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Wednesday, 19 September 2018


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I'd be surprised if Olympus were not seriously experimenting with larger formats as well. Since everyone is starting from scratch with new mounts (with only Sony having a big head start), they have a bit of a window to catch up. Plus, Olympus has gained a lot of mirrorless tech knowledge over the past few years that it can use in a larger format. I think it would be interesting to have five companies all competing with the same sized sensors. But I definitely want m43 to continue.

No doubt that the camera companies are being chased. Personally, I link this Panasonic development more specifically to 8k, aka the next wave of video recording technology. Surely our eyes and screens are not powerful enough to detect substantial improvements between 4k and 8k video, but I am pretty sure that video editors can produce a much better 4k image if they start with 8k footage.

8k requires a 45 megapixel sensor (roughly), and that sound very difficult to do on the micro 4/3 format. Hence the new Panasonic format.

I do like to play the guessing game, and I predict that Panasonic will try to undercut the Nikon Z flange distance of 16mm. It seems to me that removing the mechanical shutter is the only way it can be done. Expect a "global shutter" for this new Panasonic format ;)

It all comes down to maximizing profits, FX OR 4/3?

For me the really interesting bit of news is that Samsung seems to be making the sensor for this camera. The dynamics of three way competition are quite different from the Sony vs Canon incremental improvement we have been seeing. Of course the big or at least medium large news is coming from Fuji.

I have said, that it was probably a mistake for Oly &Panny to define themselves by sensor size. It limits the way people think about them, and it limits their options unnecessarily.
Having said that, I do think there is a place for "The smallest lightest professional quality camera system' But I don't think it can be priced at $2k for a body when some FF cameras are less.
For equal quality lenses , those designed for smaller sensors can have a size and weight advantage. There will always be folks for whom that is a paramount concern. But it is a niche.
They are however sort of 'next in line, to compete with phones.

As the camera industry 'retreats upscale' I do think they seem to be missing the point that by definition the higher they go upscale, the more their market shrinks.
They have traditionally made most of their money at the lower end of the pricing scale.
What is really needed is innovation that drives new sales. Products that cause large numbers of people to say "Wow, I'd like to have a camera that can do that"
Like the "Shoot 'em up - Fix 'em up' digital revolution where suddenly clicks were free, and we could enhance them with piles of presets'
That's a tall order. That might have been a once in a generation swing.

Beyond that the less expensive camera sales made the R&D for the big camera systems possible. The logical conclusion of ever 'upscale', is smaller markets, & fewer R&D dollars. So we seem to be at a point where lots of business models do not look healthy.

"'Serious' interchangeable-lens cameras are going to have to flee from the smartphone juggernaut if they aren't already."

I've seen some incredible shots from the iPhone X and similar, dual-camera phones. If one pixel-peeps, the differences between an iPhone X and Sony RX-100 are there, but for most purposes the iPhone X is really impressive.

I'm guessing even the RX-100 will end up fleeing from the smartphone juggernaut. And I say this as someone who has been shooting with and liking RX-100s for years.

I’m not sure what relevance the smartphone market has to the introduction of new full-frame mirror-less cameras. For most people, sensor or media area has never been the reason they chose a camera; simplicity has been. The exceptions have been photographers who are willing to overcome complexity to have the control and capture area that usually come with interchangeable lens cameras, digital or film. The smartphone camera juggernaut is not any different from the previous incarnations of media capture that were mass marketed. Yes, smartphones can make nice pictures and movies with good light. However, I still see just as many dim, dark, soft, and shaky failures with these devices as I saw from cheap 620, 120, 127, 110, instant film, motion picture 8 mm, and point-and-shoot equipment. Those who manufacture high-end equipment have always had to define the market for their upscale products.

The biggest issue any new entrant into the FF mirrorless market faces is trying to secure an increasingly small piece of what is a fairly small pie. IIRC, Thom Hogan at his excellent blog, Sans Mirror (highly recommended reading, BTW), recently mentioned that APS-C sensor cameras outsell FF by almost an order of magnitude (I don't know the exact ratio or numbers, but my guess is its something like ~7:1 or 8:1; maybe Thom will jump in to provide more precise numbers for us).

Sony's had the FF mirrorless segment all to themselves up to this year, but make no doubt about it, Canikon will take significant market share from Sony. The installed user base is just too large, and the vast majority of customers' needs will be met just fine by the Canikon mirrorless offerings.

And, let's be honest, the mirrorless camera makers are now pretty much differentiating themselves at the outer extremes of performance; I'm talkin' Canon 1D and Nikon D-series level of stills performance, and Canon C-series full-on professional video/cinema-level performance. How many folks really need 20 FPS continuous high-speed shooting or 4K 60P @ 10-bit with 4:2:2 chroma subsampling at 200MB bit-rates? Not very many, in terms of absolute numbers, I would wager. Maybe 1%, or at most, 5%? Hell, I shoot motor racing, fer crissakes, and even I don't need 20 FPS (but I can always use shorter EVF blackout times and more shutter life). No, for the vast majority of folks wanting to get into FF mirrorless, the Canikon entries will meet their needs just fine.

So....if Panasonic, if it gets into this market, they will be competing against three market juggernauts for an ever smaller slice of a fairly small pie in a "red ocean". I'm still of the view that Fuji played this really smart by staying in the APS-C market "blue ocean", where the majority of the sales and revenue is, and becoming (arguably) the best system in the APS-C market segment. They also have MF mirrorless locked up, the GFX50R will be a big deal in terms of further penetration into the MF market, and about a year from now, Fujifilm will have 3 models in the MF mirrorless market; watch out, Phase One!

No-way Jose! Although Oscar Barnack picked 24x36 for his film camera, that doesn't mean I have to pick FF for digital. Size matters and smaller is better—end of story. By concentrating on FF CaNiSonIc is forcing me to go to Apple or Samsung for both my still and video cameras.

Check-out this video https://bit.ly/2PP6K1T Both picture and 3D sound (Sennheiser Ambeo) were recorded on an iPhone. Here's the BTS video https://bit.ly/2QJEwqU

When the FFMPanasonic arrives Moore's Law will have been at work for another year, and smart-phones will be smarter. Are you getting the picture (NOT a pun, just a descriptive phrase).

When my iPhone XS arrives I'll be singin':
So long, it's been good to know ya
So long, it's been good to know ya
So long, it's been good to know ya

I don't buy into the squeeze from the bottom. After all, Sony's 1" sensors helped several manufacturers carve out a niche (for several manufacturers in the presumed-to-be-dead compact market.
Rather, I think it's because (most of) we photographers have this ingrained belief that "bigger is better". Years ago, 35mm was the ideal balance between film size and cost/practicality for most people. In the DSLR era, it's been APS-C, but costs of FF have been dropping, FF systems offer the broadest selection of gear, and it's no more impractical than it ever was.
The thing that doesn't come up in that is image quality. In film days, 35mm was sufficient without being overkill. Indeed, compared to what we can do today, we were considerably more restricted. Today, except for shallow DOF, a 1" sensor probably meets the same standards, but sufficiency just doesn't factor in for most people, any more than it factors into their choice of a flat panel TV (what's the biggest I can afford that fits on the wall ?), cars (what's the biggest I can afford that fits in the garage), houses (what's the biggest I can afford), cell phones (you get the picture).
In short, the move to FF is being driven by consumers' irrationality, but there's no point in judging ourselves too harshly, because the downsides of choosing FF over something smaller just aren't all that significant.
I'm getting ready to do some test prints to see if I could live with 12x18" prints from 1" sensors and if I could be happy with m43 instead of APS-C. But then again, a couple of my Nikon lenses would work fine on the new z 6 and that 24-70/4 looks pretty compact. Go figure.

Having seen the high imaging power in small package effect first in Leica film rangefinders, and then in Fuji X series cameras, one expects a similar effect, perhaps magnified over time, for full frame cameras.

When the imaging power of the highest end FF DSLRs comes in packages about the size of a Fuji X-E3, or a little smaller, there will no space left between them and the smartphones.

" "Serious" interchangeable-lens cameras are going to have to flee from the smartphone juggernaut if they aren't already."
I've thought this for awhile now, but I'm starting to wonder if fleeing from the smartphone juggernaut is really the way to go. It might be time for some out-of-the-box thinking on the part
of the camera industry; thinking that involves wholeheartedly embracing a smartphone-centric photo universe. I don't even know what this universe would look like, but I do know that people are addicted to their smartphones and anything that enables them to keep smoking the smartphone crack pipe will keep them happy and buying products.

I was hoping for a kind of “Full Thirds”, as unlikely as that seems. As it stands, Panasonic would be entering a crowded market. Would Olympus follow? Well.... From Sony’s perspective, that might make sense. An unholy alliance of Sony/Pentax/Nikon/Panasonic/Olympus might be the last best chance to get the economies of scale in place for far cheaper* full frame cameras**.

* And might trouble Canon as they make their own full frame sensors for their own full frame cameras, presumably in lower numbers than Sony can manage?

** Because the bigger the chip, the bigger the number of rejections due to impurities/flaws in the wafers. Currently, only a larger market can reduce chip fabrication costs with chips of this size.

I'm optimistic that Micro 4/3 and full frame can live side by side. The future of APS-C, my format of choice for over a decade, seems a little less certain, given the promise of the new FF mirrorless cameras.

I'm not sure that the APS-C lens choices are good enough (FujiFilm aside) or that those lenes offer enough of a weight saving over their full-frame equivalents. Micro 4/3 might just be the sweet spot. Your post of 17th September showed this very well.

My only beef with Micro 4/3 so far has been with the quality control of Olympus lenses – both my Olympus primes (a 17mm and a 25mm, both bought new) seem to have tilted lens elements that really mess with image quality on the left side of the frame. I even returned the first 25mm but the second was almost as bad. The Panasonic 12-60mm lens that came with the camera doesn't show the problem.

I've read that shorter flange distances make the problem of incorrectly positioned lens elements more apparent. If so, Micro 4/3 lens makers will need to get that quality control sorted. Eleven years of shooting APS-C with countless purchased and hired lens, I haven't seen a fault quite this dramatic and obvious in any lens, let alone two!

4/3rds doomed? To get a significant increase in photo quality from an iPhone (or whatever) one would have to get a 4/3rds sensor camera. To get another significant leap, one would have to go to full frame. APS cameras are essentially as large in size and as aperture-limited as full frame (just less expensive). 4/3rds sensors offer similar quality, are more compact and can offer faster apertures. While there are very competent cameras with sensors below 4/3rds, the phones are catching up to them in quality and, most particularly, convenience. I see 4/3rds and full frame to be the future.

In the long run the killer for Micro Four Thirds and the Fuji GFX (and other medium format cameras) might be the 4:3 aspect ratio. People are printing less and less. The demand for photography in publishing on paper is in decline. The computer and tv screens are becoming more and more cinema and video oriented. For some 16:9 isn’t long enough already. This trend will dictate the consumer buying behavior and like always the professional world will follow.

Panasonic with a full frame Lumix LX7? Leica tweaked/branded 24-90mm f/1.4 lsns? A carry around package to use for daily travel and image quality worth printing.

We'll see.

Maybe a SuperZoom 24-600 f/2.0 - 4.0 all in one?

If m4/3 is doomed (which I don’t think it is, and certainly don’t want it to), that would mean that Olympus will change their lens mount for the third time in 15 years.
Far from the long time commitment any photographer building a system needs.

Lenses, sensors aside, shouldn’t the real discussion be of the software and algorithms used to manipulate whatever image is produced? Mobile computing will only get better and the “likeness” to any full-frame imagery will come closer, if not undefinable. The major camera manufacturers should merge more of the digital experiences into their products, yet retain the customizable tools, more so than they’re doing now.

The rush for FF is I assume because these cameras cost about the same to produce yet sell for much higher premium, likewise the lenses. For most photographers the extra boost of a FF sensor is probably not needed, but it appeals to those with $$ in their pocket, and for the odd professional job requiring extra high resolution. The downside is that the numbers of FF cameras sold is much smaller and the market competition is arguably more intense. Personally I can't see why Panasonic want to enter that space, but I am sure they are gratified with their m4/3 sales, so want more. I tend to agree with the earlier poster about APS cameras - neither fish nor fowl, but that's just me.

Read on - the Triumvirate appears:
(FT5) A new force is building up: Leica, Panasonic and Sigma are on board together on the Full Frame SL mount project!


... and a new SLrumors website.


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