Sony, Nikon and Canon at CES 2016

There has been a lot of backlash in the Sony community that our beloved camera manufacturer didn’t choose to make more of a splash at CES than they did, similar to the cards Nikon played by introducing the D5 and D500 SLR’s to the market. And while users of the A99/A77/A58 (despite rumours that they may not even bother) continue to wait for a newer version utilizing some of Sony’s newest, next-level technology, I take the stance that CES 2016 would have been the wrong time to introduce any major new piece of equipment, lenses included.

Nikon

Nikon made a big splash and played their 2016 hand early at this years CES and frankly I completely understand why. See as Sony users, we must understand that Nikon right now is not in the business of trumping Sony rather they likely are comfortable with not only Sony’s marketshare and current market position, but also, their working relationship using Sony’s sensor technology. No, Nikon did not take a bite out of Sony’s momentum at CES, rather, used the show to put even more distance between themselves and Canon. The introduction of the D5 puts them well out in front of Canon in the ultra high speed and ultra high end shooting space, a market that Sony currently and for the foreseeable future, rightly or wrongly, has no foothold in. Sony’s position is at the forefront of mirrorless technology, aimed at portrait shooters, street shooters, and the bulk of the mid to high end camera purchasing market. It’s a strong and smart position to be in. Their only current competition is Nikon. As Sony shooters, we should be pleased with Nikon’s newest product announcements as it is extremely important for the growth of Sony to be pushed by its main competitors. Bravo to Nikon for releasing two great new Cameras.

However their big announcement is a niche product catering to only working professionals and hardcore hobbyists. It only shoots 4k for a couple of minutes, because this length of clip is all these people need. It’s not a design flaw, it is exactly what it needs to be. I believe that Sony is wise to avoid this market for now until their focusing technology makes yet another leap forward. The A7R II was a HUGE step for Sony in terms of…. everything, but specifically focusing. However if you’ve ever used a 1Dx or D4 then you know just how far they have to go still.

Canon

Uhhhhhhhh….. guys? You may want to consider stepping back into the game soon. You need to make a move sooner rather than later. Your 5Ds is a great piece of kit but its not enough. Get your 5D MK IV out ASAP and make it the best camera you’ve ever made or I fear for your future. It seems almost ridiculous to say, but this is coming from someone who still has a 5D MK II in his bag as a backup. Congratulations on the new Pixma printer or whatever it is you announced. I’m glad I can print to it from my iPhone. But you are losing marketshare and fast, and as a professional Sony shooter the last thing I want is for Canon to stop pushing innovation.

Please step up, for all our sakes.

Sony

Amazingly, the biggest announcement for Sony at CES didn’t come from them at all, rather it came from Phase introducing their 100 megapixel medium format back complete with a Sony Backlit Sensor. Make no mistake about it, this is all the publicity Sony needed from this show. It’s a fine demonstration of what they are capable of and a reminder of what they may or may not have on the horizon in 2016.

At this point, while it seems as though an update to the A99/A77/A58 is inevitable, I believe Sony’s main focus must be to roll out more professional level lenses, as they are currently lacking in truly fast zooms covering certain common lengths. That said, Sony’s pro imaging focus is still in its infancy, and they are learning fast. While I certainly have my share of complaints about my truly beloved A7R II, I can only wait in excitement to see what they bring to use next. They are gaining market share daily because they have the best sensor technology in the markets they are embedding themselves in. Simple. The rest of it will catch up, assuming they continue to innovate and learn from their mistakes (buffering technology anyone?).

For Sony to have released any sort of game-changing product at this point in the year would have almost been a waste, because they just did exactly that in the last half of 2015 first with the A7R II, then with the A7S II. Seemingly daily right now, they are being handed ‘Camera of the Year’ awards left right and sensor (hehe), and from a business perspective they would be wise to ride that wave as long as possible. I personally expect some new professional grade lens announcements at CP+ in February!

So if you are a Sony shooter, and if you are reading this website then you probably are, you should be very happy with where we sit, at the forefront of the all important sensor technology. 2016 is already shaping up to be a major leap forward in digital camera technology, industry ride, and my advice to anyone is to spend less time worry about what’s next online, and more time out in the real world shooting with what you already have.