Mirrorless Camera News and Commentary

News and commentary about the mirrorless camera world (latest on top). Click on News/Views in the menu bar above to see the full list of recent articles as well as folders containing older ones dating back several years.

Sony Adds Two Fast Cameras

bythom sony a6500 wlens

Sony today surprised many by producing an A6500 mirrorless camera, which features several key performance attributes above the current (and remaining in the line up) A6300. This new body will retail for US$1400 and be available in December in the US. It becomes the new top-of-the-APS line body.

While it stays at 24mp (APS), the A6500 adds faster processing with an additional LSI chip, five-axis in-body image stabilization (5 stops CIPA), a touchscreen, and a much bigger buffer (100 raw+JPEG, 300 JPEG). The shutter has been redesigned to withstand 200k cycles and produce less shutter shock. Bluetooth has been added to the connectivity, allowing getting location data from your smartphone.

There’s a redesigned menu system, and a number of other small tweaks, as well. Unfortunately, most of the menu “redesign” consists of two things: a slightly better grouping of related settings with a named header over each page, and color coding on the tabs. Given that the still settings menu alone has a dozen pages, we still have a lot of navigation to do to get to an item, though the touch-sensitive screen will help here if you know which tab you need to be on.

bythom sony a6500

Video gets an interesting twist in that you can select a Slow and Quick mode that allows you to choose eight frame rates between 1 and 120 fps to create speeded up motion or slow motion directly (1080P only). You can also now extract 8mp stills from any 4K footage you take.

The body, while slightly larger than the A6300, uses the same recognizable layout and controls (though we do get a second programmable button on the top plate and some other small touches, such as a soft eyecup and a larger grip). Overall, the camera gains a bit of size in each dimension, and over 100g in weight. Many of the internal specs of the A6500 are otherwise the same as the A6300, though.

bythom sony rx100v

At the same time Sony upped the ante with the A6500 in mirrorless, they also introduced a new version of the compact RX100, the RX100 Mark V (above). This new US$1000 pocket camera adds 315-point phase detect to its autofocus system, plus now shoots 20mp stills at 24 fps for up to 150 frames. That’s with focus and exposure active, and in JPEG or raw.

Sony seems to be very actively pursuing the line that they disclosed a couple of years ago: essentially pressing performance in every dimension (low light, fast capture, follow focus, pixel capacity, etc.). Indeed, in their press conference, a lot of emphasis was put on numbers. Most of the important numbers seem to have gone up, including prices. 

What wasn’t shown were any new E-mount lenses for the APS sensor cameras, which desperately need better versions of the 16mm and 20mm f/2.8 in this 24mp world, and could use a solid, small, mid-range zoom without OSS now its available at the sensor. Perhaps those are coming, but my evaluation of Sony’s APS lens lineup is that there aren’t many at the moment that truly deliver the kinds of performance results you’d want with a camera like the A6500 (probably only the 10-18mm f/4, the 24mm f/1.8 Zeiss, the 35mm f/1.8, and the 50mm f/1.8).

That said, the pressure is now back on Canon, who introduced the EOS M5 with quite a few lower spec abilities just last month, and Nikon, which has nothing that matches the Sony mirrorless line.

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Panasonic Continues m4/3 Push

Panasonic today “announced" a number of new m4/3 products at Photokina. I use quotes around “announced” because some of these products won’t be available until 2017.

First up we have a product that will ship soon, the G80/G85. For some reason Panasonic has drifted into the habit of regional name differences, a bad habit that caused Nikon a lot of grief in the film era (and the remnants of that regionality still do). But essentially no matter what name is on the body, it’s essentially the same camera, though the frame rates for video differ in PAL/NTSC regions.  

The G80/G85 is the seventh generation in a long line of DSLR-style m4/3 cameras, and replaces the G7. It’s not the top of Panasonic’s line, but close to it. The big news here is: weather sealing on the body, an updated IS-on-sensor system, no AA filter over the sensor, a completely redesigned mechanical shutter to reduce shutter shock, the addition of an in-camera focus stacking mode, and some tweaks to the EVF to make it a little better than the G7’s. Body only price is US$899, with the 12-60mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS lens kit version being US$999. Full details on the camera are on this site’s data page for the camera, as usual.

Next up, we have the 18mp GH5, which was pre-announced (delivery in 2017). Not a lot of details are forthcoming, but Panasonic promoted the video aspects of the upcoming camera. While many anticipated something greater than 4K, Panasonic actually sought to make the 4K video the GH5 records better than that of the GH4. In particular, two things stand out: support for 60 fps, and internal recording of 4:2:2  8-bit (60 fps) or 10-bit (30 fps) video data. Those two things would certainly be first in a compact camera form, and are a big step for videographers, who already love the current GH4.

Panasonic is also promoting the confusing “6K Photo.” This appears to be a “grab from video stream” type of capture where the photo stream is taken while shooting video. Weirdly, the aspect ratio of this 6K Photo is 2:1 (6000 x 3000 pixels), and max rate is 30 fps. 

Overall the GH5 is decidedly built on the GH4 design philosophy, though a number of small but clear design changes can be seen in the prototype.

Not much else is known about the GH5, though a prototype will appear at the Panasonic booth and more may be revealed during the show itself. 

Likewise, not much is known about the new 8-18mm, 12-60mm, and 50-200mm lenses (all f/2.8-4). Developed with Leica, Panasonic is touting them as “versatile and compact” with “very high picture quality.” 

Olympus Announces the "PL Late"

bythom olympus pl8 2

Olympus used their press conference today to announce the long-delayed E-PL8 body, basically the sixth version of original entry Pen camera. This tuned-up entry model closely resembles the E-PL7, but has lots of small changes that show that someone was paying attention to details. If nothing else, the E-PL8 looks cleaner and tidier than its predecessor, even though it doesn’t move very far forward. Still, for a US$550 body, what would you be expecting?

More interesting, Olympus offered up the next two lenses in their PRO series along with an interesting new short macro lens. 

bythom olympus 25mmpro

The 25mm f/1.2 becomes the fastest “normal” lens for the m4/3 mount. Price is US$1200.

The 12-100mm f/4 is an interesting 24-200mm equivalent lens. Price is US$1300.

The 30mm f/3.5 macro. This lens focuses down to 3.74” (.095m) and produces a 1.25:1 maximum magnification ratio. Of course the lens is 2.4” long, so you have virtually no working distance to obtain greater than life-size shots. Price of this lens is a more affordable US$300.

In addition Olympus announced the FL-900R flash (US$580)…

Canon Introduces the EOS M5

bythom canon eos m5 tiltlcd

Canon today announced the EOS M5, the latest in their line of mirrorless cameras, and the most DSLR-like yet. While you can see the basics of the EOS M3 body in the new M5, the addition of a mid-camera hump for the built-in EVF and pop-up flash makes Canon’s mirrorless entry look like a very scaled down DSLR.

Inside, there’s also some DSLR-like bits, including Canon’s latest 24mp dual pixel APS-C sensor.

So immediately the question for potential new Canon shooters is: EOS M5 or EOS Rebel T6s. The question may not be so simply answered. The T6s is US$849 body only, the M5 is US$979. The T6s is 565g, the M5 427g. Both cameras can use sensor phase detect to help the contrast detect system find focus faster (in Live View on the T6s), but the M5 lacks a full-on phase detect system like the T6s’s, which is better for following fast- or erratically-moving objects. Obviously the DSLR has a bit more in the way of features and direct control than the mirrorless camera, partly due to just body size (e.g. fully articulating LCD instead of tilting LCD), but surprisingly not as many differences as you might expect. 

That tilting LCD you see in the image above is a pet peeve of mine made real. My peeve: engineers that are given a marketing requirement document item (swivel for selfies) and then take an easy way out that is actually not completely useful: you can’t use this tilt on a tripod, for instance; it only really works at arms length by the shooter, which is a limiting factor, especially considering the lenses Canon is pushing.

Obviously, flipping the LCD up over the EVF and flash hump would have been tough to do, and swivel to the side would mean multi-axis swivel, a more expensive solution. But the engineers satisfied the MRD, so all is well, right? /RANT OFF

Fortunately, the rest of the camera doesn’t seem to have the same design limitations. We’ve got four direct control wheels and a Mode dial, a very useful touchscreen implementation (e.g. allows moving focus sensor while eye at viewfinder), and no real deliberate crippling of performance or features that we’ve seen in many past Canikon mirrorless entries. This is a real, cut-down EOS in its own right, only mirrorless. And yes, there’s the optional EF mount adapter if you want to use Canon DSLR lenses.

If there are disappointments they come in the lack of much in the way of programmable function buttons (one), no 4K video (and low Mbps bit rate in 1080P), the 1/200 flash sync (especially given the ability to use Speedlites), and the small battery (295 shots CIPA). All of which most still shooters can live with, and all are reasonable compromises IMHO.

One curiosity is that Canon only made the following claim in their press release: “fastest autofocus speed of EOS M-Series…” Uh, that wasn’t difficult to do, was it? This illustrates one of Canon’s (and Nikon’s) dilemmas: with the EOS M5 having basically the same sensor and Live View autofocus as the 80D, do you ‘diss your own DSLRs while making claims for your mirrorless camera? Canon’s marketing still hasn’t managed to fully explain GX versus EOS M versus Rebel versus the big full frame cameras. They need to. 

Overall, the M5 body looks like a strong competitor and will give Sony some run for the money in the crop sensor mirrorless market, especially if the sensor performs as expected. 

But, Canon, like Nikon (buzz, buzz) still doesn’t seem to understand that some of their vulnerability in the mirrorless marketplace comes in the way of lenses. With the EOS M5 Canon announced a new 18-150mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM, a very Nikon DX-like move. Yeah, everyone that’s going to buy a mirrorless camera wants only a superzoom. 


As I’ve illustrated with a number of articles on dslrbodies.com, the decline in DSLR sales is being partly fueled by long-term SLR/DSLR enthusiasts simply deciding to downsize. They then look at what they can get lens-wise in the various smaller mirrorless cameras, and they choose m4/3 or Fujifilm X, maybe even Sony E (partly because of the open mount attracting third party makers such as Zeiss). 

So, Canon, if you’re listening: you need a full line of EOS M lenses now. Yes, a 16mm prime won’t sell as many copies as that new 18-150mm superzoom, but it will protect your market share from eroding to the Seven Dwarves. 

But now with Canon playing seriously in the mirrorless market, Nikon’s dormant Nikon 1 series looks pretty seriously dead in the water. If Nikon wants to play, they need something new, and with a bigger sensor. 

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Sony Made the Right Decision

You can argue all you’d like about whether mirrorless or DSLR is the right choice, whether Sony’s adding full frame to the mirrorless lineup was the right choice, and all the other camera-related things that have happened since Sony took over the KonicaMinolta camera group a decade ago. But I’m here to say that one choice that Sony made was absolutely correct, and we’re now seeing the results of that choice nearly every day.

What choice was that? 

Well it was actually two choices: (1) to standardize on the E-mount for both the still and video cameras; and (2) to open up the mount information to third parties. 

Here’s the thing: Sony (and previously Minolta) has been competing against the Big Two lens mounts for many decades. Canon’s now at over 120m EF lenses produced, while Nikon is up to 110m F-mount lenses produced. That’s a ton of inertia in the market, but it’s also a ton of inertia on Canikon themselves, as they struggle to keep their lens sets modern and complete. Neither company really shares lens mount information with third parties. There’s a bit of behind the scenes that happens, particularly between Tamron and Nikon at times, but there’s no official program to support third party manufacturers.

Meanwhile, Sony knew that they needed a wide choice of lenses, and fast. Even using KonicaMinolta—yes, that company still designs camera lenses—and Zeiss resources, Sony wasn’t going to fill a lineup of lenses very fast. 

But look where we’re at today: 34 Sony-branded lenses for the E-mount, and dozens more from third parties, with more being announced every day. Today, for instance, we add the Tokina 20mm f/2 FiRIN. This week we’ll see some more, including additional Zeiss offerings (they already have nine E-mount lenses of their own). 

The whole autofocus lens adapter scene probably wouldn’t have developed without information about the mount being available for license, which certainly opened up the Canon EF lenses to Sony mirrorless users. (The Nikon equivalents don’t fare quite as well because Nikon has made more persnickety changes to the communications on their mounts over the years, and shared that with virtually no one.)

As much as we talk about the latest and greatest camera being the most important thing just announced, I believe that the lens sets are much more important. I argue that the Canon and Nikon crop DSLRs have been failing against mirrorless for a number of reasons, but one of the biggest is the lack of appropriate lenses and the high emphasis on low-end consumer zooms (buzz, buzz [dslrbodies.com readers will know what buzz, buzz means ;~]). 

The more interesting aspect of this tale is video. Only Canon and Sony are now positioned well for lenses that can be used appropriately on both still and video cameras (Panasonic gets a nod as decently positioned; all other players not so much, particularly Nikon). 

So congratulations to whomever at Sony was involved in the “consolidate and open the E-mount” decisions. Job well done.

Mirrorless Market Shares

It comes up all the time, and there’s no perfect answer to the question, however I would say with pretty reasonable confidence that the market share in mirrorless in 2015 went like this:

  1. Sony 
  2. Olympus
  3. Canon

Putting actual numbers on that is a bit tougher. We know that Olympus shipped 550k units in their last fiscal year (though that will slip to 460k in the current year according to their estimates). We had Sony at about 12% of the overall ILC market last year, which put their mirrorless number somewhere around 1.4m. And from Canon’s recently stated numbers, we’d have to guess that they were somewhere above 300k units for mirrorless last year, and are now growing significantly. 

It’s tough to assess the precise positions in mid-year—especially with this year’s quake affecting most makers, but not Canon—but I’d say those three positions are still pretty much a safe bet at the moment, though the order is changing. Canon will almost certainly pass Olympus this year and move into the number two spot. Olympus isn’t seeing sales of the current lineup improve, and seems likely to only have the new EM-1II in short supply after launch, and at their usual high-at-announcement pricing, which means it won’t move the Olympus numbers positively. Meanwhile, Canon’s numbers have been going up, plus it looks like we have two new EOS M models about to pop. 

The real “loser” at the moment is Nikon. Overall in ILC (DSLR plus mirrorless), Canon is a clear #1 with mid-40% market share, Nikon is #2 with mid-to-high 20% market share, and Sony third with a bit less than half of Nikon’s market share. Overall, these three easily take over 80% of all interchangeable lens camera sales, and perhaps as much as 85% (model introductions and things like the quake are moving numbers a bit more significantly this year than previous years). 

But Nikon might not even be #4 in mirrorless, and that’s got to be troublesome, as mirrorless shipments are staying relatively flat while DSLR shipments—where Nikon is #2—are declining. 

Of course none of this speaks to which camera you should buy. Not a single one of the Japanese camera makers is likely to step away from selling cameras, despite the collapse of the market. So don’t read anything into this article other than the fact that two brands—Sony and Canon—have healthy mirrorless businesses at the moment, and are more than likely to dominate the news cycles in the near future. 

How Do You Know When Your System is Discontinued?

We have three mirrorless camera players who seem to have gone inert:

  • Pentax Q — Last updated August 2014
  • Samsung NX — Last updated February 2015
  • Nikon 1 — Last updated April 2015

Rumors of new mirrorless products in these lines have basically dried up much like the Savute Channel in Botswana. 

Meanwhile, Canon is full of EOS M rumors, Fujifilm is clearly active, Olympus and Panasonic are about to introduce new mirrorless products, and Sony seems only in a minor delay due to the earthquake. Even Sigma has managed to quietly ship the sd Quattro while the three players listed up front have been silent. 

At this point it seems clear that Samsung has thrown in the towel. They aren’t exhibiting at Photokina, and even big dealers like B&H only list one NX camera still available (the NX3000 with kit lens at US$299, obviously a closeout price). Rumors flew fast and furious last year about what was going on, with the most interesting of these being that Samsung stepped back due to a potential intellectual property problem. I find that a little difficult to believe, as IP rights hasn’t stopped Samsung from stepping on toes before. Still, one has to wonder whether it all became a “sum of all problems” decision for Samsung with no end to any of those problems in sight. 

Meanwhile, Pentax’s Q system was apparently deemed a disappointment to Pentax itself way back in 2012. With a compact camera-sized sensor of only 12mp, the Q was—using the previous analogy I used with Olympus and 4/3 when it appeared—really only bringing a pea shooter to a gun fight. Yes, the Q is small and has remarkably good enthusiast controls, but it just never managed to gain much of a following outside of Japan, and even in Japan it was sold mostly on size and price. 

Like many things Pentax, here it is five years after the Q’s first appearance and, despite several updates, it still seems behind the times. With the camera market collapsing as it has been, being behind the times with products just doesn’t provide any product momentum at all, and the Q’s momentum is basically that of sea-going vessel locked down on a trailer and parked in Denver. 

Not that Nikon did much better. Like Pentax, Nikon seemingly attacked the small-as-a-compact-camera side for its mirrorless models, only unlike Pentax, Nikon priced theirs higher than DSLRs. I wrote that this was a mistake the day the J1/V1 were announced, and I don’t think anything has proved me wrong since. The Nikon 1 models are overpriced for what they do, under-equipped in the ergonomics for serious work, and suffer from a lens set that’s decidedly bi-polar (kit lenses abound, but the only other lenses available are an odd lot of very expensive high-end ones). 

None of these systems managed to gain substantive market share in the flat sales of the mirrorless market in recent years. Nikon at one time—during heavy discounting to drain inventory—managed to break the 10% market share for awhile, but all of these systems are really single-digit market share head scratchers. As in “what were they thinking?” 

I’ll answer that question this way (yes, the snarky Thom is back):

  • Samsung was thinking they could blindly copy Sony (NX versus NEX) and win. But they didn’t expect to be spending so much R&D money in a market that was about to collapse.
  • Pentax didn’t really pay much attention to what the world actually wanted and produced a miniature DSLR that only produced consumer-camera results.
  • Nikon got cocky and arrogant and thought they could sell consumer-oriented ILCs at higher-than-consumer DSLR prices. 

 So let’s get back to the question of the day: how do we know these systems are dead? 

First, there’s the fact that none of these systems are iterating while the other mirrorless and DSLRs still seem to be on very regular schedules. Still, only the Pentax Q is fully outside the window of expected iteration at the moment, though the others are getting close. Note though that the iteration cycles for all these systems I mention suddenly changed from regular to not-at-all, a typical sign of at least rethinking what should be done, if not dropping them entirely.

Samsung’s the most curious of the lot. Right up through the very excellent NX1 Samsung seemed to be pushing the envelope in virtually every area, and was becoming a very solid camera company. Their equivalent lenses were almost all better than Sony’s, their imaging sensors not only caught up to Sony Exmor, but in some ways passed them, and the ergonomics were always good and getting better with each model. And then “poof” and ads disappeared, no new models came, and virtually no word came out of Samsung about what was going on. The silent treatment like that is almost always a sign that they’ve moved on. 

To a large degree, Samsung’s real camera competitor is Apple. Apple’s now moving into multi sensor smartphones, and Samsung is going to have to match that to stay competitive. It’s likely that R&D budgets really tripped Samsung up in the long run: spending more and more on ILC sensor development in a collapsing market versus having to spend more to keep up with Apple, et.al., in the smartphone market probably provoked a management decision at some point. Dedicated cameras never made money for Samsung. Someone finally wised up and realized that this might continue for a long time, if not forever. 

Personally, I believe the Samsung NX system is now dead. I don’t expect any additional products to appear. I’d be happy to be proved wrong, but all the signs point to a complete shutdown of NX. 

Pentax is likely still in the game, but one wonders what game that is and how they’ll play it. Most likely scenario: the Q morphs a third time and changes sensor size again. That would change the size of the body a bit, and it will probably change the lens mount and certainly forces new lenses to appear. But given Pentax’s “just keep iterating, even if we’re slowest to market” mantra, that seems to make a 1” sensor Q-type product something that’s very likely. But it won’t be exactly a Q, will it? So the Q as we know it is probably dead.

Moreover, the large plethora and choice of 1” compact cameras now (Canon, Nikon, Panasonic, Sony) makes a 1” ILC something that doesn’t really have any traction, either, so Pentax would once again be in the too-little-too-late category if they switch Q to 1”. 

Nikon themselves have proven that point with their DL series, which just on lens alone beats any of the Nikon 1 model kits. Indeed, buying a DL18-50 f/1.8-2.8, a DL24-85 f/1.8-2.8, and a DL24-500mm f/2.8-5.6 together is arguably a better choice than buying a Nikon J5 with a 6.7-13mm f/3.5-5.6, 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6, and 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6. You end up with one to two stops advantage just at the lens through much of the range, you have more range, you have an EVF where you need it (telephoto), and you really aren’t taking up all that much more room than you do with individual lenses. 

Which brings me to why the Nikon 1 line has to change or it is dead. The DLs—whenever they actually appear—are better than any current Nikon 1 specification in virtually every way. Ergonomically they’re better. They support Nikon’s regular CLS flash, not use proprietary-to-Nikon-1-flash. They’re priced more reasonably for what they are (and again, they’re better than the Nikon 1 models, virtually all of which have been overpriced for what they are). They’re SnapBridge compatible out of the box. Plus as noted those lens specs beat the basic Nikon 1 lens set. 

All of which means that to continue as a series, the Nikon 1 would have to: improve ergonomics, support CLS, support SnapBridge, get faster lenses, and a host of other changes just to keep up with the DLs. Oh, and the prices would have to come down. Not. Going. To. Happen.

Like Pentax and the Q, I’d guess that the only real move that could sustain the Nikon 1 lineup is a sensor switch. The CX mount can support nearly an APS-C lens imaging circle. Nearly. So something between 1.7x and 2x crop factor seems possible (currently it’s 2.7x). Still, I don’t see how this “saves” the Nikon 1, whatever we call the sensor switch version. Basically we get to something akin to m4/3 in sensor, but we once again require a complete new lens set, something Nikon has proven poor at providing for anything other than FX cameras. Moreover, a bigger sensor means bigger lenses, so the original Nikon 1 advantage of small size goes away, plus we’re now more closely competing with the DX DSLRs. 

As I predicted several years ago what we have are a lot of companies trying to build line extensions and multiple models into a smaller and smaller space. Right now that space is 1” (2.7x) to full frame (1x). That’s really just three stops apart. Is there really enough design space to put four product lines into three stops? I don’t think so. That won’t stop some camera makers from trying. Indeed, the situation we have today is 1” (2.7x), m4/3 (2x), APS (1.5x or 1.6x) and full frame (1x), plus a small assortment making medium format about another stop further up. 

Thing is, sensor size = price. A 1” sensor is ridiculously cheaper than a full frame sensor, and even if you can further reduce full frame sensor prices, the 1” sensor gets even cheaper, all else equal. Thus, the volume customer—read: consumer—is likely to always be found buying cameras with smaller sensors, and every camera company wants volume (and especially Nikon, whose #2 market share is currently slipping). 

So what happens is that—even though the Pentax Q and Nikon 1 seem currently doomed—both companies don’t want them to die. Instead, they want to reposition them. 

Thus, my current belief is this: Samsung NX is dead and gone. Pentax Q and Nikon 1 are dead as we know them, but both have some likelihood of morphing into something else, most likely growing a sensor size along the way. Just don’t expect a beautiful butterfly to emerge from the cocoon. More like a larger worm. 

Fujifilm Updates the X-A Model to 3

bythom fujifilm x-a3 back

We’re now on the third iteration of Fujifilm’s low-end mirrorless camera, the just announced X-A3. Like it’s A predecessors, the X-A3 is not an X-Trans camera, but a traditional Bayer sensor. One designed along compact camera style lines (e.g. no EVF). 

Most specs remain the same from the previous model with the exception of a new 24mp sensor instead of 16mp, the addition of a touchscreen, and some modest tweaks to the contrast detect focus system, along with the new Film Simulation modes Fujifilm added recently (Pro Neg.Hi, Pro Neg.Std, and Classic Chrome). 

Price for the new camera is US$599 with the 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens, and you have your choice of colors of brown, pink, or silver. 

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Some Sansmirror Additions, Cleanup

Every year at this time I try to take a pass at cleaning up missing information, updating the things that search engines look for, and sometimes adding something I think is useful. 

In the addition category we have this:


Many of you still seem to not be aware that every menu or menu item on this site is active and leads to a page of information. That means if you tap/click on Cameras—as opposed to using the interactive Cameras menu—you’ll be taken to a master page of data for cameras, which now includes the above chart. Each of the manufacturer pages now has its own subset of that chart. For instance, here’s the chart that you’ll find on the Cameras/Camera Database/Nikon 1 Cameras page:

bythom nikon mirrorless

The reason why I called out these particular charts is this: you can see the overall sense that a lot happened in mirrorless cameras in 2012-2014. After that, activity at most firms tapered off, and in the case of Nikon tapered off to nothing announced in over a year. 

Many mirrorless companies were on an update-a-year practice, but you’ll see that settled down and many cameras seem to be on a more normal update-every-two-years schedule now.

Some of you may not be aware I’ve added Hasselblad and Sigma to the camera databases. I’ve also split the lens database into sections for lenses from camera makers versus third-party lens makers, as we’re getting quite a bit of new additions in both lately.

As far as I know, all the camera firmware listings should be up to date, and I’ve taken a crack at updating a few articles along the way, too. The object of this site is to both keep the historical as well as the present “sense” of mirrorless. So if you notice anything missing or incorrect, by all means let me know and I’ll try to add/fix those things in the next big pass on the site.

Believe it or not, there are now well over a thousand pages of information contained in this site. Keeping it organized and accurate as well as useful is my number one goal. I appreciate those of you who’ve elected to help support this site either by using one of the advertising links for exclusive site advertiser B&H or the Support this Site button that leads to Amazon affiliate links that appears in the right column (or below the main text if you’re reading on a small screen device).

Fujifilm Launches X-T2

Why launch today? 7/7 baby. Lucky numbers for sure.

bythom fujifilm xt2

Fujifilm today launched the much leaked and long rumored X-T2. In many ways, the new camera incorporates the changes Fujifilm made with the X-Pro2 over the X-Pro1, but in the X-T1 package. Still, there are a lot of subtle and deeper changes.

The big news is the use of the 24mp X-Trans sensor first found in the X-Pro2 (the X-T1 and most previous Fujifilm cameras were 16mp). Fujifilm is once again touting the X-Trans aspect of their APS crop sensor as providing similar or better image quality to the FX/full frame sensors of some DSLRs (“…produces image quality comparable to that of cameras equipped with a larger sensor with a higher pixel count”). Of course there’s no simple way of directly comparing X-Trans and Bayer cameras due to the functional changes required to interpreting the data, but in my experience, I wouldn’t put too much credibility into that claim. Moreover, it’s a qualified claim because it references the in-camera image processor. In point of fact, Fujifilm is apparently claiming that their in-camera X-T2 JPEGs are better than say, a D810’s in-camera JPEGs. 

Indeed, Fujifilm spent most of their time in their announcement and in their press materials about “Fujifilm’s proprietary color reproduction technology”, the film simulations, and of course the X-Trans impacts compared to Bayer. Out of camera JPEGs are one of Fujifilm’s claims to differentiation over the competitors, and the X-T2 launch didn’t change that one iota.

Probably more important in terms of sensor changes are the ones made for video. The X-T2 is the first Fujifilm camera to support 4K (2160P), and does so at 24, 25, and 30 fps. But only for a maximum of 10 minutes recording time. Similarly, 1080P has been reworked, but only records to 15 minutes. Fujifilm is also providing a new F-Log profile for recording video and a remote microphone socket, as well. (If you want a headphone jack, you have to get the vertical grip option.)

The X-T2 body grows a bit over the X-T1, partly to accommodate the 3” dual-pivot LCD. The LCD itself is now only 1.04m dots, though it has tempered glass over it. Unlike tilting and swivel LCDs, Fujifilm introduces a unique dual pivoting technique on the X-T2: tilt the LCD, then rotate it, or rotate the LCD then tilt it. Some of the controls have changed slightly in character, mostly refinements, but there’s one big addition: a thumbtack to control the active autofocus sensor. The EVF in the X-T2 gains a 100 fps mode (though this slows maximum frame rate to 5 fps in continuous shooting) that has lower frame blackout and produces less of the slide show effect often seen in the mirrorless cameras.

Both SD slots in the X-T2 are now UHS-II capable (only one slot was in the X-T1, and only one of the two slots of the X-Pro2 was UHS-II); you’ll need a UHS-II Class 3 card to record 4K video. Built-in Wi-Fi is present, but Fujifilm also added USB 3.0 support for faster tethered shooting.

The autofocus system has had a lot of rework, making it even more DSLR-like (also with modifiable tracking functions for continuous shooting). Only about 40% of the central area of the frame uses phase detect autofocus, though, and while contrast detect areas have been expanded, the X-T2 does not have edge to edge focus ability as some mirrorless cameras do.

Another thing emphasized continuously in Fujifilm’s announcement was size and weight (“…compact and lightweight”). This apparently also includes some change of heart about lenses on Fujifilm’s part. The already previewed 120mm f/2.8 macro lens “has been replaced with the 80mm f/2.8 R LM OIS WR to satisfy the user needs for compact and lightweight lenses.” Indeed, the new Fujifilm lens roadmap only shows the 23mm f/2, 50mm f/2, and 80mm f/2.8 lenses coming in the next two years, and those are all small, compact lenses. That would put the X lens lineup at 23 lenses, 14 of which are primes, and many of those what people would consider compact.  

Overall, the X-T2 appears to be the expected update to the X-T1: moving to the new copper-clad 24mp sensor over the older 16mp one, attention to improving the controls and layout, improving the autofocus, as well as improving the continuous shooting experience. It should be a very well-received camera, despite the US$300 price increase of the X-T2 body over its predecessor. 

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