Everything Wrong With Cameras Today

I personally think there are a lot of aspects that can be improved on the current digital cameras and they are not on par with modern technological trends. I am not saying that the cameras are not good enough - quite the opposite actually, as I have argued about camera sufficiency before. In terms of imaging performance the cameras indeed have made incredible strides but when it comes to user experience, handling, design (both physical and user interface), connectivity, peripheral device management and even storage itself, the camera can benefit from some drastic make-over. I am exploring these possibilities that could have improved photographer's experience shooting with modern cameras. 


1) Camera Design
The camera design is the same for a majority of the cameras out there, both for DSLR and mirrorless camera systems. There is that traditional hump (for OVF or EVF), the beefy hand gripping area, and overall stereotypical "professional" look. I am not questioning the functionality of the design, obviously the cameras are made in similar form factor because it works. However, aesthetics wise, all  cameras do not have to look so similar. Take a look at what Lytro is doing (though the company did not survive), and the Hasselblad X1D, they both look different, more modern and appealing. They break away from the traditional camera template that has been used for decades. I think the cameras are due for a refresh when it comes to design, and we need sleeker, cleaner, more minimalist and modern looking cameras that are in line with the current times. 

2) Too Many Buttons and Dials
I don't need 20 buttons and 4 dials on a camera body. The less the better. The multiple button implementation gets clumsy and is not the right way to move forward. We are living in the age of touch screens, we sure can benefit from a large, bright touch screen on the camera - see what BMPCC (Black Magic Pocket Cinema Camera) is doing, they have a 5 inch touch screen dominating the camera's back.  This should be the way forward, minimize buttons and dials on the camera, of course keep the shutter button but everything else can be controlled and operated via the touch screen. If a smartphone with just a touch screen can do everything (obviously a lot more than just taking images and videos), the camera having an LCD screen should be able to improve camera operations drastically, if implementation is done effectively. 



3) Connectivity
Moving into 5G era with ultra fast internet, we should have a direct connection from the camera to cloud storage, allowing instant back up if necessary. Think of the convenience, and applications. You can submit your images immediately as you shoot, live to your clients (or news agency). On the other hand, bluetooth connection has advanced so much the camera can surely take advantage of bluetooth managing multiple peripheral devices such as microphone and headphones (audio monitoring). This can create a new ecosystem that is fast, efficient, reliable and more importantly, wireless. Newer bluetooth connections are also much lower in latency and consumes very little power. Camera manufacturers should utilize the full potential of what the current technology has to offer, the possibilities of advanced connectivity is endless. The current cameras still full like an isolated device and there is just too much trouble connecting to other devices. 

4) JPEG is obsolete
JPEG is an outdated compression file format for images.  We need a new format that is more efficient - smaller size yet retaining more data. Canon proposed HEIF (high efficiency image file format) but whether this will be the future is yet to be seen. Smaller size images means faster loading time for web pages as well as any social media platforms, and more information stored in the file allows quick image processing (basic corrections) without resorting to full RAW editing.

5) Monstrous Lenses
The trend of making larger and larger lenses has to stop. All manufacturers are guilty of this.I understand the obsession of pursuing technical perfection but sacrificing balance and handling on camera is not the way to go. 

Do you agree or disagree with my argument? Are you happy with what the camera manufacturers are doing today? Do you think there are any other improvements that can be made in the modern cameras? What is the future of photography and imaging devices? Do share your thoughts!

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10 comments:

  1. Hi Robin, I agree what you have said sbout Camera Design, Buttons and Touch screen and connectivity. Have you ever had a Look at Leica? All above Haß already been implemented....
    Cheers Bernhard

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  2. Robin, I totally agree with you regarding the design of the camera. With mirrorless cameras the pentaprism has no purpose, yet we feel the need for one to differentiate between a 'professional' camera and a 'point & shoot'. My OM-D E-M1 has a 'bump' but my Lumix DMC-GX80 does not. Both take equally good pictures. The best designed camera I've ever used was a Sony F707. Every control fell comfortably to hand, but it was the rotating body that made it for me. Such a beautiful camera to use, it felt as if it had been redesigned from the bottom up.

    Size matters too. Many years ago I had an OM1 and it was dismissed by all and sundry as a 'Ladies camera'. Not nearly as profession as the chunky Nikkormat FT. I took many great shots with that OM.

    We do need to rethink cameras, based on what we need them to do, rather than what they look like.

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  3. As usual, agree with some points, disagree with others (as should be :) ):
    1) Totally agree. Maybe because of a contracting market and less revenue the makers arr all going in the tried/true way; in the past the camera design had much more experimentation (like Sony's F717, F828 and the great R1, twisty-body Nikons, folded optics Sony's...). But still waiting for the digital Olympus Xa-1 :)

    2) Kind of disagree. I think that should be 2 dials to control the triangle exposure parameters (depending on the mode), and ALL the buttons should be remapable (for example, for me wasting one button to toggle between EVF and LCD - when you have a eye sensor - is a complete waste). The buttons should perform double functions too, one brief press do one function and a long press another (for exemple, the AEL/AFL button - for me - should do AFL with a short press and AEL with a long press, or use single/double presses). For functions that you don't need fast access and/or you usually don't use when lookinf through the EVF, touch screen use would be very welcome.
    I, personally (in the usual scheme control of today), need two dials, one button to back button AF (I know that you hate it, but with low light concert shooting, is a necessity), one to engage peaking/enlarge image (to use legacy lenses - and this is my biggest Olympus complain, PLEASE enable to engage BOTH with one button press like in the Panasonics), one to change ISO, one to engage Face Detection. Focus point, I prefer the touchpad scheme than a joystick. The rest, the toucscreen could serve.

    3) Agree, but there are caveats. Social networks like Instagram arte closing their external APIs, to force people to use their apps because fo ad revenue - are will not allow to upload direct from the camera. And in a lot of countries, 4g/5g connections still have high prices, the general public probably will not want to pay for a second connection.
    For me, the manufacturers apps should be more smarter, the connection with the phone should be easier, and the "work" on the phone should be minimal. For example, to upload for a social network directly: the camera and the app should in permanent connection with Bluetooth (some brands already do kind like of it). You take a picture, want to upload it, press a button (could be in the touchscreen), the picture goes to the phone and opens in the factory app, already in a option to share it with a list of apps - or instantly shared with another app if desired in the settings. Share it, it opens in the app (on the phone) to write and post. No the current open app/download photo/choose photo/select target/share.

    4) Totally agree. But saw some articles that HEIF is in fact H.265 encoding - that works much better with movie than photos; these articles found a lot of artifacts in HEIF's Apple implementation.

    5) Totally agree. Is the reason that I'm not even interested in full frame cameras - m4/3 and APS-C have more than enough image quality for me, and bokeh obsession is, in most cases, to masks photographer's lack of knownledge. Portablility and less weight art much more important to me.

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  4. I've used Leica, Panasonic, & Sony without the penta-prism stype ELV. The bump looks neat, for those of us who grew up and mostly used 35mm film, but its functionality left with the film SLR. Sure M.F. cameras, especially press cameras, kept the bump style finder, but many others, like 35mm range finders did not. So on a modern digital imaging body it can go as long as an ELF is retained or I won't purchase that model.
    I'd love to see a better than JPEG format as long as RAW is retained.
    Lenses are my pet peve. I dislike all the tiny lenses with low light gathering. I don't like the price of the better digital lenses. I use quite a bit of my 35mm lenses on my MTF bodies. Until I get to long telephotos weight does not bother me. Sure the newer coatings, especially HD, are better than any of my older lenes. Just imagine the detail and low light of a larger lens made with HD glass. I will admit though that I chose MFT because I love the light weight system I can carry out into the mountains.

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  5. Agree. The boxy feel of cameras, and the humongous lenses, are really off-putting

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  6. I totally with your first four points, but have to disagree with Point #5 and not because you're wrong about the lens being too big. I think too many photographers whether they're professional or amateurs simply demand high optical performance which is why all the camera manufacturers roll out all these monstrous lenses. The fact that the Canon RF 28-70mm f/2L USM Lens weighs more than the Nikon D5 body and that the Nikon Noct lens cost an insane $8K indicates there is something wrong here. Part of the blame has to lie with photographers and the people who buy these lenses.

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  7. I agree with everything except the buttons & dials. I prefer physical dials for setting Aperture, Speed, ISO and exposure compensation. I also want a button for AE-lock. Everything else can be in the LCD. I think Fuji gets is right with their dials.

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  8. Hi Robin, I agree with a lot of your ideas. But please leave the buttons on my camera I love buttons and always turn off the touch function on my camera because my nose always changes my chosen focus point :-)

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  9. I think monsterous lenses are like a peacock's feathers- they convey a certain image of the user.

    I'm not in this business, but i think it does tell (potential) customers that you had already invested some money in the game and therefore you probably mean business.

    And of course, the aperture and bokeh are nice to have (especially being able to easily knock out photos of a certain look)

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