News and commentary about the mirrorless camera world (latest on top). Click on News/Views in the gray menu bar above to see the full list of recent articles and folders containing older ones.
Short answer: apparently nothing. It’s all down, baby ;~).
We now have official statements of withdrawal from the camera market by Samsung in Germany and the Netherlands. We have unofficial rumors of withdrawal from a couple of other countries. We have rumors in the South Korean press of Samsung having made the decision to shutter their camera division. So what gives?
The sad thing is that the NX-1 is a very good camera. If you like DSLR-style cameras and want state-of-the-art mirrorless, the Samsung NX-1 is arguably one of your best choices, and maybe your best crop sensor choice. It isn’t that Samsung has been building terrible NX cameras. Quite the contrary. As I’ve noted over the course of reviewing three of them, the NX cameras and lenses have been quite competitive.
On top of that, Samsung took a risk that was just starting to show some payoff: while they originally started down the path of using Android as the base OS in their cameras, they slowly moved to Tizen, a Linux-based platform they developed in conjunction with Intel (and which has its roots in a Nokia/Intel alliance). And the NX-1 shows just how far they came with it: a solid performer with a relatively handsome and useful interface, plus a strong connection to mobile devices.
But the law of numbers seems to have caught up to Samsung: they just didn’t sell enough product. At US$1699, the NX-1 was pushing up into FX DSLR pricing, and the cost of good lenses just added to that. Moreover, Samsung’s sales and distribution pattern really relies a lot on big box stores (at least here in the US), and look how the camera section at stores such as Best Buy got cut down and moved in prominance in the last couple of years. Some months in the US, I’d see Samsung creep up to number three or even number two in the NPD and other retail numbers for mirrorless bodies, but the US isn’t a big mirrorless market.
Indeed, that’s the disturbing thing about Samsung’s withdrawals in the European market: so far this year we’ve had 508k mirrorless units shipped into Europe, only 342k into the Americas. Japan, where Samsung has few sales, is a market that took in 498k mirrorless units (Asia was 971k, Other 61k). Let’s presume for a moment that a company has 10% of the mirrorless market (Samsung doesn’t, but let’s use that value for an illustrative point): so far this year that would imply something around 280-300k units. That’s not a lot of units to get sensor costs down with. And you’d think that Europe would be one of the places where you could sell more, rather than less, of them.
Note that most of the mirrorless cameras are using essentially the same older sensors across generations. We’ve been stuck at 16mp for Fujifilm and Olympus for a long time now (that will change soon, but then get stuck again). That’s because in order to get sensor costs down into a reasonable realm, you have to pony up to the bar for large quantities. Samsung is on their third sensor generation across very few units, and the last generation has been an expensive-to-produce BSI one. Samsung was also one of the few to be sticking state of the art WiFi and Bluetooth chips into their recent products, another bit of cost.
So the law of numbers is working against Samsung: low volume isn’t enough to pay back R&D, sensor, sales, distribution, and support costs. While five years ago they had hit 10% of the global market for compact cameras, note what’s happened to compact camera sales since. 10% of a market that declines 25% a year is not a winning proposition in terms of paying back such costs.
Samsung is certainly big enough to absorb cameras as a hobby business, as Fujifilm and Ricoh seem to do. But Samsung has a long history of moving in and out of businesses and shifting priorities in terms of where they place their business investments. Cameras got shifted to the group that makes mobile phones, which is under extreme pressure to produce the kinds of financial results that Apple is with the iPhone.
Overall, things don’t look good for continued Samsung involvement in the digital camera market. Best case now is a smaller product line and less availability. The more likely case is that the rumors out of the South Korean business press are correct: Samsung is folding its cards in cameras and putting those resources elsewhere.
Should you be afraid to purchase a Samsung camera because of this speculation floating about? Absolutely not. If a Samsung camera is the right choice for you today and the lenses you need are available, I wouldn’t rule them out, especially the NX-1. Still, the news isn’t exactly encouraging, is it?
(news & commentary)
Leica today announced a new version of the M camera, this time the Typ 262. Two big differences define this new model from the previous M’s: (1) Leica has removed the Live View and video features, (2) the shutter is a new design that is quieter than the previous one, and nearly silent when used in single shot mode.
A few other changes can be found: the top plate isn’t brass, but aluminum, the Live View button now becomes a white balance button, and the price is a more reasonable US$5195. The camera is available immediately.
Overall, this may be the most back-to-basics Leica yet. As their press release notes, the new M basically represents a purer approach to basic still photography more like what we practiced in the film age. The removal of the video and Live View features means that the menu system is two pages. Instead of menu and control diving as on most modern cameras, the emphasis here is just on the basics. That said, the sensor and other attributes of the Typ 262 are essentially that of the previous model. Leica gave nothing up in terms of the still photography performance or features.
The removal of Live View means that this is purely a camera-to-the-eye shooter, though Leica purists I’m sure will bring up Henri-Carter Bresson’s shoot-from-the-hip street technique.
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So many specials, so many rebates, so many little added bits and kits. How do you make sense of it while browsing one item at a time?
My friends at B&H have put together a set of special landing pages for me where you can find all the mirrorless products that have discounts or other promotions, and these are grouped so it’s easier to compare similar items (e.g. one brand of cameras, or one lens mount). Pay particular attention to just below the “You Pay” line, as some of these items will trigger additional rewards, typically 2% or 4% off your next order.
- Fujifilm cameras (all 17 options in one grid)
- Fujifilm lenses (17 options)
- Nikon 1 (9 camera kits)
- Olympus m4/3 cameras (21 options)
- Olympus lenses (27 options)
- Panasonic cameras (10 options)
- Sony E-mount cameras (11 cameras and camera kits in one grid)
- Sony lenses (only 2 at the moment)
Even if you aren’t going to buy from B&H, I think this collapsed format makes it a little easier to understand what options are on sale right now within the brands.
Since the B&H wish lists don’t exactly work correctly yet for some of you using iOS and a few other devices, here’s the short list of Olympus m4/3 and Fujifilm lenses on my wish lists to consider when you’re looking at those savings grids:
- Fujifilm 10-24mm f/4
- Fujifilm 14mm f/2.8
- Fujifilm 16-55mm f/2.8
- Fujifilm 23mm f/1.4
- Fujifilm 56mm f/1.2
- Fujifilm 90mm f/2
- Olympus 9-18mm f/4-5.6
- Olympus 12mm f/2
- Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8
- Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8
- Olympus 45mm f/1.8
- Olympus 60mm f/2.8 macro
- Olympus 75mm f/1.8
This doesn’t mean that other Fujifilm or Olympus lenses shouldn’t be considered. But these optics all pass “the Thom test.” That means that they’re very useful in my types of shooting, they produce high quality results, and they are all fairly high in build quality, too, and thus pass the rigors I subject them to in my travels. A good case of lens that isn’t on my list but might be great for you is the Fujifilm 16mm f/1.4. I need wide (14mm) more than I need fast (f/1.4). Also, the 16mm is a bigger lens, and I try to keep my mirrorless kits small, if possible. That said, there are some bigger, heavier lenses on this list. Frankly, if they’re big and heavy and made the list, you should consider them pretty special lenses. If I want big and heavy, my Nikon DSLR kit and the lenses I have for it are usually more than I need.
(news & commentary)
It’s that time of year, and the Japanese camera companies are hungry to push a lot of product out the door. Since I noted the Olympus sale earlier this month, it’s only fair to point out the new Fujifilm sale, which just started and is good through December 26th.
Basically it’s US$150 or US$200 off a wide range of excellent lenses (the 56mm APD is US$400 off). There are real savings to be had here if you’ve been waiting for a particular lens.
Likewise, there are deals on bodies, too. The X-T1 is US$300 off, the X-T10 and X-E2 are US$100 off, the X-A2 is US$50 off.
I’ve created an X lens wish list at B&H if you’d like to see my picks of the litter. Be sure to check out the notes section for each lens. B&H doesn’t allow me more than a tweet’s worth of characters there, but I’ve tried to describe why these lenses made the list.
It’s that time of year. More cameras are bought in the Christmas run-up than any other time of year, and pretty much everything that’s going to be available this season has been announced and is shipping.
I’ve got a few recommendations, and as usual, they’re going to be a bit different than “just buy model X”.
First Time Mirrorless Buyer
If you’re just now looking at mirrorless, there’s a lot to think about. I can think of a few reasons to consider mirrorless if you’re coming from something else (typically a DSLR):
- Smaller, lighter
- More innovative approaches/features
- DSLR system not delivering what you need (e.g. DX wide angle lenses)
- You overbought and just need “good enough,” not “absolute best”
I have clear favorites that address each of these items, but I really have a favorite if you put all of those things together: m4/3, particularly the Olympus OM-D models. One could even argue that the E-M1 and E-M5II are even far better than “good enough,” though they aren’t quite “absolute best.”
That said, the OM-D’s have some things that might give you pause, particularly a menu system that causes many of us headaches. The OM-D’s clearly have been designed by engineers. Lots of options—some of which don’t appear on any other cameras—but terminology and accessibility that becomes a real issue for some. My primary advice to first time OM-D purchasers is this: stick with it. Start simple and get the camera set up for basic shooting and work with that for awhile before you attempt to dig through everything the camera can do.
Another approach would be the Panasonic GX-8, or maybe the GM5. The Panasonic menu system is more approachable and understandable, though still not perfect. You’ll miss a few of those unique features of the latest OM-Ds, and the out-of-camera-JPEGs aren’t as impressive from the Panasonii as from the Olympii. Still, both are smallish/light camera choices that deliver on the other points I noted. Why not a GH4? Due for replacement in spring 2016.
What about the rest of the players?
- Canon EOS M — If you’ve got a Canon DSLR and lenses, maybe. But the M’s all feel a bit behind the state-of-the-art, and Canon’s off-again, on-again approach to the M doesn’t truly engender trust in where the M is headed.
- Fujifilm X — A close second to the m4/3 bodies. But the X’s, particularly the X-T1 and X-T10 play less to the smaller/lighter theme and more towards the “absolute best” theme. I think you buy into X for the image quality and straight-forward, DSLR-like approach. But then, why not a DSLR?
- Leica SL/T — Simply put, you’re paying more for something that just doesn’t quite feel “all there” yet.
- Nikon 1 — Small and light, for sure. But the Nikon 1’s fail on the second and third bullets, and are most definitely going to put you in the “good enough” camp. Like Canon, it’s unclear what Nikon really wants to do with the Nikon 1 system. That’s in stark contrast to m4/3 and X and E/FE.
- Pentax — The Q system is the epitome of small and light. But I have a hard time distinguishing between it and the high-end, large sensor compacts. I’d rather have some of those compacts.
- Samsung — The NX1 and the best lenses are DSLR-sized. Then there’s the problem that Canon and Nikon have: where’s Samsung going with NX?
- Sony — The E models haven’t been updated in quite some time, which is disturbing but hopefully remedied soon. The FE models are among the best mirrorless cameras you can buy, though lenses are going to make that small/light thing seem elusive, especially as we eventually get f/2.8 zooms. Lens availability is slowly catching up to needs, but isn’t there yet.
Caution: DSLRs are mature products that are tough to beat, both in price and performance. Frankly, Canon and Nikon made bad decisions in not building out their EF-S and DX lens lines, otherwise I’m not sure we’d even be talking about replacing a DSLR system with a mirrorless system. Why? Go to your store and pick up a Nikon D5500, for example. For the APS/DX sensor size, it’s competitively small and light with the Fujifilm offerings, for example. Focus performance is state-of-the-art. Features are complete and well managed/approachable. It’s really in that third bullet about lenses that the Canon and Nikon DSLR offerings at the lower end (EF-S and DX) start to fail.
Existing Mirrorless Owner
Simple answer: don’t switch. Wait.
Let’s approach this by vendor:
- Canon — If you’re an existing EOS M user, then you’re happy to see Canon playing fully on the worldwide stage again (the US didn’t originally get the EOS M3 and one of the lenses). Still, I’m not sure there’s a compelling reason to be quick to update. Wait to see what the EOS M4 looks like and what new lenses Canon offers in 2016. Then decide whether to stick with the EOS M system or switch.
- Fujifilm — You’re waiting for the 24mp generation, basically. Sure, pick up any lenses you need that you don’t have, but in terms of bodies, I’d wait. The X-Pro2 is not far off, and the X-T2 won’t be too far behind that.
- Leica — I’m not quite sure what to say to you folk. You paid an awful lot for your camera and lens(es). In practice, I’ve found the Leica models lately to be “glitchy,” in need of some serious firmware updates and even some UI rethink. The SL doesn’t seem to suggest that Leica will address that any time soon, as we’ve gotten yet another variant in their mirrorless trio. Advice to Leica: pick a horse and groom it better. Advice to Leica owner: you bought it, you own it.
- Nikon — We’ve gone from dirt simple metal cameras that could hammer nails into wood (literally) to something more akin to modern compact camera designs, with plastic parts and quirky UIs. The lens set is all over the board (810mm equivalent? ;~). The J1 to J5 and V1 to V3 progression seem more like experimentation than a clear product goal being honed. Maybe a J6 and V4 will tell us where Nikon is going, maybe not. Either way, wait.
- Olympus — The OM-D models are leapfrogging one another, so if you’ve got an older one, it might be worth picking up a newer one for the features/performance gains. The Pens are getting a complete rethink, though, so if you’ve got one of those, wait.
- Panasonic — If the GX-8 doesn’t cut it for you, wait. We’re expecting a GH5 at NAB 2016, and a GM6 sometime in 2016 as well. Even on the lens side, you might want to wait a bit to see what’s happening with IS in the lenses at Olympus, and how Panasonic deals with that.
- Pentax — Q, Q7, QS1, Q10, can you tell them apart? I don’t hold out high hopes for whatever the next Q is. Probably 1” sensor and yet another reset of the mount. But this really seems like reinventing the wheel, only in slightly different tire sizes.
- Samsung — The rumors about Samsung’s possible discontinuation of cameras are troubling, despite Samsung’s reassurances that they’re incorrect. Things have very definitely slowed down, though. I’d want to know why before putting more money into the system.
- Sony — If you’re an E-mounter, the next APS models should be arriving in early 2016, so wait. Hopefully more lenses will show up, too. If you’re an FE-mounter, all three A7 models are now very nicely updated, so you either have what you want available, or you’ll be waiting a much longer while to get something new that caters to your needs. Spend your time on getting the right lens set in the interim, if so.
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As you probably can tell, I’ve updated the site design for sansmirror.com. In doing so, I’ve done some simplification (the gallery and quickly-falling-out-of-date accessories pages are gone), plus I’ve made a quick pass through the site to update a few odds and ends that weren’t quite right even in the previous iteration. The new site is optimized for 1024-pixel wide displays (but read on).
I’ll eventually be adding a new header image to the site, and I may tweak the type specs a bit, as well. I’ve also got a lot of work to do on some of the images and ad links. But at this point, sansmirror should function decently well on smartphones and tablets, certainly better than before. The site is now responsive to browser/device size, and should degrade gracefully as you view it on smaller devices. The worst case should be that some of the B&H links at the bottom of camera or lens data pages scroll off the right side of the frame on very small displays. They’ll still work, you just won’t see the right edge of the image or ad. When I get a chance, I’ll resize all those links to work with the responsive frame size.
And remember, everything in the menus is clickable, even section headers. They’ll always take you to a page that gives you useful information and access to everything underneath it. Go ahead, try it. Click on Cameras in the menu system instead of one of the sub-menus. You’ll get a page of interesting information plus links to everything in the sub-menus.
(news & commentary)
It’s heading into that time of year, and the Japanese camera companies are hungry to push a lot of product out the door. Olympus has announced their November lens deals, and basically it’s US$50 or US$100 off a wide range of excellent product. These instant rebate discounts work out to be from 7% to 25%, with most being near 10%, so there are real savings to be had here if you’ve been waiting for a particular lens.
In response, I’ve updated my m4/3 lens wishlist at B&H. Be sure to check out the notes section for each lens. B&H doesn’t allow me more than a tweet’s worth of characters there, but I’ve tried to describe why these lenses made the list.
Two Olympus lenses not yet on that list that you might think should be are the 8mm f/1.8 fisheye and the 7-14mm f/2.8 wide angle zoom. That’s mostly because I haven’t shot much with them yet. As always, when I recommend products it’s because I’ve spent time with them in real shooting situations, and can vouch for what they can do.
The camera makers have you right where they want you: confused. Each new camera release throws some new variable at you to try to work through in deciding what product to purchase. You’re tempted by some new “great thing” that the marketing department is trumpeting on each new camera, because other systems don’t have any equivalent. Making decisions this way is a bit like trying to pick the hottest stock for the next quarter: short term is a gambler’s folly.
I believe that you have to look beyond the short term in picking a camera system. If you’re willing to abandon the gear you’ve bought and start over at any time—maybe as soon as next week or next month or next year—then just stop reading right here and enjoy your merry-go-round of camera gear.
For those of you still with me, here’s how I believe you have to think: our logical choices are all about a stop apart (1” to m4/3 to APS to full frame). By that I mean that—all else equal in a photographic sense (angle of view, aperture, position, etc.) and given the same generation of electronics—you’d tend to find about one stop of difference between the different sensor sizes when you evaluate things such as depth of field or dynamic range.
For example, taking a photograph from the same position with the same angle of view and same exposure and printing them at the same size from a camera with the same number of megapixels, two important things are different when the sensor size is different:
- Depth of field is deeper on the smaller sensor (or more shallow on the larger sensor)
- Signal to noise ratio in the raw data is higher in the larger sensor (or lower in the smaller sensor)
Of course, the camera makers don’t all have the same lenses available (different angle of views available), use different generations of sensors, have sensors with different pixel counts, and a host of other variables that get in the way. Indeed, image stabilization is one of those things that sometimes gets in the way of a well-considered decision. Amateurs overvalue image stabilization that is on all the time. Pros don’t. Image stabilization (IS) is a good way to take away a little bit of edge acuity, because IS has a limit to how fast it corrects. Of course, if you’re using a kit lens and shooting JPEGs (compression), maybe you’ll never notice the missing edge acuity.
Still, over time these differences tend to equal out in every system. More lenses get introduced. If the camera doesn’t have sensor IS, more lenses with IS get introduced. Sensor generations tend to even up, as do pixel counts. Given that a serious shooter ends up with more investment in lenses than bodies in their bag at any point in time, you can buy a body today and replace it a year or two down the road. Replacing all the lenses you accumulate over time is a lot more problematic.
At any given point in time each vendor has things that they’re behind on. Right now, the most visible deficits of each of the mirrorless competitors could be argued to be:
- Canon M — lenses, sensor technology (e.g. BSI, stacked, etc.), focus performance
- Fujifilm X — pixel count, sensor technology, video performance, IS
- Leica T — lenses, pixel count, reliability, IS, price
- Leica SL — lenses, maybe pixel count, price
- Nikon CX — lenses, feature set, build quality
- Olympus m4/3 — pixel count, sensor technology
- Panasonic m4/3 — pixel count, sensor technology (some)
- Pentax Q — no 1” to full frame entrant at all
- Samsung NX — IS
- Sony E — lenses, no recent body/sensor updates
- Sony FE — lenses
But I’ll bet if we come back a year from now, that list will be shorter and different.
I’d say that things really boil down to this: do you want to sacrifice a performance stop (APS) or two (m4/3) or even three (1”) for something else that is gained? In particular, m4/3 (two stop sacrifice) looks pretty compelling to many because you gain significant smaller size and weight advantage (to Sony’s A7 series or the Leica SL), have a very full set of lenses, get access to features not yet present in other systems or just emerging (pixel shift for resolution, 4K video, etc.), and have solid photographer-centric controls in splash/dustproof bodies.
Each of the mirrorless mounts has a slightly different compelling story to offer (e.g. Nikon 1’s still unequaled autofocus performance). But be careful if those things that attract you could turn out to be temporary advantages rather than permanent (again, e.g. Nikon 1’s autofocus performance, which will likely be matched by another mount at some point).
But I keep coming back to the two things I mentioned before: depth of field and noise. There are times when I want deep depth of field or highly isolated focus planes (no depth of field). For the former, a smaller sensor is useful, for the latter a larger sensor is useful (again, all else equal). There are times when I’m shooting in Sunny 16, where signal-to-noise isn’t really an issue worth worrying about with any modern sensor, and other times when I’m in very low light, where it is.
Even in my DSLR kits I have cameras and lenses that attempt to maximize my abilities with those two things: depth of field and noise. It isn’t out of the question to me that if I were to shoot only mirrorless I might have, say, a m4/3 system and a Sony FE system, which would allow me to do the same.
Sure, if you’re looking for a jack-of-all-trades solution with minimal components (a camera body and maybe two lenses), you’re going to compromise on something. Make sure you know what you’re compromising on and whether that’s a short term or long term compromise. Lens sets change over time (short term), sensor size doesn’t (long term).
But frankly, there’s not a bad choice in the bunch, only less-optimal-for-your-needs choices versus perfect matches. So rather than debating which system to buy, make a prioritized list of your needs, then find the system that matches those today or is likely to tomorrow.
For example, for me, my mirrorless camera needs are driven by this set of priorities (in order):
- Size and weight. I have a full DSLR set that’s compelling, so first and foremost, mirrorless appeals to me for a potential size and weight reduction on trips where I can’t carry a lot.
- Optical attributes. Both the range of available focal lengths I can carry as well as the ability to increase or decrease depth of field, as needed. Plus acuity and lack of other optical issues I’d need to correct in post processing.
- Signal to noise. I don’t shoot a lot of truly low light, but I do manipulate shadow detail a lot, which is where I’ll see this appear.
I could go further and add more attributes to my list, but those first three things already start to weed out a lot of possible choices. The Canon EOS M and the Leica SL/T systems tend to fail at #2, for instance, while the Nikon 1 systems have trouble with #3.
When I originally chose m4/3 as my “small bag” choice to carry instead of DSLRs, it clearly had #1 and #2 nailed, and the sacrifice I was giving up for #3 was something I could live with. Now that Sony’s FE system is growing in ability, I could probably give up some on #1 for a gain in #3. Is that enough to make me switch? No, because #1 is my highest priority, and #2 my second highest. The A7 models are actually growing a bit in size in the Mark II models and the lenses are on the big side despite things like f/4 apertures on the zooms.
But those are my priorities, not yours. Unless you can concisely state a few priorities, you’re going to have a difficult time choosing between mirrorless systems. So sit down and make an ordered list of the top five things you need in a camera system. Evaluate how your current system (if any) stacks up, and how your possible choices do. I’ll be you end up with a pretty short list to go to a store and try out.
(news & commentary)
Fujifilm today announced the long-rumored 35mm f/2 lens for the X-mount cameras, a small and light prime lens that functions as a normal lens for the X bodies. At US$400, the lens isn’t quite as thrifty compared to the f/1.4 version as some had hoped, but it’s still a more affordable option for a reasonable fast prime normal lens for X-T1 and X-T10 users. It also features Fujifilm’s weather resistant design and is designed to work well with the X-Pro1’s optical viewfinder option.
Along with the new lens, Fujifilm also announced the XF1.4X teleconverter at US$450. The converter will require new firmware for the cameras in order to properly transfer information from lens to camera. As with all 1.4x converters, you should expect a one-stop loss of light. Effectively, the 50-140mm f/2.8 lens operates like a 70-200mm f/4 optic with the TC attached (and remember, the X system has a 1.5x crop, so that’s really 105-300mm effective).
(news & commentary)
First we had the M, then the T, now we have the Leica SL (Type 601). This monster of a camera is a full frame version of the T, with EVF and lots of refinements. Indeed, the T and SL share a lens mount, which like DX/FX, E/FE, and EF-S/EF, has bi-furcated into two. The “new” lens mount is called L, with crop sensor lenses getting a TL designation and the full frame lenses getting the SL designation. If that weren’t enough, Leica is promising an adapter that will allow you to mount any Leica lens on the SL.
But back to the camera. The imaging chain seems to come from the recently announced Q, featuring a full frame 24mp CMOS sensor that can perform Cine4K at 24 fps, or 2160P at 30 fps. Uncompressed 10-bit 4:2:2 output is available via the HDMI port. If that weren’t enough, the SL will produce up to 120 fps at regular HD (1080P). Meanwhile, the control design seems to come from the T, trying to impose a modern touchscreen-type UI onto a DSLR-body. Like the T, the SL is carved from a big block of aluminum.
The big news with the SL is the 4.4mp resolution EVF, which has a bigger than 1Dx/D4s view of the world (.8x magnification) and a 60 fps frame rate. At the moment, this seems to be the highest specified EVF in the mirrorless world, though there are some that have 120 fps frame rates with fewer pixels.
Body only will set you back US$7450, while the also mammoth 24-90mm f/2.8-4 Vario Elmarit SL lens that is the initial choice will suck another US$4950 out of your wallet. Both will ship in mid-November. Additional SL lenses will be the 90-280mm f/2.8-4 in Q2 2016, and the 50mm f/1.4 available in about a year. Oh, the autofocus system on the SL is contrast detect.
I’m scratching my head a bit. I see Leica’s dilemma: they really want to live in the autofocus world to stay competitive. They really need to embrace video. But frankly, what I see is that Leica is spreading themselves somewhat thin. M, Q, S, SL, T. That’s a lot of high-end camera lines for a small camera company (and that doesn’t include their Panasonic rebranding). The thing that disturbs me most about this is that the S, T, and SL all seem to be coming at the user interface slightly differently, and handling of the camera during shooting is suffering some. We’ve also seen a host of firmware bugs with recent Leicas; they may be spreading their engineering and software staff a bit thin.
Then we have the 24mp and very large camera problems, coupled with contrast detect focus. All of these things are either counter trend or being superseded by other companies. If Leica is to be something other than a collector’s camera, I’d really want to see them paying more attention to improving the shooting experience. At nearly five pounds with the zoom lens, this is not a casual camera, to be sure, and is running totally against trend.
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