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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A Banner Year for Big Cameras?

2007 is shaping up to be a banner year for top-end cameras. Not only is the new Canon EOS 1D Mark III now shipping, with its leading-edge high-ISO performance, but it looks like this year will finally see Sony filling out its fledgling line with two higher-end DSLRs—one paralleling the old Konica-Minolta 7D (right) and one situated above that, at flagship level (top)—which might or might not be full frame. Sony is releasing product pictures, but no specs yet.

Even more interesting rumors are swirling around Nikon. "According to the French magazine Réponses Photo (issue 183, June 2007)," went a recent post by one Charles Brugg on the DPReview Forums, "Nikon will soon bring out a new 'pro' camera. It will be available around the same time as the Rugby World Cup later this year." The poster goes on to report that "this new camera will use a 18.7MP sensor made by Sony, slightly smaller than full frame (1.1X) thus allowing further use of the classic F-mount."

This is all just scuttlebutt, so please don't ask me for more information. I just pass along what I hear. My contact at Nikon, for instance, is an illiterate guy named Gitchi who sweeps up under the counters where they solder the circuit boards. I'm sure he knows something, but then, I don't speak Japanese.

It looks like both Sonys and the Nikon might have image stabilization as well, although we will have to wait and see.


Featured Comment by David A. Goldfarb: "Big cameras?

"Indeed, with regular special sheet film offerings from Ilford and Kodak and the East European manufacturers, large format camera builders like Keith Canham, Richard Ritter, Chamonix, and Lotus seem to be selling all the larger-than-8x10" cameras they can make and there is a brisk trade in ULF and banquet cameras on the used market."

Mike Replies: Okay, here we go. 2006. All DSLRs: about 6 million units sold. All film rangefinders from Leica and Cosina (Voigtlaender and Zeiss) combined: about 20,000 units. All ULF cameras (larger than 8x10") sold by the above four companies: I'm going to guess not more than 400 units between the four of them, and I'll even let you throw in Wisner, Phillips, and Gandolfi and anybody else you can think of.

Just a wild guess. What do you think?

Oren Adds: "I guess I'm one of the two people in the universe who found the headline strange.

"When I tell family or friends that I'm heading out with a big camera, it means a big wooden camera that makes pictures on big pieces of sheet film. It would never have occurred to me to call one of those Sonys a 'big camera,' no matter how bloated it is relative to those little sensors."

David Answers: "I'm just poking fun at the 'big cameras' headline, Mike.

"Wisner's been reorganizing their operation, so I don't think he's sold many new cameras in the past year. In addition to those we've both mentioned, Ebony and Shen-Hao should be in there as well.

"400 ULF cameras? Maybe, but among ULF cameras that would be a banner year. I wonder how many are being sold in China, which seems to be the growing market."

Mike Adds: I wonder how many people in our audience have never seen a wooden ultra-large-format camera in person? (I'll never forget the sight of Fred Newman with his 20x24" Wisner...nor of David Alan Jay 'hiding' under its dark cloth when he wanted a break from the Photo East show crowds...).


Anonymous Anonymous said...

dang just sold all my nikon gear. wonder how the noise will be compared to the mark iii, if its true, cause tahts what im goin to. oh well, canon still has the better primes, 50 + 85 f/1.2 = oh yea baby! haha.

6:13 PM  
Blogger laurencemiltonpak said...

you sure Gitchi is illiterate?

last time i heard he studied english literature in the states..

7:53 PM  
Blogger Charlie Didrickson said...

Biggger = Better (I guess)

Must take bigger,better pics.

I myself want an Oly E510 (smaller)

I like samll pics

9:29 PM  
Blogger R.A. Sasayama said...

"My contact at Nikon, for instance, is an illiterate guy named Gitchi who sweeps up under the counters where they solder the circuit boards."


9:33 PM  
Blogger RONIN said...

I wouldn't be surprised to see some big announcements soon from Nikon since their 90th anniversary is in July.

10:04 PM  
Blogger Mike Johnston said...


No, not really.


11:27 PM  
Blogger Stephen said...

The most interesting thing about the photo of the big Sony Alpha is that it has a Zeiss T* lens on it.

12:34 AM  
Blogger nlx said...

don't forget the Pentax 645 (that may appear soon or vansihed)

3:38 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Yet another crop factor. Way to go, guys. How about developing dedicated lenses to go along with all the cameras that already are on the market?

Maybe others don't agree with this, but even in the digital age (actually, whenever I see a photo taken with a high-end lens) I'd tend to say: It's the glass, stupid.

They say the 24-70 2.8 L USM from Canon is outstanding glass. But then .. on a 1.6 factor camera it's a 38-112 thus lacking the wide end, on a 1.3 a 31-91 which is .. so "la-la", and on a full-frame it's said to have vignetting issues? Please.

3:40 AM  
Blogger Gingerbaker said...

"My contact at Nikon, for instance, is an illiterate guy named Gitchi who sweeps up under the counters where they solder the circuit boards."


My contact is only Gitchi's brother's sister-in-law's gardener's ex-boyfriend - who has never been wrong, I might add.

6:53 AM  
Blogger Mike Johnston said...

"My contact is only Gitchi's brother's sister-in-law's gardener's ex-boyfriend - who has never been wrong, I might add."

Well...they're an impressive family. Even though of modest accomplishments.

You've taken for your handle the name of one of my favorite drummers...rock AND jazz. Which reminds me I need to go see if the DJQ+X has been up to anything you know?


6:59 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...


Actually Sony/Zeiss released the so-called "ZA" autofocus, Sony (nee Minolta)-mount primes a while ago. It looks like it's the (frequently sold out) ZA 85/1.4 Planar. At PMA Sony was more or less quoted as saying that "more are on the way".

The lastest lens released in this family is a 16-80/3.5-4.5 DT "kit" lens. It is said to be optically stunning, if you can find a good copy, and are willing to put up with the so-so (for Zeiss) mechanical build.

7:25 AM  
Blogger nextSibling said...

Pentax have been displaying their 645D 'medium format' digital camera under glass and in press releases for what..? A year and a half, now? If it's anywhere vaguely near affordable and lives up to half the hype, I might even be tempted. But I'm deeply skeptical.

How about a telephoto lens from Pentax of any kind, longer than 150mm? It seems they can't even get lenses for their current cameras to market anywhere near on time, never mind a whole new format.

Talking of big things, whatever happened to the Sigma big-sensor-little-camera DP-1?

Is photo-industry marketing nowadays coming from some alternative reality, where the glossiness of the fantasy press-releases trumps actually delivering any products?

10:19 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Speaking of big cameras always brings Doug Busch to mind.

Perhaps, coming from fly over country, he's had a low profile. His darkroom was something to see and his film was delivered on palates. ;-)

12:33 PM  
Blogger Robin P said...

Sony is a four letter word

12:52 PM  
Blogger Eolake Stobblehouse said...

Gitchi swore he was not talking to anybody but me! I'll wring his likkle Eastern neck. After he brings me more incomprehensible dirt on the Nikon D3.

7:50 PM  
Blogger Eolake Stobblehouse said...

I've been a photo enthusiast for decades, and I haven't even seen *any* wooden large format camera in real life. That I recall anyway. I've barely seen any large format cameras at all, and never worked with one.

7:57 PM  
Blogger leftthread said...

Needs a disc reducing back:

11:06 PM  

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