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Thursday, 22 September 2011


"Nikon 1 is the camera Apple would make..."

If Apple made the Nikon 1 system it would have WiFi and 3G connectivity, a multi-touch capable screen, and it would sync your photos with Aperture, Facebook, Flickr, Apple TV and everything else you can think of. And most importantly, people would be lined up outside of Apple stores eager to spend $900 on one.

That noise you hear is the collective exhalations of knowledgeable photographers gasping at the image quality and feature set of the new NEX offerings.

As far as "(And don't give me that adaptor crap...)" well... why not? As it seems to erase your tautological objection to the NEX lens line.

I propose a cage match between you and Michael Reichmann (http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/cameras/sony_nex_7_first_impressions.shtml) on the topic. ;D

As to the markets (pink camera wielding Asian women, well, that IS a huge market!) I see a massive cross section living and shooting in NYC. Carry an SLR around Central Park for a couple of hours and you will be asked to shoot on dozens of little pink cameras!

The best hope for a camera such this one is a niche market. The purse/pocket point and shoot is (at best) dying, replaced by cellphones. Providing a higher end small frame P&S camera with interchangeable lens is going fill the tourist camera markets and that is about it. Yes, advanced photographers might buy them to supplement their DSLR's when they don't want to ruck their gear around, but I can't envision this or any other m4/3 replacing them as anything other than a gimmick.

The big Kahunas are throwing things at a wall hoping something sticks to ease their losses in the point and shoot markets, but I don't see them succeeding in the general markets. Cellphones are going to kill off the entry level P&S and for all their technological sophistication, these small sensor cameras simply aren't going to cut it against even an entry level DSLR.

Just how many lenses you need for this type of camera, minus the duplication?
A slow kit lens? Both Sony and M43 have them.
A fast standard zoom? Sony G is coming. Panasonic X is coming too. Primes: Sony: 16/24/30/50 and M43: 12/14/20/25/45
A macro lens? Sony: 30 and M43: 45
A telephoto zoom? Sony: 55-210, M43: has many
A do it all lens? Sony: 18-200, M43: ?
Wide zoom: Sony: coming next year, M43: 9-18/7-14
A fast tele prime: Sony is coming next year. M43: ?

Take into account the DOF differences of the system: Eg: F2.8 on a Sony is F4 on a M43. And relative size: Eg: my GF1 with 20 is not really smaller than a NEX5 with a kit lens.

I think, in a years time, both systems will be equal in terms of choices offered.

I am not surprised by the negative reactions to the new Nikon. Most "serious" photographers wanted yet another m4/3 (or APS-C) camera, more or less like the existing ones on offer, but with a Nikon badge. And please make that 36 megapixels. In my opinion that is exactly what we don't need. The existing Olympus, Panasonic, Sony, Samsung, Ricoh choices are more than good enough.

What Nikon have done is trade off some image quality (probably) for high speed and integration of photo with video. That makes it a very attractive camera for soccer mums and dads; but also, I would suggest, for professionals who need speed and video more than the ability to print an image 48" wide. With the move towards displaying photos on the web rather than in print and the pressure to produce web videos the Nikon might be a nice DSLR replacement. Personally, I shoot a lot of rodeos outside, sell almost exclusively web-sized images and have had a lot of requests for video...

Ronin, I replaced my LX3 with an EPL-2. It's a hair thicker (with the Panny 20/1.7), but handles the low-light situations that just frustrated me with the LX3. It's my alternative to the D700, when I don't want to carry the big gun.

So, not your described positioning at all.

Interesting read, but they only issue I see with your m4/3's Goldilocks argument is that you completely ignored the fact that Samsung has been able to match the size of a number of m4/3's lenses despite the fact they use a larger sensor.

I'm a current m4/3's user myself, and I do think it is a wonderful system, but I've already pre-ordered the NEX-7. Why? Even though Sony's lenses are larger than their m4/3's counterparts, they aren't *that* much larger. The new Panasonic pancake zoom kind of changes things, but it will only be a matter of time before Sony and Samsung copy the idea. Sony has already said they are fully aware more pancake lenses are needed. So I truly believe it's only a matter of time before the NEX system matches m4/3's tick for tat while doing so with larger and better sensor.

At the time of this writing m4/3's is the best system for sure, but will it be in 2013? I guess we'll see.

I was about to write what Andrew wrote and then saw Michael's comment underneath. Putting the two together makes me think that a Canon m43 system would be a killer. If Canon introduced the system with a very fast body and a low cost one, they could get big market share. Fancy lenses can follow as there is already a reasonable choice. The idea of the iM43, more social networking device than camera also appeals.

What makes me think this will not happen :-(

Andrew from Addis

While this Nikon offering is not serious competition to the existing mirror-less systems out there except to Nikon fanboys, I disagree that this is a benefit to m43rds. I sold my m43rds cameras and lenses when I bought the Sony Nex-5 and have the Nex-7 on order, and have a variety of E mount and legacy Minolta lenses. I never got enthused about the m43rds except from a size standpoint. I don't want to have to PP everything and the Panny jpgs just aren't very good IMHO, and while Olympus has a magnificent jpg engine, I just did not care for their cameras and IU. I really did not like the lack of a tilt LCD. To me everything about the NEX is so far superior - yes, even the clunky interface on the Nex-5 - to anything in the m4rds world.

So much of this boils down to personal preference. Yes, the NEX lenses tend to be so much bigger than the bodies, but so what? The system itself is smaller than a DLSR system and lends itself to unobtrusive shooting.

Based on size and general specs, it would appear that Nikon's new system is to Micro 4/3rds as the original (non-micro) 4/3rds DSLRs were to APS-C DSLRs -- the considerably smaller sensor not resulting in a considerably smaller camera or lenses. So you accept a disadvantage (higher pixel density and/or lower pixel count) without getting much of an advantage elsewhere to make up for it. (Since I believe Nikon is mostly dependent on Sony and other electronics companies for sensors, it's unlikely they'll be able to win this battle by maintaining better sensor technology than the competition.)

The question is, do some of the "gimmicks" that Nikon has built in give it something that really differentiates it from Micro 4/3rds or will it need to sell purely on the strength of the Nikon name? If the latter, I suspect it may sell well initially but then drop off considerably -- I believe some of the "failed" products Mike mentioned sold well initially but then dropped off substantially once the initial "gotta have brand XYZ" crowd had been satiated.

Your comments about 4/3 are very apt. Nikon has just made 4/3 an easier choice. But not that easy a choice. Olympus still doesn't have a built-in viewfinder, and are still using only 12-bit raw files, with a somewhat antiquated sensor, and the camera/viewfinder is overpriced. I'm sure that my Nikon D60 has better ergonomics and produces better images than an E-P3. Panasonic, with no built-in image stabilization, is not a desirable choice (for me anyway). Olympus has just had the car ahead move out of the passing lane. Maybe they should get into fifth gear and hit the gas.


Nahhhh, My issue is that Nikon (and almost all the rest of the market) seem to think that it's the camera body that matters.

Not so.

The glass is what matters first and most. Without the right lens, you can't do anything, so who cares what magic the camera body is supposed to have? None of them seem to care that some of us want a wide lens - like 20mm... Give me that and I'll buy the damn body.

If I get to refine further my list of what would be the perfect "casual camera", we can talk about sensor size next. Not resolution. Size. Physical size. Make it big enough that a normal is long enough that wide open can start blurring out the background.

A big relatively low rez sensor has two side benefits if I understand the physics and production of big chips correctly. First that it should be less prone to some of the ills that very high rez sensors are - noise and digital artifacts.

Second that less tightly packed chips are easier to manufacture and would have less rejects than the high pixel count sensors of the same dimensions, and thus lower production losses and lower costs to make.

The layman will be attracted to the Nikon badge and probably wont care a damn about the sensor size - most people believe miniaturisation equals progress. Many amateur photographers that I have spoken don't realise that very smaller sensors are inherently noisier and think more megapixels means better quality.

My partner wants a good quality camera that will fit into her pocket - she ahs already said that 4/3rds is too cumbersome for her. She isn't too keen on the Nikon pink version!

Initial Nikon V1 high ISO results look very good for such a small sensor.

Canon might have something if they release a (slightly larger) G12 style body with EVF in a micro four thirds mount with an included phase detector m43 to EF adapter ala Sony's... They could add a couple of pins to the mount so only their body would have full control of EF lenses.

I tend to agree with your post. I kind of get who the '1' is for, but I don't get why those people wouldn't just rather have an integral fast zoom...

@David H.

No, I hadn't - thank you for that link. I should have learned, after years of digital, to actually look at a camera manual.

M43 may very well turn out to be the station wagon of the US automobile market - highly regarded by the press, blogosphere, and forumsphere but otherwise ignored by the general public.

"Mike replies: I was following your argument up until that last sentence. That still kinda remains to be seen, no?"

Of course, but think of manual in the generic sense of "how do I use a camera" and here is one that supposedly figures it all out for you. If so, many will love it.

I declare my love and appreciation for proper laptops, or indeed very powerful work stations. I am more fascinated to see the D700 replacement, but my pocket camera is unlikely to be MFT or a compact. There is a gap and Nikon have filled it.

Having said that, I am not impressed with the IQ of pictures so far from the J1.

Although I consider it unlikey that I will ever buy a Nikon 1, my New England upbringing compels me to look at "B" when everyone seems to be clamoring for "A." Of interest to me is a comparison with 2 other upscale point and shoots, the Oly ZX1 and the newly announced Fuji X10. The Fuji and the Nikon J1 are priced very close to each other and the Oly isn't far behind. Yet looking at sensor sizes, the Nikon's is at least twice as large as the other two. Regardless of what they tell you boys...size matters.

But amongst the so called enthusiasts, m4/3 is not the big Kahuna, the NEX-7 is (or more correctly: will be).

I noticed that around. And the usual reason, either voiced or implied, is "NEX has a bigger sensor". Which has been around since Olympus introduced 4/3 and hasn't grown more valid in the meantime. Just the opposite.

(It's also interesting that such people usually mention Panasonic when talking about m4/3.)

Yes, as an Olympus shooter all the way down, I'm biased. Or maybe better to say, I'm not swayed by the argument.

(DOF) Eg: F2.8 on a Sony is F4 on a M43.

Yes if you're talking about A900. No if you're talking about NEX.

It's too early to go and calculate, but I suspect it would be something like 2.8 vs. 3.0.

I think the real winner in all of this is clearly Sony. Never mind the small NEX line up for now... the real juice is being able to mount practically any lens on this beast with a powerful APS-C sensor and standard 1.5 crop. With focus peaking it's the best camera available for manual focusing. Users of the NEX system don't even need to buy NEX lenses to get really good value out the cameras. The same can't be said with the N1 (2.7 crop) and Micro 4/3 (2.0) - using your favorite say... 35/2 lens goes from something normal to something way too long for what it was intended for.

If you look at the NEX-7 at this point that camera looks to be unchallenged in build, features, and usefulness. And for those worried about pancake lenses built for the NEX system. Sony's very first lens was a 16/2.8 pancake lens, which means they already have the technology to do such things. It would be silly to think that they won't release tiny little lenses for the NEX in the coming year.

Mike: If you are still hoping for any CanNikon sponsorship or even ads to appear here, I think you may have written the wrong post. ;)

FWIW, a few months ago, I decided that m43 was going to be my cup of digital photo tea. My "large sensor" work remains on OM and various RF rigs and Fujinon/Toyo 4x5. But for digital convenience and digital street, it's gonna be m43, likely Pen.

Well covered Mike,

It'll be interesting to see some proper tech reports once the Nikons are released. They seem to be placing great emphasis on ultra-fast spray and pray, what I'd like to know is how many seconds/shots the camera buffers can actually sustain those rates for. More to the point, how long the camera will effectively be "dead in your hand" after a full res' burst whilst those shots are written to a real memory card. The fastest AF and burst rates in the universe aren't going to help you 'catch the perfect moment' if your camera's still busy processing and writing that string of so-so shots it took 30 seconds ago.

Maybe I'm underestimating Nikon's electronic expertise - we'll see.

One more thing regarding the wider article. You're right to look forward to getting your hands on the Leica Summilux 25mm. Mine arrived (after a considerable wait) last Friday and has been firmly attached to my G1 body ever since. It's a gorgeous piece of glass and, as far as I'm concerned, a compelling reason on its own for me to stick with MFT.

"One more thing regarding the wider article. You're right to look forward to getting your hands on the Leica Summilux 25mm. Mine arrived (after a considerable wait) last Friday and has been firmly attached to my G1 body ever since. It's a gorgeous piece of glass and, as far as I'm concerned, a compelling reason on its own for me to stick with MFT."

Color me envious.


Good post! I think we're missing the point on the Nikon System 1. It is not for us. This is not a camera for enthusiasts. Rather, it is a lifestyle product, for those who see technology as fashion and will purchase this camera based on the cachet of the brand name and the looks of the product. Nikon wants to be the Apple computers of the camera world. Take a good look at the design of the System 1. It's meant to look good sitting next to an ipod in a hipster's urban apartment.

Woo Hoo. All this talk finally got me committed (plus fact old camera died). Just purchased a GF1 (ex display) + "14"mm pancake (brand new) for combined price of £300. I think this has to be a bargain? Even accessory cases are half the price of Canon G series cases (the camera that died). So basically a starter m43 body for 100 quid. What's to lose?

I'm sure the system will sell well, just because it's a Nikon. Too bad. For so long the Canikon shooters have been dumping on the 4/3 and then m4/3 standard for being too small to be worth taking seriously. And then Nikon springs a sensor that is half the size of the m4/3, and suddenly "size isn't all that matters" and "good enough is sometimes okay". Odd, really.

But the real game changer at the low end, to my mind anyway, won't be these silly removable lens small sensor cameras. It will be when cameraphones get to 8 megapixels, and then feature apps that can turn your single built-in lens into a selection of any prime lens you want by simply mimicking in software the effects of, say, a 50mm f1.4 or 90mm f4.0 etc. That would be the prime lensed camera that you would always have with you.


With all respect to you - NEX7 is just on temporary hype.
What those customers of expensive cameras really want is fullframe (NEX9/Canon/Nikon/Pentax... ?) with even better high ISO performance!

People here are right that m43 is just the right lightweight system form factor for most of us.


Canon's arch-rival has spoken. It's Canon's move now. Odd it seems that the rule of "who first strikes, strikes twice" is no longer applicable here. But that's is so in the world of digital. From this I can only think that Canon has 3 ways for mirrorless:
1. A G13-like body with EVF, slightly bigger sensor, superb AF and stunning processing power.
2. To embrace m43.
3. Yet another sensor size bigger than 4/3 but smaller than aps-c
What's gonna be?

Interesting comments, Mike, thank you. A couple of observations. You suggest that the NEX's APS-C sensor creates size issues for lens manufacturers. Well maybe for Sony, which is first and foremost an electronics company, but Leica, Zeiss and Cosina Voigtlander make very small lenses for M-fit cameras and now have free access to the E-mount technology from Sony. Leica may be contractually tied to Panasonic (not sure about this) but CV and Zeiss are not so we should see some interesting developments. Secondly, the smaller the sensor is the more problematic, if not impossible, does differential focusing become. For a 2x conversion factor, while an f/2.0 may have the light transmission characteristics of a full frame F2 lens, it's DOF performance will resemble that of an F4 lens. In this regard, the NEX, with a 1.5 x lens conversion factor, will offer greater creative flexibility.

Well, since I started to use my Oly E-510 and later E-620 and especially after switching to m4/3 with my Panasonic GH1 and now GH2, my Nikon, Canon, Sigma bodies mainly collect dust. Never before have I had the ability to use so many different lenses (self adapted or even self-made exotic ones) on just one body. Resulting quality is very high, see http://www.uvir.eu or http://www.flickr.com/photos/kds315/sets/

Cheers, Klaus

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