The Year of Full-Frame Mirrorless

It had been expected for some time, but then it happened very quickly. Within just a few days, Nikon and Canon, the two big players in the DSLR market, presented their first full-frame mirrorless cameras, closely followed by Panasonic. At Photokina 2018, full-frame mirrorless was definitely gaining momentum.

Previously, Nikon and Canon had only half-heartedly ventured into mirrorless territory: Nikon with its Nikon 1 system with a 1 inch sensor, Canon with the EF-M system based on the APS-C sensor format. Both offered only few and mostly slow lenses. It seemed both companies were anxious not to jeopardize their enthusiast and professional DSLR sales.

But the competition did not sleep. Olympus and Panasonic had pioneered the market for mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras with their compact Micro Four Thirds (MFT) system. Sony introduced the E-mount for APS-C and the first full-frame mirrorless camera. Fujifilm followed with an APS-C line and the first mirrorless medium format camera. Leica introduced the L-mount for APS-C and full-frame.

At Photokina 2018, the newcomers from Canon, Nikon and Panasonic were met by the Sony Alpha 7 III, already the third generation of Sony’s full-frame mirrorless cameras. So can they offer enough to succeed?

Much will certainly depend on the lenses available for each system. With a five year head start, the Sony Alpha has by far the widest range of native full-frame lenses available. The lens catalogs for the Leica SL and the new Canon EOS RNikon Z, Panasonic Lumix S and Sigma fp cameras are so far limited, but growing. It will be very interesting to see how they will differentiate from each other, and if they will let third parties such as Samyang, Tamron, Tokina and Zeiss join in. Take a look at the best lenses for mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras and see what is available or announced.