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Stripped down camera

Discussion in 'AP Magazine Feedback & Suggestions' started by GeoffR, Oct 19, 2019.

  1. GeoffR

    GeoffR Well-Known Member

    I was interested in Nigel Atherton's reply to the letter from Michael Blake. Yes I am sure there is a market for a "stripped-down camera with only the basic functions". I know that Nikon have one, it is the D5 which has only Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority and Manual exposure modes. I will admit that it does have a video mode but that is easily deactivated by programming the video button for another function. The problem of course is that the D5 costs around £6,000 and I suspect Michael really wants the simplicity in a cheaper camera. Well the D850 has the same exposure modes at around 1/2 the price or the D500 at around 1/4 the price of a D5. None of them has a built-in flash.

    Yes, there is a market for a stripped down camera and Nikon are making them as, I feel sure, are Canon but for some reason both seem to consider that those who don't want scene modes and idiot guides built in are willing to pay for their absence. Something that doesn't seem logical or sensible to me.
  2. Andrew Flannigan

    Andrew Flannigan Well-Known Member

    I can understand it quite easily. The more "bells and whistles" the camera has the wider the market there is for it. Producing a "simple" model for a tiny market means magnifying the cost per unit which isn't just about the engineering but includes all the cost of sales. Comparing the D5 with the Leica M range aimed at a similarly small market the Nikon looks like good value for money to me.
  3. SXH

    SXH Well-Known Member

    How about the Nikon Df? That's a bit cheaper and fairly stripped down.
    SqueamishOssifrage likes this.
  4. SqueamishOssifrage

    SqueamishOssifrage Well-Known Member

    It certainly has appeal as a basic camera - so much so, that if it had 24mpix I would dump my Sonys and go Nikon!
    SXH likes this.
  5. GeoffR

    GeoffR Well-Known Member

    Indeed but the Df is more expensive than the D500, though not by much, and I was simply looking at similar models. Yes the Df would qualify as a stripped-down model. It is also only 16MP and the others are 20MP (D5, D500) and 40+MP for the D850.
  6. John Farrell

    John Farrell Well-Known Member

    I have a 370mm x 240mm print of a shot I took with a Canon 60D, which is 18MP. It shows no sign of over enlargement. Perhaps 16MP is enough?
  7. SqueamishOssifrage

    SqueamishOssifrage Well-Known Member

    Up to A3+ 20mp is fine, but I have done quite a lot at 900 x 600, and even 24mp is marginal, at best, at that size.
  8. Chester AP

    Chester AP Well-Known Member

    As I type this, I have a 50 x 75 cm print from a 10 megapixel APS-C DSLR on the wall above my monitor. From a sensible viewing distance it looks fine, although I have noticed that the image quality at this size depends a lot on the lens used, rather than just the camera body sensor size. Similar sized prints from a 16 megapixel sensor can look a little sharper, but the difference is not as dramatic as I expected when I replaced the 10 megapixel body with the 16 megapixel one. The 16 megapixel sensor appears adequate for the foreseeable future, as long as I am careful to use my lenses at their optimum apertures.

    I recall putting something on a Forum thread 3 or 4 years ago about a 'basic' DSLR camera body, something like the text below. Perhaps the 'mirrorless' option will make some of this no longer relevant. And perhaps one of the Chinese or Korean lens manufacturers might make such a camera body, because nobody else does and there might be a market for it.

    I used an all-manual Pentax MX for 27 years, mostly with Kodachrome, then a 10 MP K10 for 6 years, and now have a 16 MP K5 After considering how these cameras handle, and the size of their instructions manuals, I offer my specification for my ideal DSLR.

    Things I want :
    16-20 MP APC-C sensor (to minimise the size, weight and cost)
    Autofocus – single point spot focus only, or manual
    Exposure meter – centre weighted or spot.
    Aperture to be adjusted by a ring around the lens mount.
    Shutter speed to be adjusted by a dial on the upper RIGHT of the camera body.
    Variable sensitivity (‘ISO’), to be adjusted by a dial on the upper LEFT of the top of the body.
    Variable colour balance setting (daylight, tungsten, etc.) available on the first page of the menu.
    The usual other settings, used less often, to be in a menu.

    Things I DO NOT need:
    In-body image stabilisation (I survived without it for many years, when working with 200 ASA film).
    LCD display on top of camera (vital on the K10 and K5, but not needed if there are ‘analogue’ dials on the body).
    Bendy LCD rear-panel screen – just a simple flat screen for using the menus and checking the exposure histogram on some shots.
    Dozens of 'scene mode' automated exposure settings.

    Possibly I could also survive without autofocus too, as long as the viewfinder focusing screen had a decent split-prism focus aid like the ones on film SLRs.
  9. RogerMac

    RogerMac Well-Known Member

    That far I agreed with every word but unfortunately my list of "must haves" - although very short - is different from yours, Chester so I can see significant quarrels breaking out if no customisation is allowed.
  10. Chester AP

    Chester AP Well-Known Member

    I would not expect 'customisation' on a stripped-down camera - surely you can buy one of those already available for this?
    I suppose what I'd like is a digital SLR equivalent of my old Pentax MX or perhaps a Practica L: everything you need and nothing you don't. For me, the big advantages of digital are variable ISO, variable colour temperature and immediate checking of images if required. The rest comes under 'bells and whistles' that won't improve my pictures and prompt the usual question - how did we ever survive without them?
  11. gray1720

    gray1720 Well-Known Member

  12. Andrew Flannigan

    Andrew Flannigan Well-Known Member

    Options are not the enemy, in my opinion. It's cameras that let you change those options by mistake that prove the existence of the devil! The cameras I like the most are those that allow you to make your changes then lock those controls.
    peterba and RogerMac like this.
  13. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    Aside from video capability, which interests me not at all and could be left out, I don't really see the difference betwen a "stripped down" camera and a fully featured camera where few of the features are used. These features are predominantly firmware. Why would a manufacturer want to maintain two independent versions? If anyone wants a "simple" life it takes no time at all to revert a DSLR to the basic functionality of a 1970's SLR.
  14. Terrywoodenpic

    Terrywoodenpic Well-Known Member

    Pretty much every camera is customisable into a stripped down version to suit just about any one.
    However Few people agree on their list of essential features.
    Which is why cameras have those that they do now.
    Andrew Flannigan likes this.
  15. Nigel_Atherton

    Nigel_Atherton Group Editor

    It sounds like you're pretty much describing the design and specifications of the Fujifilm X-T3, or one of its predecessors and stablemates. The X-T3 is the closest in spirit to the 35mm SLRs of the past that I have come across, and is the reason why if I was going to buy a new camera tomorrow it would probably be that one. ( I do depart from your specs slightly though in that IBIS is useful for low light documentary photography, so I'm holding out in the hope it might appear on the X-T4)
    daft_biker and steveandthedogs like this.
  16. Terrywoodenpic

    Terrywoodenpic Well-Known Member

    While IBS does bring all the lovely Fuji fixed focal length lenses into play. They also have excellent, reasonable aperture, Zooms with anti shake, that are not far behind in image quality. For the likes of myself with horrible age related tremor, they do the business.
    This is shaky hand held, with their cheapest XC 50-230 zoom
  17. GeoffR

    GeoffR Well-Known Member

    I understand the thinking behind the desire for a stripped down camera, at least I think I do, but I don't understand the requirement that certain things should be completely absent. For example I have several digital SLRs all of which offer Aperture priority, Shutter Priority, Program and Manual exposure modes, I only ever use Aperture priority but the other modes don't get in the way. The idea that Nikon, or anyone else, should produce a camera that has only Aperture priority mode is, frankly, ridiculous. Likewise I only use Matrix or Spot metering but the idea of excluding centre weighted metering makes no sense what so ever.

    Since buying an F5 back in 1996 I have had not the slightest problem with using a command dial to adjust aperture rather than a ring on the lens, the big advantage being that it is always in the same place and works in the same sense, something that cannot be said of every lens. As long as I have dedicated controls for Shutter speed and aperture I am not particularly concerned as to where they are located.

    Chester, what you are asking for is a digital MX. I might ask for a digital OM1 but nobody is going to make a digital camera that doesn't use internal circuitry that permits all four exposure modes and a range of metering modes, it would be prohibitively expensive to produce the chips for a start. Putting dedicated controls in specific places is another matter, and the Nikon Df does just that, so any manufacturer could be expected to be able to do the same. Beyond that, some of the things we don't need/want are actually bits of code that effectively cost nothing to implement because the chips can do those things already.

    Realistically, the best we might expect from a stripped down camera is that it didn't have in body stabilisation, scene modes, built in flash, provision for a battery grip or an articulated screen. Preferably it wouldn't have video capability either. It could have dedicated controls for shutter speed, aperture and ISO but not an aperture ring on the lens, it would be asking too much for Nikon or Canon to make a camera on which their latest lenses didn't work. I'd be happy with that, except that I have most of it already I just have to wait until the prices for used top of the range cameras come down to what I am willing to pay.

    In summary, the top of the range models are already as stripped down as I think the manufacturers are prepared to go.
  18. SXH

    SXH Well-Known Member

    For some reason, it is now marked down to £1,599 on the Nikon store site, for some reason. Df-2 on the way?
  19. GeoffR

    GeoffR Well-Known Member

    I'm not sure the sales numbers justify a MK11, not that accurate numbers are readily available, I'm more inclined to think they are clearing the shelves and production line for another mirrorless model.
    RogerMac likes this.
  20. Chester AP

    Chester AP Well-Known Member

    I read your article about cruising with a Fuji camera a few weeks ago, and if I was buying my first camera now (and had no collection of Pentax mount lenses in the cupboard) it would tempt me. Of course, the 'elephant in the room' with the Fuji is the price of the lenses ...

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