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Konica Minolta Quits Photography Market 239

Posted by Zonk
from the harsh-world-out-there dept.
halenger writes "Japanese photographic equipment maker Konica Minolta has announced plans to withdraw from the camera business. Konica Minolta said the market had become too competitive, and added it would sell its digital camera business to Japanese electronics giant Sony." From the article: "Its decision to ditch the camera business altogether includes the cessation of its colour film and photo paper business, in which it has trailed Eastman Kodak of the US and Japan's Fuji Photo Film. Instead, it plans to focus on products such as colour office photocopiers and medical imaging equipment." We just recently reported on the decision by Nikon to go completely digital.
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Konica Minolta Quits Photography Market

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  • by advocate_one (662832) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @09:34AM (#14508985)
    Konica Minolta said the market had become too competitive,

    means the competition's cameras are too cheap and we have no margin left...

    • That didn't require decoding, that's plainly what the phrase meant.
    • by Ubergrendle (531719) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @10:04AM (#14509236) Journal
      Conservative estimates indicate Canon has about 50% of the DSLR market, whereas Nikon has 30-35% at this time. So that leaves a remaining 15% to be divided amongst: Olympus, Pentax, Fuji, KM, Sigma, and a few other minor players.

      I suspect the 'innovations' in the DSLR market are going to slow down a bit now, the 18mo lifecycle for $1k - $10k bodies will probably stretch to 24mos, maybe 36mos. Unfortunately w/ several hundred thousand 350D Rebels and D70s cameras having been sold, the early adopters have already bought into mount systems, making prospects of explosive growth for one of the niche players unlikely... if you're not profitable now, you won't ever be.

      Sony might do something interesting with the KM patents their acquiring, but the odds are against it.

      And yes, DSLR bodies might become cheaper...the D50 is a good entry level, perhaps a D500 for Nikon at the $500 point might be possible in the future... but if you're selling $500 cameras, you're not tapping a segment that will buy $1000 lenses regularly.
      • by Kadin2048 (468275) <[slashdot.kadin] [at] [xoxy.net]> on Thursday January 19, 2006 @10:27AM (#14509449) Homepage Journal
        This is really too bad. I've always been a fan of Minolta's photography products, dating back to when I used to work behind the counter in a photo store.

        They were never as cheap as the low-end Nikon or Canon, but for a little bit more money you got a lot more features. I thought this was the case with their digital line as well.

        I think where they failed was waiting so long to bring out a DSLR that was lens-compatible with their Maxxum series of film SLRs. They played around for a long time with the idea of DSLRs that used special digital lenses, a standard lens format that would be brand-neutral (not a bad concept, really). It required them to retool their factories completely, and in the meantime Nikon and Canon brought out DSLRs that were basically a chip shoved into their film bodies and used the film-series lenses. These were a lot more attractive to photographers and left Minolta photographers in the lurch for a number of years.

        Frankly I think the Minolta 7D, the digital version of the Maxxum 7, was sweet -- it was just introduced too late and at too high a price to compete with Nikon. And the features it offered were a tough sell to an "average consumer" whose primary concern is price. (Image stabilization is not an easy feature to sell, altough I think it's a really good deal given that to get the same thing in Nikon or Canon you'd need all new lenses.) I guess I should hurry up and buy one.

        I find it odd that they're selling out to Sony; Minolta's products always seemed to me like the anti-Sony: not a lot of proprietary accessories, inexpensive addons, etc. I would have thought that selling out to Kodak would be the logical step. I guess they got a better offer. I wonder if Sony will retain the digital-Maxxum series DSLRs, given that Sony doesn't have any DSLR history. There are a LOT of Maxxum users in Japan (I've heard that the Maxxum 9 is the most popular film camera for photojournalists there, versus the Nikon F5 in the states.) It seems silly not to continue with it, but Sony has never been constrained by the bounds of what I'd consider to be logical behavior.

        I had been afraid this was going to happen though, ever since Konica and Minolta merged. It's really too bad, though. They made good gear, and I hope that Sigma and the other aftermarket manufacturers will continue to support their lineup in the future.
        • Yes, I have always liked Minolta. I'm glad now that I opted for an Olympus for my most recent digital camera purchase though. Otherwise I would have been slapping my forhead and saying "D'OH!" right about now...
      • I don't see how this is different from the old film SLR market: Canon has the lion's share, Nikon can't make up for lost time and second-rate glass, and the rest squabble over the scraps.

        Sony's in a fine position to upset the applecart... they're the dominant consumer/prosumer digicam brand, and a DSLR with Minolta's electronics know-how coupled with Zeiss optics at a Sony price-point will be a world beater, believe it.

        (And Contax sold more Arias and NXs than they could make, precisely because they were $50
      • The non-SLR digital camera landscape is very different:

        (year-old statistics, US-only [com.com])

        20% Sony
        20% Kodak
        16% Canon
        12% Olympus
        32% ... others

        There is lots of money to be made there. Camera phones will intrude, but a percentage of people (like me) will insist on lenses that are too big to fit on a phone.
    • Not to mention that their SLRs and DSLRs are almost unusable, and not very innovative. I think the last thing they beat the competition at was getting an autofocus SLR to market, in the '80s.
      • I still have my old Minolta XGM SLR which I bought back in 1983... still works fine... perhaps that's their biggest problem, they couldn't get me to upgrade... all I've bought for it since have been a couple of lenses and film... I would have liked a digital back for it, but they never bothered, prolly wanted me to buy a new camera instead...
      • Woha. You're either misinformed or trolling. Or a Canon/Nikon fanboy. ;)

        KM has got an in-camera anti-shake system which works really well. While you have to pay over a $1000 for an IS lens for Canon or Nicon cameras, ALL your lenses become IS lenses on a KM dSLR camera. This for example means no more blurry pictures when shooting handheld without flash indoors, which is Significant with a capital S.
        I bought a second-hand 70-210mm zoom lens for my KM 5D and I can take blur-free shots at 210mm (305mm film equ
        • While you have to pay over a $1000 for an IS lens for Canon or Nicon cameras [...]

          Not really. [bhphotovideo.com]

          Although it would still be a nice thing to have built-in to the camera. (How does it work on the Konica Minolta cameras? Does it wiggle the sensor round or something like that?)
    • It means the competition makes better cameras than we do and we getting our asses handed to us in our hats. We're going to hopefully sell our shit to a real company and hope to keep our heads above water.

      The first might be true. Since when have you seen a pro using a minolta? The second isn't true because no matter which way you turn it sony sucks dog balls as a company.

  • I knew that they were already working with Sony. Digital has certainly changed the photography landscape. Each year it looks more and more like film will become a smaller niche.
    • It's the absolute best way to prove that you took the pictures in any copyright accusation. Even when I take along the semi-crappy/semi-decent Fuji S5000 and use it, I'll take at least one photo of something potentially useful for sale or let with my little Maxxum Qt-si, so that I have a negative to prove incontrovertably that I did it.

      It's too easy to edit EXIF data, and it's way too easy for someone to claim that a digital photograph is his, even if he didn't take it. BUT - if you have a 35mm negative o

  • by pvera (250260)
    Good riddance. Evolve or step aside.

    Notice how right as Nikon announced they would stop most of their film cameras, Zeiss recovered from the Contax failure by offering their glass for the Nikon F-mount.

    Film photography is far from dead, but we are past the point in which you can wrap a business around expensive film-based gear and exotic film types. Kodak killed their B&W paper products, but it was not the end. Ilford is still around.

    The same will happen with film. Now it would be nice if we can get Nik
    • Now it would be nice if we can get Nikon out of the 35mm frame mindset when designing future SLR gear.

      I expect the sheer price of producing digital medium format camera's will safeguard the 35mm format for quite some time. I certainly don't see medium format DSLR's entering the consumer market in the foreseeable future.
      That is assuming you meant them moving towards medium format ofcourse :)
    • ...and when Ilford isn't around, there might still be Seagull and Foma and Efke.

      Chemical photography is going to become like etching and engraving: a specialized art or trade. This makes me sad, because I used to enjoy chemical photography a great deal...but I just don't have the time/space for my darkroom anymore.

      WRT the withdrawal of Konica/Minolta: I'm not surprised. My next thought is--who's next? Asahi-Pentax? As a Pentax user, that'd make me very sad, as I've always liked their bodies & le

      • by drooling-dog (189103) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @10:13AM (#14509313)
        ...but I just don't have the time/space for my darkroom anymore.

        We've become accustomed now to imagery being cheap, fast, and easy. It makes us look at the effort required to achieve a chemical photograph - and maybe even the value of the result - a lot differently.

        • I agree. In the distant future, I forsee a revival of the more archaic, non-silver-based photographic processes--cyanotype, for instance--among the real enthusiasts. Maybe now would be a good time for me to start buying up those old 8x10 view cameras...

        • For me, chemical photography was always playing with light, while digital is playing with numbers. Sure, you can do pretty much everything you can achive in the darkroom with photoshop, too, but it is not natural, it feels like a kludge. The good news is that darkroom equipment should be pretty cheep right now, I think I will start building a darkroom in my basement.
    • Actually, kind of sad news. I'm a photographer and when I was 13 I got my very first SLR. A Minolta 201 with a 50mm f1.7 lens. I shot more rolls of film through that thing and it kept chugging right along. I would still have it if it didn't get stolen along with just about everything else I owned about 20 years ago.

      But hey, they need to move on. It's a different world now.
    • Now it would be nice if we can get Nikon out of the 35mm frame mindset when designing future SLR gear.

      No ... I suspect 35mm will become *the standard* in digital for the same reason that it did for analog. The only reason smaller sensors are being used in some 35mm form-factor cameras right now is that larger sensors are too expensive. Olympus has made a new camera system around a smaller sensor, and it isn't much smaller or cheaper than 35mm cameras.

      The size of the light-sensitive area dictates the size of
    • Now it would be nice if we can get Nikon out of the 35mm frame mindset when designing future SLR gear.

      Ask any professional photographer; the collection of lenses is a bigger investment than the camera body. Newer Nikon digital camera bodies, for example, are designed to accept many of the existing Nikon lenses. These lenses were all optimized for a 35mm film frame, so it only makes sense to use a digital image sensor of roughly the same dimensions. Photographers can make thew jump to digital without th

  • no loss really (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Nobley (598336)
    While their latest digital slr had some nice features such as the built in anti shake feature, they were only ever 2nd or 3rd best to canon and nikon in this department, and as far as their film goes, it is really as 2nd teir as agfa etc. The saddest day for film will be when fuji stops making Velvia and the likes, and of course the sad day for digital has already come,... all these people with top of the line digital SLRs that have no clue how to use them
    • Re:no loss really (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 19, 2006 @10:18AM (#14509369)
      "of course the sad day for digital has already come,... all these people with top of the line digital SLRs that have no clue how to use them "

      How typical of the elite mindset. I own a digital slr (proud owner of a Canon Rebel XT) and have no clue on how to use it besides auto mode. But guess what! Digital SLR'S made photography actually fun fun for me and actually pushed me to learn more. So, sad day? I don't know it's your call I guess
  • by swschrad (312009) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @09:39AM (#14509022) Homepage Journal
    the same thing happened to 16mm film in the news business around 1978 - 1979. ENG minicams and tape started infiltrating newsrooms, and everybody was saying they'd keep both. we moved our color processor into the basement, and I built a splash pan for the open-bottom drain. frezzolini was saying their next cameras would be computer-controlled and monitored to the extent that you would know which cell of the battery pack was dying.

    but this coincided with kodak's deciding to drop E4 for E6 color processing, and E6 was desperately sensitive to water pH. in other words, all of a sudden, your film came out either deep blue or wildly yellow.

    this plus the one-time nature of film costs put film out of business in our 8-station tv operation in four months.

    if you can find ANY new film cameras, ANY, offered in one year, it will be a major surprise. I suspect canon and nikon will offer one more digital back for their F lines, and that will be it. the major players in one-use supermarket cameras will be offering digital one-shots by next christmas, probably on the order of grill gas bottles... pay $50 up front, swap the camera for $10 when this one is full.

    glorious silver halide photography, R I P. don't dip a finger to taste the developer any more, it's done.
    • by Thag (8436) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @10:04AM (#14509237) Homepage
      if you can find ANY new film cameras, ANY, offered in one year, it will be a major surprise. I suspect canon and nikon will offer one more digital back for their F lines, and that will be it. the major players in one-use supermarket cameras will be offering digital one-shots by next christmas, probably on the order of grill gas bottles... pay $50 up front, swap the camera for $10 when this one is full.

      I doubt the film market will disappear, but it will probably wind up being a boutique industry. You'll be able to find camera places in major cities, and there will be companies that specialize in manufacturing replacement parts for discontinued major brands. That's getting cheaper to do all the time with computer aided manufacturing.

      But yeah, they'll probably stop selling film cameras in the discount stores fairly soon.

      Jon Acheson
    • > if you can find ANY new film cameras, ANY, offered in one year, it will be a major surprise.

      That is a ridiculous assertion. You do know that 16mm motion film is still in wide use, right? You can go out right now and buy a 16mm camera no problem:
      http://www.aaton.com/products/film/aminima/index.p hp [aaton.com]

      The switch by TV journalists did not end the availability of 16mm film and equipment. The same will be true for 35mm (or other format) still film and equipment. Just because every wedding photog in America
      • you haven't been able to get mag stripe film for 2 or 3 years now. there is no single-system market of any kind in movie film, none.

        there is still a market for the arriflex and nagra crowd, but that's thinning out, with even feature film distribution going to direct digital to theater servers.

        we now have all of agfa, sakura, konica/minolta, 3M, and most of ilford a lot of kodak's lines of film off the market. kodak closed its color paper plants in colorado, the last lines I think are in spain and brazil.

        i
    • I worked in the Photographers' Centre at the British Grand Prix in 2004 and 2005. They'd just removed the darkrooms, and the space was available for yet more laptops. In 2004, there were empty 35mm film canisters around, and someone muttered that Kodak were visiting to collect stuff for processing. In 2005 I didn't see a single 35mm canister, although Darren Heath was there and I believe doing film photography for the monthly magazines.

      ian

    • if you can find ANY new film cameras, ANY, offered in one year, it will be a major surprise.

      It'll be like how CDs and MP3 players totally "killed" tape. Film will become harder to find, there will be less choice, and it will get more expensive (as will processing), but it will be around for a long time.

      http://www.tape.com/ [tape.com]

    • Hunh?
      if you can find ANY new film cameras, ANY, offered in one year, it will be a major surprise.
      Canon just upgraded several cameras. the Elan7n(30V) was a major upgrade, and the Rebel Ti (eos300v) got a refresh as well. Canon seems to be stable in film, not many new upgrades, mostly using tech developed for the digital market. The elan7n has ETTL-2 from the D20.

      I suspect canon and nikon will offer one more digital back for their F lines
      Only nikon makes the F, and it's called the N in consumer level Cams
  • by digitaldc (879047) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @09:39AM (#14509024)
    "Japanese photographic equipment maker Konica Minolta has announced plans to withdraw from the camera business."

    Was this a well-thought out resolution? Or just a snap decision?
  • by milgr (726027) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @09:45AM (#14509059)
    I have an old Minolta SLR camera. It is roughly as old as me (well, it could conceivably be older, I don't really know). All the important controls are manual -- focus, aperature, speed. It takes great pictures. Much better than my wife's auto-everything camera. Not that I have a flash.... but who needs a flash when you can brace the camera against a wall or a knee and take really long exposures?

    Upon first hearing the news that Minolta was getting out of the camera business, I thought, time to upgrade.

    On the other hand, the only thing I buy for this camera is film.

    My one complaint is its size. I guess you can't get everything.
    • I went digital last year because the cost of film got too high. The cost to buy, develop, and print (from a good lab) was approaching $1/frame. My digital setup (Canon EOS Digital+lens, 1gb cf card, and flash) cost $1400. At the rate I take pictures it will pay for itself by the end of this year.
  • by Control Group (105494) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @09:59AM (#14509186) Homepage
    *sigh*

    And another one bites the dust.

    I've got two Minolta 35mm film SLR cameras, (an old 7-series, and a much newer Maxxum 4). They're not professional-grade cameras by any means, but I like them far more than any digital camera I can afford to buy. Minolta dropping out of the camera business entirely probably means that finding accessories for them is going to suddenly become difficult.

    And I still need a good flash for the Maxxum, as well as various lenses for each.

    Looks like I'm being left behind by the march of technology, and it's really too bad. I won't argue that digital isn't better than film in almost all respects, but I really enjoy making B&W prints in my little darkroom (and, honestly, I have yet to see a digital camera that can give you authentic-looking B&W. I don't know the technical reason, but I can always tell the difference between a picture that's just been desaturated, and an actual B&W). The more niche it becomes, the less I'm going to be able to afford it.

    *shrug*

    Call me a luddite, but losing the environment wherein you can buy a decent camera and expect your kids to use it after they grow up in favor of the fast-paced furor of modern electronics sort of depresses me. It used to be all about the photographer: a talented amateur with a fairly cheap 35mm camera could take pictures all but indistinguishable from those taken by an average pro if they just used quality film/paper. That is, the stuff that made all the technical difference on the print was the cheap stuff. Now, the stuff that makes all the technical difference on the print is the expensive stuff.

    I'm not a serious artist, and I can't afford to spend serious artist money on just a fun thing I like to do. Looks like the market is squeezing my hobby out.
    • I agree,

      I bought my current Canon EOS3 with powergrip for $400.00 USD used a year or so ago, and I still get a kick out of the high quality pictures at ASA-100 or slower film. I can do sports-action shots at 6 frames/second, and take multi-hour exposures for astronomy stuff.

      Ditching this for a digital SLR of similar photo quality would cost me close to an order of magnitude more than I paid, and it would be superceded by the next newest model in about 2 years.

    • by Shimmer (3036) <brianberns@gmail.com> on Thursday January 19, 2006 @10:40AM (#14509581) Homepage Journal
      It used to be all about the photographer: a talented amateur with a fairly cheap 35mm camera could take pictures all but indistinguishable from those taken by an average pro

      I think this is still true in the digital age. Why wouldn't it be?
      • by Control Group (105494) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @11:20AM (#14510036) Homepage
        Because Fuji ISO-100 35mm film yields negatives of the same informational quality regardless of camera. The camera is just a tool the photographer uses to help frame and compose the image, then to help properly expose the film. The difference between a professional film camera and a amateur film camera is only the amount of work the photographer needs to do to get a given photograph. The amateur can buy (relatively inexpensive) quality film, and take up the camera's slack with elbow grease.

        With digital cameras, however, no matter how much work the amateur is willing to do, he cannot make a 3 megapixel camera take 10 megapixel pictures. Other things being equal, a 10 megapixel picture is simply superior to a 3 megapixel picture.

        To analogize: switching from a $200 film camera to a $2000 film camera is sort of like switching from DOS+Assembly to, say, Win2k+IIS+VBScript to generate active server pages. You can accomplish exactly the same goals either way, but one tool makes it easier on the developer. The switch from a $200 digital camera to a $2000 digital camera, however, is like switching from a 486 with 64MB of RAM on a 28.8kbps connection to a Dell Poweredge 6800 on a dedicated OC3 to serve your active server pages. No amount of work is going to make the 486 do as well at, say, streaming video as the 6800.

        The baseline quality is now inherent to the expensive part (the device), rather than to the inexpensive part (the medium).
        • Because Fuji ISO-100 35mm film yields negatives of the same informational quality regardless of camera.

          Image optics vary dramatically between amateur and professional lenses, not to mention that without bright (expensive) lenses one often needed to use faster film, accepting the compromise of visible grain. Alternately they could accept motion blue (which was more prevalent), or they had to accept the terrible compromise that is flash photography [yafla.com].

          If you spent the money in the 35mm space, there were a lot of
        • With digital cameras, however, no matter how much work the amateur is willing to do, he cannot make a 3 megapixel camera take 10 megapixel pictures.

          Following that logic - then you really should have ditched that film Minolta for a Hasselblad.

          • Point taken.

            The difference, though, is that 35mm was nigh unto ubiquitous all up and down the scale of photographers, stopping only as you approached the very high end (when medium- or large-format cameras were required to be taken seriously). Thye convenience of 35mm made it the professional's choice for almost all "candid" situations I'm aware of. Which means you could go to somebody's wedding and take pictures very much on par with the pro's pictures just using your mid-grade camera. You just couldn't ta
    • I don't know the technical reason, but I can always tell the difference between a picture that's just been desaturated, and an actual B&W).

      It's generally because film has much higher contrast and noise, and most people who try to convert to black and white simply desaturate their files, which makes them look very flat
    • I'm in the reverse situation - I have a bunch of great Maxxum lenses and a really good flash (5400xi) as well as two film bodies. I've been waiting for a cheaper Maxxum digital body so I could dust it all off and get back to SLR photography.

      Oh well, guess I'll have to buy the very good but very expensive Maxxum digital body now. I'm too deep into the Maxxum platform to switch at this point...
    • Call me a luddite, but losing the environment wherein you can buy a decent camera and expect your kids to use it after they grow up in favor of the fast-paced furor of modern electronics sort of depresses me.
      In my experience, the cost of even a second hand SLR has surpassed the price of a mid-market digital. Not to mention that modern SLR's are too light and just don't feel the same.
  • by Noordijk (319866) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @10:02AM (#14509215)
    KM will be making DSLRs and glass for Sony (they've been working together since last summer, apparently the first ones will simply be rebranded KM), their consumer point&shoot cameras do indeed appear dead. However, I think the real news here is that Sony may suddenly be a DSLR player. With KM expertise (the 7D and 5D are quite good) in making cameras (and their in-camera anti-shake patents) coupled with Sony's sensor experience (Sony makes the ccds for everybody save Canon), Sony will suddenly have a vertically integrated DSLR business, with proven and well known lens availability (a big barrier to acceptance of new DSLR by pros and prosumers). Canon is the only other company that matches this. That said, keep the -expletive deleted- memory stick out of 'em!
    • That's interesting. So presumably they'll keep the same Dynax/Maxxum lens mount?

      Even so, I still think it's a great loss. They never really recovered from the (what were they thinking?!) business decision to not produce a new digital SLR for years, letting Canon and Nikon thrash them in the market.
  • I knew I should've bought the Canon I was also looking at! Now I get all the benefits of going to Sony with repair/replacement issues. Couldn't Minolta at least sell of to Nikon or Canon?
  • by ianscot (591483) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @10:04AM (#14509240)
    I own a Dimage Z5 -- a cool design [dpreview.com] with a nice mix of features, including a 12x optical zoom with image stablization which I appreciate for nature shots. Having said that, it was a camera with some conspicuous tradeoffs. The default image settings simply weren't sharp enough, and bumping them up meant leaving the auto settings which you sometimes do want for snap situations. The manual focus system was worthless. And so on.

    A few months after I bought my Z5, Canon effectively leapfrogged it with their own new IS model, also using AAs which was a selling point for me. Maybe Konica Minolta drove that new model some, so they had their positive competitive effect on the market, but they didn't have a clear winner in my book for more than a few months, and I'm someone who actually bought their product.

    They had their own way of doing things, though. The design of the Z5 is one of those ones you immediately recognize as having some thought to it, even if you don't like it in use (which I did). You hate to see another independent voice vanish.

    • I own a Dimage Z3 that I bought as my first digital camera. I bought it for the 12x optical zoom and for the form factor that is identical to the Z5 discussed by the parent article. A lesser factor was its use of SD cards, which I already used in other devices and had plenty of and its use of AA batteries. It is definitely different from other cameras in its niche, and shows a lot of well-thought-out ergonomics. Fringe benefit is the moderately high geek factor from its different shape.

      I do own a Ricoh

  • I keep wanting a new camera since my current Minolta Dimage 7hi is almost 3 years old, and I was thinking of going Minolta again since I had spent over $300 on an external Minolta flash unit. I guess I'll just have to eBay it and switch brands, or maybe there will now be some really good deals on current Minolta models.
  • by ek_adam (442283) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @10:08AM (#14509265) Homepage
    Film is dead. Digital at 11.
  • As an avid Minolta and then Sony camera user and saving for a excellent KM 7D (or it's rumored replacement the 7Di) was devastated by this news. But as I posted on www.dpreview.com KM SLR forums, if Sony and KM can do what Sony and Ericsson did and merge their brands, it will retain loyal Minolta followers and give Sony credibility in the pro photography market. Minolta have a history of innovation from auto focus to anti-shake while Sony have a reputation for engineering, so such a merging would be perfect
  • Zonk, your editorial comment "We just recently reported on the decision by Nikon to go completely digital." is wrong.

    Nikon continues to make their top of the line F6. It's hard to imagine a better 35mm SLR. They will also continue to market the entry level FM10 (made for them by Cosina).

    Having said that, the writing's on the wall. I suspect they can only still make the F6 since it shares much with their top of the line DSLR.
  • This is so cool... this reminds me of people getting rid of their records years ago, and then realising the treasures they threw away... the same thing will happen with analog photo gear. Hasselblad, Leica, Nikon, stuff is practically given away. Now is the time to buy :-)
  • For years I was able to perform (and even sell) large prints. I even was one of the few Xerox Versatec electrostatic plotter owners for a few years, although now Inkjet has replaced my old beloved format.

    The reason for the post is quality in large print (especially zoomed prints). Even with the 6.1-8.1 MP images I feed the large format printers I use, there is something "magic" about the drum scanned photos that come out of even my old Rebel SLR with stock kit lens.

    I lost the analog war many times over (I
    • From what I've read for all but the most extreme uses digital (as in dSLR) beats film across the board. In your example I'd be more inclined to believe that it's either psychosomatic (as you put it) or that you just are more experienced with film. Most people spend as much (or more) time tweaking the RAW files from a dSLR as they would in the old developing studio.

      Also consider that the D50 is pretty much the lowest level of current dSLR (though that doesn't mean it's bad). If you compare a high end camera
    • What's big? No, not that thing between your legs. The print. A D50 shot can be brought up to A3 (19 x 13) but you have to have everything right in order to compete with a good quality 35 mm film enlargement.

      Assuming you've nailed the exposure and not done anything weird postproccesing, you have to up rez the file, sharpen correctly and print on a decent printer.

      Then, there is this little problem of the lens. If you're using a kit lens (18-70mm), well, it's really pretty good, but not anything near the
      • Thanks to all who replied (and e-mailed). I actually have decent lenses and I think the pictures I blew up were of good quality. I'm going to look at some plugins for my RIP engine to see if any might help the quality of the print. I'll also look into some "analogizer" plugins to see if it might just be psychosomatic.

        I also didn't realize how high resolution film grain can be -- it never occured to me that drumscanning a continuous-grain photo is MUCH higher res than delineated "pixels" of a CCD capture
  • by BigCheese (47608) <dennis.hostetler@gmail.com> on Thursday January 19, 2006 @10:23AM (#14509416) Homepage Journal
    Just to go off topic for a bit. My wife just recently bought a Konica-Minolta Magicolor 2430-DL printer. Great printer, great price, reasonable priced consumables. The built in ethernet print server supports OSX and Linux out of the box.
    I didn't even know they made printers. Much less good ones.
    You can get them for $350 (if I remember correctly) at Costco. It's a much better deal then the inkjet ripoff.
    • I too have this printer. It is awesome. The high capacity (4500 pages) replacement carts will run $400, but this thing simply works, and works well. As a bonus, even though it doesn't talk postscript, there is a great gpl'd driver for it that works beutifully on my 64-bit system.
  • by Ceriel Nosforit (682174) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @10:45AM (#14509623)
    I wield a KM 5D, and I dread naught. In fact, I find the move rather delightful in what promises are held for me. For one, I'm likely to be able to use my lenses on an SLR equivalent with an EVF (Electronic ViewFinder), meaning that lacking a mirror in front of the CCD I'll be able to capture high-res video. This basically turns what used to be a still camera into a HDTV video camera. Couple it with KM's Anti-Shake system and suddenly a world of new possibilities open up.
    Another benefit I get is better support for my camera. Yet another the name recognition to increase the second-hand value of my gear. Further Sony's hit-and-miss tendency technology-wise means I'm likely to see all sorts of experimental features in models that come and go, giving new photographic opportunities. All point toward a bright bright feature.

    My only concern is that Sony might jump on the Microsoft-only bandwagon, with encrypted file formats & ilk. Yet, with Sony marketing the PS3 as a computer, Linux support might not be a mere pipe-dream. If they do support Linux they will be the only manufacturer to do so, and might grab some additional market-share because of this. This would be enough to redeem them from the rootkit fiasco in my eyes.
    • They mount as a regular USB FAT drive, and you can just copy files over like anything.

      I recently got a Cannon SD450 (5mp) and not does the picture quality suck compared my old DSC-V1 (also 5mp, but a much larger body) I can't even copy the files to my old machine the way I could with the V1.

      OTOH, the V1 was just too bulky to cary around with me all the time, while the SD450 is, and it uses a standard memory type -- no more memory sticks for me :P. I plan on getting one of these goofy things [sonystyle.com] at some p
  • The last true Alpa was made in around 1988. I spent some time over the years collecting the lenses I wanted, the accessories I desired. Haven't had to buy anything but film and batteries for years. (And a typical camera battery for those cameras lasts 10+ years).

    I, for one, welcome many Nikon and Minolta owners to the orphaned cameras club.

    I have watched the price of my cameras do nothing but INCREASE on e-bay and in used camera stores and shows over the years, to the point that I can sell my gear for mo
  • I am shocked everyone picked up on the camera part, but KM is also withdrawing from the mini-lab side of things.

    http://konicaminolta.com/releases/2006/0119_01_01. html [konicaminolta.com]

    That leaves two major players (Noritsu & Fuji) and a revamped comppany (DigitalPortal - aka KISS) still producing traditional labs. (and yes, they all print from digital images as well as film (neg/pos).

    No one is printing images on real, traditional (cheaper) photographic, silver halide paper. Everyone seems content with spending
  • IMHO, Minolta makes the best light meters. Yes, these are still useful even for digital users.
  • Back in the late 60's and early 70's I used to love my Minolta 16 http://www.cosmonet.org/camera/minol16e.htm [cosmonet.org]. This camera used 16 mm film, and I used to reload the cartridges in a light proof bak from a reel of 16mm film. It fit nicely in a shirt or pants pocket ans was pretty rugged for it's day. Loaded up with some Tri-X and pushed up to about 1600 it was pretty good for party pics without flash.
  • So next we'll have some form of DRM on pictures? No thanks, I'll stick to crayons and paper.
  • Sad... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mislam (755292)
    This story made me a bit sad. In the 80s Minolta was the pioneer in SLR business with their innovative autofocus system. The 7000, 7000i(I used to own one) was quite advanced. I still have a Maxxum 5 that I bought few years ago. But truth be told once I moved to dSLR with Nikon D70 I have not taken any picture with my Minolta. I wonder if they had released their 7D when market was not that saturated they may have had survived. But from what I understand Minolta never wanted to get into digital SLR. Only aft
  • I know nobody is supposed to read the TFA by they are ditching the digital camera business as well as the film.

    Konica Minolta said the market had become too competitive, and added it would sell its digital camera business to Japanese electronics giant Sony.

    • And they just released their own 5D, decent camera (the built in anti-shake tech is cool, i hope canon licenses it), but they started too late, wasted too much time on the merger, and have their first generation cams fighting gen 3 and gen 4 cameras from Canon and Nikon. No chance.
  • by joneil (677771) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @12:17PM (#14510630)
    Konica films in general, were not, IMO, that great to begin with. Compared to other colour films from Fuji and Kodak, they always seemed a step behind. Thier one, unique product, Konica 750, was a black & white, near infra-red film.

            But Konica 750 was usually only available once a year, while other IR and near IR films could and can be bought year round. Also, other near IF films from other companies, were, IMO, overall better films. I know, I used Konica 750, Maco 820, Ilford SFX, Kodak HSI (no longer made) and more. Konica 750 was pretty much my last choice for near IR films.

        So for me, hearing that there is no more Konica film, while, that's almost like saying "sorry, no more Lada's". Yes, I did drive a Lada once, a famiily member owned one. the experience was "interesting".

              Bear in mind that it's basic marketing 101 to make the "death of film" a self fullfilling prophecy. My 25 year old Nikon 35mm cameras works just as good as the day they were brand new, and i know guys using 50 year cameras they bought used. But my 4 year old Olympus digital camera, soon to be 5 years old, while it works fine, is pretty much toast. The memory cards are hard to find, and everybody tells me "soon no longer supported", and the specific USB cable to connect it to my computer is no longer made, and parts for it, should it break, are no longer supported, the drivers for it are all Win 98, etc, etc.

        Think about it - you own a big camera company - what makes you more money in the long run? A camera that is useable for 25 + years, or a camera that needs to be replaced about every 5 years?

        Also, the finer, higher quality, double weight, black & white photo paper you can buy for a wet darkroom, on a sheet by sheet basis, is still less money than most comparable, high quality, "photo grade" papers for inkjet or laser printers. I've done some side by side comparisons in the past - colour or black & white - it is more money to run a "digital darkroom" than a "wet darkroom" in terms of both hardware and consumable supplies.

          I am not here to fence with anybody on which is better, film or digital. totlaly useless arguement - there is room and need for both, and i use both. I just feel, reading posts here and elsewhere on the internet, that many people seem to avoid or skim over or not pay enough attention to the fact that there is a real, definite, * long term * financial advantage to all the large companies to convince John Q Pulic that film is "no good" and go all digital on many different levels. ths is the driving force behind the "death of film" or whatever you want to call it.

          Film still has several advantages, and always will, but these advantages for differnet situations, IMO, are totally ignored in the marketing rush to digital.

          Put it this way, the fact i own a car does not mean I was ever in a rush to dump my bicycle. In fact, I seem to be using my bicycle more and more these past few years. We may find the same is true for film.

    • Best film (Score:3, Informative)

      by ChrisMaple (607946)
      The highest resolution color negative film available the last time I bought film was Konica Impresa 50. When this is gone, the best available film quality gets one step worse, again.
  • The second leaving (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jerry Coffin (824726) on Thursday January 19, 2006 @12:38PM (#14510837)
    Quite a few comments, but none has noted one interesting point. At least AFAIK, this makes Konica the first company to truly leave the camera business for a second time.

    There have been a number of others that have, for example, started out as German companies, then the name was bought and a Japanese company sold cameras under that name for a while, and finally the whole venture died, but Konica (the company itself, not just the name) has now exited the camera business for a second time. I'm not sure, but offhand, I can't think of anybody else who's really done that.

    My other minor observation is that this seems a prime example of a theory I've been building for quite a while: to do well in the market, doing brilliant things matters a lot less than avoiding doing much that's really stpuid.

    Konica and Minolta combined absolute brilliance with astounding stupidity. Canon (for one) has never introduced a feature like autofocus that has completely transformed the market, but they've mostly avoided massive stupidity, so the dominate the market.

    Those who care to look might easily see something similar in comparing Apple with Microsoft.

    • by winwar (114053)
      "My other minor observation is that this seems a prime example of a theory I've been building for quite a while: to do well in the market, doing brilliant things matters a lot less than avoiding doing much that's really stpuid."

      I suspect you are not the only one with that theory :) Of course, if you are going to make mistakes, it helps to be large and/or brilliant. Prolongs the end. Like Kodak.
  • Starting Last fall, our company leases a Konica Minolta Bizhub 550. We used to have a Ricoh Color Printer/Copier/scanner before that.

    The Minolta has been nothing but trouble since it's installation. The Konica tech came on-site to install and set it up (brand new out of the box).
    The print server that came with it wouldn't communicate properly, so it had to be replaced.
    There are no diagnostic messages or logs that I can see for troubleshooting the scan-to-email functions. Of course, there is a test functio

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