So mirrorless full frame cameras are now going to be a common thing. Sony has had most of the headlines in this category for the last couple of years. Leica has long made mirrorless full frame cameras too, but they are a very high cost device and their announcements for reasons of price and also features have been muted. I personally have been waiting to see what Nikon and Canon announce as at this point I really do prefer the full size 35mm image capture either film or digital to other sizes. Why, it is what I am most used to and also seems to work best.
Last Spring I rented a Sony A7riii with a Zeiss 55mm f1.8. At the time I was not thrilled with this camera except for it’s images. When I rented the camera they did not include an operators manual (even though I likely would not have read it) and I found it quite confusing even though I have had four compact Sony’s and the menu system is similar to the A7.
I blundered along using the A7riii for a day and of course used it in the most harsh condition of full sun mid day. But I did get a few shots of subjects I had taken with other cameras and found the jpegs from the Sony to be excellent. I only shot jpeg and did not do anything but shoot in aperture priority. This was before I bought a Nikon D750 and was used to the weight and size of a D5500. I found the Sony to be heavy and hard to hold. But then for a month after I got the 750 I found it heavy and hard to hold. Since I used this A7riii there is a Sony A7iii that is cheaper than the r model. But now we are down to 24 mega pixels and not up at the r’s 42.
My overall impression of the Sony was good and not so good. The images looked very good when I figured out how to operate the computer, oh I mean camera. But I am sure I would learn how to operate it just like I figured out how to use a MacBook after 20 years with Windows. What I might not get used to is the grip. Not nearly as nice as my Nikon D5500 or D750. But then my favorite camera is an Olympus OM2n which has no grip at all. The Oly is just a flat case like the Leica M’s.
Nikon had their somewhat low key intro for the Z6 & Z7 just over a week ago. I still have not held one in my hand as is the case with nearly every other prospective buyer. But a fairly big number of youtube personalities have and like almost every news caster today spins their opinions in lots of different directions. To me the main reasons to get mirrorless over a DSLR is that you get an EVF and WYSIWYG (What you see is what you get) plus much improved video ability. I like WYSIWYG. It is very useful so see what you are going to get in a viewfinder before you take the shot. This is one of the main reasons cell phones are so popular for photos and video. It is easy to get great shots if you know what you are going to get before and when you are taking it. Plus good video ability. My two Nikon DSLR’s are hard to use for video so I don’t. I use my iPhone.
Pros of the Nikon Z’s
- Looks like a typical easy to hold camera body like my existing two Nikons
- My Nikon glass adapts easily to these cameras
- I have had very good experience with Nikon. Their cameras have been very reliable
- Touch screen has full control of menu settings. This is a big deal. I have that on my Nikon D5500 and it is very fast and easy to adjust settings. However, my Nikon D750 has marked dedicated buttons for major functions like ISO and Image quality. The buttons make up somewhat for the fact the 750 screen is not a touch screen. Sony’s screen is not a full featured touch screen. Sony’s buttons are not marked. That means I have to assign the functions and remember where I set them. Overall I would have to say that Nikon’s choice to go with full featured touch screen on the Z’s is the best one. Sony’s the worst.
- Nikon introduces a good working inexpensive adapter for Nikon’s F mount lenses.
- Nikon comes out with 3 lenses that are relatively small and relatively well priced with new cameras.
- Very good set of video specs. From the video I watched on youtube last night it seems like the video focus works quite well as does the stills focus. But so does Sony.
- Z7 has basic ISO of 64. The best of any of the new mirrorless full frames.
- The bodies are smaller and lighter than my D750. But so are the other new mirrorless full frames.
- High resolution EVF
Cons of the Nikon Z’s
- One card slot and the one card is not SD. My D750 has two SD card slots. I like two slots.
- Screen does not fully articulate like my D5500. In fact it is exactly like my D750.
- New lenses are high priced. Why does the new 50mm f1.8 cost more than my recent 50mm f1.4?
- Z7 more costly than D850 which is the king of DSLRs at the moment. If you don’t care about video the 850 seems like a better buy.
- No built in flash. I have one on my D750 and it works very well.
Canon announced their full frame mirrorless EOSR a few days ago. Orders can be placed this week and deliveries very shortly after that. I have never owned a Canon camera so my comments are just armchair ones. I would like to say that my sister has had Canon for years and is happy with it. My son who is a professional camera man for movies and TV has both a Canon 5Diii and a Sony A7s. He likes Canon. He likes Leica lenses better.
Pros for Canon
- Canon has a habit of making cameras that work well without problems.
- 30 mega pixels vs 24 for Sony and Nikon (The lower Sony and Nikon)
- Fully articulated screen
- Touch screen
- Inexpensive adaptor seems to work very well with Canon legacy glass
- Made in Japan
Cons for Canon
- One card slot
- 4K video is cropped
- No high megapixel option
- Two of the new lenses are huge. Small size is one of the major benefits of mirrorless and huge lenses defeat that. Those two lenses are also very expensive.
Panasonic has made it their speciality to make excellent mirrorless mirrorless micro 4-3rds cameras that are known for their video capability. They have indicated that they will announce a full frame camera in a few weeks. Since good video is one of the prime reasons to go mirrorless this might be a dark horse winner.
Olympus has made a very popular line of micro 4-3rds cameras along with Panasonic the last ten years. In the past Olympus has introduced some very innovative cameras. The OM line of 35mm film cameras offered a very capable 35mm body that was smaller and lighter than the competition. The XA compact film 35mm camera was a miracle of miniaturization for full frame image size in a pocket camera. The EM5 digital camera of 2012 started the trend of making retro digital cameras with in body stabilization, advanced video, and a high quality lens line. So anything could happen from these guys.
Fuji has been rumored to be introducing a larger than full frame sensor rangefinder camera at Foto Kina in Germany later this month. Prices for the body are supposed to be in the $3,000 – 3,300 range. If so that could sway Z7 and A7riii buyers to look at the Fuji. We will have to wait for announcements to see how all the Panasonic, Olympus, and Fuji cameras turn out.
If you need a camera today you need to buy a Sony. And that might not be such a bad idea. They have three mirrorless models and also the A 99 which is mirrorless but different. Sony now has a very good lineup of lenses for zoom or prime buyers. And with an adaptor you can easily use the older Minolta AF lens line at a much lower price point. I have a number of pieces of Minolta glass and can tell you that some of it is excellent. I would put my Sigma/Minolta 50mm f2.8 macro up against any comparable lens for sharpness. And Sony is a huge company that has the resources to forge ahead with new models. They currently also have a line of excellent crop sensor cameras that use the same E mount.
For Nikon and Canon I would say that if you have Nikon or Canon lenses now that you should likely stick with that brand and go with mirrorless if you plan to do both stills and video. If you are going to mostly shoot stills I would stick with DSLR’s. Two of my friends bought Canon full frames recently at very good prices. I bought a D750 because Nikon made me an offer I did not want to refuse. And sticking with a DSLR means you can use the existing lines of glass new and used without adapters and at much lower price points than any of the mirrorless full frames. I came very close to preordering one of the Nikon bodies the first day. But then I just decided it would be better to hold one in my hands and maybe even rent one before buying. I suspect the Nikon bodies will not be fully sorted out for a while. For that mater Adobe won’t have raw conversion when the first production models come out.
The last three, Pana, Oly, and Fuji, their offerings are not known yet and only rumors.
Oh, and to leave the best for last there is Leica. I would love to have the budget to buy an M10 with autofocus. But I don’t have the budget and they don’t sell them with autofocus. I actually like focusing my old Olympus OM2n bodies because it is so easy when it is light outside. I like the look and feel of a Leica M10 better than any other. I love the small size of the bodies and especially the lenses. But at about $8,500 for an M10 and a 50mm Summicron is that really a wise purchase in 2018. I suppose you could make the case that an M10 and an iPhone X paired is all you would need. But realistically you would want a 50mm, 28 or 35mm, and a 135mm for your kit. And now we are up to about $15,000. But going back to the first though, an M10 with 50mm Summicron + the optional electronic finder, paired with an iPhone X would be a pretty good set up. And you could call it quits and just know you were carrying two of the World’s best cameras. Keeping in mind that the Leica does not shoot video. So if a lot of video is in your future a Leica M10 is not.
But think about this. A Nikon Z6 with a Nikon new Z mount 50mm f1.8 could be bought for about $2,800. It includes EVF and video. The size is similar to the Leica, but with the lens the Nikon will be longer from back to lens front. The grip is likely more comfortable than the M10 that does not really have one. That said I find no problems when I hold an M10. And with my similarly sized Olympus OM2n I have been using it for 38 years and it is my favorite camera. So is this a better camera setup than the Nikon D750 or Canon 6D or 6D II? For just stills, maybe not.
Added the next day September 10
I write this blog to keep track of my thoughts and maybe once in a while put up something that helps out someone else. And in no way do I make any money from this or intend to ever do that.
It is amazing the amount of chatter and people involved in photography today and the storm in information and opinion going on about the new photo tools coming out this year. The year 2018 is almost 3/4 over, but it is like a building crescendo of noise from all the new cameras coming out. It seems like Sony started the noise back at the end of last year with the really capable A7riii. Then Sony upped the ante and added the cheaper but also very capable A7iii in the Spring. Now Nikon and Canon have introduced their full frame mirror less bodies and the noise is gone way up without any production units shipping. A few blogger-youtubers say they have production model Canon’s but to me real production units is when many regular users get their cameras.
What all of this reminds me of is when computers were something everyone was getting and general use of the internet was fairly new. Say about 2000. Every few months performance and new applications were introduced and Microsoft would make changes on their system. Many people including myself bought a new computer frequently. In my case I had both a desktop and laptop. I got a new one at least once a year. And Apple was starting to make a comeback. Today’s computer-cameras right now seem to be changing a lot and their is a lot of noise going on as to what the changes are and what is best.
All of this excitement is good for photography and video. But it is not the same as computers in 2000. Back then many of the computers and computer software being sold was crap. Remember the blue screen of death. For those too young to remember that is when Windows crashed yet again and you had to restart your computer. What is different is that there are all kinds of very good cameras being sold today that do not have problems and the new bodies are just improving things a little. Keep in mind the new Nikon and Canon bodies are also taking things away, like the 2nd card slot. And going with shorter battery life. Even Sony has an excellent legacy system. The A mount that has the same sensor and mega pixel count as the top end A7riii.
WYSIWYG is a big deal if you take the time to consider and adjust your shots before taking them. Blown highlights are still an issue with digital sensors and being able to tone them down before taking the shot will help you get better shots with fewer tries. WYSIWYG is not new except for Nikon & Canon in the viewfinder. Even with Nikon’s exposure setting for highlights it is helpful to be able to see in the viewfinder if you are going to blow the highlights in advance. I do that with my little Sony compact. I set it to aperture and look at the zebras before I take the shot in the viewfinder. I turn down the exposure when I see zebras. It saves ruined shots and saves time in post. So I expect EVF’s are going to take over. Eventually.
The big German camera show Photokina is going to be here shortly and I expect more announcements from more camera makers. But here is the thing. Until these new devices get released and in the field no one will really know how good they are. My favorite blog this morning after singing the praises of Nikon a couple of weeks ago and basically saying Fuji can now go back to making film. Sony can go back to TV’s and toasters. Now this morning is changing their mind as says buy Sony A9 for sports and action and Canon R for everything else. Now I am paraphrasing here and condensing the last couple of weeks of this blogs postings plus this is just my opinion of their postings – but if you had followed this blogs advice you would have placed both the A7 and A6 on preorder. Now we are told that in fact Canon is the best one except for sports and action. So you have $6,000 worth of Nikons coming in that are now not recommended. But the blogger would have been paid a commission if you had used the links on the blog.
My advice. Spend your time and money learning to use the image capture devices you already have and concentrate on improving your ability instead of trying to improve your images and video with new systems. When there are units in the field and you can go to a camera shop and hold one then that is a good time to maybe buy one. Or not buy. All the camera makers are giving big money off their existing models and Fuji just introduced their XT3 body for less money than the XT2. And the XT3 is mirror less. (crop frame though)