Interesting read by Thom Hogan

Started Feb 14, 2014 | Discussions thread
blue_skies Forum Pro • Posts: 11,643
Re: Some observations ...

Geedorama wrote:

Like Thom says at the end of his rant - he likes to be controversial.

Even so, I think that Thom missed some critical elements in his essay.

When Sony launched the SLT cameras, they did away with the mirror box, and put in the pellicle mirror. The consequence of this was that they also had to put in the EVF. If they had had the current EVF technology, the SLT cameras may have been a smash hit, but as they were back then, the debates were about giving up the 'good' OVF for the 'poor' EVF. They were far less about the 1/3rd (alleged 1/2th) stop loss of the available light - but this was a major reasons why the SLT cameras always scored lower than DSLR cameras in measurements.

Unlike the E-mount, the A-mount did have available (Minolta) lenses upon launch. Sony did built out the lens line with the 'proper' set of lenses, both for FF and ASP-C formats (and kept the latter ones surprisingly affordable).

Sony also has a culture of engineering-driven innovation, rather than marketing-driven research. This led to the RX1, the RX100, the Nex, the A7, and so on. Engineers can built anything, but cohesion is lacking, and an overall strategy is not there. However, and this is often missed, Sony is acutely aware of how its products do in the market and responds to that. To me, it is still unclear as to whether a Nex-7 and the E24Z were indeed planned at the Nex-camera launch, as later claimed. The Nex cameras came out as a 'tour-de-force' - miniaturized APS-C bodies! But they were targeted (consider the original UI) for P&S upgraders, NOT DSLR users. If the Nex-7 was already planned, wouldn't there have been more DSLR considerations? But the short flange distance and the high IQ sensor created a following of enthusiasts that got amazing results with legacy lenses - this definitely pushed Sony towards a higher end - and Sony delivered on the IQ race in terms of lenses and sensors.

Albeit, that by then the reputation was already a bit tainted.

As to receipt of the products, reviewers praised products like the RX1, the Nex-7, the E24Z, heck, the A77 or the A99, but as competitors quickly swooped in on the negatives, the products did not get the laurels that they deserved. The RX1/R is still one of THE best performing lens/sensor combinations that you can get for FF - but it is punished for lack of EVF (or expensive add-on) and poor AF. The Nex-7 is still a state-of-the-art exercise, but has been flawed for magenta-shift, limited high IQ lens availability, and poor low light AF. The A99 came with an EVF(?) - omg, how dare you Sony - and it could not properly convert the 24Mp to 2Mp for video.

I mean, you got to give the competition some credit - each flaw was blown out of properties as soon as discovered, and Sony appears as the company that 'almost could'.

To be as controversial as Thom - look at the competing brands and ask them "What have you done for me lately?". The level of innovation and upgrades has been at an all time low. So is R&D planning something major for the future? Or are they just protecting their markets? Or can they not do any better (so we never hear about it)?

Sony walked down an alley that woke up a lot of people - and there were many complaints about lack of features, IQ, pricing, and so on. Thus far, Sony seems to have been staying the course. The Nex cameras (ok Axxxx) are now in their 5th year of existence and that is new high for Sony. The SLT cameras even longer, and Sony is pledging continued support.

A mount, E mount, FF, APS-C, that is a lot of lenses, or worse, a lot of wishes. But the portfolio has slowly been filling with rather high performing lenses. Sure, you can still run to the competition, but I think that Sony is at a point, where they can no longer be ignored.

I think that 2014 is a cross-over year: Sony transforming from the wannabee innovator to the mainstream powerhouse that delivers 'best-in-class' products.

As they say, you cannot deny success, and even Thom has to join the bandwagon. Eh, he already has - he was an early Nex adopter, and now A7 user, so he never really left Sony. He just kept blogging about Nikon and m43 because those are larger users communities. Or better, were. With the Sony community growing, Thom has to be prepared to 'fall in line' again.

As many more reviewers and pro users will have to, eventually. Sony bashing was fun for a while, but with Sony seemingly being on an impressive marathon run, I would expect Sony to finally deliver that 20% market share that they promised after acquiring Konica/Minolta. And who'd want to be on Sony's bad side by then?

A final hint for Sony's success - these forums hype IQ a lot, but tend to ignore prices. If you consider pricing of all the available products, doesn't Sony stand out already? Especially when it comes to camera bodies?

Nex camera prices have already come down with the A6000 announcement. The A7 prices were lower then expected. The new SLT cameras (APS-C and FF) may surprise everyone by being CHEAPER. Whereas the markets seem to be pushing 'feature driven' pricing upwards, Sony is upsetting all by delivering more features, more IQ, for lower pricing. That is a very significant move by Sony.

Sure, FE lenses are not cheap - but they work on the 36Mp A7r with amazing results! In that context, you get an amazing deal as well - and Sony did right by delivering 'the highest IQ'. The A7r pushed both the FE35 and the FE55 as the 2nd best lenses ever benchmarked - not too shabby.

I think that Sony is on the right track - finally. Despite the earlier confusion, I can see a lot of their strategies becoming cohesive and their merging of departments leading to better products, and better choices, over time. Sony has played their hand - and it is a good one. Can the competition respond, timely?

Five years from now, Sony's market share will have grown. Question then remains, whose market share will have shrunk?

Interesting times. Good times for consumers...

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