« Camera Query | Main | A Remembrance of Jerry Uelsmann »

Friday, 15 April 2022


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Yes, to the digital TLR idea. That said, I use my FUJI 50S walking around with the rear screen flipped to the horizontal position and the wonderful add-on eye finder also turned upwards. One can also set the aspect ratio to square. I look down and there's the image. For a magnified view, I just raise it a bit to look down through the eyepiece. It's pretty good.

Actually, the only thing I would change about the Nikon D700 is the weight. I'm sorry I sold the one I had.

I’m surprised you haven’t covered the Pixii camera (unless you have and I missed it).

Oh, Man! A digital X-Pan! I loved the X-Pan, but couldn’t afford it. I used to rent one from my wonderful, but now gone, local photo store. They also had a Noblex and a Fuji 617 in their rental fleet which I used quite a bit.

I used the Fuji 617 for years after mainly switching to digital, but it got to be more and more of a pita to get my film processed. In the meantime, panorama stitching software got better and better, and I was printing digitally too.

So a digital panorama camera is appealing to me, but I probably couldn’t afford one of those, either.

One of the features of the Sony DSC-F707 that you did not highlight was the ability to rotate the lens so the screen faced up giving you the ability to hold it waist high and look down as you took a picture. Without the "folding hood", glare was a problem, but the thumbs could be placed at the sides of the screen to help.

I still have mine.

I own a Nikon Df, which is supposed to look and work like something like the old FE2 or FA or whatever. It's nice to have all of the old-style controls in the expected places. It's also very nice to mount my old Ai glass to it, but I guess most modern Nikon DSLRs can do that.

I'm sure that someone else has already mentioned it but Hasselblad made a film camera with a digital sensor: a V-system camera with a CFV series digital back.

If it has to be the original film camera, for me that would be a Mamiya 6. Realistically though, I am done with film except for my Wista DX field camera. I already own that so...

Of the film cameras I lusted after in my youth, I bought most used because I couldn't afford them new. I still can't afford a good used Mamiya 6. I could pay for it but to me 'affording' a camera also involves justifying having it by using it more than occasionally as a novelty.

I presently own a Canon Elan 7n SLR, a Canon 40D DSLR and a Toyo 4x5. All three work the same, you compose then push the button. Easy Peasey.

I had cataracts surgery and Lasix and now have the same vision I had when I was 21, not bad for an eightysomething.

A 108 megapixel Samsung phone is my camera of choice today.

F-707: My first digital camera was the eight megapixel Olympus C-8080 and it had the same rounded shape on the left as the F-707. It felt perfect in my hand and except for the slow write speed I really enjoyed using the camera. I would love to see a new version of the C-8080 with a modern 1” sensor. I could even live with a fixed lens on the new camera. My old C-8080 (2004) had a very nice telescoping 28-140mm lens that kept the camera nice and compact. When the C-8080 was released, Olympus stated that the lens was of the same quality as the Zuiko lenses made for the E System and was made in the same factory.

Funny, I read your "1970s MMM ("metal, manual, mechanical") SLR" comment, and looked at the Fujica GW690 (original version) sitting on my desk, wondering where I might take it today. Ok, it's a rangefinder not an SLR.

It's recently new to me, and is a big part of learning to capture images on film. (Did you see what I did there?) A work in progress and I'm loving both the camera and related processes. Yes, I know some readers are horrified I'd use such a thing, and others might have fond memories of using it.

But there is no perfect camera. There is only the camera you have in hand at the moment, and hopefully it's the right camera and lens for the result you want. The technical limitations of a camera system will drive creativity to overcome or embrace those limitations. There's been lots of days lately I think modern cameras are too good. There might be a blog brewing about that, but it needs much more coffee.

In other news, I got Ernst Haas: New York in Color 1952–1962 out of the library and loved it. I don't think I'll buy it, but I drooled over the pages. Talk about embracing the limitations!

Hasselblad with an honest square 6x6cm sensor.
Get digital with the Square so Ernst Wildi can rest in peace.

We came close to literally having film cameras be digital:

The OM-2N film camera you wish you could buy new as a digital camera is called the Fujifilm X-T3.

Hang out with the appropriate people and you'd find the K-01 mark:ii high on your list. Sneak an evf on board, drop in a pdaf-capable sensor or the latest AF tech from the 3.iii and step back! Most would even keep the Newsom styling in place.

I'll take a plaid one, please :√)

Great article. My wish for a film to digital would be for an affordable digital back for the Hasselblad 501 body. I don’t need all the whistles & bells from my Nikon D780 or D3s. Just a plain, affordable, digital substitute for film. I don’t need a Program or Shutter/Aperture Preferred exposure system. I prefer my handheld Minolta or Spot meter to calculate exposure. The large viewfinder with a Britescreen and a 45° prism. My 80, 60, and 150mm lenses were fine but a 35-200 zoom would be nice.
The Hasselblad system was ny absolute favorite. I wish I could get it back, affordably.

Mike, all the online camera stores are still selling the GFX 50R. At some point they'll drop the price to move stock and you can pick one up then. If not, you will be able to get your hands on a used one from KEH.

Bonus: all of Fuji's GFX series cameras allow you to shoot in the 65:24 XPan aspect ratio in JPEG or RAW+JPEG mode. It results in 25MP panoramic files with the 50MP sensor models and 50MP files with the 100MP sensor models. Not exactly the same experience as a real life XPan rangefinder, but it does letterbox the EVF so you can see your composition exactly.

Hasselblad 503SWA

In defense of my wish for a digital Olympus XA, I do so fully expecting its operation and design choices to be different. What I'm really after is the wonderful 35mme lens, viewfinder, manual controls (or at least aperture priority) and the rugged, featureless, rounded-off shell that let one shove it into a jeans pocket or use it as a hockey puck (I exaggerate, but it was pretty tough).

I also realize that several possible substitutes exist today, depending on what compromises (or improvements--the XA wasn't perfect) I'd accept, but for me the must-haves are the care-free, snag-free pocket-sized package, manual controls, and a viewfinder, along with excellent image quality. Fixed 35mm focal length is a preference.

All that said, I could be easily distracted by a digital TLR. I just learned that Seagull (who make film TLRs) made one years ago--10MP with both rear and top LCDs, and they'd cleverly used the second lens and ample body volume to build in a projector. No doubt low sales volume made it nonviable as a retail product.

My comment to the article (digital OM-1n) was motivated by a desire for something simple and easy to use, but also nostalgia for my younger self. Car analogies mostly suck, I know, but here goes mine: At around the same time I owned the OM-1n, my car was a Renault R4. They are a rare sight nowadays, but everytime I see one nostalgia hits. Why?

It was by all means a pathetic car, even back then.

What I fondly remember is taking my girlfriend home from a date in this car. What I tend to forget is how the car broke down on that trip, due to ripped throttle cable, and how we had to walk 2km through the rain.

What I fondly remember is a vacation trip in this car with my friends. What I tend to forget how we were chased by trucks when crawling uphill on the Autobahn at 45mph in third gear, accelerator floored.

My current car is a Honda Fit. It implements the same concept as the Renault 4, but has three times the horsepower, air conditioning, all current safety features and far better fuel economy. It is a far superior car in any respect.

Probably similar sentiments apply to my longing for an OM-1n. No way I'd ever want a film camera again, for my current situation and style of work film is not a viable alternative. Hadn't it been for digital cameras, I wouldn't do any photography at all nowadays.

That being said, I admire work done on film and masterful darkroom prints, and those who still engage in this craft.

Best, Thomas

I agree completely about the virtues of the TLR square format viewfinder. My first 'serious' camera was a Yashika-Mat purchased much-used from the small town weekly newspaper where I worked as the (entire) darkroom staff while I was still in high school. The image created in that dim, imprecise, left/right reversed viewfinder was pure magic.

Add me to the list of those who loved the X-Pan. I lost mine when I left it behind on the seat during a rushed change of trains in the chaos of Leeds station … and no, I don't want to talk about it. Reluctantly I replaced it with a digital camera that was much practical for the weeks or months-long back-packing rambles that constituted my chief photographic pursuit at the time. I mourned the loss for ages until I realized recently that I have actually been carrying my dream 'digital X-Pan' around with me for the past five years in the form of a Fuji X-Pro2 with an ersatz optical viewfinder and three and beautiful little prime lenses (successors to the X-Pan's trio that were also made by Fuji). A dream come true … and I hadn't noticed.

I guess it depends how literally people want "this film camera, only digital". Do you want to not be able to see your images until you've downloaded them to your computer? That could be kind of interesting, but I have my doubts very many people want it outside of a small subset of film devotees.

I mean, I'd like it... at least at first... I think it would be cool to have a camera that is externally an exact copy of an old film camera and used the same lenses. The only difference would be that you couldn't actually load film into it (obviously), but you could hide the USB port inside the back so that it wasn't visible from outside. But seriously, how large is the market for this kind of camera? Pretty negligible, I would think. And the camera companies certainly doesn't want you using old manual lenses from the '60s instead of buying their latest electronic lenses.

When you get right down to it, what I really want is a camera that has physical, manual controls (even if internally they do something electronic) for the things you could do with physical, manual controls on old cameras. But I want an EVF instead of a mirror and a pentaprism, and I want to be able to view my images right away. My needs are satisfied pretty well by the Fuji X cameras, which I've used almost exclusively since 2014.

You're just not a Canon user ;)

A digital Rebel is just another Canon Rebel; a 5D or 1D I'd just a 1V. Handles the same, hardly needs a manual.

Although I enjoyed the simplicity of my Nikon FM for many years, my Nikon N90s was my favorite camera. Fast, accurate (says so on the box)and great with flash too. The D300 was close, but not the same.

I'm glad you did not leave out commenting on the Rollie TLR and the Hassie. I have both but use them differently.

For street work, I prefer the Rollie because it's easier to shoot without the hassle of the dark slide (plus others) in the Hassie.

BUT the Hassie SWC is one unique street shooter - no rangefinder, quirky viewfinder but the Biogon delivers tack sharp images without distortions and no vignetting. I am still amazed by the way it captures details of clouds in the sky that I did not even notice when I was pressing the leaf shutter.

"Four standout cameras I wish were still made, only with modern sensors and imaging processors: . . . Olympus E-1;"

I have been known to put my money where my curiosity is. In 2017, I bought a clean, low mileage E-1 (and E-300 and E-400). Year and years of praise from Oly buddies were to be investigated.

In side-by-side comparison, I concluded that the E-1, however wonderful it may have been, was poor in comparison to an E-M5 II.

It's big, clunky, slow, with a really awful LCD. The files are nice, but neither as nice nor as big as the newer camera.

I was interested in the legendary Kodak CCD color. Taking pix of subtle, tricky flower colors, all four cameras came up with slightly different colors! Running from screen to yard and back, I really couldn't say the E-1 was most accurate.

The 4/3 cameras and 14-54 lens went on to someone who appreciated them.

Back in 2003, I tried out an E-1 and a Canon 10D in a camera store. With 40-150 lens, the Oly was simply not able to focus on high contrast boxes up in a dim, far corner. The Canon easily did.

30 year OM shooter or not, I bought a Canon, and have never regretted it. A 300D, with firmware hack to get 10D function, was smaller, lighter, and for my use, better than the E-1. Lots and lots of great photos with it and the following 5D.

I returned to Oly with the E-M5.

I sort of have a modern-ish version of the TLR. I have an old Canon 50mm f/1.4 FD SSC lens circa 1971, and I like to mount it on my Fuji GFX cameras. It's pretty sweet on the original GFX50s. I remove the viewfinder and use the LCD. The lens vignettes at the full frame, so I set it for square photos, and use the Nostalgic Negative film profile. So I am looking down into the LCD at waist level, and focusing by zooming into 100%. The corners get pretty dark, and it's not very sharp wide open, but it has a wonderful look for landscapes and portraits.

[Can we see some? --Mike]

Of the dust-gathering film gear I hold onto [the reason for that need not be considered here] the Hasselblad 501CM kit and the Contax G kit are ones I most miss using. Digital has exceeded the 135 SLRs such that I have no desire to return there, but the shooting experience with those cameras brings back many great memories.

As an aside, one reason I never dumped the Hasselblad kit was at the time I picked up digital they fetched cruelly low prices on the Popular Web Auction sites. Just now looking for the first time in a decade, I need to stuff my eyeballs back in their sockets. Did hipsters discover old Hasselblads?

p.s. I'd also like a digital Contax T3 along with my digital Contax G body. The Sonnar lens is impeccable. (No guarantee that in front of a sensor that will translate, but who makes a titanium-skin compact digicam?)

A modern sensor E1 would lose the soul of the original. That Kodak CCD is wonderful IMHO. I still use mine. I’d argue for a hybrid digital TLR in that I’d keep the optical viewfinder (using modern technology for a crisp, bright image) and 36x36mm sensor. Why that size? Re-engineering 135 lenses might be cost effective. To appeal to my zen aesthetic I would ask for nothing more than to save the raw data to storage. No preview/review, no complex in-camera image processing, no lcd screens. Nothing. Just have the A-D converter be the best in terms of low noise and wide dynamic range. Oh, and a monochrome version too. I know, I’m weird!

Why the Cosina RD-1? The real Leica killer would have been the Zeiss ZM RF camera with a digital sensor!

Stopped at Leica store and had a play with the M11. Dang. All I need now is money.

"A reissued K-M 7D would have to have a 6-MP sensor! And the same color rendition. Those Minolta engineers got that just right. I've never owned a digital camera with better color."

As luck would have it, I can create a conversion profile for that. So you can take an image shot with one camera, and convert the colour signature to the other cameras colour signature (using Rawtherapee, which is open source and free).

I've done it with multiple cameras/colour signatures and the results are perfect. And I can also get a generic one that will convert any raw format image, to the KM 7D if you want as well. It's a complex process, but entirely worth the effort. My favourite colour signature is the Canon G6 - and my determination to have that profile available on any camera is how I ended up going down this rabbit hole in the first place.

All I need is a jpeg of a colorchecker, taken with the KM 7D. Must be one somewhere on a review site, yeah?

Re: digital TLR:
In my comment to your previous post I wished for a modern Nikon 995 and that is *exactly* what I was thinking. You twisted the joint 90-degrees and, voila, you had a waist level camera. Since the controls and grip were on the same half as the LCD, the ergonomics tilted too, and were excellent (-ish). The Sony F707 had the same concept and, if memory serves correctly, you had one of those and one point, didn't you Mike?

"People would say, "why do you need an Xpan? Just take several frames and use pano software." Yeah, well, but that's not the same thing. It merely ends up with a similar result, which isn't always enough. It's a process thing, a visualization thing, a method-of-working thing. Some people want to make an entire panoramic frame with one shutter click, and would take better pictures if they could do that. They'd work better that way."

1. Sometimes, a similar result is way better than none. Lots of times, with no specialized camera/lens at hand, stitched panos have done a great job for me. Also, per #2, they can be wider.

2. Cool as they are, those old specialist film cameras aren't really very wide. The 17 mm end of a Sony zoom on a FF A7 is wider than 60/8 on 60x120 mmfilm or an X-Pan, 30/4 on 24x65 mm film (and they are faster.)

7 mm on µ4/3 is wider and 10 mm on FF spectacularly wider still. I can't see a way to illustrate this in the width restrictions here, so try this clear demonstration.

3. The central horizontal portion of fisheye images are hardly distorted. With post help such as Imadio's Fisheye-hemi, even that may be nicely corrected, giving wider than X-Pan, single shot panos.

Yes, I get the attraction of going out with a specialist camera/lens, looking for suitable subjects. And, yes, one may see a subject, plan, and come back later. But, you know, the light is never the same, and somehow almost never as good.

What excites me is to step out of the wonderful bookstore in Mendocino at sunset, see the light and clouds over the bay, pull up my compact µ4/3 camera with 8 mm fisheye, and get the shot of that specific moment. (Wider, BTW, @ ~150°, than an X-Pan.)

Click on it for a larger version.

I used to drool over those specialty WA film cameras. Now, I don't need one.


as regards PAE cameras, hold on. I”m in France right now, with a Panasonic GX-9 and 20 mm as my only camera and having a fine time with it. But waiting at home is a Canon Rebel G with the 40mm - I didn’t have time to get it together for this trip. And yes, it is the epitome of the PAE camera - a brick without the batteries, plastic lens mount (I could care - the 40 will live on the body) etc. I think I love it. The auto film loading is a thrill, DX coding of film speed is nice, and the whole thing falls readily to hand. My last film camera was a MMM nikornat and this end-stage film camera may just get me going again with film.

"The Z fc is to the FE/FM cameras pretty much what any "film camera but digital" would have to be."

What? NO!

That thing is just styled to LOOK LIKE an old film camera.

The Xpan we want has a sensor the size and shape of the Xpan film image, and those Xpan/Fuji lenses, and the small overall size, no matter how it is "styled".

You, of all people, should understand this.

Strange about it but Xpen ...All its lens and its format (35x2) are basically support (not fully of course) by the new Hasselblad with adapter. Not fully as it is not mechanical shutter as well. Still...

I do not like the wide format.

Mike, I'm right there with you on the notion of digital TLR. And of course you are spot on with your suggestion that it might preferably be configured as an SLR with an EVF. You wouldn't even need to work with the L-to-R viewfinder reversal...unless you were a longtime user of such, in which case it could be offered as a menu option!

Some years back, Canon made a bit of a hint in this direction with the Powershot N2. https://prisguiden.no/produkt/canon-powershot-n2-236507

Mike, you say: “Digital cameras are just different kinds of devices than film cameras—different controls needed, different capabilities, different layouts, different feel.” But you give no basis, and I disagree.

If one wants to set an iso, set an appropriate exposure, and set the focus, keeping in mind the particulars of digital sensor, where is that any different than film?

Granted the digital camera can inform us/control many things—but using a studio light meter and the camera spot meter, most of those other things just potentially get in the way. And God forbid, something gets changed: either the images are jpg’s when I wanted raw, or the camera just stops working.

I do theater photography, and one could argue that is somewhat akin to sport photography where digital should be a huge benefit. Well I use two Nikon D700’s and two Pentax K-5’s, and except that I can take lots of pictures, my method of shooting and the controls I use are the same as if I was using Ektachrome 320T. In fact not having a dial for exposure time is a step backward. Except for those thousand images of a show, where is the digital camera any different than film camera? I set the exposure based on experience and don’t need to look at the images till I process them.

Also, you mention updating the D700 with modern sensor. Why would I want to change the D700 (or the K5), and make it today? Of course your point is that the D700 was a great camera design so why did they not continue it. (Actually too great for the company’s other cameras and profits. Likely similar to Leica’s problem with the CL.) But a major advantage of digital camera is the perceived need to upgrade, and as a result we can buy a used D700 (or whatever) for $400.

Finally if one needs to print very large the advantages of high megapixels outweigh the disadvantages, but I can print with 12 mp about 13”x19” without interpolation, and can do 2 ft x 3 ft prints, or strong crops just fine. Even 6 mp and 8”x12”prints should satisfy most of us (as did 35 mm 320T). But again why does that influence camera design? I had to tell the camera light meter what ASA I was using, and now I tell the light meter/sensor what ISO to use.

Why mourn the discontinuation of the Fuji GFX 50R when that likely means that used examples will begin dropping in price? The exception to that is if there no newer, similar camera to replace it, or if the newer camera is worse in any way than the older one.

I mostly don't agree with your anti 'X film camera but digital' position. Yes, of course it's different, but the haptics and general handling can by quite close, and the digital output can work. As you said, the Leica M10 is a fairly decent example of that. I've shot with Leica M's since the 60's, and the latest M10 and M11 cameras are good developments in that line. The bottom plate on the M10 is reviled by some and revered by fewer, but in my mind it's a non-issue.

Maybe if there were another rangefinder on the market I'd feel differently, but we're lacking for choice. As it is, the M series has grown up and is now a worthy continuation of the lineage.

What I would like though is a digital Roundshot 28-220, with of course the 220 part replaced by a good 10k high pixel sensor. They made something similar about 15 yrs. ago, with all that implies and it was way beyond my ever making it pay for itself, but there have been advances made.

I also crave the waist level viewing, square format camera. My vision/fantasy uses a 30mm x 30mm sensor, which has almost the identical diagonal as does 24mm x 36mm. So, all existing full frame lenses would cover this sensor!
But I'm pretty sure it won't happen...

Hi (for the first time in a bazillion years).

Funny, I was thinking about my old and long dead 7D just the other day, and how much I loved it and the photos it took. I bought a cheap-ish used Sony something or other about six years ago, to occasionally use the wonderful kit lens the 7D came with. The photos from it are a very poor second to the 7D - somehow inherently unsatisfying, whereas the 7D’s photos were wonderfully satisfying.

And double funny, I dug out my M6 a week or so ago to take for a spin - cost of film and processing, ouch. No, make that super ouch. That’s going to be a once or twice a year thing, if anything at all. Oh well.

And funny part three, that has led me to contemplate something like a user M10, and courtesy of the internet, here I am…

Take care.


The digital X-Pan exists. Josef Koudelka, who has always been attracted to a 3:1 format, got Leica to cut down a digital S2 for him to only show and save that portion of its 64 MPx image. He shot most or all of his "Wall" project with it in 2012. Start with a 3:2 proportion, and trim the vertical so only 3:1 remains, and you still have half of the original sensor working for you. This was not a new thing for Koudelka, as he cropped earlier pictures down from a square negative format much earlier in his career.

Regarding digital B&W having the wrong tones, you explained the relationship between film and paper that is so often ignored, leading to the wrong tones.

Well, there is at least one exception: Negative Lab Pro. Nate, the author, knows about this and takes it into account. Frankly, HP5+ developed in D76, scanned to produce a raw file (possible with VueScan and Silverfast) and processed through Negative Lab Pro give beautiful tones that leave nothing to regret. The software is equally good at colour, where it works like traditional mini-labs, but you can influence the tones.

It is a Lightroom plugin, works on Intel and Apple Silicon.

Digital B&W made right!

The comments to this entry are closed.



Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 06/2007