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Monday, 11 December 2017


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I spent many years looking through various Rolleiflexes from above. The f/2.8F TLR and a pair of SL66s. I love square. I'd be curious to see sensors rated based on the square. Rectangular sensors must fall off a little at the extremes.

When I set any of my Micro 4/3 cameras to record a square file the viewfinder shows a square which is fine.

As to black and white. I would welcome a square a6000/6500 or GX8 or EM-1/ E-M5III in monochrome. In fact, I would welcome a square option on my current a6000. Sony could do it in firmware, I am sure.

That is my wish list for a camera.

As to software my two spectral response and tonal curves would be:

1. TX120 Pyro Portriga (like you, the old Portriga) with a selenium toning option.

2. Agfapan 100 HC-110 Portriga

Damn, I miss Portriga.

My phone would be a Fuji X-T2++ at the front and an Android or iOS phone at the rear. Use dials to photograph and a phone to set up the camera, develop and share pictures.

Of course the back would tilt up to allow TLR type operation; 5 stop IBIS and all one's other desires could be added to make it too complex :-)

Well, I do like your ideas. I would like a "super" Ricoh GR with your black and white sensor and profiles. Still ASP-C, same amazingly sharp lens, but modernized with on-sensor pdaf or some other kind of fast focusing method. Same whisper quiet leaf shutter. New sealed body, perhaps like the old Olympus Stylus, a coat pocket camera that was also weatherproof. Front and read dials, fast iso adjustments. Make a 40mm equivalent version in addition to the 28mm, and I'll buy two.

Before mirrorless came along I yearned for a digital Rolleiflex 3.5F. A full 6X6 sensor, not for high pixel count but with large pixels. 5k per side would be just right, 6k for broader appeal would be OK. Now a mirrorless ICL version with a 3" square LCD (pop up hood naturally) would be a real dream come true. Again concessions for a greater marketing appeal would call for an EVF. With lenses of 65 and 120mm f/2.8 of an old design with modern coatings, and I'd be dancing in the street !

One film camera that fits the bill is the Fuji GF670, except it is not very cheap.
The film is developed in D-23, and printed by Costco on Fuji Chrystal Archive paper.

Money no object? An 8" by 10" sensor? For the next Hubble, and for all of our LF cameras?

I've always thought that it would be interesting to have a modern mirrorless camera that used the "Z-shift" focusing principle that was used by the Contax AX to enable autofocus with lenses that were otherwise fully mechanical.

Moving the sensor flange works better with wider angle lenses as you're limited by the physical travel of the assembly for long focal lengths. But it's trivially easy to do a rough focus with the lens and then let the AF mechanism nail it for you. Obviously when you only have to move a digital sensor back and forth, it's a lot easier than an entire film reel and pressure-plate assembly!

There are some adapters for Sony E-mount bodies from Techart and Fotodiox that use this exact principle, but it would be cool if it was integral to the body.

Incidentally, in addition to autofocusing MF lenses, you could use it to allow large macro magnifications with ordinary lenses. Like a built-in mini-bellows...

"Finally, what I consider the next frontier in camera marketing: "Super-Simple" variants of existing designs."

Yes, please. The design plan for the late Flip Video camera was "any user should be able to pick up the camera and figure out how use it in 15 seconds, without reading the manual." Something similar for a stills camera, that's not a smartphone, could probably be done with firmware and some thought given to the physical UI on the camera.

On a related note, I too am looking for a digital TLR modeled after the Rolleiflex. IMO that's the ideal form factor for teaching photography to young children.

A really great post. I will comment first that if you someone is convicted of murder, life in prison can be considered an optimistic outcome. I liked yesterdays concept of crazy glue to lock in controls. I might look for an older a f-mount Nikon or Sony with my adapter and use my legacy Nikon glass with an aperature ring and manual focus. I will set it up with Monochrome (M), contrast, etc. and work around with a fixed ISO. I think it is 1600 to get the Tri-X look.
Then occasionally I can just walk out the door into the street and shoot. Maybe put small pieces of black tape on the Port and Starboard sides of the viewfinder. I think that will be fun! Thanks.

"I still can't share what I know about why, but suffice it to say that despite decent popularity the R-D1 was orphaned, deliberately, back in 2007."
You drop a line like this, a la Fermat and his "I have a proof but no space to write it" tease, and leave us hanging to speculate on a conspiracy theory that killed a potentially wonderful product. So what happened to the R-D1? Who killed it? The man on the grassy knoll? Can't you cough up even a hint as to the nature of the conspiracy? That's all I have to say. I have to go clear my head with some X-Files reruns.

I think Fuji is probably best positioned to build a dedicated black & white camera, using their X-Pro 2 body as a base. But will they? Who knows?

I would like to see a camera maker take one of their more successful digital designs and remove all the "function buttons" leaving only the shutter/aperture/ISO/exposure compensation/ and focus as controls.
They would still keep all the current function button functions in the camera software but have these connectable to an Excel template on an external computer so that one could set up the functions any which way for different personally favoured types of photography and give each set a name of one's choice.
These settings, with their user selected names, could then be uploaded back to the camera which would have a small display panel (like the top panel on many current cameras) and a selector button that would enable one to cycle through to the preferred set-up in the field at that specific time.
Such a camera would at once be simpler to use and yet more sophisticated in its optionality than anything else currently available.

Hi Mike,

My idea for simplification goes in somewhat the opposite direction, namely: lose the jpeg engine and live view, which, in my opinion, unproductively and unnecessarily clutter the UI and burden the picture-taking process with photo-finishing concerns. They also consume precious battery power.

In other words, pare the camera down to the near minimum needed to record digital negatives (i.e. raw files).

With no image processing, this camera would need an optical finder and would have no live view screen. There would be a review screen (or smartphone link), with zebra stripes to indicate out-of-gamut, but while this screen could present the raw image to some extent, the user would have to learn how to judge a "flat" unprocessed image. (Or perhaps we could get by with just a histogram--I'll have to mull that over.)

This is somewhat opposite to your idea of simplicity as "transparency" in the sense of there being as little as possible between the photographer and the preview of the final image. Rather, it pursues a different kind of "transparency", in which there is as little as possible between the photographer and the picture-taking process.

As I commented in your previous post, I'd rather visualize mentally, and find live view screens distracting, and I'd rather process later, with fresh eye and mind. I say put the gestalt back where it belongs--in the individual photographer.

Now that I'm a retired professional photographer (is there really such a thing?), and I no longer need to worry too much about video capture and production, nor about run and gun event coverage, the perfect camera did finally come along for my haptic tastes. So I bought the Leica M10 in spite of the sudden sharp pain in my wallet. So far I love everything about it. Count one of us as happy...


A digital camera with a waist level viewfinder would be great. I loved the waist level finder with the built in magnifier on my Pentax 6x7 which was the film camera I used most.
What would really be great is a digital camera like the Nikonos V. Great small and rugged camera both above and below water. It was also great in rain and mud and I used mine extensively in Viet Nam. Just wash the dust and mud off it and let it dry. In fact Nikon could use the same body today with digital guts. You set aperture, distance, and shutter on the outside and every other adjustment, such as iso, could be set when you had the body open.
Cheers, Jim

"... when I think of cameras I tend to think in terms of ideas that would enable photographers to do good work, not necessarily products that would sell well. Of course the two aren't by any means mutually exclusive, but the camera manufacturers are quite naturally vitally interested in the latter." – Mike

Have to respectfully disagree with you on this one. I think Fujifilm designed the X and G-bodies and XF and GF-series lenses, with their "hands-on" control knobs and aperture rings, specifically to enable photographers to do "good work". if that were not the case, they could have easily defaulted to the PASM knob and command dial approach (ugh!).

Regarding monochrome-only bodies, let's be realistic: the bottom line is they don't sell....at least for customers who can't afford to drop an extra 10 large on a Leica M body and a single lens (the assumption being said customers can also afford a color camera). And if the real need is to be able to view "compositions" before the fact, all you have to do with your X-T2 is put it in Acros mode, for example, for a beautiful B&W preview.

As for rangefinders, let's not let ourselves be swayed by "BMW 2002 tii-like" romantic notions of yesteryear, aka, "the good old days". I was just at another camera show this weekend, selling off some remaining excess gear, and there were a number of vendors selling Leica IIIs. All I can say is that the viewfinder on a Leica III is pretty darn small, there's no diopter correction, and it can be hard to focus the rangefinder in dim light.

Bottom line: When it comes to "rangefinder" cameras, I'll take my wondrous Fuji X100F any day of the week. The "Leica" for the new millenium.

... You can get a life sentence for involuntary manslaughter?? I’ll never understand the states. So brutal.

I am odd enough than I would like to see some of your ideas combined. How about a black and white only, square format camera with waist level finder (eye level prism finder is optional accessory)? A modern TLR or Pentacon Six. If you wanted something close to square, but not square, then make it a modern Pentax 67 (prism optional). You could have two guide lines in the viewfinder for shooting square format and cropping in post processing would be minimal.

#CameraDoesntMatter #LensesDoMatter

A Canon SL2 will natively shoot 1x1, 4x3, 16x9 as well as 1.5x1. So my problem isn't with what camera I'd buy. My problem is with Canon's lack of short EF-s lenses. What stands between me and the buy-button is no EF-s 10mm and no EF-s 17mm. Those two lenses along with my 50mm f/1.8 and 85mm f/1.8 would cover all my needs. Did I hear sotto voce cold day ...

I like cameras that don't get-in-the-way, and the only answer I see is used Leicas. A pre-owned Leica M (typ 240) sells for about the same as a new Canon 5D4—for me, used simplicity trumps menus every time.

Regarding the RD-1 replacement, are you hinting at the Konost? According to a fairly recent 'admin' response to a query on their website, they are still working on it.

Simple- some kinda mirrorless with a 20-40mm equivalent zoom (separate model for longer zoom). Nikon recently made, and failed to deliver, a similar concept w/o an EVF.

Yes, the Leica S is just gorgeous. Amazing.

And I do agree with the Simplicity issue. I’m known to be a fast study, and yet most digital cameras I’ve used confuse the eff out of me. Even just remembering which buttons do what, if you don’t use the camera every day, is hard. And so few settings are necessary, with cameras being so good and post-procesing so powerful.

Yes please! I'll stand in line for a digital version of the X-Pan, with it's beautiful simplicity, it's wonderful (and tiny) lenses, and it's genuine portability, even for an old guy like me.

I still mourn my original X-Pan, left behind on a train (arrrrrrg!), but I've 'gone digital' and can't imagine turning back.

"Defending and supporting those peoples' interest is how I see the reviewer's role."

More beautiful words have never been written on any review website anywhere. I have a tear in my eye, as I write this.

Other than that, this article touches on so many things that I do want from camera manufacturers. Why don't they listen to you? We can't be alone.

Anyone remember these guys?


http://www.roundshot.com/xml_1/internet/en/application/d77/d122/f123.cfm This is the digital equivalent of the Linhof Technorama and it's been around for years. It's Swiss-made and expensive.

There is also a BW Phase One camera that runs circles around those low-resolution Leica S bodies ;-p

Really Mike, your digital TLR concept is readily achievable with a $18 cable from TetherTools, an inexpensive shoemount to phone mount and a Hoodman shade. All off the shelf gear, under $100 and the best part is you can remove your small digital camera and use it in compact non-TLR mode when your neck gets a crick.

I do agree with you about complexity. If Canikonyolyic opened up their UI so that we could purchase independently designed User Interface Apps it would spawn a entirely new profit center and offload the part of camera design the Japanese are horrible at.

They could even use tiny LED screens on the programable buttons so that we could decide what to label them ourselves!

IDK what to suggest about B&W other than you could cook up your own presets that mimic film/developer/paper combos but how many people are left with any first hand knowledge of such things? I'm 58 and my darkroom usage peaked in the late 1980s when we were limited to Oriental Seagull, Dektol, and Selenium toner. Not that it wasn't great stuff but I always heard the old-timers bemoan the loss of this paper or that. There weren't many good papers for my generation of photographers and younger.

I do however keep the image previews on my Nikon set to greyscale so I can see if any colors are blending together in value. It's a useful abstraction even when you're primarily out to make color images.

Mike, my Pentax K-1 has crop setting for shooting square format. I can tilt up the LCD screen to 90 degrees and use it as a waist-level finder with the Live-view. The LCD displays a square image and the camera saves the RAW file as a square image.

A 50MP digital back for a Rollei 2.8f would be nice.
And Santa could you find me a couple of boxes of Varilour and five pro packs of 120 TXP?

My fear is that we will never see a modest priced B&W sensor digital camera. I don't think the projected sales will justify the development project. Only a company like Leica has done it since the sale price is so high that no matter how many they sold it was not a loss for them. The average consumer would never buy a B&W only camera, although the few of us that long for one which would not support the development costs for the camera companies. I know I would be first in line to purchase if the price was reasonable, but it's probably never going to happen, it's too bad.

Digital Nikon FM3A. It can be made with color and monochrome versions, perhaps with a sensor based on Nikon's 24 mp crop (DX) sensor (to keep both the manufacturing cost and the final price reasonable). Add a third version with basic autofocus* for those with aging eyes, et voila. The idea can be tweaked slightly but what's not to like? And, no, Nikon Df is not that camera. Not even close.

(*In this fantasy camera, the AF module doesn't have to be the latest, greatest - but something that is accurate and reasonably quick should suffice.)

Give me the Fuji X-Pro2M. A fully monochrome Fuji camera in the rangefinder style body. No color converting and none of the problems that come with it. Highest quality B&W right from the start.

Digital Xpan or similar. The Xpan2 was my personal favorite camera of the dozens I've owned from an 8x10 Deardorf to all the great film Nikons and current digital Canons, Fujis, Panasonics, etc. Just something about it-being well made (by Fuji). Had the apparent simplicity needed and not much more but felt great in my hand and produced amazing photos in my preferred panorama format. Three small sized lenses was all that was needed to make a great kit. Bring it on-preferably as a B&W and second color version.

The main complaint about Leica M cameras seems to be that the mechanical rangefinders need frequent servicing to keep them correctly aligned. If Leica is going to keep making rangefinder cameras, why don't they try substituting electronics with a pair of cellphone cameras instead of optics with mechanical rangefinders?

How about using two cellphone cameras in the same locations as the mechanical rangefinder lenses to create an electronic rangefinder? So you get a rangefinder that works identically to the old mechanical rangefinder, but uses two cellphone camera with digital shift to create the rangefinder image. Seems like such an innovation might result in a new camera that looks and functions identically to a Leica M mechanical rangefinder camera, but is less expensive to produce, and with a rangefinder that never goes out of alignment.

How about a camera with a large square digital sensor that takes both 35mm and medium format lenses, so there is no need to ever hold the camera sideways?

For example, use a 36mm x 36mm sensor to facilitate a variable aspect ratio. This would allow 24mm x 36mm horizontal images or 36mm x 24mm vertical images without rotating the camera body, as well as square images at whatever size up to 36mm that a mounted full frame 35mm lens or a medium format lens will allow (size limited to the available sharp field of view of the lens), or any aspect ratio in between.

This permits camera shapes and viewfinder designs that don't work well when the camera is rotated onto its side.

Let's get to it !

So I love folding / collapsible designs.
Something like the crown jewel of the late 50's collapsibles : The Agfa Super Isolette.

The Agfa Super Isolette is such a tiny camera and yet delivering beautiful 6x6 negatives. What a gently mannered lens, no crazy swirls bokeh. These cameras were only let down by their clockwork fragile winder mechanics and their piercing bellows. Challenges I imagine would be easy to circumvent nowadays?

Here's an example (not mine), displayed with the tiny flash mount voigtlander metering cell companion :

Now add a little digital magic to it :
-A nice 6x6 sensor with phase detection pixels. Ok, make that 5x5 but please keep that lens specs as close to original as possible.
-put in a digital rangefinder a la Fuji X100T or 100F to have the split focusing or just plain focus peaking highlights... Doesn't have to have AF with that. Doesn't have to be huge either.
-no need for a full size LCD panel.
-Upgrade that mechanical shutter to an electronic shutter and it becomes a nice Aperture priority gem at will.
-Replace the winding mechanics & spool estate with large "smartphone realm" battery (3-4.000mah), something to last you a full week of hiking.

That I would do if I won the lottery.

Dreaming on.

Yer driving me nuts, Mike.

Oh, to have a clone of the Epson R-D1 with M mount, a monochrome switch, and the ability to do a convincing clone of Plus-X@400EI, developed in Diafine, and printed on a nice semi-gloss paper... gah. I'll be wishful thinking about such a thing all week.

Where's my oly? Maybe if I shoot a bit I'll forget. There's that river icing up that might be cool today...

Richard Skoonberg commented on the Pentax K-1 adaptability to the square format. I have been wondering about the same in terms of the K-1's ability with the DA Limited lens line. Do these lenses have an image circle adequate for the K-1's 1:1 ratio?

Hi Mike,

Sometimes I am shooting Bruce Gilden style, holding the camera in my right hand and the fill flash in my left. This works pretty well if I need the fill light on my left side of the subject. But there are also situations when the fill light is needed on my right side. It is impossible (I tried) to accomplish with current cameras. I would love to have a camera that would allow right and left hand triggering.

Thank you,

For panoramas, I'd rather have a camera with a swing-lens (Noblex, Horizon, Widelux...), or with a curved sensor (more practical but much less probable!), to get the cylindrical perspective I prefer in wider panoramas.

And for square sensors, I'd think there are some square CCDs in the astrophotography market, they should be quite usable in daylight photography.

But apart from that, I could also use the screen of my E-PL5 tilted 90° up as waist level finder, and set it to square image format, and even aplly a B&W style (but I don't do B&W, I dream in color). Errr, that is, before the screen went in screens heaven, and I got a viewfinder-only camera, which someone may well ask for here.
Bummer, because I find it really impractical (the camera insists sending some things like menus or image review to the void of the screen, and I must every time re-set it to viewfinder). Or not, if I can sell it to that person!

A suggestion to camera manufacturers as they transition from DSLR to mirrorless using the same lens mount, is to consider utilizing the space formerly occupied by the moving mirror to improve image quality by implementing a triple monochrome sensor design using a trichroic prism assembly. This idea, which eliminates the Bayer matrix, has long been used for high quality video cameras and earlier for three film strip Technicolor movies.

No need for a B&W workflow. Digital Silver Imaging can do silver gelatin fiber prints from color files. The RGB tri-color laser produces continuous tones and your print is processed in traditional Ilford black and white photo chemistry ...

Check-out their video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KBR3T0uWSvE

BTW I can use dreamy Max Berek lenses on a Leica M (typ 240) Don't be a poseur, get a digital Leica and some lenses that have a real legacy ;-) And you can print these files as Ilford B&W, Kodak or Fujfilm color.

I thought most cameras have different crop formats available in live view. Fuji do square, 16:9 and 3:2 but not 4:3, which is probably the best portrait format. Jpeg only of course, but you can see in the desired format by shooting in jpeg + raw.

I remember that many years ago a major camera manufacturer (I do remember who, but perhaps shouldn't say) once told David Kilpatrick that if he published the results of his test on their kit lens (which was junk) they would never advertise in his magazine again. Mr Kilpatrick published anyway - a hero.

How about a vertically oriented camera?
I would use it as a square camera with a rising front. I have never had occasion to drop the front without tilting it as well.

If that is too weird given the stigma of the vertical popularly, how about a revolving sensor like the like revolving backs on so many film cameras.

So I hereby propose the HughFlex
Cue Twist and Shout as sung by the Beatles, Bert Berns / Phil Medley, lyrics © Sony

Rotating 4/3 sensor because it's good enough.
Add anti "shake it up, baby, now" IBIS because "You know you look so good"
"Twist and shout" design like the Nikon Coolpix 900 series and that Contax I can't remember the name of. This would enable both vertical and horizontal waist-level viewing (Twist a little closer) as well as face level, as high as you can hold it, and ankle level viewing, in vertical or horizontal.

The song, by the way, has a fascinating history https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twist_and_Shout

I don't think anyone is going to be making consumer priced square sensors any time soon, consumer priced B&W sensors are more likely since it is just a matter of leaving out a step of the manufacturing process.

* I find that people have wall space for a vertical 2x8 foot print but not a horizontal.

Come on and twist a little closer, now (Twist a little closer)
And let me know that you're mine (Let me know you're mine)

I think there is a real market for a high quality rugged camera -- 4/3 or 1 inch sensor, completely sealed, internally zooming, perhaps folded optics, with a viewfinder, and PASM controls. I read some years ago where the folks from Luminous Landscapes were offering trips to Antarctica. Some folks wound up shooting with their rugged cameras because they didn't want to put their expensive gear at risk of salt water in the zodiacs. I would think that professionals of every stripe would gravitate to a pro level rugged camera for risky assignments.

I completely agree with the plea for a very simple but very high quality camera. Shooting landscapes, I prize high resolution and sharpness for high-frequency subjects like forests, and good dynamic range to deal with high contrast lighting. I also need a high quality optical viewfinder to permit accurate framing and composing regardless of ambient light levels, with mirror lockup to minimize vibration; alternately an electronic shutter would do. Raw capture is all I require. A usable live-view focus mode and very simple aperture priority exposure with matrix/evaluating metering and a good histogram display complete my list of needs.

I don't need all the other stuff cameras-cum-computers provide these days. Specifically I don't need fancy autofocus, endless exposure modes, face recognition, multiple JPEG 'looks', in-camera sharpening, or any other second-guessing about what I'm capturing. I don't need ISO's to 100,000, though low noise up to ~800-1600 is nice. And I don't need any video features whatsoever.

One of my favorite innovations from the 1950's and 1960's were 35mm rangefinders in which the viewfinder magnification was 1:1 with the real world. The Leica M3 and Nikon S2 were like this with 50mm lenses. The net effect for a left-eye shooter was that you could shoot with both eyes open and perceive the camera's frame-lines imposed on the world. Fabulous effect. Talk about a tool that "gets out of the way." Your brain would combine what you were seeing through the VF and what you were seeing with your free eye.

I would love to see a digital version of this head's up display -- to make the camera invisible to the photographer. What would it look like? Google glasses with an image capture chip? Activated by a double-blink or something similar? I have often wished to take my hands out of the equation for photography and have it be closer to eye-only. Next stop? Borg implants? Resistance may, in fact, be futile. . .

Just continuning to shoot film solves all these 'problems' and more. With and endless variety of inexpensive fantastic gear and cameras available too.

"I won't even get into my pet idea of a complete bespoke B&W workstation engineered to be integrated from camera sensor to image processing software to printer and carbon-ink output, which I think is the most natural idea for B&W of the future."

Oh please -- DO get into it.

Re: A simpler camera

Many have said that the various components of Microsoft Office (Word, Excel and the rest) should be simplified by removing some large number of the features and commands that very few people ever use. The response from Microsoft (which has lots of data on usage) is (paraphrasing) nobody uses more than ten percent of the commands available but everyone uses a different ten percent.

I suspect that the same is true for cameras.

I want my Sony Rx-1 with a built-in optical finder - it can be rangefinder or autofocus with some sort of confirmation - I don't really care. 40 mm lens instead of 35 mm would be nice but I can live without. Hmm - might time to buy that M10.

On my shopping list is, eventually, a Huawei P9 smartphone that sports two lenses, two sensors, one monochrome, Leica labelled. I'll call it the VERY poor man's M model.

Btw, I keep the viewfinder on my LX100 set to monochrome to aid in composition and judgment of value, even though the capture is color.

I suppose if we're making up features, maybe a remote evf that could be worn at eye level separate from the camera. Sort of like the video assist on cinema cameras. I'm imagining the same small display an EVF uses, but attached as an accessory onto eyeglasses so you could get the advantage of the TLR approach without the poor posture. Or camera shots over the head. I bet sports photogs or other PJs would go for this.

IIRC, some manufacturer back in the 1900s had a camera where the lens was tethered to the body. My hazy memory suggests it was either Minolta or Agfa. Not really the same as I'm talking about, but similar in the sense of disconnected parts. Of course, this predated live view.


To me the leica Monochrom is the holy grail, I have already got the Mrs. to let me get a used 240 MP in the new year, because Leica users blog writers have convinced me to convert pics and that should satisfy my GAS. The other camer I was contemplating is leica Md262, you want talk simplicity that's the one! If your reader get a chance look up Ragnar Axelsson Swedish photographer who uses Monochrom, I have two of his books and they are dog eared from my use. His photos blow me away!

Oh dear, you've given Father Christmas quite a task of assembling contraptions! Fortunately, he should be able to find many, most actually, already in existence, albeit he may have to rummage a bit.

Me? I've long wanted for nothing in camera technology. Never has that been a truer statement than today as I approach one week using what must certainly be the best general purpose camera ever created: the Sony A7R Mark III. It has simply taken my breath away, even after two years shooting with its predecessor. This way certainly lies the future of the dedicated camera gadget.

"Super-Simple" variants of existing designs;

And the faithful said 'Amen!'
How simple? A shutter speed dial. (that does only that)
A aperture ring with 1/2 stop detents. (that does only that)
A ISO dial. (that does only that)
A manual focusing ring, butter smooth and well damped. (same same)
Optical TTL viewfinder with interchangeable focusing screens. (so I can have my plain, all matte with grid lines)
A PC flash terminal (remember those)
Shutter button configured for regular mechanical cable release. (you can have an electric remote too, but I want this)
Make a clip on D-back for the OM single digit series. I'm not greedy, make the sensor 18X24mm, with power and electronics housed in a box under the camera that would be no larger than an auto winder.

The people commenting on the feature in digital cameras, that allows for a square format composition, are missing one important detail.

The sensor is a rectangle and a square image is cropped out of that shape. You lose pixels on the sides. More importantly that square image utilizes only a small portion of the potential area of the lens. A square sensor is the maximum shape for the usage of the round lens. Having the sensor designed as a square gives the photographer the best possible use of the lens. And allows for a higher pixel count for a better image.

Another point about digital cameras that might be worth researching is regarding the color and B+W captures. The sensor sees only in monochrome, and added equipment interprets the signal into color. Would it be possible to build into the circuit a switch that could allow for the monochrome files straight from the sensor, or color files from the interpretation circuitry? Both RAW and JPG.


Nice editorial, Mike. I've nothing to add.

There are two approaches to simplicity. The Apple approach is to hide the underlying complexity, which is OK if you won't ever try and use any of the control that that complexity offers.

This approach, when applied to cameras, produces an iPhone. That's fine as a tool aimed at non-photographers, with no notion of exposure or image editing, and no desire to learn. It's also fine for tablets and PCs that are designed for use in the home. Most tech is designed for end-users who are not geeks.

But I would submit that that type of camera is not suitable to photography enthusiasts, any more than Apples appeal to computer geeks and gamers. Most custom-built PCs use Ubuntu UNIX or Windows, which are infinitely more customisable, and can work with a much wider range of peripherals. They are also easier to write apps for.

Windows sort of allows both. Win10 is simple enough to use through the GUI, but can still be command-line driven easily enough. Same with Ubuntu, which is even more accessible.

Pro-cameras are like Windows. They have all the automated controls for producing images in-camera, which occupy about half the menu options, but they also allow you to produce raw files, and shoot entirely in manual mode. This makes them too complex for either user set.

To use a car analogy, provide the camera equivalent of a Caterham. Just basic exposure and focus controls, simple layout, and raw only. No auto-ISO, no scene-modes, no JPEG quality controls, etc.

This could almost be done in firmware. Just have a 'simplify' button that discards all the non-essential menu items, and leaves you with the basics.

I’d take a larger sensor (24x32mm) version of the Olympus E-M5 MkII with a reasonable pixel count, maybe 30 megapixels, and a slightly bigger grip for dual sd cards. Still a 4:3 aspect sensor, but with better dynamic range and around a 24 megapixel 3:2 crop when desired. Pair it with a few f1.8 primes and a nice compact 24-70 equiv. f4 zoom.

I feel like Olympus is the only mirrorless manufacturer that really has gotten close to getting it done right. Fujifilm continues to push the whole X-Trans thing (while abandoning it for their larger sensor cameras..), Sony cameras are clunky to use and I was never happy with the color from the A7ii I owned, and Canon hasn’t even made an attempt at making anything more than kit lenses. I would also welcome Panasonic to make a larger sensor camera as well.

I would love to see a dedicated low-cost monochrome camera. Here's an idea of how to create one without incurring large development costs: do it in software. Imagine taking a Canon Rebel, modifying the firmware to produce monochrome images with the desired spectral response, and storing a cut-down resolution B/W image. Today's Rebels are 24 megapixel, so maybe we'd get a super-sharp 8 megapixel image.

If it's possible to do this with Magic Lantern, the source is freely available.

Canon also has "Picture Styles" that might be flexible enough to approximate the desired B/W response.

Generally, I wonder how well digital B/W would approximate the film B/W look given that digital acts more like slide film than print film.

As a first step, it would be interesting to create a formula in some image processing software that converts a digital color image to the desired B/W rendering.

Affordable digital B/W might not attract an audience that justifies a dedicated hardware design, but surely there's enough interest for software on an existing camera.

About 99% of my pictures are square. For years I’ve shot with a Canon XSi, and got used to “see in 1:1”.
On the XSi’s OVF, the distance between the extreme left and extreme right side focus points (rather dim but still perfectly noticeable) is exactly the same as the height of the frame, so you can use them as a guide to your composition.

It’s hard at first, but once you get used to it, it becomes second nature.

Fuji B&W conversions: https://www.maxmax.com/maincamerapage/monochrome-cameras/fuji-monochrome

A camera which I have often wished for but which doesn't exist is a simple compact camera with a bright fixed lens (say f/2 and 35 mm or 40 mm eq.), a large-ish sensor (1" or 4/3), a tough case and large buttons, EVF, and simple to use for children and people who don't want to learn about camera settings, preferably for less than 400 pounds/Euros/dollars. More or less a child's DMD (https://luminous-landscape.com/luminous-landscape-114/).

I have also often wished (separately from the child's DMD above) for a camera with a square sensor, which would make the optimum use of its lens's image circle and which could also be set to make horizontal and vertical crops in the common aspect ratios (e.q. 5:4, 4:3, 3:2).

"If a B&W-only digital camera is such a stupid idea, why does this exist?"

Which begs the question, how come there is only one B&W digital camera? The answer is probably the same as the answer to how come only one company sells mechanical-rangefinder digital cameras.

Maybe it's a stupid idea for everyone but Leica. That is, the estimated increase in market share does is much lower than R&D and manufacturing costs.

I don't think FUJUFILM will market a monochrome body. FUJIFILM design and marketing is color centric.

FUJIFILM leverages their color film band by offering in-camera JPEG simulations for those films.

I realize FUJIFILM also offers a rendering simulation for one of their monochrome films. In the US FUJIFILM sells seven different 35mm color films and one monochrome film. They sell twelve versions of color INSTAX film and one B&W INSTAX film.

I'm with John Krumm - a digital Olympus XA2 or Stylus Epic, with a 35/2.8 lene. Clamshell design, no screen, optical viewfinder. Zone focus. It'll shoot raw and have a 1" sensor. Market it as a street camera. Will have wifi transfer so you can share from a phone or edit from a tablet.

I think a good amount of technology in the past 20 years or so has already made cameras a lot simpler and more reliable. For instance, take the simple light metering of the scene in front of you; today, the meter in my camera is reliable for 90+% of my photography. So I can simply rely on it, I don't worry about it anymore. For the other 10%, RAW and software take care of it. I believe in the future the convergence between stills and motion will be complete; we will simply extract stills from the video frames.

So, to me, the camera I want to see is the one where I shoot a video clip, and then extract high quality (say 24mpx) frames from it.

I'm with you on the simple camera. It's possible to set up (say) a DSLR to become as simple as possible, but this needs enough knowledge to do this, plus a stubborn mindset that ignores all the other settings.

It's the elimination of decisions that need to be made before the picture is taken that is the key.

Even though I've set up a DSLR as above and I'm very stubborn, it is still easier and a delight to use a camera that requires as few decisions from me as possible. I can concentrate on the picture.

I recently ran a film through an Olympus XA2. It has a prime lens, a 35mm f/3.5. Exposure is automatic. Focus when the camera is turned on is set for 6 to 16 feet, just right for most things with a 35mm lens.

I turn the camera on, I stand at the right distance, I press the release. That's it. Done. It’s a much freer way of working.

Now consider a film SLR with a prime lens. The controls are:

Shutter speed
White balance (via filters)
ISO (Film choice)
Rendition (Also film choice)

Once you put a film in, you are pretty much stuck with that ISO and that rendition of colour. Given auto exposure, your variables then come down to what to focus on and where to point the camera.

It's limited compared to a modern DSLR, but if you want to produce good work, it's those limitations you need to work within, so you can concentrate.

I like the monochrome and M mount camera suggestions.
One thing I noted after some tests during years is that filters don't work with color digital sensors as worked with BW films before. The on Camera BW filters didn't work similar either. Usually there are yellow, red, green or orange filters but with film and some developers this filters made a complete different tonal response.
And I would like to shot with my classic M mount lenses with a camera that don't cost an eye and a kidney more or less.
The cheap method by now is still shot film and develop myself. Then scan.

About 99% of my pictures are square. For years I’ve shot with a Canon XSi, and got used to “see in 1:1”.
On the XSi’s OVF, the distance between the extreme left and extreme right side focus points (rather dim but still perfectly noticeable) is exactly the same as the height of the frame, so you can use them as a guide to your composition.

It’s hard at first, but once you get used to it, it becomes second nature. A Photoshop action crops the unwanted sides and saves the beatiful square files.

Most of the Fuji X cams let you shoot in 1:1 and I use it a lot. Here are some of my better square shots. https://www.flickr.com/photos/10025089@N05/21738771300/in/dateposted-public/

Regarding monochrome-only bodies, let's be realistic: the bottom line is they don't sell....at least for customers who can't afford to drop an extra 10 large on a Leica M body ...

They don't sell well to Leica owners either. Neither does the Leica M (typ 262) The screen-less and menu-less Leica M. Leica has to jack-up the price on these low demand niche cameras, to break-even.

BTW the Kyocera/Contax Pseudo Rangefinder G1/G2 (mid 1990s) has autofocus. I got to play with one at a trade-show. The G2 is arguably what Leica should have been at the time. But this isn't the Leica way.

As long as they don't call the new R-D1 the R2-D2.

My new phone (Mate 10 Pro) has a Leica lens with BW sensor. For me phone cameras are usually for note taking, but probably it's the closest I get to a BW Leica...

I still waiting someone to invent a film shaped sensor we can put into any film camera.

Keep in mind that Leica had thought about developing a b&w-only M for some time, but what got the program going was a request from the Los Alamos Laboratory for a b&w camera they could clamp on to the MiniMax portable x-ray it was developing. (The MiniMax is used for checking pipeline welds and the like in the field, and a number of other applications not associated with the Lab's day-to-day.) Leica decided to fund the R&D itself (to keep the intellectual property), and for being the launch customer, Los Alamos got the first few cameras off the line. Leica underestimated demand for the MM; it sold multiples of its initial market estimate, so I don't think it was a loss for the company.

It is a niche product, and one factor in the higher price is that an order for b&w-only sensors results in higher costs spread over fewer units. For some reason, not including the Bayer array on a sensor costs extra. But for my money, the results are worth it. The spectral response of the sensor is very close to that of panchromatic film, so I usually have a medium yellow filter on mine for good tones. Film-like characteristic curves are added in post-processing.

I think in 2018 we will see a Sony camera which has a 1" monochrome sensor, though personally I would love to have an A7m which is the A7riii with a 42MP monochrome sensor


A web search on the phrase “dream camera” returns all sorts of interesting results relating to dream interpretation. I think my dream camera would be made of chocolate and have a Bourbon center. I wonder what THAT means…

It seems like a cultural thing, this simplicity vs complexity. The Asian market seems to relish every possible feature and adjustment possible. The European model looks to original purpose.

I loved my Leica R8 and my M8 is just fine thanks. But my Sony A7-whatever and Fuji X-T2 just have too much stuff. They're cameras that want to be for every possible person.

I'd love the form factor of an X-T2 in monochrome with far fewer menu choices.

Stephan Schulz (note spelling) still oversees the development of the S system, but from a new, broader perch...


Black and white only image recording device, think x-ray machine at your local hospital.
I am assuming MIke is discussing only digital when he mentions "only" a black and white camera, in short digital only. With film it is either colour or black and white, and in the film situation what you loads you get, when the strip of plastic is processed.

On a somewhat different yet similar topic, Leica cameras are nice however they require "proper" servicing and with a very limited number of people here in Canada purchasing Leica; there is not a really suitable, reasonable in cost servicing facility in this country.

I could send a purchased used Leica to the USA for servicing, however Canada Revenue and Customs will treat it as a new camera even if it is being returned from just repairs. The taxation amount could well exceed the cost of the repair and yes too the initial cost of the camera. Long term it is not worth the stupidity of government attitude to even contemplate a Leica.

As to digita; B&W though, the ability of any current digital camera allows any rendering to have no colour, i.e. black and white.

What was the discussion again???

@eolake He was convicted of 7 sex and drug offenses in addition to involuntary manslaughter. The involuntary manslaughter conviction was for administering morphine to a model. She died of a resulting overdose.
TOP reported here: http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/2007/08/bob-shell-found.html and another photography blog wrote of it here: http://shardsofphotography.blogspot.jp/2007/09/bob-shell-convicted.html
There is no life sentence that I can find in the US for simple involuntary manslaughter.

@Stephan Sharf: Thanks for again pointing out the wonder of things Fuji. My original x100 never helped me take better photos, as it can barely focus either manually or automatically, shuts off at random times, and often fails to wake from sleep. It is a bit too buggy and poorly designed---sorry, quirky---for me. The XE1 is ok though. Nothing special, but a fine little camera. Except for the XTrans sensor, which as you mentioned the other day requires special additional software to get the best out of.

I wish the Pentax K-01 had been a commercial success (I think it was a photographic success for those using it), and would have been followed by an evolving series of mirror-less K-mount cameras with APS-C sensors with the same body size and weight: almost as portable as a micro 4/3. Thrown in a tilting mirror with a retractable hood.

Future Christmas gift?

More time to shoot with the cameras I already have.

Dreaming on...

I want someone to make a monochrome panoramic camera with low noise, wide dynamic range, a sensor size of 165mm x 27.5mm and a resolution of 30,000 x 5,000 pixels.

Oh wait - that sensor has existed for some time - the Gpixel GMAX3005:

So why hasn't anyone done it?

“I still can't share what I know about why, but suffice it to say that despite decent popularity the R-D1 was orphaned, deliberately, back in 2007. But by now the world has changed, and the conditions that killed the R-D1 are no longer pertinent,”

Aw, don't tease.

All I want for Christmas is Verichrome Pan 120 and Agfa Portriga.

Thanks for the link to the Fuji monochromes Frank - I hadn't given the idea much thought until now...

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