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'Discounted', not 'Discontinued' Reflects a New Plausibility

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At least two readers misread yesterday’s post on discounted Zeiss Otus as “discontinued”. Such are the times that a misread like that is plausible. I have modified the title to forestall further misreads, adding “(Instant Rebates)”.

DSLR demand in the APS-C DSLR area looks moribund: many models languish even at 25-50% off, for months now.

Full frame DSLRs are hanging in there, but demand has slackened substantially. I see it in my own business here based on subscription numbers in each area, the minimal interest in the Canon 5DS/5DS R being a watershed event as compared to the excitement a 50-megapixel camera would have generated even two years ago. Interest in Leica is minimal, as is interest in Micro Four Thirds and APS-C mirrorless even relatively popular cameras such as Fujifilm: Sony full-frame mirrorless is dominating the conversation.

And yet it’s so simple for Canon and Nikon to at least put a decent-size wave into the lake: rekindle some level of DSLR interest by adding a high-res EVF, 4K video and a few other goodies (ideally sensor stabilization plus sensor shift technology as Pentax is planning, and the absence of Sony A7R II sensor-shift technology is odd).

Take the best features of mirrorless while maintaining lens mount compatibility! The size/weight aspect would not match Sony, but the gap would be reduced, the feature set gap would narrow, more powerful processors could be used, usability and battery life would be far superior—in my book a superior solution for many uses and users: size and weight are both a minus and a plus.

I for one would snap up a Nikon D820e with a built-in high res EVF, even if it were optional on the hot shoe, though I’d prefer to see the OVF and its mirror eliminated and a very high-res EVF occupy that space: smaller, lighter, more useable—especially if the CaNikon computing power were put to use for near-zero blackout and instantly responsive operation. It’s commercial suicide for CaNikon to keep shipping years old tech and have any expectation beyond an imploding market share. In Nikon’s case, there isn’t even the excitement of a higher-res sensor for nearly 4 years now (since the D800/D800E). Four years of the status-quo, the D810 being a nice bump up, but offering nothing fundamentally different. Is it any wonder that Sony gets all the attention?

In my view a new camera+lens gestalt has emerged that calls for ultra high performance and relatively slow lenses: see The Irrational Aim of f/1.4 Lenses. I don’t see this as happening any time soon as all the camera companies are under pressure (except perhaps Sony). But it dovetails with the smaller/lighter/faster/more convenient market-driven demand. CaNikon could be on top of that too. Since the Canon 35mm f/1.4L II is the best 35mm lens yet for a DSLR, one wonders what could be done with an f/2.8 design at the same price?

Roy P writes:

It is mind boggling that Nikon and Canon have been deer caught in the mirrorless headlights for the past 4-5 years. As you said, if Nikon put out a mirrorless/EVF in an F mount and a larger form factor like a D810 or even a D4, they would be in the game, and possibly defining a new use case (mirrorless but in a bigger form factor).

Looking at all the info on the Nikon D5 at, I have to ask myself why Nikon is coming out with a 20MP D5 with a rumored 15fps frame rate, with the same old SLR/DSLR architecture. Instead, they could have leveraged the generous body size + big battery to build an F-mount camera with an ultra high res EVF, a 36MP or 42MP stacked CMOS sensor with 20 or 30 fps frame rate, even the stupid high 1000 fps in the Sony RX10-II, but at a higher resolution, etc.

In other words, a Sony A7R-II, but one that is weather sealed, super fast and responsive, operable with gloved hands in any weather, and could be used for pro-grade sports / action / wildlife photography AND landscape, using all the existing Nikon / Zeiss lenses.

I would buy such a D5E or D810E in a heartbeat.

DIGLOYD: there is still a market for the traditional DSLR, particularly for the sports shooter market: high frame rate, very short blackout time. But it’s hard to believe that a mirror box helps that in any way or that conventional AF can hold a lead for long over sensors with embedded AF assist pixels on the sensor itself. Also, I would think that burst 6K capture (akin to video bursts at 30/60/120 fps) would serve the needs of such sport shooters even better.

Leica now has the Leica SL, a beast of a camera with a single lens available (the 24-90 zoom); it feels like a slightly smaller Leica S and irritates me to no end, for the same design failures as in the S. In concept it does precisely what CaNikon need to do, but the Leica SL fails at so many levels (operational design, crude bolt-on-feel grip, one and only one lens, lack of pro features as with CaNikon, low resolution, etc). Still, it speaks volumes that Leica can deliver such a camera while CaNikon sit on their hands.

Eric W writes:

Your post hinted at things like 6K burst, and I've been sending this video around to the sports shooters I run into- it hints at features that I'm sure they would die for.

Sure the software interface isn't there yet for fast turnaround work, but the idea of 120fps burst (60 frames before, 60 frames after) and being able to pick the exact frame that works is very exciting.

DIGLLOYD: surely something like this will be the future for sports shooters. Apple’s Live Photo feature on iPhone is already there—not professional grade and with no options, but a cool thing.

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