Wind in the Sony Marketing Sails


bythom monster2
  • "Sony Introduces a New Monster" --Andy's Travel Blog
  • "The Mini A9" --Steve Huff
  • "a $2000 full-frame mirrorless camera that should terrify Canon and Nikon" --Verge
  • "$2000 A7 III Might Mean My Panasonic GH5 is Trash Now" -- Alex Cranz

The list goes on. That's just a random sample of what I found in my morning scrape of the Internet on the day after the announcement.

As I noted in my introduction article, Sony themselves introduced the A7III as "a basic model" with the follow-up line to "expect more." Somewhere the marketing gurus at Sony must be patting each other on the back for the latest in Headline Hyperbole that appeared after their announcement. 

Don't get me wrong. I expect the A7III to be a very good camera. Much of the things I like about the A7R3 (review coming soon), but also most of the things I don't like about the current A7 design.

One of the things that I've noted in my chronicling the digital ILC world since the beginning is that there is a tendency towards snap-back. I've watched an awful lot of folk "jump ship" and then return. It's like there's a bungie cord on the gang plank. 

Let's face it. Every new camera is generally overhyped for what it really is. Sony, for instance, trumpeting one-and-a-half stop dynamic range improvement with the A7III. Not a chance. They've tuned their noise reduction algorithm mostly. 

Really big breakthroughs come at long intervals. The A9 was one such: it truly is a type of camera we hadn't really seen before, mostly because of the 20 fps silent no blackout shooting. As many of you know, I mostly gave up on the 20 fps as it produced too many shots to go through when on assignment and chewed through storage like you wouldn't believe. I don't need the silent bit, but appreciated it a few times. It really was the no blackout viewfinder that changed the camera experience. Bravo Sony.

But the A7III? Does it deserve hyperbole?

Not that I can tell. It's just a solid retrenching of Sony's entry model, adding the things that Sony has been adding to the lineup and tweaking performance here and there. It very well may be all the camera most of you need, but it's also a US$2000 body, so it had better be.

One site reader sent me a "game over m4/3" message. 

Not that I can tell. I keep my m4/3 kit around for one reason: it is a well scaled high-end camera that fits into a very tight bag. 

Another reader hypotheses that the reason why Sony is concentrating on full frame is that they've moved on from their "pact" with Nikon in terms of splitting market (then mirrorless/DSLR) to a "pact" with Fujifilm in terms of sensor size (Fujifilm gets all the APS-C goodies, Sony keeps the full frame ones). 

Not that I can tell. The reason why we don't have anyone other than perhaps Canon trying to cover every camera model from lowest end to toppest top is that the resources and energy needed to do so is huge. Moreover, you need management at all levels that's on top of very different needs and desires, which is one of the toughest juggling acts in big business. 

No, Sony is concentrating on full frame Alpha mirrorless at the moment because they have momentum at doing it and the profit picture improves with every iteration they do there. Focus is something more than what we do with lenses: great companies do it with their businesses, too. Sony has been more disciplined and focused in the camera field than I can ever remember before. Good for them. I'll take all the advances they care to make in full frame mirrorless.

So where do we put all this hyperbole?

Well, it just so happens that tomorrow morning is garbage collection day here at the office. Now, what bin do I put it in? Recycling?

Where Sony stands right now is very strong in full frame mirrorless. The A7 and A7R are on their third generation and each generation has been a nice step forward. The A7S is lagging now, but I'm sure we'll see it get to the where the A7 and A7R later this year. The A9 was a very nice salvo at the Canikon flagships, and in my mind, the only one of Sony's recent offerings that can support some real hyperbole. Lenses? 26 in 5 years, and the last half dozen that have come across my desk are all winners (more reviews coming soon).

I'd say Sony is nicely shored up in the full frame mirrorless game. Nice job all around. 

But they'd better be. Canon will be headed into the full frame mirrorless arena at Photokina, and Nikon will launch their "basic camera to expect more from" as mirrorless full frame by the Christmas buying season.

Sony's put together a fine battalion and got it through a few levels of training. Good thing, as the two players that Sony fears most are training their entrants now and preparing them for the battlefield. 

And that brings me back to the over-eager headlines. 

What happens in virtually all the press covering new products is that announcements are over-hyped in an attempt to appear more relevant than the publication next to them. Real reviews tend to temper that, and sometimes are more than negative as the sine wave of opinion swings against a product that's been out for awhile. It's rare that a product is described in most of the mainstream and trade press accurately as for where it is positioned.

Oh dear, he's going to try, isn't he? ;~)

Yes, I've never shirked a challenge.

The Sony A7III is a welcome iteration that keeps it the best basic full frame mirrorless camera you can buy. 

Of course, it's really the only basic full frame mirrorless camera you can buy. The Leicas at the moment are the only other real full frame mirrorless cameras you might find, and they're, well, Leicas. The A7III is a bit like Honda introduced a third generation Civic while Toyota and others were still contemplating launching a competitor. It doesn't matter if Ferrari is making a car. (That was a compliment to Sony and Honda, by the way.)

Nobody's going to fault you for buying a Sony A7III. It'll take great pictures, I'm sure. But it also isn't going to launch your fame and fortune because it lets you do things that you were never able to do with competitive products. It's a basic model. 

And it will have competitors by the end of the year.

And that's the way it is.

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