Site Sponsors
Results 1 to 11 of 11

Thread: Time to look back?

  1. #1
    Subscriber Member Jorgen Udvang's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Pratamnak
    Posts
    9,342
    Post Thanks / Like
    Images
    2157

    Time to look back?

    I picked up a camera a couple of days ago, for a friend of mine. It's an X100, the last one in the shop and it was Friday afternoon. The shop was packed with people, all of them looking with envy at the black box on the counter. The attention couldn't have been greater if I had been picking up the Koh-i-noor diamond.

    It's a beautiful camera of course, with its retro styling, excellent lens and space age technology. And people are going bonkers over it. Just look at the prices on the auction site.

    Rewind... 5 years back. Nikon was discontinuing the FM3A. In spite of its popularity, it was a very low volume product, and it was film, not the most modern storage medium according to what I've managed to find out on various internet pages that claim to know about photography. Only 36 photos per canister, terrible high ISO, fixed WB etc.

    Some of us claimed that a digital version, a kind of FM4D, would be an interesting option. But wishful thinking isn't enough of course. Camera manufacturing is about money and gadgets, gadgets and money and containerloads of plastic fantastic cameras with so many features that you need to read the entire user manual just to scratch the surface.

    But with the success of the X100 in mind, and on this Sunday morning, refusing to do anything that makes sense, I started to make a list of cons, trying to turn them into pros.

    Who could do it?
    I'm talking about a retro concept digital SLR camera. It would require a lens mount that is technically the same today as in the old manual focus days. That leaves Canon out. Pentax could, but it's a small company these days, changing owners again, and they would have to re-invent full frame. Sony could too, but they seem firmly focused on space age rather than retro (although the A850/900 duo is probably as close to retro design as SLRs go these days, but as good as they are, they are approaching the stage of ancient history now). Leica already does this successfully in the rangefinder world, but have discontinued the lenses that would make it an interesting project. Nikon has all it takes; an ancient lens mount, a suitable full frame sensor and all the resources needed. Probably the best candidate.

    It won't be economically feasible. People would buy it just to use legacy lenses. Camera makers earn more money from lenses than from bodies.
    Let's see now... how many lenses will Fujifilm sell for the X100. I believe the number approaches zero. There are a few p&s cameras sold every year as well, so there must be some profit in bodies, no?

    There won't be space for an AF motor, and photographers nowadays want AF, at least as an option.
    Like with entry level Nikon cameras, it could be made to AF with AF-S lenses.

    They can't get a full frame sensor with mirror box and prism into a small, retro styled body.
    Most of the camera manufacturers could ten years ago, although that was film, so why not today?

    The ergonomics of those old cameras were terrible.
    For some reason, I didn't mind the "terrible" ergonomics during my 30 years with the OM system, and these days, photographers pay $7,000 for a Leica with an equally terrible design.

    They can't fit the electronic into a small, retro style SLR body.
    Fuji can with the X100, adding a hybrid viewfinder as well, and look at the camera phones, that go into a jeans pocket with ease, containing a camera, a computer and a telephone.

    Full frame sensors are too expensive.
    The Sony 24MP sensor retails for $2,000 including a rather decent SLR camera. This camera would probably do just as well with the 12MP sensor from the D700 or D3s.

    It won't sell in sufficient numbers.
    Apparently, the M9 and the X100 do. With zillions of manual focus F-mount lenses around, I can't see why it shouldn't, for a price comparable to the A850.

    Just use a D700 in all manual mode, and you are there already.
    The D700 is an excellent camera, but it's big, heavy and all the buttons and functions do get in the way when I want to go light and stealthy. It's also primarily an autofocus camera. I'm talking about something which is primarily a manual focus camera, split screen and all.

    The Panasonic G3 is what you want. Small, light and with an excellent manual focus mode.
    It's probably the closest thing, but it's not 35mm format, and there's the emotional side as well; the visual feeling of an optical viewfinder and the mostly mechanical interface of a traditional camera.

    What's the chances that a camera like this will ever appear? I have no idea, but few probably anticipated the X100, so I guess it's too early to give up. Have the people at Nikon considered the idea and rejected it? Probably. Would it be an idea to approach them and ask them to reconsider, mentioning the success of the X100 and the M9? That's a thought.

    Or am I the only one who would waste a completely usable Sunday morning hour on this

  2. #2
    Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Posts
    54
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Time to look back?

    If Nikon releases D700 sensor in Nikon SP and FM2 bodies, I probably would cry in tears of joy.

  3. #3
    Subscriber Member kit laughlin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Two suitcases and the latest MBA
    Posts
    1,334
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Time to look back?

    Jorgen and bluebook: if Nikon ever were to release such a camera, I believe it would be wildly successful, if the success of the M9 and X100 is any indication. Perhaps offset microlenses (like the M9) could mitigate the effects of a smaller mirror box and hence a thinner body—I know my F2 Photomics were relatively small cameras, by today's pro camera standards. Interesting idea. Agree that 12MP (if same sensor to D700, or D3s) would be sufficient.

  4. #4
    Super Duper
    Senior Member
    Godfrey's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Near San Jose, California
    Posts
    7,928
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Time to look back?

    I'd love a "simple" manual focus SLR of the Nikon FM2n-FE2-like, but I doubt it's ever going to appear. So I don't worry about it.

    I don't believe that people will spend $2000+ for a camera simply because the styling is neat and retro. The M9, despite its "retro" appearance, is a very sophisticated electronic camera, as is the Fuji X100. (I find the Fuji X100 beautiful to look at but rather fiddly in operation. The M9 holds true to what I value in Leica in remaining simple and straightforward, not fiddly, although it too has many configuration options that you have to understand to get the most out of it.)

    The Olympus E-1 is about as retro a DSLR as anything we're ever likely to see. plus it's a wonderful camera. I'm keeping mine. ;-)

  5. #5
    Senior Member Lars's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Sunnyvale, California
    Posts
    1,811
    Post Thanks / Like
    Images
    19

    Re: Time to look back?

    Kit - as I understand it, microlenses shouldn't be more necessary than on any other FF Nikon, as SLR wideangle lenses are retrofocus by design to keep the rear element away from the mirror. Assuming of course that the goal is to still use F-mount lenses.
    Monochrome: http://mochro.com

  6. #6
    Subscriber Member Jorgen Udvang's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Pratamnak
    Posts
    9,342
    Post Thanks / Like
    Images
    2157

    Re: Time to look back?

    Lars is right, of course. Before Nikon launched the first digital FF camera, there were lots of speculations about the lens mount being too narrow etc., but somehow all those worries evaporated with the D3. It's also worth noticing that, while the viewfinder of the D700 has 95% coverage and 0.72x magnification, the FM3A had 93% coverage and a whopping 0.83x magnification. The flange to film/sensor distance is obviously the same for both cameras. If anything, the much smaller FM3A has space for a larger mirror-box/prism assembly than the D700 (if we remove the flash).

    Still, the FM3A measured 142.5 90 58 mm against the D700's 147 x 123 x 77 mm. The F80, which had a form factor very close to the D700 (and which I believe was the mother of the D100, the Fuji S3 and to a certain degree the D70) measured 141.5 98.5 71 mm. It makes me wonder what the extra 24.5mm height of the D700 is needed for.

    Olympus of course did even better. The OM-1 was 136 x 83 x 81 mm including the 50mm lens. There was no flash, not even a hot-shoe, but that's 40mm lower than a D700, and the Olympus had 97% coverage and 0.92x magnification! Sony A900, which I believe has the biggest SLR viewfinder of today, has 100% coverage and 0.74x magnification, and the camera measures 156 x 117 x 82 mm (yes, that's without a lens).

    I lived with the OM-1 for 30 years. Apart from the storage limitations, I still consider it a better camera than anything digital that I've tried so far, and I wonder why the camera manufacturers haven't been able to include those qualities in a DSLR. Because megapixels, gadgets and cool features sell more easily than real photographic qualities, even in a pro or proish camera?
    Last edited by Jorgen Udvang; 10th July 2011 at 19:00.

  7. #7
    Subscriber Member kit laughlin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Two suitcases and the latest MBA
    Posts
    1,334
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Time to look back?

    Lars; thank you (sound of me slapping my own head). Of course that's right.

    Jorgen: I still have one of the best Olys, the OM-4 (had both the OM-1 and 2 in the olden days). Yes, truly excellent finder.

    Samut Prakan, eh? Nice part of the world!

    cheers, KL

  8. #8
    Subscriber Member Jorgen Udvang's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Pratamnak
    Posts
    9,342
    Post Thanks / Like
    Images
    2157

    Re: Time to look back?

    Quote Originally Posted by kit laughlin View Post
    Lars; thank you (sound of me slapping my own head). Of course that's right.

    Jorgen: I still have one of the best Olys, the OM-4 (had both the OM-1 and 2 in the olden days). Yes, truly excellent finder.

    Samut Prakan, eh? Nice part of the world!

    cheers, KL
    I still use an OM-3, and consider getting one that is less used.

    Samut Prakan has many hidden treasures. A bit flat though, at an average of 2-3 meters above sea level

  9. #9
    Senior Subscriber Member Steen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Denmark, CPH
    Posts
    2,500
    Post Thanks / Like
    Images
    12

    wake up, Nikon


    Good thinking, and well spoken, Jorgen.

    I for one fully agree with all your excellent arguments in your original post. One hundred percent.

    Until now I have never preordered a camera, but if a camera like the one you describe was announced I would immediately preorder it (provided it was priced as a quality tool, not as a luxury item).

    While waiting I'll have to maintain the impression and feeling with my old film based F3


    a bit off topic but still, here's a 24x36mm F3HP with Carl Zeiss Planar 1.4/50mm ZF mounted - along with the Micro Four Thirds Panasonic G1 with f:3.5-5.6 / 14-45mm kit lens, just for size comparison


    click for larger - in some browsers F11 deactivates and again activates <-> menu lines


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

  10. #10
    Subscriber Member kit laughlin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Two suitcases and the latest MBA
    Posts
    1,334
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Time to look back?

    Very nice, Steen. And, Jorgen, I will catch up with you in the New Year.

    Cheers, KL

  11. #11
    Super Duper
    Senior Member
    jonoslack's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    East Anglia & Cornwall (UK)
    Posts
    11,778
    Post Thanks / Like
    Images
    1

    Re: Time to look back?

    Interesting thoughts (we all have them).
    Although, I don't see why it needs to be that retro - as long as it's the same size and feel as an OM1, and manual focusing is properly accomodated, I really don't see why it can't have the modern bells and whistles as well.

    Great photos to illustrate the point Steen.

    Just this guy you know

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •