Cameras not gadgets.

Discussion in 'Open Gear Talk' started by soundimageplus, Jun 9, 2011.

  1. soundimageplus

    soundimageplus SC Top Veteran

    578
    Jul 6, 2010
    CAMERAS NOT GADGETS.

    In the UK there is an organisation called CAMRA, the campaign for real ale. Formed in response to what the founders thought was the disturbing trend of pubs to sell mass-produced gas pumped beer. I'm thinking of forming an organisation called CAMREC, the campaign for real cameras!

    On my blog a couple of days ago someone wrote "time is passing by and we are getting gadgets not the useful tools."

    In his review of the Sony NEX-C3 Michael Reichmann of Luminous Landscape wrote - "I've been reading recently that there is strong consumer push-back in the US against 3D movies and TVs, even though all the major studios and TV makers are flogging 3D relentlessly. I see a parallel between 3D and all the gizmology built into some recent cameras. Why is it there? Because it's just firmware, and firmware is less expensive to implement in the feature wars than hardware."

    Are we now in a situation where every new camera released is a gadget rather than a camera? Well not yet, but I think we're close. Though there are obviously people who love them, with the the latest NEX camera, the C3, Sony seem to have dispensed with the idea of making it either look or feel like a camera. Someone described it as an "electronic lens cap" when paired with its kit lens. I posted a video link here from What Digital Camera and looking at it it was obvious the reviewer was struggling to operate the controls on the back of the camera. There's also a Steve Jobs quote about some very small piece of technology needing to have a file included so people could trim their fingers to use it!

    Add on to this a string of complicated menu systems with functions here there and everywhere, bluetooth connections to your iPod, smartphone and toaster and we have come a long way from a Speed Graphic and a Nikon F. I'm not opposed to technology, far from it, so long as it exists in a camera to enhance the picture taking experience. It should improve it, but not complicate it. It should, surely, make taking pictures easier, not harder.

    I've been testing a Nikon D5100 for the past week. A genuinely small and light DSLR that takes wonderful pictures and videos, and has superb fast AF and operation. It has a wonderfully coherent set of menus, buttons for many of the basic functions, good solid build quality, and a body that its actually possible to change settings with. I absolutely love it. It does what its supposed to. Make taking pictures a pleasure, make it relatively simple to do and produce high quality results at the end of it. It has technology yes, a few "micky mouse" gimmicks yes, but overall its a good solid picture making machine that won't break my back or break the bank.

    It also has this revolutionary feature, I can put it to my eye and look through the viewfinder! In years to come people may look back at pictures of people holding cameras against their face and wonder what on earth where they doing? Its funny how a viewfinder makes me feel like a real photographer instead of someone trying to read a menu with the wrong glasses.

    But hey, I'm over 17 and seriously uncool and thats not what people want, is it? We're all so locked into the mobile phone way of doing things that we don't want to hold our cameras to our eye anymore and get a really good view of what we're photographing. No we all want to squint at some screen a few inches away and if we're out in the sunshine, make an educated guess as to what we might be taking a picture of. We also want to stick our greasy fingers all over the screen to change a setting. Much more efficient, much cooler!!

    It strikes me its getting to the stage where people show each other their cameras and say "Hey look at what this can do" rather than "Hey look at these pictures I took" And yes I'm guilty of that too. Is this a good thing?
     
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  2. Lili

    Lili SC Hall of Famer

    Oct 17, 2010
    Dallas, TX
    Lili
    Interesting points you have there.
    As you feel about the D5100, so do I about my near 4 year old Oly e510!
    It is my second most used camera after my XZ lately.
    I can adjust most setting by feel, without moving my eye from the OVF.
    Its a little tank :)
     
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  3. jonoslack

    jonoslack SC Veteran

    203
    May 6, 2011
    Excellent post
    Lili - you are assaulting my wallet!
    My equivalent to your 4 year old Oly E510, and the D5100 is the Pentax K5 - lovely camera.
    having just read the dpreview review of the XZ, it seems to be the epitomy of camera over tech - simple and able, small menus, no frills, fine lens.
    I know it's hugely popular right now, but I found that the X100 finally seemed too much like technology over camera.
    all the best
     
  4. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus

    Jul 12, 2010
    Philly, Pa
    Talk about gadgets. I remember the simplicity I enjoyed making photos for business and personal work with my M4. I'd load a roll of Tri-X and that was it. No batteries, no meters, no EV comp no AF no nothing... just the camera, light and myself. I'll bet that I have less than 1% bad exposed negatives. I never used a meter except in the studio and with my strobes, only.
    Then I got fancy. I bought an M6 as a backup and because I got such a good deal, I couldn't pass it up. I'd hold that baby up to my eye and WHAM, there was these stupid red lights. Those stupid red lights also were the downfall of the less is more technology in camera for me. After some time I was using the M6 more and more. I thought that I just loved the camera that much. I bought another M6. Then the M4 stayed home and I found myself relying on the M6's meter more than I wanted to but those red lights were hypnotizing. I was now meter dependent.

    Jump to the future, well let's say the present. I'm liking the X100. I am aware of the loss of free thought with the camera. I mean I am aware of the intrusion of the cameras technology in my work.
    There are a few ways to handle gadget technology in cameras.

    The easiest way is to surrender and just let the camera do the thinking and you just click away knowing that the camera got it right. There is a certain comfort in this method.
    Another way is to realize that the camera is a partner in your process and that you will let it guide you but not always make the decisions that it presents you.
    The is a certain comfort in this method.

    I choose the latter. I will let the camera do it's technology thing but I want the final decision to be mine, whether it's in agreement with the camera or not.
    The X100 allows this type of work very easy. It's the reason that I will keep it over any other reason.

    I came to realize with my M4 to M6 transition that, I could make photos with any camera anyone handed me. I found that the technology was to be learned, so that if could be a partner in the process and that I would not have to surrender to it but rather learn to adjust my way of thinking. I still feel that way and the truth of the matter is that technology is here to stay and even grow. The choices are very simple.... Use it, abuse it or let it go......

    Gadgets, who needs them..... where the heck is my iphoney, I'm late because my coffee maker is done making the coffee and my auto truck starter is already running.... time to put the Mac to sleep....
    later
     
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  5. retow

    retow SC All-Pro

    Jul 24, 2010
    X100 set to aperture priority, OVF, auto iso max 3200 (yes, with this one I dare), min shutter speed 1/125 feels and behaves like a real camera. I don't care for the gadgetry it has on board, except for the EVF and easy switch to it and the ND filter and the rest doesn't really get into my way:smile:
     
  6. soundimageplus

    soundimageplus SC Top Veteran

    578
    Jul 6, 2010
    Just to say that I'm far from against technology in cameras, its when that technology is superflous or gets in the way or is used as an alternative to good design that I have doubts about it.

    Also I'm concerned that a camera gets "hyped" because of what its technology will do rather than how it functions as a camera. As Michael Reichmann points out, firmware technology is cheaper than good design.
     
  7. olli

    olli Super Moderator Emeritus

    Sep 28, 2010
    Metro Manila
    olli
    Re NEX 3C and NEX generally - it looks like a camera to me and when I point it at people in the street I'm guessing from their reaction it looks pretty much like a camera to them too. And anyway, what does a 'real camera' look like? A DSLR or an SLR or a Leica or a Linhof view camera or a Polaroid camera or a Mamiya C330?

    And what's the problem? About every electronic gadget I own (and they're all gadgets, including the D5100) has multiple utterly redundant features that I don't use and don't understand. If you don't need it don't use it.
     
  8. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    David, I respect you always and agree with you a lot, but you're sounding a bit old to me on this one. :cool:

    If people are producing good photographs with something, its enough of a camera to me. We all have our preferences. When I was young I got used to shooting with a viewfinder, but I'm sort of glad I let it go for a while because over the many years I was just shooting family stuff with P&S cameras, I never had one, and now that I'm back into it, I like 'em when I have 'em but don't miss them when I don't. To me, seeing is seeing and any sort of thing that lets you see what's coming through the lens is a good thing. I don't have any religion about putting a camera up to my eye. In fact, all other things being equal, I'd rather not. But things are almost never all equal and I've come to love the OVF on the X100 because of how great that camera is in a number of ways. I also liked having an EVF available for my EP2 but mostly just for when it was too bright to see the screen. But I like the flip up LCD on the Nex even more and if they'd build a Nex with a silent shutter and release that Zeiss 24mm, I'd probably be back to shooting most of the time with the Nex. The Ricoh GRD3 has an incredibly bright and useable LCD but the way I use THAT camera, the LCD is almost an afterthought because I so rarely use it, mostly just framing on instinct alone.

    To me, a DSLR sized and function camera gets in the way of the way I shoot far more than a little wisp of a camera with a good LCD. When I've tried larger cameras that depend on framing through a viewfinder lately, I find my shooting gets VERY predictable. I don't look at things the same way. I don't see the odd angles and strange perspectives because I'm always holding the camera the same way. A small camera with an LCD I can see at various angles encourages me to see differently and I'm almost always more comfortable with one than with something I have to use at eye-level.

    Not saying this should be true for anyone one else, but I just don't see dismissing a whole generation of cameras as gadgets because they don't meet yours or my idea of what a camera is, or was. What you or Michael Reichmann find "gets in the way", might be exactly what I find gets OUT of the way. Your gadget might be my perfect tool, and vice versa. So if I see a good photograph, whatever produced it is camera enough for me. That's the only bottom line that works and to each their own in terms of how they get there.

    -Ray
     
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  9. Paul Giguere

    Paul Giguere www.paulgiguere.com

    97
    May 4, 2011
    Wayland, MA USA
    It's kind of funny that you mention how the viewfinder makes you feel like a real photographer. Being someone who used to use Hasselblads and Rolleiflex cameras (with the ground-glass viewfinder that you look down into), I find using my GRD3's LCD monitor to compose my images to be more analogous to using my Hasselblad or my twin-lens reflex camera to compose images (I feel like a real photographer again). Using a viewfinder has always seemed a bit odd to me (even though I obviously used one during my SLR days). I know the intent of a viewfinder is to help you compose your image but I found using it distracting (maybe because of all of the data readouts, etc. that are also in there with what's in front of you). The viewfinder also makes me feel like I'm kind of looking into a room and in some ways that view cuts me off from what is in front of me. Using the LCD keeps me connected to what's in front of me and when my subjects are people, that is even more important to me.

    Also, I wear glasses for an astigmatism and have to remove them to look through the viewfinder of a camera (while using the diopter adjustment on the camera to get things in focus). Frequently, I would just leave my glasses off when using an SLR and walk around seeing everything at-a-distance as blurry (but still possible to make out for a possible composition). My astigmatism is also the reason I can't use a rangefinder camera (the split vertical image is exactly what an astigmatism can't correct for and thus most people who have one can't focus a rangefinder).

    Given all of the above, I'm currently reviewing a Pentax K5 for SC and I have to say I really love this camera (viewfinder and all). Without going into too much detail, it is a comfortable camera to use (small by DSLR standards) and well thought out as to the location of controls and level of customization (I can shut off most of the distracting data readouts in the viewfinder for example which is also a 100% view). Also, the IQ is absolutely spectacular. Will I finally breakdown and reenter the DSLR club again? You'll just have to wait for the full review ;-)

    Paul
     
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  10. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    Paul, you said it MUCH better than I tried to say it. My analogy has always been that the Nex, with its flip up screen, is like a modern twin lens reflex in that you can just look straight down into the camera to compose. I think the viewfinder (whether electronic or optical) can give me a sense of tunnel vision and I miss opportunities because of it. The X100 has much less of this effect because you can see a pretty good area around what's in the framed image. And in terms of shooting people as subjects, holding the camera up to ones face can not only disconnect the shooter from what's in front of him/her, but can also change the attitude of the potential subjects to the photographer, neither of which is particularly helpful. Not to say every photographer reacts to a viewfinder this way, obviously many don't, but you've stated very eloquently why its good to have more than one option in how we look through a camera's lens.

    -Ray
     
  11. soundimageplus

    soundimageplus SC Top Veteran

    578
    Jul 6, 2010
    Sorry I'm not "getting down with the kids" like you are!

    Well I hesitate to say it, but doesn't that have more to do with you.

    Well of course I didn't say that or anything like it.

    A choice would be nice. A camera with a decent viewfinder lets me work in the way I want and you work in the way you want. I disagree with almost aspect of what you say but its your choice. With many of these current cameras on offer, I don't have a choice.

    How other people work and what they find useful is different for virtually all of us. Just because something works for you doesn't mean it will work for me. It has absolutely nothing to do with age and everything to do with what is appropriate for what you want to do. If you want to use a camera that I think is pretty nasty then fine, but to imply that because I don't like what you like I'm somehow "out of touch" is insulting and has absolutely nothing to do with what I wrote.

    Its pretty obvious I wasn't talking about a "whole generation of cameras" and was talking about the recent trend towards miniturisation and the abandoning of many "physical" features and their replacement with cheaper but often more complicated software equivalents. One of the points I, and I believe Michael Reichmann was making was that this has very little to do with style or functionality but everything to do with the fact that they are cheaper to make that way.

    There have been many posts on many forums about how m4/3 or CSC's or whatever will eventually replace DSLR's. I amongst many other people wouldn't object to that, and would in fact embrace it if it meant the same quality and functionality in a smaller lighter package. To a large extent the early m4/3 cameras kept that. In fact many of them take their inspiration from old rangefinder cameras. However the move towards the small box with everything controlled by software is a trend that certainly Sony and lately Panasonic seem to be moving toward, and that is something that many photographers, of all ages, experience and expertise find is a direction that they don't want to go in, myself included.

    Most rock guitarists seem to find what they need in guitars designed 50+ years ago and I don't seem to hear any comments about them "sounding a bit old".
     
  12. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    I guess I'm less concerned with having every choice (ie, evf, ovf, tilting screen, bright screen, etc) within the SAME camera as with having plenty of choices in cameras so that each of these possibilities is well covered for those who want them. To me, a DSLR with a great viewfinder can feel like its getting in my way even if it also has a nice flip out LCD. To you, a camera with ONLY a great flip out LCD feels like its getting in your way. So we like different types of cameras for the most part and I'm glad they're both available and I don't worry too much about either of us not being able to find what we like as the technologies continue to evolve. I guess the part that made me joke about "sounding old" (and it WAS intended as a joke, not an insult - sorry if I didn't succeed in getting it across that way) was the bit about feeling like a "real photographer" only when using a viewfinder, which one could take to imply that those who prefer not use a viewfinder are somehow less real. I probably took that in a way you didn't intend either. The funny thing is that as much as we like different cameras for the most part, we both seem to like the X100, but perhaps for different reasons????

    BTW, I suspect I'm of similar chronological character as are you and I don't care about being "down with the kids" or cool or whatever either. And its not like I've been mistaken for cool anytime that I can clearly remember. :cool: I just care what works for me and I don't discount something that's new any more than I discount something that's old. I like a lot of the whiz bang new stuff. Honestly, I just do! I don't consider it better than the time-tested stuff, except some of it is better for me. And I like that I can continue to be pleasantly surprised by things I'd never have thought of and had been resistant to until I tried them.

    BTW, I feel the same way about electric guitars and amps. Whatever feels right in my hands and sounds good coming out of the amp works for me and that includes plenty of old and new. I don't think the changes in electric guitars over the past 50 years have been NEARLY as huge as the changes in cameras and photography, although in terms of electronic effects and recording technology, I think the changes have been equally explosive and most of those rock guitarists (both old and young) are using all of that modern stuff in the studio.

    -Ray
     
  13. soundimageplus

    soundimageplus SC Top Veteran

    578
    Jul 6, 2010
    Though my point was light-hearted there was a purpose behind it. I'm all for as many options as possible. The example of the D5100 I gave gives me the option to use an eye-level viewfinder, a rear screen or because that screen is articulated I can use it in whatever position I require. A Sony NEX forces me to use the camera in one way only. Consequently its not a useful tool for me.

    I have a different eye problem to you. I'm very sensitive to light and have a problem with that triggering visual migraines. To help with that I have had a pair of polaroid sunglasses custom made as most of my work is outdoors in sunlight. Consequently I now can't use EVF's or even a rear screen to compose on, without removing the glasses which tends to negate their advantage. They even make the framelines on my Fuji X100 "disappear", thus rendering that useless.

    Its unfortunate, but it means I'm probably going to have to get rid of all my m4/3 gear and the X100 since its become very difficult to use these and no fun at all. Fortunately I've got my "old-school" Leica and the D5100 to use, with no problem.
     
  14. soundimageplus

    soundimageplus SC Top Veteran

    578
    Jul 6, 2010
    Much as I like it you'll see from the above post that its going to have to go. Unfortunately it seems that technology doesn't agree with me!!
     
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  15. Paul Giguere

    Paul Giguere www.paulgiguere.com

    97
    May 4, 2011
    Wayland, MA USA
    Actually now that you mention it, I find it almost impossible to use polarized sunglasses (prescription or no) with LCD monitors in that all of the information (with the exception of the image) becomes invisible. Usually this isn't a problem as I'm just looking at a clean LCD (no data other than the image in front of me) but making changes to the settings can be a challenge when out in sunlight with my sunglasses on. I find I have to peek under the glasses or remove them entirely.

    There will never be a "complete" solution for everyone when it comes to cameras and it is such a personal choice based on so many needs and wants. I think we are extremely lucky though in that there are so many cameras to choose from (too many actually). The key of course is to just find the best camera for you and make photos with it. :smile:
     
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  16. soundimageplus

    soundimageplus SC Top Veteran

    578
    Jul 6, 2010
    Agree with that, though I'm still looking!

    Yes, I've been using non-polaroid sunglasses for a while, buts thats been causing problems. I actually think I'm allergic to EVF's!! The last time I used polaroids I was using optical viewfinders and it wasn't a problem.

    It works very oddly with my Olympus E-PL2. Using the EVF it blacks out in horizontal position but is OK in vertical and is the reverse using the rear screen. As I said the famelines completely disappear on my X100 which is a real pain because I love using the camera.
     
  17. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    Very sorry to hear - not so much about the specific camera as the condition that forces the decision. In that circumstance, I'm sure I'd share your preference. I had the same issue with polarized sunglasses with the EP2 and others as well. And an optician explained it to me and said its supposed to work that way because polarizers filter light on one plane but let it through on the other or something like that. I didn't understand it well enough to begin to explain, but if you turn another polarized source or something that displays information electronically in a certain way 90 degrees, it all goes blank but is fine when everything lines up. I'm now using non-polarized glasses and I'm OK with them except for driving, so its working for me. But it sounds like a pure OVF is the only way to go for you.

    -Ray
     
  18. soundimageplus

    soundimageplus SC Top Veteran

    578
    Jul 6, 2010
    Its an inconvenience more than anything else. Its 1/2 hour of everything looking like a Picasso painting complete with flashing lights!! I realise people often pay a lot of money for something like that but I can live without it. There does seem a real correlation between it happening and my using EVF's and screens, which is a real shame. I do love using the X100 and m4/3 but it seems I'm going to have to make do with my Leica M9. (Any sympathy I might have had instantly disappears!!!)
     
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  19. snkenai

    snkenai SC All-Pro

    Oct 5, 2010
    kenai, AK
    Stephen Noel
    I yearn for a rugged, small, outdoor, take it any where, in any conditions, camera that has real manual control, and high quality digital output. It should also be interchangable lens. Give me solid switches not menus. My E-p1 is the right size, but s-o-o-o fragile. We have all heard this in various forms, but I have not yet found it (for less than a Leika price). Don't bother me, daydream land is not a bad place, most of the time.
     
  20. Andrewteee

    Andrewteee SC All-Pro

    Jul 8, 2010
    I just learned a couple of weeks ago that I have an astigmatism as well. I now wear glasses in certain circumstances which really helps. I also noted in the past few weeks that I was having trouble seeing the rangefinder patch in my Zeiss Ikon. Perhaps related to the astigmatism. I can do it, but it takes some effort. Damn if I have to give that up! I have yet to find a film camera with an LCD!
     
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