Archive for the Cameras Category


Posted in Cameras, News, Photographic Culture, Photography with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 1, 2012 by Stefano Mazza


Latest rumors from separated sources are reporting that Leica will produce a special camera with a black and white sensor – a sensor dedicated to monochrome processing exclusively. It appears that it will look like a M9 and that the sensor will be produced by Kodak.
There is also a little debate on whether it will include a back LCD screen or not.

Well, I confess that some months ago I was wondering exactly of such a camera, only capable of B&W images. I even wrote a couple of enthusuastic lines, but they remained in the proofs of this blog’s dashboard for months. Then I started to think that a B&W dedicated camera in the digital era makes poor sense: knowing how market works, I thought that it would have been developed starting from a “normal” existing camera model, from which colour processing would just been denied in the final image output.
To be honest, Kodak in the past attempted to sell a digital monochrome camera, the Kodak DCS 760m, but it has been abandoned soon (you can read a comprehensive review here). For these reasons, I forgot the idea for a while.

Now, after the leaking news from Leica, I mumbled once more about it and I realized that, on the contrary, it could have the potential to enhance a new growth in the photographic field. If this upcoming “B&W-total” sensor has been newly designed for monochrome processing, and it has been developed in an innovation and improvement view, it will have the opportunity to stand as a serious technology.
I expect that this sensor won’t include a Bayer matrix, just because pure monochrome light doesn’t need to be filtered and splitted in a composition of separated colours: maybe a UV/IR filter should be enough.
By the way, being a B&W total camera, it should pay a special attention to infrared radiation, because IR has always been an important part of B&W photography, and it should be sensitive at least up to 1000 – 1200 nm (just to go beyond the glorious Kodak HIE film).
Also UV radiation has been used in B&W photography, so it would be interesting to find a “IR / UV switch”, or two separated “IR gain” and “UV gain” which the photographer can add to the pictures when he wants an IR or UV sensitivity from the sensor.

Juniper on a balcony

I also expect that avoiding demosaicisation (consequent to the Bayer matrix) will help the producers to obtain an enhanced image quality, more sharpness, far less noise production and, most of all, a very effective processing capacity, in the aim to develop outstanding in-camera image editing: they should include a wide control on overall contrast, microcontrast, masking and oher typical monochrome processings, like toning (platinum toning, gold toning, etc.), print effects (salt print, bromoil print, etc.) and others.

Speaking of advanced B&W, it would also be very useful to have an internal Zone System reference: I imagine a built-in analyzer that highlights all the “zones” present in a picture and helps to process the image correctly according to the 12 zones scale method as described by Ansel Adams. The analyzer can be developed at viewfinder/monitor level or, later, at editing level. It would also result in a very powerful didactic tool.

I’m only dreaming, I definitely think so. I’m not optimistic on this rumor and I still think that in the end this will be a sort of advanced marketing operation by Leica, launched some months before the next M10 model.
However, I like to think that if a monochrome camera idea will be developed in an intelligent way, by Leica or anyone else out there, avoiding any film-era nostalgia and exploring new techniques for digital B&W photography, it will result in a wonderful opportunity for everybody.
Official announce will be given by Leica on May 10th.

Mirrorles rumors
Leica rumors
Leica Monochrome sensor made by Platinum Equity (Kodak)


Posted in Cameras, Photographic Culture, Photography with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 26, 2012 by Stefano Mazza

Whenever we scroll the blog of any photographer, both amateur or professional, it’s very likely that we find somewhere in his or her writings a post about a possibile “dream camera”, where he/she stresses all the features that in his/her opinion a serious and highly desirable camera should have.

Well, I won’t be an exception here, even if I’m fully conscious that:

– the perfect camera will never exist
– my voice won’t be heard very far away
– market strategies won’t change after my writing

Urban perspective

Sometimes Yashica EZ F521 has appeared to me as the perfect dream camera.

However, I still would like to address my humble open letter to the public, including worthy Camera Makers, in order to inform them about the list of things I would expect from a hypothetic “dream camera” I wish to handle:

1. Outstanding lens choice. This is the first thing a serious photographer looks for. If I dislike the lenses available for a camera system on the market, I just avoid it. I also expect that actual state-of-art technology can provide very good lens at reasonable prices. By the way: 1000 € (or bucks) for a lens is NOT a reasonable price. We all know that very good lenses can be marketed at 400 – 600 €/bucks.

2. Small and highly ergonomic camera body. It seems that recently many photographers are looking for rangefinder-style cameras or at least small, light and easily portable cameras. I walk among them. Good examples I can suggest in this view are Panasonic GF, Sony NEX, Samsung NX, Fuji X, Olympus PEN and some other.

2. A very wide, inviting and luminous viewfinder or, maybe, rangefinder. Althought most of the photographers are now accustumed to look into back monitors, the opportunity to look into a viewfinder still remains as a totally different experience to take good pictures. Any camera should include it.

3. (Very) limited geometric distortions. Please consider that many serious photographers are not concerned with sensor size or pixel count at all, but that sensor size modifies the sensor-to-lens distance, which is crucial because it’s connected with geometric distorsions. Crop factor due to sensor size should be as limited as possible, because a big crop factor forces the use of short focals, and this means geometric distortion, which is a problem. If I want to shoot wih focal equivalents of 40 or 50 mm, I should not care for distortions. For example, actual micro 4/3 cameras deliver highly distorted images even at 40 mm equivalent focal due to their crop factors and this is still a fault. Automated in-camera corrections aren’t enough to fix this issue, and in any case they are lost if we have to process the image from the RAW file.

4. Small sized lenses. Lenses should be small, in order to keep the overall camera size as pocketable and light as possible. Pancake designs are highly reccomended.

5. Autofocus and metering should be FIRST affordable and THEN fast. AF controls and AF direction should also be immediately available on camera body.

6. Good JPG quality, both colour or B&W, it avoids time consuming conversions from RAW format. Any serious photographer loves to obtain good JPGs straight from camera instead of pulling them out from RAWs. File size is not a problem, just give us quality.

7. Open RAW formats. Yes, RAW format should be possibly open and easy to read by most of image processing softwares: Lightroom, PS, Gimp, iPhoto, whatever. In a comment on Gianni Galassi’s PhotoGraphia (a highly reccomended blog to visit and follow), I once stated (here) that camera makers and software developers should sit together on a meeting and decide how to create a universal RAW standard. I know that it sounds like science fiction now, but that’s what many of us are dreaming of nowadays.

8. Construction quality is important: a serious camera body should be made of metal, mostly.

9. Image stabilization is not a must, many of us have shooted for decades without it, but if you consider to include it, please do it at sensor level, if possible.

10. Limited noises. A good camera should be very, VERY quiet, almost silent. Just to mention a few examples: Leica M9 is way too far from this concept, Panasonic GF1 is highly improvable. Fuji X100 is the right example to look at.

11. Options and setting menus should always be highly intuitive and easy to use. There is no point in creating deep-embedded functions that nobody will have the time or the willingness to find out.


Comments and suggestions on what stated above are more than welcome.