Discussion points: Critical features

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For most of the history of photography, we only had shot-to-shot* control over four things with our cameras: focal plane, exposure via shutter and aperture, and the moment of capture via the shutter release. There were of course myriad ways of implementing this – but eventually, either camera makers did what was easiest from an engineering standpoint, or buyers voted with their wallets – and the modern control paradigm was born. We have ergonomic grips, control dials for shutter and aperture (either on the top deck within fingertip reach, or on the lens barrel) and some means of controlling focus. Fundamentally, all images can be made with control over these parameters. Yet somewhere along the way, we’ve decided that we cannot live without tilting LCDs, live view, sensor shift and optical stabilisers, auto white balance, panorama stitching, eye tracking AF…the list goes on. I firmly believe that it’s possible to get far too distracted trying to master the technology and remembering which menu item and button was set to do what – and as a result, make an image that’s compositionally and creatively compromised instead of technologically enabled.

*One could also switch emulsion sensitivity, color/monochrome and focal length – I consider these secondary controls because not every camera permitted this between subsequent images.

There are two challenges, however: it’s nearly impossible to buy a camera without a feature list as long as an encyclopaedia so the marketing people can ensure it wins every Top Trumps style comparison withs the competition; and secondly, how many of us ever buy the camera with fewer features? Do we even know what we really need – as opposed to what we think we want? The analogy of bitter medicine being good for you keeps coming to mind. The last year-plus running a medium format primary system with a considerably smaller feature set than I’d previously been used to, in parallel with the Olympus E-M1.2 with perhaps the longest and most feature-rich menu system I’ve encountered – has prompted me to reconsider what I really need in a camera for my shooting needs.

The first step is of course to define those needs clearly. I do spontaneous documentary work, which translates to the necessity of responsiveness: it isn’t so much machine gun speed, but sharp reflexes, positive AF, decent available light capabilities (ISO etc.), a reasonably wide shooting envelope and no control lag. I need to see what I’m shooting and judge exposure accurately especially if it’s under low light or unrepeatable events. I shoot products under controlled lighting situations – which actually means nothing, as the optimal results for all cameras these days under ideal light are really quite superb. I also shoot available light on a tripod – which isn’t much different to the studio situation, other than the requirement of wider dynamic range since lightning conditions are not under your direct control – and somewhat overlaps the documentary requirements. The little video I do shoot is run and gun and handheld.

Notice this list says nothing about image quality, or most of the features manufactures try to sell you on today: they just don’t matter, because I see whether the camera works for me ergonomically and then pick the best image quality available in that form factor.

What it means is that my own personal list is really quite short, and in roughly order of priority:

  1. A bright, clear, viewfinder: my preference is by far optical but a good EVF is passable, too.
  2. Responsiveness, low lag (not high FPS, but power on times, auto-ISO for instance matters)
  3. Simple, easy to differentiate controls, with some degree of customisation – menu clutter is definitely NOT appreciated
  4. Comfortable ergonomics; I often shoot for 12-hours straight
  5. Accurate AF
  6. Wide dynamic range
  7. Image quality and color accuracy
  8. Decent battery life
  9. A system that includes the lenses I need for that purpose: i.e. a pocket camera with 28mm is fine, but a DSLR with only that isn’t.

Over to the audience: what are the must haves on your list? Hint: think about a) what you actually use; b) if there’s a big gap between that and what you actually want/buy…discuss! MT


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  1. Lancing says:

    My dream camera would be a modern minimalist reimagining of the rolleiflex in a modular form with exchangeable sensors, lenses and top mounted big EVF. The point would be ability to have two sensors and two different lenses on the body in the same time. Besides providing imediate changing between two primes (and who needs more, like a 100 and a 28 in MF), it could also be used in the future for computational photography – post-hoc depth-of-field manipulation, stereoimaging, simultaneous double exposures (for HDR and such), 3D, etc.
    An open API and integrated memory, as well as fast and direct communication with mobile devices are a must.
    If I was rich and had a camera company, that’s what I would do 😀

    All the best and good luck taking Hasselblad into a bright future.

  2. Brett Patching says:

    This has really been an excellent and informative discussion to read! Many thanks!

    I’m extremely late to the party, but I’ll add this: I agree with your checklist Ming, and also prefer a bright, clear optical viewfinder. I think the design and layout of the information design in the viewfinder is extremely important. It affects the way I see the world and compose, consciously or subconsciously. The information design has to be well thought out, balanced (to not affect composition), nonintrusive. If the camera isn’t bloated with features, it might not even have to be hugely customisable.

    There is still a lot of room for improvement in the information design and relationships between viewfinder, controls and display(s) in most of the cameras on the market. I’d love to be able to learn everything about my camera by just playing with it. Otherwise it would be wonderful if someone really, really spent time designing the instruction manual.

    • I love optical finders too. Significant investment in size though which I think most are not willing to accept these days…and cost, because in reality you’re producing another lens system too!

      Noted on the manual – we shouldn’t really need it if designed well, though.

      • Brett Patching says:

        I think my thoughts on information design apply to all types of viewfinders.

  3. David Wootton says:

    What I want is very simple: a Leica X1 (I say X1 because that’s what I’ve used – X2 presumably just as good) body, controls, menus, but built to Micro 4/3 specifications. Leica don’t have to make the lenses — I’d be happy to put Olympus lenses on a Leica body. Then I would l have Leica simplicity plus interchangeable lenses in a small format. It’s not much to ask is it? It would be what the Pen F isn’t but could have been. What could be simpler? I’d even pay Leica prices for it… (Great bags by the way — I will pass on the mirrorless bag because I have a nice Leica X1 bag which holds camera and three lenses; but will definitely get the folding bag. I love my day bag.)

  4. I have a Sony A7RII with Batis lenses but I find myself using the Leica Q more often because of it’s intuitive functions and the excellent quality of the photos. Probably heresy but I also like the touchscreen especially when taking pictures of the grandkids.

    • Much faster to use the touchscreen than move AF points around with a joystick – that I agree with, though the touchpad implementation on the latest generation of cameras is quite useful, too…

  5. The level of agreement in favor of a minimalist camera is surprising and encouraging. Perhaps someone will take heed. Another way to approach this is to ask the question what is the minimal feature set you would find compelling enough to buy. I would be delighted with an ergonomically optimize, unobtrusive, weather resistant, FF sensor sans AA filter camera with an optical view finder, exposure meter, manual focus aid for Zeiss f/2 lenses with aperture ring, external ISO and shutter speed dials and LCD. No AE modes, AF, video, wireless or anything else. The key is every component would be the best available. What percentage of your shooting needs would such a camera satisfy? In my case I would say at least 90%. Il semble que la perfection soit atteinte non quand il n’y a plus rien à ajouter, mais quand il n’y a plus rien à retrancher. (Terre des Hommes, 1939).

    • It’s not impossible, but the very best components at every point of the chain would also mean the very highest pricing – and whilst I think there’s definitely value/ premium attached to a pared down/ minimalist/ essential approach, there are limits as to how far you can go price-wise.

      • That’s true. However one could always optimize the design around a predetermine price objective. A modest camera body profit margin could be offset if the manufacturer also makes lenses e.g. Zeiss and the ZM line. In fact Zeiss could bring back the Ikon ZM and produced a match set of digital and film cameras that share lenses. I would jump at such an offering. This is a primarily a design and build project. Few if any R&D discoveries are needed, The main difficulty would be to avoid mission and specification creep. The inevitable pressure to add features would turn a perfect surgical scalpel into yet another me too Swiss Army knife. Such a project would require courage and strong leadership.

  6. 1. Fast high quality lenses. Emphasis on fast. f2 for Medium Format
    3. Wide Dynamic Range
    4. Big and bright Optical Viewfinder.
    5. Plug in EVF (see Leica M10)
    6. Excellent Manual Focus (throw not too long, not too short, accurate split prism viewfinder)
    7. Simple Manual Controls, Shutter dial and aperture wheel
    8. Perfect grip
    9. Camera should be equally easy & comfortable to use in portrait and landscape formats
    10. Inbuilt flash trigger

    • Two cameras I dream for are:
      1. a full frame digital Hasselblad 203FE with an updated range of Zeiss lenses. Keeping the original design as much as possible.
      2. A digital Mamiya 7 with as close to 6×7 sensor as possible.

      One lens I’m dying for is a 80mm f2 or f1.8 for Hasselblad H.

      I don’t ask for much do I? ha.

      • There’s already a 100/2.2 for H. Big sensors – well, we want them too, but Sony says price is proportional to area – exponentially 🙂

    • Would you be willing to take the size, weight and price compromise for the first item? We’re likely talking Otus+…

      • I can only imagine 🙂 Large sensors remain a dream.

        I like the 100 2.2 but it’s a bit long on the 50c and is better at 2.8. I do prefer the rendering of the Zeiss 110 f2 Planar which is a bit of an obsession of mine! There has not been a fast 50 equivalent for medium Format since Contax 645 or Rollei days. It seems like an obvious gap to fill to me, it’s something I would love.

        I sure would be willing to take the size. But the Contax 645 and Rollei 80mm f2’s were not big lenses. Lens aesthetic is one of the most important things to me in not only choosing a lens but also a camera system. So to me the size wouldn’t be a concern for me I would be just be really very happy to have it.

        • Oh and price – yes I realise it would be expensive. But it would be one of my most used lenses. I bought a Noctilux 0.95 for the same reason!

          • Actually you bring up an interesting point: I suspect a lot more Nocts are sold than Summarits. If you’re in the market for that kind of tool to begin with – the price delta for significantly better performance is likely not to be that material. One of the reasons there aren’t multiple ‘grades’ of MF lenses as there are in the DSLR or mirrorless world…

            • I suspect you are right and yes that is very interesting, something I hadn’t really considered. The Noctilux is a very popular item for Leica and I hear they are introducing a new line of them. It is very interesting to see such expensive items be and remain so popular even with constant price increases. The noctilux is a very interesting piece of gear in many ways and I am quite taken by mine, it’s one of my most used pieces.

              I must confess I am one of the obsessed. Photography means a lot to me. When there is a piece of equipment that really resonates with my point of view then I throw everything I can at it. And if it’s difficult to use then I will just glue myself to it until it is easy. No problems, just solutions. I am happy to spend big money on the right thing.

              I will take image quality and aesthetic characteristics over ergonomics (with in reason) most of the time. Ergonomics means a lot to me but it’s still way down the list as a priority. To me equipment is more about how it makes the image look, translating the message and part of the overall vocabulary, rather than how easy it makes it to get a picture. Sometimes what I want does come at an ergonomic price and I accept that.

        • We’ve got two challenges at the moment: adequate performance on the current and next generation of digital sensors, which are way beyond anything film required; and shutter mechanism, which is somewhat related. Big FP shutters have sync limitations and vibration issues; leaf shutters have maximum diameter issues. Lots of parameters to trade off… 🙂

          • Yes the bar is constantly being raised, it’s quite staggering really. That must be exceptionally difficult and daunting for a camera company to keep up with development costs. Well, I think Hasselblad is doing incredibly well, surprisingly so after a wobbly few years. I just really wish they never dropped the V system! It’s just one of those iconic systems that should be for ever more. But this new generation of cameras H6 and X1 is like a brand new company and I’m very excited to see how things develop and wish you best wishes and luck.

            I must say. it is very refreshing to have such a transparent line of communication with such a great brand – That is wonderful. Hasselblad are lucky to have you and so are we. Thanks. I have been a Hasselblad user since the 90’s and was worried about where it was headed. Glad to see it back on form.

            • Thanks!

              We’re in agreement over the V system, but I found out it just wasn’t cost effective to produce anymore – that, and none of the specialists are around anymore; they’ve all retired long ago…

  7. Jos Martens says:

    I was just photographing a sunrise with the sun in the field of view. To have no massive exposure of the sun one has to play the exposure compensation to have no overexposure. How about a mode where exposure is calculated autmatically by the camera that there is no local overexposure, something like setting an automatic white point on the brightest ( significant ) part of the image. This could maybe also be interesting in portrait photography, where sometimes part of the face that is highly reflective is so blown out that recovery in post.

    • Spot meter +1-2 stops 🙂

      On the H-series cameras you can actually tie the spot meter to an exposure zone, so that whatever is under the spot is exposed for that zone.

  8. Coming late to the party so not sure whether you will read it. First, I loved reading other’s comment and your responses. Very educational. Now I would like to add my 2 cents.

    In addition to already talked about critical needs, *digital* medium has few of it’s own. I am listing only critical ones. WiFi, GPS, Apps etc. are not critical.
    – DR (many talked about it already)
    – Battery life (I think it is critical feature. When I pick up the camera in the morning, it should simply be running till the end of the day. I don’t usually charge my smartphone in the middle of the day. Too much to ask!)
    – Storage (There should be “enough” internal storage. It is a *digital* device. I don’t have to carry storage medium separately in case of computers and smart phones. Digital cameras are not different).

    • Still reading every comment 🙂

      Battery life is certainly possible – a question of both power cycle times and efficiency. If it’s fast to switch off between shots, we’ll do it as a habit. For example my D810 is good for a heavy day of non-LV work on a single battery; it goes on and off between shots. The X1D has gone from four batteries to one and a bit now we have the sleep mode.

      As for storage – big cards are cheap. I carry extras out of paranoia more than necessity.

  9. Mosswings says:

    I’ve just spent a fascinating hour reading all of the comments here. They are extremely well thought through, and remarkably consistent: wastebin the accretive UX of today’s overly-complex cameras and concentrate on promoting the flow of composition and capture. The needs of the digital darkroom are not well-addressed by a UX that promotes capture-flow, and vice versa; and a UX that is to engineer-centric loses even the engineers amongst us. Stick shifts are great fun but only in specific instances. Automatics with paddles just work better.

    To the lists here I would add: please make the viewfinder with high eye-relief and high nose-relief (or at least adjustable) and the grip-VF distance large enough to accommodate us left-eyed eyeglass wearers who can’t (or won’t) remove our sunglasses on location to compose and capture.

    • UI/UX has to fit purpose and the rest of the camera; I think there’s no question there. But why so many camera makers miss that point is a bit puzzling.

      As for EVF – I’m a glasses wearer myself, so I can fully understand. The tradeoff is balancing eyepoint against magnification against size…

  10. Martin Fritter says:

    My favorite camera is the Hasselblad Superwide – which is actually primitive with superb construction and optics. I want lenses with an aperture ring and smooth, short-throw manual focus. I want a secure, comfortable place to put my right thumb. I want a near-silent shutter. Silent is no good because I can’t tell if it actually released. Maybe a really fast leaf-shutter, but that’s probably impossible.

    • Yes, for the fundamental four variables, I prefer cameras with traditional one control-one function design: aperture ring, shutter speed dial, focusing ring, ISO dial. Only Leica and Fuji seem to see the value in such simplicity, and it’s wonderful to be able to look down at your camera before you even turn it on and know what its fundamental settings are. Multifunction dials slow down the operation of changing the fundamental variables, and make a camera like my Nikon D800E less user-friendly than my Leica M-P, though both have their flaws and advantages. Secondary functions should be logically grouped in menus, with a user-customizable menu that is displayed first when you press a menu button.

  11. Yes Ming, I have some thoughts. How do you find the time to read and respond to all your mail??? You need an avatar ( your wife would appreciate that! ) or a ROBOT with Google as a brain……..

  12. Nikon President Ushida-San talking smack and vowing to crush the enemy with a brand new mirrorless system camera. Oh my, mirrorless has finally come of age … I sure hope he’s a reader here at MT. Maybe you should send him a link to this post? 😉

    • Nah, he’s competition now. They had their chance but I was told Nikon doesn’t collaborate with just anybody… 😉

      • Ouch! How dare they?!? Still though, it will be interesting to see what they come with. A full frame mirrorless D500M (love that body) would be awesome.

  13. Michiel953 says:

    The most important feature of a camera for me is how it rests in my (medium sized, glovesize 9) hand. Comfort really is a combination of weight in absolute terms and ergonomics. I don’t want my hand to cramp up after a while (D800/E more than D810), I don’t want my pinkie hanging off in loose air (D750 and smaller), I want my indexfinger and thumb to easily reach major (adult sized) controls without having to go into contortions (Pen-F, lovely camera though it is, is laughable in that respect).

    I mention weight in a relative sense, as I don’t carry my D810 hanging from my neck, I use a well worn leather Gordy’s wrist strap. When I want or need to free my right hand, I can change over to my left hand for a second, put it in my Tumi messenger bag wth Billingham insert or put it on the table.

    I use only primes (35 and 58 mainly), and use A and M on auto ISO. A big bright viewfinder, showing important information on exposure, reasonably reliable AF and a discreet mirror/shutter/mirror action are really all the features i need (apart from excellent, sometimes gorgeous, image quality).

    I think Fuji has got this whole thing figured out well too (X-Pro 2 and X-T2), but why step down from full frame?

    • Optics, and limitations of physics: lenses would have to be quite a bit bigger to be fast and AF…

      • Michiel953 says:

        In my case they’re limited to 600 grs. I can live with that and wouldn’t like my primes/lenses to be bigger and heavier.

  14. About a year ago I helped my GF bought a camera and in the process I got the itch to change my camera setup (upgrade/completely move to another brand) since Its more than 5years old. The process was a little painful and at the end I didn’t go though changing my camera(lenses).
    I consider responsiveness , being lightweight (doesn’t matter DSLR or mirrorless) and simplicity to be my list for a great camera ;
    -Responsiveness (turn on time , black out time between each shot , focus , fast 120hz EVF if mirrorless) : I didn’t think of it as a necessity (since I always had used DSLRs) but when I tried couple of mirrorless cameras I found them to be quiet laggy therefor bothersome. With DSLR everything is instant. Its a good thing that mirrorless cameras are getting there (A9 , SL expensive but responsive). The focus on mirrorless cameras are more accurate than DSLRs they only need little more speed.
    -Being lightweight : The nikon my GF bought was about 200grams heavier than my canon and I was surprised how much can 200grams bother you in a longer run. I have a zoom and a prime and with my camera I can carry all day without getting tired and I didn’t appreciate it till recently.
    -Simplicity : I need EV , aperture (I use camera in aperture mode 90% of the time) and iso buttons (combo) with one wheel , a playback to check taken images (with little mode to check blown out areas and focus obviously) , a joystick (or touch) for fast focus point selection and a q button to put stuff you use more than other stuff in menu. More than this I find it to be gimmick. I liked the idea of aperture dials but in practice I found it to be distracting , dedicated EV and iso wheels was cool on paper but in action distracted me and got in my way of shooting.

    Leica Q is an almost perfect camera (hence the fixed one lens) and Leica SL has huge heavy lenses (not to include the prices). I don’t find the rest of the mirrorless cameras appealing ( either sensor size too small or complex or computer with a sensor in it). The X1D is also a cool camera but slow and I don’t have use for a 50mp camera. Im mentioning mirrorless cameras because I really wanted to like them. The telecentric lens designs (which all of them should use if you want a decent lens) takes their advantages away. Maybe curved sensors can turn that around (the question is when).

    At the end if I where to wish for camera setups it follows as bellow ;
    -Leica Q50mm and LeicaQ100(or 135)mm ; It may sound odd but when you think about it ,but makes sense. Each camera weight from 550-600 to 800 grams (guessing 50mm being lighter than 28mm). You can check the same setups (with equal IQ) and you will be surprised. The lens and sensor will be designed accordingly (improved image quality and reduced weight) and you don’t have to constantly change lenses (Im very lazy). The downside would be price but Im willing to pay for such a 3 fixed lens camera setup.

    -A 24 to 36 medium format megapixel X1D (X1Ds maybe?) camera which is super responsive (I know the technology for the current generation sensors would not allow X1D to be fast) and we won’t get this either since sony have no plans to produce such sensors. Even 36mp is overkill for me. 24 is more than enough , colour is by far the most aspect of any sensor for me since pretty much all the sensors on the market today exceeds my resolution needs(and I know you get better colours with increased megapixels). Its a shame since X1D is such a simple camera and has flawless ergonomics.

    • The SL should have been a Q with an M mount – but that would have killed the M, so it obviously wasn’t allowed to happen.

      You can always downsample a larger image.

      • They got the SL and lenses all wrong…tho If I were to use M lenses I would get the SL not M10(much much better viewfinder).
        You can downsample , true but there will be alot of huge files and added time to workflow ( as I said Im lazy 😀 )

  15. Some very good comments here, but I’ll just add a couple. Not sure how well these are addressed by hasselblad – I’ve not used an X1D (saw one in real life for the first time on Saturday though, smaller than I expected!)

    1 – absolutely consistent auto metering. I can cope with conservative under-exposing, aggressive auto-ETTR, or whatever, as long as it’s consistent! I bought a Sigma dp1Q to try and this is one of the things they haven’t managed to get right…I’m constantly dialing exposure up and down.
    2 – easy and fast selection of focus point. I think the GX85 gets this spot on. Touch and drag focus point, easy resizing, plus the option of a pinpoint focus with magnified view.

    And one that I don’t really expect you to be able to solve much for hasselblad without changing the laws of physics
    3 – as small and light as possible 🙂

    • I agree on the first two – there’s no excuse really if we’re metering off the sensor and have touch panels.

      As for #3 – the X1D isn’t much larger than an E-M1.2 despite having >6x the sensor area 🙂

  16. First of all, its a good exercise – working out what you want before looking at and being seduced by some GAS-inspiring marketing material.

    1. Intuitive manual controls. I wat to be able to set focus, ISO, aperture, shutter speed by hand and not only see but feel where I am using physical controls that do not require any kind of electronic readout / screen. I would also like to do EV adjustments like this too.
    2. Not as important, but if I can set some of these by the same control to an automated setting as a an option, that would be great – e.g. set to AF, set to automatic shutter speed and/or automatic aperture, automatic ISO, etc. But at any time I should be able to glance at the camera and see what setting I’ve left the camera in, without delving into a menu.
    3. Lens should therefore have an aperture ring and either a real focusing helicoid, or a very well-dampened and responsive manual focusing mechanism with a hard infinity position/confirmation. Ideally there should be some degree of future-proofing in the lenses if they are high-end optics (i.e. adaptable if your system becomes redundant).
    4. The camera should be robust, repairable, ergonomically comfortable, weather-sealed.
    5. Manufacturing and design shortcomings should not be interfering with your images! Design should not, for instance, be giving you banding, or artefacts, etc, and neither should there be sample issues like de-centering, etc, delivering far less than you’ve paid for. QA is very important.
    6. If it is a digital camera, it would be nice to confirm focus easily and accurately if you want to, and to get clear histogram / clipping info, if you want to.
    7. Joystick on a digital camera now seems useful enough to ask why leave it out?
    8. Suport should be easy, prompt, and user-centric.
    9. Image quality potential should be very good for the size of sensor chosen. That doesn’t necessarily mean cutting edge, but well integrated design between the glass, the sensor and the software.

    • I think we’re on the same page here. Good point about #9: we want to have a well-matched system that maximizes the potential of all elements.

  17. Jan-Peter says:

    Great comments from a lot of thoughtful people and far be it from me to disagree with anyone but I did notice you don’t address the workflow at all. I find the current cameras (I have a Nikon D750 and a D500) to be amazingly good and actually quite easy to use, after the initial learning curve but getting those images onto a computer and on a website/email/printer is a different story. To be honest, if anything will cause me to switch from the DSLR choice I have made it will be something that makes the *entire* process easier and more predictable, not a camera body that is lighter/faster/has better autofocus/greater dynamic range or any features like that!

    • Workflow is camera independent to a large degree, and should be ideally minimal if you can get it right in-camera. I’ve addressed Workflow repeatedly in other posts – to do so here might make the topic unmanageably large 🙂

    • Mosswings says:

      If you are using a camera in its traditional “lecturing” mode – that is, to make fine art images – then workflow is less camera-dependent than if you use it in a more immediate way, or in multiple ways. Even if you get it right in-camera, you still have to get it off-camera – and getting in right in-camera implies that you may be wanting to send it on its way quickly and easily, without the usual sneaker-net dance.

      Therefore, a modern camera is not diminished in its task of image capture by providing intuitive connectivity (and 5G network speeds will allow RAW files to be transmitted). Dismissing this function as somehow independent of the camera is very dangerous; it speaks to viewing the camera in terms of what the manufacturer is accustomed to building rather than what will serve the need of the photographers that will use it. And that requires as much vision of the camera’s place in our communications as it does listening to expert and dedicated photographers. Saint Jobs made products that presaged markets at the same time that they suited his vision. Likewise Elon Musk.

      All I’m saying, Ming, is that as beautiful, responsive, and broad of shooting envelope that that camera is (and I completely agree with your personal punchlist above), it better have a “send” button that just works, with any network it is presented, and to a DAM program of your choosing.

      • Proper wireless tethering, got it 🙂

        • Mosswings says:

          Thank you, sir. I will now restrict my wine intake as it makes me declarative.

        • Frans Richard says:

          Yes, PROPER wireless tethering is a must I think.
          I did not touch on workflow in my previous post, but as I said, the camera should be smart and connected. So it should have a cellular connection that allows you to send any image anywhere with the touch of a (virtual) button. Or upload every image taken to your favorite cloud instantly should want that. Sending a selected image can be done from the camera, setting things up can be done from a connected tablet or phone so the menu structure on the camera itself can be simple and uncluttered.
          Of course the camera should also have WiFi so that it can act as a hotspot and you can connect to it with a smartphone or tablet. But that is not enough, it should also be able to connect to other WiFi networks, automatically if you have set it to do that. So, for example, when you get home your camera will connect to your network and automatically start uploading any images that were not previously uploaded to your NAS. When the battery is low it will display a message on its screen and send a push notification to your phone that it needs to be charged. You can then simply place it on a pad where it is charged wirelessly.
          So basically a rethink of the camera for the digital age would be the child of a camera as we know it today and a smartphone, retaining the body of the camera, physical controls aimed at the photographer as an artist (see my other post) and the smarts and connectivity of the phone.

  18. Ming as usual interesting post and as often you know how to put words where many of us have thoughts.

    1: OVF: An OVF showing the Raw luminance value(pure value or percentage) of the Highlights ?
    2: Yes !
    3: Yes !
    4: Yes ! Modular design: Send a scan of your hand palm down and receive a handle.
    5: Yes !
    6: Yes ! I think today even M43 DR is sufficient for most applications. Predicitve control on pixel well capacity. Cut before it clips ?
    7: Pre processing, built a lut from Raw(and not from an already baked profile) and inject it in camera.
    8: Yes ! Battery standard derivative from 18650 batteries ? Didnt some Digital cameras worked on AA batteries long time ago ?
    9: Yes ! All these Canikon apsc dslr users craving about M43 and Fuji lenses.

    Ming by the way , this article sounds a bit like a poll and sharing and fishing ideas for future cameras from Hasselblad :p. One more question ; Could Hasselblad offer us an affordable 35mm format camera with a user perspective design and the 3 basic lenses on launch ?

    • We won’t be doing smaller formats, but it is important to know we’re going in the right direction.

      Interesting idea on the modular grip – I’d thought of the same, but implementation of the mounding process isn’t quite so simple…

  19. Kristian Wannebo says:

    Thanks Ming, for an important summing-up of essentials!
    – – –

    Only two mentions of articulated screens?
    ( Almost as necessary, I think, as a viewfinder!)

    I often photograph with the camera close to the ground or to a wall – and get wet or dirty or/and might have to guess the framing.
    ( Not to mention discreet shooting from your lap – if the shutter is silent enough.)

    An articulated screen then would help a lot – and a tilting screen is certainly not enough.
    (And, additionally, it can be folded in for protection.)
    A 90° additional viewfinder is often not enough.
    ( Using an extra monitor or wifi-connected smartphone just makes it more complicated.)
    – – –

    My personal suggestion for camera controls:
    ( I grew up (in my teens) with a film camera – Superikonta – where you set the EV by connecting the aperture and the shutter speed dials and then turned them together to choose the a/s-combination.)

    I would like three dials, so:
    1) EV setting
    2) aperture/speed – combination
    3) ISO setting – influences a/s-comb. (similarly to P-mode)
    1) Exposure compensation
    2) Aperture setting
    3) ISO setting – influences speed
    1) Exposure compensation
    2) Speed setting
    3) ISO setting – influences aperture
    1) Exposure compensation
    2) aperture/speed – combination, but preset by the camera
    3) ISO setting – influences a/s-comb.

    In Auto-ISO (for all modes)
    the camera presets the ISO and it can be tweaked by dial 3.
    ( And, of course, the auto-ISO choices sensibly depend on focal length with a selectable factor!)

    • Makes sense – thanks for your thoughts!

    • Kristian Wannebo says:

      Rereading my post, I realize that I was unclear about M-mode.

      EDIT :
      1) EV setting
      2) aperture/speed – combination
      3) ISO setting
      a) Choosing EV, of course, determines the chosen under/over -exposure, aka exposure comp.
      b) Changing the ISO should imply a change of EV keeping the level of exp. comp. constant.

      • Kristian Wannebo says:

        ( Sorry, forgot..)

        And, in M-mode with auto-ISO
        the ISO should, of course, change when the EV is set.
        But a manual tweak of the ISO
        should be remembered as an exp. comp. until sleep/shut off.

      • The Ricoh GR has a great feature, which I’ve been told is on some of the Pentaxes too: in M mode, you can press a button (+ on the GR, which is right by your right thumb, but probably assignable), and the camera will set the exposure setting to whatever the meter sees at that moment. So it’s sort of like a program mode AE lock, except it’s always locked and the exposure settings change only when you press the button. It’s very convenient because you don’t have to scroll through a long list of apertures and/or shutter speeds if your exposure changes drastically. The camera is also smart about whether it alters the shutter speed or aperture to get your desired exposure: it seems intuitive which one it uses, but I’m not sure what the algorithm is. It seems like it preserves the last setting you change, so if you just set the exposure to something, it will try to alter the shutter speed when you press the button.

        Interlocked shutter-speed and apertures like program shift or the old Hassy interlocked rings is also another great feature every manual mode should have.

        I’m not sure how many people use manual all the time, but these are really handy manual features to have! The GR also seems to have one of the most perfect interfaces for a camera with very little to improve, especially if you shoot manual: it’s definitely aimed at a more experienced photographer.

        • I’ve never used the Pentax/Ricoh ‘green button’ before, actually – do people actually find it useful? If I needed the metered exposure I can either roll the wheels or use Av and exposure comp.

          I like the interlocked exposure controls too, but it only works with mechanical rings.

  20. Ming,
    My list is pretty much the same as yours, actually. Some additional points from experience that may already have been covered:

    1) In terms of priorities I switched 6 and 7: high DR requirement a little lower on the list, image quality, colour accuracy are higher I’ve been working around DR limitations for some time now and it’s not really a must-have for me. More would be great but as it stands, I think the current generation is plenty. Then again, I wouldn’t know since I’ve never had cameras that delivered beyond the GR (2013) in terms of dynamic range.

    2) Weather sealing will be a major factor in future purchases.

    3) Output files: I dropped Sigma because of this- it was really annoying to process X3F files alongside DNG from the other cameras.

    4) Firmware and support: Not sure how long the software development time is at camera companies like Hasselblad but if something goes wrong in the firmware (say EVF display issues, focus bugs etc) I wouldn’t want to wait months for the fix to be rolled out, or worse, left to be resolved in the next hardware release. I think this is critical as cameras are getting more and more “electronic” as the years pass. And for the love of God please don’t dismiss bugs/issues out of hand.

    I’m happy with my E-M5 and GR setup right now but if I were looking for a new system to replace my current setup I’d be considering in addition to your 9 points above:

    1) Overall system size and weight. I understand that it’s a tradeoff though, so I’m flexible on that within reason since I only travel with 1-2 lenses anyway.
    2) Some form of weather resistance.
    3) Some compelling reason to upgrade. Could be vastly better IQ/DR (then again it begs the question of whether I even need such IQ) or some other killer feature. One of the reasons why I’m so reluctant to spend on the EM1.2 is that it seems like I’d be paying 2000 Euros for something that’s not that much of a game changer to me. Great camera, yes. Better than my current setup, yes. But somehow not that good a value proposition in my mind.
    4) No video. No scene modes. No art filters. Purity of purpose. Don’t even see the need for a touchscreen to be honest.

    Something weather-sealed with an excellent OVF, top-notch responsiveness, no flash, killer f/3.2~f/4 optics, and a (preferably handheld) shooting envelope that meets or exceeds my current E-M5 would be seriously tempting.

    • 1. Going beyond the GR in DR is quite significant – I’d say the current 44×33 MF sensors exceed it by as much as 2.5-3 stops at low ISO, and maybe 4 at higher ISOs – especially towards the upper end of the range, this is huge.

      4. I agree. FW fixes can take months precisely because they aren’t dismissed – if there’s a transient error only affecting some cameras and not others, we have to first find a camera that we can reproduce the error on, and then only figure out how to fix it. Merely reproducing the error isn’t always simple, and we want to make sure that whatever fix is implemented really does completely fix the problem (else there’ll be a lot of irate users).

      Unfortunately your shortlist still leads to the E-M1.2 – it’s not a game changer, but having shot both quite a lot I can say it’s a significant update in practice on the E-M5.2.

  21. The E-M 1 Mark II is all the camera I’ll ever need. M43 lens selection is sublime. If Olympus ever builds a full frame version of the E-M1II…well then TAKE MY MONEY! (;

    • Unfortunately, it’d be quite a bit larger, both because of the rules of optics and the supporting mechanicals for the shutter. And there’s no way to make the IBIS as effective because of the power requirements for moving the much heavier sensor at the same speed…

      • True. But on the other hand, I really, really like the handling experience of the Olympus OM-D line (still own and love my little E-M10 (original)) – except possibly for the menu, but I hardly ever use that after configuring the camera to suit my needs. So, a scaled up version with perhaps an emphasis on *small* (instead of super-fast) lenses – primes or good collapsible zooms, along the lines of the Panasonic 12-32mm – in the initial line-up would appeal greatly; I might even be willing to forgo I.B.I.S. if someone gave me a *responsive* FF mirrorless and lenses with good O.I.S. In a nutshell, the D750’s sensor (minus maybe the AA filter array) in an OM-D style body (with a decent grip) with OM-D style snap and sizzle, and I’d be all over it.

        When I was deciding on what FF system to get, I went to test the Sony A7 II first; it felt fantastic in the hand, just right for me, but I still ended up with a D750 because that camera doesn’t get in the way when shooting fast-paced stuff (besides, the available lens line-up was just so much more convincing) – whereas the Sony makes you wait at times you simply don’t want to or can’t afford to if you’re a pro (I’m not). Plus there’s the vaste array of great native lenses for the Nikon system … Yes, I know the A9 is out now, but that’s a different class of camera, prize-wise; and it’s definitely *not* an enthusiast’s camera.

        • The waiting time and general unpredictability of the A7 series is what’s holding it back (and giving DSLRs a remaining chance), I think – we’ll probably eventually get to the point where it isn’t, but we’re at least a generation out.

      • I’d be okay with all of that as long as it performed as good as the A7RII. I much prefer Oly bodies and haptics over sony (;

  22. Jonathan Hodder says:

    Recently I’ve found that whenever I pick up a decent camera I find it very difficult to see what else there is to improve upon, other than my own skill. Seems that no one is making a bad lens these days.

  23. L. Ron Hubbard says:

    Features don’t interest me in the slightest. I shoot with a Nikon FM2n and about the only “feature” I know about is that it has a meter. The camera can shoot without a battery, which is nice, but seeing as I get 1-2 years on each battery, I dont even use that “feature”.

    Looking back on the history of photography, enormously powerful, beautiful, and provocative images were made with cameras that were relatively featureless. This fact provides constant motivation for me to stay out of the gear rat race, which simply never ends. Back when I was a digital shooter, I was caught up in the camera “arms race” and continue to spend countless money on upgrade after upgrade, all the while unknowingly discovering that more is not better. I started with 4 mp, and upgraded over several generations up to 24. Was that enough? Nope, the need continued to increase. The same with AF speed, accuracy, DR, whatever. Satisfaction never arrives.

    Finally I learned what I subconsciously knew in the back of my head and stepped off. I sold off all my digital gear, spent all of $100 on a Nikon FM2n and then bought 5 manual focus Nikkor lenses. That was 3 years ago. I havent bought a single piece of gear since then. I dont know what enthusiast photographer that has gone 3 years without upgrading a camera. This will get even more rare as I get to 5 or 6 years without spending a dime on gear.

    I know that my little ol’ Nikon is well and truly obsolete. But it brings me great happiness working with such a tactile camera, and the piece of mind coming from being out of the camera “arms race” is priceless.

    • You’re probably right. I suspect that the camera that conquers won’t be the one that wins the arms race, but the one that bypasses it altogether.

  24. Neil Brown says:

    Your list is very close to Spot-on in my view. Given the narrowness of DOF using many lenses (I use X1D, Nikon and Olympus gear), having accurate AF that allows good focus on the eyes is critical. I would add two things to your list (with a more nice-to-have third item):

    – Continuous AF. Not because I want to catch an Olympian or racing car, but because I want my subjects/models to move and keeping focus on them whilst they do is critically important. I would expect this sort of continuous tracking of relatively predictable movements was possible on all modern cameras.

    – Spot metering that follows the focus point. If I move my focus point, I would wish for the spot metering to follow the focus point so that a light toned model wearing black with my focus moved higher in the viewfinder on her face will still meter accurately. I’m sure. you get the point.

    – Having a focus point (and spot meter) that also moves according to camera orientation would be a bonus!

    • Continuous AF is necessary going forward with increased resolution and reduced DOF, I think: we need to remember just how big a difference slight misfocus makes to ultimate resolution – not to mention distractions because the wrong thing is in critically sharp focus…

      Spot metering already follows the focus point on the Nikons – not sure why this isn’t the case with every other camera. I can’t readily think of a situation in which you’d want to meter and focus separately.

      Ditto your last point – focus point moves with camera orientation on the Nikons (and along with it, the metering spot). I think it moves orientation on other cameras too (pretty sure my 5DSR did it) but not the metering spot.

      • Apparently (according to Thom Hogan), current Nikons sort of do a continuous AF even when in AF-S. When you press the shutter button all the way, the camera will adjust focus right before it takes the photo. This can lead to a lag in theory, but I’ve never felt it.

        Fuji just recently added orientation-based focus points (the lack of which was really annoying when I tested the X-T2 when it first came out), and they go a little further than Nikon: the focus mode is also tied to orientation. So you could have AF-S in landscape mode, and AF-C in portrait mode. I’m not sure why I’d want two separate modes, though.

        These are two examples of small refinements that are necessary in making a camera feel right. You can check off the big items on the feature checklist, but how they’re implemented is just as important if not more so.

        I think if camera manufacturers remember that the camera is a mechanical device first, and computer second, in that it was to react and interact with the real physical world, then they’ll be on the right path. Odd lags or bending user haptics to conform to the comfort of their computer programmers does not make for a good camera experience.

        And one pet peeve (which I believe Fuji has also addressed in their latest X-T2 update) is being able to assign the EVF to just viewfinder duties, and the rear panel to just menu and image review duties. It seems like most mirrorless cameras just make the EVF and rear monitor do the same things.

        • I always though that little AF shuffle was because the camera didn’t lock properly. Now I know why it can still move even if supposedly locked on.

          Focus group (but not mode) on my D810 is also tied to orientation.

          “I think if camera manufacturers remember that the camera is a mechanical device first, and computer second, in that it was to react and interact with the real physical world, then they’ll be on the right path.”

          “And one pet peeve (which I believe Fuji has also addressed in their latest X-T2 update) is being able to assign the EVF to just viewfinder duties, and the rear panel to just menu and image review duties.”
          My GX85 can do this too.

      • ” I can’t readily think of a situation in which you’d want to meter and focus separately.” Where you have a high DR scene and need to adjust the exposure to ensure the background isn’t blown/black? In reality it doesn’t matter, because you just tweak a dial to adjust exposure/iso/aperture as necessary.

        • But surely you’d always want your subject to be in focus and properly exposed?

          • Focus yes, but there’s ‘properly exposed’ and ‘exposed enough whilst improving exposure elsewhere’. Example – lit subject in left side of shot sat at a table at a restaurant, chef in dark background on right. ‘Correctly’ exposing the subject means the chef becomes black, increasing the exposure a bit results in the chef becoming visible without overexposing the subject. As I said, a moot point now it’s so easy to use exposure compensation.

      • 1) continuous AF that won’t jump – the things we want to focus on won’t be jumping around the screen, so why allow the focus point to jump away from where it is? (I use an E-M5 whose C-AF likes to jump around, I realise it’s not the best C-AF tool out there, but are the good C-AFing Canikons lots better in this respect?)
        2) No arbitrary restrictions on what function can be assigned to what button, which modes I can and can’t use flash in etc. A camera that doesn’t let the user do whatever they want to is one that will lose sales.
        3) Auto ETTR mode – camera simply ETTRs until clipping then backs off a notch. many of us habitually ETTRing would appreciate this.
        4) ISO dial – I’d consider ISO to be in the list of critical features these days, so it needs a dial.

        Oh, and the notification options for posting on here need a tweak – I normally want notification of replies to my comments/posts, but I can never remember if it’s new ‘comments’ or ‘posts’ I should select 🙂

  25. I’m starting to think consistency and reliability are more important than specific features. My Panasonic 1″ compact has pretty consistent quality over the 3x zoom range; power-on time, zoom speed and shutter responsiveness are always the same, metering is consistent and I always use it in good light so I don’t need to think about stability, noise performance or AF speed. In short, it is a worry-free camera, and I would agree with you that it does have a positive effect on the results.

    For other situations, I would pick a DSLR. Inconsistent power-on times, shutter response, metering, etc. made Sony and Fuji cameras a failure to me (I’d never know if I would get the shot or not – the Panasonic is much slower to fire up, but it doesn’t bother me at all). I’ve also started reducing my lens crop because I don’t shoot enough to really become comfortable with each lens. I’m curious about the new Sigma and Tamron 24-70’s because they would probably add enough DoF control and low light capability for most of my uses. The problem with fast primes on FF camera is that focus is too easy to fail, both due to thin DoF and calibration issues – again something I have to worry about instead of focusing on the results. Trading some speed for zoom convenience and stabilisation sounds tempting, and those f/4 zooms work so nicely in good light…

    Back to your question: I think it needs to be clear what the camera does, and then do it well. I’d assume a view camera is pretty consistent and responsive in a very different way than a DSLR. For the right use, the best “advanced” features become almost invisible: auto-WB, auto-ISO, auto focus, stabilisation, zebra stripes, etc. – but only if they fit for your purpose and work consistently. Ergonomics matters a lot: if you don’t know whether you’ll find the right button at the right time, then you also don’t know what result you’ll get.

    What I’m missing is probably an ultra responsive, fast-AF, high-DR mirrorless with excellent low light performance, good ergonomics for a left-eye shooter, internal stabilisation, good battery life, high quality zooms, decent size and affordable price. Perhaps that upcoming E-M10 mk3 is worth a look, or I’ll just get that Sigma/Tamron zoom and a calibration pod…

    • Here you’re thinking of consistency of performance across the whole envelope, which is quite challenging given the expected breadth of that envelope these days. I think it’s about expectation and predictability, which then translates into confidence of getting the shot: you need to know it always takes x long to power up, x long to focus, no lag, x long to write and all functions are always available – that’s before we get into avoiding surprises with lenses, sudden drops in image quality performance etc.

      The reality is a lot of today’s cameras are perhaps much smaller enveloped than manufacturers claim – e.g. usable ISOs are really 200-1600, not 50-1 million. And f1.8 is useless if the lens doesn’t look okay til f4, but an f4 that’s perfect at f4 is much more useful. I blame lazy marketing for not educating their consumers.

      “Back to your question: I think it needs to be clear what the camera does, and then do it well.”
      Yes: again, it’s about managing expectations.

      What you want though sounds a lot like the E-M1.2, actually.

      • I do realise that if you want more in one dimension (speed, resolution, compactness, …) you’ll get less in the others; anything else is marketing BS or a 5-year development cycle. What I want is cameras that consistently deliver what they claim – then all I have to do is to pick the most suitable one(s).

        Indeed E-M1.2 sounds good for me, but a couple of years ago the D750 was a big step up from E-M5, and I’m not sure that I wouldn’t regret going back. Even if I didn’t, maybe the difference is not worth the money. Conclusion: I’m probably close to the optimum and shouldn’t complain.

        • The ultimate tradeoff is always cost 🙂

          Not sure I’d go to the E-M1.2 from the D750, though. There’s enough difference in the sensor (and a somewhat comparable 24-120VR to the 12-100) that the IS gains don’t offset the sensor losses.

          • That’s what I thought, too. It’s a middle ground camera that I sometimes miss, but haven’t found a satisfying one. If the next E-M10 has the same sensor as 1.2, it could fill the gap at a good price. Remains to be seen, though.

  26. Jeff Smith says:

    I will refer to myself as an enthusiastic amateur photography. What I want out of a camera is good inage quality, good dynamic range, light weight, a decent viewfinder, responsiveness to controls and ease of use. What I don’t want is to spend hours trying to figure why when a set my focus point to a certain position and think I have fixed its position there it often ends up shifting somewhere else. It took me more than a day to figure that the flash on my Olympus will not work in aperture priority when set on silent shutter. As to why I am baffled. I don’t need 4K or half the stuff my camera is equipped with. Small, light, responsive, and simple that’s what I like.

    I have been in the micro 4/3 camp for a few years, but some newer lenses are not so micro.

    • Locked out features such as that flash are one of the main problems with digital: more computer, less camera, a lot of frustration. Sony are notoriously bad for this.

  27. Yes, totally agree. I found film cameras from 80s to 90s have optimal design before custom function clicked in. Like Nikon F-801.

  28. timswan says:

    I want a camera with a finder that allows for quick and accurate manual focusing, that has wide dynamic range, and that is relatively small. For now I’m happy with a Panasonic GX8, and a Leica M9.

  29. For landscape photograph where maximum depth of field is desired, a depth of field scale on the lens is at the top of my list.

    • That works well with long throw MF lenses, but not short throw (for speed) AF lenses. On top of that, real DOF changes with resolution because of the circle of confusion. Best compromise: a digital DOF scale in LV.

  30. A photographer who rarely uses a tripod would,definitely add a digital level to that list. Fortunately, a new camera without one of these is pretty rare. For me, what I have is largely sufficient. The EVF in my mk I E-M5 is sufficient. The VF-4 I use with my E-P5 is luxury (as is the EVF on my A7 II). Lens choice on Micro Four Thirds is beyond sufficient. Native lens choice, insofar as I’m prepared to pay, is not sufficient for the A7II, and I’m starting to form the opinion that Sony’s QC is less than Japanese!

    • Most already have the level, as you say – I didn’t want to include stuff off the list we already take for granted today (accurate battery levels or adequate buffers, for instance).

      With finders – better is always better. 😉

  31. The first task for me with any new camera is the menu system. Generally, most are horrible, especially in comparison to smartphones, tablets, and some computers. Responsiveness, usually shutter lag and focus speed, are my main considerations. I like rangefinders for manual focus, because they tend to be quicker for me. In autofocus, the little Nikon V1 I still use is so quick I don’t notice any lag. Seems that smaller cameras are often slower, though there have been exceptions. Ergonomics are extremely important, and the most ergonomic camera I own is a Bronica RF645 rangefinder, unfortunately a little limited in lens choices.

    I got a chance to try a Leica T system, and the menu set-up is great. The dials and lack of dedicated viewfinder, and limited lens choices, mean it’s not viable for my needs. However, I mentioned it often when I was working with a start-up company, on a project to design a new camera. I think doing research for that start-up gave me some very good ideas of what I wanted, and helped highlight what many companies are doing wrong now. Unfortunately, as can happen, the money ran out before the project got very far.

    • YES – I hate that initial 30min of menu trawling and day or so of experimentation to see what seeing does what; more so when you find it’s not right under some relative obscure condition and have to change it quickly (and of course can’t find it because it’s not logically placed).

      MF seems quicker because it’s predictable, and we accept errors as being of our own doing (which is true). On the other hand, AF is expected to be instant, prescient and magic by most 🙂

      I said long ago that the T menu was the first sensible sign of things to come for the digital age. We got an evolution in the X1D, and we’ll evolve that further still.

  32. ronbraithwaite says:

    Ming, I couldn’t agree about ergos being the most important factor in my camera choice. I got my first Nikon F (not FTn) in 1969 (got the FTn finder a year later). Beat the heck out of it. BUT, which I found a used retrofitted Leica M2R with 28, 50, and 90 f/2 Summicron, I was in love. It was so incredibly intuitive. I still used the Nikon with longer lenses and a motor drive (I was a US Air Force Still Combat Documentary Photographer, based out of Thailand in 1973-74), but the Leica was the camera that I reached for first. Ergonomics aren’t always the first priority, of course, nobody is concerned about ergos with a view camera (although, if they used a Sinar or Arca they might). But they are probably my first consideration these days.

    So… A little over a year ago, I switched from Nikon to Olympus. I was about to walk across England on Hadrian’s wall, going about 17 miles a day with my Nikon D800E, a tripod, and about 5 lenses, including my 80-400. Since I’m turning into an Olde Pharte, I was really cringing at the amount of weight I would be schlepping. So I started looking at different options, including Fuji, Lumix, Olympus, etc. A good friend owns the premier camera repair facility in the Portland, Oregon area (Advance Camera Repair) and just loves his Olympus M1. I tried it out and really liked the ergos and the quality of the lenses. Blew up a few images to 17×24 on my Canon PRO 1000 and was very impressed by the quality. The Fuji X-T1 was pretty good, but I liked the M1 better.

    And then Olympus came out with the Pen-F. That was it. It handles EXACTLY like I want a digital camera to handle. The mode dial, which seems like a stupid gimmick, turned out to be one of my favorite features (B&W, with the S-curve set to -2 on the toe and +2 on the shoulder) and handgrip with the Arca-Swiss rail built-in. Et Cetera.

    I started out with the trio of zooms (7-14, 23-40, 40-150 f/2.8) and the body cap fisheye. Small and light, with the only issue being that the Pen-F isn’t weatherproof. I thought about it and decided that my older Nikons weren’t weatherproof either and I never had any real issues with them, even when it was raining up (and down and sideways) in places like the jungles of Southeast Asia and the Olympic Peninsula National Forest. So I hiked with that. Even though I had a very nice and lightweight tripod with me, I never used it because the image stabilization was so good. The Pen-F was (and is) perfect. For me. Maybe not for you, but perfect for me.

    When I got back, I realized I didn’t want to go back to the much heavier and, quite frankly, ergonomically much inferior Nikon gear. So I sold it all. After almost 50 years of shooting Nikon, I’m done and I couldn’t be happier with the Olympus Pen-F.

    Last weekend was the Waterfront Blues Festival, which is the main fund-raiser for the Oregon Food Bank. It ran for 5 days with 4 stages, culminating in a big fireworks display on the 4th. As the photography technical coordinator for the festival, my job is to gather up all the photos from the other 4 photographers on the team, as we try to make sure we have good shots of every musician in every band on every stage and making sure they are tagged correctly with the right metadata (date/time, photographer’s name, and I put in the band name). I shot a little over 26,000 photos (10fps in bursts) and together we shot just shy of 2.5 TB of photos. Other cameras in use were things like Sony A6R, Canon 1DX.2, Canon 5d.4, and so on. As I start to run through them, I can honestly say that the quality of the Olympus gear is absolutely equal to that of anything else.

    For BluesFest, I rented a Olympus E-M1.2 from Pro Photo Supply (amazing place), just to see if I wanted to get that. I put the 40-150 (with the occasional 1.4x teleconverter) on the M1.2 and the 12-40 on the Pen-F. I definitely shot more on the M1.2 than the Pen-F, simply because of the lens I was using.

    At the end of the 4th, I came to the conclusion that I will not buy the M1.2. Not because it’s not a great camera – it is most definitely a *great* camera. I will not buy it because it doesn’t come close to handling as nicely as the Pen-F. Yes, battery life is much better. Yes, having 2 card slots is really much more convenient. Yes, being able to have up to 17 frames in the burst before I push the shutter all the way is brilliant. Yes, yes, yes. It is probably the best digital camera that has ever been made. But not for me. The Pen-F is it. When the Pen-F.2 comes out, I will get that. In fact, I will probably get a second Pen-F body, just so I don’t have to change lenses in the blowing dust or sand.

    So, this long diatribe came about simply because I couldn’t agree with you more, Ming. Thanks!

    • Bottom line – a bit beyond ergonomics: responsiveness, haptics and overall in-hand tacitly matters? Of course: if you don’t like the way it feels, you won’t want to use it. And if you don’t use it, you won’t make pictures at all. But you’d be surprised how many companies forget that.

  33. Julian Macedo says:

    Can I throw one thought in? I was very surprised to learn at a Nikon workshop that the review image, histogram and blinkies data for a rear screen is all based on a median jpeg, rather than the full tonal range of the raw file. I was told the limiting factor was processing power.

    Given the mantras about using histograms to judge exposure, yet the inherent ability to drag more info out of lowlight in post, isn’t this a huge gap in the ability tomjudge camera performance on the fly?

    • Yes and no – we’re aware of this, and that’s the reason a lot of us set up the preview JPEG (even if you shoot RAW, the picture control settings affect your previews) to be as low contrast and low saturation as possible, with no D-lighting added. Sharpening is at maximum to judge critical focus easily since it won’t affect the final output anyway. It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty close.

      • Carsten says:

        Ok, this is just the workaround raw shooters are using.
        But what Julian — and a lot of other user — are asking for, is a valuable feature: in-camera raw histograms and blinkies instead of JPEG histograms and blinkies. A complementary feature — somebody else mentioned it in one of the comments — is auto ETTR.
        Is processing power still the limiting factor? Or is it just ignorance?

        • What you get out of a raw file depends on the converter: interpolation of tones and colours has to be done at the highlight and shadow ends because remember raw data is Bayer-form not RGB…

  34. I agree with your list of 9 primary needs/concerns. I’ve been taking photos since I was a teenager (more then 50 years ago) and I am also a technology geek of sorts. But I remember the days when there wasn’t auto anything and even shooting sports was a matter of predicting what was going to happen and prefocusing to a spot rather then try to follow the action shooting. I was also a photographer in the navy and everything we had was all manual. (Koni-Omega Rapid 6X7cm, and Mamiya RB-67 were the primary field cameras). I love technology but there are times when there is just too much and it gets in the way of focused photography. I sometimes think it would be nice to make the move back to medium format and with today’s digital Hasselblads, Pentax and Fuji’s, it is a mighty temptation but out of my budget. But while technology has its place, I feel too many people are too dependent on it. It has become a crutch sometimes rather then a tool. And in the end I find ergonomics, control placement and intuitive operation far more important then anything else. Guess I still have some of that old school blood in me. Tech is great, but not when it gets in the way of seeing and responding to what you see intuitively. Remember shooting high school football with an Old Exacta, 135mm manual lens. and a wind film advance knob (not even a lever). Didn’t get a lot of shots but the ones I got were good. A good sports day was walking away with a half dozen really good shots. Film and processing was expensive so if I shot 2 rolls of 36 exposure, I felt like I had a bad day and had been wasteful. Love the digital world, but I am still a one shot at a time person.

    • “But I remember the days when there wasn’t auto anything and even shooting sports was a matter of predicting what was going to happen and prefocusing to a spot rather then try to follow the action shooting.”
      That still yields better results than spray-and-pray 🙂

      “But while technology has its place, I feel too many people are too dependent on it. It has become a crutch sometimes rather then a tool. “
      Or in a lot of cases, a distraction because it’s too unnecessarily complex.

      I hear you. There’s a reason I still love my V series and digital back…the digital bit becomes a capture medium only, not a way of life.

  35. Mathieu P. says:

    I own and use two cameras: The Nikon D750 and the Nikon F6

    I learned photography from a German friend who made the Nikon choice in the early 80ies. She was given a Nikon F3 by a professional photographer during an internship. Her education was a string of several internships where she assisted studio, commercial and photojournalism photographers at a time when a small photography business was the norm.

    This said, I learned from a purist. When I put my first lens on a body 10 years ago, I set the control to M and set the aperture and time manually. My first 5000 photos were bad. Fortunately I was using a digital camera. What this exercise taught me is to understand light, image composition and how to deliver my intention at a gut level.

    Since then, I keep my technique coherent between film and digital photography so that I can move back and forth between my bodies seamlessly. I stick to film simply because some rendering and colors, under certain conditions, are still better on film than on digital despite all the film facsimile and photoshoping you might want to apply to the image. I use film when a single shot does the job and digital when bracketing, HDR or stitching is required (Mainly for architecture). Handheld, I prefer film in outdoors well light situations and digital indoors or at night. With a tripod, I still choose film.

    So my criteria for choosing a digital camera:
    – A resolution that matches the lenses I want to use (Not to high that I have diffraction at f/5.6 and not too so that enlargement doesn’t look good. 24MP seem to hit the sweet spot.
    – The body works with specialty, manual lenses
    – Ideally the focus screen could be changed
    – I see through the lens
    – comfortable and light
    – Long battery life
    – 9 frames bracketing
    – Minimum 5fps in burst mode
    – Responsive mirror up and/or live view photo shoot with fast focusing
    – Bracketed series shot automatically mirror up in live view with the timer (I use this a lot for architecture on the D750)
    – Custom white balance with a grey card as well as white balance tweaking

    Nice or would be nice to have now:
    – Noiseless live view
    – Auto ISO with thresholds
    – Lens Focus accuracy tweaking
    – “A” mode ideally with thresholds

    Nice to have in the future:
    – Greater dynamic range for flat images that can be reworked into what you need
    – Shorter minimum speed (1/8000 or faster for daytime f/1.4 and less photos)
    – Accurate and full NTSC color workspace at all ISOs
    – Lower base ISO
    – Removable filter sensors for black and white
    – A curved sensor for better edges with less glass
    – An adjustable sensor to be able to fit any lens brand with minimal adapters and to automatically calibrate precise focus
    – etc…

    90% of the time my camera is on M and at base ISO and my photos have the flexibility to look exactly like I intended after post-processing.

    • Mathieu P. says:

      I wanted to add that beyond a “threshold” resolution, as MT wrote in an earlier post, I agree it makes more sense to move up to large format photography.

    • Sensible choices; I’ll address the wish list:

      – Greater dynamic range for flat images that can be reworked into what you need
      – Shorter minimum speed (1/8000 or faster for daytime f/1.4 and less photos)
      – Lower base ISO
      These three go hand in hand: more DR means you can either recover highlights and not run into clipping at the top, or you can restrict ISO (pull setting) and not lose DR in doing so – which means you don’t need 1/8000 for f1.4 in daylight.

      – Accurate and full NTSC color workspace at all ISOs
      Possible already if you shoot ARGB and convert later – it’s a smaller color space, so you won’t lose quality.

      – Removable filter sensors for black and white
      It’s possible, but was told is generally avoided to avoid ham-fisted accidents and related service issues…

      – A curved sensor for better edges with less glass
      Semiconductor processes will have to change considerably…but I think it will happen eventually

      – An adjustable sensor to be able to fit any lens brand with minimal adapters and to automatically calibrate precise focus
      Patents and proprietary AF protocols mean the latter will never happen. Since the front mount at least will have to be fixed, you’ll still need one adaptor for each mount. And adjustable is a bad idea because of planarity issues – your best bet is a very very short flange distance and large sensor. Those…exist 😉

      – etc…

  36. On lens barrel aperture ring and focal distance scales.

    • Aperture rings either require a Leica-style A-A-A position with manual dials for everything, confusing overrides, or a little bit of schitzo in deciding which dial gets what priority; DOF scales really vary with resolution and acceptable focus, and require long throw to be read accurately – but this is very at odds with short throw and fast AF most people want…

  37. scott devitte says:

    Being a multi camera dop most of my career and now shooting 8k RED, my stills shooting sadly has never gotten much past the snapshot stage- mainly because of focus issues, I think in terms of frame, composition and lighting, the operators do the focus. So I never am able to just get that damn stills shot. Well! The GX85 has in the couple days that I have had it, besides being the most amazing small, internally stabilized, video cam (cine d hack) has now become glued to me as a stills camera, because of what Ming refers to as haptics- I can keep my right eye in the evf, left hand on focus or aperture , (I have a lot of cine manual primes), or using 43 auto lenses for balance, grip the camera as usual with my right hand and use my right thumb on the touch screen to move the enlarged focus point immediately anywhere in frame. Voila! And the L monochrome is making life really interesting. To lose the imposition of color created contrast and work with planes, angles, grey scale contrast etc. is totally absorbing. What a fantastic tool!

  38. I tend to look for companies with photography in their DNA which a) make solid, reliable and well-supported equipment, and b) make an effort where I live and seems to be going places. That rules out a few where I live (poor local support, too many reliability issues, company hardly represented, etc). I also look for weather-resistance because I live in a fairly wet climate. After that I look for the things on your list though I also love exposure blinkies and focus-peaking indicators in the viewfinder. In practice it comes down to Olympus, Fuji with most likely Canon if I returned to DSLRs. Overall, though, I do want to feel “Wow, I will enjoy using this” – and if I don’t feel that connection I put the item down and move on regardless of who makes it. For a lot of folks, I think it all comes down to trying to find something which offers a bit more than the throw-away “consumer experience” beloved of the big electronics groups.

    • Agreed: we need to feel we want to use our product too, else I think it’s failed from the point of view of a photographer…

  39. Jos Martens says:

    Maybe another problem waiting for a solution : sensor dust especially when having to
    Change lenses in the field. My solution to this up till now is having one body for every lens.Heavy and expensive
    if as a travel photographer you want to cover from 16 to 200/300 mm : three bodies three lenses

    • The ultrasonic shakers work quite well. Failing that, MF is easy to clean because the size is larger – and a small rocket blower does the job just fine for me…

      I used to try to cover every FL, but weight aside (unless you have a very small system and somewhat compromised IQ) – I made better images by just using a more focused combo; 28/85-e or thereabouts. Sufficient difference in perspective, fast options available, and not too large. Sometimes I add a longer (150-180) lens in the bag if I expect to need compression.

    • One of the features beside specially designed sensor module for m-mount lenses (offset micro lenses for wide angles) of my paleolithic
      Ricoh GXR was shutter covering the sensor when removing lenses (can leave it exposed too). I still don’t understand why no mirroless to my knowledge have that feature. Yes ultrasonic does work with dust but I doubt it can shake of tiny droplets of drifting mist. But of course you can change lenses in your duffel bag.

      • I think it’s because the default position for mirrorless shutters is open instead of closed – power is required to close, and if you pull the battery or have camera off, this state is not maintained. The GXR was of the previous generation of sensor not designed upfront for LV.

  40. Kevin Smith says:

    As resolution increases I find that I appreciate image stabilization more. I am more of an opportunist photographer rather than a deliberate one. I recall getting a D810 after using a D750 and was surprised at how blurred my initial images were with my usual settings and technique. I wonder how many people will get a MF camera and be disappointed with the photos. Some instructional information for initial users may be beneficial for the MF industry. I realize that most choosing MF will realize this but perhaps not all. Thank you Ming for all your teachings and reviews.

    • “I wonder how many people will get a MF camera and be disappointed with the photos.”
      Quite a few: the more specialised the tool, the more skill is required to wield it. That said, a lot of MF users are disciplined enough that they can extract the difference, wise enough to know when they can’t, or after MF for DR and color and rendering style beyond resolution.

      Stabilisation: useful but actually less so as resolution increases, both because introduction of any moving elements will affect lens performance massively (think: one potentially misaligned element all the time) – I see asymmetric degradation in images with VR lenses caused by non-planar lenses (e.g. soft at the top vs bottom of frame, or tilted focal planes). If we go to sensor shift, the amount of power required to move the sensor is proportional to the mass…which doesn’t increase with area, but volume. In a magnetic system, we quickly run into power limitations – a sensor 4x the area and say conservatively 4x the mass requires not 4x the current in the suspensory magnets, but 4^2 the current…

  41. Frans Richard says:

    Being technically savvy and a software developer by occupation (not in the camera industry) I can appreciate the technology built into modern cameras, but as a hobby photographer I really don’t want to be bothered by any of it. As a photographer I want:
    1. Ability to focus (no pun intended) on composition first; this means a good, big viewfinder that shows me exactly what I’m going to capture, so a fast, high resolution EFV showing the selected aspect ratio, focus and exposure, uncluttered by icons for settings I don’t care about when framing
    2. Ability to set the focus exactly where I want; this means fast autofocus on a selected part of the frame, with what is in focus clearly marked in the viewfinder and ability to easily fine tune focus manually with a dial or ring on the lens
    3. Ability to control DOF; not by thinking about aperture, but literally by selecting DOF via a dial and have it indicated in the viewfinder
    4. Ability to control motion blur; not by thinking about shutter speed, but by selecting the amount of blurr I want via a dial; having the amount of blur shown on top of the image in the viewfinder would be a big plus
    5. Ability to fine tune the camera selected exposure with a dial; as mentioned before, the viewfinder should show me exactly what I will get in the final image, any blown highlights clearly marked
    6. Ability to quickly review a taken picture and check important aspects like histogram, blown highlights marked and focus (zoom in/out on focus point with one press of a button), both in the viewfinder and on a screen on the back of the camera

    All other settings, for exampele ISO, are irrelevant when taking pictures and should be automatic or pre-set. Of course responsiveness, IQ and such technical aspects are important but are more than sufficient in modern cameras I think. Naturally the camera should be nice to hold, but that is very personal so perhaps a selection of easy to replace grips should be available. The camera should also have an uncluttered menu system, preferably one that can be personalized. I also want a wide selection of lenses available and that’s about it. Not really asking too much, is it? 😉

    • Jos Martens says:

      Happy to read some one else shares my remarks concerning depth of field in my post
      below.As an illustration : look at the nose of the kind otter ( ? ) image in the windows 10 opening images

    • ” I can appreciate the technology built into modern cameras, but as a hobby photographer I really don’t want to be bothered by any of it.”
      This is actually a very important point. The bets implementations should be seamless and transparent – and I think I see this thread running though both what I want and what you want…

      “4. Ability to control motion blur; not by thinking about shutter speed, but by selecting the amount of blurr I want via a dial; having the amount of blur shown on top of the image in the viewfinder would be a big plus”
      Interesting…you could have blur via SS+Aperture or just SS+ISO etc though. That may be confusing.

      “5. Ability to fine tune the camera selected exposure with a dial; as mentioned before, the viewfinder should show me exactly what I will get in the final image, any blown highlights clearly marked”
      This already exists on most EVF cameras.

      “6. Ability to quickly review a taken picture and check important aspects like histogram, blown highlights marked and focus (zoom in/out on focus point with one press of a button), both in the viewfinder and on a screen on the back of the camera”

      “All other settings, for exampele ISO, are irrelevant when taking pictures and should be automatic or pre-set.”
      Yes and no: for documentary, yes, for anything requiring controlled lighting, no. You do need to know precise parameters because that quantification has to translate to the lighting setup. Sometimes it isn’t practical to dial up/down until it looks right especially with complex subject setups or rigging.

      • Frans Richard says:

        “Interesting…you could have blur via SS+Aperture or just SS+ISO etc though. That may be confusing.”
        Yes, confusing IF you keep thinking in terms of SS, Aperture and ISO like an ENGINEER. I’m takling about a complete RETHINK about cameras where they are smart and the user interface is aimed at the photographer as an ARTIST. In this case there won’t be any confusion because you already set the DOF you wanted, so the camera will change blur via SS and ISO. Aperture is kept fixed, that is, until you zoom in or out (assuming you have a zoom lens attached), then the camera will adjust DOF via Aperture and ISO to keep it in the range you selected.

        By the way, I’m not saying a camera can’t have a full manual mode for the geeks amongst us. 😉

        • I get your point now. The challenge isn’t one of implementation, it’s how to explain this in a way that also explains potentially unexpected results given the limits of the interface…

          • Frans Richard says:


            Yes, there will be challenges of course. But innovation is always a challenge, isn’t it? You try 10 things and ‘fail’* 9 times, perfecting along the way, until you finally nail it. Sad thing, IMHO, is that none of the established camera makers seem to be trying to really innovate in the way I mean. Somebody has to start trying if we really want to profit fully from the potential of digital technology.

            You know, you are in a unique position at Hasselblad to change the world of photography as we know it. The question is how much room for innovation (and thus ‘failure’*) management is willing to give you…

            *) What most people call ‘failure’ I would like to call ‘learning’. We all learn by trying and then learning what does and doesn’t work.

            • I agree – though corporate safety and risk aversion inevitably intervenes.

              As for my situation: that is a very good question indeed, and precisely why I raise discussions like this from time to time 🙂

              • Frans Richard says:

                And a very interesting discussion indeed. I thank you for raising it and allowing me to play a small part in it. 🙂

                • Pleasure!

                  • Jos Martens says:

                    This dof discussion is really getting very close to setting a target for implementation. Of course the artistic approach should be paramount. In my previous post I asked for a hyperfocal setting departing from the point of view that I wanted maximum dof. The goals Frans is setting is even more alluring : knowing and setting the depth of field required. Congratulations for your revolutionary idea,Frans

  42. Philip.O says:

    Reliability. If you shoot for 12hrs straight, then it shouldn’t have any down time at least 90% of the time due to overheating or firmware hiccups or shutter lockup.

    • I’m pretty brutal on that myself. What I suspect is a lot of the ‘instant on’ cameras get away with this lightly because they aren’t powered on for 12h straight; those that have some warmup/ boot time have the short end of the straw. That said, the H5D-50 and H6D-100 have been pretty good about that so far.

  43. Mr.Chainsaw says:

    On the contrary. To me it is really helping that we got all this tech. I never studied photography, and even now that I know the dependency between light, aperture, shutter speed and sensitivity, I really appreciate the fact that I can shoot in aperture priority and do not have to worry about the other settings. I do not have to run around with a light meter, to get the right exposure for my picture. I developed a feeling for the aperture, distance and a certain focal length. Now I can just get the picture I want with the optimal settings from the automation. And it is really fast, so that I will miss less shots. I don’t think that 20 years ago I would be able to do that. Apart from that I was a kid 🙂

    • I’d argue that knowledge and understanding are still just as useful today as without automation; to go past a certain level (where your creativity drives the image, and may require special technical understanding e.g. flash balancing) – you will need to acquire it anyway. Most people of course do not…

  44. Simple: A 70MP A9 with a larger grip if not a slightly larger body, improved DR and no banding or over heating. Done and done… (;

    • 70MP in FF means diffraction hits between f4 and f5.6…by the time you hit f13+ for extended DOF, there will be no resolution advantage (but potentially more visible shake).

      • Well then I guess Sony will have to science the s**t out of the problem as they have in the past…cuz I think coming regardless… I can remember reading somewhere not too terribly long ago that mirrorless would never be as fast or track as accurately as DSLR. Myth debunked (;

        • Having used the A9, 1DXII and D5 back to back in Tokyo recently, I’d say it’s still very much a fact: supposedly the best mirrorless still doesn’t feel as responsive as the DSLRs.

        • Sadly I haven’t heard of any method to tackle diffraction, and it’s hard to imagine one would exist. Perhaps it has been proven impossible, since intuitively it seems that you’d have to change the nature of light itself (clever nano surface won’t do that for you).

          • I think you could theoretically calculate the diffraction and use a fourier transform at each pixel location to deconvolute it, but the processing power required is probably more than currently feasible at expected speeds…

            • Michael Demeyer says:

              I thought people like Fuji already include this in their in-camera lens optimization. I’m sure it has limits, though.

              • Not to the best of my knowledge. Lens corrections are for distortion, CA, vignetting etc. not diffraction.

                • Michael Demeyer says:

                  From the Fuji web site (in this case, from the X100T materials):

                  “Optical effects that occur by light passing through the lens, such as the diffraction are corrected by the unique Lens Modulation Optimizer which deliver sharp details even when the aperture is set to F16.”

  45. #1. Consistency. I can only be as consistent and reliable as the gear I’m using. A mediocre photographer will be hired more often than the fella who has his great moments and his crummy moments. I’m far from God’s gift to still imaging devices, but I’m good and I’m acceptably consistent. So my income reflects this.
    #2. A wider usable ISO range with respect to color representation/bit-depth and dynamic range. It gives me more creative options, which allows me to maintain my style almost regardless of the environmental settings. Last year I was tasked with creating an image for a print + virtual campaign for a very well-known celebrity musician. (she was once hired to play for President Obama et al as her audience, for example) The winningest still was captured through an 85 1.8 at 1/400th, f/2 ISO 51,200. I need to have equipment I can rely on for situations like that, without unacceptable compromises. (Nikon D4…I’m sure you wondered!)
    #3. Built to last. I lack the time, interest and patience to be constantly sending my gear in for repairs or tolerating small annoyances. Like the shoddy adhesive used in the grips for that same model camera I’ve mentioned. I also spend long hectic days on my feet with one camera in my hands and the other in my holster for it. Often for days on end, back-to-back.
    #4. Variety of lenses available for the system I use. When I began photographing people, the strongest options for Small Format were Canon & Nikon. If I were starting now, I’d seriously consider Sony – but I’m too invested to jump-ship unless Nikon lags behind terribly with their mirrorless offerings. Must I explain the benefits for a working photographer who can take pictures with less noise than the fart he’s trying not to let out at a wedding reception speech, a political presentation when the speaker system fails, quieter sporting events like golf…
    #5. Lack of availability to the everyday chap. I use a D800E for portraiture. It’s great. I get ooh’s and ahh’s regularly enough when people see some of the images I make with it. However, when I pull it out for a portrait session when there’s a handful of people you can bet there’s going to be some armchair-expert who has 3 buddies that have a buddy or two that own or ownED a D800/E, and they start rattling-off stats and figures that another amateur fauxtographer stated in a web-video while trying to gain some respect and industry-credit. I like the thought of pulling-out a camera that people look at awkwardly and need to ask about it.

    I’m fond of that new Fuji, the GFX mirrorless dealie. It felt odd in my hands, but I was making creative and stellar images with it within a few minutes of tinkering.

    Those are the most relevant aspects that come to mind. I’ve never cared much about the bells, whistles or gizmo’s. They just create a greater chance of something I’m using breaking-down. Less moving/integral parts allows for a reduced chance of failure. Y’know? Thanks for this thread, Ming. I should take notes on how you create interaction….

    • “#1. Consistency.”

      Usable ISO is limited to underlying sensor tech, unfortunately. We’ll get there.

      “#3. Built to last. I lack the time, interest and patience to be constantly sending my gear in for repairs or tolerating small annoyances. “
      YES! And that translates into confidence and a relationship into one’s equipment.

      “#5. Lack of availability to the everyday chap.”
      I don’t quite know what to make of this, because if a manufacturer doesn’t sell enough, then the cost will be prohibitive. And if they sell at the right price, then they won’t be exclusive. But, if you want something you won’t see every day and ticks most of your boxes – especially the image quality ones – H6D-100c for you, sir? 🙂

  46. Although owning/working a lot of the newest Nikon/Otus/SIgma Art gear for years your list (I would add a built-in stabilizer) fits most to a model like the Leica Q. Lets have a “Q2” with exchangeable lenses and some further development and you got it. If it is a Q2 with another fixed lens like 50 or 70mm, I would buy it as well.

    • I think a lot of us expected the SL to be a Q with an M mount; I suspect the only reason it isn’t is that it would probably kill the M line, and they’d have to sell it cheaper than the Q since it does’t have a lens. Still, if I were Leica and it were up to me – I’d take the risk…

  47. Jos Martens says:

    Hello, I would like to focus on the AF. As was said before, it sometimes hits the point of the nose missing the eye. I think in most cases you would like to have both in focus.So depth of focus is important. One of photography’s artistic techniques is the mastering of things in focus. And a lot of time you want a lot of the elements in the image to be in focus. This means bringing the focus to the hyperfocal. You can debate the formula for this on digital sensors, but basically it is a mathematical formula and computers excel at calculating. So I would like a setting where I order the camera to set the Lens AF to the deepest depth of field possible. It would be nice that the viewfinder signals the areas in focus.

    • There’s an optical tradeoff here that isn’t so simple – beyond a point, more DOF doesn’t look sharper because of diffraction losses. The higher the resolution, the less actual critical focus distance you have as the circle of confusion gets smaller. And on top of that – you may not be able to get a workable shutter speed for handholding and critical sharpness at f16, say – without jacking ISO through the roof. So, it’s possible, but I am not convinced it would be that useful in practice (and if well implemented, the window of usability is quite small).

      • Jos Martens says:

        So because of ever diminishing dof ever mounting resolution is unrewarding.
        So one could go for a smaiier sensor ? Or use only part of the maximum resolution
        available ? Or stack a ( rapid ) burst of shots?

        • Not necessarily unrewarding, as you could still increase color resolution, DR and lower noise by pixel binning. But just be aware that the sheer resolution increases aren’t as great as one might initially expect.

  48. Per Kylberg says:

    A very good list! I would like to complicate things a bit though!
    AF: Not just accurate – fast too is a must or you miss that opportunity. Today there are many features surrounding AF (like eye detection AF) and simplicity is difficult. On my Sony A7R2 there are 22 functions/setting concerning AF!
    General terms and in defense of manufacturers: Any camera design need to take into consideration a wide range of users and usages. What I would like to see is that basics can be controlled physically. Functionality you never use should be possible to shut off/dim. Tailor built “my menu/s” is a must.
    We need to be able to tailor the user interface – and be willing to! To my Sony I acquired the new “grip extension” – great. All functionality I care for is assigned to physical controls. I very rarely need to dive into the horrible menu system. As a result I really like my A7R more and more! (May have to do with the fact it delivers excellent image quality – the no 1 requirement!)

    • AF: there’s a speed/point size tradeoff; the larger the point, the more info and the faster/more accurately computations can be done – but it might be on the wrong thing in the box, since the box may cover a much larger area. Smaller = less info + higher chance of shifting the position through human movement (and resulting inaccuracy).

      Noted on the menu system – I agree!

  49. Erling MMoe says:

    Well, the camera that is most explicit about simplicity as a design principle is the Leica M. This is taken one step further with the mechanical ISO dial on the M10. Furthermore it has a fantastic sensor, even digilloyd admits this, also he works hard to try to dislike the camera based on a couple of issues that will probably be fixed in firmware (RGB histogram, sel-timer)

    • I admit I’ve been looking at one myself of late, though the pricing is frightening and I’m not convinced they’ve fixed the red-magenta shift issue. But slimming down those few mm makes such a massive difference to handling. 🙂

      • Michael Demeyer says:

        Recently got an M10, migrating back to Leica after using (originally) aFuji X-Pro1and then a Kolari thin-filter mod A7 with my RF lenses. Have to say it’s a delight to shoot both with the RF (I find it much better in a wide range of light conditions, especially outdoors with sunglasses, etc.) and a much more basic (i.e. only what’s necessary for my shooting) set of controls.

        The Leica Digilux 2 was the first digital camera that swayed me from film and I enjoyed it from 2006 till the X-Pro1 came out in 2012. Something about that form-factor appeals to me, I guess. Fewer features and better (to me) ergonomics.

        Rangefinders are not a panacea and don’t appeal to all users or all use cases, but they work for me. And the 020 EVF is a good option when it’s better. The Kolari-mod Sony will remain in the mix as a backup body to the M10.

    • (Sorry for typos: also should be although, sel-timer should be self-timer, of course)

  50. Ming
    I think in reality there are two elephants in the room here and they are size/bulk/weight and price, both tend to get larger as you optimise for most of the priorities listed, and being discussed. The most common exception being menu and control system.

    My purchase decisions for my ‘big’- ‘proper’ camera was very similar to your selection process for your ‘un-camera’ though with my Goldilocks size being larger for ergonomics.

    The one thing that I have not seen listed so far is low visual impact/non attention seeking camera design; if a better quality more usable camera could look a bit less obvious possibly even like a cheaper/consumer unit to the average person that would be a nice thing to have, though probably not going to get past any marketing department in a product development meeting.
    Final point is about lenses; I would like to see more good quality, smaller, slower and less versatile lenses rather than the general trend of providing better quality only on larger and faster lenses.

    Regards Noel

    • I agree with you, though the menu system is something that has no excuses – and can make a huge difference.

      As for size vs price – part of that is in the prioritization, and part of that is finding the right tradeoff on the cost-performance technology curve at present. For example, FF wasn’t doable for the mass market 20 years ago, but it is today. We may not go much larger though because of significant increases in lens weight/size – even if sensors get significantly cheaper.

      One thing I’ve always liked about MF is there aren’t the same sort of performance-price-size choices as in the 35mm world: there’s one or at most two variants per focal length, and you chose on size or specific needs, not performance. The market is so small that it doesn’t justify making a budget line.

  51. For me:
    1. Has to have electronic viewfinder or responsive live view on an articulating screen
    2. Has to have square aspect ratio as a choice for framing up compositions
    3. Has to have bw mode
    4. Has to have a digital orange filter
    5. Has to be weather sealed
    6. Has to have available a weatherproof standard prime lens, preferably a fast one with good close focusing ability
    7. Has to have RAW histogram (lol will be waiting for that one for a long time I suspect)
    8. Has to feel comfortable in my hand

    • Digital orange is interesting – any particular reason not just a variable density red? (Assuming the intention is presumably dramatic B&W).

      8 is perhaps the most underrated and difficult parameter to set: everybody has different hands, and balance can change considerably with lens changes.

      • Orange was the preferred bw filter for portrait photographers as it softened skin blemishes and lightens skin. It isn’t anywhere as dramatic as the red which for my taste is over the top. So a light red is not the same as an orange at all. Having worked with them all extensively (film and digital) I have reached the conclusion that it suits my work the best. I just prefer what it does to blue sky’s, what it does to orange rocks and green follage, what it does to clouds. The red filter looks too infrared to me. The yellow is too subtle. Orange is just right. In post processing I back it off quite a lot and notice many software programs don’t use the filters in the same way glass ones worked. I have had to resort to creating my own mixes. I am very disappointed at Fuji leaving it off their latest medium format offering. My list also precludes the Haselbad as it doesn’t come with a normal prime, and the new monochromatic back from phase one doesn’t shoot square.

        • Makes sense – thanks for the explanation!

          Digital application: a lot of it is additive rather than subtractive, and it doesn’t help that sensors aren’t exactly linear in interpolated colours, either.

          We have announced a normal prime on the roadmap already, for early next year or thereabouts.

  52. jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    Your list of 9 would suit, Ming.

    With no 2, under responsiveness I’d push for a cam to respond when the shutter button is pressed and not 5 minutes later – too many digi cams have an unacceptable delay before the shutter responds.

    With no 5, the AF is as much of a trap as a blessing – I really don’t appreciate it if I’m trying to take a portrait and it locks on the tip of my subject’s nose, with blurry eyelashes as a consequence.

    No 6 – wide dynamic range as in reducing clipping? – or ISO range? – in this context I’d love to be able to use less than 100 ISO on occasions, and I’d appreciate any claims as to ISO ratings over about 1600 to be truthful about noise – I have no earthly use for an ISO rating like 506,000 accompanied by noise that makes the image look like the pointillism school of art, and lacks any realism in the colours in the image, as so often occurs with high ISO ratings.

    7 is a vexed and difficult question. I prefer realistic colours – some people seem to want something spicier and go for cams which ginger up the colours a bit. It reminds me of Kodacolor’s slide film, which always seemed to produce richer colours than nature, and it completely put me off colour photography for decades. If people want to punch up the colours on their images, fine – that’s their right, to choose – but I would rather they did it in post processing and the camera manufacturers gave us something where the image produced by the camera bears some resemblance to reality.

    9 has me pegged at the moment. I’ve been looking at a 4/3 lately, but I can’t seem to find any lenses that really appeal, to make it worth while making the change from my present (almost) “pocket” cam. And there’s no sense in having a good camera body with lenses that aren’t up to the standard you are looking for. After all, I can swing into action with my FF and the lenses I use with that, so I might as well keep my present “pocket” cam till the the makers come up with some decent glass – it has other probs, but the lens is OK

    What I find truly extraordinary is the way the various camera companies have travelled through the past 15 years. Back at the start, they had the world at their feet – cellphones were still telephones, people from one end of the world to the other were embracing the new digital age and leaving their analogue cams on the shelf while they bought up digital gear. So where did it all go wrong? as it seems to have?

    We had a swamp of different brands and – even worse – different models. But were they really, in fact, so “different”? – or just “more of the same”, tweaked a little to justify some advertising spiel about the “latest model”?

    I read a history of the car industry in America, some time back, and it described how the industry kept releasing “new models” each year in the following terms. There was literally no way this year’s model was ever going to be fundamentally different – the capital invested in establishing the production line for the maker’s cars required a 20 year payback period, and it was economically impossible to make major changes to it, to accomodate significant upgrades to successive models, during that time frame. So changes were mostly cosmetic or “at the edges” – nothing worth dusting off your wallet, to go and buy this year’s model when it was really no better than the one in your garage, bought last year. Oh – but this year’s has different tail fins, or different over-riders on the bumper bars! And anyway, the one we sold you last year won’t take off at the traffic lights as fast as this year’s model – we deliberately designed it for a small but potentially cringe-making fall in performance, when you stamped on the accelerator to beat the guy in the next lane.

    Sound familiar?

    • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

      And for when I want to use MF, I really would appreciate a better way of seeing when the cam is in focus. Split image? Fresnel screen? Practically anything would be better than what we have to put up with at the moment, because what we have to put up with at the moment is designed around AF. And no, I CAN’T always resort to using LiveView instead.

    • (From before): Lag: there’s always a refresh time involved. It’ll never be zero, but it can be less. EVF video is at best 120fps at adequate resolution; sensors take a certain amount of time to flush, and the mechanical bits some time to move. If we can get the total system lag under 50ms, you won’t notice it – that’s where the best of today’s ‘razor sharp response’ DSLRs lie.

      7 could be outsourced to the software side, I think. But there are a lot of consumers who are content to settle for say a 90% solution and options without the work…

      9 I think M4/3 has probably the most varied lineup for a smallish system; far better than APSC. And the small lenses are really small – e.g. the 12-32 and 35-100 pancakes; both end to end are barely 10cm long including caps.

      “So where did it all go wrong? as it seems to have?”
      I think a lack of innovation, and the corporate safety requirement: you don’t want to take risks to introduce something different that might flop because you’re a lifer and you want your tenure and bonus. In the meantime, people got bored, phones caught up, and you got stuck with a complex product that requires a lot of consumer education to justify, which isn’t easy to sell.

      We’re in the middle of putting in an even more rigorous product design philosophy at Hasselblad: if we (serious photographers) don’t ourselves desire to use the product, and we can’t clearly justify an upgrade, then we need to go back to the drawing board.

      • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

        I shudder to think how many models Canikon and the rest of them have put on the market – and I really don’t see any great advantage in the differences in models, in many cases. So were the “research” and retooling costs recouped from whatever increase in sales were induced by the “improvements”? Did the exercise increase profits?
        I’d like to believe that Hasselblad is doing fine, on the same basis as Rolls Royce, Bentley etc – quality always sells. But lower down, this is making me nervous. I’d hate to see the remaining majors like Canon, Nikon, Fuji, Sigma, Olympus etc falter – but we’ve already seen Samsung pull out, Ricoh/Pentax is in troubled waters, Nikon has had to pull back a bit, and Lexar has just closed down. And I do NOT believe this all results from the intrusion of cellphones – I still run into plenty of amateurs who (like most of your contributors) still believe that “cameras” take photos, and still buy “cameras”, not cellphones. The market exists – it seems that maybe the problem is with the marketing, not the market.

        • You’re right – the problem is both with the marketing and the product that’s being sold. If there aren’t solid improvements, there’s no point in trying to pretend there are – and we won’t.


    Hello Ming,

    I work in broadcast television and here’s a few things I believe played a role in our studio department’s choice of camera for backstage/documentary use. At the time of the purchase (4+ years ago), the system that best fit their needs was the 5D MKIII. They also shoot C100 Mark II’s and like having the benefit of shared EF-mount between those cameras.

    Intuitive ergonomics. The Sony A7 series was unacceptable. The record button position alone was considered enough to rule it out.
    Lens selection in the native mount. They have high optical requirements and utilize focal lengths from 16mm to 400mm+.
    Responsiveness. Not just power on, but polish in terms of when you push a button things happen without delay.
    Reliability. Anytime something malfunctions it sends ripples. Confidence is a must.
    Service. As you’d expect with a professional service contract. Human contact, native English. Fast replacements. Expedient repairs.
    ISO and Dynamic Range performance. Again it is for them, as you say “the best quality within the form factor”
    Resolution. Nice to have, but 22 mpx has been enough for most applications.


    • A sensible list – thanks!

      • JASON A WATERHOUSE says:

        Also forgot to put autofocus and focus assisting devices. They feel the ergonomics and how magnified focus assist works on the 5D MKIII isn’t that intuitive and wished it was quicker and more responsive. Facial tracking on new cameras has also been of interest. The Sony A9 has greatly interested them with the AF performance.

  54. peterwgallagher says:

    My suggestion would be to simplify enthusiast photography in the same way that the manufacturers have (successfully) simplified point-and-shoot image making. I apologise for the lenght of this comment.

    I have never used a European camera (H’blad, Leica) so can’t comment on those. But Japanese cameras contain processors with extraordinary capabilities that are exposed in menu paths that are much deeper than they should be for easy use and that offer a range of choices that may conflict in ways that users may not appreciate in advance. The odd thing is… I suspect that the manufacturers HAVE used their expertise to refine away most of the complexites for OTC-JPG/AUTO-Point&Shoot/”Scenes” users of enthusiast DSLRs. They can get pretty much what they expect every time from a simplified set of choices; but the details are still there if they want to dive into them.

    There is no reason not to offer similar refinements for the RAW-shooting, mostly-AP-still, enthusiast user of these cameras. After all, who knows the sensors, lenses and processors better than the manufacturers? Who but they has nearly 30 years of digital processing programming skills to bring to RAW image optimization?

    I would like camera manuacturers to provide:

    1. A raw histogram (for goodness sake!). Luminence/Green channel at least.
    2. A top level menu item that gave easy access to aperture priority + ETTR as actually measured from the raw — in the way that RawDigger does in post — when the user choses to meter for a relevant highlight? I would probably call this ‘auto ETTR’ by association with ‘auto ISO’. It would alleviate guessing/fiddling with exposure compensation for different shots.
    3. Alternately a menu choice that gave a more “balanced” (ETTR-minus) exposure from actual sensor data for shots where shadow noise needs to be considered in a sensor with limited DR (as can be the case with µ4/3)?
    4. Ditto when the focal-length/shutter speed (+/- IS) suggests that full ETTR would introduce unacceptable risks for hand-held?
    5. I depend on auto-ISO for AP. Only when I have the time to shoot in manual do I turn it off. But find that cameras tend to select maximum ISO too agressively. I would like a tune-able curve between the base and ceiling ISO. This should be shown graphically. So for example between a user-selected (or camera-suggested) minimum shutter speed of say 1/30th for a 50mm equivalent and a base-to-maximum ISO of 100-6400, the rate at which the camera moves auto-ISO between, say, 4000 and 6400 could be set to be steeper than the rate at the rate at which it moves from 100 to 3200 and from 3200 to 4000. The camera should pre-determine whether the chosen rate of change would allow the use of an “auto ETTR hand-held” as in 1-3 above and warn the user (in the EVF) so that she/he could choose to accept full-auto ISO or a less than full exposure.
    6. A “crop to aspect ratio” view in the EVF. I’m thinking of a toggle that cycles through 4:3, 16:9, 1:1, 5:7 (say), centred on the point of focus (assuming a back-button or maybe lens-button focus) to help with composition, location of corners etc. This would NOT change the selected focal length but only show possible results (using digital ‘zoom’ in the EVF as necessary). I realize that an experienced photographer should be able to judge this from experience and that cropping in post should affect only the margins of the frame. But I suspect even very experienced MF shooters rely on insurance shots rather than on accurate composition in the ‘heat of the moment’. I usually know before I shoot what sort of aspect ratio I’m looking at from the nature of the shot and the disposition of subject matter. But it would always be helpful to have more hints from the cameral.

    I admit I am not confident #5 & #6 would be practical, but I’d like to try them out.

    • “My suggestion would be to simplify enthusiast photography in the same way that the manufacturers have (successfully) simplified point-and-shoot image making.”
      YES – I’ve often said that the most intelligent and straightforward user interface for the digital age is on the iPhone: tap to focus, slide up and down to adjust exposure. Another button for AE lock or AF lock and shoot would make it pretty much perfect. Do we actually need to know what the shutter and ISO are 99% of the time? I’d argue no, if the underlying programming was smart enough to say use gyros to detect hand shake and increase speeds accordingly (or, give the user a choice somewhere else – but not necessarily all the time).

      “1. A raw histogram (for goodness sake!). Luminence/Green channel at least.”
      Not that simple because the output data – and recoverability – depends on your software’s conversion algorithm. Some converters may well display more apparent/usable/acceptable dynamic range than others – in the form of highlight recoverability or lower shadow noise.

      #5 actually works pretty much as you wish on the Ricohs/Pentaxes and Nikons.

      #6 exists on most mirrorless cameras, and the Canons (with masks). Nikon has it too, but they mess it up by throwing away the file outside the crop area. Canon merely tags, which is a much better solution. I went old school and scored lines for my favourite ratios into my H6D-100’s focusing screen, and yes, it’s as useful as you think it is. 🙂

      • peterwgallagher says:

        On the “raw histogram” I accept the caveat you mention. Still, I specified RawDigger/DCRaw for a reason. Whatever the raw conversion software there are some physical realities that the manufacturers CAN (should) represent in a raw histogram. If users’ raw converters are not accessing the data that is present (or, rather, not representing it in a meaningful way) then users might learn this from the camera RAW histogram and switch converter or compensate. I use RawDigger to give me the parameters that Lightroom disguises with its default raw processing, That is, I’ve made a preset for the REAL output of each of my cameras (as I suspect you have with your 0-0 LR preset in your last workflow tutorial). This means I can start from “zero” with an image, if I need to, rather than with the “default” (hidden) processing that Lightroom/ACR applies. Sometimes this is the only place to start with a tricky image.

        Good luck with bringing some of these ideas to the “high end”, Ming. You will do us all a favour…

        • Makes sense. Whilst we can get closer than now, we can’t get a truly accurate representation of output as there isn’t really an absolute across all workflows here.

          Trying my best! 🙂

  55. Taking for granted, as you say, that pretty much all modern cameras will produce a good quality file, the absolute #1 for me is flexibility. I’m often in a situation where I simply cannot carry a lot of equipment. I need:
    – a decent mild wide-angle to mid range zoom that focuses accurately, (where I live, I often don’t have much control over the distance between me and the subject)
    – reliably accurate automatic exposure, (AV), with a quick and easy compensation control
    – good automatic ISO
    – at least an APS-C sized sensor
    – reasonable weight, maximum about 1 kg.
    Fortunately, there’s a fair bit of choice in the available cameras that will cover these needs.
    As far as the complex menus and features, I simply ignore them. I set the camera up when new, and hardly ever change anything except diaphragm and exposure compensation, which leaves me free to focus, (no pun intended), on the subject instead of trying to get the camera to do some miraculous new thing.
    To me, modern cameras are as simple or as complex as we make them. We can’t seem to talk the manufacturers out of adding a lot of useless features, so, I just turn them off. It annoys me that I have to pay for them, though.

    • In case anyone’s curious, My go-to is a Canon SL1 and an 18-135 STM zoom, which totals a little less then 900 grams.

    • I keep coming back to the usefulness of zooms, too – as many primes as I have for the Nikon or H system, I still tend to use the monster 35-90 or Swiss Army 24-120/4 VR – and I know a lot of pros who also do, simply because quality is decent and using your extra weight budget for a tripod will always yield better results than more lenses.

      Would you pay a premium for something designed to be rigorously minimalist – everything you need and nothing more?

      • Harry DeYong says:

        Yes, if someone would take the money being spent on designing and installing clutter, and trade that for a simple, solid, weatherproof body, (and being able to have aperture control on the lens itself would be a bonus), I’d buy it, even if it cost more. Giving up useless doo-dads for basic flexibility and serious durability? Absolutely.
        I used two Nikon FM’s for about thirty years, and loved them dearly. To my mind, there is no digital equivalent.

        • You’re right, there isn’t – and likely won’t be, because the manufacturers with the lens lineups to do so believe bells and whistles are the way to go. The others who make simple don’t have the capacity for the lenses…

  56. My own list (working primarily on landscapes):
    1) dynamic range
    2) high quality wide to short tele lens selection
    3) high resolution EVF and tilting monitor (for histogram, level and focus point selection/magnification)
    4) high megapixel count (for both cropping and larger prints)
    5) easy access to controls for drive mode (single shot, timer, bracketing, etc.)
    6) maximum number of selectable focus points
    7) weather seals
    8) battery life
    9) in-viewfinder frame cropping (including 1×1)
    10) lightest possible weight with above features
    Guess I like a lot of those bells and whistles. Right now, the GFX 50s and the A7r2 are my choices depending on how far I need to carry them. Hoping, though, you can help enhance the X1D to meet those criteria and offer the best quality/ergonomics to weight ratio.

    • I’d argue that the X1D is competitive on 1, 2 (with the forthcoming 120), 4, 5, 6 (with new firmware), 7, 8 (with new firmware and instant standby mode) and 10 – you can’t make it robust and light. We need work on the rest, but points taken 🙂

      • Ming, Fair points. I looked at both the GFX 50 and the X1D at CP+ this year. I really liked the X1D weight and form factor and would have been willing to wait for more lenses but no one at the Hasselblad booth could show me how to access an exposure bracketing function (if it has one at this point) so I took that as an indication Hasselblad still had a ways to go for landscape purposes and went with Fujifilm. Will be looking forward to future progress via firmware. Chris

        • Point taken on bracketing – it’s on the list. But most of the time it’s unnecessary as there’s more than enough dynamic range, and you can really nail exposure with the blinking highlight warning.

  57. The simplicity and Image quality of the Hasselblad X1D is not far of being perfect…
    Just a few gliches to solve, a better evf, and some steroids to make it fly!

  58. You pretty much nailed what a perfect camera should be. Now, if Ricoh made a GR-like camera with K1’s sensor with SuperRes Pixel Shift Mode and articulating touch screen then I’m all over it!

  59. Ming, I think you really hit the nail on the head with this one, and wrote one of the most needed and sensate wake-up call for the current trend of the industry (but will anybody listen?).

    For me, the most frustrating aspect of the transition from analog to digital photography is the appearance of electronic lag in one disguise or the other (shutter, focus, EVF, …). In the “mechanical age”, gear responded virtually instantaneously to the photographer’s motor action, but now the camera won’t wake up really when we are ready to shoot, the shutter won’t exactly click when we press it, the autofocus will focus when the subject has already moved, etc. To aggravate the situation, this has been accompanied by the proliferation of unnecessary and, most of the time distracting, features, so much so, that when we are just beginning to get a hold on the idiosyncratic working of a specific camera, a new model promising must-have novel features will have already lured us to going back to square one: this effectively prevents your camera to become second-nature and an extension of your creative mind.

    My first semi-serious digital camera was a Fuji x100, bought in 2012, which I loved for some things and infuriated me for others. I have resisted upgrading precisely for the reasons you are listing, i.e. that it seems we are not there yet. My essential requirements would be:

    – negligible wake-up times and NO freezing EVER (simple solution: pack a faster processor and hire a very good firmware programmer); negligible shutter lag

    – optical viewfinder only, but with some sort of precise focus confirmation (e.g. rangefinder), and a *precise* automatic adjustment of the overlaid electronic framing borders. Alternatively, a really good EVF. In my opinion, if you have a very good OVF or EVF, there is no need to jump through design hoops to have both.

    – a fast autofocus, but also a very good on-barrel manual focus (i.e., mechanical, NOT fly-by-wire)

    – a live histogram (and RGB) that reflects the information captured by the RAW file as close as possible. A simple vanilla JPEG, used mainly for confirmation (say, the Standard Provia in Fuji world), and NO film simulation: if you are going to work on your images (and who doesn’t nowadays?), you’ll do it much better in post on the raw files.

    – very good image quality and dynamic range, especially for what concerns smooth transitions in the highlights: blown highlights are really the bane of digital image, so also have some sort of well-implemented blinkies; here, I would favor a full frame sensor rather than APS.

    – a well-implemented auto-ISO scheme, where you can set your priorities (eg. noise control/tonal range vs shutter speed) in an effective manner

    I think that if Fuji (or some other company) made a version of the X100 or X-Pro with the above features they would have a smash hit, finally providing a sensible alternative for many to the minimalist ethos of Leica for perhaps 1/5 of the price. In my view, that would be really quite revolutionary, given the current trends, but obviously I must be missing something.

    • “…(but will anybody listen?)”
      Yes, because I now have a bit of influence over product development at Hasselblad 🙂

      Lag: there’s always a refresh time involved. It’ll never be zero, but it can be less. EVF video is at best 120fps at adequate resolution; sensors take a certain amount of time to flush, and the mechanical bits some time to move. If we can get the total system lag under 50ms, you won’t notice it – that’s where the best of today’s ‘razor sharp response’ DSLRs lie.

      I agree with you on the viewfinder thing: though there are some really good EVFs now, the problem is they don’t really represent what was captured with a very high end device – for say 24MP, yes, but not 100MP. Only a very good optical finder will do then, and even then, I’d argue they could still be better.

      Unfortunately good mechanical MF is not compatible with fast AF: one requires certain ‘drag’ and a longish throw for precision of feel; the other, short throw and low drag for precise and fast small displacements. You can have one or the other, but not both. Focus by wire is the only way to come close.

      “A simple vanilla JPEG, used mainly for confirmation (say, the Standard Provia in Fuji world), and NO film simulation: if you are going to work on your images (and who doesn’t nowadays?), you’ll do it much better in post on the raw files.”

      The rest – we’re getting there. I certainly hope we’re there with the X1D’s eventual successor.

  60. To your list I would add:
    No video, No “Scene” modes, No artistic filters
    Robust Weather Resistance
    Optical view finder
    Raw Histograms
    Dedicated external Tv, Av, ISO controls.
    An open and supported API to allow developers to create new applications/utilities.
    On board SSD with ~256 GB as an alternative or in addition to SD cards.
    Radio controlled strobes interface
    Camera and flash control GUIs completely re-thought and optimized for usability
    Voice recording for annotating shots.
    Aggressive firmware releases e.g. Fuji
    Accessories: External GPS, Wired programmable remote control. Perhaps a wireless remote control.

    • That sounds not far off a H6D, actually 🙂

      • It is indeed 😉 but I want it in an X1D form factor. In fact I would buy a full frame camera with these specs. You have collected some very thoughtful feedback from serious photographers. I hope it will be taken to account and give courage to the minimalists as Hasselblad moves forward. This blog post along shows the wisdom of bringing you on board.

  61. I’d say that your selection is pretty much spot on but I’d add QC and service back up. These two elements seem to be the manufacturers lowest priority !

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