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New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 25th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

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Game-changing for the win

22 October 2021

The world is an insane place right now.

Despite the ever-growing "chip shortage" which has seen supplies of critical semiconductor devices all but dry up, manufacturers keep churning out new products at an alarming rate.

For example, we've seen a raft of new GPUs from Nvidia and AMD but the problem is that supplies of these things are so tight that prices are unrealistically high.

However it's not just computer components that are subject to this "it's new and great but you can't buy it". Anyone who has an interest in or a need for digital cameras is going through the same issue right now and here are just two examples.

First-up, Sony has announced a new mirrorless camera, the A7S4.

This camera, as expected, has a raft of bells and whistles, none of which I'll waste time listing here. If you want all the bullet-points and feature lists then there are plenty of places where you can find this info online. There are even a few reviews popping up now.

Did anyone really need this camera?

Probably not but I almost get the feeling that Sony has decided to produce this as a "lite" version of the very similar A7S3 camera that has been in hot demand ever since its launch. Maybe they're having trouble building the S3 due to the chip supply issue and have decided that a quick redesign would enable the use of more readily available silicon -- albeit at the cost of a little performance.

The S4 is US$1,000 cheaper than the S3 and it is lacking a few features, such as some of the higher frame rates, but it does seem to be a very nice bit of kit, if you're into this kind of camera. The only thing we're not yet sure of is that crucial *availability* factor.

Also this week we saw DJI (the drone people) hugely upset the cine-camera market with the release of its Ronin 4d camera with inbuilt 4-axis gimbal system.

Until this announcement, high-endvideo cameras were one of the very few markets where China had no real presence. Now it looks as if they're about to actually lead a segment of that market.

I am super-impressed with the way that DJI has pivoted with this product. They've taken some of their drone technology and integrated it with the Hasselblad camera tech they acquired a way back to produce a real game-changing cinema camera.

This thing is super-radical, taking even the most experienced users by total surprise, some even calling it "a game changer".

Nobody was expecting this and everyone seems utterly delighted with what has been delivered. I mean the thing has a lidar-based focus system for goodness sake!

Once again however, we must wonder just how they'll be able to deliver sufficient volume to meet, what I'm sure will be, the enormous demand.

So why did DJI pivot from making some of the world's best and most popular camera-drones to making cinema cameras?

I can only speculate that the ongoing torrent of regulations and ever-increasing restrictions being applied to drones is strangling the market for such products. Maybe DJI is smart enough to realise that the professional video market is unencumbered by such bureaucratic hindrances and is therefore going to offer a better return on their investment.

DJI are still making drones and they actually have a new model due for release in the next few days but I can see that they are ramping up to redirect their product-lines towards the camera market.

I'd say we've already passed "peak drone" and this move is an incredibly sensible one on the part of DJI. Let's just hope they've got enough silicon to meet the demand.

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