Balance beyond photography

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I’ve always thought there were more senses beyond the obvious physical ones – perhaps they’re synergistic, perhaps otherwise. I suppose to call it pure aesthetics would be not really accurate, either – but the upshot is of course a result that is either pleasing or not. In the course of many discussions with a wide cross section of people on the topic, it seems that the ‘sense of balance’ is either there, or it isn’t. It doesn’t necessarily mean that those with a heightened sense of balance can consistently create strong images – arguably, in some ways it’s the opposite – but there’s definitely at least recognition of what works and what doesn’t. Two immediate thoughts follow: why? And more importantly, how can we use this to make a better image?

Let’s term it an inherent feel for aesthetics, for want of a better description: the sense of balance is really one of proportion and space. We know when an object or space or something is designed in a way that physically suits its purpose, or not – though it is possible our subsequent assessment of this is biased. You have a strong feeling when you look at something whether the object is beautiful or not; whether it is elegant or not; whether it is aggressive or muscular or any other anthropomorphological quality we wish to ascribe to it. How is this possible? I suspect it is down to the eye’s ability to quickly measure and assess relative proportion and compare it to our experience or expectation of what those proportions should be for a given set of qualities.

Let’s take cars, to have an easily understood example: an off road vehicle is supposed to be tough and sturdy plus dominant of its environment, for which it has relatively tall proportions and thick detailing. A sports car should be low and sleek; drawn out for both the impression of speed and the suggestion of a large amount of the vehicle’s internal volume being dedicated to the engine. Racing cars have fussy but technical detail that is a consequence of function – ducts, scoops, flips, gurneys etc. An MPV should maximise space and is a functional vehicle, and should therefore be utilitarian and fully occupy the its extreme vertices – i.e. be a box. An elegant sedan has elongated proportions that devote more volume to passengers, but a decent amount to luggage and engine – suggesting that it can handle all three (comfort, haulage, propulsion) effortlessly. If you take just one ratio (proportion) and compare them for all of these types of vehicle – say the length of bonnet to passenger compartment, from A to D pillars – you’ll find that consistently, cars perceived as being sporty have a much greater ratio of bonnet:passenger than cars that are utilitarian; 1:1 vs 1:6 or 1:7 or more. Yet in all cases – the mere sight of this is enough to make a very strong suggestion.


Images from The Cheat Sheet and Mitula Cars, respectively.

Though form was historically a result of function and that in turn has served to set our expectations as observers and consumers, we are now conditioned to expect certain proportions for certain outcomes. It’s worth nothing that this has not escaped notice of the designers, either: sedans with longer hoods are seen as more aggressive and sportier than ones with shorter ones. Take the above pair: which one looks sportier? Note difference in ratios: 1:2.5 vs 1:4.5. The second car – a Honda City – looks significantly more utilitarian; it also comes closer to occupying all of its vertices. (And having owned one, I can say that it is about as utilitarian as it gets: good for hauling a lot of luggage, so long as you’re neither in a hurry nor care about comfort or handling). I doubt very much the Audi A7 would have anywhere near as much sex appeal if it had the same proportions as the City. Interestingly, not just how long the rear overhang had to be to accomplish that: yet we don’t notice it, because it isn’t something we’re conditioned to look at. Personally, I find it bothersome because it feels as though the back of the car is too long for the wheelbase.


Image credit Paultan.org; 2016 Proton Persona

Thought aesthetics are very much a matter of personal preference, I think it would be a stretch to say that this car looks at all proportionate. And because it doesn’t look proportionate, it isn’t really what we’d consider beautiful, either. Objectively, why is this? Firstly, because cars are somewhat like cameras: they’re all really more than sufficient for the daily tasks to which we apply them, and the rest is a matter of personal choice, ergonomics and preferences. Given a choice, we would pick one car over another on an aesthetic basis if everything else were equal, and we’d probably do it even if there were significant compromises involved – after all, Alfa Romeo stayed in business for a very long time. But in the case of the Persona, the proportions are simply off: the wheels are too small to fill the arches, which are themselves too small relative to the size of the car, and give an impression of comical instability. This is compounded by the relatively long overhangs at front and back: it looks as though the body is too big for the chassis. The bonnet itself isn’t that short, but appears to be because the A pillar and front quarter glass have been drawn forward, and the headlight corners pulled backwards. On top of that, the glass height looks equal to the body, making it seem top-heavy. The color and light don’t help, either: they hide any possible character lines that might break up these impressions.


BMW 2002. Image credit: Super Street Online

On the other hand, we have another car with similar proportions – yet is considered a beautiful classic: the BMW 2002. Why? It too has a high glass to body ratio; small wheels, short wheelbase, and long rear overhang. But: the proportions are in much better tension than on the Persona, and instead create the impression of an exaggerated front, which suggests a bigger engine – and more power and probably fun. The pillars aren’t of an irregular thickness and there aren’t arbitrary kinks in the window line, which makes the glass seem more in harmony with the straight body and straight waistline (note how the Persona angles upwards towards the rear, which makes it seem even more disproportionate to wheel size). And the front overhang on the 2002 is kept short. This design has survived 50-something years not through brute force, but because the proportions are balanced, and more than that: just slightly exaggerated so that we get a little more than we expect, but not so much that a caricature ensues. I doubt the Persona will be anything but a bad memory in 50 years.

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There are exceptions to this rule, of course – functional beauty, usually in things that we don’t think of as having fixed standards like tools or machines or whose class of object has never been designed to put aesthetics first. To some degree, cameras also fall into this category. All of the cameras in the first image I consider to be functionally ugly: either because they’re designed purely around function first (Pentax 645), or because they lack distinguishing character (D810) or they’ve had later additions which weren’t part of the original intended design (Hasselblad V, CFV, prism). The lower pair of cameras – the H5D and 501CM with film back – both I consider to be somewhat purer designs since they aren’t sporting any attachments (other than the L bracket grip on the 501, which was designed to be as harmonious as possible) and are in their basic configurations. Yet I think we’d probably agree that the H5D is functional, and the 501 is beautiful: why?

Perhaps there’s a degree of settling time required as part of the conditioning: if you don’t feel yourself drawn back to something – it’s probably got proportions that are either exactly as expected and not really interesting or unique, or worse, didn’t stand the test of time. I’ve seen this quite often in the horological scene: there are designs that seem both distinctive, and current even 40, 50 years on such as the Calatravas, Royal Oaks and the like, but others that age very quickly and appear ‘too much’ within just a year or two – Franck Muller, anybody? It isn’t a question of detailing or over designing: I firmly believe there’s something fundamentally wrong in the proportions that we don’t notice until the initial shock off the new has worn off.

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I also think there’s a very fine line between imbalance, balance and tension. An image that’s perfectly balanced may also be perfectly boring, like a reflection with the midline in the centre of the image; on the other hand, you can have an image that is balanced – e.g. the dark on light vs light on dark dichotomy of the one above – that’s still got a degree of tension in it caused by the motion, the lean of the man, the perspective diminution in the distance, and the dominant lines of the shadows – all of which suggest a sense of flow. Will this image still be interesting in another 10 years? I honestly can’t say; it was shot three months ago as part of the Olympus E-M1.2 review, and has since become my choice over the other image from that sequence I initially picked. Why? I can’t honestly say; I suspect the bit of motion makes this one slightly more interesting than the more static image. But I don’t think I’d feel the same way if there were more sky, or more pavement, for instance: we’re back to balance again.

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Another example of alternate preferences from a given sequence. With a camera review, I don’t have the luxury of sitting time: we have to shoot what we can shoot in time we’ve got and put the whole thing together before embargo goes up, which is often very little time indeed. And as a result, one’s artistic choices are often compromised…or are they?

As much as I’d like to say that a sense of proportion is a) developed to various degrees in different people and b) leads to a fairly consistent sense of what ‘works’ and what doesn’t, I think this is about as far from the truth as you can get. The reality is that not only do personal experiences and biases play into it – as with any question of aesthetics – but I think that our own preference sand sense of balance is prone to shifting significantly. There are watches I used to find attractive that now make me slightly ill to look at; I keep thinking it’s a good thing I couldn’t afford to buy them. Unfortunately, it also applies to one’s work: I had a portfolio cleanup in the middle of last year for this reason. Almost none of my older work was consistent with current preferences; I kept seeing things that just weren’t quite right. Undoubtedly, this will continue for as long as I continue photographing; as one’s visual experience is refined, so is the sense of balance. What will really be interesting is to see if some of the other ‘great’ images by other artists that don’t make sense to me at present eventually do…MT

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Comments

  1. Jeff Smith says:

    Hello Ming,

    Interesting article and regretably there probably is not a secret methodology or proportional relationship that guaratees success. For me the sweet spot seems to be when an object is functional but executed with quality craftsmanship and also has a bit of artistic flair. In cars a Bugatti Type 35 hits the nail on the head for me, it is an extremely succesful racecar which ticks the functional requirement, much of the workmanship is done to a very high standard (even the engine casting and machining are beautifully done) and it is exactly what one would think a gentleman driver of the era should race. Jaguar E types have it, Alfa Romeo GTV 1750 have it, a DB4 GT Aston Martin has it. A lot of modern engine castings are actually finished to a pretty high standard but than a designer has to hide it under sone non- functional plastic piece on top of the engine, only they could think looks good or is good design. I was lamenting the other week with a friend about why can’t anyone seem to design lastingly beautiful cars anymore. Trying to look at this objectively there just do not seem to many current car designs that people will think are beautful in 30, 50 or 90 years.

    The same goes for most current cameras, nearly all are pretty functional, but most are not expertly crafted from a visual perspective, they may be expertly crafted from a cost/material/assembly viewpoint, but as a user I really don’t see that or interact with what’s “under the hood”, and few current cameras have any real artistic flair. Even the grip on old Hasselblad in your photo looks nice. It seems to well made, finished to a good standard and be functional.

    Perhaps this secret ingredient is simply found in something that we find a pleasure to look at, a plessure to use, and that can fulfill its intend use. And yes I think a photgraph can fulfill all these requirements.

    • I suspect it has to do with corporate demands on return and ever-increasing sales forcing shorter and shorter product cycles, creating an underlying attitude of consumer ADD; it’s simply too expensive and too slow to design something good.

      As for that Hasselblad grip – I designed it, had it machined from aircraft aluminium and finished it by hand myself 😉

  2. Hi Ming
    Another well thought through article. It reminds me of my first reaction to seeing pictures of the Range Rover Evoque, it seemed a great improvement for design of light 4wd vehicles that are essentially estate cars. Prior to the Evoque, the usual shrunken ruggedness of light off road vehicles was always comical to my eyes. However after the released they seemed to be only driven by trophy wives who thought they had a special exemption from road rules. The styling quickly acquired some cultural baggage as a bit of a rich bitch car, and lost most of the aesthetic appeal very quickly!
    Regards

    • Typical owner aside, I thought they were interesting from a capability standpoint (I seem to remember an early TG video with James May actually offroading in one) – until I sat in one, and found the passenger room to be utterly dire especially when considering the size of the car…

  3. Hi Ming.

    Another great article once again, thanks.

    Most of the design features I value are from the 1970s and 1980s. The Giugaro-designed Nikon F3 is to me the blueprint of an SLR design, it’s just how such a camera is supposed to look like. I owned one in the early 90s – bought new from a regular camera store – and still am emotionally attached to this piece of design and engineering. The advent of molded plastic means the end of “form follows function” and made nearly every technical item look more and more the same, be it cameras or cars. The Hasselblad H-series, like nearly all modern DSLRs and such, is just ugly and uninspired, looking cheap and not well thought out. The old Hassy just look like a quality product. I assume the current products are technically more competent, but they just don’t project the image of a high quality (and higly priced) item to me. That – of course – is not relevant regarding the technical abilities of these systems.

    I personally like cameras like the Fuji X-Pro2, since it combines the trusted and useful parts of former cameras like physical dials with the usability and the demands of a digital camera. Not in a perfect way, but much better than for example the Nikon Df, which is just “retro for retros sake” and just doesn’t work as good as it should be. And a lot better than most of the modern plastic cameras, relying on menues and displays to display and change even the most basic settings. All a matter of personal preference of course…

    Best regards
    Matt

    • Elements of the H series feel very much like holdovers of late 90s Japanese design; the X1D does not, and is much, much better in both tactility and materials. I can only imagine that will continue to the next generation. (In fact, the in-house bits of the H are much like the X1D – being the body and back, but not grip/grip top/finder).

  4. Good article Ming, thank you. Has anyone ever investigated the psychology of why we find something pleasing to look at? I know about the golden ratio-but why do our brains enjoy it, or why do we enjoy symmetry? Is it something hardwired into humans, or all animals?
    I don’t know why it is, but would be interested if anyone did.

    • Plenty – probably not in the photography world, but here’s one for starters.

      Symmetry: does it have something to do with the way our own bodies are laid out, and subsequently the way we process images? Perhaps bilateral symmetry of our own eyes makes it easier to pattern recognise things that are similar, and thus ‘easy’?

  5. You don’t mention the golden section or golden ratio. An English dentist found that the most aesthetic result in cosmetic dentistry came from having teeth in this proportion. He devised a caliper to measure this. It was featured some time ago on a TV programme, and the presenter then measured things which we generally found beautiful, finding that many/all observed this rule. There’s more information here:

    http://goldenmeangauge.co.uk/

    I don’t know if this concept has ever been applied to cameras or cars — personally, I think that the Leica M3 must be one of the most elegant cameras ever made. For cars, I’d go for many of those made in the 30s, or the Citroen DS.

    As for long bonnets in cars, think of the Bugatti Royale; a very long bonnet, and a small cabin at the back with the driver out in the rain. It was only sold to royalty and heads of state, and such people had minions to look after the luggage. Or the E-type Jaguar, mostly bonnet, a cabin for two and a boot which would only hold enough for a dirty weekend. But then, such bonnets lead us into the murky waters of the owner’s psychology — the need to compensate for an inadequate manhood.

    • I don’t, because I can think of a lot of exceptions to rules… 🙂

      • Hm…exceptions prove (test) the rule. One ratio or proportion isn’t necessarily the single or dominant factor in aesthetics. Facial beauty, it’s said, is symmetry; yet how many of us recognise faces as symmetrical and then say, ‘that’s beautiful’? Isn’t it the other way round; we recognise beauty, then we can see it’s symmetry. Likewise, if we think someone is ugly, we see ‘ugly’ before we see asymmetry. (And a very illuminating exercise is to take two left sides from a frontal portrait, flip one and then combine the two; and the same for the right side; the result is three pictures, two of whom may be unrecognisable to us.)

        The front of a car is sometimes thought of as its face. Some years, Ford produced a Granada which had headlamps (eyes) which looked droopy, and a grille (mouth) which was downturned; it has a sad face. Commentators didn’t like the look of the car; to what degree were their experiences of testing it influenced by their dislike of its looks? Cars of today often have eyes which seem to look up, and a mouth which almost seems to smile; and city cars often look ‘cheeky’. Some modern cars, though, have a thrusting, aggressive appearance to the face; the modern Rols-Royce has hooded eyes, and to me looks quite sinister.

        What of ‘form follows function’? A Leica M3 isn’t symmetrical but somehow, to me, looks elegant; more recent models are ‘too thick’ for my taste. A Hasselblad in it’s original form is almost symmetrical and, again to me, looks far more elegant than more recent models.

        Just how much of what we recognise as beauty or elegance, or the lack thereof, is subconscious processing (with a hefty dose of cultural expectation)? And if it is subconscious, are we not being deluded by our brains?

        BTW: I see a picture credit for the Proton Persona, but only a blank space above this; I don’t see a picture.

        • Hmm, good point: sometimes you can’t decouple the way something looks from the way it performs its function, if only perceptually – especially if the function is so far past sufficient it’s no longer a tool.

          That said, whilst image quality has passed sufficiency, I’m not sure the rest of the hardware has; we’re still in the tool realm for cameras (well, with the exception of some brands that are carried and displayed more than shot…)

          Proton link: fixed.

  6. A few thoughts …

    1. Coincidentally, I was just admiring the proportions of the gas/petrol flap on my E46 BMW coupe tonight. Not only were its longer horizontal proportions harmonious with the car’s overall proportions, but it was also leaning (imagine a parallelogram instead of a right rectangle) to be harmonious with the car’s stance. In something that’s well-designed, it’s always a pleasure to discover things like this, even 17 years into the ownership of the car.

    2. In a previous article, someone was commenting on how he’d prefer nicer-looking cameras. Combining that with the comment here that the D810 is basically soulless (my words but my interpretation of your words), I’d say that some cameras become better looking the more you use it, because the function of the camera becomes clearer and more ingrained into your muscle memory and way of working. In this way, faux-retro cameras like the digital Leica Ms and Fuji Xs mainly appeal to one’s superficial sense of aesthetics, and the more one uses them, the less satisfying the aesthetics become as you discover that they were not driven by any kind of practical or useful functionality. It’s like the difference between a computer program designed for the power user vs. the Microsoft paperclip.

    3. For anyone interested in car design, definitely check out Peter Stevens’s Facebook page. Stevens was responsible for, among many other things, the McLaren F1 road car. Every week or two, he puts up a short essay on some subject along with illustrative photos. Some weeks might be a critique of a car, while others are about some fundamental aspect of design. For example, I learned from him that the A-pillar of a car is supposed to be intersect the middle of the front wheel. The Audi above does, and looks fine, but the econobox doesn’t and that’s one reason why it looks awkward. https://www.facebook.com/PeterStevensDesign/

    These aren’t hard and fast rules. For example, most mid-engined cars will have a longer proportion to their bodies behind the A-pillar, but they do other things that retain their sportiness.

    • 1. Dammit, the new ones are rectangular…though on an unrelated note, it seems a lot of new cars just don’t seem to photograph well, but rather require stereoscopic perception to look ‘right’.

      2. The D810 and the like are very much appliances – you appreciate the convenience of some features after extended use, but I’ve never gotten to the point of love. The rather oxymoronic-sounding rational love, perhaps. I think the only camera I’ve really fallen in love with is an old Hasselblad V series. I’d argue the Fuji Xs are much better ergonomically than the Ms, though perhaps they go too far in the other direction: far too many buttons and dials and the like.

      3. Oh yes. That chap is a genius!

      • I just looked again, and my mistake: the flap is a right rectangle. It must have been the light or something else that fooled me. Nevertheless, its proportions are still harmonious to the whole shape of the car.

        I can’t say I’ve fallen in love with the D810 itself either, but I do love the results it gives me. The image quality from that camera is remarkable considering its relative age.

        • The thing is, many clamour for a D810 replacement – but it’s still arguably at the top of the tree image-quality wise. I suspect there has been no replacement because there isn’t a markedly better sensor yet…and an incremental AF-and-body Sony-style upgrade might not be enough to convince the fence sitters (and looking at D5 and D500 prices, won’t be cheap, either).

          • Judging by current trends, the D810 replacement will be somewhere around the 4500 euro mark. That’s triple the price of a second hand D810 and half the price of Fuji medium format. Tough market! As far as sitting on the fence goes, I’ve been eyeing the D810 for a long time now but still haven’t pulled the trigger. I fear I might not have the discipline to handhold those 36 megapixels with any consistency unless I go double or triple the conventional 1/f rule. That means more money thrown at a really good tripod plus the hassle of having two systems. :/ Geez, has the E-M1 made me this lazy? Need to break out the FM2N for a change.

            • Shot discipline: you get used to it 🙂

              If at 4500 EUR, the D810 replacement really has to be very, very convincing. Second hand Pentax 645Zs are less…and will almost certainly still offer better image quality.

          • John Giolas says:

            Agree Ming. The newer Sony and (more-pixeled and newer) Canons still lag behind the older D810 in terms overall image quality. With the D810, Nikon has balance such a canny set of IQ virtues, my fear is that they’ll mess up the recipe in favor of greater res or some other numbers-driven spec or factor. From a purely business and marketing POV, Nikon’s IQ flagship is due—overdue—for an upgrade, but I think they’re very smart to wait and ensure they get it right…

            But the Nikon is (as are the Sonys and Canons) an appliance. A very good and reliable one, but an appliance nonetheless. And I suspect it is this factor, more than any other more pragmatic or practical motivation, that impels photographers such as you and I to aspire and then devote a high percentage of our relative financial resources to cameras like the Hasselblad. We’re attracted to machine art as much as we are to the result itself. Thankfully, with the Hasselblad H5 and H6, we’re able to enjoy our cake and eat it too. I.e., there is a performance reward along with an aesthetic one. Which has not been necessarily true of other products—such as, arguably at least, the modern Leica digital M. Which brings me to a question: are you testing the M10. And related: what are your thoughts on the new M and the future of this system generally.

            • ghibimage says:

              I disagree that the Sony/Nikon/Canons are appliances any more than the Hasselblads are. If anything the opposite is true. Look at the efforts these companies have gone to to add good aesthetic design to their products.

              Look at the canon t90 of 1986, canon employed German industrial designer Luigi Colani to work with its designers and produce a much more modern design aesthetic for its top of the line camera of the time. The design principles set here have gone on to inform the beautifully sculpted shapes of the original EOS 1 (film camera) and further evolved with each iteration to what is now the EOS 1dx and 1dx mk2. To say these are merely appliances is selling the design teams incredibly short. They combine good ergonomics and beautifully sculpted shapes covering the core ergonomic / functional principals of the SLR camera design but they are worlds apart from the simple boxy utilitarian items of the 60’s and 70’s. I think this is one area canon in particular has excelled at in the upper tier models for a long time now. How anyone can say models like the EOS 1, 3 in film era and then models like the 5dmk2 and 3 as well as all the EOS 1d range are just appliances amazes me, these are great bits of aesthetic design with excellent ergonomics thrown in too. They have evolved way beyond the form follows function utility oriented designs of old.

              Personally I think the h5d looks rather nice aesthetically speaking but I don’t care much for the old 501cm, I have great respect for its history / place in the photographic world but to my mind it is the definition of utilitarian design as ultimately it’s its form has been dictated almost purely by function, well finished, well built, impressive even but beautiful – not to my eyes. Perhaps the perceived beauty many behold it too are because of the exceptional service it has given them, objects that serve us well unquestionably become more beautiful in our eyes.

              It’s all highly subjective in the end though, an impossible discussion that can never have right or wrong answer.

              Ben

              • The examples you quote – I agree with. Nikon famously uses Guigaro for its single digit pro cameras.

                But they also have epic fails: the entry level Canon Rebels are hardly beautiful, or ergonomic, or tactile. Or the massively uncomfortable Nikon Df, which isn’t a design effort so much as a bloated retro photocopy. Don’t get me started on Sony; who thought it would be a good idea to have a small-gripped body with tiny buttons and then sell massive GM lenses as the gold standard?

                • I think we are largely on the same page, the low end models from the big camera companies are almost without exception nasty little things, neither aesthetically or functionally pleasing, how many serious photographers use these as their primary tools though? I certainly never have. The whole retro thing that is in full swing right now has produced some undeniably beautiful cameras, olympus Pen F and several of the Fuji X-range to name but a few, however most are in some way compromised in part due to slavish adherence to retro control layouts that don’t make sense in the digital world. l agree that this it perhaps at its peak with the abomination that is the Nikon DF, the bloated proportions it sports also make it look like hell too. Sony too are awful ergonomically and all weight / size savings are blown by the massive lenses, give me a Canon or Nikon every time.

                  I think Hasselblad are on to a winner with the X1D, a fantastic piece of product design and from what I understand an ergonomic triumph too. Long may it continue and hopefully the supply chain will catch up with demand too, it would be a shame to see such a good design fail due lack of availability and continued native lens options not being developed rapidly. This is where the Fuji GFX will be such a strong contender though, not as aesthetically pleasing but with a hell of lens range at launch and a kind of functional beauty about it, plus continued development plans and a keen pricing relative to Hasselblad. But I digress as ultimately the nice product designs need to be backed up with good image quality, or at least good enough image quality. As a result of this good enough image quality and massive range of lenses I think the humble but nicely designed upper model DSLR’s from Canikon have a lot of mileage left and many more iterations to come. While the core design does not move with the times as rapidly as it should (mirrorless is the future) it also pleases me in a way, I like the operation of the DSLR, they feel good in my hands and they are fast and efficient to use in so many usage scenarios that I would say they are on the whole a real triumph of good industrial / product design.

                  • I think more than you might expect – especially in developing countries with much lower day rates. If I wanted to maximise pure profit, I’d use one too: good enough, easy to replace, low risk, and high return on investment. But we don’t go into photography solely for profit, which tends to mean that we make irrational decisions when it comes to gear (I think the emotionality goes with the turf as a creative pursuit).

                    The retro thing doesn’t work for me because it simply isn’t ergonomic to use for extended periods (or as you point out, taking into account digital photography requirements) – those forms were innovative at the time because they were trying to find solutions for ergonomic and mechanical challenges that had no precedent; it seems silly to do the same today. The modern DSLR design works, but is in danger of becoming confusingly overloaded…hand somebody an old SLR, explain it once in 30 seconds and you’ll probably not have to do it again. Hand them a D810 and try that – then a 5DSR and see if they can even find the power switch the second time! 🙂

            • Yes and no – I think the V series Hasselblads and the X1D are perhaps much more design and tactility driven than the H series; unfortunately that still has strong whiffs of Fuji from its origins as a collaboration with them. The body itself is very well made, but other elements use questionable plastics – even if the ergonomics are overall fantastic, more so considering the weight of the thing. I think an upgrade is sorely needed – though doing so risks annoying generations of pros who’ve developed muscle memory since the H1…

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