Canon and Nikon broke ground when they launched DSLRs that have HD video capabilities. Now Sony’s taking a different approach by offering a comparatively affordable HD video camera with all the attractiveness of interchangeable lenses, plus the ability to take high resolution stills.
Not only will the camcorder share the same Sony E-mount as the NEX series (it comes standard with a kit 18-200mm f3.5-6.3 lens), Sony DSLR owners will be pleased to know that with a separate adapter, the camcorder can be mounted with any A-mount lenses — including Sony G and Carl Zeiss lenses.
The camcorder also has the same Exmor APS HD CMOS sensor as the NEX-3 and NEX-5. The DSLR sized sensor alone gives the camera a lot of extra real estate to work with; Sony boasts the sensor to be approximately 19.5 times larger than the standard sensor of conventional camcorders.
The NEX-VG10 can shoot 1920×1080 high def video at 60 fps, which Sony says is ideal for Blu-Ray recording. And for stills shooting, it can capture 14 megapixel images with a continuous burst of up to 7 fps.
Some benefits of using the NEX-VG10 over a video DSLR is that the camcorder has the right ergonomics and image stabilization for shooting video, and doesn’t have the same limited clip time that plagues DSLR video shooters — it can shoot up to 315 continuous minutes. Also, Sony says the NEX-VG10 has a silent auto-focus system that could cut down on noise typical on video DSLRs.
Stills shooters may appreciate the camera’s Auto HDR mode, but the fact that it doesn’t shoot RAW images could be a dealbreaker.
Nikon President Makoto Kimura says that in order to keep its “top position” in Japan’s DSLR market, it needs to create an “entirely new domain” that may go well beyond its plans for a mirrorless, EVIL camera.
In an interview with Pen News Weekly, Kimura said:
“Nowadays digital cameras take movies, performance of cameraphones is rapidly advancing and demand for simple movie cameras for uploading video on the Internet is on the rise. Redefinition of photography may become necessary.”
Much of this comes at the heels of Canon’s revelation of their future plans at the Shanghai World Expo, with its Wonder Camera presentation. With the introduction of cameras like the iPhone 4 and other smartphones with HD video modes, both companies suggest that there is a lot of pressure to keep abreast of the improving technology in typically lower-end camera competition from camera phones, as well as in higher end DSLRs with video capabilities. It seems that Kimura hopes to reassert Nikon’s product by marketing EVIL cameras to consumers primarily for higher quality video and video sharing, perhaps through a built-in internet mode.
However, it sounds like Nikon may have more up its sleeve than simply adding better video and internet. Kimura also said:
“It will be a camera that may take photos of the world that the traditional SLR cannot reach.”
It looks like Nikon Corp. might just beat Canon to the EVIL punch after all. In an interview with Bloomberg, Nikon President Makoto Kimura said Nikon has plans to improve video and may adopt the mirrorless structure of electronic viewfinder, interchangeable lens (EVIL) cameras.
While Nikon is still playing catch-up with Canon’s HD video quality, it seems that they are pushing to get ahead on the EVIL system. Interestingly, less than two weeks ago, Nikon Imaging Company President Yasuyuki Okamoto hinted that Nikon wouldn’t be dipping into EVIL just yet. Okamoto had said:
Although we considered a variety of so-called mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras for the digital SLR camera market, we discern the appropriate timing for the launch of our new-generation digital cameras based on the direction of the market demand.
However, it seems that the market demand in Japan has indeed been trending in favor of new EVIL model cameras produced by Sony and Panasonic. Bloomberg cites:
Sales in Japan of cameras with interchangeable lenses rose 35 percent in unit terms and 26 percent by value in May, partly because of the introduction of the news models, according to electronics research firm BCN Inc. in Tokyo.
Nikon President Kimura was reluctant to say when the “new concept” camera would be available, only that it could be this fiscal year, which ends in March 2011, or the next.
In a recent poll, our readers predicted that Canon would introduce an electronic viewfinder, interchangeable lens (EVIL) camera ahead of Nikon.
Both companies have been tight-lipped about their plans in this space, but in a recent Q&A session published to Nikon’s website, Imaging Company President Yasuyuki Okamoto briefly spoke on the topic of EVIL cameras:
Q: What can you tell us about the new-generation digital cameras?
A: Although we considered a variety of so-called mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras for the digital SLR camera market, we discern the appropriate timing for the launch of our new-generation digital cameras based on the direction of the market demand.
The quote suggests that Nikon does indeed have EVIL on their roadmap, but is allowing other companies to test the waters before jumping in.
It’s also be good news for those who are waiting for Nikon to bust out an EVIL camera, since it shows they’re definitely planning to join the party. The wait may soon be over — a recent report published by BCN (in Japanese) found that EVIL cameras are approaching a 30% share of the interchangeable lens market.
Sony officially announced their new EVIL cameras, the NEX-3 and NEX-5. There wasn’t really anything in the announcement that we didn’t know before today. After all, the actual camera was spotted in an Asian bar at the end of last month, and official photos and specs started appearing online yesterday.
Both cameras are intended to compete with the Micro Four Thirds format, and use Sony’s new E-mount interchangeable lens system. They boast 14 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensors, and have tilting 3 inch LCD screens. The NEX-5 offers 1080i AVCHD video on top of the 720p found on the NEX-3. For more specs, check out our post about the camera yesterday.
Now onto the surprising news… Sony is developing an interchangeable lens camcorder!
The camcorder will use the same sensors found in the NEX cameras and the same E-mount lenses. Additionally, it will accept any of the lenses designed for the Alpha range of Sony cameras with an adapter.
Imagine if Canon or Nikon released a camcorder that accepted their DSLR lenses! I’m guessing they’re already working on such things, and that Sony simply wanted a slight head start by announcing their efforts earlier.
What are your thoughts on these new cameras? Do you think Canon and Nikon should jump into these markets?
The photographs show the camera (labeled NEX-3) with a 16mm f/2.8 “pancake” lens, which supposedly has image stabilization built in to make capturing video smoother. They also reveal an external flash mounted to the camera via a proprietary hot shoe system. Both this camera and its sibling, the NEX-5, are expected to have 14-megapixel Sony ExmorHD sensors, though the NEX-5 reportedly boasts HD-video capability, while the NEX-3 will be limited to 720p.
Sony’s upcoming cameras are meant to challenge the Micro Four Thirds system cameras made by Panasonic and Olympus, which also feature electronic viewfinders and interchangeable lenses (EVIL). The rumor is that Sony will be announcing these cameras officially on May 11th, and that they will be “aggressively priced” compared to Micro Four Thirds systems.
Here’s a tip for those working for companies that make gadgets: leave the prototypes and not-yet-unveiled devices at home when going to drinking establishments.
Sony has been quite mum with regards to their upcoming ultra-compact camera. However, they’ve begun releasing some teasers to give us a better idea of what’s to come, including the above YouTube video and the following screenshots of the touchscreen interface:
Here’s what we know about the system so far:
It will be an interchangeable lens system boasting a DSLR quality sensor and HD video recording capability. Controlling the camera settings and features will mostly be done through a large, touchscreen LCD interface on the back. The camera will support both RAW and JPEG modes.
Now onto speculation…
Based on the concept camera shown at PMA, and the camera icon shown in the screenshots, it looks as if the camera will have a traditional point-and-shoot design, rather than the mini-DSLR design many micro four-thirds cameras are going for. Also, the camera will likely use MemoryStick memory cards (based on the MS-shaped icon in the screenshot).
Is there anything else you can deduce from the screenshots Sony released?
[...] what does it mean for the DSLR, which has for years been the fastest growing sector of the camera market? A DSLR used to be the only way to go if you wanted a camera that had a big sensor and a reasonably responsive shutter. The other benefits, like interchangeable lenses, are arguably only there for the more serious. Take a look around you next time you’re in a tourist spot and you’ll see mostly sub-$1,000 SLRs with the kit zooms still on the front.
The argument is that the large sensors, small camera size, and interchangeable lenses on the newer cameras will steal all but the most serious photographers from the DSLR market. Their view is summed up nicely in the last sentence:
The DSLR won’t die. But it could become a niche product, and the specialist tool of the professional.
What do you think about this debate? Will DSLR cameras start to decline in popularity, or does Wired not know what it’s talking about?