The Potential Impact of Sony’s Full-Frame Mirrorless System on DSLRs

It has been a little over a year since Sony announced world’s first fixed lens 35mm full-frame mirrorless camera, the Sony RX1. Shortly after, Sony released another version of the same camera without an anti-aliasing filter and gave it a slightly different name – Sony RX1R, similar to what Nikon did with the D800 and the D800E. And with Sony’s hard push on the NEX-series cameras, we thought that it was a matter of time until Sony announces a full-frame interchangeable lens mirrorless camera system. Back in 2012, we predicted that Sony would release a full-frame camera in 2013 and it seems like our predictions were indeed true. Today is a very exciting day for the world of photography, because Sony has just announced world’s first full-frame interchangeable lens mirrorless camera with autofocus capabilities. Sony is shaking up the industry once again with a breakthrough product that will lead the way for others in the future. Some might say that this is the beginning of the end of DSLRs. Read on to see what we think.

Sony A7 vs A7R

Aside from Leica, no other company has been able to offer mirrorless full-frame cameras so far. In addition to the high cost of manufacturing full-frame sensors, integrating a fast and accurate autofocus system and a solid electronic viewfinder with minimal lag and blackouts has been a challenge. Another factor was the cost of creating a new lens system, which requires a lot of R&D and a long term financial commitment to make a system successful. Lastly, most manufacturers realized that they would have a hard time competing with the mature DSLR market that has been historically soaring in popularity due to high demand and lower than ever prices. Having entered the mirrorless market with NEX-series cameras that sported smaller APS-C sensors seen in budget DSLRs, Sony has been probing the market with a number of different mirrorless options. Until today, Sony was one of the few manufacturers to create 4 different segments in the mirrorless market – from the budget Sony NEX-3 series to the feature-rich NEX-7 for enthusiasts and professionals. The NEX has been quite a success story for Sony, which has been rapidly growing its market share ever since. New cameras are introduced every year and the selection of lenses has been steadily growing, both in Sony’s native lenses and third party options. While the NEX-series cameras are meant to compete directly with APS-C DSLRs for everything except sports and wildlife photography, they have not been able to match the performance of full-frame DSLRs. Even the best of the breed Sony NEX-7 cannot directly compete with such cameras as the Nikon D800 in image quality and resolution, due to the smaller physical size of the sensor.

Lighter, Smaller, Cheaper

With the introduction of the new full-frame mirrorless cameras, Sony is now the first company to truly challenge full-frame DSLRs. Featuring imaging sensors that are of the same size as on top of the line DSLR cameras, the new mirrorless system will offer the same image quality at smaller size, lower weight and above all – cost! Yes, with a price tag of $1700, the Sony A7 will be the first full-frame camera in history to be sold that cheap at launch. Even the Nikon D610 with a similar 24 MP resolution sensor and a discounted price of $2000 (compared to the D600) is $300 more expensive in comparison! And the Sony A7R, which has the same 36 MP resolution sensor as the Nikon D800/D800E will be sold for just $2300 – $700 cheaper than the market value of the D800. Actually, it will be $1000 cheaper, because it has no anti-aliasing filter and therefore competes head to head against the Nikon D800E, which retails for $3300. What an aggressive move by Sony – two products that are meant to essentially eat into Nikon’s D610 and D800 sales directly!

What’s shocking, is that Sony’s full-frame cameras are also the first mirrorless cameras that actually compete with DSLRs price-wise. So far, pretty much none of the mirrorless APS-C cameras have been cheaper than their DSLR counterparts, maybe with the exception of some lower-end Micro Four Thirds models. The goal of these two cameras is pretty clear – to capture as much market share as possible at a very low cost entry and convert as many Nikon and Canon DSLR shooters to Sony, as quickly as possible. For photography needs like landscape and architectural photography, these cameras would be a perfect fit. Why wouldn’t you want a full-frame mirrorless if it is smaller, lighter and cheaper than a DSLR, with equivalent image quality? For sports and wildlife photography, it will take a while for mirrorless to catch up. Contrast detect is unusable for moving subjects, while hybrid AF systems are currently too slow and buggy to compete with the traditional phase detect autofocus. In addition, it will take a number of years for Sony or other manufacturers to develop good super telephoto lenses for the full-frame mirrorless mount and there will always be an issue of balance when dealing with large lenses and small cameras. In fact, mirrorless might not be able to replace DSLRs for sports and wildlife photography for many years. But that’s a relatively small market we are talking about.

Nikon and Canon – Wake Up!

This is certainly a wake up call for both Nikon and Canon, both of which have been ignoring the potential of mirrorless cameras and pushing their R&D in the wrong direction. And this is certainly a huge blow to Nikon! Sony let Nikon have the lead game for a year with its D600 and D800, by selling Nikon its 24 MP and 36 MP sensors and now they are slapping the same sensors on completely different products at much smaller price points. Think about what this will do to Nikon’s DSLR prices. Perhaps Nikon is counting on the loyalty of its existing customers? Well, if that was the case, perhaps it shouldn’t have let its D600 customers down by announcing the D610 instead of trying to fix the dust problem? Or perhaps it should have acknowledged the autofocus problems of the D800 and taken steps to remedy them? Nikon’s image has been badly tarnished during the last two years and it is not something that even the most loyal customers will easily forget for a while. I would like to see how Nikon can convince its fan base to upgrade to the D800E, when Sony offers comparable image quality at a whopping $1000 less. Obviously, it is not just about the camera and its sensor – lenses also play a huge role, as pointed out below. However, if Nikon does not turn around and act quickly, it risks losing a lot of its market share and dominance in the next few years. I am not trying to say that everyone will move to Sony, but those that are considering moving up from an APS-C / DX camera to full-frame will certainly take a close look at what Sony has to offer.

Lens Selection and Compatibility

As you probably already know, a good selection of solid performing lenses is a must-have ingredient for success. Without good lenses, Sony will have a hard time selling the system. Historically, in comparison to Micro Four Thirds and Fuji X systems, Sony has not done a very good job with its NEX lens line in my opinion. Instead of focusing on compact prime lenses with good performance characteristics, Sony has been releasing bulky zoom lenses and slow primes. To date, there is not a single native f/1.2 or f/1.4 lens for the NEX mount. And if you have been reading our coverage of the NEX system, one of my biggest complaints is the size / bulk of Sony’s E-mount lenses and their average performance. Zeiss has a couple of good lenses, but they come with bulk and a high price tag.

With the A7 and A7R full-frame mirrorless cameras, Sony is launching 4 full-frame E-mount lenses and a development of a 70-200mm f/4 lens:

  1. Sony Sonnar T* FE 35mm f/2.8 ZA – $798
  2. Sony Sonnar T* FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA – $998
  3. Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 24-70mm f/4 ZA OSS – $1,198
  4. Sony 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS (Kit lens with the A7)
  5. Sony 70-200mm /f4 G OSS (Spring 2014)

This is an interesting list of lenses to start with. Two primes and two zooms. The 24-70mm f/4 ZA OSS is a stabilized fixed aperture lens, which seems very promising. If I were to get one of the Sony cameras, which I most likely will, I would put that as my first choice. Should be a superb lens for landscape photography and image stabilization is a nice bonus. The cheaper, variable aperture version, the Sony 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS will only ship as a kit lens to the A7. My second choice would be the 55mm f/1.8 ZA, which should also be excellent for portraiture. As usual, I am certainly planning to review the whole system, including the four lenses mentioned above. With Zeiss designing three out of four lenses, I suspect these will not disappoint.

While going through Sony’s marketing material, I saw a very catchy header “Fully compatible w/ Sony’s E-mount and new full-frame lenses”. Considering that the current Sony E-mount lenses were technically supposed to be designed for the APS-C format (which means that they should have a smaller image circle), I first thought that Sony did the same thing that Nikon did with DX – the lenses would mount, but work at limited resolution. However, after I saw the below image, where the Sony Zeiss 24mm f/1.8 lens was pictured together with the new lenses, I realized that Sony might have some lenses that have image circles covering wider than APS-C – the 24mm f/1.8 has been out for a while and it is probably designed to be a full-frame lens from the get-go.

Sony Zeiss E Mount Lenses

For regular E-mount lenses that have a smaller APS-C image circle, the cameras will automatically crop images, similar to what happens on DX cameras when they are mounted on full-frame cameras. The resolution will be limited to 15 MP.

There are some concerns around the weight and bulk of full-frame lenses and the balance of a heavy lens versus the light camera body. With the A7 and A7R, Sony is also launching a grip, which should help balance things out a little better. Still, considering that lenses have to cover such a huge image circle, Sony will have to be creative on what lenses they release for the mount in the future.

Summary

I am very excited to see what will happen in the photography industry during the next few years. A full-frame mirrorless system was a dream just yesterday and it is now a reality. And contrary to what many thought would be an expensive system, we are facing something that will shake up the market immediately. With Sony’s aggressive pricing strategy, I expect the A7 and A7R cameras to have a severe impact on full-frame DSLR sales. As I have explained above, I see a direct threat to Nikon’s D610 / D800 and Canon’s 5D Mark III DSLRs. Perhaps those that shoot sports and wildlife might not be interested yet, but think of everybody else that will want to get a taste of cheaper full-frame system for landscape, architecture, portraiture and other needs, without the heft and weight of a DSLR. That’s potentially a huge market we are talking about…

Bravo Sony, you have done it again! I cannot wait to get a hold of the new system and compare it head to head against my Nikon DSLRs. Exciting times indeed!


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Avatar of Nasim Mansurov About Nasim Mansurov

is a professional photographer based out of Denver, Colorado. He is the author and founder of Photography Life, along with a number of other online resources. Read more about Nasim here.

Comments

  1. 1
    ) David B

    Well the bodies are nice and small but the lenses seem bulky and expensive. The 70-200/4 is over 850 grams plus the weight of the tripod ring. The 55/1.8 is $1200. Nasim, Nikon 50/1.8G lens which is sharp wide open can be had for $200 and it weighs less and is smaller. Is someone going to tell me that the Zeiss is 6 times better than the 50/1.8G? It is not the Zeiss Planars they are releasing with the new bodies, it is the simplier design Zeisses like Sonnars. So it is a ‘budget zeiss collection’ at the price much higher than the competition. Also there is an issue of size and weight in relationship to smaller body, how will it balance. And finally, if your lens is still huge, who cares if you made the body small, the overall size is still huge! It seems that perhaps with slower primes like 35/2.8 it will be managable, but look even a pedestrian variable aperture 28-70 looks huge on these!

    • David, good lenses and cheaper options will come – it is a matter of time before we start seeing other options from Sigma, Tamron, etc. The 55m f/1.8 most likely will be much better than the Nikon 50mm f/1.8G, could be a smaller version of the new Zeiss 55mm f/1.4 optically. I doubt they would charge so much if the lens was not good enough. As for the size of lenses, that’s what it takes to have a full image circle I guess, but I am sure Sony will release a few small primes later on for those worried about the weight and balance. The 35mm f/2.8 sounds like a great walk-around lens to me.

      • 38
        ) Zach

        Oh, come on, Nasim. Zeus is like Leica, although not quite as extreme – the name Zeiss adds a couple hundred to the price of the lens. You wrote about tht in a recent article explaining the costs of different lenses.

        • Oh yes, fully agreed. However, a 55mm lens has a different design than a 50mm standard prime. In this case, I believe the 55mm f/1.8 should be a very sharp lens wide open. And if you think this is expensive, wait and see what the Nikkor 55mm f/1.4G will cost (will post an announcement later today).

  2. 2
    ) Stephen

    But is it weather sealed?

    • Yes, both are dust and moisture resistant, which means they are :)

  3. 5
    ) David B

    Just watched the video review by theCamerastore posted on sonyalpharumors site.

    They like many things about the camera. the grip the built the viewfinder.

    They disliked
    1) very loud shutter sound – bad for street shooters
    2) very disappointing Flash X-sync speed – only 1/160
    3) battery life was poor

    They feel that A7 is better than A7r by about halfstop in low light but they are judging jpegs as there is no Raw converter yet.

  4. 6
    ) Chris

    You must also take into consideration Sony’s poor reputation in dealing with professional shooters when discussing how much of a dent they can make into Nikon and Canon’s market.

    • Chris, I might be a little tired, but could you please clarify your comment?

      • 101
        ) James Duffy

        Nasim…first, your politeness is as refreshing as it is rare online. Thank you. Secondly, I agree with your perspective on the new Sony cameras….game changers. I think I’ll stick with my D800 and Fuji XP1 kits for another year or so, watching what develops. Exciting times.

  5. 7
    ) Srini

    Thanks for the lovely piece Nazim! Well done!!!

    We can’t wait for the full review…..

  6. 8
    ) Saiful Zaree Johar

    I’m beginning to thinking of all selling my D7000…

  7. 9
    ) Paul

    Whilst it’s an interesting development, today it’s very much a half baked system. Bodies come and go, it’s always been about the glass and there is nothing in the lens line-up that would tempt me away from my fast Nikon primes and zooms, especially at those prices. No doubt third party options will materialise but I suspect pros and semi pros will want to build a system based on the manufacturer’s own brand, and it will need to be competitive and fast.

    Nikon/Canon will need to react and are already doing so to some extent. How long will it be before they come up with a FF mirrorless solution that will take all their own established and extensive glass? Personally I can wait. For pro work I have D800 and for travel/everyday my fab Fuji X100s.

    Oh and one other thing, is it just me but isn’t that A7 just a bit ugly?

    • Paul, true, a good lens line-up is extremely important to make any system successful. Still, putting such a low price on a full-frame camera with a lot of new technology will surely attract many potential buyers in my opinion. Pros and enthusiasts will obviously weigh in all the factors before deciding to switch, but if Sony pushes hard with some good lenses in the next year or two, it could be a potentially risky situation for both Nikon and Canon on many fronts.

      And yes, I agree the A7 is a bit ugly, with questionable ergonomics :)

  8. 10
    ) Peter G.

    Nasim.

    Well, for one, I don’t want a DSLR with a small body. Ever tried shooting with a 300mm f2.8 , 500mm f4 etc. with a small body camera ?
    Its not balanced . I also have large hands, and trying to hold a toy camera doesn’t work for me .

    We have been hearing for years that Sony will take over the Pro market, and it hasn’t happened.

    Sony does make a nice TV though :-)

    • Peter, please see my notes on sports and wildlife photography – these cameras are not targeted at that niche :) No mirrorless manufacturer can presently offer a good system for wildlife and sports shooters…AF is not fast and accurate enough.

      • 91
        ) Shawn

        I would call landscape and architecture photographers “niche” way, way sooner than sports and wildlife shooters. Sports doesn’t just mean NFL sidelines, but Junior playing t-ball and soccer. I would replace “anything that moves” with sports, and the a7′s paltry 2.5 continuous AF FPS is really poor.

  9. 11
    ) Amit Kumar

    I am not sure how much time will sony take to make this FF system mature.

    For the cropped sensor nex, they should have come up with a normal prime pancake lens. It has been more than 3 years since they first released the nex body! 16mm 2.8 was released in 2010. 20mm 2.8 has also been released. These leses are fine and compact but something like 35mm 2.8 would have been much more useful. It is so sad that Sony chose to concentrate on lenses like 18-200 instead of a normal compact prime (SEL35F18 and SEL35F28Z are not compact).

  10. 12
    ) KSPGM

    Nasim, I have to take you up on one comment you made

    “This is certainly a wake up call for both Nikon and Canon, both of which have been ignoring the potential of mirrorless cameras and pushing their R&D in the wrong direction.”

    Nikon have a fully integrated and developed mirrorless system in the Nikon 1 system. I’m sure thier experience in developing this will allow a smooth roll out of DX/FX versions. For them it is more a marketing problem than a technical one surely?

    best wishes and thanks for your always exceptional website!

    • While the Nikon 1 system is a pretty good system, the sensor is only 1″ in size, so it cannot compete with either any of the APS-C cameras or the above Sony full-frame cameras directly – totally different league. I would be extremely happy to see a solid APS-C or full-frame mirrorless from Nikon with the features and the AF speed of the Nikon 1. But I don’t think it is happening any time soon, sadly, given that the company most likely will not be able to sustain 4 separate formats…

      • 36
        ) KSPGM

        of course, Nasim I was not suggesting that the CX sensor is equivalent tot the DX or FX, but I was trying to make the point that Nikon have the experience of a mirrorless system to move quickly into DX or FX. Thier problem is exactly what you have mentioned – too many systems. Assuming they keep on with CX, and I for one hope that they do, thier problem is dropping DX or FX DSLR in favour of a mirrorless DX, FX system.

        Since all of the DX, FX lenses work on CX I’m assuming that Nikon’s FX/DX lenses for thier DSLR cameras will also work fine on a mirrorless DX/FX body. is that so Nasim?

        Thankyou

  11. 14
    ) Dan L

    I loved my D600 and yes, the dust issue was annoying, but Nikon really pulled the final insult by never completely acknowledging the problem. Throwing out the D610 was the final insult to D600 owners. Yes, some might say to never buy the first year of a product, and I fully understand the implications, but when Nikon failed to acknowledge a problem, then that is a problem. I had been a faithful Nikon owner from the 1980s, but as of today, my D600 is gone and selling off my final two lenses.

    Yes, I pre-ordered a A7R, grip, and 55/1.8. Will add a Zeiss 21mm wide and maybe a short telephoto later on.

    • 41
      ) MadManAce

      I feel your pain. I was a lifelong Nikon user too and after the D800 fiasco (two purchased bodies and one Nikon replacement) with my cameras making over 10 trips to El Segundo/Melville for left side AF and overall poor AF consistency using the center AF on stationary subjects. I sold off over $18,000 worth of equipment and switched to Canon. Other than AF and more pleasing color, the 5Dmk3 is an inferior camera, but actually getting photos in focus… Priceless

      My workflow
      Nikon D700: 1hr shooting = 2hrs in post
      Nikon D800: 1hr shooting = 5hrs in post (quadrupled photos taken because AF issues)
      Canon 5dmk3: 1hr shooting = 0.5-1hr in post (shooting less and not fiddling with the colors)

  12. I agree that it’s very interesting.
    But what’s the point of a camera being 1000$ less, when every lens is at least twice as expensive?
    Wake me up when the system has some 1.4 primes and 2.8 zooms. Bonus points if they aren’t too bulky and cost less than 3000$.

    • Eric, true, but those are mostly Zeiss lenses, which are traditionally known to be expensive :) True, the lens line is rather weak at the moment at launch, so it will be interesting to see what will happen to the lens line within the next 1-2 years. By then, the price of the A7 and A7R will drop even more probably…

  13. 17
    ) Richard

    About time too, c’mon Nikon/Canon get yourselves into the driving seat instaed of being a back seat passenger!

    Richard

    • Agreed, we really need Nikon to come back to innovation. Mirrorless DX please!

      • 25
        ) Laszlo

        Exact!!! Nikon developed the best DX DSLR camera (d7100) but now it is the time to stop it and return from this impasse. Yes it is an impasse!! Sony is now on perfection mirrorless FF camera and Nikon is still playing with”useless” gadgets in the mirrorless camera business.

  14. 18
    ) Autofocusross

    Nasim, very good analysis of the Nikon Vs. Sony situation.

    I imagine most of those already bought into the D800 system will remain with it as there is a return on investment to consider. Many, but not all by any means, will be pro photographers so it is the cost of their lenses which will deter any change in the short term. Some of those lenses cost more than the camera body, after all.

    Leaving the specifications alone for a moment, and looking at the pricing, this reminds me of a meeting I once attended when I was a technical sales rep (architectural hardware, nothing to do with photography).

    All the UK reps were asked to attend, due to a launch of a new product. The meeting was behind closed doors. Much of the day was spent in delving into the technical benefits of the product, and it was late in the day that we were all asked about what kind of price should be set.

    I was naive, and misguided. I asked what the cost of production was, thinking that the company needed to set a price that would both yeild a profit, and recover the tooling up costs (Return on Investment – ROI) in a three year period.

    In fact, the MD (CEO) said, ‘what has that got to do with it?’ and the rest of the meeting was spent looking at competing products, ascertaining their price, and pitching the price of our new product in the lower two thirds of the range.

    I never discovered if the price was high enough to make that ROI and eventually changed jobs, so I guess I never will.

    Why I bring this up is because, Sony know that the branding of a Nikon holds a lot of creedence in the photography community. To break that, they need to market their competing product at a price which is persuasively better than the Nikon offering. This is what the price is all about. It is possible that they are actually making a loss, or, very little profit, on this new range. What matters at this stage is getting photographers to adopt the system – system being the important word here – so that over time, compatible lenses, flash units and other system specific accessories are added to the basic camera, by the photographer, who will then be ten times more likely to replace the camera with another Sony, if and when it breaks, becomes obsolete, gets stolen, or Sony launch a much better update model.

    The point is, the price we are asked to pay for this stuff has no connection to development costs, profits, or anything else. To compete in an existing market, there has to be a unique selling point. Sony have nothing special, on the technical side of the camera, to particularly compel anyone to buy it, thus, they have no choice but to price it so competitively that someone who has not yet bought a D610 or D800 (plus lenses) will be hard pressed to justify spending the extra on a Nikon, when they can have the same sensor for so much less money.

    Clever marketing, I look forward to seeing where this takes us.

    Finally, Nasim, are you going to do a test of the D5200? I bought one on the basis of the DXo Mark test showing it was marginally sharper than the D7100, and I didn’t need the other features of the 7100 so I took a chance, and am happy. I would love to see your own opinion, always of interest, thanks :)

    Ross

    • Ross, thank you for the analysis and interesting viewpoint on pricing. I agree, Sony is probably either losing money or not making money at all just to get people to convert. Sadly, they can afford this as a company, putting companies like Nikon at risk, which makes money selling cameras and not making TVs or movies. That’s why I am both excited and worried at the same time – excited to see what happens to Sony’s yet another experiment and worried about the future of Nikon.

      As for the D5200, I don’t know how else to apologize – totally my fault for delaying that review. I really liked the camera and its performance, but never got a chance to actually review it. The same goes for the Nikon D4, which has been sitting in my to-do list for a while. I am planning to go to Photo Plus later this month and I absolutely have to finish testing the Fuji lenses before I leave. I will focus on those during this week and try to review as many as possible quickly, so that I could come back to Nikon. Lots to do, very little time sadly :(

      • 31
        ) autofocusross

        Hi Nasim, no need to apologise on the D5200 thing, you can’t possibly review every camera but I am pleased that it is on the to-do list, I love it and it is nice to hear your opinions as they are always well balanced and don’t overdo the geeky adoration that we get on some review sites. New features that help are great, but not at the cost of getting good images onto your memory card! I bought it when I heard it (very marginally) outperformed the D7100 on image quality. That is, I know, not the whole story, but it is nice to know you have the IQ of something twice the price from the same factory :).

        I wouldn’t worry about Nikon Corporation, we have always seen diversity ever since I picked up a camera when I was just 9. That will never change, and Nikon are so well integrated into modern photography, with so many people invested in not only their cameras but their lens and accessory systems, they will always remain one of our big hitters. They must have learned from the D600 fiasco, I doubt they will let that happen again should a new product prove troublesome in the future.

        What troubles me is that Nikon (and Canon) launch new models far too frequently. The full potential of even a D5200 is hard to realise, in all situations, in such a short life cycle – assuming we are meant to upgrade to the next model within 6 months of introduction of it. Add to this the RAW image problems with Adobe (lack of support for newer cameras plus now the ‘cloud’ marketing methods) it makes you wonder if the golden goose is laying too many eggs.

        Fingers crossed the D5200 shows up no problems down the road, I have upgraded quickly between the 5000, 5100 and now 5200 over the past four years, but now we’re at 24Mp with great dynamic range and low noise at high iso, my urge to upgrade again will be easier to resist next time… have you heard any of the rumours about the D5300, I read that it is expected in Jan or possibly Easter?

        Keep up the good work, thanks for the reply.

        Ross

    • “I imagine most of those already bought into the D800 system will remain with it as there is a return on investment to consider. Many, but not all by any means, will be pro photographers so it is the cost of their lenses which will deter any change in the short term.”

      Indeed. But actually the main reason is that a Sony system would be far more expensive! Don’t be blinded by the low price of the bodies, when you have to pay a premium on the lenses. Not only that, but even if price wasn’t an issue, I couldn’t replace what I have now because of Sony’s rather mediocre lense lineup.

      My workhorse lens for events is the 24-120mm F/4 zoom, and Sony doesn’t have anything like that. What it has now is a 24-70 F/4 for about the same price as the Nikkor with 50mm missing from the long end, and over 50% of my shots are just there (between 70-120mm!) Add to that the close to $1000 standard prime lens (compared to the $220 F/1.8 G Nikkor), the slow autofocus, the 1.5fps of the A7r… No, d800 owners won’t rush to Sony anytime soon. Maybe in 4-5 years, when the d800 starts to get long in the tooth IF Sony gets its lens act together… That’s a big IF though.

      And don’t get me started on their new kit lens – the worst full frame kit lens in the current line-up. Canon has the 24-105 F/4 in kits for both the 6d and the 5D Mark iii, Nikon has the 24-120mm F/4 and 24-85 f/3.5-4.5 for the d800 and d6xx respectively. 28-70mm F/3.5-5-6? What a joke!

  15. 19
    ) Daniel Michael

    Hi Nasim,

    Couldn’t reply straight away, had to browse the net to see if NIkon had lowered the launch price of the D610 launch price in the wake of this announcement…

    This is an interesting development in the camera world. The industry needs this once in a while to shake things up. For me Sigma started shaking Nikon lenses up the amazing 35mm 1.4, much better and less than half the price of the Nikon. Sony are doing the same with full-frame bodies. Indeed it is a SECOND wake up call for Nikon and Canon… They need to start listening!

    For me, my upgrade path just got confusing. I was going to get a D610 / D600 to compliment my Sigma 35mm 1.4 and a little while later a Fuji X-E1/2 as a back up / smaller camera. I was literally drooling at the prospect of the XE-1 – just from even appearance and ergonomics. But now I don’t know. Slow AF has always ruled out mirror less for me especially for kids and sports shooting. I can imagine the A7 will still have the same problems. So will is replace my D610 /D600 upgrade? I don’t think so, but it may replace the plan for the XE-1 (which is going to make me cry!) as the back up / landscape camera for sure.

    For most of us, things just got confusing! And just as Autofocusross said above, this is pure genius marketing on the part of Sony.

    • 78
      ) Michel

      Hey Daniel

      You are perfectly describing my situation as well. I already own a D800 and many lenses and, based on the thin lense choice as well as some missing features like a good, quick AF-System, am not planning to buy an A7/A7r as my main camera. But I was also thinking about purchasing the X-E2 when it comes out – although now I am not so sure if that is the right way forward.

      Cheers

      • 79
        ) Daniel Michael

        Hi Michel,

        I know the X-E2 will be unveiled this week, and there are already rumours of Fuji working on a full frame X200. To be honest now that the initial wow factor has calmed down about he new sony cameras, I’ve started to think I may stick to my original upgrade path. The Sony thing is great for the industry, but it shouldn’t change much for most people in an ecosystem, at least not yet. Looking at the price of their lenses, I can’t imagine me jumping to them any time soon, and with Fuji’s great customer service, plus the fact people like Nasim and Romanas jumping to them in droves, I think I’m too much of a convert. There is something about the images that come out of the Fuji that just make it plain different to the others, which is probably why I want it. Why have two of the same camera, I’m thinking? Also, we don’t know what nikon is planning, maybe they have learned their lessons?

        Here’s to hoping!

        • 80
          ) Michel

          Hey Daniel

          Yes, apparently tomorrow at 4.30 London time in the morning;) We will see, but I guess the main things will be the AF-technology from the X100s, improved viewfinder, WLAN and some other usability changes. I do not expect any dramatic changes in capability or image quality.
          I must conclude – after giving the whole topic some thought I am leaning even more towards the Fuji. I do not want so many megapixels on my second and everyday camera, and I want to keep messing around with Raw to a minimum (with the D800 it’s only raw). That is exactly where the Fuji comes in. Additionally, there is this apparently superb 18-55 kit lens from Fuji, which offers a lot for the money and makes a nice, versatile package.

          And yes, I also believe that this is the first step from Sony – others will follow eventually.

          Cheers

  16. 23
    ) Laszlo

    Presently I travel 15-20 kg gears on my back. Honestly I am fed up but every time when I put together my travel kit I have a hart pain to leave some loved objective at home. But the time is passing and I am getting older and older.
    In the other hand I have been Nikonian, I have had even Nikon compact as back up pocket camera. It changed recently. I purchased a Sony RX100 to replace my Nikon Coolpix. The reason is clear. It was better for my use.
    Nikon developed and concentrated excellent DSLRs and better and better objectives for these cameras. This is not pity but the trend is going to be changed. Nikon legs behind Sony in mirrorless cameras. This announcement is very important. I was wandering to have a Fujifilm Pro camera for some outdoor activities where the weight counts a lot. Now, I change my mind. If the specification and the tests fit my expectation I will purchase this new FF camera. In the future if Sony resolves the quick AF I will replace my DSLR.

  17. 26
    ) Daniel Michael

    After the initial the news sank in, I had a few more thoughts. Don’t people find it strange Sony released the cameras with a rubbish lens lineup? OK, they have some on the horizon but it’s an incomplete / useless announcement. It’s kind of saying to everyone “If you were going to upgrade your Nikon /Canon/ mirrorless this year, think about this new ecosystem”. They obviously are trying to prevent people buying other makes, while still developing their system, which is not quite ready. It’s actually quite sneaky.

    Nasim also made another good point. They can throw money at these things that other manufacturers can’t do. They can sell the bodies at a loss, and make up for it in numbers and lens prices. This could have totally undesirable consequences in the long run for the industry. I actually dread to think what will happen if pure camera manufacturers go out of business because of this severe pricing model. Sony products while technically great can be a little soulless.

    p.s anyone looked at their “leather case” ? It’s so damn ugly.

    • Daniel,

      I actually agree on a lot of the things you pointed out. You chose the right word to describe Sony – it really is “soulless”, characterless, but brilliant technically. In my opinion, most of the stuff they make is also rather ugly, except for perhaps the RX1. I am glad they introduced the FF mirrorless cameras – I knew they would sooner or later. Perhaps that will push other manufacturers to do something of the sorts, too, because frankly I started to actually dislike Nikon and Canon – the two big players in camera market – because of how lazy they seem to be. The only Nikon DSLR I would consider purchasing for my photography today is the D800, but right now I do not see myself using Nikon or Canon in the future and will likely move to Fujifilm eventually.

      Now, the price. Somehow seeing mirrorless cameras as being cheaper than their FF counterparts always made sense to me, so I don’t really think Sony’s pricing is that aggressive. It’s actually quite appropriate. I’m not sure about the negative consequences. But I do hope it will have a positive impact on the market and stir it up a bit.

    • “Don’t people find it strange Sony released the cameras with a rubbish lens lineup?”
      Rubbish AND overpriced. Unlike many others, I actually like the design of the cameras themselves. And the price is good, but Sony is developing a system, with mediocre lenses and a price tag that will make your Sony system more expensive than what is available from the competition in the end.

      I’m very much interested in where Sony is going. I have the d800 and 4 lenses, with one more planned, and I think I’m good for 3-4 years. But Nikon is not a lovable company. In fact, I think it’s one of the most customer-hostile company out there. After sales-support is non-existent (like adding features in firmware updates – Canon does it), service time is one of the worst, QC has been lacking lately, and they display a profound lack of imagination in terms of new ideas. I have no customer-loyalty to Nikon whatsoever. I’ve been eyeing Sony for a while, they seem to be doing some nice things, more innovation, good ergonomics in general, good sensors… in 4 years time I might consider switching. But!

      The biggest let-down of Sony are lenses. Close to $1200 for an 24-70 f/4 lens? And people are complaining about the price of the Nikkor 24-120 F/4! The new kit lens? No comment! It’s the worst of any kit lens I’ve seen (Canon has the 24-105 F/4, Nikon the 24-120 F/4 and 24-85 F/3.5-4.5). Close to $1000 for a standard F/1.8 prime lens? If I wanted to replicate my current setup (16-35 F/4, 24-120 F/4, 50 F/1.8 G, 85mm F/1.8g) – well, I couldn’t in the first place! But let’s say I’d go with the 24-70 F/4 lens, loosing 50mm (even though most of my shots are above 50!) and replacing the rest from with Sony/Zeiss. I’ll end-up paying more money, even though the camera itself is cheaper. And I’ll lose the 5x f/4 zoom capability plus 4fps as well.

  18. 27
    ) Nic

    We will all be shocked when Nikon release the MIRRORLESS D400 & D5……Am I dreaming?…

    • That would be a big dream indeed! Nikon is completely neglecting the high-end DX crowd…sadly.

      • 85
        ) Peter G

        High end DX crowd ?

        There’s isn’t any, Nasim.

        We all moved on to full frame :-)

  19. 30
    ) Daniel Michael

    Not sure if this is a response to this Sony announcement, and forgive me if it’s been out a while, but Nikon are offering rebates on selected cameras and lenses, now making the D800 exactly the same price in the UK as the release price of the D610….

    • 33
      ) autofocusross

      Looks like your guess is right. That’s got to be a reaction to the Sony product. The thing is, where does it leave the D610? who would buy that if the D800 can be had for the same, or similar money?

      I bet the D610 is also reduced in a day or so.

  20. 34
    ) Valerian

    Thanks for the interesting article, these cameras have success written all over them and they need to wake up the sleeping DSLR giants!

    Anyway, I read about the optimized sensor for wide angle lenses via a microlens array – will this only be available on the A7r? Hopefully both will have it as I’d rather have better ISO performance and higher FPS for street photography.

    • 75
      ) Marius

      If you’re going to use the a7r for street photography you should be aware it does have a loud shutter.

  21. 37
    ) artfrankmiami

    I don’t want a mirrorless camera (but if given one…). I guess it’s a good idea because of the shake vibration would be gone, but I hate staring at a screen to take stills, I like a viewfinder and I wish I could shoot video on my D800 w/o looking at the screen but I guess the mirror has to be up for video.

    After sorting through my old chromes and prints, I wish I could afford to shoot with my Yaschica Mat124G again.

  22. 39
    ) James

    I do like the shake-up that these cameras should cause. I don’t think I’ll switch from Nikon any time soon; I have the D600 and just need a wide-angle and macro lens to round out the system. I am, however, keeping an eye on the competitors and am considering renting some other cameras as they come out to see what else is out there.

    I have enjoyed Sony cameras in the past (love my RX100m2), so I think I might just end up renting the A7 if I see it available.

    Can’t wait for the reviews.

  23. 40
    ) liuels

    I would say it’s not fair to compare the price of a7 to d600 or a7r to D800E. These two sony cameras are slow in focus, and the real continuous shooting speed(forget abt the silly speed pirority mode) is only 2.5fps for a7 and 1.5fps for a7r. Yup, these two sony cameras are nice, they might be the future to go, but currently, they are slow cameras!

  24. 42
    ) Charlie

    Great article; I too feel that the Canon and Nikon need to think very hard about the future of DSLR, although in their current state I get the feeling the A7/A7r are going to appeal more to the gadget/tech folk who want full-frame “because it will take better quality photos” rather than the pros who really know how to handle FF and have fairly specific requirements.

    As a NEX-6 shooter, my question now is whether I continue to invest in APS-C on the basis I’m never going to ‘go pro’, or whether in the long run it would be worth moving to Sony’s full frame system. I am of the opinion that a better understanding of composition and the fundamentals of photography will achieve far better results than any new camera will (at least at my level), but I’m interested in understanding where the future of APS-C is now that full-frame mirrorless exists.

    • 48
      ) Autofocusross

      Charlie, in your summing up, you were 100% right in emphasising the importance of composition and the fundamentals of photography being far more important than a new camera. Truth be told, when I change my camera, I find it takes a good month to six weeks to ‘get’ the camera. They all have an optimum way of doing things, strengths and weaknesses, and it takes a while to both find them, and, to adopt to a new menu system / button layout etc.

      All of this ‘settling in’ time costs you speed, and images lost through settings being slightly off, etc.

      We are all different, some would argue they can pick up a camera at 9am and be shooting pro shots by morning coffee, but if it’s an enthusiast / hobbyist and the camera is used at weekends, and sometimes in the evenings, rather than a pro, who uses it all day long, the time needed to get up to speed, to me anyway, is something of a problem.

      I was taking much better shots on my d5100 than I got on my d5200 at first, despite the resolution hike, but that was because there was some re-learning to do. I guess if I picked up a d5100 today, I would have a similar problem while ‘re-aquainting’ myself to it.

      I’ve said this a few times recently, and still think it relevant… far too many models coming at us, we really need, now that it’s hard to buy anything less than 16Mp, for us to spend more time on each model, to get the best out of them. Anything 16Mp or higher will yield prints to 20 x 16″ of a high order of quality so there is no need to play the resolution game unless there is a good reason – specific to you – to do so.

      In my case it was to give me elbow room for cropping out of the main image – and an image quality boost when no cropping is needed.

      Wise words from you Charlie, maybe a few reading this will rethink that next upgrade.

  25. And lets not forget the possibility of using existing Nikon or Canon glass on these Sony bodies by means of adapters. I think Sony built these cameras with this in mind. I for one see myself buying an A7 with one Auto-Focus lens (35mm f2.8) and then an adapter to use my Nikon glass. To me, this seems to be the best option (quality + price) compared to the other manufacturers’ mirrorless bodies, while having a potentially amazing walkaround camera.

    Cheers,
    samer

  26. 45
    ) Vernon Ray

    Thanks for the commentary from everyone else. I love my Canon D60 Brick, but would upgrade in a minute to a full frame mirrorless camera. I purchased the Nikon 1 J1 last year for my wife and have fallen in love with it. For my casual photography, I will pickup the easy to crarry J1 and still feel confident that I have the capability to adjust to any shooting environment. A full frame mirrorless would be wonderful.

  27. 46
    ) Oliver

    Great work like every article on this website! Thanks Nasim :-)

    A few years ago I used the NEX-5N for the GR20 (European trail). I liked the camera because it was very light and easy to handle. But afterwards, as you also mentioned in this article, I saw how the pictures quality was badly influenced by the lens. After this hike I sold the camera.

    I think this is a good chance for Nikon and Canon to see how the market is moving forward. I got a X100 and I like the hybrid-viewfinder. Nikon and Canon should implement this system.

    What we as customers need is not marketing or advertisement. What we need is development.

  28. 47
    ) Nitin Sharma

    Dear Nasim,

    From your professional experience can you confidently say that there will be a significant or huge difference in the quality/sharpness of the image , If Sony Mirrorless full frame cameras are used?

    Reagrds
    Nitin Sharma

  29. Thanks for this, Nasim. I think your conclusion, that this will impact SLR sales a lot, is correct. I was reading Ming Thein’s blog (one you might check out too) and he doesn’t plan to review these because in his part of the world (Singapore, iirc) he says Sony Corp. is very uncooperative with loaners for testing. I hope you have better luck (are you listening Sony?)

  30. One more thought: The lenses announced seem slow! My Nikon 24-70 is a 2.8, and that’s the slowest I can tolerate for real work. Their f/4 doesn’t cut it, unless the low light ISO performance of the Sonys is so good that one can shoot at a one-stop higher ISO than my D800 with no penalty. For primes, I feel nothing slower than f/2 (for a 24/35/50/85) is acceptable for pro lenses. So do these slower lenses mean Sony is not aiming for the pro shooters?

  31. 51
    ) Don B

    I was surprised to see one comment here that said the shutter was loud on this Sony camera.

    The main thing that I hate about DSLR’s are the loud mirror slap shutters. You can’t even hear the speaker at a news conference because of the noisy shutters used by news people’s cameras. Those folks feel the need to shoot at 100 fraames per second.

    I’ll buy the first DSLR that has a silent shutter. I don’t care who makes it.

  32. 52
    ) DSS

    By the time Sony releases lenses for the comparable price and quality of a Nikkor lens, these bodies are going to be old news. No way am I paying three times the price for a prime just because it’s by Zeiss. To tempt me away from Nikon they would already have to have a ready-to-buy lens collection that I could actually afford. The technology is exciting and almost tempting, but without the available lenses it’s utterly useless to me.

    It may be useful to those who are not invested in a system yet and don’t care to have some of the features semi-pro DSLRs offer. It’s also nice for those who can afford to buy it as back-up. It’s a nice compact full frame to carry around places where carrying a big DSLR is a pain, but then again if I go somewhere and I want to capture it in the best way possible, I’m still going to bring my DSLR instead. For sharing snapshots quickly I use my phone. I say nice try Sony,…. good job at being innovative and bringing something new to the table, but it’s not quite enough to make many of us switch. Not yet.

  33. 53
    ) Derek

    Nasim, once again you’ve overreacted. Just like you did when you said that Nikon would drop DX by proclaiming the death of that format and leading the funeral procession. What happened with that prediction? Nikon came out with a D7100, arguably, the BEST camera in the world, dollar for dollar, pixel for pixel, feature for feature(when you take into consideration that it integrates seamlessly with Nikon flash system, the very best in the business). The D7100 competes favorably with full-frame bodies when it comes to image quality and relative noise levels.

    It seems you haven’t learned from your overreacting ways by now predicting doom and gloom for Nikon and Canon. You mean to tell us that Nikon will NOT come out with a *MUCH BETTER* mirrorless system than what Sony has showcased with the A7? You must be kidding, right?

    I know you remember when everyone was predicting Nikon’s demise because it fell way behind Canon in the full frame market…..only for Nikon to come back with a knockout punch by introducing the very best full-frame, professional bodies to date.

    You think Nikon is sitting still, envying Sony? If anything, this is only going to make Sony look all the more stupid when Nikon comes out with a TRULY PROFESSIONAL mirrorless body; with integrated grip and body molding that will allow users with larger hands to actually hold the thing, without it slipping and falling onto the ground!

    Breath deep and relax. Nikon, and Canon, WILL showcase their own mirrorless DSLR and BOTH systems will be the new torch bearers of the photography world.

    You can bank on it!

    • 55
      ) Derek

      Also, when Canon was leading the way in the full-frame world, and people were digging Nikon’s grave, the often used reason for Nikon’s imminent demise was that Canon was a VASTLY LARGER company, with much deeper pockets and how poor little Nikon would not survive.

      What happened? Nikon came out with some killer full-frame products.

      Oh, the dust and focusing issues of the D800 and D600? Yes, those are real; very real. But Canon has had their own share of issues with their full-frame bodies(browse the net for light leaking and focusing issues).

      I will concede that Nikon’s rush-to-market style may account for their poor QA. They may not have the head count, or the management, to deal with such rapid product output for a company its size. Nevertheless, Nikon seems to EVENTUALLY get it right. Both the D800 and D600(D610) are now relatively problem-free products. Shooting with both has been nothing short of a dream for me. The image quality and ergonomics are nothing short of superb.

      When you take into account Nikon’s lens lineup and flash system, it’s not difficult to see why someone would want to stay with the company; specially if they EVENTUALLY get it right. Unlike some of you, I’ve had much success the two times I’ve had to use Nikon’s service department. Prompt and courteous and really nothing to complain about.

      No, I am not a Nikon rep. I’m simply stating what should be the obvious: Nikon WILL produce a mirrorless full-frame system. To think otherwise is not giving enough credit to a company that has been responsible for some of the best photographic tools ever produced.

      • Derek, reacting to a change in the DSLR market with a new compelling offer is one thing, but creating a new system from scratch is another. Nikon introduced full-frame cameras and saved its rear end, but they did it in a market that already had access to many older Nikkor full-frame lenses. There are only two things that Nikon can do at this point:
        1) Create a new APS-C or full-frame mirrorless mount and start working on adding lenses and accessories. Have an adapter to convert existing lenses to this mount with AF capabilities.
        2) Start converting its APS-C DSLRs to mirrorless. Flange distance stays the same for handling and compatibility purposes.

        Option #1 is the ideal choice, because it will result in a smaller camera. Option #2 ensures maximum compatibility with existing lenses, but it will result in bulky cameras. Size could be reduced without a mirror + pentaprism/pentamirror, but not by too much.

        I very much hope that Nikon takes action and produces a good mirrorless system. All we can do now is wait…

    • Derek, not sure why you think I overreacted – I wrote about issues with the Sony full-frame and the fact that their current NEX lens line is not stellar and they need many more great lenses to be successful. And keep in mind that the title of the article is “potential impact of Sony”. I am not saying that Sony will kill Nikon and Canon, I am just saying that they will certainly eat into sales of the big two.

      I have just spoken to my account rep at B&H. He told me that the number of pre-orders that they are getting for the Sony A7 and A7R (especially the A7R) is unprecedented. They have not seen such a rush in a while, the last big wave was the Nikon D800/D800E. They are expecting the Sony A7/A7R to be sold out for many months if Sony cannot produce enough of these units.

      And if you think that Sony’s move is not going to hurt Nikon and Canon, read this article from Canonrumors.com. Canon shooters have been drooling over the Nikon D800 for a while and they want something equivalent now. Many resist switching from Canon to Nikon (brand loyalty is a big factor here), but now that Sony is making a new attractive system with a similar sensor and a much smaller package and lower price, a big number of Canon shooters will be buying it.

      Like I have pointed out in the article, the Sony full-frame mirrorless will impact the market immediately. Canon has already slashed the prices of its 5D Mark III, 7D and popular lenses by up to $300 and a brand new Nikon D600 is now reduced to $1600! The Nikon D800E is currently selling at $300 lower than usual price and the price will most likely continue to fall. You can see the trend here…

      The good news is, all of this is great for us consumers. A year ago we were talking about a full-frame camera at the $1500 mark and we are already there.

      As for DX, I still stand my ground that it has no future in the DSLR world. Nikon needs to realize quickly that the only way of the DX is to move the APS-C sensor to a mirrorless camera. If it does not do it, DX DSLR sales will plummet, as soon as the prices of APS-C mirrorless cameras go down (and they will). At this point, the only reason why people are still buying DX DSLRs is because the price to performance ratio is still better on the DSLR side. You can get a really good DSLR for about $500-600 and you would need to spend twice that to get an equivalent mirrorless camera. But this is all a matter of time – Nikon and Canon cannot continue to drop prices of their DX cameras and other manufacturers will produce mirrorless APS-C cameras at much lower cost than today. We are essentially in the same boat as phones and tablets taking over PC/laptop sales – you already know what’s happened there. Smaller and cheaper always wins and the demise of the point and shoot market is a good example of that.

      Hence, both Nikon and Canon must act quickly within the next couple of years to introduce their competitive mirrorless products. The Nikon 1 has too small of a sensor to compete with M43 or APS-C and the Canon EOS M is underdeveloped, with AF issues and no good lens choices. In fact, Canon somewhat buried the EOS M already – I am not sure why, because they seemingly started out right with a large APS-C sensor…

      • 68
        ) Derek

        Thanks for the prompt response, Nasim.

        Whatever Nikon has to do to stay in business, it will do. As will Canon and as will Pentax, et al.

        You’ve only listed your KNOWN options, namely #1 & #2. But you’re overlooking option #3, or #4 or…….#100000……

        We have no idea what Nikon and Canon are up to. Their engineering teams may be devising their own strategy toward a mirrorless body type that can employ their existing lens lineup. Maybe their bodies won’t be as thin as the Sony, but so what! Personally, I don’t want a body as small as the A7. I’d like a lighter body, for sure. But NOT a smaller body.

        The assumption that you are making, and so many others, is that Sony’s formula is the new standard bearer and benchmark to beat. Yet, we have no clue to what the ‘others’ are up to. They may be working on BETTER technology, at a lower price point.

        The memories are too fresh in my mind from the panic attack that everyone had when Nikon waited, what seemed like DECADES, to finally come out with their own full-framer; and when they did, they came out with products like the D3 and its offspring. Hardly inferior products to the ones that Canon is offering.

        The same will most certainly happen with Nikon, Canon and mirrorless. They WILL come out with something that will make use of their extensive lens lineup. To think otherwise is unreasonable.

        As for the “price drop” of Nikon cameras and lenses; guess what? These are the prices that they SHOULD HAVE been selling at all along! Nikon and Canon have been raping its user base for decades and if Sony’s done anything right, they’ve finally been able to choke the BIG TWO into pricing their stuff just right.

        I don’t see Sony outselling either Nikon or Canon. Instead, I see the BIG TWO dropping prices and folks flocking to their systems….for that very reason……..they offer COMPLETE SYSTEMS. Sony doesn’t and they are YEARS away from offering anything remotely close to a “professional’s system”.

    • 104
      ) sd

      All the best for your positive thinking. But imagine what Sony will do that time..

  34. Great read, for me however its always about the system – the ecosystem of a camera brand or mount definition. Sony isnt there yet. Even if these new bodies look nice (and likely also perform well) – the various lenses and accessories make the difference for me: there is so much more available on the market for the Nikon F-Mount. And if you travel with lots of gear and you need a replacement (or need to rent some lenses for some days because one just lets you down) its much easier with the Nikon/Canon system. Sony is trying hard to get there but for me they are not fully understanding the “system” aspect.
    Regards, Sören

    • Yes, agreed – a good system with a wide selection of lenses and accessories is required for any camera system to be successful. Looks like Sony is planning to add 5 more lenses within the next year and Samyang just announced 5 more full-frame lenses for the E full-frame mount. That’s a total of 15 or so lenses, not a bad start. It will take a few years, but being the first in the market, Sony will have the lead and experience…

      • 72
        ) Robert

        It’s not just system compatibility that Nikon offers. It’s system TECH.

        A mirrorless camera from Nikon that integrates with their existing system products & technology (e.g. iTTL CLS) will instantly give them a leg up over Sony (and others, for that matter).

        As to lens mounts, I see no reason why the F mount couldn’t be adapted for mirrorless with no size penalty. It’s already a smaller mount than Canon’s EOS. F mount has survived a lot of technological iterations and all-out changes for more than a half century now. And it continues to endure…

        Keeping the F mount and working on a new line of more compact mirrorless lenses to stand alongside the existing Nikkor AF lenses (to say nothing of all the older AiS lenses) would give Nikon a huge leg up over all its competitors right there.

  35. 57
    ) Rob

    I honestly don’t see what all the hype is about. Sony has failed to create a compelling lens lineup for NEX APS-C cameras over the past number of years, and I doubt they will do any better with this new system. They will release more bodies than lenses, hoping that people will grab them out of gear/spec lust. The problem is, there is no system. One could argue that you could simply use an adapter for other systems lenses, but that’s besides the point. Sony needs to make a system that can stand on it’s own, and until that time comes they will remain a small niche player in the market.

    I wouldn’t use one of these for the same reason I don’t like mirrorless cameras to start with (yes I’ve tried a number of them) is poor battery life. The small size of the cameras alone is not enough of a reason to switch.

    • small size is a reason not to switch i have just sold my fuji x e1 after 8months of use as i found it too small in hand and switched to the solid performer d7100 which despite newer full frame and cropped models it still commands interest especially as it can be picked up for £700 new.And it fits like a glove- in my hand anyway,so i just do not get the obsession with making tools smaller than they need to be ,and just maybe nikon and canon get this and from the research i have done dslr sales worldwide are still outselling by a margin compact system cameras.

  36. 61
    ) HomoSapiensWannaBe

    I was considering a 2nd D600/610 body, but now will wait a few months to see how these new offerings from Sony pan out.

    I wonder if we will see leaf-shutter lenses for the A7 or other cameras going forward? It seems possible and not that technically difficult to implement.

  37. 62
    ) Reality Steve

    When the dust settles I don’t think either of these Sony cameras will be seen as compelling. Lack and cost of lenses will be the biggest issue but add to that body delimited performance compromises like inadequate PDAF focusing speed or slow flash sync speeds.

    Yes, the Sony sensors are as nice on the A7 and A7R as they were on the D800 and D600, but as we all saw prominently in 2012, it was ultimately body problems that devalued both Nikons to potential upgraders. Sony sensors couldn’t solve the D800′s outdated & crappy PDAF system nor stop the D600′s shutter from spraying oil all over the imaging field.

    Show me a compelling body (and lenses) for the 24 and 36MP sensors, and I’ll show you a winning combination. Other than with respect to size & weight, these are NOT winning bodies.

    • 83
      ) Alan B

      “When the dust settles”, it will probably be on a Nikon sensor. Sorry, just had to. Seriously, having been a loyal user of Nikon products since 1972, I now will not purchase a new Nikon body until it has been on the market for at least 9 months or more. With all the D600 & D800 issues and Nikon’s stubbornness to acknowledge the problem and slowness to correct them has me seriously questioning whether to jump ship. I have been looking at other options for the last 2 to 3 months. At the very least maybe Nikon and Canon can/will wake up!

  38. 63
    ) Nitin Sharma

    Lemme rephrase my query.

    Which camera will produce quality/sharp/better images:-

    A)Nikon or Cannon Full frame DSLR?

    B) Sony Mirrorless Full Frame?

    Anyone out there who can answer this simple query

    Reagrds
    Nitin Sharma

    • Nitin, quality is a subjective matter. Read my Sony vs Canon vs Nikon article for reference.

    • 66
      ) Robert

      When it comes to that level of comparison, the X factor becomes the photographer, not the gear.

  39. 65
    ) Robert

    I’m glad Sony stepped forward to do this. Someone always has to break new ground; buck the trend as it were and be the guinea pig. It will be interesting to see how many early adopters make the buy in for this system.

    Personally, if anyone asked and I were offering advice, I would wait a bit. Wait to see if the concept takes root. Wait for kinks to be ironed out. Wait to see what the more established players with bigger systems offer in challenge.

    As I posted elsewhere last night >>

    Understand, Sony doesn’t have the ecosystem (particularly with native lenses) that Nikon and Canon have. That will take a few years to flesh out.

    And for those that champion adapting other lenses to these Sonys, sure, you can do it, but you’ve now got four precision mating surfaces to contend with, all of which need to be machined perfectly (adaptors vary widely in quality, and if planarity is off, forgttahboutit); you have telecentricity tolerances to deal with; you don’t know how various legacy lenses will react to this new digital sensor design; large sensor + short flange distance could make fast glass very large (notice that so far Sony are sticking with slow zooms to keep the size down) … and on and on it goes.

    In the meantime, I’m more excited about the potential changes this system will bring to Nikon & Canon. You can be sure they’re watching this very closely … and will learn a lot. If analysis tells them to bite, rest assured they’ll bite down hard and release products that are superior to this. With DSLRs still accounting for 80 percent of aggregate system camera sales globally, Nikon and Canon can afford to hold back and play the waiting game for a bit longer, see if these Sony cameras really do stir the industry up, and then introduce superior products. I’m sure prototype designs are already sitting on drawing boards at both companies … just waiting for the “go” signal.

    Remember, Sony is playing in Nikon and Canon’s pond … not the other way ’round. Anyone who labors under the mistaken belief that the world’s two largest camera manufacturing megaliths are just going to stand by and allow Sony to steal critical market share from them, well, then I’ve got some real estate in East Timor to sell you.

    Also, just a few of several items missing in action from the Sonys:

    - improved battery life
    - high flash sync
    - high frame rate
    - image stabilization
    - twin card slots
    - a useful lens selection at launch; here we go again Sony

  40. Three comments:

    1) OLED viewfinders don’t compare. Period! Dynamic focusing of moving subjects? C’mon.
    2) I like the size and weight of my D700 and D800 because of the inherent stability of the higher mass and the fact that my hands are large. In fact, I like the higher weight of the D700 over the D800. Both are equipped with a battery pack, in part to increase size and weight.
    3) I’m not about to trash $25K worth of glass to migrate to a lighter and smaller system—neither of which are an advantage in my lexicon (see 2 above).

  41. 69
    ) Mike

    Kudos to Sony for actually making these two cameras. I knew that once they created the RX1, an interchangeable lens version was not far behind. This is the first camera that has me considering a switch from my Nikon D800. I love the D800, and shoot with it a lot, but it is certainly heavy and not something I always want to carry. When I want something compact, I grab my Sony RX100.

    The A7r certainly has the size and price advantage over my D800. Price is not as big a factor as size for me, I already own the D800 so not choosing between the two. It certainly would be nice to have the same (or better) image quality from a much more compact camera. Of note is that the A7r with lens attached is not something you can fit in your pocket. It doesn’t replace my RX100. Check out this size comparison: http://camerasize.com/compact/#488.393,290.327,467,ha,t

    Where the A7r is lacking:
    - no second card slot (I like having instant backup)
    - small battery, not nearly as many shots per charge.
    - poor lens selection. One of my favorite lenses is the Nikkor 14-24, there is no equivalent for Sony. Using an adapter is maybe possible, but you lose the aperture control, autofocus, and possibly VR (for lenses that have it). Also, there are not big zoom lenses available, how long before Sony has an 800mm lens available?
    - no flash built in, sometimes handy when I didn’t bring the SB900.
    - poor autofocus compared to a DSLR with phase detect AF.
    - poor frame rates. This doesn’t matter to me as the D800 is equally slow but no one needing the speed of a D4 is going to consider these as an option.

    • 70
      ) Peter G

      Mike,
      To answer your question : how long before Sony has an 800mm lens available ?
      I would say about the 12th. of Never .

      Nikon and Canon have got the pro market sown up, and no serious sports photographer would go to Sony, as they lack too much in their range.

      I have a Nikon 14-24mm f2.8,and its a fantastic lens. ( have the Lucroit filter holder for it ), and still have my Nikon 300mm f2.8 AF-S, 500mm f4 AF-I, and 800mm f5.6 ( manual) as well.

      My Nikon bodies are D3S, D3 and D2Xs ( which gives excellent results providing you don’t push the ISO)
      No need as yet for a D4 ( I don’t like the 2 card system )

      • 71
        ) Mike

        Ya, I don’t see a big tele prime from Sony any time soon. The 14-24 on my D800 is fantastic, it would be very hard to give up that view. I’ll hold on to my Nikon gear for now, but I’m definitely keeping an eye on things coming out of Sony. They sold me on the RX100, but not yet on the FF cam.

        • 81
          ) Peter G

          Mike,
          Have a look at this for the Nikon 14-24 : http://www.lucroit.com/
          Regards …Peter.

          • 82
            ) Mike

            Thanks, there are several filter solutions out there for the 14-24 but I haven’t needed one yet. For most of the work I need I can process in post, but there are times a polarizer would be nice. In those cases, I have just stitched shots from a 24mm.

  42. 73
    ) Bob

    Hi Nasim,

    I’m very interested in purchasing the Sony A-7 mirrorless camera. However, being a Minolta fan
    with all the A-mount lenses and then upgrading to the Sony A900 and purchasing the Zeiss 24-70mm
    (expensive lens) A-mount lens, I’m just curious what my options are. I know Sony makes a lens adapter to convert A-mount lenses to E-mount, but what are the pro’s and con’s in doing this..???

    Thanks,

    Bob

  43. 74
    ) Bob

    Hi Nasim,
    I’m very interested in purchasing the Sony A-7 mirrorless camera. However, being a Minolta fan
    with all the A-mount lenses and then upgrading to the Sony A900 and purchasing the Zeiss 24-70mm
    (expensive lens) A-mount lens, I’m just curious what my options are. I know Sony makes a lens adapter to convert A-mount lenses to E-mount, but what are the pro’s and con’s in doing this..???
    Thanks,
    Bob

  44. 76
    ) V. Anand

    Hi
    Sony have certainly created a furore with this announcement! But I think that critics of the new fullsize sensor and it’s lenses are reacting on a predictable level. I think that only very serious amateurs and professionals will be interested to try out the 36 MP a7R. I am sure you are and so am I! As for the lenses, Zeiss lenses are more expensive and worth evry $ spent. I was thinking of investing in a D800 but due to the focus issues refrained. I’m hoping the a7R will not have any such issues.

  45. 84
    ) Jim

    If Sony could provide us with a couple of high quality large aperture prime lens, I would sell my D800 and all nikon lens and join sony

  46. 86
    ) Art

    Nasim, What would be the positives and drawbacks of using Nikon glass and adapters with this Sony? I mostly use manual focus and have some nice ai-s lenses and 16-35vr. Thank you for putting this work out.

  47. 87
    ) Barry

    Thanks for the well written articles Nasim, Sony have certainly got people’s attention with this release. I’m still undecided about which one to get, although the A7 will probably be a better all-round choice for my needs and significantly cheaper. I’m in no rush so will wait to see what other lens choices appear.

  48. 88
    ) RAY

    If these can shoot RAW VIDEO then I’m on aboard but until then I’m sticking w the 5D Mark III

  49. 89
    ) Autofocusross

    Wowser, this topic expanded while I was decorating the spare room…!

    You know, while I was up the ladder painting, I was thinking about this whole thing, and a bit of clarity descended on me.

    Nikon and Sony are businesses, right? they are only interested in selling, at the end of the day, right?

    Historically, the big five photo companies, though that seems to get condensed to only two these days (Nikon and Canon – whatever happened to Olympus, Pentax and Fuji) have been stellar at making camera bodies, the mechanical stuff that flips the mirror and exposes the film (ok ok I give in, sensor) and selling us the dream of perfect images.

    Meanwhile, over the same timeframe, Sony have been doing their electronics thing with gusto, they have similar competitors in the electronics markets, though there is a synergy thing going on there, with sony componentry being used in toshiba Hi Fi etc etc etc. That has been the norm for some years now.

    So here we are, knocking on the door of 2014 and guess what? The camera, per se, is evolving from and optical device aided by electronics, to a mostlly electronic device, aided by optics.

    Surely it was only a matter of time before at least one of the big electrical companies began a more serious assault on the photography market.

    Where will this lead us? I can see the mergers and aquisitions boys in the tokyo stock market just waiting for Sony to bid on one of the large camera manufacturers – it is obvious that for Sony to make any serious inroads into this market, the quality end of the DSLR market, I mean, they need to improve the optical side of their product development. This too, is only a matter of time.

    In fact, it may not be Nikon, Canon, or the others they go after, they could go for Sigma, Tamron, who knows? But, the way it looks from a business point of view, their lens shortcomings have to be addressed – and how better, than to aquire a company with experience, knowledge and respect in the market.

    Mark my words :)

  50. 90
    ) Kris

    I agree with many others here.. the body looks really very attractive (technically, design, features, price), but the current lenses don’t. I hope Sony will work hard to offer great (prime and zoom) lenses with large apertures. If they succeed in that.. I might go from my current D700 to Sony instead of to a D800. I’ll wait and see….

  51. 92
    ) Stephen

    Tried to read thru the thread but it’s just too long so sorry if I’m being repetitive -

    Since these cameras are mirrorless, doesn’t that mean that the mount-sensor distance is shorter?

    And if the mount-sensor distance is shorter, doesn’t that mean there is room for an adapter for full-frame lenses?

    And if there is room for an adapter for full-frame lenses, doesn’t that mean that one could use all of their precious Nikon full-frame glass on these Sony bodies?

    And if so, doesn’t that make all of this discussion about the lack of quality Sony lenses less significant?

    And give Nikon even more reason to sweat ? . .

  52. 93
    ) Stephen

    OK, looked back over the thread and see others have mentioned this possibility – but have not seen it addressed at length by the OP or anyone else.

    Anybody willing to discuss the pros/cons of this issue (adapted Nikon lenses)?

    I understand machining tolerances and autofocus/etc. are problems, but could be addressed by high-quality, even if expensive, adapters. And even the cost of an expensive adapter is peanuts compared to replacing an umpteen-thousand dollar set of fast, quality Nikon glass . . .

    Interested in opinions about this . . .

  53. 94
    ) Kris

    I’ve been doing a lot of searching and reading and I’m not sure you’ll have such an adapter. But even *if* it would be available, you lose an important advantage : this expensive adapter will neutralize the gain you have when buying the Alpha as opposed to the D800. Also, even with an inteliigent adapter (AF, exif, etc), you could have (serious) vignetting in all your photos.

    Don’t get me wrong : I’m very interested in the A7R, but replacing my collection of lenses is not something I look forward to, especially since I’m not impressed with the current offer.

    Other points of view are welcome of course!

  54. 95
    ) JR

    I have teenagers living at home, so I’m not completely out of tune with today’s happenings. I fully understand that everyone is in full “Retro” mode these days and there’s a certain nostalgia for anything 1960s and 1970s(just look at all of the retro film plugins for Photoshop that people overuse).
    Personally, I think the A7 looks hideous and, more importantly, it looks like an ergonomics mistake. I wouldn’t want a camera with such sharp edges and angles; and so small!

    Also, I don’t understand why everyone is jumping to the conclusion that Nikon and/or Canon have to produce a mirrorless full-frame body that looks like the A7/R, or one that has the same specs as that Sony model.

    I can see how users, specially pros, will grow tired of having a body without a substantial grip surface to grab on to. There will be other FF mirrorless bodies succeeding the A7 that will provide more grip and width for those that don’t have smaller than average hands. After all, a car dealer doesn’t just offer one size automobile and neither will camera manufacturers.

    What I believe will happen is that Nikon and Canon will produce a full-frame mirrorless body/ies WITHOUT any need for converters or adapters. Nikon will keep using the longer flange distance of the F mount and simply make a thicker mirrorless body. Why not? Who says that they *MUST* make a paper thin body, like the A7?

    Visit the following link where I’ve compared the size of the Sony A7R, the Nikon D5300, the Nikon d7100 and the Nikon D600:

    http://camerasize.com/compact/#488.393,490,440,378,ha,f

    The difference in size between the A7R and the D7100 is not that big. The D5300 is actually smaller than the A7R!

    Why can’t Nikon make a D600-like body, with the 24Mpix sensor and all of the controls and featues that camera has, in the size of the D7100 or even the D5300? That would be a VERY SMALL camera. Thicker than the A7, but not much taller and possibly smaller in width. The weight may not be much different. Once the prism mechanism is out of the way, that space can be used for electronics. The camera wouldn’t need to be any thicker than the D7100 and no wider than the D5300.

    If I were a betting man, that’s what I’d wager will happen with Nikon’s full-frame mirrorless offering. Ditto with Canon, Pentax…..et al.

    Le’ts not crown Sony the king of the hill just yet. It’ll be MUCH easier for Nikon or Canon to engineer a body like I’ve described than for Sony to build lenses that will challenge the ones currently offered by the big two.

  55. 96
    ) David B

    I think Canon and Nikon are safe for a while with their DSLRs. With all the hoopla bout mirrorless, mirrorless only counts for less than 10% of the market. Canon DSLRs alone I think have the larger share of the market than others together. Canon can do nothing, their DSLRs are excellent and their lenses, especially lenses, are, in my opinion the best, the fastest focusing, and very reliable. You walk around at any tourist distention today and what you are going to see mostly is Canon DSLRs and some Nikon DSLRS and occasional mirrorless (I am talking about America and Europe, I know Japan is different).

    • 97
      ) Peter G

      When I lived in Japan, there were always bigger crowds at the Nikon section at Yodobashi Camera, compared to the Canon section.

  56. 98
    ) Altai

    Nasim, Do you foresee Sigma and Tamron to join the Sony A7 party soon? In particular, I’d like to see the A7 version of the Tamron SP AF 90mm F/2.8 and the SP 70-300 F/4-5.6 but I wonder if Tamron will place back the VC (Vibration Compensation) because the A7 body lacks such function.

  57. 99
    ) HighLights

    It’s easy to see how Sony does it since it makes the sensor for Nikon. Sony filled the market with the NEX version until it could figure out the price point. As soon as they saw Nikon falter and likewise Canon they coincidentally came out with their mirrorless versions. They weren’t about to try to compete at the same price. That was the deal with the RX1. Who was going to pay as much for a single concept lens as an ILC? Someone who needs to have an Audi in the driveway next to their Suburban. In the meantime Sony is cornering the market. Canon’s profits will have to improve and it won’t come from DSLRs no matter how many they sell. Nikon is a brand that Sony will take over. The entire camera industry has already consolidated. For Sony cameras are just another line on their balance sheet. But they can deliver for less.

  58. 100
    ) dylan

    To my knowledge the Nikon D610, D5300 and 7100 do not use Sony sensors.

    They use sensors made by Toshiba and possibly Nikon will ony employ Toshiba sensors in their cameras going forward.

    The Sony is groundbreaking as it is the smallest FF in the world as of now and it’s pointless comparing it’s body size to comparitve APS-C DSLR.

  59. 102
    ) Wink Richardson

    I am a serious amateur with a Canon 7D, and I am having soft focus problems. I am seriously looking at the Sony 7 or 7R, however finding one in a store that you can actually pick up and feel is very difficult. Any stores on the West Coast of Canada that will bring in these cameras? I do not want to order one without actually trying it out.

  60. 103
    ) Outland

    Lol! Always nitpickers and naysayers! They’re everywhere! Please, get a life!

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