As promised, I want to continue exploring the the notion that A100 just might be Sony’s low-end dSLR, rather than the mid-range digital SLR many people expect it to be. In an earlier post I tossed around the idea that the A100 might be Sony’s low-end model. My contention was that introducing a new 6MP dSLR in 2007 makes no sense and an 8MP model would be too close to the A100 to set it apart as a low-end, introductory model.
Could Sony really save a couple hundred bucks on a 6MP sensor versus the 10.2MP unit in the A100? I doubt it, although I’m not in a position to know for sure. I think that most of the costs of producing an APS size sensor would be the same. Naturally the 10.2 sensor would cost more, but $200 more? I maintain that a low-end digital SLR would have to sell for at least 200 bucks less than the A100 to be effective. If your “low-end” camera is only a hundred bucks cheaper than your mid-range model, you really don’t have a low-end model.
Or course Sony could simply price the A50 a couple hundred dollars less and eat the cost. (Sony has never said there will be an A50, but several pundits have christened the yet unnamed model with that handle.) If so, Sony’s profit margin would be far less on the A50, on a camera that just might cannibalize sales of the A100.
The only other way to reduce the A50’s price without competing against the A100 would be to reduce the feature set as well as the pixel count. Where could Sony cut features? The most obvious would be the dust-reduction feature or the anti-shake mechanism. (I know Sony calls their version “Super Steady Shot” — but that handle is just too silly to be taken seriously. I will continue to call it anti-shake.)
So as an exercise, let us envision that Sony will introduce an A50 model with 6MP and no anti-dust system. Hello! Haven’t we seen this camera somewhere before? Of course we have. It is the 2005 Maxxum 5D re-badged as the Sony A50 for 2007. Never going to happen. If Sony intended to re-badge either of Minolta’s digital SLR offerings, they would have done it right out of the gate. They could be selling them now, and they would have an inexpensive dSLR to sell at Christmas. Waiting over a year to introduce a Sony version of the Maxxum 5D makes no sense.
So maybe an even lower-end version of the Maxxum 5D with no anti-dust and no anti-shake? That model could certainly sell for $200 less than the A100 and it would truly be a low-end model. It would also be a huge embarrassment. Loyal Minolta fans wait almost two years for an inexpensive dSLR with the Minolta mount and they get 2005 era technology with a lack of a features? A camera with no image stabilization in the body and no available IS lenses? I can hear the Nikon and Canon fanboys laughing their heads off.
So is there really room for the A50 in 2007? I don’t really see it, unless Sony is developing something unexpected. By the time the A50 would come on the scene, the street price of the A100 with standard lens will probably be less than $800. If the A50 is to be 200 dollars less — how would Sony price it? If the list price for the A100 is $999.00 then list on the A50 would have to be $799.00 maximum. That would mean they would be introducing a new low-end camera whose list price is higher than the current street price of their mid-range model. Obviously they would sell almost no A50 cameras at list — deep discounts would have to kick in immediately.
Of course there are several wild cards in this scenario. Next time around we’ll discuss the competition and their impact on Sony’s future models. Until next time, stay focused. — Tom