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why most cameras suck


Rufus Mangrove

most cameras suck nowadays.  to be sure, the new “prosumer” dlrs and digital point and shoots have advanced leap and bounds since first being introduced to the market.   and, it’s hard not to like the “convenience” of digital technology, in that you don’t have to process the film.

but with this advancement of technology, you have to wonder whether this advancement has made cameras actually better.  let’s take a step back for a second.

remember the old film SLRs?  They essentially had one knob on the body:  the speed.  You twisted the lens to change the aperture.  When you looked in the viewfinder, you would see a light meter with a line pointing between a “+” or “-” sign if you’re exposure was right.  That was pretty much it.  Find your subject and shoot.  When you’re done with the roll of film, spin the wheel and process it.

now, here’s your typical consume grade digital slr.  it doesn’t have any knobs or dials for aperture or speed. . . those are accessible via a menu. press a button and rotate a wheel to set it.  the knobs do have scene modes and programs modes.  the menus have a dizzying array of options, from infrared assist to noise reduction.

do i need all those dials and buttons and menu options?  absolutely not.   i just want dials, not friggin menus, to change the aperture and the speed.  that’s it.  if i had to add “extras,” i’d have a dedicated knob for “iso” and a dedicated knob for “exposure compensation.”

it seems to me that producing such a camera would be cheaper than adding in all those other bells and whistles.  strangely, i would expect the simpler it is, the more expensive it becomes.

i think there is a market for “simpler” cameras or, perhaps more precisely, cameras dedicated to users who like the layout of their old film slrs.  we are teaching the young now that all these gizmos you see nowadays are gadgets that cameras are supposed to have.

let’s take back the camera for photographers!


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  1. February 4, 2009

    There are a bunch of cameras out there that have knobs for aperture and exposure without having to go through menus. On really small point and shoot cameras you don’t need that feature since the sensor is so small, that you will get tremendous depth with apertures smaller than f4 and the pixel sites are so small, that you get diffraction unsharpness below f5. This limits your useful aperture range anyways and you cannot limit your DOF. No point in fiddling with it.

  2. Rufus Mangrove #
    February 4, 2009

    thanks for the comment. i actually have a g10 with dedicated dials for the iso and exposure comp. you’re absolutely right with the small sensor of the g10, there’s really no point screwing around with the apertures, as the DOF is large as all hell.

    but, for the dslrs, there’s no excuse. i shoud have been more specific, but the consumer dslrs, in the 1,000 dollar range, don’t have dedicated dials. even with the 5D and the menu system on top of the camera . . . give me the dials. I want the dials for this stuff. and i just want aperture and speed. don’t crowd the camera with all sorts of other buttons.

    what dslr cameras have dedicated knobs on top of the camera for aperture and exposure that are 1500 or less?

  3. Rufus Mangrove #
    November 2, 2009

    thanks Rick for your comments.

    I would love to get my hands on a Leica.

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