Missing Items in Each System

This article attempts to identify things that are still missing in each of the various mirrorless camera systems. This article updates and replaces a small section that used to appear in the Articles section of this site.

Canon EOS M
We have two basic body choices and the models range from entry level to a near DSLR level. We also have eight EOS M lenses, though three are mid-range convenience zooms. 

What EOS M doesn’t have in 2022 is:

  • Quite a few compact primes (at minimum: 16mm and 50mm).
  • More than one fast prime (the above could be f/1.4 or f/2 and help solve this, but right now we have only one 32mm f/1.4 option, and that clearly makes for a gap with other “full” systems).
  • Fast or semi-fast fixed aperture zooms (16-50mm, 50-135mm, either f/2.8 or f/4).
  • Long telephoto zooms (50-300mm, or anything that would get us to 400mm equivalent).
  • A camera with built in EVF. The M5 is no longer with us, though you can get an external EVF for the M6 Mark II.

The bigger question is whether Canon actually wants to fill any of these holes, or whether they just see the EOS M as a gateway system that’s already reasonably complete. Now that we have RF-S, it looks like the latter is true. Which means that if you want something beyond what the EOS M system currently provides, Canon really wants you to buy one of their RF models. 

As a complete stand-alone system that can solve an ILC customer’s full set of needs, the Canon EOS M currently doesn’t come close for serious enthusiasts; it really only satisfies the lowest common denominator consumer.

Canon EOS RF
We have three basic body choices at the moment, the low-end RP, the somewhat higher but strange R, and the DSLR-like R3, R5, R6, R7, and R10. The R and RP are based on older DSLR sensors at a time when Sony (and others) continue to move forward with their chip technologies. The R3, R5, R6 are more modern, with new sensors. The R7 and R10 are somewhere in between, with tweaks on older sensors.

We also have 26 RF lenses for those seven cameras, with more coming. The problem is that most of those lenses don't match the quality of some of the bodies. If you buy an RP, the only lenses that really match up well are the 24-105mm f/4-7.1 and 24-240mm f/4-6.3. If you buy an R, I'd argue that only the 24-105mm f/4, 70-200mm f/4, and 35mm f/1.8 macro really match lens and body well. If you buy an R7 or R10, there are only two RF-S lenses for them at the moment. At the other extreme, the 35mm f/1.8 and 85mm f/2 seem too little lens for the new sensors. 

Thus, what RF needs in 2022 is:

  • We need more consumer lenses for the RP/R. A low end kit lens, a consumer telephoto, at minimum.
  • More lenses are needed for RF-S cameras. We need all of the M-mount lenses, plus a few others.
  • We need slow, compact primes. The f/1.2L's are expensive and aspirational with the current bodies, and they're large and heavy; so a trio of f/2.8 compact primes would be highly desirable).
  • The higher-end (R3/R5/R6) cameras need more support. We're missing tilt-shift and other options that the EOS DSLR user has available. To get more DSLR users to shift to mirrorless, Canon needs to rapidly fill out the options.

Fujifilm XF
Fujifilm has a reasonably full set of products, though many are quite different from one another. 

I’d tend to argue that Fujifilm has a few too many camera options. The camera products seem overly represented by overlapping generation models, lots of style/control experimentation, plus Fujifilm really only has one small, light zoom lens option that matches up well with the smaller, lower cost products. Meanwhile, on-sensor IS is not on all cameras, so this pushes the need for IS into a lot of the lenses, but not quite enough of those exist, and they are higher priced.

Here's where XF is in 2022:

  • IBIS needs to reach more XF bodies. On sensor stabilization is the norm now. Every Fujifilm body needs it. 
  • Four or five cameras are enough. The X-T200, X-T30, and X-T4—note the generational issues—were the core of Fujifilm's offerings. Beyond that, Fujifilm should just pick the X-Pro or the X-H for a final model and simplify and rationalize the lineup. There are some who'd argue that the X-E should still be in there, but I'm not seeing the demand for it. And, of course, Fujifilm added the X-S10 to the model proliferation, and we have the X-H model splitting into two different models. 
  • Telephoto offerings are still not all there. This is especially true with the announcement of the X-H2S. To truly compete with the Canon, Nikon, and Sony flagships, Fujifilm needs quite a few additional telephoto lenses. For instance:
  • More niche options. Tilt/Shift, macro, and a host of other speciality lenses are currently missing or in short supply in the XF system.
  • Better mid-range zooms. I keep putting the kit 15-45mm f/3.5-5.6 lens on my Fujifilm bodies as a mid-range zoom because, other than perhaps the 16-55mm f/2.8, I find the other choices somewhat lacking optically, particularly the 16-80mm f/4.
  • Some better telephoto zoom options. Fujifilm could really use a 50-140mm f/4, and probably a better 55-200mm kit option. 

Accessories, particularly flash, are another area where Fujifilm also needs some additional options. 

Fujifilm GFX
This new medium format cameras really have only one hole: a handful of missing lenses. While we have thirteen lenses now, with 23mm to 110mm covered decently, I can see options that I'd like that don't exist. 

I and others have also found some of the GFX lens quality to be very sample inconsistent, particularly on the 100mp bodies. Thus we also need more consistent lens quality in the GXF mount lenses, too. I've seen and heard about just a few too many "not quite perfect" lenses in the field.

I don't know that we need another camera. Two cameras updated consistently are probably enough. 

There’s also the question of flash, as with the smaller APS systems Fujifilm makes. A full radio-activated wireless flash system controlled from the camera seems like another gap to be filled, though I suspect most shooters who'd opt for the GFX would just move to studio strobes.

Hasselblad XCD
Another medium format camera, now in its second generation. We received a decent range of ten lenses at this point, and they cover most of the needs a MF shooter would typically have (and a bit more broadly in focal range than Fujifilm GFX, at 21-135mm). What we don't have yet is a 100mp version of the X1D camera.

Also, Hasselblad seems behind the times in a number of performance capabilities, from autofocus speed to just camera operation speed. 

Leica TL/SL
I’m still not quite sure what to make of the TL/SL cameras. Why? Well, the TL seems to be targeted at convenience (variable aperture and smaller lenses) and no longer updated, while the SL seems to be targeted at highest potential image quality and has produced some of the biggest and heaviest mirrorless lenses we’ve seen to date. 

Who am I to say that the TL needs more primes and some faster zooms and the SL needs some smaller lenses? Neither currently seem to be in Leica’s future, and intentionally so; it seems to be their strategy.

However, Leica's partnering with Panasonic and Sigma on the L lens mount changed things. The lens selection is way up, including some more compact full frame lenses, and you also have a choice of Panasonic and Sigma bodies, too. This alters the equation quite a bit, and means that Leica will have to do more to distinguish itself from the competition.

Thus, I think you only buy into the Leica approach only if the model you like has the options you desire. Whatever gaps exist in the Leica offerings are there because Leica doesn’t see them as gaps. 

Nikon 1 (CX)
The Nikon 1 is a dead system. Nikon did not release anything for the system after 2015. Officially, the line is now discontinued, though some refurbished gear occasionally comes up available for purchase.

Since the system is dead, you need to be satisfied with what was produced, and rely more and more on the used market to fulfill any additional purchases you want.

Nikon Z
You can't really say that the Z system replaced the 1 (CX) system, but Nikon came back to the mirrorless market three years later (2018) with a full frame set of offerings based around a new lens mount. Initially, Nikon announced two cameras, the Z6 (24mp) and Z7 (45mp), which matched up really well against the Sony A7 and A7R models. Since then, we've also gotten the Z5, Z6 II and Z7 II updates, and the Z9 in full frame, plus the Z30, Z50, and Zfc in crop sensor.

Lenses have been popping out regularly, and they've almost all been clear winners with high optical performance. Here in mid-2022 the lineup is 23 full frame (FX) lenses and 3 crop sensor (DX) ones, with six more pending release.

Still, despite four years of fairly quick iteration and additions, there's a lot left to be done in the Z lineup:

  • No clear APS-C (DX) sensor strategy. The Z50 and its derivatives are remarkably good little cameras, but have only three lenses to directly support them, with two more coming in 2022. It's highly unclear what Nikon is doing with Z DX yet. The repurposing of the Z50 internals into two distinctly different versions (Z30 for vlogging, Zfc for casual, manual focus type work) was interesting, but... If this all was a toe in the crop sensor water, what did the toe report to the body? ;~)
  • Not enough small primes. Nikon has elected to primarily build out two prime lens lines, a moderate sized f/1.8 one that is high in image quality, and an even faster f/1.2 one that is really high in image quality, but big and heavy. Given how compact and portable the Z camera bodies are, what's missing are more lenses that play into that size benefit. Nikon did produce the 28mm f/2.8, 40mm f/2, and 50mm f/2.8 macro, but there's need for more choices, particularly 24mm and perhaps 70mm. 
  • Telephoto has progressed, but still needs more. Nikon finally has four ways to get to 400mm, but two more consumer-necessary lenses, the 70-300mm and 200-600mm are still missing. And will we get a 200mm f/2 or 300mm f/2.8? 
  • Video is still missing the mark. The Z6, Z6 II are actually better 4K video cameras than the Sony A7 Mark III and Mark IV when you look at pixel/frame quality, and the Z9 is state-of-the-art 8K. The problem is lenses. Nikon's fly-by-wire manual focus for video is not really usable (the video autofocus is better than Sony's, IMHO, with less likelihood to get into hunt situations). Nikon doesn't seem to recognize that videographers like gearing on their video lenses, too. Little bobbles like this just aren't going to win over the videographer market. We need video-oriented lenses.
  • Missing cameras. The two primary missing ingredients are a full frame camera with more than 45mp to compete with the Sony A7R models and Canon's upcoming 100mp one, plus a high performance DX model to compete with the Canon R7 at a minimum, and possibly Fujifilm X-H2S at the high end.

Nikon still has a lot of work left to do get the mirrorless lineup as complete as their DSLR lineup was. To their credit, they seem to be doing it. It's just going to take some time for them to roll out all the things that they need to roll out. The pandemic in 2020 and 2021 and the supply chain issues that cropped up in 2022 haven't helped them get products to market as fast as they originally wanted to, so this puts them slightly behind two key competitors.

OM Digital Solutions and Panasonic m4/3
Good news. There’s virtually no substantive gaps these days in the m4/3 system. Considering that we’ve had over 50 m4/3 cameras from these two companies, you’d have to say that if there were still any real gaps, then they should just get out of the business. 

That’s not to say that there aren’t a couple of things I’d like to still see:

  • No truly small-as-can-be camera. The old Panasonic GM offerings are missed, I think. I’d like to see a 20mp version of that minimal camera.
  • Speciality items such as tilt-shift lenses are still missing. Though you can mimic them by using adapters, it would be nice to have a true native version. 

If all OM Digital Solutions and Panasonic did at this point was iterate and improve what they’ve already produced, I think virtually all of the m4/3 crowd would be perfectly happy. The operative question is this: how big is that crowd? Clearly not as big as Olympus (predecessor to OM Digital Solutions) and Panasonic originally hoped. 

Which brings the bad news: Olympus divested its camera business to OM Digital Solutions and the future of that line will continue to be unclear until the new owners fully show their hand, while Panasonic seems to be emphasizing their L-mount offerings now and only iterating the GH (and maybe the G9?). Both companies say they're committed to an m4/3 future, but things have definitely slowed down in that regard.

Panasonic/Sigma L
Panasonic jumped into the L-mount in a big way: four bodies, twelve existing lenses and two more scheduled the next twelve months (as I write this). We're still very early in Panasonic's L system, so it's difficult to say where it's really headed or how successful it will be. Nevertheless, it's a full-on effort, much like Canon and Nikon are now making. 

Sigma, meanwhile, isn't quite there yet. Their first slightly oddball camera was the fp, and the "converted" Art lenses are just starting to trickle to production, too. We do have three new compact L lenses that have just appeared, and I suspect more are coming.

Due to the pandemic and supply chain issues It probably won't be until mid-2023 that we have a clearer idea of what's really missing in the L systems and why. Right now there's a lot of overlap and congestion and I don't think any of the three companies (Leica, Panasonic, and Sigma) have fully sorted out where they really want to be.

Sony E
Despite 2016 producing two E bodies in quick succession, we still have body gaps. Plus we have some lens needs:

  • No followup to the A5000, thus no small rangefinder-style camera without an EVF.
  • Things stopped on the A6### updates. Instead we got the ZV-E10 vlogging style camera. 
  • Incomplete and weak zoom lineup: only two telephoto options, and a lot of fairly weak zoom optics in the kit and mid-range zooms, though the recent 16-55mm f/2.8 and 70-350mm f/4.5-6.3 show that Sony is aware of the problem.

Sony is partly replaying the Canon and Nikon mistakes in DSLRs: "hey, the crop sensor camera is just an entry level product and shouldn’t actually be fleshed out: let's force anyone that wants a full system to buy full frame.” So the crop sensor Alpha mirrorless lineup has not seen a lot of action lately other than producing some good lenses for vlogging. 

Sony FE
Camera-wise, Sony has a nice, full lineup with a fair amount of differentiation. A1, A9 Mark II, A7R Mark IV, A7S Mark III, A7 Mark IV, and A7C. Pick the one that best fits what you do.

Meanwhile, the lens lineup has gotten far better. I'd call it reasonably complete in the 14-200mm range, and with strong second versions of some of the key lenses (e.g. 70-200mm f/2.8 II).

So are there still any gaps in the Sony FE lineup in 2022? Absolutely:

  • Missing primes: we still have a few missing prime lenses: the gap between 14 and 20mm needs another choice, and no tilt/shift options. In the telephoto realm, Sony has started filling in some of the gaps and now extends out to 135mm (see also fast telephoto prime, below). But Sony doesn't have answers for Canon's f/8 and f/11 telephotos, nor Nikon's PF lenses. The 400mm f/2.8 was an early good move on Sony's part, but now the Nikon 400mm f/2.8 eclipses it.
  • Weak Kit Zooms: both the 24-70mm f/4 and 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6 are fairly poor options and need complete redos. The 28-60mm f/4.5-5.6 compact zoom isn't up to the standards that Nikon set with their 24-50mm collapsible zoom.
  • Fast Telephoto options: a 300mm f/2.8 and/or 500mm f/4 should exist for this system, though the 400mm f/2.8 and 600mm f/4 were welcome. And a 200mm f/2 shouldn’t be out of the question. And if we go beyond telephoto primes, Sony probably could use a 120-300mm f/2.8 and 200-400mm f/4 zoom option, too.

The good news is that we have plenty of bodies to choose from that are in constant iteration, the lens set has improved to the point of being more-than-adequate for most shooters (especially the basic zoom trio and the recent prime additions), and third-party lens support from Sigma and Tamron has added lineup options, giving users plenty of choices. 

I need to do more exploration of the flash options for Sony, but my initial impression is that this area could use more work, too. 

Still, the FE side of Sony Alpha has filled out nicely in a very short time, and it’s clear that Sony is emphasizing it over their other ILC choices, so I expect fewer and fewer gaps in the future. 

It's easy to say that in terms of full frame, Sony had a clear head start over the rest of the competition and we can see the advantage of that today as Canon and Nikon attempt to catch up. Whether that advantage holds for long is another story and depends a lot on Canon's and Nikon's continued execution, but I'm betting that Canon, Nikon, and Sony will be battling on every front very soon. That's good news, actually, as competition is good for consumers.

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sansmirror: all text and original images © 2022 Thom Hogan
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