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The Week I Dread (But You Don't)

We’ve left the traditional summer selling season and are now starting the upcoming holiday one. One thing people are trying to figure out is which cameras are actually be offered by which companies, and what should they consider.

As you probably realize, I’m aggressive in labeling cameras “current” or “older.” If a new model of a camera is launched (e.g. Mark III), then the older model data (e.g. Mark II) gets moved to the older camera folders on this site. 

But a number of camera makers overbuild products during their product cycles, and thus leave those older products on the market. Some keep making older cameras but reduce their price just to have lower cost products on the market. Figuring out what is actually truly considered truly available and not just an unsold relic that your dealer still has sitting around. 

So to answer that question, I did some homework for you. By brand, here are the models the manufacturer is still selling. In the bullets, below, I also indicate what I believe to be the true “current” models in bold. I’ve added parenthetical comments about likely inventory status and any real holiday discount as I write this.


Canon is all about generating market share, so they often keep older models on the market at low prices.

  • EOS M (APS-C)
    • M50 Mark II (mostly just creator kits with a US$100-130 discount)
  • EOS RF-S (APS-C)
    • R100 (US$50 to US$100 off)
    • R50 (US$80 to US$100 off)
    • R10 (US$100 off)
    • R7 (US$100 to US$200 off)
  • EOS RF (full frame)
    • RP (US$100 off)
    • R3 (US$1000 off!)
    • R5 (US$500 off)
    • R5C (US$500 off)
    • R6 (US$300 off)
    • R6 Mark II (US$200 off)
    • R8 (US$200 off)

As if to further confuse you, the model number in the RF-S line goes down as the camera gets more advanced, but for full frame a higher model number indicates a less capable camera.

What would I consider buying this holiday? The R7 and R10 are interesting APS-C cameras, though they need more lens support. The R6 Mark II and R8 are both comfortably in the state-of-the-art mid-range for full frame enthusiasts.


Fujifilm for awhile was cycling new cameras constantly, but is currently slimming down their lineup while pushing more up-scale for awhile:

  • XF
    • X-H2S (US$200 off)
    • X-H2 (US$150 off)
    • X-Pro3 (has been discontinued, but may be still available)
    • X-T5
    • X-T4 (discontinued, but may be still available in places)
    • X-S10 (US$100 off)
    • X-S20
    • X-T30 II (official status unknown, back-ordered most everywhere)
  • GFX (medium format)
    • GFX50S II (US$800 off)
    • GFX100 II 
    • GFX100S (US$1600 off)

What would I consider buying in the Fujifilm line? Well, I actually bought one recently, and it was the X-S20, a really solid basic APS-C camera. I'm less enthused about the 40mp cameras, the X-H2S still doesn't equal a D500 in focus performance in the hands of a trained user, and I've just had and seen in others too many inconsistencies (bugs, sample variation, etc.) that tend to take away the gains of the medium format cameras over a full frame one.


Nikon is relatively easy. At this point the original Z6 and Z7 are officially gone, which leaves a lineup with all current models:

  • AF-S (DX)
    • Z30
    • Z50 II
    • Zfc
  • Full frame (FX)
    • Z5
    • Z6 II
    • Zf
    • Z7 II
    • Z8 
    • Z9

For Nikon holiday pricing, see this article on My recommendations are also on that site.

Micro 4/3rds

The two m4/3 companies are a mix of old and new:

  • OMDS
    • OM-1 (US$300 to US$400 off)
    • OM-5 (US$200 off)
    • OM-D E-M10 Mark IV (old Olympus product, likely on its way out)
  • Panasonic
    • BGH1
    • GH5 Mark II (US$300 off)
    • GH5S (US$300 off)
    • GH6 (US$500 off)
    • G100 (US$250 off)
    • G95 (US$300 off)
    • G85 (made a comeback, but low stock, US$150 off kit)
    • G9 (US$400 off)
    • G9 II 
    • G7 (US$150 off)

It was strange to see the Panasonic m4/3 lineup sort of resurrect. I'm not sure what happened there, but the lineup is once again full. If you're looking for performance in an m4/3 camera, you have two choices now: OM-1 or G9 II. The problem with the "I want small" choices that remain is that they're not state-of-the-art in many ways, including autofocus.

Panasonic Full Frame

  • S5 (US$800 off)
  • S5 II (US$300 off)
  • S5 IIX (US$100 off)

In some ways, the S5 II is the Oldsmobile of the full frame mid-range choices. A bit different, basically good, but seemingly not a choice most would make. It's a highly competent camera. It's holds up well against the Nikon Z6 II and Sony A7 Mark IV, and may even slot in between those two. At discount, it becomes a camera you should consider, particularly as the L-mount lens set keeps growing.


Sony’s is one of the worst offenders in keeping products around. In particular, several older A7 and A7R models are malingering on the market. Moreover, there’s a sneaky bit hidden in plain sight: the new models were increased in list price, thus making any sales markdowns on the older ones look even more tempting.

  • APS-C 
    • A6100 (US$200 off)
    • A6400 (US$150 off)
    • A6600 (US$200 off)
    • A6700 
  • Full Frame
    • A1
    • A7C
    • A7CR
    • A7 Mark II (US$600 off)
    • A7 Mark III (US$500 off)
    • A7 Mark IV (US$200 off)
    • A7 Mark IIIA (US$200 off)
    • A7R Mark IVA (US$200 off)
    • A7R Mark V (US$400 off)
    • A7S Mark III
    • A9 Mark II
    • A9 Mark III (new camera available at end of February)
  • Vlogging
    • ZV-E1 Mark II
    • ZV-E10 (US$100 off)

Personally, I'm less thrilled by Sony's lineup than I used to be. There's nothing wrong with most of them, but Sony now has the old Nikon problem of lineup inconsistency and too much model generation hangover. I can recommend an A1. I can recommend an A7 Mark IV. Once I've completed testing, I'd probably recommend the A6700. From there we get into handling choices (the C and E type models), and speciality use. The one thing I'd tend to recommend against is buying any of the non-bold models. They might have been state-of-the-art when they first appeared, but all of them are now well behind that. I'd need even more discount than Sony is given to consider them.

That’s basically the current camera situation. I’d characterize bold entries as “safe to buy,” while non-bold would be buying at the tail end of a product’s life cycle. There’s nothing wrong with buying at the tail end of the lifecycle, but you should be getting a significant discount for doing so, in my opinion.  

Sony Goes Global, Shutter That Is

bythom sony a9iiiangle

Today Sony announced the A9 Mark III model, with the big news being a new 24mp image sensor with global shutter capabilities. 

To understand the big news, you have to first understand the situation as it stood until today. The digital cameras we've been using all use what's called a rolling shutter. In a rolling shutter, data is captured and moved off the image sensor a few rows at a time. The time it takes in getting from the top of the frame to the bottom means that motion in the scene can result in distortion. 

In a camera such as the Sony A1 or the Nikon Z8/Z9, this rolling shutter is extremely fast, and that allowed Nikon, for instance, to completely remove the mechanical shutter. Removing mechanical things that can break is good for us, it makes cameras more reliable long term. It also means a camera can be made to be completely silent, which if you've ever been at a press conference with a dozen photojournalists clacking their shutters, you'd know to be a good thing ;~).

On the other hand, we have cameras with rather slow rolling shutters, too, such as the recent Nikon Zf. The reason why that camera still has a mechanical shutter is that the rolling shutter for the image sensor used would cause issues on motion. The difference between a rolling shutter and a global shutter is a bit like sitting in a theater: for a play, the curtain slowly rises to reveal the scene (rolling shutter) while for a movie the first scene instantly appears (global shutter). 

So why do we have rolling shutters, at all? Isn't the image sensor just a chip with "instant access"? One reason has to do with things that happen when you boost bandwidth (speed of transfers). It's partly the issue of how much data an image sensor is creating. You need extremely fast channels to get the data to the image processing chip, and the speed of electronics is one of those things that parallels Moore's Law: as semiconductor technology progresses, there are very predictable and real gains to be made, but nothing is instantaneous, even in digital.

Unfortunately, moving things really fast also has a tendency to induce read noise and thermal issues (and thermal issues can create noise of their own). There are also manufacturing and cost challenges that come into play, though as you're probably well aware, over time semiconductors solve those problems in subsequent generations. It's taken awhile for sensor makers to build affordable image sensors that get through all the possible issues, which is what Sony has done with the A9 Mark III.

What are the benefits of a global shutter?

  • No need for a mechanical shutter (simplifies build, improves long term reliability)
  • No motion artifacts seen in the frame
  • No stabilization motion artifacts
  • Potentially very high frame rates possible
  • Flash sync at any speed
  • Flicker free individual stills

The downsides are primarily going to be, at least initially, cost to produce, can produce more heat, and have higher noise than a sensor with the same design, but with rolling shutter.

Which brings us to the Sony A9 Mark III. The A9 Mark III features a 24mp stacked image sensor with a global shutter. This allows it to capture 120 fps (and 4K/120P). The viewfinder is blackout free, and Sony is claiming this is their fastest camera yet, with the best autofocus system they've deployed. 

Because next week is the 10 year anniversary of the full frame Alpha mirrorless line era, which started with the A7, it seems that the A9 Mark III was introduced now even though it's still quite a ways off from delivery. Sony says "Spring 2024". 

Besides the A9 Mark III, Sony introduced the 300mm f/2.8GM OSS, which Sony claims as the lightest 300mm f/2.8 available. Also available Spring 2024.

I've put up my usual data pages for the new products, but since actual final product delivery is a ways off, I'll reserve more comments until the product is actually delivered.

Fujifilm's New Top End Medium Format

bythom gfx100iiwithts

Today Fujifilm announced the GFX100 II, a revision of its original top end medium format camera. At US$7500, this reflects a significant (25%) discount from the suggested retail of the previous model, while adding/changing quite a bit. To wit:

  • A faster 102mp sensor (2x the read-out speed)
  • X-Processor 5 (from 4)
  • Frame rates now 8 fps (from 5)
  • 4K/60P (from 4K/30P) and 4:2:2 10-bit internal (from 4:2:0 10-bit)
  • 8K video
  • Subject tracking autofocus
  • Improvement of sensor IS to 8 stops (from 5.5)
  • EVF of 9.44m dots (from 5.76m), still detachable and tiltable, and now 60 fps with less lag
  • A change of storage cards to CFexpress Type B + SD (UHS-II) from dual SD
  • Ability to record stills and video to external SSD
  • A move to an optional battery grip instead of built in
  • Full size HDMI (no longer micro), supports 8K, 12-bit raw
  • A change to the NP-W235 battery
  • A new Reala ACE film simulation

All these seemingly smaller things seem to add up to a very large change overall. The new version, while not adding pixels, seems to gain at virtually every pain point of the previous model. Which is a good thing, as the original version (not 100s) did have a number of issues that irritated users, particularly given the price they paid for the camera.

I hesitate to write this, as some Fujifilm fans will get upset and send my missives targeting my In Box, but Fujifilm has had a pretty productive last 18 months; I'd say their cameras are no longer trying to catch up, but are now basically in the peloton again. Maybe even leading out the APS-C and MF pelotons. This should keep the other competitors on their toes, which is a good thing. 

Along with the new camera, Fujifilm also introduced their first medium format tilt/shift lens. The 30mm f/5.6 tilt/shift lens is about a 24mm equivalent, while the 110mm f/5.6 tilt/shift macro is a bit over an 85mm equivalent. These two lenses look like excellent additions for the landscape (30mm) and product (110mm) photography community. Along with the two tilt/shift lenses, Fujifilm also announced the 55mm f/1.7 lens that was also on their previous Road Map. The new Road Map includes a powered wide-angle zoom and a 500mm lens.

Panasonic Introduces the G9 II

bythom panasonic g9ii

Generally the Japanese companies don't schedule releases on the same day as each other, much like blockbuster movies try to avoid bumping up against each other. However, besides getting the "big sensor" announcement from Fujifilm in the GFX100 II, we also get the "small sensor" announcement from Panasonic in the G9 II.

After almost six years since the original G9, the big news with the G9 II is that it features a 25mp image sensor (same as the GH6), but with phase detect autofocus. While the video specs look impressive on the G9 II, it's probably the still photography goods that get your attention first: 60 fps electronic shutter with focus, no black out up to 3 seconds, pre-release capture, and a very complete set of controls, including a well positioned thumb pad. On the video side we get 4K/60P 4:2:2 10-bit (120P 8-bit), V-Log, real-time LUT application, and more. All wrapped in a dustproof and splash proof body that is identical to the Panasonic S5 II. The Rear LCD gets an upgrade, but the EVF remains the same dot count. Alongside the image sensor, Panasonic is again using Leica's L2 image processing techniques, a partnership that started with the S5 II.

With the G9 II the OM-1 now has a fairly clear competitor at the top of the m4/3 choices. 

Sony Provides More Video Options

Today Sony announced three new products that will mostly appeal to the video user: the A7C II, A7CR, and 16-35mm f/2.8GM II

Let me explain. The C bodies are slimmed down Alpha bodies with an offset EVF, and which have an emphasis on video/vlogging use over still photography use. They can still be used as still cameras, but in the case of the A7C II, it's basically the A7 Mark IV in the C video style body, while the A7CR is basically the A7R Mark V in the same body. BIONZ XR with artificial intelligence powers these bodies, too.

As video-oriented cameras, they have a reduced dot count EVF (and Rear LCD in the case of the A7CR). These cameras are smaller and lighter to be more gimbal friendly, and the new C body is somewhat thicker, probably for heat dissipation. Because the two bodies max out at 4K60P, another compromise is the single SD UHS II card slot (though you need a very fast card to take advantage of the maximum video capabilities).

I'm not a big fan of offset viewfinder cameras, and you can see why in Sony's own launch video: with the cameras handheld at their eyes, their models are having a more difficult time keeping the camera steady ;~). Good thing the built-in stabilization can perform up to 7 stops (with certain lenses). Generally, I'd tend to recommend the original A7 style body for still photography, but the A7CR is only US$3000, a significant discount for 61mp (including 240mp pixel shift) if you can live with the penalties.

You see the continued video emphasis with the update to the 16-35mm f/2.8GM lens, too. The lens has gotten smaller, lighter, and been reworked so that it doesn't change balance when on a gimbal. That took an impressive array of special elements (8 of the 15) and four XD focus motors.

Recent Small Mirrorless News Stories (Aug 21-Sept 3)

Here’s the most recent “small” news relating to mirrorless cameras (similar Z System news is on the site):

  • Tamron issued a development announcement for the 17-50mm f/4 Di III VXD lens for the Sony FE mount. This upcoming lens features internal zoom and focus, making it gimbal friendly.
  • Fujifilm issued firmware 1.12 for the X-S20 to fix a bug.
  • Hasselblad introduced a small 28mm (22mm equivalent) f/4 lens for the XCD system.
  • Viltrox introduced the 28mm f/1.8 lens for Nikon Z (FX) and Sony FE mounts.

Recent Mirrorless News Shorts (August 14-20)

Here’s the most recent “small” news relating to mirrorless cameras (similar Z System news is on the site):

  • Canon executives were quoted as saying "we will study where to license [third-party lens requests] based on Canon's own business plan and strategy." This was in an interview in China, so both via what was said and translation issues, there's a great deal of ambiguity still. However, it seems like Canon may be coming round to the Nikon position, where individual lenses are evaluated as to whether to grant a mount license to or not. Frankly, I believe such a position is counterproductive when even one competitor has an open mount policy. 

This Month's Common Question

It seems that Sony's recent camera introduction is producing a lot of the same question: Canon R7, Fujifilm X-H2s, or Sony A6700?

As always, first up is my admonition against carelessly moving between brands just because there's a "latest and greatest." These three brands, in particular, have a great deal of dissimilarity to their ergonomics, UI, and nomenclature. Thus, by jumping from one brand to another you have a lot of learning, re-learning, and adjustment you need to consider. Are you really spending your time taking better photos, or are you spending all your time trying to figure out your new camera?

But you really answer this question by knowing exactly what it is you're trying to accomplish, and then examining what the cameras in question bring to that. Unfortunately, that's not the question I'm being asked ;~).

I can generalize a few things:

  • The R7 may be fast to autofocus, but it's a noisy camera whenever the mechanical shutter is used in any way.
  • The X-H2s has the biggest set of dedicated lenses for it, but a lot of those might not be the lenses you're buying a speed type of camera for.
  • The A6700 has all the latest and greatest tech, but it still uses an offset viewfinder, which for some motion tracking some users find more difficult to adjust to.

Notice the "x, but..." construct. For everything great about a camera, I can usually (always!) find something that contradicts that. There's no such thing as a "perfect" camera. 

The price range is also quite wide on these three models, too, with the Sony at US$1400, the Canon at US$1500 (currently offered at the same price as the Sony with instant discount), and the Fujifilm at US$2500. You'd expect more from the more expensive camera, and you get that, but is that "more" things that you'll actually use? 

I haven't tested the Sony A6700 yet, but I can say a few things about the other two (plus you can read my full reviews elsewhere on this site (links in the bullets ;~):

  • The Canon R7 does a lot of things right. I wish Nikon made a crop sensor camera this good. The image sensor is fine, the autofocus is excellent for the price point and likely uses, and the R7 decidedly lives right in the long-established Canon UX. A crop sensor Canon user (EF-S or M) would almost certainly find lots to love about the R7. If you're buying for sports and wildlife, you've got plenty of lenses to put on it (RF or EF full frame ones), but if you're more into travel, event, casual photography, you might find the lens choice restrictive (buzz, buzz! I gave it a conditional Recommendation in my review partly because of the lack of some lenses). The R7 is priced right for what it is and does. The images from it can be quite impressive with the right glass out front.
  • The Fujifilm X-H2s is a thinly veiled attempt to steal some "pro thunder" from Canikony (e.g. R3, Z9, A1). Moreover, it has a lot of appeal on paper to the Nikon D500 crowd. While I gave it a lukewarm Recommended rating in my review, it's arguably a better camera than the Canon (build quality, video, shutter, feature depth, etc.). But it's also US$1000 more, so it should be. Yet it doesn't completely dislodge the discontinued, seven-year-old Nikon D500 from the "best crop sensor body" position, either, which given the X-H2s's much newer tech, it should do easily. Moreover, for sports/wildlife, Fujifilm has the more limited lens set at the moment, though what they do have is generally quite good.

I don't like pre-biasing my opinions on something before I test it, but my gut is telling me that I'll have plenty of "x, but..." commentary for the Sony A6700 when I do review it. The truth of the matter is, that at this sensor size and these price points, you're not buying the very best each camera maker has to offer. You're buying a camera that compromises some things to hit a price point. So it's important to understand those compromises and make sure you can live with them.

That said, in terms of "best possible mirrorless crop sensor camera," there's really only two models that I feel can really compete for that title at the moment. The Fujifilm X-H2s is one. The other is the m4/3 OM-1. However, the smaller sensor and 4:3 aspect ratio of the OM-1 bring up other questions you have to answer. 

Most people seem to be trying to decide between which high-end APS-C sensor camera to buy at the moment, thus all the "Canon R7, Fujifilm X-H2s, or Sony A6700?" questions I'm getting lately. Stick to your lane (brand) would be my first and most useful advice. 

Recent Mirrorless News Shorts (July 29-Aug 13)

As an experiment, I’ve started accumulating “small” news announcements into a once-a-week story. This helps me be a little more productive and seems to align with the way most people are coming to this site (once or twice a week, but every week). Here’s the most recent “small” news relating to mirrorless cameras (similar Z System news is on the site):

  • Pergear announced the 60mm f/2.8 II Ultra-macro lens, an updated version of its 2x crop sensor lens.
  • Tamron sent out a Development Announcement for the next generation of the 70-180mm f/2.8 lens. The lens will get a G2 moniker and now include VC image stabilization. Other changes will be a shorter minimum focus distance at the wider focal length, and the inclusion of VXD focus motors instead of stepping motors. The optical design is also said to have been enhanced.
  • Zhong Yi Optics introduced three t/1 cine lenses for the Z mount: 20mm, 35mm, 50mm.
  • The previously announced Fringer EF-FX Pro III adapter (Canon EF to Fujifilm XF) has started shipping. The main change is added weather sealing.
  • Voigtlander announced the 50mm f/1.2 NOKTON lens for the Fujifilm XF system.
  • Laowa announced a new wide angle zoom lens for crop sensor mirrorless cameras at a Chinese trade show.

Last Week’s Mirrorless News Shorts (July 21-28)

As an experiment, I’ve started accumulating “small” news announcements into a once-a-week story. This helps me be a little more productive and seems to align with the way most people are coming to this site (once or twice a week, but every week). Here’s last week’s “small” news relating to mirrorless cameras (similar Z System news is on the site):

  • Fringer shipped the NF-FX II, which is a newer version of the Nikon F-mount to Fujifilm XF-mount lens adapter. The primary changes are that this adapter is better weather-sealed and has a smaller foot underneath the adapter itself.
  • The Sony A6700, recently announced, was noted to not include any way that comes with the camera to charge the battery. You’ll need a USB PD wall wort and cable, or a dedicated charger that supports the NP-FZ100 battery.
  • Samyang added an L-mount version of their recent 35-150mm f/2-2.8 lens.
  • Yongnuo added a 50mm f/1.8 autofocus lens for Fujifilm XF
  • Canon is predicting it will sell 2.9m ILC cameras in 2023, or approximately 50% of the market (again).

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