Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Tired of Waiting!

Well, I guess I'm like most of the former Minolta users now. I'm tired. The formula was very simple initially; take the latest sensor and install it in a 7D body. We liked the 7D body. It was robust. It was ergonomic. It had everything conveniently placed, designed as it was by people who actually take photographs. The AF system worked well, and could PREDICTIVE FOCUS on moving objects. It's downside was that it "only" had 6.1 megapixels when it debuted.

Simple, right?

Evidently not, if Sony's chosen to discontinue the A900 and A850 cameras, along with the APS-C sized A700 body, all during the same 10 month span, without introducting any sort of replacement at all. See, I didn't buy an A850/900 because I didn't like them. I didn't buy one because life got in the way of those plans, and I've had two new, hungry little mouths to feed over the past two years. In 2008, the A900 debuted. By mid-2010, it's gone. For those of us starting to get our feet back under us, this effectively removes Sony from any consideration at all for a new camera purchase.

Way to go and shoot yourself in the foot. Is this what your marketing geniuses told you to do?

So that's it for me. I'm done waiting. I'm going to sell all of my Minolta gear. Minolta is no more, and the only ghost which remains is clearly uninterested in the needs of a professional photographer.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Sony, what is wrong with you?

Well, the word I've read and the photos I've seen this morning from Sony's Photokina 2010 booth have been semi-disappointing. HOWEVER... there was one interesting thing I noted. The "prototype A700 replacement" is listed as using "translucent mirror technology"! It wasn't listed that way at the PMA show this spring, though it looks as if they're using the same model mock-up.

As I'd thought once before, out loud, in this blog, it is easier and cheaper to build boxy cameras without all that flappy-mirror nonsense inside. If they have chosen to revamp their A750 to take advantage of the new EXMOR-R sensor's "double light gathering sensitivity" by installing it in a pellicle mirror camera, I say "Bravo!" to them. That might give them the capability to debut an 18mp body which will shoot 10 frames per second in 12-bit color. Even if the sensor and processor can do 14-bit color, I don't see Sony adding the memory or processor speed to crunch those kinds of numbers to the A7xx series. Perhap in an A9xx body, maybe. In fact, if they're doing this for the A7xx, it's as close to a sure bet as it possibly can be that the A9xx will also share this pellicle design, as it will undoubtedly have the 36.4mp Full-Frame EXMOR-R sensor they developed, or a variant thereof. 35 or 36 megapixels with 10 frames per second speed would trump everyone's current and forecast DSLR bodies.

I can see a sizeable increase in battery life coming, without the mirror assembly. I can also see an increase in autofocus precision, though overly bright subjects might cause a problem due to a lack of contrast if they don't reflect properly off the pellicle mirror.

Of course, this is all just conjecture on my part, but my guess about the pellicle mirror design reaching the A7xx appears to be on the mark. I'll go out on a limb and state that I think this will definitely reach the A9xx body too, and this is the reason there's no A9xx or A7xx ready for Photokina. Disappointing for me, as I was expecting there to be some sort of progress displayed in the Alpha area this week. At this moment, it appears Sony's not ready to completely tip their hand.

It's clear that Sony wants some sort of technological advantage over its rivals in the DSLR market, more than simply a megapixel advantage, and that they're unwilling to compromise on their ideas just to have a better display at a popular show.

So here's my guess as to the updated A7xx specs:
New name- the Alpha A75 (fits with the current A33/A55 nomenclature)
18.2mp or higher pixel count from the EXMOR-R design APS-C sensor
Pellical mirror with constant Phase-Detection focusing
10 FPS or better
Magnesium body with seals (why not if the body's cheaper to make without the mirror assembly)
1080p movie mode (like I care about that, I'm a photographer!) with real-time focusing for SSM lenses (3rd party lens makers had better step up their lens programming updates! Sigma, I'm looking at you!)
Dual card memory options, Compact Flash and Memory Stick Pro

Let's see if my crystal ball is correct.

Monday, September 20, 2010


Okay, so Photokina starts tomorrow in Germany, and Sony's been so tight-lipped about their upcoming introductions that no one has any info on the web today, at all! No leaks, no "here's what they're going to introduce", etc. How do they expect us to get all crazy about their new cameras if they don't release any teaser information? Will Photokina serve as the "teaser" and no cameras will be available for 6 more months? While this would give me time to save for a full-frame A950, or APS-C frame A750 body, it doesn't make me very happy. I hate waiting.

Why the long wait? Do they simply want to milk the most out of the A900/A850 platform while they're still in stores? Does Sony's marketing arm know that they're losing sales every day their new cameras aren't on the market, and the offerings from Canon and Nikon are? I'm sure they must. Inventory Management 101 must have been in their college course curriculum somewhere! Wil the cameras instead be instantly available as soon as Photokina is over? In time for Christmas 2010?

All of this puzzles me, as word came out recently that the A580 wouldn't be available until the first quarter of 2011! Yikes! They introduced that camera in August! That makes for a 5 month ramp-up time in a hotly-contested category! Perhaps this is normal in the industry, and other makers simply wait until they have the cameras ready to ship before releasing the news. Still, weren't bodies made available to reviewers for testing? Hmmmmmm, phased roll-out around the world? I really don't know, and am simply asking a ton of questions aimlessly in hopes that someone at Sony might actually read this and respond to me.

I won't hold my breath!