I have mentioned it before that I kind of look for a different camera, preferably with a larger sensor. I checked the stores during the holiday season and played with some dSLR’s from several manufacturers. But I was so surprised how well my Ricoh camera handles in manual compared to these dSLR’s. Turn wheel there, turn wheel here, to change the aperture push button and turn wheel, exposure compensation, press other button and turn wheel again. There are only dials on top available for basic settings like program, aperture priority, shutter priority or manual mode, scene modes, you all probably know the drill. Many buttons at the back, extensive menu’s, and a overkill of settings. Especially with the consumer and prosumer models intuitive isn’t exactly what comes to mind.
Now you wonder, haven’t you used any SLR camera in the past? Be calm, yes I did. Had a Nikon and Canon SLR before and used Praktica and Pentor cameras. But these cameras were simple (even my EOS 1000F). The lens had an aperture ring on the lens, there was a speed dial and ISO dial on top, and you had all the important information in the viewfinder. And lets talk about viewfinders. Except for the very expensive cameras, these viewfinders are quite dim and small too. Where are those bright viewfinders? I loved the viewfinder on the Nikon N90, large and bright with all the important information.
And form factor. Most dSLR’s are pretty large and bulky and many cameras look like Canon EOS cameras. Now that is not necessarily bad, but I liked the size of the Nikon N8008 and the Pentax MZ series. Only the Olympus E-420 and E-520 still reminds me of those cameras. But these Oly’s come with the 4/3 sensor and as a result of the 2:1 crop factor it is hardly possible to get a real wide and fast angle prime lens.
I still believe there is a market for tough and simple SLR cameras like the sturdy Nikon FM2 or the Olympus OM2, built to last and to be reliable. I guess there are enough enthusiastic and professional photographers who would welcome such a digital camera. Dials on top for shutter speeds and ISO settings, large and bright viewfinder with 100% coverage, no internal camera-flash, a swivel LCD screen like the Epson R-D1(s), a full frame sensor, and fully weather protected.
As a result of my current impressions and experiences with these dSLR cameras, the Sigma DP1 becomes an even more tempting camera. Simple interface, still small and when outfitted with the optical viewfinder and the lens hood a quite attractive package. For a camera with a single prime lens I rather preferred a 35mm focal length, but the current price drops are getting better and better. In the UK you could get this camera for even less than ₤300,- (which is currently like €300,-). And hopefully the Sigma DP2 will be the much improved camera with a lens usable for more general photography.
What if Ricoh produces a digital Ricoh 500G, or that Sony has the guts to develop a digital Hexar AF? Too much money is spent on technical features in my opinion.
Enough dreaming, because eventually it all comes down to taking/making photographs. And I hardly have been able to do so this weekend.