Where Mirrorless is Headed in 2019 by an author (Sans Mirror)

Mirrorless had a big year in 2018, with many full frame entrants (4, or 10% of all cameras introduced), plus some good energy on either side of that size from Fujifilm. Lenses came in droves for mirrorless this year. I count 27 significant mirrorless-only lenses introduced this year (plus things like the Sigma Art series in FE mount adds quite a few more). 2019 is likely to be more of the same: lots of new lenses now that Canon and Nikon have to get their mirrorless foundries up-to-speed to match Sony.

Clearly, all the camera makers—other than Pentax, who's still wandering around in the woods somewhere seeing if trees make noises when they fall—are going to be executing significantly in the mirrorless realm in the future. We're now clearly into the DSLR-to-mirrorless transition period. How long that transition will take depends upon how fast the camera makers move.

My predictions are:

The whole camera market is moving up-market — just like the iPhone X line. We’ll see more capable, but expensive mirrorless camera bodies and better quality lenses. We’ll pay more but we’ll get a better product.

The low-end consumer cameras are dead. Advancement in smartphone cameras with AI will put a nail in that coffin. The market will refocus on the advanced amateur -- amateur is defined as one who engages in a pursuit, study, science, or sport as a pastime rather than as a profession -- and professional market.

We have cheap bicycles for people who like to ride on cool spring/autumn days and we have more expensive (and capable) bicycles for cycling enthusiasts who ride 50–60km (one way) on the weekend (just because they can).

Apple and Sony both announced new technology products on the same day last week.

Both companies are high tech powerhouses. Both are throwing lots of new core technology into the electronic guts of their products.

One plays like a pro. The other seems like an awkward teen trying to play like a pro.

This is a marketing difference, a message difference, an integration difference, a user solution difference, and a product line difference.

Apple, having done this for decades now, is the polished pro.
And that's where the camera makers are amateurs. They just aren't connecting to customer needs. Yes, it'll take great tech, and Sony's sensors are certainly great tech. But that soccer mom that Sony probably would like to target with an RX10 Mark IV: just how easy was it for her to get their child's goal captured and posted on Facebook? Please don't tell me that she had to browse through 300 images in the sequence to find the right one, then toggle into another mode on the camera, chant some mumbo jumbo correctly so that it works, and then...oh wait, PlayMemories doesn't have a Facebook app. Which means that she'll have to learn how to use PlayMemories to send the image over to her smartphone and do the heavy lifting there. Oh, and since she's got Wi-Fi enabled on the RX10 Mark IV to do that, there goes the battery...

Come on guys. Apple is designing the pants off you. And presenting their offerings better. And solving real user problems.Thom Hogan

Over the last year, I’ve rented a few compact interchangeable lens camera systems. Some were µ 43 and some were APS-C. Some felt just right, and some felt too small. None were full-frame (35mm FF format).

I don't care much about the debate over full-frame versus APS-C sensor size etc. What I want to know is the ease of use and a range of quality lenses for the camera system. All my photos live in digital format and are viewed online on a computer screen. The last time I made prints was in 2006. I share my pictures on social networks like Facebook and Google+. Image quality is very important, but the ease of use is even more important. All the cameras I've tested to this point have performed well.

My professional photographer friends Gevon Servo and Scott Wyden seemed to love the Sony a7 cameras. Gevon especially loves using his Sony a7 with his Nikon lenses. So I took advantage of the long weekend to rent a Sony a7s and Vario-Tessar T* FE 24-70 mm F4 ZA OSS. I think I'm in love.

The Sony a7s and Vario-Tessar T* FE 24-70 mm F4 ZA OSS feel solid. Professional. This was the same feeling I had when I used the Fuji X-T1. This is a modern-looking camera with a vintage camera build feel. I've hardly put it down since I unpacked the box from Lensrentals.

Last night I spent a few minutes poking around the menus and setting up the camera. This was not as easy as I would have liked. Setting aside the fact that I am used to Nikon's camera menu, finding things in the camera menus was more challenging.

One of the reasons I love the Fuji X-T1 was the access to manual controls for aperture, ISO and shutter speed. I didn't have to mess around with hard to read menus. The Sony doesn't have as many manual controls but and the menu system was quick but not as easy to navigate.

Confirming the Sony a7s to transfer images to my iPhone was very easy. I'm very impressed given how flaky doing the same thing on the Panasonic GM1 was. The Olympus OM-D M-1 and M-5 were not as hard to set up as the Panasonic but not as easy as the Sony.

Sony α7s + Vario-Tessar T* FE 24-70 mm F4 ZA OSS @ 70mm, ISO 50, 1125 at f/4.0

Once I had the camera set up the way I wanted, I took it out to the local farmers market. One of my very first photos was of some colourful tomatoes displayed in a basket of produce from Chickadee Creek Farm. I shot these over to my iPhone via the built-in wi-fi of the Sony. The image is straight out of the camera.

Transferring photos from the Sony to my iPhone and iPad was easy. I selected the Send to Smartphone option from the WiFi menu and selected one or more or all the photos I wanted to transfer. The camera told me to connect my iPad or iPhone to the indicated Wi-Fi access point name and provided the password to use. Once my iPad or iPhone was connected, I launched the free Sony app, and the images were transferred. I am very impressed with how quickly the files transferred. In comparison, this seemed to take transfer more slowly on the Olympus and the and Fujifilm X-T1.

Sony α7s + Vario-Tessar T* FE 24-70 mm F4 ZA OSS @ 70mm, ISO 50, 1500 sec at f/4.0

I love shooting with this camera. The electronic viewfinder (EVF) doesn’t get in the way, and focusing is fast. I love how the Sony a7s automatically switches from live view via the back LCD to the EVF as soon as my eye is placed in the viewfinder cup. Though I didn’t do any test, it feels faster than the Fujifilm X-T1 system. This isn’t as important to me as it was in the past – I shoot mostly landscape, and my kids are done with Tae Kwon Do –, but I still have little nieces and nephews who seem to move faster than a locomotive.

Gevon uses his Nikon lenses with his Sony a7. He has an adapter that allows him to attach his Nikon lenses to the Sony. Unfortunately, the Nikon lens electronics aren’t compatible with the Sony. Focusing must be done manually. Gevon has suggested that auto-focus wasn’t that import because of the focus peaking feature of the Sony α7s. I tested this out myself. It was easy to find and enable and worked like a charm. The Sony a7s highlighted yellow on the outlines of the object when it was in focus. Together with the manual focus assist – the α7s filled the viewfinder with a super zoomed-in section of the subject – I had no challenges manually focusing on my subject.

Sony α7s + Vario-Tessar T* FE 24-70 mm F4 ZA OSS @ 58mm, ISO 100, 1200 at f/4.0

Another feature I like that I wish I had in my Nikon is facial recognition. Although I prefer photographing landscapes and nature more than people, my wife and I attend a lot of family gatherings. I’m almost always the designated photographer. The Sony α7s and Vario-Tessar T* FE 24-70 mm F4 ZA OSS produced some bokehlicious images. Bhavna and I had lunch at World of Beer in New Brunswick.

This place is incredible! Hundreds of beers are available in draught or bottle. Bhavna and I were overwhelmed with choice. I washed down an interest interpretation of the classic Margherita pizza1 with an ale from Scotland that has kelp as one of the ingredients. World of Beer even has cocktails made with beer. I finished up my European style lunch with a "DON’T BE A JACKASS" cocktail2 and Bhavana had a "HOTI MOJITO".

This will soon become my favourite restaurant!

Sony α7s + Vario-Tessar T* FE 24-70 mm F4 ZA OSS @ 65mm, ISO 32, 180 at f/8.0

We spent part of the weekend car shopping. Bhavana's mini-van is acting up. It's almost 14 years old, so this is expected. We test drove a new Honda CR-V and a new Acura RDX. A new RDX is outside our budget, but Bhavana liked the luxurious feel of the car. We tried negotiating for a 2013 certified pre-owned RDX. Alas, the dealer and we could not agree on a price, so we walked away without a new car.

Sony α7s + Vario-Tessar T* FE 24-70 mm F4 ZA OSS @ 70mm, ISO 100, 180 at f/4.0

Tomorrow I have to return the camera to lensrentals.com, and I wish I didn't have to. Although I only had the camera for a weekend, I fell in love with it. Beautiful images. This is the Sony α7s. It's on my Amazon.com wish list. I finished up the weekend with a delicious and refreshing ale from the Williams Brothers Brewery in Scotland.

  1. Freshly diced tomato & mozzarella over a basil & pine nut pesto, drizzled with a sweet balsamic glaze & topped with fresh arugula. ?
  2. Tito’s Handmade Vodka mixed with fresh-squeezed lime juice and simple syrup, topped with Ginger Beer and a splash of a Citrus-Flavored Wheat Beer. ?