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Old Jan 6, 2005, 2:54 PM   #1
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I came up with this trying several ultra-compact cameras to serve as a back-up. It will be interesting to hear what others thing would make their dream ultra-compact digital camera and let's hope that manufacturers are looking in here. I'll try to keep it sort of realistic, i.e. in line with what is physically possible or achievable with todays technology.

Here are my dream specifications:

-Easily pocketable, not record breaking small but still smaller than Canon A-series

-5 MP 2/3" CCD sensor ( I believe no one makes them today)

-All metal rugged body possibly weather resistant

-4x optical zoom 28-112 mm equivalent, as fast as possible of course

-P, A, S, M exposure modes

-Hybrid passive/active AF with several selectable AF points and MF with distance preview

-2" TFT screen with more than 150 000 pixels that gains-up in low light with anti reflection coating

-optical viewfinder with paralax frame

-Startup time of less than 2 sec. with minimal shutter lag and AF delay (hybrid systems are usually quick)

-ISO range 50-400

-Useradjustable sharpness, contrast and saturation in 5 levels (-2,-1,0,+1,+2)

-Manual WB (in addition to the usual presets)

-Auto exposure bracketing

-Selectable 2 or 10 sec self timer

-640x480 pixels movie mode at 30 fps limited by card capacity

-AA cells compatible

-SD or CF memory card compatible (at least until Sony, Olympus and Fuji come to their senses and quit ripping us off with overpriced memory cards)

-Optional-image stabilization

To my knowledge there is no camera like this today, there are some that come close but fail in one or more categories. Theoretically, a camera like this can exist and I believe that there is a market for it. It won't be cheap though. I'd think the target price point of such a beauty should be i the 500-600 Euro mark MSRP. Even then I believe (if the image quality is as good as the spec) many advanced enthusiasts will consider it as a back-up camera.
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Old Jan 6, 2005, 5:40 PM   #2
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I would want instant start-up much likemy D100 has, a 3x zoom lens like 24-72mm f/2 with an ultrasonic motor for focusing and zooming (for fast and responsive zoom, no lag), very fast processing of images and at least 128MB of buffer,2/3" 3 megapixel sensorthat produces clean images that are assmooth as an APS-C sized sensor up to ISO 400, CF or SD memory and real fast writting (>5MB/s), a duraluminum/carbon fiber composite body with strong weather sealing,1.8" transflective lcd screen (for viewing under direct sun light), and it should do it all as frugally as possible with AA batteries. It wouldn't have to be ultra compact, butaround the size of my current A75. That would kick @$$!!! :G
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Old Jan 6, 2005, 6:04 PM   #3
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Some of your specs are already standard in ultra-compacts... I'll add my comments to your wishes, and add my wishes as well

blr wrote:
Quote:
-Easily pocketable, not record breaking small but still smaller than Canon A-series
Nearly all ultra-compacts are smaller than the Canon A line... eg. Sony T1, Canon SD300, Panasonic FX7, etc...

Quote:
-5 MP 2/3" CCD sensor ( I believe no one makes them today)
Of all your requests, this will be one of the toughest. It's goign to take a while before we see 2/3" in an ultra-compact...

What I would like is a 6MP 1" sensor. These don't exist but given semiconductor technology, they should be here soon...

Quote:
-All metal rugged body possibly weather resistant
Most ultra-compacts are metal but they are not really weather resistant. I would also like to see weather resistant ultra-compacts. In fact, I view this as almost necessary because we'll be carrying ultra-compacts everywhere...

Quote:
-4x optical zoom 28-112 mm equivalent, as fast as possible of course
I don't know how difficult it is but I would like to have 6x zoom. I think 4x is not THAT significant, whereas you can actually notice a difference with 6x...If I'm going that high, I also want image stabilization...

Quote:
-P, A, S, M exposure modes
Definitely... It would also be nice to have 2 custom slots on the mode dial plus another configurable button for another custom mode (or other options)...

Quote:
-Hybrid passive/active AF with several selectable AF points and MF with distance preview
Manual focus on ultra-compacts are next to useless IMO. The cameras are too small to really do anything, let alone try to control the focus with precise button presses...What I would like is a fast auto focus in low-light...

Quote:
-2" TFT screen with more than 150 000 pixels that gains-up in low light with anti reflection coating
150k pixels is good... a lot of ultra-compacts are already 2" or 2.5" so I wouldn't want anything smaller than 2". I would prefer a 3" LCD with fast processor performance (fast screen updates, fast image processing, fast focus, etc). A big LCD is essential because of the following...

Quote:
-optical viewfinder with paralax frame
What's a parallax frame?

Anyway, I think ultra-compacts will do away with viewfinders. They are too small to place your eye and focus/observer anything, let alone trying to press the shutter button at the same time. I predict that the viewfinder will be eliminated (this is why I want a large LCD screen with very fast processor speed)...

Quote:
-Startup time of less than 2 sec. with minimal shutter lag and AF delay (hybrid systems are usually quick)
I don't care THAT much about startup time BUT I would like fast continuous/burst mode. I want around 5 frames per second. Some of the ultra-compacts are already faster than the larger mid-end prosumers so this shouldn't be that difficult (just add faster processors that hopefully won't drain too much energy; only issue is cost and development time)...

Quote:
-ISO range 50-400
yep... if a 6MP 1" sensor can be used then ISO400 should be achievable I'm guessing...

Quote:
-User adjustable sharpness, contrast and saturation in 5 levels (-2,-1,0,+1,+2)
Yep... but I would prefer "infinte" (i.e. fine) controls. I don't know why cameras still go with levels. That's very old school and serves little purpose (this is especially true for higher end cameras which should have enough processor and memory to have many levels). I say, dump the levels and go with a slider...

Quote:
-Manual WB (in addition to the usual presets)
yep.. it would also help to have more presets. If my dream ultra-compact materializes, I will carry it almost everywhere so it is good to have more lighting choices..

Quote:
-Auto exposure bracketing
yep... while we are at it, how about focus bracketing? If the camera can shoot at 5fps (as I desire, above) then bracketing will become a standard feature in ultra-compacts...

Quote:
-Selectable 2 or 10 sec self timer
Again, why 2 or 10? Why not a continuous slider or something? I would like to be able to set it from, say, 1 second up to 20 seconds, in 1 second increments...

Quote:
-640x480 pixels movie mode at 30 fps limited by card capacity
already here... most of the newer, decent, ultra-compacts have it... I would like to see HDTV resolution (which should be reasonable if it is a 6 megapixel camera) at 30fps... another desire is MPEG4 compression but I don't know how much more power this needs...

Quote:
-AA cells compatible
Personally, I don't care... as long as the camera can do what I descirbe, the battery with the most energy is fine. Based on the features that I requested, I think the battery has to be some proprietory one or something...

Quote:
-SD or CF memory card compatible (at least until Sony, Olympus and Fuji come to their senses and quit ripping us off with overpriced memory cards)
Don't want CF... that's too big for ultra-compacts... it has to be SD or xD... xD is ideal for ultra-compacts but costs way more..

Quote:
-Optional-image stabilization
Since I want 6x zoom, I want IS for sure... but even at 4x zoom, I would want IS...

Quote:
To my knowledge there is no camera like this today, there are some that come close but fail in one or more categories. Theoretically, a camera like this can exist and I believe that there is a market for it. It won't be cheap though. I'd think the target price point of such a beauty should be i the 500-600 Euro mark MSRP. Even then I believe (if the image quality is as good as the spec) many advanced enthusiasts will consider it as a back-up camera.
Ultra-compacts have surpassed some of your wishes (eg. video, size, etc) but they are way behind on others.

I will make one prediction: if ultra-compacts don't start offering revolutionary features like I (or the original poster) mentioned, they will die off. Mobile phones with embedded cameras will kill them off.... soooo camera manufacturers better get going and push some of these features and make sure the digicams are way beyond the cellphones...
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Old Jan 6, 2005, 6:28 PM   #4
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blr wrote:
Quote:
-Easily pocketable, not record breaking small but still smaller than Canon A-series

-5 MP 2/3" CCD sensor ( I believe no one makes them today)

-All metal rugged body possibly weather resistant

-4x optical zoom 28-112 mm equivalent, as fast as possible of course
The smallest camera that I'm aware of that has useda 5MP 2/3" CCD is the Nikon Coolpix 5000. It had a lens with an actual focal length of 7.1-21.4mm (to give it a 35mm equivalent focal range of 28-85mm). Other models using a 5MP 2/3" CCD are larger (Sony DSC-F707, DSC-F717; Nikon 5700; Minolta DiMage 7, 7i, 7Hi, A1; Panasonic DMC-LC1; Leica Digilux 2).

Unfortunately,with a 2/3" CCD, you need larger (and longer focal length) lenses to achieve your desired focal range (especially if you wanted anything reasonably bright), compared to the lenses used in pocketable models. So, given current technology, that would rule out an ultra compact design. That'sone of the reasons you see sensors getting smaller and smaller (so that the cameras and lenses can be smaller, too).


Added: Canon does havereasonably small cameras with their Film based Elph Models, and we are seeing some interesting "folding lens" designs on newer subcompact digitals. So,I guess anything is possible (but I wouldn't "hold my breath" that we'll ever see a 2/3" CCD in a subcompact). ;-)






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Old Jan 6, 2005, 6:54 PM   #5
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0 to 100 in 3.5 seconds.. oops...let's get back to cameras.

I'd just like something that takes very sharp pictures for all available resolutions, with good colour saturation, no barrel distortion, no chromatic distortion, no red eye, never develop hot pixels, never break down, and has a good zoom range, and ability to take wide-angle and telescopic photos conveniently. The buttons on the camera should be intuitive to use, with all the main functions easily accessible, and easy to remember how to access them.

I'd like the user manual to be loadable into the camera so that we can refer to the manual on the LCD if necessary.

I'd like excellent auto-focus assist feature, true manual mode with manual aperture and shutter speed settings, but can also go into automatic mode.

I'd like illumination lamp that we can turn on for dials and buttons so that we can see them in the dark.

I'd like 50 to 60 frame per second movie mode capability at 320x200, 640x480, and 1024x768 resolution, with storage capacity limited only by the memory card.

I'd like exposure and aperture bracketting features, versatile white balance features, long battery life, 10 megapixel capability, 2.5 inch LCD, flexible ISO settings, self timer adjustable to whatever time we want. I want wide range of shutter speeds.

I'd like remote control that can make the camera shoot a picture...even in movie mode.

I'd like the camera to be able to zoom in and out in movie mode, and have the option to autofocus continually.

I want very very short delay times between shots, and very small shutter lag. I want swivel LCD screen-like on the canon g6. I want histogram mode, as well as 3-dimensional plot with X-Y-pixel_intensity display.

I'd like a add-on power pack interface for AA batteries.

And GPS capability. I'll add more features when I think of more things to include.

---
UPDATE ..I just thought of more. I'd like a very fast burst mode, so that we can capture those illusive things that go fast at the right instant...such as flying birds, flags flapping around in the wind, speeding cars, sprinters etc.

AND ..the wireless remote controller must be a radio transmitter...not a infrared controller.

AND also the facility to be mounted on a flash mount, with hotshoe adapter.
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Old Jan 6, 2005, 6:57 PM   #6
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A Nikon 990 type camera without all of the extra crap on it with a big buffer, And keep the 990 type viewing finder. Have knobs to switch things such as A,P,S,M and flash on or off andthings such as shutter speeds and aperture wheels should each have a seperate wheel.To much crap that You never use cluttering up the Menue's sure stinks. It Needs A PC socket that You can use with any flash without burning up the camara. 8MB is great (if a big buffer is provided. 990 type flash bracket was OK. The built in flash need to have a tall stalk to get it away from the lens.

Bottom line is we just need a camara to take good photographs and leave the movie crap and all the junk off of it.


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Old Jan 6, 2005, 7:41 PM   #7
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True...I agree. I'd like a nikon 9XX type camera with all the features that I said above.
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Old Jan 6, 2005, 8:00 PM   #8
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what I want in an ultracompact:

very short shutter lag - 1/2" or less including focusing from pressing the shutter to taking the shot

enough resolution for photo-lab quality prints at the size of paintings in museums

enough zoom to fill the frame with a planet (and get it sharp too)

wide angle almost out to fisheye levels

high ISO capability and a fast lens - I want to be able to do action photography under starlight.

HDTV-quality movie mode

> 100GB storage on solid-state removable memory included

cost < Canon A75
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Old Jan 6, 2005, 8:57 PM   #9
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pianoplayer88key wrote:
Quote:
what I want in an ultracompact:

very short shutter lag - 1/2" or less including focusing from pressing the shutter to taking the shot

enough resolution for photo-lab quality prints at the size of paintings in museums

enough zoom to fill the frame with a planet (and get it sharp too)

wide angle almost out to fisheye levels

high ISO capability and a fast lens - I want to be able to do action photography under starlight.

HDTV-quality movie mode

> 100GB storage on solid-state removable memory included

cost < Canon A75

Apart from the cost it is theoretically possible providing that youwere about 20 meters tall giant and had a proportionally large space ship to teke you above the atmosphere so you can take sharp planetary images without atmospheric disturbances :?

Seriously, to JimC I don't think fitting the lens will be a problem. Look at say HP R707 it has a 8-24 mm lens that is quite small. My Caplio R1 has a 4.8 optical zoom that folds into a thin ultra compact body. True it will not be a f2 constant lens but f 2,8-4 should be physically possible in a foldable lens. IMO the sensors are getting smaller because smaller sensors are cheaper to mass produce (thank you once again Sony), it also leads to a smaller lens elements which are again cheaper, the whole camera getts smaller. Average Joe is happy but people wanting quality images are not.

Actually the way the market of small digicams develops reminds me a lot of what happened to the portable audio market. Everything shrunk, we got tons of options, days of battery life but thesound quality of earliermodels was lost.
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