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12-28-2007, 02:26 PM   #1
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Manual D-SLR concept camera

I've been inspired by another thread to open up discussion about the design of a basic no-frills DSLR based on the functions of the PENTAX MZ-M 35mm model.

As filmamigo says in that thread: No current DSLR offers a photography student or artist the minimalist photographic controls the way the MZ-M does.

He has suggested that Pentax "could make a digital MZ-M by sacrificing the big LCD on the back, and go with just the new as-yet-unseen "in the viewfinder" review capability"

I have my own ideas about it:

"if we're imagining peeling back the features of the K10D to make a basic manual camera, I think I'd like to see the LCD screen stay, but eliminate the various auto settings, bringing it back to a simple choice between aperture/shutter-priority and full manual (no full-auto). Or even take away the aperture/shutter priority, and just keep it fully manual with the auto-bracketing function that the MZ-M already has (Nothing wrong with taking a few quick shots to get that perfect exposure, and then deleting the ones you don't need).

Personally, I could also do without auto-focus (I hardly ever use it on the K10D when doing creative shots) and the inbuilt flash.

Although I think a minimum of 10.2 megapixels should stay."


What do we think? Is this a viable concept? I personally think so, and would purchase the model in a flash to add to my gadget-bag. Nothing like having a cheap and functional back-up camera at hand.

What would you want to see in a basic manual DSLR? [Remember, we're talking about a camera for people who want total control of the image, not a camera that does the thinking for you.]

12-28-2007, 02:58 PM   #2
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I´ve said this before:

Could someone PLEASE make a digital back for my MX?...

// Mats
12-28-2007, 04:39 PM   #3
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I don't see it. I'd think that whatever they save by not including those features would't be enough to set it at a low enough price point to make it profitable.
12-28-2007, 05:10 PM   #4
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I already have one o' those. It's called a K10D. Turn selector to M. Turn off LCD. Turn off SR. Turn off AF. Set metering to CW or spot. Better yet, go real old-school and use an incident light meter.

No problem.

12-28-2007, 05:29 PM   #5
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old news (June 4, 2007)

Krasnogorsky zavod -- -

get somebody who can translate you from Russian...
12-28-2007, 06:18 PM   #6
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I would be first in line to buy a camera like that. I am getting better learning all the different auto settings on my K10 but would happy with just an old fashoined manual SLR that would save the picture on a memory card instead of film. Maybe an LCD screen on the back too. Most likely no camera maker will ever make one again. The reviewers in the press would eat them alive. This is the 21st century and anything without electronic everything and several flashing lights will never be sold. Also electronics are dirt cheap to manufacture compared to the machining needed to make a manual camera.
12-28-2007, 06:34 PM   #7
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The K10D is as automatic or as manual as you make it. Put it on Green mode, AF, Auto AF point selection, SR On, and away you go.

Or, M mode, MF, SR Off, LCD review off. There you go. Use your M or K or M42 lenses and away you go. Why do you need the camera maker to limit you?

There aren't enough consumers to fill the demand of such a limited camera, especially for a maker like Pentax.
12-28-2007, 09:10 PM   #8
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It's a specialized market, but a consistent one. It's the same niche that the K1000 occupied for decades.

When a photography instructor would tell her class to go buy an SLR, they would invariably be sent out for K1000s. The value is in having a camera WITHOUT the option to use automated features. During most of the lifetime of the K1000, there were cameras which had much more automation that could also be turned off, like on your K10D. But there is real value in having a camera where "manual mode" isn't the option -- it's the way you use the camera.

I think that there are substantial production savings to be had making a camera without a number of features. Those production savings open up an entire world of customers, many of whom will be directed to the camera because of its value as a learning tool and as a classic photo-making machine.

Here are my proposed basic specs:
  • 6mp or 10mp APS-C sensor, amortizing the current chips even further
  • Pentamirror viewfinder with microprism collar for manual focussing
  • small top LCD displaying shutter speed, f/stop and shots remaining
  • Control wheels front and back, dedicated to aperture and shutter
  • Mode knob to select -- P / Av / Tv/ M
  • Picture review -- in-the viewfinder with histogram, or small rear LCD, or none at all
  • Quality toggle switch -- RAW / JPEG FINE / JPEG SMALL, with JPEG options prebaked for sharp, colourful, contrasty rendering
  • SDM autofocus or manual focus (no AF screw)
  • build quality on par with MZ-M -- plastic chasis, plastic lens mount
  • Powered by 4 x AA batteries

These choices are about removing unneccessary complexity (the interface choices), removing expensive mechanical parts (the metal lens mount, the custom Li-Ion battery and charger that must be included with a camera, the large hi-res LCD, the AF screw motor.)

The price goal for this exercise would be a new DSLR with an SDM 18-55 for $300.

I know that a large LCD might need to be included because of the current market expectations. I don't know how cheaply that could be included. But if it pushes the price back to being just a little less than a K100D, then the point of this camera is lost. I guess if a rear LCD is included, then you could ditch the small top LCD and save $0.50.

Similarly, I don't know how expensive Pentax's new in-the-viewfinder review system is. If the top of the line K20D is using in-the-viewfinder review, and top photographers are not chimping any more, than it might be very cool to have an entry-level camera that worked the same way.

It would also be nice to see an SDM 28/2.8 or SDM 35/2 for <$150. The single, "aspiration" prime that stores could stock as an option. These should be like the 50mm -- since the rise of the zoom, the fast 50mm was the "next lens to purchase" for most people, and could be had for a reasonable amount. Most consumers and students balk at paying as much or more for another lens than they paid for the camera.

I would buy this camera as a backup, and recommend it to everyone who wanted something better than a $150 point-and-shoot. Most of my friends and family stop looking once the camera price hits $300.

My $0.02

Dave


Last edited by filmamigo; 12-28-2007 at 09:20 PM.
12-29-2007, 06:00 AM   #9
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I would rather see a basic camera, much like K1000 or ME/MZ. But in a very high build quality, all metal. Fully compatible with manual M lenses, not just half compatible as the K10D. What i want to see is a DSLR with the same "think" behind it as the Leica M8. A camera like that wont be cheap, but it does not have to be cheap. A plain simple digital SLR, nothing more, nothing less. Just like those old quality cameras, but digital.

I think all DSLR today are way too big, they are downright clumsy. My old Chinon CE-4 with a 50mm lens actually fits the inner pocket of my jacket, try that with any DSLR.. I wont get a K10D into the same pocket even without a lens attached. The camera of my dream would be a digital version of that old Chinon, or Pentax K1000/ME/MZ. For a camera like that, i would be prepared to pay much, maybe 3 or 4 times the price of a K10D.

What you, filmamigo are describing is just the DSLR of today stripped on functions. That wont be cheaper to produce since the current lineup with all its electronics and functions allredy is developed, and what you describe wont give any user any benefits over current cameras. Just limitations. With a camera like that all that MikeH said is true.

I could even live without the screen on the back. I do not shoot digital just to be able to see the shot on the back of the camera a second later. I do not mind to wait for the picture until i get to a computer. The screen could also be a separate cable attached accesory add on, then it could be really big, or in different sizes. Even wireless, i think some people would like a live preview on a 14 inch screen..

deejjjaaaa: That Russian news was interesting, though Babelfish did not make a good job of translating:

QuoteQuote:
On that taking place on 2 June, 2007, in the general director JOINT STOCK COMPANY KMZ V. zhigulich conference with the participation of leaders and designers is made the decision about the restoration by by Krasnogorsk the plant of fotoapparatostroyeniya and about the release of digital photographic technique. The most real projects, to a certain degree already prepared, this proposal of the creation of the open modular photographic system ("ZENITH -.N1") and the camera of more traditional layout (according to the type of the previous project "ZENITH -408"). Also it is intended to equip with digital "filling" the panoramic "horizons" and observant instruments "zenith FS". Under the data of program there will be chosen corresponding financing from the means of enterprise. Period of experimental design works - prior to the end of 2007.
I actually think the camera of my dream will be produced some day. But not by current producers. Some maker in Russia or China will probably do it since they are not riding the same carousel as all the other brands. This niche will be snatched right under their noses because they are way to preoccupied with new gizmos, bells and whistles to fulfill the demads of their market departments.
12-29-2007, 06:13 AM   #10
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filmamigo your idea for the proposed all manual camera will never be made nor be sold. If you want manual control, it is already available on the current K100D/K10D. The choice is yours on whether you want full manual control or full automatic exposure. If you want a small camera, the K100D is it.
12-29-2007, 06:41 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by filmamigo Quote
Similarly, I don't know how expensive Pentax's new in-the-viewfinder review system is. If the top of the line K20D is using in-the-viewfinder review, and top photographers are not chimping any more, than it might be very cool to have an entry-level camera that worked the same way.
Oh dear God, I hope Pentax doesn't replace the optical viewfinder with an LCD one! If they do, look for a well-used K10D and 30 or so lenses on the used market from me! That would be the death of Pentax for a serious amateur.

The story in the other thread about a pro photog 'not chimping' surely is because he was shooting film. I refuse to believe that Pentax would be so dumb as to remove their optical viewfinder.


For me, this is all about getting a decent manual focus screen and not much else. I think the K10D (and even the *ist D with some K10D-like firmware tweaks) are really stellar cameras ergonomically. Even though they don't have a rangefinder-like feel, they (to me) feel better than anything from (easily) Canon or (marginally) Nikon.

But let's be honest here - with the exception of a mechanical linkage for aperture on K- and M- bayonet lenses, Pentaxes are already decent as manual cameras. I tend to like my M42 Takumars better than their bayonet counterparts anyway, in which case they work perfectly in stop-down mode. You can even get third party screens that have a microprism collar and are much more accurate with focus, which is the other big deficiency for a 'real' manual camera. But the problem with the split prism screens is that they mess up the exposure - if you're already willing to use a hand-held light meter then just go get a split prism and be done with it!

I said it in the other thread - the only hope for a 'real' manual focus SLR camera with a K-mount or M42 mount is going to come through Cosina. I wish them luck!
12-29-2007, 06:45 AM   #12
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What I would like to see is a modular digital camera body that snaps together like Lego blocks and has open source architecture. It would be like personal computer components, with people free to mix-n-match what they wanted and upgrade/replace components easily. You could have components from different makers and be as upscale or basic as your heart desired and your budget allowed.

It'll never happen.
12-29-2007, 07:17 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Mike Cash Quote
What I would like to see is a modular digital camera body that snaps together like Lego blocks and has open source architecture. It would be like personal computer components, with people free to mix-n-match what they wanted and upgrade/replace components easily. You could have components from different makers and be as upscale or basic as your heart desired and your budget allowed.

It'll never happen.
i allwas loved this idea a camera that is 100% the way you wont it and it would be cheeper to up grade
12-29-2007, 06:15 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by carpents Quote
Oh dear God, I hope Pentax doesn't replace the optical viewfinder with an LCD one! If they do, look for a well-used K10D and 30 or so lenses on the used market from me! That would be the death of Pentax for a serious amateur.

The story in the other thread about a pro photog 'not chimping' surely is because he was shooting film. I refuse to believe that Pentax would be so dumb as to remove their optical viewfinder.
Oh, I agree, an electronic viewfinder would never cut it.

Based on the "in-the-wild" sighting, and the patent which has been posted, I really think Pentax are onto something big with an optical viewfinder and an electronic overlay for review of shots and histograms.

This would work like Nikon's LCD-based grid lines on demand feature -- except in full colour and high resolution, showing your pictures and all kinds of other goodness! I think that would be a great way to negate the need for an expensive rear LCD.

I agree that it will probably be Cosina, or the Russians, who make this camera. The problem is that it won't be widely available, and it won't feature the chip and processing which make Pentax's image quality what it is. It's not like the film days -- you can buy a Kiev and run state-of-art Kodak film through it, and noone will ever know you weren't shooting Hasselblad. Unfortunately, today the chip and processing are the keys to IQ. For that, I want Pentax.
12-29-2007, 06:32 PM   #15
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I would have to agree with some others here.

there will never, with digital be a K1000 equivelent. The closest as some have said is either the K10D or the*istD.

Minimal program modes, and the ability, assiming you understand what you are doing to set things manually.

To strip off the display, and reprogram thigns like the PZ-1 through the top display only wouldcost more than you save, and who would buy it. Surely not a beginner, he needs (usually) all of the modes that have been removed from the K10D to start taking pictures before he has time to read the manual.

I think you would get more complaints than it is worth.
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