The Shapes of Things to Come

A7/A7r Oct 14, 2013

PhotoPlus is almost upon us and with this being a non-Photokina year, most of the new announcements for this year will occur around this event. This year, due to the economic downturn and my daughter’s quince (she wanted a trip to Europe, not a party) I will not be able to attend personally. I will be keeping up with all of the interesting press releases, so please keep coming back for news and updates.

Olympus

Olympus has already announced (and is shipping) their new flagship, the OM-D E-M1. This Micro Four-Thirds camera is aimed squarely at professionals who want top of the line features in a smaller form-factor.

There are technical reviews ad-nauseum on the web, so I will summarized what I have found:

Pros

  • Pro quality body with weather sealing (there are videos of this camera working under running water).
  • Vertical grip.
  • Vastly improved EVF with focus peaking.
  • Industry leading In-Body Image Stabilization (IBIS).
  • Wide variety of lenses including new PRO Zuiko lenses (also weather-sealed).
  • Built-in WiFi
  • Tablet integration
  • Fastest AF in the mirror less segment.

Cons

  • 2x crop factor not landscape friendly. (Lensmakers are designing wides specifically for this platform, however)
  • 4:3 crop is not the same as 35mm (can be annoying to shooters accustomed to the 35mm aspect ratio)
  • No built-in flash (not a con to me, but others like to have it there)

Sony

Last year, Sony introduced the SLT-A99V, the full frame Alpha SLT camera. I was so taken by this camera, that I jumped ship from Nikon and got into this system. Now, the A99 is slated to be discontinued in favor of the new Sony Alpha A7/A7r.
Image courtesy of digicaminfo.
These new Sony’s will be the first full frame mirror less interchangeable lens cameras (besides the Leica M). The A7 is rumored to sport a 24Mp sensor with on-sensor phase detection AF while the A7r will be packing a 36Mp sensor with no AA filter and will use contrast detection AF. These are both new sensor designs. The lenses are the new FE mount, but older E-mount lenses can be directly mounted and used in crop mode while A-mount lenses can be used with a new adapter. There is an optional vertical grip as well. Both cameras feature WiFi and NFC wireless technology.

Fuji

Fuji X cameras have been shaking things up in the world of photography for the last coupe of years and this year is no exception. The X-Trans sensor produces some very lovely images and the X cameras that house them are stylish and well built. I currently own an X-E1 that I used exclusively on a trip to Europe and managed to get some very nice images out of it.
Image courtesy of Fujirumors
The Fuji X-E2 (pictured above) is rumored to have the new X-Trans sensor found in the X100s which incorporates phase detection AF on the sensor itself. The camera remains at the APS-C size (1.5x crop) and there are no announced plans for going full frame. Assuming the phase detection system is as good as the one on the X100s, the X-E2 should easily overcome the X-E1’s only real shortcoming: bad low-light AF performance.

Conclusion

The state of the art in photo technology is rapidly progressing. The paradigm shift to mirror less camera is well underway with a Pro level system from Olympus and Sony, and the 2nd generation of the X-E camera family. What would I choose? That’s a tough question as all three systems are appealing to me. The Olympus has great ergonomics and the widest selection of unadapted lenses of the three systems, plus industry leading IBIS that works with any leans mounted on the body. Sony offers us a full frame system for a fraction of the cost of a Leica with the highest resolution sensors in the segment (but with no IBIS). Fuji gives a system with nothing but amazing glass and overcomes the only issue with the system: slow AF.
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