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Fri, 01 Jul 2011

My Ideal Digital Camera

... doesn't exist.

Okay, that's an exageration. I've used a Canon EOS 5D Mk II, and like it very much. That, along with a choice of L-series lenses, would probably do[1]. It is, however, not in my price range.

The sort of camera I'm after is one that's simple, reliable and manaul. Unfortunately, camera manufacturers believe there are three types of customers:

  • "Happy snappers", who want a simple camera that can take decent photographs. They know nothing about shutter speed, aperture or any other photographic jargon, and do not want manual controls.
  • Hobbyists/amateurs, who want high quality equipment, with manual controls, and can afford to pay £600+ for a camera body.
  • Professionals, who want more or less the same as the amateurs, but need more rugged equipment and have more money to spend.

The people left out are hobbyists with little money, looking for a camera on an "entry-level" budget, but not one that boasts it will avoid exposing you to complex photographic concepts like "exposure compensation" or "manual controls"[2] . If you know how to use a SLR, and want some manual control over the camera, all this is very off-putting.

So, what I'd like is a digital Pentax K1000. Since we're making a digital camera, we may as well add an aperture priority mode (the original K1000 was distinctly manual-only in operation). Autofocus is probably not a priority, though wouldn't spoil the camera -- but then we're starting to move away from the whole "digital K1000" idea.

I'd like it to be simple, rugged and cheap, with good battery life. It needs to be capable of producing high quality photographs, so needs a good sensor. I'd also like to be able to use old Pentax K1000 lenses, please.

Here's where we do hit a problem. If the camera used an APS-C sized sensor, then a 28mm lens would be about the equivilent of a 45mm lens on 35mm -- i.e., standard, not wide-angle. And I like wide-angle lenses. So, we would need a full frame sensor, capable of ISOs from 50 or 100 to 6400 [3].

I haven't looked into pricing, but such things are rarely cheap. This camera should be: it needs to be affordable by students and all hobbyists, not just professionals and well-healed amateurs.

About £200 would be good, £150 would be ideal but probably not realistic.

Other than the full-frame sensor, it could be done. Maybe I'd have to get over my requirement for wide angle lenses -- or maybe the camera manufacturer could make some wide angle lenses to suit it. It wouldn't sell as many units as another auto-everything point and shoot camera, but there would be a good nice market for it.

Who knows? Maybe it might happen, one day.

[1] Irony alert: 'would probably do' is quite an understatement. The EOS 5D Mk II is a beautiful camera. I'll definately buy two, when I win the lottery.

[2] i.e., moi.

[3] I like low light photography, I frequently forget my tripod.

posted at: 01:50 | path: /photography/cameras | permanent link to this entry

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