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Thread: Phase One Takes Controlling Interest of Mamiya

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    Phase One Takes Controlling Interest of Mamiya

    Today Phase One is announcing that they have have a controlling interest of Mamiya.

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    Doug Peterson (e-mail Me)
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    Re: Phase One Takes Controlling Interest of Mamiya

    Hopefully this bodes well for speedier development and time to market for new cameras, lenses and accessories!


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    Re: Phase One Takes Controlling Interest of Mamiya

    I'm with Jack on this one. Congrats to Phase One i see this as a good move for them.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    ddk
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    Re: Phase One Takes Controlling Interest of Mamiya

    Hopefully they have deep enough pockets to bring about real improvements. Or it might just be a way to block Leaf and Sinar competing with them on Mamiya based packages. Either way, shrewd move on their part!

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    Re: Phase One Takes Controlling Interest of Mamiya

    Hi Doug, The press release says Phase became a major shareholder. I did not see anything about controlling interest. Did they buy over 50% of assets? I hope this is true as it would be great news. There is a major difference between the two from a governance aspect.

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    Re: Phase One Takes Controlling Interest of Mamiya

    yes - one either controls something - or is a passenger sitting in teh back of the bus and enjoying the view..or not.

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    Re: Phase One Takes Controlling Interest of Mamiya

    Well... if this is indeed true, I suppose there will be both positive and negative sides to it. But is it true? Mamiya isn't public, but is held by the Cosmos Digital Imaging Company, as far as I recall, so the only way for Phase to take control would be to buy it from CDIC. Unless there is a public statement about this somewhere, I doubt that it happened.

    If it did, the good thing is that Phase would stop floating around and betting on other companies. The bad thing is that Mamiya/Phase might go closed, which could hurt, among others, Leaf, which sells backs in combination with the Mamiya camera, marketed by the MAC Group.

    Doug, do you have more detailed info?
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    Re: Phase One Takes Controlling Interest of Mamiya

    Quote Originally Posted by carstenw View Post
    Well... if this is indeed true, I suppose there will be both positive and negative sides to it. But is it true? Mamiya isn't public, but is held by the Cosmos Digital Imaging Company, as far as I recall, so the only way for Phase to take control would be to buy it from CDIC. Unless there is a public statement about this somewhere, I doubt that it happened.

    If it did, the good thing is that Phase would stop floating around and betting on other companies. The bad thing is that Mamiya/Phase might go closed, which could hurt, among others, Leaf, which sells backs in combination with the Mamiya camera, marketed by the MAC Group.

    Doug, do you have more detailed info?

    Without a lot of details, I can say that the "controlling stake" is indeed a literal phrase. We can put that to bed right away.

    The release does state our intention to continue providing "open and upgradeable medium format systems". It would be hypocritical of us to close a system after being a resource for customers who were turned off by Hasselblad's strategies in that regard. I hope that we continue in the direction we have chosen thus far, and - at least according to the release - we are planning on doing so.


    Steve Hendrix
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    Howard Cubell
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    Re: Phase One Takes Controlling Interest of Mamiya

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Hendrix/Phase One View Post
    Without a lot of details, I can say that the "controlling stake" is indeed a literal phrase. We can put that to bed right away.

    The release does state our intention to continue providing "open and upgradeable medium format systems". It would be hypocritical of us to close a system after being a resource for customers who were turned off by Hasselblad's strategies in that regard. I hope that we continue in the direction we have chosen thus far, and - at least according to the release - we are planning on doing so.


    Steve Hendrix
    Phase One
    Come on Steve, Phase is hardly losing anything in keeping the Mamiya AFD "open" at this point. Who is going to buy a Hasselblad back to stick on an AFD these days? Very different in the other direction. Lots of buyers of Phase and Leaf backs have put those backs on H series cameras. Were it not for Hasselblad closing the H3, Phase would still be functioning as a corporate leech and would never have moved to develop camera systems. This seems to be turning out to be well for everyone. (I hope.) Lots of choices that would not otherwise exist but for the H3D.

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    Re: Phase One Takes Controlling Interest of Mamiya

    Howard, at the very least, Leaf backs on Mamiya bodies is a common combination.

    In general, I think it was a good move by Phase One to do this. If Mamiya had tanked, Phase would have been in the position of fitting only no-longer-produced bodies, which despite the strength of the Phase backs probably would have proven impossible to survive.

    The Mamiya body is at this point probably the least advanced body on the market, with certain known limitations, and needs dedicated backing to move the platform forward.

    However, if body-building (haha) is not a profitable venture, as seems to be indicated by all the camera manufacturers with trouble, then I don't see the continued investment in open standards and publishing specs and protocols as being an attractive option for Phase. Essentially, once the platform is in good shape again (body brought up to date, leaf shutter lenses released, T/S lenses fixed), Phase will face the same predicament faced earlier by Hasselblad, namely that customers will invest in a Phase body, but go with a different back, thus cutting out the most profitable segment of Phase's income. Sinar has already made minor steps in the same direction with the eSprit 65 back.

    Being more or less the last major open player on the market will not be sustainable, IMO. What we will likely see is a strategy whereby the new body (or perhaps an upcoming one) will be locked to Phase and Mamiya backs (or Mamiya backs might be discontinued; they are not as good as the rest anyway, and with Phase in-house...), and the AFDIII (or another "previous" model) will be left in the lineup as the "compatible" body, just like Hasselblad did with the H2. Then with time, that option too will be closed.

    This was all quite predictable when Hasselblad went closed. The open ecosystem only works when every major player participates. By going closed, Hasselblad has essentially forced the entire MF segment to go closed, for exactly the same reasons: building cameras is not profitable, building backs is (still).

    Sadly, this development really puts pressure on both Leaf and Sinar, who would end up with no modern 645 camera in their lineup. Perhaps something could change there. Or, perhaps Dalsa develops a large square sensor to give the Hy6 a little wind in the sails. That would be very interesting!
    Last edited by carstenw; 26th March 2009 at 02:52.
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    Re: Phase One Takes Controlling Interest of Mamiya

    I for one, as a Mamiya and Phase customer, am pleased to hear this news. Like Jack said, hopefully progress will move at a speedier rate and those of us using the Mamiya system will benefit greatly. If nothing else, it continues to spur competition.

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    Re: Phase One Takes Controlling Interest of Mamiya

    Honestly, I am not sure what it means at this point. Mamiya clearly needs some help in refining the bodies for market, as well as getting better control over its lens manufacturing (where are those LS lenses anyway?). Will Phase be able to bring anything to the table for either of those elements? Sure, money, and maybe some marketing plus tech suggestion/advice, but will that make a big difference at this point?

    As others have mentioned, this creates some added headaches for Leaf and Sinar in some ways, and for sure if Phase looks to "close up" the system a bit more with more dedicated backs for their bodies. No indication that is the plan, but this could be Phase's move to become more of a camera company, and not just a back and software company. Just do not know if this changes much in the game yet. And what about any supposed relationship with Leica and the S2? (Maybe that is just software licensing as with the M8, and nothing else.)

    LJ

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    Howard Cubell
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    Re: Phase One Takes Controlling Interest of Mamiya

    Quote Originally Posted by jmvdigital View Post
    I for one, as a Mamiya and Phase customer, am pleased to hear this news. Like Jack said, hopefully progress will move at a speedier rate and those of us using the Mamiya system will benefit greatly. If nothing else, it continues to spur competition.
    Of course, it's excellent news for all photographers interested in the vitality of the medium format digital market. The only thing I find surprising is that this took so long, because it is such a compelling need for Phase One.

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    Re: Phase One Takes Controlling Interest of Mamiya

    Quote Originally Posted by Howard Cubell View Post
    Of course, it's excellent news for all photographers interested in the vitality of the medium format digital market. The only thing I find surprising is that this took so long, because it is such a compelling need for Phase One.
    If you've followed the news (and some of the rumors) of the past 12 months and take a look between the lines, you'll see there were a lot of options on the table for us. At the end, this was the most attractive option and the timing is right.


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    Re: Phase One Takes Controlling Interest of Mamiya

    It's a win win as from where I'm looking at it.

    Phase will now not only have a larger role in camera body development but lens as well. Sweet idea from a back manufacture position to have a chance to not only develop the best back they can but be able to influence the development of the other parts that make up the system; lens and bodies. Like I said - win win.


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    Re: Phase One Takes Controlling Interest of Mamiya

    Seems to me that the issue comes down to Phase's ability to fund new R&D and perhaps manufacturing capabilities.

    The development of a new body system is certainly not trivial and if Mamiya had the funding to do so would already be underway with it. If Mamiya does or did not have the funding then that will have to come from Phase, and does Phase have those resources. After all they have been busy developing several new generations of Backs, software etc.

    Although I am a Hassy user I would certainly want this to be a win win. None of us can imagine a world with only one major manufacturer so let's hope this partership, ownership, whatever proves to be successful. Only time will tell

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    Senior Member Graham Mitchell's Avatar
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    Re: Phase One Takes Controlling Interest of Mamiya

    Well I have long been a fan of Phase products, but not the M645. I hope Mamiya brings out a completely new camera worthy of the back, and yes I would expect it to be a closed system.

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    Re: Phase One Takes Controlling Interest of Mamiya

    I think this could prove to be terrific.

    As a Hasselblad user, I want as stiff of competition as possible so they continue to also develop their systems.

    Closed verses open is viable only as a short term strategy IMO. As the now discontinued MF camera systems age and fall further behind in adaptable technologies, the field will become more and more narrow for selling backs with mounts dedicated to them. The market will slowly dry up ... not now certainly, but long term I would think.

    Let's speculate, and say that the Mamiya camera now accelerates development ... the grip battery situation gets fixed using modern Lithium technologies ... maybe even incorporating a single battery one button "on", the more modular construction of the older Mamiya Pros comes back and offers waist level options, the lenses continue to improve optically while also using integrated mapped software tweaks, and AF gets better and better ... in general, why then would one opt for older discontinued solutions?

    I would think it advantagious for Phase One to provide an integrated team where they control the entire imaging system from front lens element to reaf LCD screen. From what I can tell the backs don't need a whole lot of attention except firmware/software to coordinate with new camera technologies.

    This really highlights the need for Leaf and Sinar to shore up the Hy6, which I doubt a single one of us would wish to disappear.

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    Re: Phase One Takes Controlling Interest of Mamiya

    Interestingly, Leaf and Sinar are the only (apart from the P65+) Dalsa MF sensor customers that I know of, so they would have a lot of leverage with Dalsa to get certain sensor developments done. With the Hy6/AFi being one common point, and the Dalsa sensor another, I could see that a large square sensor would make a lot of sense here. The price would have to be reasonable, so clearly there is no talk of a 25k 6x6 chip, but a 48x48 would seem to be a similar level of complexity to the P65+ and Aptus-II 10, and would open a new front in the digital MF battle.
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    Re: Phase One Takes Controlling Interest of Mamiya

    Quote Originally Posted by carstenw View Post
    I could see that a large square sensor would make a lot of sense here.
    I'd be curious to know why you think so!

    In my opinion this platform needs a full 645 size sensor (42x56mm). This would match perfectly with a rotating back and WLF an 6x6 lenses. Hopefully a back with all the improvements of the Sinar eSprit65 but the larger sensor

    I'm guessing that the cost would be similar to your hypothetical 48x48mm sensor, because the area of the chip is very similar, but >95% of photographers would prefer it as they could use the whole sensor rather than cropping down to 48x36mm for most of their work (this sensor size already exists and is cheaper to make).

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    Re: Phase One Takes Controlling Interest of Mamiya

    Food for thought...

    Let's keep in mind that any new digital specific body is not confined to perform to film specs... IOW a current Mamiya 645 *lens* has an image circle of roughly 72mm -- and that IC would currently fill a 50mm x 50mm square sensor if the shutter box of the camera body were reconfigured to let it through.

    However, the fact we know we're getting a vertical grip for the next Mamiya body eliminates that consideration from a practical standpoint -- but it remains something they could certainly plan for going forward *IF* the shutter box gets optimized.

    Cheers,
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    Re: Phase One Takes Controlling Interest of Mamiya

    This is the philosophy that Leica has taken with the S2, no? Build a "pure" digital body and do not worry about accommodating film. (There are enough older film bodies in MF to handle those needs for most folks anyway.)

    LJ

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    Re: Phase One Takes Controlling Interest of Mamiya

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Flesher View Post
    However, the fact we know we're getting a vertical grip for the next Mamiya body eliminates that consideration from a practical standpoint
    Cheers,
    Why is that? The only area where a vertical grip improves things is handheld shooting and even then one still has to pull the camera down in order to change settings or to view the LCD display.

    On a tripod it makes no real difference, especially if one uses a remote cable release.

    Yair

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    Re: Phase One Takes Controlling Interest of Mamiya

    Quote Originally Posted by foto-z View Post
    Well I have long been a fan of Phase products, but not the M645. I hope Mamiya brings out a completely new camera worthy of the back, and yes I would expect it to be a closed system.
    I totally agree with this. While I have not actually owned a Phase Back, I've worked with them and admire the company.

    Same with the Leaf backs I've actually owned.

    I was not that thrilled with the Mamiya AFD that the backs were mounted on. I know the AFD-II is better, but the things I didn't like haven't changed ... yet.

    A Mamiya the equal to the Contax 645 (but with better AF), would be some serious competition for the H.

    If Hasselblad comes forth with a focal plane shutter H camera ... they would blunt some of this and retain people like me much easier.

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    Re: Phase One Takes Controlling Interest of Mamiya

    Quote Originally Posted by yaya View Post
    Why is that? The only area where a vertical grip improves things is handheld shooting and even then one still has to pull the camera down in order to change settings or to view the LCD display.

    On a tripod it makes no real difference, especially if one uses a remote cable release.

    Yair
    Yair, I think what Jack is saying is that if it was a square sensor, there'd be no point in having a vertical grip?

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    Re: Phase One Takes Controlling Interest of Mamiya

    But what if I want to orient my square vertically Jack?

    Bet you didn't think of that!

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    Re: Phase One Takes Controlling Interest of Mamiya

    Quote Originally Posted by shakeshuck View Post
    Yair, I think what Jack is saying is that if it was a square sensor, there'd be no point in having a vertical grip?
    Exactly
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    Re: Phase One Takes Controlling Interest of Mamiya

    Quote Originally Posted by dougpetersonci View Post
    But what if I want to orient my square vertically Jack?

    Bet you didn't think of that!
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    Re: Phase One Takes Controlling Interest of Mamiya

    Quote Originally Posted by dougpetersonci View Post
    But what if I want to orient my square vertically Jack?

    Bet you didn't think of that!
    WOW!!! I didn't think of that!!!

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    Re: Phase One Takes Controlling Interest of Mamiya

    Even then. a vertical grip will be useful for those occasions when you are not certain which way is up.
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    Re: Phase One Takes Controlling Interest of Mamiya

    Too bad they didn't invest in Contax. That would be worth something.

    Hard to believe the new DF has no waist level finder ! Same dumb looking design except the vertical grip is new.

    Last edited by DougDolde; 27th March 2009 at 09:06.

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    Re: Phase One Takes Controlling Interest of Mamiya

    Would love to see a digital version of the Mamiya 7. Sort of an M8 on steroids. If it came in at 12-15K I'd sell my M8's in a heartbeat. Might provide some interesting competition against the S2 as well.

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    Re: Phase One Takes Controlling Interest of Mamiya

    Yair,

    So your point is that no one should pay any attention to Phase/Mamiya products?

    I'll try to remember that. Thanks, Steve

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    Re: Phase One Takes Controlling Interest of Mamiya

    I read this quote on the LL site. "Phase One backs will eventually appear under the Mamiya brand through existing and new distribution channels"....

    Don't tell me Phase One backs will be called Mamiya instead of Phase One. Am I reading this correct? As a long time Phase back user I know Phase has been the leader in development of digital backs. I would hate to see the Phase One name disappear. Eleanor

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    Re: Phase One Takes Controlling Interest of Mamiya

    Quote Originally Posted by stephengilbert View Post
    Yair,

    So your point is that no one should pay any attention to Phase/Mamiya products?

    I'll try to remember that. Thanks, Steve
    Excuse me? Did I ever put words in your mouth? I think not....

    I've been using Mamiya products longer than many people on this board and my respect for both Phase and Mamiya is not a secret. I think that the people in both companies that I know in person are well aware of that.

    And Jack I'm sorry that I got your words backwards!

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    Re: Phase One Takes Controlling Interest of Mamiya

    IMO there are two market segments, 1) high end dSLR users looking for cross-over solution that's relatively the same price as a 1Ds3 or D3X, and 2) the high end market with P65+ buyers. It's pretty hard to move a 1Ds3 buyer from a $8k system to a $40k system. So, I expect to see the Mamiya branded backs & solutions to focus on the cross-over segment. Essentially lower-priced offerings intended to bring people into the fold. And then the Phase products will focus on the high end market.

    It seems like Phase is moving towards a Zeiss business. Meaning, Phase will do the R&D, out-source the manufacturing and then distribute the finished product through their channels. The one variable that I cannot figure out is how Leica figures into this equation. That seems like a "Plan B" option for Phase and Leica. Or, maybe some quiet behind the scenes cooperation to make sure neither company steps on the other's toes?

    I guess this is good for Phase owners, but as companies partner, competition thins and weaker companies cease to exist, the breadth of the product offerings contract. Price tends to be more polarized too. Pooling of resources is good for operational efficiencies, but that doesn't automatically mean better and more products.

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    Re: Phase One Takes Controlling Interest of Mamiya

    Quote Originally Posted by dougpetersonci View Post
    But what if I want to orient my square vertically Jack?

    Bet you didn't think of that!
    This already works for square sensors, by osmosis. No need to rotate the camera. Just think it, and it is done. The correct orientation is also managed by all software, even software which doesn't normally do this.
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    Re: Phase One Takes Controlling Interest of Mamiya

    I believe at this point that the Phase One/Leica relationship is only about using Capture One Pro for S2 raws.
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    Re: Phase One Takes Controlling Interest of Mamiya

    Quote Originally Posted by John Black View Post
    IMO there are two market segments, 1) high end dSLR users looking for cross-over solution that's relatively the same price as a 1Ds3 or D3X, and 2) the high end market with P65+ buyers. It's pretty hard to move a 1Ds3 buyer from a $8k system to a $40k system. So, I expect to see the Mamiya branded backs & solutions to focus on the cross-over segment. Essentially lower-priced offerings intended to bring people into the fold. And then the Phase products will focus on the high end market.

    It seems like Phase is moving towards a Zeiss business. Meaning, Phase will do the R&D, out-source the manufacturing and then distribute the finished product through their channels. The one variable that I cannot figure out is how Leica figures into this equation. That seems like a "Plan B" option for Phase and Leica. Or, maybe some quiet behind the scenes cooperation to make sure neither company steps on the other's toes?

    I guess this is good for Phase owners, but as companies partner, competition thins and weaker companies cease to exist, the breadth of the product offerings contract. Price tends to be more polarized too. Pooling of resources is good for operational efficiencies, but that doesn't automatically mean better and more products.
    Those are good points John, especially the last paragraph.

    If the idiosyncratic companies cease to exist, there are less and less chances of cameras like the highly innovative Contax 645, and more recent Hy6 being developed.

    My observation on this is that it'll end up being survival of the fittest. Not necessarily the best solution but one that fits the broadest spectrum of the miniscule market that MF represents. What appears to be driving this are the MF camera companies that face swift extinction if they cannot forge a digital relationship with a back maker.

    The unknown wild card here is just what the 35mm companies may do in future ... who would've thought Leica would move into this segment? What if Canon and/or Sony go there? Both those companies have resources and already make their own sensors. We all know that without a significant breakthrough in sensor design, 35mm DSLRs are close to maxed out.

    These companies already have a built in potential sales base by providing an upgrade path to customers they already have a dialog with. Despite apparent brand jumping, there is actually a lot of brand loyalty intact. Sony and Zeiss are already tight. A medium format camera with a good 645 sensor and all new Zeiss modern AF Zeiss lenses ... basically where the Contax 645 could have gone ... hmmmm? What then?

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    Workshop Member ptomsu's Avatar
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    Re: Phase One Takes Controlling Interest of Mamiya

    Quote Originally Posted by Howard Cubell View Post
    Come on Steve, Phase is hardly losing anything in keeping the Mamiya AFD "open" at this point. Who is going to buy a Hasselblad back to stick on an AFD these days? Very different in the other direction. Lots of buyers of Phase and Leaf backs have put those backs on H series cameras. Were it not for Hasselblad closing the H3, Phase would still be functioning as a corporate leech and would never have moved to develop camera systems. This seems to be turning out to be well for everyone. (I hope.) Lots of choices that would not otherwise exist but for the H3D.
    I also agree to this!

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    Workshop Member ptomsu's Avatar
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    Re: Phase One Takes Controlling Interest of Mamiya

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    Those are good points John, especially the last paragraph.

    If the idiosyncratic companies cease to exist, there are less and less chances of cameras like the highly innovative Contax 645, and more recent Hy6 being developed.

    My observation on this is that it'll end up being survival of the fittest. Not necessarily the best solution but one that fits the broadest spectrum of the miniscule market that MF represents. What appears to be driving this are the MF camera companies that face swift extinction if they cannot forge a digital relationship with a back maker.

    The unknown wild card here is just what the 35mm companies may do in future ... who would've thought Leica would move into this segment? What if Canon and/or Sony go there? Both those companies have resources and already make their own sensors. We all know that without a significant breakthrough in sensor design, 35mm DSLRs are close to maxed out.

    These companies already have a built in potential sales base by providing an upgrade path to customers they already have a dialog with. Despite apparent brand jumping, there is actually a lot of brand loyalty intact. Sony and Zeiss are already tight. A medium format camera with a good 645 sensor and all new Zeiss modern AF Zeiss lenses ... basically where the Contax 645 could have gone ... hmmmm? What then?
    What then - good question.

    As a owner of a Contax 645 and several lenses I was so upset by Kyocera closing down the Contax brand, that I just sold everything right after that. Thanks god!

    But yes, unfortunately we do not have a real Zeiss solution in modern digital MF 645 format anymore. And this is what I am missing also! Because I love Zeiss glass, although I almost do not care about the camera or sensor or back maker, as these are pretty similar in quality (although not in price).

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    Re: Phase One Takes Controlling Interest of Mamiya

    Quote Originally Posted by dougpetersonci View Post
    Today Phase One is announcing that they have have a controlling interest of Mamiya.

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    Hmmm . . . . Implications for the Phase One - Leica relationship on the S2??

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    Re: Phase One Takes Controlling Interest of Mamiya

    Since there really isn't much of one (Leica-Phase relationship) vs. the initial PR implications, I'd say none other than stiffer competition for the S2.

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    Re: Phase One Takes Controlling Interest of Mamiya

    Had the opportunity to play with a Phase One camera and a P65+ back this weekend during a local photo gear show. I must say I am kind of caught by this Phase One system. I had the H3D2 to more or less directly compare and I liked the Phase One actually more. I am NOT talking about IQ, as I did not do really comparison shots, but I am talking about the handling of camera, lenses and backs.

    So my decision for which MF system to go will be a difficult one I guess - between Hasselblad and Phase One!

    PS: I had also the chance to talk to the Leica representatives - they did not have an S2 for demo - and they still could not say anything above what we all already know. And it will be available from October 2009 - com on folks, as we all know it will become January 2010 then.

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