A few days ago, rumour-meister and blogging friend Andrea, from SonyAlphaRumors reignited our interest in a successor to the A7 / A7r camera range in the form of a Pro-level E-mount body released early next year.
It appears, then, that Sony will soon want us to part with a significant few of our pennies in exchange for new and improved sensors, AF and bodies.
But, frankly, all of these promises leave me … a bit cold.
We’ve reached a point where everyone recognizes the technical superiority of a good 24Mpix/36Mpix FF sensor compared to even the best medium format film systems that were once the exclusive realm of well-to-do pros.
We’ve reached a point where a well-exposed A7r file can print to gallery sizes and a couple of stitches can help you cover a wall.
We’ve reached a point in the industry where Sony is making a difference thanks to innovative mirrorless thinking more than technical superiority to competitors such as the Nikon D800.
And we’ve reached a point where the Sony A7x range is as good technically as 99.9% of photographers will ever use effectively but where the ergonomics are seriously flawed.
I’ve been such a good boy. What I’d like from Sony Santa this year is less, not more.
Less (shutter) noise
You’ve shown us you know what electronic shutters are, but even a conventional shutter will do. Only, not made of tin or whatever is used in the A7r. Not only is the A7r impossibly loud for quiet locations such as theaters, galleries, museums, churches (you know, just 90% of the stuff you visit while traveling …) it is also enough to create stress and strong nervous tension after a long day outdoors. Some days, I just reach a point where I have to put the thing back in the bag and use … my smartphone instead, because the noise is driving me nuts.
Have you ever driven a car from the 80’s, when the turbo craze caught on ? You pressed the loud pedal, had lunch and, mid-way through dessert and a tight corner, received a mighty thump in your back and spun off into the weeds. Since then, greasy engineers have worked out that multiple, smaller turbos or belt-driven superchargers reduce lag to a very manageable level while retaining all the juicy grin-inducing, hooliganism-encouraging abilities of their forefathers. Heck, they’ve even become greener in the process!
Somehow, the opposite seems to have happened at Sony!
I don’t recall any frustration from my old and much-loved NEX-5n or my current NEX-5r. They just work within reasonable time limits and never get in my way. But fire-up an A7r after noticing an interesting street photo opportunity and, not only will all protagonist gone to bed before that thing is operational, but grass will have grown visibly longer!
It really isn’t fun. And certainly can’t cut it on a pro-level body.
In what universe does the image-review ergonomics on the A7 make sense? The lab that designed and okayed that process and button layout must be a really scary place to work.
$100 fix: rent an M9 for an hour and copy.
$50 fix: rent a D800 for an hour and copy.
White: errr, not really
Not a week goes by without a new sensor technology being patented. Foveon-style. Electric grid. Curved. Whatever … And that’s great. Sony is changing the game, pushing the boundaries, exploring uncharted territory …
But Sony isn’t really shipping. As Seth Godin puts it: “Real artists ship”. Perfection is nice, but delivering products is what matters. Only when you ship can you answer people’s needs, get feedback and improve. Sony is constantly inventing incredible new sensor technology, putting acceptable – but not great – bodies around these sensors and leaving the world dry when it comes to lenses.
Will I invest in a new sensor tech camera when one is released? I honestly don’t know. If Sony’s track record with the E-mount is anything to judge by, building a Sony-centered system isn’t a tempting proposition. I recently acquired a Zeiss Loxia 50/2 and that is such a lovely lens to own. But I’m not buying anything else from that stable until the future is a bit clearer. At least M-mount and R-mount lenses are easy to sell off. What happens to the Loxia if a new mount is released or if new sensors require a different handling of peripheral rays?
Are you nuts? What could make you think that? (insert grin)
Nah, truth is I love that camera. But I love it like you’d love a troubled child that constantly misbehaves with no apparent reason to do so. The above shortcomings (and halfwit AF, that doesn’t really bother me with manual focus lenses) feel so unnecessary, you see.
The camera’s been with me for over a year now, and when I review photographs made with previous cameras (D800e excepted) they are so vastly inferior technically that it hurts.
But that’s exactly my point all over again. If Sony’s really going the antler-crashing route with the likes of Nikon and Canon for the pro market, I really don’t think more pixels aren’t the way ahead.
Sure, even more DR would be great. A monochrome sensor alluring. And IBIS titillating. Heck, Hassleblad-style sensor-shake interpolation for better pixel quality would even be fabulous (given lenses that out-resolve 36Mpix 2 to 1 … ahem)!
But before that, fix the damn flaws that inexplicably made it through the internal Go Ahead process, give us plenty more specialty/quality lenses and reassure us that E-mount is here to stay (as in 50 years, not 5). Not sure about the pros, but that’s what I’d like for Christmas. Ho Ho Ho!
My guess is, though, the “Pro market” body of 2015 is just marketing lure for foolish amateurs. Watch me fall for it, too …
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