There are quite a few camera companies out there right now. It’s pretty interesting how many are still left, but basically they’re all doing the same type of thing. A few are standouts though because they have managed to bring some interesting innovations to the table.
Sure Canon is the stalwart that everybody knows, they’re also one of the most capable when it comes to building all this gear. Naturally that makes them an interesting option. For one, I really like their RF 28-70mm f/2. What a great lens, and this is just the beginning of the RF mount, there will be some amazing things coming from Canon in the near future like the EOS R3 (confirmed) and eventually the EOS R1 (rumored). I for one am very curious to see what Canon comes up with for the EOS R1. As good as the R5 is, and as good as the R3 is rumored to be, the R1 seems like it has an almost impossible performance level it would need to achieve. Because of that I think you can expect the R1 to be way down the road, I think it would be shocking to see it in 2022. Canon has gone on a tear with the RF mount cameras and lenses, so much so that they’re in danger of outcompeting themselves with every new release. As greedy consumers we always demand the best *right now* but the reality is Canon has to follow a strategy if they want to succeed as a company. I think we should all be thankful for what Canon has brought to market so far, even the EOS R is a hugely underrated and capable camera. The R5 simply delivers amazing image quality. Finally, I shouldn’t forget to mention the big new EOS R3 feature coming out, eye controlled AF. This is a Canon innovation it’s just not a new Canon innovation. Eye controlled AF on the R3 will focus wherever your eye looks when you use the EVF. But, back in the 1990’s Canon released a FILM camera with a similar feature, the EOS 3. So it’s only fitting then that the return of the 3 series in the form of the R3 also marks the return of eye controlled AF.
I really like how Fuji has tried to stand out from the crowd with their camera lineups. On one hand they’ve gone for the consumer category with nice looking designs that young people and old can appreciate as reminiscent of the days of film. And with that in mind Fuji has developed some interesting film simulations for many of their cameras. I like the idea but I think they should go further with the film simulations. Film has a weird way of feeling real while being flawed. Its almost like some kind of magic trick, and it would be interesting if they figured out how to create that on a digital sensor.
Fuji also has the amazing GFX series of medium format cameras. They’re one of the few companies that actually seems like they care about photographers still. With the GFX they’ve created super high quality lenses, superb sensors, and they’ve even started bringing the price down with recent releases like the GFX 50s II. At a flat $4,000 and now sporting IBIS it’s a near perfect landscape camera for a serious outdoor photographer.
Normally known as a lens company, a very expensive lens company, Zeiss has recently waded into the consumer camera fray with their Zeiss ZX1. An interesting camera that runs Android and includes a full version of Adobe Lightroom, the camera has received surprisingly good reviews considering its eyewatering price of $6,000. The price is obviously very high for a fixed lens camera that kind of looks like a point and shoot. But the concept is interesting because it is making use of the Android computer platform which gives it some unique powers, like having the full mobile version of Adobe Lightroom installed. The concept is you can take a picture, edit it, and share it on social media all from one device. I’m not going to go so far as to say I want this on my R5, but I will say this much, I wish it was easier to get the pictures from my R5 onto my phone or computer. The Zeiss ZX1 makes it really “easy” because it is the camera and the computer all in one.
Leica is still interesting just because they decided to make a true B&W camera sensor. While there isn’t a huge difference between the images from a Leica Monochrome camera as compared to a typical color bayer sensor that is simply converted to black and white, there are visible advantages when it comes to how the sensor renders, especially as it pertains to focus transitions. If you look at how focus transitions are handled on a Leica Q2, it’s basically as close to film as is currently available in the world of digital cameras. Focus transitions are one of the things that still separates film from digital. I feel that if the focus transitions aren’t *perfect* then frankly it’s not a true representation of what the optics created, film still gets closer, especially B&W film. Optical falloff is quite simply that important to the look of high end images, and I applaud Leica for their commitment to this not entirely well understood aspect of a photograph. It’s because of things like this that Leica maintains its cult status in the world.
As much as Sony kind of annoys me I had to pop them on this list. Why do they annoy me? I see them as a bit of a copycat company. I also feel like their still photography cameras are kind of dumb, no offense to anyone who bought one they’re just not for me. People always say Sony has great video, well, why not buy a video camera in that case?? I mean, if you buy a STILL photo camera and brag about it’s VIDEO… to me that does not make sense… It’s like bragging about a sailboat with a motor on it. I mean, most people are gonna want to use the sail but I digress… Let’s not try to inject logic into a conversation that is usually anything but logical. But anyway, no matter my opinion on Sony (and their fanboys), nobody can deny that Sony managed to rock the boat a little. Their eye detect AF was an innovation that caught peoples imaginations and put a little excitement into the digital camera industry. Of course, all the major players are adding eye detection now, but it has to be said that Sony was first. They also rocked the boat a little when they were first to market with BSI sensors with faster readout and better dynamic range. Now almost all the top sensors are made by Sony corporation. There are even rumors that Sony makes Canon sensors… a terrifying reality for Canon shooters. Personally I would like to see Canon continue with their sensor business but I can see why it would be tempting to just dump it and let Sony spend the money on the fabs and such.
Each company brings something unique to the table. Canon is and has been the standard to which all others are judged. Fuji has their super high end medium format image quality. Zeiss has their computer/camera symbiosis. Leica has the purity of their optical rendering. And Sony brings BSI sensors and high dynamic range. Each one of these companies has contributed something important to the industry, whether it is new technology or simply demonstrating a commitment to creating an image and recording it as perfectly as possible.