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Friday, 30 April 2010


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If you didn't remember that, I'm happy to whack you with the, um, memory stick.

Shhhh!!! You're interrupting my Betamax video!

Typical Sony move.

They've historically opted to create their own set of rules only to be surprised when the rest of the industry chooses not to play.

"If you didn't remember that, I'm happy to whack you with the, um, memory stick."

Or a minidisc if anyone remembers that ill-fated gamble.

Honestly, I think the 4/3s paradigm is over blown.

A Canon Rebel 550 will give you much more bang for the buck.

I'm happy they're putting an APS-C sized sensor in this camera rather than a 4/3 sized one. As far as I'm concerned, the bigger the sensor they put in a compact mirrorless camera, the better - a full frame sensor would be even better. I'm expecting the Sony EVILs to have better dynamic range and high ISO performance than the Panny and Oly m4/3 cameras.

The real pity is that according to the rumors, the Sony EVIL cameras won't have in body image stabilization. What's the point of the small body if the lenses have to be bigger to include the IS? These bodies only make sense to me if they can be accompanied by a full set of pancake primes.

Although your point is absolutely true, for those of us with existing Minolta/Sony glass this is a win, as long as they release adapters that allow full electronic communication and mechanical control with existing lenses for the new bodies.

Granted, since it's an open standard, there would've been nothing preventing them from releasing a micro-4/3 spec mirror-less camera, with adapters that could do the same thing, but my feeling is that would've been considerably harder and less likely to happen.

I can't now, and will probably never be able to afford an M9 (or its successors) so this is probably the closest I'm going to be able to come to shooting with a digital RF, and if I can take the primes (I know and love) from my existing set of lenses and use them with minimal difficulty, all the better for me.

Except the two members of the 4/3 "consortium", pretty much every camera manufacturer has proprietary lens mounts, no? I dislike Sony as much as the next photographer (says an A700 shooter), but it seems a little silly to criticize them for doing what everybody else does

Also, it's entirely predictable, not because Sony is so evil, but because they're a sensor manufacturer. They're not going to buy 4/3 sensors from someone else, and they're not going to make a 4/3 sensor that they're the only customer for.

I'd love to see Ricoh make a 4/3 lens-mount module for the GXR. I'd give a great deal of consideration to making that my next camera.

Not that anyone needs to defend Sony. But, IMO, they have a history of creating technically superior products that have not caught on (Betamax, the memory stick when it first came out, and the minidisc for example). Sony's biggest fault is not in trying to push their own stuff, but in not giving up when it's clear they aren't going to win.

But with regard to these cameras...If you're going to bash Sony for a proprietary lens mount then you're going to have to do the same for pretty much every other camera company.

Furthermore, many photographers have not adopted the M4/3 format because they feel the sensor is too small. Both Samsung and Sony have gone the route of giving users a small package M4/3 competitor with a bigger sensor. Bigger sensor means you can't use the M4/3 mount.

So what do want? Now you have choice. Isn't that a good thing?

I'm surprised. I'd have thought a larger sensor in a compact would be a welcomed option.

I looked at the new 4/3s cameras recently. I actually preferred the Samsung NX-10 with its APS-C sensor. I'm glad Sony is adding to that 'class' of cameras. Hoping Canon and Nikon will join them. And, we already have the Leica X1.... The downside, though, is that they are all different lens mounts (and the X1 is fixed).

[I thoroughly enjoyed the Mini-Disc.]

Why would Sony choose to go with m43 sensors when they already make great aps-c ones?

"But Sony has a long history of trying to make all its products proprietary."

The last time I checked m4/3 was proprietary as well - did that change in the meantime?

Minidiscs are still for sale in Best Buy, though not with pre-recorded music.

Sony, remember, is the company that shipped CDs that installed a root-kit (malware) on your PC. I would not advise buying anything from Sony.

Mike, having spent the last 2 weeks shooting with a Samsung NX10, I'm very pleased they went their own route. A nice 14MP APS-C sensor with "only" a 1.5x crop factor for your legacy lenses (once Novoflex start shipping those damn adapters) is right up my alley.

Plus, there are rumours of Schneider building NX lenses, which if true, would win Samsung a few prime-loving customers.

Now imagine if Pentax were to release some of their lenses in NX mount...

I'd read on Nikon rumors that Nikon would be likely using a 17mm sensor -- a little smaller than 4/3 for their EVIL camera and wouldn't it be interesting if Sony's is the same. I know in the past Nikon have used Sony-sourced sensors.

I still haven't given up hope Nikon will debut a rangefinder camera. Now wouldn't that be the "surprise" their people have been promising. I guess I'm one of those who's not so sold on the electronic viewfinder concept -- as in how can it really be fast enough to capture the decisive moment if now you've got not just the shutter lag but the electronic display lag to contend with.

And for the D700 replacement, I'm hoping for it to be built around the 3s sensor, with higher ISO instead of more pixels.

Now maybe Sony and Nikon will collaborate on a lens mount for their similarly chipped EVIL cameras. Wouldn't that be a plus?

It is quite surprising that they keep on playing the old game of proprietary standards, and moreso for a company like Sony that has been hurt several times due to this very same issue: Betamax, MiniDisc, Memory Stick... and now another specific standard,

I completely agree, Mike, it would be great to see most of the companies jumping on a single standard for mirrorless cameras: it's the perfect opportunity, after the case of slr/dslr cameras.

Hopefully the rumour about Pentax joining micro4/3 might become true.

Well, to be honest, I like certain aspects of Sony's move. After all, they're bringing an APS-C sensor in a small body. Can't really blame them for that. However, it remains to be seen how well they implement it and also, how good will the format support be (lenses, adapters, other accessories).

Remember HD DVD vs blu-Ray --- oh wait, bad example (Sony won that one)

I don't get the surprise or controversy around the mount..? Panalympus were already developing for FT (which is, de facto, their mount), mFT is a partner system for FT, Alpha NEX is a partner system for Alpha. Will Nikon or Canon join mFT? Why then is Sony the only selfish, greedy one?

I have two Sony DSLRs, a collection of 7 Minolta and Sony lenses, Minolta and Sony flashes and one rangefinder film camera. I am very much looking forward to selling my RF in exchange for a new Sony compact that will augment my kit. Here's hoping the news lives up to the hype!

"Really a pity that Sony, like Samsung, opted not to follow the Micro 4/3 standard. Wouldn't it be nice to have a number of manufacturers all providing options in the same system?"

I'm sure Canon, Nikon, Pentax would not follow the M4/3 standard either, should they choose to roll out a mirrorless system.

A micro 4/3 mount would have meant that you'd never have seen one of these cameras with a full frame sensor. NEX3 and NEX5 sit quite nicely alongside the entry level and mid-range Alpha 300 series and 500 series (and the Minoltas before them). I wonder what an NEX 9 would have inside it?

Well, certainly the ATRAC (or ACRAC? i can't remember) was a resounding and longlasting success story. Wait. Maybe not.

I agree with Don Bryant. I've just bought an EOS 550D and its quality is almost as good as my 5D, with excellent high ISO quality for an APS-C. If Canon removed the 550's mirror box, thinned the body and designed three new pancake prime lenses for it (and they could probably do all of that this weekend, given their resources), they would have an excellent compact camera on their hands.

I've got a GF1, and as nice as it is, it's let down badly by its software support. I'd like to see Panasonic develop something as good as Canon's DPP (which many on the 'net seem to dislike, strangely).


How much smaller and lighter would lenses
be for say a Nikon D700 mirorrless camera?
I presume the camera also would be slimmer
and lighter?


According to a very reliable web site (other than TOP) the new Sony MICL cameras will use an APS-C sensor. I like that a lot. The crop factor of m4/3 has always bothered me. I guess that's why I never bought one even though I am an admitted camera whore. Besides that, the Sony will use AVCHD video (I know you don't care). Finally, there are the Carl Zeiss Distagon T* lenses.

Maybe, just maybe .... my DMD.


Regardless of what Sony did or didn't want to do, m4/3 is a closed partnership, and there's no reason Panasonic and Olympus would allow Sony to join. I don't think the ball was in their court on that one.

Personally, I'm glad that there will be a second larger-sensored mirrorless option. If the lenses are even half-decent, it should help start to bring the prices of other mirrorless gear down to earth.

The size of the sensor is the main reason I've stayed away from m4/3. The Samsung and upcoming Sony are the first ILC cameras to interest me.

FWIW, Sony has used both CF and SD cards along side their memory stick in every DSLR they've made. So, having a choice is nice.

No one won Blu-Ray. On line downloads made it not that important by the time the fight was over. Had a standard been established sooner it might have gained more traction.

Is 4/3s open or closed? Not that Sony cared. As pointed out they've tried to go their own way for years. But their importance has been declining.

I'm for smaller and lighter, so µ4/3s is my preference.

The problem with APS-C (if my understanding is correct) is that they inherently need larger lenses simply because the sensor is larger. The whole point of m4/3 is to pare the size down while keeping quality as high as possible...but the size is the first consideration. I really have no problem shooting with my D3 and the f2.8 70-200 if I want a lot of quality and speed, and if size doesn't matter for whatever I'm shooting. But if I want a small system, I want it *small.* I see no point in having small mirrorless system that uses legacy FF lenses -- the whole system becomes unbalanced. The only legacy lenses that make sense to me are Leica M, and perhaps some Pentax pancakes. I plan to do some serious shooting this summer, for the first time in a while, and will be traveling to the Middle East with a Panasonic m4/3 system (2 bodies, four lenses, four to six batteries, chargers) that easily fits in what looks like a small briefcase. I don't care that Sony wants a proprietary mount, but if you're going to have a larger system, standard SLR gives better quality than mirrorless; and if you're going to have a small system that requires mirrorless, then keep it *small.*



Kudos to Sony for using cameras with APS-C sensors that they are already familiar with. Why would they do a double-take and go to M4/3? Proprietary? Does anyone really believe that when Canon and Nikon jump into this mirrorless market that they're going to drop their APS sensors already being incorporated? Not a chance! The question should be if M4/3 has a rich robust life for the future.

In response to John Camp, I'm not sure that even a full frame mirrorless camera system has to be much bigger than the current smaller micro 4/3 offerings. I've got a Pentax ME with a 50/1.7 lens sitting on my shelf and that camera has a mirror and is a "full frame" 35 mm film body.

Having image stabilization in the lens definitely works against having smaller lenses. The Panaleica 45/2.8 with the stabilization built into the lens is a lot bigger than my Nikon 45/2.8, which is a full frame lens, or my Pentax 40/2.8.

If Pentax had the resources, they could really get this right. Eliminate the mirror box from the K-X and redesign the pancake primes for the shorter register distance and we'd have a total winner.

I've not bothered reading all the other rumours but on the proprietary stuff - maybe they'll use an M-mount just to show you all up.

The 40mm 1:1.7 on Canonets were rather small. And full frame. Ditto everything Leitz or Cosina ever made for the M-mount.

And to all those who take issue with the u4/3 sensor size, I think it's largely a non issue. My problem is with the weird SHAPE (I know. Ridiculous).


Leica lenses are small and they cover the whole FF area.

The big lenses of dSLRs are mostly due to the mirror box and long registration distance, not the sensor size.

John, allow me to quibble with "The only legacy lenses that make sense to me are Leica M, and perhaps some Pentax pancakes."

Ever since I started playing with E-P1 last summer, the main lens on it has been OM 28/2.8. Which is very nice and small and balanced, even with the two adapters needed to use it. OM 50/1.8 and Helios 58/2 also fit very nicely (although I don't like what I get with them). OM 50/1.2 and Contax 50/1.4 are bigger and don't fit quite as nicely, but they are far from a lens like Zuiko 7-14, which really unbalances the combination. Konica had some nice and small manual Hexanons. Minolta had smaller lenses, too.

In other words, I think that such manual lenses could work quite well with the Sony bodies. Not every lens has to be a pancake. Even on Pen, those faster 50mm lenses are not much longer than the kit zoom, 14-42. Yes, being metal, they are heftier, but I like that.

OTOH, I agree that if you want to shoot with flash, which increases the size, micro cameras don't make much sense. For instance, I was shooting the local SF convention last weekend (for fun, not profit :)). Started with Pen on Friday and it was pretty awful, even with the Contax. The small size advantage was not important at all.

On Saturday, I came back with the full rig: E-3, flash, 14-35/2, 35-100/2, and 7-14. The result was quite dramatically different, just because of the flash. APS sensor apparently wouldn't have made any difference because there were people shooting with 5D, 5D II and D700, as well as with various smaller Canons, Pentaxes, Nikons and Olympuses, and they still used their flashes.

I don't think that the Sonys will change that kind of situation. No micro camera seems to be manufactured with real flash use in mind, regardless whether it has a built-in flash or an add-on flash.

Well for a failure, memory stick is surely doing quite well, placed second in total sales just after the SD...
On the other hand - have you seen the pancake zeiss lens for the new sony mirrorless? It's chrome! Talk about some kewl oldskool design...

Does anyone know if it will accept M-Mount lenses? If they can do that that would be a killing blow to µ4/3 imo, assuming price and performance can either match or exceed.

"Really a pity that Sony, like Samsung, opted not to follow the Micro 4/3 standard."

Mike do you believe a single second that Panasonic would let Sony join the Micro 4/3 standard? What a naive thought ;-)

I'm actually very happy that Sony did not join the Micro 4/3 standard. I own a GF-1, like the form factor, the 20mm lens, the AF but not the sensor. No head-room. It's almost like shooting jpg. A bigger sensor is a good idea.

I hope that Ricoh will join...the Micro-ALPHA standard !

BTW, there is a interesting analysis of mirroeless cameras by Thom Hogan: "Mirroless will be like Netbook" http://www.bythom.com


I'm patiently waiting for a good mirrorless camera with a real viewfinder of any kind. Hate using the LCD to frame. It's the only thing holding me back.

@John Camp: While that's true, the limiting factor on the size of many of the lenses for a mirrorless camera is handling, not coverage. This is different than with DSLR's where the requirement of retrofocus designs makes wide-angle lenses rapidly increase in size. Go take a look at some of the RF lenses in the 12-35mm range, you'll be amazed at just how small some of them are. Telephoto's get large due to focal length requirements.

@Mike: As others have mentioned, Micro-4/3rds is every bit as much a closed system as whatever new mount Sony has come up with. Despite the marketing, both 4/3rds and Micro 4/3rds are shared proprietary systems rather than true open mounts like K mount.

Sony went with a new mount for two reasons. The first was that they are using existing sensors (the NEX cameras use what is most likely a minor variant of the A550's sensor) and the second was that Sony needs compatibility with A mount via an adapter, which means supporting the A mount AF and communication protocols (I'm not sure how they'll handle aperture, since it's mechanically actuated on A mount)

John Camp wrote " standard SLR gives better quality than mirrorless;"

Why is that? Because the slapping mirror gives you some nice motion blur?

I'm a bit puzzled about the "proprietary" thingy as well. As mentioned, Canon, Nikon, Leica, &c., all have their "proprietary" mounts.

The fact that others lens manufacturers offer lenses for those mounts is testimony to those cameras' market success, not their "proprietariness", I'd imagine.

Which is why I do hope m43 will prove very successful (I got one) so that more lenses will be offered. But at the same time I hope more mirrorless APS-C (or even full-frame! :)) cameras will be launched, if only for a chance at better high-ISO performance (the one notable - relative - failure of m43 vs larger sensors.)

Mind you, I'm still puzzled, and underwhelmed, at Sony offering a 2.8 pancake when Panasonic gets 1.7. One may dream about the available light nighttime shooting possibilities of one's better high ISO coupled with the other's faster lens...

Chris, I doubt it will support M-mount lenses. I may be wrong, but take a look at this:


That's what they call a "pancake". Supposedly it's as big because they used in-lens stabilisation. Eugh. Whatever happened to their in-body stabilisation? Couldn't do what Olympus did? Anyway, I don't think that could support M-lenses, but again, I may be wrong.

BTW, Mike, now it's clear why there were no new Alphas. This, and then their 35mm video camera announced two weeks ago as competition to RED... Most probably they switched their R&D to these two projects.

Ludovic wrote: "Mind you, I'm still puzzled, and underwhelmed, at Sony offering a 2.8 pancake when Panasonic gets 1.7."

And Samsung, also using an APS-C sensor, is offering a very good 30mm f/2 pancake.

Maybe my previous comments was too hasty. I see the Sony lens being discussed is the 16mm f/2.8, which is probably why Ludovic was comparing it to Panasonic's 20mm f/1.7. 16mm on APS-C is a lot harder to keep small than 20mm on a 4/3 sensor, especially when registration distance for the APS-C camera is longer than for the micro 4/3. Furthermore, it appears Sony is adding in-lens image stabilisation, which will further increase the size of their lens.

Seems on par with m4/3rds, considering the field of view. The expected 14mm by Panasonic is also f2.8.

All this talk about wanting camera companies to use a common lens mount or sensor format (like that is going to happen) and yet Panasonic (and others) cannot even use a standard USB port on their camera. I don't think camera companies are a culture of using a standard anything. I suspect Olympus and Panasonic got together on this one project out of desperation more than anything. Hopefully they will learn from their success but I am not holding my breath.

Yes, traditionally every camera company has had their own proprietary mount. But that doesn't mean we all like that state of affairs. The 4/3rds system is the first attempt to get out of that trap that's gained any traction, and I think a lot of us have been hoping it will mark a major change in the industry. People who not only hoped it, but believed it, find the introduction of new cameras competing with 4/3rds in size, price, and quality using proprietary mounts to be a disappointment.

"Or 15 stops of dynamic range at a noiseless ISO 6400 and a unicorn. Can you tell I want to take pictures at 1/60th in EV 0 conditions?"
I could've used that this weekend. Sans the unicorn.

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