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Saturday, 09 December 2017


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Every so often I see video cameras from Canon's Cinema EOS line, specifically the C100-500 cameras. And what I see is cameras, which could as well be still, which would or could accommodate vertical, horizontal, waist level, eye level operation. Videographers need even more quick access to exposure and handling parameters than most still photographers do, and this form factor seems to able to make it happen.

The present Cinema EOS cameras are fairly bulky, but not huge. I think some of the size is to allow for efficient cooling and simply space for all the necessary controls and handling attachment points.

Years ago, when I first saw the Cinema EOS cameras, I thought they would make interesting still camera bodies, scaled down appropriately. I still do.

"a real camera that was optimized around a screen viewfinder" kind of brought to mind this:


Perhaps it's all in the eye of the beholder.

You had me at square.

Seriously why in the age of Instagram are there no digital cameras with a square sensor? My pixel parsimony makes me reluctant to crop but what else am I to do?

You might like the "tilt adapter" for the Fuji GFX 50S that allows you to the tilt-up the eyepiece so you can shoot with the camera like you would with a TLR. Plus, you just *have* to see the EVF in the GFX...my, oh my. It elicited gasps from everyone in the media center that looked through it when I was using it at the racetrack.

Just sayin'...

And now to something completely different: Consider Porsche in your analysis Mike. Cayenne or at least Macan.
Take care

Simply shoot tethered to a tablet with an even larger screen than your phone. You can do this wirelessly. Yes, Canikonyicus could implement it better but others (ie Phase One) have had this figured out for years.

Then there is this: with an EVF and especially if it is tillable one can try point of view that are simply impossible with an OVF. On my camera (sony RX100 II), the viewfinder itself can be physically detached from the camera (ie what the camera sees can be beamed to a mobile phone) allowing even more possibilities.

I notice that I get better compositions on the fly with my cell phone because I can make major adjustments with just a twist of the wrist, bending down, or by lifting the phone above my head. Making those camera position changes while using a DSLR viewfinder means moving my body too. That's not possible lots of times, or it takes too long and the photo is gone. Also, I find it's harder to interpret the composition when my head is tilted while looking through my viewfinder. Last week, I was taking photos on a pier and I had to lean out over the edge to get the shot. While bent over the railing I had the hardest time leveling the horizon with because my head was tilted at an odd angle. The same thing happens when I bend over to get a quick photo of one of my kids, the background ends up out of level because my head is tilted. That doesn't happen with my phone because I can move the camera without confusing my vestibular sense.

The major downside of shooting with my phone is single handed operation. My Samsung has a great pro-mode that lets me control everything manually, but I need to have both hands on the phone to make changes. Also, it's hard to get my phone out of my pocket and open the camera app single handed, I drop the phone two out of three times. Surprisingly, I can work my giant DSLR one-handed a lot easier than a phone. I take many pictures with my 5D while carrying my son in the other arm.

The camera manufactures should take a look at video game controllers. The right half of an xbox controller would make the perfect camera grip. It's has a multi-function joystick and big, mash-able buttons packed intelligently into limited real estate. The trigger position under the right index finger is also more sensible than a camera's top mounted shutter button.

My dream camera would have a giant articulating LCD, as big as my phone's, and also have an articulated grip that mimics a game controller. I imagine something like that with a micro 4/3 sensor and IBIS would still be much more portable than a DSLR.

I have three m43 cameras now. The E-M1 Mark II has a fully articulated screen which is wonderful when composing an image on a tripod (unless I have the L-bracket mounted, which interferes with the articulation). The other two have tilting screens, also quite good. These give me the advantage of an image I can contemplate while also looking directly at the scene for out-of-frame elements. I appreciate the option having the camera not at eye-level, yet not having to bend or crouch to see either a rear screen or through a VF.

The only thing missing is a sunshade, which I often create with a hand or my hat. I could easily drape a focusing cloth over my head for shade, if I wanted, and get the ground glass experience. Only brighter, and not reversed.

It's not an ideal solution, but there have been occasions when I've used the WiFi link between my Olympus E-M1 and an app on my iPad or iPhone to better view an image before shooting. The Olympus app is just "OK", but a newer app called Cascable is better. I found this particularly useful when I was arranging some close-up product shots with the camera on a tripod (of course), working to get the proper focus.

The flip out screen on my Fuji X-T20 makes it (and many others a like)great waist-level camera. I see Your point having enjoyed chance operate old TLR, but I think there is lot nostalgia in this post.

I prefer to do my own visualizing, thank you. Whether I get it right or wrong, it's a surprise, and often a pleasant one. Sometimes even when I get it wrong it's good, and at times probably better than I would have managed even with a perfect preview. Maybe that's a sad commentary on my skill level.

It certainly surprised me to realize, the other day when Mike brought up the A5100, that for me a must-have feature of a "proper" camera is a to-the-eye viewfinder. I'm not sure where that's coming from, as I only rarely use cameras with such VFs these days. The prejudice I think is partly down to hand-holding ergonomics, and possibly nostalgia for the more youthful eyes I had (both literally and figuratively) when all of my cameras had optical VFs.

What about EVFs? Do you all who have a preference for screens or finders consider them more screen than finder or vice versa? Or pretty much a middle ground, for better or worse?

Not a joke: I would get back into photography and portraiture if someone made a functional digital back for a Mamiya C330. Not holding my breath for that though.

So, one aspect of the phone screen vs. my camera viewfinder, is that with the phone, you're looking at the scene as a small part of what your eyes are seeing. With my viewfinder, I'm only seeing what I'm going to capture. With respect you your 4x5 image, when I'm using the ground glass, I'm under a dark cloth, again diminishing the context distraction. Did I say this with clarity????

Hmmm. My Olympus E-M10 - and I believe this is true for many of these newer cameras by now - can connect to a smartphone or even a tablet computer via Wifi, and an app. It's making these devices to perfect wireless remote controls. Now imagine if you'd stick a smartphone like this into some of these 3D cardboxes which you attach to your head, for a virtual reality experience. You could put that camera onto a strap around your neck, and would see through its lens without even bending down, but still from waist level (depending on how long your strap might be). You could look around corners or even leave the camera on a tripod outside on the veranda, pointed to your bird feeder without having to be there personally, as long as the Wifi signals are strong enough (imagine routers and the interweb in between, and your camera could be on Mars). How's that for Gyro Gearloose? ;-)

Those of us (or maybe just me) who wear glasses for near viewing find it annoying to put them on every time we want to take a picture which makes using a screen on the camera back unpleasant. I have bifocals but don't need them much for day in day out distance viewing.

EVF is absolutely the best for video. The camera is steadied by two hands and a cheek/forehead and the diopter adjustment makes glasses unnecessary. It's often best for still photography if you can put up with the time it takes to get an image on the EVF -- my experience is with a Sony A6300.

I would put this project on hold until we find ourselves walking around wearing Virtual Reality headsets continuously recording 360 degree views of our lives. I'm sure some smart people will integrate a Virtual Camera into the system.

Oh, BTW, I just remembered...if you like shooting with a "large" screen like that on your iPhone 6+, there is a nice solution for this, and it's free.

Download the Fujifilm Camera Remote app from the Apple store to your iPhone 6+ or better yet, iPad. Put the X-T2 in Wireless Communication mode so that it becomes a WiFi hotspot, connect to the X-T2 with the Fuj Camera Remote app, select Remote Control and you can see a nice large picture of what the camera sees. You can even control the camera settings. Granted, this approach is cumbersome for handheld photography, but it works really well for landscape (especially while waiting for that perfect light), architectural, studio or product photography. Oh, BTW, those are large 17 X 22" GFX50S prints under glass on the coffee table.

When I find my compositions getting sloppy, it’s time to load my Minolta Autocord TLR and give myself a dose of square format, one focal length discipline.

Instagram supports up to 4x5 portrait (the 'most picture pixels on screen' option) and up to 16:9 landscape, has for a while now

oops, i missed a typo in my post. Mike please note it should be jkt13 in my website not jk13

After looking at 7"x 10" ground glass for so much of my working life I find the idea something like an iPad as a view screen possibly appealing. I could see setting up a camera and screen on a tripod and controlling the camera from the screen. A bit of a hood could replace the pesky focussing cloth, though with a loss of the theater of working with a view camera in fro a crowd.

But any screen smaller doesn't appeal. Probably just because of which cameras have worked for me in the past.

So take a camera with a tilt monitor and tilt it around until you can look straight down on it. Creating a hood is left to the reader, although the camera body would shade things from the front.

Or a more GAS appropriate solution would be a large monitor that plugs into the accessory port (on a body that can accommodate plug-in EVFs) and tilts to lay flat and has a hood built in. I do wonder if an accessory port would support that much, but it probably could in combination with the hot shoe.

Came here to say Fuji Camera Remote on my iPhone plus my XT-1 is very satisfactory, guess I’m not the first. In some senses it’s superior to the TLR experience. My Rolleiflex is the only film camera I kept.

Minox made a small ‘rolleiflex’ copy with a square sensor and a finder screen at the top protected by the usual waist level hood.
It would have been a really nice camera if it had been serious, not a cheaply made plastic miniature.
I had one, even in red colour, but sold it as it was really a toy, or a necklace for a lady depending on your view point.

I'm quite nearsighted, so I wear glasses nearly all the time. IMO, the experience of looking through a viewfinder while wearing my glasses sucks. (Back in my 35mm days, I used the optional waist-level finder on my Minolta XK body instead of the viewfinder, so mine is a long-held opinion.)

Whereas I can peer over the top of my glasses to look at an LCD screen and see it both very clearly and completely.

Plus, I'm a view-camera guy at heart, so I prefer to look at a large images when composing and focusing rather than a teeny-weeny one. (This is especially helpful when using tilt/swing movements.)

Hence my solution is to add an external 7" HDMI monitor to my digital view-camera rig and feed it an HDMI signal from my A7R:

It wasn't expensive (at least as these things go) and works great for my nighttime photography. When used during the day, however, a hood is usually needed.

The next step in this area will surely be wireless-connected VR-type glasses, why bother with mobiles or laptops or whatever. The viewfinder can be right there on your head.

My preferred composition screen is about the size of my 15" Macbook in a quiet, indoor setting, with touch or key-codes to change to aspect ratio and grid lines. That would be a difficult camera to use for street and landscape photography, but a tethered computer certainly works well for studio work.

The day the Apple tablet was announced, I was certain that this would be a great camera screen, complete with touch sensing. It's odd to think of a camera where the screen is bigger than the body & lens assembly, but if you think about it, that is where the important artistic decisions are made.

Mike said: Of course, this is offset by the fact that in bright sunlight, you sometimes can't see the screen of a phone at all.

This works with my Sony NEX 5n. No reason it worn't work with an iPhone https://www.amazon.com/Double-Weaved-Shell-Shade-Large/dp/B01IADNC8A/ref=sr_1_16?ie=UTF8&qid=1512882520&sr=8-16&keywords=lifeguard+hat

If a beach hat is out-of-place in your neck-of-the -woods try this https://www.amazon.com/Fishing-Removable-Dorfman-Pacific-Cream/dp/B000PVR5BQ/ref=sr_1_6?s=sporting-goods&ie=UTF8&qid=1512883298&sr=1-6&keywords=long+bill+cap

I like physical dials, like the Fuji Xt2. But an interesting camera design I want to see, would be a camera with just a top touch screen and rear touch screen. On the front would be a power switch and lens release. You turn on the camera and then configure what ever buttons, switches or views you want on the top and back screens, where ever you want them. Also configure what a quick single, double or triple press would do. And have pinch to zoom in or out on views or buttons/dials.
May take getting used to, but would get over the many little design issues people have.

As Gene Spesard writes, a partial solution is to use a tilting screen where the camera back hoods the screen to some extent. My solution has been to attach one of those flip up shades the wrong way round and then I have a near complete hood. However the problem is, as you say, that none of the screens are iPhone quality and so it’s hard to use them at waist level which I think would be the main benefit of using the screen this way.
I’ll bet you don’t get much support for this. I have been surprised to find that despite all the frankencamera mods that have been done no one has attempted resiting the screen and modifying the controls for waist level. It would also be possible to cobble together an iPhone, hood and the Olympus Air A01 (m43 mount+sensor thingy). It’s odd that the manufacturers have produced these bodyless sensors to use with iPhones and yet haven’t provided a “body” to couple them.

I do like your described camera design very much! And this camera wouldn’t have to be expensive to develop and to produce. One could build this camera with a 24 x 24 mm sensor, most conveniently by utilizing an already existing 24x36 mm sensor (maybe without AA-filter) and use only the middle of the sensor area. If the potential manufacturer would add an already existing Canikon bayonet he would not sell lenses, because millions of them are still around (APS-C and FF), but this body would sell like hot cakes for sure. And all this with very little effort in R&D. But I’m afraid this concept is too reasonable to be turned into reality.

I don't think it's a matter of composing better on a screen, but differently. Years ago my OM-1 was stolen, and I replaced it with a Mamiya 645. I found myself taking subtly different photographs using the waist-level finder. I never analyzed it thoroughly, but it was most visible with landscapes. I think it's the difference between looking at and looking through; more thoughts here: http://www.fivecolorssandt.com/archives/1256

I have about a dozen film cameras and still push a roll through each of them regularly (sort of the opposite of OCOLOY). While most pictures could be taken with any of them, each certainly has a style it likes. Part is screen vs. viewfinder, part is the posture (up to the eye), part is made up of other details. I think a digital TLR-like camera would lead to at least slightly different photographs, but considering the flexibility of digital nowadays, it might not be worth the effort.

I’ve been fantasising about exactly the same thing on my blog in the past. Something like a phablet or even an iPad Mini, with a good sensor...

If your camera does not have a tilting screen but will allow the use of an iPhone as a viewfinder the attached shopping list may be useful.




Well there is this: https://www.amazon.com/DxO-20-2MP-Digital-Connected-Current/dp/B01L25N77O/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1512926553&sr=8-1&keywords=dxo+iphone

See, this is why I come here. And if I had Jobs or Musk money it's exactly what I would toss a few mil at before breakfast. What a great idea. Truth is that ALL of our recent camera purchases feel like a compromise between the lesser of so many evils...take the functions and compatibility you must have, and accept the detritus that comes along with it. Ugh. Brilliant, Mike, and I +1 you being hired to design someone's next lineup.

I came up with a design some time ago that's quite similar, though it doesn't use a square sensor and I chose in the end not to go for a rotating hand grip. As a size comparison, the green and purple outlines are for a Minolta XG-M and a Pentax K20D.

The idea was to design a mirrorless camera that took the same lenses as a DSLR, without an adaptor. There would be a choice of camera forms, both taking the same lenses, which you would choose according to needs.

It would have similar or smaller dimensions to one of the more compact 35mm SLRs, and to do this I wanted to shift the monitor to that nice flat bit on top of the mirror (less) box. The monitor pivots at the rear.

This would enable easy waist level viewing, and I agree that a folding hood would be a good idea. Without the screen taking up so much space on the back, there can be plenty of space for the usual controls.

I found, (plasticine model) when using the camera at waist level, the camera can be cupped in both hands, with the thumb on the shutter release.

By the way, for a square format camera to take APS-C or Full Frame lenses, the sensor would be 20.4mm or 30.6mm square respectively.

...in bright sunlight, you sometimes can't see the screen of a phone at all...

Perhaps Fred Newman ought extend this product line


to include models for phones. :-)

You mean you want a digital RB Graflex?
I’m late to this party (since when is this joint open on Sunday?) and most of the good points have been made , but Sony still sells the QX30 and I set my A7 up to function the same way.
I think that during the digital transition all of the digital cameras were adaptations of 35 mm point and shoot style cameras and then 35mm SLRs.
All of the other form factors died out because they were suddenly priced somewhere between a car and a house. The medium format market was also weak because the biggest competition was from used cameras, because medium format photographers were fairly gimmick resistant.

Somehow as a result smallness became a requirement for anything other than the big pro DSLRs that look exactly like the film cameras they replaced.

A somewhat larger mirrorless camera with a big screen and more flexible ergonomics* would get my money.

*defined by “I can shoot waist level square or portrait format pictures without hurting myself or using duct tape.”

I have just the opposite experience. As my eyes age I find that my vision is the worst in the range of the iPhone or LCD viewfinder. I feel like I’m shooting blind and the results show it. With an EVF I can adjust the diopter and actually see what I’m shooting.

Konica-Minolta A1 and A2.

My Sony A7R2 has both an EVF and flip-up LCD. I much prefer the LCD, especially for nature photography (my primary interest).

For years, I've carried a custom made "focusing cloth" which I attach to my hat. It easily flips down over my head and camera, blocking the light from all sides, reminding me of my view camera days!


Richard Jones

We sometimes sell ourselves short... I was a left eyed shooter and always thought composing with my right eye a physical/intellectual impossibility. And yet, that's exactly what I successfully trained myself to do when I developed floaters in my left eye. I thought it impossible to shoot with an EVF, or to compose and shoot using the tiny rear screen on a GR with my failing close up vision, and yet have learned to do so regularly and successfully. I've even come to more than occasionally enjoy it...

I returned my iPhone X because the "bigger" screen has a narrow aspect ratio that makes landscape orientation photos the same size as on an iPhone 8. So, I have an 8+ now and have my beautiful big screen again! And I just purchased a "ORANIE Remote Controller Phone Monitor Sun hood" on Amazon for when I'm out shooting in the Arizona sun.

I detest composing with the rear screen when hand holding and also detest taking pictures with my smartphone for the same reason. However, I like it when the camera's on a tripod - but only when the light is dim enough otherwise I can't see what's on the screen.

Yup. Fuji X T1 with the lcd parallel held around solar plexus level.

Works for me

Others have mentioned wireless tethering. My phone does this with my E-M10. Why not create a two part phone attachment. Part one is a hot shoe attachment to put the phone on camera oriented for waist level use. Part two is a folding hood.

The Panasonic DMC GX8 has a tiltable evf as well as a pull out and flip screen. The evf is very useful in bright sunlight and when tilted give a tlr viewpoint

Did someone mention the DXO? I think this would be an interesting OCOLOY system.


Perhaps not quite what you're looking for, but there have been a few digital "TLR" cameras:





I am very satisfied of my current camera (Panasonic GX7) and I believe that most cameras are good enough for many of us.
My only problem is that I often press some button and I change some setting, sometimes without realizing it. Even if I realize it this is still a problem: just think of fiddling with setting in a blizzard.

I would like to have a way to lock the camera settings so that I cannot change them by mistake. I realize that this is not possible: users would simply forget that they have locked the settings and they would complain that the camera does not work.

After much thinking I have found a solution: just add a button in the left part of the camera and require that this button is pressed in order to let the other button work.
So you ought to press two buttons with the two hands in order to change setting, avoiding unintentional changes. Of course this behaviour would be optional and the camera could show a meaningful message in the display if the user presses only one button.

I like this idea, maybeI could sell it to Panasonic...

Olympus Air 1 would fit the bill! It covers ALL of the bases.

In 2006 I bought a Sony R1. This camera had unique, but small rotating LCD that I could place on top of the camera body. In that position it worked very well as a waist-level finder. The camera lacked IS and video, but had a very good fixed lens, and a APC size sensor. The reviews were mixed, and many were critical of the LCD - I loved it. I wished then, and I still do that Sony would make a R2.

My ideal camera would imitate the Rollei SL 66:

Square sensor, large viewing LCD on top, and a (slightly) tiltable sensor.

This would allow the Scheimflug effect of extended depth of focus that view cameras achieve with back swings to be realized with all lenses on a mirrorless digital camera.

A Camera Nobody Makes (Digital TLR)

Oh yes they do! (Well, it is Pantomine Season here.)

It is the Panasonic GX7 and its successors. OK, its got a rectangular sensor and only one lens but you can view an image at waist height or peep down the evf as you would with a TLR's viewfinder magnifier. Its shutter is quiet. The image is not 'back to front' but that's a plus, is it not?

Olympus Pens E-P2 and E-P3 onward offer the same facility with an accessory evf VF-3 that tilts but you have the hassle of remembering to carry it, or always keeping it in place and being careful not to lose it. Offsetting that is the capability to set the captured image to square on these cameras, using the quaintly-named '6x6 format'.

What more could you want? A heavier, bulkier box that is difficult to keep dry under a jacket in rain and snow unless you buy oversize coats and rain jackets? No thanks.

Oh, by the way – no thanks to touch screens, too. I hate them, especially on the Pen E-P3.

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