Luminous Landscape Forum

Equipment & Techniques => Medium Format / Film / Digital Backs – and Large Sensor Photography => Topic started by: torger on September 29, 2012, 12:32:52 PM

Title: Is there an amateur market, and if so is it important?
Post by: torger on September 29, 2012, 12:32:52 PM
I've tried to understand how the medium format digital market looks, but it is a bit hard to get a grip on it. The impression I get from how the sales channels are structured is that it is 90% professional studio photographers doing fashion, portrait and product, 9% architectural photographers, and 1% crazy amateurs which hate having unused money laying around.

However, looking at internet forums etc I get the sense that there are quite some amateurs, semi-pros, struggling artists etc, often using tech cameras or older medium format gear like Mamiya rz och Hasselblad V system.

Sometimes I think what MFDB makers need is not really that CMOS-based live-view high ISO-capable digital back with more DR, but simply a back based on existing technology but more affordable to buy and own and with that try to expand into the amateur market and that way get a much larger amount of sales.

The "perfect" product would be 6um 48x36mm 50 megapixels CCD, user-changable mount, good LCD with quick review mode (fast review mode makes the lack of live view less obvious), tech cam friendly (no wakeup or extreme color cast or that kind of stuff), sturdy and weather-proof.

I think the tech camera genre has the greatest amateur potential. Landscape is big among amateurs, and shooting landscape with a tech camera is really something. It's all the ansel adams view camera romance with tilts and shifts without the hassle of film. The whole shooting experience is so different so you don't really feel that you are using a "crippled 135 DSLR", which I think is the problem with the MF DSLRs these days.

Today a 33 megapixel Leaf Aptus-II 7 costs €11000+VAT, Hasselblad's 50 megapixel CFV-50 costs about the same. Is this really as low as prices can get? I don't think so. The large sensors indeed makes economy poor of digital backs, but a 48x36mm 6um sensor is yesterday's technology, I would guess sensor price is around €2500 to the manufacturer. The Leaf Aptus-II 5 with same chip size but 22 megapixel costs €6300+VAT, and I bet that €4700 in price difference up to 33 megapixels is not about the sensor cost.

I'd like to see that 50 meg product at €5000-€6000+VAT. Then I think we could actual see an increase of amateurs, and once we get an increase it can grow even more -- today many don't even know what a tech camera is and what it is good for, but if more amateurs start using them that will change. I also think the recent high resolution DSLRs is making landscape photography amateurs more aware of challanges of high resolution photo, and the popularity of tilt/shift increases. In a way I see that the interest in tech cam could actually increase while the interest in MF DSLRs could decrease since the introduction of high resolution 135 DSLRs. Concerning SLRs I think that the older low tech systems like Hasselblad V may actually have a stronger attraction when it comes to amateurs.

If you could get a basic tech cam system which has an easily comprehensible edge (i e more megapixels) for say €15000, which you could if the back was €5000, I think MFDB would be seen as a competitive alternative for serious hobbyists. The total cost must be low enough, say like a motorcycle, so the regular middle class person can buy it. I think there's a big difference between €15000 and €25000 in that regard.

Another aspect which I'm currently about to experience myself is service costs. Having €2000 as standard template cost for any type of service, even just changing an internal clock battery, is not really a great way to attract amateurs I can tell you :-). Actual cost may not be that, but many dealers (at least around here) communicate this and is in the official price lists. Much of what I have experienced so far from the local dealers is that they don't really know or want to deal with amateurs at all (I've been in contact with good dealers too though, so not all are the same).

Anyone that thinks we'll see an attempt of MFDB manufacturers to expand into amateur market? Is it a good or bad idea to try? Is it even possible with lower priced backs, or is the large sensor technology just too expensive?
Title: Re: Is there an amateur market, and if so is it important?
Post by: torger on September 29, 2012, 01:18:54 PM
To expand a bit, I think the digital back product would not emphasize on being a "modern professional tool", but more "going back to the roots" and being scaled down and simple. A little bit of Leica M thinking. This would be a back typically combined with mechanical tech cams and classic MF SLRs. However putting a crap LCD there and make it slow to review pictures is not the right way to do it, so the "going back to the roots" message may be more about marketing than actual product design.

One could intentionally make it weak on tethering and "professional workflow" type of features though if one would want to separate it from more expensive "professional products".

"Going back to the roots" message can be seen as a sort of a trick, since one does not really have the technology (ie CMOS) to make a camera that feels truly modern to the DSLR-accustomized amateur, one can instead focus at the basic elements of photography where the back is more or less just a passive capturing device, a drop in replacement for a film back. But I think it works too, some wants this, one of the main joys of shooting with a tech camera I think is that it is so basic and pure.

To put it in other words -- what I'm talking about here is to introduce the same type of technology that already exists but at lower price point and selling through amateur-friendlier channels, and that way steal some market share that otherwise would belong to DSLRs. That would feel a lot more fresher and active move to me than introducing more of the same at the same price point and combine it with FUD marketing a la Hasselblad (oh well they did introduce a "luxury" product too...).
Title: Re: Is there an amateur market, and if so is it important?
Post by: Slobodan Blagojevic on September 29, 2012, 01:41:38 PM
I can only imaging the joy of those who sold their only child, their kidney, got a second mortgage, donated their kneecaps to a loan shark, etc., etc., in order to afford an entry-level MFDB kit of $30-50 grands, waking up one day to find out that every amateur and his brother can now have it for 1/10 of the price! Priceless!
Title: Re: Is there an amateur market, and if so is it important?
Post by: DanielStone on September 29, 2012, 01:54:42 PM
most professionals I know that use MFD products don't frequent internet forums.

-Dan
Title: Re: Is there an amateur market, and if so is it important?
Post by: torger on September 29, 2012, 02:00:39 PM
I can only imaging the joy of those who sold their only child, their kidney, got a second mortgage, donated their kneecaps to a loan shark, etc., etc., in order to afford an entry-level MFDB kit of $30-50 grands, waking up one day to find out that every amateur and his brother can now have it for 1/10 of the price! Priceless!

hehe :)

It's not thaaat bad though. Simply put I'm suggesting halving the price of CFV-50 (which indeed is already substantially cheaper compared to Leaf/Phase offers), and using a Dalsa chip (like FTF 6080C) and a more modern LCD. IQ180 will still be larger sensor, still be higher resolution.

Probably Hasselblad is in best position to do this type of product from a not-upsetting-current-customers-perspective (the back don't really need to work on the H system), but I don't think they are capable, they seem to be a company in crisis in more than one way. A refreshed CFV-50 with Dalsa chip and up to date LCD and a lower price, and showing off some partnership with Alpa (which they have not collaberated well with before) and other tech cam makers and also putting forward their own V system as the classic it is, would have been a ton more interesting than the Lunacy.

Technology-wise Phase/Leaf is probably in the best position, but due to their current pricing and customer base it may be difficult political move as you say.
Title: Re: Is there an amateur market, and if so is it important?
Post by: torger on September 29, 2012, 02:09:10 PM
most professionals I know that use MFD products don't frequent internet forums.

Yes, I think this is true, that's why one cannot get a great overview of how the actual MF market looks by looking at internet activity. My first statement that 90% is studio photographers I think is pretty much true. I still think there is growth potential in the amateur market though.

What I have no-idea-whatsoever about though is how tough the D800 competition (Canon seems to be up to something too) is. If the MFD market share is shrinking and/or if it is harder to get new customers. Maybe MF sells better than ever and noone feels any need to change, or maybe people are dropping out and fewer opts in.

When you look at how Hasselblad acts it looks like a market in crisis, but maybe its just a company in crisis. Phase/Leaf seems to be doing pretty well.
Title: Re: Is there an amateur market, and if so is it important?
Post by: Slobodan Blagojevic on September 29, 2012, 02:17:34 PM
... I'm suggesting halving the price of CFV-50...A refreshed CFV-50 with Dalsa chip...

I certainly wouldn't mind it, because at some point I might even be able to afford it for my 503cw, but what really discourages me is that my Zeiss 50 isn't so on it. So a few extra millimeters larger sensor, pretty please?
Title: Re: Is there an amateur market, and if so is it important?
Post by: JeffKohn on September 29, 2012, 02:20:11 PM
Quote
The "perfect" product would be 6um 48x36mm 50 megapixels CCD, user-changable mount, good LCD with quick review mode (fast review mode makes the lack of live view less obvious), tech cam friendly (no wakeup or extreme color cast or that kind of stuff), sturdy and weather-proof.
I agree with everything except the CCD part, I really think LV-enabled CMOS would be ideal. In fact I would rather have a 24x36mm CMOS sensor in an affordable digital back than a 36x48mm CCD. I just wouldn't want to have to deal with focusing without live-view, it's too clumsy.

Quote
I think the tech camera genre has the greatest amateur potential. Landscape is big among amateurs, and shooting landscape with a tech camera is really something. It's all the ansel adams view camera romance with tilts and shifts without the hassle of film. The whole shooting experience is so different so you don't really feel that you are using a "crippled 135 DSLR", which I think is the problem with the MF DSLRs these days.
I definitely agree with this. Tilt/shift lenses help bridge the gap, but aren't as flexible as a technical camera and are only available in a few focal lengths.

MFD makers need to do _something_ to expand their market. The lack of innovation and dwindling market share can't sustain them indefinitely.
Title: Re: Is there an amateur market, and if so is it important?
Post by: torger on September 29, 2012, 02:43:40 PM
I think there are very difficult technical problems with sensors which inhibits the MFDB makers to do exactly what the market would like to see. We would have seen CMOS a long time ago if anyone could do it, or find economy in doing it.

Maybe I under-estimate the importance of a CMOS-like live view though. I don't know. I was thinking that pancake cams don't need it for focusing (thanks to high precision focusing rings with precise distance scales), and I've myself become a hardcore ground glass user and focus well with my Linhof Techno. Sure I'd like a live view as good as on my Canon, but I don't really feel the lack of it to be a disturbing limitation. If I could choose between a 36x24mm digital back with a D800 sensor and Canon-quality live view, and a 36x48mm CCD with no live view at all, I'd go for the CCD version. I don't believe in the "larger size=more hyperreality" discussion when it comes to typical tech cam images (=large DoF), but to get out the most of the tech cam lenses a bit larger size is needed. But I don't know, maybe other people would choose otherwise.

Making large chips without faults is also very bad economy, exponentially bad. Back in the days we actually had larger sensor than today in commercial MFDB products, the Dicomed Bigshot was 60x60mm, actually larger than the 6x6 film area. It costed $55,000 back in 1996. Noone has so far attempted that stunt again :).

For using classic MF SLRs a 56x56 ("6x6") or even 56x70 ("6x7") would be the best, but I think it is simply impossible to make those at a reasonably price with today's technology.

For tech cams I think 48x36mm format is very well-balanced concerning the 90mm image circles of Schneiders and Rodenstocks, better balanced than full-frame 645. If you have a tech cam you want to have shift margins. Not going full-frame 645 also keeps cost down and leaves a window for the high end backs aimed at the pro studio shooters that do MF DSLRs. Therefore I think it is a good size to suggest.

Concerning resolution I think 50 is also a good balance, that way you get slightly above DSLRs while still having also larger individual pixels (with hopefully larger full well capacity) so you get more resolution and more pixelpeep pleasure at the same time, just like people want to experience MFD :). The 6um pixel is also reasonably well-balanced for vintage lenses and the budget tech cam lenses.
Title: Re: Is there an amateur market, and if so is it important?
Post by: Gigi on September 29, 2012, 04:46:13 PM
Interesting idea - camera priced like a fancy motorcycle. I like it and with current back speed, changing sensor type isn't necessary. The older 36x48 is just fine. Good thoughts, only hope someone is listening!
Title: Re: Is there an amateur market, and if so is it important?
Post by: siebel on September 30, 2012, 03:09:59 AM
This is a regular lament on all the forums.
From a pro's perspective, if one is running a properly resourced and managed business, an investment of 30-60K every 3 or 4 years is nothing but a normal part of this business. By the time one has factored in the tax benefits from depreciation and amortisation against the income I expect that purchase to earn me, it's not a decision one ever loses sleep over. I lose a LOT more sleep whenever Apple launch a new operating system.
When I consider that a 35mm DSLR will basically be worthless unsaleable junk after 4 years and my MFDB will be worth roughly 30-40% of what I paid for it, then buying MFDB over DSLR becomes an even more appealing choice, provided of course that the work I do suits one over the other.
This is not really what the average amateur wants to hear when he has to plonk his hard-earned cash on the table for top shelf MF gear, but it is part of the reason the manufacturers basically ignore the amateurs. Selling a back to a top level pro is a darned sight easier than to an amateur, from a financial perspective. I expect the dealers time/energy/frustration investment in getting a customer over the line is much lower when dealing with pros too.
Welcome to the jungle.
Title: Re: Is there an amateur market, and if so is it important?
Post by: yaya on September 30, 2012, 04:37:37 AM
Some observations:

Yes there is a large and a growing amateur market and it is split into 2:
Entry level (22-40MP) and high end (56-80MP). In addition there's the 2nd hand market which also generates new business when it's time for an upgrade.
Photography is one of the fastest growing hobbies and is considered a relatively low cost one...

An expensive camera is quite cheap when compared to a yacht or a classic sports car...

The "pro" market includes some segments that are not represented on the fora and they are all on the incline: reproduction, aerial and industrial imaging. These typically focus on the higher end products and bring multi-unit sales.
The demand for high resolution imagery extends far beyond the obvious commercial use and currently there is no substitute for an 80MP single shot solution in terms of quality, speed and efficiency.

There are some massive projects out there with hundreds of millions of documents, photographs, drawings, books, newspapers and culturage heritage items waiting to be digitised and the amount of money being poured in by governments and public/ private foundations is staggering. It provides business not only for the MFDB makers but also to camera and lens makers, shutter makers, camera support makers, lighting makers etc etc

DALSA has recently started offering the 60MP 6um sensor as an off-the-shelf product and one can imagine that this size will sooner or later become a base standard in MF and LF imaging....
Title: Re: Is there an amateur market, and if so is it important?
Post by: hasselbladfan on September 30, 2012, 05:09:44 AM
This is a regular lament on all the forums.
From a pro's perspective, if one is running a properly resourced and managed business, an investment of 30-60K every 3 or 4 years is nothing but a normal part of this business. By the time one has factored in the tax benefits from depreciation and amortisation against the income I expect that purchase to earn me, it's not a decision one ever loses sleep over. ............

When I consider that a 35mm DSLR will basically be worthless unsaleable junk after 4 years and my MFDB will be worth roughly 30-40% of what I paid for it, then buying MFDB over DSLR becomes an even more appealing choice, provided of course that the work I do suits one over the other.

This is not really what the average amateur wants to hear when he has to plonk his hard-earned cash on the table for top shelf MF gear, but it is part of the reason the manufacturers basically ignore the amateurs. ....


But this is IMHO basically a mistake. Enthusiasts have much more brand loyalty and invest in a much larger lens range than pros do.

From a manufacturing point of view, it is nice to have a two-leg business. If I would make Hasselblad's strategy, I would keep the previous generation model (like a H4D39) in production for enthusiasts (at not much extra cost). Always just a bit better than a 35mm equivalent and priced around 8-9k (i.e. 20-30% above the 35mm pro models).

Leica is starting to do this with the Leica M-E. Why not in MF?

Paul, are you listening?  :)
Title: Re: Is there an amateur market, and if so is it important?
Post by: BernardLanguillier on September 30, 2012, 06:08:50 AM
When I consider that a 35mm DSLR will basically be worthless unsaleable junk after 4 years and my MFDB will be worth roughly 30-40% of what I paid for it, then buying MFDB over DSLR becomes an even more appealing choice, provided of course that the work I do suits one over the other.

Just to put a bit of realism in the DSLR story, I bought a D3x in Jan 2009 for 700,000 Yen, sold it in Dec 2011 for 400,000 Yen, bought a D800 in March 2012 for 270,000 Yen which gave me enough change to buy a full Nikon 1 system for my wife and I still got some change...

I have never heard a MFDB story where upgrading to a model with significantly higher image quality results in some financial gain... I hear more of upgrade costs North of 15,000 US$.

Besides, considering the speed at which rich amateurs have been selling their 35+ mp class backs to get 80 mp ones in order to "stay ahead" of DSLR junk, it would seem that MFDBacks get junky just as fast.  ;)

Cheers,
Bernard
Title: Re: Is there an amateur market, and if so is it important?
Post by: ctz on September 30, 2012, 06:27:00 AM
Some observations:

Yes there is a large and a growing amateur market and it is split into 2:
Entry level (22-40MP) and high end (56-80MP). In addition there's the 2nd hand market which also generates new business when it's time for an upgrade.
Photography is one of the fastest growing hobbies and is considered a relatively low cost one...

An expensive camera is quite cheap when compared to a yacht or a classic sports car...

The "pro" market includes some segments that are not represented on the fora and they are all on the incline: reproduction, aerial and industrial imaging. These typically focus on the higher end products and bring multi-unit sales.
The demand for high resolution imagery extends far beyond the obvious commercial use and currently there is no substitute for an 80MP single shot solution in terms of quality, speed and efficiency.

There are some massive projects out there with hundreds of millions of documents, photographs, drawings, books, newspapers and culturage heritage items waiting to be digitised and the amount of money being poured in by governments and public/ private foundations is staggering. It provides business not only for the MFDB makers but also to camera and lens makers, shutter makers, camera support makers, lighting makers etc etc

DALSA has recently started offering the 60MP 6um sensor as an off-the-shelf product and one can imagine that this size will sooner or later become a base standard in MF and LF imaging....



Interesting observations, thanks for sharing.
Title: Re: Is there an amateur market, and if so is it important?
Post by: yaya on September 30, 2012, 07:08:11 AM

Interesting observations, thanks for sharing.

Thanks, this of course just scratches the surface but I hope it sheds some light over the big picture and current market and business trends

Yair
Title: Re: Is there an amateur market, and if so is it important?
Post by: torger on September 30, 2012, 08:29:10 AM
I'm surely aware that for professional business $50K for a camera system is no problem compared to paying salaries to the staff. I work and own my own business together with a few collegues so this is no news to me :-). Still, when we buy gear for our business we are quite price-concious, we don't really like buying gear that we feel don't have the right price, even if we can afford it. I think some photography professionals do the same, even if they can afford MF gear they get a D800 because they think it delivers what they need at a better price point.

I also don't think the "MF gear is a safe long-term investment compared to DSLRs" argument works any longer. First, people count in absolute numbers, not percent. Even if I get a new high-end DSLR body every 3-4th year to enjoy new features there still is some value in the old body, say $2K, and the new is $7K, so you lose $5K. I got an Aptus 75 which I bought second-hand. When it came out late 2005/early 2006 it cost $30K, I bought it this year for $6K, 20% of original price, $24K value loss in 6 years, while DSLR loss would be $7-$8 in the same period. For a business, it is peanut money though, so it does not really matter, but I would not say that economy of MF gear is particularly good compared to DSLRs. I can think that the MF upgrade policy is nice and all, but I don't think it is fair bashing DSLRs saying they would be worse. High-end DSLRs are professional tools too, used by journalists all over the world, so the support and service organisations for professional use exist.

I also see in the tech cam gear that value of gear not considered competitive any longer plunge. My 35mm Apo-Sironar digital is next to unsellable because it's not considered competitive. One can make fine 22 megapixel images with it, but that ain't so cool any longer.

I think my 33 megapixel Aptus 75 is fine, it does not have the DR of a D800, but it is good enough and color is great. But how many professionals that have the means stay with old gear? I get the feeling that most upgrade to the latest anyway to keep the distance to DSLRs or just to get the cool new LCD on the back. This is what makes it relatively affordable to get into MF second hand, the gear that is considered not to deliver as cool performance as the latest DSLR gets quite cheap. Service costs is still a big risk though - I've had some bad luck with my back (cold weather failures) and I may end up buying another second hand back instead of servicing mine, simply because it will be less expensive, but I haven't seen the end of that story yet.

Finally, does the MF manufactures signal that "we are stable business"? I think that many today have the impression that any MF manufacturer can go out of business any time. It is also easy to get the impression that they are stuck in old technology. Why is there no CMOS option? Will there ever be?

The situation today is much different than from the situation just five years ago. I think that when since the cameras got digital the long-term thinking is gone. It may return again when technology has come so far that there is no significant improvements to be made, but it won't happen for the next 10 years I think.

Ok, now I'm pulling my own thread off topic...
Title: Re: Is there an amateur market, and if so is it important?
Post by: dchew on September 30, 2012, 08:45:49 AM
Anders,
A few thoughts about the product and market since I am (sort of) in the target market:

We talk a lot about sensor size and the larger sensors not being as good for shifting, and hence maybe not the best back for a tech camera (lens cast).  But don't forget we are all using the same lenses with the same image circle.  I have a 54x40 sensor.  When using say a 43xl, I cannot shift as many mm as I could with a smaller sensor.  But I am covering the same surface area because the sensor is bigger to begin with. Hence the geometry, perspective and image capabilities are exactly the same.  Certainly pixel size and well depth are also factors, but now we are talking about sensor design, not size.  However, for those who are not shifting (say an Alpa TC owner) I do agree with you because they will make different lens choices, which may minimize the need for LCC / FF correction unshifted.  Regardless, I think the benefit of a smaller sensor in regards to cast issues is overstated.

Live View: I don't think you are underestimating its advantage, at least until tilt is incorporated.  The measure/hpf solution is amazingly accurate and efficient.  But as you know tilt introduces a whole other dimension.  :)  Real Canon-like LV would be wonderful for that alone.

I know there are hundreds (thousands?) of threads shouting the death of MF.  But in the mean time, the one camera I hardly ever take with me any more is my DSLR (and yes I've shot a D800).  I did a wedding a few months ago (way out of my comfort zone btw).  That was the first time I used my DSLR since I moved to MF.  I had to find and charge all the batteries!  For me it is the technical camera or a MFT/EVIL/Rangefinder.  The whole reason for the mirror box originally was TTL viewing.  We now have that without the mirror box.  Maybe or maybe not as clear/bright/good whatever, but many users who have both options are saying they almost always use the electronic viewfinder.  And you can bet that option will get better.  Quickly.

In regards to the market, I completely agree about technical cameras being a target niche.  As with any product, search for the attributes that cannot be (easily) duplicated by the alternatives and target those strengths.  Shifting, tilting, merging, focus blending, are some of those.  [BTW, try focus blending on a DSLR with anything but a Zeiss lens.  Those ridiculous focus scales on autofocus lenses are impossible to use.  An HPF ring is perfect for this.]

Price is one of the toughest topics.  In theory pricing is easy for any economist:  Price at the point where marginal revenue equals marginal cost.  But the devil is in the not-so-small details, like simply knowing the demand curve of a product. How many more sales will Phase get if they drop the price 10, 20, or 50%?  That's easy for Apple, Coke or LG.  Just through $1M at a target test market and see what happens to sales.  But that is literally impossible when total sales volumes are 10,000 units.  You just end up with a contentious argument about why volumes went up or down.  Just look at the threads running around here.  Fred says MF volumes are down because DSLRs are almost as good.  Or, is it because Phase/Leaf introduced a significantly improved line of products last year and had their best years ever, so naturally they are down this year.  Gosh, I bet sales for even the Supreme D800 will be at a lower rate in 1.5 years vs now. :)

As Yair points out, probably because we are mere artists we underestimate the volume of sales for more "technical" applications.  I think it is also tough to offer a cheaper version of a back that will then compete with the used market.  But, perhaps the Leaf / Phase brands will eventually position themselves just as you've proposed.  I will let them fight out which one gets to call themselves the premium version.   ::)

Ciao,
Dave


Title: Re: Is there an amateur market, and if so is it important?
Post by: torger on September 30, 2012, 09:06:15 AM
Yes there is a large and a growing amateur market and it is split into 2:
Entry level (22-40MP) and high end (56-80MP). In addition there's the 2nd hand market which also generates new business when it's time for an upgrade.
Photography is one of the fastest growing hobbies and is considered a relatively low cost one...

I think amateurs compare with DSLRs much more than professionals do. Entry-level MF is a tough one because I think most nowadays consider it to be inferior to a D800, or only marginally better, and at a €6000 - €11000 + body vs €2500. It shall be interesting for how long entry level products will exist in the 22-40 mp level.

When it comes to the 2nd hand market, it is also layered. There's a market for current high-end backs, current entry-level backs (not many) and also a market for discontinued products, which seems to be about as large as for the high-end backs, or even larger. It is with the discontinued products you make the "bargains", where you can get a fine back for €2500 - €6000. A friend of mine just got a complete system Mamiya RZ with a nice 22 megapixel CF22 back for €2700, camera body, a couple of lenses and the back.

If you get such a back you cannot trade it in though, my own Aptus 75 is too old for trade-in offers, so upgrading I'm better off selling it and buying another second hand back (if I'm prepared to take the risk with second-hand electronics, as discussed before service costs can be really bad news). An upgrade for my Aptus 75 could for example be to get a second hand CFV-50. Upgrading within Leaf (a brand I like) to a new back is more difficult since the next step up is Aptus-II 10 which is €20K+VAT, the diff gets too large.

I love when new MFDBs are announced because that means that soon there will be more discontinued backs to choose from :)
Title: Re: Is there an amateur market, and if so is it important?
Post by: torger on September 30, 2012, 09:40:40 AM
A few thoughts about the product and market since I am (sort of) in the target market:

Thanks for the insightful thoughts.

Concerning the sensor size my argument was not sensor cast, but simply that you get more shift relative to image size. Shifting 15mm with a 48x36mm sensor is would require 17mm on 54x41mm, but you can't do that since the image circle is still 90mm. Of course you could crop and get the exact same image, but the thing is that a 54x41mm sensor is a lot more expensive than 48x36mm, so there's a strong argument to keep the sensor size well-balanced, ie no larger than we need. In a well-balanced system you're using all of the high quality image circle when you do the movements you need for your compositions. DSLR tilt-shift lenses typically have ~65-70mm image circle for wides, which translates into 91-98mm for a 48x36mm sensor, and from my own experience I think 90mm is quite nice balance, not overkill, and rarely limiting.

One could make a target tech cam product for the Rodenstock Digaron-S lenses (70mm image circle), as small as 36x24mm feels quite ok on that size, although 34x25.4mm would be better so we get 4:3 format ;). I believe more in a 48x36mm sensor size with 90mm image circles though so it becomes okay on GG cameras and we get more lenses to choose from.

Concerning live view it was the other way around, I tried to play down its importance :). If it is truly really important for the success of this type of product we are in trouble, because CMOS technology is not in MF yet.

CMOS would be nice, but I don't think it will be essential. It shall be interesting to see what happens on the second hand market if CMOS backs with liveview and high ISO (almost) like DSLRs start to get introduced.

I have a Canon system too. Previously I shot my landscapes with that. Now when I have my Linhof I only use my Canon for the other genres like portraits, sports, documentary. Now when my Aptus back is having the cold I thought I would go out shoot landscapes with my Canon instead, but well, I have just stopped shooting. I've fallen hopelessy in love with the tech cam workflow so it feels kind of meaningsless getting out shooting if I can't tilt :).

However, what will happen if I get the new rumoured 46 megapixel Canon, the performance with the TS-E's are greater than expected, and Canon brings out updates for the TS-E 45 and 90 (rumoured). If I would feel that my tech cam system doesn't really keep up on the image quality, and it is financially impossible for me to upgrade, then it may be time for me to sell off my MF gear and go back to DSLR landscape shooting.

I have a difficult time accepting using a system just because I like the feel of it, if I feel it produces inferior results, even if that "inferior result" is perfectly good. It's probably some sort of diagnosis, but I think I share it with many...

As discussed in the original post I think though that it could be possible to strike a balance and make an MFDB product that is good enough compared to the DSLR competition and has a low enough price to be an attractive alternative to a much wider audience.
Title: Re: Is there an amateur market, and if so is it important?
Post by: Rob C on September 30, 2012, 09:56:29 AM
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
Title: Re: Is there an amateur market, and if so is it important?
Post by: torger on September 30, 2012, 10:17:07 AM
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...
Title: Re: Is there an amateur market, and if so is it important?
Post by: gerald.d on September 30, 2012, 11:38:28 AM
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.

Title: Re: Is there an amateur market, and if so is it important?
Post by: TMARK on September 30, 2012, 01:40:37 PM
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.
Title: Re: Is there an amateur market, and if so is it important?
Post by: gerald.d on September 30, 2012, 02:27:48 PM
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.
Title: Re: Is there an amateur market, and if so is it important?
Post by: FredBGG on September 30, 2012, 02:59:36 PM
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

(http://www.meditec.zeiss.com/C125679E00525939/ContainerTitel/Pentero900/$File/gallery_8.jpg)
Neurosurgery

(http://smt.zeiss.com/content/semiconductor-manufacturing-technology/semiconductor-manufacturing-technology/en_de/products---solutions/photomask-systems/mask-repair/_jcr_content/stagepar/stage/slide/corpimage/image.img.jpg/1342789113958.jpg/980x308px_Repair-Stage_DSC_8231.jpg)
Semiconductor manufacturing equipment

(http://smt.zeiss.com/content/semiconductor-manufacturing-technology/semiconductor-manufacturing-technology/en_de/products---solutions/lithography-optics0/lithography_13_5_nanometer0/overview--euv--starlith--3300/_jcr_content/stagepar/stage/slide/stageimage/image.img.png/1343716692336.png/euv-overview.png)
13.5 nanometer lithography systems


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

(http://cdn.asia.cnet.com/story_media/62218767/hassy_lunar_hand.jpg)
Pimped up NEx-7 cameras with plastic lens barrels they think they can sell to wealthy clients.


Title: Re: Is there an amateur market, and if so is it important?
Post by: FredBGG on September 30, 2012, 03:11:50 PM
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.
Title: Re: Is there an amateur market, and if so is it important?
Post by: gerald.d on September 30, 2012, 03:33:06 PM
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 :)
Title: Re: Is there an amateur market, and if so is it important?
Post by: torger on September 30, 2012, 06:05:31 PM
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 :), 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?
Title: Re: Is there an amateur market, and if so is it important?
Post by: EricWHiss on September 30, 2012, 10:00:24 PM
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.



Title: Re: Is there an amateur market, and if so is it important?
Post by: BernardLanguillier on October 01, 2012, 01:28:44 AM
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... :)

Cheers,
Bernard
Title: Re: Is there an amateur market, and if so is it important?
Post by: FredBGG on October 01, 2012, 02:17:49 AM
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.....
Title: Re: Is there an amateur market, and if so is it important?
Post by: torger on October 01, 2012, 03:22:03 AM
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 :)

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.
Title: Re: Is there an amateur market, and if so is it important?
Post by: Rob C on October 01, 2012, 03:54:19 AM
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
Title: Re: Is there an amateur market, and if so is it important?
Post by: BernardLanguillier on October 01, 2012, 04:33:57 AM
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.  ;)

Cheers,
Bernard
Title: Re: Is there an amateur market, and if so is it important?
Post by: torger on October 01, 2012, 06:10:56 AM
but they are pretty happy about the unaffordability as well.  ;)

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.
Title: Re: Is there an amateur market, and if so is it important?
Post by: yaya on October 01, 2012, 08:26:53 AM
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://www.mamiyaleaf.com/products_ixr.asp)
http://industrial.phaseone.com/Industrial/Aerial-Camera-Systems/iXA/overview.aspx (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
Title: Re: Is there an amateur market, and if so is it important?
Post by: torger on October 01, 2012, 09:08:51 AM
Two indications for you from recent months, both seem to be a success so far...

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

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 :).
Title: Re: Is there an amateur market, and if so is it important?
Post by: edwinb on October 02, 2012, 01:54:20 PM
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 (http://www.sinar.ch/en/category/products/cameras/)
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

Title: Re: Is there an amateur market, and if so is it important?
Post by: simonstucki on October 02, 2012, 07:04:33 PM
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 :(. 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 :) 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?
Title: Re: Is there an amateur market, and if so is it important?
Post by: Brent Daniels on October 02, 2012, 10:23:16 PM
I have a good friend that is a major sales rep for MFDB cameras. Now with 2 of the major companies. The major customer demographic of these MFDB products is now clearly the same as Leica. High end disposable income business professionals. How many high end disposable income professional photographers do you know? However I can personally count at least 25 business professionals who have 1 mil plus sailboats at the local dock. So 5o K digital cameras ..........  ?  The true working pros are almost the marketing oil in the machine of selling these items.
Title: Re: Is there an amateur market, and if so is it important?
Post by: JeffKohn on October 02, 2012, 11:10:47 PM
Quote
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?
I'm not sure the mirrorless camera + T/S adapter for MF lenses makes the most sense. I don't see how this would be an improvement over the D800 + PC-E lenses. The number of available MF lenses that can be adapted to T/S and also hold up to the resolution demands of the D800 sensor is fairly small I think (since you're limited to older manual lenses with no electronic coupling).

Rather than using a shift adapter for MF lenses, the mirrorless cameras might be a good match for DSLR-compatible view cameras such as the Arca-Swiss M-Line 2, Horsemen VCC Pro, etc. The biggest problem with those view cameras currently is that the mirror box on the DSLR limits the lenses you can use to 72mm and longer. But a mirrorless camera would greatly reduce this problem (though probably not solve it for the widest lenses).
Title: Re: Is there an amateur market, and if so is it important?
Post by: BernieKohl on October 03, 2012, 08:21:40 AM
It seems to me the whole point here is that Hasselblad, Mamiya etc. have lost most of their film-day share of the enthusiast market. Could there be a back even cheaper than the 22 MP from Leaf? I guess so and would love to see the Raspberry Pi of MFDB come true.


Will we see it? Well, if we start our own company...
Title: Re: Is there an amateur market, and if so is it important?
Post by: Doug Peterson on October 03, 2012, 09:51:41 AM
It seems to me the whole point here is that Hasselblad, Mamiya etc. have lost most of their film-day share of the enthusiast market. Could there be a back even cheaper than the 22 MP from Leaf? I guess so and would love to see the Raspberry Pi of MFDB come true.

    No screen
    Simple, machined aluminium/plastic body
    HDMI out
    USB out
    LAN in/out
    Two mechanical dials (WB, ISO)
    Standard video batteries
    CF card slot (only DNG 16 bit RAW)
    Android SoC (flash PROM)
    24x36 mm sensor EUR/USD 2,500?
    36x48 mm sensor EUR/USD 4,000?

Will we see it? Well, if we start our own company...

The feature set you point to can not happen at the price point you ask for namely since (useful) HDMI would require a CMOS sensor and no such high quality CMOS 36x48mm sensor is available. The rest of the list strikes me as at least feasible.

But the other issue is you'd be competing heavily against very well respected and very durable pre-owned backs. We have a pre-owned Phase One P25 for 4.5k in inventory. The P25 is 22mp, 36x48, compatible (and proven reliable) with a huge number of cameras, runs of video batteries, has a CF card slot, has a very simple and reliable OS, so from your list all that's missing is HDMI which as I say above is really not realistic and USB/LAN (but it can be used with FW or Thunderbolt) and notably the P25 includes an LCD. That's a very easy sell for $500 more than your theoretical camera (assuming it could be made and sold at that price).
Title: Re: Is there an amateur market, and if so is it important?
Post by: yaya on October 03, 2012, 10:06:49 AM
It seems to me the whole point here is that Hasselblad, Mamiya etc. have lost most of their film-day share of the enthusiast market. Could there be a back even cheaper than the 22 MP from Leaf? I guess so and would love to see the Raspberry Pi of MFDB come true.

    No screen
    Simple, machined aluminium/plastic body
    HDMI out
    USB out
    LAN in/out
    Two mechanical dials (WB, ISO)
    Standard video batteries
    CF card slot (only DNG 16 bit RAW)
    Android SoC (flash PROM)
    24x36 mm sensor EUR/USD 2,500?
    36x48 mm sensor EUR/USD 4,000?

Will we see it? Well, if we start our own company...

http://www.kickstarter.com (http://www.kickstarter.com)

Personally I don't think it is a viable product from a manufacturer standpoint and also from a market point of view.

Yair
Title: Re: Is there an amateur market, and if so is it important?
Post by: BernieKohl on October 03, 2012, 10:36:57 AM
I have to agree that it is unlikely to come up with a cheaper product than a pre-owned 22 MP back from Leaf. A product like that would have to be much cheaper, but that's impossible, is it not? But when I think back, 20 years ago I knew quite a few enthusiasts with Bronica or Mamiya systems. Now they all use the Japanese DSLR button monsters. Frankly I don't quite understand what happend.

I mean how much would a pre-owned system set you back? 4k for the Leaf, 2k for the camera body plus an 80mm lens?
A D800 with a good lens is not much cheaper.
Title: Re: Is there an amateur market, and if so is it important?
Post by: torger on October 03, 2012, 10:53:30 AM
If the back is experienced as not being fully competitive with the than the high-end DSLR, like the current 22 mpix, then it won't work I think. I keep returning to ~50 megapixel 48x36mm. Something is balanced with a $10K-$15K tech cam system, and a price that matches that.

Swap out the 22 megapixel sensor on the current Aptus-II 5 for the off-the-shelf 48 megapixel Dalsa FTF-6080C and sell it for the same price, there you have the product. I think this can be done, but can be hard to fit into the current line of products. Maybe if crippling it so it is not really "professional" any longer, removing the tethering support for example, which professionals seems to be using all the time but I don't think it is so hot among amateurs.

You can also differentiate the product by not providing the pro-level support packages for that back, i e replacement backs and that kind of things. I think there would be ways to differentiate the product so it does not become the choice of the professional customers, but still is attractive to amateurs.

Making a dead-cheap back to be combined with old analog cameras I think is a harder stunt to pull off. If you are the type of customer that buys second hand discontinued cameras, it's likely that you will buy a second hand discontinued back too, such as a nice 22 megapixel back which are quite easy to come by these days. There's also the problem that for these cameras many many really would like a full-frame 6x6 or 6x7 sensor.

But making one that combines well with a Schneider Digitar based tech camera system and provides better-than-DSLR resolution to a reasonable price I think would be possible, without destroying the current pricing policy for the professional market. This would mainly be targeted to the advanced landscape photography amateur.
Title: Re: Is there an amateur market, and if so is it important?
Post by: gerald.d on October 03, 2012, 02:32:08 PM

But the other issue is you'd be competing heavily against very well respected and very durable pre-owned backs. We have a pre-owned Phase One P25 for 4.5k in inventory. The P25 is 22mp, 36x48, compatible (and proven reliable) with a huge number of cameras, runs of video batteries, has a CF card slot, has a very simple and reliable OS, so from your list all that's missing is HDMI which as I say above is really not realistic and USB/LAN (but it can be used with FW or Thunderbolt) and notably the P25 includes an LCD. That's a very easy sell for $500 more than your theoretical camera (assuming it could be made and sold at that price).

Ok. I'll bite, because I'm sure you were expecting someone to.

If it's such an easy sell, why is it still in inventory, and why the need to pimp it in this thread?

Title: Re: Is there an amateur market, and if so is it important?
Post by: Clyde RF on October 04, 2012, 05:30:41 AM
Since a tech camera like the Arca RM3DI has a wide enough lens opening to accommodate a lens as long as the Schneider 210 digitar, (with non-bellows solid adapter), it would especially be an advantage to be able to utilize the added precision, versatility, and compactness of this type of system, in combination with a smaller 24/36 type of db, for those few into landscape like myself who would prefer to be able make full use of the extended range provided by longer lenses. In this scenario, a smaller sensor with 36+ mp would actually be preferable, even though some advantages of the larger sensors with bigger pixels would be lost.The extremely high performance Rodenstock Digeron-s lenses, while having relatively small image circles, would be an additional plus, bringing forth the best out of the smaller sensor.

I would be very happy have an IQ 140, which would still provide pretty good reach and sufficient movements with the digeron-s's, but like some others posting on this thread, I am reluctant to make that investment at this time. As Hank Williams Sr once sang, I'm "Just Waitin."