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Digital Imaging vs. (Digital and Film) Photography



 
 
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  #1  
Old June 14th 04, 08:06 AM
Bob Monaghan
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Default Digital Imaging vs. (Digital and Film) Photography


Photography literally means "writing with light". Since ~80% of digicam
owners NEVER make any prints (per PMAI stats), I suggest they aren't doing
photography but digital imaging. This is a distinction that makes a big
difference in the future of photography - both film and digital IMHO:

We agree that "good enough" and convenience are what the mass of consumers
want, i.e., digital imaging. Future cell phone cameras (at 2MP in Japan
now and better OLED screens on the way) will probably displace current P&S
digicams as well as much of 35mm P&S and disposable camera use too.

Digital imaging and digital still/video cameras will be embedded in cell
phones and PCs, but not for the purposes of making quality images and
prints but to support everyday activities like videoconferencing and sales

I have previously expressed surprise that so few of the tens of millions
of new digicam owners doing digital photography have become photography
enthusiasts, as might be measured by photo mag subscriptions, photo book
sales, and related indexes. How can these indexes of serious photographic
interest be declining when sales of digital cameras have exploded?

This is important to digital photographers, whether they also use film
cameras (as many do) or not. IF you are making prints, if you are
concerned about image quality and composition etc., then you are doing
photography as a hobby (and the pros are another obvious category).

Currently, digital imaging supports digital photography. By this I mean
that the sales of millions of digital P&S cameras and related materials
and supplies for digital imaging provides the huge base on which higher
end digital photography sales are perched. The cost of developing high end
digital sensors and R&D and so on are largely provided by the mass
consumer sales base.

Otherwise high end DSLRs would cost thousands more dollars if they had to
pay off all high end R&D costs without these digital P&S profits. These
high end DSLRs provide a test bed for new sensors and technologies whose
costs was being recouped by mass marketing in future digital imaging
camera generations.

I am suggesting that the needs of the mass consumer digital imaging market
have now split from those of the DSLR users. That means the high MP
devices in today's DSLRs don't have much future demand in future cellphone
cameras or similar mass consumer products of the next generation.

I believe that we are about to see a split in the market between digital
imaging and digital photography. The mass of consumers seeking convenience
and "good enough" images for online viewing will be readily satisfied by
the next generation of cell phone cameras and embedded still/video PC
cameras and the like. Sales of digital P&S cameras will plummet. Who will
carry both a 4 MP P&S and a 4 MP cell-phone camera at the same time? Why?

With the mass digital imaging devices becoming commodity markets, the
current high end DSLR users will have lost their financial support from
the mass base of consumers. R&D costs for larger sensors will be higher,
as will the cost of IC fabrication plants to make them, yields lower for
larger sensors, and so costs much higher.

So digital photography is going to become much more of a niche market than
it currently appears to be. The mass consumer base will migrate to a
digital imaging solution that doesn't involve buying separate digital
cameras, lenses, or related products.

Are you happy with your current DSLR? Does it make nice enough prints for
your needs up to 8x10" or 11x14" or whatever is you usual maximum print
size? If so, will it be worth it to spend kilobucks on a new and bigger MP
camera to make similar sized prints or online images? Won't many current
DSLR users feel what they have is now good enough? Why will they want to
buy expensive new cameras every few years to get similar results?

Given under half-million photo mag subscriber base for the top rated photo
mags (for a $10/yr subscription fee), just how large will that digital
photography base be after the consumers have all left? Are there a million
people in the USA interested in photography - film as well as digital? How
many kilobuck DSLRs can you sell into that crowd, especially if they
already have a DSLR that makes a pretty decent 8x10" or 11x14", thank you!

I have called this the "digital bubble", and I think it will burst in a
few years. As DSLR prices fall below $700, the remaining holdouts of
amateur photographers with film cameras are now buying in, offsetting some
of the lost sales by people deciding what they have is good enough
already. But the number of film holdouts is limited, and can't support
many years of DSLR sales at current levels. And lower prices mean lower
sales volumes and profits for camera mfgers - hence the bursting bubble
analogy...

I am suggesting that digital imaging has not changed the underlying
support for photography as a hobby. So I don't think the numbers of people
interested in photography have changed or increased significantly, as
confirmed by photo mag and photo book and related resource sales. This
same loss of members and interest is afflicting other traditional hobbies

Most of the camera makers have bet the farm on digital, but only a few are
likely to survive the industry shakeout that seems inevitable. Will Nikon
make cell-phone cameras? Embed Nikon cameras in Nikon portable PCs? Will
the reduced sales of film and digital cameras, lenses and accessories be
enough to support the current industry, puffed up on digital P&S sales $$?

If the industry shakeout happens, then lots of folks with new DSLRs may
find themselves holding orphaned camera investments. Ditto film cameras.

The danger here is that collapsing digital P&S sales will take out the
mfgers of both the film and digital cameras we often argue over ;-) When
some players like pentax go under, this may impact MF and 35mm film users
more than others. Conversely, contax or minolta owners may find that hoped
for DSLR lines never make it to full production as the implications of an
imploding market bubble become obvious to corp. management. For others it
may not matter, as big corp. cut their losses on camera divisions as the
illusory nature of big profits from digital camera sales becomes clear
(i.e., with the switch by consumers to embedded cameras in phones and PCs)

In short, I think the major camera makers may bow out not because film
camera sales have plummeted, but because the digital bubble will burst.

Sadly, I don't see any way to promote photography as a hobby which will
offset these losses and enable supporting a large and vibrant
photo industry in the face of the switch to digital imaging. Do you?

grins ;-p)
bobm
--
************************************************** *********************
* Robert Monaghan POB 752182 Southern Methodist Univ. Dallas Tx 75275 *
********************Standard Disclaimers Apply*************************
  #2  
Old June 14th 04, 09:15 AM
MikeWhy
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Default Digital Imaging vs. (Digital and Film) Photography

Bob, We've been over this a few times. I think you're not finding closure
because you're looking in the wrong places for the wrong clues. Owning a
cellphone with built-in MP3 doesn't make that person an audiophile. I don't
want to talk about photography in the same sentence as phones.

Here's one statistic that I haven't seen you quote that might be meaningful
in your search for harbingers of truth. Sales of photo printers, too good
and too expensive for casual non-photo use, would indicate some interest in
imaging. Sale and availability of photo quality print paper and inks would
indicate a certain level of use of those printers. The last I looked, the
selection of inkjet photo paper far exceeded that of photo print paper.

"Bob Monaghan" wrote in message
...

Photography literally means "writing with light". Since ~80% of digicam
owners NEVER make any prints (per PMAI stats), I suggest they aren't doing
photography but digital imaging. This is a distinction that makes a big
difference in the future of photography - both film and digital IMHO:

....

  #4  
Old June 15th 04, 12:04 AM
Bob Monaghan
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Default Digital Imaging vs. (Digital and Film) Photography


Not ford, GM... but Fuji, Bronica, ... ? p-)

Fuji has dropped all its MF rangefinders and folder except for its GX680
studio camera (and bets are it is selling those out of stock, yes?)
leaving just MF lenses under contract (e.g., Hassy H1..) etc.

Bronica has stopped making both the SQAI series (6x6) and GS-1 series
(6x7cm) SLRs. The RF645 rangefinder has not done well as their "new" line,
and may well be shutdown production and selling off from stock. Leaves
just the 30 year old ETR line of 645 SLRs, right? The ETR has the same
loss-leader rebates from the mfger as SQ and GS, suggesting they just
haven't announced the shutdown yet and are exiting MF entirely?

Pentax is rumored to be shutting down the P67 series, and possibly P645?

Zeiss is supposedly reviewing their MF camera lens production for both
Hasselblad and Rollei MF lines. I bet they stay in, but if they are losing
money making hassy and rollei lenses, then who is making money?

Hasselblad just laid off a substantial fraction of their employees (like
1/3rd?), and they are one of the ones supposed to be doing well thanks to
digital back bundled sales?

a number of the specialty MF cameras have shutdown - one panoramic maker
by fire in Japanese factory, others have retired (Vistashift..) etc. Many
promised models of specialty MF cameras (panoramic chinese etc.) haven't
made it to market or were withdrawn from photo shows.

Speaking of photo shows, the last few Shutterbug show reviews noted that
not a single new lens or major piece of MF gear was in evidence at the
nearly all digital shows. Even the MF mfgers pipelines are now empty...

the big $$ spent on AF camera systems R&D and roll-out by Rollei 6008 AF
(only 6x6cm AF), contax AF (most costly 645 with zeiss labeled japanese
made lenses), and so on (- possible exception Hassy H1 among wedding types
thanks to leaf shutter lenses) don't seem to have stimulated sales much,
yes? And $20K digital backs don't seem to be selling much MF either ;-)

Mamiya has yet another losing year losing serious money, and it is another
major player with lots of USA supporters among pros and amateurs which
would be expected to do better than average, esp. thanks to low cost $700+
Mamiya 645E chinese made models and their frequent ads in USA pubs etc.

So yes, sorry for the angst ;-) But there are reasons for doom and gloom
after four years of declining MF sales. Unless the mfgers figure out how
to stimulate sales (and so far, costly digital backs and pricey AF systems
haven't done it), the chances are that many of us will have orphaned
cameras in the near term future (as in 1-2 years). I would not be
surprised to have only a few major players left in MF at this rate soon.

Then again, I expect an industry shakeout in digital cameras too (as noted
in my looong post ;-)

grins bobm


--
************************************************** *********************
* Robert Monaghan POB 752182 Southern Methodist Univ. Dallas Tx 75275 *
********************Standard Disclaimers Apply*************************
  #6  
Old June 19th 04, 03:06 AM
Sabineellen
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Default Digital Imaging vs. (Digital and Film) Photography

Unless the mfgers figure out how
to stimulate sales (and so far, costly digital backs and pricey AF systems
haven't done it), the chances are that many of us will have orphaned
cameras in the near term future (as in 1-2 years). I would not be
surprised to have only a few major players left in MF at this rate soon.


Bob, i think the problem with MF professional gear is that it's so well made
it'd just last for decades. And there's a glut of this seemingly solid and
virtually indestructible MF gear on eBay. Go to ebay and check the history of
completed items, the bidding is feverish, more and more people are buying
medium gear equipment.

Personally i think many more people are interested in MF now than ever before,
though i believe there had been a shift in demographics; it used to be the
domain of the professionals (who are moving over to digital due to efficiency
concerns in time and cost), and now it seems to be becoming the domain of
hobbyists and enthausiasts.

  #7  
Old June 19th 04, 03:37 AM
Bob Monaghan
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Default Digital Imaging vs. (Digital and Film) Photography


Hi Ellen,

I really hope you are right ;-) I agree that there are a lot of sales on
EBAY of MF gear, but it is hard to know how many are to new buyers, how
many to collectors or MFers like me buying backup items like spare bodies
and lenses now that prices are so affordable ;-)

In the past, pros used to sell their rather worn gear to amateurs who
would try to coax another few decades out of it ;-) As I've noted, we have
fewer pros now (half as many in USA as in 1980s). A lot of middle income
pros had to sell off older MF kit to afford to buy into the digital
photography area. If pros were the major buyers of new MF gear, then it
would make sense to me too that we are seeing lower MF sales as the pros
have put their $$ into new digital rather than new MF systems.

But various sources and industry stats suggest that most new MF systems
are sold to serious amateurs, though the pros probably buy more of the
exotic lenses and accessories [most amateur MF kits are only the one lens
on the SLR, only a few have more than 3 lenses in their MF kits ;-) ].

So it is hard to understand why the big fall in new MF sales is happening,
unless as you note, it may be that the bigger price difference with
cheaper used prices now suggests to folks that buying used on EBAY is a
better or easier option now than in the past?

New LF sales, which are rather more to pros than amateurs, are reported to
be holding their own, perhaps growing a bit? Granted it is a smaller
market, and the pro demand may be more steady than for MF?

But I hope you are right, as those used gear buyers will hopefully help
keep a solid market for 120 rollfilm and related services, and eventually
perhaps purchase some new MF systems, bodies, lenses and so on, to help
keep the MF mfgers in business ;-)

regards bobm
--
************************************************** *********************
* Robert Monaghan POB 752182 Southern Methodist Univ. Dallas Tx 75275 *
********************Standard Disclaimers Apply*************************
  #10  
Old June 19th 04, 05:48 PM
one_of_many
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Default Digital Imaging vs. (Digital and Film) Photography

In article . net, "Neil
Gould" wrote:

Recently, one_of_many posted:


More people buying MF and the prices continue to go down. Interesting
trend.

Shhh! I'm still building up my kit, so I don't want the prices to reflect
the actual demand! ;-)


Let me know when you have pretty much the hardware you want, then we can
do something quite radical and start something called
rec.photo.equipment.medium-format.NOTDIGITAL. Judged by the traffic, this
group has definitely gone digital.
 




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