What's the big deal with the retro thing?

Started Mar 5, 2014 | Discussions
DarnGoodPhotos Senior Member • Posts: 7,306
Re: Yes, they are retro...

57even wrote:

darngooddesign wrote:

57even wrote:

darngooddesign wrote:

TL;DR. They are retro in the same way that the Ducati Sport Classics are and the Urals aren't.

Now you are talking my kind of retro...

This is me, enjoying my retro.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5eAQa4MOGkE

Gorgeous. Quite tempted by one of those myself....

You can't really buy one like mine as it started out as a 2000 Thunderbird Sport. Done up right they look a lot better than the Thurxton. I do fancy the Scrambler.

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Marcos Villaroman Veteran Member • Posts: 5,626
Re: What's the big deal with the retro thing?

John Rausch wrote:

Steam powered next? Wind-up maybe? I don't get it. Seriously, I'm not trolling, I want to know the appeal.

With Fuji cameras, it is not just the retro look.

"retro" comes and goes. The market goes in one direction long enough, old looks new again. People want to look difference and so the retro look a matter of styling.

Retro looking cameras do get you noticed and complimented by non-photographers, so that factor can help break the ice in conversations. Take a look at that FStoppers You Tube video about the Nikon df.

Personally when it comes to the Fuji cameras, the blending of old school features with modern capabilities and a "retro" look to complement everything has proven to be very useful to still photographers. It's about the shooting experience and emphasizing the basics that was all people had back then before automation took over. Using the Fuji-X is a change of pace that points out when the modern DSLR interface can get in your way or can limit how you look at things (i.e., caught in the same rut). However, you still got modern capabilities.

Retro looking Fuji-X cameras has become a way to make Fujifilm's cameras stand out from the competition. They show Fujifilm's abilities to interpret what a segment of photographers want in a camera and in a camera company.

Here's another way to look at it. The earliest SLR I ever used was the first Canon AE-1 followed by an older tilt metering Pentax. Last year I bought a Canon A-1 to try my hand at film again. That's when I realized how much the old Canon SLRs match up with today's cameras. I realize that those Canon A series sucked at manual focusing and were mostly about automatic exposure and shutter/priority modes. I didn't get a lot out of shooting film with manual focus with manual controls using the old Canon A-1. I now understand why Canon reps in an interview would say that Canon doesn't do retro --- at least when you compare Canon cameras from the 70s to today. Using retro camera today doesn't necessarily just using old tech today.

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Bill Robb Senior Member • Posts: 3,332
Re: What's the big deal with the retro thing?

John Rausch wrote:

Steam powered next? Wind-up maybe? I don't get it. Seriously, I'm not trolling, I want to know the appeal.

In the case of the X-T1, all the important controls are sitting right there in the open, easy to see, easy to read and easy to adjust.

Call it whatever you like, but it is the best camera I have used for a very long time from an ergonomics perspective, and I come from brands that are known to have superior ergonomics.

DarnGoodPhotos Senior Member • Posts: 7,306
Re: What's the big deal with the retro thing?

Jim Radcliffe wrote:

Conrad567 wrote:

I come from the days of film. I just have trouble remembering which unmarked button I set for ISO which dial to turn for my aperture, or shutter speed. Sometimes I feel like navigating all of the menus is like trying to play a video game and I keep losing. I just want to look down at the camera and say, "Oh yeah that's right, the shutter speed is here and the ISO is there and the F-stop is right there on the lens where I left it. It makes shooting on the fly WAAAAYYYYY easier....IMO.

It's funny in a way. I prefer manual controls for their quick and intuitive access and use.
Some of the young people who have grown up with the iphone and other "smart" devices don't seem to know what a knob of dial is for or why it would be preferable to menu diving. We may be a dying breed.

Done correctly, a touchscreen app does not require menu diving to access the main control dials. For example, Windows Phone has a very good camera app.

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tesilab
tesilab Senior Member • Posts: 2,971
Sometime "retro" just means "sorted out"

Some of those "retro" ways of doing things were really the evolved, mature approach to the available technology of the time.

The problem with the newer technology and all the possibilities they present is that the approach to controlling/harnessing just isn't as mature yet. For example, kitchen-sink features end up in your face, obscuring the critical controls.

At some point the more modern possibilities will also be sorted out. Some will become supreme, others will just shake out, and there will be new classics to take their place.

In the interim, I just want very little interruption between me and the subject and the basic settings.

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Conrad567 Contributing Member • Posts: 537
Re: What's the big deal with the retro thing?

darngooddesign wrote:

Jim Radcliffe wrote:

Conrad567 wrote:

I come from the days of film. I just have trouble remembering which unmarked button I set for ISO which dial to turn for my aperture, or shutter speed. Sometimes I feel like navigating all of the menus is like trying to play a video game and I keep losing. I just want to look down at the camera and say, "Oh yeah that's right, the shutter speed is here and the ISO is there and the F-stop is right there on the lens where I left it. It makes shooting on the fly WAAAAYYYYY easier....IMO.

It's funny in a way. I prefer manual controls for their quick and intuitive access and use.
Some of the young people who have grown up with the iphone and other "smart" devices don't seem to know what a knob of dial is for or why it would be preferable to menu diving. We may be a dying breed.

Done correctly, a touchscreen app does not require menu diving to access the main control dials. For example, Windows Phone has a very good camera app.

Sorry, but I don't even know what half of that shot even means.  I'll keep my dials as long as Fuji will keep making them.

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Jim Radcliffe
Jim Radcliffe Forum Pro • Posts: 11,805
Re: What's the big deal with the retro thing?
1

darngooddesign wrote:

Done correctly, a touchscreen app does not require menu diving to access the main control dials. For example, Windows Phone has a very good camera app.

That's great.. let those who want it use it.  I hate touch screens.  I do prefer having the camera to the eye, not looking at it from arms length and diddling it with my finger to get proper exposure or whatever adjustment I wish to make.

I have no problem with people who love using touch screens.. live and let live.  I'll take an actual physical control, thank you.

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pinnacle Senior Member • Posts: 2,539
Ferrari or Fiat?

If a Fiat 500 could drive 220 miles per hour and a Ferrari could only go 190, the handling characteristics were a little better for the Fiat, only the body styles were different and the price for either was $90,000 which would you buy?

Do you think that the people selling off their Nikon D800s for the X-T1 are doing so because they like the "retro" look? Really? really?

Dan

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Life is good.

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DarnGoodPhotos Senior Member • Posts: 7,306
Re: What's the big deal with the retro thing?

Conrad567 wrote:

darngooddesign wrote:

Jim Radcliffe wrote:

Conrad567 wrote:

I come from the days of film. I just have trouble remembering which unmarked button I set for ISO which dial to turn for my aperture, or shutter speed. Sometimes I feel like navigating all of the menus is like trying to play a video game and I keep losing. I just want to look down at the camera and say, "Oh yeah that's right, the shutter speed is here and the ISO is there and the F-stop is right there on the lens where I left it. It makes shooting on the fly WAAAAYYYYY easier....IMO.

It's funny in a way. I prefer manual controls for their quick and intuitive access and use.
Some of the young people who have grown up with the iphone and other "smart" devices don't seem to know what a knob of dial is for or why it would be preferable to menu diving. We may be a dying breed.

Done correctly, a touchscreen app does not require menu diving to access the main control dials. For example, Windows Phone has a very good camera app.

Sorry, but I don't even know what half of that shot even means. I'll keep my dials as long as Fuji will keep making them.

White balance presets, Aperture, ISO, Shutter speed, and exposure compensation controls. Move them along the arc to adjust them.

I'm not saying I prefer a touchscreen camera, I prefer my physical dials, just pointing out that the idea that its either dials or a complex menu structure to change the basic camera parameters is incorrect.

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mr moonlight Senior Member • Posts: 1,789
Re: Some styles are timeless

Marty4650 wrote:

Unlike technology, which is always guaranteed to improve as time passes... style is completely independent form science. A newer style isn't necessarily any better than a classic style, even though newer technology is always better than older technology is.

Ideally, we want things that have the latest technology combined with great styling. And while the technology is always newest, the styling doesn't have to be.

Some examples of new technology coupled with classic styling:

1963 Porsche 911

Definitely a choice example. I have one of these (a slightly later model) and it's an absolutely beautiful automobile. The tech in it doesn't even hold a candle to my modern daily driver, but it's so much fun to drive. Part of it, is that there's so much less between the driver and the road in one of these. No power steering and everything is analog. Interestingly enough, it gets decent mileage on the highway and being under 2000lbs and having 150HP, it has a decent amount of power.

If you made this same car with modern parts while still keeping true to the original design, we'd have something like the X100. Sure, it may have a digital readout on the dash and tire pressure sensors, but it would feel a lot like the original. It would be like having all the perks of a classic car without the headache.

Marty4650
Marty4650 Forum Pro • Posts: 14,640
Re: Some styles are timeless

mr moonlight wrote:

If you made this same car with modern parts while still keeping true to the original design, we'd have something like the X100. Sure, it may have a digital readout on the dash and tire pressure sensors, but it would feel a lot like the original. It would be like having all the perks of a classic car without the headache.

The new Porsche 911 is pretty much the same car... with modern parts. In 1963 it costs around $6,000, but today it will cost around $90,000, and could go up as high as $193,600 based on model and options selected.

There are a few reasons for this huge price increase:

  • Inflation alone would take the price to $45,000 today
  • There are safety and emissions controls that didn't exist in 1963
  • The new version really is a pretty amazing car, that accelerates, brakes, steers, and does virtually everything better than it did in 1963.

The dream car that I would love to see remade as a modern version is this one....

The Volkswagen Kharmann-Ghia Convertible coupe was an absolutely stunning car design. Unfortunately it was nothing more than a VW Beetle wearing much nicer clothing. But i still loved the way it looked.

Since VW does make a convertable Beetle today, and it costs around $30,000, I'd assume it could be styled like the classic Kharmann-Ghia for around the same price. Same insides, different skin....

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Albert Valentino Veteran Member • Posts: 6,655
Re: Some styles are timeless

Marty4650 wrote:

Unlike technology, which is always guaranteed to improve as time passes... style is completely independent form science. A newer style isn't necessarily any better than a classic style, even though newer technology is always better than older technology is.

Ideally, we want things that have the latest technology combined with great styling. And while the technology is always newest, the styling doesn't have to be.

Some examples of new technology coupled with classic styling:

1963 Porsche 911

2012 Porsche 911. 49 years newer, and crammed with new technology.

1897 Victorian home

2012 Victorian home. Guess which one has the best technology in it?

1955 Leica M3

2011 - Fuji X100. Fifty six years newer, same style, much better technology.

Great examples. The car examples remind me of the Astin. Martin from the early 60's James Bond movies that included an Ejection Seat! I guess they don't make them like that anymore

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Conrad567 Contributing Member • Posts: 537
Re: What's the big deal with the retro thing?

darngooddesign wrote:

Conrad567 wrote:

darngooddesign wrote:

Jim Radcliffe wrote:

Conrad567 wrote:

I come from the days of film. I just have trouble remembering which unmarked button I set for ISO which dial to turn for my aperture, or shutter speed. Sometimes I feel like navigating all of the menus is like trying to play a video game and I keep losing. I just want to look down at the camera and say, "Oh yeah that's right, the shutter speed is here and the ISO is there and the F-stop is right there on the lens where I left it. It makes shooting on the fly WAAAAYYYYY easier....IMO.

It's funny in a way. I prefer manual controls for their quick and intuitive access and use.
Some of the young people who have grown up with the iphone and other "smart" devices don't seem to know what a knob of dial is for or why it would be preferable to menu diving. We may be a dying breed.

Done correctly, a touchscreen app does not require menu diving to access the main control dials. For example, Windows Phone has a very good camera app.

Sorry, but I don't even know what half of that shot even means. I'll keep my dials as long as Fuji will keep making them.

White balance presets, Aperture, ISO, Shutter speed, and exposure compensation controls. Move them along the arc to adjust them.

I'm not saying I prefer a touchscreen camera, I prefer my physical dials, just pointing out that the idea that its either dials or a complex menu structure to change the basic camera parameters is incorrect.

All a matter of opinion I think.  Sliders to me are finicky and amateurish.  But to the tech type they are an improvement.  Thank goodness for Sony and Panasonic if that is what a person cares for, but for me thank goodness for Fuji!

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Marty4650
Marty4650 Forum Pro • Posts: 14,640
Why people like restro styles....
3

Sometimes... it is because this modern crap is so damn ugly...

And here is what happens when retro goes wrong....

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John Rausch
OP John Rausch Regular Member • Posts: 399
Re: What's the big deal with the retro thing?

I appreciate all of the replies. Taken as a whole, I think this thread gives a pretty clear picture of the dial versus "PASM buttons and wheels" interface. That the dials look "retro" is mostly coincidental on the X-T1, while not at all on the Nikon Df, so maybe "retro" was the wrong way to ask the question.

First, let me say that I'm flummoxed by those who like the Fujis for their appearance, especially the X-T1. Appearance is not a factor in my choice of any tool. I'll leave it at that.

The overwhelming number of replies in this thread and others asking a similar question, say the dials are more familiar and easier to use. I completely understand this position. Familiarity is important and I'm sure Fuji is well aware and taking advantage.

Fair enough, but one common view is that the dials were a well thought out design improved over time. Form follows function is a common statement. But let's not forget that function followed engineering possibilities of the time. Dials and levers were mechanically connected to the internal parts out of necessity, not design. Dials were on everything (televisions, radios, stoves, automobiles, you name it), not just cameras. They evolved as the best way to interface with a purely mechanical, then electro-mechanical, cameras and other things.

The transition from electro-mechanical to electronic has been a rough road for us users. The notorious VCR being the epitome of the problem. That 100s of "features" could be added at almost no additional cost may make products more attractive to some potential customers, but when this carries over into high-end products like the X-T1, it adds unnecessary complexity for features that most of us will never use. The features get in the way. One thing Canon has done to make this less of an issue is to let you add menu items to a custom menu page. Once done, you have only one short menu to look at to perform what you use. It turns a very complex camera into a very easy to use one. I almost never had to use the general menus.

External design of cameras (and many products) has maintained and then evolved the familiar interface to make it easier for us humans. Because I find it easier to adapt to new ways of using products doesn't mean everyone does or should. The the dials are not universally better or easier, they are better or easier for you.

There is one other very common comment, that PASM or cameras with buttons and wheels are nearly impossible to understand and use. I agree that most of them are. I thought I was going to be a Sony NEX person in November 2012. I sold all of my Canon DSLR gear and bought two NEX-7s, one for normal, one for infrared and several lenses. The interface was the most terrible interface to any electronic device I have ever owned. Two months later I bought a Sony RX-1 and almost never used the NEX-7s. The RX-1, with a PASM interface (and a real aperture ring, is very easy to use. I can hardly believe they came from the same company.

Being a little more careful, I rented an X-E2 and a couple of lenses. The X-E2 is easy to use. I have my gripe with the shutter speed requiring two controls in manual mode. Hey, PASM shows up on the LCD and Fuji calls these PASM modes, it just takes more dial turning and the aperture switch (menu on the XC lenses) to set. Not my favorite interface, but it, and the X-T1, are fine. Not too happy about setting shutter speed, but otherwise, very pleased with my X-T1 and my X-M1 (infrared), which, by the way, if you can live without a viewfinder is one bargain of an outstanding camera. I used it quite a bit before sending it for conversion and can see no real difference in image quality. The 16-50 XC kit lens is very nice. I'll gladly take the extra two at the wide end aas a trade for the 5 at the other.

The camera should be an extension of the photographer. If you find yourself fumbling around, taking the camera down from shooting to hunt for a common setting or because you cannot make the change without changing your grip, the interface needs work.

A little personal information so you know where I'm coming from. I am 69 years old, a serious, but not professional, photographer for 50 of those, and heavily involved in human-computer interface for more than 40 years. I do have experience with this and it's like chalk on a blackboard when I encounter interfaces that could easily be better.

This is ALL I have to say about retro, dials, PASM, etc. I will answer questions, but that's all.

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John Rausch

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57even Forum Pro • Posts: 11,909
Re: Yes, they are retro...

darngooddesign wrote:

57even wrote:

darngooddesign wrote:

57even wrote:

darngooddesign wrote:

TL;DR. They are retro in the same way that the Ducati Sport Classics are and the Urals aren't.

Now you are talking my kind of retro...

This is me, enjoying my retro.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5eAQa4MOGkE

Gorgeous. Quite tempted by one of those myself....

You can't really buy one like mine as it started out as a 2000 Thunderbird Sport. Done up right they look a lot better than the Thurxton. I do fancy the Scrambler.

That's very nice indeed. Are those the standard cans? What did you change?

Yes, the Scrambler looks totally cool. Have to go have an argument with the Mrs...

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Pritzl Senior Member • Posts: 1,232
Re: What's the big deal with the retro thing?

I have no nostalgia for old film cameras since I started taking pictures in the digital age and only graduated to DSLRs recently. Yet, I find myself inexplicably drawn to the X-series cameras.

What a lot of these older cameras did have were simplified, tactile controls that "got out of the way" of the photographer. Now, no doubt this was equal parts simplicity of the camera itself (need higher ISO? Change the film!) as well as ergonomic refinement. What Fuji has done though is to adapt some of these ergonomic refinements to a far more capable digital body. It could certainly improve further thanks to the staggering array of functions on digital cameras. However, I think they did a great job of bringing back the joy of photography.

Mind you, not everyone does it right. Both Olympus' OM-Ds and Nikon's Df have tried and while the former are at least functional, they do not truly succeed in channelling the same control ethos of the film era. The Df, on the other hand, is only retro looking for retro's sake. The control scheme is all over the place and often simply idiotic. Which is such a shame considering the sensor it's sporting and the huge range of Nikon glass.

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Pritzl Senior Member • Posts: 1,232
Re: What's the big deal with the retro thing?

Oh, and one more thing:

Custom modes were invented to help in setting up your camera without diving into menus. Fuji still supports that part (all the menu settings are savable if I understand correctly) but everything else is so accessible anyway and requires no menu diving that I don't see why I'd need a custom mode that could override dial settings?

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tailgate1234 New Member • Posts: 11
Re: What's the big deal with the retro thing?

John Rausch wrote:

Steam powered next? Wind-up maybe? I don't get it. Seriously, I'm not trolling, I want to know the appeal.

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John Rausch

Chick magnet.  On a recent trip, with a rented X100s, some very pleasant women chatted me up about my cool "old" camera.  Later in the trip the (defective) charger blew out the battery, and the replacement battery, and I bought an all-black X-E2 on the spot as a replacement.  Black X-E2: not a chick magnet.  As a side note, I bought the X-E2 at Bic Camera in Tokyo and they had every single Fuji body and lens, including the Tuits, on display to play around with.  This was before the X-T1 and 56mm though.

DarnGoodPhotos Senior Member • Posts: 7,306
Re: Yes, they are retro...

57even wrote:

darngooddesign wrote:

57even wrote:

darngooddesign wrote:

57even wrote:

darngooddesign wrote:

TL;DR. They are retro in the same way that the Ducati Sport Classics are and the Urals aren't.

Now you are talking my kind of retro...

This is me, enjoying my retro.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5eAQa4MOGkE

Gorgeous. Quite tempted by one of those myself....

You can't really buy one like mine as it started out as a 2000 Thunderbird Sport. Done up right they look a lot better than the Thurxton. I do fancy the Scrambler.

That's very nice indeed. Are those the standard cans? What did you change?

Yes, the Scrambler looks totally cool. Have to go have an argument with the Mrs...

I've had it for the better part of 13 years so I changed the...

Wheels, forks, brakes, bars, cans, headers, cams, seat/some bodywork,and added one hard bag from a BMW 1200C. Do you ride?

After 10 miles of fire roads...

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