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| p.2 #15 · Leica S-System and the future of Medium-Format |
Oh dear, what a mess.
I think we can safely assume that Leica doesn't lie, but since this is marketing, careful reading is required...
Strange to think of Leica in that way - the larger player capable of "scale". It just doesn't ring true overall.
Right, neither was it stated that way. They are larger and more capable of scale in the medium format digital market.
Ten years ahead! I realize they're referring to MF competition, but they gotta be kidding. Let's take the just released M240 as an example and see which of its features was even up to date (on the release date) comparing to any 2013 P&S.
This was only referring to the medium format digital market, so the comparison with M240 is irrelevant. One might debate the truth of it nonetheless, but so far there are no hard facts to show it wrong, I think.
It is to the best of my knowledge the only MF digital camera to handle like a large 35mm SLR.
Mamiya tried with the ZD camera, which was a failure. I think the other manufacturers took this as a sign that the market didn't want it, rather than that it was a flawed implementation.
Leica S makes other MF gear look cheap.
Maybe if you compare standard lenses, but overall, not really. There are many very expensive lenses and cameras in this market. Leica is at the high end, sure, but the build quality is also way past the Mamiya DF, for example, so this is in line and not unexpected.
Phase One seems to have been smart and worked close with Dalsa and appears to get preferential treatment.
Phase One has used both Kodak and Dalsa in the past, as have others like Sinar. Why do you say that they get preferential treatment?
Wouldn't that be something? A MF camera with the latest and greatest Sony sensor tech available?
I am not aware of much call for that among the real professional photographers who use medium format (I am leaving out faux-professionals like Michael Reichmann and friends, who used plentiful money earned elsewhere to bootstrap/support a second career).
The medium format sensors have "designed" colours in a way that we haven't seen since film, with each manufacturer choosing their own niche. Leaf, for example, has focused on skin tones. There is nothing Sony currently makes which would compete with that. Sony's strength is low noise and features, not necessarily the kind of colour response which drives people to medium format. Anyway, I cannot imagine that Sony has much interest in this market; it is tiny. Hasselblad's Lunar experiment, apart from being an almost certain flop, is more of a desperate bid from Hasselblad at relevance in a tough business.
I am sure that real live view in a medium format sensor would be welcome, especially for the landscapers and architectural photographers who currently use very expensive mechanical contraptions as a substitute (like the Sinar arTec), but I doubt that the crowd would be willing to sacrifice anything in the colour capabilities, so Sony would have to seriously up their game in CFA research, or at least implementation.
They had to start from zero, so it's not necessarily a benefit that you're not a legacy system - yet. I would also think that the non-modular approach and frightening depreciation of the body/sensor combination is something to consider for some potential users.
Exactly right, except that I am almost certain that after 2 years of non-stop sell-out cameras and lenses, Leica has already paid that off. The modular approach is an interesting option, but something that very, very few take advantage of. Even the modular viewfinder is something that the market leader, Phase One, has ditched a long time ago, which doesn't seem to bother their customers. The depreciation is moderate, if you don't hold onto your stuff for too long. Pros can write off this stuff anyway, and they are the primary target for much of medium format.
From what I've read, they have the best lens for sure, but at 2x the prices that Hasselblad and Phase One are asking?
That is a much smaller markup than Leica's typical markup in the 135 arena, so I don't get your point. Leica is very successful (financially) in three areas: rebadged compacts (!), M, and S, so why the question mark?
If Nikon does pull out that 56mp D4x that's rumored, it will be interesting to see how confident Leica is then.
I don't see how that affects Leica. The D800 already offer 36MP to Leica's 37MP, and this hasn't stopped Leica from selling every S body and lens they can build. These are simply different markets, and Leica is niche enough not to be affected. The resolution game is more or less over, IMO, except for the landscape art market, perhaps, where the IQ180 continues to reign supreme.
The sensor in the Leica S2 is much, much smaller than the other MF players.
Depends what you compare. The Leica sensor is roughly the same size as the very popular 44x33mm sensor size. It is much smaller than the full 645 size sensors, yes, but they are also much more expensive. It was never Leica's plan to take over the high-end medium format market, simply to carve out a new niche between 135 and medium format DSLRs.
I had always questioned Leica's decision to go to the MF digital format. As a long time Leica R user, Leica had a ready made following of users to make a digital R10. That was planned for release after the introduction of the S2. But, this was later an abandoned project.
The article starts with this sentence:
"How do you tack when one of your core audiences melts away?"
And according to public knowledge, this is true. The Leica R system could not keep up with the competition, in spite of excellent lenses, and had to be abandoned. It was not possible to catch up, and the existing customers were not keeping it afloat. The investment magnitude was not justified by the expected returns. Not so with the S system, which has turned out to be an excellent choice.
There are several howlers that do him no favours:
'To compensate for this unevenness, medium format lenses were designed to mask the imperfections of an uneven recording surface Ė by not providing peak sharpness.'
'Lenses designed for (medium format) film obviously didnít account for the layers of glass. The result is some degradation of image quality when such lenses are used in digital...The result is a significant difference in image quality.'
I don't see the problem with that quote? Film flatness was very much an issue with medium format. Contax experimented with a 220 vacuum back, which was very well regarded. Clearly, lens design needs to take this into account. Why design a magnificently sharp lens which requires absolute film flatness, when you can't achieve that?
It's like this, they're all running like they're being chased by a pack of wolves. 35mm FF has eaten so much of the pro market that MF has pushed up into ever ridiculously high-end market, with prices to show for it.
MF digital has been very expensive all along, the only significant price movement was to accommodate the newer, larger sensors. It may even be that MF digital is more affordable today than it ever was, exactly the opposite to your claim. In fact, MF film was also very expensive. Look at the 203FE and similar high-end cameras. Not at the level of digital, but as a system, not that far off either.
It's sad they chose this cul-de-sac rather than re-introduce the R series, a la ZE/F.
It has worked out very well for them. Leica is primarily an optics cameras, but they have never made lenses for other companies' systems, this just isn't their DNA. Do we know that the Z lenses have worked out well for Zeiss? The profits can't be that great, with affordable prices combining with expensive manufacturing and materials, and profits split between two partners. I don't see much for Leica to want to emulate there. It works for Zeiss, I suppose.
I had no idea Leica was so poorly managed and informed.
An incredibly blind statement. Leica is worth more today than ever before, and cannot make cameras and lenses fast enough to satisfy their market.
Forget Nikon as they are sensor customers, not makers
Nikon doesn't manufacture sensors (which has turned out to be a distinct advantage when comparing to Canon), but they do design sensors. Some of their most successful cameras have been powered by Nikon-designed sensors.
Leica's not really for photographers, it's for dentists/doctors/lawyers who want a bling camera.
If the massively oversimplifying and generally useless stereotype had not already been invented, you would have just done so. Congratulations. Independent thinking is great, you should try it sometime.
I won't comment on Leica since they have a knack for recovering. Your comments on the high end Zeiss is exactly what I think is going to happen as FF 35mm gets pushed by smartphone into ever high end markets.
What? DLSR sales are up this year, even in the face of competition from mirrorless systems. Phones only put pressure on compacts, not DSLRs. More than even medium format, the typical DSLR sold is probably a status symbol. Probably almost all owners of Rebels and such would be better off with some mirrorless.
First mirrorless MF will make any S stuff outdated.
What a vapid statement. Who will make the lenses for it? Medium format, just like any other system camera is all about the lenses, and no one does that better than Leica (although the new Zeiss 55/1.4 may reach that level too?).