Why are cameras so big?

Started Jan 27, 2012 | Discussions
brawn factory New Member • Posts: 8
Why are cameras so big?

Now that there are a few interesting smallish aps-c cameras out, I still don't understand why all full frame cameras are so massive. My ideal camera would either be a nice range finder or a SLR with the size and weight of a Pentax K-5 but with a full frame sensor. Why does this seem to be imposible to do?

There used to be such brilliant small cameras as the Pentax LX or the Olympus OM series and even some later nice and small ones with autofocus. All of them could accomodate a full frame of film. Why can't a full frame sensor be accomodated in a decent transportable camera body? The inner parts of a Nikon D4 must be quite crowded, but with less demands on speed and a slightly less ambitious set of functions, why couldn't there be a smaller camera with the obvious advantages of full frame sensors? Then again, the D3 is 5 years old and its electronics can probably be outperformed by smaller chips. Why can't I have one in the package of a D7000?

Is there an obvious reason and am I just stupid?

Nikon D3 Nikon D4 Nikon D7000 Pentax K-5
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charleyd Senior Member • Posts: 1,226
Re: Why are cameras so big?

Mass is a good thing.

OP brawn factory New Member • Posts: 8
Re: Why are cameras so big?

It's not! Mass has to be dragged around.

ABA DABA Veteran Member • Posts: 3,088
Re: Why are cameras so big?

Because of all the little people inside that make things work when you push the buttons.
--
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Mako2011
Mako2011 Forum Pro • Posts: 27,599
Re: Why are cameras so big?

brawn factory wrote:

It's not! Mass has to be dragged around.

Not everyone is adverse to physical activity. I think most cameras are far to small and light to be held effectively. If it bothers you, perhaps you could hire an assistant or get one of those powered chairs with a basket on the front. Can't have it all

(unknown member) Senior Member • Posts: 2,071
Re: Why are cameras so big?

Well one of the reasons is the electrical needs of the cameras today. My F2, and FE only use battery to meter (the FE also times the shutter with it). The pro models are built to work the same in either orientation (landscape and portrait) for ease of use. Another reason is to make the lens look like it is made for the camera. All of the automation features crammed into the lenses, and camera bodies needs space. I agree with you though, and the D7000 is quite large enough and should have a FX sensor inside.
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OP brawn factory New Member • Posts: 8
Re: Why are cameras so big?

Seriously, nobody want's to dragg a D4 or 1D body with lenses around if not shooting professionally or taking the trip just for photography. This kills quite a lot of the spontanious possibilities of just having a camera with you daily and shooting whatever you come across. There are reasons why people dig their old Leicas.

A full frame body needs better/bigger glass, but then again it doesn't have to be quite as bright as the low light performance is better and DOF can be achieved with a slightly smaller aperature. Is there a technical reason for this, why can't the Fuji X100 be built with a FF sensor as it's not smaller than some film cameras?

OP brawn factory New Member • Posts: 8
Re: Why are cameras so big?

So they didn't feed them as well in the 70s when the cameras could be built smaller?

Mako2011
Mako2011 Forum Pro • Posts: 27,599
Re: Why are cameras so big?

brawn factory wrote:

Seriously, nobody want's to dragg a D4 or 1D body with lenses around if not shooting professionally or taking the trip just for photography.

Actually, not everyone is adverse to doing that.

This kills quite a lot of the spontanious possibilities of just having a camera with you daily and shooting whatever you come across. There are reasons why people dig their old Leicas.

I can see your point if you're more into convenience vs IQ. I think that's why the fast food joints do so well and good gourmet food is getting harder to find.

A full frame body needs better/bigger glass, but then again it doesn't have to be quite as bright as the low light performance is better and DOF can be achieved with a slightly smaller aperature. Is there a technical reason for this, why can't the Fuji X100 be built with a FF sensor as it's not smaller than some film cameras?

I think you'll need a better understanding of physics and manufacturing to fully understand the answerer. But, perhaps it might be better if you simply put photography aside for awhile and come back in a few years and see if the IPhone 6 might better meet your needs. The rest of use might let you barrow our D6's when you actually are needing to create a photograph.

Graystar Veteran Member • Posts: 8,373
Re: Why are cameras so big?

brawn factory wrote:

Is there an obvious reason and am I just stupid?

The answers aren't obvious (but that doesn't mean you're not stupid )

Still, I don't understand what you're complaining about. It sounds like a Leica M9 is just what you're looking for. What's wrong with that camera?

.

OP brawn factory New Member • Posts: 8
Re: Why are cameras so big?

Graystar wrote:

brawn factory wrote:

Is there an obvious reason and am I just stupid?

The answers aren't obvious (but that doesn't mean you're not stupid )

Still, I don't understand what you're complaining about. It sounds like a Leica M9 is just what you're looking for. What's wrong with that camera?

.

The M9 is probably closest to what I'm looking for. The biggest problem with it is price, where the brand costs quite a bit. The other thing is that it doesn't seem to offer the sensitivity advantages FF sensors potentially could.

OP brawn factory New Member • Posts: 8
Re: Why are cameras so big?

Mako2011 wrote:

brawn factory wrote:

Seriously, nobody want's to dragg a D4 or 1D body with lenses around if not shooting professionally or taking the trip just for photography.

Actually, not everyone is adverse to doing that.

No, but it does limit the use of the thing quite a bit.

This kills quite a lot of the spontanious possibilities of just having a camera with you daily and shooting whatever you come across. There are reasons why people dig their old Leicas.

I can see your point if you're more into convenience vs IQ. I think that's why the fast food joints do so well and good gourmet food is getting harder to find.

I like your old Leica = fast food analogy.

I think you'll need a better understanding of physics and manufacturing to fully understand the answerer. But, perhaps it might be better if you simply put photography aside for awhile and come back in a few years and see if the IPhone 6 might better meet your needs. The rest of use might let you barrow our D6's when you actually are needing to create a photograph.

I would apreciate if you would give me an answer which I might try to understand with my limited capacity in physics and manufacturing. To put the question simply, why cant they put a FF sensor and mirror box in the kind (size) of body they used in the late 70s. The only good answer I had so far is the need to accomodate battery capacity.

Lee Jay Forum Pro • Posts: 56,673
So they fit your hands

Many of the old cameras were completely unergonomic. The newer, bigger cameras are better shaped to fit in your hand. Unless your hands get smaller, I don't see why you'd want a smaller camera.
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Mako2011
Mako2011 Forum Pro • Posts: 27,599
Re: Why are cameras so big?

brawn factory wrote:

Mako2011 wrote:

brawn factory wrote:

Seriously, nobody want's to dragg a D4 or 1D body with lenses around if not shooting professionally or taking the trip just for photography.

Actually, not everyone is adverse to doing that.

No, but it does limit the use of the thing quite a bit.

Only if you have really small hands and are adverse to practice. I find smaller cameras much more limiting in many more ways than just the act of physically moving them. Hard to steady hold a little D5100 vs a D3 IMO

This kills quite a lot of the spontanious possibilities of just having a camera with you daily and shooting whatever you come across. There are reasons why people dig their old Leicas.

I can see your point if you're more into convenience vs IQ. I think that's why the fast food joints do so well and good gourmet food is getting harder to find.

I like your old Leica = fast food analogy.

I think you'll need a better understanding of physics and manufacturing to fully understand the answerer. But, perhaps it might be better if you simply put photography aside for awhile and come back in a few years and see if the IPhone 6 might better meet your needs. The rest of use might let you barrow our D6's when you actually are needing to create a photograph.

I would apreciate if you would give me an answer which I might try to understand with my limited capacity in physics and manufacturing. To put the question simply, why cant they put a FF sensor and mirror box in the kind (size) of body they used in the late 70s. The only good answer I had so far is the need to accomodate battery capacity.

Ask your self....what in a full frame DSLR can you shrink or get rid of to make it smaller. Now you have your answer. But, I hate doing away with OVF.

Graystar Veteran Member • Posts: 8,373
Re: Why are cameras so big?

brawn factory wrote:

Graystar wrote:

brawn factory wrote:

Is there an obvious reason and am I just stupid?

The answers aren't obvious (but that doesn't mean you're not stupid )

Still, I don't understand what you're complaining about. It sounds like a Leica M9 is just what you're looking for. What's wrong with that camera?

The M9 is probably closest to what I'm looking for. The biggest problem with it is price, where the brand costs quite a bit. The other thing is that it doesn't seem to offer the sensitivity advantages FF sensors potentially could.

Ah so now there's a price issue. You want what you want, but only at the price you want to pay. I see now.

Full-frame sensors are very expensive, and the sensor in a Leica is even more expensive because it contains offset microlenses to mitigate the fall-off issue that plagues digital sensors (as sensors are three dimensional devices...as opposed to film which was simply a two dimensional plane.) This is the same problem that plagues mirrorless cameras, where software is used to fix the lighting problem.

As I said, FF sensors are expensive. The people who buy FF cameras have certain expectations of usability, functionality, performance, and durability...and that makes the camera big and expensive. And they're willing to pay because they need such cameras.

For the rest of us, there's APS-C.

.

confyushis Senior Member • Posts: 1,072
memory cards, battery, cable ports, prism, mirror, etc ...

brawn factory wrote:

I still don't understand why all full frame cameras are so massive.

just to simplify a lot ...
divide a full-frame professional camera into 5 parts --

-- hide signature --

left side -- cable ports
-- right side -- memory card ports, likely dual CF cards, buttons, dials
-- top side -- 100% viewfinder, bright pentaprism
-- bottom side -- battery
-- middle -- mirror, sensor, lcd

and all the wiring/computer chips to tie them all together ...

now try to think about how to make them all smaller ...

-- left side - what ports do you get rid of? pc sync? a/v? hdmi? usb? mic? remote?

-- right side - CF cards are big. only 1 CF slot? only slower SD cards? less buttons?
-- top side - pentamirror=dimmer/smaller viewfinder? no viewfinder?
-- bottom side - smaller battery? fewer shots?
-- middle - no mirror? smaller sensor? smaller lcd? no fast phase-detect AF?

in making all the compromises, you might be able to come away with a smaller camera that has a full-frame sensor, but not much else that professionals need ... buttons/dials to change settings quickly, all the cable ports they need, bright/100% viewfinder, fast memory card access, battery power for lots of shots, fast focusing, etc ...

i don't know many professionals that would want to give any of that up just to hold something smaller ... and professionals are usually the ones buying the FF cameras ...

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MI6gunny Contributing Member • Posts: 518
Re: Why are cameras so big?

Mako2011 wrote:

brawn factory wrote:

Seriously, nobody want's to dragg a D4 or 1D body with lenses around if not shooting professionally or taking the trip just for photography.

Actually, not everyone is adverse to doing that.

But for how long? You're not going to carry something unless its comfortable, this is why so many guys look at P&S options out of sure convenience. This issue exsists everywhere you can take stuff, from tactical, videographer, and us photogs want to produce the same amount of bang with less weight and kit.

This kills quite a lot of the spontanious possibilities of just having a camera with you daily and shooting whatever you come across. There are reasons why people dig their old Leicas.

I can see your point if you're more into convenience vs IQ. I think that's why the fast food joints do so well and good gourmet food is getting harder to find.

I agree with you there. ("Give me convenience or give me death." - Dead Kennedies album)

A full frame body needs better/bigger glass, but then again it doesn't have to be quite as bright as the low light performance is better and DOF can be achieved with a slightly smaller aperature. Is there a technical reason for this, why can't the Fuji X100 be built with a FF sensor as it's not smaller than some film cameras?

I think you'll need a better understanding of physics and manufacturing to fully understand the answerer. But, perhaps it might be better if you simply put photography aside for awhile and come back in a few years and see if the IPhone 6 might better meet your needs. The rest of use might let you barrow our D6's when you actually are needing to create a photograph.

I believe an X100 with a FF sensor would be cost prohibitive. Though it could be done with the right engineering know how, problem is building it to cost. You could just go with a Leica and see what happens. Like Chase JArvis said, "The best camera is the one thats with you."
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Erik Magnuson Forum Pro • Posts: 12,247
D700, 5dII, a850

brawn factory wrote:

I still don't understand why all full frame cameras are so massive.

Nikon/Canon/Sony have smaller FF bodies than the highend: e.g., the 5DII, D700, vs. the pro series.

There used to be such brilliant small cameras as the Pentax LX or the Olympus OM series and even some later nice and small ones with autofocus.

And how many focus points did theoe cameras have? Phase detect AF sensors live at the bottom of the mirror box. Sensors for multiple points with vertical spread are taller than simple sensors for 1-3 points in a line ; that means more height needed.

Is there an obvious reason and am I just stupid?

The 5DII is slightly smaller than the EOS-3 and slightly larger than the EOS-7.

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Erik

wfektar Contributing Member • Posts: 700
Re: Why are cameras so big?

Mako2011 wrote:

Only if you have really small hands and are adverse to practice. I find smaller cameras much more limiting in many more ways than just the act of physically moving them. Hard to steady hold a little D5100 vs a D3 IMO

Fortunately for you you have a lot of choices. The OP does not. Some of us travel quite a bit and clunk factor is important. A FF OM-size camera would be just the ticket. There are niches for both larger cameras and smaller, and really only the larger is well filled.
Why do you have a problem with others preferring smaller gear?

Mako2011
Mako2011 Forum Pro • Posts: 27,599
Re: Why are cameras so big?

wfektar wrote:

Mako2011 wrote:

Only if you have really small hands and are adverse to practice. I find smaller cameras much more limiting in many more ways than just the act of physically moving them. Hard to steady hold a little D5100 vs a D3 IMO

Fortunately for you you have a lot of choices. The OP does not.

Why? I saw nothing in his posts that indicated he was choice limited unless you count "desire" as limiting in some way. "If I can't have the good expensive wine in an easier to carry bottle at half the price....I want no wine at all and will complain until I get my way or die, which ever comes first...so there"

Some of us travel quite a bit and clunk factor is important. A FF OM-size camera would be just the ticket.

What are you willing to give up for the convenience of lighter weight? Smaller battery...tiny rear screen...no OVF.... What?

There are niches for both larger cameras and smaller, and really only the larger is well filled.
Why do you have a problem with others preferring smaller gear?

I don't, But I do find it silly to demand exactly the same price and functionality of a D3/D4 in the physical dimensions of a D7000. You may get something close in the form of a D9000 down the road, but then you will all complain/demand the same all D6 users get in the size of your D9000....it's simply silly.

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