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Olympus quits camera business after 84 years (bbc.com)
689 points by Element_ 11 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 374 comments

Sad to see them go - photography's such a great hobby and having competition in the space is healthy. There's a few brands out there still, but there is a noticable stigma in the professional community around equipment that isn't Canon. If you're not using L-glass, it feels like you get the same kind of judgement that Android users experience when they show up with green texts in iMessage.

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.

To me, the big monoculture risk is Sony's image-sensor fab. As I understand it, Sony, Fuji, Nikon and many others all rely upon the output of one company's manufacturing process.

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.

Sony's image sensor fab business is a bit different.

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.

Totally agreed, but if that one fab company falls over, much of the imaging industry has a problem. That's the monoculture.

It is even more tenuous than that. If just one of a company's fabs goes down much of the imaging industry will have problems. A few years ago when the earthquake affected Sony's Kumamoto sensor fab it caused some serious issues for some camera vendors. Nikon for example had announced their DL 1" sensor compact line to compete with Sony's 1" sensor cameras and reportedly due to the earthquake they delayed and eventually completely scrapped the project.

Are sensor fabs functionally similar enough to CPU fabs that if China tried to take back Taiwan, or just made it hard for Taiwan to ship chips to the West, the Japanese sensor fabs could retool for chips?

Absolutely not. The lithographies, processes, and packages are completely different. Some sensors are still made on 300nm processes, useless for modern CPUs. 45 nm is considered cutting edge for imaging sensors, but would be a huge setback for computing. Intel, GlobalFoundries and even IBM fabs would be much better.

Sure. But in th he grand scheme of things 45nm is intel core2quads Q9400. My main pc has this cpu and the only thing I miss is not enough ram.

The increase in CPU power doesn't become apparent until you start to use vectorization heavily or use your CPU for floating point-heavy scientific computing.

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.

Well of course hpc can benefit from 13 years of cpu advances. (And gpus). Noting that sse4 was even available on it. My point was we still wouldn't be relegated to stone age if we were stuck on 45nm processes, and we could also benefit from better architectures.

In bigger semiconductor business we have three main fabs. Intel, TSMC, Global Foundries. Intel is closed to outside customers, so again we have a duopoly there.

It's not very very different in the bigger picture if you ask me.

Please correct me if I'm wrong.

Intel offers custom work https://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/foundry/overview.htm...

You forgot Samsung as one of the big fabs.

Thanks for pointing out both. I was not aware of Intel and, I didn't realize that Samsung got that big.

It occurred to me that Kingston probably has its own fab too.

Yeah, but my guess is Kingston's fabs are primarily geared towards Memory (i.e. NAND Flash and RAM) (much like Micron).

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.

Also, Glofo stopped developing cutting edge nodes (7nm or smaller) after AMD had ditched them a couple of years ago. It's now all but a two-horse race between TSMC and Samsung.

Yes - Samsung is a gigantic fab.

That’s a recent development. For most of their history they never did. AFAIK

There are lots of fabs, but not all specialize in techniques used for imagers (like backside illumination). I worked in LCOS and we had one vendor qualified that could produce a shinier metal layer -- something most fabs wouldn't care about, but directly affected our brightness & power consumption.

Two is better than one but more than two is better than both options.

Of course. More fabs means more competition and better robustness across the industry.

In a perfect world, It'd be nice for Nikon to build a fab with the lithography equipment they already produce.

I know that Canon had fabs for their sensors at least back in the day, probably also now.

AFAIK, they still have but, it might not be sufficiently advanced to produce R5's sensor. I'm not sure about the origin of R5's sensor as I said.

Hope their fab lives on.

Agreed. There's also the Fujifilm X-Trans sensors which try to recapture some of the magic of film. However I really wish more people knew about Sigma and their Foveon sensors[1].

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.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foveon_X3_sensor

Unfortunately, real Foveon is a thing of the past, Sigma switched to a Bayer sensor in their latest "fp" camera and their last Foveon-based Quattro had 3 layers but a 4:2:2 pixel mosaic, making it no longer a "true Foveon". I owned SD1 Merrill and it was the sharpest camera I've ever used, but there is nothing comparable on the market these days.

All true. I do hold out hope for a “true” foveon return. And you can still grab Merrill models second hand, like I did about a year ago.

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.

Sigma is/was totally planning to unveil fp with Foveon in CP+ until this January, before COVID-19 hit anyway...

I own and still use a DP2X. When things go right, the result is truly breathtaking. 80 to 90% of the photos I take with this are junk, but the remaining 10-20%, boy-oh-boy, truly memorable results!

I was under the impression that the Foveon sensor had been overtaken by events. Kind of like the Lisp Machines: When it was first introduced its dedicated "no compromises" approach was great, but then the more pedestrian technologies were able to outscale them and they lost their edge.

Some of Nikon's sensors are probably made by Tower Jazz.


Nikon has also used Toshiba in the past but probably 80% of Nikon's DSLR sensors were made by Sony.

The Nikon 1 line, with exception of the J5 (which used Sony's sensor), used sensors made by Aptina.

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.

I don't think its quite accurate to say Canon sensors hold anyone back. Canon photographers continue to win awards, continue to create world-class images, etc, etc. Canon gear is very well represented in the professional photography community. They wouldn't be using the gear if they couldn't get their work done. There are several gear "measurebators" online arguing about base ISO DR and +6EV exposure recovery, who produce nothing with their cameras. We can safely ignore them :)

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 its quite accurate to say Canon sensors hold anyone back. Canon photographers continue to win awards, continue to create world-class images, etc, etc. Canon gear is very well represented in the professional photography community.

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...

Agree. Even with video we're spoiled with tech to the point where it takes hundreds of YouTube channels to explain what the heck the tech does and how to best use it. Reminds of a quote - "We are not limited by our tools, just by our imagination". On a related note, I recently re-watched the original Jurassic Park, and the movie quality still blows me away.

I mean, your same argument could be made for TVs/monitors as well. LG, Samsung and AU Optronics make the vast majority of LCD panels. You could buy an LG or a Vizio with the same LG-fabbed panel. In fact, even Samsung TV has been known to use LG panels:


AU Optronics, InnoLux, Infovision, BOE optoelectronics, IVO, LG - these do laptop panels (also see panelook.com ). There is some competition in TN/IPS. But OLEDs or specialized panel situation may be different.

> Canon makes their own sensors, which are good in absolute but not relative terms, which appears to hold them back in performance

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).

Even with the current sensors it's true: Things like dual-pixel auto-focus has put Canon sensors ahead of the competition for a long time.

(Dual-pixel AF doesn't just give way better AF, it also avoids artifacts from dedicated phase detect pixels that other cameras have.)

True -- as a DSLR-user, with focus happening off-chip, I miss the superior dynamic-range of the Sony sensors more than the DPAF.

If I were making video, I suspect I'd be singing the same tune. DPAF is excellent.

Which TBF hints at the reason Sony does have all of this nice image sensor technology.

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.

Sony does make DPAF capable sensors for phones, but for some reason (probably IP!) they don't use them on their FF cameras.

The wonderful world of patents.

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.)

Not disagreeing, but just to counter your point a bit, the Sony A9 has zero cross type sensors, but it has the best on-sensor PDAF system currently on the market. Conceptually, I totally agree with you that cross type sensors are BETTER than non cross type sensors, and dual cross-type are even BETTER, but its rarely as simple as that in the real world.

"Best on-sensor PDAF system currently on the market" is a non-scientific statement, but I'll certainly agree with you that it's great.

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.

Cross-type has nothing to do with low light or low contrast. Sorry, I don't understand what point you want to make. There are dozens of things that affect focusing, or to be more specific - focusing speed, focusing accuracy, focusing repeatibility, etc. Many of these factors are tied to the lens. 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. STM focus motors are not designed for focusing speed, but they are designed for repeatibility. Also, most low light focusing and low-contrast focusing is hampered because of the high read-noise from the line sensors. 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.

> Cross-type has nothing to do with low light or low contrast.

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...

Sorry, I don't agree with you and there is no point going around in circles. You're arguing "in theory", I'm arguing "in practice". Anyway, good luck.

IIRC, Canon's 1" sensor cameras use Sony sensors too. Don't know if their smaller sensor cameras are home made or not though.

My G3X uses an IMX183 according to a string in the firmware image.

> There's a few brands out there still, but there is a noticable stigma in the professional community around equipment that isn't Canon

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).

>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

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.

Technically, you can get literally any lens except Canon RF and Nikon Z to autofocus on Sony E mount using the LM-EA7 universal autofocus adapter. Though support for long focal lengths is not very good.

Nikon's first mirrorless cameras were announced in 2011, so around the same time as Fuji's X-Pro1.

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.

Nikon 1 hater here. You're not wrong on any of that. They had great technology in even the early models.

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)

It was expensive initially, but prices shot way down when I got my first N1 camera, a J1. I still have a V1 and a J5 in addition to my M43 gear.

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.

I loved the Nikon 1, it was small, light, and fit easily in a small handbag with an extra lens.

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.

Pros love Canon cause their service stomps all over everyone else, the equipment is just the cherry on top. They're more like a partner in someone's business than just a retailer.

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.

Some 10 years ago, they refurbished a PowerShot A75 of mine that my father had bought in 2004. 5 years after fabrication, they identified a couple of batches that had been produced with bad sensors, and the cameras affected died a strange death.

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.

I think in that instance Sony wanted bad sensors back as many as possibly could, maybe to study or to stop any bad reputations. I had the same experience with a Sony camera, they took it and replaced the sensor for absolutely free.

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.

I don't know if it was the same, but this link [0] is full of people describing what the problems with these cameras (and others) were and how Canon managed it. I don't know if Canon used an in-house CCD or if it was from another manufacturer.

[0] https://www.fixya.com/support/t114938-canon_digital_camera_r...

I wish more companies would do this. I get that sdcards, headphones, etc are cheap and have low profit margins, but I've had eg Samsung ask for proof of purchase on an 8gb sdcard only a year after the model/product id was released (2015ish, I think? It had a 5 year warranty; the card came with a device from a friend, so no receipt). Other companies do the same. I can't imagine that warranty fraud is that big of an issue on small things.

> I can't imagine that warranty fraud is that big of an issue on small things.

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...

I've had even better experience with Canon: I bought a second-hand 5D in 2009, and in 2012 the shutter broke. It was well out of warranty, but Canon replaced it for free (all it cost was the postage to them I had to pay).

This is the biggest factor. Canon Professional Services offer extremely good support for their cameras. Nikon Professional Services are good too, but not quite as good as Canon's. And Sony... is lagging very far behind.

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.

> there is a noticable stigma in the professional community around equipment that isn't Canon. If you're not using L-glass, it feels like you get the same kind of judgement that Android users experience when they show up with green texts in iMessage.

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

For consumers, yes, they only focus on cameras/lenses. This isn't true for professionals, who literally earn a livelihood from their cameras. Canon Professional Services will repair and airmail your lens with a next day turnaround (free overnight shipping both ways), they will offer loaner lenses, event support, maintenance and cleaning services, a 24/7 support hotline, etc.

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.

> Canon gets a lot of hate and is looked down because of their mirrorless systems.

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.

Maybe, but your reply only makes my argument stronger, that is that Canon is not the king anymore, as it used to be for DSLRs.

Yes, I am not disagreeing with you. Sony's mirrorless bodies are presently the best and the Sony GM lenses also have the best-in-class image quality, surpassing DSLR lenses. For example the Sony GM 135mm f/1.8 is the sharpest available 135mm lens [1] and the Sony GM 24mm f/1.4 is the sharpest available 24mm lens [2].

Sony's ecosystem also has many amazing third-party lenses. A personal favourite of mine is the Voigtlander Apo Lanthar 65mm f/2.

[1] https://www.lensrentals.com/blog/2019/03/sony-fe-135mm-f1-8-... [2] https://www.lensrentals.com/blog/2019/08/some-new-wide-angle...

Lol just wait for the upcoming two bodies being announced in a few weeks. Canon is going to trash the competition. And the new lenses are unmatched.

Sony also has new bodies being announced in a few weeks and Sony's lens lineup is already unmatched. Even Sigma ART glass beats out most Canon lenses in DXOMark's tests and cost much less.

I seriously doubt you know Canon's lens lineup.

There are far more constructive ways to engage in discussion here than “LOL” at someone’s assertion and denigrating someone else’s knowledge.

I'd say it's certainly more constructive to go actually take a look at Canon's lineup and compare it to Sony. Now is also a good time to start selling any Sony gear you own while it is still worth something before Canon annihilates them in a few weeks.

Canon's lineup is seriously overestimated.

>Especially for Cameras and Lenses that's solely on user's mind.

Tell that to Ken Rockwell!

Wow, that's a name I haven't heard in years!

Yeah he has one of those sites people think about when they talk about the good old days of personal websites with useful info. Though truth be told he always went a bit overboard on the salesmanship angle... but still useful.

His website definitely shaped my early camera decisions.

This is probably going to change when the R5 comes out in July. If the rumors and specs are accurate it's going to be a beast of a camera.

This. The R5, R6. etc. will change the game the same way the Canon 5DmkII did 10 years ago. It is going to be interesting.

Sony is the new king for enthusiasts who spend their time watching youtube videos of pixel peepers trying to see which lens has the highest resolution or which sensor works best at ISO 12800.

for pros, the ruggedness, battery life, support, autofocus of dslrs are still important.

Important to notice: Olympus is not shutting down the camera business, it is split off into a separate entity. While the furture of that needs to be determined, the camera business stays in full operation.

It's funny you say this about Canon, because in the circles of photography I inhabit, everyone shoots Fuji, Sony or film. It's fairly rare to even see a DSLR when I'm out hiking, say. But there's also a whole world of things like the Ricoh GR-1. I think overall photography can be larger than we realize, because most of us only spend time in a few areas of it.

I agree with 90% of your points: competition is healthy and sad to see a company go. The market today is a duopoly, with Canon and Nikon as two pillars of high-end DSLR world.

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.

If you don’t need autofocus, mirrorless and adaptors for old glass are a killer and cost-effective combo. I bought an a7ii and PK and M42 adaptors, and I couldn’t be happier. The body is full-frame, and the flange distance is so small, you can probably adapt any mount to it, with the possible exception of some of the old rangefinder mounts.

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.

Absolutely! I did the exact same - got myself an MD 50 1.4, Vibitar Series 1 70-210, and a Tokina 35-70 2.8, all for under a hundred dollars (!)

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.

They might control the DSLR space, but they certainly hold no candle to Sony, Fujifilm, and co in the mirrorless space. There’s no shortage of extremely high quality lenses there too.

I thought mirrorless cameras were already outselling DSLRs.

> They might control the DSLR space, but they certainly hold no candle to Sony, Fujifilm, and co in the mirrorless space.

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.

Have you seen videos of the Sony a9 Ii? It can autofocus moving subjects and take a picture in a twentieth of a second (!)

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.

I can jog while holding mirrorless in my hand. Exercise + wildlife. Obviously not great for fast motion or shade.

> I thought mirrorless cameras were already outselling DSLRs.

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 wish I could have my Nikon lenses on my Sony (with no compromise)

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.

Metabones doesn't, but Viltrox does. Autofocus is not always very good, though.

Why not go all Sony ? You can share the lenses between your apsc and your full frame.

The problem you still run into with Sony (especially if you're on a budget) is that if you go Nikon or Canon there's decades of used lenses you can pop right on your body and go to town (to at least some level).

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.

True, but if you want to have both full frame and apsc you only need to have 1 set of lenses that natively fits both of your cameras and in the last couple of years Sigma and Tamron has put out so many budget lenses with pretty impressive performance of price is a concern.

If you want a low-end Sony lens you have the option of third party glass. If you want a high end lens you can go with the GM line up that is generally even better than Canon L.

Also, you can just adapt lenses from Canon to Sony.

It's all moving to mirrorless and in this space no one can beat Sony when it comes to lens selection, autofocus and price. Nikon, Sigma, Panasonic and Cannon have switched to new mounts for their mirrorless lines so obviously there isn't allot of native lenses yet.

Sony's A7 lineup seems to even be starting to take a large bite out of the high end DSLR market. I wouldn't be surprised to see them overtake Nikon soon.

In terms of new units sold as far as high end cameras, I'm fairly sure Sony has passed Nikon since a good while.

> There's a few brands out there still, but there is a noticable stigma in the professional community around equipment that isn't Canon

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?

-Oh, it is about more than just quality - say, a pro DSLR should be able to double as a hammer if you need to drive in a few nails to hang your backdrop from. Also, autofocus should be instantaneous, and should be able to lock on a bat in a coal mine. (It is a bonus if the high-ISO performance of the sensor is capable of freezing said bat in flight using only natural light.)

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!)

For me, the biggest questions are: Can I leave the camera powered on, always? and Can I handle it effectively with gloves on in the snow?

Those two questions drive as much of my camera choice as do technical concerns.

I have a Nikon dSLR that seizes up electrically if left with 70-300 VR attached for weeks. Fixes itself if left with a fresh battery and an 18-55.

I wonder how often that will happen with other brands like Alpha.

I used to have a Canon 40D with a 17-40/4 and later a 17-55/2.8. That camera would only be off when the battery was in the charger. Never had any problem whatsoever.

I can personally handle my A7ii with gloves, but no you can't always leave it on. I mean, you can, but not for much more than two or three hours.

I realize that I'm moving the goalposts a little -- here in Washington, gloves in the snow means soggy softshell gloves. Over time, my 6D has continued to build my trust that I can operate everything that needs operation when my gloves are squishy.

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.

Huh, it's funny. I didn't know this either as someone who only dabbles. The only reason I bought Canon is that the community has aftermarket firmware.

Honestly, I wouldn't buy Nikon or Pentax or whatever just because no aftermarket firmware.

Sony doesn't have aftermarket firmware but the firmware up to the A7ii has been hacked so you can run Android apps and control the camera that way. As far as photography is concerned there's no need for flashed firmware beyond that.

Have you got a link for more info on the hacked firmware? Hadn’t heard of it before. Thanks!


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.

Oh wow, I had no idea this existed. Interesting, I have a RX100m3 and A6000 that can probably run it. On my RX10m4, they removed the apps feature, which I think was probably a good move for Sony despite restricting the feature set - they are really clunky to use (each app takes over the camera and has its own set of settings, takes ages to start up etc.) and the functionality they provide would make more sense either built into the firmware or as a phone app.

There are a few projects on Github wrapping the API which the PlayMemories mobile app uses (so you can take photos, access the viewfinder etc), which may be of interest to some: https://github.com/Bloodevil/sony_camera_api for example (I’ve not tried any of these)

Oh interesting, thanks for sharing that.

Past a certain price point, kit from any brand delivers photos and photographic performance that one would have a hard time finding technically wrong or inferior to that of another brand. So by all accounts, we should see a lot of variety in the cameras and lenses that are used professionally.

However, take a look at articles like this[0] 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.

[0]: https://www.shutterbug.com/content/battle-canon-vs-nikon-sup...

For professionals, a lot of that selection also comes down to serviceability. When Sony started gunning for more of the professional market with the A9 they had to up their service game and it’s still considered lacking.

Bingo.. having used Canon service quite a few times they are just fantastic at that part.

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.

> you lose your muscle memory switching to a camera with a different control layout.

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.)

As someone who recently switched to Sony from Canon; I don't recall ever having to 'learn' the menu layout with Canon. It was just pretty obvious. I'm 100% sure that I never read the user manual and I never googled how to find anything in the menus.

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).

It's not subtle stuff either.

For instance, zoom rings on Canon and Nikon lenses go opposite directions; exposure compensation dials go opposite directions etc.

A lot of my friends from school were photo students, and Canon was far and away the platform that they were taught on, as well. Some did shoot on Nikon cameras as a matter of personal preference, but almost all of the school's gear was Canon (until you got to specialized stuff like Hasselblad medium-format cameras).

Almost all photojournalists I knew used Canon (70%) or Nikon (30%) exclusively up until 5 or so years ago.

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?

Are the lenses not compatible between cameras?

They are, but not perfectly. You can buy smart adapters that let you use Canon, Nikon or Minolta lenses on Sony, though the first two are not perfect for all lenses.

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.

They are not. An explanation here https://photo.stackexchange.com/questions/57625/can-i-use-ca...

Short version: optical physics, proprietary link for autofocus, capability differences

This could be like mortar tubes - the country with the biggest tube can more-or-less fire anyone’s mortar rounds but you can't fire theirs.

This is somewhat the case. The camera with the shortest flange distance can use lenses from any other camera given your ability to reverse engineer the protocol.

Funny you mention that...

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.

When I was in journalism, one of the city's big newspapers shot all on Nikon gear, and the other big newspaper shot all on Canon gear. Anything else, and you were a blogger.

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.

I agree with you, Canon and Nikon seem like the "Costco" brands so maybe while he pointed them out. But Sonys mirrorless are top of the industry. Fujifilm has great cameras. And you cant forget Leica

Leica is using Sony sensors, so them as a selection is mostly for the name and aesthetic. The UI is more limited and shooting RAW negates anything to do with “color science” selections for the default in-camera JPG encoders.

They are not using Sony sensors. They are using CMOSIS sensors (which has been acquired by ams).

Fujifilm, Nikon, and Panasonic are using Sony sensors, however.

- Each company has unique glass. - Each company has unique physical control schemes and software UX. - Color profiles allow you to apply the color science to RAW files. Some apps will automatically apply the color profile you select while shooting when you are processing later.

My response was addressing the perennial partisan quips that brand loyalists in the camera scene have about preferring one brand’s color science over another. I’m basically saying it’s moot if you shoot raw because your color grading can be as wild as your dreams in post. Unless you’re a live journalist, you probably should be shooting raw.

-Name, aesthetic and UI. Rangefinder cameras do have their purpose still - being able to see what is going on outside the frame is a great aid, as is its ease of focusing in low light.

And, to a lesser extent now that mirrorless cameras are a thing - their unobtrusiveness.

> Leica is using Sony sensors

Do you have a source for that? As far as I remember they have been very secretive about their sensor supply chain.

Some Leicas use CMOSIS, others used Sony sensors. In any case, Sony makes the best sensors by a mile.

Sony and Panasonic have really strong offerings if you primarily do video, but i think the vast majority of people who take photographs for a living still use Canon and Nikon.

Maybe it depends on the industry? I've dabbled part-time, almost went full-time. Photographers were intrigued I used a Fuji, but they didn't care beyond that. Clients didn't care either as long as you delivered results.

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.

How come you didn't go into pro photography full-time? What did you do instead? Any downsides to using Fuji ecosystem?

I was a fashion photographer. I lived in a small market. To take the "next step" I would've needed to move to NYC or another big market. Also, I was getting paid a lot in my day-job to make that type of sacrifice. And it wasn't like I hated my day-job. I'm also risk adverse and not in my 20's to make that huge leap in my life. I also hustled hard and got burnt out. I stopped and started phasing out my clients.

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.

Of course, they are all almost equal, and lately Sony has really been killing it, though the others are getting good at mirrorless too.

No-one who's serious about photography will stigmatize you for the gear you're using. All modern cameras and lenses are more than good enough.

But a lot of people who self-identify as being serious about photography will stigmatize you for the gear you're using.

Indeed. What usually happens is that trends develop for photos that can only be taken using expensive gear. So for example, when I was a kid and everyone was shooting "full frame", no-one gave too much of a toss about background blur -- beyond the obvious fact that some (easily achievable) degree of it is often useful for softening distracting backgrounds. Now people obsess over paper thin DoF because it's a sign of expensive gear. I suspect it will go out of fashion again in a few years, once smartphones perfect computational blurring.

>> I was a kid and everyone was shooting "full frame"

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.

I meant 35mm film.

And it was still looked down on by the medium and large format photographers!

35mm film already affords you the very maximum in light gathering and blur, though. The kit lens used to be 50 1.8 or 1.4, which really is pretty much the amount of background blur people are looking for today. You didn't complain about lack of aperture or blur because you already had what people today are looking for.

Even medium format and large format had pretty much the same amount of background blur and low-light performance, just at a higher resolution.

Yes, but the point is that people rarely if ever used that level of background blur, as it wasn't trendy to, e.g., take portraits where only one eyelash is in focus.

Really? Because even really old portraits had huge amounts of background blur: https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/proxy/aU4oh69TPgC0JrujNVvk... for example.

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.

People today shoot and chimp, which was impossible back in the day. If you wanted a preview, you needed to have a polaroid around.

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.

Ah, ok, I wasn't sure if you were and oldster like me or a youngling who grew up in the digital FF era.

Yes, and anything less expensive is “a toy”.

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.

Sounds like web development.

Just like audiophiles, I can guarantee they're not professionals.

That attitude shows up in any domain where one can feel like they belong in the top tier of "knowledge".

You could just as well be talking about preferences in operating systems, barbecue sauce, coffee, diets or web frameworks.

Yeah, just hop on over to DPReview's forums or Reddit's r/photography sub and read some of the threads.

I just do analog, but isn't mirrorless the trend right now? All my friends who got into digital photography are using Fuji/Sony/Olympus setups now. Canon/Nikon took years to produce competition there and I really still haven't heard much about them, they seemed pretty underwhelming.

I love my Fuji gear and I think I get great results with it, but I'm an amateur and while some of it is fantastic by any measure (e.g. the 50-140mm f2.8), I think the performance of the bodies falls short of the higher-end Nikon/Canon/Sony gear, and there seems to be less diversity in high-end lenses with optical performance comparable to the one I mentioned.

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. :(

I will be so sad if the same thing happens to Fujifilm. Hopefully they have carved out a sustainable niche by focusing on APS-C.

They have a diversified set of revenue sources, including pharmaceuticals and makeup (https://www.fujifilm.com/products/skincare/). Their medium-format cameras are also doing very well from what I've heard on Youtube. I also heard the Angry Photographer (Ken Wheeler) say they are coming out with a theX-H2 next year.

It seems FujiFilm will be competing in the ASP-C market for a long while.

> 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.

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.)

Although full-frame DSLRs from Canon and Nikon are still the most versatile cameras for the widest range of shooting subjects and have the biggest systems, I'm not at all sure I'd get started with them today. I use my Fujifilm mirrorless far more because it's far more packable and it's at least "good enough" for most purposes. (And, to be honest, I spend more time shooting with my iPhone than either.)

A know a lot of wildlife photographers who prefer DSLRs. I shoot birds and wildlife as a hobby and I much prefer a glass viewfinder to the electronic viewfinder on mirrorless because there's still some lag, despite manufacturer claims to the contrary. Maybe in 5-10 years.

> it feels like you get the same kind of judgement that Android users experience when they show up with green texts in iMessage.

Is this a real thing? Do people actually care about that?

I've been called out in a group dinner invite for having a green bubble, but they may have been joking. I'm really curious where the concept originates; my guess is some supremely subtle submarine social influencer targeting by Apple marketing.

To the extent it really did exist as not a joke it was mostly misplaced ire that should have been directed at Verizon, which didn't support regular text messages larger than 160 characters for far longer than was reasonable. (Every other carrier figured it out in the flip phone era.)

Oh yeah. Lens snobbery is definitely a thing.

> but there is a noticable stigma in the professional community around equipment that isn't Canon

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.

Nikon’s commitment to backwards compatibility is incredible. I can use my father-in-law’s Nikon lens from 1970s on my D3400.

Edit: manual only if that isn’t obvious

You can actually use Nikon F-mount lenses dating all the way back to 1959 on modern Nikons. Truly incredible.

Only on the higher-end bodies. You pretty much need to be using a modern AF-S lens on the 3XXX and 5XXX bodies, between the focus drive and the meter coupling, and pre-AI won't work without modification on the 7XXX.

Good point. My first Nikon was a D60, and at the time I had a very cool older 50mm. I had to manual focus, which was actually fun, but no metering would be tough. That combo took some great pictures though.

I see photography gear and companies as more diverse than when I first started getting into the hobby 10 years ago. Maybe I just didn't see other companies, but when I got into it, only Nikon and Canon were doing prosumer DSLRs. Now that technology has moved on and DSLRs aren't the One True Camera, I would say that Sony, Pentax, Canon, Fuji, Olympus and Nikon are all squarely in the prosumer market with a good range from low to high end. I sold all my Canon bodies and L glass to switch to the Sony mirrorless ecosystem, and haven't looked back once.

> I always saw Canon as a large conglomerate who tacked on photography as another arm of their company

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.

The irony of that statement is that Nikon is part of the biggest conglomerate family in the world (Mitsubishi), while Canon is mostly still a camera company.

> .. there is a noticeable stigma in the professional community around equipment that isn't Canon

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.

> If you're not using L-glass

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.

When digital cameras first came out everyone thought tech would take over. Then everyone realized the things that mattered about analog photography held true with digital. Lens tech trumped all. That only goes so far though. The giants now are those that had enough of a foot in both. Nikon has their optics, but they're also a major player in lithography. Sony has their Zeiss relationship, but they're also huge into tech otherwise. Keiretsu are neat. No reason to mourn here. Olympus is still big in medical imaging among other things. But even that will probably be Sony in the near future.

I don't have anything constructive to add, but this struck me as too funny not to share:

> 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

Odd. I have been shooting Canon professionally for three decades and have always felt that Nikon was the prestige brand. Much of the Nikkor glass is crazy good.

The advantage of cannon and Sony is that they are conglomerates and have the resources to develop new tech in-house. With the transition to digital that burden is high for the independents so they’re always playing catch up. If I were buying today I’d likely buy Sony (or perhaps canon), I don’t see a future for the rest.

That said I think Canon and Nikon had some kind of IP agreements and shared some technologies, or I may be wrong.

Nikok does have agreements with Sony to manufacture their sensors with some of their tech.

This must be a pretty localized experience since so many professionals I see use Nikon, Canon, and Sony in sport, wedding, and product shoots. I would even say the opposite-the only judgement I had for camera brand was from a Nikon pro when I was renting a Sony because he knew I already owned Nikon-he tried to make sure I wasn’t considering a switch.

I somehow always had the feeling that serious photographers use Canon and Nikon to a lesser measure for professional work but a lot use fuji for fun :)

Olympus will certainly be remembered for at least one thing:

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. "


For those curious how Tobashi Schemes work https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tobashi_scheme

One thing to notice is: Olympus is NOT shutting down the camera business. It gets split off the Olympus coproration and is supposed to run as an independant company. Of course that could mean a later death, but it can also mean that it continues to prosper as management might take new directions.

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.

I think a lot depends on how well they can keep up with the sensor technology. Sony seems to have the market cornered on that front.

Quite a few of the Olympus sensors are made by Sony. At any time, they could pick up some money and just ask Sony to give them a new sensor design. This is one hope I have, that after the split-off, new money is invested in updating the sensors.

IIRC, right around the time Oly switched from Panny to Sony sensors, they made an agreement to share tech/patents, which I think included Oly's multi-axis IBIS.

That's a legitimate shame for open standards. M43 has its proponents and critics, but either way it is rare to see a somewhat successful multi-vendor standard in photography that actually worked.

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.

M43 for those that don't know is "micro 4/3" is a format of interchangeable lens for cameras across multiple manufacturers (although pretty much just Panasonic and Olympus). Nikon canon and sony have their own lines of lenses. Its better than a point and shoot, but not as good as a full size SLR (single lens reflex) camera.


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.

At this point M43 is, in my neck of the woods, basically a video format anyway. I do on-site videography (my schtick being "we can run a four-camera live show from anywhere I've got Ethernet and power") and all my cameras are M43 because they hit a great spot on the price/quality curve. (Sony's APS-C cameras are very respectable too, but the glass is pricey.)

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.

They're cheap! You can pretty easily get an olympus body for 2-300 bucks and a m43 lens also pretty cheap. The panasonic 25mm for example is usually around $100-150.

That all sounds big until you realize an a7 body is like minimum $1000.

They're definitely cheap, but so are the Panasonics, like the G7. What I'm saying is that I don't know what Olympus brings to the table given that they're more photo-forward, but not really much better than the Panasonic cameras, and much worse for video.

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.

What Olympus brought was in-body image stabilisation. Panasonics never had it (maybe they do now? I haven't been paying attention lately) and it makes all the difference if your thing is photography with just any lens that will fit.

That makes a lot of sense now that I think about it. The G7 and later have Panasonic's newest lens stabilization stuff with compatible lenses but you don't see IBIS until you go up to the S1 full-frame, which costs as much as everybody else's full-frame and the lens selection isn't great so you might as well go buy a Sony A7-of-some-flavor.

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.

You might want to check the IBIS specs for the G9 and GH5. No need to go up to the S1 line.

Huh, the G9 has IBIS? I’ve never even stopped to look. My cameras (except the G7 when on vacation) live on tripods. But thanks!

Ha ha, quite the discovery seeing as your other comments reveal you own and shoot with one :-)

On a tripod. ;) Truth be told I bought it for HFR video, a bit better exposure/image quality so I don’t have to light myself in the face quite so hard, and because of the full-size HDMI port. The rest is gravy!

G7 has IBIS, it's only 2 axis however (and not that great...)

I've never used a non-Power OIS lens with the G7 off a tripod, so I guess I'd never notice.

> What Olympus brought was in-body image stabilisation.

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.

The G9 has IBIS. And the GH5. And dual OIS in conjunction with panasonic lenses.

A little steep on the body. A7ii with kit lense is ~1000.

Never used an Olympus, never understood the point of one.

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.

I use M43 cameras all the time, I'm very familiar with its lenses and the sensor and its capability. I used to own a LUMIX GM5 (which went really well with a 12-32mm), which is smaller than any Olympus camera I've ever seen. I still have trouble understanding the value prop of Olympus, specifically, in the M43 space over Panasonic.

(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.)

> The Olympus cameras are extremely capable, yet small in size.

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.

No, the advantage did not evaporate with the A7. Yes, the body of an A7 is pretty close to the mFT counterparts - though for a really tiny body look at the E-M10 and the E-M5, these are a step smaller than the Sony.

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.

It's true that on the long end 35mm full-frame lenses are significantly larger and heavier than micro-four thirds lenses. However, most people don't shoot extremely long lenses most of the time (and when they do they can afford to use a lighter f4 lens because larger sensors have better noise peformance). Compare Tamron 28-75 f2.8 for Sony E mount (550 g) with Olympus 12-40 f2.8 (382 g). That's only 168 g (44%) more for a lens that lets in >3.5x more light. If you wanted to take portraits with very shallow depth of field with Olympus (possible with the Tamron lens), you would have to buy a dedicated prime (and one could always find a brighter prime, often for a used one for much less money in the 35mm full-frame world).

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.

While the high price of an A7 probably slowed new customers rushing to Sony over Olympus I think the primary reason customers stuck with Olympus was "vendor lock-in" with lens mounts. People likely bought multiple m43 mount lenses to go with their Olympus or Panasonic. A customer would be more likely to buy another one of these brands if they had an existing lens collection over switching to the A7.

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.

Yeah, much more than body prices for me has been lens prices.

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.

A 25mm f1.7 M4/3 lens is equivalent to a 50mm f/3.5 lens. Which costs about as much on a FF body - as part of a zoom lens.

In fact, the much better Sony 50mm 1.8 also costs about 150$.

Not very familiar with video - what M43 camera do you use for that?

My three primary cameras right now are a LUMIX G9 (newest, the recent firmware upgrades put it on par with the GH5 for what I do and it has a full-size HDMI port which matters a lot), a GH4, and a G7; my off-cam/desk webcam is now my oldest camera, which is a GH3. The latter three all have the same sensor but the GH3 is a lot slower and has worse dynamic range and internal processing.

Gosh, this is educational. I've always assumed (as a happy Olympus user) that m43 was mostly a photography format, and video people were all using Canons.

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.

I know some Canon video people, and they definitely have a reason to do that at the "big" end (C100 and up): the Canon autofocus stuff is the real deal. But I don't shoot dynamic environments for video--I run video game events and mostly shoot static angles (players, commentary, the venue, etc.). In my realm--not film, but video--what I see on the high end are Sony A7's and Blackmagic Pocket Cinemas (the 4K is M43, the 6K is EF-mount), with a lot of LUMIXes and a few (very few) Canon mirrorlesses. Some people use Fujis they already own for photo stuff. Nikon does not exist.

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.

Probably the Panasonic GH Series.

There isn't a ton of value to the GH series for what I do, which is more video than film--I mostly shoot video game events (and I've been running a ton of them remotely since COVID started at https://twitch.tv/tracecomplete -- only need one camera for that, though!).

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.

But where are those small cameras?

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.

It is pretty small, especially when you look at lenses. When I go on short vacations, I can fit my M43 Olympus and three lenses into the same carry-on backpack I simultaneously pack all my clothing, electronics and bathroom accessories in. I've owned an APS-C before, and realistically speaking you'll have to pay extra for check-in luggage and wait at baggage claim if you're going to bring such a camera.

This is obviously all nonsense if you're enthusiastic (or professional) enough, but I struggle to bring my camera along as it is.

Aren't Fuji & APS-C lenses still bigger than equivalent M43?

9-18, 15 f1.7, 45 f1.8 such a tiny tiny kit

That's only true when comparing lens-less cameras, which isn't that meaningful when lenses are required to use the body. An X-E3 with lens isn't a similar size to an E-M10.

I think what happened is that larger sensors became cheaper, and companies also realized that people who buy dedicated cameras are willing to pay for them. Personally, I shoot Fuji, and it's fantastic, but when I compare astro stuff between something like a Sony A7sii to my Fuji shots, the result is much cleaner due to the lower noise. It only really matters for astrophotography, but since I don't want to invest tens of thousands into multiple systems, it pushes me towards full frame.

It's not as simple as "FF has lower noise". There's a reasonable argument that once you factor in everything, most sensor size differences come out in the wash. In the case of low-light performance, you have situations like: APS-C + 35mm f/1.4 ~ FF + 50mm f/2. Yeah, you need a larger aperture in f-stop terms for equivalent optical properties, but the cost of that is probably offset by the cost of APS-C lenses being otherwise cheaper (having a narrower optical path).

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.

I am already stacking the shots, as are the photographers I'm comparing to. It is also objectively true that noise is lower on FF cameras, specifically at higher ISO. You can see many comparisons of this online. The A7sii has larger pixels that gather more light compared to either the A7rii or an APS-C sensor.

> It is also objectively true that noise is lower on FF cameras, specifically at higher ISO.

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 been happily using my Panasonic G3 for years for hiking/backpacking/skiing. The key features for me are the small weight and size of the body and lenses, and the electronic viewfinder. I've been thinking about upgrading the body recently, but all the newer G series are much bigger and heavier, and the GF and GX series don't have a viewfinder. What's the best choice for me in the M43 world? (Or which system should I look at instead?)

This is actually news to me... I bought a M43 camera a couple years ago because I thought it was a standard with staying power and a healthy ecosystem of lenses and bodies from many manufacturers. Is Panasonic the only one still producing M43 gear? I thought Fuji did as well, unless they decided to ditch it, too. I'd be upset if the standard disappeared!

I think only Panasonic and Olympus make M43 bodies, so effectively yes, Panasonic is now the only one - though there are a few other companies making lenses still. The bodies are presumably going to be the more difficult thing to replace. I have a number of M43 lenses, and I'm concerned about how long I'll be able to use them for - it's not like the simple manual-focus lens days of old when you mostly just needed the right thread adapter.

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.

IIRC, Kodak and a couple of Chinese mfgs (Mi and I believe Yong Nuo has announced an M43 in a smartphone like form factor) also produced some bodies and lenses in the past decade, although I wouldn't put them in same class as Oly or Panny in terms of build and/or handling.

I'm in a similar situation! I still use my trusty GF1 which is by far the best camera I have owned and I wanted to eventually upgrade and bring my lenses that I accumulated over the years with me. Olympus had a solid m43 lineup back when I last checked. I was always a little frustrated how some vendors just started their own mirrorless, fragmenting the business. Its a shame and I am afraid to what will happen with m43.. its a shame if it goes, it is still a world better than cell phone cameras and it is so much more convenient than full frames.

I bought myself a GF1 when I hit 1 year at my first job out of college, so it holds a very special place in my heart.

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.

I got one better: i sank $2k into a full four thrids lens a while back (the f2.0 zoom; its still worth every penny). I've been wondering about finding a new sensor to put behind that, if i have to embrace the suck of adapters anyway, what should i be looking for now? Seems like "any Cannon" is the only sensible answer.

> Seems like "any Cannon" is the only sensible answer.

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.

Actually, this might be the time to pick up a fire-sale Olympus...

What do you want to do that you can not do now?

I'd like to get video using the lens; for stills the current olympus e3 its paired with is still pretty good.

I'm an Olympus user / fan - but my understanding is that Panasonic made the better video bodies. I suspect one generation back would have some highly competent video capabilities are very reasonable prices now.

> my understanding is that Panasonic made the better video bodies.

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've held a friend's Panasonic, but that's as close as I've come to one - never used it, navigated menus, etc.

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.

There are still several companies making lenses for the system.

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...

There’s a lot of 3rd party lenses of various quality as well as some cheap cameras. I think DJI has a drone with M43 mount too?

m43 is a strategic mistake. There's not enough differentiation from smartphones.

Photography is one of those areas where devices don't go obsolete very quickly. With a good lens from 50 years ago I can still take an excellent photo on a digital camera from 15 years ago. Sure you won't have all the bells and whistles of the latest cameras and you'll sacrifice a few stops of dynamic range but for the average hobby photographer that doesn't really matter. The only customers who will upgrade every few years are professionals and Olympus hasn't had a huge offering for professionals. The micro four thirds standard is a great compromise between size and picture quality but it isn't what most professionals are looking for. They can use a phone for most of the things that an Olympus camera is good for and everyone these days already has a phone on them.

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.

Man, I hate this phone analogy. Every shot I take with M43 looks nothing like anything taken with a phone. I just took these shots a couple days ago, for an example. There's no way you get anything close to this with a phone.


Every shot I take with M43 looks nothing like anything taken with a phone.

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.

> How much of that is an actual difference in the camera tech and how much of it is subjective perception?

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

Which is true, but very few professionals would use a Micro four-thirds camera to take these type of photo over a DSLR.

No offence but I’m guessing you haven’t taken many photos with an iPhone 11 Pro.

Even 50mm isn't close enough for me. And fake bokeh looks terrible even when it works. Absolutely amazing for what it is, but it's not replacing my camera.

Yes, big lens means a lot. And today they have a nasty trend of using software enhancements and machine learning. I took an aerial photo from a small airplane using Sony smartphone built-in camera app. It postprocesed trees so badly that I never used this builtin app again. I am using OpenCamera and it is "ok enough for a smartphone". And funny thing is they are very proud of this postprocessing, saying you lose their secret keys after you unlock bootloader and this magic will stop working. Soon more and more of the photo will be fake, just computed/guessed by the software. Quite sad IMO.

> Photography is one of those areas where devices don't go obsolete very quickly.

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.

Moreover, EF is still supported through an R adaptor. They're completely backward compatible.

Yep. I throw 30-40 year old lenses on my 10 year old E-PL1 and go out and just have fun with photography. I never worry about taking it out on the beach, or on a boat, or any other place that cameras die. If it dies...I just pick up another one cheaply and continue having fun, and because I'm not as concerned about it, I take it places and get shots that others don't.

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.

I'd argue that cameras don't really ever go obsolete, given the artistic nature of photography (as long as you can get the image out of the camera and onto a medium). Any great photo that you've ever admired was take on either previous or current generation gear.

In my eyes a camera is obsolete as soon as the average phone can take a photo as good. My parents got a $300 sony camera recently but other than zoom, I just can't see why you would carry it around when your phone takes the same photo.

15 years old camera with 50 years old glass: https://i.imgur.com/lcVh2dc.jpg

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.

I assume some $300 range cameras has sensor that same (or less) size to $600 smartphones.

They are almost entirely pointless in my opinion I'm not sure why they even sell low end cameras anymore. The only potential benefit I see is the software allows a lot more manual control but it also doesn't have as good automatic improvements that phone software has.

Even though a sensor is poor, it has better form factor, better zoom, and it's dedicated device.

The battery typically lasts for weeks. This is something we cannot say at all for phones...

Well I already have my phone charged at all times. I guess it might be a benefit if you have to take photos all day but in that case you would be investing in a much better camera than this consumer level one.

For video recording I found this sony one could only manage an hour on a full charge.

Panasonic pushed a ton of features to the G9 (my current top-end camera) that make it very competitive with the GH5 for video, so they seem to have gotten some religion on that front.

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.

Sony appears more like Apple supporting older bodies with firmware updates which is unfortunate for Canon and Nikon owners. The Canon R / RP are pretty much dead products after one year due to lack of upgrades, but pretty much the same attitude holds true for even there pro 1D bodies. I think few factor this in before buying since just don't know.

Yes, the older A7s getting eye autofocus and advanced PDAF for adapted lenses being trickled out was pretty cool.

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