Art Model, Kayci.Lee, ©2018 Terrell Neasley

“Without tradition, art is a flock of sheep without a shepherd. Without innovation, it is a corpse.” 
 ~ Winston Churchill

Mirrorless has been around since 2004, but hit mainstream in 2006 when Leica went digital with the M-Series rangefinder, the M8. Was it perfect? No, but that moment was the writing on the proverbial wall.

I felt like that was the new evolution of cameras…going electronic and that it should have been explored more thoroughly by Canon and Nikon. Nikon did jump on it after a few years with Nikon 1 system. I thought it was cool, but still a bit half-hearted attempt. In my opinion, Nikon had the opportunity to become an industry leader here instead of continuing to follow behind Canon. A more serious attempt/commitment would have been an APS-C sensor in the Nikon 1 bodies instead of the 1-inch CX sensor with a 3x crop. I suspect they didn’t want to cannibalize DSLR sales, but I’m sure they look back in hindsight and wonder if a more bold move would have blocked Sony from claiming the No. 2 spot in camera sales and reviving their brand.

Art Model, Brittany Vipond @2008 Terrell Neasley

So now, Nikon and Canon are getting into the game of full-frame mirrorless. I want to do this post without sounding bitter. I shoot Sony. I’m not a fanboy of anybody. Sony does the job and I applaud their vision and willingness to innovate so spectacularly. Everybody talks cliche-ish about Sony’s innovation, but its the truth. When they came out with the QX-system a few years back, basically a bluetooth lens with a sensor that could be utilized with your phone… I knew those boys were , hungry and wanted to compete. Nobody asked for this. It was just an idea and they took it to market.

For years I’ve been knocking Canon for incremental improvements and riding on the power of market share and a failure to listen to that market. They let Sony do all the market testing and gauge public response to mirrorless tech. Now that its way more than obvious that mirrorless is indeed the future, The two major camera manufacturers want to get serious about the game. I confess, I do have a little bit less respect for that lack of vision. But also, their entry into the full-frame market is only just that… an entry. They still have a long way to go in developing their cameras and lens line-up. They still played it safe. Albeit Canon has Auto Focus tech that likely rivals anything out there, its revolutionary, but not a game-changer. AF is already pretty damn fast in many systems. How fast do you really need to be? How much of an incremental speed upgrade and thereby increase in effectiveness does it offer? In addition, the sensor on this new camera is not new. Its basically the a 5DM4 without the mirror. I will give them props for the LCD flip out, as opposed to Sony cameras that only tilt.

Art Model Melissa, ©2009 Terrell Neasley

Now, here’s the kicker that was just reported today regarding another full-frame entry. I can absolutely respect the collab from Panasonic, Leica, and Sigma! Panasonic has been in the mirrorless market for years and steadily putting out great systems in the Micro Four-Thirds arena. The GH5s is one of the best systems out there for video. AND NOW…it was just announced they too are entering the full-frame market with TWO full-frame cameras. I can definitely get behind this. They actually come out of the gate with a new S1R and S1 system that can rival Sony systems and even possibly surpass them in video capabilities. Neither of Nikon’s systems nor Canon’s new cameras can come close to this.

I have been a fan of Fujfilm mirrorless for years who have made some of the most superb APS-C sensor cameras on the market. They have categorically jumped over the full-frame sector and dove headlong into Medium Format when they came out with the GFX-50s 50MP system about 2 years ago. Now they have double-downed on that commitment with announcement today of the affordable rangefinder style Medium Format GFX-50R 51.4MP system. AND…AND… Listen to this…. They ALSO announced the development of another (presently unnamed, but likely GFX 100″x”) flagship Medium Format 100 megapixel system. Its not entirely “affordable” per se, but at the expected $10,000 price point is still a third and fifth of the cost of the Hasselblad or PhaseOne 100MP systems, respectfully. And with all those Photokina announcements, let me also add in Leica who is also putting out the Leica S3, a 64MP Medium Format system, expected to come in at about $20,000.

So, I’m all for Sony having some competition. All companies will get complacent if they don’t have a reason to change, innovate, or otherwise better serve their customer base. I think it’ll be at least 3 to 4 years before Canon or Nikon have matured into the mirrorless full-frame world. Sony systems are now utilized in every aspect of photography when they came out with the a9 and a lens line-up for sports. I would guess Panasonic will make this transition is much less time, as they already have the mirrorless background and the advantage of Leica’s current full-frame mounts.

Art Model Viki Vegas, ©2011 Terrell Neasley