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07-19-2019, 11:29 PM - 2 Likes   #1
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Why Ricoh should not let themselves be lured into the built-in obsolescence game

The point has been made before, and I am just reiterating it because I came across this article on PetaPixel regarding the possible effects of Sony's pace of innovation on the photo industry as a whole:

Is Sony's Pace of Innovation Actually Hurting the Photo Industry?

I took it as a reminder that Ricoh's strategy - if that is part of their strategy - of trying to sustain Pentax as a niche brand following its own slow-but-steady path of careful innovation may indeed be the most sensible approach to keeping the Pentax system alive.

This will probably not stop the relentless impatient calls for Ricoh to offer this or that new feature, mirrorless camera, you name it, or else Pentax is definitely doomed, but still I felt compelled enough to post it.

Don't get me wrong: I do want Ricoh to innovate and to evolve the Pentax system, but please in a fashion that is sustainable and leads to market-ready product with meaningful implementations of new technology that put photographers and photography first.

07-20-2019, 12:00 AM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by Madaboutpix Quote
Why Ricoh should not let themselves be lured into the built-in obsolescence game
Medium format is an interesting case, you could hope that your big spending would remain state of the art for at least 5 years, making medium format more affordable over the years despite the high price. On the other hand, rapid obsolescence of the Sony FF lineup takes a toll on perceived value of the equipment. And rapid obsolescence coupled with high prices pushes more customers away from using interchangeable lens cameras, using a mobile phone instead. That's how the photo industry gets hurt.
07-20-2019, 02:14 AM   #3
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I think it's more a "expectations management" than "obsolescence" thing. While I agree with the sentiment, the main point, as Biz-engineer pointed, is the decrease in perceived value. No DSLR or MILC made in the last decade is "obsolete". They all make perfectly good pictures for most uses* of most users. The problem is when instead of photographers you market to gadget geeks who are more interested in the spec sheet than the actual output. This is easily applicable to smartphones as well; my Nokia 7.1 cost me around 180 and it does everything that my friend's 500-and-change One Plus what'sitsmodelnumber does. Maybe marginally worse across the board? I'll take a 65% discount over a 10% performance increase any day.



*Pixel peeping is, emphatically, not an "use". I check my pictures at 100% but some "not really that sharp" ones are going into my travel album because I like the composition/light/colours and at 10x15 or 15x20cm you basically cannot see they aren't sharp.
07-20-2019, 02:31 AM - 2 Likes   #4
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Pentax did not actively choose to become a niche brand. With their current research power, Pentax can only fill a niche.
Blaming Sony for being too fast, is an interesting approach. Sony fills a lot of niches these days, space for Pentax is there, but not increasing. Both businesses have to justify investments and make profit. As a customer I care for my needs and not for business needs of a company. I have a lot of overlap with the Pentax niche, but I keep looking left and right. A lot of the people here buy obsolete Pentax gear used because they define what is obsolete not Pentax.

07-20-2019, 03:02 AM - 2 Likes   #5
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It's a very internet age phenomenon in a way - back in the "good ol' days", even pro photographers bought what they needed and as long as it produced the results tey wanted, they stuck ith it - there were no EXIF attached to your prints anyway, so nobody knew hat you had used. when you bought new stuff - usually when equipment broke or you needed a lens that could do something you didn't already have covered, you might check reviews in a couple of magazines and chat to the guy in the local camera store then make your purchase. Now there's endless speculation and rumour , endless information and reviews, aggressive marketing, aggressive brand fan cliques, competitions everyhere, ease of digital submission to magazines etc (meaning a more competitive environment where it's easy to think that it's your equipment that stops you being accepted or winning) - in you face competition all round.

We can, if we want, ignore all that and simply use our kit as long as it serves us, like we used to, ignoring what anybody else is doing - but even there it won't last so long -with many more movong parts and circuits there's more to go wrong, and sensors are still getting better - what was once acceptable because there was no better option won't always be i - not to mention the wildlife guy nest to you getting many times the keeper rate because his AF is more responsive and agile. And there's no doubt that the pictures all of us take for granted today, especially in specialist areas, are ones we would once have dreamed about.

But, the law of diminishing returns is setting in already - it costs more and more to make smaller and smaller improvements. Mirrorless created a side avenue just as that was hitting DSLRs, b ut they will reaching a ceiling a to what they can sell in sufficient quantities to be viable pretty soon too.

What, I think, Ricoh does with Pentaxis what Pentax have always done to an extent, which is to try not to compete head on but by providing a unique feature set in cameras that suits some people and unique rendering in the lenses. The eakness in their strategy is attracting new customers - people who are happy not to be herd animals but also have enough exposure to Pentax kit to reaslise how nice it is it use - you can't "just hold a Pentax" when they are rare on the streets and only available online.

But Sony can only maintain their business model by increasing their customer base, not on replacement by existing users - and that has a limit, which they will reach as the pendulum swings again.
07-20-2019, 04:01 AM   #6
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I sense that I accentuated the concept of built-in obsolescence too much in my less than apt attempt of paraphrasing the author's main thrust. D. L. Cade, the writer of the piece, does not deny that Sony truly innovates, but what gives him pause is that they are applying their new-model-a-year product cycle of an electronics manufacturer to their photo section, essentially forcing traditional camera manufacturers to reciprocate at the same breakneck speed, or follow other downward-spiral strategies (price dumping, overemphasis of luxury products) if they want to stay in the game.

Being an electronics company, the author claims, Sony cares more about putting new tech out on the market ahead of the competition than about taking the time to implement it in photographer-friendly ways. Which is not such a pressing issue as long as there are traditional camera manufacturers around, which tend to care a bit more about photographic usability, but may well become an issue if Sony essentially remains as the dominant player in the industry.

My hope in posting the link was that people would engage a little more with the premise of the article itself, and its line of argument, rather than my own imperfect summary of it. (No offence.)

Last edited by Madaboutpix; 07-20-2019 at 04:14 AM. Reason: clarity
07-20-2019, 05:16 AM - 3 Likes   #7
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Oh, I very much agree with it! My point is that Sony keeps pushing more and more impressive spec sheets (megapixels! EVF resolution! excitement!) when most of their technical achievements have little to no influence in most people's photography.

My girlfriend regularly uses her photos at 2560x1440p wallpapers on a 23-inch monitor. Said photos were mostly taken with a *12* MP Canon 5D. Several of those were pretty heavily cropped into 16:9 format, and then some, to make them work as wallpapers. I am 100% sure that downsampling a 36 MP file from a K-1 (let alone the 45-60 MP files from the Canikony monsters) wouldn't bring a noticeable improvement.


Seriously, 61 MP is absurd. Its main use is driving the sales of more powerful computers. The problem is that gear nerds get caught up in the frenzy and proclaim everything else as "class-trailing". Sure, for some specialty photography (birding is honestly the one that stands out the most) ultra-fast, accurate AF is very important, and the ability to heavily crop helps with, say, using a 400mm tele instead of 600. But, for most people, the only thing affected by this arms race is the wallet.
07-20-2019, 05:24 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Madaboutpix Quote
built-in obsolescence game
The trick is... to know in advance, what the obsolete products are going to be.


Last edited by Kerrowdown; 07-20-2019 at 05:44 AM.
07-20-2019, 05:28 AM - 4 Likes   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Madaboutpix Quote
Sony cares more about putting new tech out on the market ahead of the competition than about taking the time to implement it in photographer-friendly ways.
Sony cameras are mostly driven by innovation on the side of Sony semiconductors. Sony camera department will then take Sony sensors and other components to turn them into a cameras. Other brands design cameras the other way around, they define the cameras and then select parts and components to suit the design intend. We clearly see the two approaches give different results.
07-20-2019, 05:30 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by biz-engineer Quote
Sony cameras are mostly driven by innovation on the side of Sony semiconductors. Sony camera department will then take Sony sensors and other components to turn them into a cameras. Other brands design cameras the other way around, they define the cameras and then select parts and components to suit the design intend. We clearly see the two approaches give different results.

Smacked the nail in the middle of the head, yep.
07-20-2019, 05:46 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Kerrowdown Quote
The trick is... to know in advance, what the obsolete products going to be.
Every electronic product is obsolete a year after it's released. The obsolescence rate was defined by moore's law, every 18 months, silicon fab would come up with a smaller node. So I've never owned a PC that stayed best for more than a year, but I've only had 3 PCs in 18 years, that's an average 6 years life cycle. That means I've been using an obsolete PC most of the time. What made me upgrade my PC was the lack of memory, hdd capacity relative to new software applications and storage requirements. Cameras don't slow down due to windows clogging over time, cameras only look slow when in compared to what being newly advertised, so that's different.
07-20-2019, 05:49 AM - 2 Likes   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by biz-engineer Quote
That means I've been using an obsolete PC most of the time
I use Macs for that reason too... they seem to take a bit longer to get old, just like me.

07-20-2019, 06:52 AM - 2 Likes   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Kerrowdown Quote
I use Macs for that reason too
I assumed it was because you thought they must be Scottish
07-20-2019, 06:54 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by ffking Quote
I assumed it was because you thought they must be Scottish
Your not about to disillusion me are you?

07-20-2019, 10:15 AM - 1 Like   #15
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Planned obsolescence - Wikipedia

Releasing a new model doesn't automatically make an older one non-functional.
It doesn't even make it obsolete, provided that the whole sector (and by this I mean from content production to fruition through processing).

1080p video is on the verge of being obsolete, because we now have 4K cameras, 4K software, maybe some channels (?), Tvs, etc.

I'd say that one of the main obsolescence threshold for pictures is about 8 MP, give or take some cropping leeway.
After all, very few people print, even fewer print big, and 8 MP take full advantage of a, say, 50" 4K TV.

I mean... the "Market" can well say: "Your old camera is OBSOLETE! it's the wrong color", but it's up to (intelligent) people not to believe it...
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