Crystal ball gazing – have we reached a plateau?

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The split, redux: all will be explained in the article…

In the late 90s/early 2000s, film photography arguably reached its zenith in many ways: you could get all sorts of hardware in all sorts of form factors; emulsion technology peaked in both proliferation and quality, and it was easy to get anything developed and printed, and developed well. There were high end pro compacts, super fast DSLRs, consumer megazooms, large format folders, sub-frame cameras…films varying in speed, look, positive/negative, and even crossover-types like C41 process black and white. I’d even argue that since then, film emulsions have not really improved (undoubtedly due to the vanishingly poor business proposition created by the emergence of digital) – and we’ve lost most of the major manufacturers and choices. (To say nothing of the labs.) The core technology reached a balanced plateau: lenses were matching emulsions in resolving power; AF systems were matching the rest of the system in precision required to consistently deliver the aforementioned resolution. On film, there’s not much difference between one of the better 50mms of the time (say a C/Y 1.7/50 MM, A Leica 50/2 Summicron, or a ZF.2 2/50 Makro-Planar) and arguably the best of today – the Zeiss 1.4/55 Otus APO-Distagon. I tried this experiment on an F6 some time back, with Fuji Acros: I couldn’t really see much of a difference in resolving power. Drawing style, yes, but not resolving power. Your ability to focus made far more of a difference. And running the same film through my 1979 F2 Titan or the 2005 F6 made no difference at all, of course. Ultimately, during the film era: image quality was proportional to format size. How is this relevant to now?

Digital has played an out of sync catchup game between formats over the last decade and a half. Smaller sensors improved faster because the economics worked in their favour: smaller = much cheaper = volume = R&D budget to improve (plus competitive factors). But as sensor costs fell, we saw this slowly move up the chain: ever larger sensors fell below lower absolute dollar amounts; to say nothing of inflation. First APS-C, then full frame. And we’re now on the verge of seeing the same thing happen with the smaller medium format (44x33mm). What’s happening, of course, is the result of two things: pixel-level architecture scalability, and improvements in quality control on both the production process and the silicon blanks* have lead to improving yields and falling sensor costs – or at least convergence to a rough cost per square area model. Sound familiar? It’s not unlike film.

*Impurities in the silicon wafers lead to errors which lead to rejections; a fixed impurity rate is fine for small chips because at 100 chips/wafer and 5 impurities/wafer, at most, you reject five chips. But with the same impurity rate and 4 chips/wafer, you may land up rejecting all of them – or none; the impurities could fall outside the lithographic area. With larger sensors, it isn’t the silicon that’s expensive: it’s throwing away the duds. Up til not that long ago, reject rates on very large sensors might be over 50%.

There are a lot of complex interactions in the whole imaging chain that may affect performance: the higher the pixel pitch, the steeper diminishing returns get as you start to have lens-quality effects, alignment, focusing step limits, dynamic range etc. It’s quite possible that if the assembly tolerances aren’t high enough and cause an image that’s just slightly defocused beyond the circle of confusion for that pixel pitch, a significantly lower resolution (remember: true resolving power goes by linear pixel count, not area) sensor may well produce visually better results, and not much difference quantitatively, either. This limit is significant because the biggest factor in most cases is the user – not the hardware. A little sloppiness in technique or not calibrating lenses/ checking focus can throw away all of the difference between 24 and 50MP you paid a lot of money for.

Oddly enough, I believe on the technical side, human physiology is the cause of the limits. Firstly, no matter how good your stabilisation system, nobody can be perfectly still; this means move to a tripod or be prepared to have astronomically high shutter speeds. Having shot tens of thousands of frames with 100MP for the last eighteen months, I can tell you that deploying the difference handheld and consistently is not trivial. My preference strongly swings towards working off a tripod in this case. Secondly, and more importantly, is the practical output limit: whilst we can have enormous displays and prints and enormously high density displays and (Ultra)prints, perfect eyesight at a best-case 20cm viewing distance tops out around 1000px/in, or 500lp/in. This applies in the real world, too, and at distance. No matter what you’re looking at: your eyes cannot resolve more than this. At that distance, I can’t see more than a 13″ monitor, even at the edges of my peripheral vision (which resolve much, much lower). 13×8″ is about 104MP. Even given the benefit of the doubt of bayer limits vs true pixel color, oversampling etc. I don’t see us being physically able to absorb more than 200MP of information at one go in a still. Area by area viewing is of course another thing entirely, but we’re back to the practical limitations and implementation of big printing etc.

it’s not just the technical side that’s limited by us: it’s also the creative and consumptive side. The camera only makes what we tell it to; this much has always been clear. But I don’t think most people’s images are improved by the added technical challenge of maximising output of their equipment when they haven’t maximised their visual vocabulary yet – it’s just one more distraction. Analogy: learn the language to be able to clearly express your idea before you start shouting at the top of your voice. Yes, more technology opens up greater shooting envelopes – but I’d argue we’re not far off the useful limits here, too – when I can shoot moving people in a very dark cave, handheld, and produce image quality like this – I’m not sure there’s that many commonly-encountered situations that demand more.

In my mind, the biggest challenges and changes are going to come on the output/ content consumption side. There’s simply so much content these days that we are overloaded with visuals; forget standing out, just being seen is already difficult enough. And with the usual social media channels moving to a very advertising-heavy presentation, people get both increasingly dismissive and simply turned off looking. Instagram was interesting for a year or two when there were a lot of good photographers posting content not filtered to blindness-inducing color and minimal to no unexpected visuals; now I’d say one in five or so posts I see are ads for things that are not interesting, irrelevant to me, and worse, often visually ugly – think random people promoting their horrible blurry selfies or cat photos. I can say my interest in this platform has declined significantly as a result, as with others I’ve spoken to. But given the monopoly they’ve had on visuals – what’s left? The smaller sites never reached critical user or financial mass, many have closed down or remained largely in stasis as they’ve changed hands (Flickr) and others are simply not very good for serious image sharing (Facebook, Snapchat, Tinder, Flubber, Blobme, Globulitis etc).

The net impact across the photographic industry has been one of contraction across the board – hardware progress represents such diminishingly small returns for most users that the volume tends to be at the consumer/prosumer end trading up slightly, rather than the mad rush to the top of the latest and greatest we’ve seen in the last five to ten years. The formerly very serious hobbyists have either dropped out now that gear doesn’t provide much visible improvement and actual effort is required, or they’ve gotten very very serious and really dug in – I’ve seen a very clear divergence in the readers of this site (and also through speaking to other publishers). In a strange way, despite the relative stasis (or hugely diminishing returns for most) on the hardware side, and the contraction in audience of the serious output side – the situation is actually beneficial for the serious photographers, professional and amateur alike. We (and our clients) are no longer being distracted by dabblers, the lure of the next model, or chasing social media approval; it’s time to get back to making pictures. Until the next thing… MT

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Comments

  1. I can’t help but think that what is usually referred to as “computational photography” will become more important. The sensor will be there to provide input to some sort of computer modeling that lets you significantly change, after the fact, the image that is rendered. Look at the Google “Seurat” image processing for 3D for example, and consider if you could take a number of photos in an area, have the computer calculate all available angles and locations for which is has enough data, you could then tweak the apparent location/viewpoint and even modify the depth of field and angle of view (like having a zoom lens) after the fact.

    • Go one step further: map the whole world, and then make a virtual photograph without having ever been there.

      Changing the image after the fact conceptually seems like cropping in extremis to me: you didn’t get it right upfront, so keep searching afterwards in the hope we might find something…

  2. “The camera makes what we tell it to”. Amen. Thank you fo the thoughts Ming. These are similar to the means to an end statement that I like to read about. It is a good thing when the tool of choice or what is available makes a making a picture more fluid, reliable.

    I find the current ease of making photographs has increased my “oh wow” moments when looking at what is out there. But this has not diminished my reaction to Edward Weston, Wynn Bullock, or Huntington Witherill. Part of my amazement with their images is the level of communication with the audience. For me at least, it feels like their communication is intended but not forced. It feels organic.

    For me the next iteration of higher megapixel count etc. will make landscape photography somewhat easier for me. I can think of several features I’d like to see with a new camera and lens combination.

    I like the shouting part of your piece. That’s been around since publishing took off. That said I don’t think we will be seeing a Thomas Kinkaid exhibition at MOMA soon.

    • That level of organicness is something that only comes through practice; it doesn’t go away with modern technique/ hardware, but it can get better. 🙂

  3. As a working professional I have paid a great deal of attention to the evolution of the technology as I was focused on the advantages it brought to my business in creating deliverables that were demonstrably better than my competition.
    As I progressed through a succession of ever better gear (FF Canons and L lenses) I realized that µ43 was actually delivering all that I needed for all my jobs except architecture. In complete honesty I believe my architecture clients could be satisfied with µ43 images as they are rarely displayed beyond screen resolution or double page magazine spreads.

    What has made a difference with the µ43 gear is that its lightness and responsiveness makes photography (especially events) much more enjoyable and productive. To say nothing of the benefit to my wrists.

    So yes, I am no longer looking for the ultimate imaging tool but rather trying to make my images remarkable to my clients. I will acknowledge my human frailty in reading every gear article that hints at image magic.

    • Agreed on U4/3/responsiveness, but there are still limits with architecture (and some product photography, though extended DOF from the smaller sensor usually covers this) because of the lack of movements. There’s one more elephant in the room: color and dynamic range. Though U4/3 is arguably better than a lot of the FF systems, both still require significant work in getting colors accurate; this is critical for product work and often also transparency in static scenes (i.e. architecture). It isn’t a resolution thing so mochas an individual channel dynamic range one; this to me is where MF really pulls ahead. That, and needing far less PP time because of it…

  4. Ball Prak says:

    Very interesting reading!

  5. Ming, thank you; an extraordinarily thoughtful piece.

  6. gary bliss says:

    Ming, thank you; an extraordinarily thoughtful piece.

    My own thoughts recently parallel yours. As a d810 owner these past three years i have come to realize three sources of frustration: AF tolerance/accuracy, VR/stability/shutter&mirror vibration, and (not on your list) micro-AF coherence throughout the zoom range (for zoom lenses). These are all on top of the optical resolution demands of the 36mp sensor; i can only imagine that the d850 is worse. Put another way: each of these factors effectively “robs” resolution for which you have already dearly paid to acquire.

    I will not say that i have solved these issues but largely mitigated them with — of all things — Tamron G2 lenses. i do not wish to “plug” Tamron glass per se, but observe two things about them with regard to the issues i cite: firstly, the lenses are micro-AF adjustable for multiple focal lengths (four in the case of the 24-70), each at three subject distances. Secondly, here in the US at least, the Tamron importer will micro-AF your lenses and body “to the micron” on an optical bench for free. Finally their second gen VR is very very good; surpassing my Nikon 24-120 f4’s by a good bit.

    The net effect is to substantially address all three sources of lost resolution. Hand calibrating with accuracy a dozen different points with your body is remarkably beneficial and a real contribution to addressing these problems but tedious and a daunting task. I would hope that other manufacturers would follow suit.

    Finally i note that mirrorless is immune to two of my three sources; sadly vibration is not solved by removing the mirror as any review of the “shutter shock” mirriorless threads reveals. But progress is being made there too.

    — gary ray

    • Agreed on the AF issues – this is one of the reasons I evaluate various samples where I can; to find as little shift as possible. Sigma also allows you to fine tune AF points across multiple distances and focal lengths in a zoom if you use their software and USB dock – it works very well on my 100-400. The 24-120 on the other hand hides AF misses in its greater DOF. Hard to imagine the Tamron’s VR being better than the 24-120 – I am consistently seeing 4+ stops on the D850; however I do remember it not playing nice with the D810, and delivering much less additional stabilisation than expected.

      Mirrorless: EFC makes an enormous difference!

      • gary bliss says:

        Ming —

        i chuckled a bit on your 24-120 comment with respect to DoF. i found that with my copy, when micro-AF adjusted for accurate infinity, a huge back focus in the upper focal lengths (say >85mm) at 10m or so. Correcting this front focused the infinity setting of course . . . this problem was not obvious on the 24mp d600 for which i bought the 24-120 five years ago. I did not notice it until i upgraded, which is your whole point.

        That — and a general deterioration of resolution north of that focal length — drove me to largely restrict my usage of the lens to less than 70mm. So it didn’t take much to persuade me to take a chance on 24-70mm Tamron glass (being Nikon prior). I’m sure that the Sigma Art is just as good. Still, Tamron’s willingness to make the adjustments for your particular body is, to me, a major consumer benefit.

        — gary ray

        • Huge sample variation on the 24-120, unfortunately – lots of elements, consumer grade assembly and telescopic sections all make for a lot of places for tolerances (and resolution) to drift…

  7. I’ve been thinking about this for the past few weeks. I’m working my way through an archive of film from the organisation I work for (many thousands of images in 35mm and 645 from the 1970’s onward). I’m scanning everything on an Imacon; having not really handled film much for the past decade, it’s a bit of a shock to remember how far we’ve come in such a short time (especially when contrasting something like Kodak TMZ and just popping the camera on 3200 now for stage photography and the like). I do truly wish that someone would put the research into a couple new film emulsions though.

    (As a complete aside, everybody…enter proper metadata on your images! I’m working on a project that documents the past century of the New South Wales Teachers Federation and, unfortunately, many of the images I’m finding are interesting but we have no idea what the situation is or who the people are. Consider the future and have a Metadata Moment.)

    • Yes – and yet the internet at large still complains and says ‘if only I had X Y Z my images would be better!’ Back to improving the operator…

      Metadata: it may be impractical on thousands of images. But at least having a decent filing system goes a long way towards solving that.

  8. Accurately said.
    “…forget standing out, just being seen is already difficult enough..”

    I would add two more things.
    1) Technical: Digital is significantly different paradigm (than film) due to processing algorithm. Now algorithm compensates for many limitations of the hardware (think, geometric and CA corrections, stitching, NR…). This area will keep innovating and with increase of computing power, difficult to predict what will be achieved tomorrow (processing shake in mega-mega pixel sensors, correcting for it and producing sharp image with resolution unheard before!)

    2) Social: Another thing which has changed is that digital has brought lot more new photographers creating content than in film days. It is good for consumers of the content but bad for content producers due to crowded place. The trend will continue this way forcing folks to experiment with non-main-stream ways to differentiate themselves. Here equipment may play a role (think back to film) or may not play a role (focusing on commercial viability of images – no landscapes! 🙂 )

  9. With it or with out it?
    For one shot static subjects the manual cock shutter is all you really need, adding to the capture of that same image but with wind, water, multiple focus points, a moving animal or people and clouds. Now a modern camera could if it has proper firmware assist you in making YES a better image for sure but maybe even achieve the impossible.
    For example Sunset in a clearing storm, birds are flying, waves are crashing and the sun has set. The faster you can capture a set of images the better (or smoother) the blending could be.
    Auto Exposure Bracketing with one push of the shutter (cable release or mobile software),
    Bracketing 2-9 frames
    Bracketing any configuration of MY choice negative or positive or both -3, -2,5, -2, -1.5, -1, 0 or -2, -1,5, -1, 0 or -2, 0, +2 or 0, +.5. +1, +1.5

    • You’d still have problems blending moving objects from frame to frame, especially if those objects occupied a large area and would therefore be obvious that the area covered by them has limited DR compared to the rest. To be very honest – the sensors sine 2013 or so (D810) have not required bracketing; a single, well-exposed capture at optimal ISOs delivers more than enough DR to cover pretty much every scene I’ve encountered. This is also true (and even better) with the more recent sensors, larger sensors, and smaller sensors that might be bale to operate at the optimal point in their envelope by virtue of IBIS where larger cameras might have none or less effective.

  10. Sony seems to have developed a commanding position in development, volume production, and sale of highest performance camera sensors of all sizes. While camera companies that purchase sensors in volume may get a discount, I doubt that it will be a significant cost differentiator between camera companies. That means that in the near term camera companies will only distinguish themselves by their camera processors, software, controls, customer support and marketing; not by sensor quality.

    I think most people are being “sold” cameras and lenses by implying the new camera or lens will improve their poorly composed, poorly exposed and out of focus images. I am amazed how many people who don’t even understand how to compose, expose, or focus think they need a full frame camera to improve their images because they aren’t satisfied with the images they are producing with their crop sensor cameras. I’ve even encountered a few of people wanted the magical full frame camera so badly that spent their entire budget upgrading from an APS-C camera to a full frame camera without realizing they would need full frame lenses!

    • Pretty much.

    • “I think most people are being “sold” cameras and lenses by implying the new camera or lens will improve their poorly composed, poorly exposed and out of focus images.” Well-stated. You certainly see this process at work on popular camera sites like Dpreview, where the full-frame advocates are almost religious in their belief that “full frame” (i.e., formerly known as miniature format in the film era) is absolutely essential to having enough pixels, capturing adequate photons, having the right equivalence, and the other nonsense they spout. Do they take pictures? But all of a sudden, medium format is not necessary, no professional needs it, it is an affectation, it is “ridiculously” priced, etc., etc. Self-delusion in its first world best.

  11. “It’s time to get back to making pictures”

    Never a truer word spoken. AMEN!

    • I should have prefaced that with now that MP seem to be on the plateau, I shoot 100MP and everyone else I know who does has said the same thing – “I don’t really need anyone than 100MP”, I wonder the only place for it to go now is for larger sensors. The look of 6×7 film is really quite extraordinary and I can’t help but feel that is the next frontier in digital. Of course that is purely from the perspective of a photographer rather than someone working the manufacture of equipment.

      • Actually, we want to go physically larger too – but there are limits to production costs at the moment…

        • Amirali says:

          If that Hasselblad “physically larger” (Im assuming sensor size) exists in another universe , would it be mirrorless or mirrored ?
          Would Telecentric lens design for wide lenses result in huge lenses for such lenses (if mirrorless) ?
          Is that size even practical (both for sensor and lenses) ?

          • All good questions – and not ones that have ideal or ‘right’ answers; it depends very much on what we’re designing the camera for, budget constraints etc.

  12. Valuable reading, as always Ming. I quit using instagram as it was getting overwhelmingly popular. The platform I consult and publish on is Behance. Its scope is wider than just photography, featuring all kinds of visual arts.

    • It isn’t the popularity that’s the problem (though it comes with all sorts of other headaches like a severe degradation in quality of audience) but the fact that it’s now really pay to play the moment you cross a certain audience threshold…

      • Would you mind expanding on that a bit? Do you mean being forced to advertise to grow your audience?

        From my perspective it seems like 95% of the photographers with large follower counts got those numbers by cheating, either by purchasing followers or using an App to follow and unfollow by the hundreds every day. It’s pretty sickening, actually.

        • It seems once you reach a certain follower count, IG hides your posts in the timeline to even your normal followers – it might show one every three or four. On a post that is seen by all of my followers, for instance, I get somewhere around 10% of the total follower count ‘liking’ and about 60% viewing; otherwise posts get maybe 10% viewing and 1% liking. (You need a business account to see the detailed stats). Upshot is that I had fairly regular organic growth to about 7,500 or so followers, and since then – stagnation for the last 6-9 months. I’m sure I’d be more visible if I was willing to pay, but it seems pointless to promote something that does not generate revenue…

          • Ah, I see what you mean. I tried converting my Instagram to a business account for a week, saw my engagement plummet dramatically, then switched back to a regular one and it went right back up. It’s gone down again recently, doubtless because of some algorithm tweak or follower threshold I reached. Photography isn’t my primary source of income, but connections I’ve made on Instagram have led to some helpful extra work, and I’ve even made a few real friends along the way. It’s incredibly frustrating to know all of that is at the mercy of an opaque, profit-making enterprise.

            • I tried that too – it stayed down after going back to personal. I suspect that once you’ve been on one side of the fence too long, it punishes you. Oh well, IG has not been terribly useful for me except in increasing the number of poorly written troll messages received via DM…I can take it or leave it, I guess.

  13. Ming
    I respect that gear was not supposed to be the take away point, however it does feel like the digital manufactures tried hard to prove Moor’s law correct with tech rather than fill the user niches. In evolutionary terms the lack of diversity seems odd, almost the reverse of biological evolution. Perhaps digital tech reaching a plateau is almost like the ‘film formats’ are now settled and digital gear design is ready to start to evolve to fit more user niches (large sensor fixed lens compacts, better quality weather resistant ruggedized, lens sub/systems with consistent design ethos). I am probably being too optimistic.
    In the 1990’s and early 2000’s there were a lot of small HiFi companies, including new start-ups, producing for the mid and top price brackets in an industry that had reached a technical plateau, perhaps there is hope for cameras diversity. Business has become so homogenised due to MBA group think and non-entrepreneurial culture that my hopes are probably naive.
    Regards Noel

    • Agreed! And I hope the MBA-types have been noticing the successful (from a business standpoint) models are the curveballs precisely because they offer a different shooting experience to the hobbyists (two very important things in that statement: ‘different’ and ‘hobbyist’). But hey, what do I know? I never went to business school…

  14. I just hope we don’t lose too many camera manufacturers in the contraction process. We are spoiled for choice right now but I fear for the future in that regard…

    • Unfortunately this is inevitable, especially given how resistant to change or innovation most of them seem to be. There’s also an inordinate focus on trying to cover every tiny price strata of the consumer sector with a dozen minor variants rather than making one really solid product – sadly this is not unique to photography; I see it in the watch industry too (more and more reissues, nothing actually new). Blame the people in the executive suite being unwilling to risk their bonuses…

  15. “… it’s time to get back to making pictures. Until the next thing… ”

    Let’s hope and pray that “the next thing” isn’t 3D imaging. That will ruin pictures and make the photography business even more stupid.

    • Given that it came and went…I don’t think it will be. Augmented reality/ 3D will be a different discipline to traditional 2D photography; the minute you allow the audience to change the perspective of the output, then the photographer no longer has any control over the idea presented. It simply doesn’t work.

  16. Bill Walter says:

    As someone who has always looked for new cameras with better sensors and better IQ, I think we hit a plateau with the A7rii and the D810. I know the replacements (A7riii & D850) have some nice new perks and improvements, but after looking at hundreds of shots from these 2, I do not see any great noticeable improvements in picture quality. In the last few years I have more interest in cameras that are more comfortable to use rather than seeking better IQ. It will be interesting to see what the full frame mirrorless offerings look like from Canon & Nikon.

    Also, it was nice to see a mention of the wonderful Contax Zeiss 50mm 1.7 MM. Possibly the best bang for the buck 50mm ever.

    • I’d argue that’s true of the D810, but not so much the A7RII (remember the compressed raw/ posterisation problem?) Certainly at most image sizes and under most conditions there isn’t much improvement in the new cameras; at the edges of the envelope there definitely is, but even then – you need to be skilled enough to extract it. Print is of course another matter. Agreed on comfort and ergonomics, and I still think this is perhaps the most underrated element in a ‘successful’ camera.

      I was once given a converted 50/1.7 MM – it’s now in a Nikon 50/1.8 D housing and mount and will actually AF…

  17. Darrell says:

    I’m sure most of us know that our tools are way better than our skills and would love to be able to find suitably gifted individuals in our locals to learn from however the problem is knowing that they are in fact gifted/qualified (formally or otherwise) in order to avoid wasting ones money. After all, so many people today with a camera consider themselves to be an expert In the absence of the above, we turn to camera porn to convince ourselves that our photographic endeavours and attempts to create pleasing art are in some way relevant.

    • It doesn’t help that the assessment of ‘gifted’ is highly subjective. I’d put it this way: 1. Do you like their work? 2. do they have the level of control to deliver images consistent with their vision? 3. Can they teach/communicate that? Item 3 is usually the place where most fall short – either they can’t teach, can’t adequately explain what it is they’re doing because the process isn’t fully conscious or thought out, or they don’t want to…

  18. Kitty Murray says:

    Thank you for this well-thought out, stimulating Sunday morning read.

  19. Give me a Blad that does what the A7III does only with a MF sensor and top shelf EVF and then I’ll sign up for plateaus 😉

    • But would you make any different or better images with it?If not…it’s just GAS.

      • Absolutely different and better…a camera shouldn’t just stay out of your way, it should inspire you to want to make a photograph. Don’t label me a GAS’r just because I’m picky about what I shoot with. You of all people should know this 😉 You work for arguably the finest gear company on the planet and yet you couldn’t wait to get your hands on the D850. The brushes matter, the paint matters, the canvas matters THE GEAR MATTERS! 😉

  20. I forget which camera first came with a 16MP Sony APS-C sensor that, at that time, exhibited unusually high dynamic range. For many photographers, I think that represented one point of sufficiency. Everything else since then has been incremental. What I think we’ll never see is affordable medium format. The contraction at the low end, caused by the smartphone, means there will never be sufficient interest in larger format to drive the economies of scale needed. And that’s before you factor in the cost of big glass. For the same reason, I expect the long rumoured full frame NEX (to use the old name for Sony mirrorless) will never happen.

    Another thing I recently noticed: you can measure the time since Sony last produced a low end A series (NEX) camera in years, and Panasonic also appear to be pulling out of the market for the beginner camera. Canon, Fuji and Olympus all still have a foothold here, but for how long? Real (dedicated) cameras are perhaps once more becoming the purview of the serious photographer with the money to spend.

    • Affordability is relative: it won’t be cheap, but there’s no reason it can’t be cheaper than it is now (and with high end FF creeping up, convergence is inevitable – perhaps sooner than you think. 😉 )

  21. Ming, Thanks a million for this valuable insight.

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