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Evolution, disruption and engineers


Time for an update: I still use film, though. Not vast quantities, but I have a darkroom, and I'm not afraid to use it.

I enjoy every image I take: I hope you'll enjoy looking at them.
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Evolution, disruption and engineers

5 Jun 2020 7:59AM   Views : 473 Unique : 316


Possibly the most popular and embedded camera among keen photographers is the Canon EOS 5D series. They are reliable workhorses, gently evolving from 2005 onwards.

In 2005, a full-frame digital camera at something like an affordable price was revolutionary – although the 5D used a lens mount that had been established for 20 years, and inherited a vast range of accessories. Since then, it’s become a comfortable, paunchy burgher of Cameratown, like a reliable bank manager.

Mirrorless cameras come from somewhere else entirely: losing the tricky, precise engineering of the mirror box and AF mechanism behind, they are mechanically simpler, and offer new options. Panasonic, Olympus, Fuji and Sony have led the way, and Canon have seemed reluctant and slow to follow suit.


As a Sony user, I was, initially, rather unsure: but as I got used to the few quirks, I came to appreciate the advantages of mirrorless. And, while the rate at which new versions has arrived has sometimes irked me, I have come to love the rapid and purposeful evolution of the Alpha 7 line.

‘Early adopters’ always face this problem: and if I was a Canon user who’d bought an EOS R, I might well be viewing the R5 as a betrayal: it looks like it’s going to be the camera that the original R could and should have been, learning from the path Sony have trod since 2013 – while Nikon seem to have studied Sony’s journey before delivering the Z6 and Z7.

In engineering circles, there’s a constant war between the design engineers (who are constantly working out ways to refine the product, make a better mousetrap) and the production engineers (for whom a design that doesn’t change means that they can produce it better, without having to retool). The classic example is the Model T Ford, produced for 20 years without major design changes.

As a consumer, of course, it pays to be reasonably loyal – apart from anything else, it’s massively expensive to buy a new camera and lenses a couple of times a year. And, more importantly, you’d never get to know the ins and outs of its abilities – unless that was all that you did. Pity about actually taking pictures!


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dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
5 Jun 2020 8:04AM
One final thought: Sony have followed an unusual policy of keeping older models in production alongside the latest version for months or years. My feeling is that if you can afford the latest version, you should get it, because it will work better, be easier to use... But if your budget is limited, older models remain excellent. The original Alpha 7R, for instance, lacks image stabilisation, and the shutter is massively noisy: but for studio or landscape work, the 36mp sensor delivers the goods. It's also slimmer and lighter than the later bodies.
saltireblue Avatar
saltireblue Plus
13 14.5k 89 Norway
5 Jun 2020 10:23AM
Together with Panasonic, Olympus and Sony "leading the way" in the mirrorless field, I feel Fuji deserve to be named, too.
dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
5 Jun 2020 6:22PM
You're absolutely right, Malc... I shall duly go back and edit the blog, so that people wonder why you commented (if they don't read this as well!)

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