E mount, A3000, A99, Olympus and once again Pentax

27 Aug

The release of the A3000 marks Sony’s attempt to market the E-mount to those who would rather own an SLR-styled camera. The model, which has been compared to the Panasonic G series, also has in-body stabilisation, giving rise to clamour over a possible impending demise of the A-mount.

It would be easy to wonder about the product naming of a recently announced Sony model, the full-frame A99, with 99 being both a big, imposing and definitive number as well as a rather final one, certainly suggesting that the product is to be seen as unique within the line-up and unlikely to have a successor, as Sony uses increasing numbering from one model to the next.

Two facts are reasonably well established:

  1. Many current Sony E-mount lenses do not support full frame.
  2. E-mount is, in principle, full-frame capable.

The extent to which a full frame E-mount based camera could still have in body stabilisation is less well known, however. It should be taken as given, however, that the number of stops of stabilisation is limited by the size of the potential image circle. The widest mounts will allow the best image stabilisation. This may or may not explain the fact that Olympus Four Thirds lenses were rather large compared to APS-C and considering its otherwise larger crop factor.

Speaking of Olympus, if Sony were to abandon the A-mount, it would be similar to Oly’s (apparent) abandonment of the FT system, which continues to sour relations with erstwhile Olympus enthusiasts.

In terms of lens availability, Sony’s problem is familiar to Olympus, but even more similar to Pentax’, who have been rumoured to be working on DA-X lenses that are to be full frame compatible, with only a limited range of current DA lenses having this benefit, and questions again arising over whether there is room for in body stabilisation to be accommodated by such existing DA lenses, not to mention the lens mount as a whole.

Perhaps a smarter idea would be to re-design the mount in a way that allows better IBIS on a range of larger full frame lenses, while also building in a solution for legacy lenses to be used on that same mount with the usual benefits of at least the “crippled” KAF2 mount. Olympus seems to be about to show a solution for a similar problem, and mount agnosticism is of course trending right now with Sigma announcing a mount change service only very recently.

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