Pro Digital SRL Review from an IT Perspective
Nikonians may be interested in this review of the D1x and EOS 1D from "Extreme Tech", a Ziff-Davis web site.
#1. "RE: Pro Digital SRL Review from an IT Perspective" | In response to Reply # 0jrp Charter MemberThu 14-Mar-02 07:38 PM
Thanks for the link. Interesting reading. Some data is not quite accurate, like the number of lenses in the line-up, they only counted those currently in production which obviously favors Kwanon since they changed mount. In any event I trust Nikon engineers who have not failed us in over 40 years to come up with what we need and want. Soon, the D2?!
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#2. "RE: Pro Digital SRL Review from an IT Perspective" | In response to Reply # 0Thu 14-Mar-02 10:24 PM
What I would like is a D1X priced between $500 and $800.
I am not sure that is unrealistic in a year or two. The big cost today seems to be the sensor. Its price should drop as the development costs and line tooling costs are amortized and as yields go up. Most of the rest of the camera is also electronic with parts shared with the F-5 and F-100; the costs of those parts should drop for similar reasons. The only precison mechanical/optical parts to the camera body are the shutter, mirror and mirror mechanism, the lens mount, and the prism. There is no film transport mechanism.
Of course Nikon and Canon, and any other manufacturer who enters the high end digital field, can set their prices to whatever the traffic will bear. The next few years will be "interesting".
#3. "RE: Pro Digital SRL Review from an IT Perspective" | In response to Reply # 2BJNicholls Charter MemberFri 15-Mar-02 05:16 AM
It's unrealistic to expect a camera body that has the high quality contstruction of Nikon pro cameras to cost less than the film equivalent. With the F100 going for more than $900, how do you add RGB metering, a viewfinder shutter, a vertical grip with release - then add all of the digital imaging electronics - and expect the camera to sell for less?
A DSLR that breaks the $1000 barrier will be built much more like the N65 with similar limitations on speed and performance.
#4. "RE: Pro Digital SRL Review from an IT Perspective" | In response to Reply # 3Fri 15-Mar-02 05:03 PM
I disagree; I don't think it is at all unrealistic. I thought I had made my reasons clear in my original post, and I hope this post will not belabor the point.
By removing the film transport requirements, you remove much of the mechanics of the camera - mechanics is the expensive part. That leaves the shutter and mirror mechanism as the only complicated mechanics, and the mirror mechanism does not have the tight timing requirements of the shutter. It just has to get out of the way before ths shutter opens. That leaves the body, with lens mount system, the prism, the sensor and memory, and the light meter.
The sensor, memory, and your RGB light meter are electronics. The major cost of electronice is developemnt costs and setting up the production line. Since the meter is the same as the F-5, those costs have been long amortized. Memory chips are cheap even now and not likely to increase. That leaves the sensor, which is new and should drop in price over time as most electronice do.
The body can be an investment casting and that is overkill. Investment castings are not terribly expensive. Since the body no longer houses the precise mechanics of the film transport, internal machining tolerances are reduced, with the exception of areas that house the sensor, shutter mechanism, and prism. The rest of the body is simply a compartment for memory, batteries, LCD, and some switches. The only part of the body that has to be light tight is the area that houses the sensor-lightmeter-lens complex since there is no film.
The lens mount will require the same careful machining it does today, but I am sure the lines are CNC today; that reduces costs.
The pentaprism costs remain, as does the cost of the AF motor; the AF sensors are electronic.
As for viewfinder shutter, how much can that cost. All it has to do is be reasonably light tight and close at the push of a button; no real precision timing required; it can probably be stamped out. The vertical grip - nothing more than a battery compartment with a couple of switches and contacts. It's probably way over priced today for the F-100, but that's what you get when you have a sole supplier.
You may be correct, that the sub-$1000 DSLR will be an N-65 equivalent, but it will be a marketing decision that makes it so not engineering or manufacturing constraints. The one hope is that since digital cameras are mostly electronic, and much of that electronics procured from third parties, the entry costs for others to enter the field will be reduced, which will engender competition and force prices down.
#5. "RE: Pro Digital SRL Review from an IT Perspective" | In response to Reply # 4BJNicholls Charter MemberFri 15-Mar-02 09:54 PM
There's a little maxim that holds true in marketing "cost is not a basis for pricing". You got there in you last paragraph but backslid into the hope of a "Moore's Law" for cameras. I don't think so except perhaps for the used market of rapidly depreciating models.
I'd quibble with you over the net cost of the mechanical parts vs. the electronics, display, etc., but that's completely beside the point. I didn't make my argument based on price - I base it on the marketability of a camera with the D1's features and quality.
If Nikon can get $1000 for an F100, another $250 for the battery grip, they can and will be able to sell a camera like the D1 for more soley on the basis of features and build quality. I didn't mention RGB metering because of the cost adding it to the camera, but because of the value it has in marketing.
Add to that foundation the desireability of the D1's digital imaging capabilities in the marketplace and the concept of a cheap D1 is a pipe dream. I hope you're right, but I suspect that Nikon would get out of the DSLR business if profits got that thin.
I get a kick out of PC magazine and Extreme Tech doing camera reviews. I guess they get bored doing motherboards and video cards so they play experts on photography. It's okay editorially because there's silicon inside. Wait until they start doing car performance reviews for models with on board computers...
BTW, just look at the video camera market to see how the pricing strategy will work. With electronics, you come up with some new, desireable features often enough that your most desireable product retains its pricepoint year after year, and keeps its high profitability.
#6. "RE: Pro Digital SRL Review from an IT Perspective" | In response to Reply # 5Fri 15-Mar-02 11:33 PM
I think, now that we have both restated our positions, we agree more than we disagree.
What I should have said is what I want is a digital camera with the features of the D1X, especially the ability to accept and use my MF and AF Nikkor lenses, and priced between $500 and $800. I think that may be achieveable in the next few years. I don't much care if it has Nikon on the name plate or not, just so it has the features and accepts my lenses.
I agree that there will always be high end (read over priced) cameras, just as there are video cameras and stereo components.
I still think competition will force prices down, just as it did with computers and most other digital equipment.
I remember when CD players first came out, my first CD player was $450. Now a very good component CD player costs less than $200 and one with the features of my first one is sub-$100.
We are seeing it in digital cameras. Cameras with features that were selling for over $1000 just a few years ago are well under $500 now and going lower each day. DSLR's (other than the super pricey ones of a few years ago) are new, give it a few years.
As for Nikon leaving the DSLR field if profit margines decline, if they do, they will end as they began - a lens manufacturer. I fully expect digital to displace film in the middle to high end of the 35mm imaging market over the next 5 to 10 years, just as CDs have displaced LPs. We just have to get the digital infastructure in place. Film will be religated to the high end "art" applications and the low end point and shoot or disposable camera niche in the 35mm arena; film will probably remain in the medium format and large format area for quite some time.
On the other hand, I could be wrong; every now and again my crystal ball clouds up.
As for Extreme Tech doing a camera review, I find it refreshing. What, if any, errors did they make in their assessments or test methods?