My ideal advanced fixed-lens camera

Started Jun 8, 2014 | Discussions
glaebhoerl Regular Member • Posts: 105
My ideal advanced fixed-lens camera

The next crop of advanced fixed-lens cameras is upon us (Canon G1X mk2 and Sony RX100 mk3 in the present, Nikon P8000, Panasonic LX8, and Fuji X30 allegedly in the near future), and I'm currently in the market for one, so I felt like writing a wishlist of sorts.

Motivation

The main considerations behind my wishes are the following:

  • I already own a large-sensor ILC, which is excellent, but too big to carry with me all the time.
  • Therefore I'm looking for a smaller and lighter camera to complement it, which I can take with me more-or-less everywhere.
  • Shallow DoF in a (literally) compact camera is a losing proposition. Shallowness of DoF is driven by aperture size, and "small camera" and "large aperture" are, physically, mutually exclusive. Consider the G1X mk2, which goes further in this direction than any previous camera with a fixed zoom lens: it's already too big and heavy for my purposes, and still only achieves the full-frame equivalent of f/8 at 120mm, which is traditionally considered a small aperture. It's trivially easy to do 2 or 3 stops better with the right lens on an APS-C or full frame ILC.
  • As per the above, if I want large apertures (shallow DoF), I can use my ILC. I want my compact camera to be compact.
  • Of primary importance besides a compact size is flexibility. With shallow DoF not a viable option, this means having a useful focal length (angle of view) range.
  • However, good image quality and low-light performance are still important, so I'm not very interested in typical small-sensor travel zooms.
  • As many or more of my shots tend to be at longer focal lengths as at shorter ones, so the maximum aperture getting several stops smaller at the long end is not appreciated.
  • I don't mind if it's expensive if it does what I want. I only want it to be smaller, not less sophisticated.

With those in mind, here's the camera I'm wishing that someone would produce. I tried to keep things within the realm of the physically feasible as far as possible given my level of expertise.

Details

Size

Something around the size, weight, and form factor of an Olympus XZ-1 would be nice. It strikes a good balance between being large enough to use comfortably and small enough to be portable (I carried mine in a belt-pouch). Slightly smaller might be welcome, slightly larger would probably be acceptable.

Sensor

12MP 2/3"-type multi-aspect-ratio sensor with PDAF.

Multi-aspect-ratio means being able to shoot at 1:1, 4:3, 3:2, or 16:9 ratios without significant degradation in angle of view or resolution. 12MP and 2/3" should be the usable size and resolution, the actual sensor would be somewhat larger. Due to the diagonal of the used sensor area, and therefore the diameter of the image circle remaining fixed, I believe this doesn't require the lens to be any larger than it would be with a fixed-aspect-ratio sensor, only the sensor itself.

Lens

24-240mm equivalent (6.1-61mm actual) constant f/2.8 lens with OIS.

This form factor, sensor, and lens combination is somewhat aggressive, but I don't think it's wholly unrealistic. The Olympus Stylus 1, whose body size when disregarding the EVF hump and tilting LCD is in the range of our target, has a 6.2-65.9mm (actual) f/2.8 lens, so this hypothetical lens doesn't seem like it would be a physical impossibility. However, a less wide (28mm equiv.) or less long (200mm equiv.) lens, or a smaller 1.7"-type sensor would also be acceptable, if necessary.

Shutter

Silent electronic shutter with 1/16000s maximum speed.

Again this is aggressive, but not unprecedented: the Panasonic GM1 has one. As technology marches on, perhaps the accompanying small mechanical shutter could also be done without, saving even more space.

Viewfinder

Basically the EVF from the Fuji X-E2: reasonably large (0.64x magnification), detailed (2.36M dot, XGA), and fast (0.005s lag), but in the corner and flush with the camera body, not protruding from it. No OVF.

Controls

Touchscreen LCD with the ability to select the focus point.

A mechanical zoom ring as on the Fuji X10 and X20 would be ideal, but a by-wire motorized zoom ring around the lens would also be acceptable.

An exposure compensation dial.

No PASM dial. Instead, dedicated controls for shutter speed and aperture.

To save space, the shutter speed dial could go around the shutter release button, which makes a bit of sense, seeing that both of them are shutter-related controls. (In Auto ISO mode, perhaps it could select the minimum shutter speed, instead of a fixed speed.)

Some control over aperture size is desirable, but a traditional aperture control ring doesn't make much sense on a smaller-sensor camera like this, because DoF will be huge no matter what, making fine-grained control over it pointless: the full-frame equivalent of f/11 would be the largest available aperture. Therefore I would rather, for example, have a switch somewhere on the front of the camera with 3 or 4 positions: Auto, f/2.8, f/8, and maybe an f/16 or so. This again saves space. "Auto" would optimize for maximum sharpness, around f/4 or f/5.6, when possible given the desired exposure, so moving the switch out of Auto would only be necessary when you want something different.

Things I can do without

A built-in ND filter. The 1/16000s maximum shutter speed is already 3 times faster than the usual 1/2000s on fixed-lens cameras, making an ND filter less necessary, and saving some space.

A built-in flash. An in-the-box external flash powered by the camera's batteries, as seen with the Fuji X-T1, seems like an appealing compromise. This again saves some space in the camera itself.

Flipping/tilting LCD. Would be nice, but a smaller camera is more important.

GPS, WiFi. WiFi might be nice, but not really necessary.

Brand

Ah, the contentious part. As it might be possible to guess from some of the details above, I would prefer if it were Made by Fujifilm, for the retro styling and film simulation modes. Although the dedicated controls are also a Fuji thing.

Price

$800-1000

As I wrote, I don't mind if the price is high if it's well-justified. With the above specs, it definitely would be.

Summary

Roughly Oly XZ-1 size and weight

12MP 2/3" multi-aspect-ratio sensor with PDAF

24-240mm equiv. f/2.8 lens with OIS

Electronic 1/16000s shutter

X-E2 EVF

Touchscreen

Zoom ring

EV dial, shutter speed dial, f-stop switch

No built-in flash, ND filter, or tilting LCD

Made by Fujifilm

$800-1000

Even shorter and less accurate summary

An Oly Stylus 1 minus the EVF hump and tilting LCD and made by Fuji.

Thanks for reading.

Fujifilm X10 Fujifilm X20 Fujifilm X-E2 Fujifilm X-T1 Olympus XZ-1 Sony RX100
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Ido S
Ido S Veteran Member • Posts: 4,955
Is PDAF necessary?

With that much depth of field at all times, I don't think you'd really need phase detection autofocus.

 Ido S's gear list:Ido S's gear list
Olympus 40-150mm F2.8 Pro Olympus OM-D E-M5 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 9-18mm F4.0-5.6 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-50mm 1:3.5-6.3 EZ Olympus M.Zuiko ED 75-300mm 1:4.8-6.7 II +1 more
Wetzlarkid
Wetzlarkid Contributing Member • Posts: 614
Re: My ideal advanced fixed-lens camera

The next crop of advanced fixed-lens cameras is upon us (Canon G1X mk2 and Sony RX100 mk3 in the present, Nikon P8000, Panasonic LX8, and Fuji X30 allegedly in the near future), and I'm currently in the market for one, so I felt like writing a wishlist of sorts.

Motivation

The main considerations behind my wishes are the following:

  • I already own a large-sensor ILC, which is excellent, but too big to carry with me all the time.
  • Therefore I'm looking for a smaller and lighter camera to complement it, which I can take with me more-or-less everywhere.
  • Shallow DoF in a (literally) compact camera is a losing proposition. Shallowness of DoF is driven by aperture size, and "small camera" and "large aperture" are, physically, mutually exclusive. Consider the G1X mk2, which goes further in this direction than any previous camera with a fixed zoom lens: it's already too big and heavy for my purposes, and still only achieves the full-frame equivalent of f/8 at 120mm, which is traditionally considered a small aperture. It's trivially easy to do 2 or 3 stops better with the right lens on an APS-C or full frame ILC.
  • As per the above, if I want large apertures (shallow DoF), I can use my ILC. I want my compact camera to be compact.
  • Of primary importance besides a compact size is flexibility. With shallow DoF not a viable option, this means having a useful focal length (angle of view) range.
  • However, good image quality and low-light performance are still important, so I'm not very interested in typical small-sensor travel zooms.
  • As many or more of my shots tend to be at longer focal lengths as at shorter ones, so the maximum aperture getting several stops smaller at the long end is not appreciated.
  • I don't mind if it's expensive if it does what I want. I only want it to be smaller, not less sophisticated.

With those in mind, here's the camera I'm wishing that someone would produce. I tried to keep things within the realm of the physically feasible as far as possible given my level of expertise.

Details

Size

Something around the size, weight, and form factor of an Olympus XZ-1 would be nice. It strikes a good balance between being large enough to use comfortably and small enough to be portable (I carried mine in a belt-pouch). Slightly smaller might be welcome, slightly larger would probably be acceptable.

Sensor

12MP 2/3"-type multi-aspect-ratio sensor with PDAF.

Multi-aspect-ratio means being able to shoot at 1:1, 4:3, 3:2, or 16:9 ratios without significant degradation in angle of view or resolution. 12MP and 2/3" should be the usable size and resolution, the actual sensor would be somewhat larger. Due to the diagonal of the used sensor area, and therefore the diameter of the image circle remaining fixed, I believe this doesn't require the lens to be any larger than it would be with a fixed-aspect-ratio sensor, only the sensor itself.

Lens

24-240mm equivalent (6.1-61mm actual) constant f/2.8 lens with OIS.

This form factor, sensor, and lens combination is somewhat aggressive, but I don't think it's wholly unrealistic. The Olympus Stylus 1, whose body size when disregarding the EVF hump and tilting LCD is in the range of our target, has a 6.2-65.9mm (actual) f/2.8 lens, so this hypothetical lens doesn't seem like it would be a physical impossibility. However, a less wide (28mm equiv.) or less long (200mm equiv.) lens, or a smaller 1.7"-type sensor would also be acceptable, if necessary.

Shutter

Silent electronic shutter with 1/16000s maximum speed.

Again this is aggressive, but not unprecedented: the Panasonic GM1 has one. As technology marches on, perhaps the accompanying small mechanical shutter could also be done without, saving even more space.

Viewfinder

Basically the EVF from the Fuji X-E2: reasonably large (0.64x magnification), detailed (2.36M dot, XGA), and fast (0.005s lag), but in the corner and flush with the camera body, not protruding from it. No OVF.

Controls

Touchscreen LCD with the ability to select the focus point.

A mechanical zoom ring as on the Fuji X10 and X20 would be ideal, but a by-wire motorized zoom ring around the lens would also be acceptable.

An exposure compensation dial.

No PASM dial. Instead, dedicated controls for shutter speed and aperture.

To save space, the shutter speed dial could go around the shutter release button, which makes a bit of sense, seeing that both of them are shutter-related controls. (In Auto ISO mode, perhaps it could select the minimum shutter speed, instead of a fixed speed.)

Some control over aperture size is desirable, but a traditional aperture control ring doesn't make much sense on a smaller-sensor camera like this, because DoF will be huge no matter what, making fine-grained control over it pointless: the full-frame equivalent of f/11 would be the largest available aperture. Therefore I would rather, for example, have a switch somewhere on the front of the camera with 3 or 4 positions: Auto, f/2.8, f/8, and maybe an f/16 or so. This again saves space. "Auto" would optimize for maximum sharpness, around f/4 or f/5.6, when possible given the desired exposure, so moving the switch out of Auto would only be necessary when you want something different.

Things I can do without

A built-in ND filter. The 1/16000s maximum shutter speed is already 3 times faster than the usual 1/2000s on fixed-lens cameras, making an ND filter less necessary, and saving some space.

A built-in flash. An in-the-box external flash powered by the camera's batteries, as seen with the Fuji X-T1, seems like an appealing compromise. This again saves some space in the camera itself.

Flipping/tilting LCD. Would be nice, but a smaller camera is more important.

GPS, WiFi. WiFi might be nice, but not really necessary.

Brand

Ah, the contentious part. As it might be possible to guess from some of the details above, I would prefer if it were Made by Fujifilm, for the retro styling and film simulation modes. Although the dedicated controls are also a Fuji thing.

Price

$800-1000

As I wrote, I don't mind if the price is high if it's well-justified. With the above specs, it definitely would be.

Summary

Roughly Oly XZ-1 size and weight

12MP 2/3" multi-aspect-ratio sensor with PDAF

24-240mm equiv. f/2.8 lens with OIS

Electronic 1/16000s shutter

X-E2 EVF

Touchscreen

Zoom ring

EV dial, shutter speed dial, f-stop switch

No built-in flash, ND filter, or tilting LCD

Made by Fujifilm

$800-1000

Even shorter and less accurate summary

An Oly Stylus 1 minus the EVF hump and tilting LCD and made by Fuji.

Thanks for reading.

Thank you for Posting your BOOK"
sorry, but we are not interested..

 Wetzlarkid's gear list:Wetzlarkid's gear list
Leica X1 Leica V-Lux 40 Leica V-Lux 4 Leica X Vario Nikon D90 +4 more
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