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The DJI Air 2S is exactly what many drone enthusiasts have been asking for: a consumerdrone with a 1"-type camera sensor that's budget-friendly. Does it live up to the hype? In our opinion, yes.
|Kenji Tanaka, VP and Senior General Manager of Sony's Business Unit 1, Digital Imaging Group.|
At the CP+ show in Yokohama Japan last month, we sat down with executives from several major manufacturers, including Sony. In our conversation with Sony's Kenji Tanaka, we discussed various topics, including how the full-frame mirrorless market has evolved, and why he believes Sony will maintain its competitive edge.
Please note that this interview was conducted partly via an interpreter, and has been edited for clarity and flow.
As more competitors jump into this market, I think that’s a very good thing, because customers have more choice. Our aim is to grow the industry. So when competitors jump in, that’s good.
A wide range of options is a very good thing
The EOS RP is a different kind of challenge from Canon, for entry-level customers. When they eventually enrich their entry-level lenses, that would be a very powerful story. But at this point, I cannot judge who the target customer is [for the EOS RP]. Thinking about the camera industry in the long term, a wide range of options is a very good thing. I’m very positive about it.
This is our one-mount strategy, which only Sony has. Initial entry is in APS-C, and the next step is full-frame. I want to make a kind of ‘step up ladder’.
|Sony's a7 III is one of the most competitive cameras in its class, offering advanced stills and video features at an attractive price. But its MSRP is undercut by the new Canon EOS RP.|
Every one of our competitors is strong, and we respect each of them. For the [sake of] growth in the industry, we’re thinking about computational photography, and how to incorporate these technologies.
I first encountered this kind of technology more than 20 years ago, and it’s created a new future for imaging. So [while] of course we’re very respectful of our current competitors, the next step is we have to learn more things from computational photography.
That could be.
Sony is a technology company that provides technology in which customers may find value. I want our technology to be the reason people are attracted to Sony, not the price. Of course the balance is very important. When you get to price points of $3000, $4000, that’s a different matter, but the most important thing for Sony is technology. That creates customer value.
Technology will lead customers into the future.
Technology will lead customers into the future. That’s the kind of scenario we want to create. Last year we said that speed and AI would be our new technology drivers, and since then other mirrorless companies have tried to develop these technologies. It’s already happening.
Previously, our main target was professional, but this year we announced the a6400, not only for professionals, targeted a little more widely. We need to create a message for a different kind of customers, but basically our products contain advanced technology, and advanced technology make [makes] customers happy to shoot. I want [Sony] to become a company that drives technology - that’s the kind of message I want to send.
|Smartphones like the Google Pixel 3 have changed the way that millions of us create images, and have become primary cameras for an entire generation of photographers.|
Yes, of course. We have an R&D section within Sony, it’s a real asset. The world of imaging is growing, and the speed is getting faster. I want to invest in the kinds of technologies that drive the world of imaging, and [...] create a cycle. Computational photography is one aspect, lenses are another. I’m very positive for the future. At my core, I’m an engineer. I want to create a camera to enrich your life as a photographer.
It’s very difficult to determine a starting point, but ten years ago I was an engineer, and at that time my interest was neural networks. So the seed for the technology goes back more than ten years. More recently, about five years ago we started developing deep learning. Of course at the same time our team was trying new technologies so it’s very difficult to say exactly when we started. We’re developing new technologies all the time, Sony is that kind of company.
Haha, do I only have two choices? the most important thing really is technology. That’s what creates new features. To develop new technologies of course we need money. Sometimes our strategy is [to create] high value products, and sometimes our approach is to increase the volume of customers.
|Sony's new APS-C a6400 (left) offers incredibly advanced autofocus and high-speed shooting features in a very compact body.|
Full-frame is the best platform to deliver our technologies. But of course these technologies need to cascade down for APS-C customers. So we will focus on both groups of customers, but [the] timing is a little different. First full-frame, then APS-C. It has been said that Sony has ignored the APS-C market, and our answer is the a6400.
Yes, I do, but I don’t know how they would be branded. Maybe not as ‘GM’, but high quality lenses are definitely an option [for development].
Honestly speaking, for still photography, full-frame is [more appropriate] for professionals. But for video, APS-C is good for both amateur and professional customers, because it’s size is close to Super 35mm, [which is a] video Image sensor format.
That is possible, I think. For example, looking at the US market, at the BlackMagic Pocket Cinema Camera, I think that’s a wonderful product for professionals. Not only for high-end amateurs. The sensor size of that camera is Micro Four Thirds, and [Sony’s] APS-C is bigger.
|Mr Tanaka has expressed a keen interest in the BlackMagic Pocket Cinema 4K Camera, could hint at some of Sony's future plans.|
It’s possible, but looking at the market size, full frame is maybe a bigger opportunity. If we focused only on cine, the market would probably be too small, but the so-called ‘creators’ market is a little bigger.
I have many things in my mind but I can’t tell you the details today! As you know well, stills and movies are completely different. Some people think that 30 or 60fps stills shooting is the same as shooting a movie, but the mentality of stills photographers and videographers is completely different. That kind of fusion, I don’t think [it's realistic]. We want to create new cameras for both kinds of creators.
Many people have enjoyed the a7S II as a video camera, but originally we designed it for stills photography users. So if we’re going to create products [specifically] for video shooters, we’ll have to modify them in the future.
It’s easy to add 4K/60, but beyond these specs, a lot of customers have other demands
We’ve had a lot of feedback from the market, including from DPReview! The basic expectation is for things like 4K/60, 10-bit 4:2:2, and a lot of manufacturers are doing that right now, but I want to think in a different way and create something that goes beyond the expectations of our customers. It’s easy to add 4K/60, but beyond these specs, a lot of customers have other kinds of demands, and that’s what we’re researching.
|Judging by Mr Tanaka's comments, the aging a7S II might be replaced by a much more revolutionary product that 'goes beyond the expectations' of his customers.|
JPEG is an old format, limited to 8-bit. Movies are going to 10-bit, and stills should become 10-bit as well. So of course we’re researching how to compress stills to 10-bit. The new standard will be 10-bit. There are many such formats already in the market, but we need to study which one is best for the customer.
Smartphones have high dynamic range displays, so the [impetus] will probably come from smartphones. Television development is a bit slower, but everything will be 10-bit [eventually]
We’re just beginners in that field, compared to Canon and Nikon. We’re currently going step by step, taking feedback from journalists and sports photographers, and we’re running a positive cycle, right now. What I can say today is that you can expect activity [from Sony] for big sports events.
Technology, technology, technology! That's the message from Mr Tanaka this year, above all others. Although Sony is (finally) facing some serious competition in the full-frame mirrorless market, it appears that Mr Tanaka welcomes the company. He certainly doesn't appear to fear the competition. As he says, while Sony respects all of its competitors, its most important rivals might not be the ones currently making cameras.
As a technology company first and foremost, former engineer Mr Tanaka confirms that Sony has been researching AI and deep learning for at least a decade. Lest we forget, Sony also makes smartphones, and in fact the camera and smartphone divisions were recently merged. When Mr Tanaka talks about wanting to invest in 'the kinds of technologies that drive the world of imaging' I'd be surprised if he's thinking exclusively of the traditional consumer digital imaging market.
Inside that marketplace though, it's clear that Mr Tanaka views full-frame as the preeminent format for delivery of Sony's technologies to photographers, as well as being a superior platform for professional users. Given the company's focus on attracting enthusiast and professional users - and that whole 'technology, technology, technology!' thing, it shouldn't be a surprise therefore that Sony's APS-C lineup has been pretty much put on ice the past couple of years. Mr Tanaka did hint at greater emphasis on APS-C in the near future though, including - crucially - the possibility of some high-end lenses to come.
It seems possible that Sony is interested in developing a dedicated, compact, affordable large-sensor dedicated video camera
There's no such thing as a 'perfect' stills / video camera according to Mr Tanaka, and perhaps the most surprising thing to come out of this interview, for me, was his obvious interest in the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K. It's unusual for a senior executive to so openly - and so specifically - praise a competitor product in an interview with press, and I doubt it was a throwaway comment. From this, coupled with Mr Tanaka's reminder that APS-C is a bigger format than Four Thirds, and his earlier comment that APS-C is close to Super 35, 'a video image sensor format' we can draw some tentative conclusions.
It seems at least possible that Sony is interested in developing a dedicated, compact, affordable large-sensor dedicated video camera. That's the kind of product that could prove disruptive. Even if such a camera doesn't come to fruition, Mr Tanaka's slightly dismissive remark that tinkering around the edges of the a7S II's feature set, adding things like 4K/60 is 'easy' should give filmmakers hope. Sony, historically, doesn't do 'easy'. Whatever they end up looking like, it seems likely that the next generation of video-centric cameras from Sony will be anything but iterative.
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Planning to treat yourself to a new full-frame camera this holiday season? We compare the Canon EOS R6, Nikon Z6 II, Panasonic S5 and Sony a7 III.
That's right folks, you heard it here first. Read on for the full interview, with Kenji Tanaka of Sony.
Have significant firmware updates changed Chris and Jordan's recommendations? Take a look at their updated entry-level full-frame mirrorless comparison.
Firmware has been updated and lens lineups fleshed-out since Canon, Nikon and Panasonic joined the full-frame mirrorless melee. In the light of these changes, we looked again at the strengths and weaknesses of the main contenders.
The Sony Alpha 1 is Sony's flagship mirrorless camera for, well, just about anything. With a 50MP sensor, it gives you tons of resolution, but it also lets you fire off burst images at 30 fps for fast action sports. Add in 8K video capture and you have a really impressive package.
The DJI Air 2S is exactly what many drone enthusiasts have been asking for: a consumerdrone with a 1"-type camera sensor that's budget-friendly. Does it live up to the hype? In our opinion, yes.
There are a lot of photo/video cameras that have found a role as B-cameras on professional productions or A-camera for amateur and independent productions. We've combed through the options and selected our two favorite cameras in this class.
What’s the best camera costing over $2500? The best high-end camera costing more than $2000 should have plenty of resolution, exceptional build quality, good 4K video capture and top-notch autofocus for advanced and professional users. In this buying guide we’ve rounded up all the current interchangeable lens cameras costing over $2500 and recommended the best.
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Family moments are precious and sometimes you want to capture that time spent with friends or loved-ones in better quality than your phone can manage. We've selected a group of cameras that are easy to keep with you, and that can adapt to take photos wherever and whenever something memorable happens.
If you're looking for a high-quality camera, you don't need to spend a ton of cash, nor do you need to buy the latest and greatest new product on the market. In our latest buying guide we've selected some cameras that might be a bit older but still offer a lot of bang for the buck.
|Frey Wille by Wilfried HKG|
from Macro - Jewelry
|Teeth Bared by OSP2017|
from Snow Sports
|City of Arts and Sciences, Valencia by bombelpl|
|Stork in front of rising full moon by PeLue|
from A Big Year - Birds 2021
|Beautiful Dahlia Flower by mreservices|
from Flower - Macro Challenge
|Snowbirds by G Gordon MacDonald|
from monthly motion challenge
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