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Now amazing Capture One 9 pro is out, and for Sony users the express version is free.

The Capture One 8.3 before it was simply outstanding RAWC, much better than anything from Adobe or Raw Therapy.

 

Unfortunately, the free version of C1 does not handle Canon, Nikon or Olympus RAW, only Sony or DNG(Pentax and Leica).

 

So I guess It is another big reason for many of us to choose Sony over anything else. If you use Sony, you can get a full copy of Capture One 9 pro for just 50 USD.

AS far as I am concerned, this is an incredible deal, great Christmas gift for us from Phase One.

 

I think both Capture One 9 and DXO 10 produce a bit better color than LR CC or ACR9X for Sony or Nikon.

 

I suspect that Adobe programs are optimized for Canon.

 

Seriously C1 pro for just 50 US is an amazing deal. nothing beats it for that price.

Capture One 9 is a much better more serious program than the LR crapware, and the biggest deal here is not need to deal with the Adobe subscription stuff. Many many Adobe users used the license and repaid it to re-activate it, it is really terribly unstable. I had one time could not use it when I was editing my images on site in a mountain area and they say my account is just trial although I paid it for full CC version.

So after coming back from the mountain, I decided to cancel all Adobe CC crap, and I just got Capture One express 8.32 for Sony free,then later in the same month (last April)I ungraded it to the pro version. I could not be happier.

Now, also DXO is offering me a copy FULL copy of DXO 10 Elite version for just 99 USD. I will get that too.

Honestly, there are still times we need Photoshop but I do have full copy of CS6, so I do not need CC anymore, and I've found life without Adobe CC crap is really much more relaxing and easier.

  

So in the long run, may Sony E mount be the most expensive system out side of the Leica SL and MFDBs arena?

 

Well it seems like that considering terribly expensive Sony service charge and repair price, and of course their lens prices.

 

As far as lenses are concerned, I can only compare the lenses that have been tested scientifically. Now please keep in mind that these tests were done with the A7R not version 2, but when Nikon introduces their higher resolution camera this will increase the final numbers for Nikon system as well, and Canon already have even higher resolution camera than both Nikon and Sony, but oddly enough DXO and most of others refuse to use the high resolution Canon body for testing their new gen lenses.

Sony 35 2.8, Nikon 35 1.8, Canon 35 2.0 tested with A7R, D810, 5DIII, oddly DXO refuses to test Canon lenses on the 5DS.

Anyway though,the Sony Costs $800, Nikon Costs $600, despite the Sony having less resolving power and a full stop slower than the Nikon. So we see how expensive Sony system actually is already here at the very first comparison below.

www.dxomark.com/Lenses/Compare/Side-by-side/Nikon-AF-S-NI...

To be fair to Sony, there is also the Loxia 35 mm f2,which I recently sold off for some new macro lens for my Olympus. The Loxia 35 is a fairly good lens but not an amazing lens, not exceptionally sharp, not extremely well corrected either. It has a bit of serious coma issue at f2 and on, though it is still a better lens than the Sony 35 mm f2.8 in the areas of center resolution and longitudinal CA and Vignetting. But the Loxia is worse than the Sony 35 mm f2.8 in some significant areas such as coma, edge/corner sharpness and focus accuracy at infinity.

So in Sony 35 mm Full frame world , there is no value 35 mm prime at all.

Now move on to value 28 mm primes: Sony 28 2.0, Nikon 28 1.8, Canon 28 2.8, they are close enough to say the difference is irrelevant in real life use.

www.dxomark.com/Lenses/Compare/Side-by-side/Sony-FE-28mm-...

 

So move on to 70-200 mm f4: Of Sony 70-200 f4, Nikon 70-200 f4, Canon 70-200 f4, the Sony again is the most expensive despite the Nikon having more resolving power if we are to trust DXO lens rating. I personally do not trust their lens tests although I trust their sensor tests and I think their sensor test results pretty much mirror my own findings quite often.

But in case of the 70-200 mm f4 lenses, many other sites like SLRgear, lenstip tested and came to the same or identical conclusion to the DXO comparison. I also tested them at my work place with my own copy of DXO analyzer and got the same results.

If I have to pick the winner here, I would pick the Nikon for its obviously better resolution at 200 mm f4 setting. But it is more complicated than just optical quality, since the latest generation body IS of Sony is much more effective than most of in-lens VR or IS I tested.

So, while the Nikon is a bit better lens optically, I doubt that in real life handheld photography we see the better resolving power of the Nikon. The Sony 70-200 mm f4 comes with an excellent tripod collar that would cost 120 US if we buy it separately. Canon and Nikon do not include a tripod collar in their respective 70-200 mm f4 shipping package.

So maybe, is the pricing of the Sony actually reasonable?

www.dxomark.com/Lenses/Compare/Side-by-side/Sony-FE-70-20...

 

Now move on to 35 mm f1.4 lenses comparison:Sony 35 1.4, Nikon 35 1.4. Interestingly in this test the Sony did a little better in resolution to the Nikon although its 22mm longer and 30 grams heavier than the Nikon and 26mm longer and 50 grams heavier than the Canon, so not so compact for a compact system any more.

What this fact tells us about is if you ask ultimate resolution in any current FF system, regardless of your camera body size, your lens must be big and heavy, thus your system won't be small or cheap or light at all.

 

www.dxomark.com/Lenses/Compare/Side-by-side/Sony-FE-Carl-...

But in case of this 35 mm f1.4, we have to consider the extremely bad copy to copy sample variation issue of the Sony. The biggest issue of the DXO and the other typical online lens test sites is that they test only one copy supplied by the company.

But there is a great man testing literally 10-100 of copies of each lens and reporting his results most of times.

www.lensrentals.com/blog/2015/10/sony-e-mount-lens-sharpn...

 

Personally, I take Roger's opinion much more seriously than any other lens test site's so-called review. I work at a mall which also sell cameras and I have tested many returned lenses before sending them back to the respective manufactures, we found that the copy to copy variation is much more significant than many people online think, it is sometimes even more pronounced than lens A to lens B difference.

So testing one copy of each lens is not enough, definitely in the case of any super complex modern optics such as this FE 35 mm f1.4.

I know the best copies of it is a fantastic lens, but about 75 percent of times you get a bad one or just an ok kind of one. It is really really deplorable, sad.

But no one so-called review site besides Roger's report it, and I smell something very fishy here.

 

Now move on to 50 mm -55 mm value primes: the Sony 55 1.8 vs the Nikon 50 1.8 vs the

Canon 50 1.8 STM

 

The Sony beats out the Nikon and obviously the Canon because of the limited megapixels, but the interesting thing is when you compare pricing...$1000 for the Sony, $219 for the Nikon. Weight was another thing with the Sony coming in at almost 100 grams heavier than the Nikon and the Canon. In terms of Absolute resolution, the Sony is quite a bit better, though if you care about the money, then the cheap Nikon gets you about 90 percent of the expensive Sony performance at 1/ 5th of the Sony price.

 

www.dxomark.com/Lenses/Compare/Side-by-side/Sony-FE-Carl-...

 

now finally move on to 90-105 mm macro lens:

The Sony 90 mm macro is reported to be a better lens by likes of DXOmark, but according to Roger Cicala's extensive optics bench testing with many many copies of it, it is not as good as we all once thought it must be because of the DXO result for it below.

www.dxomark.com/Lenses/Compare/Side-by-side/Sony-FE-90mm-...

But it is obvious if you get a good copy of the Sony FE 90 mm f2.8 G lens, it is sharper than anything else in the market, actually it even beats the over-sized over priced not much useful awkward brand lenses like the Zess Otus 85 mm f1.4 APO or the Zeiss 135 mm f2 APO Sonnar,which I sold as soon as I found it useless in real life application ,especially for travel photography and street work. I loved it for studio work, but for that use I do not need to actually own any lens, just rent it from my boss's studio.

Anyway, my point here is if you get a decent Sony Fe 90 or 55 mm then it even beats the super-heavy ,awkward no compromise in design kind of d-SLR lens that priced about 4 times more than the Sony lenses.

The 90 macro is a cheap lens for what it is, there is no comparison to that lens in that relatively modest range of it.

 

So while I agree that Sony has made some very positive moves in recent years,it has come at a cost in pricing, f/stop and in the compactness to the system.Even then, the Sony lenses are not necessarily the best, especially when you take the fact that the Nikon/Canon Lenses often out resolved the Sony equivalents with faster f/stops for less money into serious consideration. The Canon lenses were at a deficit due to megapixels, and even with the obvious sensor resolution disadvantage, quite a few Canon lenses actually still out-resolve Sony Nikon equivalents, it was,to me,quite amazing.

So, I think if you need the ultimate best for now or the absolute best, most promising tech into foreseeable future, then the Sony system makes real sense here, but if you just need 90 percent of what the A7RM2 can do at the 1/4 of the Sony system price, then Nikon still makes better sense(value).

In my area it is even more glaringly clear, the A7RM2 body alone costs about 378000 yen, the Nikon D810 kit with the AF-S24-120 mm f4 VR costs 321000 yen,the Sony does not seem to be a great value although it may well be the absolute best camera in current camera market.

And most of people just go with the almost 95 percent as good as the absolute best kind of system that costs much less than the absolute best.

I chose the Zeiss Batis 85 over the Zeiss Otus 85 although I knew the Otus would beat the Batis in resolution(at a lab)..........but for me the much more manageable size and the weight saving, and more importantly the better overall practicality/usability of the Batis beat the absolute tripod resolution of the Otus. I think the same logic applies for choosing the right camera system.

Although, IMO, Canon still has the edge in lens line, flash,etc, and as a company most stable and profitable with a lot of key-core patents in this ILC technology, I personally never consider any of current Canon cameras seriously. The 5DS is just simply too overpriced, the 6D is just too long in the tooth, the 5D3 is about to be replaced, so no current Canon cameras make great value.

The 5DS-R costs 2 times more than the D810 and I think it is just too crazy, and that makes it absolutely the worst value camera for me. The 5DS at least a bit cheaper than the A7R2 to really justify its market position since it does not have the IBIS of the Sony, the 4k capability of the Sony, the high ISO performance of the Sony.

In the end, after comparing the prices of the lenses I need for the 3 systems carefully, I kind of realize that it is most logical to just stay with my current Sony system, just because I already have it. I guess I will hold on to my A7, A7M2, A7R for as long as I can, and see if Canon, Fuji or Samsung will answer to the a7R2.

The above logic just works for me, but I think for more budget minded people the Nikon may still hold the value king title with the D750..

The D750 is really attractive for event photography on a tight budget, and it is very very cheap now in the many many areas of the world, especially in my area.The Nikon D750 or D810 based system is at least 30 percent cheaper than the A7M2 or the A7RM2 based system with a few primes and a couple of zooms. But if you are a kind of person always wanting to shoot with a Otus or similar IQ lens and always carefully manually focus it, then Sony would suddenly become a much more logical choice for you.

The FE 55 mm f1.8 is sharper than the Otus 55 mm f1.4 at 1/4 of the Otus weight.

I do not have problem paying the Otus price for a great lens but the weight is.

The Sony FE 90 mm f2.8 G (assuming you get a decent copy) beats the both Otus and Batis in resolution and a few more areas.

I know the greater resolution alone does not make it a better lens than the Otus since Otus beats in the areas of CA, distortion and coma at wide open,etc.

But to me the better resolution of the Sony at 1/3 or the weight of Otus is very attractive.

The Batis 85 mm f1.8 is a great lens, honestly it is a bit different kind of lens than the Otus is with a bit more CA, a bit more distortion,etc, but it has the unique Zeiss look as with the other great Zeiss primes, and it is definitely sharp enough for its obvious intended use.

For landscape type of corner to corner sharpness, it may not be able to match the best primes in that focal range such as the FE90 mm f2.8 G , the Otus 85 mm f1.4 and the Leica 90 mm f3.5 APO, but still it handily beats all zooms and most of primes ever made in that specific focal range.

Many people compare the Batis 85 mm to the Nikon AF-S85 mm f1.8 G just because they both share f1.8 f numbers, but are they really comparable in quality?

Actually, in terms of sheer resolution and optical quality the cheap plastic Nikon may be comparable to the Batis. But it is weaker in a few key areas compared to the Batis.

The Nikon has much worse Lo-CA, much worse weaker flare resistance, a bit more distorted.

But the Nikon is smaller, lighter comes with 62 mm filter thread rather than the big 67 mm one on the Batis, it has a bit lower distortion and seems to have a bit lower amount of light fall off.

So it is actually closer match than we once thought it would be, and I see many many people mostly shooting all AF prefer the Nikon over the Zeiss in this case.

But unfortunately for me, the Batis is a better looking lens for my type of shooting since I am a manual focus kind of person, seldom use AF and having good MF ring is very important to me. So as my old man always said when I was a kid, it is always horses for courses, there is no one absolutely better camera system for all of us.

 

Finally as a side note, many many people guessing a lot of the technology inside the Leica SL seems to be from Panasonic.

I think Leica/Panasonic are testing the waters, with their first FF CSC with modern design more sophisticated UI than that of the Sony A7X.

I wouldn't be surprised, if less than a year from now, Panasonic makes a shot directly at Sony A7 series with a cheaper and more practical version of the Leica SL.

If Canon and Nikon don't come up with competitors in the meantime, Sony-Panasonic will be pushing this market very hard very far so that the old leaders will find themselves 7 laps behind all of a sudden. It may be easy for Canon to come up with something similar since they have all the tech needed to make something similar to the Leica SL, but is Nikon still safe, some how able to manage it to survive?

I know many Japanese Mega camera dealers that think in a matter of a several years Nikon won't be around in this market.

If they are correct, I wonder if the new Tokyo Nikon camera museum was actually built by Nikon as their own camera indoor cemetery?

 

UPDATE: At the CP + show in Yokohama, I asked a few A mount related questions to a couple of Sony guys, and I got interesting answers to my questions.

Basically, Sony said the A7RMK2 is the ' the E mount' flagship, but not the real flagship for the Alpha system. The 2 different lines of Alpha systems will be merged but not the E takes over the A kind of merging. Sony says it will be very interesting to many and technologically shocking to the public. But it is really difficult to do that right, and Sony needs to improve or waiting for a few key techs for that. This is why Sony has had to cancel out the planned announcement of the A99VMK2 or whatever called(Sony guys said at least 2 times they canceled it).

A few new techs not available at the time of the planned announcement became available right after that and Sony thought that would surely improve it further. Sony thinks we should wait to see it before making any firm decision on buying into any existing camera system because it will be Sony's first true pro-grade, grand-breaking true game changer. I hope it will be true, but how long will we have to wait? Why not just release a temporal stop gap solution camera with current best technology available? This company is really odd.

 

Update 2 : now, we have detected 5 new Nikon FF mirrorless patents here in Japan and 2 of which use Nikon's legendary but very venerable F mount, it is interesting.

But the rest 3 are all use new different mount designs with about 18 mm - 24 mm flange back distance.

The mount diameter is a bit wider than the F and the E but not as wide as the EF.

 

I tried the SL last week at a local event, I actually love it wish I could buy it there. Now I will have to wait a long year to get it or I may just get the Leica Q?

  

UPDATE 3: The biggest problem with buying too many FE A7 glass is that we can never re-use it if or when we ditch our Sony FE mount bodies. Buying Nikon or Canon lenses are safer because, even if, we ditch their camera bodies, we will always able to re-use their lenses on our Sony or m43 or Fuji or Samsung.

Also, there are no third party native mount lenses for the FE system besides the overpriced Batis and Loxia line Zeiss.

It is a huge issue for some one actually needs a good set of really PRACTICAL f1.8 or f2 compact primes or f2.8 zooms at reasonable prices..With Canon and Nikon we have the luxury to choose some reasonably priced third party lenses such as the Tamron 35 mm f1.8 VC, the 45 mm f1.8 VC, the 24-70 mm f2.8 VC, the 15-35 mm f2.8 , the 90 mm f2.8 VC macro and the 70-200 mm f2.8 VC. But in the Sony FE mount there is no such a choice, just overpriced, overly pompous so-called Zeiss inanely named Batis that actually made by Tamron and selling for 3 times more than the usual Tamron prices.

 

Now, I think it is really wise to hold off all new Sony Zeiss lens purchase plans, at least until we are sure about Sony is actually winning the FF war over Canon and Nikon.

But hey, we've got be honest Sony is not winning anything over anyone, their market share has been the same 11 .2 percent since 2009.

That is clearly shown in the recent Flickr report of their users' preferred devices. Mirrorless cameras seem to account for just 3 percent and DSLR cameras seem to account for 33 percent of Flickr uploads in 2015 and 2016 Q1.

 

This was shocking to me. I wonder if Mirrorless ,especially the Sony A7 line is as successful in this business as many many forum fanatics say it is, then why is mirrorless so unpopular at Flickr?

Maybe the current form of tiny mirrorless cameras are really doomed? Maybe most of people actually do not care about the tiny form factor of the current poorly designed mirrorless systems from minor camera brands, but just sheer functionality?

 

I ,for one, much prefer a 6D or a D750 sized mirrorless with EF or F mount to anything Sony is now offering with the relatively poor Sony FE lens line, especially for a zoom lover.

 

I am sure I was one of the earliest mirrorless adapters with more than 23 mirrorless cameras(mostly Sony and Panasonic cameras), but now I really doubt any of the current form of mirrorless system actually replacing the EF and the F systems.

I honestly think Sony, Olympus , Panasonic Fuji,etc are actually barking up the wrong tree with the"mirrorless must be tiny" kind of silly design concept, and IMO, they will all fail in this business. A few days ago I was trying out the Fuji XT10 for casual walk and I was really strongly re-convinced that it would not be for me, it is just simply too awkward to hold and the ergonomics and UI are horrible.

The XT10 was not just much smaller than my D750 but much much smaller than my A7M2 and A7R2 ,which I have considered the best mirrorless body design in terms of ergonomics. Every time I think about the Fuji option and try it out for a short walk for a day, I end up hating it more.

 

Now,I actually suspect emerging trend of the Samsung Nikon rumor thing is something to do with Sony. Like our detectors used to say, we should think who will get that money coming from this move behind the thick curtain ? Asians are all about keeping their faces, so it is impossible Nikon or Samsung intentionally leaks it out to silly rumor sites like mirrorlessrumors. I think I respect Photorumors and Nikon rumors, but not the mirrorlessrumors or SAR.Their hit rate is very low and thus almost no credibility.

The guy made so many silly mistakes, in fact, he almost never got it right.

  

UPDATE4: Looks like Sony has actually done something right this year.

Sony was the only one of those 3 camera companies to break even this time, and was actually profitable for the year in Imaging, though it’s difficult to say how much of that is contributed by pro video gear. The Imaging Products group at Sony posted slightly lower sales (-1.7%) but a very healthy profit (up 30.4b yen and hitting about 10% of sales).

In terms of unit volume, digital cameras at Sony dropped from 8.5m units to 6.1m units year-to-year. That’s mostly compact camera sales that dried up. Sony won’t say exactly how that shift is working other than to say “improvement in the product mix of digital cameras.” In other words, they suggest that by getting rid of compact camera volume and focusing all its effort on high priced ILC units they are getting a better profit margin.

The other two camera companies still making some money out of their camera business are Fuji and Canon. We do not know Canon's result in detail yet.

I think it is fair to say Fujifilm has a hobby camera business as their Digital cameras are about 2.5% of the company’s overall revenue stream. That they give us any insight into how that business is working is actually a bit surprising. Sales for digital cameras were down 8.2% year-to-year, yet it is still quite profitable.Fujifilm Japan says the imaging business earned 9 percent more profit to them and it was the best of the last 9 years.

To me, the most surprising finding is that Casio's camera division is still profitable and they sell only compact cameras.

But how do they make any serious money out of that compact camera sells is a big mystery to me.

      

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Taken on May 17, 2012