Is the manual camera dead?

Discussion in 'Mirrorless Digital Cameras' started by gotsecretary, Jan 4, 2007.

  1. I know someone probably asks a question like this too often but I've been
    browsing around and I haven't seen anything I would consider a duplicate post. O:)

    Digital SLR cameras start at about $500 with a kit.. these cameras all have auto
    focus. Auto exposure. Even the entry level cameras have built in flash. Is it
    wrong of me to want a nice looking late 60's SLR style camera with a 6M sensor
    in it instead of a film reel? I've searched and found nothing like this.. only
    a link (http://www.rokkorfiles.com/digital.htm) that I also read was a hoax.

    I'll pay the price for a dSLR. That's not the issue here but I'd like something
    without useless bells and wistles. $150 can get a nice camera that's easy to
    use if that's all I want.. and it will fit in my pocket!

    Is the manual camera dead?
     
  2. Just my opinion, but I have had great success with a Kodak DCS760. It is a 6.1 megapixel digital conversion of a Nikon F-5. I bought one because it will meter with a boat load of manual focus Nikkors I have had for years, and has the focus assist lights in the viewfinder. All in what I consider the best camera body Nikon has made so far. Look for a good used one with relatively low shutter actuations. Mine seems to be bullet proof, and produces great image files.
     
  3. <<That's not the issue here but I'd like something without useless bells and wistles.>>

    Who is forcing you to use them? All these cameras have lenses that can be set to manual focus. All these cameras have a fully manual mode. All these cameras will not force the pop-up flash unless you tell it to.

    You seem to be creating a problem where none actually exists.
     
  4. DSLRs are designed to be the most effective when they're used in certain modes. You CAN turn off certain features, but usually since that wasn't the primary way the designers anticipated the users using them, the result can be less than satisfying. Also modern DSLRs are very complex relative to simpler cameras (like the Leica M series for instance).

    So, the closest you can come to a manual digital is probably the Leica M8 and the price is out of the question for all but the best financed.

    My only advice is to buy a DSLR, read the instruction book carefully, turn off AF and AE, and work at the controls till you can use them pretty second naturedly. Not as satisfying for a simplicity addict as using a Leica M, but ... oh well. Or you can continue to use film for a while (and the cameras are coming down in price too).
     
  5. The Olympus E-400 is the same size and shape as a 1960's-1970's SLR, even weighs a little less, and can be used with the Olympus OM manual lenses. Unfortunately it is only available in Europe and costs about $1200. I picked one up and brought it to the US, and am most happy with it. But it also has a built-in flash and AE, so to answer your question, no, there really aren't any such beasts.
     
  6. Most of the Nikons that I know (D100, D200, D1 and D2 series) have manual settings. Probably even the D70 and D70s. Fuji S2 and S3 too.

    A lot of us guys are using light meters (or our eyes) to determine exposure.

    If you want a late 60s style look with DSLRS - forget it.

    The closest thing you will get to a fully manual camera with ditigal sensor is a Hasselblad with a USD 10K-20K Imacon/Other Brand digital back. In fact these are the best digital cameras you can buy but definately for high end paying work unless you are extremely wealthy.

    I would recommend the Nikons or Fujis and work them with AF-S lenses on fully manual mode.

    With the N80 based cameras (the D100, S2, S3) you can focus the lens, change the aperture and shutterspeeds with your thumbs and forefingers without your eye leaving the viewfinder.

    Thats the way to go.

    PS Dont buy a new model - you wont need the bells and whistles if you want to manual. Although do take a look at the Pentax, Olympus, and Sony models.
     
  7. "DSLRs are designed to be the most effective when they're used in certain modes."

    What do yo mean by most effective?

    "You CAN turn off certain features, but usually since that wasn't the primary way the designers anticipated the users using them, the result can be less than satisfying."

    Really, so why do they even bother with such flexible, user-adjustable systems? Les satisfying? For whom?
     
  8. I've just made the switch (about 6 months ago) from FM2n's to a D200. I've found the switch to be pretty seamless.

    I've found that by using the camera in M mode, shooting raw, and using good old fasioned centre weighted metering (I find matrix metering tends to overexpose a bit) I'm getting excellent results. Also not much tweaking is needed in PS to get publishable quality.

    I'd LOVE a digital FM3a but it'll never happen!

    The viewfinder of the D200 is not a patch on a film SLR so that's why I use the AF occassionally. AF is really handy when it's a dark day and that's when I tend to use it.

    Like the other respondants say, just shoot it as a manual camera!
     
  9. After watching the Annie Leibovitz show on PBS last night, I was amazed at how many images she took. This morning I decided to grab a camera to start lugging around with me. It wasn't a D200 or D50, it was my trusty Zeiss Ikon Contessa (ca. 1954). It's a great camera that's small and takes great negatives. I don't think it's dead at all. If anything, the threat of it being gone has made some folks appreciate it even more.
     
  10. I have an Epson R-D1. It's a fully manual camera, with manual focus, aperture, shutter
    (aperture priority is available), and the screen folds away.

    But a manual style DSLR would cost MORE not LESS - all these functions are not in fact
    useless, and they are implemented in software so they don't really increase the price.

    You can always shoot film and get it scanned onto a photo CD.
     
  11. The reason most modern 35mm SLRs and DSLRs are feature laden is so that the same camera will work for many different photographers with many different subjects in many different situations all with completely different demands. It's much more profitable to build a 1,000,000 units of one camera design, than 100,000 units each of 10 different camera designs.

    Your full manual DSLR would have a price tag 2 times the price of the feature laden DSLR because production and demand would be less. Most folks would probably be content ignore or turn features off rather than pay more.
     
  12. Is the manual camera dead?

    No, they will be alive and kicking long after the automatic plastic wonders, whether digital or film, run out of parts, available batteries and memory cards. Of course, by that time there will be new automatic plastic wonders that have taken over. For a while.
     
  13. <The reason most modern 35mm SLRs and DSLRs are feature laden is so that the same camera will work for many different photographers with many different subjects...>

    Rubbish! The real reason is that consumers like gadgetry and "features" and manufacturers will cater for this demand (and charge a bomb for it). You only have to visit the Large Format Forum to see what can be acheived with cameras that don't even have light meters, let alone TTL flash etc.
     
  14. Lacy,

    Choose a dslr that works well in manual mode to your standards. The viewfinder should be the first test for manual focus comfort which, along with design 'ergonomics' and quickness, is the major requirement for manual operation.

    The "bells and whistles" are not "useless" to countless professional photographers, but they are mostly useless to me. It all depends on what your photography requires. No point at all in dissing the gear needs of other photographers.

    I agree with other posters that we are not going to get a manual-only dslr. The best we can hope for is that they will not bury the necessary in menus and will deploy good viewfinders. Some Pentax dslrs rate high in the reviews on these issues.


    Good Luck,

    Don E
     
  15. "You only have to visit the Large Format Forum to see what can be acheived with cameras
    that don't even have light meters, let alone TTL flash etc."

    Har har. Try toting your large format camera into a theater and doing some hand held low
    light photography with it.

    Many features are actually great and created for photographers. There are some beginner
    targeted features which are pretty useless to a person who has some skill in photography,
    but by and large advances are useful. Just because you don't use them doesn't give you
    the license to declare all features you don't use 'useless'.
     
  16. Read carefully. I did not say that all features are useless. I did not even use the word useless. What I am trying to say is that good photography does not necessarily need those features. Hell, even low light photography does not need them (with any camera type). Nor did I imply that large format is the way for all photography. I merely used large format as an example of what can be acheived with essentially the least technologically advanced cameras around.

    Regards
     
  17. Lacy -

    Get a D200. Not all of the bells and whistles are useless. Read the manual thoroughly, then go into the menus and set up the camera as you desire. Once you get it the way you want it, you will seldom need to go back into the menus again. Pay particular attention to the section on Optimizing Images, where you will want to choose the Custom setting. Once in this section, choose Normal (or at least something other than Auto) for Sharpness, Tone Compensation and Saturation, as otherwise the camera will automatically apply corrections of its own.

    Now, on the exterior of the camera, set the camera to the center focus sensor and lock it there. Set the metering pattern to center weighted, set the ISO to 100, set the mode to either aperture preferred or manual and set the white balance to Daylight.

    Put on an AI/AI-S lens such as a 35mm f/2, which will give you a focal length comparable to a 50mm on a 35mm film camera.

    You now have a camera that will behave very much like a digital version of an F3, except that your right thumb will atrophy because there is no film advance lever.

    Finally (tongue firmly in cheek), turn off the LCD display and never, ever look at it to check composition or the histogram. That way, when you get the pictures up on the computer you will have the closest possible digital equivalent to getting your slides back from the processor.

    Actually, that's the way I have my camera set up, except that I generally choose Auto white balance to avoid using color correction filters, I often use Matrix metering and have been known to sneak a peek at the LCD in particularly difficult lighting situations.

    Good luck,

    Don
     
  18. "Har har. Try toting your large format camera into a theater and doing some hand held low light photography with it."

    Anyone who takes a Camera into a Theater to take photographs, wants his head testing.
     
  19. Test me!

    Please.
     
  20. It's not wrong to want something like that, but it will likely not happen.

    Buy a Pentax body and whatever Pentax lenses you want to use, manual focus or otherwise.
    It's a very easy camera to set into Manual exposure mode, turn off AF and shoot as if it were
    a 1960s SLR.

    Godfrey
     
  21. I use my Canon 20D in fully manual mode most of the time.

    The only real problem I have is with the viewfinder. It isn't quite what I want for manual focussing. I don't need a split-prism or anything like that, but there could be some improvement in the brightness and a finer-grained focusing screen. When I compare the viewfinder to that in my Nikon F bodies (circa 1967), I realize there is a lot that could be done.

    I suspect the "full-frame" DSLR's would have a brighter viewfinder because the focusing screen is so much larger, but the price is also much higher. Someday I will probably be getting a 1-series body.
     
  22. Uh oh! This thread sounds like the old film versus digital posts!

    I still use the Olympus 35RC in black and white.
     
  23. I read the original post as concerned mainly with ergonomics -- i.e. liking the traditional controls (aperture ring, shutter speed dial, focus ring). I also worried about that, having managed to avoid the generation of film cameras that moved to programmable wheels and LCD displays.

    Actually, on a DSLR with two command wheels, control is very fast and intuitive and pretty "traditional" feeling. You just set one wheel (I like to reverse the default and use the thumb wheel) for aperture and, if in full manual, use the other wheel for shutter speed. I suspect the equations of what actually adds cost in building a camera nowadays are such that you aren't in fact paying for the addition of things like program modes or scene modes anyway -- they add little or nothing to the cost of the camera. Just avoid the less well-designed ones that do force you into menus for basic functions.
     
  24. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    Anyone who takes a Camera into a Theater to take photographs, wants his head testing.
    Some of us get paid to take it in. Why wouldn't someone take it in?
    [​IMG]
    Shadow Circus Puppet Theatre, Copyright 2006 Jeff Spirer
     
  25. Hello Lacy, Of course the film camera isn't dead, yet. But if you want to use one in ten or 20 years you probably should purcase it now and rotate the film in your freezer. Features, price, speed, convenience, eco tradoffs of of digital will reduce the number of purchasers of film untill the will not be produced ecnomicly. If you want roll film today it is very limited sheet film is Too expensive for frequent use and 35mm will sucume to new technology very soon. D.D.
     

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