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Author Topic: Is there an amateur market, and if so is it important?  (Read 6300 times)
Rob C
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« Reply #20 on: September 30, 2012, 08:56:29 AM »
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Not having nor likely to have an MF system, I can look at it quite dispassionately and come to fairly independent views.

What would I like to see, and find vaguely attractive? Something (a back) that's full-frame Hasseblad Series 500. It's the camera that would attract me, being certainly the nicest studio/tripod camera system I ever owned. The back should, ideally, be considered nothing more than a film back without the problems of film.

If development money is the problem, it would seem to make sense for all the MF camera makers to come together with a sensor maker and put the cash into a pot and do what they should be doing: make that goddam 6x6 sensor and at an affordable price.

Of course, that takes more than short-time thinking, but maybe it would offer them all long-time survival. They all survived (much better!) when all that separated them was the individual camera body/system; the constant was film, and I don't recall finding any conflict there between camera makers and film makers. Substitute the idea of film with that of sensor, and where's the real problem if you throw enough R&D money at it?

Rob C
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torger
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« Reply #21 on: September 30, 2012, 09:17:07 AM »
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If development money is the problem, it would seem to make sense for all the MF camera makers to come together with a sensor maker and put the cash into a pot and do what they should be doing: make that goddam 6x6 sensor and at an affordable price.

Making a "dumb" back is probably quite easy. The latest Sinar backs without LCD (tether only) and standard product CCD I would guess was developed at a tiny fraction of the cost of the IQ-series. The IQ-series have their own kernel running on the back, and all the custom UI stuff, man-years in development.

56x56mm CCD would be a custom size, but probably not too hard to get, CCDs are made in many different sizes. Say if you made large pixels, say 9um so you get a 40 megapixel file it's probably easier to get it manufactured.

I think it would be a quite easy product to make for any of the current back manufacturers, but well, they don't. Their focus is their 645 camera systems, that's where the money is I guess. It seems more likely that DHW goes to Jenoptik and make them do a 56x56 for their Hy6 rather than Hasselblad coming up with something.

My guess is that they (Hasselblad etc) assume that those interested in the V system is those that don't have the money to buy into a modern digital 645 system, and therefore there's no money to make there. If Hasselblad made a 56x56 back even if very expensive I do think they could sell enough to at least not lose money on the project, and at the same time get some nice publicity on their fine legacy products. But they thought making a Lunar was a better idea, which it maybe is for short-term revenue, but maybe not for the brand...
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gerald.d
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« Reply #22 on: September 30, 2012, 10:38:28 AM »
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Something fundamental that's being overlooked here in the financial comparison between MF and 35mm, is that it's not just about the MFDB vs the DSLR body.

Most high-end (by expenditure, not quality!) amateurs I come across have typically invested significantly more in their lenses than in their bodies.

If I look at my own case, I went from 5DII, to 5DII + 7D, to 5DII + 1D4, and was buying lenses frequently. I ended up with perhaps $30K's worth of lenses at retail price. 3x cost of the bodies I ended up with. Perhaps that's a bit extreme, but it's very, very common for amateurs to have significantly more than the cost of their body "invested" in lenses. Over a 4 year timeframe, many lenses simply do not depreciate at all. Shop around and time your buying and selling well, and you can actually end up making money on some of the decent glass.

I sold all my Canon kit off to move into MF. I sold relatively quickly, and into a very small market (UAE), and probably lost no more than 35% on the bodies, and 20% - if that - on the lenses. If I'd lived in a bigger market, and was prepared to take my time over it, the loss on the lenses would have been a lot less than that.

In the MF world, I suspect that the situation is very similar. Some lenses will probably hold their values very well, but I very much doubt that there is as significant proportion of high-end (by expenditure) amateurs who have spent 3x as much on their lenses as they have on their digital back. Heck, I think even if I won the lottery I'd be hard pushed to find $100K of lenses to purchase to use with my IQ180.

On the camera side, from what I've witnessed, in tech-cam land, a second hand market barely exists, and stuff holds its value very well. On the DSLR side, a totally different story, and it's not really surprising either.

Bottom line - if you looked into the investment into the total system, and how that depreciates over a 4 year timeframe, I wouldn't be at all surprised to see 35mm DSLR fair a lot better than MF.

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TMARK
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« Reply #23 on: September 30, 2012, 12:40:37 PM »
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I've run these numbers and buying MFD doesn't make sense unless you genuinely need it.  Much better to rent when you do need MFDB.  Tying up $60k for a few years, even with the back end benefits on taxes, only makes sense if you make and sell large prints, or are constantly shooting campaigns where you need an MFDB.  Portrait studios, interior, architecture, etc.  Buying used is a different equation.
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gerald.d
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« Reply #24 on: September 30, 2012, 01:27:48 PM »
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I've run these numbers and buying MFD doesn't make sense unless you genuinely need it.  Much better to rent when you do need MFDB.  Tying up $60k for a few years, even with the back end benefits on taxes, only makes sense if you make and sell large prints, or are constantly shooting campaigns where you need an MFDB.  Portrait studios, interior, architecture, etc.  Buying used is a different equation.
It's all relative though.

Some people choose to tie up $60K in a car. Some choose to tie it up in a home that is $60K "better" than another one. Some will tie it up in a boat, or a watch, or a diamond necklace, or a Steinway, or a case of 2009 Pétrus.

Life's too short.

"Need"? Pah.

Buy MFD if you WANT it, if you can afford it, and if you enjoy using it.

Sod the economics.
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FredBGG
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« Reply #25 on: September 30, 2012, 01:59:36 PM »
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There are a few things that indicate quite clearly that MF companies are not doing very well and are in a precarious situation.

First of all there are many rumors and rumblings about how they are doing.
It's not good for any company to have that sort of perception about their state of being going around.
If things were really going well they would put out their numbers. Something more tangible than "our best year yet"
Number that could be held up to scrutiny. You can't be too fuzzy about numbers or the tax man might come running?

Another indication of the state of things is the lack of innovation and more so the lack of fixing what does not work.
A good example of that is the IQ180 series and the fact that Phase/Leaf do not have the resources to fix a currently
broken promise. USB still does not work on the Phase One and Leaf backs.

Today large investments are needed for product development and it is quite clear that in advanced high tech hardware
large companies are needed to be able to make these investments. Interestingly those companies that are making these
large investments are far more diversified than the MF manufacturers with the exception of maybe Pentax.

To give an idea of scale here. Just recently Sony decided to make a $644 million investment in Olympus.
They decided to this due to the diversified value of the company. Consumer cameras and a very strong medical division.
Just look at the diversification of Nikon, Canon, Zeiss, Sony.... etc etc.

Actually I tthink a close look at the paths taken by Hasselblad and Zeiss when they parted their ways....
Carl Ziess has increased it's diversification and has revenues of $5.43 billion


Neurosurgery


Semiconductor manufacturing equipment


13.5 nanometer lithography systems


Hasselblad is pimping up Nex-7 cameras .....


Pimped up NEx-7 cameras with plastic lens barrels they think they can sell to wealthy clients.


« Last Edit: September 30, 2012, 02:12:39 PM by FredBGG » Logged
FredBGG
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« Reply #26 on: September 30, 2012, 02:11:50 PM »
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If I look at my own case, I went from 5DII, to 5DII + 7D, to 5DII + 1D4, and was buying lenses frequently. I ended up with perhaps $30K's worth of lenses at retail price. 3x cost of the bodies I ended up with.

This is an interesting point. What is more of a luxury... a large collection of lenses that reach take dramatically different images or a single body and a normal lens, but with a wee bit more final resolution?

I think that there is more of a future in luxury lenses than there is in MF as a luxury camera.
I think that Carl Zeiss's announcement of ultra high end 35mm DSLR lenses is an indication of this.
Very smart more IMO. They did a similar move in motion picture and it is going very well.

I think it is more likely that we will see more of the luxury dollars going to lenses than cameras especially when we see how sensors are leveling the capture
quality for all but 40x60in prints.
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gerald.d
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« Reply #27 on: September 30, 2012, 02:33:06 PM »
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This is an interesting point. What is more of a luxury... a large collection of lenses that reach take dramatically different images or a single body and a normal lens, but with a wee bit more final resolution?

I think that there is more of a future in luxury lenses than there is in MF as a luxury camera.
I think that Carl Zeiss's announcement of ultra high end 35mm DSLR lenses is an indication of this.
Very smart more IMO. They did a similar move in motion picture and it is going very well.

I think it is more likely that we will see more of the luxury dollars going to lenses than cameras especially when we see how sensors are leveling the capture
quality for all but 40x60in prints.

One of the things that attracted me towards MF was that there is a huge range of highly capable old lenses across multiple systems available for - relatively - peanuts.

I've picked up Mamiya 35 AF, 50 shift, 80 AF, 80/1.9, 120 macro, 150/2.8, 200/2.8 and 300/2.8. Total cost of those combined was substantially less than what I sold one 300/2.8 Canon for. I can put them on my POAF, or with a Mirex adapter on my HCam, they all become tilt-shift lenses - that should be good for a bit of fun. Plus, there's that lovely GX680, and all the old cheap - but stunning - glass available for that. And if I really want to go to town, yes, there are the Rodenstocks available on an Alpa.

And one back to rule them all. Or if I want, with film, 645 on the POAF, 6xeverything-up-to-8 on the 680, and maybe at some point, 6x9 on the Alpa.

It's this diversity that makes it fun for me. The potential is there to do pretty much anything. I'm using perhaps 3% of the capability of the kit right now (sadly, I'm very time poor), but the potential is there for whenever it takes my fancy. And I like that Smiley
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torger
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« Reply #28 on: September 30, 2012, 05:05:31 PM »
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I've also spent a lot more on lenses. Lenses lose value slower than most things, so it feels better to spend much money on than electronics.

For my DSLR system I think about ~20% is the body, the relatively fast-aging electronics is thus a smaller part. Had I bought a new 33 megapixel back instead of a second hand it would have been ~60% of my MF system cost.

I think Alpa, Linhof, Arca-Swiss and Cambo should join forces and develop that nice entry-level MFDB product which do well on their tech cams. It is those brands that are going to make money from it Smiley, from all us landscape-loving amateurs. Sure their cameras are not cheap, but if I were them I'd think that why should 60% of the cash go to MFDB makers, when more could be spent on our systems?
« Last Edit: September 30, 2012, 05:13:24 PM by torger » Logged
EricWHiss
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« Reply #29 on: September 30, 2012, 09:00:24 PM »
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There are a few things that indicate quite clearly that MF companies are not doing very well and are in a precarious situation


Ooohhhh  "Precarious"....   More of the "sky is falling" from Fred. Not a surprise! 

So Fred, tell us how much of this _ _ you are unloading on the forums have to do with  ... 1) Your own sour grapes for not being able to afford your own MFDB system 2) Stink because Fuji didn't bring out a back for the 680III camera  3) you want attention and your agent told you any kind of publicity is good publicity 4) you bumped your head and are confused 5) you secretly work for Nikon?  6) It's one more chance to post that picture of what's his face flipping the bird. 7) You are priming yourself for a career change from photographer to writer for Fox news and are practicing making up stories. 

Since you don't shoot MF (digital) why on Earth could any of this matter to you?  Why go through all the trouble?  It is definitely ruining your cred.



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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #30 on: October 01, 2012, 12:28:44 AM »
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7) You are priming yourself for a career change from photographer to writer for Fox news and are practicing making up stories. 

He he he... Smiley

Cheers,
Bernard
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FredBGG
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« Reply #31 on: October 01, 2012, 01:17:49 AM »
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Ooohhhh  "Precarious"....   More of the "sky is falling" from Fred. Not a surprise! 

So Fred, tell us how much of this _ _ you are unloading on the forums have to do with  ... 1) Your own sour grapes for not being able to afford your own MFDB system 2) Stink because Fuji didn't bring out a back for the 680III camera  3) you want attention and your agent told you any kind of publicity is good publicity 4) you bumped your head and are confused 5) you secretly work for Nikon?  6) It's one more chance to post that picture of what's his face flipping the bird. 7) You are priming yourself for a career change from photographer to writer for Fox news and are practicing making up stories. 

Since you don't shoot MF (digital) why on Earth could any of this matter to you?  Why go through all the trouble?  It is definitely ruining your cred.


None of the above.

And just in case you did not know Fuji did make a digital back for the GX680.

[img]http://3.static.img-dpreview.com/files/news/5839668318/fujidbp-001.jpg?v=1601[/url]

Also I will not be answering any more of your personal attacks.....
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torger
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« Reply #32 on: October 01, 2012, 02:22:03 AM »
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I think there is some unhealthy snobbism around MFD just because it's expensive. Some users seems to like that it's expensive, so other people can't have it. If I were an MFDB manufacturer I'd like that kind of customer, because they are sooo easy to sell to Smiley

There are many reasons why MFDB must be more expensive than a DSLR body, but I wonder does it really have to be this expensive?

I make no secret from that I want prices to go down so I can use the gear more comfortably. Concerning if the MFDB manufactures have to change, or if they can continue with the $40K CCD back concept indefinitely I don't really know. Personally I appreciate the pressure DSLRs are making, so maybe there'll be a change. I don't hope for that MF will become a micro niche like large format film has become, I hope for that they find ways to open up for new markets, like the amateur market which I'm in myself.
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Rob C
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« Reply #33 on: October 01, 2012, 02:54:19 AM »
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Look, if you bother to check the thread tiltle, you'll see that it refers to the question of the amateur market and its importance; at no time does it invite rudeness or personal attack. Let's all stay cool.

It's easy to toss one's head and say, à la Leica M cameras, oh, they are for dentists! as if that were some kind of whitewash of the situation. It's not: some things simply are too expensive for the normal amateur or even, dare I say it, pro to spend his hard-earned upon. There will always be those, either pro or am who will be abale to purchase anything they want to, but you have to hope that sufficient number of them want to buy into MFDB for those companies to survive. Simply updating a cosmetic thing or two isn't going to  make even the rich throw their money away on minor changes, they didn't get rich by being particularly dumb.

So yes, I think that collaborative effort in producing a 6x6 format FF sensor that allows at least the equivalent of a good 400ASA working speed will do a lot for the genre. It takes us back to the situation with 'blad and TXP 120, which was pretty damned good for the work that MF is suited to do. I don't see a need for much higher speeds; those should be - and already are - the province of the 135 format with its hot lenses and available darkness capabilities. There will never be a one camera does everything solution; why waste time and money moaning about the fact that it can't be done, even if only for purely ergonomic reasons, apart from technical ones?

Produce that affordable (by most of us), basic, 6x6 back and the world of photography will change for the better.

Rob C
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #34 on: October 01, 2012, 03:33:57 AM »
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There are many reasons why MFDB must be more expensive than a DSLR body, but I wonder does it really have to be this expensive?

Pentax has clearly proven that it doesn't have to be the case when you do things in a smart way. They do of course leverage economies of scale accross their full camera operation, but the photographic value of a 645D is not impacted by this, on the contrary.

The problem is indeed that the flow of events has resulted in the MF brands serving both the photography and luxury markets with a single product line. High end backs manufacturers have managed to position themselves so as to serve the same market high end audio, high end cars, high end wines,... have been serving for years. And why would they not cater for that market?
 
Traders, successful businessman and some hard working folks nearing retirement have piles of cash and they litterally don't know what to do with it. And the clock is ticking like it is for all of us. Those are smart people who know the value of things. The name of the game when serving this market is simply to produce enough justification for the buyer to feel good about signing the check. Usually it helps if that quality is "visible" to the outside world, because ego is part of this discussion:
- the best lenses for Leica S,
- 80 mp for phase and Leaf,
- ...

Note that I am not debating the reality of these claims, they are real, zero doubt.

Once you have found this differentiator that people can feel good about, the price is simply not that relevant. On the contrary, the more expensive the better because it prevents lesser folks from mixing in the club, which would ruin the whole story a bit. We have seen high end DSLR being compared to "VW" recently, while MFDB are "Porsches", which examplifies the point beautifully.

I happen to know quite a few of those guys and have zero negative feelings about them, "good for them" is how I feel about this whole thing. I happen to also know a few people serving the luxury market on the sales/marketing side in other domains (audio,...) and the way they market their products is a copy/paste of the way MFDB are being marketed here and elsewhere.

The "victims" are the "normal" photographers willing to shoot MF, since the elite has basically kidnapped the MF platforms for their own enjoyment... that is if we forget Pentax. That is a key difference with high end audio for example, because photographic platforms are essentially closed... It is not legitimate to be mad about Wilson Audio selling 160,000 US$ speakers, but it is legitimate to be made about Phaseone for not making the Mamiya digital platform more affordable because their is a strong link between the buyers of a photographic platform and the seller. I do believe that the seller as an untold responsibility towards the buyers.

Now, some high end photographers in fact also like the pricing because it provides them an entry barrer against younger and talented folks who cannot afford these monsters right away. Note that I am not saying it is the only reason why they use MF. They use MF because of the photograhic value... but they are pretty happy about the unaffordability as well.  Wink

Cheers,
Bernard
« Last Edit: October 01, 2012, 03:44:04 AM by BernardLanguillier » Logged

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torger
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« Reply #35 on: October 01, 2012, 05:10:56 AM »
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but they are pretty happy about the unaffordability as well.  Wink

Yes, this is what worries me. Both the companies and much of the existing customer-base is pretty much pleased with the situation. The only problem seems to be that DSLRs are getting a bit too good, so it becomes increasingly hard to maintain that MF is "far superior". I see that there are also very rational pro users, that simply dropped out of MF when DSLRs became good enough. It's similar to the time when people dropped out of 4x5" film when digital got good enough. It's hard to see how large and widespread this is though, large market changes won't happen overnight, but perhaps in five years.

I think it would be sad if the MFDB market goes even further into a tiny high-end niche. What I see MFDB manufacturers doing is concentrating almost all their effort on making the highest end backs for their 645 systems. I would not be surprised if CFV-50 is the last digital back Hasselblad makes for the V system. Tech cameras must live with what they get from that development, which according to me is too much color cast and poorly balanced sensor size options.

Nothing in the recent times show any indications that Hasselblad, Leaf and Phase are going to do anything different or try to expand the MF market, which I think would be possible if you'd like to and are willing to take some risk. I think it will be very exciting to see what will happen in the industry in the coming 5-10 year period.
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yaya
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« Reply #36 on: October 01, 2012, 07:26:53 AM »
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Nothing in the recent times show any indications that Hasselblad, Leaf and Phase are going to do anything different or try to expand the MF market

Two indications for you from recent months, both seem to be a success so far...

http://www.mamiyaleaf.com/products_ixr.asp
http://industrial.phaseone.com/Industrial/Aerial-Camera-Systems/iXA/overview.aspx

And in addition we do quite a bit of work with other camera and lens manufacturers on both R&D and marketing/ sales to ensure constant growth of the overall business, for everyone.

As I keep saying, these forum and the 20-30 regular posters (and perhaps another 20-30 "friends") cannot be taken as a reliable representation of the current state of affairs.

Still this is a good and healthy discussion as long as we keep it constructive rather than distractive...

Yair
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torger
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« Reply #37 on: October 01, 2012, 08:08:51 AM »
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Two indications for you from recent months, both seem to be a success so far...

http://www.mamiyaleaf.com/products_ixr.asp
http://industrial.phaseone.com/Industrial/Aerial-Camera-Systems/iXA/overview.aspx

And in addition we do quite a bit of work with other camera and lens manufacturers on both R&D and marketing/ sales to ensure constant growth of the overall business, for everyone.

As I keep saying, these forum and the 20-30 regular posters (and perhaps another 20-30 "friends") cannot be taken as a reliable representation of the current state of affairs.

Still this is a good and healthy discussion as long as we keep it constructive rather than distractive...

Yair

Yes, I stand corrected. I kind of knew about those, and science, industrial, cartography, repro is big too. I saw the new Rencay scanning back coming in this area too. I'm sure they are great products and the buyers are there. I congratulate on the success! There's not much DSLR competition in those areas either so it is a good place to be in.

Still kind of hoping that we'll see bold moves in the traditional photography. Although posters here and on getdpi is not that big in number I think that the number of pro users (and wealthy amateurs) in those forums that actually have dropped out of MF because DSLR is good enough and MF just not worth it does actually indicate a trend. I can use my eyes to see how close the results are nowadays (it's not like in 2005), and see how various MF companies market the gear and from that come up with the conclusion that it is indeed likely that the MF industry is facing big pressure from the DSLRs, and that the $40K for a CCD concept may not work indefinitely.

I fully understand that in either way you cannot talk much about those things since sales numbers and trends are corporate secrets, and even if you could I would not believe you if you said all is cool Wink.

Since I'm in the business of making specialized niched products myself and know about many of the challenges and being compared to broad mass-market products, I have high respect for product development, so I hope you don't take it too hard if I sound harsh or unfair at times Smiley.
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« Reply #38 on: October 02, 2012, 12:54:20 PM »
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When I saw the quality improvement between the Sinar 75h and 86h  (demonstrated by a knowledgeable client) I was suitable surprised and impressed at the extent of the change.
I am expecting to see a similar improvement with the new eXact and I'm sure that will maintain the market for the top quality.
Sinar have supported the Repro market for many years for  example (remember the macroscan?) and its just had some more improvements with eShutter and the Repro camera
Using MF cameras (in a repro fashion) like a Mamiya cost a new shutter assembly typically with 50k images and a DSLR camera body can probably be junked after similar high volume activity so the quality isn't just in the image - its also in the capability of withstanding years in production.
I think the horizontal image of the repro camera (center of page in link above) confuses its purpose though!
Edwin

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« Reply #39 on: October 02, 2012, 06:04:33 PM »
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interesting thread. I personally would love a camera with viewcamera like movements. I very briefly experimented with a 4x5 viewcamera (a technical camera not a "folder") and I really loved the movements and I really miss the movements but it was just to big and slow to set up and I almost never used it and if I wanted to use it to shoot landscape when I was ready to take the picture (I always wanted to test the exposure with a few polas), all the light was gone Sad. so what seemed perfect in theory (all the movements and that) didn't work in reality for me. unfortunately now I know that I really want movements, but I can't afford a technical camera with a digiback. the t/s-lenses for the dslrs didn't really appeal to me either (still expensive and you have to buy and carry around the "movements" with every lens).


so what I'm hoping for is a full frame (actually I would prefer a 4x5 aspect sensor of similar area as 24x36 or at least 3x4) mirrorless (nex 9?) and a high precision shift adapter for mf lenses. I would probably even be happy with a high quality 35mm with movements. for longer lenses and tilt movements just use something like the novoflex tilt shift bellows and you have your viewcamera (maybe with a mirrorless camera the novoflex could be used even for infinity shooting with medium format lenses.

now for the mirrorless camera a nex 9 with the 36mp d800 sensor would be cool. or to save cost just make a camera without user interface (no lcd, no viewfinder, no buttons) plus an android and iOs app Smiley kickstarter anyone?

what do you think? I guess many would still like the larger sensor for dof reasons, but for landscape I don't think that would be an issue (rather an advantage) right?
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