Ming Thein's/Thom Hogan on mirrorless

Solarflare

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Close, but no cigar: how to design mirrorless right

The final sentence is really funny:
Hell, at this point, I’m frustrated enough that I’d even work for free. MT

So this is his list of requirements for the satisfyingly good mirrorless:
For ease of reference, I’ve broken things up into a few sections. Some things have not been done, but are feasible (in italics)

Haptics/ergonomics/ responsiveness

  • No delay in operations for exposure setting or menu navigation – the Q, SL and M4/3 cameras win here.
  • Customizable menus and shortcuts – with no arbitrary limitation on assignable functions. Olympus gets this right, Sony is close.
  • Direct exposure adjustments (user selectable) on wheels with adjustable directions – not hard settings because you cannot change rotation direction. Again, Olympus and Sony get this right.
  • Fully customisable auto-ISO with minimum and maximum sensitivity and shutter speed thresholds, including 1/FL or 1/2FL for zooms etc. (Nikon gets this right)
  • Weather sealing. The SL has the beefiest seals I’ve seen, with thicker/more solid gaskets than even my Sony ‘underwater’ compact.
  • A body/grip that is the right size to balance with the lenses it is intended to use; FF bodies need to be larger than M4/3 and have more substantial grips – which helps with packing larger batteries, too
  • A ‘small’ and a ‘large’ configuration: the small configuration for compact lenses, and the large configuration (e.g. adding a vertical and front grips) for larger lenses – the E-M5 II’s two part grip gets this right, but really doesn’t need to be in two parts.
  • Instant (or near instant) power on: 1 second is acceptable, 4+ seconds is not.
  • Power switch around the shutter button for quick access and single action to be ready to shoot: Q, Sony.
  • Deliberate action (either right friction or interlocks) required to move controls. Nothing to catch on coats/bags/etc.
  • Frame rates don’t have to be high, but there should be as little lag and blackout/shot-to-shot delay as possible; the Q and SL are the fastest for this with the Olympus cameras close behind
  • Touch screens are good – but make them useful. Panasonic allows for a touch-pad like operation to select AF point – keep this ability when using the finder. Leica’s menu implementation is well done.
  • Top panel status LCDs (a la SL) are welcome too. Especially if we can turn off the rear LCD to save power and not make a bright beacon that is very un-stealthy in the dark and ruins our night vision.
  • Why not built in Arca-compatible rails?
  • Interchangeable grips to suit different hand sizes might be a good idea, too.
Autofocus

  • The speed of the Q, SL or current generation Olympus M4/3 cameras
  • Direct focus point selection with quick reset-to-centre or preselected point; the SL’s joystick is perfect here
  • Ability to decouple focus and shutter release
  • PDAF is nice to have but not necessary if CDAF is fast enough
Live view/ EVF

  • The high resolution, low-distortion view from the SL
  • Don’t clutter the live view area with icons and information; keep things minimal and the view clear – the Q and SL get this right, and the Olympus cameras in some modes. The Sonys are the worst: I don’t need every single logo you have on your box in my finder, too.
  • Peaking and exposure zebras are a must.
  • An ETTR metering option that exposes until a certain percentage area of the frame clips (settable by the user).
  • At least a tilting rear LCD, if not fully articulated.
  • A large LCD magnifier if you’re not going to provide an EVF, like the Sigma Quattro.
  • The ability to turn off the rear LCD completely for night use, or to set playback in LCD and live view in EVF (with LCD off). I’m surprised nobody really gets this right.
  • Instant review with one press to 100% at focus point, and the ability to skip through images at the same point with one of the dials – like the pro Nikons, SL and Olympuses. The Sonys also behave the same, but take a very long time to magnify and page through images.
  • One-press shortcut to magnify live view, preferably to 100% or a selectable magnification, with peaking. The Q has the best MF implementation of any mirrorless camera, bar none – it does all three when you turn the ring out of the AF mode.
  • Instant preview of exposure even when magnified, and EVF brightness that either represents the scene or represents the exposure – the SL, Q and Olympus cameras get this right. Sony does not, and the lag in previewing exposure can cost you the shot.
Sensor and image quality

  • Whatever the format, no compression or cooking of raw files – or at least a choice.
  • The ability to zoom a raw image without having to also write a JPEG.
System

  • Both fast/large and small/slower lenses. No compromises in optical quality.
  • Lenses with hard infinity stops, or a focus clutch like the Olympus pro lenses. Better still, an ‘AF’ position and an instant override ‘MF’ position like the Q. We recognise that AF isn’t always perfect, but with such precise MF possible, there is no excuse not to make this possible with all lenses – that would also encourage buyers to keep purchasing within the system.
Power and power management

  • An adequately large battery that you could shoot heavily for a day on one, or at worst, two, batteries.
  • The option to charge or run over USB power like the A7II series.
Other neat features

  • Sensor-based IS like the M4/3 or A7II series cameras
  • The ultrasonic cleaner of the Olympus cameras
  • If the camera claims to be video-centric, then we need audio input/output jacks, log gamma, uncompressed HDMI out, variable frame rates and a high bitrate
  • Selectable mechanical and electronic shutter options. Leaf shutters are great (and combined with an electronic shutter like the Q to hit higher speeds). Electronic first curtain should be standard.
  • Do away with the battery door entirely, like the SL and T; put the grip contacts inside the battery compartment to eliminate the little rubber grommets we all lose (and can compromise sealing) and avoid having removable doors (ahem, Sony)
  • UHSIII support. Big files are fine; we have big cards. But choking them down slow interfaces is not.
If any of the camera makers wants to make a really serious go of it – and not just send me a camera before embargo with the expectation that I’ll write a positive review – then I’m more than happy to be involved in the design process from an early point where things can still be changed.
Thats actually in quite some respects better than what you can get right now for DSLRs. Like - different grip sizes ? Awesome.

Fast operation - can I say "duh" ? And half a second startup speed is my personal limit. Anything slower and you're getting in my way of getting the shot.

Control locks - greatly appreciated. The Leica trick for exposure comp (first click activates, but does nothing otherwise) is a great idea, too. Also avoid buttons in too easy to accidentaly press areas (like the video record button with many Leicas).

I want Auto-ISO like this:
(a) configurable per lens
(b) either fixed time or 1/focal length scale
(c) second such scale for activated image stabilization
(d) three quickly selectable modes: Full Auto-ISO, Auto-ISO but the shutter-speed-dial specifies a lower limit for shutter speed, Disabled Auto-ISO. Selecting T or B on the shutter speed dial will automatically disable Auto-ISO, as does selecting M on the mode dial (there is an A+S mode that doesnt disable Auto ISO).

Fully articulated touchscreen fully used in the interface - hell yeah ! But all that can be done with touch screen needs to be doable with the regular four way button, too, though; just slower. Also allow to simply turn monitor completely around so its off.

I primarily need good AF-C and if a mirrorless would manage that one, I would no longer need a DSLR. Thus I favor technology like Canon Dualpixel and/or Panasonic Bokeh-Analyzation. Combine that with great algorithms for tracking etc, please.

There is no such thing as the perfect lens.

There is no such thing as UHS-III, the fastest is UHS-II right now. Could also use one of these faster standards, like XQD. Definitely need two card slots with the ability to use the second as backup.

I do ABSOLUTELY NOT want a battery solution like in the Leica T and SL. Thats poor for storing batteries and leads to all kinds of other problems.

I'm missing WiFi in this list. Password protected and with all whisles and bells, like remote control, backup to the smartphone, automatic upload into the internet the moment I press the shutter release etc.
 
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Solarflare

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And here comes Thom Hogans article:

How To Decide Between Systems

The camera makers have you right where they want you: confused.
This time the first sentence is really funny.

For example, for me, my mirrorless camera needs are driven by this set of priorities (in order):
  1. Size and weight. I have a full DSLR set that’s compelling, so first and foremost, mirrorless appeals to me for a potential size and weight reduction on trips where I can’t carry a lot.
  2. Optical attributes. Both the range of available focal lengths I can carry as well as the ability to increase or decrease depth of field, as needed. Plus acuity and lack of other optical issues I’d need to correct in post processing.
  3. Signal to noise. I don’t shoot a lot of truly low light, but I do manipulate shadow detail a lot, which is where I’ll see this appear.
I could go further and add more attributes to my list, but those first three things already start to weed out a lot of possible choices.
I want mirrorless because:

1. Image Quality. The shorter flange distance allows simpler, cheaper and higher quality optics. for wide angles. Since wide angles are harder to get right than telephoto, this is kind of a huge deal. Also no mirror slap also helps IQ.

2. New possibilities for autofocus. Especially the expanded autofocus area and the lack of a need for calibration.

3. The possibilities of having an EVF. Better WYSIWYG abilities, and many electronic technologies to help nailing the perfect shot: Focus Peaking, moveable Magnification/Digital Split Screen, Zebras, False Color, Life Histogram, etc.

4. Price. A mirrorless doesnt have the mirror box, which makes the camera drastically simpler and thus cheaper to produce and more robust.

5. Smaller size, especially for larger sensors. The mirror box of a Pentax 645D or 645z for example is really big and not transportable for me. A medium format 44x33mm system with prime lenses could be done really small. Wide angle lenses would also shrink in size.
 

Ysarex

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"The ability to zoom a raw image without having to also write a JPEG."

Huh? What is this asking for?

Joe
 

Ido

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"The ability to zoom a raw image without having to also write a JPEG."

Huh? What is this asking for?

Joe
I think some cameras don't give you a real 1:1 view when you zoom into that level if you choose to only save a Raw file; you have to select Raw + JPEG for that. He pointed that out in one of his reviews—I think it was a Leica.
 
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Solarflare

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Yes, Leica doesnt offer the option to only write a RAW file. You can shoot JPEG (not adviseable because Leica isnt that great with JPEGs) or RAW+JPEG.
 

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Ming opens his article with a nine-camera photo gallery listing the problems each camera had in the captions under each small photo: "Limited sensor resolution; overambitious image quality and fragile feel;too many steps to get shooting;fixed lens; great UI with terrible ergonomics; classical controls don't work for digital,senor limits;ergonomic and workflow challenges; IQ limitations from senor size;needed two years to fix FW (firmware)."

He of course, forgot crappy battery life. Like the new Sony A7r Mark II, the one the dPreview guy used at a recent Seahawks game, the camera which he mentioned he needed, "three fully charged batteries" with in order to get through the game, and shooting only 700 photos. Wow....that is SUCKY battery life from a $3,198 camera aimed at "serious" users!Keeping up with the big boys? Shooting pro sports with the Sony a7R II

Ming's article is a pretty good overview, and it is in itself, a good clue as to why mirrorless cameras have not been able to really displace d-slr cameras, and why Canon and Nikon are still dominating the camera business with their "old-school" cameras, cameras which have been refined from designs and ideas initially premiered in the mid-1980's.

Hogan's article is basically a listing of the compromises/problem areas that each company's mirrorless cameras are suffering from, like low pixel count and sensor technology issues for Panasonic, Olympus, and Fuji; Fuji's dreadful video performance; Nikon CX system's problems with lenses, feature set, and build quality (Nikon 1=under-featured, built poorly, overpriced); and in general, just a lot of serious, fundamental issues that the mirrorless camera makers have, still.

Ehhhhh....it's pretty clear that both those guys see a LOT of problems with mirrorless cameras, from each and every manufacturer. I looked at the new Leica SL image quality results on dPreview early this week. Disappointing, and not up to the current 24MP performance of a Nikon OR a Sony using a 24MP Exmor sensor. The D610 is a better imager than a $7,500 Leica. Wow.
 

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I bought my first mirrorless today. my "needs" list wasnt anything like theirs.

it was:
IQ
decent AF speed/accuracy
ease of use (so I can hand to a stanger and finally have pictures with my wife)
size (to be able to take to place I'd rather not bring/deal with my dslr)
in-body stability (to keep lenses small and ablility to adapt others)
 

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Braineack said:
I bought my first mirrorless today. my "needs" list wasnt anything like theirs.
it was:
IQ
decent AF speed/accuracy
ease of use (so I can hand to a stanger and finally have pictures with my wife)
size (to be able to take to place I'd rather not bring/deal with my dslr)
in-body stability (to keep lenses small and ablility to adapt others)

iPhone 6S, right?
 

Braineack

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Ha, no. The sony a6000.

Have you seen the screen - flash selfie camera of the iphone? So pathedic.

using tapatalk.
 
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Solarflare

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I guess this fits into this thread well:

Steve Huff: Why Mirrorless ? Five Reasons.
THEY ARE SMALLER, PERIOD.
LENSES!
FUNCTION!
ABILITY TO USE 3rd PARTY LENSES
PROGRESSION
1. Usually because the sensor is smaller, though. They have some size advantage potential, but really only Leica has fully realized that.
2. Wait, what ? At best they are getting good now (Micro Four Thirds, Fuji X). Not yet as good as DSLRs, though.
3. Okay, the EVF has some special functionality ... otherwise I dont understand this argument, either.
4. More or less. With real rangefinder glas, theres often issues. With SLR glas, well that tends to be quite an unbalanced construct. Plus of course non-native lenses are rather primitive to use - for example there is no automatic aperture.
5. They mostly have to progress because they're so far behind. Flash support for example. Other than that ? Maybe 4K video. And Fuji X apparently has good WiFi.

Its also funny that Steve Huff keeps dizzing the only mirrorless system I would consider: Fuji X.
 

Braineack

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I'll give him #1 and #5.
 

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Can't get too riled by what two much-followed blogsters say about widely-reviewed gear. Like where's the news?
Got to play around with a borrowed A6000 and an F mount adapter mated up with my 45/2.8Ai-P. Loved it for a morning of street shooting. Good image quality and simple operation after a few minutes of inane mistakes setting it up. Will probably snag one once prices droop a bit after Sony.ca's April 1 price hikes and dust collects on current inventory. There's not a huge amount of gas in the battery tank but since I often shoot with film-like restraint,it wasn't a problem. The lender said that full-throttle fps shooting, frequent flash use and chimpaholic review will drain it quick.

Mirrorless is just another club in the bag. Anyone familiar with Nikon film bodies knows the differences between an F5 and a FE with a 35 or 50mm. For a few hours of casual, walk-around, f-off shooting, I'd take an A6000 over even a D7XXX +grip, much less a bulkier FX rig.
 

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Mirrorless will definitely replace DSLRs soon. The simpler mechanism, IBIS, size just make sense. Still some development to go but look at the X-T2 and E-M1,mk2. Performance approaching pro grade cameras at fraction of size and cost.

The next Sony A7Riii may surpass all but the two flagship DSLRs.

Soon enough cabin and Nikon will release their own mirrorless versions that will use legacy lenses with adapters and out the fringe mirrorless folks out of business.

The tech is almost there and adoption by the majors along with compatibility with legacy lessons will do the trick.


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Mirrorless will definitely replace DSLRs soon. The simpler mechanism, IBIS, size just make sense. Still some development to go but look at the X-T2 and E-M1,mk2. Performance approaching pro grade cameras at fraction of size and cost.

The next Sony A7Riii may surpass all but the two flagship DSLRs.

Soon enough cabin and Nikon will release their own mirrorless versions that will use legacy lenses with adapters and out the fringe mirrorless folks out of business.

The tech is almost there and adoption by the majors along with compatibility with legacy lessons will do the trick.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk


They already did, but were subsequently replaced by smartphones with killer photo apps.
 

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