitoyuki-San, who is a true and passionate lover of music. The SS-AR1 are amongst the finest loudspeakers I've heard at any price, and the most accurate transducers of piano music I've ever heard, which all audiophiles know is extremely difficult to reproduce accurately.

How this relates to cameras is that I think the guys at Fuji. that have been making the wonderful series of X-cameras and those gorgeous lenses represent a small skunkworks type of team at Fuji led by Imai-San that are just as passionate about photography as Mitoyukis-san's speaker designers are at Sony.

Now, if Sony could replicate that small, passionate skunk works approach for the mirror less cameras, and most importantly, lenses, they'd be one to something. Something that doesn't represent the spaghetti on the wall approach to strategy.

Couldn't be happier with my trusty X-T1.
35mm 1.4 lens, new classic chrome and a Nissin i40 flash, all set up for a merry christmas!

I have a friend now doing most of his professional work with a Sony A7r using his Canon lenses (including multiple tilt/shift). Nikon does now also have tilt-shift lenses in most of the same ranges (except the 17mm), but the cost of switching to Nikon has so far blocked him (he's investigated it several times; he doesn't like the 5D with various suffixes much, the AF is crappy though better than the Sony, etc.) But the ability to mount the Canon lenses on the Sony has him using it (and being annoyed at many things about it; but he needs the resolution it produces, his work is printed up to trade-show display size fairly often). Manual focus works fine, may even be necessary, for most of the things one needs tilt/shift lenses for.

How could you leave off the Pentax 645Z? That brought the top of the line MF CMOS sensor down into the grasp of non-pros. Clearly a watershed moment for digital cameras, and a sign of things to come. Just look how the prices on the Hasselblad 40MP has already come down.

With luck, when the tax refund rolls in, my camera of the year will be a E-PL5. A significant advance over my E-PL1 but leaving me with enough left over to also get an Olympus 25/1.8 to go with it.

Sure, I would love an E-M1 or a Fuji X-T1 and a 35/1.4 to go with it but even with a second job that's not going to happen anytime soon.

Still, with great used values out there on cameras that are only a year or two old, why should I worry? It won't be all that long and I _will_ be able to afford that OM-D or the Fuji. And in the meantime, I can do what I enjoy doing with an E-PL5 & a couple of really good yet inexpensive primes (I have a 17/2.8, plan to get the 25/1.8 & hope to get the 45/1.8 by next Christmas.).

I could quote Dickens (best of times/worst of times) but the reality is we photographers live in an era that is nothing but an embarrassment of riches.

The comments to this entry are closed.