The Proper Camera
Definition, Proper: (adjective) Adapted or appropriate to the purpose or circumstances; Fit; Suitable.
Introduction The rise and rise of the smartphone threatens the very survival of the camera as an independent entity. Sales of compact cameras have collapsed and the penetration of Mirrorless ILC's appears to have stalled. But apparently DSLR's are doing well especially at the upper end of the price/quality range. Why ?
Smart Phone-vs-Camera it seems to me the principal difference between these two types of device is the issue of engagement.
A camera requires the user to engage with the device by hand, eye and brain in the considered process of making a photo. Making photos with a camera is not an afterthought to the events of a day's outing, it is one of the events. The process is deliberative. In contrast the process of making a photo with a smart phone is more likely to be opportunistic.
The Proper Camera I propose the following as desirable attributes of a Proper Camera.
* Responsiveness of performance This includes fast power up time, immediate response to pressing the shutter release button, brief shot to shot time, fast accurate autofocus and fast response to operation of controls.
* Responsiveness to engagement The camera rewards training and experience with improved operation and better results. Skill is required and when acquired leads to a sense of mastery by the user who takes control of the process of making photographs.
* Built in Viewfinder.
* A proper handle with which to hold the camera securely.
* A built in flash unit and facility to add an accessory flash module.
* A zoom lens, either fixed or available for a camera which allows interchangeable lenses.
* Image Quality substantially better than that available from the best smartphone.
Unimportant things These include such things as scene modes, art filters, geotagging, Wi-Fi, I-function, motion snapshot mode, best moment capture and on.....and on.... I would also include in this list touch screen controls which I regard as useless on a hand held camera particularly one used with eye level viewing.
Half baked cameras These proliferate. I regard any camera without one of the proper camera attributes listed above as half baked and liable to become tiresome with continued use.
Back to the question....Why? I mean, why are DSLR's holding or even increasing market share when other camera types are in decline or failing to progress ?
The answer, it seems to me, is simple. Most DSLR's (some pro models lack a built in flash) meet all my criteria for a proper camera. Very few compacts do. Some Mirrorless ILC's do, most do not. I believe that if Mirrorless ILC's are to take on the DSLR hegemony and win further market share they must grow up, lose the half baked models and evolve into a fully fleged line of proper cameras.
Author's camera gear: I use Panasonic Lumix Micro Four Thirds gear, mainly a GH3 with 12-35 and 35-100mm f2.8 lenses. A Proper Camera kit without doubt.
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