What's the big deal with the retro thing?

Started Mar 5, 2014 | Discussions
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: 14,944
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: 6,956
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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Marty4650
Marty4650 Forum Pro • Posts: 14,944
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: 12,450
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: 1,330
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: 1,330
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.

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: 7,655
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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Marco S Hyman
Marco S Hyman Contributing Member • Posts: 557
Re: Yes, they are retro...

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.

Nice shot of nice bike.  But it's not really retro  this is retro... Image sot with my X100

DarnGoodPhotos Senior Member • Posts: 7,655
Re: Yes, they are retro...

Marco S Hyman wrote:

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.

Nice shot of nice bike. But it's not really retro this is retro... Image sot with my X100

Yours isn't retro, its vintage.

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57even Forum Pro • Posts: 12,450
Re: Yes, they are retro...

darngooddesign wrote:

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...

Have not ridden for quite a while on a regular basis. Have not had my own bike for years, but I do get to ride a variety of interesting stuff from time to time as my friend is a local dealer and he uses the demos as his company vehicles. Still have the riding gear.

If circumstances change (I get a house with a garage) one of the new "retro" Triumphs is on the list. My sportsbike days are long gone (as I discovered a few weeks ago when I tried the new Fireblade).

I like what you did to yours. Nice paint job too. How are the engines for reliability?

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DarnGoodPhotos Senior Member • Posts: 7,655
Re: Yes, they are retro...

57even wrote:

I like what you did to yours. Nice paint job too. How are the engines for reliability?

I'm pushing 100k miles without any issues.

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57even Forum Pro • Posts: 12,450
Re: Yes, they are retro...

darngooddesign wrote:

57even wrote:

I like what you did to yours. Nice paint job too. How are the engines for reliability?

I'm pushing 100k miles without any issues.

That is pretty impressive. BMW territory.

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Aussiemarco Forum Member • Posts: 52
Re: What's the big deal with the retro thing?
2

There's a reason why the rangefinders and SLR cameras of the early '60s to the late '70s looked the way they did - functionality. The knobs, dials and wheels were placed perfectly on the camera body to give quick and easy adjustment. And there are many of us who learned our photographic art using these old beauties. I grew up with a Pentax Spotmatic II circa 1964, one of the greatest cameras ever made. I still have it and it still takes stunning photos whenever I feel like using film.

The 'retro' Fujis are just (IMHO) the new generation of what us oldies used back in the day. DSLRs were heading down the path of everything looking the same, and every camera working the same way, ie a big black plastic box filled with menus hidden inside menus, accessed via minuscule buttons that old fingers can't press, or old eyes can't see.

Fuji had the foresight to develop a family of cameras that I believe were aimed at two demographics ..... 1) old folks who want a return to what we grew up with and used for many, many years, because such designs are functional, intuitive and logical, as well as carry around a smaller kit so old backs dont get sore; and 2) younger folks who want to be cool and retro, but also want to use a camera that is function, intuitive and logical.

Obviously the retro styling of these cameras make them attractive to many, but at the heart of that retro camera is a picture-making tool that is easy to use and takes phenomenal photos, all in a lightweight, easy to carry package that doesn't stand out. Whenever I take photos with my X-E1 I feel like its 1979 and I'm once again using my ancient Pentax. (The only difference is no light meter on the Fuji, and the focus is completely different of course.) It's because of this that Fujis are so loved by so many, and this forum is filled with posts from oldies like me who are so happy to once again be in our photographic element - and so grateful to Fuji for putting us there again.

(unknown member) Veteran Member • Posts: 5,400
Re: What's the big deal with the retro thing?

Some of us relate better to dials and buttons, others to touch screens and menu icons. As long as the process is satisfying and the images grabbed in time, either works for me.

DarnGoodPhotos Senior Member • Posts: 7,655
Re: What's the big deal with the retro thing?

DaveLemi wrote:

How about the exposure compensation dial? Is it easier to control comp using your index finger or by contorting your hand to adjust the dial?

I can turn the exposure comp dial using my right thumb without having to contort my hand.

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Limburger
Limburger Veteran Member • Posts: 7,837
Re: What's the big deal with the retro thing?

Retro look is one thing but features and ergonomics is another.

My X100 can be near silent and HSS's with built in flash has a hybrid vf.

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Cheers Mike

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chkproductions
chkproductions Senior Member • Posts: 1,120
Re: What's the big deal with the retro thing?

Blame the word "ergonomic" for when cameras started to be made in shapes like they came out of a wind-tunnel.

A camera started as just a box with a lens and a place for film.  Then a shutter was added to the box instead of the lens.

Many of the legacy shooters on this site are much more comfortable with that box.  It was simple.  I'm one of them.  I subscribe to the concept that all a camera need be is a tool that lets a certain amount of light hit a sensor for a certain period of time.  That's all you need.  Every else can be done to the image after the fact.

So why complicate the issue with touch this and wheeled that.

Even one of the car makers (I think it's Ford) produced a dashboard that was made up of knobs and switches.  No digitial anything.  It was based on the requests by consumers that dashboards were just getting too confusing and complicated with buried menus and touchy screens.  They found the simplicity of flipping a switch and turning a dial was a more direct and safer way while driving.

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