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Zeiss Plans Mirrorless Support (Micro Four Thirds, etc)

As I discuss in The Future of Non-DSLR and DSLR Cameras, the emergence of high performance lenses for mirrorless camera systems will only accelerate the abandonment of compromised solutions like Nikon DX and Canon EF-S DSLRs (marginal solutions which do nothing well), and put severe pressure on the total market size for full-frame DSLRs, barring a spark of creativity at Nikon or Canon.

Carl Zeiss plans a new line of high performance lenses for mirrorless cameras:

Another highlight will be the presentation of a design study, with which Carl Zeiss will offer a sneak preview of a new family of autofocus lenses for mirrorless system cameras (CSC) that will most likely be available in mid-2013.

Due to their performance and high speed, these new lenses will be ideal for deliberate photo composition, making them perfect for more sophisticated photographers as well.

Carl Zeiss plans to initially offer fixed focal lengths in the wide angle and standard range as well as a macro.

“The trend toward mirrorless system cameras has accelerated since 2010 and we notice growing interest for them among ambitious photographers. We are convinced that as a result of the new and very high-quality cameras and lenses that are coming onto the scene, this market will become even more important. We see lots of potential, which is why we will offer more products for this target group in the future,” said Dr. Winfried Scherle, Senior Vice President of the Camera Lens Division of Carl Zeiss AG.

What will be interesting is how Zeiss deals with the plethora of brands out there, all of which take different mounts: Olympus and Panasonic Micro Four Thirds, Fujifilm X-mount, Sony NEX.

How can this be done and be autofocus also? Will we have to buy the same lens for two cameras (supposing one owns a Fuji X-E1 and an Olympus E-M5)? Maybe that’s the strategy to sell lenses. I hope there is something more palatable than buying N copies of a lens for N brands.

Reader comments

Stefan D writes:

I also liked your Future of non-DSLR and DSLR camera, but I feel like now I have more questions then answers.

Just as a suggestion: Please comment a little further on what investments are good today, and where it is better to wait. I just invested about $10k in Zeiss ZE lenses, was this a good idea? My thinking was that 35mm will be staying, but then I read your article and I am no longer so sure, especially since there is now also renewed talk about "cheap" mid-size sensors for non-portable cameras. Is today an investment into Leica M body and Zeiss ZM lenses a better way? But then a new Leica M is on the horizon.

I do agree with you that APS-C etc in DSLR is dead (just nobody wants to say it out loud, so thanks for raising this prominently), and I also agree that Canon and Nikon should finally do something to make a big step forward, not these micro-steps (or side steps like with the 5DIII).

I am doing this really mostly as an (expensive) hobby. I owned a Leica M6 for 20+ years, so I am a little bit nuts about quality in photography, and still feel I cant get the same result with digital that I once had with pro-films, though it has gotten so much simpler, and the costs for film and development are of course gone (well, if you don't count the thousands of dollars in computer equipment instead…)

DIGLLOYD: I’ll explore this more in the future.

I do think that 35mm full-frame is here to stay— it is the new medium format (with new glass coming to make that even more of a reality), and will move towards 60-120 megapixels fairly soon, for reasons I have discussed in earlier blog entries. But I expect that it will be high-end mainly ($3K on up), as the market will evaporate for the low and medium end given how good ALLVIEW cameras are becoming already— plenty good for even serious shooters for many tasks and rapidly getting better.

I see no place at all for cropped-frame DSLRs (Nikon DX, Canon EF-S) as these provide no real benefits to 99% of shooters over the emerging ALLVIEW cameras, yet carry the penalties of weight and bulk and an aging design paradigm that put technically, sucks to shoot.

As far as lenses, good glass never goes out of style, but Canon mount Zeiss lenses are good on Canon and not much else, whereas Nikon mount can be shot on Nikon and Canon and many others (maybe there are electronic adapters for the Zeiss ZE, but this sucks compared to the manual aperture control on Zeiss ZF.2, for more on this see my discussion in my Zeiss Guide).

See also my Feb 12, 2012 Lenses as an Investment; Electronic Lenses vs Manual Control and the links from that page to other discussions in my blog.

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