Neptune Photo Newsletter
May 2018 Volume 77
by Steve Zimic
If there's one feature that stands out in Fuji's newest entry level camera, it's the tilting and flip out display. On this camera tilting both up and down is a snap, and the quick sideways flip out is eminently more practical for selfies than either the 180º vertical type, or the single pivot fully articulated versions. The large 2.36 million dot viewfinder will yield a very impressive live view when the LCD is not practical, even when wearing glasses. Another salient feature, especially compared to entry level DSLR cameras, is the 91 phase detect AF points covering most of the frame. For action photography the camera will deliver a decent 6 FPS with the buffer holding up to 26 JPEG images. The inclusion of Bluetooth will allow fast and easy connection to your smart device. Construction is robust with a polycarbonate body and anodized aluminum covers for excellent durability. In kit form the camera comes with an unusually wide 15-45mm f3.5-5.6 lens (22.5mm - 77.5 35mm equivalent), which is perfect for scenic, travel and selfie photography. 4K video is available but at a paltry 15P, so I'm not even sure why they bothered, other than to claim the camera has 4K video. Full HD is available at up to 60P which I think is more than enough quality for a camera in this price range. You'll be able to pick up one of these cameras this month at $599 for the body, or $699 with the kit lens. More info on Fuji's website.
The Big Revolution
I think we'd all have to claim that the biggest revolution in cameras was the switch from film to digital imaging, at least for us photo bugs. Perhaps the general population though would claim the smart phone camera for that achievement, but let's not go there. Another perhaps less dramatic revolution is happening right now with the mirrorless camera. To be fair though, mirrorless cameras have been around since the beginning of digital imaging in the point and shoot variety. What is relatively new is the mirrorless interchangeable lens camera (MILC). The MILC is already well established with Fuji, Olympus, Panasonic and Sony having a large variety of cameras and lenses to choose from. Even Hasselblad has embraced the mirrorless camera with their medium format version. The players missing though are the big two, Canon and Nikon, neither of which have embraced mirrorless cameras with much vigor. Sure, they both have mirrorless interchangeable lens systems, but both companies seemed to have approached it as being an evolution of the fixed lens P&S camera, with only limited models, features, and selection of lenses. Was this a big mistake? Perhaps yes, because Sony has certainly realized the potential of this genre, by coming out with a host of new lenses and cameras at a feverish rate. As a result, Sony leads in sales of mirrorless cameras and have even been awarded camera of the year in Japan - a big honor.
The good news is that Canon and Nikon have announced the development of FF mirrorless cameras, and both cameras are expected to be released within a year. The big question though is have they waited too long and why did they wait so long? One can only speculate here, but personally I think there's more than one reason. First, unlike Sony's approach, they didn't want to abandon their existing line of lenses. Secondly, and perhaps the primary reason, they don't have the resources of Sony's vast empire to draw on. Given their limited resources, it probably makes sense that they'd watch the current sales trends and wait for technology to advance far enough to manufacture something worthy of bearing their respective brands.
Since both Canon and Nikon are tight lipped about their development, there's a lot of speculation and concern over what lens mount will be used on these new cameras. Current DSLR users would like them to preserve the mount for the lenses they already own. That approach would allow them to capture a market share rather quickly, but would make the camera bodies much thicker than they need to be. It would also save them the expense of making a new line of lenses with a new lens mount. In the short term this would make sense, especially considering that camera sales as a whole are shrinking, so funds are limited.
There are several downsides though to the above approach. First is that the AF, now being done exclusively by the image sensor, may require a different focusing mechanism in the lens to achieve optimal performance. This is evidenced by many current DSLR cameras having relatively poor AF performance when used in live view. Also, many of the new features possible in mirrorless cameras such as synchronizing in-body IS with lens IS, may not be possible with existing DSLR lenses. Something else to consider is that the design of medium to ultra wide lenses for DSLRs is very complex, especially when compared to those designed for cameras lacking a mirror box. A new more compact camera would allow for smaller, lighter, and possibly sharper lenses in this category.
Which way each of these two giants in the camera industry will go is anyone's guess at this point. Personally I think the best route is to create a new mount and have an adapter to use current DSLR lenses. Heck, they could even include the adapter free with the purchase of the camera. Canon may even be able to use their existing mirrorless M mount for their new FF mirrorless camera. It does seem possible considering that it is slightly larger in diameter than what Sony has in their FF mirrorless cameras. An interesting possibility, especially when considering that that's exactly what Sony did. I am a bit worried that Nikon may follow their tradition in preserving the lens mount as they did when going from manual focus to auto focus. That turned out to be a good decision, but only until Canon came out with their EF mount which delivered far superior auto focus. Whatever approach they take, it will be good to have two more players in the field. That makes for a more competitive environment which often yields superior products and maybe even better prices, something we consumers all love.
Nikon D5 - Version 1.3 - Allows recalling of custom setting f1 to be quickly recalled by programming one of several buttons. Minor bug fixes.
Fuji X-T2 - Version 4.01 - Major bugs and malfunctions were found in version 4.00, so version 4.01 basically reverts to version 3.00 until the issues can be resolved. Highly recommended if you installed version 4.00.
Hasselblad X1D and H6D - Version 1.21.0 - Numerous upgrades too long to list - highly recommended.