The fact that Sony could make such tiny APS-C mirrorless cameras suggests that they have the technology to make a 35mm frame mirrorless camera in a Leica M9-size body. Add in the Zeiss partnership, and it's not a stretch to imagine an incredible system in the works...
That would really be great to see! If they did 'right' and not cut corners, they could still make it far more affordable than an M system and still be premium in feel, performance and cache. Remember the Contax G system...
Heh. I think we'd all love a digital Contax G2. Sharp, amazing lenses. Fast, reliable AF. Simple interface. Intuitive manual overrides. The M9 is a beautiful FF RF in just about every way, but optional AF in 2010 is simply not negotiable for me. So just as in the film days, the G2 would be an ideal choice.
I was really excited when I heard about this system, until I heard it was coming from Sony. For a company with so much vision, such great sense of style and such a formidable R&D budget, it's shocking how much they can miss the mark sometimes. My overall impression of Sony has always been that they sell their audiences short. I couldn't be trusted to boost saturation and sharpness on my own so Sony does it for me. I wouldn't want to mess with a pesky manual override, so Sony puts it all on automatic. I couldn't possibly figure out how to shoot a challenging scene, so Sony picks the scene mode. Add to that all of their proprietary technology shenanigans, and you usually get a product that's not for me.
So it's funny when this recent surge of interest in the "serious rangefinder" body style and sensibility is seized upon by a company like Sony, and then twisted in a different direction. So you take a movement that's been started and clamored for by enthusiasts and camera lovers, and you try your hardest to turn it into an entry-level consumer camera for newbies. And of course, you end up with a camera that doesn't really serve either segment terribly well.
The same is happening with their DSLR lines. They're trying desperately to tank prices on their DSLRs in order to gain some market share in that arena. They do all the right things glass-wise by partnering with Zeiss, but the end result is just not a great camera, and they can't give them away.
But I hope they work through it, because as Amin says, the implications could be tremendous. In my opinion, the sensors on the GF, GH and PEN cameras are just too small in relation to their relative body sizes. An APS-C sensor in that size camera however would really be something.
I've had some good and bad experiences with Sony, likewise with many other companies. I tried their first DSLR offering the A100 and it was OK without being anything out of the ordinary.
I had a Sony Cyber-shot DSC-R1 for a while and though the quality, with the Zeiss zoom was great, I couldn't get on with the shape/handling.
They have obviously gone for a radical look, and I was thinking the NEX5/16mm combination might be useful, but the rumours of an over complicated User Interface are somewhat off putting.
On the APS-C sensor point. I use an X1 and a Samsung NX10 both of which use this size sensor. The X1 is wonderfully sharp and great at high ISO, but comes with the disadvantages of fixed lens, high price and somewhat slow operation. The NX10 gives me pretty similar results I get from m4/3. There's lots I like about the camera, but the results aren't a significant improvement on what the Panasonic sensor in the current m4/3 lineup can achieve with good lenses.
Underneath, your comment about Sony selling their audience short is one agree with it. But as Canon DLSR shooter, every time they come to market with something they always seem to knowing omit something critical. The 5D Mark II and it's ancient focusing system, the 1D Mark IV and staying with APS-H sensor, and on and on. They're all guilty of it. I never cared for the Sony DSLR cameras. I know some of that came from my old school mentality of I want a camera from a camera company not an electronics, TV maker.
I completely agree with that the Panasonic line-up of m4/3rd cameras are too large relative to their sensor size. I'm really anxious to see if they address this issue with Photokina around the corner and especially now that Sony has dropped a bomb on everyone with a larger sensor in smaller body. I would have loved to had X1 but I kept balking at it when I considered what else I could buy with that same money. The results I have seen from it are gorgeous for sure!
I kept waiting for Canon or Nikon to come to market with something along the line of compact with a APS-C sensor and I did try a G1 from Panasonic, OK but dynamic range was limited. I finally got tired of waiting and when I saw the NEX camera, it was/is the closest to target I had been hoping for to suppliment my DSLRs.
If Sony brings a Contax G2 type body with some Zeiss glass to the NEX mount, it could make for a huge migration of users to their brand. They are onto something with this new mount if they realize and make a camera that real shooters desire and some premium glass to support it.