At least we are not nasty like FTF can be.....Ricoh has still forsaken us

Started Feb 7, 2013 | Discussions thread
sroute Senior Member • Posts: 2,497
Re: Educated guesses are just that and yours are not that helpful


There's probably some terminology cross over going on which seems to be confusing you since you dwell on it so much even though it doesn't aide your argument.

Commodity Products or Processes

The only point in discussing commodity economics is to understand the nature of the cost model for producing camera products under discussion. Before you trot out the term "fungible" in the defence of your argument you might wish to consider that, ultimately, any camera of similar capabilities can replace another. That's what fungible means. One toaster can replace another - it's a commodity. One camera can replace another - that's a fungible commodity, if not in the classic sense of the word.

My point is not to illustrate that cameras are fungible items (which they certainly can be) but more to discuss the economics of production.

You can have niche products produced via a commodity process, or you can have niche products produced via a labour, equipment, and material intensive boutique process.

The GXR, GRD, NEX, RX1, D600, 6D, D800, 5DIII, SureShot, Coolpix, Ricoh Caplio, Pentax Q and the like are all products produced by a commodity process.

The Leica M8, M9, M Monochrome, M-240, and custom M's are the result of boutique manufacturing processes.

The former (GXR et al) have relatively low cost of production, regardless of whether the product is considered "niche" (GXR, RX1 as examples). The latter (Leica digital M's) are classic examples of boutique manufacturing.

Which group of camera products have the lowest cost of production? The former, thanks to commodity inspired process and design.

Mirrorless = Less Expensive to Produce and Sell... if it is produced via a commodity process

A mirrorless camera has no moving parts, a few circuit boards, a sensor, possibly a lens mount, possibly a viewfinder circuit. Some buttons and other control features, maybe a hot shoe.

A mirrorless camera can be produced less expensively than a DSLR because there are fewer components, a smaller chassic, no moving parts, no pentaprism. Examples abound.

Putting a 135 format sensor, a FX format sensor, a full frame sensor, a 24x35mm sensor ... into a mirrorless camera doesn't fundamentally change anything. The cost of the sensor is a little more. The camera will probably be sized slightly more and therefore there will be a marginal increase in cost for the magnesium and plastic components in the chassis.

Some full frame and APS-C cameras have the same microprocessor within them so it isn't even a given that computing power and circuitry will be much more costly. The same screws and buttons and wiring harnesses will be used in either camera.

You said: Part of it is because people like you think that one could produce an INTERCHANGEABLE lens camera with 35mm sensor with some kind of OVF or built in EvF which would not be bigger than a aps dslr. this is NOT going to happen

Au contraire. Of course this is going to happen. There won't be an OVF though.

I've already addressed the size issue previously but let's also add one more data point: Sony confirmed that they could put a full frame sensor inside the NEX bodies. In other words, the E mount itself did not prevent the proper image circle from illuminating the sensor. In fact they have done this - the VG900 video cam has a 135 format sensor. You need to use one of their lens adapters to utilize a full frame Alpha lens to illuminate the sensor because there are at present no E mount lenses designed for a 135 format sensor. Shoving a sensor a little larger into a body isn't the issue. It really is all about lenses.

If they can fit a 135 format sensor in behind the E mount on a NEX body and mount what today remains a large lens and adapter in front, then they can certainly design a purpose-built camera for 135 format digital sensors *and* a lens line up for it (obviating the need to adapt existing full frame lenses).

Leica supports smaller high quality optics on its digital cameras. So does Ricoh. Autofocus will make them somewhat larger, but the tech now exists. Lens designs accounting for sharp incidence angle or flattening that angle (Fujifilm X cameras and RX1). Sensor tuning for lenses with rear exit pupil near to the sensor (Leica both older CCD tech and now the new CMOSIS CMOS Max sensor, Ricoh GXR). No mirror-box - use a quality EVF. Component and assembly miniaturization (examples abound).

The only element missing now is will.


As I've said previously, it is the advent of high spec Electronic View Finder components which is now making optical-finder-free full frame cameras possible. Examples: Sony A99, and soon the Leica M-240. Truth is the processing requirements for a 24MP 135 format digital sensor and a 24MP APS-C sensor are about the same; the viewfinder requirements are no different. What really matters is that no one would be willing to purchase a more costly 135 format camera - compact or DSLR format - with an EVF that is sub-par.

For cheaper cameras made with cheaper sensors, we have had to put up with inferior sensors due to the timing of introduction of either. Example: GXR.

That time has passed.

Only Leica will produce a compact full frame camera with an optical finder. Their product model allows them to - it's a unique feature, a costly feature, and a feature which adds to bulk.

On Size

I'd be happy with a compact interchangeable lens full frame camera that was about the same size as my Contax 139 film camera. Far smaller than a D600 or 6D, larger than a GXR. Lots of folks would see this as a positive development.

Why hasn't it happened before? Because the industry has been chained to optical finders for so long. They add bulk, and if you are going to have an optical finder and a mirrorbox that also chains you to your installed base of legacy lenses with a 40+mm back focal length, and if you are chained to that installed base then why change things? Keep producing new optics; high speed motors make such lenses even bigger so there is no incentive to make smaller bodies.

Remove those constraints and voila, the potential to deliver a smaller camera is there.

Examples: Leica M9, Monochrome, M-240.

"Full Frame" Heresy?

Do we have to be pedantic about what we call a 24mm X 35mm digital sensor? We can carry on the discussion both using different terms if we both understand what each refer to. You use whatever you prefer. Myself I find "full frame" faster to type than 35mm digital. If I had a preference I'd call it 135 format digital but that's wordier still. Canon calls it "full-frame". Nikon calls it "FX". Call the term full frame "heresy" if you will, call it 24x35mm, call it 135 format digital, call it "FX", call it "foobartingblatso" if you want but please clue us in if so. Terminology evolves. As goofy as the term is, and I don't like it myself as it is inherently meaningless, "Full frame" is as close to a defacto standard as we have. Whatever.

On Need Vs Want

I know I've touched on this before but what's the point of discussing need here? We'll probably agree that many new camera buyers looking to improve their photography would be better off spending money on a course, taking a nice vacation, and printing some of their work.

But this discussion has nothing to do about need. This discussion is all about what is possible and where the industry is, in my estimation, likely to go next with compact cameras. We can start a need thread separately if you wish but the notion has no bearing on this little debate.

On Market Size required to justify a new product class

Neither you nor I have any idea how many units Sony or Fujifilm or Nikon or Canon need to make of an individual product for that product launch to be considered a success.

But probably we can both guess, and maybe even agree, that a new class of camera doesn't have to be on product launch entirely successful in every metric in order to be a success.

Some companies taking the strategic long view will consider merely getting a product out the door a success in itself.

When Sony brought out the NEX-3 do you think they knew what a hit they would have on their hands? They may have had some inkling but from some annecdotal comments made over the years by various Sony VPs and managers i nthe press it does seem that they didn't fully appreciate how far they'd be taking the NEX product line in such a relatively short period of time. They misread the interest from enthusiasts for higher end models, and at first were unprepared for how much demand would originate from those interested in mounting alternative glass up front.

Sony, likely to be first with a FF ILC Compact Camera

Who knows if Sony views the RX1 a little differently in the light of their experience with NEX but it does seem more likely than not that they will carry on with other full frame compact products and naturally the logical place for them to turn next or soon to is an interchangeable lens product. They certainly are being coy about the prospects for such a development.

I guess we need to talk to the CEO of Sony, Hirai-san!

Look, we don't need to debate this any further. When it comes out I'll not even say "I told you so".

Not if, but when.

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