July 05, 2018
Since digital took over more or less every system camera looks the same. You have some kind of version of the Nikon F3. With some buttons and dials that you can customise a little or a lot depending on your camera.
Some people like this design, while others don’t like it as much.
As I see it there are three different way you can design a great digital camera. Just a note before we move on, I am talking about system cameras, where you can change the lens.
The first one is to follow what the Leica M series and Fuji are doing. Where you design lenses and cameras how it used to be up to the 80s. Where you have dials on the lens, and dedicated dials on the camera. Where you don’t need to turn the camera on to change settings. You just twist the ISO dial, the Aperture dial or the shutter speed dial. This enables you to be very fast when you shoot in full or partial manual. For example, I am way faster with my X-Pro 2 or my Nikon FM 35mm camera than I ever was with my Canon Rebel. Because it is slower to interact with screens and menus than it is to just twist a dedicated dial.
The next one is kind of a extension of the current “F3 design”. You have many buttons and dials like you have to day. But you can basically program any button to do anything; either simple stuff or multi step actions like: “Set ISO X and Aperture to X” etc. And you have an E-Ink screen on top to show the current settings.
And the third is what Leica are doing with their TL system. Imagine a dedicated camera that is like an iPhone. Not a lot of buttons or a view finder, but instead just a few buttons and a large screen.
It isn’t about having one design for everyone. But instead making sure each design idea is the best possible for those who like that kind of camera. For example the “TL” design will be very appealing for those who prefer to shoot with their phone. But want something “better”. And to let those of us that prefer old school shooting to have that. Finally, I think the F3 design is good, I don’t like it that much. But I think it could be a hell of a lot more powerful for those who enjoy it if they made it a little bit more flexible and customisable.