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05-29-2019, 08:45 AM - 3 Likes   #1
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Controversial Opinion: Sony Was Right And We Were Wrong...

I'll try to keep this little Op Ed brief, but I've been thinking about this for a while.

Ricoh managers recently made a statement that was mocked a bit, I think unfairly. Mirrorless users will return to the DSLR after a few years. I for one did just that. I have owned many mirrorless cameras, such as the Fuji XPro1, X100S, Sony A7, and A7III. The A7III of course was closest to a fully formed camera that competes with my DSLR in a functional way. But eventually I got tired of it and am using DSLRs again. Why? Well what is the point of a mirrorless camera? My understanding was that they would be much smaller, and have nifty EVFs that allowed you to preview exposure and focus in real time. I actually still dig the EVF, more on that later. Size though? Well thankfully Sony does make a few 1.8 lenses that are well mated to the system, but what about their current 1.4 offerings? They're as big as a house! What is the point of a mirrorless camera that is as big as a Nikon D810, only less comfortable to hold? I guess you get worse AF to boot...nice. When I look at the size of your middle range 50mm lens, it's just a crazy comparison. I have a 50mm 1.4 that I think performs just fine, sure the larger modern glass is better but I don't go for all that pixel peeping (shouts to the OG Limited line).

Well way back when Sony made a line of cameras with technology they called SLT. It used a nonmoving transparent meter to bridge the gap between EVF tech, and traditional SLR AF. At the time it was unfairly maligned for taking out about a 1/3rd of a stop, which sounds absolutely laughable in this day of high ISOs. Very few people bought them, even though the later versions had pretty decent EVFs and some truly killer glass (which by the way were smaller than their current A series optics).

It just got me thinking, what if my DSLR had an EVF, and retained it's AF performance. Why would I use anything else? It would make mirrorless cameras look laughably un-ergonomic, which they largely are. Modern EVFs are really good. And previewing the exposure, DoF, and focus near perfectly is a hugely advantageous tool in a fast paced environment. You also minimize mirror slap or shutter shock. I would buy an SLT K-2 knowing what I know now. Sony was right!

*Now I know some people want the traditional VF and I see no reason why a model with one can't be sold alongside an EVF version.

05-29-2019, 09:11 AM - 3 Likes   #2
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Nope, nope, nope. Whole lotta nope.
05-29-2019, 09:20 AM - 1 Like   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sperdynamite Quote
It just got me thinking, what if my DSLR had an EVF, and retained it's AF performance.
You mean like the Sony system you described? Sony still makes them (a68, a77 II, A99 II), though they are hardly an SLR (no optical viewfinder). The pellicle mirror drives the PDAF system.


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05-29-2019, 09:34 AM   #4
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Moved to Photographic Industry and Professionals...

05-29-2019, 09:36 AM - 1 Like   #5
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I like the way a K-1 feels in my hand compared to even a K-3. The Sony A7 I held briefly felt completely useable.

Heres the issue, Sony and other companies have pushed smaller as easier to handle and in some way preferable.
That's so untrue as to be laughable, to anyone but the Sony marketing department.

My opinion is, if i want mirrorless performance, I use live view, I already have both on the same camera.

The only excuse for using a smaller camera in my mind is you're grown too feeble to manage the weight of what actually feels good to use .

There are some of us are already there, or will be there soon.
05-29-2019, 09:45 AM   #6
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Will never buy a SLT camera.
Either there is a mirror or there isn't.
"Here, karate, same thing. Either you karate do "yes", or karate do "no". You karate do "guess so", [makes squish gesture] just like grape. Understand?"
05-29-2019, 09:48 AM - 3 Likes   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sperdynamite Quote
Ricoh managers recently made a statement that was mocked a bit, I think unfairly. Mirrorless users will return to the DSLR after a few years.
* underlining by me


Ricoh reps did not specifically say that.

Here are pertinent quotes from the Imaging-Resource interview:

Hiroki Sugahara: Currently, mirrorless is a newcomer, so of course many users are very interested in the new systems, they want to use [them]. But after one or two years, some users who changed their system from DSLR to mirrorless come back to the DSLR again.
...

Hiroki Sugahara: I believe. Because as I said before, each system has its own benefits or appealing points. The mirrorless camera is very convenient to shoot, because users can [preview the final] image before shooting. But I believe the DSLR has its own appealing point, because users can create their own image from the optical viewfinder. People can see the beautiful image through the optical viewfinder, and then think how they can create their pictures -- for example, exposure level setting or white balance or ISO [sensitivity] -- and then imagine how they can get [the result they're seeking].
...

Hiroki Sugahara: That is one of the big [advantages] of shooting [DSLR] cameras, so some users will come back to the DSLR system. But it might be they use both systems, DSLR and mirrorless. Because each system has its own benefits.


* italicized emphasis mine

Last edited by luftfluss; 05-29-2019 at 09:55 AM.
05-29-2019, 09:52 AM - 2 Likes   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by normhead Quote
The only excuse for using a smaller camera in my mind is you're grown too feeble to manage the weight of what actually feels good to use .
2 shots that would not have been possible with a larger camera...





Both times I had to snake my arm slowly and carefully through brush to get to my subjects. A K-3 would be too large, I think, but my little K-01 was able to pull it off. Right tool for the right job.

05-29-2019, 10:04 AM - 1 Like   #9
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Nah. I rather have a 100% OVF or 100% EVF camera instead of that half baked DSLT design Sony had. That was one of the reasons I left the A-mount ship a long time ago. I still have fond memories of my Sony a200 DSLR, but once I found out that they were no longer making DSLR cameras, I knew that I had to look elsewhere. Pentax was the only other camera maker that offered a DSLR with an OVF & IBIS like Sony used to do.
05-29-2019, 10:19 AM   #10
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If I remember correctly, Ricoh has a patent about adding an AF sensor at the light path of viewfinder, to achieve continuous PDAF... Correct me if I was wrong.

Anyway, I agree with you: I like the EVF on mirror-less camera. I actually love it. But that is because I use MF old lenses on them only. I have > 50 old lenses that won't work on SLR but are great for A7ii, but I don't have a single AF FF lens for E mount. EVF is such a big plus for MF.

in terms of SLT, I own A77 and am still using it. Not a very good idea in fact: the reflector membrane is so thin and fragile, even the air blaster might cause some distortion on it and I am afraid it will affect the AF performance. low light noise is really an issue.

I hope Pentax can use a Hybrid Viewfinder as Fuji.
05-29-2019, 12:34 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by luftfluss Quote
2 shots that would not have been possible with a larger camera...





Both times I had to snake my arm slowly and carefully through brush to get to my subjects. A K-3 would be too large, I think, but my little K-01 was able to pull it off. Right tool for the right job.
You stuck a 70mm lens I'm there. Put a Q on it.
05-29-2019, 01:56 PM   #12
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A camera design that is supposed to offer the best of both worlds but fails to deliver either of the two? That's how the SLT design strikes me. Wouldn't even contemplate buying it, sorry. But then I don't like hybrid cars, either. Why would I want to drive, say, a Corolla Touring Sport, when I can drive an Octavia Combi? If we need to get rid of combustion engines, give me a clean, affordable e-car alternative and the infrastructure that goes with it.
05-29-2019, 02:10 PM   #13
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I told you in the title that it's a controversial opinion lol!

As I said, it's not for everyone and I'm sure a DSLR maker wouldn't only offer an SLT option if they went this route. When I look at high res cameras like the D850 though, and know that the OVF can only show you the DoF at 2.8, I think an EVF could solve this problem. Brands like Pentax and Nikon have big manual focus lines that are nearly impossible to use at wide open without a little luck or a focus assist. Cinematographers have used video taps for years for the same reason. Plus eye-af is a real and meaningful technology, not IIRC available to OVFs.

I would love to nail focus with a 50mm 1.2 manual lens on a 45mp sensor, using a picture in picture view, but that's just me!
05-29-2019, 02:15 PM   #14
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I guess I don't get all of the angst around viewfinders and mirrorless versus SLR versus SLT design. The reality is that most photographers can use any one of these designs and get excellent images -- even of action. The biggest problem with a lot of full frame cameras is not auto focus capability, but rather frame rate. I can keep up with my kids with my K-1 just fine using my DFA *70-200, but a frame rate of 4.4 fps means that I miss everything that happens between frames.
05-29-2019, 02:44 PM - 1 Like   #15
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I shoot various Pentax APS-C DSLRs, a Hasselblad HV (re-bodied Sony SLT-A99), and a Sony A7 MkII, amongst others - so I believe I can comment from a position of at least some experience, if not expertise, and a certain degree of impartiality...

My opinions (very briefly - I can go into more detail if required):

DSLR offers the "purest" shooting experience in terms of the viewfinder... it's almost exactly what you see with the naked eye. Great for AF lenses, not so good for MF, where live view and the main LCD display are required for absolute accuracy. Form factor is quite large - great for large hands and fingers, and plenty of real estate for lots of controls and buttons. Room for large battery, so great battery life. Better-built models aren't particularly light. That can be a blessing and curse - great for stability, but some health issues can make a larger DSLR and lens combo tiring for longer shoots.

SLT offers a somewhat-unnatural JPEG-style view of the scene (though fairly representative of the final image). The EVF view can cause problems for some photographers (not me, but I know of numerous people who just don't get on with them). The view can be amplified (at the expense of some noise) to give better visibility of a scene in low light. Lots of choices for overlaying additional information in the viewfinder, such as live histogram. View can be magnified and focus peaking overlayed, which is great for MF lenses. Pellicle mirror results in some loss of light... not much, but it's definitely noticeable in noise levels, especially at higher ISO settings. Similar form factor to DSLR, so similar handling and battery size / capacity, though the EVF will typically drain battery faster than a DSLR.

Mirrorless also offers a somewhat-unnatural JPEG-style view of the scene (though fairly representative of the final image), and the same attendant problems for some users. Again, the view can be amplified (at the expense of some noise) to give better visibility of a scene in low light. Same great choices for overlaying additional information in the viewfinder, if you like that sort of thing. Excellent for MF lens focusing due to magnification and focus peaking. Short registration distance allows for smaller lenses at shorter focal lengths depending on optical design. Importantly, it also allows for easy adaptation of the widest range of legacy glass, including both rangefinder and SLR lenses, as well as a bunch of optics not even designed for cameras (projector and enlarger lenses, compact camera lenses, industrial lenses, etc.). Form factor is smaller and lighter, but that reduces available real estate for controls, and requires smaller, lower capacity batteries. Many lenses will be the same size as their DSLR / SLT counterparts, with an extra bit added on to make up for the shorter registration distance on most cameras (the K-01 being a notable difference here). So the size and weight advantage can be quickly eroded to a large extent, and handling is different - not, as some folks would claim, necessarily worse (it's a personal thing - I've learned not to worry about it)... but it's definitely different - similar to old film SLR cameras, which were typically smaller and lighter than our modern DSLRs.

I like shooting all three types of camera for different reasons, and I can get along happily with all of them in most use cases. But DSLRs are my favourite, when use cases allow...

EDIT: I will add, a short registration distance mirrorless camera, coupled with an L39 adapter and suitable vintage rangefinder lens, can be a delightfully compact and light weight combo - something unachievable with DSLR or SLT cameras. But this is a fairly specific use case... and even then, it's not without limitations (e.g. wide angle lenses with rear elements very close to the sensor don't work well)...

EDIT #2: I would like, and I'm quietly confident we will one day see, a hybrid viewfinder that allows switching between optical and electronic views, and selective combination of elements from both. I would still need my A7 MkII (or other short registration mirrorless) for adapting rangefinder lenses, but in every other sense a hybrid viewfinder DSLR would cover my requirements handsomely

Last edited by BigMackCam; 05-29-2019 at 04:13 PM.
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