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Tuesday, 03 December 2019


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The new silver X Pro 3 is really handsome!! I got the black one. Now I wish I had waited.

Lifelong Nikon guy (hobbyist only). Started using my dad's Nikon F in the 70's, got a FG in the 80's. I went dormant for awhile (i.e. marriage, kids, like) and in 2009 got a D40. Currently using D7500/D750 combo and they aren't really much different than the D40 other than size/buttons/dials. They all have a red stripe.

I like having a deep grip. But other than that I agree a total re-do is long overdue, and yeah, the red stripe is really old, almost kind of bizarre they still have it. They even snuck it on the Z cameras.

I'm pretty sure the ship has sailed in regards to revamping the DSLR line which is sure to start shrinking. You would have thought the Z series would have been the time for a new bold design. Say what we will about Apple (and I have used Apple products from the beginning, they make products with some sex appeal, Nikon not so much. Even Apple's packaging is sweet.

The BBPL looked dated 15 years ago. The pinnacle of BBPL DSLR design, IMO, FWIW (PTA*), was the Olympus E-1. Who needed that left side of the body, anyway? Seriously--maybe the most comfortable BBPL ever.

The problem should be easy enough for Nikon to fix: look back to those nifty Nikkormats, pare down the clunky prism hump, and voila! The guts of a Z should fit into many retro bodies, no? With perhaps slight thickening.

Begging the question: how did the Leica M avoid ever looking dowdy or dated in 60+ years of production? (OK, the M3 does look a bit Contessa by now, and the M5 is forgotten, but that core M2 DNA has always looked cool somehow.) Possible answer--minimalism.

*PTA: Pardon the Acronymics

The Canon RP is a pretty little thing, just needs a dedicated set of compact f/1.8 lenses. All the junk you don’t need has been removed. Bit like the Fuji X100 series.


Your link to the Nikon D610 is a good example of the frumpy styling. Note how the shoulders droop, like an "Eeyore" model. The red swoop doesn't delineate any natural break on the body. The buttons around the lens aren't similar at all. And why is one hook pointing up while the other side's is pointing sideways? It doesn't look as if the hooks needed to be that way. It's no Pentax. ;)

Speaking of the exterior design of modern cameras, Fuji - Good, Nikon - Dated. Does anyone know why the Fuji X-Pro 2 has a slanted upper deck? Why aren't the control dials on a level lower deck that leads vertically to the upper viewfinder deck? Every time I see a X-Pro, I think that could be a beautiful camera but.....

Phase One gets it. The marketing message for the XT Camera System is one part image quality and three parts "the beauty of the hardware."

1. Unparalleled image quality.
2. Travel-friendly design.
3. Crafted for you.
4. Effortless capture.

It certainly looks like no camera I've seen before.

I guess I'm still stuck in the 70s...maybe the 60s. My impression of the prettiest cameras ever built are the Pentax Spotmatic and Contax RTS. I never owned either of them but they sure were pretty.

The Nikon Z cameras aren't quite as ugly as the Sony As in my eyes. The Sonys just look like somebody found a lot of left over mismatched parts, cobbled them together and declared it a winner. They don't even look like they would be comfortable to handle. Am I behind the curve? Guess so since Sony keeps selling the ugly things.

"Nikon's italic forward-slanting sans-serif typeface was clean and modern...in 1953..." but my old Nikon F and F2 bodies from the 60s and 70s have lettering saying "Nikon" in nice stand-up-straight typeface. Don't recall when the jazzy leaning-into-the wind lettering first made an appearance but I'm betting it was associated with that gawdawful red racing stripe. I really dislike that red swoop. I recall the red line on the front of my shiny new F3 early release model. And then I recall how that damn camera wouldn't run and kept dying on me. A former friend had the pleasure of getting my F3 some time later. I say "former" because I haven't heard from him in years. Might have something to do with selling him that damn F3. I hated that camera and eventually dumped Nikon for Canon when AF came along.

But now I'm back with Nikon again, alongside my much loved Fuji XPros. The Nikons ain't real purty but they run nice enough. They're a good contrast to the Fujis--loud and brash compared to quiet and understated. They don't look *that* bad to me. Outdated? Probably. So am I. Guess we're made for each other.

I had to open my bag and check my months-old Z7 to see for myself it has that red thing. First time!

The difference I think is that Fuji designs cameras for photographers and Nikon "engineers" cameras that they market to photographers. Thus Fuji wound up with a camera that happened to be a computer and Nikon with a computer that happened to be a camera.

Fuji beat Nikon to the punch, and Fuji is what Nikon should be had Nikon been on their toes. It's like Manny Paquiao fighting George Foreman.

Dear Mike
But really - you like Mazda as far I remember. That is enough.
Take care,

Could you examine your site on Nikon criticism vs others? Somehow it seems to me, that Nikon is at war with bloggers, more so than other camera companies. Is it trendish or mainstream? They even are not a big company (which you do not like on principle, as you once wrote), like Apple or Canon or Sony...?

Not sure who said it first, but "Beauty is a thing that works."

TOP. I come for the photography. I stay for the burns.

Shouldn’t it be ‘what hast tha’ wrought’?

The Nikon F had that classic look, and small brother Nikkormat shares the same. They beat BBPLs.

As for logos, I don't know if that white cursive Leica written in a red dot needs any upgrading.

But their new shiny chunks of metals called cameras still got no fight against the legendary M film cameras (except the M5) in terms of beauty.

Mike, two comments:

1. I think the Nikon F3 still looks fresh and sophisticated.

2. Open concept in a house. The giggly couples in Home & Garden are obsessed with tearing up their new/old houses and doing a giant open cavern. Then over the years, cooking film and odors permeate the entire downstairs. My sister in Greece told me the open thing is passed in Europe.

"How is it that a deliberately retro digital looks more 2020 and
up-to-date than a black-blob polycarbonate DSLR?"

It doesn't.

All a matter of taste, and ours differ. Yes, all the Fuji models with fake prism humps look a great deal like the old Fuji 35 mm cameras. They were ugly then (yes, I've owned one, probably still do, somewhere), and they are ugly now.

As to the sea of CaNikon plastic looking blobs, they are all neither good nor bad looking, just what largely competent, 21st century DSLRs look like. Pretty much form following function.

A little flash of red on a blob; how can anyone care, one way or the other?

I thought rangefinders awful, as a matter of use. Now I have mirrorless cameras styled after film rangefinders, and think they look decent. But that's not why I have them.

Not with you on this, which is rare. I go for function over form.

the \Fuji is kinda ugly.

Mike, as I have said before I shoot Nikon and Fuji. I like them both, but I love Z6. The handing, the ergonomics, the fact that it feels solid and most importantly the IQ. I own most of the S lenses including the beautiful 24-70 f2.8. That lens is one of the best lenses I have ever shot. I also own the 35 and 50 S lens, they too are better than any other Nikon lens I have used.
I do have a Fiji XT3 with the red 16-55 red square lens and while it is good, if I want to attach a flash on a camera for portrait work, I always grab my Nikon. I will use Nikon as long as the cameras still work and Adobe still supports them. As I have mentioned before you can find me on Flickr under Albert w Erickson. All the best Eric

I would rather watch a Seinfeld marathon than own any BBPL.


Hrrrumpf .... ok, curmudgeon mode (I have a few years more experience than our humble editor) off

My own opinion (and you can have it for what you have paid) is that the synergy between tools and artist, instrument and musician, camera and photographer has a significant component that derives from how the tool/instrument/camera looks, feels and appeals to the user. It may not even be the technically best tool, but in the hands of its owner, it becomes the best choice that draws out their best work.

You forgot to mention that the Panasonic GX8s are the best-looking cameras around, and that includes Leicas.

As for Nikon, they aren't handsome, but boy, are they functional. Fujis don't remind me of the 21st century, they remind me of an Argus C3, my first 35mm camera. To appreciate the aesthetics of Nikon, you have to close your eyes, and let the Nikon dangle from your fingertips. Walk with it a bit, that way. Then try that with your Fuji, but be sure you have a plastic bucket under it to catch it when it falls off.

Two words for you: Pentax KP.

OK, not sure if "KP" really counts as a word. But the latest crop body from the 100-year-old company looks and feels like now.

I've got news for you: your Fujifilm X-H1 is the business.

Anyone recall the drama attending the roll-out of that dead duck, the sorrowful Df? Nikon could have out-Fuji'd Fuji with a form factor that recalled the FE/FM bodies or even the F3 but chose instead a butt-ugly, malformed design few loved enough to buy. I have an all-prime Nikon D7200 kit I seldom use now after Fuji called my name. Nikon seems rudderless now.

I happen to think the Nikon FF mirrorless bodies are the best FF mirrorless bodies out. And I happen to like the Red detail, it reminds me of a Nike Swoosh.

The Nikon Z6 is my first Nikon ever, coming from using Canon for years, but I feel they're on the right track.

I own and shoot both. The Nikons just have a better grip and it is easier to manipulate the settings when held to the eye. My Fuji ( X-T2 ) is easier to glance and check exposure triangle on but is less fluid when held to the eye and has buttons that are too small and not as well differentiated. I do shoot more from low and high angles though because of the well designed LCD on the X-T2. If there were more lenses, the Z6 or Z50 might be tempting (although they messed up the dials—not the wonderful sticky dials of my D750). I wish the Fuji fit my hand as well as the Nikon but had the control scheme as it is now. For now, I just use both with the Nikon mostly relegated to longer lens shooting and never travels with me. Luckily, both generate excellent files with a slight edge to the Nikon. We are blessed to have such good tools and, to Gordon’s point, the perfect mousetrap (ie camera) may never exist. I am interested to see how the Zs and the X-Ts evolve but will need a major improvement to earn my dough given how good things are now.

I say this as a X-T20 owner - Fuji may have "the look" down, but the ergonomics leave a lot to be desired. Cramped controls, too-small buttons, odd choices for button placements. Just do a quick search for "X-T30 Q-Button" and read the complaints about how easy it is to accidentally press it. I am sure the X-T3 is better, but I don't have any experience with it.

Nikon, on the other hand, may not have the retro good looks, but all of the controls on a D8xx or Z6/7 are well-thought out and located with ample customization options. Function over form, as they say.

Well, I hope that was cathartic for you, Mike. As others have mentioned, the Nikons excel in ergonomics and image quality. I'm not too concerned whether the shape of the camera is Bauhaus or blob.

I’ve hated the black blob look since Canon introduced the AF EOS line (or, even with the T90, a butt ugly camera). But, practicality and budget has forced me to go with a used EM10, and you know, I’m getting a bit more comfortable with it by and by. I got it mainly to use a few old Oly Pen F (film) lenses, all from the 60’s. They will be okay for moderate enlargement I think.

Nikon made great looking cameras on the 1970s, the Nikon ELW was very good looking. Unfortunately, if Nikon made a camera with that look, people would think it was a Sony.

Oh dear - I'm obviously out of step here. I loved the feel and operation of the first Canon EOS camera I ever had, and 30 years later Canons still look and feel just right to me. I couldn't do without my Canon BBPL.

But there again, I don't have much experience of any other company's BBPL, nor of the alternatives (other than smartphones). Which I suspect may put me in a similar position to most ILC users...

"Maybe the Z line will be the new Nikon look."

Bearing in mind that the Z series look like the Nikon-1 V2 on steroids, I'm not sure I'd call it a new look... ;-)

Be very wary. States of extreme anguish prompted by minor irritant stimuli can be a warning sign of larger things just over the horizon. Perhaps withdrawal to a quiet, darkened room with only a print displaying a dark green Miata with tan interior, placed on a simple easel under gentle lighting, is in order. Give it a day or two of contemplation. Everything will be much better.

BBPL cameras are like neck ties. As long as I can remember I have been hoping in vain to outlive them. I waited at least fifteen years and if Nikon had come up with only one compact good looking alternative I probably would never have switched to Micro Four Thirds. Not only the bodies are bulky, also the lenses got bigger and bigger. An ordinary full frame set up is heavier than medium formats film cameras used to be. "There is an elephant in the room. Oh, it's me carrying that BBLP!" And I even have the same feeling outdoors.
The Z-line indeed looks very attractive. So did the Series 1 and the DL-line that never came. But even if Nikon would make more affordable small Nikon Z lenses it is too late now to switch back.

"Now, like a 90-year old who still pomades his ducktail like he did when Elvis was King,"...you mean, like, Willie Nelson?

Got out of the wrong side of the bed yesterday?! I just ordered my first Nikon, the Z6. Now I have to get my head around the news that my favorite photo writer finds it ugly. The cognitive dissonance! the suffering!

[No, read again! I said I like the Z's. --Mike]

Having accumulated several Nikon DSLRs and Fuji Xt-1 and XT-20 over the years, I think Nikons are engineered for their functionality and intuitive user interface, Fujis are designed for their "retro" external looks. Engineered vs. designed. Function over form.

The way a camera looks is not unimportant but it matters only to a point.

I have an X-T30 and a Nikon D810. I use the Fuji more often because I prefer the image it produces - and also the lighter load. But the Nikon feels better in the hand and is more robust.

On the other end of the spectrum a camera can be too pretty. My old Rolleiflex 3.5F draws many remarks from passersby on the street - so much so that it is sometimes hard to be discreet. The trick is getting the shot before they notice, which they will.

To complete my unfinished thought from my previous comment:

I like the retro Fuji look and want to grab the XT-1 when I need a camera, but usually end up grabbing a Nikon unless I need the smallest camera I can use. Using a Nikon is almost second-nature. As I said, function over form.

I’ve been using modern Fuji’s since the X100 and very much enjoy the look of them and what comes out of them.

But great design obsesses over usability. And I’m in my experience the Fuji desire for the advantages of retro occasionally override fluidity if use.

Not long ago I purchased a Nikon F100. Essentially a two decade old design with roots further back than that. This camera is entirely fluid in use, as are the new Nikon Z series.

They also look solid, in part because they are. Serious. Functional. Photographer first.

I don’t enjoy anything frumpy. There is nothing about these cameras that is grumpy.

Hi Mike-
I thought the 'red slash' actually was taken from the self-timer/long exposure switch on the F2, that had a curved red line at the bottom, and then became the vertical red line in roughly the same place on the F3. No idea where this recollection came from...a 70's review of the F3 maybe, or maybe not. Anyway, probably the least-significant comment you've received this decade. Stay well.

Honestly, why bother? Leopard skin tights are making their third iteration in my lifetime - surely this camera shape is almost back in fashion, if not ahead of its time?

I hate Fuji ergonomics. They do not make cameras for photographers. They make cameras for hipsters. Love the look, absolutely hate the function. I have an X100T, which I think is the most beautiful digital camera ever made. Hate using it. And Fujis don't look modern in any way. They are deliberate copies of ancient designs and cause hand cramps the same way those old cameras did when you held them for extended periods of time.

When I have to use a camera I grab my nine year old Canon 60D and get to work. It stays out of my way and allows me to change settings quickly, often without taking my eye away from the finder. And I use it in MANUAL mode only. Always. Isn't that what the holy grail of camera use used to be when people were photographers and not vloggers? And the deep grip and medium size is perfect for holding for hours on end, which I sometimes do. Think airshows, or photographing people engaged in activities for an entire day.

I find Canon's ergonomics to be superior to Nikon's, personally. Others feel differently. I feel that my fingers get squeezed between the grip and lens mount, and the two buttons placed in that space don't feel good to me, either. I like the extra space Canon leaves for the fingers. Personal preference there.

I also like the fact that Canon cameras have the same layout once you get out of the Rebel series. I still have a 10D and have now picked up a cheap, well used 5D II and, aside from being larger, it feels and functions the same way as the 60D. I like that. I do wish it was the size of the 60D, but other than that it is fine. Oh, and I want the 10D shutter brought back. It was wonderfully quiet and Canon dropped the ball when they replaced it.

I've always felt the advent of the D3 was Nikon's "Comeback Elvis” in terms of design. That's when they went full BBPL; every DSLR since was a Nikon, but notably bloated. Like, uncomfortably bloated. That red slash went from being a distinct branding accent to an impersonator's exaggerated pant flare.

Seems to me Nikon finally realized this and did change their house look with the Z Line. They changed it so much so they even moved away from their ubiquitous F-mount when they offloaded the mirror box.

Now to me, the Z looks more like an homage of sorts to the N4004 (which incidentally appears to be the debut of the italic forward-slanting sans-serif typeface) & N8008. These were their commercial breakouts of the electronics boom in the 1980s because they sported some of the most modern of designs—sleek & angular polycarbonate with enough rounded edges to make them different from their coal-fired jagged metal predecessors.

The Z Line is not retro, for Nikon it’s avant-garde. I’m happy to see it has the potential to be the next commercial breakout it needs.

We all have preferences and priorities. Ease of handling a camera and feeling that it is secure in the hands is important to me. I honestly don't think too much about how the camera looks. Red strip, red tick, white dot whatever.. It is more important how the photographs one takes with it look. Of course it is a different matter if the camera is being carried as a fashion accessory.
Mr John Camp said it quite succinctly above, 'close your eyes and let the Nikon dangle from your fingertips'...

So now it's a Beauty contest?
Cameras for me at least, rise and fall on function.
If a camera helps you make great pictures, who cares what it looks like.
If a camera makes it slower/harde to get good pictures, who cares what it looks like?

[Well, I do, but you certainly don't have to! --Mike]

I with you, Mike. I finally dropped Nikon (not because of looks, lol) after steadily owning Nikons since the F (not kidding). Last year I bought a Fuji XT2 because it appealed to the way that I like to shoot (I prefer actual buttons and dials and not too much menu navigating). BUT, it also appealed to me because it, in a retro/modern way, reminded me of my favorite camera of all time - the Nikon F2AS. I had an entire system around that camera, motor drive and everything.

So, go figure...

I've looked at my D600 a couple of times now and it just looks like a Nikon camera to me. The digital universe tells me it's worth just a few hundred dollars on a trade so I might as well continue shooting with it and I have to admit it sings with the set of AiS primes I've put together for it. It's my Hasselblad kit for the sensible fellow and with the battery grip attached, I look like someone who must know what he's doing! I'm approaching 10,000 shots on the D600 so if it should fail I'll just pony up for a Z7, the 24-70/4, and the adapter. Bob is indeed your uncle.

Beautiful older cameras? I finally placed my Nikkormat in the bookcase along with the pre-AI primes I had found for it. The FM and my Nikon AI-updated primes are good to go for film, not that I shoot a lot of film these days. Actually, I bought the FM because it includes the flip-up index tab so I can still use those pre-AI lenses if I choose.

And, yes, I'm still shooting with my Nikon 1 gear for fun. Leica-to-N1 adapters were easy to find so I'm keeping my eyes open for an LTM 28/3.5 or 35/2.8 Nikkor with the correct shade, preferably.

I find the Fuji primes terribly tempting. I actually wish Nikon's Z-series included a modern SP and even just a trio of compact primes for it. How cool would that be?

Cameras which look dated? Have any of you folks taken a close look at an M10-P? I'm sure I look past my prime too! :)

The answer of course is the Nikon Df. The camera everybody loves to hate. I love it however and use it exclusively with AI-S, AI and pre AI manual focus Nikkor lenses. Unlike the FTZ debacle, the Df is completely compatible with the above lenses, including proper EXIF recording, rangefinder dot and exposure meter. Plus AF-D lenses as well. No amorphous blob, no red line, etc etc. Plus dedicated controls and a smoking D4 sensor. Note also the Df weighs only 45 grams more than a Z6 plus the FTZ adapter!

Ah, photographers. Where will I ever find a more conservative bunch? The older it looks, the newer they say it looks.

The thing is — we are just too old to spot it. The Z *is* a modern retro look.

I mean, compare the Z series with the latest DSLRs and it looks like a big change. But compare it to the F5, F80 and F100, which were squarer and flatter in key places, and you can see clear similarities; it seems to me Nikon is aiming at what will be retro for the future market, not for us.

We are old enough that it’s not retro because we still own T-shirts that old.

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