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Sunday, 22 January 2012


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At the risk of sounding like the late Andy Rooney, have you ever wondered, as I sometimes have, why it is the improvements I would like to see made to any given camera or lens are so far out of sync with those desired by others, at least as judged by the so-called "improvements" the manufacturers deign to actually implement?

What are others doing so differently with their cameras than I am with mine (or vice-versa)? Or is it simply a matter of manufacturers designing cameras to sell rather than actually be used? Panasonic's decision to include a touch-screen LCD on its GX1 is a perfect example of this. Just because it is possible to add a "feature" to a product doesn't necessarily mean it should be done!

So, you received reliable information that the OM-D is not full frame?

Really like the mixed-up movie and fairy tale references, very appropriate.

Ah, the F4...Mine would often stop at frame 12 and go into auto rewind. A bit frustrating, eh? I remember photographing one day with it beside a lake. Frame 12...auto rewind starts while I'm trying to shoot. I looked at the camera; at the lake; at the camera...didn't throw it in, but went out the next morning and bought an F5.

The F4 was also darn slippery to hold.

It's funny, but the more features a camera (or any device) has, the more seem missing. And this applies to software too, and as a software developer, I simply cannot resist linking this: http://stuffthathappens.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2008/03/simplicity.png

But sometimes good things happen because of marketing greed. For example, I hope someone will start selling Android (or iOS, or whatever open system) based compact (or maybe even mirrorless large sensor) cameras. So I would be able to program it as I like. It's obvious that this will be absolutely unimportant for many people who will be force to buy such crap (and pay extra for this), but hey, someone always must suffer for others to enjoy ;-)

Ah, the 8008. I had a pair of them and used them for everything from product shots to portraits to weddings. They never let me down. I did hate the pc-on-hotshoe setup, but the rest was wonderful.

Somebody has been quoted as saying that the 8008 was the best manual focus camera that Nikon ever made, too bad they threw in the autofocus. My vote is still for the FM2 in that department.

Anyone who's lived through the evolution of Windows operating system knows only too well what you are talking about! Glad you liked the Contax (my favorite camera): I thought you'd gotten insanely besotted with all things digital.

I'll repeat my self at the risk of being rude. (hey do you think Paul might even be a better poet then Bob?)

Anyway my recently acquired (Purchase based on reading an old review of yours) Minota Maxxum 7 might be the best 35mm camera I've ever used when all things are considered. Has every feature anyone would ever need including leader out. It's fast, extremely comfortable, huge viewfinder and now cost a whopping $100 or so. Lighter than an F100 but performs pretty much as well.

If I had purchased one new back in 02 and never sold my old D200 and never purchased another camera I would have saved thousands of dollars in equipment switch outs. A fool I am. So tell me more about this OM-D.

I absolutely loved my F4. I sold it about a year and a half ago and I still have mild regrets about it. I also had the 8008 and that camera served me very well. I did have one small problem with it but once it was resolved by a replacement part it was smooth sailing.

This is why the M9 intro was so masterfully done - Leica told people for ages that it (digital M) could not be done. Then introduced a stopgap M8 at 2007 that half of the digital M "wannas" hate, and then seemingly out of nowhere - "hey, look, 09/09/09 M9."

The only new camera I am waiting is the digital successor to the XPan, which will never come, from the look of it :-(

The OM-D FAMILY (apparently it's not the name of the camera per se) sounds a bit exciting, but no more so than the X-Pro 1, etc. etc. etc.

The improvements you want are always added by another camera manufacturer to a camera that doesn't have the features you like in your current camera.

BTW, I quite like the F801s (N8008s in the U.S.), essentially an F4 lite. The lack of manual rewind is my only major complaint.

"Because you're always going to be disappointed. There's a good reason for that. Your mind is going to fill in all of the missing details with what you want, or need—or think is likely, or smart, or obvious. But what you need is seldom what the cameramakers want to make"

This has never happened to me.* Not that every camera I've bought has been perfect. But I've always waited until reviews are available, carefully gone through the details, often to silly lengths, and compared them to both what I have and other alternatives.

The result is more often than not disappointment, but before purchase, not after. Recent examples are the 5DII and 7D. I was sure, after the initial excitement wore off, that I would not be happy with live view and HD movie modes without an articulated screen. The way I use my 60D has borne that out again and again.

"... and what you think is obvious, given your needs and tastes, is not obvious to everyone."

Redirecting and expanding that a little, projecting what you know to be true of yourself onto a much larger group of people means misunderstanding many of them.

We each have our own mixture of strengths and weaknesses. Some of our characteristics are strengths in one sense or context and weaknesses in others. We are like other people in so many ways. Yet there are differences enough that generalizations of our own experiences to others will often fail to be true.


* OK, there was that Canon APS camera. The viewfinder did have parallax correction. It said so and I could see the frame move. It just wasn't accurate.

I don't feel any need to be a guinea pig for anyone else. I'd prefer to let someone else find out something is junk, or at least not worth the upgrade. The pictures are ultimately not going to be much different between my old camera and the new camera, so what's the point in jumping ship only to be disappointed?

Features on cameras are like leather seats in trucks; not very practical, but impressive when shopping for a new one or borrowing your friend's.

I also had a 8008. I hated it and its dinky little viewfinder, miserable to use with eyeglasses. I then reversed the process, bought several Olympus models, and ended my 35mm film experience with Contax, every one which were pleasures to use.

"Hull-down on the horizon". What a superb phrase, and one I'd never heard of before - even though I used to be a maritime journalist.

I come to TOP for photographic nourishment. Now I'm getting an education in writing as well.


I am laughing because the Nikon F-801 was my first real camera.I then bought the F-801s which I didn't like quite as much. so when I went to the North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan, I just took the older F-801. If a person is a Writer, that means they have something to say that is not dependant on a better word-processor or computer. I feel the same way about photography, in that if a person has something to say in their images, they can use any camera to make their statement; not to mention the fact that photographers have always printed their own work. So, really, I haven't a wish-list of improvements for cameras these days, everything has already been made!

Having just watched three different episodes of Wallace & Grommit, feel that what we like is what we is.

I love my Nikon F100. Purchased day the new Nikon D100 appeared here in Canada. Since that day have gone through a number of digital image rendering devices NONE which satisfy me as the F100. Have a D90, which is not film sure as hell isn't real to me.

And then I have a hankering for my old Pentax Spotmatic, even more basic than the F100.

Then I find that company is now all digital and manufacturing devices just as complex as the Nikon (or Canon) digital rendering devices. I probably would be happy with a Kodak Brownie box camera these days.

Bryce lee in Burlington Ontario Canada

The 8008 was a rockin' unit. If I recall it was Galen Rowell's main body for a time.

The PC socket made it onto the next upgrade (N90 / F90).

Still using my OMs. They are my Leicas. I'll never get rid of them. Lots of "New Shiny" has come along, but it doesn't take long for the tarnish to show and we are looking for the next "New Shiny."

The "New Shiny" sometimes helps us open up new ways of shooting, but in the end, the "Old Dull" was just as good, sometimes better. Buying new equipment is usually just a way of educating ourselves to new ways of shooting.

I've been waiting three years for Canon to release the 5dmkIII, but all the rumored specs I keep hearing make me think that I'll be just as content with sticking with the mkII. Of course, hope springs eternal, so maybe the actual specs will be better than the rumors.

This is why in life, and particularly in cameras, I do not buy the newest or fanciest. I wait, see what people who use the thing say about it, and make a choice based on information not impulse. My DSLR's are at least one generation behind the newest and my film cameras, those are based on years of hard use by people who actually USE them not just OWN them.

Of course (taken from "The Rules for Being Human" for which the source escapes me at the moment), there are no mistakes, just lessons to be learned. One must take the lesson until it's learned. The corollary is that we also forget those learned lessons, necessitating that we re-take them to re-learn them...and so it goes with cameras, computers, software, and other [cool] tools.

Mike, you've captured [1] the nub of the equipment debate.

I like to travel light, so my equipment choices have favoured light and small, over big and heavy. Yet I have a good friend who just doesn't 'get it'. Thus many discussions over what is really personal style: for which there is no 'right' or 'wrong'.

My Pentax *istD included a dedicated button with which I could make multiple exposures on a single frame. When the K10D came out, I was most disappointed to find I was now forced to 'menu dive' for my beloved feature. Drat. And it's stayed a non-button ever since. What I (we?) need is the ability to re-assign my personally unused buttons, to my preferred choice.

[1] Or should that be 'taken', or even 'made'? See A Question.

But Mike, nowadays they always introduce better cameras than the current ones. I really can't imagine myself shooting with a D70 today...

Companies have keep making "improved" versions, or they will go out of business. If they made the perfect product -- you would buy only one.

Check out "Pyramids of Waste" video on YouTube, a documentary on planned obsolescence.

And it left a trail of spent batteries that Jack and Jill could have used to find their way back out of the woods with.

So Hansel and Gretel would've had to stay in the woods?

I learnt my lesson when Pentax released the K20D and fixed zero of my issues with the K10D. Four years and three models later, Pentax still hasn't answered the most important of my requests, which is in respect to how one of their shooting modes is broken. This is one of the reasons I haven't upgraded my camera since 2007.

Kind of sounds like when I went from a Pentax LX & lenses kit (loved it but it got stolen) to a Minolta 700si & 5 lenses (loved it. Everything I figured an AF LX should be but it too got stolen) to a Canon Elan II and two zooms. Everyone said zooms are the way to go and Canons are the best right now but, oops, I hated them. Oh well, luckily digital came along a few years later and everything went topsy-turvy.... errrr.. I mean, I had to buy new gear anyway.

Which Contax and lenses did you give up for the F4?

I had a pro friend who was a Pentax then Canon shooter and though tempted to sell my Contax so we could pool resources, I kept my Contax.

I often think that camera manufacturers do it deliberately...that said, 5DMkIII...

during which time I'd rented an 8008 (N801 in the rest of the world).


The last camera I was fully satisfied with was a Contax G2. I'm afraid I assess all current digital choices against that benchmark.

The three stand out features of the OM-D are:
- retro OM style;
- electronic eye-level viewfinder;
- fastest Auto Focus of any mirrorless camera ever.
This is all according to rumors I read on some rumor site.

If any of theses get a "fail" reaction, the camera will bomb. Aesthetics are very very hard to get right. Just copying an old style is not good enough. The Olympus add-on EVF gets universal praise - this built in EVF has to be at least as good, with faster refresh rates. As for the fastest AF ever? Lets just wait and see.

I take it as given that the sensor will be the standard 16mp Panasonic 4/3rds tweaked by Oly.

Shouldn't a pro photographer use a camera with features that he needs, like a handy sync socket, instead of a camera he would prefer to fondle like an amateur would? Just curious.

The Nikon 8008 was my first SLR. Its now been handed down to my teenage niece for use in a high school B&W Photography class. I really loved the viewfinder on that camera. Thanks for the memories.

Man, the 8008s was my first "real" camera when I started taking pictures again in the 90s after giving it up since high school. Loved that camera.

I also wrote an essay on my weblog many years ago about this "desired object" syndrome, but I called it the "latent object." It's like the latent image in your mind's eye, perfect until you see the damn proof print and realize it sucks.

Here's the link


You wrote "my three new partners all used Nikons and had maybe thirty lenses between them"
Since you rightly pride yourself as a talented professional writer, let me gently point out that your three partners shared lenses among them.
Cynical comment aside, another thoughtful post to start our day.

All I can do is smile! I know many people with this kind of story with just a little twist.

Ah, the N8008. Reminds me of its successor, the N90, or as it was known here in Canada, the F90 ("eff-ninety" also sounded a lot better than "en-ninety").

I looked forward to the N90 and was extremely pleased with it. Here's why: in January of 2002, when I was in art school studying photography, some idiot kicked in my door and stole every piece of camera equipment I owned. That would be an old and weary pair of Minoltas, a handful of second-rate lenses, plus a few oddballs such as a Mamiya C220 that I never used and a 135mm f2 prime with a front element as big as a grapefruit and a broken mount on the back.

Fortunately I had insurance, and the insurance was for "replacement value." I ended up with a nice kit based around the F90, and an FE2. Compared to the battle-worn Minoltas, that was like going from a Yugo to a Ferrari.

I never had any problems with those Nikons, except for the time I dropped the FE2 down a couple of marble steps in Lisbon. Dented the back, which was easily replaced, but otherwise it was fine.

In this case I did not even dream about the F90 before my robbery as I could barely afford film, so a new kit was unthinkable. Then I went from "OMG I can get a new kit" to having the new kit in my hands, in a couple of weeks. So my "looking forward to" period was extremely short.

Things are different now. I drool over the Fujifilm X series, but I'm also jaded and disillusioned over virtually all new products because of the reasons Jefferey Goggin mentions in a comment above. Oh, how I miss the innocence of youth!

Then there's the opposite approach, which is to never wait for anything! Last week I had a rare experience for a non-pro, which was an important, time-limited project that dictated an equipment purchase: I needed to shoot about 15 minutes of video and get it edited into a tight 90 second commercial pronto. Except for my X100 (which absolutely sucks at video for anything other than a talking head), I haven't owned a video camera for at least 10 years. So after 20 minutes of web research and one lucky trip to Costco, I had a Samsung MX200 ultra compact and a 8GB card for $99. An hour at a hardware store to cobble up a good tripod adapter, an hour shoot, two hours of editing (Apple iMovie) and everyone is astounded at the results. Especially me.

True, this was a low-buck deal, but I'd argue it's the same process if you substitute a 5D for the Samsung. Just go get the tool, damn it!

"'Hull-down on the horizon'. What a superb phrase, and one I'd never heard of before - even though I used to be a maritime journalist. I come to TOP for photographic nourishment. Now I'm getting an education in writing as well. Marvellous."

Not original to me, of course. It's a term from the time of sailing ships, when you could see the sails before the hull was visible. Hence the lookout's call, "Sail ahoy!" I most probably picked it up from C. S. Forester's Hornblower books, which I practically memorized as a kid.


The 8008 was the antithesis of a "fondle-able" camera. It was utilitarian to a fault: ugly, plastic, basic. It did incorporate features that had proven to be popular/useful in the generation or two of cameras prior to it, like Matrix Metering and autofocus, but it was still very much a working tool and little else, in the unsentimental Nikon ethos of earlier times. The Nikkormat of its era, one might even say--although it was decried at the time as NOT being that, because it was not made of metal and it made use of electronics and motors. But we're much more used to those things now, and seen from 2012 its underlying workhorse character is seen more clearly.


P.S. Some pros argued in favor of the clip-on PC socket because PC sockets tended to get bent or loose with heavy use, and pros were always having to take their old F warhorses in to get the PC socket replaced. This way you only had to buy another $15 accessory, and could even keep a spare on hand. Plus, it created a handy place to take a turn with the sync cord for strain relief.

Tom Judd,
Fixed. Thanks.


"But what you need is seldom what the cameramakers want to make."

What I used to think I needed was a camera that featured a Canon EOS lens mount and tethered shooting abilities, Nikon flash and autofocus, Pentax hyper-program and hyper-manual modes and a full-frame sensor, coupled with blisteringly fast frame rates and big fast zooms covering everything from 14mm through 400mm.

Imagine my surprise when I ended up perfectly content shooting a combo of Canon F-1 with some prime lenses and a Yashica-A, both of which came to me for $0.00. I'm glad I never had the opportunity to throw away money on some compromise effort toward what I thought I needed but really didn't.

Well, *almost* perfectly content. Every time I look at those big 6x6 negatives from the Yashica I find myself looking at used prices on Mamiya RB gear.

I am eagerly awaiting the Xpro1 because it is so good looking I wont care if it's rubbish. I can just look at it.

Then every feature it has that actually works I will love it for, and every useless annoyance I will forgive it for.

Meanwhile I will continue to swear and curse at my lumpy hausfrau of a D700 even though it pretty much works perfectly ;)

I have applied the same philosophy to girlfriends and partners over the years which probably explains why I am single.....

OK this is definitely tongue in cheek - please don't flame me for sexism! But admit it, you all felt the same when the X100 came out.

I have been a longtime OM user (OM2n, OM4, OM3, OM4T), and I am guardedly looking forward to what Olympus is going to offer with the OM-D. I am still hoping they will re-introduce multi-spot metering (MSM) in a pro body as I used it extensively with my OM3/4/4T bodies. In fact, the only time I failed to use it was for flash photography, where it could not be used. I would love to see Olympus introduce pre-flash MSM as well, to allow virtually full-time usage.

However, I have heard no rumors of MSM functionality so my dream may be deferred . . . again.

In a featured comment, John writes:
"As a Sony alpha user, I'm feeling forced towards an EVIL future." and then "Sony made excellent traditional DSLRs with the a700, a850 and a900, but the close-minded duopoly of Canon and Nikon users said, 'So what?'"

I just wonder how you can be forced to an EVIL future just because you currently use Sony, but Nikon & Canon users are close-minded if they choose to stay with their brands ?

Personally, I opted to buy a Nikon D7000 after 20 years with Maxxum-then-Alpha.

As for eagerly awaiting a new camera, I'm no longer awaiting the next DSLR. But I continue to wait for the next mirrorless camera that might finally realize what I've been envisioning for years now, something closer to my ideal "DMD". (Maybe the upcoming Oly OM ?)

SOny is buying 30% olympus (but said to mainly for the medical optical department). It may increase the chance that even if not now, a full frame manual camera be available. As the only 4-5 players that can produce full frame, Sony involvement is the last piece of the jigsaw.

At least if micro-3/4 traditional one work, may be a full frame is not far over.

If Sony never puts a newer, improved sensor into some future SLR body, I'll someday be compelled to buy one of their mirrorless cameras or forego future advances (none of which may be essential to making good photos). Even now I'm frustrated by the lack of a smaller alpha that isn't cheaply made and/or dumbed down. I tried an a500 as a backup, and it seemed inferior in every way to the Minolta-based alpha SLRs like the a700 and a900.

Thus my second camera for lightweight tasks is an Olympus E-620, with kit lenses. Thus my interest in the OM-D unveiling, now playing at a blog near you. That new camera may bring objectively measurable progress in metrics like focus speed and ISO sensitivity. But that won't matter to me unless the ergonomics are right, and the VF can sell me on the beauty of a scene before I turn it into a captured image. What I'm looking for is sufficient performance, delivered with a dose of charm and delight that helps keep photography fun.

I stopped waiting a few years ago with my acquisition of a Leica M4,a 1969 model,which is the same year as my Nikon F. My V8 Deardorff is a '51 model. Printing color from the Leica digitally, but not from the 'dorff!

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