Timeframe for Nikon donor bodies

Started Jun 30, 2008 | Discussions thread
Thom Hogan Forum Pro • Posts: 13,660
Re: So Thom...

Big Ga wrote:

Where I think we differ in opinion is that you seem to think that
they have considerable (insurmountable?) technical catching up to do,

Not insurmountable. Obviously, others are doing it. The question is will they devote the resources to doing so? This isn't a "have one engineer do some additional stuff on the side" kind of problem. And not only do they have to catch up, but they also have to prepare themselves for moving forward with the next advances. Note that Nikon has gone from frames, to 2-channel, to 4-channel, to 12-channel. And they've gone from everything outboard to "as much as possible at the photosite." Indeed, one of the D3 sensor's high ISO gains comes from putting a multistage amplifier at the photosite, before read noise that comes downstream.

The question is.... is it worth Fujis while to sell this restricted
number of cameras to a 'small' number of purchasers?

How many wedding photographers are there? What percentage would buy a Fujifilm DSLR? Let's do some back of envelope calculations...

In the US, there are 2.4m weddings annually. The average wedding photography makes US$26k a year. Let's take the low side of what a wedding photographer costs ( US$1k). Thus, we have 92k wedding photographers (the number is probably far less, actually). The US camera market is about one-third the world market, so we have a potential of perhaps 300k wedding photographers world-wide. What percentage penetration do you think Fujifilm would get of that? 10% (30k cameras)? 20% (60k cameras)?

Fujifilm is a huge company. Huge companies like two types of products: (1) ones that sell in huge quantities; and (2) ones that have huge prices and markups. It seems to me that a US$2995 DSLR doesn't fit either of those if it is targeted at wedding photographers.

it does show that a niche market isn't something they are frightened in going for.

There are two possibilities you have to consider. First, that Fujifilm traditionally sold a lot of film into the wedding market, and thus saw it as being bigger than it is for a camera company. Fujifilm had 50% of the film market for those 2m+ weddings a year, and you'd have to guess that produced 50m rolls of film a year. Second, as the other DSLRs became better as general purpose, do-it-all cameras, Fujifilm may have simply gone to the folk that they already knew (wedding photographers) to continue to sell to because they could explain a tangible benefit to them that the others couldn't deliver. Fujifilm certainly wasn't selling the S1 Pro as a "wedding camera" but as a general purpose, do-it-all camera, after all. It was only with each generation of body that we got the tighter and tighter niche marketing focus, resulting ultimately in the S5 Pro IS.

the outcome
for my real life shooting is that I'd pick up the D3 every time when
the lighting is getting tough,

Agreed.

but in bright sunlight, the Kodak,
despite its age and other problems, returns better looking files (and
seems (seems as in I haven't tested it, but that's the way it pans
out using ACR to PP everything)

Well, okay, there's one problem (ACR) ; ). This gets back to my mannequin testing, actually. I prefer a completely different set of Picture Controls in harsh lighting with the D3, and I certainly prefer a different raw converter than ACR with raw files shot under those conditions. Of course, the issue is that Capture NX is inadequate for batch processing a wedding, but that's not the camera's fault.

I don't disagree with you that on paper the DR of the D3 is getting
close to the Fuji, but I'm sure the advantage is at the other end of
the scale

Exactly what I've said several times. The Fujifilm SR system puts more tonal values above mid-tone than the D3 does. The D3 puts more tonal values below mid-tone than the SR system does (and by far).

Just don't ask me to pick which I'd choose if I could only keep one
though.

Well, you've hit Fujifilm's problem squarely on the head: a general purpose camera is highly competitive with the specialty one, even if you had to use it for the specialty. That does not bode well. Fujifilm either has to go much further with the specialty camera, or give up. But remember how many wedding photographers we found on the back of our envelope, above. Can you recover costs enough to do it? My analysis says no.

Again, that's not to say that Fujifilm won't do it. Japanese companies don't always value ROI quite the same way American companies do, and my assessment is 100% American ; ). There are issues of face (both internally and externally), for one. However, the sell-off of the S5 Pro inventory at fire sale prices coupled with no new camera being announced (and Fujifilm has always announced far in advance of delivery) coupled with the rumors on the sale of the non-compact camera assets really seem to say something tangible about what Fujifilm is considering. Add the rumor of the S100FD followup having super fast contrast focusing and being targeted at wedding photographers and one might conclude that the old S5 Pro designers are at work full time in the compact division.

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Thom Hogan
author, Complete Guides to Nikon bodies (18 and counting)
http://www.bythom.com

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