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Author Topic: Will Sony Make a Digital Back?  (Read 13642 times)
torger
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« Reply #40 on: March 20, 2013, 08:41:13 AM »
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I'd argue the premise that 35mm DSLR's are close to 4X5". It's more than just PPI, so much more more. If it was just PPI then the Nokia 808 = the D800e for printing. It's one incredible phone but it ain't a FF DSLR. You can scan 35mm film to match the resolution of a 4X5 scan but it won't match it, or even close. Rendition, tonality, colour, feel, these are all as important for photographers (as opposed to pixel peepers) as the pure lines per mm. Then again I don't believe that our Aptus II-8  comes close to a 4X5 frame even cheaply scanned, for tonality and rendition. Cheesy

The Nokia phone is just many pixels, colour accuracy, resolution, noise is all significantly worse so I don't think it's a good comparison. I'm aware of the more subtle unmeasurable aspects though, some see them and some don't. I don't know how many that do though. Probably when CMOS becomes available there will be some hardcore users claiming that CCD is the best, as some still think that Kodak fat pixel CCDs that measure worse on every aspect actually has better subjective image quality than a modern Dalsa sensor.

To me I find when bokeh is not a factor (as in my landscape photography) the look of the lens or sensor is not very relevant (although I do appreciate the spherical aberration-rich cloudy bokeh from the traditional "large format" lens designs), I can with skilled post-processing control the look as I want. Movements and available high quality focal lengths is a factor though, and there the DSLRs are too weak currently from my perspective. If those gaps are closed then it will surely be tougher for me to motivate having two systems, depending on how much it will cost to maintain the MF system. When bokeh is a factor like in portraiture the "look" becomes a stronger component, still it's quite difficult to see.

It's easier to motivate subtle advantages when the price difference is not as extreme as it is today. But with the goal of selling only 10,000 units I guess it should be no problem to find enough users where price is not an issue... so it will work out either way for the MF companies. If it will be a relevant tool for a wider audience an I'd like remains to be seen.
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gerald.d
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« Reply #41 on: March 20, 2013, 08:49:35 AM »
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That link is no evidence of a rumor: it is just someone speculating (really just "wishing") on a blog, using some absurdly irrational (sorry, "optimistic") arguments. In addition to the many reasons already stated, lens sales are still an important part of the profitability of a cameras system, and there are already more than enough lens and body systems competing in the very small high end market for digital formats larger than 36x24mm, so I do not expect Sony (or Canon, or Nikon) to enter that market.

Since luxury car analogies keep coming up, expecting the Japanese camera industry giants to get into formats larger than 36x24 is like expecting Japanese car industry giants to start making cars to compete with high end niche makers like Bugatti or Lamborghini ... or arguing that companies like Toyota or Honda need to do so for fear of losing sales to those high end niche brands.

Lexus LFA Wink
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torger
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« Reply #42 on: March 20, 2013, 09:02:58 AM »
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2012 also saw many pros that already had an older MF back from 3-4-5 yrs ago and that have decided to re-invest in their business and to buy a new one (either by trading the old one in or as a new purchase).

At the same time we saw many pros who took the DSLR route 3-4-5 yrs ago after many years of shooting MF/ LF film and who for a host of reasons have decided to go back to MF/LF cameras with a new digital back

The "millionaire amateurs" are a welcome addition obviously but they cannot take the place of the core business of commercial studios & shooters.

Other areas such as cultural heritage, aerial and other industrial applications are all on the up and are fast becoming much more than small niches.

No offence to anyone here but 5-10 regular LL posters do not represent the current market, buy any stretch...

As Henrik suggested in the interview, the money that comes in is routed back into R&D and drives innovation and new projects and helps them materialise faster. This does not mean that the product must become a commodity or available at a cost of smaller/ cheaper products.

Yair

I think you know what I'm at. I'm not saying that MF has no future or want it to disappear or something. I'm just interested in the possibility for MF digital to reach a wider audience among photographers that today would use DSLRs, an aggressive approach to become more relevant in traditional photography rather than to flee away and instead dig deeper into repro/aerial/industrial. Phase One could probably live quite well on *only* industrial applications plus Capture One software. I mean a company like Sinar makes digital backs, it does not take a large company or huge sales to be able to make these products. So it is just silly to say that MF will disappear.

As far as I can see though Phase One is totally uninterested in growing or addressing the pricing issue, but rather change customer base and find new markets that fits the high-price dealer-centric organization. To put it in other words, the industrial camera is an impressive product and certainly has its place (and should be in the portfolio for sure), but I would find it even more impressive if a new product strategy was made to challenge high-end DSLRs in a wider market. I'd like to see a vision that says "we want more photographers in more diverse fields to use our products" rather than a passive "we search for markets where pricing is a non-issue".

Maybe I'm a bit nostalgic, in the film days cameras were cheap enough so you could choose format as you'd like, if you choose 35mm or 8x10" was not a pricing issue but based on what you'd like to do. It would be nice if we could see something similar in the digital world.
« Last Edit: March 20, 2013, 09:07:20 AM by torger » Logged
torger
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« Reply #43 on: March 20, 2013, 09:39:34 AM »
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Luxury car comparisons keep coming up, but I don't really think that people that choose MF over DSLR does it for the same reason that someone chooses Ferrari over Toyota.

For me it was rather a choice of classic vintage car (digital view camera) instead of a Lexus (pro DSLR), as my landscape photographer's personality fits the slow all-manual workflow better. But I don't consider the camera to be a luxury item that's expensive just to make it exclusive and my peers jealous, it's just a tool that through the way it is made and sold happens to be expensive. I'd be most happy if more photographers could join in the club.
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theguywitha645d
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« Reply #44 on: March 20, 2013, 09:57:45 AM »
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many companies serve specialized markets. It's interesting that a photography and electronics giant like Sony does choose to serve several very high end and
niche markets like digital cinema. Very expensive items with high margins.

For example the $ 65,000 4K cine alta



Very high end pro equipment, not made in the 100s of thousands.

Yet they choose to stay away from MFD.

Dough's analogyies with a suit maker or a wedding photographer have nothing to do with this. Neither the photographer or the suit maker
are in the high end electronics business where huge R+D is astronomical.

So, you are saying that companies that make cine cameras don't enter the MFD market because MFD is dead? Could it be they don't enter that market because they have another market right now. I wonder why John Deere does not make sedans? Probably the sedan market is dead.
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theguywitha645d
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« Reply #45 on: March 20, 2013, 09:59:54 AM »
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As far as I can see though Phase One is totally uninterested in growing or addressing the pricing issue...

What is the issue? Apparently, Phase is doing fine with their pricing model. Their market seems to be large enough as well.
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torger
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« Reply #46 on: March 20, 2013, 10:23:47 AM »
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What is the issue? Apparently, Phase is doing fine with their pricing model. Their market seems to be large enough as well.

None really. It's just an interest in a feature. Just as you could be interested in live view or CMOS, which they are doing just fine without and will do just fine without (the industrial segment won't need it for sure), you could have an interest in lower prices. I'm just representing myself as a user (and I do think there are more like me), and that's not more megapixels higher ISO or even live view that's would be most exciting, it's rather things like lower color cast, return of the 48x36mm format, an attractively priced tech cam digital back, an organization that works in places where dealers are not available etc. As a current user of MF I'm interested in discussing the path forward.

I was hoping for a more hungry company that meets the DSLR competition head-on rather than seeking for other markets.
« Last Edit: March 20, 2013, 10:25:23 AM by torger » Logged
fredjeang2
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« Reply #47 on: March 20, 2013, 10:36:34 AM »
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Some links of companies that are making really right stuff, sell/rent very well and do not have the R&D budgets of the giants, not everything is (and has to be) CineAlta. Some of those are regular award winners in their marketplace.

Aaton: http://www.aaton.com/

Angénieux: http://www.angenieux.com/

Cooke: http://www.cookeoptics.com/

Panavision: http://www.panavision.com/home

Hartblei: http://www.hartblei.de/en/index.htm

Grass Valley: http://www.grassvalley.com/

The Foundry: http://www.thefoundry.co.uk/

Vinten: http://www.vinten.com/

Red etc etc...the list is long.

Nota: it's really interesting to point that the brand that really changed the game recently is a rather small company call Red. They have top team and I doubt very much their R&D budget is remotly comparable to Sony.


In that sense, I don't see why MF manufacturers could not make it like other small companies have been able to succeed and stayed alive. RED is the perfect example of it.
« Last Edit: March 20, 2013, 10:47:30 AM by fredjeang2 » Logged
torger
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« Reply #48 on: March 20, 2013, 10:49:29 AM »
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Some links of companies that are making really right stuff, sell/rent very well and do not have the R&D budgets of the giants, not everything is (and has to be) CineAlta

Aaton: http://www.aaton.com/

Angénieux: http://www.angenieux.com/

Cooke: http://www.cookeoptics.com/

Panavision: http://www.panavision.com/home

Hartblei: http://www.hartblei.de/en/index.htm

Grass Valley: http://www.grassvalley.com/

The Foundry: http://www.thefoundry.co.uk/

Vinten: http://www.vinten.com/

etc etc...the list is long.

One could add every tech cam company to the list, Linhof, Cambo, Alpa, Arca-Swiss.

It's more difficult to make electronics without being big, but since you can collaborate with "generic" chip manufacturers it is indeed possible. Probably lagging behind a bit as you cannot have own R&D to lead the tech development, but as tech becomes more widespread you can do it. At some point someone will be able to make a CMOS chip with good image quality in MF size. MFDB makers have been fortunate that CCD tech has been as good as it is.
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fredjeang2
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« Reply #49 on: March 20, 2013, 10:55:13 AM »
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One could add every tech cam company to the list, Linhof, Cambo, Alpa, Arca-Swiss.

It's more difficult to make electronics without being big,

Look at Red. Small company. Their cameras rule the motion world now. I think the secret of Red resides in the people they contract.

I think that all that need MF manufacturers is looking at Red example: have vision and contract the very best people (like me). And inovate from it.
« Last Edit: March 20, 2013, 11:05:04 AM by fredjeang2 » Logged
torger
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« Reply #50 on: March 20, 2013, 11:07:54 AM »
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Look at Red.

Yes do look at Red! Smiley

They have a very different business model from Phase One. Prices and webshop with put-in-cart on their web, and they actually have attractive pricing as a part of their success. More of that please :-). They had very strong(?) funding by the founder Jim Jannard so they were able to take risks. I hope they manage to stay strong and profitable with the new competition coming from Canon and others.
« Last Edit: March 20, 2013, 11:40:51 AM by torger » Logged
fredjeang2
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« Reply #51 on: March 20, 2013, 11:24:31 AM »
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Apparently, Cooter pointed several times some irritating downsides in the sale dep, but Red is inddeed amazing. A small company that brought more res, cheapper and built on to military standarts and they just changed the rule from bottom to the end. See how many big prods are now shooted on Red. They cover from low-end to indy to Biggest budgets.

The Aaton I mentionned before is IMHO an as good if not (probably in fact) better camera but it's targetting a niche market, while RED has been super clever from the beginning in every aspects, marketing included. But their gear work and rocks and all that at ridiculous costs in what motion budgets are concerned.

If MF follow a similar path, they could reach great success in the future. But again, the RED example is probably due to who they contracted. If you got the best ones, you can go very far.
« Last Edit: March 20, 2013, 11:29:33 AM by fredjeang2 » Logged
gerald.d
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« Reply #52 on: March 20, 2013, 11:26:38 AM »
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Whatever happened to Red's promise of 645 and 617 sensors?
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alan_b
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« Reply #53 on: March 20, 2013, 11:42:52 AM »
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I know that it would only be a matter of time before the hawks would get into this discussion.  I just made the leap and can't wait for the camera to get here. 

What made me jump was the access to different camera systems like Arca Swiss.  The ability to work with sysmetrical lenses that are much sharper than the DSLR wide angle retrofocal counter parts.  Also, the ability to do multiple exposures in a single digital capture; now I never have to worry about not having enough strobe power.  None of these are available for Nikon/Canon. 

For the record, you can do multiple pops with Nikon at least - don't know about Canon.  (Multiple exposures -> Auto Gain: OFF) You don't even have to touch the camera between exposures to re-cock the lens.
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torger
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« Reply #54 on: March 20, 2013, 12:10:22 PM »
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For the record, you can do multiple pops with Nikon at least - don't know about Canon.  (Multiple exposures -> Auto Gain: OFF) You don't even have to touch the camera between exposures to re-cock the lens.

With 1DX and 5D3 Canon introduced a few multipe exposures modes:

http://learn.usa.canon.com/resources/articles/2011/1dx_multiple_exposures_article.shtml
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torger
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« Reply #55 on: March 20, 2013, 01:15:56 PM »
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Pricing of sensors rarely go public these days. The volume pricing for manufacturers of the KAF-50100 (which is in for example Hasselblad CFV-50) that was announced in 2008 was $3500, the CFV-50 back costs today $17,000 and is actually cheaper than for example P45+ which is at $20,000.

This suggests to me that there indeed is room to make a more cost efficient product that could sell in much larger volumes in for example the growing amateur tech camera market. I think the "right" price for a back similar to CFV-50 would be $8K, to be matched with Cambo, Arca-Swiss, Alpa, Linhof systems costing $12K - $15K (or much cheaper systems from for example Silvestri, $6K you can get something decent). You would then get a new complete system for $14K - $20K that already on paper wins the psychologically important megapixel battle with the DSLR, and has this all-different shooting experience which suits the among amateurs super-popular genre landscape photography.

There is already today a back that new costs $8K, the 22 megapixel Leaf Aptus-II 5, which is a great back but 22 megapixel is not sexy enough these days to make it a success for this application, and few even knows that it exists and combines well with tech cameras -- marketing is lacking. What you see marketed is the flagship products, marketed towards pro users, and very rarely you see marketing targeted specifically for tech camera usage. It's more like "here's our great 645 body which is great for everything from fashion to landscape, and by the way you can smack it on a view camera or something too"

As it seems it would require new thinking though and therefore a different company than the established players.

1) make a product based on a standard sensor such as KAF-50100 or Dalsa FTF-6080C (user-changable mount of course, perhaps with builtin shimming)
2) collaborate closely with tech camera makers, and make it show
3) make marketing material focusing primarily on usage with tech cameras for landscape photography, and typical pro usage (architecture, product) secondary, also show how it can be used with vintage cameras (RZ, Hasselblad V etc)
4) make it easy and accessible for the customer to buy things, employ direct sales via the web, make attractive tech camera bundles
5) have popular photo magazines/sites review the system, make lots of noise having a new "affordable" MF system that serious amateurs can afford. Meet DSLR comparison head-on with no-bullshit strategy. Focus on the shooting experience just as much or more than image quality.
6) watch you pass 10,000 sold units within the first year and cause tech cam makers to have long waiting lists on their gear ;-)
« Last Edit: March 20, 2013, 01:29:19 PM by torger » Logged
ibear88
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« Reply #56 on: March 20, 2013, 01:24:57 PM »
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Hi, as the original poster I'd like to say there have been some great comments. Thanks.

My questions were not really intended to enter the fray into whether dslr is better than medium format or vice versa as I think those are very personal choices.

I'd like to recap some of what I've heard here:

Cons for a cheaper backs: the market is too specialized to achieve production and customer service scales necessary to support cheaper backs, pro and high end amateurs want the service that goes with purchasing from a skilled support network, r&d costs are too high so far, older used backs serve the lower end market, dslr cameras already bring high quality sensors to consumers in an economical way, and some consumers want a higher cost digital back to differentiate their craft from the crowd. Last, if you shoot a lot of film the digital back price model looks good and if you don't shoot a lot of film then film remains available.

Pros for cheaper backs: the technology already exists within the dslr cameras and the r&d has already been done, the distribution network already exists among the large camera makers, the large camera makers could license the existing technology to a niche digital back reseller, thousands of existing lenses and medium and large format film cameras could be revitalized with digital backs and not all of those owners are looking for super high resolution but would like the convenience of a digital back, and existing margins are very high and barriers to entry for Sony type makers are low. Last, the digital back price as a model based on film replacement will break down as film diminishes and backs become more plentiful.

I could see digital backs as an interchangeable item like lenses. One could have a black and white back, a back with a larger micron sensor for great bokeh, and perhaps a back maximizing skin tone. The dslr camera could be reconfigured as well to allow users to own multiple backs and to sensors without upgrading cameras.

To me, there is a good case for someone to market a digital back in the space between nothing and Phase. The Sony types already have all the technology and all that is missing is some tooling of a back, which at the Sony scale is probably the easiest part of the equation.

Thanks again for all the comments. Jeff
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Ben Rubinstein
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« Reply #57 on: March 20, 2013, 02:20:54 PM »
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Torger, I get the feeling that those who need a MFDB already know why a D800e is not enough and therefore know that they cannot get what they need at a cheaper price. If a D800e will not suffice then there is no more point wondering about its price, it's no longer relevant. P1 know this and that is why they are marketing to those who NEED more and know that they have no other option but paying it. If they try to compete in the market place owned by Canon and Nikon they will be buried, there are not enough who realise the advantages vs the very obvious disadvantages to make it a viable market to compete in, they would get buried in a year. For a small company like that to exist and invest in itself it needs either sales figures or high prices. High sales figures they cannot do because the only way to do it is lowering prices where they get creamed by the big Japanese boys. High prices and margins targeted at a specific niche on unique and very high end products is then the only route left.

Not that I know anything about marketing but the above seems to make sense to me.
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #58 on: March 20, 2013, 02:59:16 PM »
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Hi,

There are other players, Pentax, Leica, Mamiya, Hasselblad and Leaf. Mamiya and Leaf of course belong to Phase but the others compete and may compete on other priorities.

Best regards
Erik


Torger, I get the feeling that those who need a MFDB already know why a D800e is not enough and therefore know that they cannot get what they need at a cheaper price. If a D800e will not suffice then there is no more point wondering about its price, it's no longer relevant. P1 know this and that is why they are marketing to those who NEED more and know that they have no other option but paying it. If they try to compete in the market place owned by Canon and Nikon they will be buried, there are not enough who realise the advantages vs the very obvious disadvantages to make it a viable market to compete in, they would get buried in a year. For a small company like that to exist and invest in itself it needs either sales figures or high prices. High sales figures they cannot do because the only way to do it is lowering prices where they get creamed by the big Japanese boys. High prices and margins targeted at a specific niche on unique and very high end products is then the only route left.

Not that I know anything about marketing but the above seems to make sense to me.
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theguywitha645d
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« Reply #59 on: March 20, 2013, 04:37:42 PM »
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As it seems it would require new thinking though and therefore a different company than the established players.

1) make a product based on a standard sensor such as KAF-50100 or Dalsa FTF-6080C (user-changable mount of course, perhaps with builtin shimming)
This is already done. All MFD backs/cameras use a standard sensor.
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2) collaborate closely with tech camera makers, and make it show
Why? The camera company can use any back--that is the point of the tech camera. Working with the back company will not change anything. If you want automation, why would the tech camera companies take on the risk of investing in that? You need to prove the sales are there.
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3) make marketing material focusing primarily on usage with tech cameras for landscape photography, and typical pro usage (architecture, product) secondary, also show how it can be used with vintage cameras (RZ, Hasselblad V etc)
This is already done. Alpa certainly pitches their cameras for landscape. So does Pentax. The reason the companies pitch to pro use is because pros buy their products and amateurs are looking for pro gear--it works. The amateur that is buying old cameras are not the group that has the money to spend on these systems.
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4) make it easy and accessible for the customer to buy things, employ direct sales via the web, make attractive tech camera bundles
You need to see if a consumer direct model works--I though I one point I could buy directly from Alpa? What happen to that? Since the cameras are available and dealers can make package deals, bundles are already done.
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5) have popular photo magazines/sites review the system, make lots of noise having a new "affordable" MF system that serious amateurs can afford. Meet DSLR comparison head-on with no-bullshit strategy. Focus on the shooting experience just as much or more than image quality.
Wrong market. You think a Pop-photo reader is going to care? Pop-photo never did view cameras in the past, just how to do puppy pictures. You are never going to get a MFD system meet the price of a DSLR system and so the amateur is still going to go to 90% of MFD quality at 10% cost. It is just the wrong market. You cannot sell on shooting experience as that is too fuzzy--you can't understand the experience unless you have had it.
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6) watch you pass 10,000 sold units within the first year and cause tech cam makers to have long waiting lists on their gear ;-)

There has always been high-end gear. They why the market works has been very similar. The price become irrelevant because no matter how you slice it, these are expensive camera with an almost-as-good DSLR option much cheaper from the larger manufacturers. Knocking a bit off the price or bring it too low does not necessarily increase sales where you actually make money--the more you lower prices, the more units you need to sell, and the lower the margins.

Why not sell your landscape photographs for $10 rather than $2,000? You will make a killing because everyone can buy them and you will get tons of orders. If you do get tons of orders, you will be working like a dog for little money, but if the orders don't pan out, you go bankrupt really fast. OK, you say. I will sell them for $1,800 instead of $2,000. Now, instead of selling 50 prints a year, you sell 52 prints--you have just lost money. But you say, if I advertise at the local McDonalds, lots of people who eat cheap food will jump at the offer--or maybe not...

Believe it or not, but the camera industry has been working on how to optimize sales for a long time. The system you see is a direct result of successful systems. The pricing models are not random.
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