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Author Topic: Any Hope for Canon?  (Read 14365 times)
Ray
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« Reply #20 on: June 04, 2006, 08:18:08 PM »
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But would they deliver the same quality?  That's the crux of the problem isn't it?  This would also give the competition access to the same chips, reducing Canon's advantage which right now is purely and simply being the only DSLR manufacturer to use a full-frame CMOS chip...

In other words they are developing cutting edge chips and making them unavailable to anyone else... Add their volume of sales and you have the recipe for a solid success.

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Exactly! That's how it seems to me. The CMOS sensor contains a lot of on-chip processing. As far as I know, Canon is way ahead in the noise department at high ISOs and this, one might reasonably assume, is due to chip design rather than software application. There are some interesting comparisons elswhere on this forum between 'same exposures' at different ISOs. (By same exposure, I mean same amount of light.) At ISO 1600, noise in images from the 20D, 30D and 5D is considerably less than at ISO 100. This fact was first mentioned by John Sheehy on the old RG forum and it's quite a remarkable achievement by Canon.
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BJL
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« Reply #21 on: June 05, 2006, 12:53:09 PM »
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Pom and Alain,

  since the topic started with Pentax, I would prefer to keep the discussion on the "APS-C" format used exclusively by Pentax for its DSLRs, and in the market dominating sub-$1000 price range where Pentax operates, rather than wandering of into debating yet again the advantages and disadvantages of larger, far more expensive niche formats like 35mm digital. ("Niche" surely applies to anything that sells in distinctly lower numbers than the 4/3 DSLRs of #3 DSLR maker Olympus.)

In "APS-C digital format", there is a roughly even split between Canon and Sony sensors, with Pentax, Konica-Minolta/Sony and Nikon benefiting from the economies of scale of sharing sensor technology while competing on other SLR system features, like lens systems and AF and AE performance. And with Sony now offering the 10MP Alpha 100 for US$1,000 including a lens, and Pentax and Samsung apparently coming out with 10MP models sharing the same 10MP Sony sensor, following on the great success of the D200 with its Sony CCD, I do not see clear signs of Canon dominance in sensor technology for "APS-C" format, especially in the sub-$1,000 price range where most SLR's are sold.

I should leave the debate over resolution versus low light/high shutter speed noise levels, but am amused to see that some people who claimed a big advantage for Canon when they had 8MP instead of most rivals' 6MP are now arguing that 10MP offers no significant advantage over 8MP. I also have trouble understanding Pom declaration that consumers are dropping the "megapixel mindset" in a post were he also praises the "incredible resolution" of the 5D, which of course relies on its high pixel count! Especially with "double digit megapixels" popping up recently in everything from the D200 and Alpha 100 down to some 2/3" format digicams and even a telephone.

Maybe the resolution race will taper off once everyone is past the psychological barrier of double digit megapixels, but unless you measure trends solely by what Canon has done lately, I do not see the the end in sight yet. My predictions:
1) sensor resolution will keep increasing until it clearly matches or exceeds lens resolution, makes further pixel count increases rather pointless: somewhere between 10 and 20 MP for most LSRs?
2) The Canon EF-S and Olympus/Panasonic 4/3 formats will join Nikon, SOny, Pentax and Samsung in giving us a "10" sometime this year. Then some once and future fans of big MP counts will return to talking about the cropping advantage of ever higher resolution, such as for increasing the telephoto reach and macro working distance of any given lens, even if you do not need more than 8MP for the final print.
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #22 on: June 05, 2006, 12:56:14 PM »
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But would they deliver the same quality?  That's the crux of the problem isn't it?  This would also give the competition access to the same chips, reducing Canon's advantage which right now is purely and simply being the only DSLR manufacturer to use a full-frame CMOS chip...

If Canon wasn't profitable making and selling their own chips, the opportunity to sell chips to other camera manufacturers is there.  Why don't they do that?  Maybe because they are doing just fine as it is, getting a significant advantage using a chip nobody else has access to?  In other words they are developing cutting edge chips and making then unavailable to anyone else... Add their volume of sales and you have the recipe for a solid success.

ALain
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Alain,

Canon's chips are definitely good, and might be the best game in town overall, but:

- The Nikon D2x's chip, produced by Sony, but co-developed by Nikon and Sony isn't available in any other camera. This shows that working with a supplier to develop a chip for a specific application isn't equal to working with a standard part.

- I am not denying the success of Canon, neither am I denying the validity of their business model. I was only reacting to the statement that their success results from using home designed chips. OK, it works, but the other business models have also proven to work (nikon for instance) which makes the logical statement groundless,

- Canon not selling to other vendors is a clear fact, but wouldn't it be the same if they weren't the best in town overall? Some people would then claim that they are not selling to others because they know they wouldn't stand a chance...

There would be very good reasons for them to try to sell more chips if they were the best, and were in the business of selling chips.

Them not selling to others only shows that they think they are the best, and are not in the business of selling chips. Nothing else from a logical standpoint IMHO.

But anyway, Canon makes great cameras, and you know better than anyone else around here that they are more than enough to produce World class images. Whether they are the absolute best, or whether they have the best business model in town is IMHO only secondary to landscape photographers.

Regards,
Bernard
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alainbriot
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« Reply #23 on: June 05, 2006, 01:01:58 PM »
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But anyway, Canon makes great cameras, and you know better than anyone else around here that they are more than enough to produce World class images. Whether they are the absolute best, or whether they have the best business model in town is IMHO only secondary to landscape photographers.

Regards,
Bernard
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As an Artist, it is secondary.  As an Artist in Business, it is a good exercise in marketing analysis ;- )

Alain
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Alain Briot
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #24 on: June 05, 2006, 01:05:42 PM »
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As an Artist, it is secondary.  As an Artist in Business, it is a good exercise in marketing analysis ;- )

Alain
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How could I not admire the marketing person sleeping in the admirable artist?

Cheers,
Bernard
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BJL
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« Reply #25 on: June 05, 2006, 01:09:10 PM »
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There are some interesting comparisons elswhere on this forum between 'same exposures' at different ISOs. (By same exposure, I mean same amount of light.) At ISO 1600, noise in images from the 20D, 30D and 5D is considerably less than at ISO 100.
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In what way is this a remarkable accomplishment? it is exactly what basic analysis of signal level and the various noise sources suggests should happen, and what I would expect of any sensor.

- "Same exposure" means the same signal level (same photon count, and so same electron count of signal in the photosites), and so the same amount photon shot noise.
- One should also expect the same amount of sensor dark current noise.
- Using a higher ISO means that the signal is pre-amplified more before A/D conversion, so that at all subsequent stages in the analog process, the signal is stronger, so that any additional noise that enters is "competing" with a stronger signal, so that the ratio of the amplified signal to this new noise is higher, leading to a higher (better) overall S/N ratio.

This is basic in noise control: amplifying a signal as early as possible in the process helps to reduce the effect of subsequent noise sources. For analog audio fans, this is how Dolby NR and RIAA equalization on LP's works: higher frequencies are given extra amplification before recording so that they can then be output with lower amplification, reducing the effects of any noise (hiss) that is introduced in between.
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Jay Kaplan
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« Reply #26 on: June 05, 2006, 02:09:40 PM »
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I think this whole thread misses the point to a certain extent. The vast majority of digital cameras sold today are the low end models and people buying them are buying either style (read higher cost) or on price. These cameras are commodities and people tend to gravitate to the lowest price in most instances. They go to big box stores for their purchase.

The higher end market where the DSLR resides are generally not sold in big box stores, the bottom end of the product line, maybe, but just that. Here lens quality and features are what count. As to which chip is better, is problematic unless you look strictly at units sold. Here is where Canon dominates.

People tend to stay with the same brand in the higher end market especially if they have a lot invested in glass and other brand specific items.

As to comparing a DSLR to a PC as in fast / cheaper, and the lowest price wins is not quite on point.

The main difference is that the software in the PC will run on any machine that uses the same operating system provided there is sufficient ram and processor speed to adequately run the program.

With a digital slr, you cannot put a Nikon lens on a Canon and vice versa. Well maybe with a custom adaptor, but you cannot take advantage of the camera specific features with another brand of lens designed for a different brand of camera.

You find a camera that works for you at a price you can digest and the system has the glass you want, end of discussion.
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Ben Rubinstein
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« Reply #27 on: June 05, 2006, 02:47:26 PM »
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I also have trouble understanding Pom declaration that consumers are dropping the "megapixel mindset" in a post were he also praises the "incredible resolution" of the 5D, which of course relies on its high pixel count!

The pro knows what how much resolution they need and buy accordingly. I am a pro who needed at least the resolution of the 1Ds which I owned for several specific reasons tied in with the kind of work I do. The illogical megapixel race is ending for those high street consumers who wouldn't know how to maximise the megapixels they have never mind another 2-4 megapixels.
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BJL
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« Reply #28 on: June 05, 2006, 03:17:45 PM »
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The illogical megapixel race is ending for those high street consumers who wouldn't know how to maximise the megapixels they have never mind another 2-4 megapixels.
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I used to believe that, on the basis that as little as 5 or 6 MP is plenty for the printing needs of most photographers (including many photojournalists I suspect), so that even the increase to 8MP in amateur priced offerings from Canon and Olympus was mostly for marketing one-upmanship.

But I have been persuaded that many amateurs can benefit from "excess pixels" by two issue close to my heart: telephoto reach and macro working distance.

Increasing pixel count beyond what is needed for final prints allows more cropping, which effectively increases the reach of a telephoto lens, and allows a greater working distance with a macro lens. Arguably, this is preferable to using a tele-convertor, since it avoids the extra aberrations of a TC while involving about the same loss of speed (through lower ISO with smaller pixels, higher f-stop with a TC). And I would not  expect prints of the same size from a higher pixel count sensor to show more noise or less dynamic range, due to the smoothing ("dithering") effect of printing at higher PPI.

The limit to this is the resolution of the lenses, and I now guess that SLR sensor resolution at all price levels will keep increasing until lens limitations mean that any more pixels would not significantly increase the resolution of the final image.


P.S. I also dispute the idea that there are not a good number of amateurs who
a. want and can make good use of more than 8MP
b. cannot afford a $3,000 camera, or even a $1700 camera like the D200.
You know, like the hobbyists and photography students who used fine grained, low speed films, tripods, sharp inexpensive normal primes, and cameras like the Pentax K1000?
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BJL
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« Reply #29 on: June 05, 2006, 03:39:10 PM »
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As to which chip is better, is problematic unless you look strictly at units sold. Here is where Canon dominates.

People tend to stay with the same brand in the higher end market especially if they have a lot invested in glass and other brand specific items.
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Canon does not "dominate' unit sales of SLR sensors: Sony and Canon are fairly close in total sales.

As to moving up; first, it is irrelevant to the great majority of SLR buyers, who never get beyond about the US$1,000 lens and body kit price level. And for those who do move up, Canon has a possible problem. Moving up from Canon's mainstream EF-S, all EF-S format, to anything beyond the 30D involves changing a large proportion of the lens system, because most lenses used with EF-S bodies are EF-S lenses. (Most do not use a 17-40/4 L as their standard lens; that is only for the hard-core anti-cropping zealots who, ironically, impose a crop on their wide to normal lenses by refusing to use EF-S lenses.)

Also, new SLR models like the Pentax K100D and K110D, the new Samsug models, and the Sony Alpha 100 are definitely hoping for "big box store" sales. The idea that SLR's are used mostly by an elite of "serious photographers" is no longer true with the rapid downward price trend.
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alainbriot
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« Reply #30 on: June 05, 2006, 03:53:33 PM »
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How could I not admire the marketing person sleeping in the admirable artist?

Cheers,
Bernard
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Only metaphorically sleeping ;-)
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Alain Briot
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DiaAzul
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« Reply #31 on: June 05, 2006, 03:59:41 PM »
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I think this whole thread misses the point to a certain extent. The vast majority of digital cameras sold today are the low end models and people buying them are buying either style (read higher cost) or on price. These cameras are commodities and people tend to gravitate to the lowest price in most instances. They go to big box stores for their purchase.

The higher end market where the DSLR resides are generally not sold in big box stores, the bottom end of the product line, maybe, but just that. Here lens quality and features are what count. As to which chip is better, is problematic unless you look strictly at units sold. Here is where Canon dominates.
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It's amusing to see this discussion gravitate towards who makes the best sensor and old (and tired) arguments over megapixels, noise, crop factor, etc...

The question that kicked this off is can Canon survive in a commoditised consumer business? To which the answer is probably yes. Out of the other players then Samsung, Sony are strong candidates - but Nikon? That will be an interesting one to watch as it plays out.

What differentiates Canon, Samsung and Sony is that they have strong brands and powerful distribution channels. If you take the general population then these brands will have strong spontaneous recall. If you skew the survey sample to pro photographers/ serious amateurs then spontaneous recall will probably be Canon, Nikon (Pentax, etc al).

In the consumer market brand is a powerful pull when making a purchasing decission. Take a look at Apple's iPod - definitely not the cheapest MP3 player, but commands a high priced compared with what it delivers and the value available in the rest of the market. If Canon can capture that mind share by delivering innovative and unique products (e.g. Full frame sensor driven cameras, top sports and photojournalist cameras, what the pro landscape photogs use) then it will have a strong influence further down the market.

However, further down the market there is a strong pull from other brands who are cross branding into the photography segment - lead amongst these is Samsung and Sony.

The question is not will Canon survive - they are adept at maintaing their brand image and can churn out the marketing in support of their leading position in the pro market - but how much longer until Nikon finally bites the dust. At the moment they are being maintained by people with fond memories of Nikon's film cameras migrating to Nikon digital SLRs out of brand memory/loyalty (as to a greater and lesser extent are Pentax, Olympus an Konica Minolta). However, this is a finite market segment that they have not demonstrated that they can expand out of. Once existing film camera hang outs have migrated then these manufacturers will need to find new customers. Against the likes of Samsung, Sony and Canon they do not stand a chance.

So, if you don't have a camera from the next wave big three then seriously consider what the junk value of your equipment will be like in three years and whether it is worth cashing in now whilst resale values are reasonable.  
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Ben Rubinstein
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« Reply #32 on: June 05, 2006, 04:37:23 PM »
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If Fuji decide to seriously hedge their bets by coming into the DSLR world in a big way using Nikon lenses then that may make a difference. The name Nikon still has prestige whatever the prices of the samsung pretenders.

Their are a lot of people already locked into Nikon through the D70, including those who haven't touched a film SLR before. If they have something good to put alongside the Samsung/pentax/sony/olympus this photokina then there may be life in the old dog left, especially as I said since the name can drive sales. It may take some time for one of the big two in the DSLR world (at this point in time) to die that quickly.

Now if Nikon was at some point to do a Minolta with Fuji then that should be interesting. Let's face it, two chips one canon one sony is not healthy for the market especially now with sony producing DSLR's and the worry that might be in some other manufacturers minds, they can't be too pleased about relying on supplies from a major competitor.
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #33 on: June 05, 2006, 06:53:18 PM »
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The question is not will Canon survive - they are adept at maintaing their brand image and can churn out the marketing in support of their leading position in the pro market - but how much longer until Nikon finally bites the dust. At the moment they are being maintained by people with fond memories of Nikon's film cameras migrating to Nikon digital SLRs out of brand memory/loyalty (as to a greater and lesser extent are Pentax, Olympus an Konica Minolta). However, this is a finite market segment that they have not demonstrated that they can expand out of. Once existing film camera hang outs have migrated then these manufacturers will need to find new customers. Against the likes of Samsung, Sony and Canon they do not stand a chance.
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Hum... my personnal view is that Nikon is actually less and less likely to bite the dust.

As sensors further become a commodity, their price will further go down, and the advantage Canon might once have had by working in house is getting thinner and thinner. In other words, the relative value of the sensor in bodies is going down.

On the other hand, the ability to produce high quality bodies at low enough prices is becoming more and more important. From this standpoint, Nikon does currently lead the pack thanks to its production facilities in Thailand (Canon still produces in Japan).

As far as Nikon being maintained by nostalgic film shooters, this simply doesn't match at all what I see around me. Most of the people I know using D50, D70 or D70s had actually never owned a SLR before, or if they did they were Pentax, Minolta,...

They picked Nikon over Canon (and other brands) mostly because they thought that Nikon provided better value in terms of ergonomics, AF,...

For most of the people, the slightly better Canon sensor just isn't as relevant as you seem to think. We have already reached a level of quality that is high enough for these people not to care. Beyond this level sensors become less important and we are sort of back to the end of the film days.

IMHO, this is very much where Nikon does IMHO have a good opportunity to increase its market share instead of seeing it decrease. For a low end shooters, the Nikon system does currently offer more DX lenses options.

Cheers,
Bernard
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Ray
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« Reply #34 on: June 05, 2006, 09:27:02 PM »
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In what way is this a remarkable accomplishment? it is exactly what basic analysis of signal level and the various noise sources suggests should happen, and what I would expect of any sensor.
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It's a remarkable accomplishment because Canon seems to be the only company that has been able to put the theory into practice.

I mentioned before that I'd done some tests with my D60 comparing 'same exposures' at different ISOs and found that there was very little noise advantage at higher ISOs. To be completely objective and unbiased   , there was some noise reduction in the deeper shadows, at higher ISOs, but none in the higher tones. There was therefore some benefit to be gained with a high DR scene, using a high ISO, but very little benefit for a low DR scene.

Bjanes has also done similar tests with his Nikon D2X and found that that much-acclaimed camera also does not show much noise improvement at higher than base ISO, with same exposures. Although, I understand the D2X offers a software option of reducing noise at high ISOs but which unfortunately also reduces resolution.

This is not the case with Canon's latest DSLRs which all show considerably less noise across the entire tonal range of the image, at high ISOs, and a particularly dramatic reduction in noise and increase in detail in the shadows at ISO 1600.

Perhaps the full significance of this achievement has escaped you. It's well known that many photos are not as sharp as they could be as a result of the photographer not using a tripod or failing to use a sufficiently fast shutter speed.

For this reason the Image Stabilisation technology in many Canon lenses is a much desired feature. However, use of IS does not help freeze movement of the subject. Nor does a tripod help in such situations. But a low noise, high ISO setting does help, a lot.

With my 5D, I can now take shots at ISO 1600 which are better in every respect than shots at ISO 400 with my D60. I see that as a 2 stop advantage which is just as significant as Canon's Image Stabilisation technology. In some respects it's more significant because the faster shutter speed freezes both camera shake and subject movement.

I hope the successor to the 5D will not only have a greater pixel count but a real ISO 3200 setting with less noise than ISO 1600 (with same exposure).

Can you do it, Canon?    I'm in the market for such a camera.
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DiaAzul
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« Reply #35 on: June 06, 2006, 03:59:30 AM »
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As sensors further become a commodity, their price will further go down, and the advantage Canon might once have had by working in house is getting thinner and thinner. In other words, the relative value of the sensor in bodies is going down.

On the other hand, the ability to produce high quality bodies at low enough prices is becoming more and more important. From this standpoint, Nikon does currently lead the pack thanks to its production facilities in Thailand (Canon still produces in Japan).

For most of the people, the slightly better Canon sensor just isn't as relevant as you seem to think. We have already reached a level of quality that is high enough for these people not to care. Beyond this level sensors become less important and we are sort of back to the end of the film days.

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Fair comment, but the point I made at the start is that the sensor, the camera body, the design, etc...are irrelevant relative to Brand awareness, distribution channels and marketing innovation. I made specific point that the sensor is an irrelevant discussion, so where you pick up that  I am trying to make a point of that I am not sure.

There is also a distinction which needs to be made between the situation now and the situation in three years time. There is no guarantee that the market leaders today will exist in three years time. Sony and Samsung have only just begun their market development programmes. They have much greater brand awareness in the growing economies of Asia than perhaps Nikon and, IMHO, I believe that this makes Nikon vulnerable. Yes, Nikon makes some nice cameras, but there are examples of plenty of companies who have made nice equipment but no longer exist.

I have no crystal ball, so any gazing into the future is pure conjecture - stating that Nikon will bite the dust due to their lack of scale, ability to cross brand and limited distribution (compared with Sony, Samsung and Canon) is intended to contrast Nikon against the capabilities and possiblities of the other three manufacturers. It woud be a shame to see them go, but there are no guarentees for the sentimental.

[As to producing offshore - it was Canon that initially led the price reduction brigade. Canon still typically has lower lens prices than Nikon. Also, to the best of my understanding Canon seems to have a slightly better QA than Nikon. All debatable of course because, in reality, there is not too much to choose between the two.]
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« Reply #36 on: June 06, 2006, 04:18:04 AM »
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Fair comment, but the point I made at the start is that the sensor, the camera body, the design, etc...are irrelevant relative to Brand awareness, distribution channels and marketing innovation. I made specific point that the sensor is an irrelevant discussion, so where you pick up that  I am trying to make a point of that I am not sure.

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My guess would be that I focused on that point because I didn't read your post carefully enough...

Regards,
Bernard
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« Reply #37 on: June 06, 2006, 06:02:02 AM »
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In the consumer market brand is a powerful pull when making a purchasing decission. Take a look at Apple's iPod - definitely not the cheapest MP3 player, but commands a high priced compared with what it delivers and the value available in the rest of the market. If Canon can capture that mind share by delivering innovative and unique products (e.g. Full frame sensor driven cameras, top sports and photojournalist cameras, what the pro landscape photogs use) then it will have a strong influence further down the market.
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The iPod is an amazing marketing case.  There are better MP3 players (more features and easier to use for less money.  Canon started offering rebates when the D200 was announced though, that would indicate to me that Nikon still has influence on the market.
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« Reply #38 on: June 06, 2006, 10:36:07 AM »
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A few days back I was reading Canon's Annual Report and I was left with a feeling that this is a company with an overwhelming managerial advantage. I was reminded of Kodak of 20 or 30 years ago. That also implies that while Canon is riding high now, and IMHO, also for the next several years, it cannot last forever. A few surprising paraphrases from the Annual Report. Please excuse the misuse of terms since memory is highly imperfect. Growth areas: DSLRs of course, but Multi Purpose Devices was a surprise to me. It seems that consumers are really going after those printer/fax/scanner gizmos. Color copiers is also there in a major way. Slowdown in industrial stepper imagers (for making plasma screens). It seems that overall investment on the production side is slowing down; there is a glut of plasma TVs. Canon are feeling the pricing pressure at the low end (digicams, printers and scanners). By the way, I acquired a $50 Canon A4 scanner some months back and was astounded at how user friendly and how high quality its output was. You just plug in the USB cable (no separate lead for power). Press a single button and a perfect color copy with excellent tonality spews out of your printer; no human intervention at all required. Another button files a scan on your PC, again nil fiddling. Last month I bought a $100 Canon printer, a Pixma iP 2200. I was blown away at the quality of the first superglossy photo print I made. Inkjets have come a long way. The same files printed on a Fuji Pictro are way, way behind and that was seen as a very high standard quite recently. With this kind of quality coming out of a $100 printer, I think I know what to expect of Michael's forthcoming review of a high end Canon printer. In brief, Canon sounds like a sound investment over the next decade. Buy some stock to pay for your photo equipment.    Sony somehow got distracted into Hollywood and music ventures.
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« Reply #39 on: June 06, 2006, 02:49:34 PM »
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It's a remarkable accomplishment because Canon seems to be the only company that has been able to put the theory into practice.
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I do not understand what anyone stands to gain from this. As I understand it, you are comparing images taken the same exposure level (same f-stop and shutter speed) but with different ISO speed settings, and thus with different amounts of exposure compensation in post-processing. Specifically, ISO 100 with about four stops of underexposure and thus massive "brightening" needed in PP compared to ISO 1600 setting with exposure giving roughly the desired output levels with little or no PP adjustment needed.

What is the point? Surely in general one would use the latter, higher ISO speed option, and never have reason to about whether or not it is slightly better than the never used option of "ISO 100 and +4".
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