The Coming Fast Body APS-C War

If rumors are to be believed, Fujifilm will announce an X-H2s on May 31 and Canon will announce the R7 on May 24. Both are "fast" APS-C bodies, in the sense that they will provide better than Nikon D500 frame rates and more pixels. (I believe that the Nikon D500 is still the current reigning APS-C body, despite being five years old at this point.) The R7 is rumored to be 32mp at 15 fps mechanical, 30 fps electronic. The X-H2s is rumored to use a 26mp stacked sensor, which also implies high frame rates, rumored to be as high as 40 fps electronic. Both new cameras will offer more pixels and speed than the current king of the APS-C hill, the Nikon D500, it appears.

It seems that the birders among you are about to have many interesting choices (OMDS OM-1, Fujifilm X-H2s, Canon R7, Nikon 800mm PF, etc.). Lenses play a huge role for the birding crowd, which is why m4/3 and that Nikon 800mm f/6.3 PF are in that list. On an APS-C body, you'd have 1200mm effective in a really small, competent package with Nikon's latest (plus they have an even smaller and lighter 400mm f/4.5 coming soon). So is Nikon going to join the fast APS-C body war? I'd say not likely this year, but a Z7 III would be effectively a 20mp APS-C body using DX crop and likely to have fast frame rates, too.

The question mark seems to be Sony, who currently doesn't seem to have a clear APS-C plan, yet has a whole lineup of such cameras that could use updating. 

Still, I anticipate a heck of lot of "noise" about what's the best birding approach come the end of the year. Here's a preview of what we're likely to hear as the Internet wraps its head around the upcoming offerings:

  • Canon RF. Reasonable body choices (R5 in crop mode, R7), slowish lenses?
  • Fujifilm XF: State-of-the-art APS-C body choices, not a lot of lens choice?
  • m4/3: Great lens choice, not so state-of-the-art focus performance?
  • Nikon Z: Excellent lens choices, but where's the (non Z9) DX body?
  • Sony: Just choose FE?

One of the things about catering to higher-end enthusiasts is that their chosen specialty aspects start to play a large role in their buying choices. That enthusiast may be solely speciality (wildlife, birds, sports, street, macro, travel, landscape, etc.), or they may be multi-dimensional (some or all of that previous list, plus others). Either way, a camera company has to have both entry and higher level choices for, well...everything, lest they be pigeon-holed as only a speciality brand. The problem I see is that none of the Japanese companies can really point to a broad, deep, full lineup except maybe the m4/3 companies. Even there I see issues, though. 

I'm all for better cameras and more choice. The problem I see is that each of the camera companies has a "liability" that makes it easier for the Internet to generate heated arguments over "what's best." 

You may have noted that I continually update my "all-around camera" choices. In the long-run, I've found it better to have a truly solid all-around camera than specialty cameras. In the mirrorless world right now, I'd judge the top three all-around cameras to be the Canon R5, Nikon Z9, and Sony A1 (not in that order ;~). So as the new cameras come to market later this month, I'll be looking at whether they provide something that the current all-around choices don't, and how broadly that extends. 

From the details I'm hearing, I might have to add an APS-C camera to my "all-around" choices come this summer. But I'd caution you to look not just at camera, but also to lens choices for it, because you don't get to the all-around capability without both. 

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