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Angel L. Mar 9, 2006 9:09 AM

I was trying to find any data on Sony and minolta plans to introduce a DSLR for this summer. Can anyone please inform me on this topic?

Will they be using zeiss lenses on DSLR?

Will it be worth the wait?

JimC Mar 9, 2006 9:26 AM

KM recently announced that it will no longer be selling cameras under the Konica Minolta brand. Some assets will be transferred to Sony by April 1.

But, because the deal isn't going to be final until after the end of March, I doubt you'll see Sony make much in the way of announcements until then. That's speculation on my part, but it's how I'd expect a deal of this magnitutde to be arranged.

After all, if Sony made announcements now on new models, it could hurt Konica Minolta's ability to sell existing stock (since KM still owns their DSLR business for now). So, they probably have an arrangement with KM not to make any announcements until the deal is final (speculation, but that's how I'd do it if I were KM).

That Sony will be selling cameras and lenses in Minolta mount is not a new thing. That was announced a LONG time before KM decided to stop selling cameras. So, models with a Sony brand name have been "in the works" for quite a while now, and they've announced their intent to launch them this summer.

Sony DSLR models using the Minolta Maxxum/Dynax mount have been in the works since last July.

We've already got a new Nikon models using Sony's 10 and 12 Megapixel sensors, and Pentax has announced a DSLR that will be 10MP (probably using a Sony sensor).

I have little doubt that we'll be seeing new models from Sony with improved sensors that can use Minolta Maxxum/Mount lenses. Ditto for new lenses that are compatible with the Minolta Maxxum/Dynax lens mount.

Will any of them have a Zeiss label on them? I don't know, and I really don't care. Also, just because a lens has a Zeiss label on it, doesn't mean that it's actually manufactured by Zeiss. ;-)

Sony's lenses with Zeiss labels are being manufactured in Japan, with Zeiss involved in the design and Quality assurance process, and the lenses probably use Zeiss coatings. It's a marketing arrangement that helps to sell cameras. I'd look at each lens on a case by case basis to determine quality, regardless of what label it happens to wear.

A news story from last month (and you don't launch new models with the intent to capture 25% of the DLSR market without good lens availability). You'll see new lenses (and they're are lots of them already in the market in this mount):

Sony Aims For Quarter Share of DSLR Market

Following Konica Minolta Holding Inc.'s announcement of withdrawal from the arena of the imaging business and an agreement to transfer Konica Minolta's assets related to R&D as well as manufacturing of DSLRs to Sony Corp., an official of Sony said on Jan. 20 it would aim for at least a quarter of share in the DSLR camera market in a few years, reports PEN News Weekly.

Sony commands the second-largest share of the digicam market after Canon, but its operations have been focused mainly on compact models, missing lucrative DSLRs and interchangeable lenses to warrant a push. Canon and Nikon dominate the DSLR market with a combined market share of nearly 90 percent.

Through acquisition of the right to use the Konica Minolta's Alpha/Maxxum mount system, access to manufacturing/designing technology and R&D/manufacturing assets (though Konica Minolta retains its patents), Sony plans a big push to high-end digicam market including DSLRs, to chip away at Canon's dominant market position, says PEN News Weekly.

Yutaka Nakagawa, president of Sony's digital imaging business group, told reporters that the company "will target for at least 20-25 percent of the world digicam market, and even a higher share as far as DSLRs are concerned, by making the most of its advantage," ie., its capability to make key devices such as CCDs, lenses and LCDs. He continued: "Because there are only a few players in the DSLR market, we would like to grab an even bigger market share. We wish to nurture our DSLR segment to a business that accounts for more than 20 percent of our total revenue from digicam sales in the near future."

Sony plans to roll out its first high-end DSLR model jointly developed with Konica Minolta this summer. The company plans to entrust manufacture of its DSLRs to Konica Minolta's Malaysian company through capital participation. A certain number of designers and engineers may be transferred from Konica Minolta to Sony, but details are not disclosed, says PEN News Weekly. (Source: Photo Marketing Association's Newsline International)

Angel L. Mar 9, 2006 9:54 AM

Thank you,

Will you be reviewing the new nikon and pentax with sony sensors soon? Do you think this will improve resolution that much better than what is available today from nikon and canon etc.

JimC Mar 9, 2006 10:06 AM

The Pentax won't be shipping for quite a while.

I don't know what Steve's schedule is for the D200.

As far as resolution, sure a 10MP sensor will resolve more detail, provided the lens is of good enough quality.

But, depending on your print or viewing size, you may need be able to see any more detail. ;-)

Also, when you increase resolution without increasing sensor size, you sometimes have higher noise levels compared to a model with lower resolution as ISO speeds are increased.

That's because the surface area of the photosites for each pixel are smaller (they have to be in order to fit more of them into the same sensor size). As a result, each individual photosite doesn't receive as much light, requiring more amplification for equivalent sensitivity to light (and this amplification increases noise levels).

Personally, I applaud Canon for not increasing the resolution from 8 Megapixels in their recently announced EOS-30D (upgrade from EOS-20D). I'd rather the manufacturers spend time on improving things like Noise Levels and Dynamic Range, versus continuing the "megapixel war", when most consumers don't need more megapixels anyway, for the print and viewing sizes they use.

From tests I've seen so far, the new 10MP sensor in the Nikon D200 has slightly higher noise levels compared to some of the lower resolution DSLR models. But, it's not too bad and Sony may make improvements to the sensor and/or supporting chipset in new models they may introduce using it.

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