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Sony A7C - harms the camera industry


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From the people who brought you the blockbuster A7SIII. This fall, the A7III is back! But smaller. Not mightier! Just smaller. And flippy. Not floppy. Sell a kidney. Buy tickets now. Sponsored by Squa

When the Sony A7 III was released it allegedly damaged the appeal of more expensive $3000 mirrorless cameras, not least of all Sony's own. In my opinion the electronics giant is now doing the same to

Hi Andrew,   This would be the very first time ever that I disagree with you. Let me explain why: 1. In a free market if a product does not meet user's expectation and a better alternat

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8 hours ago, Andrew Reid said:

I am minded of the Nikkei Asian Review in July. "Smartphones are not the only reason [for the camera industry's decline]... Japanese industry, which has a penchant for competing against its own products, can also blame itself."

The article goes on to quote Hiroshi Hamada (ex-CEO of Hoya / Pentax): "Digital camera companies intend to strangle their rivals through excessive competition, but in the end they'll strangle themselves"

Excessive competition ?

There are a few corporations dividing the market between themselves, monopolising it with patent pools.

They are not even trying to compete.

In 2009 a lone programmer found a way to dramatically improve the image quality of the Canon 5d2 by potentially doubling the dynamic range. Eleven years later, there are 8k60 sensors with this capability and dual pixel autofocus over the whole sensor, but absolutely no camera on the "market" offering anything approaching such an easily doubled dynamic range. Technological advances are typically held back over decades, prices kept artificially high while the cost of production is in rapid decline. Advances at good prices are offered when and where the Keiretsu/Chaebol/GivingPledge/MIC decides.

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The Japaneese camera industry is an important one for the country of Japan. Its almost a "national pride" issue. They cherish it and the Japanese companies want each company to succeed or at least survive as a matter of pride and respect for each other. Each company will spar with each other, yes!...but always see that each refuses to deliver a true "knockout" blow to the other. Ot just won't ever happen.

This is why every camera will be crippled in some way to save the Japaneese "brotherhood" from being destroyed.

Cliff Totten, 20. 8. 2020, https://www.eoshd.com/comments/topic/46709-removing-internal-battery-resets-eos-r5-overheat-timer/page/2/

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When the Sony A7 III was released it allegedly damaged the appeal of more expensive $3000 mirrorless cameras, not least of all Sony's own. In my opinion the electronics giant is now doing the same to affordable APS-C rangefinder-style mirrorless cameras, effectively ending their own APS-C line as well - an even more destructive move than last time.

The a7c is a typical Sony lifestyle product. No progress, limited capabilities, crippled interface. Nothing to worry about.

Since two years, Panasonic gives hints that the GH6 will offer this game changing improvement in image quality in 2020. They will likely announce it this year, a few months after the purposely limited S5. To me, it will be like the change from black and white to colour. It is likely they will keep their randomly pulsing defocusing RPD/DFD AF mocking us until the "competition" offers the new DR too, years later. They waited 11 years before finally giving us something as simple as a fast standard zoom lens, the 10-25mm f1.7.

www.eoshd.com/comments/topic/26564-panasonic-gh6-predictions/page/2/
news.panasonic.com/global/press/data/2018/02/en180214-2/en180214-2.html
image-sensors-world.blogspot.com/2019/12/iedm-2019-sony-48mp-all-pixel-pdaf.html
www.cameraegg.org/rumors-panasonic-lumix-gh5r-gh6-has-47mp-mft-sensor-8k-video-coming-in-early-2020/

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26 minutes ago, Resonance said:

Since two years, Panasonic gives hints that the GH6 will offer this game changing improvement in image quality in 2020. They will likely announce it this year, a few months after the purposely limited S5.

I'm not sure what they could do that would be game changing? They are stuck with using off the shelf sensors made by Sony and sold to their competition. Their fabled organic sensor technology will take a while before it is even viable in a LUMIX product. They sure as hell won't put it in a LUMIX product first if their aging and declining Cinema VariCam business needs a serious boost. Maybe their cine business is fine, I don't know for sure, but based on how many films and TV shows are filmed on ARRI and RED I would say Panasonics VariCam is kinda an afterthought in that professional industry.

The camera industry is like sports teams or car brands where people become identified with the brand in some deep way. But I do think there is this underlining tone of Japanese camera culture that manifests itself in weird product decisions and strategies and cripple hammers and other things. I mean the power that is available in a cellphone compared to what is in a typical 2020 camera...it just doesn't add up.

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The a7c line has no impact on the future of the a6000 series. Its just another gateway to get people invested into the E-mount and buying FE lenses. There's nothing low cost or entry level about FF with the cheapest current body at $1798, and there isn't much by the way of small/cheap lenses which is where the low margin/high volume a6000 market sits. The marginal improvements made to the APS-c line in the last few years likely make it very profitable since they're the volume sellers. Many casual shooters have no interest in anything beyond the cheap 2-zoom-lens kits, and they're not going to spend $3000 for a FF equivalent when that a6000 kit is like $600.

The a7c simply a parts bin camera - much like the a7III was/is - and they're testing the market for a small body in response to competitors like the RP and Z5. If its a success - and despite its shortcomings its going to sell well IMO - we'll probably see other variants pretty soon. Quite frankly its no different than Panasonic's S5 - which uses the same sensor as their others non-R bodies in a cheaper body. They're trying to recoup investment in the hardware/software development by amortizing the costs over multiple variants to hit sales volume needed to keep imaging afloat. That's also the business model entire Fuji X and Olympus (RIP) m43 line BTW.

While this one doesn't interest me, drop the 42mp a7r3 leftovers into this with the new AF, processor, menus, touchscreen and such and they'd have me.

Cheers

Chris

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Thanks for an interesting article. Although I agree with some of it, I think there are more dimensions to consider.

I agree that some current camera companies will probably not survive so much longer. And Canon and Sony are drivning their volumes up and prices down. But Sony has reached their volumes largely because they have invented and developed like crasy. They have taken risks. SLTs didnt make it, but ever since e-mount FF came about it has been clear to me this would be changing the industry. High IQ in compact equipment, reliable Eye AF, etc.

I think it is good if more people can enjoy FF quality. If cheaper and smaller FF cameras enables that then thats a lot of good.

Innovation can be made in many dimensions. I think the e-mount has let loose a lot of lens innovation. Thanks to the relative openess of e-mount and thanks to large volumes of e-mount cameras, there are many innovative 3rd party AF lens lines developed. Eg I use the tiny and ultralight Samyang 45/1.8. I also use the super bright and optically excellent Sigma 35/1.2.

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1 hour ago, Video Hummus said:

I'm not sure what they could do that would be game changing?

When talking GH6, obviously start with the GH5 feature set, then add
- internal ND's
- internal RAW or other edit-friendly codecs
- APS-c sized sensor while maintaining MFT mount. It's been done before (LS300, Z-cam S6) and lots of MFT glass covers that sensor size. Add crop modes like on the GH5 to make sure the MFT glass with less coverage is still useable.
- and yes, PDAF (although I don't care too much personally and don't count on them implementing it)

...a man can dream right? 😉


 

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11 minutes ago, Timotheus said:

When talking GH6, obviously start with the GH5 feature set, then add
- internal ND's
- internal RAW or other edit-friendly codecs
- APS-c sized sensor while maintaining MFT mount. It's been done before (LS300, Z-cam S6) and lots of MFT glass covers that sensor size. Add crop modes like on the GH5 to make sure the MFT glass with less coverage is still useable.
- and yes, PDAF (although I don't care too much personally and don't count on them implementing it)

...a man can dream right? 😉


 

He was referring to "image quality" in the post I quoted so I assumed what the sensor is capable of.

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Sony is just covering all bases with this new camera. It was not intended to be the latest and greatest. It will appeal to those that are looking for a more compact rangefinder form factor/aesthetic and combines a lot of very dependable tech from Sony’s current parts bin. If you need 10 bit video, look elsewhere. Sony and others have this covered. As it stands, the A7C will likely sell well offering ample stills resolution and video IQ with unlimited uncropped 4K recording (able to run for hours without overheating) as well as exceptional AF in video. Focus peaking is also exceptional (possibly one of the best implementations) and the A7C may prove to be an exceptional M mount body for a fraction of Leica’s ask.

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I’ve been a Sony mirrorless user since the nex 5n days, I like the mount a lot and the blend of features/size/price/hybrid % stills-video in many of their products. When I can use the same lenses (or adapters) from the cheapest camera to the fs, fx and Venice cine lines it gives a reassuring knowledge of the results I’ll get on any given lens, lets not forget the first speed booster was made for e mount. But the wait for 10 bit in video has been perplexing for many years, even before the full frame a7 line.  
There has always been an excuse to not have it regardless of cost. 
1. No clean hdmi out on nex 7

2. No 10 bit on fs100

3. Better video specs on nex 6

4. No 10 bit on fs700

5. Better codec on a5100 than on a6000

6. No 10 bit out on a7, a7r

7. No 4k internal on a7s (no 10 bit)

8. No 10 bit out on a7ii, a7rii

9. No 10 bit out on a7sii 

10. Finally 10 bit on Fs7

11. No 10 bit (or picture profiles) on a9

12. Only 1080 10 bit on fs5

13. No 10 bit on a7iii, a7riii

14. No 10 bit on a7r4 and a9ii

So, in Sony world 10bit is only for fs7 fs7ii, a7siii and fx9 (I know there are workarounds for fs5), and Venice. And that’s an almost 10 year span on e mount life with very good video quality, just a trend of not giving the last step to what customers ask.

 

 

 

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8 minutes ago, elgabogomez said:

I’ve been a Sony mirrorless user since the nex 5n days, I like the mount a lot and the blend of features/size/price/hybrid % stills-video in many of their products. When I can use the same lenses (or adapters) from the cheapest camera to the fs, fx and Venice cine lines it gives a reassuring knowledge of the results I’ll get on any given lens, lets not forget the first speed booster was made for e mount. But the wait for 10 bit in video has been perplexing for many years, even before the full frame a7 line.  
There has always been an excuse to not have it regardless of cost. 
1. No clean hdmi out on nex 7

2. No 10 bit on fs100

3. Better video specs on nex 6

4. No 10 bit on fs700

5. Better codec on a5100 than on a6000

6. No 10 bit out on a7, a7r

7. No 4k internal on a7s (no 10 bit)

8. No 10 bit out on a7ii, a7rii

9. No 10 bit out on a7sii 

10. Finally 10 bit on Fs7

11. No 10 bit (or picture profiles) on a9

12. Only 1080 10 bit on fs5

13. No 10 bit on a7iii, a7riii

14. No 10 bit on a7r4 and a9ii

So, in Sony world 10bit is only for fs7 fs7ii, a7siii and fx9 (I know there are workarounds for fs5), and Venice. And that’s an almost 10 year span on e mount life with very good video quality, just a trend of not giving the last step to what customers ask.

 

 

 

Why not buy an A7SIII? It seems to tick all your boxes.

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11 minutes ago, wobba said:

Why not buy an A7SIII? It seems to tick all your boxes.

At some point I will, just not at launch. There are still gotchas that might pop up. But for my personal camera I want something that can handle anamorphic, so open gate or 4:3 shooting; c4k Is also something I would like to have or more megapixels for stills (both of these not deal breakers but prefer to have them than not). An apsc 4k crop is also a consideration. I like the fast readout of the siii and dynamic range seems great. Even if I don’t end up buying it I know people who will and will use it then to decide.

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10 bit is not something that was available on most cameras until quite recently.

The Canon R5 has it but only in log so for people likely to be more serious about video.

The A7C is not aimed at more serious video users.

The recent Sony cameras that ARE and I would imagine any future Sony cameras that are aimed at serious video users will all have 10 bit (as will everyone else).

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10 bit has been a request for Sony mirrorless since the GH4 got it externally in 2014. In 2017 the GH5 got internal 10bit. In 2018 Canon make it external with the R, Nikon with the Z6 (External) and Fuji with the Xt3 (internal). Sony got the a7iii out in early 2018 before the wave of new 10 bit full frame/apsc models from competitors so it had “no pressure “ to do so at the time (discounting m43 which is condescending). But normally Sony is quite aggressive with features once one of its products have them, was it naive to expect cameras launched after the a7siii to have 10 bit? Is the s5 not full frame? Doesn’t the competition moved ahead of Sony since 2018?

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There are definitely issues with Sony and Canon at this point. Looks to me like Sony won this round thus far.

 

I agree with Andrew about not getting caught up with the hype, and take a good look at what these other companies are doing, because they're worth looking at for their quality and innovation.

Myself? I ordered the S5 the moment I heard about it and saw it. There's a place for all these cameras----EVERYTHING doesn't have to be full frame---or even benefit from full frame. I just bought a G9----I'm knocked out at how good the video looks, skin tones in the Rec 709 profiles are beautiful---looking great out of the camera, and with 10 bit 422, super easy to grade and look great.

There's a place for this camera---a time and occasion it will be better than full frame. 

IMO, I think Panasonic has done themselves  well this round. They chose not to be in the mix with Sony and Canon and made a GREAT decision to contribute something sorely needed in their line of full frame cameras----a great camera with robust video features that doesn't require a fork lift to shoot.

Good on ya, mates, good on ya. The S5 will be a solid performer on the market---that's how I see it.

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I'm a fan of the micro four thirds format, and the access it provides to lots of glass.  Personally, I'm waiting to see what the GH6 looks like before deciding where I go next from my GH4.  Frankly, the GH4 has all the capability I need aside from a bit more dynamic range at times, and better low light capability.  A GH5S might be my next step, rather than the GH6 - but I probably won't be able to resist all the new bells and whistles...

I'd be more inclined to look at the Sigma FP than this new Sony camera, and be forced to change all my glass.  Lately, I've been finding I'm even enjoying my old BMCC 2.5k and Micro cameras, shooting in lower resolution raw that looks lovely and is a pleasure to work with in post.  My work is not seen on big screens, but on a computer, so as you say the MP race is just irrelevant to me. 

I used to work in the telecoms industry in the early 2000s before the iPhone spoiled the party for the incumbent phone manufacturers.  Remember how big Nokia used to be then?  I think the camera market is crying out for a step forward in usability, which is what the iPhone did for the phone market.  What Apple have done for creatives is what I think Blackmagic have set out to do for film-makers, and I think they illustrate very well the importance of improving (through innovation) the end to end workflow, and especially software.  

I'm now more interested in post production software innovation, like Cameralabs AI product for colour grading, than chasing more resolution.  That's something that will make a real impact, day-to-day, on my creative output, productivity and frankly enjoyment - and if the manufarurers improve these things, the industry will find ways to expand.

I've no doubt you're right that some more camera manufacturers will fall by the wayside.  I hope Panasonic is not one of them, as I think they've done a fantastic job of bringing innovation to market in packages that are designed in a way that puts function first and respects customer choice.  I'm encouraged by Sigma's direction and quality of their products.  And of course Blackmagic.  And then you have Z-cam, DJI and other Chinese brands that have both pushed prices down and produced excellent products.  And even though I'm as astonished at Canon's arrogance as you are (ie throttling the performance of their expensive R5), they do still make fantastic cinema cameras.  So the industry direction overally is not looking so bad IMHO.

 

 

 

 

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