Wow, there are just so many misassumptions there that I'm not even sure where to begin. You don't, by any chance, do cost analyses for the US government, do you?
No I don't :-). But I have been buying and using the Canon EOS system for over 20 years. I still own several EOS film cameras, and I can match them just about feature for feature with their their digital counterparts. Build quality, lens mount quality, sealing, shutter MTF, % VF, auto-focus points, metering, etc.
I've come to know how much of a price increase there was when Canon "improved weather sealing", "added metering modes", "increased VF %" or "increased the number or AF points" between one model year and the next. Answer: essentially $0.
I also know what each of the film cameras cost new, and in many cases, what it cost to have all or parts of the film transport replaced or repaired. I've been pretty hard on some of these cameras.
So when I look at a Canon digital camera, I also look at it's nearest film sibling. The difference in price between the two, minus the retail parts cost of replacing the film transport, is the "digital premium" Canon is charging me for that camera. I am not talking about what it costs
Canon to make the camera. I don't know and I don't care. I am only concerned with what Canon is charging
me for the digital features.
So if the Canon EOS 3 ($800 new) and the 5MkIII ($3500 new) are nearly identical in build and features. And I was charged $275 in parts for replacing a destroyed film transport, then retail price of the non-digital parts of and EOS 3 type body I can assume is $500. NOT what it cost Canon, but what they are charging me for it.
Likewise, if an EOS 3 body is like a 5MkIII body, then the digital premium
- what Canon is charging me for the sensors, chips and software - on the 5 MkIII is $3000. ($3500-$500)
Do the same analysis for the Nikon D800. It has a film sibling that sold for around 800-900. Assume the film transport price is the same. The Nikon digital premium is $2500, for 36 MP and near medium format performance.
So the question for me becomes, is that $3000 Canon digital premium worth it. My answer, in this case, is no, not when compared to the MkII and not when compared to the value offered by Nikon.
The analysis would be just as valid if I took off nothing for the film transport. The digital premium would still be there, and Canon would still be offering less value than Nikon, and an insignificant improvement over the MkII