However, Canon, Sony, Panasonic and Samsung have the biggest advantage among all as they have the CCD/CMOS sensor-making technology.
With more than 70 years of experiences, Canon held the biggest pie with their ultra-successful EOS cameras and tons of superior EF/EFS lenses. They were once the ONLY brand with the highest megapixel full-frame DSLR system (1Ds -11mp, 1Ds Mark 2 -16mp, 1Ds Mark 3 -21mp) after Contax and Kodak dropped from the market, but was de-throned by Sony in 2008 after they introduced A900 (24.6mp) and subsequently the Nikon D3X (24.5mp).
Supplier of sensors for many brands (including Nikon!), Sony is fast catching up after the merging with the failing Konica/Minolta camera division along their anti-shake (the FIRST in-camera anti-shake system in a DSLR) technology. From the very first APS-C A100 to full-frame A900/A850, the recent NEX/SLT cameras also helps Sony grabbing more shares than ever.
The world's no. 2 player had one of the longest history and famed for its legacy F-mount (you can even use a 1950s lens for your D7000!). Although they were late in entering the full-frame market with the legendary D3 in 2008, lots were re-written in history.
- First ever camera to hit ISO 12800
- Noise-less ISO 6400 images
- The only full-frame camera to be able to use both FX and DX lenses
- First 3 inch VGA LCD with 307,000 pixels (922,000 dots)
- Camera grip and body style designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro and lots more
Panasonic enters the market with their Lumix 4/3 system, DMC-L1 and follow up with newer micro 4/3 cameras such as G, GH and GF series.
Designed from ground up, Olympus and Kodak pioneered the open-format Four Thirds system and the very first E1 was introduced in Nov 2003. Their initial marketing concept was to have smaller sensor size so as to make possible smaller, lighter camera bodies and lenses. However small sensors suffered from various problems like lower dynamic range, noise, limited shallow DOF etc.
The size and weight of their flagship camera bodies (E1, E3, E5) were not having obvious advantages over other brands. Thus in 2008, Olympus and Panasonic finally introduced the Micro Four Thirds system (MFT), reliving their very first aim of creating a small, light system with the benefits of having interchangeable lens and easy controls for point-and-shoot users to upgrade from their compact cams.
Following the success with the EP/EPL/G/GH/GF series, both manufacturers began to chunk out newer MFT models and lenses. Four-third system looks set to RIP soon.
Nevertheless, Sony NEX, Samsung NX series (mirror-less cams), both using APS-C sensors (bigger than MFT) and the rumored Canon/Nikon similar concept cameras look set to be a tough competitors to the MFT as the bigger sensors still have the obvious advantages.
Not long in the future, we should be able to see more similar small mirror-less cameras in the market and probably one that comes with a full-frame sensor.