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Focal plane vs. leaf shutters in MF SLRs



 
 
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  #101  
Old May 24th 04, 08:04 PM
Gordon Moat
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"Q.G. de Bakker" wrote:

Gordon Moat wrote:

It's that digital definitely is the future. And the moment that it will

take
over in all aspects (including quality - in the "more than good enough"
bracket) is getting closer and closer.


Definitely, and it is the "more than good enough" attitude that I think

sucks.
Too many people are becoming satisfied with mediocre. Of course, I see

that in
more than just photography, so perhaps it is a reflection of current

society.

You dont seem to grasp what "more than good enough" means.
It does not (!) mean mediocre.


Well, in southern California, if you use that phrase, it does mean mediocre. I
guess this is the difference of the parts of the world where both of us reside.

. . . . . . . .

[...]

The consumer end drives the main photographic market, yet I think few
enthusiasts nor professionals would use the biggest selling consumer film
product: one time use cameras. I don't think medium format has ever been

much
in the general consumer view, with the possible exception of folder

cameras a
long time ago.


Well, that "long time ago" is indeed where MF has been in general consumer
use (but not just folders. there were many box-cameras too). Some might even
argue that that's where the non-general consumer use of MF belongs too: some
period in the past best forgotten.
Anyway, a few enthusiasts and/or professionals will not keep MF afloat. The
balance will not tip backwards towards film based MF again. So it's now or
never: MF manufacturers (or rather the companies making the things that plug
current MF systems into the Digido) must do all they can to prevent their
current users switching to other things in the first place.


I will comment more in some other parts of this thread, since several other
people have brought up some points to consider. Basically, taking your
pessimistic view into account (and it might be 100% correct), I think all the
medium format companies should just liquidate their assets this year, and shut
down their companies.


. . . . . . . .

[...] Bottom line is that these are very expensive cameras, and the

economy is
still down.


Plus, of course, it (Rollei AF) is not the only option beckoning those
people who do still have money to spend...


Which seems like thriving in a niche market could be an answer. The problem
then becomes what volume of sales will sustain a niche? Large format is already
a niche market, yet there is still diversity, just as an example.



. . . . . . .

And i don't see much of a retro market either. What "retro" product can

you
see selling anywhere?


The greatest retro market is automotive (and a few motorcycles) based on
[...]
Perhaps the reason you do not see much "retro" market is that you are not

a
consumer of those types of things. It could also be that it is more of a

US (or
North American) trend, and not very prominent in Europe.


I see.

No, the very reason why i do not see that retro market was because i was
thinking photography. Apart form a brief 35 mm RF revival (which realy has
gone again already), there simply is no retro-trend in photography.


The only retro photography trend I see, and mostly southern California (and
some other cites in the US), is more younger people buying used film cameras.
These could be considered accessories to match trendy retro style clothing
(especially anything with "That 70's" look), though the funny thing is that
many of these used camera buyers actually use their gear. While they may not
fit into enthusiast, nor consumer models, many of them like the aspect of
controlling the camera, rather than the automation controlling them. This is
the "technology backlash" reaction to too much technology in everyday life.
Retro is popular because it reminds one of simpler times, even though that
memory is created in those that did not live in those times.


If anything, traditional brands most associated with "the good old days" of
photography are in danger of becoming extinct. The only true, and strong,
trend in photography today is that digi-thingy.


True, based on volume sales, or even number of articles. Of course, the reality
is about as true as the "paperless office". I think wireless imaging will soon
become the next big thing, and the future volume leader of "photography" (if
you can still call that photography).



Whether it is something i like or not, whether i would part with my beloved
MF equipment or not gladly is another matter. But that's the reality: we,
the customers, drive the market. And we drive it towards digital. And that
drive results in digital becoming better and affordable too. And at the same
time it is driving MF towards its end.


So again, why should the medium format companies even continue? Why not
liquidate now, and get a last profit off their assets? Why did the distributor
for Hasselblad buy the company? Why did Tamron buy Bronica? Why does Mamiya
still advertise? Why did Rollei and Contax make autofocus cameras?



I only have a smaller view of marketing efforts in Europe, though in North
America, it seems that Mamiya are the only company that really advertises

in
many locations. Some of that is combined digital and film capability

promotion,
and some directed at the Mamiya 7 II. I rarely see Hasselblad products in

many
ads, though that could be from the financial issues they had (maybe the

buyout
could help that). With Rollei, hardly anyone knows these cameras in the

US,
except in reference to really old Rollei TLR cameras. Most of the very

sparse
Rollei ads are for P&S film and digital.


I don't think MF manufacturers should advertise more. It would do absolutely
no good. Unless...

They (MF manufacturers) should instead go banging their fists on MF digital
back manufacturer's tables, demanding they come up with more sensibly priced
products, explaining that if they don't the game's over for both (!)
manufacturers of MF equipment and the manufacturers of digital backs that
have to be hung on MF cameras.


I think the price point will always be high. Even with Kodak making digital
backs, any Medium Format direct digital will be high. If you compare to the
cost of a scanner, around $2000, that is the competition for digital backs, and
I don't see them ever getting close. With that in mind, they (MF companies)
should liquidate assets this year.

Ciao!

Gordon Moat
A G Studio
http://www.allgstudio.com

  #102  
Old May 24th 04, 08:25 PM
Gordon Moat
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Default MF future? ideal cameras?

Neil Gould wrote:

Hi,

Recently, Q.G. de Bakker posted:

What Bob has put forward s very ineresting, but is not (!) about the
MF market. It can not be taken to be indicative of what will happen
in the MF market either. Transferring the trends in 2 MP cell phone
camera market to MF is rather pointless.

I agree with you that MF users are not an appropriate subset of all
photo-takers (or even all photographers), and that thne 2 MP cell phone
market will not be much of a factor one way or another to the MF market.
However, I have difficulty with your pessimistic view of the furture for
MF photography.


I also find his view to be pessimistic, though the real danger is that he is
entirely correct (I hope not).



We accept that higher resolution cameras will be the trend until the
returns diminish to the point where higher resolution sensors just aren't
worth manufacturing. I don't know what that point is, but if pressed, I'd
put it somewhere in the 20 MP range. As it is, many feel that 6 MP
satisfies the majority of 35 mm user's requirements, and the same feel
that the 11 - 14 MP cameras exceed the capabilities of 35 mm. I don't
agree, and was faced today with a scenario where I chose 35 mm over
digital.


I think the early marketing efforts for direct digital imaging convinced many
people that a low MP number was good enough. It seems that some of that early
marketing is now making it tougher to sell higher MP cameras. Adding other
capabilities, like short video, or merely changing the shape and size of the
gear, or adding more memory, seem to be more common, indicating that
"features" are being pushed more to sell the cameras. Until the Bayer pattern
norm changes to other technology, or some other colour improvement, or noise
reduction become more common, just trying to sell newer gear on MP
comparisons will fail to increase sales volumes.

A similar numbers game was already played out in the marketing of computers,
with the results that sales went down. Now with the wide spread introduction
of camera phones, many are deciding those are good enough. Direct digital
imaging, in the form of a camera, could become a niche market within the next
two or three years.



There is an aspect of digital that is correlative to photography that I
haven't seen discussed yet (not that it would be difficult for me to miss
if it has been discussed). What if the *only* images you could take using
film were 20" x 30" (or the equivalent of a 24" field camera)? This may
sound strange, but if you think about it, MF film gives you the
opportunity to not have to decide ahead of time which images will be used
at the maximum practical enlargement size, e.g. maximum resolution of the
medium.


I think you really hit on an important aspect. I wish I had kept some
bookmarks to all the different articles I have read, but the basic idea is
that most direct digital imaging usage does not mirror film camera usage.
Very few digital camera users print anything. Sales of easy to use printers
for cameras are really low in comparison, and usage of digital printing
services (drop off your memory card, or camera type of services) are in low
usage. The industry (through PMAI, et al) has figures, but even personal
investigation will show these trends. Go to any electronics store in the US,
and listen in on how people buy digital cameras (often P&S). The other
amusing thing is that electronics store have now become a good market for
disposable one-time-use cameras, since they are still an easy device to use
when someone wants some cheap photo prints.



OTOH, with digital, the best thing to do is always shoot at maximum
resolution in the event that at some point one wants to produce a maximum
sized enlargement. One of the consequences of this are that quite a bit of
time will be spent downsampling those 20 MP images for use at 4" x 6" or
smaller. This isn't going to be a one-jump move if you want any control
over the quality of the results. Then, there's storage, and archiving.


I find that almost everyone I know with digital cameras uses the medium to
low quality settings. Yet when they describe their cameras, nearly all of
them mention how many MPs, and what features enticed them to buy that
particular digital camera. Of course, digital SLR bodies are more of an
enthusiast market, much lower volume, and different usage patterns.



So, resolution isn't the only concern when it comes to making a choice of
what medium to use. Today, I attended my 5-year-old granddaughter's first
dance recital. My first thoughts were, grab the digicam. Then, after
considering all of the ramifications, I grabbed the Leica. Why? Because
the odds that she'll be able to view images of this recital 20 years from
now are far greater than if I put them on any available digital media.


I think this recording history aspect is one thing that separates film usage
from direct digital usage. While there are some who use there direct digital
cameras like film cameras, they are the exception.



So, there's two aspects that should keep film around for a while yet. At
one point, I thought that it would be great to have a digital back for the
MF camera. I no longer think so. Like others, I've concluded that the
smaller format digicam is the better tool.


I agree completely, and I think this fits the usage and advantages of these
devices.



For one thing, while there was a lot of snickering and denial going on
when Olympus announced a couple of years ago that they were making
digital-specific lenses for their prosumer digicams, a look at the field
now suggests that they were, once again, just *way* ahead of the pack.
Well, EVERYBODY has digital-specific lenses now. And every review I've
seen that compares the digital-specific lenses to film lenses on a digicam
claims that the new digital-specific lenses produce observably better
quality images.


I think also that this goes back to the early marketing efforts. Too much
early emphasis on MP counts, and overuse of terms like "film quality" and
"photo quality", have left little to proclaim as innovative in newer
marketing efforts.



Hmm. Forget that digital back for the Leica. And, for the same reasons,
forget that digital back for the Rollei. Instead, put that money into a
decent MF film scanner, buy a decent mid-range digicam. Those digicams are
coming down in price and at the same time outperforming their high-end
predecessors in every way. The MF film scanner will still outperform the
best of the current, and more than likely any future digicams. And, you
can pocket the remaining $2-3kUS.

Best of all worlds, I say.

Regards,

Neil


Excellent post Neil. Probably one of the best overviews of this issue I have
yet read.

Ciao!

Gordon Moat
A G Studio
http://www.allgstudio.com


  #103  
Old May 24th 04, 08:35 PM
Gordon Moat
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Default MF future? ideal cameras?

Michael Benveniste wrote:

. . . . . . .

I think a low cost MF entry level camera is the key to attracting people
to MF photography. But where are the reliable under $1k new MF cameras?
The lack of ads for MF with only 10,000 or so sales worldwide, per major
brand, makes it hard to compete against a million+ nikon SLRs etc. ;-)


I think that's a losing tactic.

Medium format is inherently more expensive than 35mm. Nor has it been
a hotbed of technological innovation. I don't see any film format
taking back the innovation role from digital. Nor do most amateurs
need (or even perceive) the advantages of medium format.

That leaves a couple of niches where MF could succeed. The first is
as a professional tool. The second is as a luxury good. Neither
niche lends itself well to a low price strategy.


Excellent points, and I think this accurately reflects the market.



As a professional tool, MF is under attack from digital SLR's. In
order to hold on to this market, the MF manufacturers must give
professional photographers a competitive edge. Otherwise, the systems
built around smaller, less expensive formats will crowd them out.


Agreed, though it still amazes me that the MF manufactures, except perhaps
Mamiya, have so little presence in adverting to the professional market.



Turning to the luxury good strategy, you won't find "entry-level"
Ferraris, Rolexes or even Leicas. Occasionally, someone like Cadillac
will try something like the Cimarron, typically with disasterous
consequences.

Instead, to survive as a proider of luxury goods, you have to create
an aura of quality, exclusivity, and fashion. Leica and to a lesser
extent Rollei have all three. Hasselblad has the first two, but not
the third. Until the H1, 'blads were square, literally and
figuratively. Bronica, Mamiya, and Pentax have neither fashion nor
exclusivity. They all have quality, but have failed to project an
aura of quality beyond professional photographers.


Another really good point. I am reminded of the ads and write up I saw for
the ALPA Paul Frank Edition. Paul Frank is a fashion designer, and basically
just added a graphic pattern grips, and slightly different finish, yet this
was enough to get a really big exposure in a non photography magazine (GQ -
Gentleman's Quarterly).

Of course, we are also reminded of the multi colour Hasselblad cameras a
couple years ago. Add in things like special edition Leica cameras, like the
Hermes Edition, and these might become boutique items. Much like the Swiss
chronograph market, there may be a luxury niche for medium format. Then the
question becomes what volume is needed to sustain the production.



Mamiya in particular has tried to woo new customers based on price and
theoretical advantages. IMHO they would have been better off if they
focused on image instead.


I agree. While the initial results have been a lowering of used gear prices,
it seems to be that emphasizing quality and advantages would be better ways
to sustain a market. Lower prices seems too much like damage control.

Ciao!

Gordon Moat
A G Studio
http://www.allgstudio.com

  #104  
Old May 24th 04, 09:36 PM
Q.G. de Bakker
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Gordon Moat wrote:

Plus, of course, it (Rollei AF) is not the only option beckoning those
people who do still have money to spend...


Which seems like thriving in a niche market could be an answer. The

problem
then becomes what volume of sales will sustain a niche? Large format is

already
a niche market, yet there is still diversity, just as an example.


LF is dead already. It's just that those corpses are pretty well balmed. ;-)
MF has been a niche market since way back when. The trouble isn't supplying
a niche market. The trouble is that people occupying that niche are leaving.
And that hurts.

Take Hasselblad: a small company, yet doing very well selling in numbers
that are absolutely nothing compared to, say, Nikon.
Recently, they decided they could no longer survive without the (financial)
support of some large company.
How long will that work should the MF market not recover from the current
dip?

Rollei have put all their eggs in one basket: new customers would come, and
sales go up again, if only they could offer modern AF technology.
Now they *do* offer AF technology. And? Right: nothing!

The Japanese companies are a bit larger, and perhaps operate differently
too. But how long can you not sell a product and keep up the pretence things
are going well, even when the company's live does not depend on it?

A niche is fine, as long as it is not empty.

The only retro photography trend I see, and mostly southern California

(and
some other cites in the US), is more younger people buying used film

cameras.
These could be considered accessories to match trendy retro style clothing
(especially anything with "That 70's" look), though the funny thing is

that
many of these used camera buyers actually use their gear. While they may

not
fit into enthusiast, nor consumer models, many of them like the aspect of
controlling the camera, rather than the automation controlling them. This

is
the "technology backlash" reaction to too much technology in everyday

life.
Retro is popular because it reminds one of simpler times, even though that
memory is created in those that did not live in those times.


That trend has not been seen this side of the pond. I wonder if it will
last.

If anything, traditional brands most associated with "the good old days"

of
photography are in danger of becoming extinct. The only true, and

strong,
trend in photography today is that digi-thingy.


True, based on volume sales, or even number of articles. Of course, the

reality
is about as true as the "paperless office". I think wireless imaging will

soon
become the next big thing, and the future volume leader of "photography"

(if
you can still call that photography).


The paperless office we were promised has not materialized, no. But where
are those typewriters and blue paper?
You can't deny a trend moving us in one direction becuase some augurs in the
past predicted we would have green wallpaper and we find we have gray
wallpaper when we finally get to where this ternd was taking us.

At the moment, the reality is that consumers want convenience (when did they
ever not want that?) and fun. And that currently means digital. And not just
in photography.
And yes, wireless imaging may well be the next thing. "Blue tooth" transfer
of images between camera and storage device is possible even today. So why
not.

Whether it is something i like or not, whether i would part with my

beloved
MF equipment or not gladly is another matter. But that's the reality:

we,
the customers, drive the market. And we drive it towards digital. And

that
drive results in digital becoming better and affordable too. And at the

same
time it is driving MF towards its end.


So again, why should the medium format companies even continue?


What else will they do?

Why not
liquidate now, and get a last profit off their assets?


What value is there in their assets, they being MF manufacturing
infrastructure, when there is no demand for ?

Why did the distributor
for Hasselblad buy the company?


Good example. Hasselblad wanted to go public, i.e. cash in on their
"assets". That went sour when the MF market went downhill.
Doesn't mean that some other company would not want to show off with a
"luxury brand of great repute". They do not need a sensible return ontheir
investment as much as bread and butter investors. There's posing value to
consider...

Why did Tamron buy Bronica? Why does Mamiya
still advertise? Why did Rollei and Contax make autofocus cameras?


Hope springs eternal.
If you're, say, a MF manufacturer, you can only manufacture MF. If you
don't, you're not a MF manufactuer anymore. You'll be nothing. Right?
Leica still make cameras, nor scarfes and handbags, do they not?
So you keep trying, and trying until you really can't anymore. Does not mean
it makes a lot of sense towards the end. Yet Pandora's most cruel gift to
mankind is very powerful.

I think the price point will always be high. Even with Kodak making

digital
backs, any Medium Format direct digital will be high. If you compare to

the
cost of a scanner, around $2000, that is the competition for digital

backs, and
I don't see them ever getting close. With that in mind, they (MF

companies)
should liquidate assets this year.


Well, if they do not get prices down...
I'll come and tell you "told you so" in, oh..., a year.
;-)


  #105  
Old May 24th 04, 10:29 PM
Neil Gould
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Hi,

Recently, Q.G. de Bakker posted:
(many good points snipped for brevity)
Gordon Moat wrote:

Plus, of course, it (Rollei AF) is not the only option beckoning
those people who do still have money to spend...


Which seems like thriving in a niche market could be an answer. The
problem then becomes what volume of sales will sustain a niche?
Large format is already a niche market, yet there is still
diversity, just as an example.


LF is dead already. It's just that those corpses are pretty well
balmed. ;-) MF has been a niche market since way back when. The
trouble isn't supplying a niche market. The trouble is that people
occupying that niche are leaving. And that hurts.

By leaving, do you mean that they are selling off their MF gear in favor
of another format (e.g. digital), or that the retirement rate exceeds the
recruitment rate? If the former, then I think one would have to determine
whether these folks are no longer shooting MF, or just unloaded part of
their gear to finance the new format. If the latter, then only time will
determine whether that is a concern.

Take Hasselblad: a small company, yet doing very well selling in
numbers that are absolutely nothing compared to, say, Nikon.
Recently, they decided they could no longer survive without the
(financial) support of some large company.
How long will that work should the MF market not recover from the
current dip?

I'm sure that Sinar is also not selling in numbers that compare with
Nikon. Are they worried? I doubt it.

Rollei have put all their eggs in one basket: new customers would
come, and sales go up again, if only they could offer modern AF
technology.
Now they *do* offer AF technology. And? Right: nothing!

Rollei is a bit different from Hasselblad, in that they offer a fairly
wide range of MF products. If AF bombs, that doesn't necessarily doom the
rest of their line. Frankly, in a market where every other MF company
offers AF, Rollei had little choice. I don't know what their sales
expectations are.

I think the price point will always be high. Even with Kodak making
digital backs, any Medium Format direct digital will be high. If you
compare to the cost of a scanner, around $2000, that is the
competition for digital backs, and I don't see them ever getting
close. With that in mind, they (MF companies) should liquidate
assets this year.


Well, if they do not get prices down...
I'll come and tell you "told you so" in, oh..., a year.
;-)

I'm not sure I understand your response, Q.G., but digital backs for MF
have many moving targets that they have to nail to be practical. They have
to exceed the performance of scanners as well as the price point.
Otherwise, small format digital will eat their lunch. They have to perform
with existing film-specific lenses better than the small format digitals
do with digital-specific lenses. If few MF users are willing to buy
digital backs, even fewer would be willing to maintain a redundant set of
lenses, one for film and one for digital. It's unlikely that full-frame,
hi-res MF sensors are going to hit the market any time soon, which means
that even fewer photographers would own a wide angle lens.

But, I think that it is exactly the quality issue that will keep MF
around. Digital images will serve a certain segment of the photographic
market well. But, after the dust settles, I suspect that many of those
that shot MF but "left" for digital will return to the fold once they try
to get the same image quality out of critical shots.

Best regards,

Neil



  #106  
Old May 24th 04, 10:54 PM
jjs
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Default ideal cameras? Omega 120 surprise convertible lens RF?


"Neil Gould" wrote in message
hlink.net...

I'm sure that Sinar is also not selling in numbers that compare with
Nikon. Are they worried? I doubt it.


At their prices, they only have to sell a few!


  #107  
Old May 24th 04, 11:02 PM
Neil Gould
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Default MF future? ideal cameras?

Recently, Gordon Moat posted:

Neil Gould wrote:

We accept that higher resolution cameras will be the trend until the
returns diminish to the point where higher resolution sensors just
aren't worth manufacturing. I don't know what that point is, but if
pressed, I'd put it somewhere in the 20 MP range. As it is, many
feel that 6 MP satisfies the majority of 35 mm user's requirements,
and the same feel that the 11 - 14 MP cameras exceed the
capabilities of 35 mm. I don't agree, and was faced today with a
scenario where I chose 35 mm over digital.


I think the early marketing efforts for direct digital imaging
convinced many people that a low MP number was good enough. It seems
that some of that early marketing is now making it tougher to sell
higher MP cameras. Adding other capabilities, like short video, or
merely changing the shape and size of the gear, or adding more
memory, seem to be more common, indicating that "features" are being
pushed more to sell the cameras. Until the Bayer pattern norm changes
to other technology, or some other colour improvement, or noise
reduction become more common, just trying to sell newer gear on MP
comparisons will fail to increase sales volumes.

I think that the manufacturers are trying everything they can think of in
the way of "features", many of which are not of interest or concern to the
photographer that would otherwise shoot MF. If one is after good quality
images, then the only features that matter are those that counteract the
limitations of digital images.

A similar numbers game was already played out in the marketing of
computers, with the results that sales went down. Now with the wide
spread introduction of camera phones, many are deciding those are
good enough. Direct digital imaging, in the form of a camera, could
become a niche market within the next two or three years.

I suspect that computer sales went down because of many factors, with mHz
ratings being just one. For what most people do with a computer, a 1 gHz
machine is more than adequate. I think we're seeing a saturated market.
Computers are available for little or no money to almost anyone. In my
business, I have to keep fairly current hardware, and I've taken to giving
the earlier generation machines away to friends. This isn't an unusual
occurance; I know several people that do the same thing, and there are
even computer recycling programs managed by local communities to
distribute used but functional equipment. I suspect that what we're seeing
is a saturation of the market. Many people just don't need another
computer, and almost anyone that wants one can get it for free. The
parallel is that once most cell phones take digital images, 2 MP digicams
will be superfluous.

There is an aspect of digital that is correlative to photography
that I haven't seen discussed yet (not that it would be difficult
for me to miss if it has been discussed). What if the *only* images
you could take using film were 20" x 30" (or the equivalent of a 24"
field camera)? This may sound strange, but if you think about it, MF
film gives you the opportunity to not have to decide ahead of time
which images will be used at the maximum practical enlargement size,
e.g. maximum resolution of the medium.


I think you really hit on an important aspect. I wish I had kept some
bookmarks to all the different articles I have read, but the basic
idea is that most direct digital imaging usage does not mirror film
camera usage. Very few digital camera users print anything. Sales of
easy to use printers for cameras are really low in comparison, and
usage of digital printing services (drop off your memory card, or
camera type of services) are in low usage. The industry (through
PMAI, et al) has figures, but even personal investigation will show
these trends. Go to any electronics store in the US, and listen in on
how people buy digital cameras (often P&S). The other amusing thing
is that electronics store have now become a good market for
disposable one-time-use cameras, since they are still an easy device
to use when someone wants some cheap photo prints.

I agree that digital usage doesn't mirror film. That's true in more ways
than just printing images. But, if we're talking about MF users, we're
talking about people who *do* intend to print their images, no? So, the
issues surrounding that function are important, and have differences
between these media. My wife is a big fan of art shows, and since I have
to tag along, I spend most of my time talking to photographers. I'm
alarmed by the number of folks trying to sell ink jet prints for hundreds
of dollars in the same way that optical prints have been sold. I usually
start chatting with these folks about the archival quality of their
prints, and find that many of them don't have a clue about whether their
shots will be the same color next year that they are today. Wait until
someone drops big money on one of those images only to have it fade to
yellow in a couple of years!

OTOH, with digital, the best thing to do is always shoot at maximum
resolution in the event that at some point one wants to produce a
maximum sized enlargement. One of the consequences of this are that
quite a bit of time will be spent downsampling those 20 MP images
for use at 4" x 6" or smaller. This isn't going to be a one-jump
move if you want any control over the quality of the results. Then,
there's storage, and archiving.


I find that almost everyone I know with digital cameras uses the
medium to low quality settings. Yet when they describe their cameras,
nearly all of them mention how many MPs, and what features enticed
them to buy that particular digital camera. Of course, digital SLR
bodies are more of an enthusiast market, much lower volume, and
different usage patterns.

Again, this is true for the casual shooters. For those of us getting paid
for their images, we can't afford to get stuck with a low-resolution shot
that the client might want to enlarge. And, that translates into a lot of
editing time for small prints.

Excellent post Neil. Probably one of the best overviews of this issue
I have yet read.

Why, thank you, Gordon!

Regards,

Neil


  #108  
Old May 25th 04, 01:34 AM
Gordon Moat
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Posts: n/a
Default MF future? ideal cameras?

Neil Gould wrote:

. . . . . . . . . .
I agree that digital usage doesn't mirror film. That's true in more ways
than just printing images. But, if we're talking about MF users, we're
talking about people who *do* intend to print their images, no?


Very true, and agree completely.

So, the
issues surrounding that function are important, and have differences
between these media. My wife is a big fan of art shows, and since I have
to tag along, I spend most of my time talking to photographers. I'm
alarmed by the number of folks trying to sell ink jet prints for hundreds
of dollars in the same way that optical prints have been sold.


It bothers me as well, and I see too many poorly done examples.

I usually
start chatting with these folks about the archival quality of their
prints, and find that many of them don't have a clue about whether their
shots will be the same color next year that they are today. Wait until
someone drops big money on one of those images only to have it fade to
yellow in a couple of years!


Probably a few too many rely on the statements of manufacturers. I have only
rarely seen people who try to properly prepare their images so they will
last, and that use good quality paper. The reality is that really high
quality inkjet prints are not cheap, and only some people will spend the time
and money to get the best results. Then the very slight cost savings is not
much better than having a lab do chemical prints. Some of the better work
includes a fade guarantee, almost like a warranty, and that might become the
accepted norm in the future.



OTOH, with digital, the best thing to do is always shoot at maximum
resolution in the event that at some point one wants to produce a
maximum sized enlargement. One of the consequences of this are that
quite a bit of time will be spent downsampling those 20 MP images
for use at 4" x 6" or smaller. This isn't going to be a one-jump
move if you want any control over the quality of the results. Then,
there's storage, and archiving.


I find that almost everyone I know with digital cameras uses the
medium to low quality settings. Yet when they describe their cameras,
nearly all of them mention how many MPs, and what features enticed
them to buy that particular digital camera. Of course, digital SLR
bodies are more of an enthusiast market, much lower volume, and
different usage patterns.

Again, this is true for the casual shooters. For those of us getting paid
for their images, we can't afford to get stuck with a low-resolution shot
that the client might want to enlarge. And, that translates into a lot of
editing time for small prints.


Absolutely, and one of the main reasons I stick to film for work. I hear from
nearly every advertising and editorial photographer I know that the editing
time of direct digital puts them in front of the computer for too long, and
it is tougher to justify billing out computer time to clients.

Editing on a light table is fast. While there are some people who have
learned fast editing on the computer monitor, they are the exception.
Computer editing is a linear process, while light table editing is
non-linear.

Some clients want direct digital, though the reality is that the request is
often because they think that since it is new, it is better. Another issue is
that they think the turnaround time can be faster, though there is not often
a need to have the images faster. There are many work issues to consider, and
turnaround time is only one. The issue of digital backs is often approached
through a rental or lease program, though even then a very high volume is
needed for good return on investment.

Quality can keep medium format going, but the quality needs of many have
decreased. When clients are willing to now accept fairly small image files,
even scanned 35 mm seems like very high quality. Photographers who shoot for
publication and advertising only need to cover a two page spread, and rarely
that much. While I think the quality of medium format over smaller formats is
apparent, it is unfortunate that the extra quality is lost on many end users
(clients).

Ciao!

Gordon Moat
A G Studio
http://www.allgstudio.com

  #109  
Old May 25th 04, 01:59 AM
Raphael Bustin
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Posts: n/a
Default MF future? ideal cameras?

On Mon, 24 May 2004 12:28:48 GMT, Lassi Hippeläinen
wrote:

Raphael Bustin wrote:

On 23 May 2004 22:21:57 -0500, (Bob Monaghan)
wrote:


the key point y'all missed is that it looks unlikely that a 35mm format
64MP sensor is likely, based on CMOS developer Carver Mead's comments at
end of article fundamental size limits in wavelength of light see
http://www.dpreview.com/news/0009/00...foveon16mp.asp

And who appointed Carver Mead as the authority on this topic?
Carver's got a specific product to sell, and so far it's been a
very hard sell. Foveon continues to play a very small role in
the digicam market.


He's got the physics on his side. The wavelength of light isn't
changing. You can't use smaller than five micron pixels, and even those
are pretty noisy. 64MP with 7x7 micron dots is 6x6cm in size, even
without the electronics between the pixels.



I'm not arguing your basic point. To date, the limiting
size for area-array sensors is around 20+ Mpixels,
and that's with "Bayer" arrays and pixel-counts.
Foveon, IMO, is a non-issue and non-starter, at least
for the time being. I think you could have found a
better source to cite than a four-year-old press release
from a third-rate player in the industry.

Imaging chips are at extreme odds with traditional silicon
processing, where feature sizes and overall geometries
are under constant downward pressure. So good, hi-res
imaging chips will be expensive, maybe forever, but at
least until they're produced and sold in very high volume.


I think MF and LF may continue to have a role in niche
applications. It will be many years (if ever) before a silicon
sensor can return the sort of pixel counts that I get from
scanning either of these. The only real issue I see is
how long will Kodak and Fuji (et al) continue to make
film in these formats?


Film will be competitive for a long time. When you start handling 64MP
(or 400MB) images, you'll soon notice some things:
- memory isn't cheap, and you need lots of it
- digital processing needs memory all the way from scanning workstations
to permanent storage
- permanent storage isn't permanent, unless it is refreshed every five
years or so
- the rest of the equipment gets obsolete even faster...

In terms of total cost of ownership, MF is still hard to beat. Digitals
win when you need the speed.



Again, I mostly agree with your main point. It's
all quite relative. MF is middle of the road if
you consider LF on one side and 35 mm on the
other. Comparing any one of these to digital
is like comparing religions.

In the overall scheme of things, memory really
is cheap these days... $100 will buy you:

* half a gigabyte of fast DDRAM, or
* a 120 gigabyte hard drive,
* a DVD writer.

Hard drives fail -- don't I know it. I've had my ways
tested recently but so far my CDs and DVDs are
holding up and have saved the day, literally.
Constant vigilance... thanks for reminding me.


rafe b.
http://www.terrapinphoto.com
  #110  
Old May 25th 04, 02:06 AM
Gordon Moat
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Posts: n/a
Default ideal cameras? Omega 120 surprise convertible lens RF?

"Q.G. de Bakker" wrote:

Gordon Moat wrote:

Plus, of course, it (Rollei AF) is not the only option beckoning those
people who do still have money to spend...


Which seems like thriving in a niche market could be an answer. The

problem
then becomes what volume of sales will sustain a niche? Large format is

already
a niche market, yet there is still diversity, just as an example.


LF is dead already. It's just that those corpses are pretty well balmed. ;-)


Of course, the funny thing is that large format films sales (at least Fuji and
Polaroid numbers) has increased. However, that does not mean more people are
buying cameras.


MF has been a niche market since way back when. The trouble isn't supplying
a niche market. The trouble is that people occupying that niche are leaving.
And that hurts.


Sure, they are leaving because they are getting older. There is an ageing
population of users, and very few new (or younger) users. That is why I spoke
about advertising and awareness. While you choose to think there is no point, I
think a small effort might show some results. I am not writing about having
medium format become big volume, nor big business, and I would never expect
that to happen.



Take Hasselblad: a small company, yet doing very well selling in numbers
that are absolutely nothing compared to, say, Nikon.


Why is success must be judged on high volume? Are Linhof and Horseman not
successful because they don't sell half a million cameras a year? If volume was
the only criteria for success, then Sony is the "winner" or "best" of all
camera companies.


Recently, they decided they could no longer survive without the (financial)
support of some large company.
How long will that work should the MF market not recover from the current
dip?


Hasselblad has a name, and could become a niche luxury product. I would expect
the current tooling to produce limited run examples in the colour finish of
your choice. Perhaps they can turn some of the bodies into handbags, or makeup
cases.



Rollei have put all their eggs in one basket: new customers would come, and
sales go up again, if only they could offer modern AF technology.
Now they *do* offer AF technology. And? Right: nothing!


Well, Rollei has an extensive line of compact cameras (many digital) that trade
on the value of their brand name. I think Rollei will survive, though their
medium format line could end up a built to order prestige product (luxury
again). So the company should survive, though the medium format line might
become marginalized. If the medium format line becomes rare, or scarce, yet the
company survives off compact cameras, does that mean they were unsuccessful?



The Japanese companies are a bit larger, and perhaps operate differently
too. But how long can you not sell a product and keep up the pretence things
are going well, even when the company's live does not depend on it?

A niche is fine, as long as it is not empty.


Okay, so if the slightly older industry sales figures from Japanese medium
format manufacturers indicated only 200000 unit sales a year world wide, how
low can that figure go to still have a market? Would 50000 new camera sales a
year (one fourth) still be a viable market?



The only retro photography trend I see, and mostly southern California

(and
some other cites in the US), is more younger people buying used film

cameras.
These could be considered accessories to match trendy retro style clothing
(especially anything with "That 70's" look), though the funny thing is

that
many of these used camera buyers actually use their gear. While they may

not
fit into enthusiast, nor consumer models, many of them like the aspect of
controlling the camera, rather than the automation controlling them. This

is
the "technology backlash" reaction to too much technology in everyday

life.
Retro is popular because it reminds one of simpler times, even though that
memory is created in those that did not live in those times.


That trend has not been seen this side of the pond. I wonder if it will
last.


Well, it is hitting about the six year point now, so I wonder the same thing.
As these people get older, will they hold onto the same habits . . . also, will
the next generation follow the same trends . . . only time will tell. As for
this trend exporting to other parts of the world, I can only hope that some
aspects of American trends stay in the US.



If anything, traditional brands most associated with "the good old days"

of
photography are in danger of becoming extinct. The only true, and

strong,
trend in photography today is that digi-thingy.


True, based on volume sales, or even number of articles. Of course, the

reality
is about as true as the "paperless office". I think wireless imaging will

soon
become the next big thing, and the future volume leader of "photography"

(if
you can still call that photography).


The paperless office we were promised has not materialized, no. But where
are those typewriters and blue paper?


Indeed, computers are just glorified type writers. ;-)


. . . . . . .

At the moment, the reality is that consumers want convenience (when did they
ever not want that?) and fun. And that currently means digital. And not just
in photography.


Sure, the fast food mentality. It might be the biggest trend, but not everyone
follows it. We see this in many products, with some people thinking anything
new is better (or progress), while other wish to maintain control. I hate
analogies, but a good example is that you can still buy a car with a manual
transmission, and not just a cheap one.


Why not
liquidate now, and get a last profit off their assets?


What value is there in their assets, they being MF manufacturing
infrastructure, when there is no demand for ?


Factories, equipment, assembly facilities, and other business support systems
are assets that can be sold off for use in other endeavours, and not just for
cameras. Even then, some of that equipment could be used to produce cheaper
consumer products, even cheap consumer cameras. The cameras that are already
manufactured could be sold off to clear inventory, and likely to find buyers at
the much reduced liquidation prices.



Why did the distributor
for Hasselblad buy the company?


Good example. Hasselblad wanted to go public, i.e. cash in on their
"assets". That went sour when the MF market went downhill.
Doesn't mean that some other company would not want to show off with a
"luxury brand of great repute". They do not need a sensible return ontheir
investment as much as bread and butter investors. There's posing value to
consider...


Like Hermes buying controlling stock of Leica. Of course, this could be the
luxury niche market for medium format too. Leica also license their name for
many cheaper products, including P&S digital cameras. It might only be a matter
of time before we hear of a Leica lens on a camera phone.

So perhaps the Hasselblad P&S is soon to appear. Or more coloured leather
cameras sold as luxury goods. Maybe they can sell one with every Rolex as a
package deal.



Why did Tamron buy Bronica? Why does Mamiya
still advertise? Why did Rollei and Contax make autofocus cameras?


Hope springs eternal.
If you're, say, a MF manufacturer, you can only manufacture MF. If you
don't, you're not a MF manufactuer anymore. You'll be nothing. Right?


You lost me on that one. Rollei make many P&S and compact film and digital
cameras. Does that mean they are nothing? Is it bad to survive on cheap
consumer product sales?


Leica still make cameras, nor scarfes and handbags, do they not?


Have you seen the Hermes Leica? Looks suspiciously like a Handbag, except it
only holds one roll of film. ;-)


. . . . . . If you compare to
the
cost of a scanner, around $2000, that is the competition for digital

backs, and
I don't see them ever getting close. With that in mind, they (MF

companies)
should liquidate assets this year.


Well, if they do not get prices down...
I'll come and tell you "told you so" in, oh..., a year.
;-)


Hey, you might be right. This might be the last year in the history of medium
format new camera sales. Rollei still have P&S cameras, and compact digital
cameras, so I expect they might be the only survivor. Everyone else will be
making Swiss chronographs . . . err, I mean cameras . . . we shall see.

Ciao!

Gordon Moat
A G Studio
http://www.allgstudio.com



 




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