Fuji gets titanium, Olympus gets...plastic?

Started 2 months ago | Discussions thread
cba_melbourne Senior Member • Posts: 1,394
Some thoughts on plastic vs metal, and Titanium...

Androole wrote:


Titanium is a stupid material for top and bottom plates, given the physical material requirements of those components, but magnesium makes sense for the chassis, and that is what is used...

In my personal experience, in an accident (dropping the camera or hitting an object) it is almost always the top and bottom plates that take the bulk of the hit. Actually, it is the corners of the top and bottom plates. Cameras rarely fall flat onto front/back or side.

The corners of the top and bottom plates are also the ones that show first natural wear and tear. Just think of the old film cameras, where was the paint worn off first exposing the brass underneath?

So, there at least is some logic in trying to use wear and impact resistant materials for top and bottom covers.

I agree Titanium is not the best choice, because it is very difficult and costly to form into intricate and appealing shapes. Exactly because of it's toughness. Cost also matters, because the top and bottom plates are parts relatively often replaced in camera servicing (drives the cost of repairs up).


- A downside of using unpainted plastic for covers, is that plastic often fades unevenly. Different plastic components (even if made of the same material) can take on slightly different colors by the exposure to sunlight, which looks cheap. I am sure you have seen this before, on things other than cameras. This happens because different parts are not made at the same time with the exactly same batch of plastic granules on the same molding machine and melting temperature..

- That is why plastic on cameras is painted. That brings about another problem though. Plastic surfaces are soft and easily dented or scratched, penetrating under the thin paint coat and exposing the different material color underneath. Which now just looks plain ugly, not just cheap. The more the color of the plastic core differs from the paint, the worse it wears. The most horrific example for this, is black plastic sprayed with silver paint.

- Plastic is not a conductor. This has two disadvantages. First, it cannot be used well as a heat sink to dissipate heat generated inside the camera to the outside - then makers have to implant large copper or steel plates or even heat pipes inside the camera to store the heat somewhere away from the sensor, which again adds weight. Second, even with anti static additives, plastic is still is a magnet for dust compared to metal.

Me personally, I believe that the very best and hardest wearing material for top/bottom plates is metal, either hard anodized Aluminium or brass high quality plated with Nickel or Chromium. My second preference would be for painted Magnesium. Injection molded plastic really would never be on my wish list of preferences, unless it was glass or carbon reinforced epoxy resin.

Just accept it, the one and only reason to use injection molded plastic in camera chassis and top/bottom plates is money. It has nothing to do with weight or impact resistance, nothing at all. It would be far more palatable, had Olympus chosen to pass-on at least some of the savings they made by using plastic to their customers.

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