Full frame or bust

Rollei 35
Rollei 35 (image from cameraquest.com)

I thought this point (already made in an update to my Low Noise Camera post) was worth emphasizing: in 1966, Rollei released a pocketable “full frame” 35mm camera with a sharp 40mm f2.8 lens. (The Rollei 35 is still being used actively and examples in good condition are selling for well over $200 on eBay.) Given the processing capabilities of the iPhone, there’s no question the supporting electronics and battery to do the necessary image processing can fit into the space occupied by the 35mm film cartridge and a winding spool, so what the heck is up with today’s camera makers?

D7000 vs. NEX5N
D7000 vs. NEX5N from camerasize.com

I remember coveting the Rollei 35 when I was a kid. But if you go grab a serious (but not pro) Nikon body from the 1980s you’ll discover it’s hardly any bigger than many M43 or Sony bodies, and with a fast (manual focus) prime it’s size competitive. For that matter, my $250 (new) plastic Nikon FM10 had a huge viewfinder with a glass pentaprism, and looks tiny next to my D5000. (My Nikon FA, bought second hand, is the same size. I’ve got it sitting next to my D7000 as I write this; it’s the same width as the D7000 but only slightly taller and deeper than the NEX5N, but then it has a big glass pentaprism and hard controls for everything.)


Dear Nikon, Canon, Sony, Olympus, Panasonic, Pentax, Ricoh, Fujifilm, et al:

In 1969 we could put men on the moon and build tiny full frame 35mm cameras with sharp, bright lenses.

Why are you messing around with fat, heavy camera bodies, tiny sensors, slow lenses, and idiotic control layouts? It makes me think you are all stupid and deserve to die. Look what Apple did to the smartphone business in 2007 — in retrospect the iPhone was obvious.

Here’s your wakeup call: give us a big sensor, small body, small fast lenses, sensible controls. Or someone else will and you will all die.

Stop inventing new mounts, new sensor sizes, and redesigning control layouts unless what you give us is a big sensor, small body, fast lenses, and sensible controls. We need two or three dials, a mode selector, a few buttons, enough room for a 35mm sensor, a body we can grip, and a fast lens. Stop messing around.

Acknowledgement: I got the Rollei 35 photo from here. I hope it’s OK. If not I will take it down and apologize. The screen shot is of a comparison on camerasize.com (pity they don’t show lenses).