Why all this "magnesium" fuss?

Started Nov 1, 2005 | Discussions
alexeig
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Why all this "magnesium" fuss?
Nov 1, 2005

I am so surprized with all this "ohhh ohhh magnesium body" noise. Even Phil who is otherwise a very decent reviewer, the very first thing he mentions is "magnesium body" in his preview of 200D.

Am I missing something? Is "magnesium body" THE feature of a camera?

I have film Nikon F2 from metal and digital 300D supposedly from plastic and both seems to be about equal in durability.

I mean, I have a huge plastic Delsey bag for the last 12 years which travelled with me with 40 kilos inside to America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia ... you name it. It suffered unspeakable abuses in all kinds of airports, train stations, ships, buses along the way. Aside from steadily accumulating scratches it is still in great shape and provided a stellar service of keeping my stuff safe and intact. I would not be surprized it will outlive my passion for travel.

Do I need magnesium bag? NO WAYYYY!!!

No camera is going to be treated as roughly as my plastic Delsey bag.
Why would I need magnesium camera?

Please illuminate me

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Phil Askey
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Re: Why all this "magnesium" fuss?
In reply to alexeig, Nov 1, 2005

Maybe I shouldn't write the material down then. What I'm trying to get across is how solid, robust and 'thick' the body material feels. I can't think of another way to express it. You'd really have to pick up the camera to know what I'm talking about.

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Phil Askey
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mgb
mgb
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Re: Why all this "magnesium" fuss?
In reply to alexeig, Nov 1, 2005

Because you aren't going to try and tap M2 threads into your ABS bag, nor are you concerned about it's stiffness or the ccd/lens parallelism staying the same over 60deg temperature range.

There are some things metal is very good at. Light stiff metal is very useful.
Titanium is expensive - magnesium is cheaper but a bugger to machine.

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Tim the Grey
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Re: Why all this "magnesium" fuss?
In reply to Phil Askey, Nov 1, 2005

My E-1 is a mag body, and as you rightly say, Phil, it feels like I could hammer nails with it, and then take photos. I really wouldn't want to try that with a plastic body!

The E-1 is working just the same as the day I bought it, yet it has been dropped, and kicked. All accidentally, but this IS what happens in the real world.

TTG
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tjack
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Re: Why all this "magnesium" fuss?
In reply to alexeig, Nov 1, 2005

alexeig wrote:

I am so surprized with all this "ohhh ohhh magnesium body" noise.
Even Phil who is otherwise a very decent reviewer, the very first
thing he mentions is "magnesium body" in his preview of 200D.

Am I missing something? Is "magnesium body" THE feature of a camera?

No, its not "THE" feature. It is one of many which may or may not be important. Personally, I prefer polycarbonate. It is strong, has an almost insignifigant coefficient of expansion (no shape changes over wider temperature variations), acts as a shock absorber for the insides, is normally lighter in weight, and doesn't heat way up or chill way down like metal..

Some people like the feel of metal. That's personal choice. It is up to you.

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DMillier
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Re: Why all this "magnesium" fuss?
In reply to alexeig, Nov 1, 2005

I have the Kodak 14n and the D100. Both are based on the F80 design but the D100 has an all plastic skin and the 14n has a custom metal body with rubber coating.

The 14n is nothing like as slickly made as the top of the line Japanese cameras but even so it it light years above the D100 in terms of tactile feel and confidence inspiring solidity not to mention comfortable grip...

alexeig wrote:

I am so surprized with all this "ohhh ohhh magnesium body" noise.
Even Phil who is otherwise a very decent reviewer, the very first
thing he mentions is "magnesium body" in his preview of 200D.

Am I missing something? Is "magnesium body" THE feature of a camera?

I have film Nikon F2 from metal and digital 300D supposedly from
plastic and both seems to be about equal in durability.

I mean, I have a huge plastic Delsey bag for the last 12 years
which travelled with me with 40 kilos inside to America, Europe,
Asia, Africa, Australia ... you name it. It suffered unspeakable
abuses in all kinds of airports, train stations, ships, buses along
the way. Aside from steadily accumulating scratches it is still in
great shape and provided a stellar service of keeping my stuff safe
and intact. I would not be surprized it will outlive my passion for
travel.

Do I need magnesium bag? NO WAYYYY!!!

No camera is going to be treated as roughly as my plastic Delsey bag.
Why would I need magnesium camera?

Please illuminate me

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greentoe
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Here's a camera for you...
In reply to alexeig, Nov 1, 2005

Here is a translucent model for you:

Certainly not for the my-camera-must-be-black-metal crowd!

BTW, that entire back panel can be one OEL device... touch sensitive, so you can program the whole back of the camera to be what you want....

BTW2, I concur with the somewhat over-ratedness of Mg alloy bodies... perhaps nice to have but really plays into the 'plastic = junk' mindset.

-gt

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Fred Klaiss
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Wasn't going to respond, but ...
In reply to alexeig, Nov 1, 2005

Alexig wrote:

I have film Nikon F2 from metal and digital 300D supposedly from plastic > and both seems to be about equal in durability.

Bwahaha.

Come back in about 30 years and 200,000+ images from now and make the same claim. I have an F2 that still sees intermittent but steady use. I don't see my D70 performing as other than a doorstop after a lot less time and usage. And I consider the D70 more "durable" than a 300D.

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Larry Lynch
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Re: Why all this "magnesium" fuss?
In reply to alexeig, Nov 1, 2005

The first reason is the fact that a lot of people consider a camera made of Metal to be "better out of the box" just because its metal (not Phills first reason to be sure, but people in general).

Secondly, Magnesium is seen as more expensive.. Which until the current rise in Petro-chemical prices was correct, but may not be any longer.

Third, Magnesiun is tough to machine, and takes a lot of care in manufacture, so it may be seen as a sign the camera maker "cared" more about the quality of his product.

Fourth:

There are those that simply MUST find something major wrong with any camera that isnt the same as the one they own.. PLASTIC seems to be one of the points those people will grab on to. They totally discount the fact that there are a lot of fine cameras around that are made of plastic.
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Ian Yаtes
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200D, phil never reviewed that camera
In reply to alexeig, Nov 1, 2005

he prereviewed this.

What an astonishing item to get bent out of shape over!

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alexeig
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Congratulations, you are the first ...
In reply to Ian Yаtes, Nov 1, 2005

to make this highly relevant remark. Actually, I was surprised that some inhabitant of Spell Checking Star would not surface earlier
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alexeig

http://www.pbase.com/alexeig

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jk
jk
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Re: 200D, phil never reviewed that camera
In reply to Ian Yаtes, Nov 1, 2005

its bionic

Ian Yаtes wrote:

he prereviewed this.

What an astonishing item to get bent out of shape over!

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beam me up scotty

im giving it all shes got captain

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CharlieDIY
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Re: Why all this "magnesium" fuss?
In reply to Phil Askey, Nov 1, 2005

Phil Askey wrote:

Maybe I shouldn't write the material down then. What I'm trying to
get across is how solid, robust and 'thick' the body material
feels. I can't think of another way to express it. You'd really
have to pick up the camera to know what I'm talking about.

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Phil Askey
Editor / Owner, dpreview.com

I think the OP is reasoning from his case to the general: in other words, if it doesn't matter to him, it shouldn't matter to anyone. He babies his cameras, evidently doesn't bang them around in the field as some of us do. I have nothing against plastic construction, but an understructure of metal, whether magnesium or something else--I think my *istD is steel--can help.

I don't plan to drive nails with my camera, but I don't know if, or when more likely, someone might swing a board or something similar around and hit the camera body while I'm working. I'd as soon only need to replace the lens to keep shooting.
--
Charlie Self

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Joe0Bloggs
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Thickness and sturdiness
In reply to alexeig, Nov 1, 2005

How sturdy a structure is depends both on material and construction. You said it yourself, your Delsey bag is 'huge'. It probably has very thick walls that make it near bulletproof despite being plastic. If the same bag were made of mag alloy it could probably contain a grenade blast :]

You can't afford to a camera using such overengineered construction, not if you want your camera to be light and small, as recent DSLRs are. You will hear of more complaints of the lens mount breaking off plastic cameras than metal cameras...

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CharlieDIY
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Re: Thickness and sturdiness
In reply to Joe0Bloggs, Nov 1, 2005

Joe0Bloggs wrote:

How sturdy a structure is depends both on material and
construction. You said it yourself, your Delsey bag is 'huge'. It
probably has very thick walls that make it near bulletproof despite
being plastic. If the same bag were made of mag alloy it could
probably contain a grenade blast :]

You can't afford to a camera using such overengineered
construction, not if you want your camera to be light and small, as
recent DSLRs are. You will hear of more complaints of the lens
mount breaking off plastic cameras than metal cameras...

Probably depends on the user. How many of us can afford the 16.7 MP Canon, with its $8000 body cost? I know I'd love to have one, but assuming I could find the cash, I cannot justify paying for all the extras that camera has. In some cases, a magnesium body is an extra that can't be justified, while in others it can be. As can the Canon's 8000 buck price for those who really need all its features and its sturdiness.

Plastic mount cameras may not break even as often as metal mount cameras, but not because of any innate superiority of the material: they simply may not get the kind of banging around that a more costly camera might.

I've got one of those Delsey bags. It is definitely bulky, so much so that it is an impediment to progress in semi-confined places (doorways, etc.). I seldom use it. It also has a couple goofy features that keep me from using it often...the "hidden" hand straps require you to leave side accessory pockets open if the straps are in use. Not a great feature. In fact, downright stupid, IMO.
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Charlie Self

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Jarek Luberek
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Re: Why all this
In reply to tjack, Nov 1, 2005

tjack wrote:

alexeig wrote:

I am so surprized with all this "ohhh ohhh magnesium body" noise.
Even Phil who is otherwise a very decent reviewer, the very first
thing he mentions is "magnesium body" in his preview of 200D.

Am I missing something? Is "magnesium body" THE feature of a camera?

No, its not "THE" feature. It is one of many which may or may not
be important. Personally, I prefer polycarbonate. It is strong, has
an almost insignifigant coefficient of expansion (no shape changes

Thermal expansion coefficient of polycarbonate is listed as 37e-6 (1/K), compared to 8.2e-6 for magnesium. > 4 times as much. Youngs modulus for PC is 2.7, for magnesium 45 (GPa).

over wider temperature variations), acts as a shock absorber for
the insides, is normally lighter in weight, and doesn't heat way up
or chill way down like metal..

Some people like the feel of metal. That's personal choice. It is
up to you.

One reason could be that they wanted to pack more stuff into the body and with magnesium, they could keep the cross section (hence volume) of the structure down, though there must be plenty of other reasons.

PC is a fantastic material, but not for everything.

jarek

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yabra
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Re: Why all this "magnesium" fuss?
In reply to alexeig, Nov 1, 2005

alexeig wrote:

I am so surprized with all this "ohhh ohhh magnesium body" noise.
Even Phil who is otherwise a very decent reviewer, the very first
thing he mentions is "magnesium body" in his preview of 200D.

Am I missing something? Is "magnesium body" THE feature of a camera?

I have film Nikon F2 from metal and digital 300D supposedly from
plastic and both seems to be about equal in durability.

you have to be on the junk if you compare the quality of a f2 and a dreb.
plllllleeeeeeaaaaaassssseeee.

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AnaDigi
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Re: Why all this "magnesium" fuss?
In reply to yabra, Nov 2, 2005

Ask yourself, how long are you going to keep the DSLR body?

It is very different than in the old days; once you have a good body, then everything will be rely on the films and the lenses. So we need a very durable body.

I am sure lots of people upgrade their camera bodies while the bodies are still very new.

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Leonard Migliore
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You got a problem machining mag?
In reply to mgb, Nov 2, 2005

mgb wrote:

Because you aren't going to try and tap M2 threads into your ABS
bag, nor are you concerned about it's stiffness or the ccd/lens
parallelism staying the same over 60deg temperature range.

There are some things metal is very good at. Light stiff metal is
very useful.
Titanium is expensive - magnesium is cheaper but a bugger to machine.

What? Titanium, besides being expensive, is the worst stuff in general use to machine. Magnesium machines quite easily. And it doesn't burst into flames at the slightest provocation. I mean, VW made their engines out of it for decades.

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Leonard Migliore

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limlh
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Re: Why all this "magnesium" fuss?
In reply to alexeig, Nov 2, 2005

Why do you think the F1 formula cars have carbon fibre bodies. They are light and strong.

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