My dream system, inspired byThom

Started Jun 8, 2014 | Discussions thread
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Ido S
Ido S Senior Member • Posts: 4,942
My dream system, inspired byThom

Thom Hogan has recently published a post titled Back to Basics, in which he describes his views on the most logical camera and lenses, and then followed it with results of a poll he put up, in the post Basic Camera Would Sell Big. That inspired me to think deeply, what my take on that topic would be. I strongly recommend reading those two posts before reading my take on it.

I definitely agree with his menu philosophy. Long menus don't belong in cameras, they should be taken out. The most important features should be accessible via buttons and dials, and any rarely-used setting that still needs to be there, can sit in a connected smartphone's app. Photographers shouldn't think long about what settings they're using, other than the basic ones - aperture, shutter speed, ISO, white balance, drive mode, etc.

We all know that the histogram is a powerful tool. It tells us, at a glance, if the exposure is good or not. I use a live histogram all the time with my Olympus OM-D E-M5. However, there's one annoying limitation to that histogram in-camera - it only shows the rendered JPEG's histogram, not the RAW data. Every RAW converter reads RAW data differently, so maybe an option to choose which RAW conversion software you use can be a solution. Then the camera will show the exact histogram for the RAW file, not a processed JPEG that you wouldn't use, if you only shoot RAW.

I wish there's a special metering mode, that's smart enough to understand that we want to preserve both highlight and shadow detail. The RAW histogram should be close to the right edge without touching it, and also not touching the left edge. Therefore, the exposure should be pushed as far up as possible without clipping. The camera should really do it automatically. I'd also want it to warn me when the shadows are clipping - then I'd use exposure compensation and expose 1 stop over, and again, until I get to an image that has no shadow clipping. Kind of like Tim Cooper's method for shooting for HDR, only more automatic.

Unlike Thom Hogan, I would like to have the ability to shoot video. In fact, I don't need anything fancy - just let me shoot at 1920 x 1080 @ 30p, with manual controls and good manual focus, and I'll be served very well.

Another thing I want in a camera, is any form of GPS to geotag photos. Connecting a phone is probably the best solution, and one that's now in use with many cameras, but built-in GPS, if implemented in such a way that still preserves battery life to at least 400-500 shots per charge, is even better.

Now on to the specs one usually looks at first. I'd like to see an APS-H sensor. Yes, a 1.3x crop factor is, in my opinion, very nice - it lends itself very well to a balance between APS-C's smaller lenses and full frame's better performance at high ISO. While APS-C is already a great middle-ground in that respect, I would personally love to shoot with a modern sensor in an APS-H size format. Maybe it's just my stupid passion for trying things that aren't popular. The sensor should sport a high resolution - 24MP is perfect.

For autofocus, a sensor like the Canon EOS 70D's phase-detection sensor (AF with optical viewfinder, not Live View) is absolutely sufficient. 19 points, all cross-type. No complaints. Continuous shooting with tracking autofocus should be at least 5 fps, and the buffer should withstand 20 RAW files in that 5 fps sequence.

The camera shouldn't be any bigger than an entry-level DSLR, like the Nikon D5300 and the Canon EOS 700D. It should be ruggedly built, up to the standards of professional full frame DSLRs, and of course -properly weather sealed. A top-plate LCD panel isn't necessary at all, but a twin-dial control setup is; one right on the thumb grip, and the other easily reached by the index finger.

If a metering mode such as the one I explained previously is present, then a big, bright, 100%-coverage optical viewfinder would be best. Otherwise, a big electronic viewfinder, in the ballpark of the Fujifilm X-T1's or the Olympus OM-D E-M1's, is best. In that case, a different autofocus system should be used, obviously, but it still needs to be just as good with tracking moving subjects.

Remember I mentioned the word "system" before? Yes, my dreams for this are for a whole new system. The real dream involves the Leica M mount, to allow use of some of the best lenses ever, but that's not practical with the 70D's AF. Maybe just a beefy mirrorless camera would be the answer...



  • 11-22mm f/4 - $800
  • 19-57mm f/4 - $700 (cheaper when bundled with the camera)
  • 50-150mm f/4 - $1,000
  • 150-300mm f/4 - $1,500
  • 22-220mm f/4-5.6 - $500


  • 16mm f/2 - $600
  • 20mm f/2 - $500
  • 27mm f/2 - $450
  • 40mm f/2 - $400
  • 65mm f/2 - $450
  • 100mm f/2 - $600
  • 250mm f/2.8 - $1,000
  • 400mm f/4 - $2,000
  • 500mm f/5.6 - $2,000


  • 80mm f/2.8 macro - $600
  • 10mm f/4 fisheye - $400
  • Tilt/Shift

All lenses made specifically for that 24MP APS-H sensor. The crop factor is 1.3x, if you wish to calculate equivalents. These lenses cover everything that any type of photographer would ever need - from landscapes and travel to sports and wildlife. All lenses must be weather sealed to the same degree as the camera. The 16mm f/2 should have something to prevent condensation - I'm sure someone can find a solution for this. All telephoto lenses should include a tripod collar.

My limited knowledge about tilt/shift lenses makes me hesitant to post any specifications or a price.

Lenses that should share the same filter thread: 11-22mm, 19-57mm, 20mm and 27mm.

The 16mm should be great for manual focus, with a proper depth of field scale. That would also be great for the 20mm and 27mm. The 11-22mm and 19-57mm can't have a depth of field scale, but a proper distance scale alone would be great.

Hey, here's an idea for the camera's autofocus. An automatic way to focus straight to the hyperfocal distance! Wouldn't that be nice?

What's your take on it? Do you think my system is logical, in any way?

Remember that we're not talking about something that really would go on the market, it's just typing out daydreams!

 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
Canon EOS 700D (EOS Rebel T5i / EOS Kiss X7i) Canon EOS 70D Fujifilm X-T1 Nikon D5300 Olympus E-M1 Olympus OM-D E-M5
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