Sunday, February 23, 2020
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The Problem with Cameras Today

What on earth is happening to the digital camera scene lately? The past year has seriously been the most boring that I can remember. It’s like waiting for the start of a new football season after the players had a 1 year strike.

The rumours have all dried up, and the forums have no activity. When I click on some for the forums that I frequent, I‘m half expecting to see a tumbleweed roll across my LCD.

But the funny thing about this all is, that there have been lots and lots of new camera releases. Compact cameras and  of course, the mirrorless cameras from Olympus, Panasonic, Ricoh and Samsung. The mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras have been fun and exciting.

The compacts however have been seriously ordinary releases. Today we have one of the largest round up of average cameras I’ve seen in a long time. Be it innovation, build quality, lens quality, low light shooting, flash ability,the cameras are lagging behind the models from a few years ago.

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What the hell is “blink detection, smile detection, adult and child priority focusing”. Have we become so inept that we can point the camera at what we want to focus on and press the button. I can tell you what they are, they are a waste of time.

The problem with having so many “features” is that it can take LONGER to take a photo than it would if you actually had some control over the camera.

Camera manufacturers need to get back to some basics, and THEN build on their systems.

Get me a high grade chip first. It needs to be a minimum  1/1.8” type in size (like used in the Casio Z1200, and similar to the Canon S90/G11 and  Fuji F200).  The number of pixels needs to be kept around 10 Megapixels. The Canon G11 is testimony  that sometimes less is more. The G11 has (over the G10) much better image quality, better dynamic range, better low light shooting, sharper images.

The reason they use a small chip is because they are able to make the camera small and cheap. Most of the sensors inside today’s compacts point-and-shoot cameras are all mass produced by the one company,  so it’s cheap to sell to all the camera manufacturers.

Once they get the sensors sorted, how about fixing the lenses. Yes, some are good, but not many. Most of  the current Nikon range of cameras have a maximum aperture of f6.3 at the zoom end. This means when you zoom out, you let in much less light than any other camera on the market and  will need a long shutter to get a properly exposed image. OR you need to increase the ISO. Either way, you will end up a crap image.

Ease of use. Have a look at the Casio Z1200, or the Ricoh CX series. There cameras have excellent user interfaces. Nikon, Canon and Sony are just a joke. Being able to access the exposure compensation, White Balance control and the ISO quickly is super important. Why is that so hard to fathom.

Cameras need easy to use menu

Once you can get these 3 basic design concepts straight, you can move on to some of the other more useful features.

The flash. Looking at the flash on Canon’s small point-and-shoot cameras makes me feel ill. The diffuser is so tiny as to be useless. Some cameras including the Canons have pop-up flashes. Nice concept except that the flash sits right where you hold it.

Form over function. The cameras look neat, they sound great with lots of features, but many are simply junk. I’ve been putting a lot of cameras through their paces of late and will announce the winners of the  current 15 Worse Cameras on sale. Stay tuned.

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