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Thread: Technology and Reality

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    Technology and Reality

    Since 2009, when the Panasonic G1 was launched as the first mirrorless camera, there have been zillions of discussions about mirrorless vs. DSLR cameras. When reading forums, it's easy to get the impression that mirrorless is taking over the world, but when looking at full frame cameras and what is actually available in the market, the picture looks a bit diferent.

    In 2010, the following full frame DSLR bodies were available:
    Canon 2, 5D II and 1Ds III
    Nikon 3, D700, D3s and D3X
    Sony 2, A850 and A900

    Total: 7

    Within 2015, the following bodies will be available as current models:
    Canon 6, 6D, 5D IV (rumoured), 5Ds, 5Ds R, 1D X, 1D C (or replacement)
    Nikon 6, D610, D750, Df, D810, D4s, D4X (rumoured)
    Pentax 1
    Sony 1, A99 (hybrid)

    Total: 14

    When it comes to mirrorless, the figures are much simpler. There was none and now there are three. My guess is that there will be three at the end of the year as well, unless Nikon comes up with a surprise.

    The reason for this, I believe, is that while the camera manufacturers in general are struggling to keep up volume, the high-end DSLR market is still profitable. Technological progress isn't reserved for mirrorless cameras, and when cameras that come in a package that is known to most users continue to improve, few people see any reason to switch.

    Although the Sony A7 models are technologically great, the fact that Sony is the only player in the full frame mirrorless market might even be a disadvantage for Sony. Sony have gone down obscure paths alone on several occasions, and many have been dead ends. People know that and hold back. The management at Canon and Nikon also know that, and one of the reasons for holding back on their mirrorless efforts may simply be that it would confirm to the buying public that Sony was right after all.

    As it is now, the can play the game of FUD, and if they have the technology ready (which I don't doubt that they have), they can launch their mirrorless supercameras whenever they feel that the time is right, letting Sony carry the cost of pioneering in the meantime. That is a disadvantage to mirrorless users, since little competition often means slow progress.
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    Re: Technology and Reality

    I'd love to be privy to the consumer research done by these major camera makers.

    I'm not sure the high-end DSLR market is "still" profitable. However, with the demise of the P&S due to cell phone cameras, it may be the only market left for the DSLR camera companies to make any profit ... thus the introduction of more FF models that you noted, and especially APSc DSLR cameras at more "reasonable" price points.

    According to some research I read, consumers still think the traditional DSLR is a more qualitatively distinctive from cell phone and GoPro type photography, where the wide-spread notion of a small mirror-less cameras may not give yet give a qualitative impression to the average consumer ... yet.

    Despite their prowess, small mirror-less cameras are perceptually more akin to P&Ss than DSLRs ... so people just use their cell phones.

    As of around the end of 2013 Mirror-less cameras were not as successful as camera makers thought they'd be ... at least not in the US. How Sony has impacted that since then is anyone's guess.

    The idea that Canon/Nikon have super mirror-less technology sitting on the shelf waiting to be unleashed at the right time may a bit of wishful thinking. Not many companies can spend the R&D on new stuff without a defined marketing plan to pay for that R&D as soon as possible. Technology changes too darned fast to not reap the rewards before it is outdated.

    - Marc
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    Re: Technology and Reality

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post

    The idea that Canon/Nikon have super mirror-less technology sitting on the shelf waiting to be unleashed at the right time may a bit of wishful thinking.
    - Marc
    +1

    I knew a few die hard Nikon fans who actually died waiting for the digital Nikon FM2.
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    Re: Technology and Reality

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    The idea that Canon/Nikon have super mirror-less technology sitting on the shelf waiting to be unleashed at the right time may a bit of wishful thinking. Not many companies can spend the R&D on new stuff without a defined marketing plan to pay for that R&D as soon as possible. Technology changes too darned fast to not reap the rewards before it is outdated.

    - Marc
    The don't have it sitting on a shelf waiting. In Nikon's case, the technology is being developed continuously with the 1 Series cameras. The V3 is one of the most advanced mirrorless cameras on the market, but with a small sensor. Transfer that technology into a slightly larger camera with a full frame sensor, and you have a great mirrorless that can compete with more or less anything. Add some features from the D4s/D810 and you have a monster camera.

    When the V1 was launched, Nikon was accused of crippling the camera so that it wouldn't compete with the DSLR models. After seeing the V2 and V3 as well, I'm sure that these cameras are test beds as much as commercial models. Converting the technology to a larger format isn't rocket science for a company like Nikon. They have made a couple of cameras before.

    That doesn't ensure that Nikon won't fail with their efforts, but it would be naive to think that two of the leading camera manufacturers for more than 50 years aren't able to develop what has been done by several newbies in the camera business already or that there isn't some kind of plan behind this. They have seen others go under and they know that the existence of the business is at stake.

    But at the moment, DSLR cameras seem to be doing rather well compared to some other parts of the camera industry.
    Last edited by Jorgen Udvang; 5th February 2015 at 09:11.

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    Re: Technology and Reality

    Quote Originally Posted by Jorgen Udvang View Post
    As it is now, the can play the game of FUD, and if they have the technology ready (which I don't doubt that they have), they can launch their mirrorless supercameras whenever they feel that the time is right, letting Sony carry the cost of pioneering in the meantime. That is a disadvantage to mirrorless users, since little competition often means slow progress.
    Actually, to start building a new type of camera is very expensive in terms of tooling and gaining the expertise. Sony investing in this does not make it cheaper nor easier for other manufacturers--actually it is harder as Sony will be gathering patents as well.

    Sony is making slow progress? Lets see, the a7, a7r, a7s, a7II with IBIS. In a short period of time. Lets throw in the RX-1 and RX-1r.

    The cost of pioneering is that you are in a unique market. So the people who want a 35mm mirrorless go to you. You also establish yourself as the leader. Sony making a new camera will have fewer costs then suddenly any of the other manufacturers jumping into the market--they will have a bit of a hill to climb.
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    Re: Technology and Reality

    Quote Originally Posted by Jorgen Udvang View Post
    The don't have i sitting on a shelf waiting. In Nikon's case, the technology is being developed continuously with the 1 Series cameras. The V3 is one of the most advanced mirrorless cameras on the market, but with a small sensor. Transfer that technology into a slightly larger camera with a full frame sensor, and you have a great mirrorless that can compete with more or less anything. Add some features from the D4s/D810 and you have a monster camera.
    It is not that easy. That is like saying a medium-format camera is just a scaled-up version of a 35mm camera. Things change with scale.

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    Re: Technology and Reality

    Quote Originally Posted by Shashin View Post
    It is not that easy. That is like saying a medium-format camera is just a scaled-up version of a 35mm camera. Things change with scale.
    What if they use something like Olympus do in the EM-5II to get 40MP files out?

    It is possible to have a pocket rocket!

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    Re: Technology and Reality

    Quote Originally Posted by Shashin View Post
    Actually, to start building a new type of camera is very expensive in terms of tooling and gaining the expertise. Sony investing in this does not make it cheaper nor easier for other manufacturers--actually it is harder as Sony will be gathering patents as well.

    Sony is making slow progress? Lets see, the a7, a7r, a7s, a7II with IBIS. In a short period of time. Lets throw in the RX-1 and RX-1r.

    The cost of pioneering is that you are in a unique market. So the people who want a 35mm mirrorless go to you. You also establish yourself as the leader. Sony making a new camera will have fewer costs then suddenly any of the other manufacturers jumping into the market--they will have a bit of a hill to climb.
    Unfortunately for Sony, sales statistics in the Japanese market don't reflect the "advantage" of being a pioneer. Sony's market share in the Japanese mirrorless market sank from over 40% in January to under 30% in December. At the end of the year, Olympus had 26% and Panasonic 12%, which means that m4/3 is now largest in the Japanese mirrorless market.

    In the DSLR/SLT market, Canon and Nikon is dominating totally with over 90% market share and both over 40%. Sony has more or less disappeared from that market (well under 5%) that they entered less than 9 years ago. 6 months ago, which is the last comparison I've seen of the sales between the two system types, DSLR sales where almost twice those of mirrorless, and both were relatively flat.

    Edit:
    Sony's more or less exit from the DSLR market is food for thought considering the fact that they started out with what many considered one of the best, maybe the best, full frame DSLR body at the time with IBIS as a unique feature, and what was and is arguably a lens line-up of indisputable qualities, as good as or better than the Canon and Nikkor equivalents. Many changed to Sony because of those lenses. This has now been replaced by a technically advanced full frame mirrorless camera with somewhat flawed ergonomics in three different flavours and a less than incomplete lens line-up. The problem with the average buyer is that he or she wants a predictable supplier when investing thousands of dollars in hobby or work tools. Sony has again proven that they are anything but predictable, which places players like Canon and Nikon under a nicer light than they really deserve. They are obviously charging full speed ahead with what they do best.

    http://www.sonyalpharumors.com/japan...are-increases/
    http://petapixel.com/2015/01/31/grap...-changed-2014/
    http://www.eoshd.com/2014/09/market-...n-nikon-blame/
    Last edited by Jorgen Udvang; 5th February 2015 at 08:32.

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    Re: Technology and Reality

    Quote Originally Posted by Shashin View Post
    It is not that easy. That is like saying a medium-format camera is just a scaled-up version of a 35mm camera. Things change with scale.
    Things change with scale, but Nikon knows the 35mm scale better than most.

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    Re: Technology and Reality

    Quote Originally Posted by Shashin View Post
    It is not that easy. That is like saying a medium-format camera is just a scaled-up version of a 35mm camera. Things change with scale.
    Miniaturization is often costly, question is where the manufacturing sweet spot is WRT size. Sensors get more expensive with size due to lower chip production yield, power management gets easier as you can have a bigger battery, larger means higher tolerances etc. There's a reason some cars are cheaper than MF cameras. So it depends.

    The MF industry's problem is related to extremely small market volume and thus high tooling costs, and to pursuing technical perfection - rather than size. And of course extreme cost of sensor. 10 FPS AF is certainly not impossible in MF but it would be a noisy beast that had no market except where cost is no object, perhaps military. The engineering in general probably is easier in many aspects in MF if you settle for the same product and image quality as FF (which MF makers don't do).
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    Re: Technology and Reality

    I believe this is worldwide:


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    Re: Technology and Reality

    Citing CIPA data, LensVid says 2014 DSLR production declined by 24% compared with the previous year while mirrorless remained unchanged:

    LensVid Exclusive: What Happened to the Photography Industry in 2014? - LensVid.comLensVid.com

    I wonder if the real "problem" is simply that weekend shooters are perfectly happy with their Canon Rebels and Nikon D3200s and don't see why they need to replace them every few years.

    My own 2015 camera buying will likely be pretty low. Not because I'm broke or because there aren't some very fine products out there. But because most of my actual needs and wants have already been addressed: The Sony A7 is great, but so was my NEX7. Today with a bit of shopping, a person can score a NEX3N outfit for under $300 with manufacturer's warranty: That's a lot of picture-taking potential for very little money.

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    Re: Technology and Reality

    Quote Originally Posted by Jorgen Udvang View Post
    The don't have it sitting on a shelf waiting. In Nikon's case, the technology is being developed continuously with the 1 Series cameras. The V3 is one of the most advanced mirrorless cameras on the market, but with a small sensor. Transfer that technology into a slightly larger camera with a full frame sensor, and you have a great mirrorless that can compete with more or less anything. ...
    Gawds, I doubt that. Technologically, the V3 seemed awesome. In the hand, I found it a horror to try to use. The Olympus E-PL7 is FAR nicer to use and is barely any larger.

    Personally, I'm perfectly satisfied with Micro-FourThirds mirrorless cameras as the standard for mirrorless. I have sold a HUGE amount of work over the years made with FourThirds format cameras, and never found anything wrong with the photo quality. Yeah, yeah ... the FF cabal can't tolerate anything but a bigger sensor. I guess my needs are not theirs. :-)

    G

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    Re: Technology and Reality

    Quote Originally Posted by Jorgen Udvang View Post
    Unfortunately for Sony, sales statistics in the Japanese market don't reflect the "advantage" of being a pioneer. Sony's market share in the Japanese mirrorless market sank from over 40% in January to under 30% in December. At the end of the year, Olympus had 26% and Panasonic 12%, which means that m4/3 is now largest in the Japanese mirrorless market.
    With all camera types or just the high-end 35mm mirrorless? Sony had an uphill battle in the camera market which is why they purchased Konica Minolta Photo Imaging. You are taking incomplete data and aggregate data. How do you know it actually has anything to do with your hypothesis?

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    Re: Technology and Reality

    Quote Originally Posted by Jorgen Udvang View Post
    I believe this is worldwide:

    So, DSLRs have halved the number of units shipped and mirrorless has had no real change. How does this correlate with your original statements?

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    Re: Technology and Reality

    Quote Originally Posted by Lars Vinberg View Post
    Miniaturization is often costly, question is where the manufacturing sweet spot is WRT size. Sensors get more expensive with size due to lower chip production yield, power management gets easier as you can have a bigger battery, larger means higher tolerances etc. There's a reason some cars are cheaper than MF cameras. So it depends.

    The MF industry's problem is related to extremely small market volume and thus high tooling costs, and to pursuing technical perfection - rather than size. And of course extreme cost of sensor. 10 FPS AF is certainly not impossible in MF but it would be a noisy beast that had no market except where cost is no object, perhaps military. The engineering in general probably is easier in many aspects in MF if you settle for the same product and image quality as FF (which MF makers don't do).
    I agree. There are many factors, so simply to say you have X product it will be simple to make it bigger tends to simplify too much.

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    Re: Technology and Reality

    Quote Originally Posted by Jorgen Udvang View Post
    Things change with scale, but Nikon knows the 35mm scale better than most.
    Better than who?

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    Re: Technology and Reality

    Quote Originally Posted by Shashin View Post
    Better than who?
    That doesn't matter. Good enough to understand the mechanical and optical challenges involved.

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    Re: Technology and Reality

    Quote Originally Posted by Jorgen Udvang View Post
    The don't have it sitting on a shelf waiting. In Nikon's case, the technology is being developed continuously with the 1 Series cameras. The V3 is one of the most advanced mirrorless cameras on the market, but with a small sensor. Transfer that technology into a slightly larger camera with a full frame sensor, and you have a great mirrorless that can compete with more or less anything. Add some features from the D4s/D810 and you have a monster camera.

    When the V1 was launched, Nikon was accused of crippling the camera so that it wouldn't compete with the DSLR models. After seeing the V2 and V3 as well, I'm sure that these cameras are test beds as much as commercial models. Converting the technology to a larger format isn't rocket science for a company like Nikon. They have made a couple of cameras before.

    That doesn't ensure that Nikon won't fail with their efforts, but it would be naive to think that two of the leading camera manufacturers for more than 50 years aren't able to develop what has been done by several newbies in the camera business already or that there isn't some kind of plan behind this. They have seen others go under and they know that the existence of the business is at stake.

    But at the moment, DSLR cameras seem to be doing rather well compared to some other parts of the camera industry.
    I think you give manufacturing corporations too much credit Jorgen.

    The marketing landscape is littered with extinct brands that once ruled the world. Kodak being the more recent one. Then there was Motorola who relinquished a cell-phone empire to upstart Apple which then became the most valuable brand in the world relatively over-night. I saw American car executives literally laugh at the first Honda cars, (which soon wiped that arrogant smirk off their faces). Even mighty Sony has repeatedly tried to shove their version of technology down people's throats, and we know how that worked out.

    Take two recent examples ... how long did Nikon persist in crop frame cameras in the face of Canon's FF machines? Look at Canon ... every bit as knowledgable and experienced as Nikon only now responding to Nikon's super high res, relatively inexpensive cameras. How much market share exchanged hands due to slow response in an age that is marked by relentlessly rapid technological change?

    IMHO.

    - Marc

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    Re: Technology and Reality

    I've finally been able to find what seems to be a very reliable graph of total camera sales worldwide, collected by German research firm GFK in connection with Photokina last years:



    Maybe I give the manufacturing corporations too much credit, Marc, but you must also remember that there are corporations out there that have survived for decades and even centuries without government intervention or other artificial nutrition. If we didn't believe that, socialism would become an attractive alternative, although I'm sometimes confused as to what is what.

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    Re: Technology and Reality

    Quote Originally Posted by Shashin View Post
    So, DSLRs have halved the number of units shipped and mirrorless has had no real change. How does this correlate with your original statements?
    They halved from November to December last year, but that does not seem to be the general trend.

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    Re: Technology and Reality

    Quote Originally Posted by Jorgen Udvang View Post
    I've finally been able to find what seems to be a very reliable graph of total camera sales worldwide, collected by German research firm GFK in connection with Photokina last years:



    Maybe I give the manufacturing corporations too much credit, Marc, but you must also remember that there are corporations out there that have survived for decades and even centuries without government intervention or other artificial nutrition. If we didn't believe that, socialism would become an attractive alternative, although I'm sometimes confused as to what is what.
    It looks like mirrorless and and premium fixed lens cameras are growing, DSLRs are flat, and other, presumable compact cameras, are shrinking. This does not seem to support your hypothesis.

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    Re: Technology and Reality

    Quote Originally Posted by Jorgen Udvang View Post
    They halved from November to December last year, but that does not seem to be the general trend.
    From your chart, DSLRs halved from June 2012 to December 2014. The trend seems to be downward. There were a couple of steep drops and no real recovery after after each drop. Now whether the January 2014 to November 2014 numbers represent a slow increasing trend, it is hard to say, but the overall trend is negative.

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    Re: Technology and Reality

    Quote Originally Posted by Shashin View Post

    If these were stocks, I would recommend selling.
    The only camera stock I would invest in would be Fujifilm... with money I could afford to lose. Fujifilm seems to be a corporation with some brilliant leaders and inventors.

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    Re: Technology and Reality

    Quote Originally Posted by Shashin View Post
    From your chart, DSLRs halved from June 2012 to December 2014. The trend seems to be downward. There were a couple of steep drops and no real recovery after after each drop. Now whether the January 2014 to November 2014 numbers represent a slow increasing trend, it is hard to say, but the overall trend is negative.
    I'm not sure about the source for the first curve, so I don't trust it as much as the second one, which comes from a reputed German research company and represents worldwide figures.

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    Re: Technology and Reality

    Jorge, I'm not sure what Government Intervention has to do with this specific discussion. I'd agree that there are corporations that have thrived or stayed the course for decades. However, it doesn't insulate them from sudden shifts in market directions which is the topic here as far as I can tell.

    Great brands can fall behind by burying their head in the sand, or while playing a "wait and see" game of brinkmanship, then suddenly make the most obvious blunders. Hasselblad is an example we all are familiar with.

    RE: Chart ... Mirror-less and premium fixed lens may be growing in share ... but it is just a bit bigger slice out of a quickly shrinking pie.

    For "other fixed lens" to have lost 60 to 65% of sales in 4 years, while not surprising, is revealing. Traditionally, this category was profitable and helped fund the R&D for the DSLR developments ... so 2010/11 helped pay for innovations in the following few years. What will fund it now?

    Canon and Nikon probably make up a vast majority of the DSLR pie, while Sony, Fuji, Olympus, Sigma never had that big a share of DSLRs, if any ... but were ahead of the Canon and Nikon in innovative smaller cameras, and now dictate the rules of engagement in the marketplace. It's a world turned upside down.

    Since Sony doesn't make traditional DSLRs anymore, they can concentrate on selling as many mirror-less cameras to those willing to shell out $1.5K to $2.5K every five minutes ... then vary the products just enough to sell them more than one camera at a time. It's a sweet deal for them as long as the consumer cooperates. Despite rumors, I'm starting to wonder whether my so called technologically aging A99 will actually ever be replaced, not that it isn't just fine as is.

    I guess we'll see where this all goes.

    - Marc

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