Build quality of cameras

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nighthawk1234 New Member • Posts: 2
Build quality of cameras

Okay so my first pro body was D3x and i was so amazed how sturdy and rugged camera was. I never touched other pro body before it, but i thought other new cameras in pro section were the same quality (d4, d5, canon 1dx etc).  Few months ago at friends place i played with canon 1ds and it was pretty much the same quality as my d3x. To cut story short, he ordered used canon 1dx mark ii, bcs we heard lot of good things about it. But first things we noticed was that plastics all over the camera felt cheap and brittle compared to older series. Note that everything on camera worked perfectly it was incredibly fast and snappy but it felt much more plasticky and cheap compared to old "tanks" it was heavy tho but that was it...

Am i imagining all of this or is quality of cameras slowly degrading so that companies can save some money on build quality? Or what the hell is going on and why would quality drop

Canon EOS-1Ds Nikon D3X Nikon D5
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Schrodingers_cat Senior Member • Posts: 2,518
Re: Build quality of cameras
2

nighthawk1234 wrote:

is quality of cameras slowly degrading

The quality of everythingis degrading, as far as I can tell

Just a personal opinion, but the D3x was pretty high up in the food chain build quality wise. The price was silly of course, but having owned three, in my personal experience the camera was solid. Still have one in fact.

Never owned a Canon, so no actual experience there.

camerosity Senior Member • Posts: 1,550
Re: Build quality of cameras (and the evolution of photography continues)
1

Schrodingers_cat wrote:

nighthawk1234 wrote:

is quality of cameras slowly degrading

The quality of everythingis degrading, as far as I can tell

More on topic however, the D3x was pretty high up in the food chain build quality wise. The price was silly, but having owned three, I felt the camera was solid. Never owned a Canon, so no actual experience there.

The new Nikon D850 is said by some to be better built than the D810, though I can't see it. The omission of the pop up flash does increase its ability to be weather resistant, especially in the rain, otherwise it seems as solid as the D700/800.810 ever were. They did omit the rubber base that the previous cameras of this level (one step below the single digit flagship cameras at Nikon) had, but I don't think that is a big deal.

But manufacturers will try find a way to save a few pennies per unit, and they invariably will, but it doesn't necessarily reduce quality. Just look at how used camera sales compete with new camera sales. People seem to change cameras every 3 years nowadays (I still have a digital camera I bought in 2012 but it's only used for casual photos when I don't need higher MP's) so why build a camera to last 10+ years anyhow? Only photogs who shoot many thousands of photos a week need durability in a camera. And smartphone cameras are taking over for the masses as well. And so on.

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justmeMN Veteran Member • Posts: 8,126
Re: Build quality of cameras
4

That's weird. DPR's review claims:

"The 1D X II is every bit as solid (and borderline-indestructible) as one would expect from Canon's top of the line pro camera."

https://www.dpreview.com/reviews/canon-eos-1d-x-mark-ii/15

Alex Ridgway Regular Member • Posts: 465
Re: Build quality of cameras
1

nighthawk1234 wrote:

Okay so my first pro body was D3x and i was so amazed how sturdy and rugged camera was. I never touched other pro body before it, but i thought other new cameras in pro section were the same quality (d4, d5, canon 1dx etc). Few months ago at friends place i played with canon 1ds and it was pretty much the same quality as my d3x. To cut story short, he ordered used canon 1dx mark ii, bcs we heard lot of good things about it. But first things we noticed was that plastics all over the camera felt cheap and brittle compared to older series. Note that everything on camera worked perfectly it was incredibly fast and snappy but it felt much more plasticky and cheap compared to old "tanks" it was heavy tho but that was it...

Am i imagining all of this or is quality of cameras slowly degrading so that companies can save some money on build quality? Or what the hell is going on and why would quality drop

Some of the pro bodies have moved from magnesium alloy to carbon fibre and poly-carbonate, which is probably comparable it doesn't have the same feel or probably "you could hammer nails" with that body

tbcass
tbcass Forum Pro • Posts: 42,777
Re: Build quality of cameras
16

nighthawk1234 wrote:

Am i imagining all of this or is quality of cameras slowly degrading so that companies can save some money on build quality? Or what the hell is going on and why would quality drop

You're imagining it. It's impossible to judge a camera by handling it. Only usage over time or taking the camera apart can tell you anything about about build quality. How it "feels" to you is irrelevant. Switching from metal to polycarbonate or carbon fiber might actually result in a more durable camera ( magnesium alloy or aluminum actually breaks more easily) but the lighter weight may make you "feel" the camera is more poorly built.

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Tom

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bkjones88
bkjones88 Regular Member • Posts: 359
Re: Build quality of cameras
4

Time and materials science marches on. There's a reason cars today are substantially safer than they were in decades past despite being lighter and made of far less metal.

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BodkinsBest
BodkinsBest Regular Member • Posts: 334
Re: Build quality of cameras
2

nighthawk1234 wrote:

Okay so my first pro body was D3x and i was so amazed how sturdy and rugged camera was. I never touched other pro body before it, but i thought other new cameras in pro section were the same quality (d4, d5, canon 1dx etc). Few months ago at friends place i played with canon 1ds and it was pretty much the same quality as my d3x. To cut story short, he ordered used canon 1dx mark ii, bcs we heard lot of good things about it. But first things we noticed was that plastics all over the camera felt cheap and brittle compared to older series. Note that everything on camera worked perfectly it was incredibly fast and snappy but it felt much more plasticky and cheap compared to old "tanks" it was heavy tho but that was it...

Am i imagining all of this or is quality of cameras slowly degrading so that companies can save some money on build quality? Or what the hell is going on and why would quality drop

Plastic is the new steel. It's a mad, mad world.

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BrownieVet Senior Member • Posts: 1,733
My Understanding of QUALITY . . .
1

Re: Build quality of cameras

is COMPLIANCE to SPECIFICATION.

In our throw-away society, particularly in the USA, I noticed as early as the late 1960s the declining life cycle of consumer goods.  Durability of consumer good seem to be dictated by planned obsolescences.  The Japanese camera and lenses that were designed and built to exacting specifications in the very early 1960s are no longer the norm. NOW, even Japanese cameras/ lenses seem to follow the trend of planned obsolescences.

The precise performance, repeatability, reliability and durability of my Nikon cameras and lens built in the mid-1960d to mid-1980s seem to have fallen by the wayside for post 2000 era products.  All my old Nikon SLRs and lenses still perform flawlessly,  All my old Nikkor lenses work well on my Nikon DSLRs.  Sadly, I have come across many "Gold Ring" Nikkors/Nikons where AF no longer work,  were zoom no longer cover the entire FL of the lens, where grinding noise  are prevalent.

Having been retired (Scientist/Enginner) for decades,  I am no longer well informed of materials used in industrial, commercial and consumer goods.

nighthawk1234 wrote:

Okay so my first pro body was D3x and i was so amazed how sturdy and rugged camera was. I never touched other pro body before it, but i thought other new cameras in pro section were the same quality (d4, d5, canon 1dx etc). Few months ago at friends place i played with canon 1ds and it was pretty much the same quality as my d3x. To cut story short, he ordered used canon 1dx mark ii, bcs we heard lot of good things about it. But first things we noticed was that plastics all over the camera felt cheap and brittle compared to older series. Note that everything on camera worked perfectly it was incredibly fast and snappy but it felt much more plasticky and cheap compared to old "tanks" it was heavy tho but that was it...

Am i imagining all of this or is quality of cameras slowly degrading so that companies can save some money on build quality? Or what the hell is going on and why would quality drop

While ergonomics and "feel" maybe of personal taste,  I share your perspective regarding the degradation of built, durability, performance, repeatability and reliability of cameras and lenses.

hotdog321
hotdog321 Forum Pro • Posts: 20,247
Re: Build quality of cameras
8

A lot of modern camera bodies and lenses incorporate polycarbonate in their design. Not only is this lighter and tougher than steel, it tends to flex instead of dent or crack like metal. Furthermore, it doesn't corrode and the expansion coefficient is closer to that of glass, which is a big plus in lens design (or so I've been told.)

Personally, I think weather sealing is often the key to camera longevity.

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bolt2014
bolt2014 Regular Member • Posts: 146
Re: Build quality of cameras
1

Although I shoot primarily with digital I still have not held a  digital camera in my hands that feels as good quality wise as my Nikon F3HP.

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camerosity Senior Member • Posts: 1,550
Re: Build quality of cameras

bolt2014 wrote:

Although I shoot primarily with digital I still have not held a digital camera in my hands that feels as good quality wise as my Nikon F3HP.

You've never held a Nikon F4 then. That thing is the toughest Nikon SLR ever made. It's a brick and then some!

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BrownieVet Senior Member • Posts: 1,733
F4 is Not a Digital Camera... n/t

camerosity wrote:

bolt2014 wrote:

Although I shoot primarily with digital I still have not held a digital camera in my hands that feels as good quality wise as my Nikon F3HP.

You've never held a Nikon F4 then. That thing is the toughest Nikon SLR ever made. It's a brick and then some!

bkjones88
bkjones88 Regular Member • Posts: 359
Re: My Understanding of QUALITY . . .
1

BrownieVet wrote:

Re: Build quality of cameras

is COMPLIANCE to SPECIFICATION.

In our throw-away society, particularly in the USA, I noticed as early as the late 1960s the declining life cycle of consumer goods. Durability of consumer good seem to be dictated by planned obsolescences. The Japanese camera and lenses that were designed and built to exacting specifications in the very early 1960s are no longer the norm. NOW, even Japanese cameras/ lenses seem to follow the trend of planned obsolescences.

The precise performance, repeatability, reliability and durability of my Nikon cameras and lens built in the mid-1960d to mid-1980s seem to have fallen by the wayside for post 2000 era products. All my old Nikon SLRs and lenses still perform flawlessly, All my old Nikkor lenses work well on my Nikon DSLRs. Sadly, I have come across many "Gold Ring" Nikkors/Nikons where AF no longer work, were zoom no longer cover the entire FL of the lens, where grinding noise are prevalent.

Having been retired (Scientist/Enginner) for decades, I am no longer well informed of materials used in industrial, commercial and consumer goods.

nighthawk1234 wrote:

Okay so my first pro body was D3x and i was so amazed how sturdy and rugged camera was. I never touched other pro body before it, but i thought other new cameras in pro section were the same quality (d4, d5, canon 1dx etc). Few months ago at friends place i played with canon 1ds and it was pretty much the same quality as my d3x. To cut story short, he ordered used canon 1dx mark ii, bcs we heard lot of good things about it. But first things we noticed was that plastics all over the camera felt cheap and brittle compared to older series. Note that everything on camera worked perfectly it was incredibly fast and snappy but it felt much more plasticky and cheap compared to old "tanks" it was heavy tho but that was it...

Am i imagining all of this or is quality of cameras slowly degrading so that companies can save some money on build quality? Or what the hell is going on and why would quality drop

While ergonomics and "feel" maybe of personal taste, I share your perspective regarding the degradation of built, durability, performance, repeatability and reliability of cameras and lenses.

But how is the autofocus working on your 1960s SLR lenses? My point is that modern tech may be or seem more failure prone than decades old equipment, but that's probably due in large part to the fact that it's far more sophisticated and complex. Yes, that means more points of failure. But the upside is that you can do things now with your camera (or phone or car) that would have been utterly unimaginable in the past.

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bolt2014
bolt2014 Regular Member • Posts: 146
Re: Build quality of cameras
1

camerosity wrote:

bolt2014 wrote:

Although I shoot primarily with digital I still have not held a digital camera in my hands that feels as good quality wise as my Nikon F3HP.

You've never held a Nikon F4 then. That thing is the toughest Nikon SLR ever made. It's a brick and then some!

The F4 is not a digital camera.

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tbcass
tbcass Forum Pro • Posts: 42,777
Re: My Understanding of QUALITY . . .
1

BrownieVet wrote:

The precise performance, repeatability, reliability and durability of my Nikon cameras and lens built in the mid-1960d to mid-1980s seem to have fallen by the wayside for post 2000 era products. All my old Nikon SLRs and lenses still perform flawlessly, All my old Nikkor lenses work well on my Nikon DSLRs. Sadly, I have come across many "Gold Ring" Nikkors/Nikons where AF no longer work, were zoom no longer cover the entire FL of the lens, where grinding noise are prevalent.

As an Engineer you must realize that with greater complexity comes a greater chance of problems. Modern cameras are far more complex than the ones we used in the 60s. A camera today can be better built and still be less reliable and not last as long.

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BrownieVet Senior Member • Posts: 1,733
Re: My Understanding of QUALITY . . .

bkjones88 wrote:

But how is the autofocus working on your 1960s SLR lenses?

Autofocus is NOT my priority. Image quality, reliability and performance are my priorities. The distance scale makes it easier for me to do zone focusing. Moreover, I have several Gold Ring AF Nikkor lenses when I am inclined to be lazy.

My point is that modern tech may be or seem more failure prone than decades old equipment,

Failure maybe acceptable to you, however, regardless of cause, FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION for me.

but that's probably due in large part to the fact that it's far more sophisticated and complex. Yes, that means more points of failure.

Agree regarding the possible cause of failure

But the upside is that you can do things now with your camera (or phone or car) that would have been utterly unimaginable in the past.

Swiss Army Knife is NOT the issue,  Durability and Reliability is the point of the OP.

BrownieVet Senior Member • Posts: 1,733
Re: My Understanding of QUALITY . . .

tbcass wrote:

BrownieVet wrote:

The precise performance, repeatability, reliability and durability of my Nikon cameras and lens built in the mid-1960d to mid-1980s seem to have fallen by the wayside for post 2000 era products. All my old Nikon SLRs and lenses still perform flawlessly, All my old Nikkor lenses work well on my Nikon DSLRs. Sadly, I have come across many "Gold Ring" Nikkors/Nikons where AF no longer work, were zoom no longer cover the entire FL of the lens, where grinding noise are prevalent.

As an Engineer you must realize that with greater complexity comes a greater chance of problems. Modern cameras are far more complex than the ones we used in the 60s. A camera today can be better built and still be less reliable and not last as long.

I am a retired Scientist / Engineer. Was a director of R&D.  I have work in the Aero-space program and Nuclear Power development.  SAFETY is paramount.  Failure of is NOT an option.

bkjones88
bkjones88 Regular Member • Posts: 359
Re: My Understanding of QUALITY . . .
4

BrownieVet wrote:

bkjones88 wrote:

But how is the autofocus working on your 1960s SLR lenses?

Autofocus is NOT my priority. Image quality, reliability and performance are my priorities. The distance scale makes it easier for me to do zone focusing. Moreover, I have several Gold Ring AF Nikkor lenses when I am inclined to be lazy.

My point is that modern tech may be or seem more failure prone than decades old equipment,

Failure maybe acceptable to you, however, regardless of cause, FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION for me.

but that's probably due in large part to the fact that it's far more sophisticated and complex. Yes, that means more points of failure.

Agree regarding the possible cause of failure

But the upside is that you can do things now with your camera (or phone or car) that would have been utterly unimaginable in the past.

Swiss Army Knife is NOT the issue, Durability and Reliability is the point of the OP.

That's completely fine if those are your priorities - seriously, I have no issue with that. On the other hand, many people would trade a relatively minuscule risk of failure (this is photography after all, not life or death) for the myriad benefits of modern camera technology. There are manufacturers still making very high quality manual lenses (e.g., Zeiss). To each his or her own.

I primarily meant that it's somewhat unfair for you to complain about a modern lens whose autofocus stopped functioning, and use that as an example of why a decades-old lens that never even had autofocus to begin with is superior.

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DVT80111 Veteran Member • Posts: 3,691
Re: Build quality of cameras

Do you still like to drive old car that is made with all metal, or you like newer with a lot of plastic?

The later is much better car and outlast the old.

In today environment, any company has to make their product cheaper to produce, sell at lower price, but make up in quantity.

Plastic parts retain their shape much better than metal part with normal use or small impact.  On big impact, plastic would shatter but those cases are very rare.

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