The Retro-DSLR Dream

Started Apr 25, 2016 | Discussions thread
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tonybelding Contributing Member • Posts: 981
The Retro-DSLR Dream
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The other day I went out to take a spin in the countryside, and almost as an afterthought I tossed my old Ricoh XR7 35mm SLR and a few prime lenses in the car. You might imagine going back to 1982 would be like flint knives and bear skins -- but I didn't find that to be the case at all. It was a joy to use, just as I remember from the Good Old Days when I was learning photography. And when the photos came back from the lab, Kodak Ektar colors are fantastic!

I would still be using this camera for everything if getting film developed wasn't such a hassle. And color negative film is only good for about 6 MP scans. And, well. . . Film isn't exactly great for high-ISO performance! So, going back to film full-time isn't entirely plausible to me.

Yet, every digital camera I look at, I end up measuring against the XR7, and they all come up lacking. I want something with this form factor, these controls, and this enormous, bright viewfinder with split-prism and microprism focusing screen! And a full-frame sensor, please!

I know it's technically possible to make such a camera. I just don't know if any camera company is bold enough to make it, and I honestly don't know if it would sell enough units (to eccentric old-timers like me) to ever pay for the development. But I can dream.

I know there have been a few attempts to fit a battery, memory card and digital sensor into the format of a 35mm film roll, but that never seems to work out. I don't think that's the right approach. The camera needs to be purpose built.

I've seen some retro efforts like the Nikon Df and the Fuji X-T1, but these are compromises in various ways. They're trying to do too much, and be fully modern, full-featured cameras while also being retro, and the two worlds don't fully mesh.

My suggestion is: No video shooting. No LCD display, or menus, or four-way D-Pad. No autofocus. No auto-ISO. Take away all the complexity and all the "features" that the classic 35mm SLR never had or needed. Shoot DNG files only, and leave aspect ratio cropping or white balance adjustment to be done in post-processing.

I think I can live without a film winding lever, though!

So, all of this is just an intellectual exercise, I guess. I can't think of who would ever make this, unless it was. . . Samyang, maybe? They would already have a catalog of lenses, ready to ship!

Maybe somebody could do a Kickstarter. . .

 tonybelding's gear list:tonybelding's gear list
Fujifilm FinePix Real 3D W3 Ricoh GR II Sony RX10 IV Pentax Q7 Sony a7 +1 more
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