In 2006 SONY acquired Konica-Minolta‘s imaging division. Almost immediately thereafter they jumped in directly behind Nikon and Canon as one of the world’s leading manufacturers of DSLRs, securing a full third of the market in record time. Their full-frame professional α900 boasted the best pentaprism/OVF (optical viewfinder) on the market, as well as the highest resolution sensor on offer at the time (only the Nikon D800 currently has a higher pixel count at 36mp – and SONY made that puppy as well; they make many of Nikon’s sensors), garnering excellent reviews from the highly regarded DP Review.
I bring this up because I find that the public perception of SONY’s product in this market is sub-par (when compared to “CaNikon/NiCanon/NiConon”) at best, a wholly undeserved reputation for one of the world’s leading video camera manufacturers (they have long produced top-tier equipement utilized by major movie and television studios worldwide; their a77 – my current body – and a99 SLTs both have video capabilities of such high caliber that even those are rigged and used on-set by numerous filmmakers). DP Review places SONY’s α99 two percentage points above Nikon’s D800 and on equal footing with the D800E. DxO Mark puts the α99 (at 89 out of 100) right between Canon‘s 5D MkIII (81) and the D800/D800E (95)/(96).
Suffice it to say that SONY is not just a contender but is in fact a legitimate player, consistently challenging the top-two stranglehold of Canon and Nikon on the DSLR market. SONY has, no doubt, also been a game changer, pushing the boundaries of mirrorless systems with the likes of their NEX and Cybershot lines (the award-winning RX1 literally has no equal and its sibling, the RX100, continues to garner stellar reviews and praise).
Sure, Canon and Nikon offer a larger lens selection to accompany their higher profile in this market. However, Minolta‘s excellent selection of AF mount lenses, including the much-loved “beer can” (these can be found at retailers like Samy’s, George’s, Midwest Photo, and online at ebay and the like), are compatible with the Alpha line. Factor in SONY’s direct relationship with global leaders in optics like Carl Zeiss, their recent partnering with Olympus, and their collaborative work with world-leading Hasselblad and it becomes fairly obvious that, in the world of image capture, SONY isn’t on their way, they have ARRIVED! Like the song says, “Don’t call it a comeback!“