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Friday, 04 September 2009


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I don't know about rock star, but definitely classic.
I'd have to have my jpegs though. Forgive me, I'm lazy.

I like it. A little radio hidden inside could eliminate the hotshoe.

Rock on Mike

You know, you already can get most of that. Right now. For very little money. The one thing you'd need to adjust to would be that you separate takign the image and digitazing it, instead of doing both at the same time.

Get a film camera. With a 10mp requirement, 35mm is no problem even with a fairly cheap scanner (Epson is just releasing an updated inexpensive flatbed, the V600). Get one of your film-era favourites - heck, with the current used prices, get two - and go to town. Even with the cost of the scanner added you're set in film for years with the money you're not spending on a digital camera.

The only rock star I can think of offhand who wore a bathrobe until noon (and beyond) was Harry Nilsson. Given that he was very talented and hung around with famous people (like John Lennon), you remind me a lot of him! (Well, at least the talented bit, I don't know much about your circle of friends! )

Rock on!

Mike - The minute your camera is ready I'll buy 2 or 3 :)
Can you add an _analog_ centering needle inside the viewfinder, such as my old Nikkormat as well? Or maybe the Canon's... With just the tickmarks for the EV steps?
Also, how about the OM-1's viewfinder clarity?

Agree with most of what you propose. Mike, except the Pentax LX (which I own still and love) would probably be slightly too small a platform if an articulated live view screen were included (which it absolutely should be). So - sigh - it would have to be based around the sexiest camera ever made, after all: the Contax RTS II.


I would ABSOLUTELY buy the camera you describe, if it ever came into creation. I am so sick of squinting at the little screens --even my 40D's "big" 3-inch LCD-- on the back and top of my camera and digging my way through endless menus. By the time I'm done I usually have forgotten what I wanted to take a picture of. (Of course, I'm on the female team* and you know we're not optimized for gadget-mastery...) I am convinced the human neck is going to evolve to carry the head at a 45 degree angle to the body and our eyeballs are going to evolve to the size of billiard balls, from all this LCD-gazing (and texting, but I won't get started on that.) Sometimes one needs to be a little crazy to get attention, so I think you should wear that bathrobe to the next big Fauxtokina (love that), and wander around buttonholing people to tell them your idea for the ideal feature-free photographer's camera.

*DPReview touts the "macho minimalism" of the GF1's design....they must not have received Panasonic's marketing memo emphasizing its "fashion accessory" potential.

Dear Mike, what a wonderful dream!

My ideal DSLR would be even more radical: I'd love to have exact digital replica of the OM-4T. With NO added features and that means NO SCREEN either!


"I am a rock star....Just one without any features"

A modern rock star then.

>> Could we get away with no color? No, that's crazy.

No, it's not crazy. It's totally insane ;). And yet, it might be the next best thing after sliced bread, err, light-sensitive diode.


Mike, this may not be as far fetched as you think. I just read about an open sourced camera being developed by Stanford.


It's all software, but there's no reason why you couldn't make a limited production run based on your specs and program it however you wanted.

I had this same idea yesterday. I don't know why you think this idea is so crazy? Car and computer manufacturers sell base models that can be upgraded with features. Why not cameras too?

So....it took the camera industry 3 years and 10 months to satisfy your first request. Yet it only took you what...two day to come up with your next demand? That's gratitude for you.

These bratty, spoiled, narcissistic rockstars have completely lost touch with reality. Clamoring for new toys all the time, they are incapable of ever being satisfied. How long until you bite the head off a chicken before smashing and burning Zander's guitar?

You're out of control, dude. Time for an intervention.


Try to get out more Mike,hanging about the house all day surfing the net is not good.As regards your camera requirements just ignore the bulk of the silly features now included in most cameras and life will be cool.
ps, ditch the bathrobe for godsakes your supposed to be a Guru.

Mike, I'd go one step further: no image review. That's right, no LCD. No image processing means low CPU requirements & less hardware & less software. With a 32GB memory card in there and 10MP 14-bit RAW, that comes out to what.. 2500 images? If I use such a camera for a year of intense shooting, I'm pretty sure I would be able to anticipate how it would perform in pretty much any situation, without the LCD crutch. The camera could also be made much more durable.

I know, it would sell to only a few percent of TOP readers...

Can I be a groupie, where's the Bus...


Like the DMD:

Nail . . . Hammer . . . Head.

No colour would bring at least one benefit - no Bayer array. That brings higher sensitivity (all pixels see the full spectrum) and higher resolution (no demosaicing), and you could even have standard TIFF files as the raw format.

You know, if it is simple enough so that there's no menu, and if there's no live view because they won't give you a flip-out-up screen, then you can do away with the rear LCD can't you. Maybe you only need a little tiny one, big enough to show a histogram, maybe it need only appear in the viewfinder.

Because then the back of the camera would be empty, and they could put back that little framed area where we used to put the end of film box so you'd remember what kind of film was in the camera. That way, I could print up and put a little piece of paper there with the reminder "CHECK THE WB!", because try as I might, I just keep forgetting, the same way I used to forget what kind of film I had loaded.

You never know, Cosina might build one.

The big boys didn't start thinking about DMDs till they had sold enough of the other boxes to make enough money to afford to go after the fringe DMD buyers. Sooner or later, the no-frills camera buyer will occur to a marketing MBA somewhere, because by then it will seem like a whole new concept. Maybe in another three and a half years.

I was a very fond user of a Leica M3 for a few years, and after that a Nikon FM. But today, I couldn't love your Digimat. It's missing features that were key to me back then, never mind today.

Even back in the M3, I ran films faster than ISO 1600. I certainly need them today!

I used flash back then, too, though not as heavily as I do today. The Nikon N90, with AF-D and the SB-28, was a HUGE capability-expander; it made flash work in fast-moving situations when it hadn't for me before. In fact, better than CLS and iTTL on a D700 do today, still. Sigh.

I went to AF in 1994 after a weekend of rental and testing convinced me that I got better photos that way than I managed focusing manually. So I'm not eager to give that up, either. In 1994, it was important enough to me for me to give up my Olympus system and buy a new Nikon N90 and some AF lenses (I still had an old FM2 and some AIS lenses that I also used with the N90).

I'm somehow of the computer generation, despite being born in 1954. Probably because I didn't get my first real camera (SLR) until AFTER I'd had my first programming job for 3 months (I was 15 at the time). But to me, mere mechanical devices that aren't user-programmable are primitive, inflexible. One of my complaints about cameras today is that they're too damned static; despite being largely software, you can't actually program them.

Assuming your designer has an eye towards contemporary ergonomics it sounds perfect.

The shutter on this D700 contraption I just got sounds like an industrial riveting machine!

I think the tiny rose tattoo above your right buttock is what really makes you a Rock Star.

You wear a robe? I figured you always walked around wearing a Misfits biker jacket.

Previsualize that!

A few months ago I half-wrote a reply to some TOP post describing something like this. Here are two features I want from that unsent comment, one obvious, one perhaps a bit more interesting:

1. Response time. It should be the case that, at any time, if I press the shutter button, the camera will take a picture. By that I mean that it be like (since you mention it) a Pentax LX or any similar SLR: it will never be off. It may have a safety catch which will lock the shutter button, but it will not take 5 seconds to boot: if it boots, it will boot in the time between me putting my finger on the shutter button, and the button going all the way down: a tenth of a second, or something like that.

(Of course I will allow it not to do this if memory is full or the battery is dead or something, but I want to be able to have it sitting on a table for hours, pick it up, and take a picture, at once: my film cameras do that: digital should be as good.)

2. Not an SLR. The only reason for an SLR is so you can see what the lens sees without using any technology invented in the last 200 years. Let's not do that. Instead have a REALLY GOOD digital viewfinder (EVF? is that the term? not a screen, a viewfinder you look through). This changes the world in a couple of ways: no mirror means smaller and faster, and less power. Since the gain of a digital viewfinder can be adjusted you can look through it with the lens stopped down if you want, without the image being dark. So you can choose whether you want to see the conventional lens-wide-open SLR view or actually see what the lens really will see when you take the picture. And of course, you won't be needing a screen on the back of the camera now.

Dear Featureless,

Which is far from clueless! The digimat is my kind of camera. But I do wonder about the raw only, since jpeg quality continues to improve.

Rock you do.
I find I use dSLRs as though most of the features weren't there.
If you shoot RAW, about half of the stuff in the menus is useless anyway ... you take care of WB etc. in PP anyway.
I think I'd be quite happy with a 6MP Nikon F4. I pick the F4 simply because I like the ergonomics of the F4 body and it's fairly rugged and weatherproof.

One feature I *definitely* want, since there is a computer in there after all, is a calculation and indication of the depth of field. It's already within the capability of every modern digital camera. The digital camera knows the focal length, the aperture, the focussing distance, and the sensor size. So why is it that they don't already calculate and display the depth of field?

In my day to day photography, knowing when I don't have enough depth of field really matters. I just don't know why the cameras don't already work it out for me.

6 megapixels doesn't sound so crazy if you're pixel-binning a FF sensor.

My wrist gives a thumbs up to the Digimat, as the 2+lb camera is causing a tendinitis to act up. Bring it!

I have been dreaming of a similar camera for some time now.

Mine is a 'dslr' that fits into the body of a Pentax ME super, exactly the same tank like construction but with a full frame sensor, a high res but not huge LCD on the back, an iso wheel, a shutterspeed wheel (like on the spotmatic, or the leicas), that makes use of k mount lenses, with aperture control on the lens. Shoots only raw, at about 12 Megapixels. Two modes, P and M. Manual Focus. Also it would have a flash sync socket and have a fairly high sync speed. I would be in heaven with a camera like that!!

Hopefully one day i'll be clever enough to build one for myself...

I understand where you are coming from. You mentioned that today’s DSLRs are really little computers, which they are. That said, I’d like to see a way to delete the “features” you don’t want to use from the camera. The camera should come with a memory card that can be used to restore all the features or just the ones you want. This seems a more likely possibility than a mainstream camera maker marketing a low feature camera. I don’t mind that a camera has lots of features, I just don’t like stumbling over them when I only want certain settings.

That sounds delightful! I would love to have one! I particularly like the look and size that that model Pentax has. If it handles anything like my Nikon FG, I want one, even if it only shoots B&W. (Maybe, especially if it shoots B&W.)

Hey, as long as you are asking for the impossible, may I add a few more impossibilities?

Can we have a in lens-leaf shutter that tops out at 1/500, with flash sync all the way from B? Would it be too much to ask for a second shutter*, at the focal plane for non sync'd higher speeds?

Can we have a real, analog, needle indicator in the viewfinder? (Crazy idea: marked in EVs or roman numerals for Zones?

Does it have to be an SLR? If it had the same mirrorless design as the EP-1, instead of a flip-up viewing screen, could we just have the fake pentaprism viewfinder bump flip up so we can look down at a (simulated) ground glass EVF? (Hinges at the front, above the lens mount.)

I hope to see your dream a reality in 3-5 years!

*metal, please.

Could you elaborate on the 200/1600 ISO limitation? I intuit the reasoning but you talk so pretty and I am lazy.

The lock/spot button is ingenious.

No need for WB as it's all RAW. And no need to set the image size.

(It's raining here this morning and perfect for day dreaming.)

Could we have mechanical aperture control so's to regain a decent depth of field scale? DoF preview button. Mechanical focus. Mechanical shutter; the less need for electricity and its circuitry the better. Just power the chip and image processing, the LCD for the waist level finder, and the espresso machine. That's it.

Unfortunately, I almost completely agree with you, that's why I'm very disappointed with the new m43s. Maybe this will become a solution:
But, guess what? They only talk about loading it with tons of features...
I guess I will turn to lithography.

Hilarious! If only you could write a post like this every Friday, Mike! Your "Digimat" distills the past to get only the purest of image making. Then it adds a drop of honey to it with the spot metering feature for the digital age. While we are talking about cameras that no will make, how about making the sensor swappable so I don't have to buy a new camera every six months?

Now, I know I will be bludgeoned to death by a dozen baseball bats for saying this but Sigma already makes a camera that at least attempts to get close to this Digimat. It is "only" 4.6MP. It has no idiot modes and the menu is one of the shortest I have seen in DSLRs. It shoots JPEGs but no one I know shoots anything but RAW with it. Its shutter is one of the quietest in the market. It would be great if they can scale up that Foveon sensor to full-frame. Of course, it would be really nice if they can put a large viewfinder, make it weatherproof, and make it blazingly fast. May be SD20 in five years?

You're right Mike, the current DSLRs are idiot savants when compared with the Renaissance imager you describe.

I beg to differ in one area. Yes, we could also live without color! The extra resolution and light sensitivity gained by ripping out the bayer array would be just awesome.

I'd like to think it would become the new entry level system; one that photography instructors recommend to their students for learning. Happy to add my monochrome flourish to your rockstar pyrotechnic display.


You forgot about exposure compensation: how about a double stack as on the K-M 7D? I frequently use it. Can we totally eliminate the menu system? Probably not, but it definitely needs to be very short and simple and something that needs to be used mostly at initial start up time when you buy the camera. Otherwise, I really agree with your design criteria.

Ha.(OK I'm done). I don't like battery operated cameras, but, of course, that would be impossible for a digital camera. However, I would add a feature where by lifting the camera, it is ready to shoot. Zero lag time.

Our public park gardener missed a great photo opportunity to capture a photograph of a coyote walking on the street in a San Francisco residential neighborhood because it took him too long to turn the camera on.

All you have to do is to live longer than average rock star, let's say Mick Jagger. Just to live enough long to see this come true.


And there's a video.


Sorry, I can't make links.

I'm with you on this, but haven't you just designed something close to a dslr version of the leica M8? And who knows, the forthcoming M9 might just have a full frame sensor. Simplicity comes at a price!

Which reminds of...

What are you last words, Mike? Are you on drugs? Or do you dig cameras?

And how about manual focus only? -- so easy with an SLR if you're not chasing athletes. I'd say Cosina-Voigtlander could build this for you - based on their Bessaflex of about 5 years ago - around say a Nikon F or Pentax K mount and while we're at it, why not offering as limited "special editions" with other mounts - Konica AR, Minolta MD, Canon FD and Olympus OM so we could use our "legacy" lenses (or fancy new Cosina options).

Danny (I'll place my order for the Pentax K and Konica versions through your site, Mike, - promise)

Sign me up for one. What lens mount? - Ben Marks

I like it. I'd go insane handling the processing and archiving of nothing but RAW, and my eyes make autofocus important, but... yeah. I like the straightforward simplicity of it. I've got Photoshop for the tweaks; why does the camera itself need to be involved?

Now what would be truly cool is if we could have such a camera and it didn't need batteries - that is the one, apparently unalterable, difference between the digitals and older film cameras.

Excellent idea Mike!

I use my d300 nearly like your concept digimat--aperture priority auto at 400ASA in daylight (-0.7) or full manual at 1600ASA at night, with just two manual lenses: 28mm f/2 AIS (~99.9%), 105mm f/2.5 AIS (~0.1%). Only RAW. My worst problem is that I cannot keep myself from looking at what I just shot and so lose opportunity for the next shot. I want to black tape the LED screen. Oh yes, I hate the pop-up flash because I can't take it out in the rain.

My dream camera would be even simpler than yours, Mike. I want a digital replacement for my trusty Mamiya RB67 MF camera. It would have a shutter, aperture, a means to focus, a REALLY big viewfinder with a magnifier, and a few wizzy pro features like mirror up, DOF preview, and a PC synch socket. Oh yeah - and really high resolution. Like the 54MP 16-bit scans I make, but without all the film grain. Raw only. No AF, no AE, and I don't need no stinkin' meter!

Lol! i love it! i woud get one but 10mps please, and whose lens?

I like it. Why?
I almost hate to use flash.
I almost never go beyond 5.6; mostly shoot at F4 and F4.5
I almost never take pictures in bright sunlight. Mostly indoors or in early mornings or late afternoons.
My shutter speeds hover aroung 1/10 to 1/40.
My photos would mostly be trash without the shake reduction on my K100D.
I am addicted to aperture priority, never shoot in program, and shutter priority just for experiments.
I'd be happy with 6MP, my prints never go over 8x10.
I want autofocus and a bright viewfinder, because my eyes are failing.

I would buy this camera-- I especially like the inclusion of the OM-4 spot metering button. The only change I would make is the ISO200-1600 switch. I'd definitely like to have an 800 setting, and possibly 3200 since we're going full frame.

And as long as we're dreaming, I'd also like this camera to make that winding sound during long exposures that the OM-1 used to make.

Rock on Mike

I'm with you on most everything on your wish list. But IMO foregoing ISO flexibility isn't necessary. What about that switch being Auto Lo and Auto Hi instead? 200-400 and 800-1600? Force the tweakers to upload hacked firmware to adjust the ISO ranges so as to preserve the no-menu credo.

Unless your intention was to ensure always knowing your available shutter/aperture ranges by forcing a set ISO?

... Which feeds into my biggest pet peeve with most auto-exposure cameras: no physically dedicated shutter and aperture controls. Control dials are "OK" but they always seem to ALSO do something else under a different setting. Whatever happened to simply putting an A on the lens if that's what you wanted and then flicking the ring off A and straight onto the ƒ-stop if desired?

My last two Canons (Elan II and Digital Rebel) can of course set these separately but never as intuitively as the FD-lens Canons of yore. (But no, giving up AF is just nutty to me.)

Last rant: gimme sizably big but light, not small-and-light or big-and-heavy as my only choice.

Say Mike, would you care to expound on why you wouldn't want a depth of field control rather than an aperture control (Little computers can figure depth of field knowing focal length and focus distance). And how about a bluriness control rather than a shutter speed (Little computers can stop movement by knowing the amount of shake, speed of subject motion and focus distance).

It's a paradigm shift that any young rock star could appreciate.

But ... But ... I want as many megapickles as possible. All the other camera geeks will laugh at me if I don't have them! I hear it's impossible to print a 15 x 10 cm (6 x 4 for you who still use the Imperial system) without at least 20 megapickles. And how can I post 100% crops of Fluffy the Cat's topmost whisker on dpreview if I can't crop ad absurdum? How will other armchair photographers take me seriously if I cannot pore over my lens' imaginary lack of definition in the top 3% of the image?

(In case you're wondering about megapickles, here's a Real Cool Guy who possesses an enormous amount of them: http://www.iainclaridge.co.uk/blog/wp-content/uploads/merkley2.jpg )

Seriously, though, I love your idea. I'd make it go to ISO 12800, but then I do most of my photography in bars so dim that even coal miners avoid them. So ISO 200, 1600 and 12800. A nice three-position switch should be just as good as your binary switch. And put the aperture ring back onto the lens barrel where it belongs. And put it all in the E-1 body. With the E-3's fully adjustable screen for live view. Sony's solution is just inferior in this regard.

I disagree with the JPEG stuff, though. Sometimes, it just comes in handy. Once, I took pictures of two eejits stealing license plates and I had to convert them from RAW before sending them to the police, which took more time than I'd have liked. So leave JPEG, but make it neutral, with no saturation and sharpening and art filter settings.

Rock on, dude!

If it accepted Nikon FX lens, I'd buy it in a heartbeat. It should cost only about 200 USD more than the D3X ...

I'd buy two.

What about no mirror as well? Otherwise, that sounds like THE PERFECT DP2! It, actually seems to be the closest to that! I found it easier to count what the DP2 lacks than what it has! Although, for some unknown reason, it is slower than more 'packed' cameras... But it still makes a pleasant change from the "fulla'everithing" stuff, unfortunately including my own camera (Sony H10 - stupid but lovely!)

Mike, if I had all the money I ever needed for photo equipment, I would buy a camera that doesn't yet exist, and maybe never will, that has one basic feature: the ability to intuitively know how to photograph the image that is in my mind at the exact right time without my having to set the precise controls on the camera and secure that image.

Suppose, for example, I am walking down the street and see what would be a "Cartier-Bresson" moment in front of me that just has to be captured. Right now my Nikon D80 may or may not have the right settings for that capture. So my impulse is to look over the settings quickly for correctness of speed, aperture size, ISO, depth of field, etc., etc....and quickly the moment is gone.

The D80 is a nifty camera, but the huge number of selections available is really daunting.

Give me a point-and-shoot that can be trained to know me intuitively and be instantly responsive.

That's real science fiction, isn't it?

Interesting idea.
But don't cameras become more expensive when they have less features because their (niche) target market becomes smaller?
Isn't the cheapest solution to cram as many features as possible into one camera so that everybody can use it to their needs and forget about the functions they don't want?

Mike. Not bad. But I'd make sure it only had B&W so the 8 megapixels would work brilliantly.

I'd call it the BW-MF.
And yes, the last half of those letters are rude and don't mean manual focus.


It sounds good to me, though I don't care much about weather proofing. As for ISO, I'd prefer that to have two settings: "Base" and "Auto". Either way, a full frame sensor in a body sized like the Pentax LX would be terrific.

The rock star conclusion made me smile. Not too many years ago, I remember thinking I was pretty hip, but now I've got kids to tell me like it is. In fact, my almost 5-year-old son Philip no longer calls me "daddy". He calls me "boring old daddy". Serious, that's his name for me, every day.

Admittedly, it's not E-1 under a faucet but it's still an E-3 under running water. [very big evil grin]

And sorry about that missing Yashica Minister pic the other day. It seems that although you set something on the server, it doesn't mean it will be so...

Who needs an ISO button? With the best pixels possible and the metering priority you describe let's go Auto-ISO only. Done like Canon, where it goes for a minimum shutter speed of 1/focal length.
If the IQ is excellent to stupid ISO, we don't need to worry about the sensitivity any more.

Other than size and shape, your idea somewhat resembles the Sigma SD14: i.e., designed for shooting, not processing, RAW of spectacular quality (at low/medium ISO); no scene modes; token jpeg for the sake of preview; good viewfinder; quiet shutter; adequate LCD. 7-14MP, depending on who you ask.

Re the rockstar thing: I was just thinking the other day that the large crowd that gathers here to frequently bitch about the lack of a DMD is probably large enough, rabid enough, and resourceful enough to sustain a practical DMD design project. That is, if the "rockstar" felt like inciting and nurturing one.

This could be a specific camera, but it need not be. A modular platform might be an even better idea. Simply having a complete and compelling set of parameters and specifications might be enough to encourage interested parties can go ahead and experiment and prototype components. Especially if the specs are amenable to as much off-the-shelf, license-free technology and components as possible.

For this to go anywhere, of course, our rockstar would need to exercise ruthless and exclusive executive power to keep the project on track.

Mike, it sounds like your ideal camera already exists. Just pick up an Olympus OM-4Ti and stuff some B&W film in it. Process and scan it yourself. Sometimes progress means going backwards. We "threw away" a lot of perfected technology when we decided that nothing but brand-new was the way to go.


One located in every Wal-mart parking lot. Just drop off a memory card and the next day you pick up your prints.

Nicely written; perfect closure. I'll have to remember that one....

An affordable no-frills DSLR such as you describe might even be of interest to the high schools and colleges that used to keep a cabinet full of Pentax K-1000 bodies. Who knows if it would sell enough to make production worthwhile, but we can dream, can't we? Perhaps one the firmware hackers out there might come up with firmware that *removes* most of the automation from an existing budget DSLR...

As an aside I'll note the automation that seems to cause the most trouble for the students to whom I've taught photography: Auto ISO selection (I'm such an old fart that for a long time i didn't realize that DSLR's *had* an option that would let the camera select the ISO setting as well as aperture and shutter speed).

I've noticed that having the camera constantly changing the ISO setting is like having the ground constantly shifting under the student's feet. Even when they're paying attention to aperture and shutter speed it makes it difficult for them to see the relationship(s) in effect.

where can I buy one ? ;-)

Your idea of 'lifting' the exposure feature from the OM-4Ti sounds great. Sensor-wise I think somethings along the lines of the D700's would be fine. In fact your plan sounds pretty much like the digital FM2 that's been discussed on the Web for years - with the addition of in-body IS, which doesn't seem to be Nikon's cup of tea.


Less is more. My best solution for less is a film Leica M. In the digital world, the M8.2 comes close. I don't need macro or tele capability, the viewfinder is always beautiful, and the lenses help provide exceptional IQ. Small, discreet, quiet and easy to hold. If the M9 solves the high ISO issue, and provides full frame, then I'm an even happier camper.

By comparison, I'd say you're still feature-happy.

Yes, simplicity takes good pictures, I agree there. I think even my M8 has to many options.
Just for your information:
The Olympus E camera's do have a 'Spot-HI' measuring, that brings the measured area just within the histogram, just measure on a white wall and the exposure is spot-on.
Maybe the 'My-Menu' option of an Canon camera helps. Just put the five or so things you would like into that menu, and you'll never have to bother with the other 200 options.
But it is allways nice to dream, camera's that use DNG as RAW format for example, yes they exist, but they are rare.

Love it, I'd buy one.


A plain baked potato is so...plain. I like mine loaded. But no onions. And no bacon, save that for the cheeseburger. And no chives. Exactly what is a chive, anyway?


* With tongue firmly in cheek

One more thing, while we're scheming and dreaming. No battery -- the "film advance" lever would charge a capacitor with enough juice for one shot.

Sort of an old style box camera. Updated.
I like the either or option for the ASA.
Maybe do the same for either JPEG or RAW?
Camera should operate on two "AA" batteries available just about anywhere. Your choice of rechargeables or not. Keep it simple, keep it small and happy. A chrome body as opposed to
all black. Let it used the small chips and let
us have a non-scratch surface on the rear viewing screen.

Amen!! My first camera (from my Dad at high school graduation)was a Nikkormat (though badged Nikomat). I had a passle of OM-1's, 2's and 4's. I bailed out of a Nikon DX1 after it killed my elbow and went back to Olympus - a pair of E-1's. I got an E-3 because of client pressure for larger files, but I wish it hadn't super-sized. It does have a highlight biased spot metering "function", though. And I'll be sitting on my front porch today waiting for the big brown truck carrying my EP-1 on the last leg of it's journey. It will have a gozzilian features I will pointedly ignore....

I'd buy one. Heck, this is pretty much how I use my K20 anyway.

The real irony is that this camera could provide a full-frame sensor at APS-C prices, simply by cutting out so much R&D (and by allowing the other internal processors to be smaller/cheaper/slower).

YESSSSS ! Where is the fan-club ?

And no battery...it runs on kinetic energy (like that watch).

You have quite a way with words Mike. You ARE a rock star among writers. As far as the "Digimat," sounds great to me. I acquiesce. Thanks for the pleasure your writing brings.

--A Groupie

Apart from the ISO (I want 25-6400, thank-you-very-much), you've described my ideal camera...if features aren't important.

But if we're requesting features, I actually wrote an open love letter to Pentax requesting a few things (not many), and I must be a rock star too, because 5 months later they released the K-7, which sports some of the features I wanted. But still no MXD, or LXD...

Mike, would selling 2 units and the satisfaction of a job well done not be enough for a camera maker?

Oh, and Mike, I couldn't get your LX pic to display. Here's a couple of an LX I sold some time ago, although there's no handgrip 'cos I kept it for my other LX:

Pentax LX pic 1

Pentax LX pic 2

You can't invoke the OM-4 spot meter trick without allowing me to average multiple readings.

Personally, I'd rather have the D3 autofocus system and Auto-ISO instead of a spot meter. And now we know why cameras are complicated.

"I don't suppose I could get away with not giving it a hot shoe. I don't use them flash thingys, but I hear other people do. But no pop-up flash."

What's all this talk of "other people"? What happened to it being for you? Lose the hot-shoe!!

I'll take one; it'd be cool if it had a Leica R mount.

I think your friend's got it all wrong. Your actually a TOP-star.

Regarding the crazy camera: sounds pretty good to me. I prefer tools with no frills that do one thing really well over tools that do many things barely adequately any day. And yes, at the end of the day my camera is just another tool.

I really think that many things today, and cameras prominently among them, are pretty over-featured. I'm fairly sure that most basic users (let's say 80%) stop right after the point where they've understood the basic functions of whichever tool they're using and don't have the burning desire to peruse the 189-page pdf that came with the thing. Then there are about 15% who dig somewhat deeper, and the last 5% who attempt to squeeze the very last drop of feature-goodness out of every piece of equipment they encounter.

Now, all the producers of all the shiny tools are probably very sure that every customer really wants all the features (or they are afraid people wouldn't buy their products if they didn't have the theoretical possibility to use all the features, even if they don't touch them in reality). But I can't help to think there are quite a lot of people who would like to have to deal with less »fluff«, understand their equipment better, and come away with higher quality in their results because their tool is better at the fewer things it tries to do. And that this doesn't just apply to photographers who now, kinda, in a way, can have the somewhat specialist pj-compact, but the average user.

I recently read in a magazine that when shoppers in warehouses encounterd a display with a choice of 24 kinds of jam, 60% of them stopped, but only 3% bought a jar.
And when there were just 6 flavours to choose from, only 40% stopped, but 30% actually bought a jar. Ten times as many! People actually like less choice, because it makes life simpler. Of course, when market researchers walk up to potential buyers and ask: »would you prefer a camera with more or with less features«, everyone says more. But I can't help but wonder what kind of cameras we could get if all the camera-producers would look at how people actually behave vs. what the marketing-department says.

Hi Mike:
Wouldn't you like the OM4T's ability to average multiple spot meterings? I always thought it was neat to be able to see where different light values were. Its an interesting idea to just have the spot meter be a highlight meter but I'm wondering you're losing out on some versatility there.

How about both body and lense IS? I don't see why it has to be an either-or choice.

You could have an autofocus system with a central autofocus spot that also allows manual focus all the time.

I don't thinks this is insane, its just a very well focused (no pun intended) tool. I'd like one.

Pentax link ddin't work. Found a picture anyway.

Hi -

One other feature that simply hasn't been addressed by anyone.

A B&W mode that dump a gray scale image using each and every single cell on the sensor, getting rid of the bayer interpolation. Just straight gray scale. We can then have the full resolution of the sensor for B&W, rather than the interpolated RGB needed for color.

Might lead to a rebirth of B&W: ca 24MP from that 8MP sensor!

Other than that: a universal mount that will allow you to use virtually any lens every made, with inexpensive adapters (there is no reason that these should cost more than $15) for all lens forms. Okay, add a manual focus confirmation and you can charge $20.

On the last: this is already a feature of the 4/3 system. I do macro work with a 30-year old 100mm f4 lens on bellows, a Leica Macro-Elmar, that handily out-resolves the 4/3 sensor. This rocks.

Yes, Mike, you rock.

Thanks for sharing your daydream with us. I can think of ways my ideal "feature-less" camera would differ, but that's not the point. I appreciate the insight into how YOU think about the mechanics of our shared hobby/art/obsession.

I will buy two. That way I don't have to even flip that iso switch.

I would buy one in a heartbeat. I love the waist-level live-view on my Sony R1, an older but still trusty camera I haven't been able to trade in for an upgrade yet. Still reliable for landscapes and studio work.

OK I agree with your ideas, but if you are going to dream, I say
dream big darn it.

Food for thought: What you are looking for are the core features of the big proDSLRs. (Just turn down picture size from 24 mpix to lowest setting). P, A, Tv and Manual setting. No art filters. Huge wiewfinder. Blazingly fast. No popup flash, no scene modes. Weather proof. Spot metering to the right, if you want. But, alas, three times the size of the Pentax LX. And if your DSLR is built, who would pay a bucket of cash for the Fx/1DsIII?

Tought II: the OM4Ti feature is implemented in the EP-1. Programmable to the AEL/AFL button. One push to spot measure and lock measurement until the next push "releases" exposure measurement.

I like it, Mike.

My main camera is an E-1, so I have the sound, the weatherproofing and the ergonomics already. And 5 creamy megapixels! Plus, it's a brick.

I usually shoot manual now and use the auto setting only as a light meter, except that I chimp so incessantly I've come to rely on the screen for exposure. I use autofocus only to get close and then I fine-tune by hand, because even if the autofocus is responsive enough, it doesn't usually lock exactly where I want it. This works for me even in fast-moving situations. (Never achieving 100% success, of course, more like 67%, which is well above my keeper rate.)

IS, check. ISO switch (nice idea), check. Raw only, check. Simple flip-up screen, check.

I'll be totally ready for this in June, 2013.

I agree with your premise, although I'd change focus (ahem) to design a camera that had everything I needed to help me make a good photograph, and nothing I didn't.

I'd make it RAW-only, too. I'd keep autofocus, autoexposure, and TTL flash metering... and I'd steal these from Nikon (IMO the best at all of these).

I want a bright viewfinder, a FF Foveon sensor with 10 MP (it would outresolve the 24 MP FF Bayer sensors), an HDR shooting mode that would make two or three exposures to capture both ends of the histogram (for later combination and tone-mapping on a computer to make a realistic-looking image with highlight and shadow detail).

I want in-camera image stabilization, like Pentax or Sony. I'd want it to have either a Pentax KAF mount, or the ability to swap out the lens mount of the camera so I could choose to use Canon, Nikon, or Pentax (maybe even KM/Sony) lenses on it with full electronic support. I'd want to be able to adjust for front-focus/back-focus on my lenses and save that setting for up to 50 lenses in the camera.

I only want aperture- and shutter-priority auto modes, plus manual. I'd like to be able to set the flash to fill mode for natural-looking photographs in any light. And I'd like to be able to shoot a burst of 15 shots at 5 shots per second.

I'd like this camera to look and feel a lot like a K7... small yet solid. And I'd like it to cost somewhere in the $1000 range give or take a few hundred, with the buyer's choice of one mounting system (as described above).

In short, I want a Pentax K7, with Nikon's autofocus, autoexposure, and flash metering, with a FF Foveon sensor, and enough computing horsepower to keep up with a D300.

Yep, you rock :-)

I'd buy that camera in a heart beat too. One more feature...less than $1K.

I'd add one more thing. Make all the buttons and dials be completely programable by the user. All done via a slick UI with the image of the camera and drop down menus to choose from.

"ditch the bathrobe for godsakes your supposed to be a Guru"

Nobody up here on the mountaintop but us chickens.


Except for that silly little SLR requirement, which maybe you don't need anymore what with the review screen on the back of the camera, you sound like you're very close to wanting a Leica M 8.2...

Wow...I was just scouring the web for a way to cram a cheap, simple digital point and shoot into and old range finder. No luck. I'm of the generation that was raised on computers. My first real camera was a Canon EOS Elan 2...lots of features. Despite learning on gadgets, I fell in love with the feel of old cameras from the time I borrowed a vintage Nikon when my fancy camera's battery died in college. But I truly fell in love when I used my grand father's Leica. I'm a professional photographer now, that got my foot in the door with my knowledge of computers and digital printing. I have access to very expensive cameras and I can take home an EOS 1-Ds Mark III whenever I want...but I really hunger for the clack of a heavy metal camera and the soothing whir of the manual film winder. When you have to wait for the moment to happen rather than blasting the subject at 8 frames per second, or directing the model as you white out the room with thousands of watts. I want an affordable, manual focus, manual camera. I don't need face detection, I can perform that function myself.

I would buy this camera IMMEDIATELY! If I had to, I'd sell all my camera equipment to get it!

This is NOT a radical idea... its photography as we've known it for the past 40-plus years, just with film replaced by pixels. (I've been posting similar thoughts on the web for several years now.)

What lens mount would you want? F? I suppose this would resolve itself because as soon as Nikon starts gobbling up the baby-boomer market with this camera, Canon would follow right along. :-)

thanks. I totally agree with you. ...I think in everything! Most of all, I haven't use the scene modes, ever.
I hope someone listens and build this drem camera we want. And also cheaper!

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