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05-07-2010, 07:21 AM   #1
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Have there been any collapsible SLR's?

I mean, with plastics, micromechanics, servos and powerfull lithium batteries you can extend, slide, rotate or fold nearly everything today.

There are cameras with simply extending zooms, replacable sensor modules, uniquie sliding lens systems, perpendicular sensors and what not.

Since one of the most fundamental size constraint in DSLR's is register distance, how come there are no sliding/flipping/folding/colapsible mount designs that would allow the SLR/"SLR"-EVIL camera to be much more compact when not in use.

You know.. like this:

Only with a mount at the end.

If you made adjustable register distance instead of two - folded/extended positions, there would be even more options.
You could make a whole camera system based on this, where nearly all off the primes could be pancakes. And a distance for ordinary SLR lenses.


Last edited by ytterbium; 05-08-2010 at 06:32 AM. Reason: typo
05-07-2010, 08:02 AM   #2
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I think Bessa made one, in 645 format, none the less...I'll have to dig through the archives....
05-08-2010, 02:44 AM   #3
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Interesting.. cant find one.
Was it an actual SLR or simply folding interchangable lens camera.
05-08-2010, 03:33 AM   #4
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it probably was a folding interchangeable lens camera, not an SLR...still an unusual concept.

05-08-2010, 06:01 AM   #5
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The general direction in digital cameras is to make them smaller and more portable. I think the micro 4/3 is headed in that direction. The problem with bellows is that with heavy use, they wear out and leak light.
05-08-2010, 06:30 AM   #6
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Heavy use might be a serious concern in a digital camera. Still, it was more like an example. You could use double light trapped plastic tubes or any other system.

But since the 4/3's have chosen it the way it is with their 4/3u system, they must have spent enough time thinking about it. Probably entirely new mount + adapter is more robust and better choice. Still it has problems with portability and longer lenses unless they start making collapsible interchangeable lenses.

But one of the problem with such camera, would be that it might seem good only from buyers perspective, not from manufacturers.

I attached a drawing of a wild idea . What are your thoughts? I think such system might make the camera very heavy or fragile, when you start to include more and more functionality.
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05-08-2010, 06:54 AM   #7
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It strikes me as rather pointless. The inclusion of a moving mirror in the design pretty much requires a rigid mirror box. And even if you go to extraordinary (and expensive) lengths to somehow be able to move the mirror to a completely vertical position for the camera's folded position, you're still going to have the focus screen laid out horizontally across the top of the mirror box. And I assume you'd like a pentaprism up there on top. The only real practical space saving would come from the area outside the camera, and why bother designing and manufacturing them to collapse in on themselves for a very minimal depth reduction when we already have the simpler, more economical, and more space-saving alternative of simply removing the lens.

The drawing you attached looks like what is already done with P&S cameras using an electronic viewfinder. You specified an SLR design in your original post.

It appears to me you want to reinvent the Olympus EP-1, except there is no need for your sliding doodads. Just take the lens off and put a body cap on the camera.
05-08-2010, 07:01 AM   #8
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It would be easier to move the sensor than the lens. It would also enable the lens to focus a lot closer than it would normally be able. And I think that would be the only way leica M rangefinders could become AF utilizing that technique; It would certainly save leica from re-tooling every lens they have ever made...or abandoning their older lenses which in all probability would completely destroy leica.

05-08-2010, 07:26 AM   #9
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Whoops. I think i layed out my idea incorrectly. I wasn't after a folding SLR. I was thinking of camera, capable of working within exsisting SLR system, but having a lot more compact size. So there would be no need for new mounts, adapters, or limitations for smaller lenses (like it would be by simply keeping the same registration distance.
A compact/collapsible camera for interchangeable lens system. This is what i wanted to say. Including the ability to use no-collapsible camera lenses.

Removing the lens is not as easy as flipping a switch.
For me exchanging lenses is a very nervous event... correct order, position (all openings pointing down), watch the dust, prepare caps, try not to drop anything..etc.

Btw, a very interesting tought Digitalis. The only thing that makes me confused is, what would be the form factor of such camera. Something like an extending back?
05-08-2010, 07:53 AM   #10
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unfortunately with such a design, current lenses would become somewhat limiting in use. A design like this would make use of lenses with a very short back focus; however, vignetting would become an issue as it has with leica and the same strategy they used to eliminate it would have to be used in this case*. But the lenses with such an extremely short back focus say about 10mm, to focus the lens at "infinity". But with such a short back focus wide angle lenses would be much simpler to produce, such a short back focus would eliminate the need to use retro focus lens designs; which would make lenses very small indeed. Weather sealing a camera like this would be simpler too because the lens isn't moving, sealing it would be much easier though zoom lenses providing their zooming mechanisms were internalised and the dimensions of the lens remained constant** weather sealing would be further enhanced. And it would be possible to make such a zoom lens much faster than it would ordinarily be possible.


*Leica used offset micro-lenses to channel light to the corners of the sensor, back illuminated CCD and CMOS sensors have a problem with light hitting them at a High angle of incidence. So they modified the micro lenses to make the angle less of an impediment to light gathering.

**I wish more Pentax lenses did this.

Last edited by Digitalis; 05-08-2010 at 08:02 AM.
05-08-2010, 08:51 AM   #11
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Yeah.. fixed size lenses are really nice.
My previous P&S had such lens. All internal AF/Zoom. Even if the camera wasn't sealed and all, it's lens was one solid piece of plastic, with the only separate part being front cap, just because there was no need for movement, rotation or any other separation.
Once, taking macro shots i accidentally placed the lens under water (while being busy "at" viewfinder). I just wiped off the leftover drops from front element and kept shooting.
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