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Wednesday, 25 May 2011


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I enjoyed Michael Reichmann's piece on the Sigma SD1, which pretty much concurs with my instinct, even if my knowledge of the camera market is nearly non-existent. Pricing is absolutely key to any business success.

Michael's potential solution to the mess Sigma appear to be in - bundle the camera with lots of top-end lenses - has been undone by Sigma's recently published bundle offer, which includes a $700 lens in a slightly reduced price of about $7,500.

There is an alternative though. Perhaps for some reason of business strategy, Sigma have recently decided they don't want to sell DSLRs, but concentrate on other things. Having announced the camera with some publicity a few months ago, it would be embarrassing to say that it would not be produced. Perhaps the face-saving measure is to impose an enormous premium on the camera, knowing the price will kill the product. The 100 they do sell become curiosities, perhaps even with collector value. In a year or two, they can with a straight face unveil a DMD type camera with the same sensor for $1000, and people might even rush to buy, seeing some form of great value in comparison to the SD1. All conjecture of course.

I don't really understand the Japanese psyche, but face-saving I believe has a great value applied to it.

Thoughtlessly Tweeted

According to the Astronomy Picture of the Day website (for Wed, 25 May, 2011), this shot, taken from a shuttle training aircraft, is not "copyrighted":


Cheers! Jay

Excellent tornado photo at the head of the facts article in the NYTimes Mike mentioned.

Mike, regarding the Sigma SD1, I see the perfect analogy in (again) an example from the cars industry.

Some years ago, Ferdinand Piech, the head of Volkswagen, decided that they would release a top-notch model, with a real maximum quality, but under the Volkswagen brand, rather than Audi.

It was the Phaeton, a car in which Volkswagen intended to evidence they could produce cars to compete with the most luxury brands, including top models from Mercedes or BMW, or Audi of course (owned by Volkswagen).

Initial reviews were homegeneously raving the car and its qualities, but they quickly realized that its price (around 90,000 euros, if memory serves me right) was possibly too high for a car, no matter how good, sold under a brand known for middle quality cars.

The Phaeton remains available from Volkswagen (now at a reduced price, 80,000 euros), but if you look at its sales figures, they have never been anywhere close to those of class S Mercedes, or 7 series BMW.

The morality of the story is quite clear: if you ask for very high prices, EVEN if the quality of your product is corresponding to the price, the consumer expects you to release the product under a premium brand, not an average brand. Because for anybody willing to spend big money on such product, the quality will matter of course, but the fact of buying something from a premium brand will matter as much.

Translate the story to the Sigma SD1 case and it's quite easy to predict a big flop, EVEN if its quality was up there next to, say, a Pentax 645 D. Which, I'm afraid, won't be the case.

Always liked Elliot Erwitt. An great photographer, but one who never takes himself too seriously.

According to the Astronomy Picture of the Day website (for Wed, 25 May, 2011), this shot, taken from a shuttle training aircraft, is not copyrighted:

Photos taken by NASA are copyrighted, and that copyright belongs to the American people, yet nobody can use one of these images in a commercial campaign because the whole nation would have to sign the licensing agreement. So, in a way, they aren't copyrighted, and anyone can post them on their website without fear of retribution.

A Kertesz is fundamentally of more value than a Sherman.......or am I just being old fashioned?

The NASA photo is public domain as a result of U.S. copyright law. Specifically, 17 USC 105 says, “Copyright protection under this title is not available for any work of the United States Government….”

A “work of the United States Government” is defined (in section 101) as “a work prepared by an officer or employee of the United States Government as part of that person’s official duties.”

As the notes to the law explain, “The effect of section 105 is intended to place all works of the United States Government, published or unpublished, in the public domain. This means that the individual Government official or employee who wrote the work could not secure copyright in it or restrain its dissemination by the Government or anyone else, but it also means that, as far as the copyright law is concerned, the Government could not restrain the employee or official from disseminating the work if he or she chooses to do so. The use of the term ‘work of the United States Government’ does not mean that a work falling within the definition of that term is the property of the U.S. Government.”

I know one thing for sure, Apple will be smiling with all the free advertising they're recieving. If a photo is taken with an iphone it's always mentioned. No-one ever reads, the LGxxx/Samsungxxx etc, photo.


Reichmann may be right, but didn't he also post a review of the Pentax K7 that more or less said 'nothing to see here, move along'? It seems to me his pronouncements are getting a touch Delphian as the years pass.

4704/300 = 15.67 inch side.......or 40 cm or A3.......but when I look at the sample gallery and compare that to the image definition of my 4000/300 = 13.3 inch side GF1 with a non fovean sensor......well lets put it this way looking at the sample pictures closely and under comparison:

This camera smashes the 300 dpi barrier into pieces.......the crispnes of the picture is comparable to large format scanned (from Velvia 100 probably) and anyway I look at it, that is worth something.

So a 4704 pixel side picture would generate the same amount of image detail as a 7500 side sensor or otherwise stated:

A Leica S2 shot at 300 dpi would have the same image detail as a SD1 shot at 150 or 200 dpi.....i'll be amazed!

If you put that camera on the market for 4000 euro (considering the image of Sigma) you would create a tough act to follow for Nikon, Canon and the likes....depending on the build quality of the SD1 of course. At 6900 euro it will be an interresting battle with the similary priced Pentax. But I don't agree with MIcheal Reichmann that 1800 euro is the upper price elasticity point of the SD1 camera if the claims on their fovean sensor hold.......if they don't hold (and of yet my eye sees differently) it's a different matter. In any case I will check the second hand market in a year or two from now one like a hawk.

And as for the Sigma PTB, go get a course in Expectation Management will you.

Greetings, Ed

Do you think that the 'brand name' importance is the reason Cosina leased the Voigtlander name? I wonder if they would have been as successful with their LTM and M mount RF lenses if they had been labled Cosina. Strangly, even if this is an open secret that every knows about and that Cosina never made any attempt to hide I'd think they would not have sold as well under the Cosina name.

There are people who hate the Bayer Matrix - and love Foveon - with an almost religious fervour. Sigma is the only game in town for those people, and must be counting on them having very deep pockets.

The irony is that many of the Bayer-haters would be just as happy with a pure monochrome camera, which any maker could build for them but none (other than Phase) want to, not even Leica.

It's possible that Sigma's pricing is an exercise in going up-market. Sure, there's a swell of 'OMG! $9700 is insane!' and you only sell a few of them, and you have to reduce the price and it's embarrassing.

Until you introduce the next generation, with the specs of, say, a $2500 camera PLUS an awesomely better sensor, and introduce it for a MERE $5000. That's $2000 less than the street price of the admittedly overpriced SD1, but wow, look how much camera you get!

Just don't photoshop out any women astronauts that may be on board!

The problem with the Foveon sensor has always been that it is at best an incremental improvement over a standard Bayer sensor and arguably this improvement is trumped to a large extent by the huge amount of engineering experience Canon and Nikon and Sony have after deploying millions of Bayer sensors all over the world over the last decade.

Foveon only has a compelling case for itself if it is an order of magnitude better than what's already out there. And this will never happen.

I'm with Robin P.

If I had $49,000, I'd spend it on the Kertesz collection in a New York minute.

Ms. Sherman, not so much, although I'm sure she's a fine person.

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