It’s time for a State of the Union, Camera Edition. In recent years, we have seen some dramatically positive changes from all the major camera manufacturers, but nobody is perfect. Let’s talk about each one’s weak points.
In our analysis, we wanted to take a hard look at what, in our opinions, the camera companies should improve. As always, we would encourage you to watch the above video to get the depth and context out of our decisions, but below I’ve quickly summarized our thoughts.
Regardless of how you feel about Sony as a brand, you must recognize the technological innovations the company has brought to the industry. Sony is also fond of keeping older cameras available on the market as lower-cost alternatives, which is also pretty consumer-friendly. That said, the company tends to leave some of those older models unsupported after launch. Namely, those cameras rarely receive meaningful firmware updates.
Specifically, the Sony Alpha 1 and Alpha 7S III could take advantage of some of the new features in more modern Sony cameras, yet they are left to languish.
Nikon has enjoyed an amazing couple of years thanks to the release of the innovative Z9 flagship camera. Using a very advanced sensor and removing the mechanical shutter altogether allowd it to make a powerful hybrid platform.
Then, to bring all that technology to a smaller, more accessible camera in the Z8 is a move sure to land them more market share. Maybe it is because these two cameras are so strong that other Nikon cameras pale in comparison, and that’s the company’s current blind spot.
It’s hard to recommend some of the cameras under the $4,000 mark. Nikon needs to bring some improvements to the APS-C and mid-range “Z” cameras, perhaps most notably in terms of the autofocus interface. On that note, it would be nice to see all of its cameras’ autofocus perform better in heavy rain or snow.
Canon has made big strides recently to vastly improve the autofocus performance across most of the lineup and now the eye detection and subject detection capabilities rival those of Sony. Canon has always made intuitive cameras with ergonomic designs that most people find a joy to use.
It’s odd then, that there continue to be the same curious oversights with the grammar of some of the menu options and missing video tools.
But the most egregious choice Canon has made is to prevent third-party manufacturers from making autofocus-equipped lenses for the RF lens mount. It is especially strange at a time when everyone else seems to be opening lens mounts up to the market.
Naturally, people want to criticize the exclusivity of Leica products like the high prices or the archaic use of rangefinder focusing. But making premium luxury products that provide a unique shooting experience is the modus operandi of Leica, and it seems to be working great for the company.
So the only criticism that we can field is that the SL line of cameras. As gorgeous as they are, they do not provide a unique shooting experience. Dyed-in-the-wool Leica shooters won’t care, but for the rest of us, our money is better spent elsewhere.
Pentax, a Ricoh brand, has gone full steam ahead into its decision to only make DSLRs, not mirrorless cameras. At first, this seemed to be a short-sighted mistake, but it might well pan out as a way to create a boutique line of products providing a unique way of shooting.
The K1 and the K3 Mark III are very capable DSLR cameras, espousing classic Pentax virtues such as supreme ruggedness and very innovative shooting assist tools. However, the company could also capitalize on the rich history of Pentax vintage cameras.
Who wouldn’t want a modern digital DSLR that looks exactly like a K1000 or LX? Make sexy digital versions of the ME Super, and I’ll start digging out my old manual focus lenses with a huge smile on my face.
Panasonic has established itself as a class-leading video camera platform, perhaps to the detriment of winning over dedicated photographers. Cameras like the S1H and GH6 are amazing video cameras and the recently released S5 II brought the huge addition of hybrid contrast/phase detect autofocus that was sorely needed.
Naturally, we need to wait and see what new cameras will incorporate the hybrid AF going forward — the company has already indicated it plans to do so. We suggest Panasonic also update the much-loved G9 platform and also take a hard look at some ultra-compact cameras, too. Bring back the GM series and G1X series of cameras and give the Ricoh GR a run for its money.
After the takeover of one of the most beloved camera brands, OM System has been busy fleshing out a lineup and rebranding existing Olympus products. To the credit of the OM System company, the OM-1 was a novel design that proved itself a rugged and capable sports and wildlife camera.
However, the the OM-5 was clearly a rebadged Olympus EM-5 III with a couple of extra features. This is a totally understandable move, but we hope going forward that OM System continues to make brand-new designs. The company also needs to up the video capabilities of the OM cameras; 4K recording in OM-Log is decent but it seems any other commonly used modes lack detail.
Advanced sensors, updated autofocus algorithms, and regular firmware updates. What’s not to love? I think the greatest achievement beyond technology is how effectively Fujifilm has managed to create multiple cameras that appeal to so many users. The GFX cameras have taken the medium format world by storm.
The X100V is in such high demand that Fujifilm can’t keep up with production. And we also have the vintage-inspired XT cameras as well as the more modern-themed XS line.
The only thing that all of these excellent cameras have in common and subsequently suffer from is rather outdated menus. It’s time for a full interface overhaul with the Fujifilm menus — it did wonders for Sony.
Looking to the Future
Well, there is our take on what each company can do to improve their respective brands. Each of these companies relies on the feedback of the users, both amateur and professional, to make changes going forward. Make sure to watch our video above on this topic to make sure you hear all of our thoughts about each brand fully.
Image credits: PetaPixel