Dear readers of TalkEmount.com, My name is Napier Lopez. You may not know me, but I’ve been a community member of this forum’s sister site, Mu-43, for a couple of years. You’ll be seeing a lot more of me now. Amin recently contacted me looking for help expanding TalkEmount and its sister sites--Mu-43, SeriousCompacts, FujiXSpot, and LeicaPlace--with regular editorial and review content. I was eager to oblige. Starting out as a complete photography novice, I lurked around Mu-43 and its sister sites for for months, finally made an account and posted many of my very first “real” photos for critique, and have since developed my style and technique by observing the works of countless other members more experienced than me. I’m a philosophy graduate preparing for an advanced degree in physics, but photography is an equal passion of mine (some friends have called me the triple ‘ph’, although I’m most fond of philographerist), as well as my full-time source of income. That probably wouldn’t have ever happened without the warm, thoughtful, and encouraging community that is Mu-43. All that being said, I now hold the title of Contributing Editor, and you can expect to see posts from me on the front page at least once a week in the form of opinion pieces, gear and software reviews, and more spread across Amin’s various sites. I hope you’ll join me in helping this forum become an essential resource for all things E-mount, and in fostering the continued growth of this wonderful community. Note: A version of this post appeared yesterday that was much too long and haphazard, this version is abridged and more organized. Why Sony Could Become the Next Canon or Nikon in the a Few Years Although mirrorless cameras have been available for several years now, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come across a DSLR user who simply hasn’t heard about them. But can I blame them? If you’re a working pro, looking for new gear is secondary to the act of shooting; not everyone has time to kill on forums and rumor sites. If you’re casual, you just want something that “takes professional pictures”. And so, if there are two things one can’t deny about Canikon DSLRs, it’s that their systems are complete and have good reputations. For as long as I can remember, before I even knew anything about photography myself, Canon and Nikon have been the brands that people refer to when talking about enthusiast or professional cameras. It’s something so ingrained, it’s hard to imagine anything else being the case. That said, I think the conditions are finally ripe for Sony to join their ranks. Sony has dared to be crazy See, while Canon and Nikon have been pretty much resting on their laurels, lightly improving quality and features while playing it safe, Sony likes to try new things. The past few years in particular have shown them incubating a variety of new technologies and features never before seen, along with admirable engineering prowess. Some would say they’re crazy. From the semi-translucent mirror technology, to large sensored compacts with fast lenses, to its wacky modular QX cameras, Sony almost seems to be throwing everything against the wall just to see what sticks. Even if not all of these products have been or will be successful, they’ve already been making plenty of headlines, and some products like the A7/A7r are clearly here for the long-run (but more on that later). Diminishing Returns I believe the camera market is starting a physical downsizing somewhat akin to the transition from desktop computers to laptops in the past decade or so, where desktops are analogous to the DSLR, and mirrorless cameras are like the laptops. Desktops are still very much around and have their benefits and applied usages, but for 90% of customers, laptops are as powerful as anyone but the most demanding users will ever need. Likewise, the DSLR will probably always have a few intrinsic advantages like better battery life, but its uses become more specialized. This applies to the mirrorless market in general, but as I'll describe shortly, it seems to apply to now apply to Sony the most. No compromise One flaw with the above comparison is that laptops, by necessity of size constraints, will always be less powerful than equally expensive desktops. Now that mirrorless cameras have full frame as an option (Leica notwithstanding), the transition from DSLR to mirrorless isn’t so much about compromising as it is about being *different*. The A7/A7r release instantly removed any potential image quality advantages of DSLRs as a whole over mirrorless cameras. And while their sensor size alone would be enough to make these popular cameras, Sony clearly seems to want to go all out in cementing themselves as the leaders here, as other brands will inevitably join the full frame mirrorless party. The camera bodies are priced relatively affordably, and though there aren't enough inexpensive lenses yet, there are more usefully adaptable lenses for this camera than probably any other new system’s release before it. Appealing to the high end However, the most important thing Sony is doing, in my opinion, is building a foundation to appeal to the highest end of photography. Sony has said they intend every lens they release on the system to be weather-sealed--its first two bodies already are--and 15 total new lenses have already been scheduled by 2015. They are also marketing these cameras as Alpha products rather than NEX ones (indeed, the NEX brand is gone), and rumors are that their next A-mount cameras won't have a mirror at all. This indicates from the very beginning that Sony is looking to go pro with its mirrorless bodies, and that it’s only a matter of time until they have bodies that compete with the likes of the D4 and 1DX in performance. Capturing the high end market like this matters because these are the enthusiasts and professionals who read up and learn about these products before they are even released, the ones from whom people learn from, and the ones who recommend products to their friends and family. Think of it this way: if most professional photographers switched over to mirrorless, the general public is very unlikely to stay with DSLRs. Couple this with enough money for a strong marketing campaign, and you’ve got a product with a lot of potential. Final thoughts Realistically, I don’t expect Canon and Nikon and their DSLRs to disappear anytime soon, and having a great product isn’t enough to make it become a household name; just look at Pentax. But as technology progresses, Canon and Nikon’s DSLR offerings become less and less exciting, and the strengths of mirrorless for casual users and professionals alike become more and more apparent. Of course, Canon and Nikon could offer stronger mirrorless offerings themselves, but it seems unlikely they'd be able to catch up at this point. Whatever the end result, Sony’s innovations in the camera market have at least put everyone else on guard, fostering competition that will surely have the other mirrorless competitors and even Nikon and Canon worrying about making better products. And if you ask me, that’s a good result for everyone. What do you think though? Will mirrorless ever be able to catch up enough with DSLRs to replace them in the public mindshare? I obviously think so, and that Sony will likely be at the head of this movement, but please sound off below!