So, we are back into a (five-way) competition with Canon, Nikon, Sony, Panasonic, and Fujifilm challenging and trying to outmaneuver one another as they contend to become the preferred mirrorless system of choice of professional and amateur photographers. While Canon, Nikon, Sony and Panasonic tout their respective full-frame mirrorless cameras, Fujifilm proposes a larger than full-frame sensor in their GFX Series. There are of course also Leica and OM System, but they appeal more to their respective niche market segments. Leica competes with both original and classic designs in the full-frame category, but the astronomical prices of their gears mean only a few can afford them. OM System uses the smaller MFT sensor, which means that their cameras and lenses can be more compact and lighter than the competing full-frame equivalent products, thus appealing to a segment of the population that does prize more compact and lighter gear.
Buying a digital camera today increasingly means buying a mirrorless (as opposed to DSLR) camera since both Canon and Nikon are (unofficially) exiting the DSLR market. Mirrorless technology has surpassed DSLR technology, so just be aware of what you are purchasing. You can find great bargains for DSLRs and if that’s what you want, go for it. But if you want a mirrorless camera, make sure you are not getting a DSLR instead.
It’s hard to buy a “bad” mirrorless camera today from any of the camera manufacturers mentioned above. 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 that is best for you.
HOW DID OUR 2022 PREDICTIONS FARE?
We did not so much make an overall prediction than shared our hopes for the future for each of the major players. Before we take a look at whether each camera manufacturer met our hopes, let’s look at some of the major models announced during 2022:
|JAN||EOS R5 C|
|NOV||EOS R6 II||X-T5|
Here’s what we predict 2023 will bring us, and what we hope the major players are working on.
Last year, we were underwhelmed by OM System. We were expecting a couple of new models and even a flagship “WOW” camera, but instead got one update and one rebranding.
The flagship “WOW” turned out to be a tribute (and a farewell) to the Olympus name: The OM System/Olympus OM-1 mirrorless camera (not to be confused with the original Olympus OM-1 35mm film SLR) is the last camera that will bear the “Olympus” name; from now on, future models will bear the OM System name. The OM System OM-1 did not quite turn out to be the revolutionary camera that was hyped, but it is nevertheless a solid and welcomed update of the OM-D E-M1 III.
The OM System OM-5 is less of an update and more of simply a rebranding of the 2019 Olympus OM-D E-M5 III. Next, I guess we could see an OM-10 “update/rebranding” of the 2020 Olympus OM-D E-M10 IV. Not sure that there will be an OM-1X update/rebranding of the 2019 Olympus OM-D E-M1X.
We also can’t help wondering about the PEN series. After releasing the PEN E-P7 in June 2021, the latter simply disappeared, and there’s only the 2019 Olympus PEN E-PL10 offered on its web site. We have a nagging feeling that the PEN Series may be done for. (Update 2023-03-09 The Olympus PEN E-PL10 is listed as discontinued.)
Are incremental updates all we should expect from OM System from now on — or can we still expect innovations in the Four Thirds (FT) sensor and Micro Four Thirds (MFT) cameras? Even though you can get high quality images from its FT sensor, the latter is still the smallest when compared to APS-C and full-frame sensors.
The biggest advantage of the OM System is more compact, lighter and less expensive lenses, especially super telephoto lenses. The disadvantage of the smaller FT sensor is unfortunately noisier low-light images and less bokeh for portrait photography.
Don’t get us wrong: We continue to love the MFT format and the compact and light tele lenses it makes possible. We also love the industry-leading IBIS (In-Body Image Stabilization) that allows their cameras to be used hand-held; the computational algorithms that make it easy to take great pictures in otherwise challenging situations; and the industry-standard weather-proofing that allows photographers to use these cameras worry-free come rain or shine. In other words, these remain great cameras.
What we hope OM System will do is come up with original designs (for which the Olympus brand was famous for) for new MFT mirrorless cameras, e.g., targeting specific vertical market segments such as vloggers, street photographers, all-in-one super zoom for soccer moms, and underwater & tough cameras. There is an untapped market for beautiful retro-designed mirrorless cameras that are compact, light and affordable — and the best in each of their vertical segment.
Who still remember the time when some photographers bemoaned the lack of quality lenses for the Sony mirrorless cameras, and so refused to seriously consider Sony mirrorless cameras? That was in the past: Sony slowly but steadily built up their lens line-up through the years and, today, photographers are inundated with lots of quality lenses not only from Sony itself, but it seems that every third-party lens manufacturer makes it a point to manufacture lenses for the Sony E-mount. The result is that a photographer — amateur and professional alike — who chooses to standardize in the Sony system will not have to worry about the availability of a lens in the range and quality desired: high-quality zoom, compact primes, long telephotos, wide-angles, macros, etc.
Though Sony now has serious competition in the full-frame mirrorless segment from Canon and Nikon, it remains a formidable player and the top dog in the mirrorless segment. Not only does Sony design and manufacture its own image sensors (and sell them to its competitors), but it is able to miniaturize its technology to fit into a compact mirrorless body. So far, Canon and Nikon can only offer competing technology in a large, heavy and cumbersome DSLR-style camera bodies. We continue to believe that, unless Canon and Nikon provide smaller and lighter versions of their flagship models, Sony will continue to remain the favourite mirrorless cameras of pros and amateurs alike in 2023.
Canon is reprising its successful strategy in DSLRs: flood the market with a model for every category and budget level. Canon introduced a number of APS-C mirrorless cameras in 2022 to replace their APS-C DSLRs models: the EOS R7 and EOS R10. They also continue to push the boundaries of their full-frame mirrorless models, and announced the EOS R6 Mark II and EOS R5 C.
In 2023, Canon will continue to improve their full-frame models. However, Canon is late with its flagship EOS R1 full-frame mirrorless camera. We all want to believe that it is not due to technological challenges, but just a case of testing, iterating and improving to ensure everything works to the highest standard professional photographers demand. Expectations are high, and Canon cannot afford to miss the mark.
Our hope remains that Canon will also introduce more compact versions of the EOS R3 (EOS R4?) and EOS R1 (EOS R2?) to compete with Sony’s compact full-frame models.
In 2022, Nikon introduced only one camera, the APS-C Z 30, for vloggers. It should be refreshing some of its earlier mirrorless models (2020 Z 6 II and Z 7 II), and introduce more APS-C models.
The 2021 Z 9 remains the big story for Nikon thanks to its ability to match Sony’s Tracking AF, its exceptional electronic viewfinder, and the FTZ lens adapter which allows photographers to use many of their favorite existing DSLR lenses with no loss in performance. In 2023, we expect there will be a firmware fix for the notorious LED banding issue and perhaps also an option to save images in a new smaller file size.
Though the Z 9 has garnered awards and kudos from professional and enthusiast photographers, it nevertheless remains a humongous and heavy camera more in tune with the now-defunct DSLR-era than the new mirrorless era. Our hope remains that Nikon will see the light and introduce a compact version of the Z 9 (the Z 8?) in 2023 to compete with Sony’s compact full-frame models. An easy solution is to simply remove the Z 9 vertical grip:
(Update 2023-03-13: Nikon is rumoured to be working on a Z 8 which will use the same sensor as the Z 9, but in the body the size of the D850.)
We also hope that Nikon will set up a new design, development and technology team to brainstorm the future of Nikon mirrorless cameras to come up with innovative design and technology for their (compact) pro and enthusiast mirrorless camera offerings. They need to be able to miniaturize their technology to fit into a more compact form factor. Executed well, it may turn out to be Nikon’s finest moment yet in the mirrorless era.
Fujifilm introduced the X-H2S and X-H2, both APS-C mirrorless cameras with much improved video and stills capabilities. Fujifilm is positioning these cameras as competition in the enthusiast (or even pro) category to the full-frame models from other companies, especially the Sony A7 IV.
It also introduced the X-T5 which continues with dedicated analog-style controls (shutter speed dial, aperture ring, ISO dial, exposure compensation dial), and reverting back to a more photo-centric design with the much-beloved-to-photographers three-way tilting rear screen.
Does it make sense for Fujifilm to have four different APS-C lines (X-Pro, X-T, X-S and X-H) or should they seriously consider a full-frame model? They will probably choose to stay the APS-C route and concentrate on what make them unique from the competition: dedicated analog-style controls of the X-Pro and X-T series, the X-S series (equivalent to the X-T but with DSLR-style controls), and the X-H series with best-of-class video and stills capabilities. Updates to the 2019 X-Pro3 and 2020 X-S10 are due. We could also expect updates to the 2021 X-T30 II and 2020 X-T200.
Our hopes for Fujifilm is that they concentrate in improving their Tracking AF to catch up with their rivals.
Panasonic introduced only 1 model: the GH6 Micro Four Thirds (MFT) mirrorless video/still hybrid powerhouse. Besides the GH series, there is no other MFT camera development expected. Panasonic will continue to improve their award-winning full-frame video-centric Lumix S series.
Our hopes for Panasonic is that they concentrate in improving their Tracking AF to catch up with their rivals.
Buying A Camera in 2023
Camera manufacturers have now introduced mirrorless versions of their most popular DSLR models, whether full-frame, APS-C or MFT. Even though you may be able to still purchase DSLRs, and some at a good discount, we would nevertheless recommend going mirrorless. You will find lots of great mirrorless models available to suit every needs and budget.
Our Ideal Mirrorless Camera
Our ideal mirrorless camera is one that is compact, lightweight with a wide-angle zoom kit lens at an affordable price. The wide-angle lens could be a 24-90+ mm (equiv.), giving a 24mm wide-angle coverage for photographing large groups, wide vistas as well as vlogging; the 90+mm mid tele focal length should be perfect for portraits. Throw in a tele macro function and the lens would also be ideal for taking macro shots at a distance that won’t scare insects away and that allow light in. It would have 4K/120p for great videos and slow-motions. Practical features such as an intervalometer, double exposure, and HDR are really useful. It should have IBIS. And, of course, it should have fast and precise Tracking AF (Face, Eye, Pets, Animals, etc.), a feature that is fortunately becoming standard in Sony, Canon and Nikon mirrorless cameras. One more thing that will set it apart from its competitors: a low noise High ISO sensor. Bonus: weatherproof body and kit lens.
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Remember: No matter which camera you purchase and use, Enjoy your photography!
Wishing y’all a Happy and Safe New Year 2023!
En vous souhaitant une bonne et heureuse année 2023 !
– Photoxels Editors
>> View our Mirrorless Camera Buyer’s Guide