A feature that really should exist on all dSLRs. [Rant]

Gavjenks

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I was just thinking this for the last week or so, and being pissed off that it doesn't exist. No camera company is going to reorganize their entire design because I'm pissed, so it's not really aimed at anybody in particular. But I thought I would share as a point of interest.

Idea:

1) Every dSLR body is given a USB port (this is pretty much already true).
2) The in-camera computer is given the ability to read input from the USB to control ANY of the settings in the camera that can be electronically controlled. Aperture, ISO, focus, all the way down to the color of the text on your display.
3) The camera also has the ability to spit out output details about any of the parameters stored in memory. Including image data (with the understanding that this would likely be too slow to communicate in real time with burst shots. That's okay.)
4) The input and output are both encoded using a simple to use and understand open-source driver, so that anybody who wants to knows the correct data codes can send them or read them easily, using custom software.

This would require only minimally more complicated in-camera software, and NO hardware updates. But what this would allow would be almost limitless possibilities:

1) Custom ergonomics peripherals. Do you not like that your camera only has one scrollwheel (like low end Canons) instead of two? Or do you want your canon (any model) to have wheels that work like Nikon, where one is ALWAYS aperture, instead of the wheels switching based on your mode? Or whatever other complaints you have? Instead of being stuck with one of a limited number of body types (maybe all of them have one thing you hate, and nothing has everything), you could buy a 3rd party battery grip that not only held batteries, but also had an extra wheel and several other buttons, and plugged into the USB port. This could come with some very simple software that would let you custom-program the battery grip wheels or buttons to do whatever the hell you want them to do inside the camera, using your computer at home. Then in the field, they do what you programmed them to do. Ta da! $50 solution to every single individual person's individual ergonomic complaints, for every camera model.

2) Custom pre-programmed focusing software. Let's say you're shooting a movie. You could hire a professional focus puller to get every focus spot on. Or you could buy $50 worth of 3rd party software that uses the USB interface, and causes the camera to automatically focus on a series of timers to pre-determined distances that match your choreography for a scene, and then allow for limited amount of focus hunting within a tolerable number of inches from the target distance, configurable by the user. 80% the quality of a focus puller for like 1% of the cost.

3) Hundreds of other similar applications as #2, in other situations. Your imagination is the limit. Examples:
Better astro photography automation;
timelapses that can cover more extreme lighting changes;
the ability to gradually and automatically change custom white balance in the camera as it slides along a dolly and moves in between known lighting conditions;
attaching the camera to a photodiode that makes the display turn off if its dark enough around you;
taking photographs in sync with the beat of music;
attaching accelerometers to the hot shoe and wiring them with USB, and then making it so that the camera automatically switches your image stabilization mode to panning if you are moving mostly horizontally, or automatically restricting your shutter speed to minimum speeds if your camera is moving quickly enough in any direction;
attaching lasers to the lens for 3rd party or DIY auto focus assistance solutions without the need for a speedlight, and with different options for power. Imagine attaching two high end infrared rangefinding lasers left and right, screwed onto your tripod mount, and being able to invisibly triangulate distance to subject at your central AF point, and then communicate this to the lens for instant and accurate autofocus, even in absolute pitch blackness, without your subject noticing anything. And doing this in a way that works for EVERY lens you own, for a cost of a $100 peripheral.
I could go on for hours... I'm sure you could too.

4) All of the above can be done for dozens of dollars, not hundreds or thousands.

5) All of this would be done in peripherals, so that only the people who want those features have to buy them. This makes it much more likely that the features you want will be available. Because otherwise, Canon or Nikon would have to decide to include the feature for ALL users (meaning all users have to PAY for it), even though 5% are going to actually use it. This might not ever be worth it, which means that the feature will never be available using the current system, even if the technology is SIMPLE. An a la carte system makes way more sense and makes many otherwise impossible things possible.

6) Even if Canon or Nikon did want to include a feature built in, you'd have to wait for the entire next generation of camera bodies to get access to it, which could take months or years. With this system, the copanies can allow their customers to take advantage of the latest technology in days or weeks, or even hours (in the case of software updates for existing peripherals). This makes customers happy.
 

kja6

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1) Custom ergonomics peripherals. Do you not like that your camera only has one scrollwheel (like low end Canons) instead of two? Or do you want your canon (any model) to have wheels that work like Nikon, where one is ALWAYS aperture, instead of the wheels switching based on your mode?

Nikons are great.
 

tirediron

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...4) All of the above can be done for dozens of dollars, not hundreds or thousands...
And, when you multiply dozens of dollars, times tens of millions of cameras... *Presto* There's your answer as to why it doesn't happen!
 

Overread

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1) Is already done - we have 3rd party battery grips with more functions already

2) Unless you're doing something very controlled you'd likely need an experienced operator because your scenes won't be at prefect distances (or more likely your actors won't be). And you can't just rely on face detection either because some of your subjects might not be people. Software for this would be likely highly complicated to program and take time to setup - sure it might save you a focuser, but I doubt it - heck AF already has the need for full time manual override by the camera operator because its not perfect.

3) We kind of already do have all these things - as accessories already made by various market segments. Lasers for example go to Cognisys; astro gear is also already out there.

5) Modular cameras are already out there - its called the RED Camera system; go look at the prices and realise that its not cheap; its very very far from cheap to do this.



I do agree that Canon and Nikon could make it easier by releasing their control code and such as freeware on the market; however its likely not in their best self interests to do so since they can instead charge a licence. That said most 3rd party options work well; they just mod their items to have software updates for each new camera generation (Sigma is now putting USB ports on its lenses - yes lenses - so that they can simply reprogram them without having to rechip).
 

480sparky

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o hey tyler

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1) Custom ergonomics peripherals. Do you not like that your camera only has one scrollwheel (like low end Canons) instead of two? Or do you want your canon (any model) to have wheels that work like Nikon, where one is ALWAYS aperture, instead of the wheels switching based on your mode?

How do they switch based on the mode? The 5D and 5DII (assuming the 5DIII) are always the top wheel when you want to change aperture or shutter speed in a semi auto mode.
 

Buckster

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.........I do agree that Canon and Nikon could make it easier by releasing their control code and such as freeware on the market; however its likely not in their best self interests to do so since they can instead charge a licence. ...........

Nikon Software Development Kit (SDK).
Apparently, the folks who make Magic Lantern, DSLR Controller, and the variety of Android and iApps that take advantage of being able to control, monitor or transfer data to and from our cameras, and so forth, aren't having much trouble getting the info they need to make that possible.
 

manaheim

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Yeah, like a lot of rants, it turns out that many or all of the complaints are adequately covered.

OP has learned something today.
 

curtyoungblood

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How do they switch based on the mode? The 5D and 5DII (assuming the 5DIII) are always the top wheel when you want to change aperture or shutter speed in a semi auto mode.

He's saying that the same wheel doesn't always control the same function. For example, In manual the thumb wheel controls aperture, but if you put it into aperture priority, then the top wheel changes aperture.

I'd have to agree that this is a mild annoyance and I frequently find myself changing the exposure compensation in Av mode.
 

480sparky

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.........I do agree that Canon and Nikon could make it easier by releasing their control code and such as freeware on the market; however its likely not in their best self interests to do so since they can instead charge a licence. ...........

Nikon Software Development Kit (SDK).
Apparently, the folks who make Magic Lantern, DSLR Controller, and the variety of Android and iApps that take advantage of being able to control, monitor or transfer data to and from our cameras, and so forth, aren't having much trouble getting the info they need to make that possible.

And DigiCamControl as well.
 
OP
Gavjenks

Gavjenks

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Well now, that is the best possible response I could have gotten for this thread!

The remote controls are not all that terribly useful looking, but the SDK libraries are very much so... I will look into downloading one and hopefully getting to mess with my camera's internal soul within the week. Thanks!

Hopefully there are control and feedback hooks for some of the finer details of the autofocus system's data output. That seems the most powerful in terms of potential.
 

kathyt

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Holy heck long thread poster! My attention span isn't that long.
 

runnah

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I just want snazzy colored camera bodies. Black is so boring.
 

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