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Friday, 04 October 2013


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The camera you describe is already here. It's called the iPhone.

"Companies will vie to see who can make the simplest, most responsive, easiest-to-learn cameras."

It's already done. It's called the iPhone.

What is a TV antenna?

Greets, Ed.

[No one around here seems to know either. --Mike]

"How few controls can a camera have and still have all the controls it needs?"

One. And Apple has sold hundreds of millions of them already.

To me the BMW 2002 is still perfect...except for the Mercedes 190 2.6 of course, the best driving car I ever drove (and I drove a lot of different cars).

Greets, Ed.

If things would follow the Ford Bronco analogy, then all cameras should soon look like REDs instead, no?

So yesterday you had a bad day? I think your brain was just gearing up to write this gem of a post. I hope you're right BTW. I'm a devoted Canon shooter but I hate the way they look. Sometime in the 80s the camera manufactures made a huge mistake and decided all SLRs should look like a bar of soap. I don't know why it's taken them 25 years to figure out they have bad taste.

To the question of how few controls a camera can have, the answer has come from Kickstarter: none. http://getnarrative.com

I wouldn't know about the US, but over here in England people used to wear cloth caps with peaks, and turn 'em backwards when riding motorcycles.

One of my father's favorite jokes was along the lines off:

Two bystanders discussing a nasty road accident:

"Is the rider ok"

"He was, until I turned his head the right way round"


They laughed at the minimalist Nikon V1.

The disdain later turned into a sort of resentful tolerance. And then appreciation.

Lumpen and stunted? That's just cruel. I love that little camera.

SUVs might be ubiquitous these days, but I still think you were right when declaring the 2002tii as the pinnacle of automotive design. Being a little younger than you, my personal 2002tii is the E30 3-series, but for the same reasons you stated. Now I have kids and dog to cart around, so my idea of vehicular perfection involves 4 doors and a hatchback. If only BMW would import the 1-series 5-door (especially in diesel-sipping form). Then I'd really be able to have my cake and drive it, too.

I'm going to disagree with your camera prediction, at least for my desires. I love dedicated buttons and dials. Digging in menus is not my idea of shooting fun.

I imagine you've seen this ?

Hahaha - time- and priceless article Mike! Oh, and by the way: the 2002tii *was* perfect!

Many years ago, HP advertised a Laser Printer as being (paraphrased) "extremely easy to use - there aren't any buttons at all". They got the "no buttons" part right in that piece of marketing blurb, but in reality that meant that the only way of communicating with the printer was by software on your PC/Mac. And if that froze or otherwise messed things up, all you could do was unplug the printer from the wall socket (!!)

Sometimes, modern cameras remind me of that printer...

It sounds to me as if you're trying to describe an iphone camera, Mike.

Air Show photogs too, it really helps out.

"crude little pig of a truck that drove like a very fast forklift"

I love this description, it made my day :)

As for the cameras, I'm not sure why you even bother with those predictions, given that people are, for the most part, simply switching to using their phones ...

Almost all the "SUVs" today are really crossovers (or CUVs or whatever they call them), not SUVs--so they are cars, not trucks. Station wagons on high heels. They are much better to drive than trucks. They'd drive even better without the high heels, of course, but fashion isn't supposed to be logical.

Messy hair and a four-day beard? That's me! Sort of. Usually. Works for me. And it's easy and I'm lazy. Sorry.

So we can blame Cher? (I've already been blaming Madonna for all the nasty clothes women wear).
Honestly can't see any justification for your beloved BMW 2002(looking at it with British eyes from when it was a current model) - ugly, expensive, thirsty, boring saloon car and even sillier, rear wheel drive!
I must be ahead of the trend, my main camera for the last 14 months is just as small and ugly as that Canon.

In one episode of The Wire, one of the police officers stops this kid who is wearing a baseball cap that's pointing off to the side. He asks the kid how come all the hats he sees in stores have the cap at the front, where can he get one that points off to the side? He delivers this with a straight face. The kid looks at him and explains, they all point to the front, you just turn it sideways, also delivered with a straight face. Terrific scene.

Might this be helpful, Mike?

Make your own fractal antenna:


Just give f/stop ,shutter speed/ a choice of light meters, iso adjustments a few programs av tv and m, auto and manual focus, and I buy it in a heart beat.

The first people I saw with baseball caps on backwards were radar operators in the service. Back then the PPI and A-scopes were none too bright so you had to get close and use the hood (sort of like a Hoodman but for two eyes).

Retro Camera

The thing that frustrates me most about the Rebel SL1 and others of its ilk is that the manufacturer has done nothing to reduce the size of the lenses. What's the point of a compact, low-cost body if practically all the lenses are zooms the size of a soda can? Where's that 30mm f/2.0 EF pancake lens, Canon?

Mike, is sounds like what you're talking about is the camera phone. They are already stylish, simple to use, and always in your pocket. The image quality is improving, and, once we get IQ out of them that, say, equals, the RX100, larger sensor photography will start falling out of vogue.

I know a very good video guy who loves the Canon: it's supremely cost effective for anyone who already owns Canon gear.

My BMW 2002 ti—it was the European model with twin Solex carburetors—was unreliable, to say the the least, but it was fun to drive, except in winter. Cars today are so much better in every way. As for cameras, I do like my iPhone 5. When I use my Canon 6D, I find that I make little use of most of features. Perhaps the simplicity you seek, Mike, is in the customization that so many cameras today offer by allowing the photographer to see the controls to create just the camera that he or she desires.

My OM-1 is pretty simple. Took the battery out years ago and run as a totally mechanical, manual camera.

The Rebel is not a gainly camera, but I like it anyway, because it is what it is -- a DSLR with an optical viewfinder, and you need that hump to house the viewfinder. I have no problem with practicality. On the other hand, I just took delivery on my GX7, which I bought instead of a new Olympus, because I really can't handle that fake pentaprism hump on the Olympus. To me, that's a kind of architectural insult -- it's like designing a nice modern house, but then you decide it's not distinguished enough, to you paste a few fluted columns of the front. So I didn't get it, though there is evidence that it's probably a somewhat better camera than the Panasonic. (But not much better -- it's like the Olympus got a "9", while the Panny got an "8", but I subtracted one aesthetic point from the Olympus, and subtracted another one for price, and bought the GX7.) But the Rebel -- it is what it is; probably a pretty good camera, and all any of us would need, if we were to tell the truth about it.

Your prophecy would seem to be fulfilled here.

A camera is a tool, where 'beauty is as beauty does...' And, as with any tool, especially one which may be used under conditons of stress or difficulty, simplest is almost alway best.

I was in the market recently to replace my aging Canon 5D mk1. It came down to a choice between this and the t5i. The stats and internals appear to be almost the same. I chose the t5i because it has the flip-out screen, which is too handy to not get.

Although I would have loved attaching my 70-200 2.8 lens to that little thing. It would have looked ridiculous.

What's the saying? "No one ever lost money underestimating the taste of the average American" or something like that. I'm right there with you, especially with regard to the backwards baseball cap.

My old father disliked so much the fashion of wearing the caps backwards or to the side. One time I arrived to his place wearing a cup backwards and he said to me "when I was a kid they used to make cups with the bill in the front, now they are making them with the bill in the back and also to the sides, I don't know why"

I find all this attention to the "styling" of cameras to be silly, and in fact downright annoying it's gotten so dominant. Why the heck would I care what a camera looks like?

[Why, you don't have to, of course. I do, and this is my blog. You're not required to agree with any of my interests or opinions to read here (I'd have about six readers otherwise), but my interests and opinions are what you're going to find here, in a quite natural course of events. And there you have it. --Mike]


> one that you trim once a week. We don't need no steenkeeng
> shaving!

I average about once every 6 - 8 weeks. Two days ago my son came home and described my newly shaven appearance (reduced to a 7cm below my chin goatee) as "yucky."

Mike. I really like the way the Canon looks. I'm a mirrorless guy now, but the photo of the Canon makes me want to go to Best Buy so I can hold one and see if it feels as good as it looks.

Simplest possible sophisticated camera? Edwin Land's Polaroid SX-70. You have control of the essentials .. Focus, exposure, and when to press the button .. Camera does the rest.

Still love them... :-)

How about this scenario? You're behind the camera and you realize you need to change a setting. If you've totally memorized the locations of the controls and know how they're set you might be able to make adjustments without looking at a menu. I always look. Takes time and I have to put my reading glasses on. Imagine a voice activated control system where the photographer could say "f8" or "exposure plus 1" or "bracket 3" or whatever. It would take a bit of training but I think it would change the way we work and I think (hope)it is coming. Might not work in a noisy area but even that limitation can be overcome.

In other words, you're a hipster. Who'd a thought?

My money is on the Lytro...

I would like to see the camera manufacturers adopt a combination of two business models. First, adopt a model similar to the automobile companies and offer the public a bare bones camera for a low price. Then allow us to add features based upon our needs or wants, either individually or in packages. This mostly could be done with software, after the purchase is made, through downloads that could purchased through their website. Then, it is not too burdensome on the camera manufacturers to provide hundreds of different combinations. They make money on the "options" sold and everyone is happy with their "customized" models.

Second, adopt a model similar to Apple or Google and allow third party developers to make feature rich apps that would have all kinds of functionalities. These apps would have to be purchased through the camera manufacturer's website and the manufacturers would get a percentage of the sale as an incentive to build the programmability into the cameras' firmware.

If the industry would evolve into one or both of those, I believe a large number of us would be very happy to "create" the cameras of our wants and needs.

My Nikon F2 with pentaprism finder and my 8x10 Deardorff are both pretty simple to operate. Both work well in hot and cold weather and never need batteries.

Since you have your thumb firmly on current trends a fun post might be what you thought would fly but didn't. Beta tapes vs. VHS?

[LaserDisc!! Clearly. --Mike]

I still like my XE1 for its simplicity. An aperture ring, speed dial and EV compensation and a Q menu button means everything is a couple of clicks away.

It really is as simple as any old rangefinder except that it does the focusing for you, but I'm liking the fact that the EVF gives you a pretty accurate preview of the final result (no more chimping).

It took me all of about 20 minutes when I first got it to set it up as I liked (not many options except image quality and display set up) and I was off shooting.

Funny, Ming Thein wrote about the exact same subject a few weeks ago:


I too do not like the backwards baseball cap "fad". The only time mine is on backward is when the bill gets in the way of the camera. Then and only then will I turn it around. Of course I feel like a dufus when several minutes later I realize that I forgot to return it to its proper orientation.

Some folks I know seem to have a "perpetual four day old beard". I often wonder how they accomplish that? Does Gillette make a special "four day old beard length" razor?

Many have decided to go mirrorless.
As in www.whattheduck.net/strip/1337

You wrote:
So you're saying it's photographers who are responsible for... a fashion faux pas? Say it isn't so. [g]

Two words: photographer's vest. Say no more!

Yesterday I was in the local Saturn, an electromarket, and found a Canon which was the utmost in simplicity. It appeared to have something like three buttons, and as far as I could tell, it had no shutter release. I think it was the Powershot N. Now there is a trend I cannot understand.

I do too, Godfrey. Those colors! They are just...wonderfull!

Does "simplicity" mean we go back to having cameras to take photographs, not movies? I would endorse that! Looking at the sneak photo's of the upcoming Pentax K3 ...which seems certain to embrace movies given the features of the new flash models recently released, too many bumps and buttons.

John Krill is absolutely right there with the Leica example. There's no camera that matches this better than the S2, though. Apart from the overall beautiful design - just the fact that the rear buttons can be programmed to suit and have (for this very reason) no lettering on them should be an example of how cameras should be made: to comply with the users' wishes not the other way around - the technology is there but the humans (?) in the marketing departments are far behind ...

A simple camera does not mean a camera with no controls. Every one needs controls. More the merrier. It really means that it is easy to make out the functions of the buttons. Which means that there has to be a specific, single function switch or button for each and every function with name of the function marked clearly on them. That means a lot of buttons. There should be no need to read the instruction book.
Believe me, most photographers do not change their kit lens or use raw formats or eye level view finders. Many clamor for live views, tilting screens and collapsible lens. So those things would become standard and the redundant features like raw, interchangeable lens and view finders would be eliminated. I see the future there.
That would be the real simple camera.

Mike, I feel for you. This thumb on the pulse thing is genetic. Back in the '70s my dad proclaimed McDonald's would never survived because they didn't serve hot-dogs and generally didn't know what relish was. In the late '80s I proclaimed that we would soon have colour fax machines and would use them to exchange pictures with friends and family.

If you don't like the look of the cameras like the canon, blame Luigi Colani -

And while the BMW had looks and a great engine, it had diabolical handling- I remember spinning one a dozen times on the skidpad at Lime Rock during a Skip Barber school! My new 128i is what you need to drive.

I hope that you're right in your prophecy, Mike.

Surgically lowered IQ. Ha!

A mantra I have toted with me in to many camera/computer/equipment/tool/apartment/etc/etc choices is the "good enough is perfect" theory either you or Ctein wrote about many moons ago. (Can't find the story with the first Google search, so it's obviously unretrievable.)

One of the reasons I chose the Fuji X Pro 1 as my main camera (going as far as to sell all of my DSLR gear- I don't like hanging on to stuff) was the simplicity the rig offered. And truthfully, it's not a perfect camera. Lots of setbacks, glitches, and "almosts." But the 4 parameters I need to set (FStop, shutter, ISO, and focus) are all within reach of dedicated buttons/knobs on the camera. Pretty much everything else there is there for a reason.

It's simple. I actually CHOSE the camera over a few other ones (that got high TOP praise as well) simply because after test driving them, the XP1 felt simplest. I'm putting my money where my mouth is: high ISO performance, sensor size, heartbeat detector- I really don't care about fatures so much as I care about the lack of them.

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