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Wednesday, 02 August 2023


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Where you go off road is in this line: "if they were going to sell fewer cameras, then they would demand considerably higher prices for them."

Yes, all the camera makers (except Canon) have decided to emphasize higher end cameras and pushed products up in performance/features at higher pricing. No, they're not demanding higher prices for the same thing they used to produce.

Since you keep mentioning the Z8, it's significant to look at what, with inflation-adjusted dollars, you got at that US$4000 price point in the past. Effectively, it's a better camera than you used to be able to get. The OM-1 is also much more different than the older E-M1 than most people think.

The only question is this: do customers want to buy a higher end product or not. If no, then the camera companies are shooting themselves in the foot. Evidence to date says that customers do.

The thing the Japanese camera makers are doing is actually something discussed at length in MBA programs (at least it was when I was in MBA school). It's actually an important question for any business to answer: what maximizes your sales and profits given customer demand?

As I've written, I don't believe that the current trend is sustainable. "Going upscale" works for a while to compensate for lower demand. However, done over and over, you eventually get the opposite market reaction, as the high-end Hi-Fi producers discovered many years ago. You can niche a market so much that it has no growth potential and may start to contract again, basically a death spiral.

Camera pricing is hard to figure in a simple formula. If someone uses, really uses their gear then the price has to be factored differently than the well-off person that buys gear just because they can, but never comes close to using it to within a fraction of its capability. My father's barely used Nikon F3 was way too expensive for just the bragging rights of owning it.

When I decided to spend $2000 on a new-in-the-box Leica M6, about 4 times what I ever spent on a single camera body, I did the math on the initial price over time after reading many articles on the build quality and longevity of Leica cameras. Keep it 10 years, and it's less than a dollar a day. It's coming up on 40 years, so was it really that expensive? The caveat was the cost of film and processing. The camera was the cheapest part of the package.

If you ponder $4000 for a camera that allows virtually free operation aside from the electricity needed to charge batteries and power the computer that stores the images, it could be less expensive over the life of the camera... if you actually use it.

But do you need it? In the real world, for the hobbyist, it could be overkill. Would a sub-two-thousand-dollar camera really hinder your ability to get the shot? I doubt it.

I think you are right.

We are on the downslope of a consumer bell curve, and enthusiasts might want to stock up on some of the good used deals available now, because they will become more rare, just like new camera choice is reducing. I don't see this changing in the foreseeable future. We are unlikely to see a revival of good mass-produced, consumer level cameras priced between $400 and $800. However, we are still in the golden age of used cameras, with abundant first generation full frame mirrorless available for good prices, in good condition, and late generation dslr's available for dirt cheap.

It's a hobby for most of us now, so we make do with what we can get. Smartphones replaced both point and shoots and also underused family dslr's (think the dusty Canon Rebel in a closet). I think there will always be some kind of hobbyist oriented cameras to buy, unless we have complete industrial collapse, but the future is murky.

I have a lot of cameras, both film and digital, in all shapes and sizes. Most didn't cost me much and I enjoy using them. But, since I like portrait photography most, I struggle to find subjects. My family mostly, but there's only so many pictures you can take of your family.

Then there's output: either a screen or a page in a photobook, i.e. the sort of output where a 1-2 MP image will suffice. So the modern cameras fail (for me) for several reasons:
- too much money for the amount I'd use them
- I'd need to invest in new and expensive lenses
- 40MP+ is way more than I need and it would clog up my hard drive in days

If I were a pro it would be different, but as a hobbyist I am well inside the 'cameras have been sufficient for many years' club.

I think that, if I were to buy another camera, it would be an iPhone.

Folks should double check these numbers, because I’m also not an accountant. Using this CPI inflation calculator (https://data.bls.gov/cgi-bin/cpicalc.pl), here are some numbers to consider.

$2,000.00 in February 2002 is $3,421.00 in May 2023.

February 2002: D100 was $2,000

May 2023: Z8 is $4,000

$6,000.00 in February 2001 is $10,379.76 in May 2023.

February 2001: D1x was $6,000

May 2023: Z9 is $5,500

Note that to get a better frame rate in 2001/2002, the discerning Nikon photographer would also want a D1h, which was priced similarly to the D1x.

I just read an article about what carmakers learned from the pandemic/supply chain combo. Scarcity drives up prices both for new and used cars. Dealers can charge more if their lot is 75% empty and they avoid the inventory maintenance charge. Of course this trickles down to used cars, putting a double squeeze on the 80%. Sad times.

There are a very few people for whom the higher specs of the newest cameras are actually necessary. Most photographers use very few of the advanced options, and even fewer need them.

In the end, it's not really the camera that makes the photo, it's the person behind it. Case in point, Larry Fink does all of his assignment and personal photography with a Sony RX100. More expensive cameras with higher specs will not make anyone a better photographer.

Very few people are able to discern what they actually need from what they have been told to want. We live in a time when the vast majority of the people in the developed world are in the grips of delusions brought on by mass marketing and propaganda.

Even for the folks in the top 20% - it's really hard to justify spending $4,000 for a camera if it's a toy rather than a tool. I remember buying a pro level EOS 1n in the 90s for under $1,000. A Leica M6 was $1,500 - that was a lot of money back then but proportionally a lot less than now.

A counterpoint to the idea that rising cameras prices might be indicative of a "death spiral" for camera companies is contained in this article: https://www.popphoto.com/news/leica-best-financial-year-2021-22/

It's the most recent financial results I could find for Leica but in the year ending 2022 they had a 16% increase in revenue and their best year, financially, in 100 years.

I can't remember where I read this other nugget of cogent information but last year they were the most profitable camera company based on profit margins of camera and lens sales. They seem to be selling everything they make --- with dispatch. The waiting list for Q3s is enviable. (And frustrating). Maybe people have just developed a taste for better made products?

I'm pretty sure they raised prices that year as well.

On another note, there are over 21,000,000 people in the USA with a net worth of over $1,000,000 which calculates out to about 8.8% of the population (re: Charles Schwab). If 21 million people in the USA alone can afford Leicas, or any other camera of their choice, that's a healthy pool of potential consumers. And then there is the huge growth of new millionaires in China to take up some of the sales slack.

Is the real issue a changing demographic of buyers? Interesting to ponder.

Are we to infer that before 2007, every camera purchased was an advanced amateur model?

"The two-channel audio hobby left me behind in the mid-2000s, after a lifetime. Don't expect me to be happy about it if I have to watch photography wander off down the same path."

In my opinion it's been on this path for awhile.

At this point I think the camera companies are painted into a corner by the smartphone industry. It would be great to have an inexpensive (i.e. less than $1K) compact camera, but it's very difficult to compete against an iPhone or the like. The smartphone is the compact camera, and it's now a really good camera, and continues to get better with each iteration.

That pretty much leaves the high end and more costly camera market. And for sure, the Z8 and other costly cameras do things no smartphone camera can, but they do these things for a shrinking cohort. The majority of consumers seem satisfied with the size, quality, simplicity, connectivity and the fun of a smartphone camera, which is now well within the good enough range quality-wise for most people.

Plus, from an economic perspective, there is a kind of sunk cost with the smartphone, which now is a necessity of life. To sink further funds into a "real" camera probably does not make sense for a lot of people, which then leaves the shrinking cohort of hobbyists and professionals.

So, I think your analogy to high end audio is on the mark.

Perfect audio is easy. Forget all audiophile products. Buy an RME soundcard and the best Genelec speakers you can afford. Play standard quality FLAC files. Job done. Unless you want vinyl for some reason. All the rest is snake oil.

Cameras are not so easy because people use them for so many things and in so many contexts. But still there are value propositions to be found for those who can tear themselves away from the big brands, and not believe that they need the latest models. My PEN E-P5 with the optional viewfinder is still a great half-frame camera. Even if my Lumix S5 takes better quality pictures... how often are these needed?

I really appreciate it when you ground your posts in a broader perspective like you did here by referencing wealth disparity.

These days I can't help but ground most topics in the warming climate. It's not just NSCs that are in a death spiral. :-(

Economists, and those who pretend to be one in the pay of for profit enterprises, like to think about price demand curves. As long as there is demand for a product, it means you could probably be charging more for it.

Cameras are just one example. Many of my photo buddies are diving into the Canon mirrorless R world, complete with new lenses. They are spending what to me is an astonishing amount of money. Prohibitively astonishing. Even when I was working the amounts made me blink. Are they great cameras and lenses? Of course! Are they worth THAT much money? I don't think so, but many do; enough to encourage them to keep doing it. Meanwhile, I'm watching for the clear out sales of my current DSLR. I'd happily buy another one. Maybe I'll get two, and have cameras that I know how to use for the rest of my life.

If anything the ridiculous price for gear is driving me away from the hobby. My last camera purchase was over 2 years ago when I bought my Fuji X100V for a pretty reasonable $1300, before that it was my E-M1-II for around $1200. I looked at the new OM-1, but it's $2100 body only for marginally better performance, and by my calculation, switching to an entirely new system and lenses is at least a $5000 investment. Those prices are not worth it for a mere hobbyist.

I've actually given serious thought to joining the rest of the world and just use my smartphone for taking photos going forward. I get "good enough" images 80-90% of the time using my iPhone. My dedicated gear is becoming more and more relegated to special use cases now, which makes paying thousands of dollars for new gear even less appealing.

I get what you are saying about inequality in the US, Mike, but camera companies in the US also have to sell in wealthy countries where wealth and income inequality is lower and also in not-so-wealthy countries where the locally rich are poorer than rich Americans. And people in all those places are photographers too. I guess part of the issue though is that the cameras from 5 years ago are still pretty good and the cycle of product development has slowed down, so it is hard to tempt people out to buy anything. I'm pretty happy with my G9 and my GX80 even though they are getting old. So, small volumes of new very high-end stuff are the only live markets perhaps.

It's interesting that you mention two channel audio. I'm retired now and have to watch the $ a bit. I was always a buy and hold person. I would research and then buy what I thought would last quite a while. The thing on two channel audio, a high end amp from the 90's still sounds excellent today. All my main audio gear was acquired feom 1996-2002 and still in use. My Nikon N90s from 1998 is still a good film camera, but I'm on to digital. At least used audio gear presents a good up to date experience and value where digital cameras seem to have a short life. Although on any camera, a good photograph is a good photograph. Maybe we need to quit chasing the dime so much and perfect what we have.

The thing to ask is, how much do you need the quality that the Nikon Z8 (or the Canon R8 or the applicable Sony) provides over a smartphone? If you’re in the classic photographic tradition - ‘decisive moment’, portrait, candid, etc, then maybe not - while an iPhone or Samsung Galaxy or Google Pixel may produce technically less good results in the 24mm-70mm equivalent focal length range, the phones will cost a lot less. An iPhone 14 Pro will cost about $1000. Will the better results from the Z8 justify the extra $3000? (Plus lenses, of course…)

There are certainly some photographers who need what mirrorless cameras can provide. Wildlife, BiF, sports and other action photographers would be one group. For them, an APS-C mirrorless plus a 600mm lens are the requirements. For professional photographers, I suppose that quite apart from any actual quality issues, turning up for a shoot with a smartphone would not do. (Though I’m sure Jane Bown would have relished a smartphone.) But for your general hobbyist? Hmm…

I love my iPhone, and it meets almost all of my needs. I’l admit that I have also bought a Canon APS-C mirrorless and a 70-200 f4 lens, to cover the focal lengths that the smartphone doesn’t; but it doesn’t get much use and I’ve really not convinced it was worth the cost

Not sure if this is really aligned with the gist of this post, but here goes.

I've worked in the software industry all my life, and like camera gear, there is always an endless succession of "next best things".

As a hard-bitten veteran, my approach to advocacy of the latest shiny thing is normally 'what problem will this solve?"

For a long time now I've applied this to camera acquisitions. Works for me, but manufacturers maybe less so..

When I was working as a newspaper photographer back in 1999 I bought a brand new Nikon F5 film camera and I think I paid around $3000 for the body (with the Bank of Canada inflation calculator it would be over $6700 in today's money).

Before I bought the F5 I was using two Nikon F801 camera bodies (they were the N8008 in the US market) those camera bodies were fairly light and compact and comparatively cheap and took a surprising amount of physical abuse for daily newspaper photo assignments and rarely let me down.

Practically speaking the F801's were the better camera to use. However, I really wanted the top-of-the-line F5 but it was also a lot of money to come up with as it was probably 3 times the cost of the F801 bodies. I managed to scrape up enough money to buy the F5 along with my employer giving me an advance on my yearly camera equipment allowance.

I used the Nikon F5 for about 3 years then the paper switched to digital. I must say I never regretted buying the F5 even though it was much bigger and heavier than the F801. I still consider it the best 35mm film camera I have ever used the way it felt in my hand and the build quality was fantastic.

In Canada, the Nikon Z8 is a hefty $5400.

Mike opens can, but it's all worms. You aren't attacking capitalism are you?

Some car makers are cutting production of cheaper cars since we all "need" the expensive ones. At least that's what many of us have bought into or is it been sold?

That said, can OM Systems stay in business without charging more? IANAE either.

This has probably been pointed out, but the D700 sold for $3k in 2008 as the baby brother of the D3 ($5k). In today's dollars, those prices are $4250 and $7k. (The Canon 5Dmk2 in 2008 was a much lower $2700, "only" $3800 today.)

One could say that by charging $4k for Z8 and $5500 for Z9, Nikon is keeping prices down and charging noticeably less than they did 15 years ago, despite these cameras being much better than those of 2008. (Likewise Canon, asking $3700 for R5.)

I do not feel I fit the enthusiast category because cameras are tools to me and always have been. And I no longer consider myself a working commercial photographer either, as I decided to stop selling prints and photographic services the year before my retirement. I have never purchased a camera for the sport of it or as a collection acquisition.

The last large camera purchase I made was in 2021 for a Hasselblad 907x for $6,400. I purchased it for its digital back because my CFV 50c got damaged and was shipped back to Sweden for repair, and I had studio work waiting to be completed. But if that had not happened, I'd still be shooting with the CFV 50c. I eventually bought a lens for the 907x, and guess how many times I have shot with it? Once, in 2021. I am just not interested in all the automation the 907x system provides. I use its digital back on ALPA gear, mainly in the studio. It has lovely color, 50mp, and works on my technical and film Hasselblad cameras without a hiccup. 50mp is more than enough for me, as I consider it a tool for enlarging and cropping.

I can create pictures with about any camera as long as it is operational. If I shoot with my small Fujis and want a larger file, I can slice and stitch. There are so many great used cameras for someone like myself who does not care about all the automation. I enjoy shooting 4x5 film more than digital these days, probably for the same reason someone may enjoy fishing at the lake. I use my X-Pro3 primarily for two things: (1) to digitize film and (2) to create website graphics.

I can understand why camera companies are raising prices; everything else has also increased. This past month I had my driveway demolished and repaved. Because of weather conditions, the whole job, from start to finish, took about 2.5-3 weeks. A few days before completion, the owner requested the final 50% payment, which went against the contract. I told him I do not pay in full until the job is completed. I like the contractor and want to see him stay in business, but I do business a certain way for a reason. A few days after the job was completed, I received a 'Notice of Intent to File a Material Lien' from one of the contractor's suppliers that delivered materials to my home. I called the contractor the next day, and he explained it was handled and for me to contact the supplier to confirm. We then spent a few minutes talking about how difficult it has been for small businesses in the area to operate, which I know from all that have already shut down. I had to find a new hairdresser this year, and my termite company of 16 years may lose my business in 2024 to someone else because of a larger-than-expected increase along with their lawn maintenance increase. Everything has gone up!

It is called inflation. If I were a camera company, I'd be embarrassed.

It's not just cameras that are getting more expensive. I just upgraded to a iPhone 14 PRO because I wanted the ability to use satellite service for emergencies in some of the remote areas we hike. The phone cost about $1000. I did the upgrade now because rumors are saying the next versions will be ~$200 more expensive. But $1000 for a phone - with a very sophisticated camera system - is more than I ever paid for a small digital camera and even more than the body of my Nikon Zfc.

Like many, the iPhone is the primary camera, allowing me to set up the Zfc to mimic my Nikon FM of 1980 with Tri-X.

But hiding in the iPhone software is a way to convert the primary camera module from Sony to take 48MP photos instead of pixel-binning for 12 MP. You have to enable this option in the setup menus, use Apple ProRAW file formats and deal with 75MB files!

My question: has anybody tried this? How well does it work?

Mike --

1) Cameras are bought for several reasons -- you mention "luxury good" demand, which i shan't address and do not pretend to understand -- but in the end are a means to a goal: generation of a print or other type of a tangible image.
2) Viewed from this perspective, at least relative to film days (I'm a few years older than you), a $4k body with zero "film" costs is a deal. Thirty years ago i was shocked to compute to compute that I had put $5k of film through a 12 year-old $225 Nikon FM body . . . i shudder at the cost in 2023 dollars.
3) Historical costs notwithstanding, the control over any market participant's pricing is the jack-booted thugs known as consumer comparison shoppers, who are constantly balancing market offerings' prices vs features and their utility. Olympus lost that battle by betting wrong with pricing and features once too often. Nikon almost did too.
4) If your goal is making excellent images per se -- and you are young and fit enough that a few pounds doesn't scare you -- lightly used DSLR bodies and lenses are remarkable tools for cheap right now.
5) Weight is not the only reason to remain state-of-the-art: newer lens designs on the short-flange mirrorless mounts are better than any DSLR lens and of course the sensors have (modestly) improved since a decade ago. But make no mistake, you are unlikely to see any of those differences in an image 20x30 or smaller.
6) There are features -- EVFs (a mixed blessing), video or vastly enhanced AF modes (such as "eye AF") -- that the newer bodies offer. For most still photography though, these features are not mandatory for excellent images.

The bottom-line is that $4k bodies are not that shocking a development and, viewed from a total cost basis, not un-precedented in the hobby. More importantly though, technical progress has left the means to truly excellent images available to almost everyone for a quite reasonable cost.

Far more worrying to the long term prospects of the photography craft is the marked reduction in interest among those under 40 for any image north of cell phone-sized display . . . but that is another topic.

-- gary ray

My sense is that the hobbyist/enthusiast conversation for budget gear is still there, but not where (for me at least) I'm going to just stumble over it. A recent anecdote - I agreed to video a presentation. Never done it before but I have Panasonic m43 gear here (which I love) and I was sorta vaguely aware that it had solid video capabilities.
I found a _lot_ of enthusiast Youtube content for the G85, all talking about how good it is for what you pay for it, even today. Settings, post processing, microphone upgrades (I added a Rode) all the enthusiast level conversation on this budget accessible system. Didn't know about it because I don't hang out much in Youtube (video for me is a low bandwidth communication mechanism.)
Had a conversation a few months ago with someone who was shooting Fuji, and they were asking how I found my G9 and why I used it. My answer is that the picture quality is great (it's honestly the nicest camera I have ever had) and I can take it places to get the picture without worrying if it gets damaged or destroyed. I mean, it would sting from a $$$ point of view, but not a budget catastrophe. The G9 body goes on sale here in Australia often enough (for around US$800 equivalent) that I can mentally budget in a replacement if I really need to, in a way that I just could not for the four figure Nikon/Canon/Sony gear.

The price escalation has made the used market not as fun anymore - while it's still possible to get a reasonable camera for a not horrific price, it's harder to find legitimate deals as often.

And there's got to be an effect for the amateurs. I know several folks who went from N90 to D70 to D90, D7000, etc...but there isn't a reasonably priced upgrade path anymore. Which means at some point, you are forced to ask 'Why am I doing this?', which is a question hobby industries NEVER want their market to ask.

Elephant, meet room.

Tech is supposed to get cheaper. Tech has always gotten cheaper. Cameras are tech. In phones, that camera tech has gotten way cheaper for the Apples and Samsungs. A midrange phone now, is cheap. But the tech in it is stupendous.

[EXCEPTION ALERT] - The flagship phones are still ridiculously expensive. In Australia, it's over $1500 for a flagship smartphone from Apple or Samsung. Moving on...

Laptops are incredibly cheap for the power and tech they possess.

I'll pay $4000 for a camera if it represents value for money.

But for the last few years, the price of a midrange DSLR, NSC... whatever, has pulled away faster than their value/relative utility has increased, relative to the point of sufficiency that they achieved long ago.

They no longer represent value for money. I'm surprised they sell any. Are they being put on credit cards?

So I say Kudos to the marketing teams at all of the camera companies! For making people forget just how much of their life energy went into earning the money that they just gave to that camera company.

In a matter of weeks, that new camera will be as valued and desired by you, as last years phone - ie, not very.

We took a motorhome trip to Baja California in 2008. I wanted one of the Mexican blankets that are a popular souvenir there and figured buying one from a beach vendor would be least expensive. So I bought one and then found a similar one cheaper in town. I asked why that would be, given the lack of overhead on the beach. It was a recession year so tourist traffic was down and the beach vendors were struggling. So I was told they raised prices to compensate. It worked on me. And I guess Japanese corporate economists have nothing on Mexican beach vendors.

As far as it goes, I understand what you're saying. But really? I have two companies I wait for the prices to come down to sanity on (Leica and Nikon) The rest don't matter to me. That said, YMWV ;)

I am currently on DSLR jag. I'm shooting my D810 like nothing else exists. I have a 28-105 zoom (the only zoom I've bought for decades - yes, literally, decades) mounted on it and love the hell out of it.

Tomorrow? I may well mount my Chiyoko 50/2 Super Rokkor LTM lens on my Leica M 240 and spend the next several months shooting nothing else. That's how I approach this question.

Cameras became good enough about a decade ago, or even more. If you want a competent DSLR, just go to KEH and go back enough years until you get to your price point. If you **need** full-frame mirrorless, you can get a Sony A7 in BGN quality (KEH BGN is fine) for $464. Canon 5D? $204. Slum it with APS-C? 50D for $113.

What, you don't want a used camera? Take a new camera out of the box, insert the battery, a card, and take a test shot. Voila! You have a used camera.

The other "spiral" is that for those of us who bought "good enough" recently (last 5 years), there is hardly anything tempting enough to splurge for the latest. You have to have very niche reasons to buy extra megapixels or fancier AF - though some newer lenses may still be tempting. Let the 20% keep camera companies afloat. For the rest of us, the chase is over; time to make pictures.

That's why I like the Sony strategy of continuing to make superseded models but offering them at lower and lower prices. At least for some models.

The problem is that cameras have become good enough. Most people don’t need a ’better’ one. The cheaper model is good enough. Rich people can buy whatever they want, but that’s a small market. I, for one, couldn’t care less about this Nikon and wouldn’t buy it whether it costs 4000 or 2000 or 6000. Same with the Olympus EM1. I have enough good enough cameras for now. Maybe in five years I will look again. And then most likely buy second hand. Then a couple of years old model will be good enough and a lot cheaper than a new one.
Manufacturers try to create artificial demand through wants instead of needs, as phone companies are doing (with better success).

You have some very good points as usual Mike, and hit the nail on the head as far as I'm concerned. I was an avid photographer for over 20 years, and even worked five years professionally as a photo journalist. But, I have left the hobby and the only thing that remains is reading your blog!

While I have a fairly good income, I can't justify being in the sandbox anymore. To keep up with the technology in terms of cameras/lenses and computer software/hardware is just too damn expensive - I have other hobbies as well, and aim for an early retirement.

My last "big camera" purchase was the Canon 7D - which was a HUGE dissapointment with abysmal image quality. After that I sold most of my Canon gear and just got a SONY RX100 (while they were still reasonably priced).

From memory (which is bad): a Leica CEO responded, when asked if Leica would make an economy/entry level model, that a 2nd hand Leica is an entry level Leica.

I imagine that with the changing camera market dynamics, even the mainstream players are moving into niche territory and may compete with themselves unfavourably if they make too attractive cheaper versions.

Are there not enough used entusiast-cameras on the market at all price levels to satisfy those who can't afford the manufactures current entusiast model?

Besides. For this year, we have already used up the resources of the earth beyond what it can renew by itself (https://www.overshootday.org/newsroom/country-overshoot-days/) so maybe reusing the old stuff isn't too bad.

Agh! I should learn not to put parentheses around my links. I did the same mistake in my comment under your last post.

Earth Overshoot day:

The great thing about that Nikon Z8, is that the availability of secondhand Z7s has increased, and their prices have dropped to more tempting levels.

In crop mode, the Z7 gives us a camera some of us have been after - an APS-C camera with IBIS, better handling and other features. Snagged a very low shutter count one for very much less than Nikon would charge (and others are charging) for such an APS-C camera, when new. I also like that it can shoot in 1:1 and other formats. Plenty more megapixels if/when you need them.

In a sense history is repeating itself. I'm old enough to remember when photography was the preserve of the enthusiast and decent equipment was seriously expensive (back in the 1950s and 60s). There was a huge boom of photography in the 80s and 90s with point and shoot compacts leading the charge. Then the digital revolution happened and people bought DSLRs en-masse as they were relatively cheap in the 2000s. But now people spend large amounts of money on smart phones and those same DSLRs collect dust in cupboards. Camera manufacturers are simply responding to a declining market, so it is almost inevitable that prices will go up. Photography will revert to its core of keen enthusiasts as it was in the past. Just my thoughts, Mike.

Why not spebd a few extra dollars and buy a Leica? Makes sense to me.

I like your view on this.

Considering a $4000 camera body stops me cold. That's two and half months rent in the 37th most expensive city on Earth. That's 6 months of food (my wife and I like to eat well). That's a 1/3rd the cost of a decent used car.

I'm looking at this from the perspective of being retired and living on a fixed income. I've learned to adapt by becoming a used camera/used lens quality/price trade-off bottom-feeder.

Maybe I'm fortunate that my view of my growing older self doesn't require that I impress strangers with culturally agreed upon good taste and style. The photo that pleases me is a good photo.

Two channel audio left you in the mid-2000s? An electronics genius in Michigan just revamped my 1960s Scott 299 tube (valve) amplifier. He replaced the old tubes with new old stock Soviet tubes. LP records will sound "better" via some new equipment?

Maybe you and many of your readers missed the point. The Z8 and, even more so, the huge Z9 feed the desires of the photo dork. You described this phenomena in your previous article. The hobby dork (dweeb) may well provide a big piece of the profit for many hobby companies. Cheaper? Then it would be no good.

On the other hand you can buy a Z5 for about €1000, which will do everything and more that most people want to do. 20MP is more than enough for most people too.

There are actually still lower price offerings around, for smaller format cameras that will fulfill most peoples needs.

I am using the original Z7 that cost me €3000, and which if you believe what is written on internet forums, is a totally useless camera, because it cannot focus, and sin of sins, has just one card slot. It does works for me without any drawbacks.

There is a good second hand market too. I have bought most of my gear used, or rather hardly used. I picked up an second Z7 with just a few hundred exposures on the shutter for €2000.

You can pick up some really good DSLR cameras and older mirrorless bodies, at stupidly low prices. My old EM5 goes for about €150 here where I live.

Most people do not need hyper fast autofocus on a gnats eye or 10000 frames a second.

The two-channel audio hobby left me behind in the mid-2000s, after a lifetime. Don't expect me to be happy about it if I have to watch photography wander off down the same path.

Mike, you don’t have to drink the Koolaid! You can have fun with two channel audio and music without spending much on hi-fi gear. Really good sound quality (and build quality) is available for low dollar amounts. Look at Topping, Bluesound, etc. The same is true of photography. Looks like you are having fun with cameras now without the $4000 Nikon getting in the way.

I think you are spot on with this logic. The industry is headed to a place I can't follow. It's a good thing I don't need a new camera . . . .

And as with cameras, if one has a strong interest in “audiophile” stereo, it’s possible to get excellent used equipment at bargain-basement prices, or at least for reasonable money.

The last man standing may be Leica. One of their divisions makes rangefinders used by golfers who could NOT care less about photography. But do have lots of disposable income. Checkout the price of a country club's yearly membership.

IANAEE but when I consider the camera market of the last decade I can't help but be reminded of the fate of the British motorcycle industry.

$4000 - insane! I certainly would not pay that sort of money for a camera body that does not do anything better, with the possible exception of very low light photography, than my £1700 Fuji X-t5. I never could see the point of full frame anyway. A major advantage of the improvement in sensor technology has been that they can be made smaller. Ooh, that's torn it, the full framers will be taking me apart limb from limb.

You are shooting at the center of the target, Mike. The topic of pricing in this kind of cameras has become the main reason why many of us decided to wait for a long time before replacing our cameras.

I own a Pentax K10D, and if the prices of cameras had gone in a reasonable direction, I would have probably purchased another digital camera years ago. But fact is that my love for photography does not justify spending 2000-4000 euros in a new toy, even if I would very much enjoy its new capabilities.

I wonder if this strategy of increasing the prices per camera sold is not contributing to kill the prosumer category sooner, rather than later. As I know plenty of people who are just jumping wagon and using thir smartphones for all their photographic needs.

I thought the Hasselblad Digital Back is my end game but it turned out the Z9 may be the two camera system end game. As regards to the price, it is always on that level, but not audiophile level.

Basically it is fine. It is not like the Big Three in Watches which you cannot see why you want that watch instead of Apple Watch :-) from a function point of view. But both the digital back for landscape and the Z9 for bird has their reason.

It is the horse as Micheal would have said.

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