Could it be that Ferrari is a smaller player in percentage terms in the car market than MF manufacturers in the camera market?
Ferrari may take exception to be labelled moribund.
That's an interesting example for various reasons:
1. It validates the proposition that small series companies in the high end can be very profitable (the luxury segment as a whole validates this as well),
2. But it does in fact not really validate the position that independant high end brands in competitive technological fields can remain at the forefront of technology based on their own revenues alone (even with very high prices).
1. Ferrari is similar to Boeing in that one business line (F1/military) manages to fund to a large extend the high end technological developement of another business line (sports car/civilian planes). In the case of Ferrari, the sports car division is in fact fed with technologies both from high end (F1) and mass products (Fiat/Chrysler group). It is of course more complex than that because their involvement in F1 also serves a clear marketing purpose whose monetary value only themselves can assess.
2. When you look more into the details of the components making up the value of a car (Ferrari or VW), you'll quickly realize that a lot of that is coming from suppliers like Bosch who spread the cost of their R&D over basically all the Automotive OEMs (tens of millions of cars). This is especially true for ECU (Engine Control Units), etc...
This is even more obvious for Lamborghini whose 4x4 powertrain is directly inherited from Audi who owns them. There is no way Lamborghini could have developped by themselves the Quattro technology, even when they sell their cars 200,000+ Euros a pop. Look around, there is not a single high end sports car brand that managed to remain credible without being integrated in a larger conglomerate whose IP results from the income resulting from mass produced goods revenue.
OK, it is true that Dalsa is somehow behaving like Bosch and that their defense R&D does, to some extend, certainly contribute to the technology they are using in their MF sensors. But those are pretty small series also with arguably pretty different sets of specs/needs. I would love to be told wrong and see them come up with a live view enabled nex gen sensor performing as well as that of the D800. I mean this. But I have serious doubts about their ability to come up with the R&D/process goods.
Now, as Yair mentioned, there is certainly a market for high end backs not offering live view, but it sadly fails to attract people like myself who would otherwise have been prime candidates to be on their customers list.
So why do I not own a Phaseone/Hassy back for my - mostly - landscape needs? The main objective reasons today are:
- [Show Stopper] Lack of live view makes accurate focusing difficult in low light/near infinity,
- [Show Stopper] Price for value compared to the competition/actual needs (this is getting worse generation after generation),
- Issues with color casts when using some movement with some lenses. I know they can mostly be corrected with a second frame and software corrections,
- Concerns about the weather sealing of backs/cameras,
- [Potential show Stopper] Concerns about battery life in cold weather, various data were published but nothing super clear on this front. Just tell us how many frames it can shoot at -10C on a full battery charge with 3 sec review per image between captures.
- Weight/Bulk, particularly for long lenses,
- Doubts about the ability of Phaseone/Hassy/the whole ecosystem to remain competitive technology wise with their current low volume business model (as mentioned, I am not too concerned about their ability to stay in business).
Why would I want to own one?
- [High value] Reduced need for stitching thanks to higher native resolutions,
- [High value] Ability to work on a variety of camera platforms (tech,...),
- [High value] Typically larger viewfinders provide a nice shooting experience,
- [High value] Network of highly skilled VARs such a Capture Integration,
- Perhaps a different look, although I am being careful here as looks for landscape can be a tricky avenue,
- Probably a slightly higher DR for the latest backs (although it remains to be quantified - DxO sees the opposite),
- Availability of Leaf shutter lenses could provide some more creative options in the studio (not my main application by any means through).
You guys know what remains to be done if you want my business, come up with a 80mp back with usable live view around 10,000-12,000 US$ I will start looking at the offering very carefully. Don't forget that the D4x/3D will be even better than the D800e though.