#572. You’re not listening to us

By Paul Perton | Opinion

Mar 22

But perhaps you should.


The ongoing behind-the-DS-scenes conversation regarding post processing applications has woven our week together, allowing new inductee (and soon to appear on our hallowed Web pages) Adam Bonn, to find his feet in this august gathering of sometimes-like-minds.


The pros and cons of Lightroom, Photos, Luminar, On1RAW and Capture 1 are exhausted, as are we, with no definitive outcome anywhere near at hand. I’m disappointed. I thought we’d reach consensus and as a group, move in that direction, to the detriment (mainly) of you-know-who. As it is, all we can agree on is not paying Adobe any more of our money as an ongoing priority for us all.



And with that, our attentions turned to the medium format news of Bob Hamilton finally getting his hands on a X1D. And of his being both underwhelmed and then partly enthused after a firmware update that his reseller had previously failed to install.



Unannounced and entirely unexpectedly, Pascal then tabled this as a wish list. Had he been quietly compiling this list, keeping it in a secret compartment, lest we discover his longings?


I know not, but reckon it’s close to bloody brilliant. Take a read – we can meet up at the end:

• Give us a 4:3 ratio sensor. No more than 50Mpix (hey, we’ve got to give the marketing guys something to do)

• Get rid of video, my phone does it well enough

• Stretch the ISO scale. Downwards

• How about a hotshoe that’s compatible with the universe’s flashes?

• Focus peaking that only comes in when the EVF is magnified

• A more sexy sounding shutter. As in STFU

• Copy the GFX shutter speeds (60 minutes to 1/16000 in various modes)?

• Make apps work or get rid of the whole idea

• Ditch wi-fi if you can’t make it work properly


• Test the camera outdoors. Seriously. Sometimes it’s sunny. Sometimes it rains. Sometimes there’s some wind

• Replace silly dials with useful dials (ISO, speed …)

• Make it cheaper. In many cases, you can buy an MX5 for less, so let’s be realistic

• Sort out the review button system. You shouldn’t have to use 3 hands. Or go Leica on it and ditch it completely

• Go to Freelancer.com and get someone to sort your menus for 5 bucks

• 5 more will sort the buttons

• Make the absolute most out of your signal. Give us a “slow” mode if needed. But get it really right. We’re not all shooting running dogs on high bursts as a hobby. Some of us actively loathe pixel noise

• How about a good quality rear screen (as in phone quality, scratch resistant, strong, no fungus …)

• Get 20 togs in, ask them to set their camera up. Everytime it takes more than 6 seconds, banshee the wits out of the design team, starting from the top.

• Same with the ergonomics team

• Test outdoors

• Buy a Leica M3. Listen to the shutter. Extrapolate

• Test outdoors

• Make the design team hold their breath. They can only breathe after reading through the documentation of all the menus. Survivors are welcome to stay and rethink their approach

• Test outdoors

• Hire people with ears in the shutter department

• Test outdoors

• Hire nude models. Get them to walk by. Ask the design team to switch the camera on and shoot. The models won’t be patient enough to wait for the things to power up. The disappointment will be a valuable lesson

• Test outdoors

• Open the windows and test outdoors

• Put the camera in the head designer’s baby’s room at night. Make an all-night timelapse. Chances are, the baby will be super cranky the next morning. The psychiastrist fees will be valuable lesson in discrete shutter theory.

• Get Guthenberg to print the menu system. After he eviscerates himself, hang the pictures in the design studio.

• When somebody’s ill, ask him/her to sneeze on the camera. Measure the number of catastrophic failures and learn.

• Test outdoors



To which Adam added:

• It is possible to have RAW that’s compressed AND lossless, what not give it a try?

• How about copying Fuji a bit and offering the same camera in different body styles; how the RX1R looks but with ICL (bigger though obviously)

• It’s time to be honest… Using APSC E mount for FF was dumb. Time for a proper sized hole

• Yes resolving the above will render some of your lenses obsolete, but think of that as Zeiss’s opportunity

• We’d actually rather a base ISO of 50 rather than a high ISO of 250,000

• Decide on the specs then build it. Don’t have half of your marketing material claiming it’s weather sealed and the other half not

• Fully articulated screen – go the full Monty, or go home

• Some sort of ‘my menu’ that can actually have anything in the regular menu assigned to it, so that we can laugh at Leica/Fuji that can’t seem to fathom that out

• FF AF lens are big. Your camera is small. Get someone who at some stage in their life has held a camera onto the ergonomics team

• A battery that’s actually capable of a longer run time than a 60 cigarette-a-day, asthmatic OAP

• An AF point joystick

• When AE-L or full manual mode is used, I want to see a tangible increase in shutter response time

• Fuji has a thing for legacy lens users (especially Leica ones) where you can set up your own distortion and light fall off for non-native glass. Steal this

• The A7 is made of metal. Make it feel like it’s made of metal, use titanium and then get marketing to lord it up over everyone else for using mag alloy

• Leica has a 4.4m dpi EVF on the SL. 2 years ago they were selling re-badged Oli EVFs (actually made by Epson) – you make cutting edge flat screen TVs. Think about that for a moment

• Even people that didn’t buy the top line A7R expect to get a battery charger in the box. They really do



The Independent doesn’t help – this mawkish editorial advice for would be camera buyers appeared the morning I started writing this piece:


Choosing a camera can be daunting. Now most people have decent-ish snappers on their phones, it’s important to know why proper, standalone cameras are better (and why, sometimes, they’re actually worse). 


It’s always worth sticking with the big camera brands for quality, innovation and in the case of DSLRs, compatible lenses. The original camera brands still thriving today are Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Pentax and Fujifilm. Then there are the electronics firms which have now branched out into digital photography – Sony and Panasonic arguably offer the best cameras here. Samsung did, too, but no longer makes cameras for the UK market.


That’s about as vanilla-plain and non-actionable in case you buy on their advice and can’t be doing with their guidance.


It’s quite a list, but if you stopped buggering around with useless add-ons (that most of us don’t use) like video, there’d be plenty of R&D and ideas to go round.


So, the list(s) above is probably not exhaustive, but is certainly close enough for me. Thinking about it, it seems pretty much that the closest match would be the recently announced Leica M but with autofocus lenses – never going to happen according to media comments from the Mothership.


And there’s the rub.


Did we miss anything?



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  • artuk says:

    I think it’s churlish and possibly childish to consider Sony as a consumer electronics company who happens to make cameras. Granted, they don’t have a decades long history in the optical business, but they do have a long track record in professional video. They effectively purchased Minolta camera, with their lens manufacturing and their engineers, who had decades of experience. Canon make photocopiers. Fuji make most of their money from polymers that go into make-up, and happen to have a boutique camera maker as a small side business, that doesn’t make much money. Olympus make microscopes and spectacle lenses. Everyone is into everything that capitalises on their experience and strengths. Nikon has a long standing history is camera and lens manufacture – and recently announced enormous losses, write-downs and profit warnings, because they are to an extent complacent and do something, but only in a half hearted way, because like Canon they are terrified of alienating their legacy customer when they inevitable have to announce a new lens mount to support a camera without a mirror. It’s time to end the “they are an electronics company” put-downs – digital cameras ARE electronic devices, which is why Leica has to get everyone else (e.g. Panasonic) to help them manufacture them, because they simply don’t have the experience in house.

    • pascaljappy says:

      Even my beloved Zeiss are a large corporation with a tiny photo presence, almost a side project 😉

      • artuk says:

        exactly – they probably make more money from spectacle lenses than camera lenses, which bask in reflected glory of years gone by and make products eulogised for their blue badge – regardless of who actually manufactures them.

        (I saw a fairly standard internet fan discussion about the Zeiss Batis lenses for E mount, and who makes them – was it Tamron, for example? – when in fact it was well reported at launch that they are made by Cosina – an obvious fact when you consider the packaging is exactly the same as some Voigtlander lenses).

        • Soso says:

          Probably Tamron R&D (patent) and Cosina production.

          • artuk says:

            Why on earth would Zeiss get Tamron to design a lens for them? Granted, Zeiss don’t have the experience to do the AF, the electronic aperture, the OSS, the… Oh hold on… Maybe someone else did design it? Possibly Sony (who own a share in Tamron)?

  • Sean says:

    Hi Paul,
    It’s probably a symptom of the modern world. Everything is spoiled by bloated over design, insidiously drip fed to end users by sales people and marketeers, who are trying to keep their product relevant by promoting imitations of what they think the end user wants, and not needs for the act of photography. Their cameras, otherwise electronics, have morphed that come bundled with trickery that only distracts and robs, not gives. In sum, that object that’s called a camera quickly becomes a dust catcher, slowly choking in planned obsolescence, as the consumer reacts, knee jerk style, to the next iteration.
    Lastly, it’s not all that bad in every case, but it’s getting harder to recognize when a turd has either been re-polished, or rolled in extra glitter …

  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    I’m going to see if I can find a Kodak Box Brownie.

  • artuk says:

    Oh, and regarding lens mount size, E-mount is actually slightly larger than Nikon F mount, a legacy full frame format.
    Canon have hobbled themselves with a silly sub-APS-C sensor size that masquerades as APS-C, with it’s own incompatible lens mount for lenses that fit those cameras.

    Canon and Nikon will both need a new lens mount eventually, it’s just an installed user base and the cries of horror that will ensue when they do eventually “bite the bullet” that stops then actively investigating it. Or they can continue to make cameras that are excessively mechanical with mirrors flapping around inside them, and not be able to support full speed continuous AF on video, 100 frames per second still capture, global electronic shutter, or whatever the future of digital imaging brings us. Their users are largely an older breed who will be replaced by the kids of today who grew on smart phones and won’t understand why they can’t shoot tens of frames per second or focus properly on 4k video.

    Granted, other makers – ok, actually Leica – chose to use a huge mount for their SL camera, and it has resulted in a very good camera/lens system with a class average 24Mp sensor and a body and lens system the size of medium format. Little that Leica does rarely makes sense to me, and although the SL is touted as a camera system for the future, in a few years it will be lost in the mists of time like many of their other products (basically, anything except the M system, or perhaps their R mount SLRs mostly made successful by Minolta who manufactured the cameras and lenses some decades ago).

  • Soso says:

    What it this? Best of sonyalpharumors? How’s that going to improve my photos? If these are your worst problems, everything is super duper, right?

    To get more serious: If you want to get a problem solved, state the problem, not your solution! Here I see a list of very self-focussed solutions. What are the problems you’re trying to solve?

    • pascaljappy says:

      Point well taken ! 😉

    • artuk says:

      Since that’s an entirely valid observation, and it had struck me that Paul’s list was a somewhat parochial view of “what I want”, I think it’s fair to spend the time commenting on some of his criticisms properly.

      1) Raw – there is some suggestion that some raw files are slightly compressed and lossless. I’m not sure if that applied to Sony’s. They used to offer uncompressed and compressed, and I shot compressed for years without an issue. Then they took away the option as they claimed that people didn’t use compressed, and then it turned out that in specific circumstances it caused issues, and an internet storm ensued. They were silly to claim the default option was uncompressed when it was compressed, but really it was a non issue. The reduction in bit depth that results from some continuous shooting modes probably has a greater impact on final image quality than cRaw.

      2) Lens mount size. See above. It’s larger than Nikons and Leicas. What’s the issue? The somewhat larger shorter focal length lenses are rumoured to be a result of the original A7r sensor, which had very difficult characteristics to get good results in the outer field. Lots of legacy wider lenses gave all sorts of issues with colour shifts and softness that don’t occur on the other A7 cameras, and not on the A7r2. It seems their E mount lenses may have to be designed to deal with that – which is a shame as for the rest of us who don’t use the original A7r, we could probably have smaller lenses, but we’re stuck with it for a least another generation or 2 of bodies, until nobody uses the original A7r any more. A pity.

      3) Weather sealing. Sony say “weather resistant”, which isn’t the same thing as “sealed”. The marketing has been confusing, which is a problem created by the marketing and PR department, not the camera. I don’t use mine in particularly adverse conditions, but I’ve never had a problem.

      4) Articulated screen. I do agree one that can be adjusted to use in portrait orientation is great – but is also makes the screen assembly bulkier. Everything in design is a compromise, ultimately. As for making the same camera in different bodies, maybe an SLR-like style and a “rangefinder”-like style could offer different rear screens. I just want Sony to keep them smaller, and not make them the size of those silly “pro” SLRs from Canon and Nikon. We’re not all American.

      5) AF joystick – agree, I don’t understand why they don’t have one. The buttons are “ok”, the front and rear dials faster. I think the issue is that unlike an SLR with 9 AF points, mirrorless cameras have tens or hundreds of “AF points” that can be adjusted in size. A joystick could be as much as issue as buttons and dials, but for different reasons.

      6) Shutter response. Electronic front curtain shutter increases the shutter response time. In general, the response time is better than many SLRs, if you look at the timings. At least it’s not Fuji’s, which can vary dramatically but up to about 0.6 seconds depending on circumstance, aperture and focus mode – and which went through a strange aperture dance opening and closing every time you try to release the shutter, even in MF mode – the only “fix” was to AE lock first. A bigger issue is TTL flash delay with Sony, related to pre-flash, though this can be overcome by using the AE lock button first, to first the pre flash and set the exposure and lock it, leaving you free to release the shutter as often as you want with that flash exposure and no pre flash delay.

      7) “My Menu”. I really like the “quick navi” which allows all the shooting data on the rear screen to be controlled from the rear screen, which covers most settings. Additionally, the “function” menu can be customised in the view finder for pretty much whatever you want, with a few exceptions. I suspect the exceptions are the issue – for example, electronic front curtain on or off, or silent shutter, cannot be set from either the quick navi screen nor the Fn menu.

      8) Batteries and charger. I like that I can use any E mount battery in any E mount camera. Everyone whines the battery doesn’t last long. At physique sports competitions I get about 600 shots from one battery over several hours. Just buy another battery and stop complaining! If they did use another battery, everyone would complain about that too – they should use the larger DSPR battery if they did switch, not another brand new one. USB charging is useful, but so are battery chargers if you have multiple batteries. I have chargers with some E mount cameras, and cheap third party ones are readily available.

      9) Material and feel. I rather liked the original A7 series with it’s slightly shiny black paint finish. The newer mark 2 bodies are probably better, but I don’t particularly like them as much. There is a lot of nonsense spoken by amateurs about materials and “feel”, which equates to “quality” in the minds of consumers. Magnesium alloy is good, they say, neglecting that it’s brittle and cracks under heavy load – whereas modern plastics are strong, flexible, and make things bounce. I’d rather drop a Sony A3000 E mount camera in it’s plastic Sumo-suit than a X-Pro1, as the former would probably bounce whereas the latter would probably crack. I always thought the A7 series did feel sturdy?

      I could also write at length in reply to an earlier comment about consumer features and marketing departments, but I won’t, except to say that:
      – lots of pro cameras have advanced features that require lots of configuration
      – why shouldn’t pro cameras have the same features as consumer cameras (Pros need to share photos on social media just like camera phone snappers, we like in a connected world, why shouldn’t you camera support that?)
      – lots of new software features make the task easier; I like apps that remove the need for expensive features or make focusing and tracking easier

      It’s overly simplistic to eulogise “simple” cameras from a by-gone era, since they captured on film rather than digitally, and were simply incapable of rising to the challenges required for some (many?) modern photographers.

  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    Arrrghh !!!!! Now I am completely out of my depth. All I really know is that I have the gear I decided I wanted, I love it despite whatever negative characteristics it has, I know it wouldn’t suit everyone, and I bought it because it will serve my needs – not someone else’s – when I want to take a photograph.

    Sometimes I wish I had an articulated screen on the back of the two Nikons – but I can cope without. Oh – and someone to carry my junk for me, while I take the photos – that would be nice, but none of the camera companies seems to offer that kind of accessory.

    I’ve been amusing myself over the past week reading everyone’s opinions on everything. NOT – I hasten to add !! – not opinions from DearSusan, just stuff that’s been piling up in my inbox from all over the web. Standing back and giving an overview of all of it – I think more people should pull up a chair, around 5 pm – pour a nice gin & tonic – and relax, chill out, and enjoy the sunset. Collectively, they expressed so many negative opinions about everything anyone could possibly use to take photographs that – if you believe them – it’s a wonder that photography still exists, at all. Plainly, it was a load of bunkum, and I decided to ignore practically all of it, instead of sharing any of it with anyone else. What right have I to “pass the parcel” and make everyone else suffer, too? It was quite bad enough wading through all of it in the first place. In Australia, when someone keeps complaining or whingeing about everything, his audience will cry “get a life!” and ignore him. What a pity we can’t all do the same to all the critics in our midst!

    Oh – and I love to print mine. That’s my notion of “digital storage” – no Cloud, no back up drives, no collection of computer gear that will be obsolete by Christmas. And the best part about digital is that FINALLY we are told that our prints aren’t go to fade into a collection of pale pinks and blues in 5 or 10 years’ time. Whether they last for another 50 years is of no concern whatsoever, since I certainly won’t, and don’t care if my photos don’t either.

  • artuk says:

    Pete – I think its “first world problems”. I do t understand all the hubris and negativity much of the time. People.want simplicity – just use the damn dials on the camera for aperture or shutter or whatever, look through the viewfinder and take the damn picture! There are one or two things that could be better, but overall I see it as a non issue. Its amazing I manage to take any photos given much of the complaints I see, as apparently its impossible to focus, get the exposure right, change any setting, and if I manage the navigate through all that the its absolutely clear that the raw file image quality is totally unusable.

  • Andreas Aae says:

    I completely agree with Pauls (or was it Pascals?) list.
    Can I add the aperture ring?
    Aperture is a lens function. The control belongs logically on the lens.
    But the root cause of this whole discussion is very well diagnosed by Don Norman:


    I had the opportunity to try the Sony for 3 days in Berlin, and wowed never to buy one of those.
    Unfortunately, the list of alternatives is getting very short and very expensive.

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