Top digicams a ripoff?

Discussion in 'Digital SLR' started by RichA, Feb 24, 2005.

  1. RichA

    RichA Guest

    Remember how much an F4 Nikon body cost?
    Remember when $1200 bought a good SLR body?
    What is with the $5000+ price tags on the top
    DSLRs? Do they really cost that much more to
    produce than top of the line film cameras did
    or is this just the industry rationalizing that
    the old profit makers (accessory lenses, etc) are
    not the way to go?
    I remember around 1985, camera bodies in the mid-range
    were dirt cheap. A Canon T70 cost about $125.00. The
    camera makers were making all their money on lenses and
    accessories. This didn't last long and bodies climbed in
    price rapidly after 1987. An Olympus OM-1 went from $200
    to over $400 due to increased costs in Japan.
    But to what do we owe the mid-thousands $'s pricing on the
    current top DSLRs? Is this because the market is still maturing,
    or are these pro cameras now always going to top out around
    that price point? Are the days of "pro" bodies that cost
    $1500-$2000 long gone? With production rapidly headed to China,
    why are there no price cuts? Other products have seen substantial
    price drops. Walmart survives on them. Yet not for DSLRs.
    Mind you, I'm not talking about the entry-level where plastic is
    RichA, Feb 24, 2005
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  2. RichA

    jean Guest

    My first real camera, a Canon FTb with a 50mm f1.4 lens cost me 4 to 5 weeks
    of wages in 1970. A much better all automatic with better optics and no
    need for a motor drive DSLR is less than that now, even considering the
    level of taxes I pay. In 1970, I could not afford or justify the price of
    Canon lenses, 35 years later with poorer eyesight, I can see the difference
    in my daylight lab (my computer) between a good and a bad lens and justify
    the added costs.

    In the same light, a Chevy Impala was less than $3000 in 1970, is it worth
    10 times more these days?

    I would say it's better now than it was then.

    jean, Feb 24, 2005
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  3. See any competition for the Canon 1Ds Mark-II? It sits pretty lonely at
    16.7MP with a full-frame sensor.

    The ID Mark-II? Maybe, with the D2X. But thats still just two of them

    Even at the entry level, there are only Canon, Nikon, Pentax and
    Minolta with one model each.

    Doesn't seem like too much competition up there so no price wars and no
    price cuts. Compare that to the P&S digicam market where the prices
    seem to be headed southwards all the time with a dozen manufacturers
    with a dozen models being put out by each.

    Yes, costs of components is higher than a film equivalent given the
    additional electronics that go into a high-end dSLR and the current low

    - Siddhartha
    Siddhartha Jain, Feb 24, 2005
  4. RichA

    Chuck Guest

    sensor price my friend ! 8 meg sensor on the 20D is 900$. So its a lot more
    for a FF sensor.
    Chuck, Feb 24, 2005
  5. RichA

    James Fraser Guest

    I think a bunch of things contribute to the higher costs. In a
    nutshell, I think a fair number of people are willing to buy the
    top-end stuff.

    So why is anyone buying these things?
    Contributing factors:
    Digital workflow saves money and time in production environments.
    Photos are more frequently used in print news media. Even the local
    freebie papers now like to use decent, large front page photos. Full
    page photo spreads are much more common in NewsMags than they used to
    The ability to see your images immediately and hold the equivalent of
    hundreds of rolls of film in your bag is pretty compelling for

    How to make a digital SLR:
    Take out the film drive mechanisms (Worth how many $$'s?)
    Add in a nice sensor.
    Develop and incorporate processing electronics and software.
    Add in CF/SD interfaces and hardware.
    Add in PC interface hardware.
    Develop and add in user interface software. (Yeah, there is some of
    this in a film camera, but it doesn't need to support zoom preview and
    a bunch of other things...)
    Develop PC software for the bundle.

    So I until film is rare and commands a premium, I doubt we'll see a
    DSLR at a lower cost than an equivalent film slr.

    On the other hand, as others have mentioned, economies of scale and
    some competition would really help to lower prices.

    Jamie Fraser
    James Fraser, Feb 24, 2005
  6. RichA

    George Guest

    You've got to realize a few things:
    1) Pro dSLRs are not sold in the kind of numbers where the R&D costs
    can be amortized by adding a couple bucks per body
    2) You are also funding R&D on future products
    3) Pro dSLRs don't have a lot of competition (yet) and the two companies
    making most of them have pretty much set the price tag...when some of the
    late-comers want to buy their way into the market, everybody will lower
    4) The products also don't have a long production lifespan to recover
    R&D and production (tooling) many two year old designs does
    anyone really want?

    George, Feb 24, 2005
  7. RichA

    George Guest

    How do you have a price on the sensor? Or is that a retail price if you
    need a replacement?
    The reason I am wondering is that Canon makes their own sensor, right? And
    they don't sell
    it to anyone else, so how is there a price on it? You can bet the internal
    transfer price is more
    on the order of $100-150.
    George, Feb 24, 2005
  8. RichA

    Chuck Guest

    Your kidding right ?

    I dont know where I got this information, Ill try to find it later today,
    but your way off for sure.
    Chuck, Feb 24, 2005
  9. RichA

    Sheldon Guest

    Sensor prices may be related to failure rate. As most of you know, the
    reason LCD monitors are still priced a bit high is due to the failure rate.
    You have to make a lot of LCD screens before you get one that has enough
    "good" pixels in it to pass inspection. I would bet this is the same
    problem with image sensors, especially the better ones. They probably
    aren't cheap to make, and I doubt they all pass inspection.

    And when you realize that someone like Nikon is not marketing a camera like
    the D70 to everyone, yet its sales have been very, very good, cameras at the
    upper end will continue to sell, even at high prices. Supply and demand
    will always rule the market, and some people have to have whatever is new at
    whatever the cost.

    Look at the cost of a new Ferrari, and there is usually a waiting list.
    People who have the money will spend it, be it an outrageous car, or a pro
    camera to use as a point and shoot.

    Sheldon, Feb 24, 2005
  10. Good points, George. As a bleeding edge consumer, I have helped pay for the
    R&D on several kinds of products ... my choice (i.e., I had to have a home
    computer before anyone else). As to your other post about the sensor cost
    of a 20D, I'd say you are pretty close.
    Charles Schuler, Feb 24, 2005
  11. Well, the Nikon F5 I remember as being a $2800 body. And then of
    course there are the Leica products, but perhaps we should leave them
    out of this.

    The sensors in the pro-grade cameras are *expensive*. The yields on
    chips that big are scarily low. And the number of those cameras sold
    isn't that high, which keeps the prices up. I imagine there are a
    number of custom chips besides the sensor, too, to get the performance
    they need. And a lot of software development being amortized over not
    that many sales.

    It's probably also relevant that, *today*, a digital camera model has
    a very short life-span compared to film bodies in the past.

    From the buyers point of view, a camera with a lifetime supply of film
    and processing included that's only $2000 more expensive can be a hell
    of a bargain. The high-end cameras are mostly being bought by people
    who shoot quite bit, and for most amateur and all professional work
    these days it has to be scanned before it's used for anything, so
    that's yet another cost saved by shooting digitally. I figure very
    roughly it costs me $20/roll to shoot film, so $2000 is 100 rolls of
    film, which is about a year. That's a pretty fast payoff.
    David Dyer-Bennet, Feb 25, 2005
  12. Don't forget about Sigma and Olympus. ;-)
    Woodchuck Bill, Feb 25, 2005
  13. To answer your question, there are price cuts. The D300 dropped $100 last
    week. What did it cost to get a 6 mp camera 3 years ago?

    However, digital cameras, including DSLR's are hot products in a growing
    market. Until the development curve levels off and market saturation goes
    up, prices on new models with the most features will be high. No
    <intelligent> manufacturer is going to sell a product for less than the
    market clearing price...

    Kyle Boatright, Feb 25, 2005
  14. RichA

    Steve Wolfe Guest

    But to what do we owe the mid-thousands $'s pricing on the
    Here's what is nearly always missed when talking about camera prices:

    Businesses exist to make a profit.

    Really. That's it, pure and simple. It's plain economics, the companies
    set their price points to where they can maximize profits. There are
    various product characteristics that tend to put that price point higher or
    lower for different types of items, but in the end, the company is going to
    charge what they feel will make them the most money.

    I have absolutely no doubt that Canon could slash the price of a 1Ds Mk II
    by at least a thousand bucks and still be clearing a profit, but
    realistically, they won't sell a sufficiently greater quantity at $7,000
    than at $8,000 to make as much profit as they do at the $8,000 price point.

    It can also be argued that making profit is *good* for consumers, because
    the higher the profit, the more desirable it is for other companies to enter
    the market and compete - and competition is *always* good for the consumer,
    as it tends to drive prices lower, and spur innovation.

    On a related note, I'm terribly excited about the 350D - not just because
    I'm going to buy one and think it's a great value, but because I think it's
    raised the bar enough to give the other companies something to worry about.
    I think it's the kind of "bump up" that is going to have a very real effect
    on product design and pricing throughout the entire low- and mid-range
    market over the next couple of years.

    Steve Wolfe, Feb 25, 2005
  15. RichA

    Chuck Guest

    found a lot of differents answers...

    Some says 750$ for a 6mp. Others said Canon is charging 500$ + 200$ labore
    for changing a scratched 8mp sensor (CMOS).

    Apparently , the cost of the 6mp in the D70 (made by Sony, CCD) was around
    750$ , but it was last year...

    I wonder how much cost a FF sensor. Anyone have an idea ?
    Chuck, Feb 25, 2005
  16. RichA

    DoN. Nichols Guest

    Well ... the difficulty in making the sensor is getting all of
    those pixels to be good. Starting from the 1.5x factor on the D70, this
    means that the linear dimensions are 0.6666.... times that of the full
    frame. Squaring that to determine area, you get 0.4444...., which means
    that a full frame sensor is 2.25 times the area of the D70's, and
    assuming the same pixel size and density you would come out about 13.5
    MP. So -- if the difficulty (and thus reciprocal of yield) scales with
    the number of pixels, that would make it likely to cost around $1687.50.

    Of course, production quantities could improve the experience
    and ability, so the cost would eventually drop somewhat, but I don't
    think that it will drop too much too soon.

    I do remember when Motorola 6800 CPUs sold for $100.00 each, and
    later they I bought some for around $2.50 each as the manufacturers
    improved their processing. (Yes -- my first computer was powered by a
    6800, and I still have it. ;-)

    DoN. Nichols, Feb 25, 2005
  17. RichA

    RichA Guest

    Depends on dead and hot pixels. A Kodak utility grade 1 meg sensor
    used to cost $1000 but a medical grade (perfect) sensor cost $10,000.
    RichA, Feb 25, 2005
  18. Remember how much an F4 Nikon body cost?
    Two things to consider. First, whether it's a car or house or worker's wages
    or taxes or whatever... just about everything is more expensive now than it
    was back in 1985 (which you referenced later in your post). Second, and
    perhaps more relevant, the digital age has brought about a new phenomenon to
    camera bodies- shorter life of design. With changes happening very quickly,
    the market lifespan of a particular model is very short. Thus amortizing
    development costs is done over one, maybe two years... vs five, maybe ten
    even previously?

    Less-expensive models that sell in very large quantities will benefit from
    cost savings as the electronics get ever cheaper, while more-expensive
    models, due to their limited production runs, won't see their electronic
    guts ever get all that cheap. Unlike mechanical things, which tend to have
    significant recurring production costs (tooling that wears out), most of the
    expense in a new silicon chip is during design and initial production. The
    incremental cost of each new chip, after a certain point, is very low.

    What will eventually happen is that you'll end up paying an ever-increasing
    differential for that little extra that makes something a "pro" piece of
    gear vs what the rest of us sloths use. The differences will be there, but
    probably more in terms of mechanical issues, while it's likely that the
    latest & greatest electronics will be found in the cheaper stuff.

    --Mike-- Chain Reaction Bicycles
    Mike Jacoubowsky, Feb 26, 2005
  19. RichA

    tomm101 Guest

    tomm101, Feb 26, 2005
  20. RichA

    tomm101 Guest

    The Kodak DCS 460-760 the first 6mp cameras (1.3 sensor correction)
    started at $26,000 in 1994 the DCS 760 was $7500 in 2002. F5 based and
    still a good camera, they go used for about $2000 on Ebay. Weighs a ton
    (well 6lbs) have a friend who uses it daily, he is a former football

    tomm101, Feb 26, 2005
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