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Tuesday, 01 May 2012


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Anything Alpa!

I got to briefly handle an x-pro on the weekend. Fits nice in the hands and is pretty sharp looking.

Has there ever been a camera design when held in the hands made you think of sex? That would be a winner, imo.

I really don't much care about appearance, but disappointed the OM-D does not get a major mention. More importantly, it seems a good tool for shooting images!

My vote goes for the Fuji X Pro 1, which I very sadly had to box up and return yesterday. (The shortcomings of the camera outweighed its positives and I don't have enough disposable income to justify such an imperfect camera.) But, oh man, was this a beautiful camera. Even the hood of the 35mm lens looked cool. Some build quality issues become apparent in handling the camera but I could stare at it all day.

Sorry, but for me, that K-01 is FUGLY. Clumsy and boxy-looking. Garish too, with that Bad Acid Trip Yellow. Wouldn't take it for free. Nup.

Faves? the OMs, especially the OM-2, Also the Leica Ms (M5 excepted-sorry, M5 people) and the screwmounts. There is something about a Leica IIIf and IIIg with their classic retro look, and their petite yet solid mechanical perfection, which no other camera has been able to match.

Nikon 1 V1

I'm tired of all those "me too" camera designs, but I like Immersive Media's 11-lens camera, the Dodeca 2360. Sort of an "us too" camera I suppose.

Dodeca 2360

Can you imagine a better party camera than that ?

Today, it has to be the Fuji X-pro 1. Mine is already getting that brassed look so loved on leicas. ;-)

Ah - I almost replied before I saw the phrase "you can buy today" - otherwise almost every SLR from my early years would apply. Om4ti, F3 etc etc.

I just handled the Fuji X Pro-1 and it just seems - too big, just a little even though it's similar to the M9 (that is a little bit too thick in my opinion, when you compare it with an analogue M)

The 5D's are nicely styled - restrained and purposeful as you say.

However, top of the list at the moment for me is the Voigtlander 667 ( Or Fuji something or other in different parts)

Olympus XA:


The Pentax K-01 looks fantastic.

I might well be biased, since I own one, but I like the aesthetics of the Sony 900/850. Straightforwards, comfortable in the hand, not too small, not too light. Somewhat angular and not too rounded. It looks like a camera, not a blob of plastic or an mp3 player.

The KM-5, the OM-D, and the X-Pro1 are similarly good-looking cameras to my eye. All of them are reminiscent of classical camera design. Apparently, my aesthetic sense for cameras was formed before the EOS-1... which was released a decade before I started photographing.

I always thought the late-generation Contax film cameras were the best-looking cameras around.

I am still a fan of the no-nonsense look and feel of my Sony A900.

I like to own good looking cameras, but most of the newer cameras I own are not good looking. So I guess it's not a very important requirement for me. I have to disagree with you on the K5. To me it looks like every other black SLR on the market. The Canon 5D looks very blobby, and not at all appealing. The Nikon D800 is no inspiring in the looks department.

My tastes tend to run towards chrome and leather. I enjoy the looks of a chrome and black leather Hasselblad, such as the 501CM (too bad I own a black painted Hasselblad). I also really like my OM1, and Nikkormat FTN (chrome and black again). Wooden large format cameras are also to my liking. My Chamonix in carbon fiber and black walnut is a pretty camera, in a modern looking way.

Some cameras whose look I love: Sony A900 (what a hump), Olympus E-1 (all-time classic), Voigtlander Bessa III (oozes sex appeal)

Some cameras whose look I hate: Any modern Canon DSLR (like someone put a Nikon in the microwave and melted it), Pentax K-01 (detestation at first sight)

A camera's looks matter to me more than they should, at least to the point where I wouldn't use any camera on the "hate" list no matter how good it otherwise was.

oh wait, cross the e-1 off the list. replace that with...the pentax 645d.

I agree with you about the GX1 and the Fuji X100, but as much as I like it, I can't quite bring myself to refer to the X-Pro 1 as a "good looking camera." I suppose beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder...

That Pentax K-01 looks modern, that is in a couple years it will look a couple years dated. It looks "illiterate" to me, the designer wasn't a student of camera design. I prefer the more literate designs (not simply retro, which doesn't require literate interpretation).

The Pentax K-5, Fuji X-Pro1 and Olympus OM-D all have a literate design.

My all time favorite is the Nikon F2 with plain prism (the F looks good looking from the front, but doesn't look cohesive from the back).

Ugliest cameras: Sony mirrorless, no doubt they will someday be classics. (I used to think BMW 1600/2002s were kind of ugly too.)

On paper, the OM-D get's my vote. Small, well proportioned and with all the right attributes for another classic - a la OM1 to OM4. I'm waiting to see what Canon brings to the party (FINALLY!!!), but right now the OM-D really calls to me.

From the recent past, I really liked the Ricoh GRD III and the Panasonic GF1 as design objects. They are well made, well proportioned, and they invite you to pick them up. Both of them also perform very well within their category thus avoiding the "actual use frustration" that often seem to accompany designer objects.

The K-01 is ... interesting ... but a little to Holga-esque to be a classic. There is also, of course, the thorny question of form following function, and whether classic design must work as well as looking good. I have an Olympus E-PL3, which is a beautiful thing to behold, and a Panasonic G3, which is, to put it mildly, pug ugly. The G3's a whole lot easier to hold, mind you...

"Best" is a fraught term. My list of "good-looking" cameras would include (in roughly chronological order), Contax II, Rolleiflex 3.5F (the 2.8F is too front-heavy), Asahi-Pentax Spotmatic (without the cold-shoe attachment), Nikonos II (the Nikonos III is too "fat"), and the Ricoh GR-1 (in black).

For the pure simplicity of its looks - the Nikon 1 series.

But how a camera feels and the layout of its controls rank high for me - nothing has surpassed the Pentax SuperA in my book.

The OM-D line comes close - but there is no good place to safely put your thumb on most any digital camera.

I agree with the 5DIII versus D800 comment, and have felt that way about earlier iterations of each model, irrespective of performance aspects.

My current favorite is the chrome version of the Leica M9-P. I hate to call a camera sexy, since it's a tool after all, but that's one damn nice looking camera.

Here is a link to the new camera from IKEA.
(English sound track.) It is not ugly.



there are two levels to your post, one asking for our opinions on looks (hugely subjective, you’ll get a ton of opinions), and a subtext talking about design decisions that new technology offers a chance to re-form.

On the looks department, a black Nikon FM2n or FM3a does it for me, although I also like the Olympus OM film camera line, also in black. (BTW, please order your OM-D in silver, it will be one more black one left for me to save up for). I also adore the Hasselblad SWC-M.

On the design front, the switch to digital imaging offered a chance for camera manufacturers to completely redesign the camera, but most appear not to have taken it. Thom Hogan has long talked about truly modular cameras, including software modularity, but he is being ignored it appears. I was very struck 10 years ago by the Sony R camera (or was it R1? Cannot remember), which I played with in a shop. Somehow manipulating a lens to point and frame a scene seemed more intuitive than putting up a flat-backed camera to your face, which always (and still does) feel to me like putting up a metaphorical wall between me and subject. Don’t know if that is very clear, it is a feeling I find difficult to express clearly in words.

I’m also sure that the new Go-Pro cameras and modularity can work even more effectively in the future. Why not a pointable lens and sensor, the body in a pocket, with a flexible optical or even wifi connection? It is far more intutive to me to point a finger, or frame a scene with my fingers, than raise a box to my eye.

(I am also uncertain about the immediate juxtaposition of your headline and a bright yellow camera. Just saying')

Timeless elegance. The Leica MP.

The OM-D, in Silver, is my pick. I've had it a week, but it's already been my most talked about camera: it draws flattering attention for sure. Happens to take great pictures too.

The Olympus E-P1. Definitely.

As a graphic artist as well as a photographer, design is important to me for both aesthetics and functionality. I love the Olympus E-1...and sorely wish they had stuck with that form for their DSLRs for half as long as Nikon and Canon have stuck with theirs. The E-1 was a remarkably comfortable camera to hold, everything fell under finger nicely, and it didn't look like other DSLRs. Not beautiful, but cool looking--it inspired confidence and solidity.

No DSLR since has managed to top it in my book. I'm on the fence about the E-M5. I would rather it be in crinkle black than that smooth/matte finish, and I wish the silver version wasn't a panda with those black dials on top.

I don't see much diff between the Pentax K5 and the Nikons that seem to leave you cold... Looks like a DSLR to me.

I LOVE my D700 - form and function. The D700 is very much like the camera that for me preceeded it - the F100.

Full disclosure: I am a Nikon shooter. I have 2 F's, 2 F2's, 3 F3's, 2 N90's, a passel of FM/FE type cameras, and a bunch of Nikkormats.

I LOVE the classic SLR look which in my mind is embodied by the Nikon F2/F3.

So my vote would go to anything that echoes that classic SLR look...


Hmmm the most beautiful ones? An Alpa 4x5, a Hasselblad 501CM and a Rollei TLR, and last not least Olympus' original OM series.

We are at an interesting point in digital camera design, where there is a dichotomy going on in which some of the challenger brands (Fuji, Olympus) are going in a retro direction, and others, such as Pentax and Sony are going in quite a different direction. Hard to know if the K-01 will be a one-off or is that start of a new lineage. I haven't seen one in person yet, I'm likewise witholding judgment. I'm an industrial designer myself, and I admire Newson's work (I own a pair of his oversize salt and pepper grinders for Alessi), but I'm not 100% sure about this design. But it's not designed for "prosumers" or gear-heads who read sites like this, it's meant as a more mainstream product, not a tool for heavy use.

I recently wrote about this dichotomy in camera design http://www.richardsona.com/main/2012/4/4/go-forward-authentically-or-backward-nostalgically.html , and it's evident in a few other categories too at the moment. A few years ago I also wrote about the Canon T90, probably the most famous camera-maker/designer collaboration (with Luigi Colani). (http://www.richardsona.com/main/2006/9/29/design-classic-canon-t90-slr.html ). Canon has basically been ripping off that design for nigh on three decades.

Although I haven't seen one in person, the photographs make the silver OM-D look just gorgeous. The first real camera I ever used was my father's black-and-silver Nikkormat, so that sort of camera (rather than a rangefinder) has the "classic" look I like best.

On the other end of the scale, I have a black E-PM1. Straight up, it's too featureless to have much appeal. Add the Franiec grip, the VF-2, and the 45 mm f/1.8 with its hood (which, I know, Mike said was unnecessary), and I find it very attractive. Something about the combination's variations in size scale and line make it look science-fiction-y, like what a tourist might carry to "The Forbidden Planet." It is aggressively and resolutely neither a film camera nor a cheap compact.

I find the K-01 to be astonishingly ugly, especially in laser-dye yellow. I'll give it credit for drawing the eye and mind, though; the styling on most modern SLRs (including the K-5) is so bland and tedious that I can barely tell them apart without looking for the nameplate. Like Mike, I can imagine popular taste (although probably not mine) catching up to the K-01.

I recently acquired a Fuji x100 which is the prettiest camera out there by far. Of course if beauty is about function AND design, the best digital camera ergonomics I ever used was the butt ugly olympus E20. Bt the same token my nikon d80 (d90) is functionally beautiful.

The Pentax K-01 looks terrible, and everyone I know who's seen one "live" says that, AND that the yellow color makes it look even worse...most say it looks like there's weird overlaps and molding bits on it, making it look like a poorly done injection molded toy.

It's a good example of the fact that no one is a "total" genius, and there's always a clunker in there somewhere...

Okay, that's just blocky and hideous, especially in that color.

I would vote for NEX-7. - It's just perfect in it's form. It doesn't look anything like a 90' jellybean, or the faux retro style that is becoming so popular.

I'm a form-follows-function kind of guy when it comes to camera designs, so I like the X100 and X-Pro 1 because knobs, dials and viewfinders seem to be located where they need to be for best usage by a human photographer (more so the X-Pro 1 than the X100). The Sony NEX-7 I also like because of this.

I hate the DSLR-shaped mirrorless cameras (Panasonic G and GH series and Samsung NX10 series). Regarding why, please relay this message to the new board of directors at Olympus: I have a nose. This may shock some of the (I have to assume) noseless designers at Olympus, but it's true. So sure, the Oly E-M5 looks nice, when my nose gets all bent out of shape when I have to look through the EVF (that didn't have to sit in the middle of the body), I'm not going to bloody care, am I?

Even with DSLRs my nose and I have always wanted the mount to be located all the way to the left of the body (as you hold the camera to shoot) so the EVF could be as far to the left as possible. There is no film roll to load anymore, so the prism doesn't need to be in the middle of the camera anymore.

I hail Panasonic and tweet their courage for introducing the unpopular and now-defunct DMC-L1. I often find my nose daydreaming about it.

As for the Pentax K-01, I snub my nose at it—clearly designed by someone who doesn't know what photographers want or need from a camera shape.

I loved the Kyocera SL400R (also available as a Contax model)


Don't know who designed it but it's a rare example of out-of-the-box thinking in camera design, and surprisingly functional.

If the battery (and replacement) had not died I would probably still be using it today.

Contax II or III, without the clunky selenium meter. They're nearly perfect; just the right number dials and controls, the leather/chrome ratio is exactly right, and they're solid without being too square. Everything about them says "serious camera".

My vote goes to the Tachihara cherry wood view camera, definitely not "modern design" but beautiful nonetheless.

Leica M7!

The X-1 Pro may be the flavor of the month for Fuji- it is a very capable camera, but compared to the X100, it seems ungainly and off-kilter, if not aggressively ugly.

Buy hey, I like the silver OM-D and own a much-beloved X100 (which isn't as good-looking as my '64 M2, but is still a beauty), so what do I know?

That's the wonder of the internet- there's always someone out there to tell you that you've got terrible taste.

Glad you asked.
1. iPhone with M9 skin, because it makes me laugh
2. M9 titanium, because it was willing to change a few classic rules
3. Olympus OM-D, because I loved the OM-1
4. Leica S2 because it doesn't say S2 on the front

The best-looking cameras are the ones that are good looking.

"Got to be good looking,
'cause [it's] so hard to see."

They're the ones that take the best pics with the least difficulty, discomfort, weight, bulk and cost.

They're the ones that facilitate capturing what I want, rather than getting in the way.

Visual appearance? The camera should be in your hands, taking pictures, not being admired on the shelf. Buy clothes and jewelery that you think make you look good. Buy shoes and camera for function.

Pragmatic Vision Moose

Wow, what a brain-bender! "Best Looking" is a funny prize for me to think about giving to a camera, and yet I've designed many products and worked with industrial designers from Apple, Nikon, Nike, and many smaller ID shops!

Sure, some cameras are simply fugly, but I think photographers judge them on how they do their job (Sony A900, I'm looking at you). The Pentax K-01 may be a "blank sheet design" from Marc Newson, but to me it harks back to Pentax's Y2K co-branded (and failed) EI-2000/ HP Photosmart C912:

That swoopy device was definitely more of a "function shoved into a form," than a thoughtful blend of the two, while the Pentax K-5 (my "daily driver" camera), on the other hand, seems much more concerned with the ergonomics of it's function than attempts at being "good looking." Maybe it is a good looking camera, but I rarely see myself holding it, and I've been married for so long that how I look using it rarely enters my mind. So, is that what makes a camera "the best looking" to each of us?

But from an entirely "product design" perspective, here is my additional short list of "best looking" cameras:
- Samsung NV7 OPS
- Pentacon Six TL (maybe that's the model...)
- Contax U4R

I am still debating the K-01, the lure of that sensor in a more compact package is very appealing, especially as a complement to my K200d.

I appreciate the elegance of a well crafted machine, part of why I like guns too! But I cannot stand when the design gets in the way of using the camera. I just don't like the feel of most of the mirrorless cameras, they feel too small and don't fit my hand well.

I honestly feel that I bought one of the most beautiful and ergonomically functional cameras I have ever held when I bought my K200d after months of holding and researching, and returning to handle again.

Always enjoy your insights.



Okay, here goes my stab at it. I pick the Sony NEX-7. Bare in mind when I first saw the NEX form factor (and all it's subsequent iterations) I equated it with the obelisk from 2001: A Space Odyessey, turned sideways with a bulky lens attached to it. Too hi-tech for me. Finally, after all the hype and some sterling reviews about the 7th generation, I went down to the local camera store and looked it over. Absolutely fell in love with it. It is good to go. A bit of a leaning curve, but very intuitive. I almost bought it. I did not and only because I now want to go look at the OM-D. I have the love/hate Fuji X-100 and a Nikon DSLR. I may get rid of them both and start looking anew. Fuji is off my A-list because of putting out expensive beta testing machines. All of a sudden the black brick design of the Sony looks good. Business like and serious. Still pricey But it is not a beta machine. And I have a legacy Nokton f/1.2 35mm that will fit it.

Agree on the 5DIII - much better looking than the D800, though the latter is the camera I would buy. The Olympus OM-D is pretty nice looking but while I love the manual control aspects of the X100 and certain pieces of it, I don't find the camera very attractive overall. That K-5 is pretty nice looking. The K-01 I find ugly, same as the rest of Marc Newson's product designs. I'm just not a fan of that modern look. No Swedish Ikea for me, thanks. By and large, though, looks have a minimal impact on my buying decisions. For the most part, they have to meet some minimal standard. I won't own a hideous product (like the K-01). But beyond that, for every camera (body or lens) I own, I can point to one whose looks I like better. That just doesn't register in the decision process. At least I don't think so ... I do happen to think the NEX-7 is an attractive looking camera and I may end up with one some day (pending some new lenses). I can't help out much more than that because I don't think there are any particularly good looking cameras on the market right now. I think the latest Sonys are better looking than Nikons on the whole (despite that, I switched from Sony to Nikon) ... possibly on par with the Canons. And I like the looks of the Sigma SD1.

For pure styling elegance (not utility or quality), several of Samsung's NV series compacts come to mind, especially the NV7 and NV24.

That's a tough request for some of us. I live in a place where I'd have to travel 130 mile round trip (at least) to handle almost any modern DSLR. Oh, I can find 2 or 3 entry level models at big box stores but nothing more locally. And those from Nikon or Canon, no one else. I have found that, in person and in the hand, cameras can leave quite a different impression than a photograph may convey. I guess the new OMD looks OK but who can truly tell from ad photos?

I do agree that the Pentax K-5, with it's square shoulders, has a certain attractiveness.

As for the vast sea of ever changing point and shoot digital cameras, that is too much to keep up with.

The answer to your question is what immediately pops into your mind. Mine is teased with visions of Leicas... special Leicas like the WHITE M9-P. The white M8 is pretty good too.
I agree with the K-01 in yellow but scores minus 5 points for the ugly red SR dot that should have been relocated to a black area.

I'd go with you on the Pentax K-5, but I think that may be because you and I both shot that kind of camera for a very long time, and the K-5 is a fine distillation of what we've come to think of as a good camera. It's sort of like people come to think of a not-particularly good-looking spouse as being beautiful or handsome, because of what they know about her/him.

The GX1 I find very attractive (I have two of them.) I even like them with the clip-on viewfinder -- it adds a kind of steam-punk aesthetic.

But this thing about Nikon. I agree that they're kind of the Pillsbury Dough-Boy of cameras, but they *feel* so good. I have a very heavy D3, but I can hang it from my fingertips and walk around, no strap, and my finger is always right on the shutter-release. Ergonomically, it's so perfect (for me) that I don't are how it looks.

"It's curious that car buffs seem to have no problem talking happily for hours about how cars look, completely apart from performance, yet, for camera buffs, the issue is a bit more fraught. Many of us care, and some of us care more than we care to admit."

This is a great, great comparison -- one that I don't think I've ever seen anyone make before. I've always felt guilty about the fact that I care about how a camera looks, but most of us like photography for aesthetic reasons, so why shouldn't that concern extend to our tools?

I've always loved the designs of the Rollei 6008, the Contax G2, the Mamiya 6 and 7, and the Canonet. But there aren't many digital cameras that do much for me aside from the obvious charms of the Leicas. The X100, GF1, and ricohs are nice. I have a Panasonic G2. I love it as a tool, but it's pretty ugly.

I truly do not know how I feel about the Pentax K-01. Sometimes I hate it, and sometimes I love it.

Modern designed would be Pentax K5, Ricoh GRD, Olympus OM 5, Panasonic GH2, and hasselblad 501.

Of the older variety, Pentax MX , OM1 as well as the OM4ti, Nikon F2AS and FM2N, Leica M4P.

The plastic ribbing on the K-01 looks like the same stuff that was wrapped around the closet rods I put in my daughter's closet that started chipping, falling into her shoes and leaving behind an ugly, tarnished metal rod. I can't help but think that that layer is going to eventually peel off the camera. For better or worse. My other problem with it is that the plastic looks really cheap. Like cheap kitchen appliances.

1. Chrome Leica MP with Chrome Zeiss C-Sonnar 1.5/50

The Zeiss Ikon is similarly lovely in chrome with the same lens.

2. Shen Hao HZX57-iiAT - though there are lots of similar things out there.

Current digital - Fuji XP1 or Oly OM-d



one thing that nobody seems to be mentioning: lenses.

i know it's absolutely absurd from a performance standpoint, but there are some lenses that just feel... uncomfortable and out of place mounted to my camera.

for instance, i now have a 5d3, which i like for the most part (looks wise. i love the function.) the 50mm f/1.4 just feels so right mounted to this camera. the whole presentation feels so balanced and... i don't know... it appeals to some weird OCD part of my brain. now take off the 50 1.4 and mount the 28 1.8, a very similar lens in size and shape, and the whole thing feels completely wrong to me. it's got something to do with the shape of the filter thread on the 28. again, inconsequential in actual use, but these things just nag at my brain.

i had to sell my 70-200. mostly because i didn't use it that much, but also because it looks absurd to be walking around with a big white and black striped pipe attached to your camera.

such is life.

Interesting article. Actually what a camera looks like has always interested me and influenced my buying. Older ones that got me were the Canon F-1, NikonF3, Contax G2 and of course the Leica M series. They were all superbly designed both inside and out. These days it is harder. The DSLRs are huge and the single body construction is just plain ugly in my opinion. I agree about the Fuji X-Pro-1 (which I own) and am still partial to my M9. The all-time winner would have to be the Contax G2 which was one of my favorites. If they ever came out with a digital version, I would snap it up in a heartbeat.

Among today's cameras that I've actually seen, in compacts I like the P7100 and LX5 (I own the second); among mirrorless and rangefindery models I'm with you on the GX1, which looks terrific and classicly derived, but haven't seen any of the Fujis so am not considering them here; and I'm off in the weeds on dslrs--I don't find any of them to be fetching designs such as, say, a Nikon F or Contax S2. Certain of them may be triumphs of ergonomic goodness but they're as attractive as corrective shoes.

For me, the Pentax MX always looks like it was designed for the sole purpose of taking photographs. Nothing on it detracts from that single purpose. The same could be said of an Olympus OM1 or OM2. I also enjoy the compactness of these designs. There's space for a roll of film, a pentaprism and a lens mount. The magic that makes them work just has to fit into the bits that hold these pieces together.

Little no-nonsense cameras like the Sigma DP's & the Leica X1 look great… as long as they are switched off. When you hit the power button their erection-lenses pop out, immediately degrading the whole design. They take on an appearance altogether more, yes, what? Plasticky-cheap, toy-like, not-quite-serious? Something like that, hard to pin down.

An Alpha Romeo 8C with a Sony NEX-7 in the glove box.

The only good looking digital cameras are made by Fujifil;m- all three of them (Olympus clones don't count).

Was going to suggest an ugliest camera post- but you did that already (although I forgot to mention the Petri SLR).

Nikon DSLRs for me. And not just the bodies, but the modern line of G lenses and flashes, too. They all match in terms of aesthetics, have refined ergonomics, and are much more stylish than cameras by Canon and Sony. However, I don't like the gaudy camera straps and immediately replace them with third-party products.

Since you have a post about subjectively good camera design how about a follow up with one about objectively good camera design? I've got a good example of a bad objective design (at least if you are right-handed). I've been trying to come to terms with my Rolleicord Vb when I learned that Rolleicords before version Va have the focus wheel on the right side next to the film wind. Va and Vb versions put the focus wheel on the left side. Why would you change a tried and true design?

Once I found out there was a version that put the focus wheel on the right side I realized why I get frustrated with the camera. I don't like tripods so I want to cradle the camera in my left hand, focus and adjust EV settings with my right hand then set and trip the shutter with my left hand which is already in perfect position at the bottom of the camera- my left index finger falls directly on the shutter release. Thus, I really don't have to move my left hand from underneath the camera for many shots.

Instead, with the Va and Vb, I focus with my left hand, then remove my right hand from under the camera and set EV and then trip the shutter with my left. It becomes this crazy shuffle of tossing the camera back and forth between my hands.

I'd trade my Vb for a IV or V but there is no way of knowing I'd get as good as quality a camera that had a recent CLA. The internet is fraught with untrustworthy people who would be happy to take my nice camera in exchange for their shoddy one. I guess I'll have to teach myself to be left-handed.


Does that Pentax come with an autograph from Lloyd Bridges?

Looks like it should be about 15 feet down off of the Great Barrier Reef.

I gotta go with the OM-D, with the caveat that I haven't held one yet. I like the looks of the Fuji X-100 as well.

Concur that the Nikon DSLR line is vanilla, but I appreciate it anyway...mainly because my D300 is paid for...



First things first: why on earth did you decide to give us all an eyesore by publishing the photo of that yellow thing? Why are you punishing us? What have we done to you?
Lame jokes aside, it is futile to discuss a camera's style. One man's stylish DSLR is another man's "melted soapbar". As you pointed out in your entry, "camera" and "style" aren't likely to appear in the same sentence very often, and that has an explanation - ergonomics. Nevertheless there are some really stylish cameras out there. One obvious omission in your entry is the Olympus E-P1. (In silver finish, bien entendu...) I'm not saying this because I own one - I bought the E-P1 because, besides being a hell of a good camera, it has irresistible looks -, but because the E-P1 has a purity of lines that is not often found in cameras. One day I mentioned that, style-wise, I found the E-P1 to be only behind the Fujifilm X100 and the Leicas M8 and 9. A rather style-conscious nephew of mine replied he didn't find the X100 and the Ms to be as beautiful as the E-P1. Praise indeed, as we were talking about the most beautiful, gorgeous, ravishing cameras in the world - the Leicas!

"One obvious omission in your entry is the Olympus E-P1."

I don't think it's an obvious omission because the post was intended to be about CURRENT cameras, and the E-P1 is discontinued.


The X-Pro1 (wish camera's didn't have such childish names, though). Love its looks, its handling, its light weight and its technical/optical quality. And as love is a very productive, inspiring and positive emotion, this statement is not just about a camera, but about making pictures as well. Sold my splendid but heavy D700 plus lenses to pay for it. I liked and appreciated the D700, but never succeeded in loving it. Too much of a computer with a lens and a viewfinder - and too heavy to take with me, just in case.
So now it is back to basics: one lean body that is handled very easily, and two prime lenses - the wide angle and the standard one. I feel relieved.

For what its worth, it seems like one way of measuring the subjective issue of "good design" in terms of pure aesthetics (as opposed to functionality) is to see which cameras turn up as props in advertisements for other products and in fashion shoots. With that in mind, there seem to have been quite a lot of Rollei TLRs, Koday box cameras from the art deco era, Leica, Contax, and Olympus.
I hate to generalize, but over the long run, in my view Leica, Contax (when the brand was owned by Kyocera), and Olympus have consistently produced the most aesthetically pleasing designs.
As a matter of pure design, my top 5 are:
Leica M9-P (Bauhaus purity unexcelled)
Contax TVS II
Contax G1 (it wasn't as good a camera as the G2, but its design was better)
Contax T2
Olympus XA

I think the yellow color is the best thing about theK-01. It should be the only color available, but don't do as I say, I'm not going to buy one for reasons that have nothing to do with appearance. My Canon 5dII is good looking in a Ford Taurus sort of way and I like classic rangefinders, the Yashica YF was well styled, and prettier than my IIIf. Ya and the ergonomics were better too,
Today though with digital all sorts of function constrains are no longer valid but we still get cameras that look like film cameras with a screen glued on the back, boring. I just want my next camera to be white with coordinating lens and other accessories , and I'm near sighted, I don't want to hold it at arms length and only be able to use four digit shutter speeds.

I will only include cameras I have owned. (Most are no longer for sale, so I am breaking that rule).

The Canon F-1 is, IMO,the most beautiful camera ever made.

I also loved the looks of a twin lens Rollei and, of course, my 1970's Hassleblads.

Today, my favorites are the Panasonic GX1 and the NEX-7 both with pancake lenses.

I find most cameras to be at least a little bit beautiful.

I notice a couple of people mentioning the Nikon J1. It does it for me too. Now.
Seeing it online it looked all plasticky and toy like. Seeing it for the first time for real it surprises with its good looking simplicity.
Added to that - it feels quite solid and "good-weighty", there aren't protruding buttons and controls all over and it has little to deal with in terms of menu systems (thank goodness).
The pictures out of it are great and the RAW files seem to have amazing amounts of latitude.

It may be a classic design, but you can still buy them new, so I believe that qualifies! Deardorff's never go out of style!


Olympus E-1, in my mind is definitely the best looking DSLR ever! Beautiful design, small (for a DSLR)but not too small, robust, very refined design, I'm surprised that Olympus didn't even follow up on E-1's design for its successors.

I also love the simple design of Leica Digilux 2 and its evil twin sister, Panasonic LC1, for a non DSLR I think that's how you design a camera. Modern yet simple and as far as basic set up,everything is accessible for the photographer without needing to fiddle with the menu.

Seems to me that the Nikon J1 owes a lot to the Minolta Vectis S-1 APS SLR, which I had and loved, though it was pretty tiny.


My vote would also go to the Pentax K5. No nonsense, compact and discreet, not flashy, but it still looks like a serious tool.

Couple that with it probably being the best handling DSLR out right now, it's hard to beat in my book. (and "for the features", it's probably the most compact DSLR out right now too)

Haven't seen one in person yet, but the silver Oly OM-D also looks pretty good to me.

The sigma SD1 is the nicest SLR-looking camera to me, there's just something that feels so raw about the look and feel of it.

The canon s95 (not the s100, they made that ugly) is actually quite a beautiful camera, especially when you hold it in your hand and realise it's not all plastic.

Lastly I'm not really sold on the OM-D styling. I actually think it looks kind of kitsch, I'll have to see it in person to know though.

Oh and a bonus, I did get a chance to play with a Pentax Q a short while ago. There's something really beautiful about it that I just can't describe.

Although obviously not a current model, the Canon T90 must be at the top of the list of cameras as art. That it was a fantastic working tool (I used one professionally for years) only adds to its credit.

Haven't seen any of them in person, but the cameras that l like the looks of are the new OM-D and the Fuji GW670W (not the one with bellows). The K-01 looks pretty good, especially the top and rear, but I would never buy one.

The only style that I really detest is the Sony NEX range. Great cameras, but ... ugh.


I have to come back for a second comment. Like all other westerners commenting, I don't get that yellow camera, but maybe it makes sense in Tokyo. Was it TOP, or another photo blog that did a little feature on Japanese camera fashion, a while back? Really weird, anyway.

I do however recognise the font of the "K" as being from the old K1000 student camera. A nice touch. A shame it did not carry through on the other Pentaxes.

One of the best designed cameras - and often forgotten - is the werra 1 with interesting solutions for a lens cap and lens hood. Bauhaus-like design from east germany.


Well, you can still buy the Hasselblad 503CW, Rolleiflex TLR and, I believe, the cherry-wood Tachihara and Ebony Wista 4x5 field cameras. All still very handsome. As is the iPhone 4s.

I think the problem I have with the Pentax K-01 is that it looks, well, designer-y. As if making it decorative and unique was at least as high a priority as making it functional--the DSLR most likely to be sold at the MOMA store. It may be superbly functional regardless--I don't know first hand. And on the other hand just because a camera looks like a steampunk fantasy doesn't make it a pleasure to use. I just remain skeptical of its priorities. It also looks like one of those things that will, if I bring it home, force me to question the aesthetics of everything else I own, wear or use. Indeed, my very lifestyle. No thanks.

That Olympus O-Product reminds me of the Canon Dial 35.


Myself, I've become enamored with old folders lately, and just bought a Zeiss Super Ikonta A...

Nikon V1. With the logos taped over. (Does that count?)

For pure, clean Bauhaus design, the Leica X1 cannot be beat. Just the exquisite perfection of the shutter speed dial alone makes it superior to most other cameras in the design department. If that little lens had been in a mount instead of built into the camera, or a little zoom, I would have had one in half a second. It will be in museums of design 50 years from now.

Sorry, but I disagree on some. I think the Nikon design is pretty damn handsome and the Pentax K5 is just generic. The K-01 is just another "Hello, kitty" artifact along with all those shocking pink Pentaxes. The Panasonic GX1 is great. The new Olympus OMD just sucks for its looks. I knew a real OM and this is the Dan Quayle of OM.

I agree with John Camp about the Nikon D3 I have a D3x and I love it. But to me the most beautiful camera I ever owned or saw was my first Leica M3. I sat up most of the night looking at it. I almost missed my shoot the next day because I kept falling asleep.

Digital - agree with Fajar about the Leica Digilux 2 (aka Lumix LC1). Clean lines, neat dials and discreet buttons. And the Epson R-D1 - especially the analogue control panel.

Film - the wonderful Rollei 35 (wish there were a digital version), for its extreme compactness, uncluttered viewfinder and front-panel dials.

Oddly, given my experience and advancing years, I'm not drawn to the Olympus and Fuji cameras, and that Marc Newson Pentax is just too self-conscious. For me it's the Nikon V1.

I am definitely the wrong guy to play in this game, along with my Pentax Spotmatic, I also owned one of these... a Rapid Omega. That simple fact in itself disqualifies and vote I may have.


The X-Pro1 (which many are calling the XP1 since its given name is ridiculously bad) has not only eclipsed the X100 but for me it is has come very close to eclipsing the Leica M9. Can't speak for others but the sun is nearing the horizon for this (former?) Leica M user. The camera is that good, that fun to use.

I will jump right in - yes I like cameras that look good in addition to having good handling and image quality. I lean more toward the the functional side and find the the older Nikon rangefinder (the S2 and S3) to be very good looking cameras, the twin lens Rollieflex, Rollei 35, most Leicas, Canon AE1 are all handsome cameras. And while the overall aesthetics of the Nikon35 TI don't wow me the analog dial is beautiful, like a fine watch. My film days are mostly over but I still like looking at the top plate of my 35 TI. Jeff

The Pentax Q is the epitome of modern camera design. It is, in fact, art. As it's available in either black or white, we could say it is fine art.

Seeing the new Olympus OM-D and comparing it with the original OM makes me wanna cry. It's like comparing a new wood-by-product, battery-powered quartz grandfather clock with electronic chimes with a finely crafted, black walnut cased, mechanical movement original.

The K-01 looks like a toy! That's the wonder of it; I actually think it would be appealing if it had been a slimmer digital compact instead of a boxy mirrorless camera.

Nikon cameras have always looked too boorish to me compared against the more elegant Canons (you can definitely see the Italian in the Nikons and the Japanese in the Canons). But the D4 and D800 are much better looking with their smoother contours.

Could there be a more conservative hobby than photography? Any attempt to break out of the 1970s is instantly damned, while building something that looks like it is from the 1960s is praised as visionary. If it isn't black or silver then it is an abomination of the highest order, and this from people supposedly practising a visual art. It seems to me that the requirement that a camera still look like a mechanical device is slowing down both the aesthetic and ergonomic progress.

Even in the film days manufacturers dabbled in things like the Canon Dial or the Linhof 220 whereas now there doesn't seem to have been an original thought in the last ten years. While there are certain limitations to camera design - a lens and sensor, a viewfinder of some sort, some controls - there is nothing to say that the layout that suited an all mechanical 35mm camera is the best way to do things. It is just what we are used to.

Finally, to mangle a theme used in an earlier post, nobody cares how pretty the camera is that you used to take the photo.

Featured [partial] Comment by PWL: "Sorry, but for me, that K-01 is FUGLY. Clumsy and boxy-looking. Garish too, with that Bad Acid Trip Yellow. Wouldn't take it for free. Nup."

I'd accept a free K-01, because I could sell it and put the money towards something else.

Some cameras have a visual personality, e.g. the Canon G12 looks like a bruiser and the initial sharpness of the top dials reinforces this.

The Canon S95 is a handsome machine (if turned off), particularly when there's black tape over the Canon badge and the AF assist light.

I hate the DSLR-shaped mirrorless cameras (Panasonic G and GH series and Samsung NX10 series). Regarding why, please relay this message to the new board of directors at Olympus: I have a nose. This may shock some of the (I have to assume) noseless designers at Olympus, but it's true. So sure, the Oly E-M5 looks nice, when my nose gets all bent out of shape when I have to look through the EVF (that didn't have to sit in the middle of the body), I'm not going to bloody care, am I?

I second this. Why did Panasonic ditch the woeful sensor used in the G1 and G2, only to put a good sensor in the in the G3 while butchering the ergonomics? Why does Panasonic bury flash exp. comp. deep in the menu and not permit access via a customiseable button? Some camera designers need to put a finger into a power socket in order to reboot their brain.

Yeah, I'd have probably flipped those two images, but hey you got some attention! That is the real deal about the K-01, that people outside of hard-core imagers are doing a double-take. Its appearance on fashion blogs has to be a pain in the side of other camera makers that did not tap that market before. That is great for Pentax, and not bad for anyone.

And I too am partial to my K-5, probably why I own it. My favorite mythical cam was the Sony A700 mark II that never happened, gosh it would have been a K-5 in Alpha mount had they just stayed the course. Thanks for nothing Sony, hope the NEX and SLT really are your future.. they are not mine.

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