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| p.9 #12 · Sony Full Frame attack: (SR5) Three E-mount FF to come within 5 months! |
Cross posted on another thread:
Sometimes I visit the SAR site and laugh at all the rubbish that is posted there to boost traffic and affiliate sales on sites like Ebay and Amazon. Sometimes I wonder whether the publisher of the site even has a photography hobby or much experience with cameras based on the silly things that get posted as fact only to be scrubbed later and blamed on "cut-and-paste error".
Sony has not shown that it is prepared to be a photographer's company or develop a full featured camera *system* that anybody but gadget-of-the-month folks can depend on. With a few exception they have shown that they are very finicky in chasing after electronic gimmicks and P&S up-graders at the expense of stability and building confidence in a trusted system of compatible bodies, lenses and accessories that span beginner to accomplished professional.
Think about it: Think of all the accolades that SONY received when it came out with the A900 and then consider what they did with their Alpha A-mount full frame legacy. They basically threw it all away with years of no new products and finally came out with the ridiculously overpriced, over-gimmicked and dead-end A99.
What about their APS-C cameras? They started off good with the A100/A3xx and A700 and then quickly released new rehashed models with fewer features and awful grips "designed for women's hands" (no joke, a real quote from their designers). Then no Sony DSLR had video or main-sensor live-view even though all their competitors did.
There was the more than four year drought for the A700 replacement. Eventually they released the SLT models with poor low light performance, fake RAW mode, poor video field of view, small buffers and again removed basic features like tethering that were in their earlier A700. The main feature of 24mpx has now been destroyed by Nikon lowest end D3200 and the Nikon D7100 has a higher final resolution than the A77, much better lens compatibility & 3rd party support, autofocus, metering, flash control and "pro" ergonomic features. The Canon 70D even eclipsed SONY SLT by showing that a DSLR with traditional design can still autofocus better than the A77 when shooting video.
I'm not saying SONY is not innovative or that they have not accomplished great engineering marvels with some NEX models and the RX series. They have. But the non-interchangeable lens cameras like the RX series do not make a camera "system". They are one-off self-contained cameras and are designed to be disposable. The miniaturized NEX series have been more successful than the Alpha models but they still are not a replacement for a traditional DSLR given the poor tracking and continuous autofocus, are still hobbled by a childlike menu system, confusing deluge of models with minor differences, complete lack of marketing (at least in the USA), limited distribution (can't find them in BestBuy anymore or Costco) and a lack of lenses and accessories.
I wanted to recommend NEX to a young family friend who is getting interested in photography after seeing the results of the A700 with fast lenses and external flash but I realized that NEX lacked the availability of reasonably priced fast lenses and flashes and could not focus fast enough for action. The youngster was probably better off with the D3200 - at least any lenses or accessories they purchase could grow with them all the way to a flagship D800 or whatever they might advance to in the future. But NEX? It is more appropriate because of its diminutive size but it is basically a gamble with no assured future.
What I'm saying is that SONY has never been willing to fully invest in a stable and reliable photography system in the same way that the other industry leaders have. As a result there are very few lenses, accessories and support available for either of their interchangeable lens systems (A-Mount/E-Mount). When designing lenses for their E-Mount they have generally chosen very conservative and uninspiring specifications to take to market. For the FF A-mount they have ignored large swaths of focal lengths. For example no current 24mm or 28mm primes. No affordable 35mm, 50mm or 85mm at all even though Canon and Nikon offer affordable 35mm f/2.0 and f/1.8 50mm and 85mm lenses. Many of the Sony lenses are rebadged Minolta designs dating from the eighties. The one unique A-mount lens, the Reflex 500mm f/8 with AF was discontinued quietly. Basically Sony Alpha A-mount is a dying platform.
Compare the lens lineup for the much newer Fuji X system to that of the much older NEX. Which lens lineup inspires photographic lust? For example, on E-Mount, regardless of focal length, there are no native lenses faster than f/1.8 and most are at f/2.8 or even f/4. Fuji on the other hand launched its cameras with f/1.4 & f/2.0 lenses for the historic (equivalent) standard and wide focal lengths. Even Samsung has a greater investment and road map for fast lenses than Sony despite their very poor placing in the market.
But enough of the ranting that I wanted to get out of my system and back to FF NEX.
What the FF NEX offers to SONY is another chance to redefine themselves and their NEX brand as a real photographer's system. Nobody else offers a 35mm FF compact camera system with autofocus. It could raise the stature of Sony NEX to be mentioned in the same breath as Leica. Street cred etc... It would allow SONY to abandon the failing A-mount platform for a full spectrum E-mount that supports both compact cameras and DSLR form factors in both APS-C and FF formats. A complete photography system for beginners to pros.
But this will only happen if the marketing and business managers that screwed up the Alpha system are not allowed to also screw up this transition. In particular it would require that they hit the FF NEX and NEX transition cameras out of the park. It requires meeting and exceeding the HYPE that has been built up on forums like this and on SAR.
Unfortunately I don't see that happening. Maybe I'm a pessimist but the dribble of information that I've read tells me that the #1 wish of photographers looking at NEX -- to replace the functionality and versatility of DSLRs will not come true because of the following:
1. SLOW FOCUSING : Mirrorless is not an advantage over reflex DSLRs if you're stuck with mediocre focusing. This is a deal breaker for anyone who shoots candid, event or action shots and expects to replace their DSLR with any sort of NEX camera (especially with the future DSLR form factor models). I just do not believe the HYPE that says SONY has made breakthroughs with main-sensor phase detection that allows mirrorless cameras to match DSLR dedicated focusing sensors. Even the old supposedly conservative stalwart Canon in the 70D has a higher performance main-sensor AF system than SONY does on it's most recent mirrorless cameras with phase detection sensors. I don't believe that SONY has a better main-sensor focusing system than Canon in the 70D. I think the poor focus performance of future NEX FF and APS-C models will shock everyone.
2. LENSES. LENSES. LENSES! : I personally don't care about the Zeiss label on a lens and I doubt the majority of folks that buy millions of Nikon and Canon DSLRs and lenses every year are moved by the availability of a small set of two Zeiss branded Sony lenses. In any case, Zeiss already makes its expensive lenses for Canon, Nikon and Fuji X systems anyway. The bread and butter photographers will be looking for cost effective replacements for the standard lenses available for DSLRs and they won't find most of them for the NEX FF or even the APS-C NEXs. Sure many of this forum are more interested in adapting legacy lenses to the NEX FF. But you know what, 95% of DSLR purchasers are not going to do this and don't care about the adapting capability. I used to use adapted M42 lenses a lot but discovered that once I purchased a native equivalent my desire to do so pretty much waned. Personally I would jump ship to NEX and NEX FF if Sony announced that it had commissioned Sigma to produce a full line of fully native and compatible lenses for their mount. I'm talking about moderately compact FF lenses covering 12mm to 135mm and larger lenses covering 135mm to 500mm. I'm talking about fully native compact versions of all their EX-class/ART/SPORT lenses. But that won't happen and SONY has not shown that it is a serious optics company either so I wouldn't my breath on Sony coming out with a similar range either. If you're waiting for SONY and Zeiss to recreate the Contax N Digital in the NEX I think you'll be waiting for a very long time.
3. BAD BEAN COUNTERS : This comes down to removing features and capabilities as part of some desire to appease the bean counters and pointy head business folks at the expense of the interest of photographers and photography. Like screwing up the grip and removing mirror lockup and tethering on the 3nd generation of Alpha DSLRs or the stupid new Sony incompatible standard hotshoe on the A99 and newer NEX models that cause lock-in to Sony flash accessories. I can imagine the IBIS feature being banned from the NEX cameras in order to protect A-mount Alpha sales, to avoid paying royalties to Minolta or because it conflicts with the optical stabilization business model for Sony NEX lenses. I mean who knows what existing camera features would be killed in order to fill a silly checkbox or corporate mandate. Maybe they will make it more difficult to use legacy lenses or 3rd party NEX FF Lenses. I don't know and neither does anyone else at SAR.
4. Marketing / Advertising & Retail Presence : Even if all the above conditions are taken care of, Sony still has to let photographers and people wanting to invest into a camera *system* know that it has a product for them. I believe that since the Alpha range was launched, Sony has not aired a single TV or radio advertisement for it in the United States. I find that incredible. Even the established leaders like Nikon and Canon air TV adverts for their cameras but not the #3 company, why is that? No wonder most people with DSLRs or in the market to buy one have no idea that Sony makes DSLRs or other cameras capable of DSLR "quality". Also SONY has a bad reputation with retailers due to their obnoxious policies, requirements and practices and many of them have simply stopped selling SONY larger format cameras. For example, BestBuy is no longer selling or promoting Sony DSLRs or NEX cameras where I live and is giving huge floor space to Samsung instead. Costco sells zero Sony DSLRs or NEX camera while stocking and extensively promoting the midrange of Canon and Nikon.
So in summary I look forward to the NEX FF but I'm in no way expecting it to fulfill the promise of a DSLR replacement or meet many of the fevered expectations discussed on this forum and others. As long as the NEX is seen as a "second system" for weight/size reduction, it will never become a real DSLR replacement or fulfill the business goal of getting Millions of sales and putting major black into Sony's bath of red ink.
Also I don't believe that the A7 and A7r or whatever they get called in the end will dramatically solve the problem of fast wide angles on NEX cameras as SAR claims they will.