Why Thom is wrong...

Started Sep 25, 2013 | Discussions thread
ZorSy Veteran Member • Posts: 3,482
Re: Flange focal distance and the death of the mirror...

Beach Bum wrote:

They don't act like mirrorless for a number of reasons. Most mirrorless cameras have a shorter flange focal distance due to the lack of a mirror, which allows greater leeway in lens design and possibly the option of making smaller or cheaper lenses while maintaining image quality. Also, it allows the adoption of a lot more lenses from different manufacturers to your system.

The reason they can have this short flange distance is because they're not encumbered by a mirror. Neither Nikon or Canon have any significant market share in ILC's with short FFDs.

Apart from comparing apples, oranges and bananas in treads like this, let me point on few things: perhaps shorter FFD saves some 25mm overall camera thickness - but that's it. Other saving volume-wise in case of Pana/Oly comes due to smaller sensor size. So does Nikon 1 system. The reason why short FFD works better for these systems as opposed to 35mm(aka FF) lies as well in design of the system itself: it worked pretty good with film due to its plain surface. With CMOS sensors, the active pixels are at the bottom of the "tube" and shorter FFD works AGAINST the design due to angle light hits the active pixels. Leica tried to eliminate problem by redesigning the micro lenses to compensate for this. At the result, we have $8K FF "compact" camera (without AF, which is the best case scenario if you want small lenses). So, the good short FFD with larger sensor comes at the price not many is willing (or capable) to pay.

Also, you claim Canon and Nikon are smarter than this and can improve their contrast detect autofocus, yet I've seen no evidence of this whatsoever. Ask yourself why Panasonic and Sony can be so good here yet Canon and Nikon so poor. The answer is quite simply the availability of resources. Panasonic and Sony are far larger than Canon or Nikon and have far more resources available to them to develop tech. It's really the same reason Panny and Sony are so good at video while Canon and Nikon (especially Nikon) are not so good.

Clueless to a degree again: Sony uses translucent mirror, hence full-time PDAF at the cost of half a stop of light (actually more than a stop, but let's settle without arguments). Panasonic, again, uses smaller sensor, DOF kicks in and generally you get "sharper" images due to a less focus error. Yes, Nikon lags with CDAF or on sensor PDAF on the current offering of their DX/FF range, hence video isn't as good as on Canon DX.So we do agree about one thing - Nikon is not good in video.

This is the reason why Panasonic and Sony are so consistent in quality across their line-up while Canon and Nikon have to cut corners in some models.

In short, I don't believe either Canon or Nikon are "smarter" in any way, shape, or form, and, in fact, are outgunned in a number of ways. My belief is that Panny, Sony, and/or Olympus will eventually overtake CaNikon in overall autofocus when they develop on sensor PDAF to perfection (combined with their already stellar CDAF). The mirror is going to be rendered obsolete eventually, and camera manufacturers with already established marketshare in cameras with short FFDs will have the edge.

Once they develop on sensor PDAF they will eventually overtake - well, lots of conditional wordings here, right? Both of these two "big" ones have demonstrated they are capable of doing it, don't you think? It's a matter of implementation: at this stage, neither system is "good enough" to be implemented on mass scale. Reputation is thing you loose in a split second and half baked products may just hurt it. Panasonic, if we speak about it, is ignorant about criticism, which reflects in sales numbers. Olympus is better in that regard but they are pushing it hard. Pen series (numerous models) was as unsuccessful as One series - lots of noise, not much sales. Low cost consumer stuff. It definitely lost to bottom range Rebels or low end Nikons (as they actually deliver).  I admire Pentax (not being user) for recognising that 1 inch of flange distance does not actually make camera that much smaller - still not fitting in the pocket. We'll put design on the side here. I wouldn't mind or be surprised if Nikon introduces ILC based on DX with mirror box removed, still using F mount: even without mirror box it still wouldn't fit it the pocket and the lenses wouldn't magically shrink in size. At least on the consumer level , it would make more sense without major re-work on the imaging chip itself. But all this hypothetical ramble is made under assumption the on-chip PDAF actually works on par to PDAF speed, which is only the wishful thinking. For most people, the world is not standing still - it moves  much faster than ever (still spinning at the same pace, luckily) and focusing speed still matter. Both for videos and photos - the only thing is that in video you can't zoom to a full 24MP resolution, as not there, to see all the flaws current V-AF suffers from, so it all looks "good enough" - just.

Short FFD will not have the edge with the current sensor design. Nor will make wide angle lenses cheaper to make. Not will help with long telephoto lenses as the body will eventually follow the flange size and became diminutive, compromising ergonomics. Short pancake prime, yes - but is that what buyers (consumers) really want?

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