A sad time for Sony/Minolta DSLR users

Discussion in 'Digital Cameras' started by Bruce, May 29, 2012.

  1. Bruce

    Bruce Guest

    Last week we sold our last Sony DSLR. We sell very few, but because
    of the store's long history as a Minolta specialist we have always had
    at least one in stock. I was surprised to learn today that Sony no
    longer has any stock of DSLRs and no more will be made.

    All is not lost because the Alpha SLTs are still available to take
    Minolta and Sony Alpha A mount lenses but they are extremely slow
    sellers. There is no shortage of cameras. The problem is the
    shortage of customers. No-one wants to buy them.

    Sales of NEX mirrorless cameras were strong but have been dropping
    recently because the lens range is so poor. There is only one lens
    that can realise the potential of the 24 MP sensor in the NEX-7, the
    Zeiss 24mm f/1.8. But that lens is eyewateringly expensive,
    especially when compared with the Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 for Micro Four
    Thirds, which is optically just as good at *one third of the price*.

    We will wait and see what Sony has to offer us for 2013 then make a
    decision whether to continue stocking the brand. Several of our
    competitors have now dropped Sony products from their ranges because
    of the disastrously low sales figures. I would not be surprised if we
    went the same way. We have limited display space and there are other
    brands which can deliver a much better return on that space.

    The forthcoming Canon mirrorless system is likely to do considerable
    damage to sales of Sony NEX and Micro Four Thirds.

    It is sad to see the (Konica-)Minolta brand descend to such depths.
    Several years ago, we had a lot of very loyal Minolta customers who
    were excited by the thought of what Sony's investment might do to help
    develop the range. I doubt any of them expected Sony to kill it off,
    nor quite so quickly. We still have many of those loyal customers.
    but they now buy brands other than Sony.
     
    Bruce, May 29, 2012
    #1
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  2. Bruce

    RichA Guest

    Kind of funny. I was in a store the other day and some guy was
    lamenting that he'd owned two Sony's, both failed on him so he's
    moving to Canon. I wonder how much of that is really peer-pressure
    and his Canon-owing buddies made sport of him?
    Arbitrary comparisons don't always work. Zeiss won't be selling
    lenses for $300.00, ever, no matter what.
    I'd think hard about discontinuing them. Like the head of Walmart
    said, 80% of people buy white toilet seats, but they still have to
    stock 18 colours or people won't buy anything. Sales psychology at
    work.
    Especially in Canada as many are Canondroids here. Personally, I
    don't believe in rewarding companies that have foisted so much flawed
    product onto users.
    This sounds like what happened to Olympus DSLRs in Toronto, even
    though they had the fantastic lens line-up.
     
    RichA, May 29, 2012
    #2
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  3. Bruce

    Bruce Guest


    I can't speak for Canada, but Sony after-sales service here is
    atrocious.


    True, but the point is that there is only one good lens in the range.
    Apart from the CZ 24mm, the only good prime lenses available for Sony
    NEX come from Sigma - the 19mm and 30mm. Of course the build quality
    is the usual junk, but optically they are better than anything for NEX
    sold under the Sony brand.

    Sony had a very good roadmap for NEX lenses then the investment was
    pulled. As a result, NEX is now struggling.

    That is totally unnecessary. The camera bodies are excellent - we got
    the new NEX-F3 to try this week, and it is really good. But where are
    the decent lenses?


    But people already aren't buying anything. Alpha DSLRs have just died
    (R.I.P.) and the SLTs are almost impossible to sell despite the low
    prices we offer them at. They are troublesome in every way, and don't
    make us anything like the profit we need from the area we have devoted
    to them.


    I think that "foisted so much flawed product onto users" applies to
    many companies, certainly not just Canon.


    Well, there were other reasons for that. Kodak must take a large
    share of the blame for Olympus being stuck with poor sensors. If
    Panasonic hadn't rescued Olympus with the excellent LiveMOS sensors,
    Four Thirds would have died altogether and Micro Four Thirds would
    have been a Panasonic-only format.
     
    Bruce, May 29, 2012
    #3
  4. Bruce

    Alan Browne Guest

    Sony decided on their SLT strategy some time ago, so it's no surprise.

    And what I see here is people are buying them. So much for Tony "Bruce"
    Polson's anti-Sony routine.

    What will be a damper is if they never make a FF SLT - though the rumour
    mill has it that they will.

    SLT's several advantages (phase-AF, fps, etc.) are tempered by their
    disadvantages such as spurious reflections and mechanical distortion of
    the mirror. If Sony (have) solve(d) that, then there should not be any
    real concern for Minolta glass owners.

    If they remain at APS-C, then at least the high quality offerings such
    as the A-77 "level" will temper disappointment.

    I continue to see a lot of alpha cameras out there, so they remain
    relatively popular.
     
    Alan Browne, May 29, 2012
    #4
  5. Bruce

    Alan Browne Guest

    Compared to the competition ...
    Unfortunately there's truth to that. Sony accessories, especially. But
    also high end lenses seem to carry a 20 - 40% premium over comparable
    lenses from the competition.
    Which all but ignores the "SLR" camera segment. The real issue is the
    money losing television business as well as others. The camera business
    is in the noise, somewhat.
     
    Alan Browne, May 29, 2012
    #5
  6. Bruce

    RichA Guest

    Some of it is outsourced in Canada.
    I know they don't sell, but how do you think Samsung has done?
    Stupid move on their part. Build it and then kill it by inches.

    I think part of what I meant was that getting rid of Sony might hurt
    sales of other brands. Who wants to shop in a store that only stocks
    two brands? As odd as it sounds, people who do not yet have systems
    want choices presented even if they've decided to by from the big two.
    Canon has no excuse really. They had more problems than other brands
    in the last 10 years. Nikon's resurgence wasn't only because of its
    sensors.
    I don't think I saw any shortages of Olympus cameras, but the brand
    was definitely ignored by retailers because selling Canon and Nikon
    was easier and probably more lucrative. But, reports of performance
    probably hurt Olympus as well, but it had more to do with the
    responsivity of the bodies and not so much the sensors, at least at
    normal ISO's.
     
    RichA, May 30, 2012
    #6
  7. Bruce

    RichA Guest

    Volumes sometime matter more than profits, for a while. The
    smallness of the camera division makes it easy to cut.
     
    RichA, May 30, 2012
    #7
  8. Bruce

    Bruce Guest


    It also makes it easier to ignore losses, because even a high
    percentage loss on a relatively very small turnover is not significant
    compared to Sony's overall losses.

    However, the disposal of Sony's TV manufacturing interests will also
    mean the disposal of a large chunk of the company's losses. At some
    point, the Sony board will notice just how lamentable the performance
    of the photo division really is. At that time, cutting its losses
    will be a no-brainer.

    I should also point out that when Sony bought the (D)SLR business of
    Konica Minolta, it was fully expected to grow rapidly and become a
    very significant part of Sony's overall business. Their target was a
    whopping 25% share of the worldwide market. <wry grin>

    As we know, this was never approached, let alone achieved. The
    product was never good enough. It would seem reasonable to have
    expected some greater synergy between Sony's camera division and its
    highly successful sensor manufacturing division.

    Sony makes some outstanding sensors, but its own camera division seems
    determined to make them underperform. Every Sony sensor seems to
    perform better in other brands of camera than it does in a Sony
    camera.

    The excellent 16 MP Exmor sensor produced sparkling results in the
    Pentax K-5, K-30 and K-01 and Nikon D7000 yet all the Sony cameras
    using identical sensors lag way behind on image quality, especially
    dynamic range.

    How could Sony have got this so wrong? The Minolta DSLR designers
    managed to get the very best out of Sony sensors. Results from the
    Dynax/Maxxum DSLRs were at least as good as those from other brands
    *using the identical Sony sensor*. So what went wrong?

    How was it that Sony supplied outstanding 24 MP full frame sensors for
    the superlative Nikon D3X DSLR but gave their own camera division
    desperately noisy 24 MP full frame sensors for the flagship Sony A900?
    The A900 (and the cheaper A850 version) were a joke. Despite their
    low price - a steal compared to the only other 24 MP full frame DSLR,
    Nikon's D3X - they never sold well. It took more than *two and a half
    years* to sell the final batch.

    As you say, while Sony has even greater problems to worry about, the
    camera division is left to its own devices. But when Sony finally
    gets rid of those problems over the next 12-18 months, Sony's board
    will have the time to look harder at every division, not just the
    worst loss makers, and the performance of the camera division will
    come under the closer scrutiny it has so far escaped.

    When this happens, there will be a bloodbath.
     
    Bruce, May 30, 2012
    #8
  9. Bruce

    Bruce Guest

    Most or is outsourced here too.



    That's something of an enigma. Samsung CSCs sold very well last year,
    partly due to their being able to take advantage of Japanese and Thai
    supply problems following earthquake/tsunami and floods respectively.

    However, sales have dropped since then and Samsung doesn't seem to be
    making headway. The product is good, with great features and
    performance. The prices are good. But it isn't selling as briskly as
    it might. Brand image or what? I don't know, and no-one else seems
    to know either.



    That sums it up pretty well.



    In the UK, Sony tried to take advantage of short term problems at
    Pentax and negotiated a major deal with Jessops (UK's major photo
    store chain - think Ritz). It appears there were special terms if
    Jessops stopped selling Pentax and gave Sony near-equal presence to
    Canon and Nikon in stores. Sony was duly given pride of place and
    Pentax was dropped for the first time for decades.

    The result of this was that Sony sales were a spectacular flop. Pentax
    is now back and the display cases that were formerly Sony-only are
    displaying other brands.



    I'm not sure I agree about Canon having multiple problems. There have
    been problems with the AF system that were inherent in the way the EOS
    AF was originally designed. Canon has always had to work around this,
    and the workarounds have proved ever more difficult as the number of
    megapixels has increased, making focusing inaccuracies more obvious.

    What other major problem do you believe Canon has had?



    I think you are in denial. The E-1 was a good start with the 5.0 MP
    Kodak sensor that competed strongly with the Canon EOS 1D's 4.0 MP.
    But Canon leapt ahead with 8.0 MP and Olympus stayed at 5.0 MP. Kodak
    supplied an 8.0 MP Four Thirds sensor but it was junk - I helped test
    several versions and they just weren't good enough, hence no
    replacement for the E-1 for *four years* when the typical DSLR product
    cycle is less than half of that.

    The Panasonic 7.5 MP LiveMOS sensor saved Olympus, and the later 10.0
    and 12.1 MP LiveMOS sensors restored the dignity of the Four Thirds
    line, but it was too late. The damage had been done and at least some
    of the blame was down to Kodak.
     
    Bruce, May 30, 2012
    #9
  10. Bruce

    Joe Kotroczo Guest

    Bought an A77 not so long ago, and am happy with it. Don't miss the
    flappy mirror. Love the 16-50mm f/2.8 that came with it and which does
    not deserve to be called a "kit lens".
     
    Joe Kotroczo, May 30, 2012
    #10
  11. Bruce

    Bruce Guest


    Who on earth would call that a "kit lens"?
     
    Bruce, May 30, 2012
    #11
  12. Bruce

    Guest Guest

    because the sensors destined for nikon are made to nikon's specs and
    sony *can't* use that particular design.
     
    Guest, May 30, 2012
    #12
  13. Bruce

    Alan Browne Guest

    Make it easy to ignore, esp. if it's making margins or even break even.
    At "worst" Sony could sell off the SLT/SLR camera group rather than
    shutter it.

    Maybe Olympus would like it. Or Pentax. Or Mamiya. Who knows. For me
    as long as someone nurtures it I'm happy. Otherwise I'll have to
    re-build around Nikon or Canon (I like each for different things) but
    some of my lenses will be expensive to replace.

    The television business at any volume was losing money with ea. sale.
    Even with Sony's draconian plans for their TV business in 2012/13, it is
    doubtful that it can be competitive.
     
    Alan Browne, May 30, 2012
    #13
  14. Bruce

    Joe Kotroczo Guest

    I've seen it described as such in several articles. :)

    I'll get a 30mm or 35mm prime next... Any suggestions?
     
    Joe Kotroczo, May 30, 2012
    #14
  15. Bruce

    Alan Browne Guest

    I'm not much for the wide end, but the 135 mm f/1.8 is marvelous as is
    the 135 f/2.8 [T4.5] STF. With the A77 those would work out to around a
    200mm FF-FOV and provide tack sharp images.

    I have the 20mm f/2.8 Minolta - but rarely use it. My 'wide' lens is
    the 28-70 f/2.8 (on a FF) - about the same FOV as your 16-50 on the A77.
     
    Alan Browne, May 30, 2012
    #15
  16. Bruce

    Bruce Guest


    The Sony DT 35mm f/1.8 SAM is highly regarded but very inexpensive.
    Expect to pay £120 net (after £30 cashback). That's ridiculously
    cheap for a good lens, but the lens is fairly cheaply made.

    If you want to shoot macro, the Sony 30mm f/2.8 is also highly
    regarded but you lose more than a stop of speed in return for great
    macro performance. Expect to pay £130 net (after £30 cashback).

    If you want a faster lens, the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 is a good performer.
    Test it carefully to make sure you didn't get a bad one, then you have
    a three year warranty from Sigma UK to cover any manufacturing issues.
    Expect to pay about £350 to £380.

    I hesitate to recommend Sigma because the product is inconsistent and
    can be unreliable. The three year warranty helps you get a lens
    repaired (or sometimes replaced) but that isn't any help if you are on
    an important assignment and the lens fails.

    Also, the Sigma is an expensive lens if you don't need f/1.4. The
    Sony DT 35mm f/1.8 SAM is not far behind in speed at f/1.8 and is
    likely to be more reliable than a Sigma lens.

    So it's the Sony 35mm f/1.8 for general photography, the Sony 30mm
    f/2.8 if you need the macro option, or the Sigma if you absolutely
    must have f/1.4, are happy to pay three times more and can cope with
    the distinct possibility that it will let you down.

    Most salesmen would want to sell you the Sigma because it would
    generate much more profit than selling you both Sony lenses. ;-)
     
    Bruce, May 30, 2012
    #16
  17. Bruce

    Joe Kotroczo Guest

    Thanks for that, it confirms what I heard elsewhere.

    Shouldn't the salesman try to sell me the Sony 35mm f/1.4 G? It's out of
    my price range anyway, but just out of curiosity: how does it compare to
    the other 3?
     
    Joe Kotroczo, May 31, 2012
    #17
  18. Bruce

    Bruce Guest


    It is an old Minolta lens that was designed for film. It is not the
    best lens for digital capture. If you need f/1.4, the Sigma suits
    digital sensors better because it was designed specifically to be used
    with them.

    The 35mm f/1.4G is also very expensive compared to the Sigma.

    Another alternative; a quick eBay search revealed that the Samyang
    35mm f/1.4 is now available in Sony mount. I have used this lens on
    Nikon and Kodak full frame DSLRs and it is very good. At £360 it
    offers exceptional value for money, but it is large and heavy. I'm
    not sure I would want to carry it around all day - the Sony 35mm f/1.8
    is looking better and better!

    But if you really need f/1.4, the Samyang is the one to buy and the
    Sigma and Sony are the ones to avoid - Sigma because of dubious
    quality control and Sony because it is an old design and very
    expensive for what it is. I'm sorry I didn't suggest it earlier; we
    don't stock Samyang and I wasn't aware until today that it is now
    available in Sony mount.
     
    Bruce, May 31, 2012
    #18
  19. Bruce

    Joe Kotroczo Guest

    Does that really matter all that much?
    I had noticed.
    Does the Samyang do AF or is it MF only?
     
    Joe Kotroczo, May 31, 2012
    #19
  20. Bruce

    Bruce Guest


    To answer that specific question, the profit margin on camera brand
    lenses is low. That is a special order lens which carries an even
    lower margin than Sony lenses that are kept in stock and then there is
    the hassle of ordering it. There is almost as much money to be made
    selling you a Sigma lens from stock.
     
    Bruce, May 31, 2012
    #20
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