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Topic ClosedA7xIII release date

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Miranda F View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 June 2017 at 14:58
Two intriguing - and contrasting - views there, and both sound plausible. I think on balance PMac's view sounds a little more likely, though. Looking at Sony's other products you can see that the convergence of electronic solutions to replace mechanical ones has been part of Sony's game for a long time, and that buying into the DSLR market didn't really fit in with that.
The only caution I'd add is that large organisations frequently lack a co-ordinated approach to technology development, or at least a well thought-out one ... I'd like to believe Sony had all this mapped out a along time ago, but cynicism born form long experience makes me doubt that.
But, whether planned or fortuitous, they seem to be making huge progress in the field which Canon and Nikon will have difficulty matching.
A900, A58, 5d, Dynax 4, 5, 60, 500si/600si/700si/800si, various Sony & Minolta lenses, several Tamrons, lots of MF primes and *far* too many old film cameras . . .
 



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kefkafloyd View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 June 2017 at 18:20
E-Mount wasn't released until February 2010, a whole year and change later than the Panasonic G1 and the Olympus PEN with Micro 4/3rds. While I'm curious as to the development timeline of the E-mount, I'm guessing it probably had its genesis sometime around 2008 after the floundering of the aX30 series (remember those?). Hell, we didn't even have large-sized sensors with live view until 2008 either. The initial NEX bodies could easily have been a two year timeframe from conception til release.

The mount, at least, was designed to be forward looking. It had enough room for FF and has two extra pin slots just in case.
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artuk View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 June 2017 at 20:34
Originally posted by Miranda F Miranda F wrote:

Two intriguing - and contrasting - views there, and both sound plausible. I think on balance PMac's view sounds a little more likely, though. Looking at Sony's other products you can see that the convergence of electronic solutions to replace mechanical ones has been part of Sony's game for a long time, and that buying into the DSLR market didn't really fit in with that.
The only caution I'd add is that large organisations frequently lack a co-ordinated approach to technology development, or at least a well thought-out one ... I'd like to believe Sony had all this mapped out a along time ago, but cynicism born form long experience makes me doubt that.
But, whether planned or fortuitous, they seem to be making huge progress in the field which Canon and Nikon will have difficulty matching.


It was never a long term plan. We seem to be forgetting that a few years ago thy were losing billions of yen a year, and in serious financial trouble with their stock rated as junk. Their recovery strategy, which contained many new directions for the company, included the use of disruptive technology to make innovative and unique products that would command a price premium. E mount and RX combined this spectacularly with lower production costs due to the removal of engineering and moving parts. None of this was in plan in 2005, and anyone who thinks it is clearly doesn't understand the disjointed and reactive way in which large companies work. You can't have a 10 year plan in a market that has changed so dramatically, otherwise they would still be banging out worthless consumer pocket cameras as they looked like a great idea in 2005.

Edited by artuk - 16 June 2017 at 00:36
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Miranda F View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 June 2017 at 12:59
I think you've hit the nail on the head, there, artuk. E-mout looks like a classic case of disruptive technology.
A900, A58, 5d, Dynax 4, 5, 60, 500si/600si/700si/800si, various Sony & Minolta lenses, several Tamrons, lots of MF primes and *far* too many old film cameras . . .
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 June 2017 at 14:03
If you are going to invest in a wholy new mount - especially when your bleeding cash - my thinking is you better have a long term plan (including off ramps)

I reackon that from the first time a product planner pitched the idea of the NEX, got some development money, did some research, got some design done, got production, testing, fixing, more testing, full production, support, distribution, marketing and release in a big traditional company like sony would be at least three years, probably 4. That means the basic architecture of the e mount was being considered at the very same time sony was buying/absording the a mount.

(a really out there thought - what if the nex was actually in planning as a cybershot even before 2006 - after all Sony had the R1 - but got put on the back burner after sony had to buy out the a-mount)

I reckon that as soon as the nex got a green light (or got through some early engineering - say mid 2007) the a mount had already become a zombie product line in sony and the future was going to be e-mount. Reviewing how treated the a mount makes that very clear.

That also means that right back when the e-mount got its first seed money sony must have already been thinking - right, this needs to be small BUT it also needs to be able to squeeze in an FF sensor.

But, I do agree that sony gave themselves scope to bail out if it all went pear shaped. The early models were a) very cheap/low end and b)separately branded so they could be shed more painlessly.    

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 June 2017 at 21:56
The original RX1 and NEX cameras were both products of the Cybershot division, and therefore developed largely independently of Alpha. A few years later just look at the confusing way in which NEX was dropped and rebranded under Alpha in a way that made little sense to anyone. It was never a long term plan. The convergence of the product lines coincided with one of the later "recovery strategies" they Sony published, where they clearly converged stills camera systems and consumer video in ways that saved costs.

The use of E mount for full frame was luck, not design. All the rumors at the time were that one senior manager within the stills camera division supported it, and it seems like pure luck that the mount was barely capable of handling full frame. If you were designing a full frame mirrorless short flange depth full frame system you would make the mount much larger, as Leica did with their SL. There's no benefit to full frame of making a mount that's barely larger than m43rds. Sony got lucky, and it caught the imagination of the press and public, and they are working hard to keep their first mover advantage before Canon and Nikon make a move.
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Cliff View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 June 2017 at 04:10
Think you've got it artuk. Emount was clearly not envisioned as a full frame product. The Leica has a throat diameter of 48.8mm, E mount 44mm and A mount 42mm. The older mount easily accommodates 35mm full frame because of its longer flange distance of 44.5mm. Even range finder mounts like Contax with smaller throat diameter around 36mm and flange of 34.85mm allow compact high quality glass. Look at the size of the lenses it takes to shoehorn a high quality ff lens into E mount. That was never part of any Sony long range plan. That short flange is a ff killer.

A mount did not go on the back burner until Sony broke its crank in the DSLR market. The SLT was part of ditching legacy mechanics and reducing costs, but did not get them appreciably more market share.

I had forgotten how the NEX product line evolved, but stand by my inference that the a7 was a last, low cost, ff run at CaNikon cobbled up out of existing technology, not part of a long term strategy. The body and EVF were borrowed from NEX (renamed Alpha), and the ff sensor from a99. The imitation pentaprism housing got them some SLR look for marketing and a little more space in the body.

What were the first ff E lenses? Were they perhaps also ginned up off of other products? Maybe someone can fill that in. The LA-EA3&4 adapters immediately filled the void for a wide range of auto focus/auto aperture ff glass that worked on E mount as LA-EA1&2 had done for APS-C. Again, they were low cost variations on existing products. Along with the plethora of existing cheap mf adapters, they bought Sony time while native E ff lenses were developed. That was both technically hard and got Sony back into mechanics and optics instead of the electronics they preferred. That also seems to have spurred Sony's development of in camera software correction of lens defects, but that is a discussion for another day.

Perhaps more important, a few native lenses along with millions of adapted lenses allowed Sony time to see if a7 would sell, or if they would abandon what was a shrinking ff market for everyone. Once Sony determined there was a good market, sensor variations and some small fixes followed along with continued integration with the video product line. Then came the a7ii as a more fully realized product. We can expect the a7iii this fall to continue with advances that capitalize on the market in ff Sony is making while Nikon is on the auction block and Canon is treading water.


ContaxRF, Min7000i, Sony A100, A65, Nex5T, A7ii, A6500. 2 many lenses, mostly ordinary Minolta & 3rd party A, MC/D, other mf, vintage Vivitars & cats, LA-EA2,3,4 E16-50&55-210mm
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artuk View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 June 2017 at 09:55
Originally posted by Cliff Cliff wrote:

Think you've got it artuk. Emount was clearly not envisioned as a full frame product. The Leica has a throat diameter of 48.8mm, E mount 44mm and A mount 42mm. The older mount easily accommodates 35mm full frame because of its longer flange distance of 44.5mm. Even range finder mounts like Contax with smaller throat diameter around 36mm and flange of 34.85mm allow compact high quality glass. Look at the size of the lenses it takes to shoehorn a high quality ff lens into E mount. That was never part of any Sony long range plan. That short flange is a ff killer.

A mount did not go on the back burner until Sony broke its crank in the DSLR market. The SLT was part of ditching legacy mechanics and reducing costs, but did not get them appreciably more market share.

I had forgotten how the NEX product line evolved, but stand by my inference that the a7 was a last, low cost, ff run at CaNikon cobbled up out of existing technology, not part of a long term strategy. The body and EVF were borrowed from NEX (renamed Alpha), and the ff sensor from a99. The imitation pentaprism housing got them some SLR look for marketing and a little more space in the body.

What were the first ff E lenses? Were they perhaps also ginned up off of other products? Maybe someone can fill that in. The LA-EA3&4 adapters immediately filled the void for a wide range of auto focus/auto aperture ff glass that worked on E mount as LA-EA1&2 had done for APS-C. Again, they were low cost variations on existing products. Along with the plethora of existing cheap mf adapters, they bought Sony time while native E ff lenses were developed. That was both technically hard and got Sony back into mechanics and optics instead of the electronics they preferred. That also seems to have spurred Sony's development of in camera software correction of lens defects, but that is a discussion for another day.

Perhaps more important, a few native lenses along with millions of adapted lenses allowed Sony time to see if a7 would sell, or if they would abandon what was a shrinking ff market for everyone. Once Sony determined there was a good market, sensor variations and some small fixes followed along with continued integration with the video product line. Then came the a7ii as a more fully realized product. We can expect the a7iii this fall to continue with advances that capitalize on the market in ff Sony is making while Nikon is on the auction block and Canon is treading water.




Minolta A mount is about 48mm diameter, E mount around 45mm.

The Leica M mount is very small, and with a short flange depth, but that was a system made for film. Early M digital cameras had all sorts of problems with colour shifts and softness on edges and corners that needed software correction (you had to send your lenses to Germany to be chipped!) and later cameras reportedly have sensors with sensels that are angled towards the centre to better catch the light.

David KilPatrick has written that he thinks the A7R mark 1 sensor was very difficult with wider lenses (even E mount models) as it often gave quite poor outer field performance with lenses that were fine on the 24mp A7, and that is why Sony has to design such huge lenses to male them as telecentric as possible to get around that problem. Leica L mount had a 20mm flange depth (compared o around 18mm for E mount), and a 48mm diameter. However, just look at the size of the SL lenses, which are nearer medium format in size.

I honestly don't think E mount was ever designed to be a full frame mount for digital. NEX wad always styled as a very small pocket sized camera with an APS-C sensor for image quality, aimed squarely at consumers. I don't think there was ever a grad plan to move it to full frame, merge with A mount etc. The success of the A7 I think took them by surprise to an extent. It caught the attention because of the very small bodies and the ability to mount almost any full frame lens from other systems. As you say, it was an evolution from the NEX-6 / 7 product lines. That they have iterated bodies and grown a lens system is a tribute to them being surprisingly responsive to the market - and again I have to point out that E mount dull frame and RX cameras have grabbed the attention of the press and photographers far more than A mount ever did, and garnered infinitely more media attention.

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kefkafloyd View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 June 2017 at 13:27
The use of E mount for full frame was luck, not design. All the rumors at the time were that one senior manager within the stills camera division supported it, and it seems like pure luck that the mount was barely capable of handling full frame. If you were designing a full frame mirrorless short flange depth full frame system you would make the mount much larger, as Leica did with their SL. There's no benefit to full frame of making a mount that's barely larger than m43rds. Sony got lucky, and it caught the imagination of the press and public, and they are working hard to keep their first mover advantage before Canon and Nikon make a move.


Two millimeters of throat diameter isn't much of a difference. Canon's EF-M mount is of similar size as Sony's, and Canon certainly would design a mount with growth in mind as well.

Keep in mind that we're talking about a format with a 36mm width in itself.

I mean, could it be possible that optical and mechanical engineers... know what they're doing?
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Miranda F View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 June 2017 at 15:45
Originally posted by kefkafloyd kefkafloyd wrote:

Two millimeters of throat diameter isn't much of a difference. Canon's EF-M mount is of similar size as Sony's, and Canon certainly would design a mount with growth in mind as well.

Keep in mind that we're talking about a format with a 36mm width in itself. /QUOTE]
Don't forget the converging cone of light toward the sensor. The wider the aperture of the lens and the shorter the FL, the more of this which is interrupted by the flange.

[QUOTE=kefkafloyd]
I mean, could it be possible that optical and mechanical engineers... know what they're doing?

Oooh, cheeky. As an R&D engineer I would like to say I *always* know what I'm doing, even if that isn't strictly true much of the time (if we knew what was going to work before doing it, we wouldn't need R&D at all ) The problem isn't whether the engineers know what *they're* doing, it is whether they know what the market really needs. And because the marketing people are usually a hopeless bunch of ******s, they never do.
The typical marketting spec is derived by looking at all the competing products, generating a spreadsheet, and doing a MAX() on all the specs and a MIN() on all the prices.
Then they complain when we tell them their requirements are mutually exclusive and ask them which ones they *really* want us to meet?
I never expect a sensible answer to that ...
A900, A58, 5d, Dynax 4, 5, 60, 500si/600si/700si/800si, various Sony & Minolta lenses, several Tamrons, lots of MF primes and *far* too many old film cameras . . .
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 June 2017 at 18:32
It seems the Sony engineers knew exactly what they were doing, and that was designing an APS-C mount camera system. Nobody would engineer a moderate throat diameter and very short flange for a ff sensor.

Not sure I would call the use of E for ff "luck" either. Look at the sizes of the lenses the optical engineers have had to design to make ff work on E. They have busted their butts to make ff good on E mount.

Us engineers live to solve problems. But like most everyone we do not like to work harder than necessary. Arguably the best engineers are the laziest. They want to solve problems with the least effort. Wider throat, longer flange or a combination of both that makes ff lens design easier would be the engineering solution if ff was in E mount's dreams from the beginning.   
ContaxRF, Min7000i, Sony A100, A65, Nex5T, A7ii, A6500. 2 many lenses, mostly ordinary Minolta & 3rd party A, MC/D, other mf, vintage Vivitars & cats, LA-EA2,3,4 E16-50&55-210mm
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 June 2017 at 18:39
What advantage could there be to increasing the flange distance other than possibly making some lens bodies shorter? Lenses with empty tubes at the back like the FE 50/1.8 are not problems.

Edited by QuietOC - 19 June 2017 at 19:06
A65 30M 35 50 16-50 16-80 16-105 18-135 18-250 55-200 55-300
A5000 LA-EA1 16 20 16-50 18-55 55-210
Maxxum 70: 20 24 28 50 85 100M 135 28-105 28-135 35-70 35-105 35-200 70-210 75-300 100-300D
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 June 2017 at 19:07
Originally posted by QuietOC QuietOC wrote:

What advantage could there be to increasing the flange distance other than possibly making some lens bodies shorter? Lenses with empty tubes at the back like the FE 50/1.8 are not problems.

I more wonder why they didn't make the flange distance even shorter.

It's a thing that involves both the diameter and the distance. If the distance is very short and the diameter is very small, the lens has to be telecentric; or it has to project light at an extreme angle because the diameter of the rear element is limited; or it requires extra lens length near the body to position the rear element farther from the sensor, making those lenses larger than necessary; all those things put restrictions on optical and physical lens designs. If the distance is greater, light exiting the lens can fan out a bit (or not), and rear elements can protrude a bit (or not), which eases some restrictions. On the other hand, huge flange distances pose other problems of their own, so camera makers have favored a (mostly) happy medium.

There was presumably a reason why the shortest possible flange distance was rarely if ever used in interchangeable lens rangefinder film cameras.

Edited by sybersitizen - 19 June 2017 at 20:46
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kefkafloyd View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 June 2017 at 19:09
Originally posted by Cliff Cliff wrote:

It seems the Sony engineers knew exactly what they were doing, and that was designing an APS-C mount camera system. Nobody would engineer a moderate throat diameter and very short flange for a ff sensor.

Not sure I would call the use of E for ff "luck" either. Look at the sizes of the lenses the optical engineers have had to design to make ff work on E. They have busted their butts to make ff good on E mount.


The E-mount's throat is wider than Nikon F and Minolta SR (and is similar to some other FF 35mm mounts). Leica's SL mirrorless is only moderately (by 2mm) wider.

Canon's EF (at 54mm) is the exception amongst 35mm SLR systems, and it's mostly for the 85 f/1.2L.

Registration distance is a smaller factor because you can always make a lens longer at the rear element (instead of a mirror box), if it makes designing optics easier. In fact, several E-mount lenses do this, their rear elements are not exactly at the bayonet but further inset.

Large glass size is also not necessarily dependent on either throat diameter or registration, and many lenses have been growing in size on many mounts that aren't mirrorless because it turns out that better image quality often requires more glass. 82mm is now a common filter thread when it used to be 77 or 72mm. Lenses are getting bigger because of more complicated AF and other systems built into the lens body as well.

Would things be a little easier if the E-mount had an extra two millimeters? Maybe, but not by much. It's a small camera, they made a tradeoff to optimize for possible smaller size in some lenses, especially on the smaller formats. But that doesn't mean it's terrible for 35mm. They'd still be making telecentric lenses to account for sensor performance.

The sensor plays a huge amount in corner performance with certain kinds of optics as well, but that's a separate discussion.

Edited by kefkafloyd - 19 June 2017 at 19:16
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