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05-22-2012, 07:53 AM   #1
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So, what could a "Not Me-too" 35FF camera look like?

This is not meant to be speculation on the likely form of a future FF35mm Pentax DSLR, but a musing on what one could be like.

The remark from a senior Pentax official that they didn't want another "me-too" high-end camera, along with the plethora of speculation about possible/desirable features of FF35mm Pentax, started me thinking about what such a beast might be like, if one started with a blank sheet of paper.

If you begin with the essential user interface, the first consideration is how the photographer sees with the camera. Viewing systems these days generally require the camera to be held up to the eye or at arm's length, but it was not always so restricted in the past. The decline of film has seen the virtual disappearance of the waist-level finder, which I think is a bit of a shame, because it's a less confronting style of viewing than either of the other two modes, in my perception, and it handily lowers the camera viewpoint as well as being a bit less tiring for extended use. However, it was only in larger formats that it was really practical, because the 35mm frame was a bit small for ease of viewing at waist height (I know this from personal experience, because I once owned a Miranda ("Tops and Topless, Too!") and I currently have an early Praktica with a waist-level viewfinder) and optically magnifying it only would only make the image duller.

Even the 645D doesn't have a waist-level finder, although some of its more expensive rivals do. I imagine that, with a clever bit of engineering, a removable pentaprism could be devised for the 645D to enable this, but for a 35mm or smaller sensor, it would probably be a futile exercise.

So where does this leave us if we want a non "me-too" 35mm DSLR to have a waist-level viewfinder option? Probably with a top-mounted LCD viewing screen, possibly with a pop-up sun hood. What would this do to the shape of the camera? Most likely turn it into a more of a squarish box, than the slim rectangular prism shape beloved of "retro" styling. A bit of thought would have to go into how you fit in a pentaprism viewfinder, but the two main options would be an offset LCD or a removable pentaprism with a modular top-mount LCD to fit over the space left, maybe with its own sensor.

Next is the matter of the camera's imaging process. In the past, one had the choice of film speed, colour/monochrome emulsion and format (usually in medium format, but possibly also in 35mm or half-frame). These days, the need for choice has been largely eliminated by software. However, Leica has given the choice of monochrome back to us recently, in digital form, but in an expensive package, and the software mode of choosing colour etc is inevitably a bit of a compromise.

Coincidentally, Pentax's new parent has given us a choice of sensor in the Ricoh GXR, so sensor-swapping to return some of the past choices is now practicable, albeit with a price premium, though not a huge one.

There are probably many other such considerations that could change the functionality of such a camera, but these are probably the two main ones that would influence its form - an interchangeable back and a waist-level finder. What then would it look like? Probably something like the Rollei 2000 series.

It may be neither a practical nor a popular alternative (the Rollei wasn't popular, but it did meet with some critical acclaim) but it's one direction you could take a new DSLR without it being "me-too".

05-22-2012, 09:49 AM   #2
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What about a grip that is positioned vertically? (If we're talking about designs that are too weird to ever happen, but definitely different). When I hold my hands up, the natural position is for my hand to follow the line of my forearm, going upwards. To use a modern camera my hand has to bend forwards slightly, and if the grip was tilted backwards I feel this'd be a little more comfortable, if a bit strange. Maybe a rotating grip?

What about a more modular design, akin to the GXR, but taken even further? Like interchangeable grips, flash housings, viewfinders, sensors, mounts and all sorts of things. It'd make it much larger, but you could strip off what you don't need to save space. Plus it'd be good for opening up a new market for camera parts. Maybe? Weather sealing that would be nigh on impossible though.

Perhaps an attachment that would allow for remote manual focusing with direct access to the screw drive? You could have a sort of focus pulling rig, but not have to loop things around your lens, you'd just hook it up to the camera and be able to turn the screw drive manually yourself.
05-22-2012, 10:04 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by RobA_Oz Quote
If you begin with the essential user interface, the first consideration is how the photographer sees with the camera. Viewing systems these days generally require the camera to be held up to the eye or at arm's length, but it was not always so restricted in the past. The decline of film has seen the virtual disappearance of the waist-level finder, which I think is a bit of a shame, because it's a less confronting style of viewing than either of the other two modes, in my perception, and it handily lowers the camera viewpoint as well as being a bit less tiring for extended use. However, it was only in larger formats that it was really practical, because the 35mm frame was a bit small for ease of viewing at waist height (I know this from personal experience, because I once owned a Miranda ("Tops and Topless, Too!") and I currently have an early Praktica with a waist-level viewfinder) and optically magnifying it only would only make the image duller.

.
the Interchangeable finder idea is practical though (look at the LX system, or the nikon and Canon Film cameras with it. It's not just a WL that you get when you do this design, it's also huge sports finders angled finders.....
Update it for the digital age, while mirroring the design elements and an LX is most definitely something different - image stolen from Flickr member ebelbeb




this only shows a couple of the options there were also prisms without flash mount WL .....
05-22-2012, 11:08 AM   #4
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Easy not-me-too: GXR FF
Not so easy: digital LX
Already there: 645D

05-22-2012, 11:10 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by RioRico Quote
Easy not-me-too: GXR FF
Not so easy: digital LX
Already there: 645D
I could see all 3 being there at one point within a couple of years
05-22-2012, 02:17 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by eddie1960 Quote
the Interchangeable finder idea is practical though (look at the LX system, or the nikon and Canon Film cameras with it. It's not just a WL that you get when you do this design, it's also huge sports finders angled finders.....
Update it for the digital age, while mirroring the design elements and an LX is most definitely something different - image stolen from Flickr member ebelbeb




this only shows a couple of the options there were also prisms without flash mount WL .....
Lovely, aren't they, but I was talking about a waist-level finder, not an interchangeable eye-level finder. Nonetheless, that's another system that would offer a difference.

However, anyone who's used a Hasselblad or Mamiya or the like with a waist-level finder will know how nice it is to be able to frame your image in that way, once you get used to the image being reversed. My little thought bubble gets the image the right way round and a useful size.

As for the vertical grip, I have one for my K2DMD (which I've had since 1981), but I have to admit I found it a bit odd to use so it usually stayed home. Of course, the base unit offered controls, too, but the batteries were in the handle so power came through a cable between them. Reviving this sort of grip could offer another difference, I agree.
05-22-2012, 06:17 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by RobA_Oz Quote
However, anyone who's used a Hasselblad or Mamiya or the like with a waist-level finder will know how nice it is to be able to frame your image in that way, once you get used to the image being reversed. My little thought bubble gets the image the right way round and a useful size.
TLRs are great; I've had and still have a few. Alas, they don't take Pentax lenses. Ah, but my Praktica FX3 is M42 and has a waist-level finder. Is very fun to slap a Takumar on it and see the world differently. Takes a bit of practice however.
05-22-2012, 06:35 PM   #8
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And not just 35FF -

How about a camera designed for left-handed people - that is, mirror image of all current camera controls?

So your left hand closes the shutter while supporting the camera with the right hand. Twisting the lens in the opposite direction with the right hand would present no more problems than left-handed opening of doors, taps, screwdrivers, etc, etc.

(I have to remind myself every time the time to not support the camera with my right hand at the same time as taking the picture - surest path to camera shake-hell )

05-23-2012, 03:14 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by eddie1960 Quote
the Interchangeable finder idea is practical though (look at the LX system, or the nikon and Canon Film cameras with it. It's not just a WL that you get when you do this design, it's also huge sports finders angled finders.....
...and I should have acknowledged that you were talking about a waist-level finder with the LX, too - my apologies. What I should have also added was that 35mm systems of this type are really chest-level (unless you've got a very abbreviated torso or very acute eyesight, and I have neither) because of the small viewfinder frame. The larger frame sizes of the medium format cameras make them a lot easier to see and focus with at true waist level.

QuoteOriginally posted by RioRico Quote
TLRs are great; I've had and still have a few. Alas, they don't take Pentax lenses. Ah, but my Praktica FX3 is M42 and has a waist-level finder. Is very fun to slap a Takumar on it and see the world differently. Takes a bit of practice however.
My Praktica's the FX2. The expression, I think, is "crude but effective", and it is remarkably solidly built.

QuoteOriginally posted by vrphoto Quote
How about a camera designed for left-handed people - that is, mirror image of all current camera controls?
Now, that's an interesting thought, and the solution could be in another modular part that can be swapped from one side to the other. Getting the layout mirrored would be the trick, though, and I can't immediately see how it would work, except with programmable controls. I think we'd all like a tactile shutter button, just the same.
05-23-2012, 05:26 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by RobA_Oz Quote
...and I should have acknowledged that you were talking about a waist-level finder with the LX, too - my apologies. What I should have also added was that 35mm systems of this type are really chest-level (unless you've got a very abbreviated torso or very acute eyesight, and I have neither) because of the small viewfinder frame. The larger frame sizes of the medium format cameras make them a lot easier to see and focus with at true waist level.
.
Agreed, i would rather it was the size of my Bronica WL (though i use it so infrequently now It is a slow process when i do, takes a while to get oriented to the reversed image, ok for static images but i struggle with any action using it)

One solution is making the LXD a mirrorless FF which would allow for a top LCD with interchangeable finders. easy to code the WL to correct for the reversed image. My biggest issue with that is EVF is not as good as a big bright OVF (particularly one with a big angled magnifying finder like the one pictured above
05-23-2012, 05:58 AM   #11
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May i suggest that your are not thinking about this in the right way ?

Ask first "what is the use of a FF" then ask "what can i do to make the use easier/better".

Anyway, i have to say that i'd'really love to have on DSLR the same system as the LX : the possibility of waist viewfinder
And many different focusing screen, made by pentax.
05-23-2012, 06:06 AM   #12
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A 24x36 without mirror... but still K-mount. And an electronic viewfinder. Why? Less mechanical parts to brake down in time. Also more quiet operation, no mirror slap or traditional shutter sound. A stealth 24x36 K-mount camera.
05-23-2012, 06:11 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by RMabo Quote
A 24x36 without mirror... but still K-mount. And an electronic viewfinder. Why? Less mechanical parts to brake down in time. Also more quiet operation, no mirror slap or traditional shutter sound. A stealth 24x36 K-mount camera.
electronics are far less reliable than the mechanical parts you look to eliminate my SV works just fine and it was made in 62 i think, I've never had a tv last longer than 12-15 years

K5 and K7 are very quiet cameras, not as stealthy as a RF but quite nonetheless. some mirrorless have noisier shutters than the K5 apparently
05-23-2012, 06:34 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by eddie1960 Quote
electronics are far less reliable than the mechanical parts you look to eliminate my SV works just fine and it was made in 62 i think, I've never had a tv last longer than 12-15 years

K5 and K7 are very quiet cameras, not as stealthy as a RF but quite nonetheless. some mirrorless have noisier shutters than the K5 apparently
Longevity's an issue for most technological products, these days, but mostly because of low unit prices and rapid obsolescence. Mechanical devices could be more easily repaired, even with re-manufactured parts. I still look at the new mechanical Voigtlanders and Zeiss Ikons with a wistful eye, but hell, I don't get time to put a roll through my old film Pentaxes, Minox or Leica as it is. The electronics aren't going to go away any time soon, though, so we've got to find ways to maximise their effectiveness.

Back on topic, the multi-modular system concept is a logical extension of the GXR, and could be a game-changer, if produced with the right options and price structure. That's where a good industrial designer could make all the difference.
05-23-2012, 08:41 AM   #15
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How about a viewfinder with some clearance for people with noses...

QuoteOriginally posted by eddie1960 Quote
the Interchangeable finder idea is practical though (look at the LX system, or the nikon and Canon Film cameras with it. It's not just a WL that you get when you do this design, it's also huge sports finders angled finders.....
Update it for the digital age, while mirroring the design elements and an LX is most definitely something different - image stolen from Flickr member ebelbeb




this only shows a couple of the options there were also prisms without flash mount WL .....
...still on my one-man crusade...and my nose still hurts after a couple of hours of shooting...and my screens still has snot and boogers all over it...

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-dslr-discussion/68100-my-main-k7-c...tml#post686164

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-dslr-discussion/68100-my-main-k7-complaint.html

A revival of the LX finder would be fantastic for those of us with noses...

Come on, Pentax, lead the charge for ****'s sake.

Sincerely,
Cameron

PS - I'm not really joking - it's only funny because of the idiocy involved.
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