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Wednesday, 31 March 2021

Comments

I agree 100% with your Nos. 1 & 2, don't care about the others.

There's a feature I might be interested in that I haven't seen anywhere, although I'm not sure if it would prompt to spend money on a new body for. It seems to me that it should be possible nowadays to set up a body+lens combo for hyperfocal shooting via the menu. The CPU already knows so much about native lenses, why shouldn't it be possible to tell it to set up for that and to freeze settings. I have tried to shoot in hyperfocal with an Oly body and the 17 mm/f1.8 but the problem is focussing at the correct distance, since the distance scale is not too useful. Also, even if I set it up to my satisfaction, it's too easy to accidentally knock the lens off that distance and not notice. Since it's focus by wire anyway, seems to me there should be a way to tell the body/lens to freeze buttons and all settings and ignore any focus ring movements.

Along similar lines, I wonder if there would be circumstances where one might want to set focus exactly at 3.24 metres, say, or something. Shouldn't the body and lens know how to do that? Also useful would be an "go to infinity" focus menu setting.

I can't be the only person to have wanted these.

[Seems to me there was a Canon, maybe in the early '90s, that had what you want--you'd set the far focus point and close focus point, and the camera would set the ideal focus distance to get both as much in focus as possible. I can't remember the details, though. Can't remember if the camera chose the aperture you needed, although I think maybe it did. --Mike]

I think your list does a good job of covering the biggest things I can think of that really changed the nature of things. Two additional tech-y things I use not on there are sensor-shift "high resolution" and another thing Olympus bodies have called live composite.

The high resolution mode is useful for me because it lets me have a sensible 20mp for most shooting, but for some things like negative scanning or photographing paintings it lets me get a higher resolution file without having to go and rent a higher resolution camera, like I did before.

Regarding your real question of if any tech has been a game-changer for my work, the past year or so in the pandemic I have been doing a series of works exploring purposefully flawed or technically imperfect photos that have sort of morphed into their own concept once I started utilizing the "live composite" mode that came on my Olympus. It's sort of a mix between multi-image composite photography and long-exposure photography. It takes a series of fixed length exposures for as long as I choose to let it run, only tracking the changes in light from each exposure to exposure, and makes one image out of the sum. So, unlike either long-exposure or traditional composite, it won't start overexposing areas that have had light on them for longer durations or for multiple instances, so long as the intensity of the light doesn't change. I've been using it combined with manual triggered studio strobes or traditional light painting in a dark studio to play with ghosting, movement, and multiple views of the same person (in an almost Cubist way, at times).... all as a true single image in-camera. The work I've been doing with it I am unaware of any other way to do with the same results I'm getting, making it truly one of the few technological additions buried in the camera that have changed how I am actually doing work.

Quick sharing on the Internet is the feature that has created whole industries, changed what we think a photograph is, and made the fortunes of social media billionaires.

However, the standout feature of digital for me is one word: freedom. Advances in technology, materials and software mean that small, light cameras (or if you prefer, big and heavy ones) can capture decent images in almost any light and any circumstances anywhere. That could be a smartphone camera or a medium format behemoth. And once the shutter is tripped, that’s it. The user is freed from all the other links in the old chain, unless they prefer not to be. The features you cite are all aspects of the same thing: the ability to get a decent image no matter how unpromising the circumstances. That’s the freedom of much more room for creativity and enjoyment.

I bought two of the Fuji X-H1 cameras just when the X-T3 was released. The Fuji rep thought I was nuts, but I really wanted the IBIS so I could have stabilization on all my lenses. It works flawlessly, and I just found a mint X-H1 online and ordered it so I will have three of them. With any luck they will last until I retire.

1. "live view" (for DSLR) or EVF for careful focusing. In the days before digital careful, precise focusing depended on a mirror (for SLRs anyway) that may or may not have been aligned precisely. But, in the digital era you can see live what you're focusing on.

2. better dynamic range than film. Much easier to keep highlights and shadows from blowing out or bottoming out, and the ability to recover them in processing. I don't mean the fake looking versions of HDR, I just mean that it's much easier to keep light ranges looking natural than it was before digital.

As the owner of a Leica CL with a broken light meter, this all sounds like science fiction to me.

Digital images, made by the camera.

An end to the shoot-develop-print-scan chain, and with better results.

Around 2001 it got good enough and affordable enough that I made the leap. It's only gotten better since. The things you mention are icing.

Auto ISO and ISO beyond 400 which isn't a grainy/noisy mess.

Digital Voice Recorders have a feature which will capture sound prior to the sound which activates the recording. I think it is done by a loop which saves 10 seconds of sound whenever the recorder is in standby, then saves that 10 seconds in front of the sound which activates the recording. It will automatically record the slamming of a door, for instance. Great for a recording where there are a lot of long pauses.

Digital Era Gifts?

I do agree with IBIS. Very high on my list. In my top 3 for sure. I use it a lot. It’s a three way tie for me. IBIS, High ISO, and EVF aspect ratio options.

High ISO capabilities of digital cameras amaze me. I’m 74 and shot a lot of film. High speed film and/or film developing tricks to get high ISO were always pretty disappointing. With my Sony A7rIV, I tested (by making large prints) and I now consider ISO 12800 very usable. Requires some some post processing noise reduction (DXO v4) but it’s astonishingly good.

The ability to change the display control viewing options for the EVF or Monitor is also great. I do not always love the 3:2 aspect ratio. I love being able to switch my EVF/Monitor so I can see, frame and compose in a 1:1 or 4:3 format. Add to that aspect ratio format option, the ability to choose between a B&W vs color image displaying in the EVF too.

1. Autofocus. Yes, it was available before digital but not on my film camera. So digital brought autofocus to me.

2. Instant review with histograms.

3. No film. Film could be damaged or lost (both happened to me) by labs, airport security, mail delivery, etc.

1. agree
2. very important to me and many other photographers is the custom mode, where you van store nearly all important camera settings - not the custom mode as Fuji has implemented in most cameras. X-E4 is getting close.

In-camera raw processing (my experience is with Ricoh GR and Fuji X cameras). But I'm not sure when that was first available.I dont use any other raw processor, thankfully.

For me, game changer #1 once the digital era was in full swing, was Adobe Lightroom and the ability to effectively batch process small and large groups of images visually in the browser. Prior to that we were opening images individually in Photoshop or creating "actions" for certain sets of images. Early digital workflow was a nightmare.

Image stabilization for me is a "nice to have."

The second major game-changer was the ability to shoot silent. This was THE feature that moved me from Nikon SLRs to Sony mirrorless. In addition to the silent option, the mechanical shutter is also much quieter.

And finally, the eye-af of the Sony bodies has completely changed the way I shoot. For 20 years I was an AF-S focus and re-compose person. Now I am an eye-af, C-AF person at almost all times. Complete game changer. And the hit rate becomes almost an obsolete thing - always in focus.

Live histogram!

In-body image stabilization. Works with every lens.

Low-light performance. Just incredible what you can do at night.

Huge depth-of-field with small sensors on small cameras. Small-sensor cameras (digital compacts, cellphones) have great DOF. Fantastic for taking pictures of model railroads, taken from a "scale persons" eye level. Could never do anything like that with a film SLR, at least not well, and without blisteringly hot lighting. Before this, model railroad photography looked like drone shots - from above.

Because of the way I shoot, mostly street (in the very wide sense of street -- stuff I shoot while aimlessly wandering around, often off-balance and in not quite the right place with the right gear, or shooting out a car window) the most important thing for me is post-processing software. It's sort of revolutionary to have level horizons (crop,) color and contrast adjustments and so on, and I do like buildings that appear to be vertical. I've always loved photographs as an end product, and have a modest collection of fine images. The other stuff, camera tech and processing, was just pretty much a pain in the ass that stood in the way of getting to the end product. Digital has made much of that painless, and I like that a lot.

I'm a control freak, but I've really come to embrace AUTO-ISO. Sure, I could just set a single setting higher or lower based on the conditions, lighting, focal length, etc, but the camera can do it based on my set-up... max ISO and shutter speed threshold to transition to a higher sensitivity.

Fujifilm cameras really let me like this feature because they allow three ranges to be programmed into the menu, so if I'm using a 16mm (24mm E), I can get away with a longer shutter speed, or I have my street shooting shutter speed set for 1/500th and I just get on with shooting in changing light.

Yeah, I can do it manually, but I'd just do what the camera would do... if I notice the change in shutter speed.

Not ranked in any order:
1. Mirrorless cameras, increasing durability due to lack of a mirrorbox.
2. Really good EVFs
3. More consistent and predictable AF for subjects moving at very high speeds (>100 mph; don't care a whit about eye-AF).
4. Fujifilm cameras
5. Capture One
6. Luminosity Masking
7. Significantly increased dynamic range

Everything Robert Roaldi said. Of course, we could just use cameras and lenses designed for manual focus and hyperfocus, but that's not always convenient or practical. Manual focus is important to me, and I second RR's wish, though more generally as more focus feedback and control.

I therefore appreciate MF aids like magnified focus targets and highlighting. (Not necessarily "like", but appreciate. I likewise appreciate histograms and out-of-gamut warnings.)

Finally, I don't understand why quick and easy crop/aspect-ratio preview isn't standard on every camera with a real-time preview. Should be a piece of cake to let us call up any number of presets as either bright-lines or masks. Those aids should be customizable, optionally momentary or fixed, and switchable via dial or lever. Better yet (if more challenging to implement) if they could be saved with the file and recalled in post.

Image stabilization, vast exposure expansion and flexibility, low/no cost per frame, easy malleability, better lenses, active millisecond-by-millisecond communication between camera and lens, etc.. The list of truly useful technical and ergonomic advancements ushered by the conversion of photography from the chemical era to an electronic platform is almost unending.

But history will not make much note of these features. What history will find most notable about the advent of the digital photo era is its integration with communications technologies. That someone can take a picture in, say, Caracas and literally a minute later someone in Winnipeg or London can be viewing that picture is unquestionably the "coolest" and most tectonically significant aspect of all incarnations of digital photography today and forever.

Live-view should be on your list.

My 1st encounter with optical IS was on a 1990 Yashica Hi-8 videocam. It was shockingly effective, turning hand-held footage from nausea-inducing to quite usable. As I understood at the time, that IS was licensed from Sony.

My needs are simple. I’m still thrilled with the basics of digital.

Camera Features: I still shoot a DSLR and my coolest features are the combination of image stabilization, “free” burst shooting, a histogram, and the low light capabilities of full frame. When I bought my first DSLR (Rebel) I immediately began assembling a moderately fast, full frame lens kit in preparation for the time when I could afford the jump to full frame. Shooting handheld in marginal light without flash has always been important to me.

Software Features: The Lightroom rating system and Compare View come in handy for editing those three shot bursts. Being able to easily find and then manipulate the dynamic range of the keepers in Lightroom is wonderful. I was not a darkroom guy so I was glad to leave film behind.

Image stabilisation and high ISOs are the ones for me. I recently took shots at 1/8th sec, handheld, at ISO 9000. The blurred ones I got were all due to subject movement.

I nearly forgot; autofocus that can get a lock on things I can't even see, like backlit faces surrounded by incense smoke.

One thing I miss is a decent focusing scale with depth of field markings. It's possible; see the featured comment on your last post about the Zeiss Batis 40mm lens.

Easier travel - I didn't change to digital until I booked to go to Antarctica.
The thought of all the X-ray machines I would encounter with 3 flights in each direction swung it for me. (not to mention carrying dozens of rolls and changing film while it snows)
I would have needed over 100 36 exposure rolls.

All of it! From digital capture itself, to asset management, to image editing, to easy and affordable high-quality inkjet printing at home - I am still blown away by how much easier it is to make and share pictures since the advent of digital imaging.

I agree with Mike R, features like those in your list and others mentioned by other commenters are terrific, but for me they are icing on a very delicious cake :-)

Cheers!
Dan

Not a camera feature as such, but Adobe's new Enhance Super-Resolution is going to resurrect old digital images, effectively doubling the original resolution. https://scq.io/l/JWqYhPnA

1. Focus peaking in the EVF, for super effective manual focusing.

2. Histogram and related live exposure analysis in the viewfinder, for intelligent manual exposure.

3. Fuji's hybrid OVF/EVF viewfinder, combined with the above features 1 and 2.

The X-Pro2/X-Pro3 quietly and unassumingly outleicas the Leica. The actual implementation is far from perfect, but the design works and in my view is the most ingenious design innovation of the digital era.

The only thing I would be interested right now would be digital xpan in a slightly wider fuji x100 like body.

This is good to reflect on. The top taken for granted item: autofocus. I don't think as an old dawg that photography would be fun if I was frying my eyes attempting manual focus. The second feature for sure is image stabilization, and currently for me that is IBIS used with small prime lenses on a Fuji X-T4. (The VR in Nikon lenses is also fantastic).

Other stuff:

Being able to see the exposure in the EVF prior to taking the photo has been a huge change for the better for me coming from Nikon DSLR's where I would look at images on the LCD after having taken the photos.

I agree with Albert Smith regarding Auto-ISO, especially the ability to set a minimum shutter speed.

The stuff that really seems amazing though is in my iPhone. Not just the immediate connectivity to the internet/cloud or whatever but the computational features like Night Mode, Deep Fusion, and how each "photo" is really 9 photos using SmartHDR. My iPhone nails exposure with zero effort, the colors are always great, and it's so easy to use.

I still prefer the images I get from my "real camera" but I also wonder how that camera would perform if it had the horsepower of my iPhone.

Mike,

Most of the Canon auto focus SLR models had "depth mode." It worked pretty much as you described and yes, the camera did pick the aperture for you. It really was a good feature. I always wished they had carried that feature over to their digital SLR's.

High ISO, of course. And then image stabilization (have to say in-body; using old lenses on adapters on mirrorless bodies and getting stabilization is wonderful).

And big memory cards, as opposed to 36-exposure rolls.

EVF and auto-focus. I can focus, or the camera can focus for me, in light that was highly challenging before.

On-camera histogram displays; so vastly much more information than a light meter gives! And on-camera image displays with zoom, so I can check focus/sharpness, check the edges, and so forth instantly in the field.

Smaller sensors and hence increased DoF.

Can I cheat and say low-light performance? So, a combination of image stabilization and the sensor's (and software's) ability to deliver pretty-danged clean images in pretty-danged low light.

I know we all remember freezing a leaping rock guitarist in candlelight, handheld with a 135mm lens wide-open at an 1/15th of a second, but that was usually one frame out three rolls of film, right?

Also: This isn't a digital advancement so much as a digital catch-up, but it was, for me, the turning point: The elimination of shutter delay (in a camera I could afford). At that point, I could feel and act like a photographer again.

I've never used a camera with IBIS—or missed having it. The US Army taught me how to hold a weapon steady. The same hold-steady tricks also work with cameras.

I seldom use an ISO higher than 800 with digital (night motor-sports). Back in the days-of-film I did use some Kodak P3200, but I preferred Panatomic X (ASA 32).

I find most of the features in my digital cameras confusing, if not, in practice, an exercise in neophilia. I didn't take any pictures for many months during the pandemic. When I finally picked up a camera, if it was film or my M9, I didn't need to relearn it. Not so with my digital cameras. Now, this is in part because I customize them - which the cameras encourage you to do. And so more often than not I create a Rube Goldberg contraption that I forget how to set into motion. A spot meter and the Zone System is child's play in comparison.

I like the IBIS in my GH5, but for video.

The thing I like best in my XT-30 is the tilting screen on back so I can shoot it like my Rolleiflex.

Improved sensors are nice since they open up the window of what you can consider useable light - but this can itself be misleading, or become a crutch.

The complexity on the editing side is a different experience and more suited to it, so software is maybe where the biggest improvements can be found. For example, at the moment I'm demoing Photo Mechanic (maybe I will finally wrangle my archive) and Negative Lab Pro. Both look like they will be very useful in my workflow. I really appreciate what digital tools bring to the table on this side of the craft - including printing.

The 35mm Canon FTb had the QL (Quick Load) feature that provided loading of film by just laying the leader across the take-up reel, and simply closing the back, before ratcheting the film forward: https://casualphotophile.com/2017/08/25/canon-f-1-vs-ftb-should-you-go-pro/#jp-carousel-8423

It was big disappointment that Canon didn't include this feature in their next model, the AE1.

The pixel level but still at capture time HDR and sharpening that the phones do these days.

Autofocus.

My top 3:

-Increasingly effective RAW processing tools and more sources of them from iPhone to pro level camera and between. I love that I can go back and rework an image and get more out of it than I could 5 years ago.

- Fast accurate auto focus. I trade up several times chasing this

- Quality electronic view finder - I know they are still controversial but once they got to a certain level of quality they became a game changer for me.

Full frame sensor - I don't have to buy new lenses to get the same angle of view that I had with my film SLR.

In-Body Image Stabilization - able to use old Pentax lenses and have Image Stabilization "built in". Pay for IBIS once, rather than for each new lens bought. (Looking at you, Canon.)

Auto ISO - Never stuck with too slow or too fast film for the conditions. Each "frame" has its own ISO, just like sheet film.

Backward lens compatibility - more complete with Pentax. M42 lens? Install the K-mount to M42 adapter, focus, stop down, hit "magic green button" to read light level through lens, take photo. The lack of electrical contacts on the M42 lenses doesn't even matter.

Amazingly high ISO speeds - able to easily take photos in available murkiness, as long as the camera can meter in the darkness.

Very accurate metering - this is my first camera (Pentax K1 II) with a built-in light meter, but I remember others who would dip their camera lens to take a light reading, to exclude the brighter sky. Use a modern camera to take a photo today with a "sky and ground" background and the exposure is perfect. Even facing the sun, backlit objects usually have semi-decent detail. You have to tell it to make a silhouette -- which is as it should be.

EVF. This is the first widely-available example of "Augmented Reality" or AR. All the ISO, leveling, histograms, exposure blinkies, etc. We'll be seeing more of this soon.

The saddest thing for me is that the major camera makers all missed on #3, and it's costing them an extraordinary amount.

Having read through some of these comments, I have to add the high iso improvements. My first DSLR, the Nikon D1 was great at iso 200 - of course 2.7mp, 4x6 at 300dpi. Good at iso 400. Usable up to 640, then horrible. The fact that I now shoot iso 1600, 3200 and 6400 without thinking twice is liberating. Things slowly improved in Nikon world through the various iterations of D1 and D2, but the D3 and D700 was the big leap and the D3s was the moment of full arrival.

I am currently scanning film from a 1999 trip to Morocco. My initial takeaway is that my walkaround Sony RX10M4 files (20mp on 1" sensor) are superior in every way to the Fuji Velvia (50) and Reala (100) 35mm films that I was using. You can of course argue a certain character for those films, but in terms of all of the objective measures, there's no comparison.

...Focus peaking and EVF Zoom to detail focus!

I bought an used E-M1 for a feature cryptically called Live View Boost / On2 (Olympus menu items at their very best).
It's basically live view with night vision, and is very useful for framing at night. It works by slowing down the refresh rate.

Useful features are really plenty these times, but it seems nobody has yet mentioned panoramic stitching (which is close to impossible to do with film due to projection issues at wider angles).

Canon Depth-of-field AE is what you’re thinking of, and it was present on almost all of the film EOS SLRs, from the 650 (1987) right through to the end. The Rebels had it, the Elans, the A2/5, the 3, and even the EOS 1. About the only cameras that didn’t were the immediate successors of the 650 - the 620 and the 630/600.

I used it quite a bit on my 650 which I bought in 1988, but not on any of the other EOS cameras I owned between then and 2005 (when I bought my first Canon DSLR). As far as I’m aware, it’s never been a feature of a Canon DSLR.

As far as cool features go, stabilisation is the big one for me. Being a Canon DSLR user it’s just been IS for me, but that’s been good enough. Then in more recent years, Canon’s Live View plus Dual Pixel AF.

Compared to my first 35 mm camera of 50 years ago, there is much to like about current digital cameras. In no particular order:

A hand grip as part of the body.
Built in film winder, or is that digit winder?
Vastly improved batteries and chargers.
Adjustable ISO.
Auto focus, in all it’s variations.
Auto exposure that makes good decisions.
Zoom lenses with excellent image quality.
Info display in viewfinder.
Polycarbonate. I’d say plastic, but it’s a dirty word on the internet.
Instant image review. I know, that’s chimping, another dirty word.
Program mode, with the ability to easily override it, to prove to the camera that you are just a bit smarter than it is.

Most of the things that I see as improvements have to do with my aging reflexes and strength. That brings me to the most important improvement, IMAGE STABILIZATION. The caps are intentional. The engineers behind that development are worthy of the Nobel Prize.

Image stabilization (IS), thanks to technology, are like a given.
Before them, we learned a few tricks to make sure our images are sharp:
1. Use a tripod or support your camera with, say, a beanbag.
2. Use faster shutter speed or film or larger apertures.
3. Brace up, hold your breath, and press the shutter slowly and gently.
4. Pan the camera to shoot a moving image.

These are still useful tricks because not all camera or lenses have IS.

My camera innovation wish list:

Global electronic shutter that completely eliminates the limited lifetime and vibration producing mechanical shutter. This is expected to be the natural evolution of cameras as electronics gets faster, especially with higher speed on-chip sensor readout.

Electronic on-sensor image shift to eliminate mechanical image stabilization.

Full sensor resolution image capture at video frame rates. (With assist to pick out the sharpest image from a sequence of frames, with eyes open, smile, etc.)

Automatic detection of changing focus, so that the electronic viewfinder of a mirrorless camera can magnify the image whenever the focus on a legacy mechanical lens is being changed, to make manual focusing easier. This could be done on existing cameras with only a firmware upgrade.

23mm high eyepoint viewfinder that shows a huge image, and can be used when wearing glasses without vignetting. [Like the gorgeous Fujinon binoculars.]

A 36mm x 36mm sensor for full frame with varying aspect ratio size limited to the available sharp image circle of the lens on a camera, but no need to ever hold the camera sideways. So portrait and landscape images, different aspect ratio's, square images, etc. are selectable with the camera horizontal.

Direct, non-modal control of aperture, shutter speed, ISO, exposure compensation, focus, zoom, and white balance with knobs or rings, not menu's. (If a knob or ring is set on "A" for automatic, the camera chooses and optimizes that parameter.)

Coming from years of film use, switching to digital gave me ability to change ISO on the fly. That was the 'biggee' for me in the beginning. Now, many years later, its the ever-improving dynamic range of image sensors. I love how I can expose for highlights and not have to worry that I can't recover shadows in post-processing.

No chemical processing required, and printing beautiful archival prints from my home. 20+ years later, I’m still amazed by this.

For me it's the ability to alter the ISO at any time and to be able to use ISOs above 400 that still give excellent quality. Although you could get film that was faster than 400 it was generally pretty dire, at least in 35mm format.

1. AF speed, especially with eyes getting older.
2. IS, then IBIS. The first has really helped, though I do not have it in a body ...as yet. Again, help as I age.
3. Overall equipment weight reduction with virtually no sacrifice to image quality. ( yet another personal aging issue)

Those would be my top three. Also of considerable merit are ISO flexibility, automatic bracketing control and lens mount adaptability (brand to brand)

P.S Mike, I LOVE your blog, no matter if it is photography, billiards, coffee, personal life perspective, or any OT. You have a very effective way with words. Please keep it going. I do try to help as much as I can!

Silent shooting (electronic shutter) was a game-changer for people shooting live performance, e.g. music, theatre. I didn't buy a Fuji to get this, as I was already in the Fuji ecosystem when it was released, but based on my experience a colleague certainly did. Shortly after the X-T1 got the live shooting update I had to shoot a festival featuring gigs during which you could have heard the proverbial pin drop, which would have been impossible to shoot with a dSLR without annoying the audience and the client.

The improvement in high-ISO performance has also been a game-change, but that occurred gradually over 5-10 years, over multiple camera upgrades.

Contrary to popular belief, automatic shake reduction was initially introduced by Nikon on a point-'n-shoot camera; refer https://books.google.com/books?id=kAFdS_jE2BEC&pg=PA30&lpg=PA30&dq=Nikon+Zoom-Touch+105+VR+camera&source=bl&ots=nudNCPus09&sig=ACfU3U0bwiSaKCw4DGX77db_iHllf2tI7w&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjCgoCZx7LiAhVKOq0KHU2TASU4FBDoATAFegQICRAB#v=onepage&q=Nikon%20Zoom-Touch%20105%20VR%20camera&f=false.
It appears (no documentation) that Nikon subsequently made a sub rosa patent swap with Canon that temporarily exchanged stabilization for the right to use Canon’s more desirable type of in-lens AF motor (aka the “S” type). Secret swaps of this nature were a common trade practice during the early AF years.

The digital workflow/home printing for my theater photography. Otherwise not much, and in fact I have gone back [mostly] to film. But, if Ektachrome 160T/320T were still available, I likely would still be 100% film, but with scanning and the digital pp.

1. Um - digital. Thus, I don't need a darkroom and photography is effectively free, which enables me practice photography in the first place, which I otherwise wouldn't.

2. Sensor qualities - high ISO with low noise. Thus, expensive and heavy equipment tripods / lighting / larger formats, and even fast lenses are not necessities. This allows me to engage in types of photography, which I otherwise wouldn't.

3. Sensor dynamic range and post-processed perspective control. Thus, exposure and framing perfection are not necessities, which makes my photography much easier.

4. Sensor resolution - I am with the late Michael Riechmann that digital equalled or bettered 35 mm film at 6 mp resolution. Thus, as almost any camera from the mid-2000s has had greater resolution, I can crop more freely and print larger that I ever did with film, all of which makes my photography much easier.

Everything else is a bonus. All my gear is too old to have IBIS or eye/face focus, etc. anyway.

Auto ISO still feels cool to me, even after 20 years.
iPhone’s long exposure mode is the coolest new thing.

IBIS + large sensors + in camera image stacking and blending will be my favorite thing whenever Fuji gets around to making that happen. A decade after Apple shows them how, at this rate.

Now, the gamechanger that has not happened? I can't understand why, after purchasing any number of current $5k-7k cameras, I still need to get an image from said camera to my phone in order to upload to the internet. My phone has cellular service. My Ipad has a cellular option for an additional $10 per month. Why can't the top of the line cameras offer internal cellular service? Quick crop, edit, upload. Why is that not possible?

I upgraded from the Canon M50 to the M6 Mark II mostly for the ability to set a minimum shutter speed for auto ISO. With that feature and with the exceptionally fast shutter speeds available, I can set my most important exposure variable, the aperture, and not worry one bit about subject motion or “running out” of ISO at the low end.

Interesting how many people love "eye-AF". I've tried it, and much more I've tried face AF, and they always fail on me, maybe 20% of the time or something. Which leaves me flailing. So after 10 minutes I turn them off again. Having it fail to even detect the main face in picture means I have to switch modes to get the shot.

I haven't owned any serious gear (just P&S) with eye-AF other than the Oly.

So maybe the Sony is a WHOLE LOT better? But not in my budget (just the 70-200/2.8 lens costs close to what my body plus 80-300/2.8 lens (FOV equivalent) cost). The Sony body costs around that much again. Then I might want other lenses, eh?

The coolest digital camera feature for me is..... adjustable ISO.

Think about it.

I have been wondering...if Panasonic's DFD technology involves building a depth map using individual frames captured during the AF operation, does it imply that the depth map can be used to blur individual areas of a picture computationally and create bokeh just like many smartphones do but with only one lens?

I've never used any of the items mentioned. I guess you can't miss what you've never used.

For me it's the flexible LCD screen. I just purchased a Fujifilm X-E4 and have enjoyed it and it's flexible screen. There is much to like about the X-E4 and only one thing I dislike. You can't get to the menus using the LCD screen if you have it set to EVF only. You can view your images but not menus. DUMB. So far that's my only complaint.

I may never go back to my X-Pro2 and I've only had it for 2 plus years.

Possibly long forgotten but the biggest change for me when digital was first introduced was being able to change ISO and while colour balance instantly. No more having to finish a roll of 36 first before making a change.


What I really like is the absence of grain in portraiture in most kinds of lighting. I also like the removal of the depth of field constraints of film in indoor light. Digital sensors open up many new possibilities for candid pictures of groups of people indoors.

In short, I like the clean pictures digital offers at higher ISOs.

Image stabilization? It's nice, but my shooting technique was already pretty steady.

Eye AF? That's a great feature, but I take pictures of groups of people, and I don't think I want the camera deciding whose eye should be in sharpest focus. It's probably the most thoughtful new feature, though, in this digital age.

On the other hand, what I dislike is the failure of manufacturers to capitalize on the possibilities all-electronic technology offers for miniaturization. The persistence of large, lumpy cameras and lens designs in the digital is a disappointment.

Another unexpected shortcoming of digital is actually the temptation to chimp, which genuinely distracts from the creative moment.

I'm also a bit disappointed by the relative rarity of high magnification, high-eyepoint electronic viewfinders.

None of those are inherent limitations of the technology itself, only of the failure of design thinking to keep up.

I've read all the comments to find out if I was in a minority on the virtue of EVF-visible exposure compensation. The Fuji X-T1 had a dial, which I loved, but on my X-H1 I need a work-around that's half as good. Oh well. I'm 70 and now I have autofocus and IBIS. Two-and-a-half out of three is a really good score.

I think that auto white balance and other white balance options are a major advancement brought to color photography by digital. Olympus cameras offer a custom white balance feature where up four readings can be saved in camera.

Dynamic Range and sensitivity keep improving year after year without much notice. They are amazing now.

IBIS, yes, of course.

One of the biggest things, for me, is the existence of Lightroom (and C1, etc.). Processing each image, with such ease, is very enjoyable.

Hello Mike,
I think Nikon introduced the first lens with image stabilization on the 700vr point and shoot in 1994:
The very well received and highly rated TW Zoom 150 QD of 1992 was selected to give a serious upgrade in 1994 as Nikon Zoom 700 VR - where I thought it should be called "105VR" to be more appropriate. However, the US version was more accurate to its spec. as it was referred as Zoom-Touch 105 VR). On a technical note, Nikon's VR (Vibration Reduction) technology was used to assist the new 38-105mm f/4~f/7.8 Nikon zoom to reduce chances of blurry images caused by unsteady hands during picture shootings.
(Text from “mir”:
Best regards,
Roel

My Canon L IS binoculars hang on me as often as my camera. They are not technically quite as crisp as the best Leitz, but the image is SO much clearer just because it holds still.

I don't chimp every shot, but when I do, I'm glad I shoot digital.

The cottage industry of digital camera reviewers. I thought Ken Rockwell couldn't be topped and then came Steve Huff. Everything else is gravy.

Mine are basic and not unique to any digital camera:
1. The ability to underexpose by varying amounts from shot to shot (i.e. shoot at different ISOs). I actually switched brands to be able to shoot Auto ISO in M mode.
2. Simply having digital images, rather than negatives and slides. I do limited digital darkroom work, where I never did analog darkroom work, and my images are ready to be shared, printed, made into video slideshows and photo books.
I dabbled with mirrorless, got rid of it because I didn't like the specific system and am back to my DSLR, but I *really* miss the virtual horizon (level) in the electronic viewfinder.

The ability to reinterpret an image (resolution, color or monochrome, grain, etc.) via the use of different brands and/or types of film and developers.

For a long time K25 shooter clean ISO 200 was wonderful but 3200? That still blows me away.
That said the biggest gift digital has given me is the incredably tight feedback loop it provides.
From my digital day one back in 2005 the ability to see the first draft of an image instantly made my work better.
There I admit it. I am a shameless chimper!

For me, with my latest camera, the EOS R, I can move my focus point anywhere in the viewfinder, focus, and it works really well. It takes the frustration out of composition. That's a game changer. It's what I always wanted in a camera.

Photography Blogs and the communities around them. 8^)

I'm still keeping an eye out for that perfect feature. IBIS comes closest, but it's common now. I think a sensor that combines good color (like Fuji and others) and even better dynamic range than we see now, perhaps some kind new sensor combined with an AI breakthrough. Now that I often shoot Fuji Jpegs, I would like a breakthrough in Jpeg quality, and a camera that is more centered around creating a perfect jpeg for a scene (without diving into the menu).

Yes, IBIS for me. I had too many shots ruined by camera movement. I avoided Canon for many years due to their lack of IBIS in the bodies. I bought Pentax for that reason, plus others.

Another thing; I'm planning a long driving trip. I'll buy an Olympus TG-6 for its GPS recording to mark where I took shots.

Apparently Canon EyeAF is just as good as Sony’s, I am waiting for someone reliable like , diglloyd.com to test it.

Histogram to confirm exposure placement.

I echo the response of others: clean color pictures at high ISO. My wife was a photojournalist for many years (now retired). The ability to cover stories indoors, shooting with no flash while using 10:1 zooms hand-held, was a game-changer, no question. Aided later by IS (whether IB or no), of course. She went digital early in the new millenium and never looked back, hasn't shot a single frame of film since.

This miracle added another decade to her working life.

Coming from the film world (Covering an indoor story where flash is forbidden? Then it's B&W with gravel-size grain and weak, soupy shadows after pushing two stops -- and an f/2.8 lens is too slow unless you bring a tripod), it is still mind-blowing, really.

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