A shot at Sony’s flagrant exploitation by the a1 price tag.

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Sep 14, 2020
Caveat: This commentary is satirical cynicism aimed at Sony, NOT alpha1 owners!

Please be amused by reading this post with a slightly satirical under-tone. This post is an unfavorable opinion chastising Sony for their recent not-so-subtle strategy to prey on the vulnerabilities of a segment of the society that fancy the craft of image capture. In general, we all live in our current oligarchic plutocracies around the world. Sadly, it’s an evolutionary tragedy based on egoic greed, hubris, arrogance, and our inherited competitive nature or conditioning. And it tends to bleed over into the corporate capitalistic commercial markets also, with Sony being a successful player in that consumer products arena.

In recent years, Sony has priced their flagship mirror-less cameras around the $3,500 — 4,500 price point, to include their 7R’s, a9’s, and 7S’s. Then eventually, it’s sadly inevitable that the decision is made to up the ante when management thinks the technological advancements justify the jump. However, this time it seemed excessive with the price tag of the new release of the A1 flagship.

As with all the previous models, the a1 sports a variety of only incremental improvements, not some earth-shaking miraculous innovation like the invention of the wheel. And these incremental upgrades certainly don’t justify a 45% increase in price point over the a9, IMO. So how did Sony rationalize such a steep increase for a handful of incremental product improvements. Well, it’s simple when we consider the hubris nature of a well-honed marketing and advertising institution.

And these incremental improvements are not inventions so much as tweaks to their existing technology. The Alpha1 50meg sensor is a back-pedal from their existing 60meg on 7Riv. No earth-shaking breakthrough there. The 30fps is merely juicing up the current technology a bit, perhaps a few more digit registers, tweaking the chipset/firmware on processor, etc. Phase detect points improved somewhat, just as done in past years, nothing major. EVF resolution nearly tripled, but not sure that matters much since the EVF display is so small to begin with and can the human eye detect the improvement; and that technology is old and easy to improve. And CFexpress cards were added which all camera brands are adopting and not a costly improvement.

And there are few more minor incidentals like Bird-eye AF, which is nominal since other Sony models can capture bird-head AF using Flex-center-small or other selective acquisition options. All and all, these are pretty much incremental improvements on technologies already in existence, and merely need fine-tuning or marginal additions to processors and firmware. But not really costing Sony the $2,000 premium they tacked onto the Alpha1 flagship (45% increase in price point over a9ii).

Undoubtedly, they crafted their strategy aimed to exploit a market that they know happens to have more money and addictive tendencies, than wisdom. Acknowledging a consumer market that is well known for its high percentage of professionals who demand the best, trophy buyers who like flaunting their prize, habitual GAS victims feeding their OCD, and those who become uncontrollably enamored by tiny shiny objects (nearly paralleling man’s age-old fascination with cars, also ridiculously expensive). Hopefully we can all laugh at ourselves momentarily, regardless of what category we fit into. For I too have temporarily lusted for a1 upon announcement. :rolleyes:

This commentary is NOT to chastise or embarrass Alpha1 owners, NO, not at all! But rather shine some well-deserved light on a marketing cartel that devises clever advertising strategies that appeal to (exploit) the weaknesses and vulnerabilities of their audiences, and capitalize on the company’s profit margins. Historically, not a new concept or practice.

I have no doubt that there are many shooters on this forum who can easily afford the alpha1 price tag and still put food on the table (like me). But may still argue, “why pay a premium for additional bells and whistles that the average person won’t (or can’t) take full advantage of and yet pay a premium of $2,000 extra.” But Sony knows our weaknesses, with “wanting the latest and greatest” being at the top of many of the consumers’ lists. And who also knows, many are willing to pay the premium.

And finally, this commentary also serves to console those Alpha users who cannot justify the a1 price tag, or simply choose not to when their current camera does the job adequately. After all, examine the a7R iv or a9 photos shot by forum shooters like Ziggy, Kevriano, Tim Mayo, WeeMalky, et al (just to name a few). These guys seem to rely mostly on their personal skills, talents, and experiences to produce their excellent photos, rather than resorting entirely to the super-advanced features of the state-of-the-art cameras. Some shooters (not me) need not rely on the super-advanced features to compensate for any minor shortcomings they may have in their shooting skills. Hence for them, the a1 is optional, rather than a perceived necessity. However, if you can easily afford the best, latest, and greatest – Sony won’t mind parting with their flagship for $6,500 USD.

Closing remarks: Sony’s Alpha1 is arguably a great camera with ample bells and whistles for a wide variety of shooting styles. But IMO, not worth $6,500 for a handful of incremental improvements commensurate with historical enhancements to their other past models which amounted to only a nominal increase in price for each iteration. And it would have saved many us money had Sony announced earlier that there was a super-camera coming soon, that would replace the a9, a7R, and a7S. It may have precluded our recent purchases of a7Rs and a9s. Then maybe we wouldn’t have to sell our 7s and 9s to afford the over-priced a1.
I look forward to your "hate" letters. :cautious:
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