Sony’s dominance of the full frame mirrorless market currently is not in doubt even though its position is threatened greatly by rivals rising up to the competition.
Canon and Nikon are the obvious choices in the DSLR market but they lag behind Sony in the full-frame mirrorless market. In 2009, the Leica M9 became the first full-frame mirrorless interchangeable-lens camera to be released. It was built with a rangefinder focusing system.
Sony entered the full-frame mirrorless market with a bang in 2013 when it introduced an autofocus full-frame mirrorless interchangeable-lens camera, the A7. Leica SL (Typ 601) quickly followed in 2015. Nikon and Canon both entered the full-frame mirrorless digital camera market in September 2018. In the same month, it was announced that both Panasonic and Sigma would use the Leica L-Mount for their own full-frame mirrorless cameras in what is known as the L-Mount Alliance.
The Panasonic models called Lumix S1R and Lumix S1 have since been released, while the Sigma model is set for a 2020 release.
This brief history of the full-frame mirrorless market leads us back to the main focus of this article, the market dominance of Sony.
That Sony still dominates the market is not for a lack of effort from its rivals, in fact the gap is getting narrower as the landscape of the market is changing.
What advantages does Sony still hold over its rivals that puts it still in the driving seat as of today? Quite a few actually, and they are discussed below.
While Sony may not have been the first to introduce a full-frame digital mirrorless camera into the market, it is still one of the early starters. Sony holds a five-year start over its main rivals, Nikon and Canon.
It’s first full-frame mirrorless camera was released in 2013. Nikon and Canon didn’t respond with products of their own until 2018. This means that Sony naturally enjoys a major share of the market as of now, while the new entrants try to outmuscle them. This position may remain unchanged until rival companies develop products that at least match what Sony has out in the market.
More Models To Choose From
Sony has been in the business of making full-frame mirrorless digital cameras for 6 years now. Within this period, it has released 3 products that are well received by the public. The A7 III, A7R III and the A9 models have all been released by Sony.
Nikon has released two models, the Z6 and Z7 so far, while Canon has the EOS-R and the EOS-RP that was released this year.
Both companies have also announced that new models are on the way. Other full-frame mirrorless brands available in the market are Leica, Panasonic, Olympus and Fujifilm.
Wide Range of Lenses
Another impact of the early entry of Sony into the full-frame mirrorless camera market is the wide range of its lenses.
There are over 2 dozen lenses for users of Sony full-frame mirrorless camera users to choose from. Nikon and Canon on the other hand both have about 3 to 4 lenses each that users of their full frame mirrorless cameras can choose from.
This gives Sony a major advantage in the market and is one of the reasons Sony still dominates the full frame mirrorless camera market up to this day.
Sony has the best autofocus system of all full frame mirrorless camera makers, a fact that is confirmed by many reviewers. It’s system is miles ahead of those of its closest rivals, Nikon and Canon.
This is simply because Sony builds its own sensors and electronics and is more experienced in designing autofocus software too. Nikon tried hard to match the A7 III and A7R III feature for feature, but fell short in the autofocus compartment as it’s autofocus system still lags behind that of Sony.
Canon’s sensors and processors are farther behind, evidenced by the lack of full-frame 4K, awful rolling shutter and slow autofocus speeds. Meanwhile, Sony isn’t resting on its oars. It has developed a new and very incredible autofocus system on the APS-C A6400.
The system will be deployed on its next-generation A7 IV cameras, further stretching Sony’s lead over its rivals. Canon and Nikon have a lot to do to keep up with Sony in the technical race or risk falling further behind.
Possible Mirrorless Camera Releases That Could Threaten Sony’s Dominance Of The Market
Canon’s EOS R Models
Canon is working on multiple EOS R cameras according to Canon’s Yoshiyuki Mizoguchi. He also stated that a professional model is in the works.
This professional version of the R could be called the EOS Rx, and is aimed at pro sports and action photographers that are looking for a mirrorless alternative to the EOS-1D X Mark II.
Another possible release from Cannon is the EOS Rs. This model is expected to be a high-resolution model to rival Nikon’s Z7 and Sony’s A7R III. Another is an astrophotography mirrorless camera possibly named, EOS Ra.
Nikon Z Series
A lower priced Nikon Z5 is expected to be released at some point in the future but its not known yet if it would feature a full-frame mirrorless sensor or a smaller DX-format APS-C sensor.
Nikon seems to be moving towards releasing professional models in the Z range quicker than anticipated. The Nikon Z9 could be released as early as this summer.
This model would rival Sony’s A9 series as Nikon already has models rivaling Sony’s A7 series.
Other brands are also working on capturing more share of the full-frame mirrorless market.
The major advantages Sony holds over its main rivals in the full-frame mirrorless market are its early entry, and its autofocus system. Sony beats competition hands down with its autofocus system that others are trying to match.
Sony isn’t resting on its oars either as it continues to set the bar higher. Pricing is another factor that may lead to dominance of one brand over other but prices of other Sony cameras is almost at par with those of its rivals.
The landscape of the market is changing no doubt as more quality product are released into the market but don’t expect Sony to relinquish its dominance without a fight.