For those of you whom don't beleive the camera manufacturers are ripping us off. Here is a price list for a 16 bit 80MSPS ADC. Talk about milking the technology.
Well, if we use $50 as a base, and assume Canon has one ADC per read channel from the sensor (which I think would be essential to achieve 12fps@18mp)...that would be 16 ADC's at $50 each for a total of $800 (for 1D X), or 8 @ $50 for a total of $400 (for the 5D III). Thats assuming the ADC's are independent components. In the past, I believe they have been an integrated part of their DIGIC processors, and its entirely possible Canon has partly taken the approach Sony did, and are now embedding the ADC right on the sensor itself. Integrating the ADC component with any other component, and doing so while keeping electronic noise low, while still supporting the very high readout rates for 10-12 fps...is expensive.
I don't think camera manufacturers are ripping us off with their ADC's.
You missed the part where the price is $50.... for each PACK of 1000
(i.e. 5 cents each)
Oy, I did miss that. Oops. Well, the other points still remain true, its not cheap to produce complex IC's like cmos sensors and DIGIC processors. The real cost isn't the ADC anyway, its far more complex devices like the metering or AF system and large IC's like the sensor.
I bet the real cost, talking direct material cost only, is mostly in the shutter/mirror box and the sensor (if it is FF size). Perhaps a little in the VF if it is exactly 100%. Many of the chips inside DSLRs have also been used in the $40 P&S cameras.
Your forgetting the AF unit, which is fairly large, must be extremely precise in its design, is generally bound to the sensor size (from a point spread standpoint), and must be coupled with advanced control logic in the camera's processor. When you factor in the metering sensor into the AF system (as they usually are these days), that makes the whole system even more complex. There is all the software to manage the AF and metering system, make it customizable, hook all that customizability into the various body buttons....
I think expensive cameras are expensive simply because they are expensive.
I don't think you can really reduce the cost down to a single component or two as easily as we would all wish. They are complex automated systems of interconnected, synchronous parts that work at incredibly high speed. Its not just metering, or just AF, or just the sensor, or even just any couple of those parts...its the system as a whole, multiple discrete components operating in harmony to accurately track subjects and produce highly detailed, highly accurate, high resolution photos...N times a second.