Build quality of cameras

Started 2 months ago | Discussions
D Cox Forum Pro • Posts: 23,896
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.

I think my Sigma sdQH feels as well made and solid as my Nikon F3.

The main problem with older cameras is degenerating plastics -- black polyurethane foam that turns into a sticky mess, and nylon that cracks.

D Cox Forum Pro • Posts: 23,896
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.

That particularly applies to lenses.

FrancoD Forum Pro • Posts: 10,835
Re: My Understanding of QUALITY . . .

From the old days I miss goods that never broke down and repair shops.

There used to be repair shops for everything, what happened to those ?

biza43 Forum Pro • Posts: 10,353
Re: My Understanding of QUALITY . . .

BrownieVet wrote:

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.

Good to know. How does that pertain to this camera discussion?

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biza43 Forum Pro • Posts: 10,353
Re: Build quality of cameras
1

nighthawk1234 wrote:

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...

So where was the weight coming from? Heavy plastics?

Am i imagining all of this or is quality of cameras slowly degrading so that companies can save some money on build quality?

Metal is being replaced by new materials, that offer equally good robustness, but are lighter. Not only in cameras, but also cars and aeroplanes, for example.

Or what the hell is going on and why would quality drop

You are wrong, that is all.

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tbcass
tbcass Forum Pro • Posts: 43,211
Re: My Understanding of QUALITY . . .
1

BrownieVet wrote:

tbcass wrote:

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.

Cameras are are not a life and death proposition. You made no attempt to address what I said. For that reason your answer is irrelevant to the conversation and seems like a failed attempt to defend your position.

Tom

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camerosity Senior Member • Posts: 1,615
Re: F4 is Not a Digital Camera... n/t

BrownieVet wrote:

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!

Nor is the F3HP. Read more carefully before you post

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camerosity Senior Member • Posts: 1,615
F3HP is also not a digital camera - read more carefully before you post

BrownieVet wrote:

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. <--- not a digital camera.

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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D Cox Forum Pro • Posts: 23,896
Re: My Understanding of QUALITY . . .
1

FrancoD wrote:

From the old days I miss goods that never broke down and repair shops.

There used to be repair shops for everything, what happened to those ?

The goods never broke down, so the repair shops went bust ?

bolt2014
bolt2014 Regular Member • Posts: 194
Re: Build quality of cameras

Not a valid comparison. Many pre-digital cameras are still around and working after 50 years. How many current digital cameras will still be working after that time comparison?

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Shoot photos not camera brands!

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threw the lens
threw the lens Senior Member • Posts: 1,132
Re: Build quality of cameras

bolt2014 wrote:

Not a valid comparison. Many pre-digital cameras are still around and working after 50 years. How many current digital cameras will still be working after that time comparison?

Nobody's even mentioned tin whiskers and the use of inferior solder due to EU legislation yet.

Tourlou Contributing Member • Posts: 743
Re: Build quality of cameras

threw the lens wrote:

bolt2014 wrote:

Not a valid comparison. Many pre-digital cameras are still around and working after 50 years. How many current digital cameras will still be working after that time comparison?

Nobody's even mentioned tin whiskers and the use of inferior solder due to EU legislation yet.

Tin whiskers aren't something most people know about.  When the European politics decided that metallic lead in solder was dangerous, they forgot that there are hundreds of millions cars with batteries full of lead oxyde, which is more readily absorbed in the food chain than metallic lead.

When Bell labs formulated the tin-lead solder back in the day, they knew what they were doing.  They knew about tin alpha to beta transform.  We lost the knowledge over time and returned to middle-age again.  And once more, people not competent in the field took the wrong decision.

You know that aeronautics, astronautics, military and medical is non RoHS areas.  When it's serious, let's use what was formulated in the forties and fifties when competent engineers were still taking the technical decisions.

Regards

Ron

ToxicTabasco
ToxicTabasco Senior Member • Posts: 2,440
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

Yes, there was a time when big size, big weight, metal or mag/alloy bodies built like tanks were considered premium feeling cameras.  And, I also saw the change from heavy metal to soft plastic or composite materials as a form of lower quality.  But, my perspectives changed over the decades.

You are correct, almost all new cutting edge cameras today are made of composite and mag/alloy bodies, not full metal jackets like the old film cameras.  And, over time, I found that less bulk cameras were as good if not better than the old way of premium quality.

If you like big, check out the Lumix S series cameras, they have the premium feel, and all the new cutting edge tech built right into the camera.

The thing is, all cameras regardless of price and flagship status has pros and cons.  And those pros and cons are different across brands and cameras.  The only way to really know if they are worth the cost, is to rent or borrow them, spend some time with them,  Learn the features, and push them to the limits to see if they are as cheap or low quality.  Or, to make it simple, stick to the brand that is most popular.

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lilBuddha Veteran Member • Posts: 4,369
Re: My Understanding of QUALITY . . .

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.

You are comparing apples to oranges. The old lenses did not have the same AF performance and therefore had different design constraints, the focusing mechanism moves less and slower on the old lenses.

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.

Different use cases, old and new. Put modern AF speeds on those old beasts and the motor would disintegrate.

FrancoD Forum Pro • Posts: 10,835
Re: My Understanding of QUALITY . . .

D Cox wrote:

FrancoD wrote:

From the old days I miss goods that never broke down and repair shops.

There used to be repair shops for everything, what happened to those ?

The goods never broke down, so the repair shops went bust ?

My comment was about the myth that stuff used to last forever, in reality stuff used to be fixed .

for example in the 80s and 90s a good part of a camera shop business was repairs.

The other classic version of that is the " have a look at this shovel. Had it for 20 years , 3 handles and 4 blades later, still looks like new.

( I hope I don't need to explain it)

felix from the suburbs
felix from the suburbs Senior Member • Posts: 1,272
Re: Build quality of cameras

I suspect today's cameras are probably tougher than they look. I accidently knocked my Nikon D90 off a coffee table a few years back and it fell unto a hardwood floor. The camera still works just fine. And, when I got my first DSLR, a Sony Alpha 100, I accidently slammed it into a metal gate post while rushing for a ferry boat in Prince Edward Island (the camera was on a strap around my shoulder and swung right into the post). It made a sickening clunk when it hit, but it worked for years afterwards with no problems.

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ThrillaMozilla Veteran Member • Posts: 3,962
Re: Build quality of cameras

Tourlou wrote:

threw the lens wrote:

bolt2014 wrote:

Not a valid comparison. Many pre-digital cameras are still around and working after 50 years. How many current digital cameras will still be working after that time comparison?

Nobody's even mentioned tin whiskers and the use of inferior solder due to EU legislation yet.

Tin whiskers aren't something most people know about. When the European politics decided that metallic lead in solder was dangerous, they forgot that there are hundreds of millions cars with batteries full of lead oxyde....

No they didn't.

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ThrillaMozilla Veteran Member • Posts: 3,962
Re: Build quality of cameras

tbcass wrote:

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.

It's nice to finally see a realization that you can't judge build quality by the weight of the camera.

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tbcass
tbcass Forum Pro • Posts: 43,211
Re: Build quality of cameras

ThrillaMozilla wrote:

tbcass wrote:

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.

It's nice to finally see a realization that you can't judge build quality by the weight of the camera.

Thank you but I'm sure I'm not the first. Judging build quality by weight is illogical. Building a camera out of light materials and then lining the inside with lead wouldn't make it better made but some people might think it "feels" better. The funny thing is I often see posts claiming a lens or camera body is better built based on weight alone.

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Tom

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FrancoD Forum Pro • Posts: 10,835
Re: Build quality of cameras
1

tbcass wrote:

ThrillaMozilla wrote:

tbcass wrote:

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.

It's nice to finally see a realization that you can't judge build quality by the weight of the camera.

Thank you but I'm sure I'm not the first. Judging build quality by weight is illogical. Building a camera out of light materials and then lining the inside with lead wouldn't make it better made but some people might think it "feels" better. The funny thing is I often see posts claiming a lens or camera body is better built based on weight alone.

Back in the 80s, when there were a lot of private label brands so often the same  camera appeared under many different names , one of those stood out from the rest because it felt  "more solid" , particularly to the customer.

One day we got hold of one that was faulty and not worth repairing, so we took it apart. Inside we found a small lead bar.

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