As a matter of principle, I've been buying exclusively Nikon for almost my entire time in the hobby. I always saw Canon as a large conglomerate who tacked on photography as another arm of their company, where to me Nikon feels more focused on optics as a primary business line. Honestly, I should almost start buying more Pentax gear.
I worry we're slowly approaching a monoculture in photography, but it's hard to convince folks outside of the hobby to care.
There's a good reason for it -- they appear to make the very best sensors (edit: in terms of dynamic range and noise) in the commercial-camera market. Canon makes their own sensors, which are good in absolute but not relative terms, which appears to hold them back in performance. I don't know if it is patent-related or process-related.
While I use Canon imaging systems, I don't see the choice to use other brands as better or worse. Each manufacturer's line has strengths and weaknesses; you pick the best tool for the job. Essentially every camera and optical system on the market, in absolute terms, is a wonderful instrument for imaging.
This reality is intensely freeing -- it means you can focus more on the image and less on the instrumentation. "f/8 and be there" is still wonderful advice.
First of all, there's two companies: Semiconductor and Imaging. Sony opens some of their technologies to other customers by transferring Imaging unit's patents to Semi and allows them for re-licensing. So, not everyone is using the same sensor even if they are coming out from the same fab.
Second, there's customer tailored sensor business. Sony can provide a customer a baseline to start and, customer can customize this sensor according to their needs and got it produced for themselves.
Lastly, there's strict division between customers in semiconductor side. So Sony Imaging can't access to specs and design of other customers' sensors.
How it works in real life?
- Sony A7 series use Sony's sensors with all their secrets at their disposal but, not with Nikon's and Fuji's secret sauces.
- Nikon orders customized, "Designed by Nikon" sensors to Sony Semi. Sony Imaging cannot access them (unless they buy and disassemble a Nikon Z).
- Same for Fuji. They have less rolling shutter in XT-4 for example, and it's again built by Sony, for Fuji. No, Sony Imaging can't play with them.
- Canon R5's sensor is "Designed by Canon". I'm not sure they are producing it. Sony or Tower Jazz maybe producing it. I don't know.
At the end of the day, the fab is almost one but, designs are many and diversified and, nobody can see each other's design. Like TSMC and Global Foundries.
Some of the code I've written can speed up 3x just by using newer SIMD instruction sets and bigger caches. It's unbelievable until you see it.
I also manage HPC clusters, so we see strange effects when developers excessively hand-tune their code for a specific architecture.
It's not very very different in the bigger picture if you ask me.
Please correct me if I'm wrong.
You forgot Samsung as one of the big fabs.
It occurred to me that Kingston probably has its own fab too.
Memory is fairly easy to fab; in fact memory was one of the first things we saw Asian fabs rise up and overtake US/EU fabs on.
In a perfect world, It'd be nice for Nikon to build a fab with the lithography equipment they already produce.
Hope their fab lives on.
The fact is that there is a completely different technology on the market which produces very different – and arguably far superior – image quality and colour reproduction compared to 99% of digital cameras on the market. The Sigma system can be clunky and the sensor tech has its drawbacks (eg almost unusable above 200 iso), however given the right conditions the images they produce can be stunning.
I mainly use an Olympus em5 mkII so I’m saddened by the OP news, although I will wait to see how it plays out before switching to Ricoh and/or Pentax. Guess I have a thing for the underdogs.
Nikon has also used Toshiba in the past but probably 80% of Nikon's DSLR sensors were made by Sony.
Aptina's sensors were pretty spectacular from an AF perspective in that they had phase-shift AF on-sensor in 2011. The AF was as close as you could get to DSLRs on a mirrorless camera for quite some time. It's just too bad that Nikon came up with a weird set of 1st generation Nikon 1 cameras that made no sense to anybody.
IIRC, Aptina ended up cross-licensing their patents to Sony.
Sony sinks tons of money in their tech because other companies use them as a factory, so that makes total business sense (and along with samsung and a few others, they do have cutting edge imaging tech). Canon is different in that its much more vertically integrated so it rarely makes sense to drop millions of dollars on sensor fab upgrades unless they're going to make the money back. They have dozens of filed patents on all the technology that the competition is using, so I don't think they're lacking on the IP front.
I don't think photography is where the concern lies these days. All medium/flagship cameras from major brands today are more than good enough for photography, commercial, sports, landscape, advertising, editorial, or whatever...
It's more about the video...
It's a little early to state this. Once the R5 and R6 come out we'll have a better idea of their capabilities as those are slated to have their new tech (8K video etc etc).
(Dual-pixel AF doesn't just give way better AF, it also avoids artifacts from dedicated phase detect pixels that other cameras have.)
If I were making video, I suspect I'd be singing the same tune. DPAF is excellent.
While they've been a newer player in the Camera industry, they've been doing professional digital video for far longer (SW EP2 was shot on Panavision-modified Sony cameras.) That's on top of their long lineage in the pre-digital-recording TV Market.
On an unrelated note, I do believe that Canon has also pulled a patent on quad-pixel AF. Patents being awful aside, quad-pixel AF would be awesome: every pixel becomes a cross-type focus sensor.
(For the uninitiated, focus sensors are usually either horizontal or vertical, and cannot detect features that are perpendicular to them. Cross-type sensors are a combination of the two to increase the detection capability.)
However, in less optimal situations (e.g. low light, low contrast, and contrast perpendicular to the detection direction), it's my personal experience that current non-cross-type PDAF solutions fail, requiring 90 degree rotation to focus, which wouldn't be needed for cross-type. That, or use of an alternate focus subject if one is available.
It's more of an issue on smaller, less light sensitive sensors. The super high-end sensors are more likely to find something to focus on even when things are suboptimal.
But, alas, I'm a hobby photographer, and the 4500 USD an A9II costs is a bit more than I'm willing to spend.
Of course it does. PDAF needs to observe a feature (a phase difference) in the image, which requires light and contrast.
In strong light, there are usually plenty of features available, making PDAF seem borderline magic, especially for something like DPAF where almost every single pixel can be used as a focus point.
In lower light and contrast, fewer features are available. Subjects are rarely perfectly symmetric, so there are different features are available across the different sensor axis (e.g. a striped shirt).
As subjects are not symmetric, the chances of you running out of features to focus on due to reduced contrast along two axis is much lower than running out along just one. Cross-type allow both axis to be used simultaneously, while non-cross can only use one.
This means that, with the same sensitivity, cross-type is much more likely to be able to detect a feature in an area than non-cross, as there are more features available to it. As features turn to noise and AF becomes difficult, this leads to increased focus ability at lower light.
For non-cross, a 90 degree rotation of the camera is needed to reveal those features.
> For e.g. Outer focusing points on a poorly made "consumer" lenses, generally, are not very accurate when you're close to MFD, and the focusing system tends to hunt a lot.
I see what you're trying to say ("inner focus point is not just cross-type, it's also the sharpest point on the lens"), but that's not really relevant here. I'm making the observation on a camera without cross-type at all, dead-center or thereabout.
One can also use the zebra MF assist feature to highlight this, at least for DPAF cameras.
> I have the A9II and it has the best focusing system I've ever used. I thought the 1DX II was accurate, but this blows it away. Haven't tried the 1DXIII though.
This is the beauty of on-sensor focus - you measure exactly what you see, instead of measuring something else entirely and hoping that the calibration data is good enough...
Weird. How do arrive at that conclusion?
Typically pros pick Nikon or Canon FF DSLRs. It's very common at least among photojournalists & wedding photographers.
Now mirrorless is the hot stuff. Sony/Fuji/Olympus started earlier, and after a few year, Nikon & Canon decided to join to camp.
If you are into high end studio/gallery work, you'll use medium format equipments like Hasselblad/Phase One/Fuji/Pentax.
An don't forget Leica. At least still historically relevant because their of of the pioneers of 35mm photography. Fine film cameras, but not really sure about their digital ones.
I still pick Nikon as my primary system, simply because the lens compatibility: old lens from the 60's/70's work fine on their FF bodies (those pre-AI lenses need to be modified first, though, unless you shoot with a DF). Can't say the same thing with Canon, which historically have different lens mounts (FL, FD, EOS).
It's worth noting that Sony's cameras are the descendants of Minolta, and the same applies. Any A-Mount (born 1985) lens should work, with functioning autofocus.
While a lot of people mocked the Nikon 1 series (because of their strange form factors and handling), they were the only mirrorless cameras that had autofocus nearing DSLRs for several years. They were actually pretty good cameras.
But... It was all so expensive. So expensive that for a while the perception was that Nikon was pricing it to protect their precious F-Mount lineup.
And, maybe they were, which wouldn't have been the WORST idea, because it did keep too many people from buying into the system (which, quite frankly, may not have fared well long term anyway, once the right technology was in place for larger sensors to focus as fast as the 1 series could.)
I do also know that some of the system's cost is because the small sensor size necessitated -very- good glass to get good image quality. (Smaller sensor but same MP = higher demands on glass)
The tech was pretty good right down to the end of the line. The J5 is a pretty fantastic camera. Basically a Sony RX100 (it is a Sony sensor unlike the Aptinas in its predecessors) with interchangeable lenses.
I still prefer the handling of my J5 over my Micro 4/3 cameras. The J5 is what the V1 should have been on day 1.
The lens ecosystem was small (I have most of the "affordable" ones), but they happened to be in the focal lengths that matched up to my favorites on my APS-C DSLR at the time. The one thing I loved about the N1 was how small they were. I could carry multiple bodies and lenses in a small bag that would be filled up by one dslr and two lenses.
Yeah, it was a bit pricier than it should have been, and their marketing sucked. Instead of trying to sell it as a great camera for people who wanted something small and capable they tried to sell it as the perfect second backup camera for DSLR owners. Which is stupid because the perfect second/backup camera for DSLR owners is another DSLR with the same lens mount.
Seriously.. their service is so fantastic & easy to work with it puts you at ease shooting with their expensive stuff.
I think this has more to do with it than anything to do with sensors or almost anything else when it comes to really serious photography and especially anyone who's running a business.
No one is happy to see another option disappear though. I agree with the sentiment that the biggest risk is too many cameras having Sony sensors inside though. Too much of that and at some point they're all Sony, even though the design of the exterior of the camera & the ergonomics can still be major differentiators.
I had lost all warranty papers, but my local photography shop insisted that I contacted Canon. Had to leave the camera on the official service office, and a month later I had to go and pick it up. The camera was good as new, they even cleaned it up and fixed a few mechanical issues in the lens. No papers needed, it was a Canon camera, the issue was a manufacturing defect, they were practically honor bound to fix it.
That day I decided I'd keep buying Canon for a while. Two cameras later, after buying a G12 and a G16 I decided to go for an Olympus OM-D EM-10. The camera is great and I love, but it sure stings to see them leave the market.
According to articles from that timeframe, issues were found in Sony CCDs manufactured between 2003 to 2005 surfaced from autumn 2005 to spring 2006, that moisture intrude through either surfaces of plastic packages or through a glue/cement used to fuse optical glass to ceramic packages, and thereon an iodine component in a glue used inside the package reacts to that moisture and corrode bonding wires connecting CCD die to IC pads.
Ultimately it lead to a free replacement program for 87 models total spanning across 9 brands until it ended in 2010/2011.
Not to downplay your experience but sounds like everyone was hit and responded in similar ways.
A big ticket item like a camera is at extremely low risk of counterfeits, and every participant from the manufacturer to the place of sale will track the serial numbers of cameras shipped, so the "chain" can be reasonably reconstructed by only the camera itself.
For SD cards it's the other way around - no one tracks the serial numbers along the chain of purchase and there is a massive issue with counterfeit product. Requiring a proof of purchase at least helps to filter incoming claims...
Canon also is known for top notch lenses, which is the real core component of a camera system. You may spend $2k-3k for a camera, but as a professional you'd spend much more money on multiple lenses you need that are all $2k+ each, and you'd be using the same lenses each time you replace the camera body.
Canon cornered the professional market this way.
Especially for Cameras and Lenses that's solely on user's mind.
Your photos speak for themselves. You absolutely don't need Canon or L glass.
BTW, maybe you are not up to date with the current developments, but Canon gets a lot of hate and is looked down because of their mirrorless systems.
The new king is Sony
This is similar to the difference why Fedora is free, but RHEL costs over $300 a year for basically the same software just with added support. Professional/enterprise services are very different from what consumers need.
The new Canon RF lenses are pretty amazing (albeit expensive) though, and the new Canon mirrorless bodies such as the R5 are shaping up to be highly competitive products.
Sony's ecosystem also has many amazing third-party lenses. A personal favourite of mine is the Voigtlander Apo Lanthar 65mm f/2.
Tell that to Ken Rockwell!
for pros, the ruggedness, battery life, support, autofocus of dslrs are still important.
This, sadly, is unlikely to change because high quality lenses are very hard to make. Development takes years and the market is relatively small. And as glass, even for a serious hobbyist, ends up being much more expensive than the camera body, the reason to pick a third party body is just not there.
The 10% I disagree with is the stigma part. I have never noticed it. Unless you are shooting pro sports from a dedicated area filled with fellow photographers you are unlikely to see people who would know or care what you are shooting with. "A really big camera, much bigger than my cell phone; must be really good" is probably all they think. The reason almost everyone in the Canon world uses L glass is because it is so frigging good. My 2c.
I picked up a 50 mm f/4 Macro Takumar for under $100 on eBay. I already had a couple nice Takumars and SMC-M primes that I can keep using. It’s awesome.
Granted, I’m shooting furniture under continuous light. It’s not a super demanding application. If I were a pro photographer, I’d probably be shooting the same kit as everyone else for the same reasons.
To note, you don't have to isolate yourself to manual focus - there are to manual to autofocus adapter for the Sony E mount. Indeed, there's the original Techart LM-EA7, as well the much cheaper knockoff that is the Fotodiox Pronto. As far as I know, this is one of the few instances of an American knockoff of an innovative, expensive Chinese product :). The knockoff is so egregious that it actually can use firmware updates from the original.
If you do decide to go with the knockoff, it's only about 170$ to make your manual lenses autofocus, though it's slightly slower than native and doesn't work in video. It can't completely autofocus lenses longer than 135mm, so if you're shooting telephoto you will need to focus very roughly and then it will correct it.
I thought mirrorless cameras were already outselling DSLRs.
Agreed, but mirrorless is not a full replacement for DSLR, at least not yet. For static scenes in good light my phone camera is already all I need. For static scenes (or slow motion) in lower light mirrorless seems now just as good as DSLR (so they eat some of DSLR market). But for fast motion or long ranges DSLRs still excel. I tried mirrorless but did not like it -- if I am carrying something that does not fit in my pocket I might as well take a bigger DSLR (and enjoy better autofocus and optical viewfinder that does not kill my night vision). But that's just me.
So no, I don't think DSLRs have better autofocus than mirrorless cameras. Mirrorless cameras can also do things like eye AF, video tracking AF, and so on.
In volume, yes. In profit, it's still close, but mirrorless has been closing the gap for a long time.
And Sony used to be king of the hill with mirrorless, but Canon and Nikon have quickly caught up and the playing field is a bit more level (even as Sony holds the crown for most of the technical features).
The thing is, ecosystems matter a lot past the hobbyist stage and there are still a zillion more Canon and Nikon lenses floating around that people love and use.
That said, I now use both Sony (APS-C mirrorless) and Nikon (full frame DSLR), and like both for different things. But I wish I could have my Nikon lenses on my Sony (with no compromise), and wish Nikon made some of the great smaller-sensor size lenses that you can get for APS-C or micro 4/3rds.
I don't follow that stuff, but does Metabones make a Nikon F -> Sony E speed booster?
> Nikon made some of the great smaller-sensor size lenses that you can get for APS-C or micro 4/3rds.
They did make smaller lenses, but for the Nikon 1 system, which was an underrated system. I became a 4/3rds shooter when Nikon cancelled the Nikon 1 line, but I still use my J5 (which is what the first gen Nikon 1s should have been like). IIRC, adapted Nikon F mount lenses on Nikon 1 focus fairly quickly because of the on-sensor PDAF, but you're limited to center AF only.
This impacts both what choices you have, as well as what you can expect to pay for a given set/quality of glass.
To Wit: A Canon 10-18 is ONE THIRD the cost of the Sony E-mount 10-18. Yes, the Sony has a constant F4 aperture and the Canon doesn't. And yeah, on the other end Canon has the 11-24 f4 L, and yeah it's at least double the price of the Sony.
tl;dr - Sony's issue is you usually just have midrange options for everything, even if you really want a lower end lens that just hits the right range.
Also, you can just adapt lenses from Canon to Sony.
Really? I had no idea (as an outsider.) I thought Canon, Nikon, Sony, Fujifilm, etc were all pretty much equal in terms of serious quality. I thought their DLSs all looked pretty much the same. Is that not the case?
Obviously, I exaggerate for effect - but a pro body should first and foremost be utterly reliable no matter what it is subjected to...
(Oh, and it should be compatible with the lenses you already have - as they can easily be a few thousand dollars a piece. Now, that's some serious lock-in!)
Those two questions drive as much of my camera choice as do technical concerns.
I wonder how often that will happen with other brands like Alpha.
I first started using a full-frame camera in 2017 and looked hard at a number of options, expecting to wind up with an A7R-series camera -- the sensors are just awesome. I was coming from an EOS-M background. It was a revelation to me the first time I rented a DSLR and never needed to turn it off. I only turn the camera off when it is packed away within luggage.
One-handed case-open-grab-grip-up-to-eye-compose-and-shoot with gloves on was just amazing. No waiting... and I was practiced at switching on a camera as it left the case. Now, when I'm chasing wildlife, I can regard them through the viewfinder for hours without fear of draining the battery. The battery is only tapped if I hit the back-button focus or depress the shutter. I suspect my next camera will again be mirrorless, as the advantages are many, but if so, I'm really going to miss the always-ready capability of an SLR.
Honestly, I wouldn't buy Nikon or Pentax or whatever just because no aftermarket firmware.
Here you go. You can edit the firmware to change read-only settings and install Andrioid apps, with an API to access the viewfinder and to take pictures with various settings as well as access them, and the network.
However, take a look at articles like this to see just how prevalent Canon gear is at professional events. Apparently, they even have relations with a lot of press outfits to have them exclusively shoot with their equipment.
The brand wars are mostly an amateur thing.. once you decide on a brand if you're really serious and especially if you're running a business you don't jump brands over little differences in sensor performance because it's too much financial churn and you lose your muscle memory switching to a camera with a different control layout.
But it really sucks if your gear goes down and it's hard to get it serviced.
Canon's service is fast, excellent, and much more affordable than replacement.
This is a -huge- thing for some folks.
Have a colleague who does some light pro photography (i.e. weddings, concerts, etc.) I wouldn't call him a Canon zealot or anything, although his first comment at my Sony was 'Well, it's not a Nikon so I can still be your friend.'
We were showing each other shots and he was amazed at what I was able to produce with an e-mount. So he decided to give it a little spin.
All the feedback was around 2 points:
- It took good shots, but.
- Everything was so unfamiliar to him that he missed shots due to not being able to find anything.
Some time later I ran into him again; he had tried Sony cameras a few more times but just couldn't get comfortable enough with the layout.
(The Sony layout -is- kinda bad, even if it's what you've learned on.)
The Sony layout on the otherhand is just terrible. Sure, you can customize all the programmable buttons and menus and it gets much better, but it still takes a long time to learn. Also, had to watch a ton of youtube videos of people changing settings on their camera (the fact that there are so many for Sony cameras should hint to how terrible the menu is).
For instance, zoom rings on Canon and Nikon lenses go opposite directions; exposure compensation dials go opposite directions etc.
And when you're talking about camera systems, the camera itself (which is where Sony currently has the lead in mirrorless) is not the biggest factor in choosing a brand.
Canon and Nikon both have tons of specialist lenses that are still not available (or only have one flavor specializing in one space, at one very high price point) on newer mirrorless platforms.
And if you've invested $50k-100k in lenses (e.g. for a photography department) are you going to turn on a dime and dump that gear for new fancy Sony equipment that costs more than your old glass? Likely not.
And many PJs still need some of the qualities that you can really only get in top-end Canon or Nikon DSLRs (as someone else said, ability to drive nails with the camera, and huge grip).
As a concrete example, imagine if you were tasked with taking footage or stills of one of the protests at night. Would you rather bring a rock-hard large-gripped body that could even be used for protection? Or a smaller body with a screen that would break from a minor scuffle and cheaper plastic, less waterproof construction?
As long as the flange distance of the sensor from which you're adapting is significantly more than that of your camera and you manage to decode the autofocus communications protocol, you can adapt them.
Short version: optical physics, proprietary link for autofocus, capability differences
Really aside from Nikon, most AF protocols are fairly well understood and can be adapted to other lenses.
(in the case of Nikon, sometimes they go out of their way to break others using their systems/protocols without a license...)
But you can use larger mounts on a smaller mount (with care!) May not need a bigger tube, but perhaps a longer or shorter one.
As a point of humor, the Nikon paper was the working man's paper for city dwellers. The Canon paper was for suburban commuter suits.
Fujifilm, Nikon, and Panasonic are using Sony sensors, however.
And, to a lesser extent now that mirrorless cameras are a thing - their unobtrusiveness.
Do you have a source for that? As far as I remember they have been very secretive about their sensor supply chain.
And you're right, most high-end photos take amazing photos. There's some variance in their color science, but most can take near-identical photos. I think the main differentiator among the camera is haptics.
I didn't see any downsides to using the Fuji ecosystem. I loved it. Every time I found something that might be disadvantageous in my line of work, they fixed it (eg. Capture One support). In fact, if I were to have upgraded, I would've gotten their medium format camera.
Ok, this is a little vague, because are you referring to digital or analog?
When I was a kid, everyone was shooting full frame, because, well 35mm was the de-facto standard for film. Although my first camera was a 110 format camera, which is a hair smaller than a 4/3 sensor today.
Even medium format and large format had pretty much the same amount of background blur and low-light performance, just at a higher resolution.
Now of course, it wasn't trendy to take portraits with only one eyelash in focus, but the vast majority of people even on FF don't do that. On my 50 1.4 (a lens made for film cameras, btw) if you want to take a picture with such an extreme amount of blur you need to have your subject quite close to you. And there is virtually no one with a lens faster than f/1.4 nowadays.
Film and processing cost money, and took from an hour or to days to get back, so people would set the aperture in a more reasonable range.
Meanwhile, my teenage daughter is over here taking - IMO - close-to-professional quality photographs using an Olympus E-PL2 and the kit lens, available all day long for $100. It’s all in the mind of the artist.
Amateur photographers can be almost as bad as watch snobs, and with little more purpose.
You could just as well be talking about preferences in operating systems, barbecue sauce, coffee, diets or web frameworks.
On the other hand, for "prosumers" who have high standards for image quality but don't want to shell out for a top-of-the-line full-frame setup and don't need extreme AF or low-light performance, I think it's great because you don't end up buying bodies that are compromised in stupid arbitrary ways just to fit neatly into their appointed place in the product lineup. My X-Pro2 cost like $1700 new and it has all the best tech Fuji had to put in a camera at the time. I actually think it's great for people like me that they decided to go all-in on APS-C, and I hope they stick around. My X-Pro2 is probably my favorite camera I've owned in my life and I've had quite a few.
My second favorite would probably be my Olympus XA. :(
It seems FujiFilm will be competing in the ASP-C market for a long while.
That's how all the Mirrorless manufacturers managed to survive early on IMO.
In the case of Sony, basically throwing you everything the hardware COULD do.
In the case of Panasonic, I think of the GX7 and how it didn't skimp on buttons (Something Sony is still guilty of.)
Is this a real thing? Do people actually care about that?
Weird. The few other camera people I know, and a couple are pros, are all Nikon. They are the reason I went Nikon so many years ago and still use Nikon today.
Edit: manual only if that isn’t obvious
Just for reference, what is now Canon started purely as a company making camera bodies, using lenses from what is now Nikon (who didn't make cameras themselves until much later).
They're a big conglomerate now, but they're a camera company at their core.
I would love to support Nikon as well, but affording one good camera system is hard enough. And quite frankly, everyone is suffering. Spreading our bets for the sake of competition can also lead to no single company being sustainable.
Really? I know this was sort of true a while back but Nikon has definitely caught up. In fact Nikon's D850 smoked the competition at the time and definitely has gained respect even in the Canon community.
I believe it's the video market that you might be referring to? Canon dominates this because of their AF system and Sony is now obviously established as well. Nikon and other's have usually been pretty lagging in terms of Video functionality.
I use almost exclusively lenses from 20-60 years ago and conveniently avoid all the Nikon vs. Canon vs. Sony, L vs. non-L ridicule and so on. It's kind of nice because when it comes to my equipment people don't know what to ask and then just start talking about actual photography as an art.
> to me Nikon feels more focused on optics
This must be one of the few times in history that saying a company focused on optics is used in a positive way
That said I think Canon and Nikon had some kind of IP agreements and shared some technologies, or I may be wrong.
The two decade long tobashi scheme by Olympus Imaging Executives to hide
billions in losses.
"While early activities generated profits in 1987, by
1991 Olympus recorded 2.1 billion losses. Rumors circulated that by the late 1990s, losses
had grown larger.
Rather than come clean and admit the losses, management continued to
‘double down’ with riskier investments.
Olympus created a tobashi scheme to shift losses off the Olympus balance sheet. Companies
located in the Cayman Islands were purchased via exorbitant Management and Acquisition Fees.
When the first Western President, Michael Woodford, questioned these practices, he was fired
after two weeks on the job. Woodford became perhaps the first CEO ever to blow the whistle on
his own firm.
The subsequent scandal brought arrests of the executive team, an 80% decline in
share price, the threat of de-listing on the Tokyo Exchange, and an international look at Japanese
Corporate Governance. "
Also, while still producing a deficit, the camera division managed to improve the balances quite a bit over the last year. A completely new production facility was opened not long ago in Vietnam, and new camera models and lenses were launched, others still in the pipeline and the plans are to bring them to the market.
I am a very happy Olympus user and definitely hope, that their lineup has a long future. I see mFT as a great alternative to the ubiquos "full frame" cameras, which are, if you look at the complete sets, more expensive and especially bigger and heavier. And despite of the "small sensor", Olympus cameras produce excellent results, to no small amount due to the excellent optics.
The main problem is that the market itself has been shrinking, and there's just not enough room to have so much competition (Olympus, Panasonic, Sony, Fuji, Canon, and Nikon).
M43 was successful, but it succeeded in an area that is shrinking faster: Smaller form factor/lower optical powerful photography equipment; exactly the kind being eaten alive by smartphones.
While Panasonic and others will continue the M43 standard for a while longer, the writing may be on the wall. Some competition have moved into niches (e.g. medium format, videography, etc), which may have better longer term stability.
I have an olympus micro 43 camera. I really like it. Though when the top button broke, They wouldn't send my local camera fix it shop the part, and it ended up costing more money to fix than it should have. I like it for traveling as its good but light and while not a subtle as a phone camera, its not a serious looking as a "real" camera.
Never used an Olympus, never understood the point of one. If I cared about photography in a serious way I'd have already bought an A7 of some flavor.
That all sounds big until you realize an a7 body is like minimum $1000.
That 25mm Panasonic lens is a boss, though. I have two, along with the shorty 20mm Panasonic (which is not as good; it doesn't do AF-C, wtf?) and the 42.5mm Panasonic (which is the most delightful lens I own if I have enough room to use it).
I also have two of the Panasonic 14-140mm video lenses, and while I don't love shooting at like f3.5 they are invaluable when I'm working on-site.
I run and gun with the G7 for photos, as it is my lightest camera by far, and I've been pretty pleased with its fast focus and in-hand shooting, but I could see how it could improve.
I think Olympus and Sony did some cross-licensing deal on their patents, which I believe resulted in Sony's IBIS gaining the 5-axis stuff.
I had a Sony DSLR back in the Alpha days, and the IBIS they had back then was inferior to OIS.
I see a connection there :). The Olympus cameras are extremely capable, yet small in size. An E-M10 or E-M5 have a tiny body and there are extremely compact lenses to match them. Yet, despite the smaller sensor (compared to 35mm) you don't sacrifice much of image quality (or none at all for many tasks) due to the excellent lenses.
(Apparently IBIS used to be a differentiator, but as I have learned in this thread, the G9/GH5 have it and retain their lens OIS too.)
That advantage evaporated after Sony released A7 in 2013, which was almost equal in size yet contained a vastly larger and more capable sensor. Olympus hung on while A7 line was still expensive, but now that one can get an older used model for as much as a new micro-four-thirds one, Olympus bit the dust. Many saw this coming for a long while.
But the one thing which did not shrink are the lenses. Actually modern designs rather grow the lenses. Look at the Olympus 25/1.8, 45/1.8, they are tiny. And of course on the long side, look at the difference of a 40-150/2.8 and 300/4 to their counterparts. This is where mFT wins big time.
This is why I kept buying into mFT, because my Olympus kit in total is significantly more compact than any 35mm equivalent.
Even on the long end, advancements from Canon/Nikon/Sony (such as DO and PF lenses as well as very high-resolution sensors with excellent noise performance) meant that Olympus' advantage was disappearing. For example, all 300mm lenses with the same aperture share the same design and similar size. And yet 300mm f4 from Olympus weighs 1,474 g while 300mm f4 PF from Nikon weighs only 755 g -- twice less. Yes yes it's true that the Olympus comes with a 2x magnification factor. However one can make that up by using a camera with a very high-resolution sensor (such as the one in Z-7) or simply by using a teleconverter and taking advantage of higher noise performance of the full-frame sensor.
Ultimately the reason micro-four-thirds lenses were lighter was not because the system was better -- they were lighter because they were dimmer. The fact that this was not mentioned in most marketing materials made Olympus and Panasonic look quite bad -- and many interested prosumers (like myself) had felt the company was lying to them.
Note: I am reluctant to use the term vendor lock-in as the idea behind m43 was to have multiple camera manufacturers adopt a common lens mount. The fact that Sony and Canon have their own mounts is a net negative in my opinion.
A 25mm f1.7 m43 lens is $150. I've got multiple. I don't mind putting them in kinda-risky places on my cheaper bodies if it makes sense.
In fact, the much better Sony 50mm 1.8 also costs about 150$.
I've recently been hooking up my Olympus as a webcam, through tedious necessity - and of course it took a bit of adapting. I had no idea any mirrorless camera had a standard full-size HDMI port on it.
The G9 and GH5 both have full-size HDMI (the GH4 does with the bottom adapter we all call "the Brick") and lemme tell you: it is a life-changer. Having to balance micro-HDMI (G7, GH4) and mini-HDMI (GH3) cables were bad enough and I look forward to adding more G9's to the kit so I can stop doing it entirely.
Video is a real rabbit hole, though, and not having to spend wild money on video cameras for completely acceptable quality has really helped me out. The way I typically run is that I go from the camera to a Blackmagic HDMI->SDI micro converter, but those top out at 1080p60--which is fine, currently, for stream-first stuff, but I'd like to move to "stream at 1080p, record for YouTube at 4K" as I turn my event production stuff into a real business--so I've added a Blackmagic Quad HDMI capture card that all of these cameras can just throw 4K60 at natively. Of course, SDI cables can run 100 feet and HDMI starts getting mad around 15, so there are baluns in my future, too...it's all weird.
I like my GH4, but for photo it wasn't much better than the G7 and the G7 could shoot 4K60 and was about equivalent (again, for my purposes) when dumping to an external recorder.
The G9 with Firmware 2.0 has almost made the GH5 obsolete, too.
Panasonic's GM series is all but abandoned, and the E-M10 is hardly small compared to a Fuji X-E3 or Canon M50.
To me, that always felt like M43's Achilles heel; it promises to be small and light, yet most kits actually end up just as big as APS-C.
I still love my GM1, though.
This is obviously all nonsense if you're enthusiastic (or professional) enough, but I struggle to bring my camera along as it is.
9-18, 15 f1.7, 45 f1.8 such a tiny tiny kit
The two biggest actual advantages of FF, to my mind, are lower sensitivity to small inhomogeneities in lens glass (but this is not super important) and larger maximum FET capacitor size.
The good astro shots you've seen are probably compositions of multiple photos. That is arguably the only way to get good low-noise shots with any consumer sensor technology, just due to the extremely high dynamic range of the sky and the physical realities of shot noise.
This is a meaningless statement - there are too many free variables you’re ignoring.
How large the pixels are is not all that relevant for how much light can be gathered - the actual physical constraint is (the angle subtended by the sensor & lens * physical aperture diameter)^2.
I've owned three Olympus cameras. The first was a mju-1 compact camera in the early 90s (known as the Stylus in the US - the original one before they added a zoom). This was a remarkably good camera, with a great lens at a nice practical 35mm focal length (like the old Trip line, which I never got to use) in a really stylish body. I sold it a few years later when I really needed the money... The other two have been M43 digitals - an E-PL3 (now in use by my kids), and an E-M5 mark II, which has been my main camera for a few years and which I am very fond of.
It is interesting to me that while phone cameras have improved by leaps and bounds in that period, progress in the M43 space seems much slower.
Why? Most cameras made after 2014 are more than adequate for most non-pro hobbyists. A recent vintage Olympus or Panasonic M43 camera is still pretty competent, and assuming you mean 4/3 by "full four thirds" and not "micro four-thirds", you can always get a mount adapter to use it with an M43 camera. IIRC, the E-M series might work best with the old 4/3 lenses from a focusing perspective though.
I love the stills output (esp the colors) from Oly cameras, but for some reason I don't quite like the handling/ergonomics.
I don't know if it's because I had a Panasonic LX3 way back when, but I find my GM5 way more usable than Olympus E-PL6 from a button and menu perspective. YMMV of course, but my GM5 and GF2 feel much more solid than the Olympus bodies (EPL6 and EP2) I have.
I had a Minolta 7Hi originally - fixed lens, but sophisticated for the time - then Olympus E620 (FT), and then the EM-5 MkII (mFT). So my experience has consistently improved, but isn't very wide.
With FT and mFT cameras, the Olympus menus for a long time (and perhaps still) have an unfortunate default setting of the 'Super Control Panel' being disabled. Almost everyone enables this excellent feature, but that requires some deep diving into the standard menu system, and sometimes some conflicting settings need changing. But (!) once you've done that, I've found navigating the settings & controls to be blissful.
For example, Cosina has a lineup of high quality manual-focus M43 lenses such as the recently released Voigtlander Nokton 60mm f/0.95: http://www.cosina.co.jp/seihin/voigtlander/mft-mount/mft-60m...
One market that hasn't been explored by camera manufacturers is software upgrades. I would pay a fair bit of money to get some of the latest computational photography features on my 5 year old camera.
How much of that is an actual difference in the camera tech and how much of it is subjective perception?
I suspect for things like the two photos you linked to, even the best professional photographers would struggle to tell the type of camera was used to take them. By the time they've gone through a few apps and services and they're being viewed in Google Photos they could have come from a phone, or an M43 camera, or even a high-end medium format dSLR.
I do wildlife photography when I'm not building web stuff (https://www.instagram.com/onion4k/) - that's pretty much impossible with a phone camera simply because you need to a really long focal length for any animals that won't come close to you, but I still see people out in the countryside giving it a try. I often wonder if they're happy with the pictures they take. I suspect they are. For most people photography is about recording the moment more than producing a print quality picture.
The out of focus area is a dead giveaway for anyone who's even remotely into photography. Phones are very good at taking snapshots but they're extremely limited by the sensor size and the fact that the lens has a fixed aperture, no amount of computational photography will solve these physical constraints. You can't escape physics and optics laws
True, and kudos to the photography industry for that. My fully mechanical, analog, 1992 Zenit camera has the same hot shoe flash system and tripod mount as current cameras coming out. With a cheap simple adapter I can also use its original lens on any digital camera.
The Canon EF mount was introduced in 1987 and new cameras are only now ditching it for a new standard to take advantage of new technology, and not for the sake of breaking backwards compatibility and forcing customers to buy the latest and greatest.
It's like having a beat up old 4x4 pickup. It gets the job done, and if you bang it up a bit in the process...oh well.
Pixel 3: https://i.imgur.com/Tl9Qjhj.jpg
Phones are good snapshoters but for everything else a dedicated camera will be superior in every way besides size.
For video recording I found this sony one could only manage an hour on a full charge.
Five year old cameras are likely past the cliff of "too slow "for a lot of feature improvement, though. I have a GH3, a G7, and a GH4, and they all have the same sensor but even the UI on the GH3 runs slower and chunkier. Trying to wedge more stuff into it seems like a bad time.