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02-23-2014, 09:47 AM   #1
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DSLR without AF.

Like a lot of people here I have a lot of old manual focus lenses. In fact, I use them on my K5 and K5-IIs all the time. I was wonder if there would be a market for a K5II/K3 type camera without the added auto focus capability?. The cost savings would be pretty good, the software would be much simplified and even the weight of the camera would be reduced. No need to calibrate your auto focus either.

I know that this may not appeal to some photographers, but for others of us, manual focus second nature. Any thoughts on this? I would buy one.

02-23-2014, 10:05 AM   #2
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I use exclusively manual focus lenses with my K-30, and half of those are manual aperture, as well. I actually had an automatic lens (Promaster 28-105, the first lens I ever bought, over 10 years ago) and I sold it recently because I didn't like to use auto-focus, and the super short focusing ring was very fidgety for manual focusing.

Manual focus (and aperture) increases your battery life IMMENSELY.

I'm not sure there would be a market for a camera body without an AF feature, and I'm not sure I would buy one anyway. If I had the choice between a body with AF and one without, I'd get the one that had it "just in case". Unless there was a HUGE price break, and I doubt there would be, I feel like it would be silly to go without the option...
02-23-2014, 10:06 AM   #3
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If they removed all AF circuity, it would certainly reduce the price--who would pay the same amount for a camera that does less? But if you reduce the price, it becomes more attractive to the photography clueless who just want a fancy point-and-shoot and don't want to spend a lot of money. They would then buy the camera not understanding what it is and most certainly return it after being dissatisfied with its offering.

In short, they couldn't sell such a camera at a reduced price because the sheer volume of returns and negative brand association would be staggering. That makes a product that HAS to be sold at a high price to make sure only people who will understand it will buy it, which kinda kills the point of removing the AF circuity in the first place.

The only way I could see this working is to make a FF or other pro camera without autofocus. But in that case, it would only reduce the price a few hundred dollars, and no one is going to care about $2500 vs. $2100. It would only beneficial if you could reduce the price from $1000 to $600, but then you're in the problem scenario I describe above.
02-23-2014, 10:11 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by gaweidert Quote
I would buy one.
So would I. There have been a number of threads proposing similar cameras in the past, something like an SLR version of the late and lamented Epson RD-1 rangefinder digital. Throw away the AF and motor drive and built-in flash and what do you get? You get a much smaller and lighter body with much better battery life. What else do you get? A much brighter and more useful viewfinder due to replacement of the half-silvered main mirror AF requires.

Yes, I would buy one.


Steve

02-23-2014, 10:16 AM   #5
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But then you wouldn't have CiF either?
02-23-2014, 10:18 AM   #6
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I've never been a manual focus fan. Give me manual everything else, but autofocus and I'd be fine.
02-23-2014, 10:19 AM   #7
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I wouldn't count on it costing much less, or even less at all. The demand would possibly be low enough that the added cost of a small production stream could outweigh any parts savings. But who knows.
02-23-2014, 10:19 AM   #8
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I'd prefer a brighter viewfinder and a microprism center to CiF.

If they could pack it down into the size of a ZX-5 or similar... or take the existing K-01 body. I'd further prefer to get rid of the rear LCD, too. Then we'd be talking about a DSLR with a battery life that would last a full week in the backcountry, without doing away with anything I need.

02-23-2014, 10:49 AM   #9
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I think the demand would be so low that the low production volume would actually make the model without AF much more expensive rather than cheaper.

The only possible advantage I can think of for a DSLR without AF is a slightly brighter viewfinder and possibly quieter shutter because you can make the main mirror fully reflecting and eliminate the secondary mirror hinged to the main mirror. But I don't believe anyone would actually notice the increased brightness.
02-23-2014, 10:49 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by fretlessdavis Quote
Then we'd be talking about a DSLR with a battery life that would last a full week in the backcountry, without doing away with anything I need.
I see you understand the vision.


Steve
02-23-2014, 10:50 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by fretlessdavis Quote
I'd further prefer to get rid of the rear LCD, too
Better still, replaces it with a monochrome LCD to display an histogram
02-23-2014, 10:51 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by lister6520 Quote
I think the demand would be so low that the low production volume would actually make the model without AF much more expensive rather than cheaper.

The only possible advantage I can think of for a DSLR without AF is a slightly brighter viewfinder and possibly quieter shutter because you can make the main mirror fully reflecting and eliminate the secondary mirror hinged to the main mirror. But I don't believe anyone would actually notice the increased brightness.
You sure about that? How about comparing a K10d and an MX. Without AF, they could optimise the focusing for manual lenses, and use older tech focusing screens which showed more DOF difference in faster lenses, and were all around bigger and brighter. I'm sure it would be a notable increase.
02-23-2014, 10:58 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by lister6520 Quote
I think the demand would be so low that the low production volume would actually make the model without AF much more expensive rather than cheaper.

The only possible advantage I can think of for a DSLR without AF is a slightly brighter viewfinder and possibly quieter shutter because you can make the main mirror fully reflecting and eliminate the secondary mirror hinged to the main mirror. But I don't believe anyone would actually notice the increased brightness.
I agree with you on the matter of price. I would expect that with an appropriately pro-level construction, the street price would be over $2000.

As for viewfinder brightness, I suggest you pick up an early-80s film SLR (any brand) and take a look through. Sort of like looking through a window, eh? Notice too that the viewfinder is actually usable for manual focus unlike the "brightness optimized" finders on most AF dSLRs that are practically useless for gauging focus or DOF.*

Oh...and one other thing to add to the wish list for the fantasy camera...please make it FF. Then I will buy one and be content and shut my mouth for a long time...


Steve

* The stock Pentax screen has apparent DOF equivalent to about f/4 or narrower regardless of the maximum aperture of the mounted lens.
02-23-2014, 11:00 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
I see you understand the vision.


Steve
I spend copious amount of time in the backcountry. A few years ago, I had a high-end Fuji digicam that came with me on a 9 day trip. Between the temperture cycling and usage, I got about 3 or 4 days out of it.

Last time I backpacked for 2-3 days with a K-X, it barely lasted me the trip.

On longer vacations and trips, charging batteries is a pain... I'd rather have to not worry about battery changes so often.

This was actually one of the driving forces of me going full time film.

Monochrome LCD on the top, like a ZX-5 or K100d! Simple histogram displayed from your last shot. Make it so you configure your user settings from a PC, and just have AV, TV, M, B, HyP, and user settings, so no going through menus-- Just program your 3 favorite processing modes as well as RAW, and have those on a knob. 3 metering modes, CW, S, and MS, and have either exposure comp on the ISO dial, or auto bracketing.

No BS with a built in flash, FluCard, tethering, or anything of the sort.

I would buy that in a heartbeat. Until they came out with a digital version of the Fuji GA645zi...
02-23-2014, 11:02 AM - 1 Like   #15
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I would buy a DSLR that has no auto focus, as long as it allowed open aperture metering with all my older Pentax lenses. However....I know I'm a dinosaur. Pentax can't cater to such a tiny niche as me and hope to survive when they could just as easily incorporate a different focusing screen and open aperture metering into a current model and sell to both, new and old, buyers.
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