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The Holga D
March 8, 2012 7:18 PM   Subscribe

The Holga D, a digital camera concept based on the popular Holga medium-format camera. It's a minimalist digital camera that maintains the mystery of film. There's no display, just a little e-ink shot counter on top. The controls are equally spare: shutter speed, ISO, and a completely manual lens.
In the old days of analog photography one had to wait, wait for finishing an entire roll of film, wait for development and so on.
But now, in the age of digital photography many photographers agree that the anticipation and delayed gratification of analog photography made the overall experience of photography even sweeter!

From the front it may look like just another digital camera, may be a bit minimal, but the backside is surprising, as it does not have a display!

Even though Holga D is a digital camera, in order to achieve its simplicity, it reduces the feature set to absolute minimum.
Even the display is not there! So your photographs remain mysterious until you download the images. This makes the experience quite similar to the good old film based cameras.
posted by duien (158 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
We've reinvented the (digital) pinhole camera, folks!
posted by smirkette at 7:22 PM on March 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


That simple, minimalist, feature-poor camera is going to cost a metric shitload, I can tell...
posted by Jimbob at 7:29 PM on March 8, 2012 [14 favorites]


Looks like the Pentax K-01.

I'd love a stills-only full frame digital camera with no LCD, but I was under the impression that the manufacturing costs of even an old-generation sensor would prevent such a camera from ever going below a certain price point. A used Canon 5D Classic would still be cheaper.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:32 PM on March 8, 2012


"Most of my professional work is under non-disclosure agreement and can not be shared. "

Oh man, I am TOTALLY putting that on my resume. It could be ANYTHING!
posted by ShutterBun at 7:33 PM on March 8, 2012 [16 favorites]


I got halfway down the page before I realized that this doesn't exist and that there are no firm plans to make it. So I guess my mild irritation at the author's rather precious tone is all for naught.

Does anybody know what I should do with this mild irritation? I guess I'll direct it at that feral kitten who knocked my dill plant off the porch this evening.
posted by Scientist at 7:34 PM on March 8, 2012 [6 favorites]


Does anybody know what I should do with this mild irritation?

Author some YouTube comments.
posted by duffell at 7:41 PM on March 8, 2012 [25 favorites]


Nice industrial design, but god, the wank.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 7:42 PM on March 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


I would buy something like this. But, unfortunately, it's not a thing - it's a 3D model. Those are much easier and cheaper to make than cameras.
posted by dickasso at 7:45 PM on March 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Our civilization is in decline because success is passe. Generations of optical refinement brushed aside for wretched version of authenticity.
posted by phrontist at 7:45 PM on March 8, 2012 [22 favorites]


I'm surprised this isn't on kickstarter.
posted by delmoi at 7:47 PM on March 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Even the display is not there!

Forget LCD displays; it doesn't even have a viewfinder. If it were a real camera, it'd be mostly useless.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:47 PM on March 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


Shut up and take my money.
posted by littlerobothead at 7:48 PM on March 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Generations of optical refinement brushed aside for wretched version of authenticity.

Amen. Digital cameras have display screens because having a screen makes them better tools.
posted by mr_roboto at 7:51 PM on March 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


A used Canon 5D Classic would still be cheaper.

I doubt that as there are new digital cameras out there for a couple hundred at most, and the 5D is still in high demand as a great full frame camera. I got mine in 2008 and it still works great. The bottom line new canons aren't very much, and less than i'd be able to find a 5d used for i bet.

I love the idea of this, but i got a lens cap mod that puts a holga lens on my 5D and 7D, and it gets close to the look of the holga, but with more flexibility. If this had random light leaks, that would be sweet, because that is a good deal of the holga look besides the lens.

in the age of digital photography many photographers agree that the anticipation and delayed gratification of analog photography made the overall experience of photography even sweeter!

This is something i never really hear or get. Every old time film shooter i know says they are glad they got rid of their darkroom and went digital. They talk of shots lost on paid shoots that they didn't discover the problem until later when they developed the film, being able to actually experiment more now as they can tell if it's working or not without wasting film, etc. Film has it's place sure, but it's a tool like anything else.
posted by usagizero at 7:52 PM on March 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


Interesting design exercise, but if you really want to stay true to the low-cost, low-fi aesthetic of the Holga then you should get one of those $30 ultra-cheap digital cameras.
posted by b1tr0t at 7:52 PM on March 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


Our civilisation is in decline since when, exactly? Invention of tools? Fire? The toaster? Transformers 3?

I think the argument is that technology can get in the way of art.

(And it does have a viewfinder, of sorts.)
posted by dickasso at 7:53 PM on March 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


it doesn't even have a viewfinder. If it were a real camera, it'd be mostly useless.

No, no, no--you're THINKING about it. It says quite clearly that its motto is, "Don't think, Just shoot!"
posted by Sing Or Swim at 7:55 PM on March 8, 2012


Scientist: I was going to make snarky comments comparing this sort design page to masturbating on chat-roulette, only of less value to society, since there's a possibility that other people might be interested in watching one masturbate.
posted by Grimgrin at 7:57 PM on March 8, 2012


I got halfway down the page before I realized that this doesn't exist and that there are no firm plans to make it. So I guess my mild irritation at the author's rather precious tone is all for naught.

What is the reason behind this type of comment? Do you think real products don't start as sketches somewhere? Should we all just wait around until it's a real thing we can buy?
posted by odinsdream at 7:57 PM on March 8, 2012


This kind of minimalist digital would be just awesome for my grandparents. Even the simplest digital I could find is way, way too complicated. More of this kind of thinking, please.
posted by odinsdream at 7:58 PM on March 8, 2012


I sympathize with this guy's vision - some of the best photos I've ever taken were with disposable film point-and-shoots.

But it wasn't because of precious light leakage, distortion, uneven exposures, or any of that. Rather, the disposables were so cheap I wasn't scared of breaking them. Photos turn out much better when you're waist-deep in river rapids.

A small, cheap, bulletproof, waterproof digital would be way more conducive to "authentic" shots than this crippled thing.
posted by anthill at 7:59 PM on March 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


It takes a lot to produce a camera-thing that gives me a more reflexive, visceral gurgle of cynical hate than Hipstamatic, but lo!
posted by smoke at 8:00 PM on March 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


It also misses on the nostalgia factor - the big limiting factor wasn't that you couldn't see what you wanted to shoot, but that there was a limited number shots that you could make on any single roll.
posted by deliquescent at 8:01 PM on March 8, 2012


You're right, odinsdream. I should have FIAMO. To answer your last question though, I do think this could have waited until it was at least greenlighted for production before it hit MetaFilter. Just a personal preference, mind. I should have kept my mouth shut and just flagged the thread instead of hating on it. Mea culpa.
posted by Scientist at 8:11 PM on March 8, 2012


People who buy this deserve it.
posted by stp123 at 8:22 PM on March 8, 2012


This is a design project. It blew through the online world a couple winters ago. Here's a thread on rangefinderforum.com about it.

It was divisive then in the same ways it's divisive in this thread.
posted by tapesonthefloor at 8:24 PM on March 8, 2012


I would like a bulletproof camera. Mostly because people keep shooting at my eye.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:25 PM on March 8, 2012 [7 favorites]


Just go use Instagram and be done with it already.
posted by blaneyphoto at 8:28 PM on March 8, 2012


I'm not really seeing how this is any different than an el cheapo digital camera with plastic lenses and no display.

The Holga is...erm... "special" because it uses genuine medium format film, so you can get extra resolution not available in a 35mm camera, along with the (somewhat) unusual square format.

This camera would presumably not have anything like a full-frame medium format image sensor (unless they are planning to sell these for a couple thousand dollars) so what's the point?

If you want 8 megapixel pictures using crummy plastic lenses with light leaks, distortion, chromatic abberation, etc. there have got to be plenty of options available in the $20-$30 range.
posted by ShutterBun at 8:32 PM on March 8, 2012


Generations of optical refinement brushed aside for wretched version of authenticity.

It's not necessarily about authenticity. I think you're looking at this with a heavy focus on the end product. Yes, in technical terms today's cameras are miles ahead of what was considered cutting edge a couple of decades ago. But for photo enthusiasts there is also a consideration for the process of photography and an attraction to the fun and surprise of low-fi technology.

As someone occasionally uses film cameras I can relate to the freedom that using a Holga affords. There is less fussing about with the camera and no LCD screen encouraging you to review your successes and failures. I'm not dismissing the utility of reflection and criticism but I think it can be nice, especially when you're just playing around, to act without being too self-conscious.

On the other hand, there is also, I think, a sort of abdication of responsibility when one uses these things. The tool produces whatever it may and the operator's contribution is incidental. The Holga usually produce images which are definitively Holga photos. The style of the photograph triumphs over all else, and often there is little else of note. A few years from now, we might look back on the Holga as the excuse which justified a lot of boring and self indulgent photography.
posted by quosimosaur at 8:42 PM on March 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


To really get it right, they should limit the storage to a maximum of 36 files, and then charge you $10 every time you pulled the card from the camera. Or even better, make you spend a couple of hours in a dark room pulling the card and sticking it in a laptop, and then pulling the photos from the card, while everything is stuffed into a large black cloth bag. You could spill fixer on yourself for extra authenticity. I think I'll file this along with 'the compact cassette sounds better.'

Actually, my Samsung has a flip screen, so I can already do this already.
posted by carter at 8:45 PM on March 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


This may work well as an iPhone app: When you take the picture, the screen will not serve as a viewfinder, you must guess and shoot. Additionally, the pictures aren't avaliable to your Camera Roll until 72 hours has passed. Also, no editing beyond selecting color or B&W before you snap the photo.
posted by sourwookie at 8:52 PM on March 8, 2012 [8 favorites]


It's the fixed gear bicycle of cameras.
posted by bowline at 8:52 PM on March 8, 2012 [9 favorites]


There is less fussing about with the camera and no LCD screen encouraging you to review your successes and failures.

This part I can get behind. I set my DSLR's screen to the shortest possible "review" time after each shot, so as to limit my temptation to check each photo immediately afterwards. (unless it's a situation I'm really unsure about, and definitely want to make sure I get correct)

But unless someone wants to carry around a separate light meter (or that nifty all-in-one slide-rule thingy that was linked here a few months back), this camera would not be terribly useful for learning purposes.
posted by ShutterBun at 8:53 PM on March 8, 2012


Hey, where are the light leaks?
posted by squeak at 8:55 PM on March 8, 2012


they should limit the storage to a maximum of 36 files, and then charge you $10 every time you pulled the card from the camera.

The benefits of the digital era are also its flaws. There's certainly no love lost (on my part) for the days of expensive film, tedious processing, etc. But it definitely instilled a level of discipline that I think every aspiring photographer ought to endure for at least a while.
posted by ShutterBun at 8:56 PM on March 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


There's a camera app on my phone (Vignette) which gives the option for a black screen while taking pictures.

Sounded like an interesting idea but turned out to be terribly annoying.
posted by honestcoyote at 8:59 PM on March 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Our civilization is in decline because success is passe. Generations of optical refinement brushed aside for wretched version of authenticity.
posted by phrontist at 7:45 PM on March 8 [5 favorites −] Favorite added! [!]


This is so right on it's vibrating. The level of fetishization in photography makes car nerds look reasonable.
posted by basicchannel at 9:06 PM on March 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


I kind of like this idea. If this existed, and it cost less than $100, I'd probably buy it if it were damn near bulletproof and small. Of course none of those would ever happen, so I'd never have one.

As a kid I was given a very small, very shitty digital camera- it took like 12 QXVGA resolution pictures. It was almost exactly like a terrible film camera- if you dropped it, the batteries flew out, and the pictures were deleted as they weren't even stored on flash memory! It was wonderful, Holgaesque, and I took some very silly and memorable photos of friends.

Another idea I had a while ago: A computer app that, when you plug your flash card in, copies off your photos, applies a randomized Holga filter to them all (light leaks etc), then nukes the originals before you can see them.
posted by BungaDunga at 9:09 PM on March 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


This sounds seriously cool, just because on a medium-format sensor you can build the pixel sensors larger and therefore less susceptible to noise/more sensitive to light. I might just have to get one.
posted by dunkadunc at 9:12 PM on March 8, 2012


Our civilization is in decline because success is passe

This is so right on it's vibrating

I'm astounded by how offended some people are with the idea that artists should be free to pursue their art using any tool or device they deem necessary.
posted by tapesonthefloor at 9:14 PM on March 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


You can have this kind of picture-taking experience right now by simply slapping a piece of duct tape over your current camera's display. Authentic!
posted by webmutant at 9:14 PM on March 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, this ISN'T ABOUT HIPSTAMATIC. We're not talking about a camera that degrades your pictures for you. Any vignetting, funny focus/etc is completely real, an artifact of the lens you're using, not a filter applied after the fact.

Sounds really neat to me.
posted by dunkadunc at 9:16 PM on March 8, 2012


All of the drawbacks, none of the advantages.

Progress!
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:16 PM on March 8, 2012


Also... MEDIUM FORMAT DIGITAL. Does anyone comprehend how neat this is?
posted by dunkadunc at 9:16 PM on March 8, 2012


It comes with a Last-Generation full frame or 1.5x crop sensor
Not, in this iteration, a medium-format camera. Medium format digital already costs so much, why the hell would you put a terrible lens in front of it?
posted by BungaDunga at 9:19 PM on March 8, 2012


Medium format digital sensors are WAY expensive still. I haven't checked in a while, but I think the cheapest I ever found were some 6 megapixel sensors for around $700.

And jeez! Look at the sensor in the model picture. Nothing at all protecting it. He should at least incorporate some kind of cover slide for when the lens is removed. (or is a dusty, scratched sensor "part of the artistic process"?)
posted by ShutterBun at 9:24 PM on March 8, 2012


Have yet to see the word "toy" here, which is what the link describes this camera as.
posted by telstar at 9:31 PM on March 8, 2012


I always thought of those keychain-sized $10 digital cameras to do basically what this person wants: no viewfinder, it's a toy and the photos are, how we say, hit or miss.
posted by alex_skazat at 9:48 PM on March 8, 2012


1. Apply duct tape to standard digital camera display.
2. ???
3. Art!
posted by Foosnark at 9:53 PM on March 8, 2012


I was looking for the digital equivalent of a holga about a month ago. Stumbled across the fake Holga D, ruled it out for not existing, then found this: the Takashi fx521 (also sold as the Yashica EZ 521 and some other name which escapes me at the moment). The pictures look pretty funky and dreamy and all. Only thing is, I just couldn't justify spending a hundred bucks or more for something that's basically just like the camera that's on my crappy old phone. Ended up getting a second hand lumix lx3 for like sixty dollars more and am way happy. Always did like my olympus xa more than my holga anyway--you know, a real good camera, just with personality, rather than a piece of junk that took cumbersome, expensive to develop film . . . with personality!
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:58 PM on March 8, 2012


So someone please tell me what this can do that a piece of duct tape over my 5D LCD couldn't accomplish? Anyone?
posted by jimmythefish at 9:59 PM on March 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sorry, but that's not a medium format camera. It specifically says that it uses a "last-generation" DX or FX sensor, presumably 35mm. A medium format sensor would be significantly larger, e.g. 20x per side.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 10:00 PM on March 8, 2012


So someone please tell me what this can do that a piece of duct tape over my 5D LCD couldn't accomplish? Anyone?

You can tell by the pixels...
posted by ShutterBun at 10:05 PM on March 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Google "Fisher Price Digital Camera"
posted by ShutterBun at 10:06 PM on March 8, 2012


It'll cost a fortune at Urban Outfitters, and wil be Holga quality. You'll have to duct tape the back plate onto it once it starts falling off (which will be after maybe 2 uses).
posted by ohmansocute at 10:13 PM on March 8, 2012


I’m not a photographer, I barely qualify as a camera operator, but I’ve never been able to get used to framing a picture in the little LCD screens. Completely disorienting. I didn’t realize there were digital cameras without that. I would love it if my camera just had the old fashioned little square you looked through.
posted by bongo_x at 10:36 PM on March 8, 2012


That's awful. The Holga film camera was a copy of the Diana, and at least it/they had a viewfinder. Any "Lomo", film or digital, also is a deliberate engineered attempt at a fuzzy camera. The true digital heirs to the Diana/Holga are the "Digital Camera"s sold for $12.99 or $19.99 in a blister pack at Walmart, and that keychain camera sold under 100 names, since those, like the Diana, try to be real but very cheap cameras.
posted by caclwmr4 at 10:38 PM on March 8, 2012 [6 favorites]


I would love it if my camera just had the old fashioned little square you looked through.

You're referring to "every single DSLR ever produced."

OK, that might not be entirely accurate. But I'm reasonably sure that >90% of all DSLRs include this feature, and lots of lower end digital cameras offer range-finders (which approximate a true viewfinder)

I shoot on a Canon 20D, where the "little square you look through" is the only option,(it does not offer real time LCD previewing) and does a much better job at bridging the gap between film and digital than the LCD viewfinders do.
posted by ShutterBun at 11:14 PM on March 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


dunkadunc: "Also, this ISN'T ABOUT HIPSTAMATIC. We're not talking about a camera that degrades your pictures for you. Any vignetting, funny focus/etc is completely real, an artifact of the lens you're using, not a filter applied after the fact."

So, wait, using software that makes takes pictures with a good quality camera and degrades them to look kind of shitty is bad, but using an actual shitty camera is good? Shit is good if it's authentic?
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 11:15 PM on March 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


The digital outputs of my ST-150 sound "warmer" than my CD player.
posted by ShutterBun at 11:19 PM on March 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Forget LCD displays; it doesn't even have a viewfinder. If it were a real camera, it'd be mostly useless."

Well, except that the regular Holga viewfinder has parallax up the ass and that there're a tremendous number of regular cameras that either don't have viewfinders or don't have functional ones. In fact, with most range finders, a view finder is pretty much useless. Holgas are rangefinders. Almost all Leicas are rangefinders.
posted by klangklangston at 11:21 PM on March 8, 2012


My mom's a photo prof, so I've been shooting with Holgas for about 15 years now. On the one hand, I kinda resent the Lomo Cult bullshit, with all the "New Way of Seeing" and quasi-magical fooferah that they embellish around the experience of Holgas. On the other hand, they're a tool. I shoot with my Holgas because I like the images that come out of them, and because I do think that certain aspects of the Holga's limitations are spurs to creativity. I do also shoot with a couple of other cameras — a 35mm Minolta that I love, a Pentax DSLR that's better for "serious" shooting. But shooting with a Holga is the same for me as using a wide-angle lens or cross-processing or any number of other techniques that you use to get the image you want.

On some level, it reminds me of bitching about the band Morphine — they only use two strings on the bass! Well, yeah, but if you like the songs, that doesn't matter.

Likewise, Hipstamatic is overused and often a sop to cover crappy images in extra processing — just like the first couple generations of photoshop were full of. But that just means the images are crappy, not that the tool is.
posted by klangklangston at 11:37 PM on March 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


This is a terrible mock-up of an interesting idea. None of the convenience of digital photography and none of the benefits of using chemical film. And like it's already been said, somebody took the time and effort to even mock-up accessories and didn't think of adding a viewfinder.

There are ways to get an "authentic" look from a digital camera without using post-processing or Instagram. I've got adapter mounts that let me shoot on my Canon DSLR with a Diana lens, a old Soviet Zenit Helios , and a 40 year old Japanese Super Takumar. I've seen other people use tubes to shoot through the ground glass from an old twin lens reflex. And if you don't want to, you don't have to use the viewfinder on the DSLR. Or look at the LCD. Or not take it out of manual mode.
posted by thecjm at 11:51 PM on March 8, 2012


My mom's a photo prof, so I've been shooting with Holgas for about 15 years now.

So Holgas have, like, a known correlation to learning about photography now?

Pardon my fetishistic /gearfag*/ snobbery when I say "Whaaaaat?"

*please pardon this use of a unfortunate colloquialism. It's not preferred choice, but I'm simply intending to be understood. I understand that with more time, I could have chosen better
posted by ShutterBun at 11:55 PM on March 8, 2012


didn't think of adding a viewfinder.

Be sure to use the term "rangefinder", lest you be stomped upon by various and sundry semantic and photography purists.
posted by ShutterBun at 11:57 PM on March 8, 2012


Be sure to use the term "rangefinder", lest you be stomped upon by various and sundry semantic and photography purists.

You're confusing two completely different things here. Also, angefinder cameras still have viewfinder windows so that you could see what you're shooting, more or less; this one doesn't. *stomp*
posted by daniel_charms at 12:10 AM on March 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you can explain to me how a (true) viewfinder can be added to a non-reflexing camera, I'm all ears.
posted by ShutterBun at 12:11 AM on March 9, 2012


"So Holgas have, like, a known correlation to learning about photography now? "

They're an easy way to learn about the basics of composing images, and when I started shooting with them they were $12 a piece (less when you bought them by the dozen for students). For a 120mm camera, that was pretty affordable.

"Pardon my fetishistic /gearfag*/ snobbery when I say "Whaaaaat?""

Sure. I have no problem accepting that a lot of gear fetish photogs both take shitty photos and are kind of morons when it comes to exploring the medium, because for them the gear is the point.. If you don't understand how Holga photography can be pretty easily connected aesthetically to any number of touchstones, from pictorialism to Frank's experiments with polaroids, then you'll probably get a lot more out of pretending that there's only one valid approach (and right now that seems to be HDR).

"If you can explain to me how a (true) viewfinder can be added to a non-reflexing camera, I'm all ears."

Sure, if you can explain how a True Scotsman got into your pedantry. There were cameras with viewfinders before there were reflex cameras. Rangefinders are different, and most rangefinder cameras don't really have a "true" rangefinder; instead they have a focus ring demarcated in distance. These tend to be especially helpful for street photography, because you don't have to look through the viewfinder to focus if you know your distance.
posted by klangklangston at 12:48 AM on March 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


If you can explain to me how a (true) viewfinder can be added to a non-reflexing camera, I'm all ears.

A viewfinder is a viewfinder regardless of how accurate it is. The little window you peek through on the Holga is still called a viewfinder, even though it at best just points in the right general direction. /pedant
posted by daniel_charms at 1:21 AM on March 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


There were cameras with viewfinders before there were reflex cameras.

My goodness, I'd love to see some examples of this (of course, limited only to those without any parallax errors, since that kinda defeats the both the purpose and (my own) definition of a viewfinder, as differentiated from a rangefinder)

Well gee, I guess 4X5" view cameras came standard with a viewfinder, with no reflex to speak of. Is that what you meant?

I guess before we go much further, we ought to define our terms (how's that for a pedantric introduction?)

Viewfinder = seeing *exactly* what the film/image plane is seeing, through the same lens

Rangefinder = pretty much everything else

If you can explain how a camera could display an identical image to both an eyepiece and the film plane simultaneously with or without the use of mirrors, I would be most interested to learn of its existence. (this is probably coming across as uber-snarky, but unless we've got our definitions mixed up, I really can't see any way around it)

most rangefinder cameras don't really have a "true" rangefinder; instead they have a focus ring demarcated in distance

OK, we've probably got our definitions mixed up. I've given you my definitions above. I'm willing to concede that this is not the standard accepted definition of the term, if demonstrated otherwise.

Near as I can figure (and please, forgive me if I'm missing something fundamental) you're saying that "true" rangefinders will accommodate for focal lengths, etc. in an attempt to mimic the prime lens, whereas "fake" rangefinders won't, and that's a fundamental difference. (again, please correct me if I am mistaken, or I'm misinterpreting. I genuinely have an interest in all of this, and am (really!) not just trying to gainsay anyone)

So once again: true viewfinders (as defined by me) are NOT possible on non-single-lens-reflex systems, or possibly systems where the film/digital sensor are only set in place *after* the shot has been composed.

Am I way off here?
posted by ShutterBun at 1:31 AM on March 9, 2012


"My goodness, I'd love to see some examples of this (of course, limited only to those without any parallax errors, since that kinda defeats the both the purpose and (my own) definition of a viewfinder, as differentiated from a rangefinder)"

Well, there's your problem. Your definition is wrong. Viewfinders exist without reflex, and have parallax errors. There's a viewfinder on many rangerfinder cameras.

"I'm willing to concede that this is not the standard accepted definition of the term, if demonstrated otherwise.

While I'm not generally a fan of using wikipedia to win arguments, they're pretty good at showing what the standard accepted definition of a term is.

"Near as I can figure (and please, forgive me if I'm missing something fundamental) you're saying that "true" rangefinders will accommodate for focal lengths, etc. in an attempt to mimic the prime lens, whereas "fake" rangefinders won't, and that's a fundamental difference. (again, please correct me if I am mistaken, or I'm misinterpreting. I genuinely have an interest in all of this, and am (really!) not just trying to gainsay anyone)"

No. A "true" rangefinder is a device that tells you how far you are away from something. Some cameras have these, either as some reflected beam, or as a demarcated window plane, or an angle measurement (sometimes with a trig dial). They're pretty rare. However, the much more common camera term refers to, basically, a camera that has a list of measurements on its lens as you focus. E.g. for the Holga, the rangefinder is the little one person/three people/crowd/mountain on the focal ring. A "true" rangefinder finds the range for you; the common usage is for something that you estimate the distance with your eye, and set the camera accordingly.
posted by klangklangston at 1:43 AM on March 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


Sorry, I should have been more precise — I was conflating "true" rangefinder, "common" rangefinder and "fake" rangefinder all down to one. The true ones actually tell you the distance. The common ones generally focus through the overlapping planes that you can see in the viewfinder. The Holga's a fake rangefinder, as nothing really changes in the viewfinder as you manipulate the range. And obviously, the measurements aren't really on the lens — they're on the focal ring. It's late. I'm going to sleep.
posted by klangklangston at 1:50 AM on March 9, 2012


Tell me this about "true", "common", or "fake" rangefinder cameras:

Do any of them allow you to see through the prime lens without mirrors?
posted by ShutterBun at 2:12 AM on March 9, 2012


Seeing through the lens is not a definitional requirement of a viewfinder. Get over it. Insisting on your "own definition" is what we generally call "masturbation". You might want to do that outside the thread, eh?
posted by Goofyy at 2:24 AM on March 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


ShutterBun, as klangklangston points out, the rangefinder (or "true" rangefinder) was a nifty optical improvement on viewfinders (a viewfinder is a general term for any device which allows see to view the frame you intend to capture) before there were SLRs. Typically, rangefinders used two offset windows with optics which merged the two views into a single one. You could thus estimate the range of the object on which you focussed. It was a complicated device, which is why real rangefinder cameras were high-end stuff (much unlike Holgas).

Although SLRs had the advantage over rangefinders of allowing a view through the lens, they also had (still have) the disadvantage that the mechanism retracting the lens mirror when you take a picture is noisy and relatively slow. Also, the prism is heavy and bulky. This is why, decades after the introduction of SLRs, many professional photographers, and in particular photojournalists, continued to favour rangefinder cameras like the Leica M-series.
posted by Skeptic at 2:26 AM on March 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


These are not the things I miss about film.
posted by Devils Rancher at 3:00 AM on March 9, 2012


So in other words, despite every attempt I made to differentiate true "through-the-lens" viewfinders / rangefinders by ANY other name, and fully admitting that it might be simply a case of mistaken definitions of terms, you're still convinced that semantics will resolve the debate?

Again I ask, how is ANY lens system able to provide an accurate depiction of "what the prime lens sees" without either mirrors or a removable focal plane?

Really, all I am talking about is "prime lens vs. something else that is attempting to approximate prime lens". Is that difference so terrible to consider, regardless of my poor choice of definitions?
posted by ShutterBun at 3:14 AM on March 9, 2012


(cripes, I am totally overreacting to all of this...sorry, folks)
posted by ShutterBun at 3:30 AM on March 9, 2012


I still think the retro film-fetish format that's been sadly missed out by digital is the subminiature. Cameras like the Minox were great, but the current digital version is extremely weak. Something like the iPhone 4s camera in a robust little enclosure would be spiff.
posted by scruss at 3:51 AM on March 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


The fact that Lee Harvey Oswald's (so-to-speak) landlord owned a Minox camera must have contributed greatly to that camera's already somewhat legendary mystique. It's a great piece of "what if James Bond was real?" nostalgia.
posted by ShutterBun at 3:56 AM on March 9, 2012


Again I ask, how is ANY lens system able to provide an accurate depiction of "what the prime lens sees" without either mirrors or a removable focal plane?

And again, I'm telling you (or maybe I just meant to tell you but I didn't) that your definition of a viewfinder is is too narrow. It can be there just to show you that you're pointing the camera in the right general direction, the rest of the things you're asking for are not actually essential features.
posted by daniel_charms at 4:06 AM on March 9, 2012


your definition of a viewfinder is is too narrow.

I'm totally willing to accept that. I just had it in my mind that there ought to be a distinction between that, and "seeing what the actual prime lens sees" and I done used the wrong words. In my own defense, I was probably influenced by Klangkangston's declaration:

" the regular Holga viewfinder has parallax up the ass and that there're a tremendous number of regular cameras that either don't have viewfinders or don't have functional ones. In fact, with most range finders, a view finder is pretty much useless. Holgas are rangefinders. Almost all Leicas are rangefinders."

My entire point being: you're either looking through the prime lens or you're not. No mirrors = no prime lens. Any exceptions, please enlighten me. That's really all I was trying to say.
posted by ShutterBun at 4:18 AM on March 9, 2012


I’m not a massive fan of the whole Holga thing when Leica prices are charged for sub toyshop kit. Though anything that keeps film alive so I can shoot it is welcome. From what I’ve heard from informed sources, Full Frame sensors in volume cost around $200-600 depending on a lot of factors. The way the fabrication works means that when you make lots of big, complex ICs the yield rate of fully functioning parts goes right down. Combine this with the fact that consumers are happy to shoot with cameras ‘featuring’ sensors smaller than a monkey’s fingernail and properly sized digital cameras cost more than they could. It’s a shame people are prepared to pay top whack for cameras that ‘crop’ half or more from proper older glass (of course that’s part of the point from the manufacturers perspective). My dream is not a big sensored hipstertoy camera, it’s a Nikon FM3A with no changes other than a full frame sensor where the film went. It’s a crime Nikon stopped making these in favour of outsourced plastic. They are worth as much used as new. Fuji is most likely to make something like that though, as they are getting out of the low margin consumer mess that is the rest of the digital camera market in favour of lovely kit worth paying for. Digital and film.
posted by The Salaryman at 4:29 AM on March 9, 2012


phrontist: Our civilization is in decline because success is passe. Generations of optical refinement brushed aside for wretched version of authenticity.

I haven't read all the comments, so apologies if this has been better put already, but for me it's about the rejection of high fidelity in favour of something less precise, less predictable. Essays could be written on the phenomenon (and have been) and it's easy to point out the hypocrisy of this false "authenticity". But, to my mind, that misses the point.

The problem is equating advanced technology with high quality. Technology is a science, but quality is an art. It's the objective/subjective split. The 20th Century obsession with the former has simply mutated into an obsession with the latter. Authenticity doesn't enter into it.

So whilst the likes of Hipstamatic feel - to me - "fake", the new generation have a much more refined understanding of authenticity than those of us locked in the 20th Century mindset. We're as much to blame for the schism here.
posted by Acey at 4:31 AM on March 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Salaryman: as of today one would fairly easily be able to buy a completely functional Hasselblad kit (with a Zeiss lens and film magazine) for about the same (or less) than any theoretical digital camera with a genuine "medium format image sensor."

(for some reason what I just wrote seems like it had a built-in Russian accent. I don't know why.)
posted by ShutterBun at 4:37 AM on March 9, 2012


the new generation have a much more refined understanding of authenticity than those of us locked in the 20th Century mindset.

Thank you for stopping short of proclaiming impromptu Polaroid photos as the zenith of photographic endeavor.

(seriously, though, what the hell does this mean?)
posted by ShutterBun at 4:46 AM on March 9, 2012


Holgas - for people who don't like cameras.
posted by Termite at 5:01 AM on March 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's getting such that when I hear a manufacturer describe their product as "minimalist,' I assume it's target audience is pretentious hipster d-bags.

(Not to be confused with products that are minimalist, but that's not explicitly called in the press release out as a virtue.)
posted by MrGuilt at 5:08 AM on March 9, 2012


And like it's already been said, somebody took the time and effort to even mock-up accessories and didn't think of adding a viewfinder.

Heh. If you scroll down the page (like I just did - hours after I first posted in this thread), you'll find that they've actually mocked up a plastic viewfinder piece that goes into the accessory slot on the back.

The most absurd thing about it, though, is the fact that it's meant to be adaptable for left-handed use. Because nothing screams 'design' like a solution to a problem that does not exist (I'm left-handed and I've never had any problems using a 'right-handed' camera).
posted by daniel_charms at 5:14 AM on March 9, 2012


they've actually mocked up a plastic viewfinder piece

Well first, let's define our terms about what exactly a viewf---I'll just kill myself.

(not a plea for favorites)
posted by ShutterBun at 5:24 AM on March 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


To be true to Diana it must have a viewfinder, and it must limit your exposure and focus choices. My Diana has two shutter speeds, normal and bulb. It has two exposure settings sunny and cloudy, and two focus settings, mountains, and people. Also flashbulbs for the Diana F limited your dark lighting opportunities to the number of bulbs in your pocket.
posted by Gungho at 5:41 AM on March 9, 2012


The Salaryman - "My dream is not a big sensored hipstertoy camera, it’s a Nikon FM3A with no changes other than a full frame sensor where the film went."

YES. Can I live in this world, please? My dream is a digital doohickey that you stick into an older camera, say a Nikkormat FTn, which fits in where the film did. 35mm, 120mm, 4x5. I have no idea how this would work, but my god, I want one.

This whole Philosophy Of Holga/Lomo thing goes back to one of my basic ideas about art: if you say your thing is art then okay, it's art. If you say your thing is art because it by existing means someone else's thing isn't art, you're kind of a dick.
posted by cmyk at 5:46 AM on March 9, 2012


shutterbun: (seriously, though, what the hell does this mean?)

It means that they understand the terms "real" and "fake" aren't so cut and dry, and - more importantly - that it doesn't matter
posted by Acey at 5:48 AM on March 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wow, so much hate for people exercising their creativity BUT IN THE WRONG WAY.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 5:52 AM on March 9, 2012


It means that they understand the terms "real" and "fake" aren't so cut and dry, and - more importantly - that it doesn't matter

At the risk of sounding painfully obvious, then why invent a whole new camera? Why not just stick to hipstamatic?
posted by ShutterBun at 6:06 AM on March 9, 2012


Hipstamatic lacks the large "sensor" and unpredictability of a Holga.
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:11 AM on March 9, 2012


My dream is a digital doohickey that you stick into an older camera, say a Nikkormat FTn, which fits in where the film did.

Like this design exercise/April fools joke.

Some company announced plans for such a thing years ago, and it never happened.
posted by The Deej at 6:15 AM on March 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


Hipstamatic lacks the large "sensor" and unpredictability of a Holga.

For the ultimate in unpredictability, use Hipstamatics "shake to randomize" mode! Talk about unpredictable!
posted by The Deej at 6:16 AM on March 9, 2012


Wow, so much hate for people exercising their creativity BUT IN THE WRONG WAY.

There have been plenty of people who have exercised genuine creativity via completely unorthodox means (Polaroids, Fisher-Price PixelVision cameras, etc.) and only the most ignorant would judge the medium before the messag whoe.

This is just a stupid upscaled fantasy version of a marginally worthwhile camera. If someone chooses to employ it for their magnum opus, good for them. But can anyone honestly make any claim why "this thing" is somehow warranted (if it doesn't in fact already exist by another name)

It's a cheap-ass digital camera. I'm sure it's as capable of art as a #2 pencil and a sheet of paper. The main question is: why this in particular? What's the deal?
posted by ShutterBun at 6:17 AM on March 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


(please forgive my...bizarre spelling above)
posted by ShutterBun at 6:19 AM on March 9, 2012


The main question is: why this in particular? What's the deal?

Because you can shoot left handed?

For most people Instamatic is just a toy, and that's fine, but there are going to be some (kids, probably) who decide they want to know what all those filters are based on, and they'll build pinhole cameras and analog cameras (like some of us did when we were kids), and maybe they'll end up somewhere new. I think Instamatic is fine.
posted by Huck500 at 6:24 AM on March 9, 2012


Hipstamatic lacks the large "sensor" and unpredictability of a Holga.

So will any sub-kilobuck Digital Holga, I think. For the foreseeable future, full-frame medium format sensors are still WAY too expensive to put on a plastic camera.

Unpredictability has its place in art (Jackson Pollack, etc.) but...what are we really talking about here?
posted by ShutterBun at 6:31 AM on March 9, 2012


My dream is a digital doohickey that you stick into an older camera, say a Nikkormat FTn, which fits in where the film did.

Like this design exercise/April fools joke.

Some company announced plans for such a thing years ago, and it never happened.


Indeed, indeed, indeed. I once bought a second-hand Nikon F3 (which I nicknamed "The Monster"), expecting that either that kind of product or a digital camera back would become available. Alas, in the era of planned obsolescence, no producer seemed even remotely interested.
posted by Skeptic at 6:33 AM on March 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


analog cameras

Oh...my.

This is a real term now, isn't it? Eh, I suppose it probably has been for a long time now. It makes sense. "That which is not digital, must be analog."

Damn, that kinda sucks, for some reason. Can't quite put my finger on it, but it really hits my (imaginary) ear wrong.

(honestly, not being snarky or sarcastic here, just haven't really come across that term used so freely, as it were. )
posted by ShutterBun at 6:40 AM on March 9, 2012


["X-fag" construction doesn't really fly around here, and apologizing is not as good as trying harder. Please try harder.]
posted by taz at 6:58 AM on March 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


April fools joke.

Alas, in the era of planned obsolescence, no producer seemed even remotely interested.

I'll just keep dreaming. And snuggling with my two-pound FTn.

I think I'd like to try a left-handed camera. I'm right-handed but left-eyed, and inevitably I wind up spending half my time wiping prints of the back of my right hand off the right side of my glasses.

Or maybe I should fit myself with a Photography Monocle. The right eye is pretty much useless anyway. Then all I'd need is a dress with a bustle and that Crown Graphic I can't get film for.
posted by cmyk at 7:02 AM on March 9, 2012


Forget LCD displays; it doesn't even have a viewfinder. If it were a real camera, it'd be mostly useless.

When pictures aren't costing you $1 per shot there is a lot of photography that doesn't need a view finder. Especially when you have a fixed lense.
posted by Mitheral at 7:03 AM on March 9, 2012


I think I'd like to try a left-handed camera

Have you given a rangefinder a try? Many left-eye shooters appreciate having the body of the camera block light to their right eye, and the added distance between viewfinder and shutter button might mean that your spectacular smudgeries are a thing of the past.

Plus they're cool cameras. The best, even, for some tasks.
posted by tapesonthefloor at 7:05 AM on March 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Speaking of Hipstamatic, are they still sticking to their bullshit claim about some "lost" camera they're emulating?
posted by kmz at 7:07 AM on March 9, 2012


So Holgas have, like, a known correlation to learning about photography now?

Has any camera that's a pared down into a lens/shutter/light tight box taught anyone anything about photography? Maybe its because a lot of what people do with them that they have this reputation, but there's a lot you can learn about photography with simple camera.
posted by squeak at 7:10 AM on March 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


"bullshit claim" or silly joke, you decide!
posted by plastic_animals at 7:11 AM on March 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Has any camera that's a pared down into a lens/shutter/light tight box taught anyone anything about photography?

I dunno what it's like these days, but pinhole cameras were a rite of passage for pretty much every photography course in existence, back in the day. If Holgas have replaced pinholes, I guess I wouldn't be super surprised, but curious.
posted by ShutterBun at 7:20 AM on March 9, 2012


It's a cheap-ass digital camera. I'm sure it's as capable of art as a #2 pencil and a sheet of paper. The main question is: why this in particular? What's the deal?

Why Pixelvision, but not this camera?

People would want to use it because it would be fun to use, and it would produce interesting results. Even just having a full frame sensor would allow for terrific image fidelity, all the while being compromised in sometimes interesting ways by the unpredictable intrusion of unexpected framing, serendipitous light leaks, and so forth.

There is no modern-day equivalent to what this fantasy design presents. There are no "cheap-ass" digital cameras with full frame sensors, or even ones with APS-C sensors, or even ones with 4/3 sensors, let alone black box ones with fixed lenses and the potential for "worship the glitch"-type light leak moments.

The closest you could come to something like this, at a reasonable price point, would be to jerry-rig an existing 1st-gen DSLR, but even that would miss the mark. Setting aside the issue of spending time and money to take features *out* of a camera, you'd still be stuck with all the excess space and bulk from the mirror and the viewfinder prism and the interchangeable lens mount and whatnot. There isn't really a way to sell this camera with a full frame sensor for less than $1000 at a bare minimum, and that stinks. Bring it down to an APS-C or µ4/3 sensor, and *maybe* it could squeak by at $400.

I mean, hell, you can't even have a full frame Olympus XA for what an Olympus XA had cost at the time.

Unpredictability has its place in art (Jackson Pollack, etc.) but...what are we really talking about here?

Processes which force you to abandon predictability can produce excellent results. Back when film was king, there were a number of inexpensive ways to force unpredictability into your work, while still retaining the strengths of film, especially medium format film.

Nowadays, there isn't really a way to have a digital rig with the same level of unpredictability *and* an output quality comparable to film, all at a reasonable cost. Digital cameras force you to frame the shot as you see it, especially inexpensive ones with LCDs and no VFs. Digital cameras are also much more tightly designed to avoid light leaks, especially considering how a dirty or scratched sensor (or other electronics) is a much more significant risk than getting a tiny speck of dust onto your film.

The only way to put that unpredictability back into your work is to physically turn off certain features, such as through duct-taping the back of your 5D, but that's not the same thing - it's still bulky, it's still expensive, you still have the pentaprism viewfinder on top, just begging to be looked through. Alternatively, you could mentally force yourself to abandon precise composition, but that still isn't the same thing at all - there's a great deal to be said for having the design of an object encourage or discourage certain uses and effects, especially when you had to weigh the fact that you couldn't accurately compose your image alongside the practical limitation of only having 12-16 shots per roll.

It's also a shame that you can't affix a plastic lens to a camera for less than the cost of one of those overpriced Lensbaby jobbers, and even then, you're still stuck with the excess bulk you get from an interchangeable lens system. No, adding Holga effects in post is not the same thing at all.

Forcing the limit on the photos would also change the nature of shooting, back to a pre-digital mindset where you did actually have to think about what you actually wanted to get on film, despite the post-digital "don't think, just shoot" slogan. You had to make every shot count. Each shot was more of an event back when each photo had a discrete, measurable cost. It was subtle, but the difference was there - I'm old enough to remember this. You couldn't just take five shots of your friends to get the best one after the fact - you had to make your roll last the night. Reintroducing the shot limits of film could be an interesting poka-yoke - a behavior control in design.

All of this organic unpredictability helps make some kinds of photography much more interesting. Everyday objects can appear suddenly striking, when you know that they're being reproduced by a process that won't just reproduce them with perfect fidelity to real life.

Adding the veneer of this unpredictability in Photoshop is not the same thing at all. On the computer, you get to choose which photos get what effect. You can play with the sliders and choose or reject the transformation. Worse, people will know that you've added those effects after the fact, which is actually quite an important distinction. Before the digital era, if you had a terrific shot taken with a Holga, like the famous Al Gore shot, you knew it was a case of luck meeting skill. During the digital era, we know that it's a case of taking a photo and willfully making it look like something else. It's a different effect entirely.

...

So, yeah. This camera. It represents something that we can't have - a full-frame camera with the unintentional features of a $15 plastic camera, all for about $20, or even $200. There are no new digital cameras with APS-C or larger sensors for less than $450 or so. This means that there can't be any real "digital Holga" equivalents - the whole reason the Holga had existed in the first place was as a cheap camera for people who couldn't afford other kinds of cameras. Further, the errors that the Holga produces are analog errors, which result in flawed photos, but photos nonetheless, sometimes those were interesting photos. Compare that with errors in the digital era, where typically either a camera works normally or not at all. People will pay $15 for a camera that often produces wonky images, but they won't pay $450 for a camera that sometimes doesn't work at all.


Just looking at it reminds me of how shooting digital has changed how I shoot. Of course my Canon 5D is superior in many ways to my film cameras, and I wouldn't give it up for anything in the world, anything at all, except for an above-market price.

But if I could get a hold of a true Digital Holga, I'd use the shit out of it, especially at parties.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:22 AM on March 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


that Crown Graphic I can't get film for.

I recently sold a bunch of mint (and I do mean MINT) Graflex gear for an elderly relative of mine, and I had a very difficult time explaining that the flash handles for his Speed Graphic were more valuable if I offered them as Lightsaber Replica Props as opposed to functional flash grips.

It was heartbreaking to see that stuff sell for such a pittance, but he was happy just knowing "it would be used," which made it all worthwhile.
posted by ShutterBun at 7:27 AM on March 9, 2012


When pictures aren't costing you $1 per shot there is a lot of photography that doesn't need a view finder. Especially when you have a fixed lense.

Many film consumer cameras lacked accurate viewfinders. Even many cameras from the 80s just had inaccurate viewfinders with zone focussing, meaning that you focussed by guessing how far away your subjects were and then setting the dial accordingly. People dealt with it.

I grew up with a waterproof Minolta 110 camera that worked like this, and it only occurs to me as I'm typing this right now that we never had an accurate way to frame shots. For most people's family shots, parallax doesn't really matter.

I dunno what it's like these days, but pinhole cameras were a rite of passage for pretty much every photography course in existence, back in the day. If Holgas have replaced pinholes, I guess I wouldn't be super surprised, but curious.

Holgas and pinholes occupy different niches. I think there's a Holga-branded pinhole from the Lomo people, but of course it's laughably overpriced at $50.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:31 AM on March 9, 2012


Why Pixelvision, but not this camera?

Pixelvision already exists, and was dirt cheap at the time of release. It was created with the idea in mind that "an emerging medium cannot become a true art form until it is as affordable as a pencil and paper." (granted, they didn't quite meet that goal, but $250 for the technology at that time opened up a whole lot of new artistic avenues. Something I *don't* see happening with a fictitious (or real) cheap quasi-medium format digital camera)
posted by ShutterBun at 7:34 AM on March 9, 2012


ShutterBun: that was the day two of my favorite nerderies collided. It's either dead of 16 years storage in a Florida garage or I just can't make it work, but by god, I am not sending it off to be turned into a lightsaber. The camera seems solid, but it's in storage, indoors, until I can have it vetted.

As far as 120mm inconsistency - I never got why it has to be Holga, specifically. You can get a Brownie Hawkeye for a dollar at a thrift shop or a yard sale, it shoots 120mm, and the back won't fall off if you sneeze in its general direction. Little box cameras are fun to play with.
posted by cmyk at 7:36 AM on March 9, 2012


On the top panel there are one big and bright shutter release button and little two-shades black and white E-Ink display. Surrounding these two there are two dials, for shutter speed and ISO control. The two dials are flushed with the top surface and cannot be accessed like any common camera dial. On the shutter speed dial there there is a little protrusion which which helps to rotate the dial by pressing and moving with finger.

The ISO setting are supposed to be changed even less often, so this function is made even less accessible. On this dial there is a small dimple, so you need a pointed object like pencil, pen etc to rotate the ISO settings .


ಠ_ಠ

See, now it's gone beyond "intentionally screwing with good photographs" to "intentionally making it impossible to operate the damn thing". For fuck's sake.
posted by spitefulcrow at 7:42 AM on March 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Pixelvision already exists

So, before Pixelvision existed, you would have opposed it?

and was dirt cheap at the time of release.

So would this. I don't think anyone has been okay with the idea of this costing as much as it would have to, which would be about $1000.

As you yourself say, Pixelvision wasn't actually dirt cheap, but rather it was $250, which would be a somewhat reasonable price point for a Digital Holga as well. Also, as I'm sure you know, making and distributing movies in Pixelvision was not actually any cheaper or easier than making them with more "standard" media.

(I might be further biased because I associate Pixelvision with Sadie Benning and Michael Almereyda, neither of whom is my favorite filmmaker.)

Something I *don't* see happening with a fictitious (or real) cheap quasi-medium format digital camera

Why would your inability to see the potential override others' ability to see the potential?

...

See, now it's gone beyond "intentionally screwing with good photographs" to "intentionally making it impossible to operate the damn thing". For fuck's sake.

I can't vouch for the shutter speed dial, but I don't see the issue with the ISO dial. Back in my day, you changed ISO when you changed your film. Making it so that you can change the ISO, just not without some extra intentionality, seems like a good compromise.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:47 AM on March 9, 2012


Further on the Pixelvision cost: $250 then would be about $400 now. Not dirt cheap.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:49 AM on March 9, 2012


Even just having a full frame sensor would allow for terrific image fidelity

Yeah yeah. It totally would. But it's nowhere close to happening at this point, and even if they were to somehow score a shitload of 12MP full frame medium format sensors tomorrow for $100 a pop, sticking them behind crummy plastic lenses inside plastic boxes would be just about the worst thing I could imagine doing with them. It probably sounds all purist or fetishistic or something, but to me that's akin to taking a vinyl pressing of an album and skidding it across asphalt, or selling "pre-distressed jeans". It just seems totally stupid to me.

Processes which force you to abandon predictability can produce excellent results. Back when film was king, there were a number of inexpensive ways to force unpredictability into your work, while still retaining the strengths of film, especially medium format film.

There's still plenty of unpredictability in photography. F-stop, ISO, depth of field, framing, and of course where you aim your camera and when you push the button If an unintended light leak or vignetting is what makes a photo great, it may be time to rethink things. (Cheap cameras can *always* take great pictures, but there ought not be a rush to build to world's most expensive Cheap Camera)

On the computer, you get to choose which photos get what effect.

The same held true "back in the old days." Granted, the level of commitment was a lot higher then, as it usually took about 2 hours to perfect a single print. But I don't see how this hypothetical camera would address (or even approach) that issue.
posted by ShutterBun at 7:52 AM on March 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ah, inconvenience-as-fetish, we meet again…
posted by acb at 7:55 AM on March 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


Further on the Pixelvision cost: $250 then would be about $400 now. Not dirt cheap.

Now that I check Wikipedia, it seems that the original price was $100. The point is that it was about 1/10th the price of any other "Handycam" of its era.
posted by ShutterBun at 7:57 AM on March 9, 2012


Yeah yeah. It totally would. But it's nowhere close to happening at this point, and even if they were to somehow score a shitload of 12MP full frame medium format sensors tomorrow for $100 a pop, sticking them behind crummy plastic lenses inside plastic boxes would be just about the worst thing I could imagine doing with them. It probably sounds all purist or fetishistic or something, but to me that's akin to taking a vinyl pressing of an album and skidding it across asphalt, or selling "pre-distressed jeans". It just seems totally stupid to me.

Full frame medium format sensor? I think I saw one of those through my wide angle telephoto lens.

If they could get those sensors for $100 a pop, which we both know they can't, why would you care that they could put them into a cheap plastic body? Are you also mad at tasty wine in ugly glasses, drunk by people you don't know, in houses you'll never visit?

There's still plenty of unpredictability in photography. F-stop, ISO, depth of field, framing, and of course where you aim your camera and when you push the button

All of these are the very definition of predictable, with only what happens when you push the button being unpredictable.

If an unintended light leak or vignetting is what makes a photo great, it may be time to rethink things.

Rethink what things? If it makes a photo interesting, it makes a photo interesting. No one's breaking into your house and replacing your 24-70L's front element with a translucent plastic saucer.

Now that I check Wikipedia, it seems that the original price was $100. The point is that it was about 1/10th the price of any other "Handycam" of its era.

Fair enough, but the Pixelvision only made inroads amongst people who could already afford Handycams. They ultimately chose Pixelvision because they liked how it looked, not because it made sense for them economically.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:01 AM on March 9, 2012


"Unpredictability has its place in art (Jackson Pollack, etc.) but...what are we really talking about here?"

Jackson Pollack meticulously planned his compositions, and dripped very slowly, contrary to popular myth of splattering paint.

"If an unintended light leak or vignetting is what makes a photo great, it may be time to rethink things."

Unintended light leaks can make a photo great, just like unintended facial expressions or unintended anything, really. And the vignetting is an aesthetic compositional choice that even most RAW programs allow you to do with digital negs.
posted by klangklangston at 8:01 AM on March 9, 2012


I mean, hell, you can't even have a full frame Olympus XA for what an Olympus XA had cost at the time.

Honestly, I don't really care about the sensor. What was nice about the XA was, to me, the great lens (the LX3 comes close to that) and the rangefinder focusing. I would love if there was a digital rangefinder that was actually affordable. I found it superior for a pocket camera.

What I like about the whole lomo thing has always been that it forces you to look artistically at shots that wouldn't have been given artistic consideration otherwise. What I don't like about it--never liked about it--was the ridiculous price gouging. You could always buy a real holga for $15 from hong kong back in the day, rather than the lomo store. The used XA I got cost $70, even though the lomo (modeled on the XA) cost nearly two hundred bucks. It seems to me like that's still happening in full force.

$250 is not a reasonable price for a digital holga. $100 is not a reasonable price for the Takashi 521. I'll tell you why: people don't care about the optics, and never have. They care about having a camera that gets people to look at them while they're taking pictures (hypocrite, me, often has cared about the same thing). They care about retro styling, about looks. If they didn't, they would have been taking pictures with the Nickelodeon photoblaster (which took just as wacky, unpredictable pictures . . . but was embarrassing to carry around if you weren't 9). And they would be taking pictures with the 1 MP camera you buy at the go phone kiosk at walmart. Film "grain" (noise, really), clumsy focusing, a lack of a viewfinder, it's all right there. You can do it now. You can even skip photoshop, if you want.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:03 AM on March 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Unintended light leaks can make a photo great,

...but they mostly just ruin them.
posted by Skeptic at 8:03 AM on March 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


Why would your inability to see the potential override others' ability to see the potential?

I guess the main point I'm trying to make is that there is NO REASON for this product to exist, so far as can be demonstrated (err...to my satisfaction) The image sensor would likely just be an old 35mm size (thus immediately negating the entire point) and the main selling points would be "emphasized shortcomings" which would appeal to nobody except those already savvy enough to experiment on their own, or people who think hipstamatic is cool. And if you think hipstamatic is cool, and you believe that the ends are justified by any means, why not just use it? How far off are we from someone creating a "random light leak" photoshop plug-in? Yay, Art!

In short, digital cameras are a land of contra---- Point A: Cheap digital cameras are cool and ripe for being exploited in many neat ways. Point B: This fictitious camera has no reason to exist whatsoever, and I've yet to hear a convincing argument to the contrary.
posted by ShutterBun at 8:07 AM on March 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Jackson Pollack meticulously planned his compositions, and dripped very slowly, contrary to popular myth of splattering paint.

"When I am in my painting, I'm not aware of what I'm doing" -Jackson Pollack

(this is really neither here nor there, I was simply trying to evoke an artist whose work suggested an element of "random chance," which I doubt anyone would deny of Pollack's drip paintings)
posted by ShutterBun at 8:19 AM on March 9, 2012


I got halfway down the page before I realized that this doesn't exist and that there are no firm plans to make it. So I guess my mild irritation at the author's rather precious tone is all for naught.

What is the reason behind this type of comment? Do you think real products don't start as sketches somewhere? Should we all just wait around until it's a real thing we can buy?

odinsdream, it's not that sketches aren't allowed; it's that design vaporware "products" have tired our amusement for pretend product release statements. If I never read another article about awesome new chairs, tubs, and bookcases that will only exist in some designer's 3D CAD export folder... Gah!
posted by IAmBroom at 8:19 AM on March 9, 2012


To really get it right, they should limit the storage to a maximum of 36 files, and then charge you $10 every time you pulled the card from the camera.

Hipstamatic actually tried this. It didn't last long.
posted by designbot at 8:22 AM on March 9, 2012



analog cameras

Oh...my.

This is a real term now, isn't it? Eh, I suppose it probably has been for a long time now. It makes sense. "That which is not digital, must be analog."

Damn, that kinda sucks, for some reason. Can't quite put my finger on it, but it really hits my (imaginary) ear wrong.

ShutterBun, it's a real term, and really, really appropriate. Film (light-sensitive) particles are irregular in shape, overlap in the emulsion, and have a continuous response spectrum, making them completely dissimilar to digital pixel representations at the "pixel level" of imaging. This is why it's so hard to genuinely compare resolution and dynamic response between film and digital sensors.
posted by IAmBroom at 8:24 AM on March 9, 2012


"...but they mostly just ruin them."

Oh, sure. I still tape off my Holgas.
posted by klangklangston at 8:25 AM on March 9, 2012


They ultimately chose Pixelvision because they liked how it looked, not because it made sense for them economically.

Hey, I never said it was a good product! ;-)

But let's consider: the Pixelvision came out at roughly the same time the Sony Handycam era was really taking off. It was piss-poor in comparison, but it did something similar, and did it for WAY cheaper. (Yeah, yeah, $100 seems like a lot these days, but jeez, inflation and technology occasionally find themselves on opposite sides of the "how much will this cost?" spectrum. At the time, $100 for a handheld video (of ANY kind) recorder was DIRT CHEAP. Less than half the cost of most CD players at time.

If this new imaginary product were, say, an HD camera the size of a digital watch for $100, or maybe a 10 megapixel still camera the size of a pencil eraser, or maybe just a 12 Megapixel still camera with interchangeable lenses and a full-frame image sensor," it would make total sense.

But it's none of those, not even in fantasy.

What is it? You tell me. What makes someone want this?
posted by ShutterBun at 8:30 AM on March 9, 2012


The rolls of film I most remember are the ones that didn't come out: the roll of 36 that didn't wind on properly without my realising, which meant I had to redo a fieldwork day-trip and take similar photos because I never knew when I'd be back in the country (20 years later I still haven't been, so that was a good call); and three or four rolls of holiday photos from the other side of the world that got chewed down the middle of the negatives by a processing machine before the operator noticed what was happening (the company sent me twenty rolls and free processing in compensation, but I'd still rather have had the photos). Oh yeah, and there was the 16mm movie my friends and I shot in high school which came back blank from the processor; there ended the budding movie career.

How charming and romantic it all was.
posted by rory at 8:44 AM on March 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


ShutterBun, it's a real term, and really, really appropriate

I'm not so much lamenting the new (accurate) qualification as I am lamenting the end of when it was just "cameras vs. digital cameras."

Inevitable, of course. I'd just never seen it used as such a "normal" term before, I think.

It reminds me of when I first learned that clocks with hands would now be known as "analog clocks" as opposed to "digital clocks." I don't think I even knew the term "analog" until digital supplanted it. Maybe that's what's happening here. Hmm...
posted by ShutterBun at 8:46 AM on March 9, 2012


To me, this basically epitomizes a 'videre quam esse' aesthetic. I don't have a lot of patience for that. If it were an actual toy camera, instead of a pretend toy camera, great.

What I'd really like to see is someone home-brewing a digital toy camera from components, or from a broken keychain cam, or something. That would be fun. But this is roughly the equivalent of bad digital hentai.
posted by lodurr at 8:47 AM on March 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Our civilisation is in decline since when, exactly?

Agriculture. Just because we've been at it a while doesn't mean we don't have a lot further to sink.
posted by phrontist at 9:28 AM on March 9, 2012


I guess the main point I'm trying to make is that there is NO REASON for this product to exist, so far as can be demonstrated (err...to my satisfaction)

"To your satisfaction" being the key concept here. I don't personally have an interest in jai alai, but it doesn't mean that there's "NO REASON" for xisteras to exist. You personally wouldn't find a use for the idea. That's the limit here. Other people feel differently.

The image sensor would likely just be an old 35mm size (thus immediately negating the entire point) and the main selling points would be "emphasized shortcomings" which would appeal to nobody except those already savvy enough to experiment on their own, or people who think hipstamatic is cool. And if you think hipstamatic is cool, and you believe that the ends are justified by any means, why not just use it? How far off are we from someone creating a "random light leak" photoshop plug-in? Yay, Art!

Plenty of savvy people are also savvy enough to be aware that changes in design will change user behavior, and that those changes can create results which would not have occurred before.

This camera is of only somewhat related to the Hipstamatic - the Hipstamatic can introduce some of the same superficial effects, but not in the same organic fashion. Most importantly, the choices Hipstamatic offers are entirely opposed to what had made toy camera experimentation fun in the first place.

Hey, I never said [Pixelvision] was a good product! ;-)

Beyond being a good or bad product, it doesn't fit the rubric you had been spelling out. Making and distributing movies with Pixelvision was not appreciably easier or even cheaper than alternatives. The camera itself was cheaper, but getting the files onto a distributable medium required either jerry-rigging or significant extra expenses. Tellingly, the people who exploited the Pixelvision were NOT people for whom a cost differential would have made a difference. Benning and Almereyda shot on Pixelvision because they liked its output, not because it was cheaper.

But let's consider: the Pixelvision came out at roughly the same time the Sony Handycam era was really taking off. It was piss-poor in comparison, but it did something similar, and did it for WAY cheaper. (Yeah, yeah, $100 seems like a lot these days, but jeez, inflation and technology occasionally find themselves on opposite sides of the "how much will this cost?" spectrum. At the time, $100 for a handheld video (of ANY kind) recorder was DIRT CHEAP. Less than half the cost of most CD players at time.

The Pixelvision camera itself was cheaper than the alternatives, but the costs of actually making movies with it, let alone editing and distributing them, more than made up for the initial savings. The appeal was in the look it created, not in the savings.

I mean, hell. Super 8 film and cameras were cheap, but how many feature films were actually shot in it? The Dead Next Door is the only one I can think of off the top of my head, and probably some Jarman stuff as well, although I can't remember if he ever shot in Super 8 all the way through.

But if that medium was so much cheaper, then why didn't people flock to it for cost reasons? For reasons similar to what happened with Pixelvision: you saved only a little bit of startup costs, but the actual expenses of making and distributing the movie more than made up for any savings. Since Super 8 wasn't really any cheaper in the long run than Super 16, the appeal was with its look, which was indeed interesting and attractive, but not in any expenses that you saved.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:29 AM on March 9, 2012


Interesting point, ShutterBun. I wonder if printers will ever become "paper printers". (As opposed to what? Don't know yet...)

Oops, gotta go. Have to take a call on my landline.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:41 AM on March 9, 2012


"There is a percentage of photographers who hate photography. They do not appreciate photography. They do not consume photography. They don’t look at photo books or photo magazines. They hate the guy with the iPhone taking Instagram shots. They hate the guy who just bought the D4 because they don’t have one. They hate people using digital because film is what real artists use. They hate photographers who embrace social media because images should stand on their own.

They hate Getty, Corbis, the AP, day rates, photo editors, assistants, rental houses, camera stores, point-and-shoots, iPads, zoom lenses, padded camera straps, wheeled suitcases, younger photographers, older photographers. The photo of so-and-so on the cover of whatever it’s called sucks. That guy copied the other guy, he sucks. Terry Richardson sucks. Chuck Close sucks. Vincent Laforet hasn’t taken a still in 17 years. Kodak hasn’t been managed well since the 70s. Blah, blah, blah.

I love photography. Let me show you why."
posted by buriednexttoyou at 10:19 AM on March 9, 2012 [4 favorites]


anthill: "A small, cheap, bulletproof, waterproof digital would be way more conducive to "authentic" shots than this crippled thing."

You want a GoPro, which is actually almost fills the same niche as this thing purports to, without being deliberately shitty. It's surprisingly cheap, nigh indestructible, has no LCD screen, takes pretty good photos/videos, and has a fixed-focus lens with a large aperture. The major differences are the super-wide focal length (and according lack of viewfinder), and lack of manual controls.

A lot of video pros even use them now. It's generally poor form to use a $300 camera for broadcast work, but the quality's perfectly adequate, and it enables you to take some very risky shots.
posted by schmod at 10:54 AM on March 9, 2012


schmod, those are cool. makes me wish I had a use for one. entry cost is about $150, which if it's really as durable as they make out isn't too shabby.
posted by lodurr at 11:04 AM on March 9, 2012


Years ago a similar niche was filled by things like the Aiptek Pencam (previously on Metafilter).
posted by hattifattener at 5:57 PM on March 9, 2012


You couldn't just take five shots of your friends to get the best one after the fact - you had to make your roll last the night.

Yeah, you could, if you worked for a newspaper that bought rolls in bulk. (In all seriousness, I was always taught to take at least two or three pics of the same scene, if you wanted something interesting. This was cost-prohibitive in the old days, but taking one photo of, say, a shot of friends that you really wanted was never a good idea.)
posted by raysmj at 11:26 PM on March 9, 2012


Other people feel differently.

Yeah, but they're wrong.

(OK, they're not "wrong," it's just that there's no reasonable explanation for why they believe they're right.)

I mean, hell. Super 8 film and cameras were cheap, but how many feature films were actually shot in it?

You're totally correct. Essentially ZERO feature films were shot in Super 8 because it's a shitty format. Now here we are being introduced to a new shitty format: a cheap-ass plastic camera with plastic lenses, light leaks, no features, and a misleading premise (it is NOT a medium format camera, no matter what anyone says) and it's going to fill...what need, exactly?

Super 8 was great because it democratized filmmaking. It made it available to anyone. This camera serves no such purpose (considering that $20 digital cameras already abound) So again: what is its purpose for existing? NONE, apart from maybe kitsch appeal for being "defective in just the right ways."
posted by ShutterBun at 11:15 PM on March 11, 2012


(OK, they're not "wrong," it's just that there's no reasonable explanation for why they believe they're right.)

In other words, "STOP LIKING WHAT I DON'T LIKE."
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:09 AM on March 12, 2012


that may be a little harsh.

What I see in this design is an expression of two philosophies:
  1. "to seem, rather than to be" (as I said above), by which I mean that it's more important to be using something that is visually identifiable as a "toy camera" because it shape-checks a toy camera of yore;
  2. magical thinking, in the sense that it's more important to have the magically-random effects you get with defective, inefficient tools, than it is to know your tools well enough to get those effects (or better, similar ones) on purpose.
So, I also don't like "they're wrong" as a mode of expressing that, but I think I may know where ShutterBun is coming from. (Though I'm taking it for granted that ShutterBun's knowledge & experience in the field far exceeds mine.)
posted by lodurr at 5:56 AM on March 12, 2012


magical thinking, in the sense that it's more important to have the magically-random effects you get with defective, inefficient tools, than it is to know your tools well enough to get those effects (or better, similar ones) on purpose.

That's not magical thinking at all. Choosing to design an object in a certain way, in order to induce certain behaviors, is as old as design itself. Choosing to allow those particular organic occurrences to occur is a conscious choice, and it cannot be done with existing camera setups. A Holga lens on a jerry-rigged Pentax K-01 comes somewhat close to what this camera could do, but it actually isn't there. There are no affordable full-frame digital mirrorless cameras, let alone affordable medium format digital mirrorless cameras which would even begin to accomodate what this design would allow, just as the plans on display also underline those aspects of digital camera design which would make the project physically and financially unworkable. It's worth pondering, for those who know and care about such things, that a $15 digital Holga equivalent would cost at least $8,000, brought down to about $1,200 if you could settle for 35mm full frame.

And if you take it for granted that ShutterBun's knowledge exceeds yours, then you can do the same for mine. :)
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:40 AM on March 12, 2012


You're totally correct. Essentially ZERO feature films were shot in Super 8 because it's a shitty format.

You were singing the praises of Pixelvision as a medium for genuine creativity, but Super 8 was just a shitty format? Your tastes are more subjective than you realize. Derek Jarman and Oliver Stone have made fine use of Super 8 - much better than any use of Pixelvision that I've ever seen. (And just because I don't like what I've seen in Pixelvision, it doesn't mean it's an inherently shitty medium! Go figure!)
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:46 AM on March 12, 2012


They hate Getty, Corbis, the AP, day rates, photo editors, assistants, rental houses, camera stores, point-and-shoots, iPads, zoom lenses, padded camera straps, wheeled suitcases, younger photographers, older photographers. The photo of so-and-so on the cover of whatever it’s called sucks. That guy copied the other guy, he sucks. Terry Richardson sucks. Chuck Close sucks. Vincent Laforet hasn’t taken a still in 17 years. Kodak hasn’t been managed well since the 70s. Blah, blah, blah.

I love photography. Let me show you why."


buriednexttoyou, I LOVE your link, and the quote, but to be fair: Terry Richardson does suck.
posted by IAmBroom at 11:56 AM on March 12, 2012


You were singing the praises of Pixelvision as a medium for genuine creativity, but Super 8 was just a shitty format?

Both are suitable for artistic expression with miniscule budget. It's rare that "artistic expression", "miniscule budget" and "feature film" coincide. I suppose it's fair to say that the stigma and inherent limitations of Super 8 itself (single row of sprocket holes, no sync sound) caused it to be underused. But let's face it: the format was never intended for feature films (and of course, neither was Pixelvision)

Yeah, it's happened. (Oliver Stone may have made some use of it (ahem) beyond just pirating the Zapruder Film) Films like "The Blair Witch Project" would probably have been just as effective if shot in 8mm instead of 16mm.

Pixelvision was an example of a "Inferior, yet super cheap" format. I think you might be underestimating how cheap it was, at the time. It cost less than 1/10th of its nearest 8mm or VHS-C competitor. What it accomplished was to democratize video. (at least, in theory) It tried to make it available for the masses. Of course, it never caught on. And it's hard to appreciate the spirit of such a format in today's world, when HD video is available to pretty much everyone with a smart phone.

Smart phones with HD image sensors may indeed give rise to tomorrow's A-list directors. They are shitty, but they don't promise much. No doubt there are people out there willing and able to exploit them for all they're worth.

This hypothetical camera, on the other hand, not only already exists, but it appears to be an intentional "shitty on purpose" device, which I don't think anyone needs. It does not democratize digital photography by making it cheaper. It does not make Medium Format Digital Photography any more accessible, as it would undoubtedly use a cropped 35mm image sensor. It does not attempt to improve fidelity, but instead injects flaws in a capricious manner, simply for amusement's sake.

In short (and to reiterate) there is no reason for this device to exist. It's the equivalent of buying Levi's jeans off the rack that already have holes in the knees.
posted by ShutterBun at 4:27 AM on March 14, 2012


But there's not 'no reason' to buy those jeans. There's a very specific reason: They're fashionable.

It's not a reason you (or I, frankly) can get behind, but it's a reason that makes sense to the buyers.
posted by lodurr at 7:53 AM on March 14, 2012


Pixelvision was an example of a "Inferior, yet super cheap" format. I think you might be underestimating how cheap it was, at the time. It cost less than 1/10th of its nearest 8mm or VHS-C competitor. What it accomplished was to democratize video. (at least, in theory) It tried to make it available for the masses. Of course, it never caught on. And it's hard to appreciate the spirit of such a format in today's world, when HD video is available to pretty much everyone with a smart phone.

It never caught on because it wasn't actually any less expensive in the long run. Pixelvision had to be kludged in order to be edited and distributed. This cost labor capital and financial capital. Add it all up, and you might as well have bought real camcorder. The only reason for its latter-day cult following was because of the interesting "look" it had, but even then, that look was very one-note. You have two and a half people who used it for any real length of time, and now it's in the mists of history.

This hypothetical camera, on the other hand, not only already exists, but it appears to be an intentional "shitty on purpose" device, which I don't think anyone needs. It does not democratize digital photography by making it cheaper. It does not make Medium Format Digital Photography any more accessible, as it would undoubtedly use a cropped 35mm image sensor. It does not attempt to improve fidelity, but instead injects flaws in a capricious manner, simply for amusement's sake.

This camera does not exist in any way, shape, or form. If you think it does exist, then tell us what that camera is. No, a Leica M8/M9 with duct tape on it is not the same thing. No, a Pentax K-01 with duct tape on it is not the same thing.

There are no fixed lens, black box cameras with APS-C or larger sensors, let alone ones with Holga-type lenses and the ability to introduce capricious light leak issues. This design highlights how it would be impossible to produce this camera at any agreeable price, highlighting what had made toy cameras charming in the first place.

The jeans-with-holes example is woefully inapt, because the only utility of jeans with holes is to be jeans with holes. Anyone can make jeans with holes, for a trivial cost.

A better example would be an electric Citroën GS. A Tesla is not an electric Citroën GS. An electric Renault is not an electric Citroën GS. A plain old Citroën GS is not an electric Citroën GS. It would extremely costly, in terms of labor, knowledge, and money, to make your own.

And it would be silly to look at plans for an electric Citroën GS and to say, "there's no point to this, there already are electric cars," or "there already are old Citroën GSs," and it would be embarrassingly wrong to say, "these things already exist," because they don't.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:48 AM on March 14, 2012


And it would be silly to look at plans for an electric Citroën GS and to say, "there's no point to this, there already are electric cars," ...

Actually, that part of it wouldn't be silly at all. It would be hidebound and overly reductionist, but it wouldn't be silly.
posted by lodurr at 12:39 PM on March 14, 2012


In semi-related news: Leica Rumors claims that the next Leica will have a black and white sensor and no LCD back. Lord only knows if this will be true.
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:50 PM on March 15, 2012


Anyone can make jeans with holes, for a trivial cost.

Anyone can make a digital camera with an APS-C sensor, no LCD, and light-leak issues by simply taking a screwdriver and a hammer to an old Digital Rebel. (granted, this would likely be about as expensive as a Holga-D might cost, so I guess it's kind of a push.

But really, if the end result is that you want to eliminate LCD photo reviews, introduce light leaks, and use lenses which produce unpredictable (and perhaps desirable) anomalies, there are certainly ways of achieving that.

So you're right, the Holga-D does not exist by name, but if we're judging the camera by its feature set, it's easily attainable, for the most part.
posted by ShutterBun at 4:47 PM on March 15, 2012


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