The new Polaroid modular system

Started Jan 9, 2013 | Discussions thread
Midwest
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Re: The new Polaroid modular system
In reply to Tom Caldwell, Jan 11, 2013

Tom Caldwell wrote:

Midwest wrote:

Tom Caldwell wrote:

We agree that lens are best optimised to sensors and dutifully nod that the (say) S10 works best when packaged with a specific sensor. And yet even devoted Ricoh fans wonder out aloud at the wisdom of packaging lenses and sensors in a package "lest you waste a lens when upgrading the sensor".

I don't really agree with that. Is 'optimizing' a lens to a sensor so beneficial that it justifies putting the cart before the horse? Whatever benefit there is, if any, to this 'optimizing', it undoubtedly turns logical design upside down by making any sort of camera upgrade a vastly more costly process than just replacing a body.

A hard case to argue any way.

Canon acknowledge that the most perfect lens is not completely perfect but there are only stages of better. Consequently they are said to include lens-optimisation routines in an in-camera database.

I expect that they do. They offer the same thing in their DPP software. Where a bridge or point/shoot 'fixes' the lens in software, even Canon (and likely others) tweak their lenses to get the most out of them in software.

Now that we have set the stage: modern lenses are increasingly made of lightweight materials - if the old sturdily built ones wear out then you are tootin' that the new ones will wear as well, not only the usual problems but fixing them is more than just mechanical - there are circuits in there as well. So we might say 'when they are broke, just throw them away' made in quantity using modern methods we must be talking 'real cheap' anyway. Fixing one would cost many times more than the original cost even if it could be done in the field. So we can forget the vast bulk of lenses as being family heirlooms. Cheap as chips off the woodman's axe. Now of course it is complex elements and fine grinding of the glass that has always made clever and expensive lenses, but increasingly these components are going into non-repairable housings. mmmm

A couple of weeks ago my butterfingers finally did me in and my Canon kit 18-55 lens made an abrupt two foot trip to a tiled floor. Happily, despite it's 'inexpensive' construction, it seems to have survived without a tiny scratch or any operational damage.

Ergo we have the RX1/RX100 built together to give single packages otherwise impossible to design as components or alternatively you can keep your body and just replace the business end which is a sensor/lens package. Think GXR and now Polaroid.

What do you guess would have happened to Canon or Nikon if in the 1960's they announced that from now on, their shutters would be permanently affixed to their lenses?

I don't for a minute say that these lenses will be no good. In fact I think it might be possible to design a quite cheap lens that will outperform the very best after the firmware does it's tricks.

Software can fix geometric distortion and to some extent things like purple fringing. It cannot put sharpness in where the lens does not have it. Some things can be corrected, others simply must be done right by the lens itself. No software corrected lens is going to out-perform a quality lens when it comes to sharpness.

Re-engineering the camera body on the other hand must be a tedious job, each and every new camera body gets a makeover and buttons and "stuff" get moved about. A whole new set of tooling. To keep the body production costs to a minimum would it not be better just to get the very best body design and stick with it?

I don't think so, because when the only thing that gets swapped are the lenses the camera mfr can put all their best and latest into the body. A new processing engine, faster data handling for reduced shot to shot time, and a lot more. When you can sell your old body for $200-$300 (as I sold my XSi body) and the new body is say $650, it really runs down the cost factor to have the latest and best.

What sort of production cost efficiency is it when instead of releasing new lenses, you basically have to release 3/4 of a new camera each time instead?

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