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Monday, 25 May 2009

Comments

Yes, but... you are looking at this from a product point of view. The argument is a little different from an application point of view. What photographic application requires a very simple camera? What features are required for that application?

What about the ability to change the menus and reassign all button by the user ?
I agree 95% of users will never do it (For the same reason they carry their entire kit everywhere).

This way, if I use mirror lockup a lot, I can assign it to a button I don't use as often. If I use a specific menu item a lot I can move it to a more usable place.If there's menu items I don't use, I can hide them and never bother with them again.

I admit some of it exist already, but it can go further.

Nikon started and sadly ditched a very nice approach to this problem with their "My Menu" structure on the D80: anything could be REMOVED from the menu.

After half a year of usage I got all menu-screens down to one page. One look and everything I usually wanted to set was visible. For in-depth tinkering one could switch back to the full menu without losing the customization.

Now on the D700 I have to ADD stuff to ONE special menu and I totally hate it. But on the other hand the "assign buttons for what you want them to do" is going the right direction.

After all...it's only software....

Since the 1980's SLR has meant "complicated", perhaps a rangefinder camera is more likely to be simple? How about an Epson RD1 without the silly looking bits on top (and at about half the price).

Cheers, Robin

You're probably right about a simple DSLR, but what about an _elegant_ digital camera? One that had physical controls for the 4 things that matter in digital: Aperture, Shutter, ISO, and White Balance. I can menu-dive for the rest, but I do so wish for quick and easy access to those whenever I pick up an unfamiliar camera.

I'm afraid you're right. All we can hope for (but not realistically) is big progress in usability and interface. Because I've used digital cameras for ten years now, I read about them every week, and they still friggin' confuse me!

Mike, Why not make a Manual, 1 ISO body-- you know just like an old film camera and then you could down load the features, "for a price of course" that you like. Just like software for a computer or the extras you don't need in a new car.
I think the camera companies missed this great opportunity
to really make extra bucks on stuff we may or may not ever use, but feel we must have. Of course all the cameras couldn't use all the features--only the most expensive body ones. Then new features will come out that won't work on the camera you now have ∞∞∞∞∞∞ and then some.

Pen,
See, even with those four parameters, you and I are already diverging. The top reason I like shooting raw is that I don't have to worry about WB 99.8% of the time.

Mike

Mike, as always, you're right on the money. There would need to be many different cameras to fill many different niches. What makes the current cameras so affordable is that there is an economy of scale, being able to produce a few bodies that span a wide variety of uses. We should be thrilled to be able to buy such capable cameras at such reasonable costs (and really it is reasonable whey you consider what you get these days) that are so customizable to our individual needs. I know I am.

All current DSLR's can be used as simple cameras. It's a matter of recognizing what you need and what the camera has to offer, and use as little or as much that makes sense for what you do. Simple. Most extraneous stuff can be turned off or disabled.

Problem is, most people never want to take the time to become informed. They just want to turn it on and have it work. Instead of just complaining, if they took some personal responsibility about really learning about their equipment, they could have exactly what they want. But then, they'd have to know what they want, and that of course is another matter all together.

Goddamn hot pixel mapping, sensor cleaning, mirror locking, multi-point focussing DILETTANTES! Look, it only needs ONE essential feature, right? APERTURE PRIORITY! That's it! That's ALL!! If you want to photograph praying mantis or stars, go buy a D700 and quit ruining my dream! Ya can put a padded strap on it too if ya like, ya big wussies.

Thanks for identifying these people, Mike. Now all I have to do is hunt them down...

Are people still interested in DSLRs? No, really? I've never understood the desire for a "simple" Digital SLR. If there is a feature that isn't needed, don't use it. If there is something you need and your "brand" doesn't have it, buy the one that does. The days of owning the same camera for a 10 years are over. It's a new camera per year now, especially if you do lots of shooting. Digital "photography" is essentially a hobby for the rich people of the world. I'm not trying to go all Rockwell on you, but he has a point. Rich amateurs are driving the digital camera market. I guarantee you within 5 years that if you are a serious photographer, sincerely interested in creating art and not going broke in the process, you will be back to shooting film. Digital cameras are dying, let's face it. I don't care what the manufacturers sales stats tell you. I go by what I see everyday. All of my nieces and nephews are using Holgas or my hand me down Nikon FMs. How about my D50? "No thanks, digital is uncool" they tell me. Of the 4 or 5 professional photographers I associate with on a regular basis, all have dug out their old film cameras (some which are 30+ years old) and myself, I have started using my old Mamiya 645 again, with pleasure. Yes, they still use digital for "work." For pleasure and personal work, it's film. My point? Film cameras are simpler.

That might be the manufacturers' logic, but it is flawed. People are willing to put up with limitations and simplifications if the resulting product meets the majority of their needs better. The proof? Apple's massive success with the iPod. It was met with derision in tech circles -- too expensive, less space than its clunky rivals, no wifi support. Yet it still took over the world.

The trick Apple manages is to ignore what people claim to want and give them what they need. The resulting products are simple, easy and effective and so they're popular. An Apple simple SLR wouldn't support astrophotgraphy, that's for sure.

It probably wouldn't look like my dream digital AE1-P with AF either, but since Apple isnt about to make another camera and none of the manufacturers have the necessary will to ignore the marketing department, we're never likely to find out. A pity.

I submit that the trick is not to make a radically simplified camera, but rather to make a camera that can be used in a radically simplified way.

I have my Pentax K10D set up on Aperture priority, with the two thumbwheels set the way I like them; I use auto-iso and control DOF by setting the aperture. I non-continuous autofocus with only the center sensor enabled. I focus, recompose, and reshoot.

My DSLR is "simple" when set up this way. I know how to use it, and I don't mind having all of the additional features in the camera, since the don't get in the way.

But that argumentation is applicable for current cameras as well. Following this mode we wouldn't have any camera at all because there are these objections and wishlistes for actual cameras as well, still they exist and are sold.

And then, there was such as thing as an Epson RD-1, shutter speed dial, ISO dial, shutter release: done. I left out the focus ring because it belongs to the lens. The menus are irrelevant because you never need it at least if you shoot raw. It should have sensor cleaning, shake reduction, bla, but who cares. The only reason such a concept doesn't work are the laws of market (which utterly suck, just to be sure).

I propose a definition of simple which could probably be shared by many: include every feature desired, but make it optional, and provide a way to operate the camera like the simplest way possible without needing the menus. The "simplest way possible" is obvious with cameras I guess: shutter speed, ISO, aperture, focus, shutter release.

And sorry, I just realised that you were talking about dslr, not rangefinder, so forget the Epson. But that would be my definition of simple, which could be derived from any film camera (slr or rangefinder) from the pre-autofocus era.

That's quite true, I'm sad to admit.
One thing that really annoys me nowadays is the fact that I end up paying for features I know I will never use. Like video, for instance!

A program that would set the default values of features on cameras, and would also allow the user to hide them or expose them would allow users to make the camera as simple as they want. The CHDK software for Canon point and shoot cameras shows that all those cameras have about the same feature sets built in , but some are simply turned off for different price points and perceived markets.

Of course this would confuse the heck out of exactly the people who want simple cameras.

One should remember that most of the non-essential features cost almost nothing to include on any particular camera once they have been programed for another. For example, face recognition and video is free once you have live view. Zillions of bracketing modes, color mapping, intervalometers, motion triggering of the shutter, and features we haven't even seen yet all have no cost to manufacture.

When people say they want fewer features , usually what they mean is that they don't want to pay for them but when those features are all done in software they don't cost anything, and a limited market camera with fewer features would actually cost more.

The "Costs more , does less" market is pretty much dominated by Leica, and it's unclear if there is even enough room for Leica in that market segment.


I think you're right. It's Microsoft Word syndrome. I expect the same results.

Simple solution: Everyone should buy an OM-1.

Patrick

I'd almost think a better approach would be start from the other direction, build it from the ground up. You need a body with (since you specified DSLR) reflex mirror and optical viewfinder prism. And for the D part of DSLR, you need a sensor along with someway to store the images (changeable memory card). A shutter button, shutter speed control, and a lens attachment point rounds things off. (Aperture and focus, when available, handled manually on the lens itself.)

It's the same with cellphones - to the point that I'm not sure you can actually buy a cellphone that is just a phone. And I've forgotten when the last time I saw advertising for one that focused on it's abilities as a phone.

And the same has happened with cars - most of the stuff in the '96 car I drive is a far cry for the '70 Ford I first learned to drive.

Sadly, it's just the way things have gone - we want more and more, at the expense of excelling at anything, including an item's primary function. So, I would bet on a future of more features than ever before.

Patrick says "Simple solution: Everyone should buy an OM-1"

Or an Om-1n or Om-2n. Scan that B&W film and you have an extremely well made DSLR that will cost you $175 tops.

From time to time I shoot with my 'old' Nikon D1h. It's something I do to keep me in the know about this camera as I had moved on to the Nikon D2x and subsequently the Nikon D300 and D3.

Compared to the D3 and D300 it's a camera which is very pared down. The AF isn't as good and the operation menu is simple. But it has a few things in common with it's younger siblings. You can set the white balance manually, it has a spot meter and you can shoot with it in manual mode. And it's a wonderful camera when you hit it's sweet spot, which is all about exposure, there is no reason not to shoot in raw, the files are so small, yet complete. In B/W mode shooting ycbcr, the photograph has almost a beautiful quality, straight out of the camera. (Here's to fat pixels...)

Having to cope with the vast array of knowledge needed to operate a modern DSLR in a news context, It is really nice to 'get back to basics, with such an excellent and simple machine compared to the consumer and prosumer DSLRs out there right now. It doesn't shoot 720p for goodness sake!

It's been my good luck charm, and despite upgrading several cameras in the last 6 years since I purchased it, I'll never part with it. 99.9999% of the time, I don't print larger than A4; when I shot film I could count on one hand the amount of times I printed 16X20. It's simplicity suits me. Knowing it's limitations, forces a more exacting approach to taking a picture.

It was gratifying to hold original prints by Salgado, Bresson, Doisneau, Capa. To see how they treated the negative. In the digital age we all look for perfection, but part of the magic of photography is it's imperfection. It's refelection of our humanity. So it's nice to fire up the D1h and 'go retro.'
It tickles me to shoot with it and, an old Olympus SP35 that has a lovely 42mm lens. Both cameras are orphans in this world, but if ever Olympus were to be charmed into building a similar camera with their DSLR chip housed inside, I might just be tempted to sell my house for it...

I think what many people mean by wanting a simple DSLR is a simple looking DSLR. Features are largely hidden in the menus anyway.

The more jewel like the better and absolutely no fake chrome.


"It's Microsoft Word syndrome."

Funny, I was just about to mention that years ago, David Pogue wrote about feature bloat, Word being the obvious example. He concluded that it's the same as with SUVs: we just love more power, even if we never use it.

Totally agree, but that exact Nonetax ABC you are talking about definitely needs an improved AF...

Anyway, could you please share your thoughts on things that many don't wish, but we have them emerged? Is it just me thinking that movie mode in a dslr is worthless? How does this exact feature influence the price? Or, better yet, how does this exact feature REALLY influence a buying behaviour for a prosumer camera? And, finally, what if the only reason that there is no simple dslr is that it is just a no-win for a manufacturer, not a consumer disambiguation..?

Also, what I am afraid of is that, though we can't agree on what simple is, manufacturers really are. And after they agree - we'll just have no choise. Am I just looking like a freak with no camera in mobile nowadays or I AM a freak?

Though personally me is totally up to the scientific and technological advance. We've got lolcats!

What I love from the story around Nonetax, though, is that it seems that they've been listening what others were telling. Don't remember anybody begging for a movie mode, but many other things were heard...

I realize that it's probably a stretch to say this, but isn't a digital camera a computer with specialized optical hardware attached to it (or the other way around)? Where the heck are the Software Development Kits (SDKs) that would allow the creation of aftermarket firmwares that provide the feature customization that camera manufacturers either can't afford or are too unskilled to implement ?
The CHDK firmware points the way, but why don't camera manufacturers support this kind of firmware customization?

When I hear the word "simple" I think of algebra class many moons ago -- "simplify this expression."

The problem is that there is no common denominator when it comes to a DSLR, as Mike points out.

I keep things simple on my own. I read the manual, decide on what I need, and ignore the rest of the features. I have a Canon 50D, and have never used LiveView. I'm not a Luddite, but I prefer to use the optical viewfinder, don't need face detection (rarely take pictures of people except as accessories in a scene), and prefer to use the same set up I have with previous Canon SLRs and DSLRs.

I know the other features are in there (remember, I RTFM) and from time to time I will add a new one to my retinue (I now use high speed continuous shooting with auto exposure bracketing to be able to hand hold several exposures for HDR processing), but otherwise I keep it simple.

Can't you have this simple camera? Buy a used FM2, OM1, K1000 and have at it-scan your film and Bob's your uncle. Or buy a D3 (easily one of the most feature-rich, customizable cameras available) or a K7, set the dials to "auto everything" and forget about the rest. Or buy your Canon G10, put in the battery and press the button. I'd wager that most DSLR users figure out the three functions they use the most often and literally forget about the rest until presented with a problem that takes them out of their comfort zone.

Quizzically,

Ben

Shooting film and scanning is truely another elegant solution. But please don't promote that Rockwell, lately he bashed Windows (once again) and along the way he used the occasion to start a rant against communism. As if Windows wasnt the software par excellence of capitalsitic dysfunction.

I'm not sure people really do want more simple dslrs. The consumer market buys on features, the enthusiast market on what features they might use and can access intuitively.

What I do think there is a clamour for amongst circles such as those that read this site is a camera that modernizes the gestalt of certain mechanical cameras - OMs and FMs have already been mentioned. These aren't simple cameras, they are simple to operate because the designers concentrated on the features photographers need, in particular, the ability to focus accurately, quickly. Give use decent viewfinders, small primes and ditch the bulky (un)ergonomic hand grips and I'm sure we'll find something else to winge about instead.

You are right though, it will never happen!

" ... here's what the camera companies would hear, over and over again, from everybody:"
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Everybody = writers in photography magazines and bloggers.
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Most customers want "nice" pictures or "good" pictures and are willing to pay a little more and carry a little more to get nicer and gooder pictures. So they put their point-n-shoot in the drawer and buy a DSLR and maybe a couple of lenses. And using the little pictures on the knob (the mountain, the skier, the portrait, the flower) they get nicer and gooder pictures.
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Menues? What menues?
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Canon and Nikon sell tons of simple, perfectly adequate DSLRs from pallets in Costco. Those customers get pretty much what they are looking for: Good Pictures.

I have a phone that's just a phone, but it's more than 3 years old. And I had to insist at the time. It was only $20.

I'm actually posting to say that that drywall factory example was the best laugh I've had all week.

There's a similar but more direct argument.

A "simple" DSLR is uneconomic.

Part of the reason that DSLRs are complex is that a lot of "features marketing can sell" are built up of mostly software a little hardware. Out of silicon.

So any "simpler" version of anything is likely to cost as much or more to produce, and appeal to fewer people. Yielding a very poor return on investment.

The market demand is not for "simpler" meaning "less stuff" but for some great cleverness (some debated above) about "don't show me stuff I don't care about, don't let me get lost in stuff I don't understand."

It won't be about simpler, it will be about better organized.

It seems to me that simple in the context you are describing is not about the number of features offered in a particular appliance. It is about the usability of the feature set by some group of individuals. As a Mac user you should be very familiar with user centric product design. Recent Apple offerings are ample proof that it is possible to design complex products that are easily used by non-technical users. I don't think they approach user centered design as a process of dumbing down the interface to work for the average moron. I'd guess that they do lots of market research, designing and prototyping to get those little jewels right. Camera companies could do the same thing. Instead they play the universal Japanese appliance game. You know, universal Japanese motorcycle, universal Japanese car, universal Japanese camera. Competent products in all technical respects and utterly boring.

If you want a simple camera, try a real astrophotography camera. All they have is a sensor, a cooling system and a shutter. Doesn't get much simpler than that! Any features are implemented in software.

Come to think of it, most of these things are the answer to all of the requests for a B&W camera: big sensors, no color filters (except what you put in front of it), big pixels, great sensitivity. Say, something from SBIG, like an STL-11000M.

Leica M8 comes close, surely? It doesn't have a reflex mirror but you can simulate this pretty well by blinking every time you depress the shutter... That said, the new M8.2 has "Snapshot" mode which sounds suspiciously like tomorrow's multiprogram mode...

... which is the reason you have, in most dslr´s, a programme mode, where the camera takes over the user. THAT is a very simplified dslr: just point and shoot.

I know that that is not what you meant to say. That you were going for "a MECHANICALLY simplified" dslr. Thing is, a dslr will NEVER be a simple device. And to be honest, none of the cameras in the last 50 or so years have been a simple device. Starting from the overly complicated mirror and shutter assembly.

Of topic but I think the Panasonic G1 has sounded the death knell for simple DSLRs anyway. A good electronic viewfinder with full shooting parameters in view, a real preview of what the final image will look like and an almost silent capture. Add the capability for the user to select how the image will look (without any complex command sequences) and you may have the future of simple, entry level, interchangeable lens, photography.

I would really enjoy an "expose for the highlights" button!

I generally just use the features I need and forget the rest. My E-510 has features I'll never use, and some I might not ever discover.

Because the feature set of even the most inexpensive cameras has gotten so extensive, the list of things we think we "can't live without" has grown likewise. How did so many photographers get along for so many years with something as basic as the old Pentax K-1000? We're too spoiled now to think that we could get along with something so simple.

After reading some of the comments I'm confused.
Do you want a simple camera because the ones you can buy are too complicated to use ? Or because there are too many features you don't want to see/know about ?

If it's the former, then I agree it'll never happen.
If it's the latter though, this can be done if the manufacturers want to add it in. (Yes, I see the irony...)

this reminds me of something you wrote long time ago about canon's EF mount. that the (then) new system allowed for upgrades just by changing the sofware (implementation of mirror lock-up was done in one of the cameras just by software modification afair). i think you see where i'm going...

why not make a camera that is highly customizable? DSLRs now have "custom menus" that allow to modify some of the camera's behaviours. Why not let the user switch off some functions or - better yet - remove them from regular menus so they don't clutter it?maybe even this could be done on a computer and then a custom set of features could be transferred by memory card? how about an open-source camera?

having said that, i agree with Mark. my K100D is everything i need in a camera. and while there are some features it doesn't have , i can't think of a single one that i'd really need. well okay, high speed flash sync with my K50/1.4 for outdoor portraits.

I was about to point out that classic cameras like the Nikon F or the Leica M3 were as close as possible to a "bare-bones" camera.

But then I realized that each and every "simple" feature of these cameras used to be an option or something which in/out status varied across the manufacturers.

The rangefinder was an option on the Leica I. It took decades before the first SLRs (like the Exakta) grew a prism. Diaphragms were still not fully automatic with the first Pentaxes. The Contax IIa still had a button wind, but the Nikon S-series went for lever advance with the S2. And the list goes on.

The deeply systemic approach à la Nikon F had the advantage of letting the users customize their cameras, but it left out a few rough edges (dust under that prism...). Up to a point, DSLR would have the advantage of software upgrades, which leaves few visible seams, but new chips are still needed to add HD video, so not every new feature is immaterial.

I wonder how many of the "feature" problems are in fact user interface problems. I know the reason why I don't like DSLR is not because they have too many features (my computer has a bazillion more and it doesn't baffle me!), but because they have too many buttons.

In the end, I think it's still Apple which gets it right with the current iPhones/iPod touch: build a device with a flexible user interface (touch screen) to follow changes in functionality.

Imagine a camera built like that! It would look like these amorphous devices in David Cronenberg movies that people just fondle in odd ways to use them.

I'd say these comments illustrate your point pretty well, Mike, as there seems to be little consensus on an *approach* to "simple", let alone "simple". I think I understand and agree generally with your thesis here, but I wish you would spell out why you singled out DSLR's (or is that all people ask about?).

Anyway, the issue became much clearer for me when I tried to imagine a SDSLR(tm), and felt I should distinguish optical/mechanical "essentials", sensor-specific "essentials", and automation and computation "essentials". Difficult! If I can't easily pare it down for myself, I can't expect meaningful consensus.

The Pentax K2000 is a current serious attempt at "simple DSLR", of a sort. It's interesting which features were included or omitted, and which omissions seized upon as "deal breakers" in various reviews and comments.

Mark has the right idea with his Pentax K10D. I use a Sony A200 (heck of a bargain, by the way) in almost the exact fashion every day. Not so very unlike using a manual SLR back in the 1970s. (However let's face it, that auto-focus feature was a very nice development. VBG.)

Yeah, I do think a lot of the objections to "complexity" are because of a (somewhat mistaken) belief that the features they don't want are somehow costing them money (in fact it's probably the reverse -- the video feature is upping sales enough that they get a savings too).

WB isn't a base feature on a DSLR; all right-thinking people shoot in RAW, and hence WB is entirely a post-processing issue, it has no place in the top-level controls. :-) :-)

I do think the issue is easy access to the features *you* want, which is basically a user-interface issue. I think greater flexibility in assigning functions to buttons is the way to get there. I've been wishing they'd get on with it for some time now. (Pet peeve: the top-level menu divisions on most cameras are rather opaque to me; I can't guess under which sub-tree many features will be found.)

There's a difference between "simple" and "simple-minded." What I want is a small camera -- say, like the Pentax K7 -- with all the pro mechanical features and a state-of-the-art full-frame high-ISO sensor. And that clearly can be done.

But for me, none of that means the operation has to be complex -- I don't have to take the sensor out and adjust it, or adjust the image stabilizer. For me, simple would be, say, a small camera with a twistable LCD, four programmable buttons, a couple of programmable dials a la Nikon, and a feature that allows you to build a custom menu.

Then the manufacturer could put everything they could think of in the software, but that wouldn't affect me, because I'm going to create a simple custom menu, and four custom button-pushes, and that will take care of me 99% of the time. That's simple, without being simple-minded.

If you're a guy who needs to use the camera in 100 different configurations, then you're going to have to put up with some inconvenience -- but there's no reason that the rest of us should have to, just because some guys want 100 different configurations. IMHO.

I want all the bells and whstles on my point and shoot because, well, its a P&S. On the other hand I want the DSLR (and DRF) to be completely configurable by me. The former is assured, the latter is not likely unless the pros demand it.
Also get used to feature creep. No manufacturer is going to budget $ to remove software features. There is a faint glimmer of hope in that reducing the number of buttons, wheels and joysticks made possible by software assigning functions could be economically worthwhile.
bd

well i have a super simplified Canon EOS film SLR-- Canon EOS 850. it's so simple it's even simpler than my Canon Powershots.

no pop-up flash, no M, Av or Tv, just P and A-dep.

i don't think anyone would want to have a digital version of this SLR.

see the jog dial in the picture:

The first DSLRs were adaptations of existing film cameras. It's too bad the camera manufacturers didn't continue in that vein. It's also too bad that Silicon Film never got their eFilm out of the prototype stage. In a perfect world, we might all have continued to buy and use cameras that allowed us to use either medium, film or silicon.

Unfortunately, creeping featurism, borrowed from P&S digicams with LCD displays and permanently installed "film" dictated the direction that small-format DSLRs would take. Medium format digital got it right for the most part, except for the price...

I'd still love to have a digital back for my ol' F2. I can dream, can't I?

For me the best simplification would be to improve the image file format.

I don't want to have to deal with multiple files per image nor proprietary raw formats. I want a standard, low-compression format with +/- 0.5 to 1 stop of additional highlight and shadow detail, and with display overrides for brightness, contrast, white balance, saturation etc. that do not change the original data - a bit like picasa but in a file format.

This would free me to shoot without having to change a lot of controls but still get the image I wanted.

Does anyone remember the EFS-1 from back in the pleistocene era of digital? It was supposed to turn any 35mm film camera into a digital? Had it survived, that would have made your simple OM-1s and such simple digital cameras.
Ironically, it would probably be a lot easier and cheaper to build one of those today, but for completely different market reasons than back then.

http://www.pcadvisor.co.uk/news/index.cfm?newsid=12991&pn=8

Call me a heretic, but why not just make a digital Pentax MX/Olympus OM-1 or Nikon FM and force the consumer to learn/develop the intuition and compromises that make great photographers, rather than stuff the product with the ten thousand features that'll ensure he/her doesn't miss that vital, once-in-a-lifetime moment when little Randy barfs up his Xmas lunch on the cat's head?

I'm thinking pinhole camera.

For me, coming off the Leica MP and now shooting with a Nikon D3x is a sobering leap forward into the menu driven domain. I would agree with what others have said---that the future is in modular software that allows one to get rid of or use only features one wants. It should be the user's option to setup the camera with only the functions desired. Why not a "custom" camera?

For example, I do not use flash photography---so why should anything pertaining to the use of flash photography be a menu in my camera? Ditto JPEG---don't use it, don't want it, should not be an option in MY camera. A beautiful use of software would be allowing one to simplify and prune the menu garden down to just peas and carrots if so desired.

I hate menus.

As others said, most of the stuff and fripperies is done in software. If X (long exposure) then Y (take another exposure of same length). If A (mirror lockup) then B (first raise the mirror for n secs and then take the exposure).

And then, the simplest DSLR's are the entry level models - put it in Auto and it does everything for you, just like a P&S. Everything done in software again.

What makes cameras ultimately simple is the ability to customise them. For instance, E-3. Initially, it's pretty hard to use because they assigned functions to buttons for... I don't know for whom, as everybody I know modified the assignments.

Now it's in Aperture priority. One dial controls the aperture, the other EV compensation. One button is AEL. The other, in combination with a dial, controls the modes if I want to switch to S or full manual. I switched those two buttons so AEL is closer to the thumb. The camera's in Auto ISO, but the button to switch is right beside the shutter. Focus points changed by thumb.

In 95% of situations everything I do is done by one hand. Simple.

Jeff Bailey says "I would really enjoy an "expose for the highlights" button!"

I've been thinking the same thing. It would be easy to do too. First make one exposure that is underexposed by x amount , say 5 stops or so. Then according to user preferences regarding clipping open up until say .05 percent of the pixels clip, then make a second exposure. Or just do the same thing for making a manual meter reading similar to the way some Pentax and Sony cameras do now. For a 10 million pixel image that would mean that the 5000th brightest pixel would clip. This is a very simple and fast operation.
Actually the neatest thing to do would be to continuously calculate this while using live view. It seems like it would be vastly easier than smile detection.
A further refinement would be to have a choice of shadow priority where no more than x percent of pixels clip in the shadows, and highlight priority where no more than x percent of pixels clip in on the highlights.
Sequences of shots where they alternate would be a nice feature.

I don't know why no one does this now, it seems so easy and isn't that much more than Nikon's color matrix metering, or maybe even less.


Mike, you are quite right that "simple" means different things to different people. From the looks of the comments here, most (perhaps even the vast majority) of TOP regulars think "simple" is something like an OM-1 or a Leica M3. That's fine and I guess I think that way too.

But I'd guess that for the vast majority of people buying cameras, "simple" means something like my Olympus mju-II (aka Stylus Epic). You point it at what you want to photograph and press the button: the camera calculates the exposure (using flash where "needed"), sets the shutter speed and aperture, focuses the lens and takes the photo. Done deal. Simple.

Modern digital SLRs do that too. All have a "green blob" (or similar for non-Canon) mode where the camera "does everything" except frame the shot and decide when to press the button. They can also be used in "simple like an OM-1" mode. Just turn the dial to "M", then use it that way. That's "simple" in the other sense, and I use mine like that from time to time: it works like a charm. (OK, in some ways not as charming as my Leica M3, but that's a different sense of "charm".)

The complexity comes when you want to make the camera do all the other things the camera can do, from complex servo-mode focus tracking to sophisticated flash modes to, well, whatever. Modern cameras can do lots of things. But if you want to use them in a "simple" way, whatever that means to you, then I'm pretty sure you can make 'em do it. I've certainly had no trouble. And I like it that they can do all the other stuff too.

...Mike F

In actual, real life, actually using cameras I see 3 types of people:

1. the masses who want good pics straight out of the box. Even DSLR users. P mode all the way and never touch a custom function. Stacks of DSLR users out thre not doing anything to take advantage of the things that give better photos than a pocket camera. JPEG for these people, they don't want to post-process.

2. more serious amateurs. They've got to procssing & controlling DoF etc. They use some of te custom features but never delve deep into the menus to fine-tune their camera's interface. Often seen carrying a pile of kit and the camera manual. This is a much smaller group than 2.

3. Those who really get to know their camera, mostly pros & geeks. Fine tune the controls & features to just the way they want them. Expect the greatest degree of controllability, not because they want to be forever tweaking but they want the set-up just the way they want. These people tend to use simple controls but want certain buttons to do certain things for them. This is a very (very, very) small group. IME, much less than 1% of SLR buyers.

You could give any set of features & customization options to groups 1 and 2 and they'd never touch them. Group three, however, want maximum flexibility in any level of camera.

The new Pentax is encouraging in that it gets much closer to the fully-programmable ideal where all the controls can be set just the way you want.

Hmmmm; my Canon Rebel XTi (the 400D) looks better all the time. It seems to sit in kind of a "sweet spot" with more features than I need/use, but yet has all the features I commonly need/use, and they're relatively easy to get to (kind of what Mark said about his Pentax K10D and Lukasz with his K100D). Maybe it's all the camera I need for my "dorking around"! But jeez, that 5D Mk II sure does look good......

Rod

How come I just don't believe the "everyone is returning to film" meme. Maybe because it ain't true. Oh, and Mike, you are right that worrying about WB is so yesterday, kinda like film.

Just, please, put the D3 or D3x sensor in the FM3 body and it is ready. I don't even need the back lcd, I promise, I'll check the images at home, like in the old days.

Please, please, please...

I tend to forget how to do things I rarely do. One of my answers is to write aid memoires on the machine in question. So give me an SLR where I can add little notes to the help file explaining certain procedures.
Still miss the 3 memories on the K7d and still am at a loss to understand Nikons interpretation of this feature on the D300

Would you say that the Leica S2 is a step in the direction of a simplified DSLR? It has an exceedingly clean and elegant design with only a few necessary hardware buttons... pure bauhaus. I'd love a regular consumer camera with the S2's interface but I know it'll never happen.

Couldn't agree more, Mike. I recently borrowed a mate's D90 and it was a whole lot harder to use than my D40, with all the extra settings and extra options in the menus. None of these did anything for me - all I wanted was the superior image quality in poor light, and even that was only marginally better.
The D40 comes close to striking the right balance - it's almost point-and-shoot simple by comparison.

This really was a COS* moment: "There are thousands of us mantis photographers, as you can see if you go to alt.binaries.insectivore."

Hilarious.

I have often wondered if it would be possible to make a simple digital back for say OM cameras (I know Leica did it but as said above, Leica is the exception to complicated digital). I would love a digital OM4. The controls on the back only need to be for ISO(Set again on the body). Use the film space for the electronics and keep it very small. Would be wonderful.

Andrew

*Coffee on Screen

I agree with Bonaldi that looking to Apple is enlightening when it comes to simplification. Their approach is radically different from what the article here talks about. Instead of trying to figure out a feature set that will be used by, say, 95% of potential customers, they cut it down to where maybe only 25% of potential customers have everything they need, and another 25% have enough that they're willing to do without the last little feature, and then capture those customers by making something vastly more usable. DSLRs are a huge market. By blatantly ignoring astrophotographers, mantis-specialists and drywall enthusiasts, someone could make a camera that's much more appealing to a reasonably large segment. The mistake is to add another feature to try to get another couple percent of potential customers in, when it makes it a less appealing camera for the main customer base.

I'm not saying the simplified DSLR is coming, but it is market-wise possible.

Comparison with film cameras without AF or limited AE just doesn't make much sense. You can spend half a day trying to tweak how the flash works, or how the AF responds.

A simple UI will not work as well as for a tool as it is for a consumer appliance; hence, I think bringing Apple here is a moot point. I have my likes when it comes to UI, and that's also why I like the idea of customisable buttons and menus (also another reason why custom menus are getting longer and longer). It's alright to suffer a little hinderence for the sake of intuitiveness and the "no-need-for-manuals" UI, but that may not go down well in the field trying to produce week in challenging circumstances.

Oddly enough Leica appears to be getting the message. The upcoming S2 looks very uncluttered and the layout is very minimalist.

At present count I think the camera has four menu buttons, shutter speed on top and one thumb-dial on the back. They are adding a AE-L/AF-L button. This was a request from the beta testers and public. There is one lever for CS/FPS/OFF and the shutter release. That's it.

Take a look at the S2 sitting side by side with a Nikon 3DX.

http://dfarkas.blogspot.com/

I think Nikon's ergonomics are first rate, but in comparison to the S2 it looks like it has a case of the button-measels.

I think there can - because:
... that is exactly what great designers do. They take stuff away, and come up with a radically different and simple and straightforward way of doing things. They don't base their work on commitee decisions, or focus groups, or internet polls. They just offer their view of a solution.

Of course there will be people who cannot live without a certain feature. But that doesn't matter. There are lots of cameras, and lots of people.

Great design goes beyond greatest common denominators. That is what we need.

A lot of these comments, and I agree with them, boil down to whether or not the features get in the way of taking photographs.
Nothing else matters.

I think most people want a simple DSLR in the same way they want a simple life, exercise and healthy food: in their dreams.

"I don't know why no one does this now, it seems so easy"

I've explained before why an "expose to the right" mode wouldn't be foolproof. It's because you're thinking exclusively of normal reflectances, whereas the meter has to deal with specular reflections and light sources in the picture frame and all the other areas you don't mind being overexposed. In a way this gets back to the discussion about ACQUINE and computational linguistics--YOU understand effortlessly and intuitively just which sorts of highlights you want the camera to incorporate in an expose to the right feature and which you want it to ignore, but the camera has no way to judge that sort of "context." There are other problems with the idea, but that's the essence of the problem.

Mike

...and for this article, there is no simple answer either. Even the guy that said that DSLR was dead was long winded about it. Go figure.... long live complicated cameras... and people

Like the idea of using other-brand lenses with adapters, the idea that taking pictures on film and scanning the results is a "simple" solution is mainly put forward, I suspect, by people who've never tried it. In fact, shooting film and scanning it is an enormously complicated, painstaking, and expensive way to arrive at a digital picture file, and one that could never be sensibly adapted for large throughputs in a workflow.

Similarly, the idea that "everybody is returning to film" is, er, how shall I say, greatly exaggerated. It's like the idea that "vinyl records are experiencing a comeback" because the market for them went from 1% to 3%. The fact that vinyl's market share tripled might look impressive, but it doesn't mean it's ever coming back in any significant way.

Mike

I tend to find myself using whatever I have at my disposal.

What I would love is a digital version of my Pentax MX; it could not be easier to use and somehow I never find it lacking. Yet, when I use my K10D with its myriad features, I never find myself using the simple Green Mode, which is arguably there for this very reason.

I agree that Steve Jobs and his designers know exactly how to overcome that issue you state, Mike. Steve designs like a dictator -- I tell you what you need, not the other way around. Remember the brouhaha over the original iMac when it shipped with no floppy drive? People were up in arms. The iPod -- no FM radio? It'll never sell!

If Apple designed an SLR, it would be as simple as an iPod, it would require no a manual, it would produce incredible photos -- but it would cost as much as other feature-laden cameras and the batteries would only last a few hours.

And I'd buy one.

I've found, in interaction design, that what people say they need has remarkably little to do with what they actually do when presented with a prototype. Good design has to do with proposing a coherent idea, and giving that idea physical form. This is the difference between design leadership and design to satisfy marketing studies.

That aside, I'm baffled by the profusion of tiny little buttons on cameras, especially when these little chicklets changes its function depending on context. Wouldn't we be a lot better off accessing configuration/administrative actions using a nice big touch-screen, and controlling operational parameters with large dedicated controls?

I think we may see a shift to simpler (if not simple) quite soon. Mobile phones, and the popularity of the apps concept is showing the way.

What you will buy from Canikon is the basic hardware (probably in at least 3 grades). Most of the functionality will be supplied by applications either from Canikon OR (and this is the good bit) 3rd party developers.

Many of the apps will be of varying grades - AF might be available with different levels of responsiveness (and prices!).

We may find that the bodies themselves become giveaways in contract deals which might include apps, online storage, print processing etc.

I think the current economic climate is accelerating the realisation that continuous hardware replacement is simple not viable - manufacturers are beginning to struggle to produce new feature that make a difference, and consumers are realising that what they already have is pretty damn good.

Camera manufactures are producing the camera body as a black box - take it or leave it. I find this strange as traditionally, SLR manufacturers made a big deal about their "system" and how many bits and options there were!

Nonetheless, this will change, and the system concept will include the innards of the body itself. The camera you own will be as simple or as complex as you choose.

Cheers,

Colin

The problem is people worry about the next camera they want to buy instead of using the camera they already have.

If it does what you need it to (never mind the bells and whistles) then go make images with it. Use it until you know it like the back of your hand. Until it is an extension of your body. Until the technology does not come between you and the creative process.

In other words, Pick one camera and stick with it. But, above all, use it!

As if an 80th or whatever it is comment is needed here:

Many haven't noticed, but with Lightroom JPEG and RAW processing are the same, except that RAW processing is easier. I predict this trend will continue on to other apps.

So, my suggestion is to toss out the third of the instruction manual that has to do with JPEG processing, printing, editing, and other functions that don't belong in the camera.

With RAW only, the camera becomes way simpler to use. White balance, sharpness, image quality settings, and more... all gone.

The many here who suggested it's a software issue are on the right track. Provide a few buttons, and then software profiles, so each user doesn't have to set up everything from scratch. Set the camera so that, out of the box, it comes up in simple mode.

--Marc

I think the problem isn't just the number of features/buttons/etc., it's their relative intrusiveness. My favourite camera interface of all time is the Panasonic LC1, and I think it counts as a simple non-dslr. The great thing about it is that the controls I most frequently used, were also the big and the most obvious. Shutter release, aperture, focus, and shutter speed. There are also external controls for other things (metering mode, drive mode, etc.) but they weren't as intrusive. When you put the camera in your hand, these are the controls that jumped out at you. It was easy to ignore or forget about the rest.

I look at my D200 and the things got buttons all over the place -- but the biggest crime is that they're all just as intrusive. The aperture/shutter speed controls aren't any more obvious than the metering mode or AF-on button. In fact, it's the reverse. The aperture/shutter speed dials are unlabelled and modal. I think the five key parameters should have clear dedicated controls (I'm talking about shutter speed, aperture, focus, ISO, and a shutter release). All the other stuff controls this stuff, which is great if you need it, but this is the stuff that needs to be blindingly obvious.

[There's also all the reviewing, deleting, stuff, but I'm fine with all that on the left and out of the way.]

What we need is a plug-in architecture for the camera software. It's been tried before in hardware (The Minolta's with the feature cards) but that fell down due to fiddliness and the fact you could have only one card in use at a time.

That way the maker could ship the camera with all the consumer goodies, but when a serious shooter bought the camera they could simply uninstall the canned modes, install the features they need (Say an advanced AF configuration submenu, or mirror lockup or an intervalometer) or if so tempted they could just strip the camera down to basics.

In the same vein, Pro cameras could be shipped with a pro-oriented software set but the well-heeled doctor or lawyer could buy the pro camera and install the canned mode pack so they could just point & shoot with their $5000 monster.

Apropos this discussion:
http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/fog0000000020.html

@Pen

"One that had physical controls for the 4 things that matter in digital: Aperture, Shutter, ISO, and White Balance."

IMO, you lost this as soon as they decided to take aperture rings off lenses as a "cost savings" measure way back in the film days during the transition to AF.

The closest "new" things that have come close to this are the various digital rangefinders, or the Panasonic LC1 (aka Leica Digilux2).

Wait a minute: the ipod shuffle?
no screen, no song choice, no colors: brilliant.

So simple is possible IF the simplicity delivers is not merely less clutter but a new way of being: no choices. Okay maybe up to three choices.


The DSLR will cannot be simple: it asks you already - what lens? Did you bring it? I whish it was just a little wider./longer/faster/cooler. Transcendent simplicity has left the building.

Now how about a dual focal (30, 90) length compact with
a hyper program adjustment wheel
a exposure comp adjustment wheel
a mode dial to set tendencies (portrait,action,macro,groups,landscape)

no flash, no iso settings, no parameter settings.

Oh and a shutter button.

Then all the complexity goes into the software on the PC, which automatically finds and makes panoramas, process the jpeg, does lens correction, names the files based on time and location (it has GPS, but no GPS controls)

Apple, please, pretty, please.

Mike Mike Mike, your post at 6:25AM. I was about to finish all the comments and then post this exact comment:
The ISO and WB button on a film camera is on the roll of film in the camera!! 2 buttons gone!
And those who told you to get a FM2 and scan the BW film for a simple solution really never did go over the process.
Shooting film is never simple:
Get into your car, drive to Cosco (Mr. Rockwell's favorite) and get the film. Load the film into camera. Shoot. Bring the film to Cosco, Get the processed film back after you shop for your groceries.
Go home and fire up the Windows powered PC and the scanner. Pick a scanning resolution? digital ICE? reset the tone curve? Now push the film into the scanner and wait -- roughly 2 minutes for 1 frame. Now your digital file is ready for post-processing. Load it up in Lightroom 2.
Compare to digital:
Load the SD card into camera. Shoot. Fire up the Windows powered PC. Load the files in Lightroom 2.
Which is simpler?



There is a good deal of semantic confusion here, that could be alleviated if everyone just went and read the book I recommended in my last article, Everyday Design.

It comes down to this: the simple / complex axis and the reduced feature / enhanced feature axis are not the same. If is quite possible to have many features in an easy-to-use interface. But we don't. Why? DSLR design started down the wrong path some time ago and has never come back. That path is the Modal Way.

Pen Waggener was basically correct in asking for an elegant digital camera, even if White Balance was not a good example of a primary photographic parameter.

Posted by:

Zillions of features buried in cascading menus suits me perfectly well. Smile detection? HD video? GPS? Time lapse? 3D tracking? Awesome, pack it all in there.

Just make sure that in addition to all those amazing features, I get:

- Physical dials with physical markings on the body by which to set the shutter speed, exposure compensation, and ISO

- Physical dials with physical markings on the lens by which to set the aperture and focus distance

- Physical switches with physical markings for focus mode and metering mode

Film SLRs had those controls nailed. Will we ever see them in a DSLR system? I have no idea why we shouldn't, but I am convinced that we never will.

I don't think I understand. A camera's a tool. Any modern DSLR will let you do just about anything any other one will do. If you don't need feature X, you don't use it. On anything bigger than the entry-level cameras, all the major settings are right there in the open. The only things I have to go into a menu for are the auto-bracketing, which I rarely use, preferring the manual kind, and the custom functions, which I only change in exceptional circumstances.

If you want truly simplified but with the image quality of a DSLR, turn that mode dial to Auto, and you'll get pretty decent results. If you want a bit more control, set it to P. Voila. You don't need to buy a new "simple" camera.

Personally, I want more complexity. I want to create custom modes that let me set the shutter speed I want it to drop down to before opening up the aperture to a point of my choosing before raising the ISO to a point of my choosing before opening the aperture again before dropping the... etc etc

It seems to me that a lot of your commenters are taking "simple" to mean "easy to use"; however, a close reading of your post makes it clear that what you really mean is "stripped-down to essentials." The problem, as you have already stated, is that what is essential to you may not be essential to me, and vice-versa.

But it's deeper than that: The irony is that even a film camera stripped down to its bare essentials (shutter control, aperture control, focus control) is simple to use only if you have the necessary knowledge and experience. Without this knowledge and experience the damned thing is an enigma, with no clear relationship between control cause and photographic effect. Such a camera is more difficult to learn but easier to use once learned.

Today's DSLRs are the opposite: Easy to learn (just set it to P or the green mode) but often more difficult to control in the direct and immediate way you can with a more stripped-down camera.

It makes for an interesting philosophical discussion, but I believe a good photographer should be able to adapt to either design approach.

I don't want a damn menu!

I want a knob, with shutter speeds on it (ok, you can have an A and B on it as well--I'll even take a P or a green dot or whatever, just give me my numbers). And a mechanical way to set "film speed." I want an apeture ring (with numbers) on the lens itself and, if I'm feeling modern, an "A." Throw in mirror lock up (using a lever or a button) and I'm a very happy camper.

You can still have an auto setting on those knobs and wheels and dials. That's it. That's all I need.

Take a look at the top of a Pentax 645N and you'll get the idea.

My camera isn't simpler--far from it. I'm sure this is mechanically more complex and the cost would need to reflect that. But I wouldn't have to read through the owner's manual before using it.

This "simpler" camera would be more pro than the current 3,000 bells and whistles cameras because it takes for granted that I know how to actually take a photo--I don't have to have the camera make all the decisions for me.

Who would buy a "simple" DSLR and Why?
Not me and not my friends or colleagues.
Let's say it my not-technically inclined brother or my mother.
They would buy a simple DSLR to get great pictures without thinking too much about it. For them I would design a small robust camera with four buttons; shutter, play, delete, back and forward.
The electronics would make all the decisions. The flash would fire when needed, the motion sensors and auto-focus system will influence aperture/speed when the subject or the user is moving, when the subject is far away or when it's very close...
The software will of course be extremely simple like a version of Picasa tailored for the camera that will auto-start, auto-download, etc when the camera is connected to the PC.
The camera will sell with this quote: "Guaranteed to take better pictures".
It would be a best-seller.

Apropo of using Apple products as examples of simplicity, when I was the head developer/architect of a software project, one of my rules was that any feature that made it into the product had to be explainable over the phone without being able to see what the user was doing. That's why I recommend Apple computers to anyone who asks my advice and is likely to use me for tech support even though I use mostly a combination of Windows and Linux for my own work.

In a similar vein I used to be able to tell friends over the phone how to use almost any camera that they happened to acquire with the exception of loading 120 film on anything other than a Hasselblad.

I can't do that with digital cameras, even ones that I own and am holding while talking on the phone.

BTW Silicon Film never got their eFilm INTO the prototype stage, and the the technology still isn't even on the horizon to support that design.

I haven't had the chance to read all 84 comments yet (but I will), so I hope this isn't a repeat: I contend that you *CAN* define "radically simple", in the sense that you can define "simplest". I was actually contemplating this digital camera the other day: a black box, with a f/2 40mm-E fixed focal length lens, an optical viewfinder, and ONE button. That's right, no external LCD, no other doo-dads. Put it to your eye, frame the scene, and press the button. The guts of this thing, however, would have the sophistication of, say, the D700, times 10, as far as high-ISO, metering and focusing. I further contend this camera would be appropriate for the vast majority of people (and I include the soccer dads, teeny-boppers, and dotting grandparents in this population) who currently buy a digital camera.

yz wrote:
Just, please, put the D3 or D3x sensor in the FM3 body and it is ready. I don't even need the back lcd, I promise, I'll check the images at home, like in the old days.
-----------
The film advance lever could become a *wind-up charger lever thingy* (no batteries required) - how many PJ's wouldn't have that in their bag for those "just in case moments!"

As long as I can turn an unused/unwanted/un-needed feature "OFF" on a camera, I can make it simple.

Dear Hugh,

Off the main topic, on the eFilm one.

We may just have a semantic confusion, but Irvine Systems had the technology to make the eFilm back in the mid-late 90's. Their specialty was ultra-small, lightweight, low-power, extremely robust memory cubes and sensor packages for space applications. Compared to a satellite launch, the demands and environment in a camera are a cakewalk.

Problem was and is the price/performance ratio. Not dissimilar to the problem of building a 'conventional' DSLR with an upgradeable sensor module.

"Feasible," "marketable" and "affordable" are not always coexistent.

pax / Ctein

P.S. Assuming someone were to build such a thing, I think it might turn out that secondary problems, like dust on the sensor, would prove intractable. Cameras are a very dirty environment; digital camera makers have made lots of design refinements to suppress dust that don't exist in film cameras.

INTERFACE! INTERFACE! INTERFACE!

Please correct me if I'm wrong but even with a DSLR are not the ONLY exposure controls the shutter speed, aperture, and gain(ISO)? If so, then why can't those people give us a single, dedicated control for each of those three items. The rest of the stuff could be menu/button driven but a shutter speed dial, aperture ring and up/dn ISO rocker? I mean really, is this a bridge too far for the marketing people? And yeah, I know, the Panny-Leica whatzit. I'm talking about cameras the other 95% of us can afford.

Adam, could you please design a compact camera with the following ten features:

1) Fixed 35mm-film-equivalent f/2 lens.
2) Mechanical shutter speed dial with the following settings: B, 1, 2, 4, 8, 15, 30, 60, 125, 250, 500, 1000, 1/2000 seconds (with hard stop, i.e. you cannot keep turning it all the way around).
3) Mechanical aperture ring around the lens, with decreasing spacing as the aperture decreases (i.e. the distance you need to rotate the ring from f/2 to f/2.8 is greater than from f/2.8 to f/4 and it continues to decrease 'till f/16). Aperture stops available: 2, 2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, 11, 16.
4) Mechanical focus ring around the lens with distance scale (no auto-focus, only way to focus is to guess the distance and turn the ring manually, unless you make this little camera a rangefinder.)
5) Built-in light meter (Aperture Priority setting on shutter speed dial).
6) High-capacity battery with optional 'hand-cranked wind-up charger lever thingy' for use in place where electricity is remote. The 'thingy' is a part of the charger, separate from the camera.
7) High-quality optical viewfinder mounted on top.
8) Black and white luminance-only sensor which records in DNG format. 6–10 Megapixel.
9) LCD display under a lid that can be opened and closed on the back, with a menu which allows you to only preview/delete photos, set date/time and format the memory card.
10) Mechanical ISO switch in a recessed compartment on the back or side of the camera with four settings: 100, 640, 1600, 3200.

The camera should be of sturdy metal construction, and dark grey. Oh, alright, provide several bright color options to help it sell, like the first iMacs.

Make it under 1000 dollars and couple it with a good marketing campaign emphasizing simplicity and I think it'll sell well.

Thank you!
Simon

I love my Mac.
I love my Nikon FM.
I tolerate my Nikon D90 because (1) it actually takes darned good pictures under crazy indoor light, (2) it is great for sports (like having a motor drive), (3) digital gives instant feedback, and (4) I am always disappointed in film scans. The menu-driven interface sucks big-time. If only Apple would do design work for others... In the mean time, at least my D90 plays DonkeyKong.

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