Tuesday, 15 May 2012


The interwebs are alive with praise for the new Olympus camera. The one that looks like a 1980s slr. (Check out TOP and VSL for example.)

Why is this? It seems to be the first small sensor camera that works like an slr. And it seems to have lenses people like. At last they have a smaller camera that does what a dslr does.

To a point, Lord Copper. There is no doubt that sensor technology now lets small sensors do almost everything that large sensors do, and the other technology is making functionality catch up with what dslrs can do in the focusing and other areas. I, too, read the specs, looked at the design and suffered temptation. It does tick most of the right boxes. But I have to wonder if these folks would be quite so gushing about the Olympus if another manufacturer launched a new camera today that was a similar size, handled exactly like an slr, but had a full frame sensor?

After all, that is really what these people (and I) want. The laws of physics can't be beat, and small sensor simply cannot do some of the things that a larger one can. It can be sharp, it can have low noise at high ISO, it can have a wonderful tonal range and accurate colour matching. But it's still a small sensor. It's why, for all the benefits of the X10, I've gone back to a full frame dslr when I know I want to make pictures.

Why do I like full frame cameras despite their bulk and weight? Because they make photos that look the most like ones made on 35mm film. They suit my way of looking and seeing. Cameras can be as superbly technical as they want, but if they don't let you look and see in your way they are a hindrance. I know I've said this before, but that's what the internet does to you. It keeps on ramming it's collective opinion down your throat. And like so many collective opinions it is often wrong headed and needs to be constantly challenged. Even if nobody ever reads this stuff!

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