Wednesday, October 7, 2009

What if Santa makes cameras...

I wonder if Santa's elves have the technical expertise to make advanced photographic equipments. If they do, I would like to wish for my dream camera this Christmas ... again. Even without Santa, my wish could come true, perhaps by next year. There has been some whisperings that Canon and Nikon may make compacts with APS-C sensors.

What's new? You might ask. We all know that compact cameras with APS-C sized sensors have existed for a while now. Roughly one month back, Leica had just announced the Leica X1 and Sigma have had a compact cameras based on the APS-C size Foveon sensor for more than a year. The Micro Four Thirds are compact wannabes with an SLR sensors in them.

Despite such recent excellent efforts by manufactures, I still have a wishlist that have yet to be fulfilled by any of them. In this post, I present my wishlist with an doctored image to match it.

  • Fixed Lens - For a compact camera, I don't care about interchangeable lens actually. If I wanted to invest in new lenses, I would buy them for my dSLR. Fixed lens saves weight, saves cost and are normally better matched with the sensor. Retractable lenses with built in lens cover is most preferred. Many owners drop the detachable lens covers of the LX3 and DP1/DP2 at least once every time they use the cameras.
  • Zoom - The current crop of compacts with APS-C sensors all come with prime lenses. A 24-105mm as shown in the diagram is more than good enough for me. Image Stabilized lenses would be geat. I can live with f4.0 on APS-C... ofcourse f2.8 would be better
  • WA and Tele Converterd - If the manufacturers can provide good wide-angle and tele converters for expansion, that would be excellent.
  • Compact Size - Although Micro Four Thirds are smaller than dSLR, they are still not real compact cameras. I would set the limits of compactness to the size of G11 or LX3. Having a non-detachable fixed lens will make the camera smaller.
  • Fast Contrast Detect AF - Most people know the story of Autofocus speed of the DP1/DP2... and to a lesser extend the E-P1. Enough said. Panasonic demonstrated that this is possible with contrast detect AF.
  • APS-C Sized Sensor - I think Four Third sensors are good but APS-C are still better. My feel is that APS-C hits that sweet spot, giving an optimum balance in sharpness, DOF, Drange, noise and cost.
  • High ISO Performance - If the ISO performance is not up to scratch, then there is no use for such a large sensor. Generally APS-C should be reasonably noise free up to ISO 800 and produces acceptable noise level at 1600.
  • Flash and AF Assist - PnS are for social snaps, mostly. So Flash and AF Assist light are essentials. A Flash with a guide number of 6@ISO100 should be enough.
  • HD Video - It would be great if this little camera can replace (at least partially) the function of your video camera. Video AF tracking would be useful as well... and ofcourse stereo sound!
  • Fast Shot to Shot time - This PnS will cost close to a dSLR. It is only fair that it should have a very good shot to shot performance to match.

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