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Mark D Segal

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« Reply #60 on: August 26, 2009, 08:30:10 pm »

Quote from: BernardLanguillier
There is a clear hope that signed limited editions of prints that are supposed to last long are a way to increase the price of a fine art print, as opposed to... high quality posters?

Cheers,
Bernard

Bernard, "high quality posters" may not be the best opponent in this argument. If you scoured the web for original lithographic posters by Chagall, Miro and Picasso ( before the financial melt-down) you'd have seen what I mean. But you're basically correct. Print photography IS all about longevity and that battle was won by Digital from the time Epson produced the 2000P about 10 years ago, and perhaps even earlier.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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Ray

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« Reply #61 on: August 27, 2009, 12:15:26 am »

There are a couple of aspects of this debate which haven't been emphasised as much as they should be. First, the stitching potential of DSLRs compared with single shot MFDB. The usual retort is, well you can also stitch with MFDB to get an even better result, if the subject lends itself to such a process.

The obvious response to that retort is, "do you need that better result?' Is your printer wide enough? It's no surprise that Bernard now has an Epson 9900. I get the impression that Bernard has lots of stitched images that ideally could use a printer even wider than the 9900.

With the impressive automatic stitching results that can now be achieved with programs like Autopano Pro, one might wonder which is easier. To take a single shot with a cumbersome and heavy camera such as the average MFDB, or shoot off a rapid series of 3 or 4 panned images with a D3X, which, after stitching, cropping and adjusting in photoshop to the same file size as the single P65 shot, will likely be actually a sharper and more detailed final result than the single P65 shot.

In fact, it simply wouldn't be possible with a single P45 shot to get as wide an angle as a D3X could produce with just a couple of panned shots with a 14-24 zoom, therefore to emulate the D3X stitching results, a single MFDB is simply not adequate.

The other issue is lens quality. There's a general principle that 2 lenses are better than one. Or to put it another way, 4 stitched shots from a D3X with, say, the best quality 200mm prime lens, should be sharper than a single shot from an MFDB with the best quality MF 200mm lens, assuming same file size and FOV after cropping. The pixel densities of the D3X and P65+ are pretty similar, but effectivley 2 1/2 best quality 35mm primes are better than one MF prime.

But maybe not. Let's see some comparisons. Without hard evidence the discussion can go on forever. My bet is, that 4 stiched images from the D3X after cropping (2 rows of 2, with camera horizontal) will produce a better result, if stitched properly, than a single shot from the P65+ with same focal length lens of comparable quality.

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Bill VN

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« Reply #62 on: August 27, 2009, 01:18:31 am »

Quote from: MarkDS
Ya, Jeff cracks me up to - but in the right way, because 9.9 times out of 10 he makes a lot of sense to me (sorry about the 0.1% Jeff - that's just the parsimonious philosophy in me that nothing or nobody - even me - can be 100%)  

Now turning to the real meat of your post, let's analyze whether what you say here makes any objective sense. How do you define "the highest quality of imaging" in an operationally significant manner? Because without that in the foreground, the rest of the premises is untestable and pointless. And in a similar vein, what are "their standards"? And can you quantify this "large population of photographers" who are so affected, and of that population, how many of them really understand the technical revolution of the past decade? You see, the fact is, that the most successful professional photographers who really ARE at the forefront of 21st century photography - and here I'm thinking of people like Vincent Versace, Greg Gorman, John Paul Caponigro, Michael Reichmannm, Joe McNally, Jay Maisel, Charles Cramer, Moose Peterson, Jim deVitale, Joe Glyda, Martin Evening, and the list can go on and on.........have not only embraced the digital revolution, but are also teaching the world how to maximize its potential. Companies like Canon and Nikon are churning out MILLIONS of cameras from point and shoots up through DSLRs and they aren't piling-up in garbage dumps - people at ALL levels are buying them. There has to be something to this which defies the situation you are trying to establish.

But let's dig a bit further into this question of "huge rise in cost for digital equipment". What "huge rise in cost" are you talking about relative to what and over what time period, because the quality keeps getting better and the real prices keep coming down. And more importantly, how are you doing your accounting? As a professional economist this is something in which I take an interest, and as a sales professional you should know about it too. There is front-end investment cost and then there is a long string of recurrent operational costs, and labour costs and the time value of money. When you look at ALL the LIFE-CYCLE, comprehensive cost implications of a film versus a digital workflow can you seriously say the latter is higher cost? Have you done this research to know the answer (and based on what time period, what equipment, what costs and what other assumptions about the relevant comparator variables)? I haven't, but I have a very strong sense of the texture of this issue-set that digital would come out winning the cost war hands-down, except perhaps for irrational situations in which someone spent 30K on an MFDB and used it once a year - unless of course that one usage netted them a 50K image sale. You see, it ain't so simple after all, is it?

Oooh! Another "bouncing off the walls" OPINION disputing scientifically proven FACTS! LEARN YOUR CRAFT! And once again, I shoot digital, have used large and medium format film in the past, and simply want to economically produce the same level of quality.
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Bill VN

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« Reply #63 on: August 27, 2009, 01:29:50 am »

Quote from: Ray
There are a couple of aspects of this debate which haven't been emphasised as much as they should be. First, the stitching potential of DSLRs compared with single shot MFDB. The usual retort is, well you can also stitch with MFDB to get an even better result, if the subject lends itself to such a process.

The obvious response to that retort is, "do you need that better result?' Is your printer wide enough? It's no surprise that Bernard now has an Epson 9900. I get the impression that Bernard has lots of stitched images that ideally could use a printer even wider than the 9900.

With the impressive automatic stitching results that can now be achieved with programs like Autopano Pro, one might wonder which is easier. To take a single shot with a cumbersome and heavy camera such as the average MFDB, or shoot off a rapid series of 3 or 4 panned images with a D3X, which, after stitching, cropping and adjusting in photoshop to the same file size as the single P65 shot, will likely be actually a sharper and more detailed final result than the single P65 shot.

In fact, it simply wouldn't be possible with a single P45 shot to get as wide an angle as a D3X could produce with just a couple of panned shots with a 14-24 zoom, therefore to emulate the D3X stitching results, a single MFDB is simply not adequate.

The other issue is lens quality. There's a general principle that 2 lenses are better than one. Or to put it another way, 4 stitched shots from a D3X with, say, the best quality 200mm prime lens, should be sharper than a single shot from an MFDB with the best quality MF 200mm lens, assuming same file size and FOV after cropping. The pixel densities of the D3X and P65+ are pretty similar, but effectivley 2 1/2 best quality 35mm primes are better than one MF prime.

But maybe not. Let's see some comparisons. Without hard evidence the discussion can go on forever. My bet is, that 4 stiched images from the D3X after cropping (2 rows of 2, with camera horizontal) will produce a better result, if stitched properly, than a single shot from the P65+ with same focal length lens of comparable quality.

By the way, I use stitching many times. The thing is that MFDBs record images in 16-bit color, which exceeds DSLRs typical 12- or 14-bit recording. Using multiple images, the latest thing is 32-bit or HDR imaging. This is independent from megapixels.
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BernardLanguillier

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« Reply #64 on: August 27, 2009, 02:35:09 am »

Quote from: Bill VN
By the way, I use stitching many times. The thing is that MFDBs record images in 16-bit color, which exceeds DSLRs typical 12- or 14-bit recording. Using multiple images, the latest thing is 32-bit or HDR imaging. This is independent from megapixels.

You can do HDR with a back also.

Besides, as far as 14 vs 16 goes, I am still to see a factual proof that it changes something.

Cheers,
Bernard

grabshot

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« Reply #65 on: August 27, 2009, 04:16:34 am »

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cmi

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« Reply #66 on: August 27, 2009, 07:45:14 am »

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JohnBrew

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« Reply #67 on: August 27, 2009, 08:21:32 am »

Quote from: grabshot
http://photo-utopia.blogspot.com/2007/10/c...and-clumps.html

I know Mark from the Leica forum. He knows what he discusses and makes a lot of sense.

Ray

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« Reply #68 on: August 27, 2009, 10:38:39 am »

Quote from: Bill VN
By the way, I use stitching many times. The thing is that MFDBs record images in 16-bit color, which exceeds DSLRs typical 12- or 14-bit recording. Using multiple images...

But doesn't exceed the D3X specifically. When comparing a stitched result from a D3x with a single P45+ shot of the same FOV (neither interpolated nor downsampled), one is making a comparison at the pixel level, approximately.

DXOMark test results show that the D3X is superior to the P65+ in all parameters tested, ie. S/N, DR, Tonal Range and Color Sensitivity, at the pixel level.

DXOMark do not test resolution. If they were to, there's no doubt that a single P65+ shot would have higher resolution than a single D3X shot.

However, I would predict that a stitched D3X image (of same FOV) would also have higher resolution than a single P65+ shot. In other words, simply better in all departments.

Here's the link
http://www.dxomark.com/index.php/eng/Image.../(brand2)/Nikon
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Mark D Segal

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« Reply #69 on: August 27, 2009, 10:45:28 am »

Re the "Photo-Utopia" reference, my experience of the Luminous-Landscape, and why I like it so much here, is that it has standards. Insubstantial stuff does not get published, and real names of authors accompany everything that is published. Not to say that mistakes won't happen - we're all human and we all err. So what would have been interesting to see is someone with a real name, and acknowledged credentials in the chemistry of film come forward onto this website with their view of whether "clumps and chumps" got it right or not or partly. My search of the archives (unless I missed something) did not turn-up a rigorous scientific refutation of the article's fundamentals. In any case, the relationship between that discussion and "Want-Need-Afford" is rather indirect, insofar as so many other more likely determinative factors would intervene on any comparison of cost-effectiveness between prints produced from a digital versus a film workflow.
« Last Edit: August 27, 2009, 10:47:03 am by MarkDS »
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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Mark D Segal

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« Reply #70 on: August 27, 2009, 11:01:43 am »

Quote from: Ray
But doesn't exceed the D3X specifically. When comparing a stitched result from a D3x with a single P45+ shot of the same FOV (neither interpolated nor downsampled), one is making a comparison at the pixel level, approximately.

DXOMark test results show that the D3X is superior to the P65+ in all parameters tested, ie. S/N, DR, Tonal Range and Color Sensitivity, at the pixel level.

DXOMark do not test resolution. If they were to, there's no doubt that a single P65+ shot would have higher resolution than a single D3X shot.

However, I would predict that a stitched D3X image (of same FOV) would also have higher resolution than a single P65+ shot. In other words, simply better in all departments.

Here's the link
http://www.dxomark.com/index.php/eng/Image.../(brand2)/Nikon

Ray, I'm there, and from what I see in the Overview, the Phase P65 ranks within a quibble the same as a Nikon D3x except for "Low Light ISO" where the Nikon comes out on top hands-down. Their overall DxO mark is also extremely close. Interestingly, however, once one looks at the individual tabs underlying the overview, the Phase seems to perform less well than the Nikon. So without further explanation of how the whole is derived from the parts for this particular comparison, it all seems a bit contradictory to me.

This I think is a worthwhile question in the context of this discussion because the price disconnect between the two formats is huge and what we "need" or "want" should be informed by some notion of value-added in respect of results.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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Mark D Segal

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« Reply #71 on: August 27, 2009, 11:08:55 am »

Quote from: Bill VN
Oooh! Another "bouncing off the walls" OPINION disputing scientifically proven FACTS! LEARN YOUR CRAFT! And once again, I shoot digital, have used large and medium format film in the past, and simply want to economically produce the same level of quality.

I have no idea what you are talking about when you say "the same level of quality". I've suggested that this discussion could be more substantive with some operationally significant definitions of the parameters and the comparators, and that is what my unanswered questions were directed at. Sorry if that is "off the wall" for you, but that's not my problem.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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Tyler Mallory

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« Reply #72 on: August 27, 2009, 11:52:51 am »

Quote from: Bill VN
Again, you make some valid points, but let's not forget who this equipment is made for. The anger over the cost of previously attainable MF systems has a real basis amongst those who care the most about high quality photography.

Regards,

Bill V.


Going back to the original poster's topic, it might be worth noting that the MF camera companies have realigned the target market for this equipment. With the manufacturing requirements driving down the number of units, the price would have to go up, which tightens the market even more. Add in the quality gains of the DSLR market and they have very little reason to try to compete on the same ground. So they went after the fashion and advertising photographers whose budgets could absorb a $30K+ system without too much fuss.

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« Reply #73 on: August 27, 2009, 12:53:51 pm »

Quote from: MarkDS
I have no idea what you are talking about when you say "the same level of quality". I've suggested that this discussion could be more substantive with some operationally significant definitions of the parameters and the comparators, and that is what my unanswered questions were directed at. Sorry if that is "off the wall" for you, but that's not my problem.

Earlier, I gave the example of an 8x10 contact print, as Edward Weston used to do.
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Schewe

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« Reply #74 on: August 27, 2009, 02:12:26 pm »

Quote from: Bill VN
Earlier, I gave the example of an 8x10 contact print, as Edward Weston used to do.


See, what we have here is a failure to communicate. There is nothing to keep you (or any other large format shooter) from working exactly the way they have in the past. You can still buy 8x10 B&W film (for the time being), chemistry and even B&W paper. Course, the variety is limited these days, but anybody interested can still work in the old fashioned way. Heck you can still even buy film cameras new...

So, the big question is one of "want bumps"...you seem to want the quality of high resolution digital but don't want to pay the price that it costs. You seem to have your own jaded view of why medium format backs and cameras cost so much. I suspect if you did some research, you would find that you are over estimating camera companies' ability to manipulate the market to increase prices and are vastly under estimating the cost of those companies doing business. You just want something so bad that you can't have (because of cost) that you are breaking out in "want bumps"...

Forget for the moment how much cheaper all the digital stuff is now than it was 10-15 years ago (back when you were still prolly doing analog). The Canon 5D MII at 22MP selling for under $3K would have been a Kodak 460 at about 4MP and just under $30K 10-12 years ago.

Heck, a couple of years ago, the P45+ was selling for $39K...now the P65+ is at that price point and you can get very new'ish P45+s for under $14K.

And while EPson has bucked a trend by releasing the 79/9900 series printers for more money that the printers they release, Epson is still selling the 788/9880 printers for less that what there were when released.

So, I guess all the hand wringing really comes down to sour grapes? I mean, that's what it sounds like from my point of view. YOU can STILL cling to the old fashioned analog method–at least for a while now...or you can go digital and spend what you think you can afford (remember the title of the original article) based on what you either need, or want. But if you want the quality of medium format digital backs, you'll have to pony up the cash...life's a bitch, and then ya die. What else is new?
« Last Edit: August 27, 2009, 02:14:03 pm by Schewe »
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Mark D Segal

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« Reply #75 on: August 27, 2009, 02:38:27 pm »

Quote from: Schewe
See, what we have here is a failure to communicate.  

.....................But if you want the quality of medium format digital backs, you'll have to pony up the cash...life's a bitch, and then ya die. What else is new?

Yes, there is a huge communication gap or gaps. For example, my concept of operationally significant parameters and Bill's are on different planets, so I don't think that discussion is going to go anywhere, which is unfortunate because it defines the "effectiveness" counterpart of the "cost" equation.

If I can try nonetheless to parse Bill's point, I think he's trying to tell us that a MFDB for 30K+ isn't cost-effective because you can't get the quality of an 8*10 Edward Weston contact print from it; but you can get that EW quality if you were to spend a whole lot less, say on a Sinar 8*10 box, with a good Zeiss lens on it and fine grain sheet films etc. etc. Long before he's developed sour grapes, I think Bill's saying the grapes aren't worth getting sour about - and that's where there's likely to be huge differences of perspective between Bill on the one hand and folks such as you and me on the other, because all the premises of these discussions are vague and therefore the outcome is necessarily inconclusive outside the shells of what each camp thinks it "knows to be the case".

Now you've raised an interesting issue about ponying up the cash and then dying. The latter is what we would call in Economics the "backstop scenario". But before you get to the "backstop scenario" there is a dynamic going on called *depreciation* which you have identified clearly in your post. One of the needs/wants issues that really gives me pause to reflect is just how quickly and dramatically this stuff depreciates. My brother is all equipped with Hasselblads and Sinars and he checks the usual haunts for selling this kind of gear; he tells me interestingly enough that it either maintains its value or increases a bit depending. Whereas the high-end digital gear experiences what you've shown it to experience. Of course the explanation is that one is mature technology going no-where new and has a steady niche market, whereas the new technology is still evolving with newer more powerful stuff rapidly displacing older less powerful stuff in the eyes of the market. So anyone buying these high-end cameras needs to think hard about what they need, how long they are likely to be satisfied with it technically, how much stomach they have for rapidly depreciating asset value when they decide they should trade up, etc., because unless they do that kind of thinking and make their decisions with their eyes open, sour grapes could indeed set-in.
« Last Edit: August 27, 2009, 02:40:57 pm by MarkDS »
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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Mark D Segal

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« Reply #76 on: August 27, 2009, 02:47:27 pm »

And further on the issue of vague premises - what I have in mind are items such as the quantifiable technical characteristics of the best 8*10 contact prints, compared with the same for the best X*Y dimension digital image from say an Epson 7900, workflow implications of each, creative flexibility of each relative to time and effort, comparative success and failure rates between the technologies, comparable investment and operating cost profiles between the technologies, time value of money, life-cycle comprehensive cost implications of a technology choice, etc. All this informs how people (be it explicitly or implicitly) develop wants and make rational choices. Unless one starts drilling down to some real operational specifics, there's not much to discuss along these lines.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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Wayne Fox

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« Reply #77 on: August 27, 2009, 04:16:29 pm »

Quote from: Bill VN
Now finding myself as an old-timer, when light is exposed to a photographic film, it converts silver salts to a pure silver crystal that grows dependent on the lumens hitting it. After fixing, the salts are removed and the silver remains inversely dense to the original light exposure. This is simply the basics of traditional photography using silver halide chemistry.

First, I'm probably an old timer by many standards as well ... I started with B&W (which I never was very good at) in 1974. I started printing my own color enlargements in 1976 developed by using a tube floated and rolled in a temperature controlled water bath ... I would guess most can't even picture what I'm talking about except for "old timers".

Meaningless info.  However, your description of the macro process of silver halide imaging doesn't preclude the fact that at it's very base level, Michael is right, it divides and oversamples the incoming information into literally millions of either off or on reactions, which is the premise behind binary digital processes.  No one is saying it is digital ... but then again "digital" photography is digital because we take analog information received by a light sensitive electronic device and turn it into a digital representation.  This is just an ironical twist, not really relevant to the nature and quality of either process.  I'm not sure why someone preferring film has such a hard time with it (I assume thats why you keep trying to find a way to make it not true).

I've never felt there was anything magic or special about film. It was and is great.  But nothing special nor superior.  Just two different ways of using science to create an image.
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« Reply #78 on: August 27, 2009, 04:57:57 pm »

Quote from: Bill VN
To reiterate, I started this subject simply to state that there is a large population of photographers who demand the highest level of quality of imaging, and they have been staggered by the huge rise in cost for digital equipment that comes anywhere close to meeting their standards.

Huh??

I paid thousands of dollars for film equipment.  And agreed at the beginning of the mainstream move to digital this "Huge rise in cost" for equipment to come close to meeting standards was a reality and perhaps staggering.  We paid $14,000 each for Kodak 520 cameras (around 2mp) when opening our 1st digital studios in 1999, and paid $25k for a our first two Kodak 560 (6mp) cameras in 2000 - and neither delivered the quality of the $5k Photocontrol long roll film cameras we were using at the time.

But now we have Canon 20/30/40 cameras running in our studios for a cost of only around $1400 each, which easily meets that quality level.  To get quality that exceeds my RZ67 now can be had for under $3,000, and with the new sony a850 we're down to a couple of thousand dollars ... indeed the cost of entry into professional quality capture is dramatically less than film capture ever was.  One of the reasons there are hundreds of thousands of new "professional" photographers.  

True the very high end stuff is expensive ... that's one of the points discussed in the article .  But that's a whole different level of quality and standards which just are not very mainstream ... certainly not a a large population, and many (or perhaps even most)  in that category are certainly not "staggered" at the cost.
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BernardLanguillier

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« Reply #79 on: August 27, 2009, 05:53:33 pm »

Quote from: Tyler Mallory
Going back to the original poster's topic, it might be worth noting that the MF camera companies have realigned the target market for this equipment. With the manufacturing requirements driving down the number of units, the price would have to go up, which tightens the market even more. Add in the quality gains of the DSLR market and they have very little reason to try to compete on the same ground. So they went after the fashion and advertising photographers whose budgets could absorb a $30K+ system without too much fuss.

As you mention, this is directly related to constraints at the current MFBD manufacturers, themselves a consequence of them being small operations lacking the ability to grow.

Now, we shoudl face the fact that many people actually like these prices as it makes the entry barrier significantly higher and does therefore make it easier for the existing players to keep a lead (too bad stitching is around really...).

So, I know some people will not like it, but my opinion remains that we unfortunately don't have the right MDFB providers in the sense that they are not serving the market well IMHO. I am sure that with a series of 50.000 units it would be totally possible to produce nowadays a 60MP back with the quality of a Canon/Nikon, sell these at 10.000 US$ and make a healthy margin, especially if lenses come into play as part of a system.

The MF market used to be several times bigger than 50.000 units a year. It seems obvious that Canon and Nikon together have been selling more than 50.000 units a year of their top range cameras (Nikon alone was rumoured to be producing about that amount of d3x a year) so people have been used to spending more and 10.000 US$ for a back that works looks like an amazing bargain.

Could Nikon/Canon do it?

- Sensorwise, Kodak/Dalsa are simply not playing in the same category as Sony/Canon and their ability to invest into technology is tremendously limited by the small volumes generated by the current MFBD. This is what is actually going to kill them, however talented the guys at Kodak/Dalsa are they just cannot beat teams made up of 10 times more people able to investigate 5 different technology track at the same time,

- Complexitywise, I know well what I am talking about, these backs are an order of magnitude simpler devices than modern DSLRs, and it would take litteraly a few weeks to complete a design to experienced Nikon/Canon designers working with 3D CAD.

- The lenses being hardly more of a challenge considering the price referential defined by Leica. Again, a Nikkor MF 35mm f2.8 selling for 3000 US$ would look like a bargain and leave the Nikon designers more freedom than they have ever had in the part to come up with something as close to perfection as it gets.

Now such a niche would hardly change the balance sheet of Canon/Nikon, and they are busy enough with the rest to bother investing... and the only way this could happen would be if they got together and defined a standard MF lens mount for which they would both produce interchangeable lenses. A 4/3 system for MF... wouldn't that be cool?

I know that I will keep telling Nikon to do it, who knows, they might listen?

Cheers,
Bernard
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