Ralph Kidding, of Kidding Camera Company, yesterday held a press conference to announce Kidding's new camera. We've removed all the interesting bits of his talk and just extracted clues to the technical specs of the new camera, because that's the only thing anybody is interested in. Here are some high points from Ralph's presentation. Warning—he's a kidder.
• The new camera will have an actual name rather than a hard-to-remember designation consisting of alphanumeric hash.
Kidding! It will be called the ZRZ-01.1X Mark I. That's to distinguish it from our Z-RX 011X Mark I, which is an entirely different camera, and the competitor's XRZ-01.1Z Mark I.
• Frame rate is only four frames per second, slow enough to require users to actually pay attention to what they're shooting and anticipate the optimum moment of exposure, but fast enough to be ready for the next shot.
Kidding! It shoots at 16 frames per second. Point it and hit it, you ought to get something.
• The camera is made larger than absolutely necessary because we thoughtfully studied optimal ergonomics for adult hands. It's designed to be comfortable and secure to hold and operate.
Kidding! We made it as small as possible, because we could. It's the size of a pack of cigarettes, and there's no place to hold it. You have to operate it holding it uncomfortably with your fingertips. But don't grab it the wrong way, because you'll be sure to hit a button by mistake and change a setting.
• There's just one autofocus point so you always know where it's focused, shown by a small rectangle in the viewfinder that changes from red to green to confirm focus. Switch the lens to manual focus and focus peaking comes on; half press the shutter and all the focusing aids disappear.
Kidding! There are 59 AF points that randomly light up, come off and on in delightful patterns, and never go away. Some of the 59 rectangles don't even correspond to focusing points, but they look good. Plus, we'll decide what our camera will focus on. It's our camera. Who do you think you are?
• However, it focuses securely even in very low light and locks on extremely quickly.
Kidding! The important thing is the top spec, for marketing purposes. You won't notice it isn't consistent until after you bought it, and by then, well, to be honest, we don't care.
• We kept the controls to a functional minimum, to enable operating the camera to become second nature.
Kidding! We loaded it with as many dials and buttons as possible. All of them do many different things, all are very complicated to set, and some of the controls even change functions spontaneously to remind you of what else they can do. Several buttons don't do anything but create pleasant noises and nice lights in the viewfinder!
• We kept the features to a minimum too. We build dedicated accessories that make our equipment configurable for different kinds of work.
Kidding! It's all about the shopping checklist. Whoever has more, wins. We load up on the features even if they work so poorly they're useless.
• The controls are designed to be silky smooth and pleasant to the touch, with a beautiful feel, and solid and durable for long-term consistency.
Kidding! We didn't even think of that.
• No video. If you build a boat, it's made to either be rowed, sailed, or propelled by an engine. No boat does all three well.
Kidding! Boats!?! We build cameras. We've got eighty guys at this company who don't even care if the camera does stills.
• Menus are for restaurants. Our camera can be hard-configured when connected to a computer, but the in-camera controls are minimal. For instance, there is no JPEG processing at all because we find that 99% of our customers process using standalone software.
Kidding! This baby has eighteen layers of menus, all denoted by enigmatic symbols, and none of the layers has options that all fit on one screen—they all have to be scrolled. Plus, we've used names for every function that are proprietary to our company alone. It's all right there in the 585-page manual.
• The viewfinder is critical to the photographer's interface with the world, so it's large, clear, and bright, and never obscured by informational overlays during the act of shooting.
Kidding! Viewfinders? [Sing-song voice] Af-ter-thought. There's all kinds of stuff you can put on there. We have nine different combinations of clutter for the viewfinder, all of them really cool and futurey-looking. As a joke, one of the viewfinder configurations makes it impossible to see anything through it at all. And one screen can't be gotten out of. You have to turn off the camera and turn it back on. No reason, we just thought that was funny.
• As a courtesy to loyal customers, we're not inflating the price on introduction so we can stimulate sales with deep discounts later, destroying the investment of early adopters. We've chosen one very fair price that we intend to stick to.
Kidding! Gouge, baby, gouge! Plus, we'll be replacing this in two years, clearing out the old model for pennies on the dollar. Our customers better be ready to live for the moment. Clock's ticking! Carpe diem, baby! It's all about the churn!
• Also as a courtesy to customers, we have designed the sensor and processor as a factory-replaceable module. Future upgrades might cost 60% of the cost of this camera, because the development cost of sensors and processors is a large part of the cost of a digital camera, but at least our customers won't have to replace bodies they're used to and expensive accessories they've collected that fit those bodies, nor get used to a whole new suite of controls. Our cameras are accordingly made not only to last, but to wear beautifully.
Kidding! That would be insane. Might as well take a hatchet to the neck of the goose that lays the golden eggs. Bodies are disposable. Want the latest sensor, you gotta pay us for the rest. Heck, half the time we change stuff just to change it, no other reason. Makes sense though, because in three years this thing will look old enough to enter college. We live in the disposable age. Get with the program.
• Because the sensor and processor is a module, it was easy to make the camera configurable out of the gate. You can choose one of three sensors based on your own needs. No more paying for more pixels than you want or having to buy different bodies for different purposes.
Kidding! One size fits all, all the toppings every time.
[And so forth.]
Thanks, Ralph. We look forward to the announcement of the ZRZ-01.1X Mark II, two years from now. In the meantime it will be great fun to speculate about all the things that might be different about it, and then argue about the speculations as if they were true, while we hugely exaggerate the very small flaws of the Mark I, half of which are only theoretical anyway. The Mark I ships as soon as you're all bored with talking about it.
Disclaimer: No commentary on any particular camera or company intended.
Original contents copyright 2016 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved. Links in this post may be to our affiliates; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
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Featured Comments from:
adamct (partial comment): "Oh, but Kidding Camera Company did away with 585-page manuals a long time ago. Now there is a PDF, downloadable from the Kidding Camera Support website, that is 400 pages long, with the same 25 pages of content appearing in 16 different languages. The manual was originally drafted in Mullukmulluk, then translated (poorly) into the other 15 languages.
"The manual is incredibly useful. For example, when going through the menu system, you may be confronted with the choice of whether to set Elevated ASA Smoothing (Kidding's proprietary name for High ISO Noise Reduction) to High, Low, Off, Automatic or Variable. Confused by the Automatic and Variable options, how they differ, and what it is that causes them to change the degree of Elevated ASA Smoothing applied, you may wish to consult the manual. There you will learn that in the Elevated ASA Smoothing sub-menu, you have the choice of setting the camera to High, Low, Off, Automatic or Variable."
Hugh Smith: "Back in the day (does anyone actually know what that means, Ralph? Anyway...) Pop Photo ran their annual April Fool's issue and two stand out in my mind. The first was a Smashelblad wherein a tiny hammer smashed the 8x10 mirror. Thoughtfully, it came with a small broom for cleaning after every shot. The second was a 'Dark Bulb' for those who didn't have a darkroom. Simply screw the bulb in and, when turned on, the room went instantly black. Now the upturn to this is we actually had a customer come in and ask for it. When I told her it was a joke, she left in a huff mumbling something about my not keeping up with the times. Just mi dos pesos."
Ken: "Helloooo.... Is anybody there? Bueller? You forgot to provide the links to pre-order.... Kidding!"
Luke: "You left out the way the tripod mount blocks access to the card and battery. This is an important and common feature these days. Oh, and focus-by-wire with so much wired-in hysteresis that you cannot focus by rocking the focus ring. A Pana, Oly and Fuji specialty."