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Wednesday, 14 April 2010


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Time for a confession: I wrote this entire post just so I could use that title.

I know, I really *am* superficial.


Mike I think that is quite understandable, it is one hell of a headline.

Hi Mike:

I’ll bet you thought this reply would be about cameras or cars. No, it’s about punctuation.

You said” Well, it's not. Okay, it sort of is. But not entirely.) “
First point: there is a closed parenthesis, but not an open,
Second point: although I know it is accepted practice to place the period before the close parenthesis, does it make sense to place the mark indicating the end of the sentence before the last element of said sentence? A pet peeve.

I might also add that I agree with the point of your post. I would suggest that the conformity of styling extends beyond one manufacturer to the whole industry. One year it’s boxy, the next, shaped by a 300 mph wind. Bring back the VW bus (with a few refinements)..

Funny :)
You can always get a Pentax from their colorful dSLR range. Guaranteed to turn heads.

I can say right now that as a redhead I've never seen or met the monkey, but then again I'm not an alluring female who has just swooned in skimpy attire and in danger of being ravished by all and sundry.

If you think the Nikon corporate look is bad the Canon EOS range all look like they've come out of the same jelly mould.

Interesting example. Car companies like Acura spend a great deal of effort and money coming up with a design theme to "brand" their vehicles and make them immediately recognizeable. Ironically, Acura's current 'guillotine' grill design and bizarre 'stealth fighter' faceted exterior is widely considered a stylistic disaster. Despite consistently negative reviews when the TL was introduced, Acura went on to uglify every vehicle in their line-up with the same chrome beak. One can just imagine the board room discussion:
"Okay, customers hate the new look. But, dammit, we paid for this design program and we're gonna stay the course. The buyers'll come around eventually."



I agree - I bought my car (a Honda Civic) for its durability, but the appearance proved important too. I figured this out when I was able to spot it across half a parking lot; my previous car, a perfectly wretched Corsica, was so unpleasant to drive I found it hard to see even in the same row.

Sometimes, though, appearance has a functional aspect - take the PT Cruiser for example. It's a rather cool looking car, but the look comes at the expense of rear visibility and handling on curves at speed. I like form, but function simply has to come first, for something that's so expensive and which you'll be using for years.

Good point. Now what about Leica. The only time they tried to break out of their M box just a little, they got slaughtered (the M5). Talk about sticking to the knitting....

But, I am glad they did.

Nikon didn't just extend that look to their cameras. There was a time (I think it was during the F3 era) when you could get the same look in Nikon eyeglass frames. They were black titanium with a red stripe. Oh, and by the way, great headline!

Dear Mike,

"I wrote this entire post just so I could use that title."

You do realize that just means it's going to get indexed as some kind of peculiarly kinky porn site.

Might improve traffic. Ya nevva knows...

"But does a F5 really have to resemble an N80? Nobody ever bought both of those needing consistent controls."

I predict some reader, somewhere, is going to write in to prove you wrong.

pax / Ctein

Nothing like an honest deception. It is a great title that needed a back story and now it has one. BTW - go for the Sonata - I just did two in the last year - I have twins coming of age....the Sonata rocks for safety features...and the LTD is kinda nice too.

Have to say, Olympus seems more willing to experiment and mix it up, body-wise. Some would say to a fault, recalling the E300, though some enjoyed that form factor. Even before introducing the first MILC, Olympus had the only DSLR without a bulbous grip, in a four-tier lineup that ran the gamut from small gripless slab to medium sized "typical" form, none looking all that much like the others.

this is a subject near and dear to my heart. i love the datsun 240z because its "face" looks like a fish, a carp to be exact. this seems to have been intentional, since carp represent bravery in japanese culture.

regarding cameras, i prefer the nikon brand over canon, but now that the prism on the 1-series doesn't look like an elephant's forehead, i could be persuaded to get a canon...if they sliced the vertical grip off. everything else is secondary to me, as i don't see much to choose between them. i guess that shows you where my priorities lie.

you know what the prism of a nikon looks like? a samurai with his hair pulled back in a topknot. just look at those ridges! i get what you mean about variety, though. while the house style is a selling point, it also means you could lose potential customers. i don't know how many care enough to make a significant difference, though.

The open paren is before "Aha." And, the period belongs inside the close paren when the whole sentence is parenthesized (just not when the parenthesis is within the sentence).


Panasonic has a look, too, from the LX3, GF1, GH1. I guess it looks good in a lineup shot.

My truck is a Honda Ridgeline. I bought it out sheer practicality. I prefer AWD to 4WD for commuting in winter, it's 4-door, has that cool storage trunk. Drivers of "real trucks" say it's not a "real truck" and that's ok ... I wasn't in the market for a "real truck" and the company that made something different got my business. (Ford makes the Explorer SportTrac, but fuel economy is worse and the bed is smaller).

Anyway, the truck is ugly. I don't care for the looks. I don't really care how I look driving it (and in fact, I like being behind the wheel - drives amazingly well). I just don't like to look at it. (A SportTrac would have looked a lot better). It's also silver, the same big, bright silver as 70% of all Ridgelines. Their color choices were poor - same as the Passport, only they were good colors on the Passport. There was a blue that I liked. But I got a nice deal at the end of a promotion, and they wanted to get rid of a vehicle on the lot. It would have cost more to get the blue. It's still a very practical vehicle.

I've never seen an Acura (as they're not exported to Australia) but that grill sure looks like an old-fashioned bottle-opener to me.

As for the current Nikon prism shape; well, I shake my head as to how a company that produced the original F came up with that ridiculous snout on the front. Someday it's going to look really dated.

Canon's collection of cameras consistently carved with convex curves...

Hugh, I trace much of my resistance to Canon EOS to a subliminal dislike of the EOS design aesthetic, which, to me, just doesn't look convincingly serious and instrument-like.

Oh, man, if Nikon came out with a DSLR that looked and handled like a Nikon F, I'd be all over that.

You can see it's an old cover. They simply don't do covers with spoilers anymore. :)

I think there is a psychological-marketing reason why all the cameras are the same.

/Sarcasm alert! Big blinking letters! ->/ How else can poor illiterate slobs see a Mark IV or D3x and say "my camera is like that and it's a serious camera"? /<- sarcasm/

Sarcasm aside, I'm practically certain somebody came with a justification like that.

Psychologically, that's one of the reasons I didn't like G1 and GH1. I like E-300 and L1. I like E-4xx and E-620. And I particularly like Pen.

Surprised noone has mentioned that the Nikons since the F3 were designed by Giugiaro, who's rather more famous for his car designs, which explains the family look. http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giorgetto_Giugiaro

I love both cameras and cars (aesthetically), but I think ugliness is a problem in many current designs. Part of the problem, at least in Europe, is the pedestrian safety regulations, it's got to be pretty hard for companies to design a nose that meets them, so it's not surprising that manufacturers reuse designs.

- Steve

Interestingly, the book cover shows a monkey/psuedo gorilla, when the actual critter was a orangutan (if memeory serves me)

Giorgetto Giugiaro, famous for his car designs - including the body of that semi-iconic DeLorean of "Back to the future" fame - albeit without Doc's embellishments, also saw Nikon cameras as fair game.

Left-hand camera, anyone?

I admit it: Deep down I am very shallow. I bought my Pentax K-7 also because it is just the most beautiful looking digital SLR ever produced.

I don't like Nikon's looks ver much - all those rouded triangles. I especially dislike the prism housings. Canons, though, are seriously ugly. I also can't hold them for any amount of time without getting a cramp in my tiny hands, just like the Sony A700.

Luckily, here in Germany, Acura is Honda, and the TSX is the Accord, which is a beautiful car. Car Grill Designers are at the moment having a problem: Engines need less air intake (dramatically less for electric vehicles), and intakes produce drag. So they have to reduce the grill size - but what to put in their stead?

Oh, so you want a well designed car? Then why in the world are you looking at American-inspired Korean cars and, of all things, German cars? Apart from high-end British marques, the only two countries employing decent car designers are France and Italy.

Get one of these: http://www.fiat.co.uk/500abarth/Default.aspx (without the garish rims and decals).
Faster than a bowel movement after a spicy Mexican meal and much more fun. Also, it consumes less fuel than a mobility scooter.

For a highly entertaining, beautifully shot, and completely useless review, see here:

Or get one of these, though it's not quite as mad: http://www.ds3.citroen.com/uk/#

Remember the Posche design look of the Contax RTS? It's found in most fo the Contax cameras of that era. Not to mention the shutter speed selection button on the left, a feature I very much enjoy.

This is the first website I read this morning, and it almost gave me a heart attack when I saw the Acura!

Siu Hay

Mike, from this post, I infer a clear conclusion:

You really need an Alfa Romeo. As you say, down with uniformity, let the spirit breath. I'm afraid you can not yet purchase an Alfa Romeo in the USA, but it seems that Fiat plans to bring that brand to the US in the near future. So that could be your right time to switch to a car with soul.

Have a look here:

It's funny : I seem to remember that Nikon camera since F3 have been designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro, who happen to be a car designer...


And here's my opening: thanks for the segue into the Gremlin: "American Motors designer Richard Teague — remember that name — was responsible for some of the coolest cars of the era. The Gremlin wasn't one of them."


That F5 is one good-looking camera. Canons, on the other hand, look like half-sucked lozenges. The last DSLR that turned my aesthetic head was the Pentax K-7.

Into book covers?

If you haven't already you must now check out Leif Peng's illustration blog. Happens to be about Album covers today, book covers just a few days ago. Not that many monkeys but lots of redheads and other kinds of heads.


In fact I DO like the Nikon design... much more than I like Canon's... If I'd want variety I'd go to one of those camera companies which build colored and stilish cameras. I want consistency between models, so I can figure out where the controls are and what they do iven when I'm using cameras that are generations apart... And yes, maybe all Acuras look alike, but with cars I also think you're inside most of the time, so how it looks it's not as important as how comfortable you are driving them. By the way... I don't have an Acura, but I do have Nikon SLRs of different generations and it's pretty good to use either one without wondering where that or that control was located on this or that model...

Rod S, re Canon's shape, those are my thoughts exactly. Plus, I don't like the way Canons handle, I much prefer the Nikon 'feel'.

re Nikon design
Their hand grips are getting more uncomfortable: D70 vs D90.
The current grip is too prominent, which means for me that my fingers are scrunched the whole time, from handling the D700 and D3 in shops they seem to have the same grip design;
whereas the F4 has a very comfortable grip like holding a rounded stone.
(though my favourite camera, at the moment, from tactile point of view is a Fed 1, no self timer lever)

Hold the camera upside-down. That'll change the aesthetics for you. :)

and it all started with the greatgrandfather of current Nikon design and user-interface, the honourable F-801 (N8080 to all united staties). me, i am glad i can mix and match all current and old nikons without obtaining instant-brain-hail.

back on topic: if you want different buy a french car. they are.

My wife says "jack-o-lantern!" whenever she spots a recent Acura, but the Grinch face is pretty obvious, too.

I put a simple silhouette of a Nikon F3 in a design for a business card for a photographer. He agreed with me that it was recognizable as a Nikon.

Didn't they try that with their f50 ages ago with the wacky lcd panel and 4 select buttons?

I tried it in the store and thought it was just hideous. Perhaps the design is just maturing... (I guess you can hear all the Leica fans out there jumping up and down now).

Sometimes the corporate look can be low risk, if it's already proven. It would, for example, have saved the world from the fish-faced Ford Scorpio and the Jaguar 'toilet seat' S-Type.

The black Pentax FA Limited lenses have a look that dates back to the first SMC lenses and is both functional and less vulgar than the glitzy DA* lenses, which would look more at home on a'90s Nikon.

I find it strange that anyone would worry much about the "look" of DSLR designs when there's still much to be done about improving the function. I find it stranger coming from someone who wants to buy a GTI, which looks remarkably like the same old Golf with rounded corners. Surely you recognize that some designs are timeless. Moreover function often dictates design. I doubt you live in a Buckie Dome, but probably more likely in a rectangular box.

It's funny the Beak of the Acura TL is included in a thread on design. The Faithful over at the Temple of VTEC are nealy jumping from their window ledges beacuse of the Acura Beaks. It was this same crowd who for years asked for more distinctive designs.

The odd thing about the TL is that it does indeed grow on you over time. Time heals, of course, and making a bold move whether it be considered good or bad is key for resonance. Case in point would be BMW. The Acura Beak is slowly becoming iconic for personal definition - "I could not care less what the guy next to me at the stoplight thinks of my car, I like it". Perhaps I should use my Argus 110 pocket camera during my next photo club outing?

Sure, the Nikon cameras look similar. Does anyone have specific examples of how their styling should be altered? Maybe the Nikon name should be in "cheaper" fonts on the cheaper bodies?

Neither of your choices are available here, although there are rumors that the Fiat 500 might be coming in the next couple of years.


Thanks for the link; I added it to the post.


Well, back on topic ... the "redhead" lacks a certain, ahem, Canon curvaceousness, which would, then make the cover a proper E.A. Poe sort of cover.

Cameras are meant to be used, not looked at. And while aesthetics undeniably play a role in our opinion about things we buy to use, I can't get behind the idea of messing with functionality just for aesthetics.

I've used an N8008s, N90, and F5 during the same time frame. I've use a D70, D200, D2x, and D3 during the same time frame. And I've been very, very grateful for every physical and logical similarity they share.

I imagine that it is good that the dash controls are similar regardless of the grill. Since cameras are virtually all control prism, mirror box and lens which do not vary much from maker to maker, the control layout is going to be similar within a make. That is good. If you upgrade your camera you do not want to spend a year learning a new control layout. And what would you think of a Nikon model that looked like a Canon or a Sony. Would you want one? Although there is a family resemblance I don't think a D5000 looks much like a D3. And does anyone complain about the BMW double kidney grill on all their models? The Acura grill is just ugly.

I have always maintained that how one selects a camera is much more subjective than many photographers are willing to admit. While folks will go on and on about function and performance when comparing possible choices, looks also figure into the equation; don't let anyone tell you otherwise. When I was shopping for my first DSLR, I didn't seriously consider the Canon Rebel despite all the favorable reviews it was getting because I thought it was ugly. Looks are certainly even more influential in the selection of a car, and what's wrong with that?

I rather like the Nikon design family, and that it's been remarkably consistent - there's a clear lineage from the F3 onwards. And having the same layout is a VERY nice feature, especially when shooting, say, a D90 and a D300, or a D700 and D300. Before they got their ducks in a row, the old combo of F4 and N90 didn't work out as well - but an F5/F100 teamup worked quite well together.

That being said, the omni-color Pentax K-X would be fun - the everyman's Leica A la carte:)

I thought I was completely immune to foolish camera aesthetics until I got an Olympus Pen EP-1 and found myself seriously bothered by how much uglier the (optically better) Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 lens was on the camera than the stock Olympus 17mm f/2.8.

How the mighty have fallen...

pax / humbled Ctein

What can you say? When a company gets the design right do they really need to change it?

Look at the Micro 3/4 systems - Panasonic and Olympus have taken different paths, as have Sony based on their mock ups.

Maybe this is where the furture of different design lies? And lets all hail Pentax -at least they understand you can have any color other than black..........

Acura. The Grinch? I was thinking more of Mortimer Snerd

A nice thing about cameras keeping the same look generation over generation is that I can update cameras without my wife noticing and complaining about it :)
Same with iPhones.


Looked at the the Fiat "showroom". The cars in the front reminded me of cute, snub-nosed mongrel puppies.

"The F2 didn't look like the F3, after all, which didn't look like the F4."

How very true. I had not thought of it quite like that, but it's true, I do miss that variety.


I too am tired of the "look-alike" car models. Anyone wonder why Pontiac was dropped from GM's lineup? Who can tell the difference between a Grand Prix, Grand Am, G6, etc. Only the Solstice is distinctive.

The worst job of "look-alike" styling has to be the bastardization of the Miata.

First generation: http://www.miata.net/gallery/images/92red.jpg

Current generation: http://www.miata.net/gallery/images/10red.jpg

Mazda just had to affix that goofy opening from the Mazda 3 to the Miata.

Thankfully, I owned a nice-looking 1990 model.

I agree with Acura's styling being a disaster. The older Vigors and Integras had great styling for their time, but Acura went off the deep,deep end on this one. It has even infected the new Honda Pilot to a degree.It has GOT to be hurting their sales in the US. I do like Nikon's camera styles. I bought a new F3HP in 1983 and loved it. They have had a great relationship with Guigiaro , IMHO.

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