I had the rather satisfying experience recently of buying the camera that I once imagined. As I keep yawping about like a broken record, in 2005 I "specified" an imaginary camera type I called the "Decisive Moment Digital," and, last year, essentially bought the camera that I had envisioned—the Panasonic GF1.
I'm enjoying the GF1, by the way.
The Panasonic and its brethren, the Micro 4/3 cameras, are doing well. I thought they would. When I imagined the DMD, in my mind that it was something that would be marketable.
(By the way, I am in no way taking any credit for large-sensor interchangeable-lens mirrorless compacts. I have no evidence that anyone from any camera company ever read what I wrote, much less acted on it.)
Now what I'd like to do is sketch an "ideal" imaginary camera that will never exist—and probably shouldn't. I don't actually think there's a market for it. I believe it would probably fail as a commercial product. I'm not suggesting any company should build it.
First, picture a Hasselblad body with a waist-level finder of the type which was ubiquitous on old Hassies and Rolleiflexes. For those of you who have never used a Hasselblad or a Bronica or a Rolleiflex with a waist-level (right, like such people exist! Ha!), the finder is basically a flip-up collapsible viewing hood, to block stray light from impinging on a viewing screen. I snitched this picture from an Ebay auction, which I hereby atone for by linking to it.
If you really never have used an old medium-format camera with a waist-level finder (and yes, I know you exist), I should point out that the viewing hood pops up for use (the position it's in in this picture) and folds down for carrying and storage, protecting the viewing screen.
Now, on the right side of the box, where the knob is on this camera, picture a hand grip on a center post. The angle of the handle is adjustable in click-stops, so you can find the angle that's most comfortable for you. The shutter button is on the hand grip, wherever it would fall under your right index finger.
On the side of the body, where you can reach it with your fingers and thumb even when your hand is on the handle, is a shutter-speed dial. The aperture control is a ring on the lens. There's also (somewhere—I'd assume you'd need to get to prototype before you could determine exactly where) a little switch marked "V-H." The sensor is 4cm square. The "V-H" switch changes the orientation electronically from vertical to horizontal, in both the finder view and in the recorded file, using aspect ratios you select.
The back part of the box is the sensor module, which is removable and replaceable at the factory. (Ignore for a sec the fact that there's no factory.) The only viewfinding method is an "LCD screen" (or OLED screen, or whatever—a digital viewing screen) on the top of the camera, in the same position it is on the Hasselblad. The viewing screen is removable and replaceable as well.
Compared to this illustration, the mouth of the lensmount would be smaller, and of course there would be no mirror; this camera would be as mirrorless. Probably, the flip-up viewfinder hood would be larger. How much larger? I presume the screen would be as large as it could practically be without making the whole package unwieldy, say three inches square.
(To be continued....)
ADDENDUM: As several commenters have suggested, there would naturally have to be an option to shoot the full square format as well.
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Original contents copyright 2010 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.