Mirrorless Interchangeable - Where does it go in 2015? Part 1 - The bit players

The Mirrorless Interchangeable lens sector of the camera market is without doubt the most dynamic, the most innovative and the most changeable. 2014 saw a lot of new products (Thanks to Photokina) but will 2015 be just as interesting or is this a year for consolidation?

The big players here are Sony, Fuji and the m4/3 dynamic duo, Panasonic and Olympus, They each deserve their own article, so today it's the turn of the bit players, the ones wanting to crash the party. So this is my (not entirely serious) take on what the state of play is at the moment and what might (or might not happen)

CANON

Start at the bottom and work my way up I guess!! Yes Canon have a mirrorless interchangeable lens system. It's called EOS-M and was so unsuccessful in Europe and the US that they don't even sell the EOS-M2 in those markets. Which of course means that Canon are probably thinking that they were right all along not to bother with Mirrorless Interchangeable. (Some might say they did that already with the original EOS-M!!) Who knows if they are inclined to try again. And to be honest, who cares? Because Canon are under no obligation to compete in this marketplace. They still sell more cameras than anybody else, they make DSLR's that people still want to buy and the mirrorless encroachment into the DSLR share of our pocket money is relentless but hardly a tidal wave. Plus how hard is it to take the mirror out of one of their D?00 / Rebel mini DSLR's and produce their own? I suspect not that difficult. 

If mirrorless really does become the norm for what's left of the market for cameras after the smartphones have taken over, then it really isn't that difficult to change over what they have already. 

What they could do.

Take one of their spiffing rangefinder designs and come up with a retro lookaleica that will get the internet buzzing.

What they will probably do.

Nothing.

NIKON

See Canon above. However there is one added fly in the ointment. (Some might argue that's a good description of it!) The Nikon 1. Now I was raving about this system last year when I got a couple of V1's at a discount price and some lenses. I loved using it. But the system just hasn't moved on. And the V3 was ridiculously expensive when it was announced. Apart from some interesting high-speed features, cameras with the much better Sony 1" sensor have more to offer as far as I'm concerned. 

This could (should?) have been a great system, but like Canon and the EOS-M, Nikon don't seem inclined to develop it. Why on earth they didn't use the 20MP Sony 1" sensor who knows. Because what they came up with is no great shakes image quality wise.

So will Nikon do mirrorless interchangeable "properly"? Well they have the same options as Canon. Just start de-mirroring their DSLR's. And again, there is probably no rush. But then they do seem to be struggling financially and don't have the multi-product safety net of Sony, Samsung and Panasonic, so maybe they do need to do something.

What they could do

Take one of their spiffing rangefinder designs and come up with a retro lookaleica that will get the internet buzzing.

What they will probably do.

Nothing.

SAMSUNG

The new kid on the block. Or rather the old kid on the block back with some cooler stuff!! Samsung have been faffing around with APS-C sensored mirrorless interchangeable for a while. Nothing to get the pulse racing, but decent enough. And then this year they spring the NX-1 on us. Wow, this must be their take off point, right? Well maybe. My thoughts on the NX-1 are that it's missed the point. If it's going to compete with DSLR's or high-end mirrorless like Sony FE, then why stick with the APS-C sensor? And why attempt to get 28MP on that? I don't know about you but I've checked out some raw files and high ISO on the NX1 is a noisefest. So all that tech. and it's a daylight camera just like m4/3. It's also a monster in terms of size and the 'pro' spec lenses (which from my experiences with Samsung lenses I would imagine are probably very good) are also monsters. This size weight and bulk means that m4/3 and other mirrorless interchangeable users will probably think, "it's just too big. And doesn't that miss the point of why I use mirrorless interchangeable in the first place?" Plus it's not cheap.

The other problem Samsung have is that they are Samsung. Top of the tree for smartphones, but for cameras? Not so much and certainly as a camera manufacturer they are some way down the list of producers of objects of photographic desire in Europe and the US. They can make decent stuff, but are enough people inclined to give them a try? 

What they could do.

Copy Sony. Take the plunge, go 'full-frame' Sling all of their undoubted tech. expertise at it, have connectivity everywhere, wi-fi, sim cards etc., Pro 4K video and say 'Beat that'

What they will probably do.

Throw all their resources at the NX-1 system and tell us over and over again how good it is. Eventually realise that nobody outside Korea is listening and sell their camera division to Apple. (NOT!)

LEICA

OK, time to get serious. We are talking my favourite camera here, the Leica T. And yes the M system is most definitely mirrorless interchangeable, but for the sake of these articles I'll leave that system out.

So Leica do now have an mirrorless interchangeable system. And in a few weeks time they will have a small lens range for it. Two more zooms, W/A and Telephoto, to go with the Standard zoom and fast prime. So hardly anything to worry the others. But then that's not how Leica work. They turn out classy, beautifully made, optically superb cameras and lenses for people who want something special. They won't be rushed, they won't compromise. Just look at that Leica T body, who else would have come up with anything like it. 

I love the T, so any judgement I make on the system is coloured by that. In terms of lenses, for what I do, the four would be enough for me. I really don't need lots of fast primes or fast 'pro' spec. zooms. I can get what I want from the 16MP and the system is just the right size for me.

This will never be a mainstream system and it won't get written about that much. In fact I've never seen any ongoing articles, apart from mine, on using it on a long term basis. And that's pretty typical. Will it develop, will more lenses appear, will there be more cameras? Probably, but this isn't your typical Japanese multi-national slinging out product left right and centre hoping to connect with our tastes and our credit cards. It will end up as my favourite mirrorless interchangeable system. As of now with the one lens I have, it doesn't really qualify, but when I get round to selling stuff in the coming days that will change. Most definitely not for everybody, but then I'm not so naive as to think that isn't part of the attraction.

What they could do.

Lots of lenses, a cheaper 'starter' camera, discounted kits, go 'full-frame'

What they will probably do.

None of the above.