PetaPixel K-3 Mark III Review

Started 3 months ago | Discussions thread
James O'Neill Veteran Member • Posts: 5,754
Re: PetaPixel K-3 Mark III Review

Alex Sarbu wrote:

hikerdoc wrote:

anware wrote:

Once you've removed the complexity of designing, manufacturing, assembling and aligning the mechanics of a mirror box mechanism, focus screen and pentaprism, the real question is - just why are mirrorless cameras so expensive?

It's called milking sheep

A mirrorless camera has fewer moving parts and a similar amount of solid state electronics to a DSLR. Camera makers have been working on thin margins for a while and they making much bigger margins on MILCs - another reason why they are pushing them so hard. But it's not purely greed. The camera market is smaller, so the R&D cost of MILCs - where stuff still needs to be invented - is spread over fewer units, than the R&D cost of DSLRs was 15-20 years ago when the market was booming.

You may be discounting the biggest cost; the human factor of paying the talent necessary to develop the processors, improve sensors, write the firmware, develop algorithms, etc. All manufacturers seem to be finding regions with inexpensive labor to manufacture and assemble parts in both DSLR and MILC, but you can’t put the engineering out to cheapest bid. How many years and hours of intellectual labor went into this new camera?

We know why the K3-iii is expensive - Ricoh need to make enough profit on it to justify their investment, or to pay for the next round of development (depending on whether you look backwards or forwards). The question is why does anyone think DSLRs should be cheap and MILCs expensive. Mirrorless is the architecture we build into $100 phones after all. And it's margins.

Conversely, one could see the real question as: why are DSLR still so expensive as we are basically tweaking designs and assembly procedures which have been in common use since the 1950’s? Every SLR/DSLR ever made has required aligning of mirror box, focus screen, and pentaprism.

There's a high (but roughly constant) bill of materials cost and assembly cost for the reflex parts of an SLR. It is assumed that less R&D is going into SLRs so it should be possible to sell them at lower margins offsetting their greater cost to make.  But that assumption doesn't hold for the K3-iii - it had a high R&D cost (compared with other SLRs) some new things were integrated which hadn't been in a Pentax before. I know from Formula one making something which is already fast faster is expensive (top teams used to spend 3 to 5 times what the back-of-the-grid teams spent to make a car that was 1% faster), and I don't think the super fast FPS the 3-iii manages was cheap to implement. And because of where the market is they will probably sell few K3-iiis than the sold K10Ds or K7s or K5s.

DSLRs are every bit as difficult to make as a MILC, plus the mechanical complexity, plus the extra modules like PDAF, metering, in-lens AF support etc. (and minus the EVF).

Particularly the K-3iii is a completely new camera, not a "tweaking". IIRC the only components which were reused were the mount, the strap lugs and the hotshoe. Obviously, a DSLR has nothing in common with a 1950 camera.

All true. But once you've built the K7 you're not doing anything ground breaking with the body shells of the K5/3/1/3-iii, that should be fairly cheap to do. A main board with a new CPU is something they've done half a dozen times. A 50s camera is a very different beast but if this is your 8th decade making SLRs a lot of the new "parts" are things you've designed on more than one past occasion - the top plate / prism cover is new but the person who designed the one for the super A could do that. But figuring out how to make a shutter go at 12 FPS, or to get the low-res AE sensor to help the AF system, that's new work. If you had asked the *ist-D designers to do that they would have it was impossible, it needs some of the work done since, and new innovation.

The new inventions for SLRS have mostly dried up, and have happened over 60+ years, and for DSLRs a lot happened when the market was a lot bigger.  Innovation is happening with MILCs (although whether that innovation is worth having is another question).

At the same time, MILC makers are launching similar models with barely a difference between them.

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