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Thread: Same same but different

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    Subscriber Member Jorgen Udvang's Avatar
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    Same same but different

    I had the chance to buy a D700 for a reasonable price, and since an FX format camera has been on my wish list for a while, I grabbed the opportunity. Althugh I've used it before, I haven't thought much about the size, but from the spec. sheet, I found that it's almost exactly the same size as the F6, my favourite SLR camera.

    Big was my surprise when I got the camera and handled it together with its analogue sibling: It looked huge in comparison. Checked the data again: No, they are the same size, just a couple of milimeters here and there. Then I did this (taken from camerasize.com):



    And I wonder: Why on earth do digital SLR cameras have to be so darned thick? I understand that there's a lot of electronics inside, but the F6 contains a fair amount of circuitry as well, in addition to a film cannister and a take-up spool. Even the battery is almost as large on the D700.

    This is obviously also one of the reasons why the F6 handles better, even if the two cameras weigh the same; because of the thinner body, the grip is much deeper. The fact that Sony has managed to put together the RX1 makes this even more of a mystery.

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    Re: Same same but different

    There is a huge difference in the amount of electronics. Your film is much thinner than a sensor and you do not have a monitor behind it. Dimension numbers are very simple and button protrusion is not measured now (unlke with the film camera), but looking at those images, the D700 looks like a brick in comparison.

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    Senior Subscriber Member Steen's Avatar
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    Same same but different


    I hear you, Jorgen, more than once I have been wondering about that too.

    On the other hand the size of a DSLR has never really bothered me, actually in a way I like it that there's something to hold on. Still it's a bit strange.

    Here's another size illustration, to the left my wife's Panasonic G1 and to the right my own old film-based F3HP SLR. Nice form factor, the SLR, a nice design in my opinion.


    ©lick for actual pixels


    © • Nikon D300 • AF-S Nikkor 1.4/50mm G • 1/13 sec. at f/5.6 ISO 200 • Capture NX

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    Subscriber Member Jorgen Udvang's Avatar
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    Re: Same same but different

    Quote Originally Posted by Shashin View Post
    There is a huge difference in the amount of electronics. Your film is much thinner than a sensor and you do not have a monitor behind it. Dimension numbers are very simple and button protrusion is not measured now (unlke with the film camera), but looking at those images, the D700 looks like a brick in comparison.
    But the F6 has an LCD on the back and it has memory to store EXIF-data. In addition, there are two relatively large cylinders to store film. Also, electronics are supposed to become smaller with time, not larger. Just look at my MBA. The total volume probably isn't more than the D700, but it contains a 13" monitor, 256GB SDD etc. Or again... the RX1.

    And look at the D800. It's even larger than the D700. It's not so much the size that bothers me though, but the "thickness" that makes it more tiring to hold. The F6 is simply a better designed camera.

    I seriously consider buying a couple of more F6 bodies for my retirement. No reason to shoot digital if I don't have to, is it?

    The Panasonic G/GH series are very well designed cameras. For most of my work now, when I don't need the speed of an SLR or the larger sensor of the D700/F6, I use 2 x GH1 and a GH2. With 3-4 lenses they fit into a bag that is full if I carry a DSLR with a standard zoom.

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    Re: Same same but different

    My mistake. Nikon just filled the D7000 with a lot of empty space.

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    Re: Same same but different

    The ONLY thing the F6 has which the D700 doesn't is the two film spools. Otherwise the D700 has a bigger battery, card slots, a built-in flash which requires a capacitor someplace, a USB interface, an HDMI port and video functionality, and a whole lot more sophisticated (read: huge) firmware and memory buffer needs. It just needs a lot more circuitry, while the entire F6 logic can probably be fit into a single chip, with on-chip NOR flash holding the entire firmware whereas the D700 boots from sectored NAND flash into RAM. Which then requires on-chip caches, memory management, and all sorts of complications, which then requires fancy clocking and power management. On top of that the D700 requires DSP functionality, which requires memory sharing schemes and multiprocessor bus logic. Even if it's all highly integrated with custom logic it's still the proverbial truckload of stuff. And it all has to run off a single battery for a number of hours in a wide range of temperatures (read: designed around power management as a critical core component).

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    Subscriber Member Jorgen Udvang's Avatar
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    Re: Same same but different

    Jan, these two cuttaway drawings partly support what you say. I couldn't find a cutaway drawing of the F6, so it's the F5, which lacks the back LCD and much of the electronic circuits of the F6, but it's still a professional grade SLR, and the D3, which shows what looks like a couple of layers of circuit boards on the back (F5 on top):





    But how to explain this then:





    Admittedly, the K5 has a somewhat smaller sensor, but not that much smaller, and sensor size should at least not influence the thickness of the camera (the flange to film plane distance is almost identical on Nikon and Pentax). All other specs, including everything you mention, is identical or more advanced on the K5. Like IBIS, which the Nikon doesn't have.

    The reason why I don't add the D7100 to the equation, in case somebody should wonder, is that it's not nearly as advanced as any of the above cameras; less rugged, smaller buffer etc. The D7100 is also as thick as the D700 and much thicker than the K5, so no improvement there. Other measurements are pretty identical between the D7100 and the K5 (just like the F6 and the D700).

    It should also be said that I ask these questions more out of curiosity than anything else. I'm an active Nikon user and will probably continue to be that as long as I can hold a 1 kilogram block of metal steadily with my right hand.

    Edit: Interestingly, the D700, and even more so the D800, is nearly identical in size to the Leica S, which show how little sensor size matters when it comes to pro grade cameras. The Leica is 13mm wider, but the rest is more or less the same.
    Last edited by Jorgen Udvang; 23rd March 2013 at 18:05.

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    Senior Subscriber Member Steen's Avatar
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    Same same but different


    Seems like size is the price we have to pay for the combination of:

    1) an optical through-the-lens viewfinder with mirror and all

    2) a system mount for interchangeable lenses

    3) plus the electronic parts that make a digital camera

    I wouldn't want to be without any of those features, the size of the camera isn't that important to me.


    - - - - -


    Were it only about all the modern electronic parts including a full-blown 24x36mm sensor it is now proven they can be squeezed into an RX1 size fixed-lens camera (where the lens will die with camera).


    screendump from camerasize.com



    Compare camera dimensions side by side



    - - - - -


    And if on the other hand you can do without all the modern electronic parts then a film can be squeezed into an F3HP size system camera with optical through-the-lens viewfinder and all.

    My old analog F3HP to the left, and my ehh old (?) digital D300 to the right.


    ©lick for actual pixels


    © • Panasonic G1 • G Vario f:3.5-5.6/14-45mm at 14mm • 1/50 sec. at f/5.6 ISO 320

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    Subscriber Member Jorgen Udvang's Avatar
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    Re: Same same but different

    Note to self: Buy another F6 before it's too late

    ... and maybe an F3 as well

    Did you know that the fertility rate in several Asian countries is way below what is needed to maintain economic growth? In Thailand, it's down to disastrous 1.6, while 2.1-2.3 is needed to maintain the population at the current level (There are already somewhere between 3 and 5 million foreign workers here due to the lack of people).

    The reason for this, according to several scientists, is that young people in this part of the world live their lives through electronic gadgets and shiny new cars. Annoying, little babies don't fit into that lifestyle and are simply ommitted.

    So, we are a dying race, and will be replaced by iPhones within a couple of centuries, if not before. As a protest, I might consider buying an F4 as well

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    Re: Same same but different

    Jorgen, get an F3! I had one long ago. I loved it. It was stolen. It is the only camera that I have ever missed. Hmm, maybe I should get one again
    Martin Ranger - Seattle, WA
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    Re: Same same but different

    I realize it's a personal thing, but I don't want a smaller camera ... not for something in this category. I actually wish my d800 were a bit bigger. There's something about the deeper hand grip on the d700 and d300, and the amount of room around it, that lets the camera fit more nicely in my hand.

    Granted, a camera too small for your hands is a minor annoyance compared with one that's too large.

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    Re: Same same but different

    Quote Originally Posted by paulraphael View Post
    I realize it's a personal thing, but I don't want a smaller camera ... not for something in this category. I actually wish my d800 were a bit bigger. There's something about the deeper hand grip on the d700 and d300, and the amount of room around it, that lets the camera fit more nicely in my hand.

    Granted, a camera too small for your hands is a minor annoyance compared with one that's too large.
    Get a grip man, no seriously get A GRIP
    (I'm joking of course!)
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    Re: Same same but different

    A grip would be great if I held the thing vertically a lot, but I don't ...

    I don't mind the d800's size. Just notice in comparison that some other cameras fit better.

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    Re: Same same but different

    Quote Originally Posted by paulraphael View Post
    I realize it's a personal thing, but I don't want a smaller camera ... not for something in this category. I actually wish my d800 were a bit bigger. There's something about the deeper hand grip on the d700 and d300, and the amount of room around it, that lets the camera fit more nicely in my hand.

    Granted, a camera too small for your hands is a minor annoyance compared with one that's too large.
    But this is the whole point with the F6. Because the camera body is thinner, the grip becomes deeper on the inside, giving a much firmer grip without using any force. The total depth of the grip is about the same as on the D700.

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    Re: Same same but different

    Quote Originally Posted by paulraphael View Post
    A grip would be great if I held the thing vertically a lot, but I don't ...

    I don't mind the d800's size. Just notice in comparison that some other cameras fit better.
    Ming Thein in latest blog posts compares a few young/old, old/new, and in particular points out the Nikon D600 being less inspiring to hold over the D800 and D700.

    I actually owned the relic they call the D700 and loved the feel, build and quality of the camera. My D800 is a couple of days out due to arrive, so I will know very soon how it compares to my current Canon!
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    Re: Same same but different

    Quote Originally Posted by pophoto View Post
    I actually owned the relic they call the D700 and loved the feel, build and quality of the camera. My D800 is a couple of days out due to arrive, so I will know very soon how it compares to my current Canon!
    Let us know. In my hands the d700 and 5D feel better, but not to a degree that would get me to consider them over a d800.

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    Re: Same same but different

    Oh but the 5D Mark III gets it so right on so many levels! Only two areas suffer for me, and that is low light auto focus because there is no assist light. 2nd it uses one SD card and one CF card, I would have preferred both to be CF. Such minor annoyance I know!
    The D800 will be the higher MP for when I need it.
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    Re: Same same but different

    Viewfiner of a ff camera is considerably bigger than that of a K5. And in case of the 5dIII it is also considrably brighter.
    AF-system of D700/800/5dIII is also more sophisticated than that of a K5.
    And the battery is larger.
    I guess all these are points why the ff cams are bigger.
    I dont mind however.
    (Even though I really liked the K5 IQ, but not so much the AF and the viewfinder)

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    Re: Same same but different

    A related question is why are the lenses so big?
    Canon 35mm lenses are about the same size as Pentax 645 lenses.

    300mm f4: Canon 90x221 mm; Pentax 645 83x208 mm.(Pentax 35mm DA 300mm f4: 83x184 mm)
    400mm f5.6: Canon 90x256 mm; Pentax 645 83x252 mm.

    Shorter focal lengths are harder to compare since the Canon lenses are often faster, e.g.,
    Canon 100m f2.8 macro: 79x118 mm
    Pentax 120mm f4 macro: 83x110 mm (Pentax 35mm DFA 100mm f2.8 macro) 68x81 mm

    Net result is that a Canon kit and similar 645D kit need about the same amount of space.

    Tom
    Last edited by tsjanik; 28th March 2013 at 05:46. Reason: Added info

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    Re: Same same but different

    Quote Originally Posted by tsjanik View Post
    A related question is why are the lenses so big?
    Canon 35mm lenses are about the same size as Pentax 645 lenses.
    I think it's partly speed, partly AF motors, and largely because much of the last couple of decades' optical improvements have been the indirect result of improved coatings—which allow lens designers to throw many more elements and groups at every optical problem.

    I used to think my large format lenses were big. Now they seem diminutive next to the stuff that's hanging off every tourist's neck.

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