Features I wish Cameras and Lenses Had: Useful features and functions that camera manufactures should work hard at adding to their products.

Beyond the usual wish for cameras to cost less and, in the case of digital cameras, have more pixels, there are many features I wish camera and lens makers would considering incorporating into their product designs. I acknowledge that some of these may be very difficult or impossible, but then this wouldn't be a respectable wish list if it didn't have a few things that were out of the question. Perhaps some of these features are already available and I, being a newcomer to photography, am ignorant of their existence. If so, I would appreciate an email to let me know which of these dream features are available on what products. Thank you.

Lenses:

Provide Two Manual Focusing Rates: a standard one like what's currently available and a second, slower one (you have to turn the focusing ring farther to get the same amount of focus change) for fine focusing. The Sony DSC F-707 had something like this. The focusing ring electrically controlled a motor to focus the lens. It was able to sense how fast the focusing ring was being turned and the motor focused the lens quickly when the focus ring was turned quickly. Then, if the rate at which the focusing ring was turned slowed down, the ratio between the amount of ring rotation and focusing decreased to make fine tuning the focus easier. Something like this on standard SLR camera lenses would be very useful, especially for close-up work where short depth of fields demand precise focusing. In purely mechanical focus lenses this could be done with two focusing rings, one working at a different gear ratio than the other.

Make Lens Focusing Rings Easy to Find and Feel Different Than Focal Length Adjustment Rings on Zoom Lenses: I've used a Sigma and Nikon zoom lens and tactiley, the zoom ring and focus ring felt so much alike I sometimes confused the two. Also, I continually find myself hunting around for the focus ring. Making it either concave or convex would make it easier to find when my eye is glued to the viewfinder.

Provide Standardized, Quantitative Performance Ratings: Each lens should be tested and with a standardized resolution test and the results available on the public forum for people to compare how sharp the lens performs. Sometimes this information can be gleaned from professional and nonprofessional websites, but many times they only test a few lenses and each site uses it's own technique. What I want is two numbers that tell me how sharp it is and how much the image degrades toward the edges.

Standardized Lens Description Nomenclature: It seems like every lens manufacturer has their own secret set of code letters to describe what type of lens it it. I'm sure part of this is to make it difficult enough to identify the lenses so that once someone has learned the code for a given manufacturer they tend to stick with that manufacturer rather than learning a new code. But, to photographing newcomers like myself it's a pain in the brain to try and learn what all of the code letters mean. A standardized code for the entire industry would make things much easier and facilitate comparisons, but then I can see why the manufacturers wouldn't want consumers to be able to do this.

Focus Distance Transmitted to the Camera: A nice feature would be for the lens to combine focus position and focal length information to generate a distance-to-object number. This could be useful in depth of field calculations. This could be shown on along with the F-stop, exposure, and shutter speed information in the viewfinder.

Focal Length Information Transmitted to the Camera: Just like the distance information mentioned above, this would be something nice to see in the viewfinder.

 

Cameras:

Finer Viewfinder Screens: I don't know how it is with other cameras but the screen in my Canon EOS 20D has a very fine graininess to it that makes fine focusing on difficult.

Silent Shutters: I do a lot of close-up photography of hummingbirds and my Canon 20D's shutter is so loud it scares them away. It would be helpful to have a silent running mode. The Sony DSC F-707 had this option.

Built-in Multiple power viewfinders: Fine focusing is critical in the close-up work I do, especially when I'm building up a stack of indexed-focused images for depth of field stretching. Life would be easier if viewfinders had a switch that allowed you to change between different viewing magnifications for super-fine tuning. (They listened! Newer cameras have Live View options with magnification.)

Adjustable Viewfinder Viewing Angles: It would be nice to have the viewfinder extend a little further away from the camera's back and have it swivel up and down for more comfortable viewing.

Brighter, Sharper, Larger, Back Panel LCD Screens: I'm sure this is a common wish among most camera owners. I want a screen that's bright enough to see clearly in bright sunlight, though not necessarily direct sunlight, and large and sharp enough to tell me if the shot I just took was sharp enough to keep.

Back Panel LCD Information Available in the Viewfinder: One way to resolve the LCD brightness issue is to make it viewable through the viewfinder. The Sony DSC F-707 had this option and it was extremely convenient.

The Option to Use the Camera's Main Sensor to View the Image Through the View finder. This "what you see is what you get" approach is a quick and easy way to check the exposure. The Sony DSC F-707 had it and it was very useful.

Moldable Grip: Everyone's hands are different so a camera that feels good in one person's hands will feel small cramped in another's and too large and bulky in a third's. It would be nice to make the basic camera grip on the small side then provide a moldable plastic overlay that the owner could reform to her or his preferences. Perhaps it could be a thermoplastic that softens when dropped in boiling water, then could be applied to the grip and molded to the owner's hand. Once cooled it would hold the new shape.

Permanent "On" Depth of Field Previewing (with light amplification?): The depth of field preview button activates the iris so the viewer can get an idea of what the depth of field is. I find it annoying that it's an only-on-when-pressed option. It would be more convenient and comfortable if when pushed the DOF preview remained on until the button was pushed a second time. Actually, since this eliminates one more step before the shutter can be released it might be a way to reduce shutter lag.

Also, while DOF preview can be useful, the significant reduction of brightness when the iris closes down at large F numbers makes the image so dim that it's difficult to see what is and what isn't in focus. Some sort of brightness enhancement would be useful.

 
After reviewing the camera wish list, it struck me that many of them could be satisfied with an extremely sharp through-the-viewfinder LCD screen. The Sony DSC F-707's LCD viewfinder was grossly inadequate for any of these functions because it's resolution was so low that focusing was impossible.

 

 
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