The Future of Photography

Today I was watching a video on photography by Tony Northrup

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Za2AeCujDZk&feature=youtu.be) .  Basically, it’s one of those “Here are my predictions for 2018” videos.  Tony goes through Canon, Nikon, Sony, Panasonic, Olympus, Pentax and Fuji.  He has a variety of predictions and comments.  Some interesting, some obvious, some debatable.  What I found significant was a couple of statements he made about Canon and Nikon.  Apparently both Canon and Nikon are expected to produce full frame mirrorless models in 2018.  And in addition, Tony noted that last year Sony passed Nikon to become the second largest producer of full frame cameras and that the way things are going Sony will pass Canon in 2018 to become the largest.

And that is actually sort of amazing.  Tony Northrup is a former mirrorless skeptic.  Up until the second generation of the A7 system he doubted that a full-frame mirrorless camera would ever have the autofocus ability to compete against the professional grade Nikon and Canon models.  But in just three years Sony has gone from a novelty camera manufacturer to where they are now.  Now, having been the victim of years of Sony dithering I can state categorically that their success has nothing to do with superior implementation of their products.  Anyone who has had to deal with the Sony camera menus knows that’s simply not the case.  So, what it must be, is that the time of the DSLR is past and the advantages of the mirrorless camera are now so obvious that even Sony can’t help but succeed.

So, if it’s to be mirrorless cameras going forward, who will be left standing when the dust settles?  Will Canon and Nikon pivot and reinvent themselves as mirrorless camera companies?  Will Sony parlay their electronic and video expertise to dominate market? Or will one of the other mirrorless companies like Fuji or the micro four thirds manufacturers take advantage of their smaller form factor to pull ahead?

Who knows?  Certainly not me.  But at least I feel like I’ve won the first part of the bet I took when I stuck with Sony when they went from DSLR to mirrorless.  Now all they have to do is get out of their own way and give their customers the cameras and lenses they want to buy.  This year they came out with two amazing cameras, the A9 and the A7R III.  Both cameras are essentially ground breaking.  The A9 is the first mirrorless camera that could easily be used by either a professional sports shooter or a wedding photographer and perform as well as if not in some ways better than the Canon and Nikon equivalents.  The A7R III is a versatile high megapixel camera that can perform at the level of Nikon and Canon enthusiast cameras for everything from landscape to portrait to occasion shooting while providing the very best picture quality available.  What remains for them is to finish off the line up with updates of their high ISO stills / video camera (the A7S III) and the basic A7 III plain vanilla version.  Once the larger battery, better autofocus and joystick control of the A9 is introduced into these updates, Sony will have provided mirrorless shooters with the tools they’ve been waiting for.  And it will become difficult for Canon and Nikon to convince the market that mirrorless cameras haven’t already matched DSLR performance and in some ways surpassed it.  When I tested out the A9 last summer and saw what it’s like to shoot continuously with absolutely no blackout between frames I knew that mirrorless was the future.  And when I saw how good the autofocus on that camera was I no longer doubted that Sony might be a part of that future.

So, the great mirrorless game is afoot.  Who will take an early lead and who will be left at the gate?  Predicting these kinds of things is almost impossible.  But I’ll string along with Sony for the foreseeable future.  They’ve chosen wisely and are now fighting on their own electronics turf instead of on the DSLR field.  I like their chances.  But I have to say that after following along with these guys for all these years I have a sort of fatalism about how clueless they can be about avoiding obvious problems.  Please Sony, don’t screw it up.

3 thoughts on “The Future of Photography

  • January 7, 2018 at 8:57 am
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    Was watching another Tony Northrop video where he was reviewing the A7RIII. Was quite amused when he said that one of the most important modifications was that Sony has dropped the autofocus system from the A6500 (and A6300) into the A7.

    I’ve been telling you that the focus speed and accuracy on my A6300 is incredible. It is still my daily carry camera despite my addition of an A7RII.

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    • January 7, 2018 at 11:07 am
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      You know Tom, extrapolating from the progress on sensor capability, someday the camera we will use won’t even be APS-C. A 1″ sensor like in the compacts will provide all the resolution and quality even a professional wedding photographer could want. Then the form factor can be an envelope you pick. For walk around it will be tiny. For professional use it will be optimized ergonomics. What happens to my snobbery then? I’ll have to go with gold plating!

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  • January 7, 2018 at 9:30 am
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    Autofocus has always been (for me) the Achilles Heel of the A7 series. I know at some point I’ll make a move beyond the antiquated and ineffective contrast-detection auto-focus of the A7S Mark 1. But at the moment I’m surrounded by a couple of feet of snow so nothing more fast moving than a snow covered rock is attracting my attention. I do confess that I am considering adding an A-6000 series camera for walk-around ability. But I’m afraid I’ll lose my standing in the full-frame snob’s club. Oh well.

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