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Thread: PDN Article: Medium Format's Future (cleared with PDN)

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    PDN Article: Medium Format's Future (cleared with PDN)

    I just got off the phone with Dan Havlik and he has granted me permission to post the article from PDN online. He asked that I include the link to the article:
    http://www.pdnonline.com/pdn/feature...m-F-1385.shtml

    If you don't subscribe to PDN you may want to check it out... good professional coverage. The gateway to PDNonline is:
    http://www.pdnonline.com/pdn/index.shtml


    Here is the article:

    "The $64,000 Medium Format Question
    Dan Havlik
    PDN


    If you’ve gone shopping for a medium-format digital camera system recently, you’ve probably noticed two things: 1) some high-end models still cost more than luxury cars; 2) more “entry-level” cameras are being offered at surprisingly affordable prices.

    So what’s with the schizophrenic pricing? And, more importantly for photographers on a budget, why do top-of-the-line medium-format systems cost so much in the first place?

    Last we checked, a fully loaded Phase One 645DF with a 60.5-megapixel P65+ digital back and a lens cost in the neighborhood of $55,000. Meanwhile, other medium-format manufacturers have caught limited edition fever, with cameras such as Hasselblad’s exclusive 499-unit Ferrari edition of its H4D camera retailing for $28,400+.

    On the other hand, Hasselblad will begin selling its own entry-level medium-format system: the $9,995 31MP H4D-31. That is not a lot more expensive than a high-end digital SLR. The same goes for Pentax which, at the time of this writing, is slated to start selling the 40MP 645D for $9,995, as well.

    With such a wide range in pricing and resolutions—from the heart-stoppingly high to the merely high—we wanted to know what it takes to produce these medium-format systems. So we decided to ask the manufacturers. We also talked to a few photographers to find out why they think the prices are worth it. Here’s what they told us.

    EXTRA SENSITIVE
    Getting manufacturers to discuss pricing is not an easy thing. In fact, Hasselblad turned us down flat when we asked for an interview for this story, saying the information was “confidential.”

    Other manufacturers were more candid, citing, in part, economies of scale as being a factor in the high pricing for medium-format systems. While we were unable to get hard numbers from any manufacturer on how many medium-format units they sell in a year, in general, it pales in comparison to sales of DSLR and compact cameras. According to several estimates we heard, somewhere between 6,000 and 10,000 medium format units are sold in a year worldwide. That’s a drop in the bucket when you consider the entire digital camera market moves about 60 million units in a year.

    “In 2010, we shipped the highest number of units we ever shipped,” says Henrik Håkonsson, president and CEO of Phase One, a company that now comprises Phase One and Leaf Imaging, and is a major shareholder in Mamiya Digital Imaging. “Compared to Canon and Nikon, of course, it’s a very small number. Canon will sell more 5D Mark IIs in a week then we’ll sell in a year.”

    The smaller number of camera shipments means prices must be set higher to cover costs. And the highest cost, undoubtedly, is for the jumbo-sized image sensors that go into medium-format camera systems. Compared to full-frame digital SLRs such as the Canon 1Ds Mark III and Nikon D3x which use sensors about the size of a piece of 35mm film, medium-format cameras have sensors that range in size from the 48 x 36mm Kodak-built chips found in many systems to the 53.9 x 40.4mm Dalsa sensor in the P 65+ digital back.

    “It’s the most expensive part in a medium-format camera,” says Stephan Schulz, product manager for Leica’s 37.5MP S2 digital camera system, which is a medium-format/DSLR hybrid that uses a 45 x 30mm, Kodak-built sensor. “With its [large] size, it’s hard to get good yield from it because every time you double the size of sensor, the yield for production goes down.”

    Schulz adds that the more pixels you put on a sensor the more possibility you have for a defect, and that makes quality control expensive. Leica’s S2 also has a special glass infrared (IR) blocking filter built right into the sensor which increases the cost. “To mount this special glass right on the sensor is more expensive. All other medium-format cameras have two separate pieces.”

    Though the limited supply of medium-format sensors increases the expense, Håkonsson sees it as an opportunity to increase image quality.
    “It’s a nasty fact of life and physics: When it comes to CCD sensors, the bigger the size, the lower the yield you get. The result is we never have two sensors that are identical so we spend a lot of time hand calibrating each one to get the performance we want,” he says. “We basically never ship new products. Every camera that leaves the factory has been through many shooting situations first.”

    Håkonsson contrasts the approach with Canon and Nikon, which, he claims, “spit out CMOS sensors in a robot process and every single unit is put into a camera.”

    CUTTING COSTS
    The cost for that hands-on attention to detail is high. You could buy five 24.5MP Nikon D3x DSLR bodies for the cost of one P 65+ digital back and still have money left over. While many professionals dream of owning a medium-format system, the start-up expenditures can be out of reach.

    “Unfortunately, nothing out there fit my budget,” says Frederic Wiggins, a Virginia-based photographer who had been looking for an affordable medium-format solution. “The Hasselblads I came across in the local stores, on eBay, KEH, B&H etc. were all too expensive as were the Mamiyas. So I did what anyone else in my situation would do: I looked to rent.”

    Wiggins took a four-hour road trip to a rental house in Philadelphia where he found the cheapest price out there for a week-long lease of a 31MP Hasselblad H3D-31.

    “In that week I managed to cram in three commercial clients,” he says. “The photos I took during that week have allowed me to obtain more work this year than ever before.”

    He admits though that owning a medium-format digital system is still beyond his budget. “The cheapest systems still cost $10,000 which is more than I paid for my first two cars and my current car combined. Leasing is an alternative but, unfortunately, at this point in my career, though my business is doing better than ever, I’m still not drawing enough each month to justify the need vs. the desire.”

    It’s a dilemma that manufacturers are starting to recognize. Both the sub-$10,000 Hasselblad H4D-31 and Pentax 645D have turned a lot of heads as much for their relatively low price tags as for their potential image quality. The 22MP Mamiya DM22, which came out a few years ago, can be found for around $9,000.

    How are manufacturers able to offer lower cost models side-by-side with flagship cameras that might force you to take out a second mortgage? The answer: cost-cutting and retrofitting.

    “With the decision to narrow down the target customer, the Pentax 645D is designed specifically for scenic photography for which expensive parts like AA (anti-aliasing) filters are not really necessary,” says Chris Pound, product manger for Pentax Imaging Systems. “In other words, we could successfully design this camera to be convincing for those who would consider it even without an AA filter.”

    Pound notes that approximately 10 percent of the mechanical parts of the 645D are the same as those used for Pentax’s film 645 cameras. Also, since the 645D is compatible with most existing interchangeable 645 legacy lenses and accessories, Pentax didn’t need to build a whole system from the ground up.

    “This was a significant savings as we did not have to develop these items all from scratch, meaning we do not have to add to cost of [development] to the body.”

    BIG SENSORS, SMALL COMPANIES
    The medium-format manufacturers we spoke with all argue that the relatively small sizes of their companies allow them to offer better customer service than their DSLR counterparts.

    Leica’s Schulz touts the company’s “24-hour swap service” for photographers if an S2 is malfunctioning. Håkonsson says Phase One also has a 24/7 call service for customers and that every camera the company sells has its own file which technical support agents can refer to in case of a problem.

    “We can look into the data and say, ‘Adjust this or adjust that’ on your camera. If that’s not sufficient, there’s a service where we’ll offer a loan program within 24 hours. If it’s New York, it’s within two hours.”

    Though purchasing a medium-format digital system is a significant investment—and one not made lightly in a turbulent economy—at least one photographer told us he thinks it’s worth it.

    “When I made the switch to medium format, cost was an issue for sure,” says Jeffrey Totaro, an architectural photographer who shoots with a Phase One P45+ back on Alpha view cameras. “But I knew I wanted to continue using a camera system that provided me with proper in-camera perspective controls, coming from a background of shooting 4 x 5 film. I think if photographers are charging appropriately for their digital post-production work, then fitting a medium-format digital system into their work shouldn’t be a problem.”
    George T. Griswold, Jr.
    www.videonow.info
    www.georgegriswold.com Photographs

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    Re: PDN Article: Medium Format's Future (cleared with PDN)

    Excellent thank you for going back and getting permission. I was working on how to handle the copyright issues!




    .

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    Re: PDN Article: Medium Format's Future (cleared with PDN)

    Quote Originally Posted by ggriswold View Post
    “With the decision to narrow down the target customer, the Pentax 645D is designed specifically for scenic photography for which expensive parts like AA (anti-aliasing) filters are not really necessary,” says Chris Pound, product manger for Pentax Imaging Systems. “In other words, we could successfully design this camera to be convincing for those who would consider it even without an AA filter.”
    Which mfd cameras have an AA filter?

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    Re: PDN Article: Medium Format's Future (cleared with PDN)

    so throw a number out there...what does a sensor actually cost, $2k, $5k?

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    Re: PDN Article: Medium Format's Future (cleared with PDN)

    Quote Originally Posted by jlm View Post
    so throw a number out there...what does a sensor actually cost, $2k, $5k?
    Ouch....this part of the discussion could get painful.

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    Re: PDN Article: Medium Format's Future (cleared with PDN)

    Quote Originally Posted by jlm View Post
    so throw a number out there...what does a sensor actually cost, $2k, $5k?
    The whole problem is yield. This is universal in the semiconductor industry, not limited to sensors or photographic applications in any way.

    Semiconductors (including sensors) are made on large silicon wafers, some 12" or more in diameter. Once fabrication is complete, the wafers are sliced to obtain the individual devices. These must then be mounted in frames with wire leads so they can be tested.

    Defects are randomly distributed over the surface, and are normally counted in number per unit area (square cm or mm).

    When you double the size of a sensor, you QUADRUPLE the area, thus quadrupling the chance that a particular device will have a defect that renders it unusable.

    If the devices are used by the millions in consumer products, this error rate just gets rolled into the cost of manufacture and becomes a non-issue.

    But when you're only selling a few hundred of a particular device per year, the cost of rejects becomes significant.

    Couple this with the fact that MF and larger sensors are typically used by professionals who would not tolerate a few defective pixels, as would a consumer, and you have a much higher acceptance standard, thus lowering the yield even further.

    - Leigh
    Last edited by Leigh; 6th January 2011 at 15:45.

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    Re: PDN Article: Medium Format's Future (cleared with PDN)

    clearly there are many factors, but there must still be a price per sensor

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    Re: PDN Article: Medium Format's Future (cleared with PDN)

    Quote Originally Posted by jlm View Post
    clearly there are many factors, but there must still be a price per sensor
    Why?

    Is there A price for ground beef? Of course not. There's a huge range of prices.

    Sensors are not like hamburgers. You can't get just one. They're purchased on contract, with many factors determining the final unit price.

    If you want a specific price for a single unit, contact one of the companies that manufactures them.

    And the unit cost of the device from the manufacturer is nowhere near the actual cost to the company that makes the cameras.

    - Leigh

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    Re: PDN Article: Medium Format's Future (cleared with PDN)

    Thanks for posting this, George. It's an interesting read.

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    Re: PDN Article: Medium Format's Future (cleared with PDN)

    non-responsive response.

    of course there is a price paid per sensor, of course it will vary; it would be interesting to have an idea of price; not asking for a financial analysis

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    Re: PDN Article: Medium Format's Future (cleared with PDN)

    Those who've been around for a while may remember this post on LuLa...

    http://www.luminous-landscape.com/essays/dalsa.shtml

    ...which includes the following passage, referring to the 22MP DALSA sensor used in the ZD:

    Now comes some speculation on my part. A couple of years ago I was told by an industry insider that 645 format 16 megapixel chips cost back makers about $5,000 a piece, in quantity. Given inevitable price reductions, but offset by an increase from 16MP to 22MP, it's my guess that Mamiya is likely paying DALSA something like $3,000 a chip. This is mentioned just to give you a feel for what such large imaging chips cost, as compared to those in prosumer DSLRs, and goes a long way toward explain why such backs and cameras cost as much as they do.

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    Re: PDN Article: Medium Format's Future (cleared with PDN)

    We sold our H2D system when we got the D3x... couldn't explain the cost of it vs quality (funny thing is my colleague is back with a hassy system for 'fun' with a film back... haha).

    Now mind you it was a 22MP back.

    When i visited a couple photographers in NYC, they were packing big backs... stuff in the 30's 40's and even 50 (or was it 60?). But yes... very expensive... one of those system is more expensive than my little Porsche... ouch.

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    Re: PDN Article: Medium Format's Future (cleared with PDN)

    The article states that the H4D-31 is priced at $9,999.95
    I thought it was more?
    where does it sell for this price?
    Thank you

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    Re: PDN Article: Medium Format's Future (cleared with PDN)

    Quote Originally Posted by arashm View Post
    The article states that the H4D-31 is priced at $9,999.95
    I thought it was more?
    where does it sell for this price?
    Thank you
    I'd like to know that too. When I read that price I was stunned. I immediately went to the Hasselbladusa.com site and it's listed at $13,995.

    $9,995 would be a real bargain......I hope it's true! Maybe they will drop the price of a CFV-39 soon too. :-)

    Gary

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    Re: PDN Article: Medium Format's Future (cleared with PDN)

    Quote Originally Posted by arashm View Post
    The article states that the H4D-31 is priced at $9,999.95
    I thought it was more?
    where does it sell for this price?
    Thank you
    That's an error on their part ... it is 9,995 Euros ($13Kish).

    Hassey was selling new H3D-II/31 stock for $9,995. for a time.

    This doesn't take into account bargaining with a dealer.

    -Marc

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    Re: PDN Article: Medium Format's Future (cleared with PDN)

    Another way to look at sensor cost vs. product cost....
    Let's take the cost of sensor vs. the cost of a working production back and apply an automotive analogy. If I gave you an engine from a Porsche Carrera 4S Cabriolet (new and in the crate) how much would it cost to design and build a world class sports car (has to go 185 MPH)? List on the 4S is $108,000. How many will you sell next year?
    If I gave you a Toyota Camry engine how much would it cost to design and build that car? All it has to do is get a family to school, grocery store and make a turn on a side street at 25 MPH. You would sell many multiples more and the lower design/ build costs would be spread over that many units.
    Now with MFD backs, take Phase One for instance. What are the design challenges of processing all the data from 40 Million photosites in a P40+? Then you have to make it small, dependable and energy efficient. Tough stuff and a very limited pool of customers.
    Since most of these sensors are available on the open market if this were easier and/ or more profitable we would have 5 to 10 companies making MF digital products. Over the next few years more may come into the game like Pentax and Leica have... that should make for better pricing, but I wouldn't think for the high end of this market. If Nikon or Canon jump in it's going to be tough for the existing players... seems unlikely.
    George T. Griswold, Jr.
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    Re: PDN Article: Medium Format's Future (cleared with PDN)

    Quote Originally Posted by ggriswold View Post
    Another way to look at sensor cost vs. product cost....
    Let's take the cost of sensor vs. the cost of a working production back and apply an automotive analogy. If I gave you an engine from a Porsche Carrera 4S Cabriolet (new and in the crate) how much would it cost to design and build a world class sports car (has to go 185 MPH)? List on the 4S is $108,000. How many will you sell next year?
    If I gave you a Toyota Camry engine how much would it cost to design and build that car? All it has to do is get a family to school, grocery store and make a turn on a side street at 25 MPH. You would sell many multiples more and the lower design/ build costs would be spread over that many units.
    Now with MFD backs, take Phase One for instance. What are the design challenges of processing all the data from 40 Million photosites in a P40+? Then you have to make it small, dependable and energy efficient. Tough stuff and a very limited pool of customers.
    Since most of these sensors are available on the open market if this were easier and/ or more profitable we would have 5 to 10 companies making MF digital products. Over the next few years more may come into the game like Pentax and Leica have... that should make for better pricing, but I wouldn't think for the high end of this market. If Nikon or Canon jump in it's going to be tough for the existing players... seems unlikely.
    The other additional aspect to this is shelf life. The back makers spread out costs over say a 2 or 3 year period to recapture R&D cost for that back and the ones in development ... then can reduce the price for a time, while utilizing the same sensor and related technology on a newer body (like the H4D/31).

    However, as soon as newer sensor technology and the related complex technology go on line, the re-cover scenario starts all over again.

    Even at the staggering price this stuff costs ... the variety and volume of units sold makes it hard to believe any of them can stay in business.

    -Marc

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    Re: PDN Article: Medium Format's Future (cleared with PDN)

    I used to work in the high-end audio industry and the rule of thumb there was that parts cost for a product was typically 20% of the retail price. FWIW, I suspect the medium-format digital back market is similar in this respect.

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    Re: PDN Article: Medium Format's Future (cleared with PDN)

    The whole discussion about what the cost of components is I find ridiculous. It seems it is always brought up by people that cannot afford something and feel they need a justification to claim price reductions are in order. Or believe they are being ripped off in some way or think there is a conspirancy to keep prices above justifiable levels.

    I have never asked a chef in a good restaurant about the costs of his ingredients? Or asked a bookstore about the cost of paper and ink,etc.. have any of you?

    The notion a lot of people are involved and putting their time and brainwork in and not for philantropic purposes but to be able to make a living seems to be something many forget. Next time I speak to any Hasselblad employee I will also ask what they are making and if they might be willing to cut down so I can get my equipment a bit cheaper. Maybe we could propose to lay off some personnel and see if that makes any difference? I have heard that the building in Denmark is quite nice, I bet they could move to some shed too.

    Maybe this is why so many photographers get it served right back. The cost of photography is no more than a decent DSLR isn't it? This world is more and more becoming a place where you are expected to work for free and if you are lucky you might be allowed to charge the costs of your raw materials. Everybody expects the lowest prices and everybody expects to make a decent living. Something has got to give in this scenario. You cannot have it both ways.

    Someone else said it before, if it would be that easy to make this kind of stuff there would have been others already offering for lower prices.

    Maybe Hasselblad/P1/Leaf & Sinar should offer the ability to buy a sensor from them and let you try to built your own?...

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    Re: PDN Article: Medium Format's Future (cleared with PDN)

    The issues in the article have to do with the large range in pricing among the digital backs, from $10k for a H4-31 to $30k for a H4-60. That is a large differential, and the claim is that most of it is due to the extra difficulty in making the higher meg sensor (and of course the firmware, development, etc. to go with it.
    So if you are not interested in the cost of components, this thread is not for you; if one is interested in this thread, it is fine to ask questions

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    Re: PDN Article: Medium Format's Future (cleared with PDN)

    I'd like to know that too. When I read that price I was stunned. I immediately went to the Hasselbladusa.com site and it's listed at $13,995.
    *********
    That is still a great value(?), considering that the CFV 39 is the same price.

    Steve

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    Re: PDN Article: Medium Format's Future (cleared with PDN)

    @JLM
    What you are saying would be true if people would merely be discussing the price of components but in most cases this is directly related to a perceived unreasonable pricing scheme. This is what my reaction is about, I don't recall denying anyone the right of discussing the costs of components now did I? Why would you try to deny my right to write down my idea about this discussion?

    I believe I can react whenever I want as long as it is in civilized manner, which I always try to maintain. If you don't like what I say you don't have to read it. Actually do whatever you like, I don't care.

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    Re: PDN Article: Medium Format's Future (cleared with PDN)

    no reason to get your tail in a knot

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    Re: PDN Article: Medium Format's Future (cleared with PDN)

    Allright, point taken.

    Maybe some of my aggravation with certain attitudes came into play in my reaction as well. Nevertheless, the main thing in my comment ofcourse is that there is much more to a cost price than the mere raw materials or components.

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    Re: PDN Article: Medium Format's Future (cleared with PDN)

    thanks for the polite response

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    Re: PDN Article: Medium Format's Future (cleared with PDN)

    dont forget the whole financing side of this too-when credit exists to float these kinds of number then the market will stand these numbers. When that source of credit is tapped out then the market will have to adapt.

    the true cost is related to parts, service, dealer markup, rd, profit, margins, roi and what they can get away with...

    I think it is true that technology and capitalism are entertwined: technology makes money flow up, it eliminates jobs because it is efficient, it enables scale effects, it destabilizes markets. Capitalism does the same thing, it makes money flow up, it gives leverage to those who have it to make more of it, it wants to make the process of making money more efficient.

    you are seeing a process which Henry Ford encountered, we have workers who can't afford the tools or products of their labour.

    Eventually this pressure has to be released, either in a big way or hopefully is smaller ways-

    what does this mean? Yeah for the Pentaxes of this world! Leica, not so much

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    Re: PDN Article: Medium Format's Future (cleared with PDN)

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    Even at the staggering price this stuff costs ... the variety and volume of units sold makes it hard to believe any of them can stay in business.
    Phase One has been profitable in all recent years including 2008/2009 when the entire industry was really nailed by the economic downturn. 2010 was a great year for us and 2011 is looking even better.

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    Re: PDN Article: Medium Format's Future (cleared with PDN)

    Quote Originally Posted by Dustbak View Post
    The whole discussion about what the cost of components is I find ridiculous. It seems it is always brought up by people that cannot afford something and feel they need a justification to claim price reductions are in order. Or believe they are being ripped off in some way or think there is a conspirancy to keep prices above justifiable levels.

    I have never asked a chef in a good restaurant about the costs of his ingredients? Or asked a bookstore about the cost of paper and ink,etc.. have any of you?

    The notion a lot of people are involved and putting their time and brainwork in and not for philantropic purposes but to be able to make a living seems to be something many forget. Next time I speak to any Hasselblad employee I will also ask what they are making and if they might be willing to cut down so I can get my equipment a bit cheaper. Maybe we could propose to lay off some personnel and see if that makes any difference? I have heard that the building in Denmark is quite nice, I bet they could move to some shed too.

    Maybe this is why so many photographers get it served right back. The cost of photography is no more than a decent DSLR isn't it? This world is more and more becoming a place where you are expected to work for free and if you are lucky you might be allowed to charge the costs of your raw materials. Everybody expects the lowest prices and everybody expects to make a decent living. Something has got to give in this scenario. You cannot have it both ways.

    Someone else said it before, if it would be that easy to make this kind of stuff there would have been others already offering for lower prices.

    Maybe Hasselblad/P1/Leaf & Sinar should offer the ability to buy a sensor from them and let you try to built your own?...
    Perfectly phased! ;D

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    Re: PDN Article: Medium Format's Future (cleared with PDN)

    Phase had a good year whIch I actually heard today and I am thrilled for them. It only means new and improved tech going forward. I hope Hassy , leica and others also had a good year. Just means our industry is still healthy and better things to come. The market dictates cost for end users. So that should take care of itself. Everyone wants to be competitive and still make a profit . So do I

    Not sure why folks don't get that sometimes.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

    www.guymancusophotography.com

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    Re: PDN Article: Medium Format's Future (cleared with PDN)

    Quote Originally Posted by Dustbak View Post
    The whole discussion about what the cost of components is I find ridiculous. It seems it is always brought up by people that cannot afford something and feel they need a justification to claim price reductions are in order. Or believe they are being ripped off in some way or think there is a conspirancy to keep prices above justifiable levels.

    I have never asked a chef in a good restaurant about the costs of his ingredients? Or asked a bookstore about the cost of paper and ink,etc.. have any of you?

    The notion a lot of people are involved and putting their time and brainwork in and not for philantropic purposes but to be able to make a living seems to be something many forget. Next time I speak to any Hasselblad employee I will also ask what they are making and if they might be willing to cut down so I can get my equipment a bit cheaper. Maybe we could propose to lay off some personnel and see if that makes any difference? I have heard that the building in Denmark is quite nice, I bet they could move to some shed too.

    Maybe this is why so many photographers get it served right back. The cost of photography is no more than a decent DSLR isn't it? This world is more and more becoming a place where you are expected to work for free and if you are lucky you might be allowed to charge the costs of your raw materials. Everybody expects the lowest prices and everybody expects to make a decent living. Something has got to give in this scenario. You cannot have it both ways.

    Someone else said it before, if it would be that easy to make this kind of stuff there would have been others already offering for lower prices.

    Maybe Hasselblad/P1/Leaf & Sinar should offer the ability to buy a sensor from them and let you try to built your own?...
    Agreed. Everyone likes a bargain, but not when it’s at their own expense. Do unto others ...

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    Re: PDN Article: Medium Format's Future (cleared with PDN)

    Quote Originally Posted by Guy Mancuso View Post
    Phase had a good year whIch I actually heard today and I am thrilled for them. It only means new and improved tech going forward. I hope Hassy , leica and others also had a good year. Just means our industry is still healthy and better things to come. The market dictates cost for end users. So that should take care of itself. Everyone wants to be competitive and still make a profit . So do I

    Not sure why folks don't get that sometimes.
    What the MFD industry needs is cooperation and standardization, and, unfortunately, this is only likely to come from desperation.

    DSLR users would be more likely to take the plunge into MFD if you could use any body with any lens and digiback... without paying £1,000 for each adapter.

    ¿You remember the Sinar 5 * 4 lensboard standard that let you use any lens on any 5 * 4 camera... why can we not have that with the 100mm MFDVCs?

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    Re: PDN Article: Medium Format's Future (cleared with PDN)

    The best thing to hope for is that all back makers can get a good quality back to market at teh same price point as high end DSLR makers.

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    Re: PDN Article: Medium Format's Future (cleared with PDN)

    I think the key to success for the MFDB makers is not so much saving money on the cost of components as growing the demand (and sales) for their product. With Leica and Pentax entering the MF marketplace a static demand will result in reduced market share for Hassy and Phase/Leaf. That's not the kind of scenario that lends itself to spending large sums on R&D to develop the latest and greatest technology.

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    Re: PDN Article: Medium Format's Future (cleared with PDN)

    Culture is going to have a lot to do with what happens to medium format. The past 10 years were basically the decade of the 35mm DSLR and it was also a time of multi-tasking. Everybody wanted to be an expert at everything and they tended to want cameras that could do everything too. They wanted their stills with video etc....and they had a lot of unrealistic expectations for what could be done with a single camera system and it's software. The DMF world moves at a comparatively slower pace and takes a bit more care and thought to operate, so it was the odd man out during the decade.

    But there is a good chance that the next decade will not be the same. Commercial photographers are going to struggle to differentiate themselves from all of the amateurs with 35mm DSLR kits and multi-taskers. One of the ways they will do it is to specialize in niche types of photography and purchase high quality gear that excels at specific tasks (rather than the do-it-all approach). This mentality should lead a lot of people to mediums like DMF and perhaps even a renewed interest in film.. OF course, pricing of DMF and the availability of film/processing/scanning are problems. But the point is that photographers are going to increasingly search for ways to differentiate themselves from the millions of 35mm DSLR amateurs and the companies they support will be the ones that help them achieve that goal.

    The next decade might see a flight away from the 35mm DSLR. If these predictions about changes in culture are correct, then the companies that stand to gain the most will be the ones making finely tuned high quality products to match specific needs of niche photographers. The conquer all markets strategy of the recent past just isn't quite going to work the same in the future. Pricing is going to be a factor, but not as much as people might think. Photographers have a way of coming up with lots of money when they are really serious.

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    Re: PDN Article: Medium Format's Future (cleared with PDN)

    I would like a camera in a studio that gives me all the benefits of traditional LF (movements) along with all the ease of use of MFD - but I would like to see an intergrated workflow solution which gives me control over lighting as well as camera and live view on one piece of software.

    I am fascinated by the tech that Briese and Broncolor are bringing to the market in terms of automation and physical management of lighting.

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    Re: PDN Article: Medium Format's Future (cleared with PDN)

    Quote Originally Posted by dick View Post
    What the MFD industry needs is cooperation and standardization, and, unfortunately, this is only likely to come from desperation.
    Sort of agree, but this is anti-competitive behaviour, and would be subject to government oversight and regulation, particularly in Europe, where much of the industry is based.

    And if they should get past anti-trust concerns and agree to standardise, what formats do the companies agree to share? H-Backs with Phase/AFD lens mount?

    How do they then differentiate their offerings? Do the losers get compensated somehow for having to retool, and for leaving behind their past and present customers? A problem with capitalism is that duplication is commonplace, which is wasteful, but no other economic system has been been shown to operate as efficiently.

    Quote Originally Posted by dick View Post
    DSLR users would be more likely to take the plunge into MFD if you could use any body with any lens and digiback... without paying £1,000 for each adapter.
    Can’t put a Canon lens on a Nikon for any practical use (macro?); do the reverse and you can focus to infinity, and still lose all automation. How many people would want to do that? I am using older lenses on my AFD so no autofocus (not a problem) and no auto stop-down (problem).

    Quote Originally Posted by dick View Post
    You remember the Sinar 5 * 4 lensboard standard that let you use any lens on any 5 * 4 camera... why can we not have that with the 100mm MFDVCs?
    Not much point I believe in comparing primitive lens mounts (only distinguishable from one another by their dimensions) with lens mounts that offer rapid lens changing and providing full automation such as AF and AE. BTW, I have no idea what MFDVC means.

    What does happen naturally in a capitalist system (if governments permit it) is industry consolidation by merger or takeover—the absorption of Leaf by Phase One is the best example I know; Leaf has its own legacy customers, and Phase One can try to achieve economies of scale by combining such activities as R & D and manufacturing.

    I hope the Pentax will shake things up, but it’s not a camera for everyone.

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    Re: PDN Article: Medium Format's Future (cleared with PDN)

    Quote Originally Posted by mediumcool View Post
    And if they should get past anti-trust concerns and agree to standardise, what formats do the companies agree to share?
    The Sinar P3 100mm lensboard is an open system - so any manufacturer can use it - but Sinar themselves do not use it for their ArTec.


    Can’t put a Canon lens on a Nikon for any practical use
    There were only a few SLR lens mounts, Leica, Nikon, Pentax...

    Not much point I believe in comparing primitive lens mounts (only distinguishable from one another by their dimensions) with lens mounts that offer rapid lens changing and providing full automation such as AF and AE. BTW, .
    The audio (Hi-Fi) industry managed to standardize their plugs and signal voltages - it would not be complicated

    I have no idea what MFDVC means
    Medium Format Digital View Camera


    What does happen naturally in a capitalist system (if governments permit it) is industry consolidation by merger or takeover—the absorption of Leaf by Phase One is the best example I know;
    It would be nice if they co-operated before they killed the industry and were forced to merge.

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    Re: PDN Article: Medium Format's Future (cleared with PDN)

    Quote Originally Posted by PeterA View Post
    I would like a camera in a studio that gives me all the benefits of traditional LF (movements) along with all the ease of use of MFD - but I would like to see an intergrated workflow solution which gives me control over lighting as well as camera and live view on one piece of software.
    Hasselblad and Sinar are beginning to get their act together... I am looking for to getting Sinar eShutters so that I can remotely fire the view camera from an iTouch or iPad while positioning remote flashes for "Painting with Flash Light". The lights could be hand-held for single-shot, but on stands for multi-shot.

    I may initially have to run more than one program on the iPad for shutter control, camera control and/or preview, tripod head...

    A fully powered Sinar like the ¿CapCom? would be nice.

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    Re: PDN Article: Medium Format's Future (cleared with PDN)

    Quote Originally Posted by David K View Post
    I think the key to success for the MFDB makers is not so much saving money on the cost of components as growing the demand (and sales) for their product. With Leica and Pentax entering the MF marketplace a static demand will result in reduced market share for Hassy and Phase/Leaf. That's not the kind of scenario that lends itself to spending large sums on R&D to develop the latest and greatest technology.
    Setting aside talent segregation, I think this is it in a nutshell ... this, and Mike's notion of specialization.

    There is obviously a growing proliferation of highly capable 35mm DSLRs and even P&Ss, and a fascination with more and more automated do-dads.

    No where is that more apparent than with portrait and wedding photography. Fundamentally, what was once relatively specialized, and dominated by the ubiquitous Hassey and Bronica, first went 35mm, then became over-run by almost anyone with a Canon Rebel and zoom. The "rich" slice of the pie has shrunk, so that experienced shooters fleeing upscale from the "house-wife and unemployed pool with a camera", now are slugging it out for the crumbs.

    Reportage has been incredibly impacted by this proliferation ... citizen reporting with digi-cams, cell phones, etc. That, and the demise of the printed form.

    Commercial work has not been immune to this ... not necessarily the higher-end, but more the traditional "Bread & Butter" work that helped support a mid-range studio infrastructure. Even the "In-House Photographer" is no longer a dedicated pro, but rather an employee enthusiasts with a decent 35mm DSLR and "Strobists" knowledge.

    The common element to all this is a wide-spread believe that these easily acquired technical solutions are just as good as more specialized solutions. Even hordes of experienced photographers believe this.

    This factor is heavily promoted by the great equalizers ... consumer computer screens and the internet itself. A 60 meg, big sensor, 16 bit file processed in specialized software using data rich colorspace reduced to a sub one meg 8-bit file in a heavily truncated color space.

    Landscape and art photographers have a clearer path than most. Generally, the final expression is in printed form ... usually larger where all the fussy stuff becomes apparent to even an inexperienced eye.

    I found this to be true even in my business where acquiring new clients has become difficult at best. Swim upstream by dramatically demonstrating better prints. I swapped out services with my local consumer lab and now half of their album displays are my work (mostly high-end MFD or rangefinder work) ... 12X18 and 20X20 albums have garnered a huge amount of feed-back from clients of the lab and has resulted in higher end inquires.

    IMO, the point is that the public or client base has to be educated, and has to see the difference in the flesh.

    Of related interest, at my urging, a friend investigated MFD to move upward from his Canon gear ... he ultimately rejected the notion because he couldn't see enough difference for the money spent ... I know for a fact that he never made a print.

    -Marc

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    Re: PDN Article: Medium Format's Future (cleared with PDN)

    Quote Originally Posted by dick View Post
    The Sinar P3 100mm lensboard is an open system - so any manufacturer can use it - but Sinar themselves do not use it for their ArTec.
    Gee, that’s non-standardisation within one company!

    Quote Originally Posted by dick View Post
    There were only a few SLR lens mounts, Leica, Nikon, Pentax...
    Not so.

    Quote Originally Posted by dick View Post
    The audio (Hi-Fi) industry managed to standardize their plugs and signal voltages - it would not be complicated
    Uh huh.

    Quote Originally Posted by dick View Post
    Medium Format Digital View Camera
    Thanks for the decoding, but I thought the debate was about the general medium format digital market. Talking about a view camera lensmount being a potential standard applies to an even smaller segment of the already tiny (by comparison with the consumer market) medium format digital sector under general discussion, and would be third in line after SLRs and then the oft-called technical cameras.

    Quote Originally Posted by dick View Post
    It would be nice if they co-operated before they killed the industry and were forced to merge.
    Merging has been happening for some time, and *killing the industry* is an emotive statement which doesn’t supply any new data in this debate.

    There will be changes and shake-outs, as there are in any industry. For me, I’m happy about Phase One. Long may you run ...

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    Re: PDN Article: Medium Format's Future (cleared with PDN)

    I'm not sure what the fuss over price is all about.

    Look at it this way - 10 years ago, a top of the line computer cost the roughly the same as a top line computer does today. You get a whole lot more performance though.

    Top line medium format systems have always cost roughly the price of a small luxury car. Even back in the days of film. In fact, if you adjust for the dollar value over time, I think my Hasselblad film outfit that I bought in 1990 cost me more than I just paid for my Phase One DF body and lenses.

    In 1995, I paid over 30K for my Leaf DCB2. That back had a 4MP monochromatic sensor in it. Roughly the same money today just bought me a 60.5 MP back with capabilities that hadn't even crossed an engineers mind yet at that stage.

    This is high-end professional gear we are talking about. Either your business supports it or it doesn't. If it doesn't and you wish it did, then ranting at the back manufacturers will get you nowhere. Have a look at your business model and its revenue streams and adjust accordingly. Take some responsibility for your own outcomes.

    I am very pleased that Phase One, Leaf, Hasselblad, Leica and others are able to charge enough to keep their businesses profitable enough to fund the R&D budgets to give me and others a continued stream of new developments. These developments are the same ones the bleeding hearts are always ranting for - higher ISO, lower noise, more DR, blah, blah.

    The fact is, in real-dollar terms, the cost of MF systems has been declining, whilst performance has increased significantly over the 20+ years I have been shooting MF.

    My advice to the price whingers - build a bridge and get over it!

    If those guys aren't making a profit, they go out of business, and that serves nobody in the imagemaking game, pro or amateur.

    Sorry to be harsh, but that's life.
    Siebel
    "In the end, it's all about the pictures"
    www.bryansiebel.com

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    Re: PDN Article: Medium Format's Future (cleared with PDN)

    Quote Originally Posted by siebel View Post
    I'm not sure what the fuss over price is all about.

    Look at it this way - 10 years ago, a top of the line computer cost the roughly the same as a top line computer does today. You get a whole lot more performance though.

    Top line medium format systems have always cost roughly the price of a small luxury car. Even back in the days of film. In fact, if you adjust for the dollar value over time, I think my Hasselblad film outfit that I bought in 1990 cost me more than I just paid for my Phase One DF body and lenses.

    In 1995, I paid over 30K for my Leaf DCB2. That back had a 4MP monochromatic sensor in it. Roughly the same money today just bought me a 60.5 MP back with capabilities that hadn't even crossed an engineers mind yet at that stage.

    This is high-end professional gear we are talking about. Either your business supports it or it doesn't. If it doesn't and you wish it did, then ranting at the back manufacturers will get you nowhere. Have a look at your business model and its revenue streams and adjust accordingly. Take some responsibility for your own outcomes.

    I am very pleased that Phase One, Leaf, Hasselblad, Leica and others are able to charge enough to keep their businesses profitable enough to fund the R&D budgets to give me and others a continued stream of new developments. These developments are the same ones the bleeding hearts are always ranting for - higher ISO, lower noise, more DR, blah, blah.

    The fact is, in real-dollar terms, the cost of MF systems has been declining, whilst performance has increased significantly over the 20+ years I have been shooting MF.

    My advice to the price whingers - build a bridge and get over it!

    If those guys aren't making a profit, they go out of business, and that serves nobody in the imagemaking game, pro or amateur.

    Sorry to be harsh, but that's life.
    Yeah, "Let them eat cake!"

    Just kidding.

    Actually you are right. I think the rub has come as the MFD makers look to expand their market into the serious enthusiast market where there is no ROI business model. This has been aided by the 35mm DSLR makers that began marketing flagship do-it-all $8,000. pro bodies. The MFD companies could then produce "entry level" cameras marketed fairly close to that price point ... and have done exactly that.

    Personally, I find it remarkable that you now can get a 40meg full-featured rig for under $10K ... wasn't all that long-ago that 16 meg crop frame boxes were twice that.

    Trouble is the expectations are set by the alternative 35mm DSLRs in terms of certain performance aspects. For example the constant harping on LCD quality where the comparison is made between some $500. P&S with a thumbnail sized sensor and 12 meg verses a their $30,000. 645 sized sensor, 60 meg P65+ .... without regard to the technology involved in getting that much data to the screen fast enough. Possible? Sure, but if it were that easy someone would have done it already to gain a clear competitive edge.

    We should all be celebrating ... except maybe the Leica S2 lovers who get to pay Louis XIV pricing for the pleasure of its company

    -Marc

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