Canon and Nikon mirrorless strategy speculations

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Fred Briggs
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Canon and Nikon mirrorless strategy speculations
4 months ago

Following the announcement of the Sony A7 full frame mirrorless, and the revelation that the E-mount used for the NEX APS-C range has been used unchanged in the A7/R to accomodate a full frame sensor and FF lenses, I decided to look at what Canon and Nikon might be doing, and how they could compete. To do this I have used the camerasize web site to compare all the existing mirrorless mounts and sensors.

Taking Canon first, it looks pretty obvious that the M-mount is virtually the same size as the Sony E-mount and therefore, while currently housing only APS-c sensors, could be expected to take a full frame, or near full frame sensor, once Canon decide they need to get into this market, which might be quite soon given the apparent success of the Sony A7/R.

I would expect Canon would need a range of FF M-mount lenses similar to the Sony FE E-mount lenses, though they evidently need to do a lot more work on AF - maybe the Canon 70D is pioneering the PDAF technology which will go into mirrorless in future.

Looking at Nikon's mirrorless 1-mount it is immediately apparent that it is somewhat smaller than the Sony and Canon mounts, and of course is currently only used for 1" CX size sensors. However, at the time this was introduced I commented on the generous size of the mount compared to the sensor, and wondered whether it might take a larger sensor in future. Looking at this again, I think it is possible that an APS-C size might just about be accommodated, but definitely not FF.

It appears from this that all three vendors are using cameras with smaller format sensors to pioneer the mirrorless technology which will probably eventually replace DSLRs for most purposes. It also appears that all three have hedged their bets on future sensor size by allowing for larger sensors within their existing mirrorless mounts.

Of the three, it looks like Canon and Sony have been the most adventurous with respect to future strategy by being able to offer larger than APS-C sensor sizes, and of course Sony have already broken cover with the announcement of the FF A7/R. Sony probably felt they had to make the move up-market to FF first in order to stand any chance of getting a decent share of the future mirrorless market.

The interesting one is Nikon. While in many ways the most advanced in giving mirrorless the AF performance to complete with DSLRs, they apparently did not expect they would need to offer FF in the mirrorless market - and it appears they can only do so by introducing a second mirrorless mount which could be costly. This may not be too big a deal, but presumably loses the lens sharing between sensor sizes which Sony FF mirrorless upgraders can take advantage of, and which Canon might also be able to offer.

Maybe Nikon have miscalculated here, and did not expect mirrorless to ever penetrate the FF market. This could turn out to be an expensive mistake!

This is just my analysis of course, and I would be interested to hear what others think.

Fred

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"We are so small between the stars, so large against the sky." Leonard Cohen c1967

 Fred Briggs's gear list:Fred Briggs's gear list
Sony Alpha 7 Sony E 10-18mm F4 OSS Sony E 16-50mm F3.5-5.6 PZ OSS Sony FE 24-70mm F4 OSS
Canon EOS 70D Sony Alpha 7
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