Thursday, November 16, 2006

Small companies sometimes try harder ...

Small companies sometimes try harder while established names do almost nothing and over-hyped ones have pathetic failures ... (that eventually are hailed by fans as huge steps).

That was a short description of the current status (end of 2006) on the larger-sensor digital photography market - the established names are Canon (which did basically nothing of any interest recently) and Nikon (which just launched the D40 - a low-cost crippled D50).

The over-hyped company is Leica - and the pathetic failure is the M8 - a camera that costs about 5000 US$ yet has some quite embarrassing bugs ... not to mention that it is inferior in almost any way to a Canon 5D (which currently costs only about half of the M8) ... and in the almost only area where it is superior - size - it still fails to the ultimate test - real pocket size - and in that is obviously inferior to models like Fuji F30 or Ricoh R3/4/5 that cost about 10-20 times less!!!

The small companies that try harder are Pentax, Sigma and maybe Sony/Minolta.

Sigma is still the only DSLR using a Foveon sensor - but unfortunately they seem to be very late with their new model and they also got the price totally wrong - so as a result they have no chance of getting a larger market share any time soon :(

Minolta was the first company that promoted in-camera image stabilization for a DSLR - but they rather failed as a result of not placing the consumer first and were later bought by Sony which just launched the A100 - not bad and in the same class as D80 and 400D and with the extra IS it might still be a hit ... or Sony might get a second chance in 2007 with a full-frame sensor (or almost) - but they should pay more attention to the prices or the Sony management might have the same fate as the one from Minolta ...

However, the best news at the end of this year are coming from Pentax. First of all they launched (almost half year ago) the K100D - a camera that has all the features of the new Nikon D40 (including the low price) and on top of that has image stabilization (called anti-shake at Pentax) with all lenses and can use almost all decent Pentax lenses made in recent times (unlike the latest Nikon - that company is trying to screw its customers into buying new fancy stuff every few years or so ... and Canon is not far from them). The K100D is such a hit it might seem difficult to be able to top it but Pentax is trying really hard to do just that - in a few days they will start selling the K10D - a higher-end camera that is in the same price range as the 400D, D80 or A100 yet has again even better image stabilization, smoother images and on top of that some pro-level features like weather-sealing that are normally only found over 2000US$ ... and for that (and many other things) the K10D certainly deserves our award of the COOLEST DSLR OF 2006 !!! Obviously Pentax are not perfect either - they are a little late with some of the higher-end sealed lenses needed to complement the K10D (and the price and quality of those lenses also might be very important for their future) ... but in 2007 I hope they'll be able to continue being the small company that is working harder so that I'll be able to award them some other cool rating from this site :)