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January 27, 2012


Maybe as various segments of the market become commoditized manufacturers may begin to see value in the niches. One hopes the success of the Fuji X100 (and the possible demise of a hidebound Kodak) would not have passed unnoticed.

My list is fairly similar to yours. I'd really like a digital Nikon FM, or perhaps a digital F2 with metering built into the body to make the finder less bulky (and to provide metering regardless of which finder I used). Aperture priority would be nice but not essential. More important is full manual controls, interchangeable focusing screens and viewfinders, and a lack of unnecessary features that complicate the UI even if you don't use them (e.g. extra buttons and menus related to video, continuous shooting mode, etc.). In fact, I'd like to see a digital camera designed around the idea of raw shooting, which I don't think we really have today. I would like, for example, to see a rear-screen histogram based on actual raw values rather than a generated JPEG -- even with the picture style set to Neutral, my Canon 5D Mark II histograms often indicate overexposure when the raw data proves to have a comfortable amount of headroom.

However, my ideal camera will probably never be made because it isn't what the market wants. C'est la vie.

One thing I would add to your list is that nothing should be electronic that doesn't need to be. Zooming and manual focusing, for example, should not be "by wire". However, contrary to this, I am willing to consider a mirrorless camera with a really good built-in EVF in place of a reflex mirror and an OVF, because of the reduction in size that you get from removing the mirror box. Whether any current camera has a good enough EVF is another question. I've heard good things about the Olympus E-P2's optional EVF, but I haven't used it myself.

Certainly looks like a nice camera.

Me, I'd dump the viewfinder (can't cope with less than 100%) if I could have a WLF or articulating LCD. And I'd quite like in-body VR, maybe with an on-body control for tripod purposes. Otherwise I appreciate everything in your list too :)

I have a Pentax K7 and my latest squeeze is a Fuji X10. I'm very happy with both...but....

I do miss my Oly OM-1n and the fact you could control focus, aperture AND exposure with the same hand. That felt very natural and easy to use.

Why has no one else put Shutter Speed control on the lens mount?

Leica M9 is close for me. Perhaps an M10 would solve some persistent issues biggest being the LCD screen quality is horrid and easily scratched and the CPU processing very slow. Price limits accessibility for sure.

You, sir, are a man after my own heart. My current favorite camera is my ME-Super (I like the full manual feature). I just need to replace the seals.

I was thinking the other day about why no one makes a "MX" style digital camera--manual exposure, manual focus, tank-like build, weather sealing, and nothing else. I guess it is like Craig said above, it is what the market wants.

Have a great evening!

I would love a digital MX. Right now I alternate between my MX and my K5. I do need to shoot above 1600 sometimes (kids, indoors), so I'd like the K5 sensitivity in my digital MX.

I have a Pentax MV. It's like the ME except it's aperture priority. Came with a 40mm pancake lens that is as sharp as any lens I have ever used, which btw includes Nikon, Leica and Canon. Great little camera and was my travel 35mm for years. Maybe it's time to dig it out once again and give it a whirl.

FM2 or OM-1 in digital, please. With full manual controls, and with user-changeable focusing screens (split screen provided as standard). A "full frame" 24x36mm sensor would be an additional bonus. No display for me; a needle in the viewfinder is more than enough.

It has to be the Zenith EM for me. I had one back in 1980 when I was eleven and recently bought one on eBay. Solid, reliable and no batteries!
Of course my 7D is also nice but not in the same league.

My ideal camera would be integrated into my physiology, using my eyes as the lens, and be triggerable by thought. It would have the ability to shoot macro and telephoto, normal and wide angle, matching my current collection of lenses. I would literally be able to instantly take a high-resolution photo of anything I was looking at. Of course, it would have low noise even at high ISO. It would be able to amalgamate dark shadows and bright specular highlights into a single image the way my brain can do via multiple rapid samples from the eyes (akin to HDR, but done 'properly' and not that crappy faux-CGI look that some people do).

Anything shy of that is merely a good step in the right direction. ;-)

>>It has to be the Zenith EM for me.<<


Your tongue wouldn't be planted in your cheek, would it?

I think some of the items on your list (e.g. 3, 6, and 10) would be on every photographer's list.

I'd tighten #1: "It weighs no more than half a kilo with a battery and a good prime lens."

I'd add to #3: "It should not have an excess of external controls." In regular shooting, I need to turn the camera on and off, actuate and lock the AE/AF, trigger the shutter, adjust the aperture, adjust the ISO (really, just toggle it between base and maximum usable), toggle the IS, and toggle the burst mode. One shutter button, one dial, and four buttons will do the job; I neither need nor want three dials, four knobs, 167 buttons, a status display, and a touchscreen.

I'd replace your #5 with, "It features an excellent EVF paired with a fully-articulated screen." I like having an eye-level finder (and I prefer the advantages of an EVF over those of a traditional TTL finder) for more measured work, but being able to shoot using the screen is critical for the way I take pictures of my family. I dearly love being able to rapidly drop the camera to toddler level while retaining full situational awareness and mobility.

#8 is of marginal importance to me; I'd replace it with "It has very fast, reliable and accurate autofocus that is capable of tracking moving subjects." I'd also append #8A: "It has a frame rate of 5/s or greater." As with the criterion above, these are informed by my desire to take photos of fast-moving subjects that are not good at taking direction. (I can hear the "pray-and-spray"/"missing the critical moment" criticisms already; I am happy for those whose amazing skill lets them time their shots to much better than 200 ms, but I am not such a person.)

I don't care a whit about #12, since I never use a flash for anything. As a consequence, I'd replace "1600" with "3200 in your #14.

I'd also add a #15: "It has in-body image stabilization." I love this feature, and it has saved far more shots for me than it has disrupted.

I don't have a camera that fits all of my criteria yet. My E-PL3 and E-PM1 hit or almost hit most of the criteria (at least with the viewfinder attached), but fall short on full screen articulation, focus tracking, the identity (although not the quantity) of the external controls, and performance at ISO 3200.

My list would be similar, the only differences being I do like in-body stabilization, and I am willing to consider a mirrorless digital as long as it has good external, manual controls.

In film, I would add one extra criterion to my list: the ideal camera should be able to function, at least partially, without battery power.

In all, the cameras that came closest to my wishlist were the Pentax MX and LX, and Nikon FM2/FM2n and FM3a. My K-5 comes close enough to satisfy me.

Wow! ME and ME Super were my favorites too. Put a power winder on them and zip, zip, zip through those 36 shot rolls. Found them to be a tiny bit unreliable, but also something I could repair myself (b/c I did camera repair at the time). And there were plenty of used camera bodies and Takumar lenses around. - Did you or I really want to lug a Nikon FTn around?!

And as you do, I wish that I could find something like the ME Super or the K1000 in digital. Instead of the (useless mostly) feature laden stuff that is competing for a market. I think I would take better pictures without all the cyberhelp.

Using a Pentax K110D, of which not a whole lot were made, some and Fuji pocket cameras more. 110 has all the mpxl needed for most of what I'm going to do with digital. And a mediocre viewfinder.

Give me a digital Nikon FM2D, i.e. FM2 with a rear LCD, and I will be happy. Weaterproof will be a benefit. Lenses are on eBay....

I ran a lot of rolls through the ME but I never cared for the up/down buttons for changing shutter speeds and the deal breaker was no aperture information in the viewfinder,

Now the LX was a different story. The LX with the 40mm pancake lens was like heaven, Perfect size and weight for easy handling. The only thing I didn't like was that the compensation dial was not easily accessible like on the Contax RTS II. My preferred way of shooting manually was to set a camera to Aperture Priority and use the Compensation Dial for manual adjustments but this was too difficult to do with the LX so I just ran the LX in manual mode, A digital LX with easier exposure compensation would do me just fine.

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