Analysis: Photokina 2016

Now that the dust has settled on the biannual equipment celebration that is Photokina, we can (somewhat) more objectively opine and speculate on a) interesting individual releases and company activities and b) the industry as a whole. What I’m seeing are three trends:

  1. The effects of the sensor monopoly held by Sony, which aren’t good;
  2. A few courageous companies pushing the envelope wildly;
  3. The conservative ones iterating in ever small increments.

I actually believe this is a signal of the start of maturity and perhaps a bit more rational sense for photographers as a whole – or, perhaps not. There wasn’t really anything from anybody that made me itch and reach for the wallet, and I suspect the same is true for most people; partially because a lot of the more interesting releases already happened (5DIV, D5, D500, X1D, X-T2, X-Pro2 etc.) earlier in the year, and partially because just about everybody is dependent on one sensor maker.

The DSLR world hasn’t moved on much, if at all. Sony released the A99 II, which puts the A7RII’s sensor into a translucent-mirror body; great for SLR fans and those holding on to older A mount lenses, but for one problem: the A7RII itself is back ordered just about everywhere because Sony can’t even produce enough sensors for its own consumption. I suppose we can count the Canon 5DIV in the Photokina releases too; it advances significantly on the autofocus and video fronts, but by all accounts the sensor still lags behind the 2014 D810 in raw performance (resolution, dynamic range, noise etc.). Whilst the dual pixel raw technology is interesting, all evaluations show that it’s of limited use because there is significant image quality degradation whens the focus plane is shifted post-capture: this is of course to be expected since doing so requires both computational interpolation and unequal signal from one pixel or the other (which means, amplification, noise, possible purple fringing etc.). On the other hand, I suspect this is going to be a killer feature for videographers: the focus puller’s job just became redundant in a lot of cases, and making perfect racks and tracks just got as simple as touching the screen.

Nikon, meanwhile, has probably been focusing on the action cameras for the Olympics, at the expense of the D810 line – I suppose given limited resources and sensor supply limitations, it makes sense seeing as though that camera still pretty much sits at the top of the heap as far as single-shot image quality is concerned (the RGB-stacked Pentax K-1 with the same sensor is obviously going to win if there are no holds barred; let alone something like a 100MP MF or the Hasselblad H5D-200MS multishot). That said, the camera is definitely showing its age in autofocus performance and general ergonomics compared to even its siblings; a moderate refresh with some of the componentry (AF, processor, touch screen) from the D5/D500 line would make a huge difference to the D810’s competitiveness. More disappointingly, the promised DL series of 1″ cameras still hasn’t shown up. I suspect once again sensor supply has a role to play here.

Things get more interesting on the mirrorless front. Video seems to be the underlying focus, with Panasonic developing 6K in the GH5, and Olympus 4K in the E-M1.2 – with a 10x higher bitrate than the current camera, which should mean significantly better video quality. It’s also a blazing fast sensor, with wide coverage of PDAF photo sites, 18fps RAW shooting, supposedly no to low rolling shutter and a handheld (?) high resolution mode. Canon’s M5 might be interesting if they can really deliver the claimed performance, but it boggles the mind that after this many iterations, the whole thing still looks and feels one generation behind the competition. Fuji’s GFX 50S is the headline, of course: medium format mirrorless, claimed all-new sensor, and pricing below that of the Hasselblad X1D (probably still higher than the Pentax 645Z, which has undoubtedly higher production costs because of the finder optics). Operation and image quality remain unknowns as the camera won’t be available til next year. Finally, I think it’s patently clear that this is NOT the same camera as the Hasselblad; it’s twice the thickness and has a different flange distance mount, for a start. What I find funny is the usual slew of forum smart-alecs firstly panning the X1D for being a Fuji clone, and then now panning the Fuji for every other reason they can find.

Even though they compete in a broadly similar price category, I see these two cameras appealing to very different audiences. The Fuji is a complete system for somebody moving up from a DSLR or smaller format mirrorless, and has the same sort of DNA as the X-T2 and X-Pro2. The lens selection looks sensible, and no doubt the short flange and focal plane shutter is going to see a lot of adaptors become available (plus people discovering some lenses like the Otuses will comfortably cover 44x33mm). However: it’s still not that small – 35 FF DSLR-sized, judging by the pictures and dimensions – and surprisingly thick. On top of that, flash sync is a mere 1/125s, which is not an issue for landscape shooters, but will be problematic for strobists. On the other hand, the Hasselblad is much smaller – about the size of a Leica M – has a much more minimalist control set, and relies on legacy H system lenses to complete the lineup; it does however offer 1/2000s leaf shutter sync and no focal plane shutter. I see this as the camera for MF shooters moving downwards for portability.

In other medium format news, Phase One now offers a ‘cheaper’ 100MP IQ series back to compete against the Hasselblad H6D-100, which is finally shipping (sensor supply, again) – yet the back remains the same price as the complete Hasselblad camera. Hasselblad also announced an interesting (and very sexy) concept V1D study, which is built around a square cropped 40x40mm 75MP version of the 100MP 54x40mm sensor and X-series lenses plus modularity; I suppose it’s an updated and modernised version of the V system. Personally, I like the idea immensely, but I suspect cost is going to be astronomical if it does go into production. No sign of the rumoured Sony MF or super-flagship FF cameras, yet.

On the lens front, it seems to be business as normal: small iterations, upgrades, and new versions (like a 24-105/4 IS Mk II from Canon, for instance). The Olympus 12-100/4 and 25/1.2 bring versatility and speed to M4/3, but at the penalty of size and price: both are not small lenses, with the latter being larger than the 75/1.8. Sigma’s 500/4 looks to be an interesting alternative to the Canikon big guns if they can solve their focusing consistency issues. Zeiss has been surprisingly quiet: whilst there is a new formula 2.4/85 for Sony E and a trio of Milvuses for SLR mount, only the 2.8/18 is new, with the 2.8/15 and 2/135 APO are optically identical to the ZF.2 series, but with updated coatings and housings. Undoubtedly the passing of Dr. Nasse might have something to do with it.

The really concerning trend I see is in the number of ‘new’ cameras either ‘pre announced’ or launched with warmed over iterations of old sensors, or previously announced cameras with supply constraints and shipping delays caused by sensor shortages (I assume Leica’s instant camera must have been some sort of strange German joke). Sony’s absorption of major industry players has resulted in an effective monopoly; everybody – Sony camera division included – seems to be affected by the Kumamoto earthquake earlier in the year. Cameras that were supposed to ship in April or May (H6D-100) are only shipping now; no doubt the next generation sensors have been pushed back a year further. Here’s my concern: what happens when Sony gets bored of making sensors, like it has done in the past with phones and computers? There are almost no alternative large sensor makers left, and this is an extremely high-capital industry. Probably, only Canon will remain mostly unaffected.

In some ways, this also signals a sort of maturity in the industry as a whole; things are finally settling down to roughly where film was in the 90s. Medium format is somewhat affordable for the moneyed hobbyist, and not just the realm of the big studios. We have choices across the board for form factor and function, where image quality is proportional to recording medium size – that’s to say, everything is pretty close at the pixel level and more pixels on the same angle of view are obviously better. Lenses keep improving, but everybody is benefitting from this; as a whole, the average lens quality now is significantly better than five years ago; it seems the manufacturers are actively developing for higher resolution and future proofing.

One thing that wasn’t picked up on that widely was the YI M1; the camera itself isn’t that exciting, but the entry of a Chinese manufacturer with some major capital behind it should start to worry the establishment. I suspect the photographic market may be a bit too mature for them to acquire any market share unless pricing is very aggressive or they innovate significantly, but it’s still possible that things may go the way of the mobile phone market – look at the emergence of brands like Xiaomi, Oppo, OnePlus and the like. At the consumer end, price sensitivity is still a strong enough motivator to go with an unknown if the delta is large enough.

My own switch to medium format earlier this year has left me in a happy place with my tools, so I haven’t felt the need to upgrade anything; that said, even if I was still shooting the 2014 D810, I’d probably feel the same way. I suspect this is the same for most people shooting with the current generation of hardware, actually (24MP APS-C, 36/42MP FF, 50MP MF, 16/20MP M4/3). I really don’t see anything fundamentally game changing that might make me break out the wallet and offer significantly better image quality: mirrorless MF is good if a) you already have MF lenses, in the case of the X1D, or b) you don’t really use flash or perspective correction lenses, in the case of the GFX 50S. The only thing that is likely to make the list is the E-M1.2 to replace the existing E-M1s we use for video production work. All in all, I suspect that the majority of consumers are either a) not interested because they already have ‘good enough’; b) the hobbyists are either going to get bored because there’s no gear to buy and lose interest in photography in general (already happening) or c) focus on making pictures again. This might not be a bad thing, actually.

From a marketing standpoint, it’s interesting to note that there weren’t really that many major announcements at the show itself – most manufacturers bracketed it or preempted it with isolated launches. This is actually far more sensible than announcing something potentially at a time overlapping your competition – at least it’s far more likely for you to be able to hold consumer interest, even if the trade and media aren’t necessarily present. It’s important to remember that sales are still very much demand-driven: I’ve seen enough dealers start stocking something because lots of people were asking for it (as opposed to selling what they had in stock, or were forced to sell by local distribution channels). This is going to become even more of a trend as the consumer markets shrink, and the high end (read: informed, knowledgeable buyer) grows.

I’m going to leave it to the floor now: do you feel excited, disappointed, or moderately interested but not enough to break out the chequebook? MT


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  1. Ming, the Otuses will not cover 44×33, except 85mm. The physical shape of the barrel has limited the image circle. 28mm and 55mm will cover about 70~85% of the sensor at all aperture. 85mm will cover mostly even at f1.4, but why bother when the resolution of the Fuji lens is going to be able to resolve 100mp anyway and might be smaller, AF and hopefully faster in operation…. GFX is a first true mirrorless, Hasselblad’s can only be said to be a digital back with mount control built in. But hey, who knows they can firmware enable the electric shutter, then hasseblad will be a interesting camera at least from my point of view.

    • I must be missing something, because my projection tests at 47mm flange distance make it appear as though they do cover 44×33 – perhaps the edges are really poor (no way to tell from projection only) – or, it may also be because my own Otuses are not production versions…

  2. Not sure where to post this question. I was watching your new video of the X1D for Hasselblad. Very nice. I liked the camera strap (wide) that you were using. Does it come with the camera? If not, what is the brand and model, if you will share it please?

  3. Like one other poster said, I find your philosophically driven posts more “intersting” than gear talk. However, of all the items mentioned, there is this Olympus 25/1.2 sticking out. Whenever I bumped into images taken with that lens, I stopped for a moment. Is that lens on your radar re a review?
    That could be interesting…

    • Probably not – it defeats the point of M4/3 to me. Not small, not cheap…

      • Both true, but nevertheless an interesting lens. 50mm FF really not my favourite, but can be intimate and since this lens focuses from (front lens) 20 or so cm, there could be some interesting possibilities.

        I like your processing, not always but you manged to have a certain style and would have love to see your samples …

        Pity that …

        • Sorry, but it just doesn’t make sense to buy a $1000+ lens for a review – especially when I don’t have a body to go with it, and it doesn’t fill any needs of my own…

  4. Said AZIZI says:

    I think for the time being, Sony will still invest heavily in sensor developement since they are seeking more market share and imo, that will definitly be driven essentially by the sensor tech rather than anything else (Lenses, AF, Ergonomics, Battery life…). In the long run though, it’ll be a different story.

    • That would be my play too if I were them, but it appears they’re trying a shotgun approach with all bits of the pie – which will probably leave a fragmented industry and a lot of unhappy users when management decides that cameras are unprofitable and it’s time to have another bout of OCD…

      • Goodie, does that mean film will have a full renaissance? :D) More people being re-employed manufacturing film and paper, lots of D&P places providing more employment, too. No digital images to get lost. The return of the proper High Street photographic shops (more employment) with lots of excellent used gear on display and for sale. Ah well, just a dream.

  5. As for me, Ming, I am deeply in “good enough” camp. I am only interested in the modern gear news as far as my inner geek goes. The EM1 is good enough for 99% of my purposes. The 12-40/2.8 zoom lens is excellent just as much. I am very glad to have bought Mitakon 25/0.95 for my standard lens – it is 1/3 of the price of freshly announced Oly 25/1.2 and 1/2 weight, so it is much more m43 to my eyes than these big lenses that were just announced. And the pictures I get from it are second to none. Absolutely no regrets or complaints here.

    Naturally, I do agree that the sensor tech is slowly moving ahead. Having said that, I don’t think that 95% of the photographers can extract full potential of the electronics and software that their cameras provide at will. I mean 95% of the people who actually buy cameras and shoot with them actively. So again – yet another addition in some n-th digit after the digital dot is definitely fine, but is it worth shelling my money out just because a new camera or lens came out? Most likely not.

    I really like the tones and colors that my EM-1 is giving me, though. They are just right, hard to explain in words – just warm enough, natural enough, deep enough… Just good enough in all respects I can think of.

    What is most exciting news is that finally mirrorless concepts are making their way into medium format. It is really great news that we have new systems being introduced around modern medium format sensors. I personally think this is wonderful direction in terms of portability and platforms for new lens development. Then, as the round will be complete, it may cause new development in sensors – especially what has to do with wide or very wide lenses.

    So, it is good to be a hobbyist photographer nowadays – many choices, many system, many exciting things to learn and ultimately, may opportunities to go out and take pictures.

  6. Ming, Thank you for your infromative article. Do you know if you will be able to use the Hasselblad tilt shift adapter with the XD1 ?

  7. Best summary I’ve seen. Thanks. As a very satisfied m43 user the only other formats that capture my interest are phone cameras and MF. Your essays regarding MF and in particular, the output you achieve, are always worth examining.

  8. I am still having trouble (conceptually) getting my mind around the difference between the idea why a 50 Mpx sensor on the Nikon system would not equal a 50 Mpx sensor on a MF system, as far as the quality of the image is concerned. I know you have pointed out the reasons, but if you will, a little more on this issue could help me to better understand what is happening here. For some time I have been waiting for Nikon to pony-up with a D820 (or some number) camera with a 50 Mpx (or greater) sensor. And I assumed that 50 Mpx on a Nikon would equal 50 Mpx on a Hasselblad, etc.

    Apparently this is not so, because you clearly write that 50 Mpx on a FF DSLR does NOT equal the Sony 50 Mpx on the various Hasselblads. The reason this is so earth shaking for me is that if this is true, then I see my whole interest in FF DSLRs (not to mention scores of lenses) goes out the window and I clearly see that the advent of Medium Format cameras (eventually affordable and small) is coming of age and the X1D is just the tip of the iceberg. If you could explain the difference between FF DSLR and MF sensors of the same size in a little more detail, I would be greatly appreciative!

    • Pixel size. Diffraction. Dynamic range. Noise. Color accuracy. Bigger pixels are always better, everything else equal.

      • Sorry to be so ignorant, but why could not pixel size be the same on a Nikon D810 as on the X1D? I obviously have a confusion about the size of a 50 Mpx sensor on a Nikon DSLR and on a MF camera like the X1D.

        • Alex Carnes says:

          There’re no mind boggling concepts: MF sensors are bigger than FF sensors, so for any given pixel size, you can fit more of them on an MF sensor. The grumble I’d have with these MF sensors is the 4:3 native aspect ratio… I’m just that used to composing/pre-visualising in 3:2 that it’d really throw me.

          • Alex, I suspect the reason for the 4×3 ratio could have something to do with the fact that the majority of roll film slr cameras were able to shoot in 6×4.5, that is, 15/16 on a 120 roll. Rollei did it with a 16on adapter, and the likes of Bronica and Mamiya (not sure about Hasselblad) had cameras that shot 6×4.5 natively. So perhaps this ratio was very acceptable to the majority of medium format, especially professional, users, and would also mean that there are numerous lenses that cover this format that could, maybe, be adaptable for use on the Hasselblad.

        • Long side dimensions – physical size and pixels:

          MF: 44mm/ 8300px = 5.3u, 28.1um2
          35mm: 36mm/ 8300px = 4.33u, 18.7um2

          The same number of pixels in a smaller area means 40% less light gathering ability. You cannot physically fit in the same number of same sized objects into a smaller space if there is no extra space.

          • Finally, I get it. In order for Nikon to compete with the X1D, it would have to use, by definition, a MF-sized sensor and thus be a MF camera. However, some of my F-Mount lenses, like perhaps the Otus series, have a large enough image circle that they could be used on a MF sensor, if the camera had a global shutter.

  9. Carlos Polk says:

    I am not usually that interested in the articles about gear, being more attracted to your philosophical and photo essays. However, this one sort of hit home. I have a camera fund so that I can get what I want. Curiously, I have pretty much all that I want in lenses except an ultra-wide that I can put a filter on. Sure would like something down in the 10mm f/2.8 range. AF would be nice (I’m old.) I am still shooting with a D800E. It is still much more capable than I am. I had some envy for your D810, but I think I have reached a level of sufficiency as a rank amateur where I didn’t feel that the incremental improvements of the D810 would do much, if anything, to improve my photography. More megapixels? Higher frame rate? Better performance at all ISOs? Faster AF? Better IS/VR? Wouldn’t we all like that? But, how much is it worth for (small) incremental improvements in my league as opposed to yours? However, I do watch the announcements of new cameras/models hoping that something will come along that I just can’t live without. Still waiting. Great article!
    Highest Regards,

    • “I am not usually that interested in the articles about gear, being more attracted to your philosophical and photo essays.”
      For that, I am glad 🙂

      The main change for D810 over D800E is highlight handling and dynamic range – the files look quite different, to the point that I have to expose them differently to get an optimal result. The D810 is much more natural-looking. Aside from that – nothing much has changed.

      As for the 10mm, I think Sigma just announced a 12-24/4 Art for FF?

  10. Im still taking pictures with my Canon 400D , a decade old (I think) camera. Its about 2-3months I’ve decided its time to upgrade. And let me tell you one thing , It is very hard to choose. The cameras (sensor wise) are pretty much perfect from 2012 and later , so no matter what you get its gonna be good enough (for like 97% of “photographers”). Sensors are so good that camera phones have less noise than my camera. The issue I have is although these sensors are pretty much everything you could ask for , but you can not say the same thing about the camera itself. Some are too heavy , some lack lenses , some has awful menu , some are unnecessarily too complicated (why would you put everything and anything on the body ?). For my needs (and 97% of photographers) whom does not shoot airplanes and race cars and sport events and children running crazy around and… canon 400D is focusing fast enough , has start up time fast enough , operates more than fast enough. Yes the DSLRs today are much faster but seriously it is not needed. My camera has two problems ; 1) In a very dark situation it does not focus (or frustrates you to death) 2) you can’t go pass iso 800 (1600 being the heights). These made me (finally) to think about upgrading.
    At first I was considering Nikon Df and 28 f1.8 and 58 f1.4(mainly because of this lens-and still considering) but I found the leica Q to be a lot better camera. In fact I think it is the nearest to a perfect camera(only if it had a 50 mm lens too). I looked at sony , I didn’t see any cameras , just a motherboard with a lens mount on it and slr sized lenses on it ( It’s a shame the loxia lenses are waisted on that mount). leica m is 680 grams and a lot thicker than film m series (wtf leica ?). Leica SL great camera (still really heavy-wtf leica ?) and awful lenses (weight as much as fuji 6×8 medium format lenses – again , wtf leica ?). The X1D is really interesting. I am considering it , I only fear it will be sluggish.
    If nikon had designed Df with half the nobs and buttons (simple like leica) , I would have bought into it and never looked backed for another decade. But since they didn’t I have three options now ; Df , leica Q , X1D.
    I hope the future has much much simpler designed cameras like leica’s , X1D and every phone that is now produced. Maybe if leica didn’t spend so much time on limited series they could have got it right…

    p.s. I picked up a Nikon D7200 and D810 for testing. Why is it so much buttons on the cameras ? I mean how often people use these settings? It took me a complete whole day to figure out what is what and in field when I wanted to use it I had to think and look hard to find what I wanted.

    • Better than digging through menus. But you could probably pick up any of the current Canons and feel both happy with IQ and at home with the controls.

      • My use is limited to exposure and ISO , I hardly use most of settings of the camera. I can continue canon , but that X1D is too pretty 😐

  11. Well said! This is a very good analysis of the current state of affairs. You seem to acknowledge that there’s something now for everyone on the market. I still continue to miss some LARGER OPTICAL VIEWFINDERS and that is the only reason 35mm DSLR users are going to stick to this form factor (something optimized for manual focusing and better composition)

  12. Well, what I get out of this time period and the arrival of the Hasselblad X1d and the new Fuji MF camera is a reason to shift from FF DSLRs to a MF camera of one size or another, at least for someone like myself who is not a sports photographer, but more into landscapes and still life.
    And that shift to mirrorless MF seems to this user to be at hand. It’s a fact that the Hasselblad X1D is a mirrorless camera and it seems like a very good job of it as well. The difference between a 50 Mpx sensor on a 35mm FF DSLR and the Sony 50 Mpx sensor as implemented on the various Hasselblad systems is very sobering for those of us who have been waiting for Nikon to issue a D820 — another (but larger) FF DSLR. There is apparently a very real difference, enough for this user to see why a shift to a MF sized system is not just an alternative, but something perhaps more imperative than that.

    The Sony 50 Mpx MF sensor has been fully explored on the existing Hasselblads and is quite wonderful IMO. I am not that technical, so I appreciate those here who are pointing out the difference between a larger FF sensor and a MF sensor/lens of the same size. I did not fully understand that before, so these comments have been very helpful. Whether it is the Hasselblad X1D or the new Fuju MF camera is not as important as the difference outlined above.

    • The difference is certainly tangible. I’ve shot somewhere in the 100,000 image range with the D810, 5DSR and 7RII combined; none of them can really challenge the 50MP 44×33 sensor. And that sensor can really run away under the right conditions…regardless of the implementation (confirmed from my own use of four different Hasselblad models, the Pentax, and the Phase One implementations). No question it is my sensor of choice now, and the Hasselblad implementation has the most natural looking tonal range rendition (the Pentax is too linear) and most natural color (the Phase is too cool).

  13. I’m probably more interested in the YI M1 than in anything else – I may buy the Panasonic G80 to replace the G7 (shutter shock fix, plus weather resistance and IBIS), I like the sound of the Fuji MF, but as with the Hasselblad, I don’t really want to spend that much money on a camera system regardless of how good it is.
    But the entry of a phone company into the camera industry might finally start to see some improvements in the camera software, rather than just iterations on minor hardware improvements. This is one of the reasons I was disappointed to see Samsung leave the market – their cameras ran Tizen, and even aside from features added by the manufacturer, people have “hacked” them for more features. I’ve given up hoping for any of the established players to introduce anything useful – automatic ETTR would be nice, for example, but what I have instead is a camera that can remember my dog’s birthday…
    I’m not expecting miracles of the Chinese phone companies, but at least they innovate quickly! They also compete a lot harder and are less scared to cannibalize other markets. Fingers crossed for change!

  14. It’s sad. I am still waiting and hoping for a FF Ricoh GR type camera.

  15. I’m shooting a D810, and so far nothing is compelling enough to make me shell out any money. I have a very good set of lenses which suit all of my needs (Nikon 14-24, Nikon 24-70, Sigma 50 Art, Nikon 85/1.8, Nikon 105 Macro, Nikon 200-500). I don’t even think I can get 14-500 coverage with most of the other brands save Canon (could be wrong) and the cost to switch would be substantial. I’m in my early 40s, so size isn’t an issue yet. I just dragged my D810, 14-24, 24-70, and giant RRS tripod up the side of a mountain. The mirrorless pseudo-size advantage is a non issue for me, so no real interest in Sony.

    If I HAD to switch today I would likely to to M4/3, and most likely the new OMD. That offers a real size advantage over my current gear but it should as I’m moving a few steps down from 35mm. If money was no object and I had to switch, it would likely be to the Hassy X1D and a nice set of lenses (with the tilt/shift adapter).

    What I’m really hoping for is a 70 megapixel mirrorless D900. It seems like that is a complete fantasy as Nikon can’t even get anything right that they are bringing to market (those action cams are dead, just like the soon to be dead 1 series). So I’ll continue to shoot the stellar D810 and see what next year brings.

    • You’re right: I think M4/3 would give you similar coverage (7-14/2.8, 12-40/2.8, 40-150/2.8, 300/4 and TC – for 14-800mm-e) but image quality wouldn’t be close.

      Mirrorless FF does not have a size advantage in practice. The lenses are still big, the extra batteries inconvenient, and the ‘naked’ ergonomics terrible: I’d rather have the DSLR, too. In fact, I’d rather have MF and one or two lenses instead.

      • I’m not sure if the MF and 1/2 lenses would be the same price as the Nikon and my 6 lenses. Even if they were, not sure I could go with the MF. No question, any of the MF offerings would trounce the D810 in image quality but the single lens would be a substantial limitation that I just couldn’t live with. I actually use all of my lenses, which is why I still own this set. Other lenses have come and gone but right now this coverage is perfect for my needs. My most recent change was ditching the 70-200 in favour of the 200-500. When I need telephoto, 200mm just didn’t cut it.

        Maybe an analogy is a top fuel funny car vs a mini van. Sure the funny car will get you somewhere fast, but hopefully you don’t need to take any turns 🙂

  16. Ørjan Laxaa says:

    With the upcoming GH5 and E-M1 Mk. II, it’s probably a good time to get either the GH4 or the original E-M1. The new G80/85 looks interessting as well(Similarly priced so the GH4 over here, but with IBIS)

    • The original E-M1 has been on clearout locally for sometime; I think you can find new ones around the $700 mark.

      • Well, in Norway, the cheapest new one I can find costs $1250. I can probably get one on ebay for a lot less, but there would still be a 25% import tax.

      • I am guessing that the E-M1 probably will have better IQ and dynamic range than my EOS 600D, no?

        • I would hope so…the existing 16MP cameras are better than my 100D, at any rate. The difference isn’t huge though – and I suspect down to being able to use lower ISOs more of the time thanks to the stabilizer.

          • Ørjan Laxaa says:

            What’s the battery life like on the E-M1 compared to, say, the A7 series?

            • Much better. I used to get about 700-1000 shots depending on how I used it. No problem getting through a day and more. The Sony cameras…four or five batteries.

              • Sweet. An E-M1 would also fit nicely with my M42 and FD glass because of focus peaking and other aids. IBIS would also be pretty nice, seeing that my FD 50mm 1.8 would turn into a 100mm 1.8(and I prefer to “work longer”)

  17. Thank you Ming for all of your time, efforts, and shares in particular some amazing captured and outputed images as well as many very informative and thought provoking artices and open discussions with (yes!) a largely mature interesting and informed audience.

    To this article I largely concur on the dangers/risks and limitations imposed in a narrow supplier market for sensors and with no remedy in sight.

    As to the dearth of innovative ground breaking disruptive photo-centric technolgies/products shown and “shipping” within the next quarter at PHOTOKINA it is also my shared belief that iterative improvements are more the norm than the exception (packaging aside) in established formats (LF MF CF M43) with consideration given to approaching limits imposed by Physics/Manufacturing and a global focus in the current imagery fashions of motion /reality / POV candy as in 360, Drone , reality /adventure documentary using small form devices a la GoPro to audiences glued to social media / breaking video/news all over the “HiDef” 5″ screens with mega quality sound piped through 99$ wireless earbud sound systems .

    I see room for complete systems from the mature camera manufacturers as their long term road map and less of the latest “box” to drive sales with less planned obsolescence.

    I for one look to add/complement my base system with additional lenses, lighting and stability solutions with output printing under the 24″ size format handled in house and all else contracted out.

    I look to growing cell phone photography and using a portable (belt attachable) anywhere go and always with me photo/video complement a small but much larger sensor camera/video solution with the ” large larger largest format” photo/hybrid video gear reserved for focused episodes of intense visual recording (for me this annd also shared in the past 4 years with my young photographer son 1) Wildlife especially birds (of the small hard to see and capture kind) 2)Aviation, 3) Dogs running and having a blast 4).Insects especially Butterflies Dradonflies and related 5) city scenes, people and architecture 6) sail boats,ships and related.

    To complement and grow for us will be for under water / extreme environment gear and extended macro and perhaps night/Astro work to. So where does all this relate back to this year”s PHOTOKINA – to me is a multi year progressive and complementary roadmap of gear acquisition absorption and mastery along with a multi purpose toolkit backed by an ecosphere which is additive in approach qnd execution. Using lenses from 1990s to the latest never replacing but rather adding additional functionality and as a benefit using the gear and learning how to maximize the results considering both its deficiencies and those of the user.

    The choices are great compared to that of 20-40 years ago. Cherish what we have and the extraordinary range of current and evolving solutions available to most everybody…

    Thanks from a 50 years of photographing photographer and in fond memory of my Dad – amateur Photographer and Leica owner!

    • My pleasure. I agree that longevity and transparency in roadmap are going to win customers in the long run – but the fanboy marketing hype is going to be what keeps them around in the short term…which isn’t good for any of us (or actual photography, for that matter).

  18. bicycle snapshooter says:

    Great overview…thank you for your always insightful overview.
    I am disappointed with the trend to bigger and heavier gear.
    My digital journey took me from DX to FX to M4/3. Travelling with a GM1, tiny 12-32 kit lens and Olympus 45mm is absolutely liberating. Yet there are no GM1/GM5 replacements on the horizon. And why hasn’t BSI technology come to M4/3 sensors? It allows 1″ sensors to compete with M4/3 in low light. I can’t help but wonder what it could do for the larger M4/3 sensor.

    • A GM5 upgrade would be nice. It’s almost too small to be ergonomically comfortable, though. The trouble with that thinking is it eventually lands up with designing a scalable pixel, and more of them are always going to be better(at least from a marketing perspective)…

  19. The real issue is that for consumers (traditional market segment) the entire life cycle of image making and distribution is important. They want to take a picture and share with family/friends/social media. For this market segment smart phone and image processing/sharing apps are real solution components. Enthusiast market segment (which is way smaller) needs real camera but all the current cameras are good enough. It is like selling cars. You can sell new cars only when the old ones start getting worn out. Or you come up with disruptive technology (electrical, self driving etc. etc.).

    Camera manufacturers will have to provide something very innovative to be able to sell new cameras or sell as luxury item (as in watch market).

    What did they do during film era?

    • They had 10 year product cycles, I think 🙂

      • bluetwango says:

        Yes, especially at the top of the range. The Nikon F ruled the ’60s; in the ’70s, there was the F2; In the ’80s, we used the F3; came the ’90s, the F4 (and the F5, barely born to watch its breed perish). But as we all knew, the camera wasn’t where the high technology was. Each year, film photographers were offered new film emulsions and processing chemicals. Kodak and Fuji dueled furiously, with new offerings annually.

        Nowadays, when we buy the camera, we get a lifetime supply of digital “film.” Just as always, we look for better and better films- and that means buying new cameras.

        • Hardly lifetime, though. Consumer electronics doesn’t last. Even much-vaunted Leica’s have corroding sensors after just a few years…

  20. Ming, I think you hit the nail on the head with one of your comments below about a hypothetical 42MP D820: the reason Canikon aren’t really pushing new hardware out is because what they already have is highly evolved, and works very well. For the most part, the cameras disappear during use. Sure, I wish they could AF a little faster in slightly lower light with a broader AF array, have a deeper buffer, and maybe a tilting touchscreen would be nice, but for the most part the cameras Canikon make are at the top of the food chain in their niche.

    This was brought home to me when I recently used the Flavor Of The Month mirrorless wonder that basically fell flat on its face when compared to a pro-bodied Nikon (a D810 in my case). Never mind the image quality (which was surprisingly OK given its non-standard CFA), but the haptics and user interface felt like a half-baked product. The Nikon gets a million little details right that add up to a camera that just gets out of your way, like separate AF box locations for portrait and landscape orientations, and buttons and controls whose form and location bows to function rather than nostalgia.

    A lot of people will laud the constant firmware upgrades mirrorless cameras get, but that’s because the initial cameras are buggy and unreliable, and they need those updates! In the case of my rented FOTM camera, AF was indecisive and inaccurate despite using focus-priority release (what?! I thought on-sensor AF was supposed to get us accurate AF!), the EVF would sometimes go crazy and blow out the scene when you turn on the camera even though the manual exposure was set correctly, and odd lags would occur as the camera’s EVF sensor couldn’t keep up or decide whether you had your eye up to the screen. Nice effort, but definitely still a beta-quality product when compared to the DSLRs it’s trying to dethrone.

    I don’t even want to start on the rabid fanboyism behind this camera, which admittedly made me look at it, especially the claims about its miraculous tracking AF (which doesn’t even work nearly as well as the D810 and a screw-drive AF-D lens).

    • I wonder if there’s something in the way you and I shoot that makes these mirrorless wunderkinds simply not work for us – for you, the XT2, for me, the A7RII. I agree: none of them did what they were supposed to, much less what the fanboys claim they could. I didn’t become more beautiful, more heroic or able to track a mosquito in flight in the dark and choose which of its eyes to focus on. Most of the time…I was left wanting my D810. Even the lowly and old Canon 100D I’m using as a point and shoot just seems to work better. What are we doing wrong?

      • Mosquito face detect mode! 🙂

        Logically speaking, I guess there are a few possibilities:

        1. We got dud cameras. While this is possible, I kind of doubt this for many reasons. Mine came from LensRentals, which has a good reputation, and yours has seen the service center several times. Also being digital, there are fewer things to go bad, especially the stuff involving the haptics, UI, and response: the purely software stuff.

        2. Our expectations were too high, especially given all the hype, or we’re pickier than other people. I consider myself pretty relaxed about these things (I gladly use a Sigma DP3M and SPP!), but who knows?

        3. Our use of it is too demanding or outside the design intent of the cameras. I think this is probably the most likely possibility, though I remember seeing your A7R2 behaving badly when we were just walking around Chicago not shooting anything very demanding.

        4. Somewhat related to 3, and not really an answer to your question, the results are not worth the effort to put up with the camera. Sometimes we overlook a lot of things when the output can’t be obtained elsewhere. It’s probably why you used the H5 for that demanding Thaipusam shoot. It’s why I stick with the DP3M and try to use the 2/135 APO for action shots: when everything lines up just right, you can’t get the same results anywhere else. The X-T2’s output looks like good DX, but it still looks like DX. And if you’re going to get a DX look, the D500 does just about everything better … if you can find an equivalent lens. (How about some wide DX primes, Nikon?)

        • 1. Duds: I doubt it too, given that modern electronics are mostly binary, and the bits we were experiencing problems with weren’t mechanical (that has a wider range of tolerances where things still ‘work’) – I can understand different mechanical cameras behaving differently, but not the electronics and processors of other camera. That said, Gerner’s A7RII was a lot faster to power on than mine; I wonder if there are some settings that have undocumented effects on the way the camera operates.

          2. Ditto. I just expect it to not get in the way; operational quirks are fine. But serious deficiencies in response and random lockups are not. I quite happily use the entry level Canikon DSLRs, and those are fine (recently, D5500 and 100D). Hell, I shot with an early MFDB and mechanical 80s Hasselblad…and that didn’t do unexpected stuff or sometimes fail to fire.

          3. I really doubt this too. In Chicago, we were working off a tripod and it was still misbehaving. It did it with adapted lenses, with its own native E mount lenses, and with Zeiss E mount Batises. I wasn’t even using third party batteries.

          4. Yes, I agree: what we gain has to outweigh what we have to put up with. I actually didn’t find the H5 difficult to shoot at Thaipusam; it was much easier than the M9 I used the previous time I went, actually. No buffer issues, no lockups, more headroom in ISO and the output file (!) and better focusing…I suspect a V might have been a different story, but then again, maybe not.

  21. John S Wendell says:

    I was disappointed to see the contest between the E-M1 MII and the GH5 postponed. The E-M1 MII looks capable of covering ALL my needs. I just hope the pixel shift mode is improved over the E-M5 II which seems to have been underwhelming (compared to the amazing output of the Pentax K-1). As for the GH5, it has allegedly been leaked that it DOES in fact have 5 axis sensor stabilization, but I’m left wondering about that. How could the marketing department have been so grossly negligent as to leave that off their announcement at Photokina? In it’s absence, I would expect no 29 minute recording limit and striking improvements in video image quality. But for me, no stabilization would be the deal breaker that throws me unambiguously into the Olympus camp.

    Regardless, for those of us who love the M4/3 system, it was an exciting show.

  22. John S Wendell says:

    After getting excited by FF, I’ve calmed down and come to regard M4/3 as my ideal all purpose (most purpose) system. Thus I’ve been keenly anticipating the showdown between the OM-D E-M1 II and the GH5. So for me the show was a dissapoinment. The only thing we learned about the GH5 is from what Panasonic didn’t say: no mention of sensor stabilization. The Olympus however, while not promising anything unexpected, have reavealed a camera that, in theory, makes up for every deficiency of the original E-M1. The high-res sensor shift ability of the E-M5 II was a disappointment. But if they get it right this time (meaning smilarly effective compared to the Pentax K-1) that will seal the deal for me. I WANT this camera (I think).

  23. Hi Ming Thein, I thank you for an interesting reflection on the Photokina ’16. I bought this summer a Sony A7 II as my first FF camera. I have had since the days of film a couple of Voigtländer lenses. I was considering a Leica M, but I got the Sony for 1/4 of the price of a M. Before the Sony I used for a couple of years the Leica XV. But you know what? Is so satisfactory to shoot with manual focus lenses. I have now the 21mm 1.8, 35mm 1.4, 50mm 1.5 and 75mm 1.8 lenses. The camera is normally on AWB and auto iso from 100-6400. So far I have only used the M setting on the mode dial. And of course I am changing the lens setting in the IBIS definition. And on C2 I have the focushelp. I think it is easier to focus this way now when I am nearing the 60ies than with a RF. This is all what I need so far. And did I say I am really enjoying shooting in this way? I feel more connected to the scenery with manual focus and I like to concentrate on the composition. Therefore I have the diagonallines visible in the EVF. Do I need more? Maybe … one day. But I would wish to see more cameras that are really photos tools and less computers.

    • We are in agreement over manual focus: no ambiguity about where the camera thinks you want to focus (and where it actually focuses, or where you want it to focus). Not sure the Sony was the best choice for something that doesn’t feel like a computer (or programming a microwave) though…

      • I do agree that Sony is not the best choice in this sense. But to get a FF camera where I can use M mount lenses on a low budget gives no other possibilities. I want a 35mm lens to be 35mm, not 52mm or 70mm. This is even more important at wider angels. BTW: Sony has a very interesting Picture Profile setting where one f.i. can set up the camera to make B&Ws very close to Kodak Tri-X. It is possible to set up different B&W settings for each Picture Profile. And I like to have B&W in the EVF. Makes the composition easier.

        • Good point – there are no other options (except film, of course) – though the Sony cameras do not work that well with M lenses especially with wides and towards the edges of the frame…

  24. A very shrewd assessment, many thanks for it. I have two Olympus cameras and four Olympus lenses. if I can’t manage a decent image with that kit, then I might as well take up knitting or collecting stamps. The total cost was less than the cost of one D810 body. There’s no need to spend big on most of this stuff (unless you insist :)) and second-hand markets are bulging with surplus equipment. I will buy another lens or two in due course and I would be very keen or a body that is markedly better made than the consumerish offerings from so many manufacturers which soon break down or come apart. Other than that, not really interested. I’ve bugged out of the whole tech thing which has improved my photography no end, in fact. I now look at just a few websites like yours where the accent is firmly on the image itself. All I’d like is decent IQ from 100 to 1600 ISO and competent lenses which aren’t decentred out of the box. Mostly this is well covered these days.

    • The decentering part could use some work, but for the most part I agree with you. And that’s one of the reasons why my gear coverage has all but disappeared over the last year or so – both because I’ve found more than enough for what I do, even the large Ultraprints, and because the rest of the hardware no longer feels like it’s holding me back. I can even have the same sensor in different bodies, if I’m so inclined. So yes, back to the image making 🙂

  25. Ming, I wonder if this qualifies as your “most commented on” post? It has certainly garnered a lot of interest. I did find it somewhat downbeat, but this is probably the reality.

    I believe that it was inevitable at some time that chasing specs would eventually slow to a crawl with very little improvement from one model to its successor. Unlike using a film camera where one could change IQ either by using a different brand of film or processing, with digital it requires a completely new camera. I’m sure I’m not the only one to make such a comment.

    However, I feel that this is a cure for GAS. The water authorities must be putting something into the water! :D)

    • No, that would be one of the camera reviews – north of 600 comments isn’t uncommon, and there was the soul discussion a while back that passed 300, which is amazing for something that isn’t a review of sexy new gear… 😉

      Actually, you could change IQ by postprocessing/workflow, but not to such a great degree as a new sensor. In some ways, the ability to have identical and somewhat consistent tonal response across different cameras (for different purposes, formats etc) in the film days wasn’t a bad thing. We’re actually heading towards that as the larger/serious cameras seem to be going towards a 4-5u Sony CMOS pixel that seems to be responding in a fairly similar way within each generation…

  26. Thanks for your analysis. It is always interesting to read your and Thom Hogan’s overviews.

    Apart from sensor availability, what seems to be holding digital cameras back is the absence of progress on the internal processors (compared with Apple, say, which now has a more powerful processor in its phone than in its MacBook). This leads to clunky interfaces, sub-optimal autofocus, etc.

    I’m as curious as the next person to play with the new mirrorless Hasselblads and Fujis, but the image quality difference from full-frame seems only incremental and it will take some time for the systems, including firmware to mature. My “shooting envelope” as you put it is increased more by IBIS (on the Sony) and the increase in quality in full-frame lenses in recent years.

    However, having a collection of small Leica lenses, I tend to use the Leica SL more (as the M240 does not really suit my shooting style) and have even sprung for the zooms, as they are, contrary to my initial expectations, of superb quality. The sensor is fine, with the latest firmware. Having 24-280mm in two lenses, and AF makes shooting such a breeze that it is almost boring, meaning that I am concentrating more on composition, without having to worry about the performance of the hardware. In certain situations, the exotic Leica M / Voigtlander glass is a great help (low light, wide angle). About the only things that I am missing are macro and super-telephoto / fast action. (I won’t be getting the 50mm f1.4 SL Summilux, and will see what the 16-35mm SL lens brings in 18 months’ time.)

    The other thing that would help me would be better image processing. Lightroom is OK, but the camera profiles are limited. They can be improved using tools such as DCamProf, but even there, adjusting the curves within the profile is very difficult. More flexible local contrast tools, beyond Clarity, without having to use plug-ins, would also help.

    • I’m not sure it’s processing power per se but power consumption and heat, as told by several engineers I’ve spoken to in the past. The current SOTA processors are capable of handling crazy data rates; cards can write all that, too. But the cameras will get hot, and sensor performance will be affected.

      As for workflow, may I suggest switching to Photoshop and using my Workflow III? It’s faster than LR, more flexible, and gives you better results. 🙂 I’ve certainly not felt that this part of the equation has been lacking for quite some time now.

  27. Thank Ming, for being here for us shutterbugs. “Me too!” To almost everything said above. I’m still waiting for an EVF on a Ricoh GR, which would become my main camera (because it is inconvenient to always carry the ‘big guns”). I would always have it with me.
    Although like many people, I wish the GR was available in 3 or 4 focal lengths to choose from. My first choices for travel would be a wide14mm (for an equivalent 21mm, like my beloved GR-21 film version) and a 40mm macro-telephoto (for an equivalent 80mm). Two ideal fixed lens camera that I can easily carry while riding my bike. The new Hasselblad X1D stole my heart (and probably, later, my pocket book) when I saw it announced. But Hasselblad made a mistake in showing the designer square-formate model and I fell in love with a even more gorgeous “girlfriend”, to lust after. As you have said, most probably unattainable because of price but “OH!” What a body! Besides the square formate, I thought the double dial for aperture/shutter speed was brilliant. Separate (electronic) mechanical dials for shutter speed/aperture should be mandatory feature on all cameras. Wish they put it on the X1D!
    Instead of more pixels, the manufacturers should clean up the complexity of the computer menus/functions and give us convenient useable features such as auto-stacking (of multiply focus points for extended depth of field), etc.
    Thanks for listening and keep up the good work. Your photos are always interesting and instructive.

    • Kristian Wannebo says:

      Ricoh has patented a 75mm eq. lens for a compact camera.
      ( It might even be somewhat collapsible te judge from the sketch.)

    • I really hope they build the V1D, but like you – it’ll be lust from a distance. They didn’t invent that stuff new, though: and fortunately, you can have interchangeable (Zeiss, no less!) lenses, coupled shutter/aperture rings, top viewing, live view, square sensor in a very nice body already: it’s called the V system, and actually one of the cheapest ways into a complete and state-of-the-art image quality MF setup (especially with current CFV back prices). Whilst the V1D will be no doubt a lot more compact judging by the lens mount, it’ll also require new lenses…

      I can report that the H6 and X1 (shared) UI is significantly cleaned up, but remains very functional. Note lack of buttons – but not lack of functionality. If anything, there are amazingly more buttons than you need in practice. Finally!

  28. John Wendell says:

    After getting excited by FF, I’ve calmed down and come to regard M4/3 as my ideal all purpose (most purpose) system. Thus I’ve been keenly anticipating the showdown between the OM-D E-M1 II and the GH5. So for me the show was a dissapoinment. The only thing we learned about the GH5 is from what Panasonic didn’t say: no mention of sensor stabilization. The Olympus however, while not promising anything unexpected, have reavealed a camera that, in theory, makes up for every deficiency of the original E-M1. The high-res sensor shift ability of the E-M5 II was a disappointment. But if they get it right this time (meaning smilarly effective compared to the Pentax K-1) that will seal the deal for me. I WANT this camera (I think).

    • I think the reality is that it’s going to cost them a lot more to make what we think we want than most of us are willing to pay; the estimated prices for the EM1.2 look downright frightening. However, given that they’re still by far the best in the business when it comes to in-body stabilisation (especially for video use), I’m willing to give them a pass…

  29. Craig Marker says:

    Great analysis of Photokina. Can you say more about your statement: “people discovering some lenses like the Otuses will comfortably cover 44x33mm”? Has an adapter been used on another medium format device or is it theoretical possible?

    • Yes. Somebody put the Otus 85 on the 54x40mm 100MP Phase One via an Alpa FPS – it almost covers the entire sensor. I did my own measurements last night in preparation for another camera I have incoming, and find that all three of the Otuses will cover 44x33mm stopped down (edge quality unknown), along with a lot of my other favourites like the C/Y Zeiss 2.8/85, the Voigtlander 180 APO and of course the Nikon PCEs…

      • My experience with 28 and 55 will not cover. Even stop down. I used Alpa FPS + Credo 50… the 28 is basically designed only for 135.

        • Is that the CCD or CMOS Credo 50? Sensor size is different (CCD is quite a bit larger).

          • Leaf Credo 50 is a CMOS Back, the same Sony 50mp sensor as those Hassy and Phase, I think the issue is the lens barrel and mount, limit the image circle. Cause the image quality at the extreme edge is still very very acceptable. I guess the physical form of the lens barrel and mount limit the light going through.

            • Darn – that’s not good news. I am hoping I might well have different lenses though; they’re all early prototypes from when I was working with Zeiss on the development.

              • But it just prove to me that nowadays, 135 format is making MF lens to get a bigger sweet spot from their lens. hence the 82mm and up thread size, I mean those size were used to be MF lens territory. But their are still hamstring by the relatively small rear mount. That is however unable to change that much, except those tilt shift lens, where they are design specifically to go beyond the require image circle of a 135. TSE 17mm can even cover 6×7 film with no shift. I have manage to shift 12mm on the 17mm with 44×33 digital back.

  30. Well, I am on the move. I worked through (for my purposes) the Pentax K1 (pixel-shift) and Sony A&r II and sold them off for reasons I won’t go into here. They were not to my liking.

    Nikon has yet to offer me a 50 Mpx sensor upgrade for my D810, so I continue to use that, although now also as a back for various technical camers. The Cambo Actus, for my work, is a keeper and I have branched out into LF lenses, which in barrel format are VERY inexpensive. I tried and got rid of the Novoflex CASTBAL and BALPRO cameras due to poor engineering for my purposed. Also still have but will sell the Rollei X-Act 2 technical camera as too heavy and clumsy.

    I have made the interim move and ordered the Hasselblad X1D, although now it is a real question when it will show up. It has been postponed now for the third time. My reasoning is that here is a fairly closed system with the Sony MF 50 Mpx sensor that is very portable. With it I will move beyond my comfort zone of close-up nature photography and into portrait and small landscape photography. The X1D should do the trick. I was at first sad when Ming Thein went Hasselblad because I liked working side-by-side with the him at least with the Nikon D810, Otus lenses, etc. But to my surprise I found myself (suddenly one day) ordering the X1D, so here I go. When Nikon comes across with a 50 Mpx D810 successor OR Fuji’s new MF camera proves perfect, I will order one of those, either keeping the X1D system or selling it.

    • I don’t think 50MP on FF is a good idea, to be honest. Diffraction rears its head very early early, and tolerances have to be far tighter than we’re used to; it was much harder to extract the full potential of the 5DSR than the MF cameras…

      • I understand that, and am probably looking only at MF 50 Mpx sensors like the Hasselblads. At the same time, I feel I have cut loose my moorings to Nikon and FF DSLRs. It feels strange to be kind of out of the mainstream, but at the same time I look forward to getting a lot more photography done and lest testing of every new camera that comes down the pike.

        • We’re the opposite here, I think. I’m looking forward to not having to do that. That said, I’m actually looking into a Hasselblad back – Otus solution at the moment…and it’s not an Alpa FPS.

          • Craig Marker says:

            “I’m actually looking into a Hasselblad back – Otus solution at the moment…and it’s not an Alpa FPS.”
            Thanks Ming, I am now very much left in suspense. Sounds like a great experiment that I can’t wait to see.

  31. The facts are that many photographers such as myself are finding that the new sensors are doing the job just fine and we really don’t need much more. Why should I go buy a new Camera when mine is working beautifully. Why should I pay big money for a 50+ MP camera when 24mp gives me beautiful 8×10 prints. Why buy a new Camera when my smart phone post great photos to social media instantly.

    • Very valid questions, and ones the manufacturers are going to have to address with something compelling if they’re going to stay in business, I think.

    • Terry —
      Indeed. The pixel race for all but specialized commercial or high end work (like Ming’s!) is over for most of us i think. More pixels facilitates bigger prints and/or a bigger cropping budget. The walls of my windowless office are covered by 20x30s, so i print and display larger than most; i can barely discern the difference between my 24mp and 36mp images even at nose-length distances. Partly that is not the sensor’s fault: optics, technique, shutter/mirror vibration, etc, all are more exquisitely critical as resolution increases. I guess that i’d like more DR/ISO, AF-C performance, buffer depth, or a few more things. But they aren’t high on my list. And added pixels is not even on the list for me.

  32. Larry Cloetta says:

    Well thought out article, as usual, thanks. Having read through all the comments about where we are, what we have, what we lack, wishes for the future, etc, I was struck by one thing missing from the list of “desires”. Am I the only one who is actually satisfied with available performance, who does feel that we have reached some level of technical semi-maturity where it is okay to stop and be happy with the current level of available performance, and yet, is frustrated by the fact that this performance is only available in bodies that, by and large, feel like plastic toys? In other words, why can we not get a D5 sensor in a body that is indistinguishable from an F2 in terms of solidity and build quality?
    Case in point: The recent Olympus Pen F which ticks a lot of the right boxes for certain uses. Picking one up and handling it last week, and running through all the controls, was enough for me to instantly cross it off the list permanently due to the slop in the controls, and the general cheap toy like feel. Not picking on Olympus as it seems the norm; my D800 wasn’t that different.
    If we have reached some kind of performance semi-plateau, and people can stop thinking that their digital body is going to be obsolete in two years, would there not be a market for manufacturers to start introducing bodies that did not scream “plastic disposable” right out of the box? A Pen F in something as solid, small and precise as a Leica iiib body from 75 years ago? Can we not do that any more? Am I the only one who feels this way? Bad idea? No one cares? An F2 is too “heavy” for a small camera and we tire easily now?

    • I’d very much like that too. But I think they either want us to buy Leicas (and not have state of the art sensors) or the behemoths. The only camera that has the small size and tank-solidity thing really nailed is the X1D. If anything, a little heft isn’t bad since it helps to stabilize things, too. Perhaps I should start making lead-filled handgrips.

      • True that the X1D is a beautifully executed piece of hardware, both in terms of design and manufacturing quality – now if they could only match it with exemplary firmware in the next several months.


        • I have no doubt they’ll get there. The H5 at any rate remains one of the most functional and sensible cameras I’ve used, and has a lot of neat touches in the firmware.

  33. Gary Morris says:

    I am now emerging from a forced break from photography and equipment. I had major surgery nearly 5 months ago and could hardly hold a camera for the first 2 months of recovery. This has given me an opportunity to reassess things. First, I discovered I missed shooting with a Leica M. Nuts, I know, but I miss the process of framing and focus to get the shot my mind and eye see. Next, I found I missed a decent zoom (and by decent I mean good image quality, modest weight, useful to me range). I had a Canon 24-105 which sometime ago I gave to one of my sons. That lens was great and maybe I’ll give the new version a try when it finally ships (which means I need a Canon camera since I don’t currently own one). Finally, I find I like a simple point and shoot camera. Something that’s always ready to grab the moment. Last December I bought a Leica SL. I like the camera but not the current crop of lenses (their zooms are the size and weight of RPG launchers). I tried using my M glass but something inside of me did not like using manual focus lenses on a fast auto focus camera. So I’ve been using the SL with the little Leica T 23mm lens. I’ve found my point and shoot! I know it’s absolutely crazy to have a $9K-US point and shoot, but of all the shooting I’ve done post-surgery, that sill SL+T lens setup has been terrific.

    So, in my small way I’m saying is that maybe this years boring Photokina was perhaps a good break from the sometimes relentless march of new products, iterative tech updates, firmware gloss, etc. My break has given me time to reassess my needs and wants and interests. I think breaks are healthy.

    Parenthetically, come on Leica… I was excited to see a 35mm f2 lens for the SL on the horizon, but 2 YEARS from now! These folks have been making lenses for 100 years. You’d think they would have the lens mojo down by now.

    One last comment… really, bikes? I live in the middle of downtown Scottsdale AZ. From my vantage point I don’t see the well monied on bikes. The really big money arrives in January for the annual kickoff of the auto auction season and that money is flowing very freely towards rare, near-rare and exotic autos (think $30M Ferraris and $2M Cobras). For the rest of January and into February, Hayden Rd is a parade of rare and exotic cars, particularly early Sunday morning. But no bikes, pedal or motorized.

    • Well, there’s a bit of a stretch from $10k bikes to $30m ferraris for most 🙂

      Does the 23mm cover FF though? I thought it was APSC only.

      • Gary Morris says:

        Cropped to 11mp with approximately 35mm field of view. Classic point and shoot. Small but still useful. $10K bikes I guess are nice. But I don’t see the bike as a substitute for fully restored Pontiac GTO convertible. I’m sure others will feel differently.

    • Kristian Wannebo says:

      Bike ?
      I just invested in a used 6-speed Brompton.
      Folded, it fits anywhere.
      It rides really well, almost good enough for touring.
      ( Some do use it for touring! )
      And a shoulder bag (e.g. camera bag) just clicks on/off the steering column.

  34. hi mIng — do you have any idea when the hasselblad X1D is expected to be released? i have the OMD-EM5 which i still adore; i have not found any really good reason to upgrade as of yet with a different M43. but… upgrading to a medium format makes sense for me in some areas of my work. thus, at the moment, i’m waiting for “final” reviews after if comes out so i can decide whether i should drop so much moolah… thanks!!

  35. Bill Walter says:

    Interesting review. I have some thoughts…. In 2016, I think there are less photographers feeling the need to update their camera to the latest and greatest when new ones are released. Yes the D810 is over 2 years old, but every word of the original rave reviews are as valid today as they were in 2014. Regarding Photokina, I’m glad to see that Sigma is releasing another group of Art lenses. Their new 500mm f4 (if the IQ is as expected) should cut into the sales of the $10k offerings from the big boys. The art series continues to give everyone a quality alternative to Canon & Nikon. And finally, I was hoping to see a new upgraded Ricoh GR. I’ll be the first to purchase one once they fix the dust issue. Maybe later this year?

    • The $10k big guns aren’t holding on the secondary market here; 50% if you’re lucky. The real question then becomes second hand 500VR or new 500 S? Not so easy to answer, I think. Most people’s concern is going to revolve around Sigma’s somewhat inconsistent AF behavior compared to the original lenses…

      • I am a Canon shooter and have been for decades, since the Ftb, however, in early 2016 I could not ignore the great optics of Sigma ART lenses any longer and bought the 50/1.4 and 20/1.4 lenses. They were bought for their great optical performance when shot wide open, as I like to shoot a lot of dawn and dusk shots. After several hundred exposures, I noticed some softness in some of my portraits shot at 1.4. I was certain my focus was on, so I bought a LensAlign target and a few of my pro colleagues and I undertook a very careful auto focus assessment of these two lenses. We used single shot mode and made sure the camera confirmed a focus lock before each exposure. We found then to be focusing correctly only about 40% to 50% of the time, to be front focusing by about 2″ to 3″ about 30% percent of the time and to be front focusing by about 10″ to 14 ” 20% of the time. All tests were performed at f1.4. Repeated changes with the dock were of no help as focus was erratic at all times and settings. We went to the Sigma rep in Canada and raised our concerns. We were told to stop down to reduce the problem, but we have Canon zooms to use at smaller apertures. We were then told by the rep that Canon uses some complex set of prisms in their autofocus that Sigma can not really consistently “crack” to get a consistent auto-focus algorithm. We were offered a refund by Sigma. Sorry Sigma, but a sharp lens that does not focus consistently is worthless when a Canon lens, even a 85/1.2 nails it 99% of the time.

        • I suspect it might be because the lens is approaching from infinity some of the time and the near limit the rest – I’ve seen similar behaviour on all brand lenses; it’s because the focusing motors frequently can’t move in fine enough steps to make the lens settle precisely where it is required to. That said, yours seems like quite a huge range of variance beyond the scope of this possible cause…

      • Martin Fritter says:

        Well, if you’re putting the Sigma Arts up against the Otuses (Otii?), then AF isn’t an issue. (At 500mm you’d need very good AF, I imagine.) Speaking of Sigma, who makes the sensors for the Quattro cameras and what’s up with the new sd’s and h’s? Also, the Sony monopoly is bad. I also regard the Adobe near monopoly as bad. Do the software shops participate in Photokina? What about the printer outfits?

        Anyway great piece of journalism. Outstanding coments.

        • They weren’t saying who did their fab work – trade secret, I suppose. Adobe might rape us monthly with their subscription model, but at least they don’t get into businesses just to run them badly and then shut down shortly afterwards.

          Sigma-Otus: the manual focus precision of the Sigmas doesn’t even come close to the Otus, in both resistance and feel. I’d rather have an Otus than most AF glass for that reason (and more so when you consider just how imprecise AF is on high resolution/ shallow DOF most of the time).

          • Just a quick comment on focusing….this is one aspect of micro43 cameras that NO ONE has an issue with….the autofocus is always precise, to the extent that the newest cameras can even distinguish what EYE to focus on for a given portrait. Complaints about FF lenses not being able to autofocus reliably wide-open are legion, but that does not seem to be a problem in the mirrorless realm.

            • Actually, my A7RII would miss focus constantly even with native lenses. M4/3 is definitely better, though I don’t know to what extent small errors are masked by extended DOF. I’d be lying if I said I’d never seen an AF miss on M4/3, though – and I’ve probably shot close to 70,000 M4/3 frames on six or seven bodies over several generations with dozens of lenses.

              • > though I don’t know to what extent small errors are masked by extended DOF.

                It’s funny that the 35 mm bigots so reflexively fall on “but the DOF!” to dismiss lenses like the 25/1.4 and 25/1.2. Sometimes shallow DOF is a useful tool, but much of the time it’s a bloody curse.

                • Agreed. And the more resolution you have, the actual critically sharp DOF becomes less. Throw in highly corrected lenses like Otuses (with attendant very quick falloff of focus) into the mix and you’ve got a major challenge on your hands.

                  • bluetwango says:

                    Could you expand on this some time? I have the same impression as I re-enter the FF world with my Pentax K-1. The plane of correct focus is so crisp and detailed that it really stands out, even when stopped down to f8 or more. I’m learning to use f11 and up, even with moderate, double-digit focal lengths, if I want deep focus. I’m enlarging a lot to see this, and I’m sure that an 8×10 print would look much better. I’m seeing this shallow-focused effect much more on the Pentax’s 36MP sensor than I did with the Sony a850, a 24MP camera.

                    • Past f11 you hit diffraction and don’t gain any additional sharpness. It might appear to even out over distance, but peak acuity will be lower.

                      More resolution means a smaller circle of confusion. The focal plane is not a binary thing: it transitions in and out continuously. The exact transition point depends on the spatial frequency of the resolving medium. Traditional depth of field scales were calibrated for fine grained film emulsions and are roughly equivalent to a 12-16MP digital camera.

          • Martin Fritter says:

            Thanks. I remember your frustration with focusing the Otus 55 (I think) on the Nikon – the problem being with the focusing optics of the camera. Would not this problem be mitigated with an EFV? So far, you seem happy with focusing the Hasselblad – correct?

            • It would be, except the whole thing becomes clunky and slow because there are no auto-aperture Nikon EVF cameras. The Hasselblad has a much better finder and screen – MF is a breeze.

  36. Thanks for your assessment – I think the over-arching comments hit the mark. It’s been said before by many, but the legacy DSLR mfg’s really need to step beyond the slight iterations of bloated product lines. I do appreciate that canikon are in a tough spot. Don’t alienate the base, innovate new technologies/configurations to exploit potential markets, maintain or enhance cash flow… All the while ignoring shrinking markets, advances in cell phone imagery, etc. Not easy. But necessary.

    As far as your question goes, I’m mostly happy where I am. Certainly no reason for significant change. I’m an enthusiast that has pursued photography since childhood. Ended up with a crop sensor DSLR when faced with a fast moving young child….. My interests include sports/action, family and informal portraiture, wildlife (at least the kind that wanders into my life / backyard), landscape, etc i.e. a little bit of everything. I currently have a D7200 with an assortment of lenses and an SB700 flash, used frequently. I find D7200 to be well integrated and very capable. It does what I want and certainly is not the limiting factor…. I don’t see anything compelling on the horizon that would make me make a wholesale change…. Lenses – there is something always around the corner, but honestly, I can fill any gaps in my lens collection with something, even if that something doesn’t meet my needs perfectly. Fact is, I’m not stranded on the optics front. At the moment, I’m just enjoying what i have and trying to improve my photography.

    • A sensible place to be 🙂

      • I’m an engineer….;)

        An additional thought re the market place. I think there is a point of technical maturation leading to a level of sufficiency for both casual and informed enthusiasts (some of the other reader comments hint at the same thing). Technical advancement is needed and will always happen. That technical evolution does result in real and meaningful change. But there is definitely a level of diminishing returns as well and I think for an increasing number of folks, there are fewer reasons to throw down hard-earned cash when what they have is deemed good enough. I count myself in that group. DX is certainly my sweet spot. I’ll take my D7200 and if I have some flavor of UWA, a Sigma 18-35, the 60mm macro, 85 f/1.8 and the 80-400, count me happy. Well maybe I’ll take the new 105 f/1.4 and …..

        Thank you for continued insight and willingness to share!

  37. L. Ron Hubbard says:

    Fuji entering into the square format instant film market is a huge news. Fuji sells 5.5 MILLION Instax cameras per year, numbers that any camera maker would drool over. Plus, Fujifilm is also bringing (FINALLY) black and white film to the instant market. I’ve been waiting YEARS for this and am glad Fujifilm is finally innovating here.

    Fujifilm is the clear winner for Photokina.

    • What about the Michael Kors Instax? 😀 There’s one small (business) problem: one Instax is about the same price as the optional grip on an X-T2 😛

      That said, it might actually be fun…

      • L. Ron Hubbard says:

        Well, that Instax camera is silly, but I’m sure it will sell a lot. The price of the Instax cameras is much less important when Fuji can sell nearly 6 million per year. Something really happened about 4 years ago and sales have just exploded, reaching in excess of 4 million per year back then and today almost reaching 6 million.

        It took Fujifilm nearly 5 years to sell 150,000 X100’s.

  38. Correction: No handheld HiRes on E-M1 Mark2.

    • Was that confirmed for sure? I didn’t see an official statement one way or the other.

      • The language in recent marketing would seem to leave the door ever-so-slightly cracked.

      • Even more interesting is that is may come in at 1,999 Euros :/ if true then wow… but I’ll still buy it 🙂

      • From an interview with Setsuya Kataoka, the Deputy Division Manager of the Imaging Product Development Division of Olympus, talking about the OM-D E-M1 Mark II:

        Question: Can you use the 50 megapixel High Resolution mode whilst hand-holding the camera, or do you need to use a tripod?
        Answer: At the moment you still need to use a tripod. It’s very much a future possibility but not yet.


        • “At the moment” and “Future possibility” = door ever-so-slightly cracked 😉

        • That’s a definite maybe 😛

          My theory earlier: use lens IS for stabilisation, camera IBIS to move the sensor, full E-shutter to avoid shake – shouldn’t take long at top speed fps…

      • The current 60fps multiplied by the 8 frames required makes the total exposure time no less than 1/7.5th of a second. It seems that they still need to be able to capture the files at a faster rate so it could be used hand-held in a more reliable manner.

        • Yes, but shouldn’t they be able to use one stabiliser to do the shifting, and the other to stabilise shake? 1/7.5s handheld is doable (if sometimes borderline) with current tech. Some smart software correction afterwards could compensate for any movement beyond – they can already compensate for moving objects in the frame…

          • I hope they would release it as a software update down the line eventually, as I have plenty of sharp images at ¼. Probably still needs further development before they feel like officially announcing it.

          • I read somewhere that the camera keeps X number of frames before the one you actually took – it’s as if it’s simply reading the sensor all the time. I’d have thought its software would be able to use those to build in shake compensation.
            I think the big things in cameras for the next few years will be processor-led – lenses are about as good as they get, and sensor development seems to have plateaued.

            • No, only if you half press and have that mode enabled. I actually think it’s going to require some major re-training of your photographic brain to be able to release the button after the moment rather than at the moment…

  39. As a wedding photographer, the slight shift towards medium format is certainly interesting, particular as we gain more compact options.

    As a Nikon D810 shooter, I’m curiously envious of the 5D Mark IV: the built-in radio wireless flash, the AF, the touch screen, C1/2/3 on the mode dial, the way it handles crops, the colours out of the box… in a multitude of small ways the package as a whole seems to have evolved quite nicely since I made the switch from 5D Mark II to D700 in 2011. In comparison it feels like Nikon have been a bit all over the map: ergonomics and menus haven’t really changed, and the lack of a clear successor to the D750 has forced buyers to make odd compromises between build quality/resolution/other factors. There have been an annoying number of quality control issues in the last few years, too.

    Ultimately, more exciting than anything at Photokina for me was the iPhone gaining the ability to shoot RAW and a dual-lens camera that can simulate bokeh – could this be the beginning of the end of our obsession with blurry backgrounds? In contemporary wedding photography this is often used as a key point of differentiation from amateurs – wonder if that will change once everyone can similar f/1.4 on their phone!

  40. I’d like to add my absoluteiy non-pro’s point of view: I love photographing people (family), and I found this year’s photokina underwhelming as I keep wondering why still no manufacturer combines some technologies and design properties in ONE camera:
    – smaller body (e. g. APS-C mirrorless, but big enough for a decent battery), along with a
    – proper and still affordable selection of fast/quality/compact primes
    – quickish phase/contrast detection hybrid autofocus with AF points spread all over the image, face (nearest eye) detection that would also help auto white balance to get skin tones right automatically
    – a proper Auto ISO system like Nikon has been implementing for a decade – but it should factor in image stabilisation (see next point)
    – in-body image stabilisation – although I think I could live without it
    – a good user interface, with or without touch screen
    – I don’t necessarily need more than 16 MP, but 20–24 MP without AA filter seems to be enough for almost anything
    – I don’t need 10 fps. 3 fps would be enough for me! (But does a high burst rate come for free with the high processing power needed for a good autofocus?)
    The reason why I keep using my 5-year-old Nikon D5100 is that, combined with 35/1.8 and 50/1.8, its static image quality is still quite convincing (resolution, dynamic range) and I don’t want to use expensive software to process raw images. But too often, the D5100’s AF lets me down, and I’d like it to be smaller and lighter, and I miss some good wide-angle lenses.
    Canon’s EOS M5 looks compelling to me, now that they finally included Dual Pixel AF. But why don’t they offer more fast prime lenses for the M system?
    Olympus E-M1 mk II looks promising, too, but I’m afraid it will be quite pricey (and big), and the supplied raw converter software lacks the contrast/shadow adjustments I’ve come to love about Nikon’s ViewNX 2 (don’t laugh!).
    Fuji’s X-T 10 might be a solution. Is its AF fast enough for faces of people in motion? Has the raw conversion problem been solved?
    Sometimes I suspect the camera industry doesn’t dare to bring a camera (system) to market according to the specifications I listed above as it would render so many other cameras redundant (at least for me). But I would buy it, and now I don’t buy anything.
    Cheers, Tobias

  41. I’ve always been infatuated with the A7RII on paper but not in hand (owned the A7II). I don’t like the way it looks or feels at all. I do however very much like the traditional, DSLR-like look of the A99II -now that it is basically an A7RII in a DSLR body, I’m mean to give it a go at 50mm and 135mm -Zeiss of course. Having rented the Oly 300MM a few times, I can say that the IQ is nothing short of stunning and unrivaled at that price. Perhaps even besting some of its $10K+ full frame adversaries. So it’s the EM1-MKII and Oly 300 for Sports, wildlife (and kids 🙂 and maybe a little macro too as that 60 is sweet. So, this years Photokina is most certainly going to ding my wallet up but good 😉

    • John Giolas says:

      Like you, I’ve tried to like the A7R and now the A7Rii. It has all the stuff—on paper. But aside from the ergonomics and UI—along with haptics that belong more to the video game world than to a professional camera—the feel and look of the images themselves do not equal the still SOTA (IMO) Nikon D810. The D810 has tonality that is more medium-format like, the transition from midtones to highlights just stunning. The higher-res files from the Sony look somewhat digital by comparison. I realize it’s not very helpful and certainly not objectively technical, but the D810’s files have a certain magic to them the Sony lacks. The D810 produces files that have a look and feel that is more like what the Hassy H5D files than it is like the Sony. (I’m a Hassy user who has owned both the D810 & the A7Rii.)

      • The Sony has a bit less DR than the D810 at base ISO, and the tonal response is more linear – the D810 has a very strong highlight shoulder, much like the H5D-50c (which has even more DR than the D810).

      • Well then we can remain hopeful that the A99II is more D810-like than A7RII-like as after all, they all use a Sony sensor. 😉

        • True; but the D810’s base sensor is shared with the original A7R, and they’re not even close…

          • Well then, there you have it, I rest my case 🙂

            • John Giolas says:

              The manufacturer’s sensor choice seems to be only half—or perhaps less than half—the battle. Witness the three medium format cameras that start ostensibly with the same Sony sensor—the Hasselblad, the Phase One, and the Pentax. When you compare images from these three cameras, you quickly realize that the baseline image files they each produce are quite different one to another. This has to do with how they manage exposure latitude and dynamic range, noise and artifacts, and color management—among several other variables. You can even see evidence of this to some extent in the specifications of each of the three cameras; each has a different ISO range, for example. I would rank those three in this order of IQ: Hasselblad best, Pentax second, and Phase last—although all three are capable of truly stunning images. The Hasselblad’s management of DR noticeably better than the other two (or at least more to my aesthetic), and its color management is by far the best. Pentax had noticeable color accuracy errors, and the Phase even more so. The Hasselblad’s image files requires much less processing to get it where I want it, to get the image to look natural and intrinsically right, and, of course, beautiful.

              And… the differences between the three medium format are much smaller that the difference between the original A7R and the D810. Indeed, the Sony’s files were quite problematic by comparison. Even with the higher res of the Sony sensor in the A7RII, the Nikon’s images are both technically superior and much more aesthetically pleasing.

              Sony may get it right with the A99II, but their track record thus far isn’t promising. I’d look at the Pentax and the Nikon if it were I.

              • I agree on the color management, but DR depends on how you’re going to use it: the more linear Phase/Pentax are better suited to studio work where you have full control over light. The Hasselblad has much nicer highlights, but because the dynamic range is compressed into that part of the range – there’s less recoverable shadow latitude before hitting visible noise.

                But all in all, having shot with all three and owned two of them for an extended period: H files require less work than the other two most of the time.

                And between the 7R2 and D810, the D810 produces files that are much easier to work with – not to mention being a camera that’s less frustrating…

                • John Giolas says:

                  Yes, you are right, of course, re DR. Instead of “DR,” I should have stated my preference in terms of “tonality.” From the midtones up to the highlights—especially as you reach the area where the highlights are about to blow out—I love the way Hasselblad renders. If shadow detail or recovery is the priority, one may prefer the Pentax, which does this better. But the Pentax’s (which I owned and used for nearly two years) color management is problematic, requiring more adjustment and correction than even the Nikon D810. The two Phase One’s I rented drove me nuts in terms of color management. Even worse than the already problematic Pentax.

                  BTW, the workflow shooting tethered with the H5D in the studio is a joy. By far the most efficient I’ve used. And, as we’ve both observed, the color management of the Hasselblad is remarkably better than the alternatives, thus require much less work in post. Much less.

                  • I remember having a conversation with various company reps: the Phase’s color is managed towards what the fashion community (majority of their customers) considers ideal, and must be used with C1. Anything else produces weird results. The Pentax is landscape-biased, which I agree with; the Hasselblad is designed to be as close to neutral as possible.

  42. Great analysis Ming. But maybe we see this too close up as it is our interest. Is it any more complicated than the trends you’d see in other fields of product development? We had the first phase of digital in the late 90s, we had ‘early majority’ adoption of digital from 2004 and the death of consumer film use. (And now we have death of consumer camera on top due to smartphone). We passed the ‘point of sufficiency’ a long time back 2008?, so we are well into the late adopter/laggard phase. Hi IQ and capable cameras are now commodity. Can manufacturers go back to decade spaced model releases?

    • From a technology standpoint, it would make the most sense. From a shareholder value standpoint, they’d better release something every six months – see the conflict? I predict the ones that will still be in business once everything shakes out are either a) the true innovators; b) those with staying power that launch a mature and fully sorted product without the customer as guinea pig and recalls/ mk II/III/IV to get it right. Everybody else will fold. There’s one more thing the manufacturers haven’t counted on: photography itself is becoming passe; the nouveau riche and hipsters are getting bored and are moving on to other hobbies, like cycling…

      • “photography itself is becoming passe.” This. Traditional cameras are not valued by the mass market anymore; lecturing with a camera is pretty much dead. Chatting with a smartphone image is what most consider photography these days. Any mass-market camera will have to address that new reality of use.

        I’m not sure about cycling being a hipster thing, though…in my neck of the woods, hypercompetitive 40 and 50 somethings spend Leica-equivalents on featherweight bikes and loud apparel and attempt to bully semitrailer trucks. The hipsters I’ve seen ride ironic reproductions of my childhood Schwinn while texting and blowing through stop signs…while bullying pedestrians, if they ride at all. Most of the time they’re on skateboards.
        Man, give me a good midweight steel framed touring bike and I’ll ride both into the ground. While taking their picture. With a real camera. Ooooh, irony. 🙂

  43. I’m not sure that I care anymore. The maturing of the camera market began happening quite some time ago – with the D7000 and D800 in their respective format categories. Resolutions have increased somewhat since then, and graphics processor power has dramatically increased the ability to compensate for residual sensor imperfections that EXMOR-like architectures nearly eliminate and to NR RAW files without severely diminishing file acutance, pushing higher and higher marked ISOs on camera dials. But sensor QE has reached the maximum practicable in an integrating well Bayer filtered sensor, and mother nature prevents us from capturing more photons than there are to acquire, given a constant sensor size.

    But can I practically USE 42MP of resolution? Not handheld, really, if what I’m looking for is critical sharpness. Hold up a D7000 captured image to a D7200 image, and you’ll be hard pressed to see much difference under most conditions. Your Ultraprints aside, Ming, those banner-sized images hanging on the walls of my local shop that were produced with 4 year old cameras and skill are hard to best, and I doubt that I’ll ever see an Ultraprint of anything other than a landscape or other still life. The technique requirements are too stringent, and too much of life involves movement and opportunity.

    Manufacturers have little reason to improve their imaging electronics any further…but increasingly urgent need to improve their workflows, and to fit their products into a vastly different market than they had the luxury of defining in the 20th century. I for one am going the other way of 50MP MF or FX cameras and stupidly high frame rates. The best camera for me is one that broadens my shooting envelope conveniently rather than one that ticks off boxes in a punchlist. More of a Ricoh GR than a Nikon D810; even a D7200 is too much of a pain to really enjoy that much anymore.

    I suppose it’s an evolution of the way that I derive pleasure from the places I visit and the things that I see…photography is no longer the vehicle for that pleasure, but merely a means by which I can capture, for my own amusement, aspects of such encounters that present themselves during my direct experience of them. A “good enough” tool is curiously more freeing than an “ultimate” one, because it frees me from OCD-driven attempts at technical perfection that cloud the emotions driving my pleasure-taking.

    We have, I suspect, pushed too far into the corners of the technical envelope, running from the very experience that gives our photographs life.

    At some point there may come a breakthrough that doesn’t tread the same tired path of sensor size and resolution. Multiple sensor architectures, computational photography, all those things that nontraditional imaging companies are now falling all over each other to patent. There is a harsh technical beauty in today’s cameras, but the future does not lie in a single optical path architecture, or a certain sensor size, or a beautifully executed lens design. Unfortunately, that future may not come before the manufacturers run out of money because their buyers have become bored waiting for it and have stopped buying, or have realized that what they have had for several years is probably more than they will need, and what their photographs scream out for is meaning and soul. That’s not found in a box of metal, glass, and wire.

    • ” I doubt that I’ll ever see an Ultraprint of anything other than a landscape or other still life.”
      Not quite true. I can get the same acuity handheld most of the time. Otherwise, I wouldn’t bother with the bigger files, either.

      The biggest recent gain hasn’t been resolution or absolute dynamic range, but tonal response – highlights are handled much more smoothly in later cameras than the D800/D7000 generation. But do we need more? I don’t think so; as it is, I don’t have dynamic range problems anymore.

      Agreed on the ultimate tool vs versatile tool: a scalpel is better than a swiss army knife, but we can’t usually deploy a Da Vinci machine.

      • And of that, Ming, I am jealous. When I was 30, slow shutter speeds were not a fearsome thing. Now being twice that age, I thrill when I can keep ISO at base and still get crisp images out of 24MP, and wonder why in the world I’m even using VR, given I hardly venture below 1/250 @ 100mm. Call me ol’ shakey.

        • VR is sadly not the placebo we all believe it to be: most of the time, it’s more like false hope (and a higher chance of optical decentering).

          • bluetwango says:

            That’s why I want stabilization in the body instead. For every lens, every time I need it. No in-lens stabilization system will handle rotation around the lens axis, either. I’m getting five extra stops of handheld sharpness from my K-1. You really ought to take a look at it yourself.

            • No local support, impossible to get lenses etc – no thanks. Been there once with Pentax and left high and dry.

              Furthermore, anything moving inside the camera is just one more thing to misalign: especially when resolution is that high. I’m not convinced that IS or VR of any sort makes sense above certain resolution levels. It often does more harm than good and creates strange artifacts (smears, double images) when the system can’t keep up in either displacement speed or precision.

    • Velociphile says:

      Great insight. You Bohemian. 🙂 That’s why I have made do with the 12MP of my old D700 and shot my last holiday pottering about Paris (Montmartre included – see below) on 35mm Portra on my old M7 (red dot blacked out)…….

  44. The only thing of interest to me was the Fuji GFX 50S announcement, which now that the cat is finally out of the bag, seems like it will be a great camera with a solid lens setup from day 1. However, I will go with the more minimalistic Hasselblad X1D and I am just waiting to see some reviews of the camera before I pull the trigger. My only reservation so far is the lack of a joystick for selecting the focus point and the worry there won’t be enough focus points to choose from. In hindsight not going to Photokina this year was the right decision as nothing exciting seems to have happened and I would most likely not have had the chance to play with the Fuji GFX 50S (sounds like the name of a graphics card) anyway.

    Nice writeup btw Ming. Thanks 🙂

    • Hasselblad previously said they will use the touch LCD as a trackpad to select focus points with your eye to the finder (like the PEN F, Panasonics and D500/ D5500 do now) – it works well in practice.

      • Ah OK I did not know that and no one I spoke to from Hasselblad mentioned the trackpad feature. Not sure how steady that will be.

        Ove Bengtson told me a future firmware update would let the AF-D button release the focus point and you could then use the control wheels to move it. This is obviously a rather cumbersome solution and I suspect this will limit the number of available focus points. Pretty sure it will be workable, but not ideal if that makes sense 🙂

  45. jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    If it’s of any assistance to the camera industry, I am thinking of buying another ND-GRAD – my Otus 28mm w/angle needs one, I wasn’t paying attention at the time and overlooked this 🙂
    Some of the stuff was “mildly interesting” – most only slightly so.
    The Fuji GFX ignited my curiosity and one report I’ve seen suggests it will be available at a price (including one lens) under the price of the Hasselblad (body only), but of course as you say, they are NOT the same camera and will appeal to different markets. I am left wondering how many MFs the market can support – it seems awash with them now, and sales to date seem to have disappointed at least one manufacturer.
    As far as I’m concerned, Ming, you said it all. I’m going to print off a copy of your article and nail it to the outside of my wallet. And get back to the gear I already have, which covers pretty well all I want anyway. Apart from completing my current collection of lenses, my main purchase for the past year was an “anonymous” camera strap. Sitting at a sidewalk cafe next to a GAS weirdo with five Leicas, flashing all those red dots across the street, in Montmartre on my last trip to Paris made me decidedly nervous, so I’ve taken down that bright golden “NIKON” flag around my neck. But I doubt if Photokina is really out to promote mundane purchases like that 🙂

    • Well, I’m still looking for a good 95mm Vario ND for the same 28 Otus. B+W is the only company that makes one, and it’s definitely NOT color neutral.

      I wouldn’t worry too much about your Nikon flag if there’s a chap with five red dots there. You’re far, far less of an attractive target, is all I’m saying. And Hasselblad? Jeez, nobody is going to steal something that looks like a dinosaur and must weigh a ton 🙂

      • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

        Ming, we all have to have something unattainable, to inspire our dreams – your Hasselblad’s my current one. In the meantime, I came to digital somewhat later than most and I have a lot of lost time to make up, coming to grips with this technology. A flirtation with it, with a “family” digi cam, isn’t the same thing. I am content with what I now have, and am using it to do my night school stuff, catching up on all I can learn about all the things that make digi cams tick. This, to me, is more important than gear envy or frigging around changing horses in mid-stream. If I can “do it” with the cams I have, I should be able to take those skills with me to any other cams I have, later. And until I can, it strikes me as a waste of time and money to go buying any more – I suppose I think of myself as an experienced amateur, certainly not a pro, and 3 cams plus half a dozen lenses should be enough to shut me up for the time being.

  46. Some Photokina attendee mentioned that it takes quite a bit of time to start up the X1D, and it also gets pretty warm after prolonged use. Have you experienced the same thing with your X1D?

    I also noticed that you’ve been using the H5D-50c mostly in recent posts (and instagram), I am curious about the reason since among all the Hassys you have (H6D, H5D, X1D, CFV-50c), H5D seems to be the least appealing option to use.

    • Firstly, it’s quite possible the X1D was not running final firmware, and yes, mine took a while to start up and got warm – but I had an 0.x pre-pre-pre beta, was shooting in 40C ambient temperatures and tropical sun, and had the camera on constantly. I can’t pass final judgement since I’ve not used one since July (and much earlier firmware).

      I use the H5 mostly for several reasons – firstly, it just feels the most intuitive for me, and it’s one of the few cameras I’ve developed any sort of emotional attachment to. I don’t have an X1D, so that’s not an option. My CFV/V system isn’t as complete as my H system (no wides, no perspective control options, not as easy to shoot verticals since the camera was designed for square). Lastly, for the couple of V lenses I do use frequently (that have no equivalent in the H system) – the 250 Superachromat and 135 bellows macro – the H6 is lacking full support for the V-H adaptor in the current firmware.

  47. I think the fuji will get more interesting once they start hitting the used market, and even more with the next-gen mf sensors. i’m glad they showed off a bunch of lenses, but there wasn’t much that got my blood pumping for landscape, especially when the rumors were for a 20mm wide zoom. for now it’s cool, but out of reach, and unavailable anyway. it would be nice if someone else started to challenge Sony on the sensors, maybe Panasonic could start selling them externally, i liked the chip in my GX-7. on the other end, i think we’re due for some newer fixed-lens compacts. the rx100, lx100 and x100’s could all use a bump. i was hoping someone would jump on the retro trend and make a bridge/superzoom with a manual (non-motorized) zoom, but oh well.

  48. Oddly enough, I actually like the Leica Sofort and I’m contemplating getting one. Yes, I could get a Fuji Instax, but the Leica version intrigues me more. The only other thing that impressed me was the GoPro Hero 5, though it seems like the logical development progression of that line.

    Still too many camera companies. There are other sensor makers out there, though none with the scale of Sony. I suspect a lack of sensors really held back many announcements. The worst aspect of that is sales will slide horribly in the next couple quarters.

    I’m not sure whether you intended another posting, but the lighting gear improvements were interesting. Here there are some good advancements in size, operation, and power output. Unfortunately, price to power output is still a bit off in some gear, though these are small companies with limited production.

    • What does the Leica offer that the Instax doesn’t? I must be missing something here.

      Holding off on commenting on lighting because it really has to be used in person first, plus I think it’s unlikely I’m going to have the chance to do so. That, and I’m still using Speedlights I bought nine or ten years ago. I’m sure somebody will comment I know nothing about lighting 😉

      • Jonathan Hodder says:

        My only real reaction was to Photokina was in regards to Leica’s marketing team, which continues to undermine it’s own heritage year after year. The poor introduction of the X Vario as a mini M, the horrendous three-way marriage of panasonic, playboy, and hello kitty, and the unclear lens ‘co-engineering’ partnership with Huawei (which admittedly is now producing excellent phones) were all lessons you would have thought Leica would learn from. But then they announce that at Photokina they would be focusing on the professional, only to release a sortof instax. They have a habit of setting us up for disappointment.

        I used to think Nikon was going to win the contest for worst marketing performance of 2016, especially after it gave an award to a photoshopped plane image, then featured a fuji camera in one of their own adverts. But now I think Leica takes that biscuit.

      • The Leica offers a few more shutter choices, slightly bigger body for my big hands, and some interesting colours. Other than the Fuji Mini 90 Classic, the Sofort looks a bit more like a proper camera. I may still end up with the Mini 90 instead. Probably seems like an odd choice, but I did a ton of Polaroid imaging years ago, and it was always a great way to relax people before photographing them with a regular camera. Handing a self-developing photo to people still has a magic to it. It’s not a technically essential tool, though it’s great to keep shoots rolling smoothly.

        I’m trying to get away from Speedlights, because when you carry enough, the weight gets worse than dedicated lights, and the Speedlight power output is behind many battery pack choices. I’ve known several photographers who made the jump. In the US, it is easier to find Profoto, though power to weight is not quite as good as some other choices. I don’t really care about TTL control, because I prefer using my Sekonic. Power to price is another consideration. Lots of Profoto parts in the US, so the theory is being able to go to a rental place or big camera store for replacements. Realistically, most systems are very reliable, and spares are smaller than in the past. Battery pack systems are quite good now, even in harsh conditions. This is probably the only major professional shift I will do in the next year.

        • I can’t help thinking that if one is to shoot polaroid, it’d be really nice to do so on a compact 4×5 tech camera like an Arca Misura or something…or a crazy format like 617. Basically: not replicating what my iPhone can already do.

          As for lights: I’ve been thinking about making the same switch for some time now, but honestly can’t really justify it from a utility point of view at the moment. Most of my work remains available light, with a bit of fill at most – or very small scale stuff that doesn’t require power.

          • I still have a Polaroid back for large format, and a dedicated Polaroid to which I can connect a sync cord. However, those are not very portable. I can hope Fuji continue to make peel apart films, or other companies make a reasonable substitute. On instant images, the reaction is different seeing an instant photo, than seeing an image on a smartphone. I don’t really know why people react that way, nor do I have a good explanation of why Fuji Instax is so popular. Just on a practical view, or even technical, it would be easy to imagine no one using Instax, yet there it is out in the wild. 😉 There’s little logic to it, and more just emotion.

            I’m shifting some of my work, because the oil and shipping downturn means lower demand for my specialty imaging. So to move towards photographing people more often, lights are part of the gear mix. Being able to do night for day, or day for night, basically any lighting time of day, regardless of the time of day. Evaluating this type of gear is much more difficult than picking cameras. The best systems are really close in performance, though not close in weight or price.

            • The hardware is there, but the film is nigh on unobtainable (at least in my part of the world).

              I’m somewhat reassured to see the shift isn’t just me, but not encouraged to hear that it’s hitting all of us…

              • L. Ron Hubbard says:

                INSTAX film? A quick google search shows several camera shops in KL carrying INSTAX film. If you are referring to peel apart film, well that’s getting rare all over the world.

              • Professionals are not going to keep the camera makers in business. While some amateurs do buy the higher spec gear, it’s a small part of sales. I think the exceptions could be the luxury market, which Leica targets, or the adventure market, which GoPro commands. All others need to look at why people do photography, and I think the camera makers are missing some key aspects of that, namely that it should be fun. The focus on technology probably worked for a while, but in that time other devices people use are changing dramatically. The emphasis on smartphone and tablet usage has passed laptop and desktop usage. While the internet enthusiasts will largely stick with powerful computers/laptops and bloated software, the average camera buyer is missing the experience of photography due to the confusion of processing RAW. Yes, anyone who’s done it a few times knows it well, but it’s no often a task casual photographers want to undertake. Good tablet and smartphone apps for cameras could change that, but the manufacturers are really far behind with software. More megapixels just isn’t going to sell many more cameras.

                This is what I like about Fuji Instax cameras, and about GoPro. Simple, fun, and easy to use. Nikon jumping into action cameras may be acknowledgement of that trend, but if the menus and software don’t improve, few will buy them over GoPro. The same goes for Sony, who despite years of making action cameras, are not making much impact in the market.

                In the commercial imaging realm, if anything, we really have too many choices, but really just need one trend to develop more. That trend as I see it, is making lighter and smaller gear that works really well. Lighting is finally getting there, and somewhat changing what we can do with images. Lighting is possibly the only realm where enthusiasts and amateurs rarely explore. The next step, where I hope to see more development, is getting beyond laptops in travel gear. If I could carry an Android tablet, and do some quick edits, or simply do a quick edit review, then my travel kit could get even smaller and lighter.

                Doesn’t seem like it was too many years ago that being a generalist photographer was restricted potential pay levels. The idea was to specialize, and tap into market niches. Those niches have all faced disruptions over the last several years. It was only a few years ago that I spoke with one of the top automotive photographers in the world, and asked him what happened to the industry. His answer was that a shift was needed. I’ve heard similar stories from other pros, and the worst suffering were the previously renowned specialists. Some moved to video, but really only pushed away some long serving video specialists, while pay levels continued to decline. I don’t really know what the answer is to all this. It doesn’t help that as gear prices go up, pay levels for some work have been falling. Even where pay levels for certain work are still good, the frequency for that work has declined.

                • “That trend as I see it, is making lighter and smaller gear that works really well.”
                  I wish: pick one or the other (lighter and smaller or works really well) – and often, neither!

                  Makes me wonder where most of the high end gear is going. I know it isn’t us; I’m still betting it’s rich amateurs.

                  And the same adjustment is happening everywhere: specialisation doesn’t pay anymore. Generalisation doesn’t pay, either. I really think the shift has to happen soon, or we’re all going to be doing something else for a living in the not to distant future.

  49. This appears a good and accurate analysis. The market seems to have reached a plateau.

    The only real excitement is in mirrorless. If Fuji (X-T2) and Olympus (EM 1 II) can truly achieve the promised autofocus speeds with their newest cameras that might swing market momentum towards mirrorless. Fuji needs a good flash system to compete in the pro market, but is working on it. If they can get the lighting, I can see using the X-T2 for weddings and events. The lenses are mostly there for that market. I’d like to see some more long glass if the autofocus is good enough for sports and birding.

    Canon and Nikon have pretty much reached the point where their new cameras are just iterations of current models. Canon at least is keeping near current in mirrorless. They are developing the experience to move into the segment if it looks like that’s where the new money will be. I would’t be surprised if they have at least preliminary designs for more lenses and cameras. Nikon could become the big loser if they don’t start thinking bigger. Kodak died because they couldn’t adapt. Nikon may too.

    • I personally havne’t had consistently good experiences with mirrorless AF speeds – sometimes they can be fast, sometimes not, sometimes they lock on the wrong thing (usually when there’s contrast beyond clipping, confusing the system into maximising black/white area) and they still do misfocus (especially if using only one wavelength). In short: no confidence yet, and not something I’m going to risk when on a job. To some extent, smaller sensors and extended DOF cover this, but not enough.

      • True enough. That’s why I said if. The new cameras may be good enough. They may not, but they’re getting very close. Same with the faster refresh rates on EVFs. The trajectory remains on target.

        • There’s one problem that still remains unsolved with EVFs though: night vision. You’re still staring at a little light source…

          • I’m sorry Ming. I very much respect your considered opinions but this is just too much of a stretch. Due to an arm injury three years ago I switched to Fuji and Panasonic from Nikon. I do a lot of night photography, both in town and in nature. In urban environments there is enough light that night vision is not a problem. Hiking the mountains of the western US I always have a headlamp. Lack of night vision has not been a problem. Unless you are doing very covert night photography, which would be a tiny, tiny fraction of photographers, this is a non-issue.

            • Actually, the problem comes in two specific situations: firstly when there’s very little light on your subject and you have one eye acclimatized to ambient and the other to the EVF; the other is when you’re shooting something like a performance and your camera and face are lighting up like a Christmas tree…I encounter both quite often, actually. Or perhaps I’m just spoiled by my MF optical finders. Covert spying aside, of course. 🙂

              • exactly! and to the fact that it’s way more satisfying to carefully compose on ground glass rather than onto some pixelated, over corrected, untrusted, uncalibrated and slow refreshing screens

      • It’s a big if, but there are people comparing the X-T2 favourably with the D500 (I’m not sure if they’re carried away with enthusiasm).

        If Olympus can deliver on their claims about the AF tracking on the E-M1 II, I will upgrade as soon as I can afford to, and it could signal a shock to the sports/action market that are mostly locked into CaNikon today.

        • There’s far too much almost desperate, panicky fanboyism for my liking at the moment – jumping from one camp to the other and then religiously defending one’s choices even though there’s never been less difference between those choices. Makes me wonder whether we’re the insane ones – I mean, there are things other than cats and brick walls and models to photograph?! 🙂

          • I think if anything kills camera companies I suspect it will be the relentless, agreesive, stick-in-the-mud conservatism found online that sees a 35mm DSLR as the answer to any problem – I’m not surprised that so much innovation (like multi-sensor) is happening in the phone space. The traditional equipment buyers have, on the whole, been so relentless hostile in defence of Bayer-sensor flappy-mirror cameras that it musn’t seem like a good use of money to try anything different (Foveon, Lytra, etc). Heck, complaints about the lack of wireless support on Canon SLRs are shouted down as something “real photographers” don’t want. Apparently real photographers never want to deliver images quickly or use social media!

            • You’re right. It’s a chicken and egg situation: we don’t want to risk not getting an image on something untested, and none of the solutions presented have really been viable solutions. So nobody wants to invest, and nobody wants to buy, which means nobody wants to invest…I think the only way we’re going to see some serious movement is a lateral step change driven by another industry without the same baggage – probably phones.

  50. You didn’t mention much about the lack of firmware updates, upgrades and full disclosure of these new cameras abilities. Also the fact that other than producing in some cases a shell with a logo and in other a working instrument but with crippled firmware or not fully mature it’s hard to fork out 20-50k on hope. Yep I do concern there seems to be a lack of direction by anyone company to really lead the market. Most at the mercy of Sony, but others without proper programming staff or none, kinda rounded plump 80’s design, lack of funding for others, some with no innovation or innovation that was squashed by corporate as too risky business. Yep 2017 might hold a few surprises but it does make one sit back shoot with what we have and ask ourself will a touch screen make it or break it!

    • The firmware issue is something that seems to have shifted from ‘ship it when it’s ready’ to ‘ship it now and fix it until the next one is ready’. I agree this is really not a solution in critical situations, and companies (and fanboys) pretending that new firmware is offering new features instead of something that should have been there in the first place is a delusion. There’s a reason (aside from economics) why many pros are often using last generation equipment…

  51. I was very impressed with the micro43 announcements from Panasonic and Olympus, especially the E-M1 Mk.2. I’ve been using Olympus digital cameras since 1999, even before the E-1 DSLR came out, and the E-M1 Mk.2 is pretty much the camera I’ve been wanting Olympus to make for a very, very long time. I also really appreciate the new lens choices, even though they are on the big, expensive side. The new Olympus 12-100 f/4, while not the first choice for the portrait photographer, could find a very receptive audience amongst photojournalists looking to find a smaller, rugged kit, as well as travel photographers who would love one great quality zoom rather than a bag full of lenses. As “big” as the Olympus 12-100 is relative to other micro43 lenses, it is much smaller than even the smallest full-frame 24-70 f/2.8 zoom on the market, but doubles as a 24-70 and 70-200. This lens could also find a very wide audience amongst videographers.

    • Agreed, solid progress. I was interested in the 12-100 until I saw the samples from DPR – they’re at best inconsistent. Some have good sharpness, some don’t, and we’re talking similar focal lengths, apertures and subject distances and shutter speeds where shake isn’t going to be a problem. Consistency appears to be an issue, and the corners at 12mm are pretty weak. The out of focus areas look so-so – somewhat hard and nervous, like the existing 12-40’s. One hopes it’s because it’s a preproduction lens, but in practice these things are never redesigned unless there’s something very, very wrong (or proves impractical or low yield in production).

      Note: one could shoot with a Nikon 24-120/4 on a D810 and crop to APSC for similar resolution and reach, too.

      • The weaknesses you saw in the 12-100 do not surprise me, as an 8x near “superzoom” is certain to have some optical compromises that may not be acceptable to some. I was hoping for a lens as good and as reliable as the old Olympus 12-60mm f/2.8-4 SWD, which was a real revelation back in the days of the Olympus 4/3 DSLR’s. Truly one of the finest normal range zooms I’ve ever used, along with the Olympus 14-54mm f/2.8-3.5 zoom. If the 12-100 is a bit too compromised in IQ however, at least there’s hope in the Panasonic/Leica 12-60mm that was also announced. Panasonic zooms, for the most part, have always given me excellent results, though CA removal in post is necessary when using them on Olympus bodies.

        As for out-of-focus areas being “hard and nervous”, that’s been fairly true for almost any Olympus or Panasonic lens I’ve ever owned, with the notable exception of the Panasonic/Leica 45mm f/2.8 macro. If one is interested in using depth-of-field as a creative element, then it’s best to stay away from micro43 and move up to APS at the very least. However, there are a couple of lenses that might be good enough in that regard: the Panasonic/Leica 42.5mm f/1.2 Nocticron, this new Olympus 25mm f/1.2, and the Panasonic/Leica 25mm f/1.4. I’ve heard good things about the Voigtlander f/0.95 MF lens for micro 4/3 as well. But that’s about it.

        I bought a Nikon D7000 a while back to allow me to keep the benefits of a DSLR, of which there are many over mirrorless camera bodies. I was SHOCKED at how nice the out-of-focus areas were even using relatively cheap consumer lenses like the 35mm f/1.8G DX and the 55-300mm DX zoom. Honestly, I think the best general purpose camera on the market right now, for the price, might be the Nikon D7200. Unless you are a pro with very critical needs, or a very picky enthusiast, the D7200 has tremendous capability that would keep most serious photographers happy. As a matter of fact, if Olympus prices the the new E-M1 Mk.2 at the D500 level, I might just get the D7200 instead, and maybe the new Nikon 16-80 f/2.8-4E in place of the Olympus 12-100.

        Right now my main Olympus camera is the E-P5, which I use mainly for trip & travel photography, and I’m perfectly happy using the smaller Olympus cameras as expensive point & shoots for the foreseeable future. They do a fantastic job in that role.

        • The concern isn’t so much the nervous transitions as the so-so resolving power at the edges even when stopped down; it has the look of being nervous and somewhat OOF (low contrast, some coma) even if it isn’t. Beyond that there’s no point in stopping down further because of diffraction. I owned a couple of the Voigt 0.95s, and frankly, there were disappointing. So much coma wide open as to be totally unusable, and stopped down not as good as the Oly 1.8s.

      • > I was interested in the 12-100 until I saw the samples from DPR

        Their samples for the 25/1.2 made it look pretty mediocre, too. Then Neil Grant posted his Havana images.

        I don’t know whether the 12-100 will be a great lens, but I am sure I wouldn’t be using their quickies as a guide.

        • As bad as the samples are, they still tell you quite a bit if you know what you’re looking for – that are inherent qualities of the lens and not really down to user error. I would say the 25mm samples I’ve seen from all of the people who’ve posted look consistent; even the crappy DPR ones. But the 12-100 just looks somewhat disappointing, in the same way the in-camera correction used on the 7-14 and 40-150 is definitely visible to me.

  52. Alex Carnes says:

    I found it pretty disappointing to be honest, although that’s partly because I’ve been doing photography for long enough to know what I need/want and thus look for specific things; and partly because, as you say, the stuff I already own is plenty good enough. I was disappointed not to see a D820 with the new 42mp sensor and some improvements to the AF system – I tend to use mine mostly on a tripod these days focusing manually in magnified live view, although that’s partly because I shoot sigma arts which have very unreliable AF. Shooting handled I tend to use my Ricoh GR and X-Pro1, now with the very likeable new 35/2 WR. I really want to upgrade these but no new GR is on the horizon and the new 24MP Fujis are a rip off. Even so, if Fuji were to make an 18mm f/2 WR that’s as good as the new 35/2 I’d probably find myself carrying two Fuji bodies when shooting handheld. So nothing of any great interest to me at Photokina. I suppose I’ll grab the new Sigma 85/1.4 Art at some point, and I’ll be most interested to see how the new Fuji MF performs; I suppose I could just about manage it financially but my cameras take a battering and I’d be extremely grumpy if I dropped a £10,000 one!! 😂

    • Here’s a practical question, though: for how many of us would a 42MP D820 be somewhat pointless? Even with the D5/500 AF system, I can’t see myself spending $3500-4000+ to gain negligible resolution and a bit more AF speed. It’s not what the camera is used for most of the time anyway; under those kinds of situations, you can rarely even come close to what the camera can deliver because of the shooting conditions. I can’t help but wonder if Nikon saw the same thing and decided to sit it out til another generation of sensor… (not to mention Sony’s post-earthquake issues, of course).

      • Alex Carnes says:

        Yes, you’re probably right; when push came to shove I’m not sure how much enthusiasm I could muster for a 42MP D820. It’s my APS-C gruesome twosome (GR and X-Pro1 + 35/2) that I’d most like to upgrade, although truth be told both make excellent prints on my A3+ printer and I can’t see myself buying a bigger one. The new 24MP APS-C sensors perform incredibly well though, and I’d like an =28mm camera with an EVF (the Leica Q is too expensive). I suppose I could get the Fujinon 16mm which as far as I can tell performs wonderfully and pretend it’s = 28, but it’s a bit expensive… rather like the new 24MP bodies. I’ll probably end up buying one at some point!

        • You might well find that 24MP in a handheld-arms-length camera without finder to brace against might not get you much visible gain over 16MP – they do require a higher degree of care to maximise return from. The next GR really needs a built in finder of some sort…

          • Alex Carnes says:

            Quite agree, but there’s no sign of a new GR and Fuji don’t make a decent =28 prime. I might give the 16/1.4 a try at some point, it’s a bit expensive and a bit wide, but you can only buy what’s available… :-\

          • One should be able to compensate the additional camera shake (that a linear resolution increase of 22% reveals) simply by shortening the exposure time by 22%.

            • In theory, yes. In practice, the increased mass of moving parts for the larger sensor tends to mean you need more like half/double.

              • But that point doesn’t apply if you replace a 16 MP sensor with a 24 MP sensor in the same camera body (eg, in a Ricoh GR).

                • In theory, true – assuming all else remains constant. In practice, I find you still need more like double shutter speed for the same hit rate…

  53. Ming

    I am mostly disappointed in the announcements from Photokina. I was hoping Leica would announce improvements to the S, since that would allow them to improve the M where my interest lies, but we only got a couple of new commemorative cameras. I was also hoping for an upgrade to the Nikon 810 and the rumored Sony A9.

    The new Fuji MF camera is interesting. But only as a possible major change from what I already have.


    • Longer product cycles are inevitable as the market shrinks; however, the really long gap between the D800/D810 (4+ years, being pretty much the same camera with very slight changes only) and its replacement are almost certainly due to sensor supply issues following the earthquake. I suspect that the A9 is a casualty of this too – as are all of the back ordered 42MP FF Sony cameras…

      I don’t know about you, but I really don’t want to buy another system of accessories and lenses. The Fuji is interesting only because it might let you use some of what you already have (though admittedly, with unknown real gain if FF lenses are recycled).

  54. Wow.

  55. I’m on the fence, happy with m43 and APSc for now, nothing making me call the banker, or start complaining to the Mrs. about how bad my camera is.


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