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PostPosted: Mon Jun 16, 2008 10:52 pm 
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Hi folks,

Yes, Bob's gone bonkers again and wants to know why the lens is at the front of the camera. :roll:

Seriously, Sigma are certainly to be applauded for fitting an APS-C sized sensor into their DP1 compact camera (see Gordon's review) but I was struck by two images:

    Image ....... Image
It would appear that the aperture of the lens is less than the depth of the camera with the lens retracted. My assumption is that Sigma chose to use a prime lens, rather than a zoom, because of the difficulty of getting one capable of servicing the APS-C sensor retracted into the camera when it is switched off.

This isn't something specific to Sigma, so I am left wondering whether it wouldn't make more sense for the larger compact cameras to have the lens on one of the narrow faces. Presumably it wouldn't need to be retractable and all zoom and focussing could be achieved by moving lens elements already within the body. Again, for the larger compact cameras there would also be room to fit an APS-C sized sensor across the camera body as well. The only drawback I can see, and maybe it's a serious one, is that without an optical viewfinder the LCD would have to be flipped out to allow a shot to be framed but that action could be turned into an on/off switch.

What might it look like? Well, there's the Sony HDR-TG3E camcorder which measures 33 x 119 x 63.5mm and 283g to indicate what I mean.


So, could one fit a bigger lens and an APS-C sensor into this form factor? If yes, then why hasn't it happened? Maybe the fact that it hasn't means you can't. I may not be bonkers (you decide) but I'm certainly confused :?

Bob.

P.S. @ Gordon I've just noticed that the Sony HDR-TG3E is also a 4.0 megapixel still camera. Shouldn't CameraLabs be reviewing this return to sanity? :wink:

EDIT: Updated the link behind the picture of the HDR-TG3E

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Last edited by Bob Andersson on Mon Jun 16, 2008 11:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 16, 2008 11:01 pm 
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I think you have too much time on your hands.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 16, 2008 11:12 pm 
Well, I guess it would make the camera a little less portable and a dettachable LCD screen would increase the cost.

But the main reason is probably that a consumer who knows the advantage of having an APS-C sized sensor will also appreciate the quality a prime lens offers. So it's probably a smart marketing move (deliver the right product for your target public).


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2008 10:27 am 
Wouldn't that then mean the camera would have to be extremely thick to accommodate the sensor + lens? I assume that there would need to be some space around the sensor. I think Nikon did this with one of their compacts, you twist half the body to get the lens to point straight.

Sony's super-thin cybershots(there are others of course) use this method but their lenses and sensors are much smaller than the DP1's.

Why not have interchangeable primes? Oh wait that's a Leica M8.......

......Tri-Elmar anyone?


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2008 12:10 pm 
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grahamnp wrote:
Wouldn't that then mean the camera would have to be extremely thick to accommodate the sensor + lens? I assume that there would need to be some space around the sensor...

I'm not sure.

Take the dimensions of the HDR-TG3E I mentioned above: if Trusted Reviews have got them right this camcorder is 33mm thick. The pixel array on the sensor in the Sigma DP1 measures 20.7 x 13.8mm and here is the sensor unit on its mount:
    Image
To my eye it looks as though there is room to mount such a sensor across a 33mm thick body even allowing for the thickness of the casing, though the circuit board layout might need tweaking.

In any event the DP1 is actually 50.3mm deep because of the lens mount bulging out of the front so it all comes down to where the bulge might be if it's needed at all. Again, this isn't intended as a rant against Sigma, far from it, but it seems to me that this hangover from the point and shoot film cameras where the lens is in near the middle of the biggest rectangle is fast becoming an anachronism. Maybe it only survives through expectation from the target market.

By the way, I'm really taken with the HDR-TG3E as a piece of design. Of course we don't all have magnificent sailing yachts to pose about on but if you can look through that then the video at http://www.handycam2008.com/ shows the camcorder in action. Almost makes me want to take up camcording but I think I'll resist the temptation. 8)

Bob.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2008 1:55 pm 
Bob Andersson wrote:
By the way, I'm really taken with the HDR-TG3E as a piece of design. Of course we don't all have magnificent sailing yachts to pose about on but if you can look through that then the video at http://www.handycam2008.com/ shows the camcorder in action. Almost makes me want to take up camcording but I think I'll resist the temptation. 8)


Wow, that's exactly how I felt when I saw it in Digital Camera Magazine. I'm guessing it has that effect on people. :)

Microphone that zooms with the lens......wow! No need for expensive shotgun mics!

Thanks for the explanation Bob, I hadn't realised it was that thick with the lens included. You're right, I think manufacturers do need to think outside the box with modern camera designs.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 18, 2008 8:54 pm 
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Hi Bob, you've got a good point, and as you know the manufacturers have occassionally tried some different designs, often with different degrees of success!

There's the models which still have the lens pointing out from the large flat front surface, but prisms, and mirrors fold the optics to it internally zooms along the longer dimension to save space and prevent the lens from extending outwards.

Then there's models like the Nikon Coolpix 900 series where the lens and grip were in two seperate sections which could rotate, again allowing the lens to fire down a longer dimension.

Then there's the camcordery models like you describe, but would you like to hold a still camera in this way? It seems acceptable for shooting video, but I'm still not sure about stills...

I also think there's a lot of conservatism when it comes to product design, not because the designers don't want to come up with something different, but because the punters won't buy it. Crikey, does anyone remember the furore of the Ford Sierra shape when it was launched in the UK?

So would anyone here be happy using a radically differently shaped camera, or do you prefer conventional shapes?


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 19, 2008 1:13 am 
I think for models like this Sigma, which are so unusual anyway, there might be a benefit to adopting a different design just so everything can fit in.

For tried and tested designs however, like on DSLRs....don't touch! :D


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 19, 2008 11:06 am 
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Well Medium Format cameras come in a good few different shapes and sizes =)

Belly viewers, rangefinder style, and a sort of SLR style,

Just thought I'd through that in.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 19, 2008 11:53 am 
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I like that Sony camcorder, it's very small, produces some nice quality, but is too expensive, I think.

Would a camera shaped like that camcorder be less comfortable to hold. I think we as photographers have gotten used to the normal shapes of our camera's (with the lens on the front), and this new design you talk about may not work for some/most of us.

Good thinking though!

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