Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Sony is MY camera company (for the moment)

There is a lot of angst in the Sony photography community right now - oh who am I kidding there is always a lot of angst in the Sony photography community, the angst level rarely changes, just the topic.

Well, I think the big topic in Sony fora now seems to be 'what is the future of the A mount and will Sony abandon us A mount users for their sexy new E - especially FE - series?'. Actually this is a very legitimate question, whenever a company introduces a new tech that appears to be competing with its own, older product lines history has shown that legacy users are right to wonder whats going to happen to them. Perhaps my real issue isnt so much with the question, but the emotion behind it. There is real anger out there. And defeat. And resignation.

Personally I dont feel this. Im excited, energised, thrilled. I touched on this in an earlier post and someone commented that it appeared I was considering cameras and my values very differently to others on teh net. I found this interesting so decided to poke at the problem a bit.

Im not a Sony insider, I dont have access to priveledged information, I only know what everyone else does. Likewise, whilst my investment in the A mount isnt as great as some I do have three A mount bodies and about 12 lenses including some good stuff (G's and CZ's) and it will hurt me replacing this so my stake in the survival of the A mount isnt trivial. But despite that, why am I so happy, so happy in fact that I've run out to double down on the very camera that looks likely to kill the one I've got while others in much the same position are (metaphorically) shaking their fists at Sony, predicting doom and gloom and threatening to leave.

Given that all the external things about me are pretty much the same as those unhappy with the A/E mount situation Im guessing the difference is more internal. That is, its not the realities of Sony's behaviour or impact on me but rather what I feel about those changes.

One of the odd things about the military is that we do a lot of psych testing. Sometimes to make sure you are safe to hand a gun to, but usually to find out a little more about how you work best in various work and team contexts. No matter what tests they run, or when they run them, I've consistently returned similar results:

I prefer to make decisions based on broad principles and fundamental concepts.

I feel more comfortable with interiews, presentations and discussion papers than detailed scientific papers and long spec lists.

I get bored by, and in fact distrust, excessive detail. 
I get bored by, and in fact frustrated, by stability. 
A couple of things to note. This doesnt mean I cant handle detail - I can, I just have to force myself. I can work in a stable environment, I just wont enjoy it. Likewise, these are preferences, NOT competancies. Just because I prefer making decisions based on broad principles doesnt mean that a) such a decision making process is appropriate in all cases or b) even if the process is appropriate, that I'm any good at it. I point this out just so people understand that I'm not advocating my way of looking at the world, just recognising it for what it is.

But what this does mean is that Sony has been, and continues to be MY ideal camera maker. In my time Sony has taken over the A mount, brought us the E mount, brought us the RX series compacts, those weird camera units for smart phones and now an FE mount. Its experimented with all sorts of options, seemingly prototyping idea's and just throwing them at walls to see what sticks with little planning for the outcomes. I'm loving this! It clearly wont suit everyone, it might not even work and could lead to Sony's collapse in the imaging market and withdrawl from the sector. That would be awful but thats a small risk really and one I'm personally happy with.

Conversely Canon and Nikon make very sensible, safe and competant cameras. There's nothing wrong with them and if I buy one I know exactly what I'm getting. If I buy into the system I can guess with a fair degree of certainty what will be around in 1,3,5 years and I'm almost certain those future cameras will be equally sensible, safe and competant. And dull.

Of course neither my love of the new and interesting and distain for the old and boring is limitless - there has to be a base level of functionality and usefulness. If Sony totally drops the ball and really creates a dud camera I dont care how innovative it is, they are out. But right now, with what we've seen so far, Sony is my camera company.

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