Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Sony's Upcoming Full-Frame NEX-9 Makes Me Angry (UPDATED: Names are A7 and A7r)

The NEX-7's abandonment; the RX1 and RX1R; the stagnation of Sony's other camera lines; the dual E/A mount VG10: all of these were clues. Everyone knew that Sony was working on a full-frame mirrorless camera, but that doesn't make its impending release any less infuriating.

A full-frame mirrorless sounds pretty bad ass. Why the hell am I pissed? Because, in Sony's schizophrenic charge to find the next billion-dollar camera, they are abandoning everyone who got on board earlier. Imagine how angry a pro-thusiast now is who bought the NEX-7 when it launched with the Zeiss 24mm? They're pretty damned angry! If it wasn't for the Speed Booster and focus peaking, the NEX-7 would be a dead. Fucking. Camera.

It's especially infuriating because I'm seeing hints of Canon in Sony's behavior. The release of the EOS 7D made me think that, perhaps, Canon had decided to dedicate some actual resources to their APS-C line of cameras. Of course, that never came, and the 7D became this bizarre, mutant orphan that Canon hasn't updated since its release four years ago.

The lenses are still total crap, Canon moved its EOS xxD line of cameras down-market with the cheap 60D, and instead released the overpriced shit-show known as the Cinema Cameras. Their obsession with protecting their full-frame line has crippled the company's ability to innovate, and as such they simply squeeze money from their existing customers.

Sony abandoned their SLT cameras in favor of a joint E/A mount with a focus on mirrorless. Now they're abandoning them in favor of a full-frame line that will undoubtedly be too highly priced. I know this because somewhere in Sony a conference went like this.
Executive 1: We're Sony! Everybody loves us!
Exec 2: Damn right! Look at the RX100 and RX1. They sold like crazy.
Exec 3: Exactly! This means that we can charge whatever we want, again! Just like the old days before... Apple.
(Everyone in room vomits)
If they were actually interested in being competitive, I wouldn't mind any of this. A full-frame mirrorless camera will be a unique proposition on the market. That will be good. That will have value.

But just as Canon and Nikon have done in the past, Sony is assuredly going to try to artificially segment its cameras. Everything they make will be part of an attempt to create a closed, expensive, high-end fiefdom in which they will try to trap customers. That's the only reason Canon and Nikon earn the kind of money that they do; they've trapped people in their systems and work hard to keep it that way.

The EOS 7D: Forgotten, but not gone.
Just as Canon forgot about the 7D, Sony will forget about the NEX-7, NEX-6, and everyone who bought in. And as Sony has abandoned cameras and systems along the way, they've tricked small numbers of people into their fiefdoms, only to leave them high and dry. I encouraged people to buy into the NEX system, a lot of people. Now I regret that, because this upcoming NEX-9 confirms that Sony has already forgotten about them. There will be no more good lenses, because they will now need to protect their full-frame system from internal competition.

A flagship product should be a flagship naturally. Making a flagship by making sure that lower-priced alternatives remain crappy is bad goddamned business.

I may attack Olympus and Panasonic for being stupid, because they certainly are, but at least they aren't abandoning their customers. The Olympus 75mm f/1.8 alone makes the Micro 4/3 system worth it.

*Breathes heavily*

Ok. I'm trying to calm down, I am. I will wait to see what Sony releases. I will wait to pass judgment. I don't have much hope, though, because every move Sony makes etches their intentions on the wall. It's the case with every damned camera company. Aside from Fuji (which is why I give them a pass for whatever issues their cameras have) no camera company, not one, has zigged when everyone expected a zag. Not one company. As such, getting angry before something is even announced is completely reasonable.

And boy, am I angry.


The names of the two cameras are apparently the A7 and A7r. Based on the naming scheme, I'm assuming that the A7r, which sports a 36MP sensor, will also have no AA filter, just as the RX1R.

The A7 will have a 24MP sensor, probably the same as in the RX1, and the A7r will have a 36MP sensor, probably the same as in the Nikon D800.

They will undoubtedly have an A-mount adapter available at launch, so they'll excuse their lack of launch lenses with a selection of old lenses that will work like crap on the CDAF sensor.

Of course, Sony hasn't been developing much of anything... at all... for the NEX line and the RX1/RX1R could really be seen as a prototype for this new system. As such, they've had two years to do nothing but concentrate on this. There's a good chance that they will have three, four, maybe even five lenses ready to go.

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