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Friday, 04 September 2009

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Sweeet, but what lensmount will it have?

Nikon is working on your DMD; think of a D40 "pro." How do I know this? They recently released a 35 mm AF-S DX prime and a 50 mm f/1.4 AF-S prime. Who would want such a lens? People with big'n'heavy cameras like the D300 don't need autofocus in the lens, and people who have D40's, D60's, etc. (without an autofocus motor in the camera) would be unlikely to want a prime.

Nikon needs to compete with the micro 4/3 system, and the easiest way for them to do it is to strip out all the unnecessary stuff (scene modes, JPEGs, white balance?) from their excellent DX sensors; they won't need a new line of lenses, and they'll have a sensor a lot bigger than the 4/3 system.

In a few years Nikon's line will be bifurcated into FX models and small, streamlined DX models, some of which will be directed to serious types such as yourself. The D300 type camera will be gone.

I couldn't agree more, that is exactly what I want as long as we can do something magic with the mirror slap noise and drop the AA filter on the sensor I'm totally in! Painfully I think the closest to this no frills, back to basics camera at the moment will probably be the Leica M9... which means I can't afford it :-(

You forgot the interchangeable sensor. You open a door at the bottom of the camera, pull out the bayer array color sensor and push in the sensor for B&W. Still 6~10 mp but luminance only.

I'd buy a couple, but then I'd have instant remorse on delivery because I had forgotten to use your Amazon link...

:-)

Jim

wow - your idea would mean that the camera companies would actually have to build something us "older" folks would want, what a concept. And yes i would be more than happy to hit the hot link to amazon/Bh photo thru your website to order one

Skip the entire idea and bring Silicon Film back into development. In a few years miniaturization will have progressed to the point where everything will fit into the space of a 135 canister and takeup spool. We'll be able to use any 35 that we want.

I'm not getting rid of my old gear yet.

I don't get why you're so insistent on the great pixels when you're going to limit it to ISO 1600. Gotta bump one or the other up.

Also, very short lens mount flange distance, please, EF-equivalent or less. (4/3 is shorter, but 4/3 lenses presumably wouldn't be any use on a FF camera.) Then you don't have to make lenses, just adaptors, and we can use anything we like. Then you don't have to worry about making it autofocus either.

Make the ISO switch an ISO slider that had 6-8 stops and goes pretty high, and I could go for it.

Curiously enough, I had high hopes for the nevertoseethelight Leica R10 to be a camera very close to your wishes: a smallish, extremely simple, very-well constructed dSRL thought for people wanting to be relevant when shaping their photos.

I thought only Leica could build such a submisive beauty... but they won't.

I've always had this fantasy that someone would come up with something like a "digital roll of film" that could be inserted into a 35mm film camera -- full-frame sensor (but not necessarily full-frame) on the film plane, electronics in the "can", all wired together inside the "film". A bit like Ctein's famous Kodak calculator. That way anyone could resurrect any 35mm camera of their choice ...(in my case, the OM1N that sits in a cupboard). I'm beginning to think it may never happen.

"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."

The most egregious thing is that the Maxxum/Dynax 7 (released in 2000) had this capability already built into the camera (it's got a black-and-white LCD screen integrated into the back for sundry data display functions), but it was not brought over in the 7D and certainly Sony has not implemented this technology either.

I like your general idea. One of the things I like about the Pentax K20D (shared by the way with the K10D and K-7) is the lack of scene modes. Now, since P on the K20D is "hyperprogram", there's really no need for Av or Tv: You can get them through P more conveniently. And I never used Sv (ISO-priority), B, X, green or USER modes, either. So for me, it would be fine if the camera had just 2 modes: hyperprogram and full manual.

I'd be happy to get rid of jpeg capture too.

Limiting ISO to just two options, well, that seems a tad restrictive to me. I could live with four or five, though (100, 200, 400, 800, and 1600). I actually go higher than 1600 occasionally but I could live without. I have frequently used auto-ISO too but again, could happily live without.

Would not want to give up auto-focus but I already do my auto-focus "manually" by using the AF button (rather than shutter half-down). Don't need continuous auto-focus; single auto-focus is fine (and manual, of course).

I already stick to 1/2 stop steps for shutter speed and aperture (never use 1/3 stops) so don't need menu options for that. Could live without bracketing, in-camera noise reduction. Not sure I could eliminate the menu completely, but I could certainly get rid of over 50% of what's there now and be very happy.

Don't want to give up color, even though I do a lot of black and white conversions. I really want to have that color info on the computer.

Already got the weather-sealing you asked for.

So my modified version of your dream is a stripped down Pentax K20D (or K-7 sans video). A lean, mean photo-making machine.

If Pentax came out with a camera like this that in all other respects had the image quality of a K20D or K-7, I'd buy it in a heartbeat. And I'd pay a little more for it, because it would be much nicer to use - every change I've suggested would mean EVEN BETTER ergonomics than the K20D has already - and I would probably not be looking for another camera so quickly as I do now.

I so approve! I always wanted something like that. Also, make it light and small. And plenty of primes if you don't mind.

I abandoned my Canon 5D in favor of an Olympus OM3 + scanner at home.

Small. Light. Simple. Small sharp primes. Digital photography would be fun again.

"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?"

They have this now, but you don't want to know what it's going to cost you (Leica S2).

This post is right up my alley. If I were to make a digital camera, I would include the following features and nothing more:

1. shutter speed dial
2. iso dial (50 - 1600)
3. manual focus lenses
4. big bright viewfinder ala my X-700
5. nice focusing screen
6. some kind of lens mount for lenses with real aperture rings
7. RAW (DMG) only
9. monochrome full-frame, non-bayer sensor about 10-12mp
10. simple, needle type light meter in viewfinder
11. Slot for SD cards
12. small LCD indicating battery life and number of shots remaining
13. on/off switch
15. self-timer switch (10 seconds)

I would call this camera "The Student". I would try to keep the price down as low as possible, yet make it out of a sturdy metal. It would be marketed towards students and those who want to LEARN about photography not just master a computerized gadget.

I just want someone to digitise the back of an Om4Ti thanks - photo heaven!

I think I'd call it the Luddimite! :) Now with Dodge and Burn joystick and developer scented box!
Just Kidding Mr. Rock Star,
Jim A.

So let me get this straight. You want a camera that is the same size as an E-1, has the same shutter as an E-1, has the same build quality as an E-1, and the same simplicity as an E-1, only with stabilization and a slightly better viewfinder?

Now you know how disappointed all of us E-1 owners felt when the E-3 came out. We only wanted a few tweaks, and Olympus gave us a Winnebago-sized D2x copy.

In the meanwhile, maybe you should get yourself an E-1. It will last you at least three years and ten months.

I second Jay's motion: 6meg of multiple color and luminance sensitivity pixels, like in the Foveon sensors. That would be a killer. I still can't get over seeing one pixel standing next to its neighbour, completely independent and full, no smoothing and wasting image space. You can make a diagonal out of just a few of them. Golden pixels.

Hello Mike
do you see Mike how many buyers you have already got and you can count me on I am sure we will all do it through your website
Just 2 things : who needs 1600 ? how about 200-400-800
and also let's not forget that your digimart should make life easier the way the Nikormat did
so let's not forget to add the Olympus anti dust
What do you think ?
I think with 120 comments , the best camera of the year was just designed . yeah !!

Hi Mike;
I totally agree with you! Most (all) digital cameras are crammed with useless features. You found the golden key, make the camera menu-less and operational, with the extra option of open source software so you can load the features you want, create your own features, and build your own menu, if you want to. Lastly, square photos USE THE FULL LENS YOU PAID FOR (you can always crop using software). BTW, I like autofocus as long as it works.....

Absolutely we can do away with color. A true monochrome digital would be a thing of delight and consider the resolution once you scrap the Bayer filter. Every time I meet a Leica rep, I ask for at least an ala cart option for a monochrome.

This is terrific. I thought I was the only one. I spent much of today wishing I could add a battery, card slot and sensor to my OM-1n and I'm good to go.

May be what we are talking about is an empty camera and a user-customizable firmware with several configurations that we can set up in the pc (with all the presets you want, you could even have a "TOP" configuration preset) and then upload to the camera. Keep the basic camera hardware in a standard configuration and then assign it the functions we want. If the labels on the buttons could change accordingly, we are done.
You could even share camera configurations by email.

I like the K.I.S.S. design premise, but...If the camera is digital (the Quixo-D?), why are you limiting ISO to two positions? ISO is basically another exposure variable in addition to aperture and shutter speed. It was just fixed with film. How about a simple rotary knob; put a useful range of ISO's on it, then the upper and lower limits only have to be one (solid) detent away.

If it has live view, doesn't the camera have to use some form of in-camera processing to render the image, as it would for review? If so, why not have the jpeg thus rendered embedded in your raw file. You don't have to use it if you don't want, but it could serve as a useful reference later.

Omit too many features, and you'll be accused of "hobbling" your camera's specs. Besides, some features are "nice". (Wouldn't a hyperfocal distance button be a useful feature?) Uh oh, I sense feature creep coming on...

Last time I conducted a thought experiment like this, I came up with a SLR with an interchangeable sensor. My reasoning was that with film you can buy a cheap camera add a good lens and film and take some remarkable photos; however with a digital camera you need to pay for all the "features" in the body to get the sensor you want. Of course I don't think anyone is going to build my camera.

"I haven't decided if it should be autofocus or not. Maybe manual focus with focus confirmation."

I'd say get rid of the need to focus altogether. That's one simplification I think worth pursuing. How? Work on improving IQ of small sensors until it's no longer an issue, so that very short lenses can be used. Depth of field would be very long even when the lens is wide open thus eliminating the need for precise focus.
You want background blur? Implement that in software so that you can dial in the Summicron bokeh when desired.

Since we are in 'dream' mode in this thread, and there seems to be a concensus in varying degrees with marrying some of the old with the new, why not just manufacture digital backs for all our old top quality SLR's, and, as one commenter said, create universal adpaters for all the different lens makes. Oh... I just woke up, but you are not getting my old Nikon FA...

JMR

It's not farfetched. Some time ago, I sent a similar proposal, by e-mail, to Cosina.

My design: an all manual, K mount, hotshoe (no pop-up), dSLR. 6MP, cropped or FF. Analog controls like the Leica D3 or M8, in addition to a minimal menu. Such a sensor is available from Dalsa.

There is a market for it: the same people who bought the K1000 by the truckload.

I'm sure they are working on it.

Dear John,

You asked for, "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."

This wouldn't work. Not unless you only photographed neutral gray subjects. The physical pixels on the sensor are filtered: red, green, blue, green, etc. It's built into the sensor; you can't bypass it. So, your 'uninterpolated' photograph would be an interlaced pattern of red-, green- and blue-filtered images.

For example, photograph a red fireplug and the pixels in your 'monochrome' image would be white, black, black, black, white, black, black, black, etc. A blue sky would turn out black, grey, white, grey, etc. It would look ugly and noisy, and not the kind of noise you could easily ignore, because it would be a regular pattern.

The only way to filter out that noise would be to infer what color the subject really was and adjust the pixel values to compensate.

(Which, errrrm, is kinda what Bayer interpolation does.)

pax / Ctein

My film SLR of choice for many years was the Nikon FM2. Small, rugged, reliable and entirely mechanical - apart from it's highly accurate meter. Never once felt that it was short on features.
A full frame digital sensor in an Fm2 would do me fine and the only can't-live-without-now feature would be the histogram.
6 million 'quality pixels' seems reasonable. I still find the 3mpx image quality of the original Canon 30D hard to resist.

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

My Panasonic LX3 has 4 custom settings that can be accessed quickly to give widely differing arrays of preselected settings. Although it is counter intuitive sometimes complexity and sophistication in design can bring a degree of simplicity in operation.

Yes, let's see a non-color digital camera! It seems like it must be possible to build a black-and-white sensor with noticeably better range and sensitivity than a color one of the same size and pixel density. (I know there are some uber-expensive black-and-white digital backs out there for large-format systems.) Too bad, as Mike says, that no manufacturer is foolish enough to try this.

I am liking the idea of the camera where you can delete the "features" you don't want (and reset it later). That might fly. It is ridiculous in this day and age that you are so stuck with the makers ideas of what you should have and use. I know alot of people have said they are waiting for the icamera. So you are not the first to hope for something simple and intuitive for a nonprogrammer to use. My wife tells me all the time that she feels she is too dumb to figure out how to use her G1. I consider the camera a failure just because of that.

"not the fact that I wear my bathrobe until noon."

How about all those trashed hotel rooms?

WOOOW!!!
Stop just 1 second on this comment!!
IS THERE A PATENT ON SOMETHING LIKE THIS??????
Or is it free to be done "copyleft idea"???

"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.

Posted by: Mark Bridgers"

Try a pentax LXD :

solid metal, the "same" exposure measurement (long exposure too?but need more juice, I know...But who knows?)
with this feature and a full frame sensor.
Just recording RAW files on the SD card. It's like An "ECO" friendly camera...less electronics and more mecanical. With the "state of the art" silent shutter/mirror "flap".
If you forget the energy needed for the camera and sd card to be made...and the time to process on computer...On a Mac, okay!-)
It's a cool and beautiful object too. make It easy to change the sensor to fix problems and YOU have a camera for LIFE!!
It makes me mad to change every year in digital.

I'll go out and I'll take some "life"shots with my Pentax LX/31mm loaded with HP5 !-)

It is pleasure to see posts like this, sometimes...because everything is possible.

6MP? Just a moment while I pick myself off the floor. Not laughing, just surprised, given your liking for the A900.
I can see 12MP. These days I don't think you gain anything from going down to 6 from 12.
In fact the Canon 5D2 has surprised me with its quality-per-pixel. I had been sure they'd shot themselves in the foot going to 21MP, but even at 6400ISO I'll bet it's about a match for anything out there.
And as Ctein pointed out (based on a question by me) here on your site, neither lens nor sensor sets a hard limit for resolution. Even with a so-so lens, rez does get better with higher-rez sensor.

Of course you may be talking about *other* kinds of IQ and not care about resolution? Is that it? Or am I confused?

Digimatic, Michael.
Call it Digimatic and add a Takumar D to it.

I agree to be able to have a featureless camera. But I have to admit that I think your DMD is ... wrong.

I think that the digital imaging has brought us a different way and ability to shoot.

The same way photography did bring a different kind of picture taking when compared to sketching or watercolours, for instance.

And we are not embracing it.
Why cameras are still rectangular behind the lens when there is no film behind?

Mike, you don´t have to wait for this. Buy a good analog SLR and ask the lab to scan the film after development. I am not sure about the stabilization though, but you could always lean against the wall or something instead.


I absolutely agree - I feel the same way about audio.
Why does it need to be so damned difficult to get the very best of basics without the add-ons.
I absolutely do not want to "shuffle play" any of the Haydn symphonies - though Wagner could not be worse for that - just as I do not want Video on my still camera and will buy a proper video camera if I want to play in that field.

I've been mulling over that post about the guy with the D80 who missed the shot, because that brings up a really good point. With a dSLR his situation is a valid on-going concern.

With a Bessa RF everything is there as soon as I look at the top deck. Shutter speed is on the right dial, aperture around the lens, ISO is integrated into the shutter speed dial as in days or yore.

Looking at a Maxxum 7 (or 7D) is almost as informative, EC on the left dial with Flash compensation in a selector switch under that. PASM on the right dial with drive mode on a selector switch under that. A small LCD constantly tells you your aperture, or shutter speed, or both depending on what mode is on the dial.

In both cases a skilled user could see where she was in a glance and change to where she needs to be practically by feel.

Whenever they come up with this Digimat of yours, (probably in another 4 years or so) they definitely need to replicate this design ethos. If I'm taking a grab shot and I need to check a menu to make sure something's not screwed up in the settings that will trip me up then it's not a Digimat.

Ah, of course the black and white sensor rears its tantalizing head. I used to be on that bandwagon, too, considered it a sort of "holy grail".

I would still cheer its return, but my thinking has changed somewhat.

For one thing, a non-interpolated-resolution sensor already exists in the Foveon. In theory it gives us pretty much what a B&W sensor would in terms of per-pixel detail and accuracy, but on top of that throws into the raw file pretty much all the filtering possibilities--to play with and choose from after the fact. At any rate, Foveon users who care about B&W seem quite impressed.

Even regarding Bayer, I find I am less concerned about interpolating luminosity from a color matrix than I am about interpolating color. Algorithms and post processing choices obviously matter a lot here, and the understanding that one will be throwing away a bunch of pixels.

But I am a fan of traditional B&W tonality and the idea of maximum imaging "fidelity" at the sensor. Which is why, if I could Frankenstein an SLR from existing stuff, I'd start with a Foveon sensor. And I'd go with a 4/3 mount--for the telecentricity of that system's lenses, and for flexibility mounting non-system and vintage lenses.

I got excited when I read this and it reminded me of a concept i jotted down a few months ago, any thoughts?:

A Digital Camera for Film Purists

Proposal: When speaking to film purists, the problem with digital doesn't appear to lie with the different, 'new' technology, but within the way it forces you to work. Or not work.

Purists enjoy the concentration required to work with film and the dedication to the art form. I am not one. I wish I was 'pure', but alas, i enjoy feature-laden DSLRs as much as my Olympus XA or Kiev88 (warts and all)

However, none of us can deny that film will, to all intents and purposes, die. And embracing new technology is a fact of modern life... providing it is not detrimental to the finished product.

As such, I have developed what I deem to be THE digital camera for the film purist:

A digital rangefinder of m-series pedigree.

Firstly, and I suspect most controversially, it will have no screen. No immediate reference here, no checking for clipping and composition. As i see it, no distractions from taking pictures.

Secondly, no battery. Or nearly. With an old leica m4, you bring the camera to your face and you press the shutter. You don't switch the camera on, wait for the lens to extend, wait for auto-focus and then cringe as the moment has long passed. My digital camera will be charged for a single shot by the familiar film winder. A dynamo system will hold enough charge for the following shutter release and cache to memory card. There is no screen to power, no complex noise reduction algorithms, just writing data to solid state memory. The camera is always 'on' and (as long as it is wound on) ready for the next 'decisive moment'.

RAW shooting. Data is dumped directly from a full frame, 8MP sensor to memory card. No signal loss due to complex routing and no data loss due to heavy compression. Pure and simple.

No autofocus. This camera is designed to work with old manual lenses of the likes of leica and zeiss. Manual aperture control and manual focus are the order of the day. An inbuilt analogue meter will dictate to the photographer a reasonable shutter speed, assigned by a mechanical wheel atop the camera. A similar, tactile wheel defines ISO rating and can be used alongside the shutter speed selector for the perfect exposure.

For the slightly less 'pure', a model could also be developed that contains a small lithium ion battery that is able to assign pre-defined film emulations to the captured files. Perhaps a wheel on the underside could assign 1 of 10 popular black and white and colour film stocks. In this instance files would be saved as uncompressed tiffs rather than RAW files. Tri-x, delta 100, kodachrome, velvia, provia, portra nc etc.

This camera relies heavily on an open-minded audience and is ultimately just a concept. But I'd love to know peoples thoughts... pure lunacy... or a hint of genius!? haha.

All the best,
Owen.

Dear folks,

Several people have suggested that the solution to Mike's question is to photograph on film and scan it. I would suggest that this isn't going to achieve his needs (putting aside the meta-argument that Mike is very familiar with film, and if he thought that was an adequate alternative to his request, he'd have said so).

The first issue is that Mike's dream camera description makes it clear that while he's happy with 35mm resolution (or even less), his primary needs are medium/large format tonality, grainlessness, noiselessness, and tonal/color rendition. His hypothetical camera, using today's technology, produces image quality that in every respect (except for resolution) far exceeds what you can typically get from 35mm film, even at low ISO's. At high ISOs simply forget it; even my relatively inexpensive small-sensor digital camera runs rings around 35mm at ISO 800-1600.

Yes, with exquisite technique and perfect circumstances, one can eke that level of quality out of 35mm (Mike demonstrated that himself many years ago), but real-world photography isn't about hero experiments; it's about what you can achieve routinely.

The second problem is a practical one; the workflow people are proposing isn't economically feasible, measured in either time or money. To get that kind of extreme quality in a commercial scan costs several dollars a frame, at the minimum. Usually, it costs a lot more than several dollars, but I'm giving the benefit of the doubt since I'm sure there are good labs out there I don't know about. Nonetheless, $.99 scans aren't going to cut it; I'd be surprised if three-buck scans cut it (although I wouldn't swear that's impossible). Minimum price tag for Mike exposing and "processing" one roll of 35mm film? $100. And that's without making a single print. If Mike could afford that kind of photographic expense, he could afford a VERY nice digital camera.

Yes, Mike could do the scanning himself at much less dollar expense... but, again, it takes meticulous technique and care to squeeze everything out of film, and that's the level of quality Mike is demanding. If he gets really, really good at it, he might be able to handle a roll with a full-day's work. More likely, it's going to take him two.

I have to do a lot of film scanning, both for clients and for myself, since the overwhelming majority of my best work is on film. It's very labor-intensive and time consuming. A cheapo scanner isn't going to cut it, either.

I've got no quarrel with people going hybrid; it's the majority of my digital work today! It produces fabulous results, when you've got to start from film. But, really, it's not better than starting from digital, and it's definitely not faster or less expensive. Not by an order of magnitude.


~ pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
======================================
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com 
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com 
======================================

Camera manufacturers, please note - If the Price was $2000usd or less for the described camera, I would buy it.

Owen,

I have to go with "genius" because your purist camera sounds freakishly close to the digital camera of my daydreams. But better, because I'd never thought of powering it with a dynamo--I love the idea, even if it means a double stroke wind-on ;). Nor would I mind, alternatively, cranking a "rewind" knob a dozen turns per three or four shots.

I'm wondering if a clever engineer could design a shutter such that some of its mechanical energy feeds the dynamo at each actuation. And if your dynamo involves a flywheel, perhaps we could employ its gyro effect for image stabilization... OK, I'll calm down now.

Oh, I don't see any reason for wasteful TIFF processing and storage just for film emulation. All that's needed is a text tag written into the RAW file; at processing time, the raw converter or a Lightroom plugin would read the tag and apply the appropriate actions.

Kevin says "My film SLR of choice for many years was the Nikon FM2. [...] Never once felt that it was short on features."

I used an FM2 from 1982 to about 2002, and had an FM from 1980.

I moved to Olympus in 1987 because Nikon didn't make a camera with spot metering. I hoped that the OM-4 multi-spot metering would get me 80% of a full zone-system workup in fractions of seconds, which in theory would be useful in difficult lighting situations and non-static situations.

Then in 1994 I got a Nikon N90, because renting for a while and testing showed me that auto-focus got me a significant improvement in the quality of my best candid pictures of people, and a significant improvement in the proportion of usably sharp pictures as well.

Both those steps were very specifically feature-driven.

I got a bonus with the N90 -- turns out that the AF-D lenses and the improved flash exposure algorithms gave me MUCH better flash automation even compared to the OM-4 TTL flash. Situations like people around a bonfire at night became immensely more tractable. I didn't know this in advance, so it wasn't a feature that motivated my change, but it's another feature missing in the FM2 that I benefited greatly from in another camera.

I'm not trying to claim YOU should want these features. You know what you shoot a lot better than I do, and if you say you don't have any use for them, I accept that. But do, please, recognize that other photographers, when they decide what features are useful for their work, know their own work much better than you do, and are probably not being stupid; they're probably making the correct choices to enhance their own work.

A lot of people talking about pure simple equipment come off as claiming moral superiority for their personal preferences. I mostly avoid reacting to this impression, and I'm sure not all of them mean it that way.

I agree that there are a bunch of equipment collectors around, who buy without much basis in their own uses of the camera. They may very well even be a commercially important part of the market. But let's not talk about them.

I'm giving it five stars *****

Why Program mode? A, S and M should be enough.

You rock.

Well Mike, like others I really liked your idea of the Digimat and as a daydreamer like you I dreamed on a little... Here is what I tought of: Let's imagine that someone somewhere would start a foundation. A foundation with one goal only: the goal of creating the Digimat. Here is how it would work: the founders write the exact specs of the Digimat to the most finite detail imaginable (think one of Phil's review on a full production camera :)) - and announce a price: say 1500 USD. Now everyone who wants a camera described in the spec-sheet just subscribes, pays in the amount which goes straight to a bank account (like in any ordinary case of saving money for something BIG) - but with a guarantee: if the camera doesn't appear on the market in let's say 3 years he or she will get back the money plus the interests. (A small pre-defined amount would be deducted of course for operational expenses - but after all it would be a non-profit organization.) After a few months the Foundation makes an open announcement to every camera manufacturer: "We offer X,XXX,XXX USD of our YYY,YYY guaranteed customers for any camera manufacturer who produces the camera described below..." Then the race would began: think of the X-Prize... You don't need to convince Canon or Nikon - any small company could make the design and I'm sure there are helluva-lot Chinese contract manufacturers who would be more than happy to manufacture the goody in mass quantities... Thus anyone could join on both sides: buyers could be prominent and famous photographers, and the manufacturer could be anyone with the correct set of capabilities (even MIT could do it)...! Prominent buyers would attract more and more buyers of course - until the Foundation reaches it's critical mass and dream of the Digimat could come true... And right after the camera comes into existence, passes every rigorous test imaginable (think of Phil again :))) the prize would be given to the manufacturer and the first sets would start to ship to the first buyers (subscribers) in a first come first served manner. After every buyer is served the camera could be mass produced for a price no lower than the above specified amount (the entry fee) - and anyone in the Word could buy it... A dream came true...

I agree in principle with almost everything. My ideal digital SLR would be a Nikon F90x (N90s) with a full-frame sensor. I don't want anything bigger than that. To be honest, that more or less already exists in the form of the Pentax K20D which I bought earlier this year. For a pocketable camera, please find me someone who can put a sensor in the Olympus Stylus Epic. I can live without a screen on the back since all I need to see is what I'm taking a picture of. I can wait until later to see if I actually got it, although I usually know right away anyhow. Why, oh why, have the manufacturers dropped the beloved finder from their cameras?! Even if it's a tiny little tunnel, anything so I can hold a camera steady against my nose/cheek!!!!

regards

gijs

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