Pages: [1] 2 3 ... 5   Go Down

Author Topic: A Critique of Contemporary Camera Design  (Read 27871 times)

MarinoDiMare

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1
A Critique of Contemporary Camera Design
« on: May 03, 2012, 11:08:08 am »

I read Richard Sexton's article with great interest and agree with its/his line of argument. However, I would like to defend the design choices made by Fuji on their X-series (which, for the sake of completeness, also contains the X-S1, a whole different kind of camera). The decision to go for this kind of retro-look has, I would guess, a positive effect on the level of unobtrusiveness of the camera. Looking like an old range finder, they appear unthreatening, friendly even (at least the X10 and X100 do, I haven't seen or handled an X Pro1 yet) -- to me, that is. I agree though, that the retro styling of the OM-D misses the point completely.

I have never shot with range finders, but I would love to have a small, easy-to-cary, quick-to-operate, unobtrusive camera to complement my DSLR. Like Richard, I've been monitoring the EVIL market to see whether such a thing exists yet, but alas, I'll have to wait a bit more. On the other hand, to my taste, the Fuji X Pro1 comes pretty close!
Logged

Jeff Kott

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 139
Re: A Critique of Contemporary Camera Design
« Reply #1 on: May 03, 2012, 02:32:54 pm »

I just read Richard Sexton's article and think it is a great and insightful summary of where we stand today. I'm using a Sony Nex 7 for my small carry anywhere and travel camera (with adapted M mount lenses) and totally agree with his compliments and criticisms of that system. Great job Richard!
Logged

JohnBrew

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 868
    • http://www.johnbrewton.zenfolio.com
Re: A Critique of Contemporary Camera Design
« Reply #2 on: May 03, 2012, 02:55:17 pm »

Richard, you may get your wish for the ultimate digital rangefinder this year. Leica is announcing "something" on the 10th of this month and the Leica forum is awash in rumors for what will be introduced at this years Photokina.

Isaac

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 3123
Re: A Critique of Contemporary Camera Design
« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2012, 03:31:58 pm »

A Critique of Contemporary Camera Design -- "But, it can also be because newer isnít always better. Newer may only be different, and that difference may lack universal appeal."

It can be both better and worse - which is particularly irritating, but might be inevitable given that we're judging something made for a larger group against our individual desires.

I started thinking of "The Language of Things: Understanding the world of desirable objects" and then noticed the quote ;-)
Logged

bg2b

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 23
Re: A Critique of Contemporary Camera Design
« Reply #4 on: May 03, 2012, 03:42:41 pm »

The statement in the article that "Canon has even put an APS-C sensor in a G series Powershot camera" is incorrect.  The G1X has a sensor which is 4:3 ratio and only a hair larger than a regular (micro-)4/3 sensor (and AFAIK is actually less wide that Panasonic's multi-aspect ratio 4/3 sensors).
Logged

theguywitha645d

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 970
Re: A Critique of Contemporary Camera Design
« Reply #5 on: May 03, 2012, 04:31:25 pm »

It is a brave new world. Ironically, the first image you see in Sexton's web site was taken with a large format view camera. Mirrorless to be sure. Fortunately, Mr. Sexton's vision is just his person opinion on camera design.

What is annoying is the myth of the unobtrusive camera. Every camera is obtrusive. And you can take intimate images of people with any camera, no matter how large. (Unless you are spying on people, but that is a different matter.)
Logged

douglasf13

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 547
Re: A Critique of Contemporary Camera Design
« Reply #6 on: May 03, 2012, 05:25:57 pm »

I agree that the Zeiss 24 is a bit large for the NEX-7, but it is still leagues smaller than an equivalent SLR version.  Either way, Sigma has come to the rescue with a couple of fantastic small primes.  The 30/2.8 is as sharp as a Leica lens, and it is small and lightweight.  Since high ISO is so good,, f2.8 works fine for me, and I can use the larger Sony 50/1.8 if lowlight becomes a problem.

p.s. Mr. Sexton should now that, assuming similar output size, more megapixels doesn't translate into more noise.  That only happens when comparing both at 100%, which isn't very useful.
Logged

pservice

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 2
Re: A Critique of Contemporary Camera Design
« Reply #7 on: May 04, 2012, 01:25:27 am »

Many seem to have dismissed the Nikon 1 as serious cameras because of their small sensors and lack of direct user controls.  However, as someone who has been using a V1 for about 6 months, I think they are more significant than most people realize.  In particular, the implementation of on-sensor phase-detection AF is astounding.  With kit lenses and in decent light their AF performance is on par with DSLRs (and no camera focusses well in really dim light).  I predict that on-sensor PDAF is the essential technology that will de-throne the SLR as the performance king.  Nikon is implementing that technology right now, and presumably improving it.  I would not be surprised to see to see a larger sensor mirrorless camera from Nikon in the future.  If so, it will most certainly rely on PDAF. 
Logged

250swb

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 220
Re: A Critique of Contemporary Camera Design
« Reply #8 on: May 04, 2012, 03:28:17 am »

I guess this article was written some time ago, and the opinions expressed in it formed even longer ago than that.

In any case, it is unfortunate it wasn't published before the Olympus E-M5 was released, because then it would have looked less silly as a thoughtful critique. Here you have a camera placed in the 'no hope' category, both for performance and any sort of future, with a smaller sensor than the hallowed APS-C size (so making for conventiently smaller cameras). And lo and behold DPR say there is no camera between it and full frame that is any better, roll the dice and jump straight to Go. The image samples certainly show that all things considered the new m4/3 sensor makes for a camera on a par with any current APS-C equipped offering.

Mr Sexton should have realised soon after first putting pen to paper that he was doomed, scientists make fools of the thoughtful assessments of bystanders.

Steve

meyerweb

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 163
Re: A Critique of Contemporary Camera Design
« Reply #9 on: May 04, 2012, 09:58:03 am »

This article reads more like a whine (and an extremely verbose, rambling whine at that) that things have changed, and poor Richard wants things to be like they always were.  Aside from that, his facts are wrong.  One obvious example: The Canon G1x doesn't have an APS sized sensor.  In fact, its sensor has a 4:3 ratio and is almost exactly m43 sized--just a tiny bit bigger.

I guess Canon doesn't agree with Richard when it comes to sensor size either.
Logged

MatthewCromer

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 505
Re: A Critique of Contemporary Camera Design
« Reply #10 on: May 04, 2012, 10:03:53 am »

I guess this article was written some time ago, and the opinions expressed in it formed even longer ago than that.

In any case, it is unfortunate it wasn't published before the Olympus E-M5 was released, because then it would have looked less silly as a thoughtful critique. Here you have a camera placed in the 'no hope' category, both for performance and any sort of future, with a smaller sensor than the hallowed APS-C size (so making for conventiently smaller cameras). And lo and behold DPR say there is no camera between it and full frame that is any better, roll the dice and jump straight to Go. The image samples certainly show that all things considered the new m4/3 sensor makes for a camera on a par with any current APS-C equipped offering.

Mr Sexton should have realised soon after first putting pen to paper that he was doomed, scientists make fools of the thoughtful assessments of bystanders.

Steve


DPReview has proven itself incapable of really fine distinctions in image quality.  For example, their noise and dynamic range tests are particularly poorly controlled.

DxO does the best job with these kinds of tests, IMO.  So I'll await the DxO score before declaring the 4/3 sensor has caught up to Sony's latest offerings.

In the meantime, I seriously doubt the 16MP 4/3 sensor outresolves the 24MP Sony APS chip.
Logged

250swb

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 220
Re: A Critique of Contemporary Camera Design
« Reply #11 on: May 04, 2012, 10:48:25 am »

DPReview has proven itself incapable of really fine distinctions in image quality.  For example, their noise and dynamic range tests are particularly poorly controlled.

DxO does the best job with these kinds of tests, IMO.  So I'll await the DxO score before declaring the 4/3 sensor has caught up to Sony's latest offerings.

In the meantime, I seriously doubt the 16MP 4/3 sensor outresolves the 24MP Sony APS chip.

Yes, the good thing about DPR is that it doesn't make fine distinctions where the overall picture is lost in petty detail.

And if you doubt the quality of the E-M5 against the NEX 7 go and look, its not my web site, I have no control over the tests. They don't say it is better, they say all things considered there is no real difference, apart from the availability of a wide range of lenses of course....... ;)


Steve

ndevlin

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 679
    • Follow me on Twitter
Re: A Critique of Contemporary Camera Design
« Reply #12 on: May 04, 2012, 11:04:01 am »

This is a superb and thoughtful essay by Richard, which I thought hit the nail on the head more than once.  Teh fact that we are still seeing 3:2 aspect cameras - which truly must be the most useless format ever in terms of ineffeciency of size/lens design etc -  simply film was made in that size the better part of a century ago, that is indeed a sad indictment. 

- N.
Logged
Nick Devlin   @onelittlecamera        ww

meyerweb

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 163
Re: A Critique of Contemporary Camera Design
« Reply #13 on: May 04, 2012, 11:15:40 am »

DPReview has proven itself incapable of really fine distinctions in image quality.  For example, their noise and dynamic range tests are particularly poorly controlled.

DxO does the best job with these kinds of tests, IMO.  So I'll await the DxO score before declaring the 4/3 sensor has caught up to Sony's latest offerings.

In the meantime, I seriously doubt the 16MP 4/3 sensor outresolves the 24MP Sony APS chip.

DxO's tests have little to do with real world imaging, unfortunately. They measure DR in a totally artificial way that doesn't show up in real photographs, taken by real photographers, and is unduly influenced by base ISO. Is the Sony chip better?  Maybe. Does that difference show up in real world photography (which is the point, after all)?  Rarely, I think.

Even the worst current m43 camera has a least twice the DR of slide film. If you can't make a publication or exhibition quality image with any of the m43 cameras with the newer 16MP sensors, OR a Sony, Canon, Nikon or Fuji camera, the problem lies with the software behind the camera, not the camera itself.

This discussion is more than a little off-topic, though.
Logged

meyerweb

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 163
Re: A Critique of Contemporary Camera Design
« Reply #14 on: May 04, 2012, 11:18:24 am »

This is a superb and thoughtful essay by Richard, which I thought hit the nail on the head more than once.  Teh fact that we are still seeing 3:2 aspect cameras - which truly must be the most useless format ever in terms of ineffeciency of size/lens design etc -  simply film was made in that size the better part of a century ago, that is indeed a sad indictment. 
- N.

Or, maybe, it reflects the fact that this format simply works. It produces balanced, pleasing images of a large variety of subjects.
Logged

LoisWakeman

  • Guest
Re: A Critique of Contemporary Camera Design
« Reply #15 on: May 04, 2012, 11:29:17 am »

Give the man some paragraph breaks, please! My eyes are bleeding and my brain isn't far behind. :-(
Logged

BJL

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 6600

Or, maybe, it reflects the fact that this format simply works. It produces balanced, pleasing images of a large variety of subjects.
I agree with N. Devlin (and Richard Sexton?): the 3:2 shape has never been the dominant or "middle of the road" choice for prints larger than snapshots, or for paintings or drawings in any era. Instead there has been for many centuries, in painting, drawing and photography, a dominant range of shape choices ranging from about 5:4 (1.25) to 3:2 (1.5), with the most common choices being in between, about 4:3 (1.33) to 7:5 (1.4). The 3:2 shape is at one end of this main range, not in the middle: shapes wider than 3:2 have always been far less common than shapes a bit less wide like 7:5 and 4:3. (And please, no mystical nonsense about the Golden Ratio, which has never been at all a common choice for "rectangular art works".)

The 3:2 shape of 36x24mm made sense with the constraint of 24mm width of the dominant 135 format film, but has never had much popularity in any other film format or for paintings or drawings. for example, where are the 3:2 formats in MF or LF cameras? There was no major obstacle to making either a "9x6cm" or "6x4cm" camera using 120 or 220 roll film, but the first was rare and the second never happened AFAIK.

The 3:2 shape is rather clearly film-era historical baggage from the facts that:
- 135 format film, 24mm wide, became entrenched with huge cost advantages over any competing format for rolls of film.
- With the short edge constrained to 24mm, the most flexible option was to make the frames rather long in the other dimension, to cover all the most popular shapes with only horizontal crops needed so that you got a good range of shapes while still using the full 24mm frame height. With the dominant shape range from 5:4 to 3:2 it made sense for 135 film cameras to use the largest and widest of these: 36x24 for 3:2, rather than say 32x24mm (4:3) or 30x24mm (5:4).

But with sensors, that 24mm constraint is gone(*) and instead the most efficient use of resources is to choose a shape near the middle of the range of most common shape choices, to minimize the average fraction of the image lost to cropping when wanting a different shape. That is, something strictly between 5:4 and 3:2, like either 4:3 or 7:5. And of those, 4:3 has clearly won.

By the way, 7:5 might be a nice compromise, because it is an almost perfect match to the ISO standard "A" paper sizes, and still closer than 3:2 to 10x8, 14x11, 20x16, etc.


(*) The 24mm constraint is not entirely gone, because there are still DSLRs that use lenses and lens mounts originally designed for the 36x24mm film format, and these still have the 24mm height constraint (from VF mirrors and baffles within some lenses for example), so 36x24mm is still entrenched in "full frame DSLRs" for historical reasons.
« Last Edit: May 04, 2012, 12:28:26 pm by BJL »
Logged

BJL

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 6600
Contemporary Camera Design: zoom lens size matters for compact systems!
« Reply #17 on: May 04, 2012, 02:31:14 pm »

I like some of Sexton's thoughts, but at the end it rehashes a fallacy that has been rebutted ad infinitum when he predicts that micro 4/3 will be overrun by cameras with APC-S size sensors ("bigger format, therefore better IQ!") and at the same time perhaps also by Nikon One system ("smaller format, therefore smaller cameras!"). Do you see the contradiction here? It is the familiar fallacy of shifting the emphasis between a smaller format's potential advantage in total camera size and weight (of camera with a lens, usually a zoom lens in this century) against a larger format's potential advantage in image quality, instead of balancing those opposing factors. A m4/3 zealot could just as well say: "m4/3 will win because it has an inherent IQ advantage over Nikon's 1" format due to its larger sensors, and a size advantage over systems like NEX due to its smaller lenses".

I agree that sensor cost is not a major differentiation at these sizes, and nor is body size, since there is a lower limit set by ergonomics (3" LCD, EVF, enough controls and a place to hold it firmly). But I expect that the size and weight of a basic kit with a 3x standard zoom lens will be a major factor, and with the IQ as good as it is now in the Olympus and Panasonic 4/3" format (17.3x13mm), the Canon GX1's slightly larger format (18.7x14mm, far closer to 4/3" than to APS-C) and even Nikon's 1" format (13.2x8.8mm), my guess is that systems like NEX and NX (about 23.4x15.6mm) will come to be considered as oversized.

In theory, a larger format could get equal telephoto reach from a lens of equal maximum focal length by having more but equally small pixels and using cropping (aka digital zoom), such as an 18-42mm 2.3x zoom lens for NEX to compete against a 14-42mm 3x zoom lens for m4/3. But I count that many customers would buy that approach: neither with DSLRs nor mirrorless systems has anyone offered a standard zoom with such a truncated optical zoom range and the slogan
"use the 4/3" crop mode to increase telephoto reach of our 2.3x kit zoom lens to match what you get with a m4/3 3x kit zoom lens".
« Last Edit: May 04, 2012, 02:33:24 pm by BJL »
Logged

theguywitha645d

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 970
Re: A Critique of Contemporary Camera Design
« Reply #18 on: May 04, 2012, 03:45:01 pm »

Every format is arbitrary. Usually based on the limits of some technology.

But the whole argument simply boils down to "this is what I like and so that is the way it should be." Most of it is nit picking. And he really does not have the experience with some of the cameras he pans--picking one up to play with it is hardly experience. And then he spends too much time with cliches about photography.

He did put a great deal of effort in, I must say.
Logged

tom b

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1471
    • http://tombrown.id.au
Re: A Critique of Contemporary Camera Design
« Reply #19 on: May 04, 2012, 06:17:02 pm »

I got lost with the watch analogy. With the advent of smart phones, the concept of a wristwatch is very much in danger. Who needs a cheap watch, video or camera when you have one of these portable computers. Let's face it printing is disappearing too with the advent of tablets to accompany smart phones. Just catch a train or bus to see the future.

Cheers,
Logged
Tom Brown
Pages: [1] 2 3 ... 5   Go Up