#1331. My photographic wishlist for 2024

By pascaljappy | Opinion

Dec 21

The beauty of non-realistic thinking is that it can be as wishful as I want. But I’ll distill it all down to one very realistic feature.


One of the benefits of DS’s collaborative approach is that it subjects me to the ideas and techniques of others. And one that’s been particularly pleasant to follow is Ian’s e-film approach to photographic life.

It resonates with me largely because it is expressionistic.

So much of our collective delirium about photography, particularly in gear-oriented media, is the search for zero-misses and technical “perfection”, that the e-film approach feels like a breath of fresh air. Fancy that, creating images that look the way you want the scene to feel like rather than what a lab rat decided was proper. Oh the concept ๐Ÿ˜‰


That industry-wide search for quantitative supremacy (sorry, science’s most idiotic term of the century is a must-use at this time of heightened introspection ๐Ÿ˜† ) has baffled and alienated me for years. Because :

(1) Big budget shoots avoid it like the plague. A solid way of never finding work again on a movie set, for instance, would be to present footage that looks anything like what (many) photo manufacturers give us today.

(2) It looks unnatural. The quest for more keeps driving us further away from believable.


So, here’s a simple wishlist for 2024.

I would love it if some manufacturer lost the plot completely and decided to focus on natural and fun rather than … whatever it is they are chasing their tail after today. Not every manufacturer, mind! Just one. The others can continue to wow the universe with flow-sucking, fps/AF/ISO/terapixel-fondling, sublime greatness.

To be honest, I rather hoped that manufacturer would be Pixii. I was hoping for a non-rangefinder model that would not be for the 0.1% of the photographic population that both has the eyesight and inclination to use a rangefinder. A model that would offer the goodness of upgradability, build quality, fun aesthetics and more to the other 99.9% out there. But it seems the founding team has decided that optical relic from the 19th century is an essential facet of Pixiitude. Too bad, moving on, but I’ll keep hoping ๐Ÿ™‚


Unsurprisingly, film ticks all the boxes of e-film, save for the essential e requirement.

I ain’t going back to shipping rolls to labs. Maybe the resurgence of film has made those guys more serious about their work, but my past experience was not good.

Moving on, not looking back.


Phones? Ah well … a controversial choice indeed. But phones do tick many of the right boxes.

All the photos on this page were made during a 2 hours walk near Nice airport with my trusty Samsung S9, a.k.a. Zung.

One essential metric of mine for judging a camera is my keeper-rate. Well, including the double PP occurrences such as above and below, and the very few bad shots, that keeper rate is close to 100%.


This is possibly because phones do unrealistic, but natural, whereas many cameras do accurate but unnatural.

Then there’s the fun of easy point’n’shooting, auto everything, sharing, backup, good screen, you name it.

But I would like a camera that’s not a phone.


All of this is probably a lot to ask. Too much of a culture shock for the men in white and the men in suits.

So, in 2024, I would consider buying a camera (that’s not a $30,000 cine camera) that handles highlights as gracefully as my 7 year old phone, which uses a sensor smaller than an ant’s brain (note that I didn’t mention dynamic range, only aesthetics).

Yup, that’s it. That would be a positive win.


Sprinkle a touch of profiling fairy dust. You know, a look designed by an expert colourist, not a spreadsheet, and that would be bliss.

Add IBIS, internal memory, large-ish pixels, a tough build and ergonomics for the 4 year-old inside my brain, and you have my money on a silver platter. Cost – relatively – no object. And I do believe one such camera is on the horizon ๐Ÿ™‚

In the meantime, Happy Holidays to all! ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€


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  • John says:

    Can you give a link to โ€œIanโ€™s e-film approach to photographic lifeโ€?
    Thanks a lot.

  • Des McSweeney says:

    that’s all very tantalising – could we have a bigger hint please ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • pascaljappy says:

      It’s no big secret ๐Ÿ˜‰ The Leica SL-2S is an underrated masterpiece, and defintely one of the most beautiful digital cameras on the market, ever. And I’m hoping a new version comes along soon, with better IBIS and possibly internal memory. We should have the SL3 soon to show us in what direction Leica is taking the SL range.

      • Jon Maxim says:

        Is there any reason you specified the SL2-S – as opposed to the SL2?

        • pascaljappy says:

          There is, but it is probably not a very good one ๐Ÿ˜‰ The reason is the review by Gajan Balan (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xFhtNUUee14) in which the photographs are the first I’ve seen that don’t have too many pixels for my process and still give my X1D good run for its money, or even beat it outright. Gajan also feels this camera sometimes beats his high end medium format gear in terms of image quality.

          • Jon Maxim says:

            Thanks for you link Pascal. Given that it is supposed to be a SL2-S review, I found it interesting how much time he spends describing how good the Leica lenses are. In terms of what may be different from the SL2 I could not detect much that would differentiate it. Possibly, his description of the high dynamic range which may be larger due to the smaller pixels on a SL2.

            I own a SL2 and, having seen many people rave over the SL2-S I have been wondering – what am I missing? – did I choose the wrong camera?

            • pascaljappy says:

              Hmm, I really don’t think you got the wrong camera. The SL2 is probably the more versatile of the two and loses nothing of the SL2-S’s image quality. I’m just in a big pixel mood at the moment ๐Ÿ˜‰ And yes, the lenses do seem to play a major role in the system’s quality, namely that exceptional clarity and the vibrant colours.

              I’ll be watching the SL3 launch (whenever that comes) with great interest. I don’t think image quality will sway me from the X1D, though it will probably be on par. But the modern comfort of IBIS and officially rated weather sealing are of great interest to me. If rumours of an SL3-S amount to anything, that could be an option two. I don’t think the two sensors are from the same stable, and that could explain the slightly different rendering (not better, just different).

              Interesting year to come. And hey, I’ve never owned a Leica camera ๐Ÿ™‚

              • Jon Maxim says:

                Since I am more of a camera nut than photographer, I think I should point out my recent experience. When I got the SL2 I felt a Wow (very rare for me). It truly made a difference in how a 35mm camera handled and the wonderful IQ. But I also like the Fuji products very much. So after ditching a Phase One (superb IQ, but very heavy and unwieldy) my medium format became the Fuji GFX100S. When the Fuji GFX100ii came out, I tried it, liked it and traded up to it. It has superb IQ, great ergonomics and some of its lenses are right up there with, and even better than, the best. Jean Pierre (below) would be very happy to see how some of its zooms rival primes.

                I cannot comment on the Hasselblad since I have never tried one. But, for me, the Fuji GFX100ii made me feel Wow again. I have never had a medium format camera that felt so right. For me, it is a (and I hate the term) game changer.

              • pascaljappy says:

                Very interesting, Jon, thank you. I’ve been tempted by the Fuji, its superior weathersealing, its great handling of third party lenses and other great qualities. I’m still shying away from 100Mp cameras to avoid the humongous files, but it looks like modernity (IBIS …) comes at that price these days. I’ll try an SL of some kind as soon as possible and will make a decision then.


      • Ian Varkevisser says:

        you are seriously considering falling prey to rudolph the red dot camera ?

        they say be careful what you wish for ๐Ÿ™‚

        • pascaljappy says:

          No without trying for a long period, that’s for sure ๐Ÿ˜‰ But yeah, I’d love to try out an SL2-S ๐Ÿ˜‰ Hey, I can’t afford to waste my midlife crisis.

          • PaulB says:


            Please define what you consider a long trial period? As a midlife crisis is too important to miss. Plus, any camera that you can carry in your hands is not as expensive as some other options available to a midlife crisis, such as Girlfriends or expensive sports cars.


            • pascaljappy says:

              Paul, girlfriends don’t come with trial periods, so I’ll stay away ๐Ÿ˜† And French roads and regulations make the very concept of a sports car quite illusory. So I shall drown my white haired sorrow in HiFi and photo nuttery ๐Ÿ˜‰ ๐Ÿ˜‰

              MPB.com sell good second-hand cameras. I’m considering buying an SL2S from them and just selling it back after a couple of months if the two of us don’t work out. It wouldn’t be a big financial loss. The only obstacle to this is inertia. I’m quite happy with the X1D ๐Ÿ˜‰


  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    All this hi-tech comes at a price. The latest addition to my collection of cameras now has a manual from the manufacturer that runs to 3 volumes and nearly a thousand pages. And I don’t know if you’re familiar with this advert, but we’re constantly assailed by one who keeps telling us, over and over, “but that’s not all”. And no it never is – manuals list all the things they can think of and stop without explaining how you should use the damn thing. My worst specimen of that – and I won’t “out” the company responsible for it – is a smaller camera that’s too big to fit in a pocket, not big enough to scare the lens cap off the front of my FF digis, and comes with an invite to scan the “manual” online. Which is utterly useless when you pull out the camera and try to take a photo. And before anyone says “AHA! But . . . etc” it would make no bloody difference if I DID, because the manual is utterly incomprehensible! So it’s dripping with features – but you can barely choose any – and it has spent it’s life as a “point and shoot”.

    If that’s what you’re chasing, I’ll do you a swap. Naah – that wouldn’t work, yours cost far more.

    Back to my latest toy. Nikon’s Z8/ People all over the world are screaming to get one. I just worked into my store, and walked out half an hour later with the Z8, two lenses and a spare battery. With a third lens on order – and top of the range memory cards at a reasonable price, but a horrendous shipping charge, little over a week later.

    This should make you laugh. I bought it to fill in a gap in my collection. For things like birding, wildlife, sports photography, aircraft, surfing etc it’s WAY out in front. And I don’t give a damn any more, about the “who’s the sharpest?”, because modern zooms are ALMOST as good as modern primes, and they have one advantage that primes do not – an advantage I want all the time, shooting subjects like that. I don’t have to gallop all over the planet, to find the right pace to stand, while I’m taking the photo.

    To be honest, these past weeks I’ve seen so many images taken by either or both, testing and comparing the zooms and the primes, and the difference is almost inconsequential. In fact there isn’t always ANY difference! But if I took the opposite route, I might need a 200, a 300, a 400, a 500 and a 600 – I’d likely need 5 Z8’s, so I could just pick one up, instead of simply adjusting the zoom that was already on my camera, in order to get a Z8 with a prime with the right focal length in a hurry, without changing lenses in the field, and risking missing the shot in the process. And of course three servants, to carry all the junk for me, and hand it to me as I needed to change over to a different focal length.

    And the best bit is this – I’ve been saying as much on several Z8 pages on the internet – and everyone’s been agreeing with me!

    Quite apart from the fact Nikon doesn’t yet have Z-mount S-line primes at all 5 of those focal lengths anyway.

    Of course there IS a real need for high quality primes at all those lengths – and the 800 as well. In fact, years ago when I was shooting with a Zeiss Contarex, Carl Zeiss made a 1,000mm lens for that camera – on order, and price on application only – but they did make one. They also made a 500mm and a 250mm, but the prices escalated and last I heard, the 500 was also price on application etc.

    But just as they were when Zeiss was making them, these lenses cost a HUGE amount. So the real reason I don’t have any of them is that, if I did, my wife would murder me. And I STILL wouldn’t have them, would I?

    I’m not going to engage with you on the subject of using a cellphone instead of a camera, because you already know my thoughts on that idea. But I will throw one curly one at you – with climate scientists warning us that the politicians are nuts, the fossil fuel companies are out of control, and sea levels will therefore rise as all the snow & ice & glaciers onshore melt, with estimates ranging between 3 and 17-18 metres (10 feet to 55-60 feet) – I would be very hesitant about buying real estate shown in your photos, regardless of how nicely designed and built they all are.

    Of course Nice only fronts the Mediterranean, while we face the Indian Ocean. And we have to factor in waves, as well as rising sea levels. But the maniacs at Fremantle Council, 10 minutes drive from here, are currently planning a huge multi-storey housing development between Fremantle Port and the Indian Ocean, on land barely 10 feet above sea level, in an area which for years now has had SEVERE problems trying to prevent the waves from eroding the coastline where they proposing to dump anyone fool enough to buy one of the apartments.

    • pascaljappy says:

      Frankly, I strongly believe that the camera that makes you feel confident and happy is the best one out there ๐Ÿ˜‰ People took photographs of galaxies with slow zooms and film, back in the day. They made it work with ASA400 as a holy grail. All that mumbo jumbo about which camera is best is nonesense, given how efficient cameras have become.

      Eroding buildings … that’s even more creative than land leasing for recurring revenue !!

  • Nancee Rostad says:

    Thanks for sharing your holiday-esque images, Pascal – nicely done! And thank you for another stellar year with DearSusan, for which Iโ€™ll always be grateful.And, if youโ€™re a very, very good boy, Pรจre Noรซl might bring you the camera of your dreamsโ€ฆ.just remember that itโ€™s not the camera, but the photographer behind it. Joyeux Noรซl!

  • Ian Varkevisser says:


    I am honoured to be mentioned alongside the expressionists of the photographic world ๐Ÿ˜‰ and not to be simply dismissed as a gimmickist charlatan. Exploring e-films and finding a good fit application is an interesting journey for me.

  • Rick says:

    Have you tried/considered a #sonyrx100 series camera? Iโ€™m quite pleased with a va version, which can do very well if one wants to just set it on auto, and let it do it for you. Manual setting works well too with a minimum of learning curve. #jmtc

    • pascaljappy says:

      I did consider one at some point. But I’ve had very poor experiences with Sony cameras and Sony customer support, a long time ago, that make it hard for me to buy anything Sony, even though all of this is a thing of the distant past ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Tony says:

    I still like the images of the Hasselblad XPAN III – the prototype we made at hasselblad in 2015 prior to the release of the X1D.

    The big sensor and pixels, 55 x 20mm had an own wibe to it with 18 microns pixels. Able to capture a ton of information and used hardware based “digital film emulsions” – instead of applying film simulations in post processing, the emulsion was instead applied at the sensor level and in the phase of analog to digital conversion, based on analysis of real film as a baseline.

    Too much processing in modern cameras takes away the aesthetics of pictures. But taking pictures with an old lens like the Hasselblad 30mm f/5.6 onto a digital sensor has its own drawbacks in sharpness. But still, I think Fujifilm who developed the lens, did an amazing job fitting a medium format lens in the size of a 35mm shell.

    Here are some examples: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1xizIGpOTcHo6n9pkBSkutoAbS2yyURAr?usp=sharing

    Hasselblad decided that the 44×33 sensor was better, and released the camera instead as the 4116 special edition X1D.

    • pascaljappy says:

      Hi Tony, there was a digital XPAN ??? I had no idea. That sounds like a fantastic option, particularly with the built-in profiles. Thank you so much for sharing the samples. I will definitely mull that one over. 55×20 is such an interesting format ! Cheers

    • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

      “Too much processing in modern cameras takes away . . . . .”

      Tony I always thought it would. Take away, I mean. But I sighed. And tried. And much of the time I find I don’t like what “post” does to my photos. Sure, it helps a lot. But a lot of the “smarter” stuff just trades horses – lose one problem, and get another one instead. Sharpening software is a classic – if you magnify the sharpened image even slightly, you commonly find the edges are now a show of rather crystal-looking “things”, and the “sharpness” is an optical illusion that they produce.

      Certainly a lot of it works – some even works wonders – but some, I just findf myself reversing what it did to the photo.

  • PaulB says:


    Another fine set of examples that it is the person holding the camera and not the camera itself that makes outstanding images. I do like the smeared finger print flare effect that you added to some of these images, as it makes them a bit more lively.

    I am glad that you mentioned a Leica SL2-S replacement could be considered, because I was confused by your desire for a โ€œsensor smaller than an antโ€™s brainโ€. While Leica has been at the forefront of making their lenses โ€œbetterโ€, they also understand, and are now willing to admit, that Leica photography has a โ€œLookโ€ and new cameras and lenses must preserve that look.

    For a long term trial you might consider getting an original SL (model 601) or an original Q, if you can find one. Kirk Tuck has mentioned that prefers the results from SL over the SL2, and it gives you a nice platform for using vintage lenses from almost any maker. I would have suggested a used SL2-S, but I havenโ€™t seen one in the wild yet. Just beware, this is a slippery slope. Donโ€™t ask me how I know.


    • pascaljappy says:

      Thank you, Paul!

      No, I do not desire a small sensor. I’m merely flummoxed by the fact that a phone using a tiny, 7-8 year-old sensor does a better job of handling highlights than most full-frame cameras on the market ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Thank you for the advice about the original SL. I’ll try to find Kirk’s articles on the subject!!

      Slippery indeed ๐Ÿ˜‰ But, hey, it’s Christmas ๐Ÿ˜‰


  • philberphoto says:

    Such a wonderful post, because it lets me disagree with it completely! I pondered long and hard how I came up with my “best shots” -a wholly narcissistic concept, no doubt- and the funny thing is: they were the hardest ones to achieve. So I will posit this: a hard shot means I need to concentrate, to be on my best game, to summon my resources. It forces me to look deeper, to try harder, to expect more from myself. So my wish for 2024 is, quite perversely, a camera system that makes it hard for me to get the shots. I am already partly there with adapted prime lenses, with manual focus, and an addiction for flower photography, which is a tough corner of our hobby. In a nutshell: I want the ultimate un-phone! Of course, circus animals need rewarding for their tricks, so, I too need rewarding. When my un-phone yields to my efforts, the results should be vanity-pleasingly, ego-strokingly good…. Un-phone, here I come! Yeah…

    • pascaljappy says:

      Ah, a proper answer would require a complete post. One you already hinted at in the past with your 4-quadrant analysis of shooting styles. I’m a flow photographer. You are a deliberate photographer. We need different gear to let our favourite style shine ๐Ÿ™‚

      My point merely is that the market is inundated with cameras intended for deliberate photographers, but my hunch is that does not represent the segementation of photographers. I do think many more out there are flow photographers, and are being underserved.


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