John Camp thinks the new Sony A850 "looks like it fell out of an ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down..."
This isn't its best angle. Read on.
...Which made me laugh, as usual. But it brings up two questions. First, is the A850 ugly? I think it's handsome. But that's probably because I'm thinking about unlocking the bank vault and getting one, assuming I can get the money to stop sticking to my hands. Second, does it matter what a camera looks like?
Just speaking personally, I haven't really cared much what "35mm-style" cameras have looked like since the advent of Wunderplastik. Bill Pierce coined the term "Wunderplastik," for big, blobby, black cameras made mostly of polycarbonate and stuffed full of circuit boards, in the late 1980s.
Polycarbonate and its many cousins are great materials for making cameras out of. Light, tough, stable, cheap. But I can't say as how cameras made with those materials look any good. Beauty is as beauty does?
The Sony reminds me of the design gestalt of most Mercedes-Benzes since forever: ugly shapes so well built and detailed that they fool you into thinking they look sleek and purposeful. Like a fat gangster in a really nice suit.
The D700 and the 5D Mark II both handle great and work great. But does anybody think they look really good? Anybody at all? One person? No. I don't think that matters much to their fans, partisans, or owners. The Sony—unusually, for this day and age—has maybe 40% of the "fine-object" quality of great cameras, while most Wunderplastik has 4%. That counts towards beauty for me. Or towards non-ugly.
Besides, as I said about the A900, it's the view through it that really matters most. From the driver's seat, as it were. That's the angle you'll see it from most of the time. And how it looks best.
Featured Comment by Calvin Amari: "I'm not saying that I'd conjoin with it in carnal riot, but, when looking at the A850, think tall brunette movie star of the 1950s sporting a cantilevered bust, a bit of sass, and a skirt split to her third rib. Those who don't like it are welcome to the camera equivalent of one of those cutsie-poo anorexic blonde valley-girl starlets: a white E-P1."
Featured Comment by JK @ Studio Hatyai: "I was living in Japan and working as a freelancer for Canon among other clients when the T90 was developed. They called in the famed designer Luigi Colani, who came up with some ideas that would look radically futuristic even today. They then folded his ideas into those of their usual design team. So the T90 'Tank' was a bit of a mongrel: half revolutionary, half conservative. But what a remarkably influential design it turned out to be."