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Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Sony Expects Canon and Nikon To Announce Full Frame Mirrorless Cameras In One Year





I have reported about Canon Japan working on their full frame, EF mount, mirrorless camera for over two years now. There are a few working prototypes floating around in their labs. They have not finalized on a marketable model but I will not be surprised we will have an announcement at year's end or early 2019 from Canon and Nikon.  Sony's free ride with their A7 and A9 series of full frame mirrorless cameras will come to a crashing end.

SankeiBiz, the Japanese business news outlet reported Nikon's full frame mirrorless camera project is advancing at a 'break neck' speed and they plan to announce their development plan during the Photokina Show in September in Germany and launch the camera before the end of their fiscal year, which ends March 2019.

Canon stated last month that the company may be ready to cannibalize the sales of its DSLR cameras in order to take the number one spot in mirrorless camera sales in Japan. Frankly, I think the low end DSLR and PowerShot cameras are losing sales to advance smartphone cameras anyway but the high end DSLRs like the EOS-1D X Mark II, EOS-5D Mark IV, etc. will hold their own. I will not hesitate to own a profesional full frame mirrorless camera, along side my EOS-1D and EOS-5D series cameras.

In a recent speech given by Canon's CEO, Mr. Fujio Mitarai, he made the following comments :

"Within existing businesses, there are market areas that are growing, such as mirrorless in cameras,” Mitarai says. “In these segments, by launching differentiated products that only we can provide, we will stimulate the market, grow our sales, and secure additional market share.

For example, in our core camera business, in addition to our overwhelming share of the DSLR market, we will go on the offensive and work to expand our sales in the mirrorless camera market, which is exhibiting remarkable growth . . . . This will allow us to reach our goal of 50% market share of the entire interchangeable-lens camera market."

Earlier this month at the CP+ Show in Japan, Sony Camera's General Manager, Mr. Kenji Tanaka made the following comments :

"This is just my personal opinion, but I think that maybe by next year’s CP+ you’ll see full-frame mirrorless cameras from Canon and Nikon. I think by then they will be participating in this market.

Just look at our technologies, like eye focus. All of that data comes from the imaging sensor. In DSLRs, the data comes from separate sensors. The main imaging sensor is blanked out, 90% of the time by the mirror. The sensor is turned off. But the imaging sensor is very important. So if cameras are going to develop, and be more able to capture the moment, manufacturers have to develop mirrorless technologies. So within one year, I think."

In my opinion, any new Canon professional full frame mirrorless camera must have the following features :

Native EF mount

Any new mirrorless camera without an EF native mount is not going to attract serious photographers who have invested in their extensive EF lens inventory. I am NOT interested in using adapters.

Feel, Size and Weight

The current crop of high end mirrorless cameras do not feel right to me. Once a professional lens is mounted, the combo feels front heavy. The new Canon model must have the feel of an EOS-1 body, with built-in molded grip and a well balanced weight, albeit lighter, once the commensurate lens is attached.

Electronic Viewfinder

First in class Electronic Viewfinder is a must and the screen must come with the highest megapixel, replete with crisp and faithful colors reproduction.

Battery Life 

The current EOS-1D X Mark II camera's battery can comfortably lasts a full day's shooting on an average trip unless it is in extremely cold climate. The new mirrorless camera must be able to come close to this performance. I know short battery life is the Achilles' Heel of many high end models, like the Sony A7 and A9 but I am confident Canon engineers can and will overcome this limitation.

Burst Rate

As a wildlife photographer, I do need fast shooting speed in my equipment but a burst rate of around 12 - 14 fps is adequate for my needs. Anything faster than that is marketing hype.

The other bells and whistles like 4K video, GPS, WiFi, etc. are nice to have but they add weight, complication and cost to the final product and are not a deal breaker for me. There must a healthy compromise between features, price and weight.

Let me hear your thoughts about what you feel are important in Canon's upcoming high end, full frame, mirrorless camera. Keep checking back for the latest news for any future announcements.  

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