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Leica S-System and the future of Medium-Format
  
 
Tariq Gibran
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p.3 #1 · Leica S-System and the future of Medium-Format


corposant wrote:
How much do you think the prices of Hasselblad or Leica S lenses are determined not only by raw materials/R&D vs. how many they actually plan to sell? I think if DSLR lenses start to reach that sort of pricing, wouldn't a "pro" just buy into the medium format system?

All I am saying is, at some point there have to be diminishing financial returns the more expensive 35mm systems get.


I agree there are diminishing returns. Leica's market problem though is that their lenses will be twice the price of the upcoming high resolution Zeiss DSLR lenses and their body three times as much. That's significant, particularly when these next gen DSLR's will offer more resolution with such lenses. Many MF users at that point would only pay those kind of prices to get "real" MF as far as sensor size goes - and Leica doesn't have that. Their closest competitor with regard to technology and specifications is actually the Pentax 645D, a camera that is significantly cheaper. This statement by Leica that they are 10 years ahead of other MF players is also pure marketing fluff. What are the specific grounds for such a statement compared to their closest "like" competitor, the Pentax 645D? Comparing the S2 to the "real" MF competition - those with MF size sensors - is an Apples to Oranges comparison. No different than comparing a high end, FF DSLR to one of the Hasselblads or Phase One's MF cameras.

As far as Carsten's remark that the sensor size of the S2 is a "very popular" MF size, I don't really think that's the case. Out of the 9 MF backs listed on Phase One's site, there are only two close to being that small and they are at the low end of Phase One offerings. That size does show up more in Hasselblad's lower MF offerings and, of course, is the size used by the much, much cheaper Pentax 645D. The point though is that if one is going to spend the bucks to go MF digital - the kind of bucks a Leica S2 system costs - chances are high most Pro's would opt for a full MF sensor size (because both Hasselblad and Phase One/ Mamiya offer larger MF based systems at the same base price as a Leica S2 system) . If one is going to be happy with the smaller Leica S2 sensor size, there is the Pentax 645D at a much cheaper price as well as some lower end Phase One/ Mamiya and Hasselblad offerings.

The Leica S2 system is great but the above will restrict it's growth in the MF market imo, particularity with the D800 and forthcoming high MP FF DSLR's on the horizon (and the lenses that will take full advantage of those cameras).



May 10, 2013 at 12:20 PM
sflxn
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p.3 #2 · Leica S-System and the future of Medium-Format


carstenw wrote:
Oh dear, what a mess.


This is hilarious. You took the time to extract quotes from everyone and commented. . I'm not sure I can recall the last time I've ever seen anyone do this. I'll reply to your replies of my quotes.


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?


Just watch Phase One's recent video on the new IQ2xx development series. They seem to imply a lot of the latest tech in the Dalsa chip were co-developed so they have some ownership of these IP. Also, they have been the only one who gets the 80mp sensor. And last, but not least, there was that long delay in the H4D-60 camera that uses the Dalsa chip. It may be an assumption, but put 2 and 2 together, and it's a pretty good assumption Phase One gets the latest and greatest from Dalsa.

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
...Show more

I think you've given the tiny operation at Dalsa and Kodak way too much credit. They really didn't do much development to get this color advantage. The advantage primarily comes from using CCD instead of CMOS. You may not realize this, but Sony cameras have the highest color accuracy in the industry, across DSLR and medium format. This is not an opinion but a scientifically measured fact. The new IQ series is getting close but is not there yet. However, photography was never about accuracy, was it? CCD definitely has a look you cannot deny. Back when Sony was making CCD for DLSRs, you could see that same look in cameras using their CCDs. I'm not sure what you mean by uping their game in CFA research. The bayer filter has been known for a long time. Everything down to the precise wavelength filtration is probably standard. The color is a combination of CCD, silicon manufacturing process, and camera software not some major CFA research efforts.

I still believe a MF sensor made with Sony's tech and production process would yield a far superior sensor than anything the MF world has ever seen.

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.

Yes, DSLRs are up because both top 2 players are shifting their focus. You don't lose a huge chunk of your business and revenues (digicams) without making major changes to your business strategy. 6D and 600D? All the new FF lenses from Nikon in last 3 years? 24mp across the board in Nikon APS-C lineup? RX1, Nikon Coolpix A? Nikon Picturetown? I smell marketing strategy realignment, shifting engineering resources. Perhaps this explain the reason for the DSLR sales uptick more than rising demand from consumers for DSLRs. You can bet instagram and iPhones are keeping Nikon and Canon up at night. They saw what happened to Kodak when film fell in popularity. They're doing what they can in areas they can to increase penetration of DSLRs because their digicam market is dying.

They also know in this digital age, a single photo isn't worth what it used to. There's a mountain of digital images out there. What camera an image is taken from may matter to the photographer but not to society as a whole. Print is dying fast. Media consumption patterns are changing. The camera in your smartphone is now nearly as important as the 50k camera systems used by pros to shoot print ads simply because the images from those smartphones have nearly the same chance at reaching the end audience.

Let's not kid ourselves. The cameras we're shooting in these forums, down to the mirrorless, may all just be relics of the first wave of digital photography, and we're already well into the second wave. Canon and Nikon knows this. They respond with more lenses, more megapixels, cheaper FF, more, more, more, in hopes that our love of photography will keep their high end photo business alive a little longer.



May 10, 2013 at 01:04 PM
Tariq Gibran
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p.3 #3 · Leica S-System and the future of Medium-Format


sflxn wrote:
Let's not kid ourselves. The cameras we're shooting in these forums, down to the mirrorless, may all just be relics of the first wave of digital photography, and we're already well into the second wave. Canon and Nikon knows this. They respond with more lenses, more megapixels, cheaper FF, more, more, more, in hopes that our love of photography will keep their high end photo business alive a little longer.



Yes, all the growth appears to be at the high end of the market - those cameras which show obvious advantages to the encroaching cell phones (which have slaughtered the low end of the traditional market).



May 10, 2013 at 01:18 PM
edwardkaraa
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p.3 #4 · Leica S-System and the future of Medium-Format


Tariq Gibran wrote:
Yes, all the growth appears to be at the high end of the market - those cameras which show obvious advantages to the encroaching cell phones (which have slaughtered the low end of the traditional market).


We're not there yet but I feel photography will hit a plateau in the coming few years, not very much unlike what happened in the late eighties with film photography. Bad for manufacturers, good for photographers.



May 10, 2013 at 01:24 PM
mawz
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p.3 #5 · Leica S-System and the future of Medium-Format


Note on the mirrorless side of things that Mirrorless and MF have been long-time companions. Look at the Hassy Flexbody and all the Alpa's. What there currently isn't is a decent Live View implementation in MF, due primarily to the reliance on CCD sensors.

As to market size, Pentax is bigger than all the others combined (Leica isn't that big, just bigger than PhaseOne or Hasselblad). But Ricoh Pentax's committment to the MF market is very much in doubt.



May 10, 2013 at 01:26 PM
sflxn
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p.3 #6 · Leica S-System and the future of Medium-Format


Tariq Gibran wrote:
Yes, all the growth appears to be at the high end of the market - those cameras which show obvious advantages to the encroaching cell phones (which have slaughtered the low end of the traditional market).


And this will force Nikon and Canon to push even harder into MF territory. They must make up the lost revenues from digicam. Leica has a great chance here. By making their Louis Vuitton of the MF camera world, they steal all the rich hobbyist while the pro-end of that market gets encroached on by FF DSLR makers trying to recover loss revenues from digicams. I can see Leica becoming the dominant MF maker. It'll come more from genius marketing and product targeting and not from superior technical platform. In fact, I can see Leica as the last man standing in the shrinking MF market. Pros will abandon this market before rich hobbyists will. Yes you will see rose wood Leica S3 and S4, and diamond encrusted models. lol. Hasselblad understands this too, thus their lame attempts with the stainless steal and Ferarri exclusives. They just don't have Hermes in their blood like Leica. You gotta admit the Leica S is one upscale looking machine for a workhorse. Maybe it's not menat to be a workhorse but a runway model.



May 10, 2013 at 01:29 PM
Tariq Gibran
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p.3 #7 · Leica S-System and the future of Medium-Format


mawz wrote:
As to market size, Pentax is bigger than all the others combined (Leica isn't that big, just bigger than PhaseOne or Hasselblad). But Ricoh Pentax's committment to the MF market is very much in doubt.


Have you read/ heard that or just speculation since the updated 645D has not appeared yet? I have not read anything about Ricoh/ Petax's commitment to MF being in doubt internally.



May 10, 2013 at 01:35 PM
Lee Saxon
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p.3 #8 · Leica S-System and the future of Medium-Format


Wow, they really have completely lost their minds, haven't they?

All this time and money developing shitty cameras with two-generations-behind-the-curve sensors meanwhile there's a 2 year waiting list for Summilux-C's. Stop wasting everybody's time and just make lenses, it's the only thing you do well.



May 10, 2013 at 01:47 PM
edwardkaraa
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p.3 #9 · Leica S-System and the future of Medium-Format


Lee Saxon wrote:
Wow, they really have completely lost their minds, haven't they?

All this time and money developing shitty cameras with two-generations-behind-the-curve sensors meanwhile there's a 2 year waiting list for Summilux-C's. Stop wasting everybody's time and just make lenses, it's the only thing you do well.


Hmmm, I see no waiting lists for lenses. They're all available at my local dealer with discounts. The only product that is still on wait list is the M 240.



May 10, 2013 at 01:51 PM
telyt
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p.3 #10 · Leica S-System and the future of Medium-Format


Mescalamba wrote:
... 645D has actually one special benefit, same level weather sealing as K-7 had, only weather sealed MF camera...


The S system is weather sealed too.



May 10, 2013 at 02:12 PM
 

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mawz
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p.3 #11 · Leica S-System and the future of Medium-Format


Tariq Gibran wrote:
Have you read/ heard that or just speculation since the updated 645D has not appeared yet? I have not read anything about Ricoh/ Petax's commitment to MF being in doubt internally.


Given the rate at which they are releasing equipment (2 lenses and 1 body in 4 years) and the long 'will they or won't they' with the original 645D, I can't see any other conclusion than Ricoh Pentax is unsure at best about the 645D system.



May 10, 2013 at 02:19 PM
mawz
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p.3 #12 · Leica S-System and the future of Medium-Format


telyt wrote:
The S system is weather sealed too.


It most certainly is. The 645D was the only weather sealed camera at the time of its launch, but the S system is the only fully sealed system (only the two D-FA lenses are sealed for the 645D, all FA and A lenses are unsealed)



May 10, 2013 at 02:20 PM
telyt
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p.3 #13 · Leica S-System and the future of Medium-Format


mawz wrote:
.... The 645D was the only weather sealed camera at the time of its launch...


We could quibble endlessly about the definintion of 'launch'



May 10, 2013 at 02:25 PM
Tariq Gibran
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p.3 #14 · Leica S-System and the future of Medium-Format


mawz wrote:
Given the rate at which they are releasing equipment (2 lenses and 1 body in 4 years) and the long 'will they or won't they' with the original 645D, I can't see any other conclusion than Ricoh Pentax is unsure at best about the 645D system.


Good, speculation then. I guess if we see a refreshed 645D, which has been rumored, we will know for sure.



May 10, 2013 at 02:49 PM
redisburning
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p.3 #15 · Leica S-System and the future of Medium-Format


Lee Saxon wrote:
Stop wasting everybody's time and just make lenses, it's the only thing you do well.


?

the Leica MP is awesome...



May 10, 2013 at 03:26 PM
carstenw
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p.3 #16 · Leica S-System and the future of Medium-Format


Tariq Gibran wrote:
As far as Carsten's remark that the sensor size of the S2 is a "very popular" MF size, I don't really think that's the case.


I believe that at the time of the Leica S2's release, Phase One's best-selling model was the P30+, and something similar for Hasselblad. Then the other medium format manufacturers started to price-cut and de-emphasise the 44x33mm backs, probably to distance themselves from the Leica, and 36x48mm is now the entry size. Neither is terribly far from the Leica's 30x45mm size.



May 10, 2013 at 07:03 PM
carstenw
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p.3 #17 · Leica S-System and the future of Medium-Format


sflxn wrote:
Just watch Phase One's recent video on the new IQ2xx development series. They seem to imply a lot of the latest tech in the Dalsa chip were co-developed so they have some ownership of these IP. Also, they have been the only one who gets the 80mp sensor. And last, but not least, there was that long delay in the H4D-60 camera that uses the Dalsa chip. It may be an assumption, but put 2 and 2 together, and it's a pretty good assumption Phase One gets the latest and greatest from Dalsa.


IIRC, Phase actually either co-developed or co-funded the development, thus the lead to the market on that front. Other than that I don't think there is any preferential treatment. In theory Hasselblad could do the same, but they haven't shown quite the drive that Phase One has.

I think you've given the tiny operation at Dalsa and Kodak way too much credit. They really didn't do much development to get this color advantage. The advantage primarily comes from using CCD instead of CMOS.

No, the advantage comes from Kodak's century old knowledge of colour, and on the Dalsa side I am not sure, I am not so familiar with its history. CCD has some advantages, but colour has more to do with CFA than with CCD.

You may not realize this, but Sony cameras have the highest color accuracy in the industry, across DSLR and medium format.

Sure, I realise that, but ultimately it isn't important. It is better than poor colour accuracy, sure, but preferred over both is *pleasing* colour, and this is where Kodak (and Fuji, incidentally) come out on top. Too bad Kodak sold off its sensor business. I hope the knowledge isn't lost.

CCD definitely has a look you cannot deny.

Really? Can you characterise it? I hear this a lot, but I haven't seen any explanation for it the theory.

I'm not sure what you mean by uping their game in CFA research. The bayer filter has been known for a long time. Everything down to the precise wavelength filtration is probably standard.

The "probably" is wrong: it is not. In fact, the exact CFA choices made by a manufacturer determine the look of the sensor far more than more discussed aspects. TheSuede and other experts should chime in here, but for example, Canon made a "thin" CFA for the 5DII, in order to improve high ISO performance, under pressure from Nikon. This hurt the 5DII's colour accuracy, and IIRC it has more severe colour aliasing than competitors.

I still believe a MF sensor made with Sony's tech and production process would yield a far superior sensor than anything the MF world has ever seen.

Technically, yes, but subtlety is what is needed here. If you own a hammer, every problem looks like a nail, but the most loved sensors were never determined by the best sensor tech, but rather, by the best colour. Kodak SLR/N, Fuji S3/S5, etc. One might consider making an exception here for the Foveon-based Merrill cameras...

Yes, DSLRs are up because both top 2 players are shifting their focus.

What, are they up or down, you need to decide, I cannot argue against you in two directions at once. Anyway, I cannot agree than Canon and Nikon are shifting focus, they are rather releasing products (EOS-M, Nikon 1) which are meant to distract from the mirrorless inroads in DSLR territory. Every critique I have heard so far has been that it is too little, too late, hardly a shift of focus, more of an attempt to maintain the status quo.

Print is dying fast.

Canon might worry about their printer business, but I cannot imagine Nikon cares how you use your photos, as long as you buy Nikon.



May 10, 2013 at 07:16 PM
Tariq Gibran
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p.3 #18 · Leica S-System and the future of Medium-Format


carstenw wrote:
I believe that at the time of the Leica S2's release, Phase One's best-selling model was the P30+, and something similar for Hasselblad. Then the other medium format manufacturers started to price-cut and de-emphasise the 44x33mm backs, probably to distance themselves from the Leica, and 36x48mm is now the entry size. Neither is terribly far from the Leica's 30x45mm size.


Yeah, the competition has clearly ratcheted up over the past few years. I think the problem Leica has is that the Pentax 645D is pretty compelling for much less money (far less than half the price) while one can buy a true MF sized sensor (54 x 40mm) with 80MP from Phase One in a kit for not much more (relatively speaking) than the S2 (actually much less if you were to factor in the costs of the system lenses):

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/823189-REG/Mamiya_020_00980B_DM_Series_80Mp_DSLR_Camera.html

Drop down to a Phase One 56MP kit with a still large MF sensor size of 56 x 36mm and the price is going to be less than the Leica S2 with standard lens:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/823188-REG/Mamiya_020_00956B_DM_Series_56Mp_DSLR_Camera.html

I do think there will be a subset of folks who gravitate to the Leica for the lenses but there is a far greater number who will not simply because they shoot MF to get the full MF look using a MF sized sensor. Those who don't care as much about the actual sensor size will be at risk of moving down to FF 35 high MP future cameras imo.




May 10, 2013 at 08:31 PM
telyt
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p.3 #19 · Leica S-System and the future of Medium-Format


Tariq Gibran wrote:
.... I think the problem Leica has is that the Pentax 645D is pretty compelling for much less money (far less than half the price) while one can buy a true MF sized sensor (54 x 40mm) with 80MP from Phase One in a kit for not much more (relatively speaking) than the S2 (actually much less if you were to factor in the costs of the system lenses):


I expect that in the price range of any of these cameras people will rely more on workflow and what the results look like than on spec sheet numbers. Leica's problem is production capacity.



May 10, 2013 at 08:53 PM
Tariq Gibran
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p.3 #20 · Leica S-System and the future of Medium-Format


As far as sales, most of the higher end MF cameras are not purchased but rented by photographers. I could see a situation where Leica actually sold more of their production to final affluent users (same with Pentax as far as selling) while with Phase One and Hasselblad, those are rented in larger numbers. That situation could possibly skew things to make it appear Leica has a higher market share than they actually do in this market. I don't know but it's clear the numbers are nebulous.

As far as how results "look", they look distinctly different with a larger sensor so the sensor physical size spec does matter to users in this category - just as it mattered when choosing MF vs 4x5 vs 8x10 film.



May 10, 2013 at 09:24 PM
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