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Tuesday, 01 January 2019

Comments

I looked seriously at the A7III this summer but the inferior weather sealing stopped me from getting it. We photograph by the ocean and in inclement weather. I can't risk a camera that isn't sealed. But otherwise, it looked great.

Mike, I was a long-time Canon user, from the FD days in the 1970s to the EOS and digital EOS systems. I have a lot of respect for Canon cameras and Canon service, which in my experience is rarely needed. But the first time I picked up a Sony 7 series, it was love at first sight. I started with an A7, then an A72 (that camera developed a bad IBIS module, which cost me $300). For well over a year now I have been using a Sony A7R2. With each new model, I have enjoyed the series even more.
What fascinated me was how Sony seemed to encourage the use of lenses made by other manufacturers on their E-mount bodies with the concept of a "universal" lens mount. I think it was a smart move, especially when the selection of native lenses was small. Get the customers to buy just a body, maybe with a relatively affordable kit lens, to get them in the door.
Sony also seems to incorporate all of its latest improvements fairly quickly. It doesn't hang back with relatively minor incremental upgrades. It also appears that someone at Sony is listening to the photographers that use its products, and incorporates improvements accordingly. Examples include the switch from the awful "tile" menu to increasing battery capacity (the latter, by the way, has not been a problem for me).
Finally, that Batis 40mm is enticing, but don't forget the little Sony-Zeiss 35mm f2.8. I know it's not your favorite focal length, but it's close, and it is a lot lighter, smaller and less expensive than the Batis. That 35mm lens is also, in my opinion, optically excellent.

"Who Moved My Cheese" was required reading by a former executive at my place of work. After reading it my take was this:

Several authors of Leadership/New Age Management/Business Books Chock Full of Meaningful Insight were at a bar. After several rounds of drinks a bet was made that one of them could write the worst possible business book and have it become a best seller. WMMC was the hands down winner.

My only benefit from that bit of fluff was I did not have to purchase my copy. Utter garbage says I.

Kudos deserved for being the class leader. But they still can't (refuse to?) fix the user interface.

Well, Stephan Schulz, Leica Product Manager, believes the Sony E-Mount was not developed for full frame, unlike the Leica L-Mount...
https://www.reddotforum.com/content/2018/09/photokina-2018-details-on-the-l-mount-alliance/

Okay, so just up-front, I'll go on record playing the role of the devi's advocate here.

To start, I admit I'm a bit confused by this post, Mike, because your considerations for CoTY in your previous was based for a "brand-new" "never existed before" cameras, not Mark I, II or III "iterations". So, it seems your consideration criteria from post to post are inconsistent in this case.

When you say the A7 have evolved into a Mark III version "already", that's been over the course of a five years, so I am not sure its fair to compare the first iterations of the Nikon and Canons, as those cameras actually started their development time-frame well before the Sony Alpha 7 Mark III generation, and likely even before,or just as, the Mark II generation was launched.

While all the review sites and YT talking heads/pundits are saying that this is "coming of the FF generation", lets look at some data. I literally just checked this with Thom Hogan yesterday, and my recollection of the percentage that FF occupies in the total interchangeable lens camera (ILC) market (including DSLRs) was correct: its ~8-10% of the total ILC market. That means, minimally (giving some market share to M4/3), at least 70% of the ILC market revenue is APS-C cameras. Personally, I'm finding it hard to consider a market segment that occupies no more than 10% of all interchangeable lens camera sales revenue to represent the "coming of a generation".

Bottom line: APS-C is still, by far, the sensor format segment that accounts for the vast majority of ILC sales. Using that as a frame of reference for what cameras were significant, then, it would be the Canon M50 (which was the best selling mirrorless camera in all of 2018) and the Fujifilm X-T3, which actually outperforms the Sony A7III overall when comparing all features, functionality, and quality attributes, both respect to stills and video performance.

For me, though, the COTY is the Fujifilm GFX50R. Why? Because this is the camera that is going to 1) democratize digital MF format in a BIG way to a significantly wider set of end-users than any digital MF camera ever has previously, and 2) was probably responsible for Phase One finally caving and providing Capture One support for the first non-Phase One MF camera EVER. And that, in the tough and competitive world of commercial photography, that is a BIG deal.

Runner-up honors for me would go to the X-H1, which represents a significant new line for Fujifilm, releasing their first "hard-core" pro body with the engineering specifcation comparable to a Canon 1Dx/Nikon D-series. And that will be a big deal with respect to acceptance by, and penetration in, to the professional ranks.

Indeed, this camera with the Batis 40 should be a blast.

Only one of your 57 respondents to date, to your "What Camera for COTY?" article, picked the A7 III.

Sony cameras, and their influence, are massively underrated.

And advanced camera buyers as a bunch are hideously conservative, steeped in tradition, and brand-aware.

Sony can predict the future, lead the way, develop the best products (yes, the A7 products are the best in their category in 2018), and will still be be generally ignored by the bulk of the buying market, who are simply waiting for their loyalist brands to enter, no matter how long that takes, and then they immediately post opinions along the lines that their famous brands are crushing Sony with vastly superior products and that it will only get worse in the future for Sony.

It is like a glass ceiling for women: you actually have to be twice as good to get a quarter of the attention.

Interesting that you call the $1,299, 13 oz Zeiss Batis a "basic, normal prime". Sounds pretty fancy and extraordinary to me. I bought a normal prime for my first camera because normal primes were the smallest and cheapest of the line-up.

Logical and simple, I perfectly agree with your choice. But I am not sure that others will not try to defend and justify their own photo equipment bias. Happy New Year!

To borrow a phrase used on a currently-running car ad, ”Sony hasn’t raised the bar. Sony is the bar.

I’m not a fan of naming “(your noun here) of the Year” but your rationale is valid. I’ve just spent a week with the new Canon EOS R (close, but wait for the next version) and marveled at what my little Sony A7R cameras have forced Canon to do. (Ditto Nikon.). While watching sports events this weekend I noted that Sony cameras and lenses are finally showing up in the hands of field photographers, normally a club dominated by Canon.

As is nearly always the case, it takes an outsider to change the comfy status quo in established industries. In 2010 I had little faith that Sony would become that change agent. But by 2015 Sony had become my primary general-purpose photo system.

This, of course, is a nit in the larger world. But Sony deserves the credit you bestow on them. Their feet must be very sore...from kicking so much ass the past few years.

What is unique with the Sony FFM is Eye AF, a game changer for portraits.

mmm...cheese

Just to be clear, Panasonic wasn't exclusively m4/3. You have to look at the video gear as well as the still gear to see that they had already started looking at larger sensors.

Mike -

Happy New Year! I'm one of your readers who visits TOP virtually every day, and occasionally have something to say about one of your posts, like now.

Despite all the hoopla about the Sony a7 III, I won't even consider switching to it - or anything else - from the Fuji line of cameras. I've "been with" Fuji since 2006, have had the tiny X10, X20, and X30, and am waiting for the soon-to-be-announced (also tiny) X-T30, initially with just the 18-55 zoom.

Not only do I love Fuji cameras, my HANDS love Fuji cameras. Having one of these tough, small critters in hand feels like using one of my old Leicas or Contax T2. And as with them, one of my Fujis is always with me, and I almost never miss a shot.

Once again, correct-a-mundo.

My nomination for camera of the year isn't a camera ...it's a phone. Apple/Google/Huawei all have excellent still & video cameras as a FREE accoutrement. If you use a laser-printing service, like I do, big prints should not be a problem. There are many places that use Frontier, Lambda. LaserJet and Noritsu laser-printers to make real color or B&W prints on photo-paper. The video looks good on my 4K 21.5" iMac—more than good-enough for YouTube Vlogs and travel videos.

You can also use the phone's FREE built-in computer for both photo and video editing. The photo apps I have on my iPhone Xs are Blackie (B&W photos), LUCID (very good auto correct), Pixelmator and Snapseed. My video editing app is LumaFusion.

I seriously looked at a Sony A7rIII and then the A7III. However, three things kept me away. When gripping the camera with an attached lens, my knuckles rubbed the lens because the distance between the grip and lens is so narrow. That is something I’m not willing to put up with as ergonomics is one of the most important aspects of using a camera for me. Small is nice but sometimes there is too small for good handling and pleasurable use.

Second, Sony doesn’t offer “lossless” compressed files, only lossy. That means you either lose quite a bit of quality (after all isn’t that what you are paying for?) or have about 80mb files in your Lightroom catalog.

Third, when shooting at high speed, Sony reduced the files bit depth to 12-bits from the higher quality 14-bits. Again, another reduction in quality. But it allows faster frame rates with the ability to move the files out of the camera’s buffer more quickly.

Sony has made some interesting choices when it comes to trade-offs in quality and handling. I’m hoping with the fourth generation Sony will solve these deal breaker issues for me. Other than these, a terrific photographic tool!

Oh! One more thought. Hire someone from outside the company to revise your menu system!

I get the feeling that the Sony E mount as a "universal use all your old lenses with adapters feature" wasn't planed by management so much as maybe someone in engineering realizing that a combination of design decisions and the nearly hidden "release without lens" setting would enable you to use anything you wanted. When the NEX 5 was introduced the reps at the Sony booth at Photo Expo seemed to be surprised that you could use "release without lens" to take pictures.

I have heard similar stories about how the video feature in the Canon 5D mkII was a big and unpleasant surprise to some parts of Canon.

I genuinely think your blog is one of the most informed on the web. It is erudite and touches on a number of topics. I read it daily. Having said that, I absolutely abhor this "best" camera business. I equally disdain attempts to list best movie, best car, best song, or God forbid best salad dressing.

Mike using your link to check out A7 cameras I could not help but notice the A7II and kit lens is again priced at $998. $898 for the body only. Damn. Of course I believe this price is valid only through T.O.P links.

I find it amusing that Leica's Product Manager believes the Sony E-Mount might not be suitable for full frame (24x36). Let's just say that Sony's E-mount has a 46.1mm throat diameter, while the old Leica M bayonet's diameter of "only" 44mm has never prevented Leica from becoming the leader in high quality and superfast lenses (think Noctilux). By the way, the 24x36 negative has a diagonal of 43.27mm.

Larger throat diameters allow more freedom in lens design (like having large rear lens elements positioned very close to the image plane) and we might see some interesting developments in future lenses. But I am also quite sure that there will be no shortage of superb lenses compatible with smaller diameter bayonets. And things are not as simple as Nikon and Leica would like us to think: a smaller mount also means lenses can be designed to be more compact and less ponderous...

Cheers!

Abbazz

In 2018, SONY Moved the Cheese Moved no! Cut maybe. If you are impressed by performance, as I am, the Canon R is the clear winner.

I read someplace, can't remember where, that Leica would soon be going-out-of-business. How can this be? Leica makes Mirrorless Crop, Mirrorless Full Frame , FtFF DSLR and (Sinar) View cameras. They also make (Sinar) Digital Backs for MF cameras and PL mount Cine Lenses. Plus Binoculars, Spotting Scopes, Rifle Scopes and Laser Rangefinders. They are also partnered with Panasonic and Huawei. They ain't goin' anywhere anytime soon.

Good choice, good reasoning. An interesting development from Sony's full frame effort has been that it has become an interesting platform for modern specialty lenses. Take for example the diminutive 35/2.8, the 100 STF that has AF, Voigtländer's and Zeiss' Apo lenses and Zeiss' high performance compact manual focus lenses. For people who want to try out various old and new lenses this time is a new golden age of sorts.

I started taking photography seriously in 2009. Being recently divorced, with 4 kids, my budget was tight. I bought into Nikon for the best of reasons - the woman I was sleeping with shot Nikon and I liked her images (among other things).

I've had no regrets with my Nikon cameras - D90 -> D700 -> D7100 -> D500. My Current Nikon bodies are the D500 and D700. Don't get me started on lenses ...

I've ventured into other areas too. I also own a Ricoh GR and a Pen-F with 4 f/1.8 primes and the 12-40 f/2.8. The Pen-F is really a joy to use - if you can get used to the friggin' menus ...

Anyway, the reason I'm posting all this is that I see the "camera of the year" stuff as being aimed at those folks that maybe need to be reassured that they spent hard earned money on the right camera system. For me, the right system is the one you want to use that gets you out there to capture an image. That is what photography is right - images?

Anyway, I'm ready to move on from the D700 for my FF body, but I'm not yet sold on the Z's. I guess I need to sleep with some more photographers before I can make up my mind.

Happy New Year!

I was excited about the Zeiss 40mm, until I saw the size, yikes!

For what it is worth (and that's admittedly not much) I completely agree! Cheers!

Have you considered renting a GX9 while putting the G9 on the shelf until it absolutely HAS to go back? If the GX9 still does have "the special sauce" of the GX8, that might help you decide.

Of course you'd either have to do it while B&H's (admittedly indeterminate) Sony Sale Price remains in effect or buy the Sony with your (admittedly non-existent) ready cash and decide what to do with it during it's own return window..

On the other hand, you could return the G9, get the Sony and save up for a pristine, pre-owned GX8 a little way down the pike with what you've saved on the Sony. (I have it on good authority that such GX8s can sometimes be found for as little as $495....)

As for me, I've got a couple of nice little m4/3 primes and two equally nice but comparatively enormous) 4/3 zooms so I'm a happy camper and am keeping my own GX8!

Thanks to you, Mike, and all the best,

Thomas

PS: Stick to your singular strength, as in the old adage, "Beware the man who has only one gun!"

After reading through the comments I just wanted to add a couple of things.

Uncompressed raws are available with the later cameras, as far as I know and on the subject of weather sealing my first generation A7 has been used in pouring rain and snow, on a windy sandy beach and in the heat and humidity of Thailand and it's never missed a beat. I do accept that the weather sealing wont be good enough to survive a direct hit from a wave or dropping into a bucket of water but in repeated normal use in cold, sandy, wet and humid conditions my camera has to date always survived.

Delayed Response: I'm a Nikon guy, but agree that the reason there's a Z6 and Z7 is because of Sony "moving the cheese" or "leading the pack" or what not. But I don't see any of these, or the Canon EOS R as camera of the year material because all cameras are moving at an iterative pace, and they all seem excellent, and there are high quality options for all sensor sizes and with mirrors and without mirrors.

The more dynamic change in my opinion is with the computational photography found in the smartphones, so for me the iPhone XS and Pixel III are the cameras of the year. And that I think explains best why the camera companies are spending their energy on full frame and top end cameras and lenses: most people will have or already have all the camera they ever need right there in their phone. Kind of reminds me of what happened to the stereo market when iPods became mainstream. Looks to me we'll have a high-end niche market for cameras and lenses, unless the camera companies come up with some kind of transformational product.

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