With sensor prices falling and mirrorless finally having some competition at the top end, Nikon and Canon should provide their customers a classic: a pocket-sized camera with a full frame sensor and a fast, fixed prime lens.
My case isn’t really compelling. Fixed prime lenses for cameras are few and far between. Leica makes a few, with the Q2 being the most recent and commanding a fairly tempting price of $4,995, provided you can find one. Leica remains an option for hardened fans and the mid-life crisis, as well as the millionaire’s point-and-shoot, thanks to German engineering, precision production, amazing lens sharpness, and its magnesium-alloy body.With 47.3 megapixels, the 28mm lens can be optically cropped to 35mm and 50mm with the touch of a button while maintaining acceptable image quality. Hardcore Leica fans are waiting with bated breath to see if, for an extra $500, Leica will produce an identical camera without the red branding on the front. These days, stealth mode is expensive.
The RX1R II, for example, brings in-lens leaf shutter technology to Sony’s full-frame camera lineup. This is not a cheap camera, but for discreet wedding work and situations when you need to be less invasive, it’s a good option for anyone with $3,298 to spend. If that sounds a little crazy, I can’t believe they’ve sold in droves. However, as Fstoppers’ Ryan Mense pointed out in 2015, given its innards, this is an unfathomably small camera, and Nikon and Canon have had almost four years to catch up.
The profit margins and sales statistics for this type of camera are both small, which helps to explain why other companies aren’t rushing to build anything similar. The fixed prime body is where you send the developers with the most beards and reddest eyes to dream, play, and come up with ridiculous ideas that make it to market. Make a leaf shutter, take off the external storage, and install Lightroom: The release date for the ZX1 is still unknown, and the price is also unknown, though we can be assured that it will not be cheap.This type of camera will never be profitable, but it will provide some unique technologies and exciting exploration.
I’m quietly (maybe foolishly) hopeful about Canon and Nikon. If Nikon can devote money to producing the ridiculous 58mm f/0.95 S Noct, I demand that they devote some R&D resources to a camera that I’d want to see but will almost definitely never purchase. Canon is dealing with its own set of issues right now, but that’s no excuse; there’s plenty of inspiration to be found if you look back far enough, and one in particular has proven to be incredibly popular.
The Canon Canonet, introduced in 1961, was the ideal pocket camera, with its rangefinder technology combining ease of use with practicality, as well as a few other innovative features. Obviously, with the ubiquity of smartphones, there is no current market for such a camera, but the aesthetics and history provide Canon with plenty of options for boosting its staid and conservative logo. This is not a camera that will sell; rather, it is about making an audacious product that makes the firm as a whole feel like it offers something unique.
So, this isn’t just about me wanting a pricey toy. It’s about my desire for camera companies to venture outside of their comfort zones and inject some creativity into their products. Company connection is based on how consumers perceive a company’s essence, not only on lens selections and the number of auto focus points. Although Leica and Zeiss aren’t the best analogies, if Sony can create a photographic folly that makes us happy despite the fact that we’ll never buy it, Canon and Nikon should give it a shot.
I’m probably being unreasonable at a time when the struggle for the mirrorless market is becoming increasingly fierce. Leave your ideas in the comments section.