Of course, Sony, Canon and Nikon are not the only mirrorless players. Three more serious companies develop very capable cameras that they hope will appeal to consumers who require either a larger than full-frame sensor (Fujifilm GFX Series), or smaller and lighter bodies and lenses (Fujifilm X Series, Olympus MFT, Panasonic MFT). Fujifilm has opted to compete with their GFX system of medium-frame cameras with sensors that are larger than full-frame. Fujifilm also continues to design award-winning APS-C cameras that are lighter and more compact than their full-frame competitors. Panasonic has a foot each in full-frame professional video-centric cameras (Panasonic S-series) and Micro Four Thirds (MFT) cameras (Panasonic G and GH series). And, OM System (previously Olympus) continues solidly in the MFT camp with cameras and lenses that are way lighter and more compact that the full-frame equivalent products (Olympus OM Series, PEN). These six camera manufacturers are currently the main movers and shakers in the digital camera world.
You cannot go wrong buying a digital camera today. The mirrorless technology has advanced so much that you would be hard-pressed to find a “bad” mirrorless camera from any of the six camera manufacturers mentioned above. There are other players: Leica, Hasselblad, Ricoh, and Sigma — but they tend to appeal to niche markets, and their technology may lag a generation or two behind that of the six major camera manufacturers. As far as image sensor size is concerned, it does not seem to matter much whether you settle on full-frame (which is quickly becoming the de facto standard once again), opt for the larger medium-frame, or choose the smaller APS-C and MFT formats: Cameras using these sensors consistently return excellent image quality and provide very good performance. There are, of course, differences in image quality and performance, and, depending on the job requirements and each photographer’s own personal and professional preferences, it does make sense to spend some time reading up and choosing the camera (and image sensor size) that is best for you.
HOW DID OUR 2021 PREDICTIONS FARE?
Peering through a crystal ball clouded by the Covid-19 pandemic, we said that “we do not see a bright year… The world economy will therefore continue to feel the negative effect of all the closures, job losses and retail decline. This means even less cameras being sold, more factories closing, more camera companies deciding they cannot afford to lose money anymore in imaging. One or more camera companies may close in 2021, or may announce their impending closure end 2021, beginning 2022.”
Turn out, we were way too pessimistic. In fact, no camera company closed (or announced their impending closure), and we even saw the introduction of three flagship full-frame mirrorless cameras: the Sony A1, the Canon EOS R3 and the Nikon Z 9. Here are some of the major models (new and updates) announced in 2021:
|APR||EOS R3||A7R IVA
|JUN||Z fc||PEN E-P7|
|SEP||GFX 50S II
|OCT||Z 9||A7 IV|
Here we go again, trying to predict what 2022 will bring us.
OM System have successfully transitioned from the former Olympus Imaging and seem to be finding a secure footing. Understandably, there is a lot to do when transitioning an imaging division from Olympus Imaging to the new OM System, but they seemed to have successfully done this with the introductions of a couple of new lenses and one mirrorless camera, the PEN E-P7. They have teased a new flagship “WOW” camera for 2022, and we are all so very curious because that camera may tell us the direction OM System is going. We love the MFT format and the compact and light tele lenses it makes possible, and wish OM System the best in 2022. Survival in the years ahead may well depend on being able to make beautiful, retro-inspired compact and light MFT mirrorless cameras that are both performing and affordable.
Sony now have serious competition in the full-frame mirrorless segment but stay on top so far. They are suddenly not alone anymore at the top of the mirrorless segment: Canon and Nikon have both clearly indicated their desire and ability to compete head-on. Sony’s AF Tracking used to set their cameras apart from the competition, but no more. Both Canon and Nikon have shown they are able to match and even surpass Sony’s AF Tracking technology. We don’t expect Sony to let this challenge go unanswered. Sony have two big advantages: They make the world’s best image sensors and they are able to miniaturize their technology to fit into a compact mirrorless body. Meanwhile, whether by necessity or design choice, Canon and Nikon both use much larger DSLR-sized bodies. It is important to note that, increasingly, professional photographers are ditching large, heavy and cumbersome camera bodies and lenses. This means that, unless Canon and Nikon provide smaller and lighter versions of their flagship models, Sony may well remain the favourite of pros.
Canon have thrown their full weight into the mirrorless arena. In 2021, Canon did more than show off a prototype and tease their flagship model. They did not wait to introduce the full-frame EOS R3 mirrorless camera. And, they assure us that an even more performing flagship EOS R1 is in the works for 2022 that will compete head-on with the Sony A1 and the Nikon Z 9. But the EOS R3 (and R1) are big and heavy cameras, and it remains to be seen if most photographers will prefer them to Sony’s more compact and lighter models.
We hope that more compact versions of the EOS R3 (EOS R4?) and EOS R1 (EOS R2?) will also be introduced in 2022 to compete with the compact Sony A1.
Nikon surprised everyone by doing two things right. First, they tried their hand once again at a retro version of their film SLR camera, and this time they struck gold: Inspired by the Nikon FM2 film SLR, they introduced the b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l Nikon Z fc with dedicated analog-style controls like on the FM2 (while still retaining the Mode Dial functionality).
Next, like Canon, Nikon also did more than show off a prototype and tease their flagship camera: They actually introduced their flagship full-frame mirrorless Z 9. Housed in a very un-mirrorless-like large and heavy body, the Z 9 crammed all the technology Nikon could muster to make the Z 9 probably the best full-frame mirrorless camera available today. With the Canon EOS R1 also being housed in a large and heavy body, will those two flagship cameras be able to compete with Sony’s compact A1?
Here’s hoping that Nikon will also introduce a compact version of the Z 9 (the Z 8?) in 2022 to compete with the compact Sony A1.
Fujifilm continue to design award-winning mirrorless cameras, but may be ignoring the most important market. They continue to improve their medium-frame mirrorless cameras, but the GFX Series remains a niche market. They also continue to develop their very popular and award-winniing X-T Series with dedicated analog-style controls. Then, they surprised (confused) everyone by introducing a new X-S line with Mode Dial (and no dedicated controls)–which proved quite popular (since most digital photographers grew up with the Mode Dial). With the success of the X-S line, they risk losing what made them so unique (dedicated controls). Throughout 2021, Fujifilm also continued to hint at a X-H2 without giving out concrete details. And, they have adamantly refused to consider entering the full-frame mirrorless market even though this is where the industry seems to be heading. We still believe that it does not make sense for Fujifilm to have three different APS-C lines (X-T, X-S and X-H) and that they should seriously consider porting the X-H line to a full-frame model.
Panasonic made some good decisions but the future remains uncertain. While Olympus and Fujifilm hesitate to introduce full-frame models, Panasonic never hesitated and was rewarded with enthusiastic response from professional photographers for its S series full-frame L-mount video-centric mirrorless cameras. However, Canon and Nikon are also upgrading the professional video capabilities of their cameras. With Canon, Nikon and Sony all beefing up the video capabilities in their flagship full-frame mirrorless cameras, can Panasonic stay competitive by simply relying on the pro video capabilities of their S Series cameras? Also, though they updated the GH5 II (and announced the GH6 for 2022), there was not any further exciting development in the MFT area. Like the OM System, they may also be coming at a crossroad for their MFT System, and will have to carefully decide the path going forward. We believe there is a strong market for compact, light and beautifully retro-designed MFT mirrorless cameras that are both performing and affordable.
Buying A Camera in 2022
Today’s mirrorless cameras take superb pictures, and all the camera companies we mentioned above make great mirrorless cameras. Whichever brand you buy, you will end up with a great mirrorless camera that should last you a lifetime with appropriate care.
The way to avoid this virus is childishly simple: Wear a good mask, wear it properly, keep your distance, and wash your hands before touching your face, eyes, nose and mouth. In other words, do not become a host for the virus.
Remember that though being vaccinated prevents you from getting very sick (though the efficacy of current vaccines seems to be waning with the new variants), it does not prevent you from catching the virus and passing it on to others. Use common sense: When the virus is not present in a gathering, it does not matter whether you are masked or not, and whether you wear your mask properly or not; however, when the virus is present, then whether you wear a mask properly and keep your distance matters a lot, especially with the much more contagious Omicron variant. The best thing is to always wear a good mask the correct way, and to keep your distance. This way, you (and your loved ones) build good habits and you are protected and don’t have to worry whether the virus is present or not.
As we close 2021 and step into 2022, we thank you, our readers, for your continued support. Every visit and every purchase you make through the links on our site help us continue to publish.
We also thank the camera companies, their PR firms, and our affiliate partners.
We hope you can all spend time with family and loved ones, and take a few days off to rest and recharge.
Remember: No matter which camera you purchase and use, Enjoy your photography!
Wishing y’all a Happy and Safe New Year 2022!
En vous souhaitant une bonne et heureuse année 2022 !
– Photoxels Editors