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Friday, March 02, 2007

What Photographers Need

Ambling preamble
We all need to look at the world from our own perspective. At least sometimes. Maybe it's not the most realistic viewpoint, but it makes sense for us to put our own needs first. (Classical capitalism assumes it, for one thing.)

Among photo hobbyists, one development that's emerged from the Age of the Internet has been a greatly increased interest in the business side of photography. (It parallels similar interests in the business sides of sports and of entertainment.) Tens of thousands of guys who took a couple of business courses in college have discovered that it's deeply diverting to speculate about the interests of the camera companies and the rest of the photo industry. They argue hotly about it all day long until they arrive at some sort of rough group concensus, never mind that most of them have no reliable sources, no inside insight—in short, no data whatsoever—and that much of their conclusions are thus based on nothing but warm air and rumor.

At first, this struck me as profoundly absurd. I couldn't fathom how anyone could care, much less why any photographer should care, and I had no idea why people would put aside their own interests in favor of sycophantic sympathy with large corporations. But time has passed, and I've become habituated, and at root I'm basically a tolerant sort of fellow where this hobby is concerned—people are gonna do what they think is fun, and whatever it is, more power to 'em, no matter how damn stone dumb I might think it is. I ain't the boss of them.

The preceeding is an elaborate qualification—a way of saying that I don't give a stink about what's good for the companies that make our equipment. I mean, I do, but not here. Here, I want to talk about what PHOTO- GRAPHERS need.

Rant, still on
Oh, and one further point, as long as I'm in rant mode. Photographers— people who like, and make, pictures—have always been in a minority in what's now known as "the market," meaning the much larger Universe of People Who Buy Equipment. And the relationship between a) the kinds of equipment photographers really need to do their work and b) the kinds of equipment the photo industry actually makes has always been uneasy, without very good correlation. A lot of photographers recently got what they actually really wanted/needed when the Leica M8 came out, and I'm sure that seemed almost like a miracle to them, simply because such things don't happen all that often. Mostly, we don't get what we really want—we come as close as we can and then make do.

Consequently, there is a long and honorable tradition of photographers making their own equipment (in fact, many camera companies got started that way), or modifying existing equipment to suit their needs. That tradition is being killed by electronics. Nobody makes their own sensors. Nobody writes their own firmware. Now, more than ever, we're stuck with what "they" want to give us. We always have been...but it's getting worse.

All of the foregoing is a polite way of saying: puh-leez don't write business 103-style comments about the following list. I don't care that the companies have to make a profit (duh), or if not enough people will buy it, or if a similar product failed, or if it doesn't fit a corporate philosophy or a product lineup. I just care about what some real photographers need in order to do their work. Yeah, sure, we might never get any of these things. Yeah, they might not make sense. Neither of those things is the same thing as saying they are not wanted or needed.

Rant mode off (finally!), and thanks for putting up with me here. And now, a short off-the-top-o'-me-head list of a few things that photographers could use that they ain't got.

In reverse order:

Digital Cameras We Need

8. A Sony R-1 with anti-shake/image stabilization. This is a beautiful camera, and the people that own 'em love 'em. It's a pity it has to go join the Nikon 950 and the Olympus E-1 as the best camera designs of the digital era to end up as evolutionary dead-ends. While we're daydreaming, they can leave off the EVF. And for that matter, what's wrong with a square sensor? We can crop. (Yes, I know we're never going to get this—but see above.)

7. A full-frame Nikon. (Yes, I've said in the past that I think APS-C is the sensible standard. No, I haven't changed my mind. Yes, I do admire Nikon for sticking with APS-C consistently, so it doesn't have the Tower-of-Babel crop-factor confusion Canon's gotten itself into. Yes, I think it's the right decision. But this is not about me. Photographers want this. And what photographers want is the topic of this post.)

6. A higher-end Sony equivalent of the Konica-Minolta 7D. Where the heck is this, anyway? Sony took over the Konica-Minolta DSLR business and promptly introduced its own equivalent of the 5D, which apparently made a big splash, at least in Japan, and evidently captured a good big healthy chunk of the DSLR trade, in Japan and at first. Now the really good Zeiss lenses are starting to become available and yet, on the topic of a higher-end follow-up to the A100, there's been...nothing. Just silence. Onward Sony goes into the Wild Blue Yonder with a one-camera lineup. If Sony were a person, you would think they had just lost interest. So is Sony going to become a player in the DSLR market or not? As one who's stuck in the lensmount I wish it would make up its gigantic friggin' corporate mind. At least throw me a bone and make one of those vague far-off means-nothing future product announcements.

5. A Canon reduced-sized-sensor body with in-the-body IS. At least as an alternate variant of a mainstream DSLR body for a few hundred bucks extra. (Can you say "40D and 40D-IS"? I knew ya could. Pace the above, amateur bean-counter analyses of why this will/will not happen are not encouraged.)

4. Two words: Zuiko primes. (Well, maybe three words, if you want to add the word "wide.")

3. One letter, one number: E-2. Come ON. (What are those clowns thinking? How can that much high-priced business and technical talent be so eternally, neverendingly clueless? Slap that 8-MP sensor in an E-1 and get on with life, fer chrissakes. Sheesh. Of course, maybe I should wait until Monday before I complain, ya think? Nawwwww....)

2. At least one DSLR with a high-quality black-and-white-only sensor. This could easily just be a variant of an existing DSLR. We badly need a modern version of what we last had in 2002 with the ill-fated Kodak DCS 760m. (As Pete Myers said in his review, "Without an anti-aliasing filter and no Bayer color matrix, the resolution of a 6-megapixel monochrome camera is astonishing. In monochrome, 6 megapixels effectively does what it takes 12–24 megapixels with a color matrix." A friend who owned one of those at the time told me that he got the prettiest black-and-white with it that he'd ever gotten with any kind of equipment (and he had a lot of equipment). Some photographers like high-quality black and white, and some company or other is going to step up to this plate, sooner or later. So who's it going to be?

1. The DMD. I've ranted about this before, so enuff said. I'm amazed—really, honestly amazed—that we still don't have this. It's so obvious, so crucial for street photography and some kinds of art photography, and it would require absolutely zero in the way of new technical development. It could easily be put together with existing technology. Whoever does it first will instantly create a new digital camera category. I hereby offer my services, free, to any camera company that wants me to spec out what it ought to be. Just because it hasn't existed heretofore doesn't mean it shouldn't—to paraphrase Al Gore, all that's needed is the will to do it, and that's a renewable resource.

So—your comments? Put aside your analyses of what's likely and what's not, what's good for the corporations and what's not, and just tell us what you wish you had to do your work with.



Blogger fernando [ pixelstains ] said...

The high-quality B&W digital sensor would be a fantastic product. I just wrote in my blog about such an animal (indirectly, as I was writing about why people mention that I rarely do colour photographs), in that I find myself removing colour from my photos because there is more "power" to the photo by combining the channels into a stronger B&W, and then adding some split-toning or even a gradient map colouring.
However, I wonder if the disparate RGB sensing properly mixed to B&W is better than a B&W sensor could be. If by going to B&W sensor means a greater dynamic range, then that is a winning aspect of it. Otherwise, it seems like a "lazy" way to get B&W, which is nice but not necessary -- a bit like giving away B&W conversion control over to the camera.

10:30 AM  
Blogger Severian said...

Mostly, I agree, these are all needed by us. I am totally puzzled why no vendor has coughed up a really excellent B&W sensor solution -- seems such an easy niche to nicely satisfy.

In addition, how about better sensor cleaning/dust management? The shaking things (ala Oly's first shot) are a nice step, but why not make it stupid-easy for people to clean the common dust spot or such. It's still too easy to get the sensor dirty and cleaning is still a bit scary on most models.

Exposure modes to refuse clipping are required as an optional setting. If I want to "expose to the right", but not blow any channel, the camera knows better than I -- do it for me, instead of having me stare at 1 histogram, or guess from a blinking highlight (both of which will be wrong some of the time on most cameras, btw).

Yes, 3 channel histograms were a great move - but more can be done here, I think.

For the macro fans, we all need the kind of live view the newest Canon modle now offers. Being able to get a nice 10x view of what you are after on the LCD would help with subtle macro focus, better than anything else anybody could do in a viewfinder.

Now that we've told Santa what we want, I'll go get the coal bag to hold more of what I think I'll get ...


10:31 AM  
Blogger Player said...

Mike, I just don't feel like thinking that much. I've selected my tools from what's available, and I really don't have too many complaints. It's true that I'm not that much fun, and I'd be the last person you'd want to hire for a photography think tank. Truth is I'm having trouble pulling myself away from the guitar and the computer long enough to get out and take some pictures.

But if I had to come up with something, how about one of those Star Trek gizmos that would instantly transport me to photographic opportunities. Never mind. ;)

10:37 AM  
Blogger Robert Roaldi said...

Why there is no DMD is a mystery. Yashica T4's and Oly Stylus Epics made money for their makers 10 years ago. Why not now, only with a digital sensor this time round.

If they made an Epic-24 with a 24 mm lens (35 mm equiv.), and Epic-35 with a 35 mm lens, and and Epic-50 with a normal lens, you could put all three in a bag smaller that what's needed now for a D-SLR and a zoom that covers the range. And they could easily all be f2.8's. Make them out of cheap plastic, sell 'em for $200 apiece. An APS sensor would be fine in the context.

10:53 AM  
Blogger dasmb said...

I'm shocked there hasn't been a true B&W sensor developed so far, too. I'll bet it would sell pretty well.

IMO, high res images from Bayer sensors are always a little fake, because they're interpolated. Taking a fake shot and REMOVING information from it doesn't get you any closer to truth. P'raps a Foveon camera would produce a very nice B&W image...

What's really got me puzzled is that no SLR camera has yet been produced with a removable sensor. Think about it -- you'd have built-in upgradability, more choice in sensor size, could choose sensor quality based on the type of shooting you do (I'd love a super-high ISO sensor at 4-6 MP for available light shots), get boutique options such as sepia sensors or infrared...and all of this with the same body.

Basically, we'd get the one thing so many of us really miss from film: the ability to bias how we want our images to feel BEFORE we capture them, rather than AFTERwards in Photoshop.

11:07 AM  
Blogger Ken Tanaka said...

Honestly, Mike, I've reached a glorious point in my photographic efforts where I neither need nor want anything more in the way of equipment. The cameras and lenses I have are more than capable of facilitating anything I can envision. In fact I have more equipment than I truly need.

No, what I most need now cannot be so easily acquired.

11:16 AM  
Blogger D. Kreithen said...

Agreed on the Sony R1. I have one. Great picture quality, great lens. OK waist-level finder, actually tremendously useful (compared to the EVF, which ought to disappear as you said). Stupid ergonomics. Did the designers even know that medium format cameras with waist level finders exist? Why the shutter button in the odd spot instead of where it belongs (on the bottom right corner, of course)? What's wrong with square format? Taking verticals with this thing is so much more difficult than it ought to be.

A thoughtfully modified R1 ought to be a winner, but I'm afraid we won't see it anytime soon, if ever.

11:18 AM  
Blogger promenadeur said...

As severian said, a histogramm that helps finding the right exposure in automatic modus before capturing would be fine. Live Histogramm in the EVF of some bridge cameras comes near.
But what I really miss, is a digital rangefinder like Contax G. Why not AF on a rangefinder? The mix of active and passive AF of the Contax worked even on a white wall.
And please, please, with an LCD on the back that have a variable-angle function. Who ever had used such an flexibel screen will never miss it.
By the way: Live View on a fixed LCD is something like to beat around the bush!
A camera with B&W sensor? For everybody who earns his living selling photos it would be a high risk, to take photos only in B&W.

11:27 AM  
Blogger Ermanox said...

Tools can't help anyone unless they've got the photographic eye. It wouldn't matter whether someone was shooting with a Diana or a disposable digital or the new Canon MarkIII. It seems that when people begin to wish for more gear that it becomes more about the gear and not so much about the creative side.

11:30 AM  
Blogger m3 said...

You say E-2. I BEG RD-2. It's time for Epson to come back at Leica with a 1.33 crop factored let's say 8 to 10 Mp version of the successful (yes it was - in their own way) RD-1. Please Epson stay with the cocking lever the idiots at Leica did away with. Thank you.

11:37 AM  
Blogger Mike Johnston said...

"Tools can't help anyone unless they've got the photographic eye."

True, but a photographic eye doesn't help you without tools, either. You can't make photographs without a camera.


11:41 AM  
Blogger thechrisproject said...

I would like to second and third the DMD idea. I've been searching for something like this for the past few weeks and everything comes up short. The Ricoh GRD seems promising:

28mm (equivalent) f2.4 lens, shoots RAW even... but it looks noisy at just about every ISO and there's a 13 SECOND lag in between RAW captures. Ugh.

Generally I try not to get too caught up in the newest gear and speculating. I identify what my needs are and wait for the technology that will satisfy them, then buy it. Before I had a DSLR I wanted one, but wasn't going to get it until the prices dropped below $800. When I did, I was happy. Now I'm waiting for a good small camera to compliment it and it still hasn't come along.

11:56 AM  
Blogger Ken Cobb said...

Isn't the announced Sigma DP1 very much like the "DMD" camera? Small, compact, a wide angle prime (16.6mm, not that fast at f/4 though), full-sized sensor (the Foveon X3), it's black, don't know about the sound, doesn't have the big handgrip you want.

So not exactly what you want, but close

11:58 AM  
Blogger b e u l e r said...

I think there is a good reason why there isn´t a B&W camera. A luminance only sensor would push photographers to carry around color filters so they could get the "look" they were looking for. And it wouldn´t be possible to change after the fact. I beleive most photographers doing B&W do a lot of post processing using RGB curves and in order to do that the camera has to capture the RGB information in the first place.

I would buy a small sensor camera with a fast lens if it existed. A large sensor one would be even better.

12:03 PM  
Blogger Blork said...

What we really need is swappable sensors! It kills me that as soon as a new generation of sensors comes along, or even a megapixel upgrage, the whole catalog of existing cameras is obsolete! I know it would be a challenge to create a swappable sensor standard, but it doesn't keep me from wishing and hoping.

On a smaller, more modest, but related note, photographers need camera designers who go all the way with good ideas. OK, that's big, but my modest specific case is the Lumix DMC-LX2 that I bought recently. For a $500 point-and-shoot, it is brilliant. It is designed to be a camera, not a gadget that takes photos, and I really appreciate that. For example, to get shutter-priority exposure mode, I turn the dial to "S" (as opposed to scanning through an on-screen menu).

Unfortunately, for a Camera that is half Leica, it has a terrible image sensor. Noisy as hell, and almost unusable beyond ISO 100. In my case, it's mostly used for putting photos on the Web, so it's no big deal -- everything is reduced anyway. But still, for a camera with such good design, and such an esteemed pedigree, why couldn't they have gone that extra step and put in an outstanding sensor? (I would have gladly paid more.)

12:13 PM  
Blogger Nemo said...

Several companies tried to convince us of the versatility of the APS format. The true is that, like with film, different formats will be specialized in different market segments.
The 35FF format (35mm full frame) provides more image quality, keeping a lot of versatility.
The bigger the sensor, the better the image quality is for a given size of picture. And prices are converging...

12:15 PM  
Blogger kevin said...

gimme gimme gimme:

1)a Mamiya 7 like medium format digital rangefinder.

2) Leica M8 revised model. i hope the new firmware will make it play nice, but why did they put the ISO and exp compensation in a menu? seems so un-Leica like.

3) Olympus OM-4 like dslr with tiny prime lenses (while Pentax is playing this role right now i like my OM-4 and want a digi version)


12:25 PM  
Blogger Objective said...

We don't really need a new camera.
Input isn't the problem. We all have something digital. A camera or a scanner.
Almost all images end up in a computer. So output is needed.
And output still leaves a lot to be desired. We need printers that will print perfect photo's. Especially Black&White. We need cheaper printers and much cheaper inks. Paper companies that will supply ICC profiles for every good photo-printer.

A printer is a very simple device compared to e.g. a DVD recorder. Yet the price is still much higher. The ink used in printers is cheap. Pigments have been used for ages. Longevity wasn't a problem. Look at a Rembrandt etching. Grinding pigments isn't a problem. Comparing the price with traditional prints is comparing apples and peres.

So give us the quality of an Epson 4800 or Canon IPF50000 or better in a cheap printer. Big ink-cartridges filled with reasonable priced inks. Or even better: a printer with two print-heads. One for b&w and one for colour. And everything perfectly in sync with ICC standards. A spectrophotometer doesn't belong in our lightroom but at the factory.

The transition from darkroom to lightroom still isn't complete.

12:39 PM  
Blogger Dragan Matić said...

If Olympus will not make any fast prime lenses this year - they are dead company in photographic sense. They can still make good profit selling consumer DSLRs and plastic fantastic zooms, and enjoy status of successful low end company.

12:44 PM  
Blogger Nick said...

A DMD please! With an 28mm instead of 24mm if it was up to me. And make that in two versions; B&W only and Color. I just cannot, for the life of me, phantom why something like that is not made!

Come on Canon, visit your own museum and look at those little Canonets for ideas. Just make all the millions of copiers you sell a $ more expensive to cover the losses made on the DMD!

12:46 PM  
Blogger ANDREW! said...

I'm with Robert, above: give me a digital version of the Olympus Stylus Epic (black, no zoom, f2.8, 35mm equiv.) and I'll be happy!

1:10 PM  
Blogger robert e said...

I'm with dasmb: I don't get why there isn't a system with interchangeable sensors. One could trade off resolution for color depth (or color at all), or speed; choose based on aspect ratios, cost, crop factor, spectral range (IR, etc.), not to mention the ability to upgrade. Imagine being able to literally "slap that 8-MP sensor in an E-1 and get on with life."

For that matter, how about switching between digital and film backs?

I too have wondered about square sensors. Why waste so much of that image circle? Not needing to re-orient the body for portrait mode should impact ergonomic design in interesting ways, too.

1:26 PM  
Blogger ctyankee said...

As a KM user (7D) I'm honestly not looking for an upgrade, though would like some signs of life. Cheaper SSM pricing and some alternate teles would be nice. What I really want is a digital version of my HiMatic 7sII (substitute your favorite 70's era compact rangefinder). APS-C (4/3 would get my attention) with a 40/2 equivalent (35-50 would work though I'm sure some would prefer 28 and f/2.8 would get my attention, though f/2 would seal the deal ... Sigma's new Foveon compact has an f/4 lens, I think, that isn't terribly exciting). Rangefinder focussing and a nice LCD on the back w/histogram & review (if not preview). Color or dedicated b/w would be fine; I always kept b/w film in my 7sII.

1:49 PM  
Blogger Eolake Stobblehouse said...

You said it, old bean, well done.

1:52 PM  
Blogger ctyankee said...

BTW, Mike, I think so much of the armchair CEOing comes because so many forum posters out there take their "what I need" and extrapolate that into "what company XXX needs to do or they're complete idiots". It would be great if people would just post "this is what I want/need" instead of "this is what Sony/Canon/Nikon needs to do".

1:54 PM  
Blogger andres racz said...

Konica Hexar AF,same lens,24mm x 36mm sensor.

it would be great. AR

2:08 PM  
Blogger Bruce M said...

Let's have RAW files coming out of compact cameras. I want RAW on the Canon SD series and the Panasonic FX and TZ series.

These smaller cameras are thought of as convenience cameras. Big memory cards exist. Lightroom and similar programs exist. These tools make working with RAW files just about as convenient as working with JPEG.

2:15 PM  
Blogger dasmb said...

b e u l e r -- what you are describing is something that would appeal greatly to many B&W photographers.

Doing it all in Photoshop doesn't appeal to everybody. A lot of people would love to see the return of at least being ABLE to do things in camera.

It is kind of counter-intuitive that people used to shoot B&W film because it was (in general) cheaper, faster and easier to develop with better detail, and with digital none of these is true.

3:04 PM  
Blogger Magumi said...

I would love a camera that comes with free time installed. Three or five hours a week just for photography, in a small memory-card like cartridge.

3:35 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

I'd be happy with an explanation for why limited dynamic range is still a big issue. If they can make P&S cameras that recognize faces and eyes that are blinking, why do we have to suffer through HDR kludges? Can't someone make an intelligent neutral density algorithm that imitates what our eyes do?

5:22 PM  
Blogger David A. Goldfarb said...

I need Tri-X in lots of different sizes. The rest I can figure out myself.

5:31 PM  
Blogger Mike Johnston said...

[Note: this comment was left by Michael Seltzer but for technical reasons could not be posted under his name.]

I have an R1, and I agree. I's a good camera, an interesting and innovative design, and I'm particularly fond of mine. Your suggestions are good, and could comprise what becomes the R2. My biggest frustration isn't with the camera, though, but with Sony. They seem to have orphaned this camera, just walked away from it. There's little support; hasn't ben a firmware update in a long time; few programs understand the R1's RAW file (particularly the catalogers), and those that do I'm not certain are doing a good job of conversion. I don't know how much this last has to do with lack of advocacy on Sony's part, but it is very restrictive and makes the R1 less useful as a serious tool. In any case, couldn't Sony issue new firmware so the camera created it's RAW files in the same format as the A100? Or at least good conversion software that created an Alpha RAW from the R1 RAW (everybody seems to understand the Alpha RAW format)? It seems that Sony has simply written off us R1 owners. Unfortunate. I had thought, when I bought the R1, that I might make Sony my camera line (I was a Minolta user back in my 35mm film days). After this experience, however, I wouldn't buy again from Sony under any circumstances (unless, of course, they make something I want).

As far as your other suggestions, for several years now I've wanted a good, dedicated digital B&W camera. What a great thing that would be. Hey, maybe that could be the next incarnation of the R1: an R1m. Ten megapixels, no anti-aliasing and bayer filters, that nice Zeiss lens... yummy.

5:56 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

The Pentax DS is close to my perfect camera. It is a portable, ergonomic delight with all the image quality I could want for prints up to 8x12. It's missing just one thing: Shake Reduction. Unfortunately for me, Pentax tweaked the dimensions, shape, and viewfinder of the camera when it morphed into the K100D.

I will cross my fingers for the 10th Anniversary Edition DS :)

5:57 PM  
Blogger Ted said...

If the Sony R1 had IS I'd own one right now. Instead I stuck w/ my lenses and got the Canon XTi for Christmas.

I know this is technical against the "rules" of this post, but I figure the IP around IS/VR/etc is a minefield of patents.

6:30 PM  
Blogger John said...

I've wanted a DSLR with a B&W only sensor for a long time. I don't really care who makes it and I would buy lenses and probably a color DSLR with the same lens mount (assuming it's not the same mount as I already have). That is far and away my most wanted camera.

Besides that, I would like a smallish camera with a 4/3 or larger sensor with either a fixed 40-60mm f/2 equivalent lens or small fixed focal length interchangable lenses with one in that range (something like a digital version of the Contax G series).

Besides those two cameras, there are cameras available now that meet my needs.

6:32 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

As an amateur photographer and sea kayaker, I want a digital Nikonos with an APS sensor. Waterproof housings may work fine for SCUBA divers, but they are too bulky and heavy to carry on a kayak, let alone under my PFD, where I carry my Nikonos V. I would like one that uses my old Nikonos lenses, too, if you please. It doesn't even have to have an LCD, though I suspect it might be necessary to reduce the number of controls needing to be sealed. After all, I got along without one for 40 years on my film cameras.

Chuck Holst

6:49 PM  
Blogger nextSibling said...

Add me to the chorus yearning for a DMD-like pocketable camera with a non-microscopic sensor. We can buy $400 DSLRs with all and more than the features needed. The APS-sized sensor has proven itself for a huge chunk of the market and prices are falling all the time. So put it in a smaller camera, dammit!

Something 28mm-equivalent-ish non-zoom lens would be my wish but 'normal' to a little wide would do. f/2 would be heavenly, but f/2.8 is livable with. It's not much to ask. Aperture priority only, if you want to keep development costs down.

Like Mike said, there's nothing new about any of it. Just a neat pocketable street-cam. 6Mpixel or so. Fine. How hard can it be? How much longer have I got to carry my 1980s vintage pocket camera, Olympus Epic, Nikon LiteTouch, Yashica T4, whatever. Hey, XP2 is a fine film, but really, Digicam Industry, do you really expect us to put up with the garbage 10Mpixel noise generators you're currently trying to palm us off with forever?

8:08 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

A set of high quality reasonably priced primes for APS sensors in 14or15or16mm, 28or35mm and 70mm. f/4 and polycarbonate would be fine.

A limited feature-set sensor back with a full frame sensor for Nikon F and F2. Sensor rides on the rails, just two ISO's, just RAW, electronics in big doodad that straps to your wrist and cables to body. No preview, just histogram(s). Sensor has some kind of anti-reflective 'stuff' on it so the old lenses still perform to spec.

And finally, where, oh where is the 15-60mm close focusing, no-big-flaws, f/2.8 do everything lens? 'cause 17-50or55mm doesn't seem to quite get us there.

11:20 PM  
Blogger Salva said...

I agree with the DMD design, it seems that there is no company that wants to make a small photographic tool. I am hoping to see the first samples of the sigma EP-1, a 4/3 sized foveon sensor camera, but it is f4... grrrrr

11:47 PM  
Blogger Ken Cobb said...

ghw3: I agree on the need for a 15-60mm or so digital-only lens. I have the new Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8, which I really like. It's very sharp, lightweight, nice. But there are times when I would love it if it went to 15 on the wide end and--while I'm fantasizing--had less distortion. That would be great.

8:37 AM  
Blogger Adam McAnaney said...

OK, I'll toss my hat into the ring. It's never going to happen, but what I want is: a combination B&W film developer and scanner.

I don't really want a new digital camera, I like the film cameras I have. But at least where I live, it is inconvenient and costly to get B&W film developed and scanned at a quality level sufficient for A4 (roughly 8x10") prints.

I don't have the time or space to develop my own film. And I can buy a scanner, but the hassle of getting my film developed somewhere else makes me wonder if its worth it. I just want to be able to take the film cartridge or roll and plug it into a machine that will automatically develop the film, scan it and deliver the files I want. I know, I'm dreaming. But it seems like the film companies would have an interest in creating such a device. It would shore up sales of film and darkroom supplies. I'm probably underestimating the challenges such a machine would present, but I would have thought it would be worthwhile, even if Fuji, Kodak, Ilford, Agfa, etc. all had to pool their resources to design it.

Come on! Think about it! Film cartridges would become the equivalent of CF cards. You could change your film whenever you wanted. You could use your Stylus Epic, your Yahica T4, your Olympus XA, your Nikon F or F2, your OM-4, your HiMatic 7sII (or the equivalent, the Revue 400 SE, which I prefer), your Canon T-90, your Maxxum 9, your X-700, your XYZ and all of them would have the same level of convenience as your current digital thigamabob. Sure, you wouldn't have histograms, but somehow we survived without them before digital arrive.

Even if expensive, such a device would pay for itself. Think about how much money you could save by buying old cameras on eBay.

...OK, I'm done dreaming. I'll go back to work now.


10:23 AM  
Blogger Steve Gillette said...

#1 need is the DMD? You know what I say to that? Well...RIGHT ON! I guess the manufacturers think they already offer truckloads of 'em. They don't. Why? It is strange. It's not like we are asking for the moon.

12:18 PM  
Blogger Craig said...

Great article, Mike. I always experience the same annoyance reading posters that have already determined the proper business strategies for the top 8 or 10 camera companies.

Regarding What Photographers need:

8. - I too would love to see the Sony R-1 with anti-shake, but I disagree on leaving off the EVF. As an owner of the KM Dimage A-2, I can say that its EVF is high resolution enough to be a viable alternative to an optical viewfinder. It would be nice to get a 2.5" LCD with the same flip and swivel action.

1. The DMD -- I think robert roaldi hit the nail on the head. I'd rather have a couple of plastic fantastic point and shoot cameras with different focal lengths. My only wish would be to have the Olympus Stylus Epic's styling and the Olympus optics, a 95%+ optical viewfinder (shouldn't be difficult with a single focal length lens), and the Fuji Super CCD sensor and their i-Flash technology used in the F30 -- this type of camera could be a dream come true for the serious amateur photographer.

3:59 PM  
Blogger erlik said...

Well, what I'd like is a tiny little DSLR, similar to E-400, but with more advanced options. And with weather-sealing. And no internal flash. And preferably a metal body. In other words, something like a digital OM-4Ti.

I also couldn't care less about Olympus primes. If Olympus finally releases the mythical 14-35/F2 lens and if its quality is comparable to 50/2 or 35-100/2 and if it's comparable to 14-54 size-wise, it would make a great combination with the camera. Maybe it would even get me closer to being cool, for all it's a zoom. :-)

12:56 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

The Leica M8 should have been the dedicated B&W camera Mike talks about. It would probably still be pretty lousy, because it still would have been rushed to market half-finished, but at least it would establish a unique place in the market and show that Leica has some potential. Right now it looks like a total disaster, despite the many raves from cultists who simply change their standards to fit whatever Leica has to sell them. Any freshly-minted marketing major could quickly figure out that in the digital era, Leica should be the B&W specialist. But they don't hire marketers, apparently. At least not competent ones.

2:26 AM  
Blogger Clint said...

Your DMD has already been done -- the sony f828 and f717. Go with the f828 if you insist on black. That articulated lens/body makes for nice TLR-like stealth, an f2 wide end is nice and fast, and the night-vision mode lets you shoot infrared low-light. Add to it a near-silent shutter and it's the perfect camera for shooting theatre and just as good for shooting street. My only knock on the f717 is its silver and has a plastic body. Honestly for street, I'd rather use that camera than my D70.

3:32 PM  
Blogger Barrett said...

Ouch...reading this blog (with a ton of right-on responses) reminds me of why I still largely shoot film, and, as long as it's feasible, will continue to do so: other than my rather nice film scanner and solid printer, I got tired of chasing digital rainbows, which, IMO, is mostly what's on offer from what's left of the photography "industry." At the end of the day, I just want to create, not fight with and fret over my gear.

10:39 PM  
Blogger Mike Johnston said...

"Your DMD has already been done -- the sony f828 and f717"

No, because both have small sensors with poor high-ISO performance relative to a DSLR. And I'm talking about something more the size and shape of a Konica Hexar, very portable if not exactly pocketable.


10:46 PM  
Blogger Bob Warnes said...

Forty years ago Olympus made a half frame SLR called the Pen F/FT. Physically it appeared to be modeled after an early screw mount Leica and was pocketable with its standard lens or the even smaller ‘pancake’ lens. The half frame image size at 18x24mm is very close to APS-c. The camera is much smaller then the Oly E-series and the image size is twice the area of the 4/3 system. If you can find one, try holding it in your hands and imagine it as a DSLR. I think you would have found your DMD. For something like that I would do my own focusing.

9:39 AM  
Blogger Shawn Gust said...

(Regarding the DMD) What you want is a 10 mp Konica Hexar copy with CMOS, No? The perfect size, QUIET, fantastic 35mm f2 (or equivilent), quick to use, and resonably rugged. Of course, we would want the ability to shoot raw. I think if a camera company (like Canon) produced one of these at a resonable price, they would sell like hotcakes! I would buy one....

1:43 PM  
Blogger Shawn Gust said...

The Konica Hexar is the model on which a DMD should be made. Quiet, rugged, excellent lens (35mm f2), fast to operate. If Canon, or some company, would listen to this, please. A 10mp, cmos, similar lens, around $1000 (or less). They'd sell a ton of these. Don't you agree?

1:49 PM  
Blogger willfurniss said...

A Nikon full-frame sensor for me please, and why do Nikon not make a professional quality say 17-55mm zoom WITH VR?? They are crazy, so crazy I am tempted to switch to Canon inspite of despising the horrid lumps of plastic they call cameras; they do get the job done. My Nikon FM3 is the real deal, when digital cameras feel like that I'll be happy but probably also very old. Meanwhile I just put 40 rolls of film through the FM3 on a three week (laptop free) trip around Europe, what a delight.

6:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd like to add something to the list: Digital Nikonos...

9:46 AM  

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