DSLR / Digital Photography Hardware

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by santydolby, Mar 2, 2012.

  1. santydolby, Mar 2, 2012
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2012

    santydolby macrumors member

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    #1
    With visual appeal and respect to design in its DNA, and despite its clear interests in fields that appeal to our senses - audio, video, and photography, with software solutions to support them, I have always wondered as to why Apple hasn't ventured into the DLSR market yet.

    As with macs, I find the idea of a single company addressing both the hardware and software concerns very appealing.


    It's a burgeoning market, thrives on accessories, tools etc., high margins (?), with potential for deep integration of the user media (as with audio and video).

    I feel there's room for another major player just to unsettle the inertia a bit.

    Just wondering if there was any serious attempt in the past. I'd appreciate any links, articles pertaining to Apple's interest in digital photography hardware.
     
  2. Designer Dale macrumors 68040

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  3. santydolby thread starter macrumors member

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    #3

    Thanks, but more than user interpretations of Apple re-imagining the DSLR, I'd be interested in seeing if someone from Apple officially or unofficially has gone on record regarding this.
     
  4. Designer Dale macrumors 68040

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    #4
    I don't recall anything being mentioned in Steve Jobs or any of the other Apple history books I have read. Apple never officially/unofficially speculates on anything in the works. They won't even name the product they will offer for order next week, let alone tell the press they are interested in entering the camera industry and describe their intentions. It's just not the way they do business.

    Beyond this, the DSLR/P&S market is washed in high quality cameras from multiple manufactures. There is no money in it for them. They will stick with improving their camera phone and let it go at that.

    This link to Apple Insider is as close as you will get. OmniVision makes the sensor.

    Dale
     
  5. Ruahrc macrumors 65816

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    #5
    I think their last "official" attempt at this was in 1994:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_QuickTake

    I agree, the digital camera business is not Apple's core competency. They do not have the expertise to design and manufacture a range of high end lenses, which are the critical component needed to make a viable DSLR system. It is also not "the apple way" to partner with another company and use someone else's lens mount. The only way they would make a DSLR would be if it had an Apple-mount and Apple-lenses (where you can keep your high margins), but making a set of lenses that rivals what current market leaders can make in both terms of quality and comprehensiveness is simply beyond their abilities. And until they make such, an apple DSLR will never be taken seriously. This applies to all camera systems with interchangeable lenses, meaning even a mirrorless/ALLVIEW/EVIL camera would not be taken seriously.

    Not to mention, I honestly don't think Apple can make a DSLR any better than Canon or Nikon or Sony. A touch screen on a professional DSLR is a bad idea, it runs completely contrary to many requirements of the interface (being able to actuate functions without looking away from the viewfinder, being able to operate by feel, being able to use the interface with gloves, etc). Not every UI is made better with multitouch or apps. They have their place but IMHO DSLRs are not one of those areas.
     
  6. Phrasikleia macrumors 601

    Phrasikleia

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    #6
    Apple is probably about as interested in DSLRs as they are in laser printers right now.
     
  7. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    #7
    the market is already crowded, and the prospect of making a profit for such a new entry is slim. Apple has no experience in producing cameras, it would be a waste of time and money.

    Besides, while consumers purchase DSLRs, they're not really a consumer orientated device, like Point and Shoots and if you think DSLRs are crowded, P&S is saturated.
     
  8. Laird Knox macrumors 68000

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    #8
    Maybe they are working on a DSLR with lasers? :cool:
     
  9. snberk103 macrumors 603

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    #9
    I happen to agree that Apple is not likely to enter the DSLR camera business - but not for the reasons above. Apple had no experience making portable music players, and even less experience making mobile phones. Until they decided to enter those two market segments. Not having prior experience is not a valid argument when you are talking about Apple.

    I think this is a valid reason.... though of course the phone mobile phone market was crowded when Apple entered that market. But I don't see cameras being a huge profit maker. The vast majority of "cameras" now are phone cameras, and that segment is growing. I don't think there are enough people who actually need images that are better than what a phone can produce to make it worthwhile for Apple to enter that market.

    Much more likely is that Apple will revolutionize photography using phone cameras and decimate the DSLR market.

    Consider this. Apple used software to leverage the iPhone's touchscreen to eliminate the hardware (keyboards, number-pads, etc) left over from the previous century. Even the most sophisticated DSLRs are based on optical technology that is over 100 years old.

    In the same way Lytro Light Field Camera is using SW to rethink - at it's fundamental base - how a camera works. In Lytro's case they are using it to have fun with focus... but at its core it is using SW to reinterpret what is imaged by the lense. At the same time the new Nokia 808 phone (with the 41 MP sensor) is using SW to rethink how a digital zoom works.

    I think if Apple decided to enter the DSLR camera, they would immediately get rid of the SLR part of the camera and use SW to leverage the capabilities of simple lenses to duplicate the quality that a DSLR can produce, but without an interchangeable lense. Because lets face it..... Just imagine (a few years ago) Steve Jobs changing the lense on a dSLR - finding he needed 3 hands, and even then got dust on the sensor. Steve would not have let Apple make such a beast. His first directive would have been to find a way to make a camera without interchangeable lenses. And his second would have been to do it while eliminating all but one button. :)
     
  10. waynesun, Mar 2, 2012
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2012

    waynesun macrumors regular

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    #10
    I wouldn't discount a consideration, but it's hard to see Apple even eyeing an entry. Camera mounts are extremely fragmented and every iteration of the iPhone suggests that Apple maintains a higher interest in offering an all-around product that ties into their ecosystem in a sensible way (albiet with some trade-offs every generation) that can ultimately have its shortcomings resolved through later developments in tech. Even if they made some kind of magical 'universal mount', they still couldn't put it onto the market without risking legal action from other players.

    What it looks like they're doing right now is focusing on building products that keep consumers within the ecosystem via iCloud, the App Store, and eventually (if the rumors are true) some kind of device relating to serving television along that same vine. Basically, becoming a company where the hardware is the gateway drug into an integrated experience. I think they're focused on refining the experiences that are a large part of culture in general, and professional digital photography still remains a relative niche.

    If I were a betting man, i'd guess that Apple products will soon be somehow making their way into other everyday products that people use on a large scale... cars, retail experiences, et cetera. I don't think they'll stray far from their computer roots. They've learned their lesson in the 90s, and the day they do decide to make a DSLR will be an interesting day.

    But who knows? Never say never...
     
  11. salacious macrumors 6502a

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    #11
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; CPU iPhone OS 5_0_1 like Mac OS X) AppleWebKit/534.46 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.1 Mobile/9A406 Safari/7534.48.3)

    Unless apple buys Kodak, wouldn't they be patently crushed? Plus they already overcharge for iPhone and macbookpros which I own and has cost me £2000 so imagine a camera with decent specs theyl probably charge £400 more than its worth which for me makes me stick with canon and my new 600d which in apples specs would cost me about £1200
     
  12. Doylem macrumors 68040

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    #12
    I’m intrigued by the way Apple have reinvented products to make them both simple and intuitive to operate. The company wasn’t the first to make music players, or mobile phones, or tablets... but they made other products look ugly and clunky by comparison. I love my Nikon DSLR, but I couldn’t put hand on heart and swear that it’s particularly intuitive to use. It took me a long time to learn how to use it in a way that matched my ‘eye for a picture’, and I’m not looking forward to upgrading the camera, probably towards the end of the year. Nice to have a new plaything, of course, but there’ll no doubt be another learning curve until the camera becomes an extension of hand and eye. With new models even more ‘feature-laden‘ than the cameras they replace, it’s hardly any wonder that a lot of photographers don’t really know how their cameras work, or how to get the best out of their expensive hardware.

    A company like Apple could redefine the picture-taking process, and create cameras that are intuitive to use. As other have pointed out, the potential rewards probably wouldn’t justify the huge expense of expanding into yet another technology. But, hey, for years Steve Jobs denied that Apple would ever enter the mobile phone market, and it's not like Apple are short of money.

    I look around and see a lot of product areas that Apple could revolutionise. I was chatting to a friend the other day about how TV needs the Apple ‘treatment’. She said that TV is OK as it is... before admitting that she didn’t know how to get a lot of the channels she’d paid for, and not knowing what most of the buttons did on her remote! TV has exploded with ‘content’, but the hardware has failed to keep up. Apple could help us negotiate the maze.

    Sometimes we don’t know what we want until we get it. As Henry Ford said, when he started production of the ‘Model T’, “if we’d asked people what they wanted, they would have said ‘a faster horse’.”
     
  13. compuwar macrumors 601

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    #13
    Your thoughts differ with most analysts in two *major* ways.

    1. The prevailing thought is that the DSLR market will go into contraction in the next 5 years or so.

    2. Another prevailing thought is that the current number of manufacturers won't be supported in the next 5 years or so. That is to say that companies with established lens mounts, established lens lines, existing supply chains and a customer base in the industry will fail (probably 1-2 companies failing initially.)

    For example, Nikon expects the non-DSLR Nikon-1 to eat into their own DSLR sales. One just has to look at the Pentax camera division which Hoya declared they couldn't float alone before selling to Ricoh after purchasing it themselves in 2008 when business was booming in the DSLR space.

    The thought of entering the market with a new lens line and a new lens mount would seem to be one of the least profitable things Apple could do- it takes 2-4 years for an established company to create a new camera model. That would put them in the market right at contraction time. If they had any design on the market, the Pentax fire sale would have been the time to do it.

    Paul
     
  14. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    #14
    I'd agree with those sentiments. I can see how technology is changing and the IQ of mirror less cameras. Micro 4/3, Sony and the Nikon 1 all are producing some excellent images, each with their own strengths and weaknesses.

    DSLR makers like Canon and Nikon have a difficult balancing act, not endanger their DLSR business but embrace the paradigm shift
     
  15. compuwar macrumors 601

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    #15
    IMO, the best part of Kodak was the chip fab, and that's already been sold- though the folks who bought it likely wouldn't be adverse to a resale, IMO that would just increase the price paid. Kodak hasn't put out a new DSLR in what 10 or so years and even then it wasn't their own lens mount.

    Paul
     
  16. Ruahrc macrumors 65816

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    #16
    The key difference though is that cell phones and mp3 players are essentially small computers. Apple already had extensive expertise designing consumer electronics when they entered the mp3 player and cell phone market, and designing one is at a fundamental level not that different from designing a computer. Stepping up to make your own lens mount system and line of lenses and camera accessories, that is an entirely different ballgame, and something Apple knows zero about.

    Optical physics dictates that phone cameras will always be inferior to DSLRs in terms of image quality, resolving power, and high ISO performance. It may get to the point where cell phone cameras are "good enough" for Joe sixpack, but there will always be room at the top for those who want better, and DSLRs (and even higher up, medium/large format) will always be there to serve them.

    ? What "100 year old" optical technology? The fact that light passes through a lens (or lenses) of controlled refractive index, and is focused onto a plane for capture? Do you (or Apple) have a different suggestion? Again, Apple has no expertise in this kind of thing whatsoever. Apple's key strengths are software interfaces and industrial design, that's it. Recently they have started to get into SoC design, but even that's pretty early days yet. Every technical advance they bring to consumer products is generated by others (they pay panel makers to design and make retina displays, they did not invent the technology or methods themselves).

    If Apple took the "SLR" out of "DSLR", would they really be entering the DSLR market? (If a tree falls in the forest does it make a sound? :)) Besides, the SLR part of a camera is not the part that enables interchangeable lenses. And the SLR part of a DSLR is not what gives it its superior image quality. You're talking nonsense here.

    Basically, what does Apple really have to add to the camera market? I can honestly think of precious little that they really have to contribute. They have zero to add in terms of sensor technology or lens design, so there will be no gains in image quality from an Apple DSLR.

    Many here will argue that DSLRs need an interface revamp, but I have to disagree. When people don't know how to use their DSLR, it's not because it's too hard, it's because they didn't take the time to learn to use the tool they bought, and are of the incorrect mindset that the camera is what makes the pictures better, not the operator. And many people buy a DSLR for the enhanced manual control you get on your picture taking. Apple designing an advanced camera OS that automatically sets the image parameters for you defeats the purpose of using an advanced camera.
     
  17. snberk103 macrumors 603

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    #17
    First - let me say right up front that I do not believe Apple is going to enter the camera market, except for those that they already put on their iOS devices. I am merely speculating on a "what-if" scenario that the OP started.

    In other words I am arguing just for the sake of argument.

    Today's cameras, imho, a computer with a piece of glass in front, and an interface. Apple knows a lot about interfaces... and I think have a lot to offer on a camera interface. They are also very good at creating an ecosystem that would allow a person to effortlessly move their images to their creative applications.
    Yes. But how much better does a phone camera have to get before the images are "very good" and good enough for 90% of what a consumer needs the images for? The issue is not that phone cameras are superior to DSLRs - it's that they are good enough to start taking business away from the DSLR makers. This thread (or another similar one last week) I stated that the entry level DSLRs are doomed, imho. Not because phone cams are better - just cheaper. At some point there aren't enough customers for entry level DSLRs to make them economically.

    Yes. As stated above, it's the entry level DSLRs that I believe are going to be discontinued. Which is bad news for the more full-featured DSLRs because there will loss of economies of scale. So the more expensive DSLRs will become even more so. But as long as there are people who need high-end cameras at any cost, there will be DSLRs. I wonder if this is actually good news for the medium format digital cameras? If the full-featured DSLRs get more expensive, the price difference to move to MF digital would not be so big.
    I'm not talking about the light through the glass part.... I'm talking about how you organize the light-rays that have passed through the glass. What if someone decided to mimic a fly's eye instead of a human's eye? Lots of small lenses instead one big one? Instead of one big sensor you'd have multiple small sensors.

    Radio telescope arrays use multiple smaller antennae to get the same resolution as one giant antenna. Why not do the same with glass lenses?

    So they buy a lense maker. Most of the differences between cameras is the interface... and Apple, as you've said, has lots of experience there.
    Apple took the command line interface out of computers, eh? That seems to have worked out OK. :)
    No, I don't think I am. If Apple, because they got a message at a seance from Jobs, entered the DSLR market I think they'd realize that interchangeable lenses are pre-historic and figure out a way to use SW to get the effect of different focal lengths. And that having a mirror that flaps around is almost as prehistoric. And then they'd decide to do away with the 'reflex' hump and just make the entire back a viewfinder.
    Like I said... I don't see them entering the market.... but what the do have to offer is an interface. Everything is can be acquired or fabricated for them.
    Sorry.... but I disagree with you. I teach photography. I see the interface getting in the way all the time with my students. Easy enough to show them the M, Tv, Av dials and how to use them. At least that part is easy.

    But when you start needing to find the WB, or the ISO settings... then it get's tricky. Sometimes it's a labeled button, sometimes it's nested in menus. I've seen cameras where the ISO setting is in different menus depending on whether you have the camera set to Auto, Av, Tv, or M.

    And then what if you need to change the file quality setting because you forgot your extra card? Or if you need to change a other more obscure settings. They pack way way too much into modern DSLRs now. I have a Lumix I use for travel..... way too complicated for what it does. The interface gets in the way. But it does have a 10x optical zoom.

    I wish a camera company would decide to design a camera as if they were trying to sell it to the late Jobs.
     
  18. Vogue Harper macrumors 6502

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    #18
    The limitation here, certainly in relation to focal lengths, is down to the laws of physics isn't it which even technology has to obey? Someone already has figured out a way to use software to get the "effect" of different focal lengths - digital zoom but even your average compact camera user understands the limitations of digital zoom and that it is no substitute for optical zoom.

    If there was a way of accurately synthesizing (by software or otherwise) what otherwise requires a few kilos of glass to achieve, I suspect someone would already have made their fortune from that. But today people will still have a lively debate over image quality from fixed focal length lenses and their zoom lens counterparts.
     
  19. Doylem macrumors 68040

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    #19
    From observing people with their cameras, I'd say a lot of them don't really understand how their cameras work, and how to get the best from what is likely to be a major investment. When reasonably intelligent people can't understand a technology, I'd be tempted to blame the manufacturers rather than the consumers.

    Apple could, I'm sure, create a far better interface. Don't suppose they will, but they could. Even if an Apple camera had as many 'features' as a top-end Nikon or Canon DSLR, they would no doubt be organised so an end-user could shoot on manual or auto without needing to read a manual (and most camera manuals confuse, rather than enlighten)...
     
  20. paolo- macrumors 6502a

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    #20
    Didn't read the thread but Apple will not go into a saturated market to offer the same as everyone. If they had something completely new that would change everything maybe would they consider it. But Apple doesn't do niches when it comes to hardware. The market doesn't seem to be big enough for Apple to do the research to come up with something worthy of the Apple logo.

    But if you think about it the SLR market isn't that big and there are lots of player all with lots of experience, Apple has essentially none in that business. However, they are changing photography in a very Apple way by putting a half decent camera into lots of people's pocket and connecting it to the Internet. Photos are for sharing after all ;)

    No doubt SLRs could use some design work to make them more user friendly but the thing is they're mostly aimed at people who understand them. As someone who spent the big 30 minutes to understand exposure, I'm glad the buttons are setup the way they are because they're fast to work with. I guess the display could maybe have some kind of triangle thing to show you how to shoot in manual mode and eventually change to a more streamlined way of working.
     
  21. snberk103 macrumors 603

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    #21
    Of course we are still bound by the laws of optics.... but leveraging the power of what software can do gives designers more options.

    Up until now, lense designers needed to make that hunk of glass focus the image on a single flat plane. The don't anymore. They can work with multiple projected images, for instance (using an array of smaller lenses).

    They can oversample the pixels (as the Nokia 808 phone is doing) to create good quality images from a less than stellar sensor (recap: The Nokia 808 creates an 41 MP image from a small sensor. However, the SW averages every 5th pixel to create an optimized 8 MP file. I'm thinking that this cleans up the random noise of the small sensor. It also allows them to create a digital zoom that is still pretty clean (they claim) because the SW is already optimized to work with just a subset of the pixels.

    I have no idea how the Lytro camera lense/sensor works.... except that they must be doing something with SW that can not be done with traditional glass and sensors. Note that Lytro doesn't talk about mega-pixels, but rather mega-rays.

    I'm looking forward to seeing what kind of a camera I'm going to be tempted by in 5 years. Whether it's Apple or someone else, I think we are at the start of yet another photographic shift.
     
  22. Ruahrc macrumors 65816

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    #22
    See, even on my "lower midrange" Nikon D80 changing all of those things is a breeze. ISO, WB, file quality, each accessible via a dedicated button on the camera body. Exposure compensation, bracketing, AF mode, flash control, all available by pressing a button and spinning a dial. And I can do it all in the dark, without taking my eye away from the viewfinder, with gloves on. About the only thing I ever go into the menus for are to change the time zone (to get the EXIF timestamps right), or to fiddle with the built-in flash commander (but if I were a heavy user of flash, a higher end camera or dedicated flash commander accessory would streamline this further).

    And even for menu-based usage, my camera has the ability to customize the user menu interface to get rid of options I never want/need to change (like showing a grid in the viewfinder display, or defining the sleep time for the meter). I can cut out all the unnecessary functions from the menus so even navigating the menus is an efficient and painless procedure. Higher end DSLRs have even more buttons than my camera, and have even more customizable menu features (shooting banks, etc) to make accessing the settings you want/need even easier.

    What benefit can/would an Apple iOS-ified camera interface really offer me here?

    Still think the root of the problem is in your first sentence. The user doesn't understand the fundamentals of photography. Which, when you get right down to it, are not that complex. If the user can't or won't learn these fundamentals, then maybe a DSLR is not the right tool for them. Until you start offering classes with your DSLRs, I don't know what more the manufacturers can do. They design the product assuming a minimum level of photographic comprehension, and if the user fails that minimum then maybe it's not the product for them.

    A good example here. It is not rocket science to figure out exposure, aperture, and ISO. And once you understand, many start to want the control that manipulating each gives. Fast access buttons found on most DSLRs

    IMHO DSLRs are deliberately designed to be complicated because they give the user a lot of control over the photographic process. Users buy them because they deliberately want that control. If you buy a DSLR wanting it to be a glorified P&S, current ones can do the job but it's not really what it was designed for. And this is why Apple won't ever really go for this. Apple makes simple devices for the everyday user. People who deliberately want complexity usually don't find what they're looking for in an Apple product. Additionally, Apple is all about integration. Combine a camera, ipod, and phone into one device, the iPhone. Combine your laptop into the above and you get an iPad. Combine the PC chassis and monitor into one device, the iMac. Making a dedicated-function device like a DSLR or even "high end" P&S is not what Apple is about. They want fewer devices with more "good enough" functionality, not more devices with "better" functionality.
     
  23. snberk103, Mar 5, 2012
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2012

    snberk103 macrumors 603

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    #23
    If your camera has an interface this easy, then you are lucky. My experience is that this is more of an exception however. Back in the days of film SLRs I used to teach a course called "This is a camera". Basically, it was for people who had a camera, and wanted to know how to use it. Occasionally I'd see a P&S but by far the most common camera was an SLR, with the occasional TLRs. Over the course of the evening we would go over all the controls (apertures, shutter speeds, ASA - this was a long time ago remember :) ) and how they are used to make good images. No manuals necessary - the 'interface' was easy enough to figure out, at least for me because I knew the fundamentals. I could show them how the fundamentals worked and why they were important. I also offered them a money back guarantee. If they didn't think they were better photographers they could call me within the week and get their fee back. No one ever collected.

    Now - I don't bother with that course. The interface is so complicated.... has so many options ... that we'd spend the entire evening thumbing through manuals, setting buttons and menus, and never ever get around to actually talking about how to actually take a good image. The interface has gotten in the way of taking photos for the majority people - though not everyone obviously. But it is a big enough hurdle that it is a barrier to many potential buyers.

    To answer your question of what benefit an iOSified interface would bring.... App Store. An Apple camera could come with a basic - but very good interface - but would allow the user to buy interfaces from the App Store. That way you could have an interface that looked and felt like a Nikon, or a Canon, or an Angry Bird. Instead of spending an evening thumbing through your manual and customizing menus and buttons, you'd spend $.99 and download an interface - spend 15 minutes customizing that interface - and then save the previous bought/customized interface for later use.

    Interestingly, this thread is being duplicated here:
    [Link]

    My thinking in that thread is that Apple could put an array of smaller lenses/sensors on the front of the camera and use SW put the disparate images together into a single image.

    I can teach just about anybody the fundamentals of photography - I'm actually a bit geeky about the fundamentals.... I just don't like teaching them to navigate the current interfaces. Especially the badly designed ones.

    -Why should shutter speeds change by 1/3 of a stop in one mode, but 1/2 stops in another mode (same for apertures)?
    -Why should the ISO change values if I change modes?
    -Same thing for WB?
    (I've seen this where the camera resets the WB or ISO to last used value for the previous use of that mode -instead of assuming that you are changing modes while photographing a subjet)
    -Why should the settings menu for basics like ISO/WB/etc change location depending on what mode you are using?
    -Why are there "basic settings" and "menus" and "custom settings" and "advanced menus"?

    And there's lots more very weird camera interface choices.

    I get asked to help people out with their cameras a lot, so I've thumbed my way through more manuals in the last few years. That's my one rule.... They have to bring their manual - otherwise it's just a waste of time for both of us.

    I agree. My working camera has those controls, plus a self-timer and a +/- exposure button, Tv, Av, M, and P. That's it - plus a single Cf button. These controls aren't "fast access" - they are virtually the complete interface. For everything else I go through the Cf menu.

    Most DSLRs seem to include the basic functions amongst all the other advanced functions. There is a fundamental difference, to my mind, to putting the advanced functions in the background vs making them look the same as the basic functions.
    And here I thought it was because it makes DSLRs appeal to young male consumers with disposable income... what was I thinking, eh?
    Again you are correct. I don't like unnecessary complexity. And yet I get to do complex things very simply with my Apple ecosystem.
    Actually, I find a DSLR is more camera that most people need.... even the ones who know how the camera works. They spend more time futzing with the camera than taking photos.
    I agree here too, about the integration. But I don't think it's a simple as integrating HW... it's integrating the HW with the SW to create a seamless experience. The iPhone is an integration of the things you do not the things you own. You make calls/listen to music/want to show people where you are. So you put those into a single device.

    An Apple camera is going to stream photos to the web for you (vacation blog, updated while on vacation). It's going to synch seamless with iPhoto or Aperture - while you are shooting - so you can buy more products like books and cards and calendars from Apple. It's going to synch with all of the social media sites and photo-sharing sites. And it'll push photos out to your Apple TV so you can bore your friends with a slide show of your trip to Disney Land. Just like our my parents did.


    Long post .... sigh....
     
  24. Ruahrc macrumors 65816

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    #24
    epic tides of text commence! :)

    But the thing is, my D80 was I believe at the time the second lowest DSLR you could buy from Nikon. Extra buttons was pretty much exactly why I bought the D80 in the first place. Nowadays it's modern descendent is the D7000, the third lowest Nikon DSLR you can buy. Get in the game at that level, and IMHO a lot of these interface problems simply disappear because you have hardware buttons. Even the lower end D5100 and D3100 have relatively intuitive "info" screens where all basic adjustments can be pretty easily configured. The D5100 and D3100 each also have a programmable function button, which can be used to set either ISO or WB (among other things). You can't get both, but you can get at least one. And I'd argue shooting in RAW you largely don't need a WB control, so set it to ISO and you're set. All these cameras have a hardware exposure compensation button.

    I don't shoot Canon but again, a similar story can probably be told. A quick look at dpreview and I see that even the lowly 1100D (I'm guessing D5100 equivalent?) has a pretty full array of hardware buttons as I describe. It actually seems like the low end Canons are better in this regard to the low end Nikons.

    Essentially, I guess I'm saying don't even bother with the bottom barrel model, because functionally it is no better than a P&S, and as such you lose a major reason to even use a DSLR in the first place. But people buy D3100s and Rebel Tis in droves because they're cheap. People buy DSLRs thinking (or being told my marketing) that they need one, but don't really know why. And because they don't really know why, they just get the cheapest one possible and assume "hey, it's a DSLR right? My pictures will be great!!1!!1"

    Here then it seems, is a case of "you get what you pay for". Yes, D7000s and 1100Ds are a little more expensive, but they are certainly not out of reach for many. Especially considering how many of these very same people run around toting iPhones and iPads. It's not like you have to buy in to a $3000+ camera body to get this level of "usability". Anything even slightly above the absolute cheapest, most bottom line DSLR pretty much negates many of these stated interface issues.

    I still don't see the benefit. First you say that Apple has the talent to revolutionize camera interfaces, and now you suggest that we don't even use Apple's interface and instead use the $0.99 app that some random basement programmer comes up with, who probably has zero experience in human factors or ergonomic design? And you state that I can even buy an app that makes my camera operate like a Nikon DSLR? Great! So I can buy a camera from Apple, and pay more money to buy an app that makes it act like the Nikon DSLR I already own! Wait, why were we doing this again?

    Maybe I'm in the minority here but honestly the Apple "app" ecosystem really does nothing for me. I have an ipod touch, and it has maybe 5 3rd party apps I actually downloaded and use. The overwhelming majority of them are either poorly written/executed, or do not do things I really want or need that I couldn't already do with the built-in apps made by Apple. And Apple fails just as often in their own interface. Why does the iPad have no native stocks app? No native weather app? Now I have to go pay more money just to get that basic functionality I had on my ipod touch onto my iPad? Or be saddled with some ad-ridden, limited, freeware version? The app market really seems designed to sucker money out of people, but slowly, $1 at a time, so they don't notice the bleeding. Yes, there are some very worthwhile and useful apps I'm sure, but is this really beneficial to the question at hand (DSLR interfaces)?

    And as far as customization of the interface goes, I stated in my previous post I can do that already. I can hide any/all menu items that I don't need on a regular basis, so my menu system is very compact and simple (the menus on my D80 are cut down such that I barely even have to scroll past one screen of menu items). How many DSLR owners are even aware this exists on their camera? Probably very few, and IMHO it's their fault for not reading the manual that came with their camera. And here the proposed solution is to buy another camera that lets me pay yet more money to troll around looking for the right app that I want/need to use as my camera interface?

    Is it really too much to ask to sit down and spend 1 hour going through the DSLR manual and setting up the camera just the way you want it? That new, very expensive camera you probably really wanted because you just blew several hundred to several thousand on it? You are so impatient that you would rather just pay yet more money to people to have it set up the way they think you want it? Is our society so transient and lazy that we are reduced to this? Pay a dollar to fulfill an immediate need for satisfaction? I certainly do not. I don't know how long it took me to read the manual to my D80, but I do know that it couldn't have been that long (an hour or two at most) and I enjoyed it very much. I read through it once, carefully, and have basically never looked at it again in the 5 years since I got my D80. I think I used it again about a year ago when I got my external flash, so I could review the flash commander settings that I had never used previously. No, the manual is not shakespeare, but it certainly was plenty clear in its presentation of the material. Maybe people just need to learn to read technical documentation.

    A big drawback to this specific example is that you lose thin depth of field, which is one of the primary reasons for using large sensor formats. Anyway, again- optical physics is not really that complicated once you get down to it. The advances of the past 100 years have come in our ability to make the lenses "properly". Antireflective coatings, aspherical surfaces, low dispersion glass, it's all about manufacturing. 100 years ago people had already figured out the mathematics and theory of how to design very high end, optically superior lenses, they just lacked the materials technology to make them. Here is a great article written by Roger Cicala, the owner of LensRentals that illustrates in reality how relatively simple (conceptually, at least) even modern SLR lenses are. Another good read is the article on lens coatings that is linked in the article. Again, the fundamentals behind this are all pretty straightforward concepts. It's 100 year old technology because we more or less figured it all out 100 years ago.

    Apple certainly isn't going to be breaking new ground in this area. Any real advance they make is probably because they bought some startup or someone else invented it and they merely capitalized on the concept.

    1) I don't have this problem. 1/3 or 1/2 stop increments is a setting I set up in the menus the day I got my camera and never looked at again. The setting is preserved no matter what mode I operate in. Does it really not work like this on everyone else's camera?
    2) Because when you go into the auto modes, you sometimes trigger auto ISO. This is usually explained in (gasp) the manual
    3) See above. Another common failing here is a lack of workflow discipline. You should get in the habit of checking X, Y, Z items every time you shoot. Once you ingrain this concept into your head, it only takes a second to check, and becomes second nature. Or you should get in the habit of resetting your camera functions to a standard state when you are done. Every time. It's like making sure your gun is unloaded and safety on when putting it away. Being lazy on things like this often leads to the "I don't know why it's doing this" situation.
    4) Not sure, but if you buy something even slightly above the lowest end DSLR, you likely don't have this problem because you get a dedicated button for that
    5) Probably to segregate the functions by category. Basic menu is for things you might change often or might change as a beginner (WB, ISO, etc). Advanced menu might be for things only advanced users would know/care about (for example mirror lockup or built-in flash commander settings). Custom settings is probably for changing the way your camera operates, and not adjustments to shooting settings (like how big of an area to use for the center-weighted meter, sleep timer, 1/3 or 1/2 stop adjustment increments, etc). More like "set it and forget it" types of options.

    I will agree maybe some menu readjustment would help, but again you just need to understand why it is divided up this way. And it's usually all explained in the manual. Read it. One good read-through is usually enough. If that's not good enough, there are plenty of hint books, cheat sheet cards, etc. people would be glad to sell you. Don't forget- you seem totally willing to pay money for apps that would ultimately do the same thing!

    "Most DSLRs" again seems to boil down to the one or two lowest end models each manufacturer offers. Now by numbers, they may comprise a significant fraction of the DSLRs in the wild, but if you go by model, "Most DSLRs" have dedicated hardware buttons for practically everything you need. 7 of the 10 cameras advertised on NikonUSA's website have hardware buttons equal or greater than my D80.

    I don't doubt it, but you think Apple would market their DSLR any different?

    IMHO what's really holding things back ere is the wireless telecom industry. Apple can't do much more about it than Nikon or Canon. They all know this would be a great feature, but it's impossible to pull off as a business. No camera will ever come with a cell connection without being tagged with hefty monthly bills from the telecoms, not unless (surprise) it's a cell phone camera. Even if you went the modular route and made an iPhone app that made your cell phone act as a mobile hotspot, and then used an eye-fi SD card or similar, data charges simply make this an untenable prospect.

    I'll agree that one thing Nikon and Canon lack is the willingness to embrace 3rd party solutions like flickr or twitter integration, but truthfully Apple is pretty restrictive in this regard too. How much money you want to bet that an Apple DSLR won't automatically upload into Adobe Lightroom, my photo editing app of choice? I'd be just as shackled.

    Don't get me wrong, I am not out to refute everything you say, it's fun to debate these things with you :). I get what you're saying, I just don't think Apple could really bring to the table what I really think is missing in the DSLR market. And that is, a user willingness to learn and utilize a tool. A lot of users buy DSLRs as fancy toys, status symbols; not as photographic tools. It's no surprise then when they find it's too complicated or requires too much effort to properly handle.

    It's really strange how it works that way too. Once I went through old photo albums that my parents had. The photos in them were taken with a Canon AE-1 SLR (which we still have, BTW). The pictures were great. Shallow DOF, good composition, I was amazed! What do they use now? A simple P&S camera. They don't care about DOF, don't care about composition (as much), it seems like the photos they take now are (artistically) worse than what they were taking 30 years ago. What happened? Maybe it's because back then, in order to use an SLR you really had to learn some of the fundamentals because DSLRs were fairly manual affairs. If you wanted to shoot your own pictures, you HAD to learn about shutter speed, ISO, etc., and it made for some great pics. Nowadays with automatic everything, people just don't have the desire to learn, and just want the device to do it all for them. And as we repeat so often here, it's not about the camera it's about the person holding it.
     

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