What are the prospects of a manual focus DSLR ?

Started Jun 2, 2011 | Discussions thread
Joseph S Wisniewski Forum Pro • Posts: 34,929
Many, many errors...

joyclick wrote:



Just one D700 being in existence

There's Nikon D700, Canon 5DII, and Sony A900. Pentax is the only major that didn't make a full frame. Leica didn't have the electronics resources to do their own, so they got Phase One (that's one of those nondescript camera companies you mentioned earlier, the people who are not "camera big brothers" as you termed it) to do the electronics.

does not somehow stop some people from wanting/desiring what we have been discussing.

But I've kept track of the threads about this subject, for almost 10 years. Out of nearly 400,000 people on dpReview, there are about 100 (that's 0.025%, or 1 in 4000) who are "wanting/desiring" what you describe). That figure is actually high, it's people like you, basically gripers, griping. When you ask photographers who actually have some money and are willing to part with it, you find that it's even lower. I surveyed gripers, only about 1 in 10 is a "buyer".

Pity is there are so few of them.Full -frame,Manual focus,Aperture priority almost barebones at pocket friendly price point is what we are asking for.

You can't have it. What makes things have a "pocket friendly price" is making them in quantity.

Suppose you got that impossibly high 1 in 4000 DSLR buyers to go for one of your manual focus units. The DSLR market is only 4 million units/year. So, you're looking at a potential market of 1000 units a year.

There hasn't been a DSLR sold in those quantities since Leica DMR or the Kodak DSC-400 and 500 series. Those were APS-C or APS-H models that sold for $8-10,000.

More they are made the better. How/where/and why exactly APS-C,MFT,FT by whom gotten decided is a big mystery.

No, it most certainly is not "a big mystery". There are numerous good articles about the history of DSLRs that would tell you exactly what happened. No mystery, no "big brother".

Steppers (the machines that make chips) can only make a 28x18mm exposure. The equipment wasn't designed for making camera sensors, it was designed for making computer chips: processors and memory. They needed precision more than size. Computer chips are about 100 times more precise than camera sensors need to be. You may think of camera sensors as "big industry" but it's not. It's not even 1/1000 of the total chip industry. The chip making equipment making companies design the machinery that Intel demands to make processors, Micron needs to make memory, Sony needs top make Play Stations and cell phones, Apple needs to make iPods, iPads, iPhones, and iPotatoes.

28x18mm is what's commonly called APS-H, or a 1.3x crop factor. And, because of the way chips are made, a 24x16mm chip with a 1.5x crop factor ends up costing half as much as a 1.3x chip. Those chips were so expensive back in 1999, with Nikon buying 10,000 chips a year, that turning the $1000 Nikon F100 film camera into the D1 ended up with $4000 worth of electronics, about 2/3 of that in the APS sensor chip.

It took years before Canon tried applying a technique called "stitching" to make FF sized sensors. Those ended up in $8,000 DSLRs. And it's taken 7 more years before FF DSLRs started to sell in the hundreds of thousands that were needed to get the price down to $2-3000.

The situation isn't much better today. If you go to any sensor chip company (Aptiva, DALSA, Kodak, Panasonic, Samsung, Sony) and ask for a quote on APS sensors in the 1,000 a year you can expect to sell your manual focus DSLR in, you'll get a quote of about $1,000 for the sensor. Maybe, if you're good, you can get that into a camera that will sell for $4,000.

If you ask for a quote on FF, you'll find yourself paying $3,000 for the sensor, and there's no way you can get your camera to the market for under $10,000.

Leica sells about 10,000 M9 rangefinders a year, so they manage to beat it down to $6,000. Why do they sell so many (and yes, I mean "many". In the manual focus market, 10,000 is an insanely large number of cameras).

  • The Leica name. These were the guys selling film rangefinder cameras for $4,000 when the nondescript Cosina/Voigtlander, Fed, Zorki, etc. were lucky to get $400.

  • It's the only digital rangefinder on the market, and rangefinders have a mystique, a cult. Legendary names like Henri Cartier-Bressan or Alfred Eisenstaedt. Hundreds of well known photographers from agencies like Magnum. Manual focus SLRs don't have a mystique. They're just line autofocus SLRs, but "stripped" of functionality.

No masses wanting to take photographs went with signature campaigns to the manufactuerers asking only millions and zillions of these and not other size cameras be produced.

No, that was pure physics. I'm sure masses would sign up in millions for $500 FF DSLRs, but physics says you can't make them.

Let consumers have their choices too.Full- Frame is for PROs kind of B..sh..t

Yes, "FF is for pros" is BS. But "FF is expensive" is physics.

Put out a petition saying you want GM, Toyota, and Huyndai to make 100 mile/gallon cars that only cost $1,000. You'll get a lot of signatures, but that doesn't alter the fact that it's physically impossible to build such a car.

also is some times thrown around and many are busy convincing others that it is good to eat it too.


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Rahon Klavanian 1912-2008.

Armenian genocide survivor, amazing cook, scrabble master, and loving grandmother. You will be missed.

Ciao! Joseph


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