Progression of Sony

Something that has really begun to come to my attention of late is the negative remarks being made about Sony. I have come to expect such from Nikon and Canon users, they have been doing so for years and rather arrogantly talk about or pull their nose up to other brands, but I get a little frustrated when people start complaining within the system.

I am not saying this is common practice for everyone but for those who do complain it has really begun to get on my nerves. It comes from camera stores both those who do and don’t stock Sony. It comes from the owners of the cameras themselves.

Perhaps these people – particularly those who have come to Sony because they were faithful and loyal Minolta users, would do well to stop and ponder the situation a little longer.

From a financial perspective Minolta’s photographic division was never really successful. The company found itself in extremely bad circumstance on a few occasions and was fortunate to find a partner in Konica who tried to redeem them. Sadly photocopiers and office automation was more profitable than the Photographic Division and the company looked to split itself up. There had been a partnership with Sony for some time and while it was sad to see Konica (arguably the oldest photographic company in existence at the time – 125 years I believe) walk off the stage along with Minolta, Sony became the Minolta users saving grace.

The digital era had seen the demise of many strong photographic brands of the past and with their disappearance were several customers with large lens collections left out in the cold. Perhaps one of the most prestigious of these was Contax.

It was therefore – in my opinion – very fortunate for Minolta users that Sony saw a future in the Minolta lens mount and retained it when they made the very bold move of entering the DSLR market.

In their first year and with one camera on the store’s shelves (A100) they went to the number 3 spot for world wide DSLR sales. This lead was not a small one over brands like Pentax and Olympus, in fact, if memory serves me correctly it was higher than these other two brands combined figures. While still only a fraction of the sales that the top 2 brands made that year, the growth was significant enough to make them take notice and make many feel that the battle was now becoming a 3 way split with the top two paying a little bit more attention to Sony than to each other for once.

We are now some 3 years further down the line. The range has grown to 5 cameras and if rumours are right there are another 2 coming in to fill the spaces between the A900, A700 (or what may replace it) and the A380/350. Talk of a larger 500/600mm lens coming before the 2010 soccer world cup is flying across the net fast and furious. All in all, Sony are creating an excitement that has not been seen since at least the early days of the DSLR when Canon released their EOS 300D, yet people complain. They continually talk about how Sony are not on par with Canon or Nikon (though the sensors in the Nikon are produced for them by Sony) in terms of performance, service etc.

We would do well to recall that these other brands have a photographic heritage of more than 50 years with periods where camera and lens production was their primary business and in the case of Nikon still is. I am not saying that Sony should surpass these brand in only 50 years, they cannot afford to, but they cannot afford to have people loose faith after only 3 years. A company as innovative as Sony will find a way to make things as good and then better as we provide feedback and give them time. Look at their recent HVL-F58AM flash which has the best swivel movement of any flash I have ever seen.

Service could improve with any brand and for a company like Sony that has more products than most, it could be a greater challenge than other’s have faced in the past, yet already locally Sony have undertaken to maintain Alpha servicing in house – a fact that few may be aware of. So things may not be perfect, or as good as we would like them to be, but I have owned more than 30 cameras in the last 11 years from almost every brand around (and some that have passed on) and I can honestly say I feel no more hardly done by when I was using one of those brands than I do using a Sony Alpha today.