Mirrorless rumors from others: NEX roadmap and NX lens release (+ Sigma surprise?)


I once heard from a trusted source that Olympus also tested Sigmas Foveon sensor on one of their Micro Four Thirds prototypes. I haven’t heard anything since then. But I remind you that Sigma is member of the Four Thirds coalition. So let’s be careful about the following Sigma rumors although I don’t believe they will make a Micro Four Thirds camera ;)
Mr. Rytterfalk writes: “in a few month we will (I still hope for Feb) see the new Sigma SD1 which is really the result of years and years of dedicated hard work – The new generation of sensors that will come out from the Foveon labs and starting with the SD1, are for sure the most interesting things sensors since the original SD9 and for the first time I really feel that this will change how people look at Sigma and three layered photography in general.
I would love if Sigma would join the Micro Four Thirds system with an interchangeable SD camera. But that is probably a dream only. Anyway, if Olympus really tested foveon sensor why not let us hope that Sigma will do sensors for a future MFT camera?

And Let’s take a quick look into the mirrorless competition. Andrea from SonyAlphaRumors posted the possible Sony NEX roadmap. With the announcement of the new NX lenses Samsung created high expectations. But according to latest info posted on X-rumors those lenses will be available much later than expected.

  • Samsung NX lens roadmap is very interesting indeed. Unfortunately, NX cameras are almost impossible to buy (unfindable in stores, and hard to find online too). And really impossible if you don’t want the kit zoom (which I don’t like). The new lenses are coming later than hoped, but that’s still better than PanOlympus since they don’t plan to release anything (photographically) so interesting at all (shame to Panasonic and Olympus!)

    Sony’s NEX roadmap is weird, like everything in NEX line. For example, they still miss the very important normal prime. How can you have a system without a 40 or 50mm equivalent prime? They are just very stupid. But they do have an interesting wide, a very interesting fisheye addon, and they will have a nice portrait (slightly too short in fl, but better than nothing). I wish PanOlympus had this 3 things…

    Finally, I don’t believe Sigma will do any m43 camera or lens. Cameras, they already have troubles with their own which has a much more common flange. Lenses, they release the same lens for all the different vendors, thus if they’ll do for m43, it will be as huge as for fullframe, which would be silly, and thus won’t happen.
    Maybe a foveon sensor in an Olympus body? That could be, but it feels like daydreaming, at this point…

    • Michael

      When most consumer-level DSLRs will be dropped out in favor of mirror-less system cameras then it is highly possible that Sigma join mirror-less market instantly. The same “old” DSLR Sigma lenses (for 135 format, long flange design) but with new mount don’t make sense (as Davide wrote). But all-new designed Sigma lenses do. Decent quality fast (F1.4, but smaller than DSLR versions) primes with affordable price are what mirror-less market needs.

    • Voldenuit

      It depends where you are. Here in Asia, the NX is everywhere (as is Panasonic, Olympus and Sony).

      In Europe, Panasonic has a better distribution arm than in the US. Olympus still has an edge, not sure about Samsung (they weren’t big on cameras the last time I was in Europe).

      In the US, Panasonic and Samsung cameras are a pretty rare sight on store shelves.

      Samsung is doing a great job on lenses, the 30/2 is a great lens, and there are a lot of interesting lenses on the horizon. Whereas m43 hit a rough patch in the middle after a strong start and there are still too many versions of the same damn slow kit zoom in its lineup. However, issues with the NX sensor kept me from adopting (mainly bloom artifacts), would be curious to know if they’ve fixed them in the NX100 and NX11.

  • twoomy

    Honestly, the NEX and NX lens roadmaps don’t really excite me at all. And I was admittedly very excited about going NEX last year, but a few consumer-grade superzooms couldn’t sell me.

    Why I chose M4/3: the Pany 7-14mm wide and the Oly 9-18mm compact wide. No other mirrorless system seems to care about people who want to shoot wide. And the 45mm (90mm) macro. And a fisheye. And if that 12-50mm comes true, I will be in heaven. I suppose all we need are a few more portrait primes and the M4/3 will be extremely solid. Definitely more compelling than what Sony or Samsung will be offering for the next 2-3 years. When I saw Sony’s two-year roadmap didn’t have anything wider than their not-so-good 16mm, I gave up on them.

  • The only thing that worths a second thought is the nikon rumor

  • Eric

    You forgot the Pentax mirrorless rumors. There are currently not one, but two rumors circulating. One of which is a digital version of their old Auto 110. Coincidentally 110 size film was almost exactly the same size as a 4/3’s sensor. Should be interesting to see what they come up with. I’m hoping for not only a Digital Auto 110, but also an APS-C or full frame mirror less camera along the lines of their beloved Pentax LX.

    Either way, I’m far more interested in what Pentax has in store than I am any of the above companies. Pentax is very capable of producing a weather sealed mirrorless camera to compete against Olympus’ upcoming high end PEN.

    • Chris

      The digital Auto 110 would be awesome.

      • pdc

        Why? – the 13×17 mm sensor real estate is no better than FourThirds at 13×17.3mm.
        see http://forums.steves-digicams.com/general-discussion/175120-does-size-matter-aps-c-vs-micro-four-thirds-sensor.html, and similar conversations.
        What Nikon does with EVIL will be telling and could be a breakthrough.
        I am reminded of Daren’s comment from 2 years ago:
        “..the dynamic range and tendency to produce vivid colour fringing in areas of high contrast just cannot be tamed with small sensor cameras”.
        Daren ­is absolutely right with this observation. How can 225 sq.mm for 43 go up against;
        864 for 35mm FF,
        1452 for on Pentax 645D,
        1773 on PhaseOne P65,
        1977 for Kodak KAF39000 MF sensor, etc.
        As in film, the size of your real estate counts. BUT … who wants to pack the heavy gear?
        Recently I have been shooting colourful sunrises and the moon phases with a mFT and Nikon 300/2.8 lens, and TC301, as well as the new Panasonic 100-300mm. The images are great for the sensor but in these situations I lust for at least a Nikon D3.
        I was shooting both G1 and GH2, and can tell you that there is really no gain in sensor and processor performance at the lower ISOs.
        I’ll stick to mFT for portability, but for image quality I’m holding out for larger sensor EVIL systems!

        • Chris

          It’d be portable, stylish, and it would sell well. Since the dimensions match the m43 format, most likely it would be part of the m43 consortium, meaning Pentax would bring their amazing lenses to the m43 arena. It’d overall be good for the portable mirrorless market.

          I’d probably save my pennies for one if it were released. For absolute image quality, I’ll use my Pentax 67.

    • Miroslav

      Exactly my thoughts. And remember those Pentax m4/3 lenses patents? There’s smoke :).

      The 4/3 sensor matches Auto 110 lenses, but those lenses didn’t have aperture…

      Other rumor said they’ll announce their mirrorless system in February, so the wait won’t be long. I doubt they will have two parallel mirrorless systems though.

  • Stav

    My dream is a GH2 type camera, best stills and video combination with small form factor, with a Foveon sensor.

  • M43 dosnt have creamy FOV like Leica’s and FF, i want mirrorless FF please, make it the same size as M9 and same sized lens

    Nikon has a “curved sensor” in its patent’s that sounds like the right way to go…

  • Anyone can explain me what is so expensive on FF sensor which everyone wants and no one offers at reasonable price?

    • IIRC FF sensor itself is expensive. They have appeared relatively recently. (wasn’t the Canon 1D first FF dSLR?)

      As the 43 and APS-C sensor have sufficiently caught up in the performance, FF sensor became a niche product and thus maintain its higher price. Economy of scale.

      Sony mentioned that the NEX is “compatible” with FF sensor. And they are major sensor manufacturer. With sufficient push, Sony could be able of bringing a cheap FF sensor to market.

      • Voldenuit

        1D is APS-H (1.3x crop).

        The problem with FF sensors is, as you say, the expense. Unlike computer chips, sensors don’t get cheaper with process advances, because even if you shrink the transistor, the sensor doesn’t get any smaller, and large chips are expensive*. You get less usable space per wafer, more defects per chip and hence lower yields. Couple that with the high standards pro users demand and the low volume of units shipped, and FF will almost certainly never be priced for the mainstream consumer (the economies of scale you mentioned).

        * Compare a FF sensor (864 mm^2) to a high end Xeon (263 mm^2 for Bloomfield) and it is over 3 times larger. Because of the issues mentioned above, you get far less than 3x less FF sensors compared to Xeon chips per wafer, and intel ships many times more Xeon chips than Canon or Sony sell FF sensors. intel sells Xeons for $300-1,000, but it can get away with the lowest end models by binning, something Canon and Sony can’t. As enthusiasts, we like to moan about FF prices, but there’s sadly not much that can be done about it, barring a significant advance in silicon manufacturing.

    • WT21

      As I understand it, the shorter distance from lens to FF sensor in the “mirrorless” design requires some advanced CMOS designs that Leica has done, but no one else has, otherwise the edges become very, very weak. This is just what I’ve read. I’m not an expert.

      • Yeah, as soon as FF sensor cameras get cheaper, which inevitably will happen, then all other sensors will become obsolete. I mean why would we pay about the same price for a camera that produces mediocre pictures compared to a camera with great quality. Technology has come a long way, I mean m4/3 rivals APS-C is many categories, yet it reaches it’s limit before the APS-C. The same can be said for FF. Since the D700, and 5D MKii I believe there are a lot of people thinking about upgrading… I know I am! The low light ability alone is enough to justify the extra $500. That’s the problem I have with m4/3, they are too expensive, and have lost their way. I wonder if they didn’t think their mirrorless design would be challenged by APS-C? :)

        • Esa Tuunanen

          You got diagnose all wrong, your problem is religious faith to some supposedly perfect Holy Mecca.
          Unfortunately real world just happens to be imperfect and everything is compromise between various aspects.

          Bigger sensors will always stay something like exponentially more expensive than smaller sensors. Just ask GPU makers.
          And in any case if FF becomes so cheap then you should be moving to medium format as bigger is better.
          Again bigger sensor requires always bigger optics meaning more size and weight and also some extra material/manufacturing costs. (those special glasses aren’t cheap and neither is making aspheric surfaces)
          Just compare Canon EF 28-300mm L and Leica D 14-150mm… and that’s not even real good comparison as Canon’s optical performance is lower.

          Also when Holy Grail of paper thin DOF isn’t needed and on the contrary you need big DOF where’s the point in say doubled light gathering ability of double size pixel if you have to keep lugging bigger heavier stuff around but are forced to keep stopping down lot more for getting enough DOF?
          Remember that absolute sensitivity of system equals to light gathering ability and depends on both area of pixel and used aperture/f-ratio of the lens.
          Difference in DOF between 4/3 and FF is about two stops which can be used to compensate smaller sensitivity of sensor component in situations requiring big DOF.
          So bigger sensor doesn’t automatically always bring such advantage to absolute sensitivity but only when you can use equal aperture.

          As for that claim of APS-C having limit so far farther…
          Canon’s 18MP sensor has already slightly smaller area per pixel when compared to 12MP 4/3 and size of pixel is also what defines difraction limit aperture for optics.
          So when 12MP is enough Olympus can fully challenge APS-C if they don’t go to marketing pixel madness (like marketroid driven Panasonic wasting sensor tech advance) and just get modern 12MP sensor instead of current near three years old.

    • Chris

      This page explains it, around the end of the document: http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/digital-camera-sensor-size.htm

  • calxn

    The industry learned with regular FT. There is no money to be made supplying sensors and lenses to a small niche market. They really should have gone APS-C just to increase the number of potential suppliers. In the end, mFT will be mainly good at producing high quality video cameras. Eventually, the high volume and cost savings will make APS-C the winner of the all-in-one systems.

    The fanboys may believe the battle has been won and m43 has taken the trophy already. I’m willing to bet the battle has NOT even begun yet. When it really begins, m43 won’t be in the fight. Within the next 2 years, we’ll see atleast 2-4 new players in mirrorless with APS-C. That makes 4-6 players in that camp, all using superior sensors to what Panasonic can ever muster up. We’ll also see lenses from Nikon, Canon, Zeiss, Sigma all going for the APS-C camp.

    • Robbie

      I am more than happy to take more photos with my m43 gears in these 2 years.

      • calxn

        I’m sure you will. I didn’t say m43 is trash. They’re perfectly fine cameras just as any P&S or DSLRs. I was simply responding to the admin’s hope for a Foveon sensor in m43. No one will make a sensor for low volume niche market. m43 will only have Panasonic.

    • Mike

      And as the laws of physics demand, the APS-C or FF lenses will still be larger and heavier. When will you Canikon folk understand that you can’t buck those laws? That’s the whole point to m43… the point you always miss or choose to ignore.

      Remember too that if Nikon and Canon join the ILC party, it was because Panasonic and Olympus drug them kicking and screaming there rather than them leading the way to innovation.

      • calxn

        Speaking like a fanboy. Apparently m43 is the only path to small and light camera. Or is it that the size of m43 cameras is the ultimate preference for users? Can you listen to yourself? You’ve made so many assumptions already, most will prove incorrect.

        All we have to do is look back at the history of regular 43. How did that turn out? Leica abandons it. Kodak abandons it. Fuji never participated. Sigma isn’t joining m43. Olympus has ONE sensor manufacturer. There are 8+ manufacturers of APS-C to chose from. From what I’ve heard from interviews with world famous photographers, they love the size and weight of FF Leicas. You don’t think that Canikon, Pentax, Leica, Fuji can’t build a new kind of mirrorless cameras smaller than Leica Ms? Ever compared sizes of NEX and Samsung with m43? No, you fanboys are deluded. I will admit Panasonic makes nice video cameras and I may end up buying back into m43 for the GH series’ ability to do video.

        Eventually, the both the law of physics and economics will push the APS-C over the top. Actually, the law of physics has already done that. Let’s not speak till we see what Canikon have coming. If history repeats, alot of m43 will be up on ebay just like the 43 refugees who ended back with Canikon. Physics and economics. Science over emotions.

        • Miroslav

          As said here many times: sensor technology improves with time. One stop difference in favor of APS-C in 2011 – usable ISO 3200 over m4/3’s usable ISO 1600 won’t matter in a few year’s time: usable ISO 12800 against usable ISO 6400. Same for DR. Both will be good enough. But m4/3 will always be smaller.

          It has a big head start as well: 20 lenses against NEX’s 3 and NX’s 4 ( lost count, they announce lenses 6 months before availability ). And that’s not counting 4/3 lenses that AF on m4/3 much faster than Alpha lenses on NEX. When Canon and Nikon enter, you can imagine how big that m4/3 head start will be – by the time they have a big enough lens lineup, that sensor performance difference will be marginal.

          Just as an example: when will Nikon have a 14-28mm equivalent wide angle zoom for its mirrorless system? In 2015? They won’t make it as some of its first lenses for sure.

          And there’s a lot to take pictures of by that time :).

        • Mike

          An intellectual using the word ‘fanboy’ twice (and not admitting that he is one of some other system). The APS-C is a larger sensor. The image circle that it requires is a concrete thing. You can’t break the laws of physics and create smaller and/or lighter lenses for it than you can for the m4/3 sensor. There is NO compromise if you want the same quality of lens for both sensors. Dream on calxn, because it isn’t ever going to happen. Please tell us how you will change the image circle required to shed light on all of the APS-C sensor and yet make smaller lenses than you can with m43rds.

          I’m never going to hail m43rds as the end all system. But the size and weight vs performance is good enough for me, the autofocus speeds are catching up really quick to the alternatives and the quality is getting better with every generation.

          What is your prized system of choice? At least admit your bias, don’t try to hide behind it.

          • napalm

            agree. if canon or nikon will ever join the race, they should have an even smaller sensor that can perform better than m4/3. maybe a smaller, multi-layered, highly sensitive, back-illuminated sensor perhaps? going with APS-C size wont solve the size factor which is primarily the selling point of mirrorless cameras.

            a few pancakes with a certain number of glass can be made to make some lenses small, but once you introduce good glass and zooms, it will be almost impossible

    • AfganPoppy

      You should see the japanese camera sales for the start.
      All the APS-C non interchangeable players are playing the same old game- you need different lenses for different makes.

      To me its really weird that cosina is not making enought 25/0.95 to fulfill the demand!
      I can take perfectly good pictures with f1.1 and iso 400 in pretty much any lighning conditions.

    • Esa Tuunanen

      While APS-C sensors are lot more numerous and used by more camera makers there are slightly differing size variants so just plain random swapping is hardly possible.
      And FT sensor manufacturing definitely isn’t any mom-and-pop business considering MFT’s market share in Asia so sensor price difference is probably fully moot point considering that you get some more FT sensors per silicon wafer.

      As for development resources Sony is surely the biggest sensor maker of companies in APS-C camera “alliance” but alone can’t match Panasonic economically and with all other businesses and product areas sensor making companies have (remember Sony’s console war with MS) it’s entirely unsure which company does most R&D for sensors at certain moment. And further you have to remember that sensor R&D resources aren’t combined between APS-C camera makers but sensor makers compete against each others.
      So situation is entirely different than your black and white marketing-BS.

      And surely there are more APS-C optics available but they’re divided between half dozen incompatible proprietary mounts so neither these can be swapped randomly.
      Really major unknown is what direction CaNikon takes with their eventual mirrorless bodies: Do they want to danger sales of their own mirror bodies or try to make new camera class with possibly different size sensor and do they retain full compatibity with current mounts for mirror body lenses, introduce minor backwards incompatibility (like AF-S and EF-S) or do they make new mount like Sony for NEX.
      Only pretty sure thing is that mounts will be closed/proprietary and incompatible between makers meaning need for physical and electronics level differences to third party makers who have to reverse engineer those mounts. With official FT/MFT mount specs available it’s really easier job for them to modify lenses for these if they see market potential.

      Plus reason why Panasonic doesn’t have Leica designed (Leica is as much designer as product manufacturer) lenses for MFT is because Panasonic wants to use software corrections for decreasing size, weight and cost of lenses which conflicts with optical quality connected to Leica’s name. One photography event interview of Panasonic in Dpreview explained that. If Panasonic again wants to make real high quality lenses with corrections done optically no doubt Leica would be interested if asked.

      Of course others will respond to MFT because they’re forced into it and in few years there will be fierce struggle for market control but with MFTs headstart result is anything else than written to stone like you claim. (let’s hope this time everyone gets even share because that’s better for innovation and consumers)
      Neither can CaNikon divert all their resources to mirrorless systems because that would surely make customers in their controlled cash cow market angry. So for them people like you spreading FUD to manipulate masses who have no clue about reality behind marketing and brand names are more valuable than gold!

      Reason why MFT’s sales aren’t as high everywhere as in Asia is that when it comes to technology Europe and North America like fossilized thinking as much as official China likes their Little Red Book as only truth.
      Just like your famous photographers have their Red Book of dogmas.
      Asking advice from them for these kind new things is like going to Lenin’s Mausoleum to look answer for best political system!

  • Luke

    calxn is right. 2 years from now nearly all mirrorless cameras will be APS-C and likely Nikon and Canon. We’ll be the weirdos with the overpriced Pannys and Olys.

    • Might be true, but some of us might not even see 2 years. If all you do is speculate and wait imagine some of the missed opportunities!

    • Georgi

      Do you think there will be any cameras after 2012 ;) :P

  • Per

    But you forget one important advantage with the m43 system. Size, APS-C zoom lenses will always be larger.

  • napalm

    and might I add, FT, with all it’s shortcomings, actually gave birth to all the things we have in mF/T. so yes it might be a dead platform soon, but as some experts agree, the future will be mirrorless. when that happens, arent the other platforms bound for death as well?

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