Building the "brains" and "guts" into the lenses. Does this bother anyone else?

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by epp_b, Dec 6, 2008.

  1. epp_b

    epp_b No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Aug 22, 2008
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    As exposure, metering and automation technology progresses for SLRs, it seems that that camera makers are building more and more of the "brains" or "guts" into the lenses for no reason other than to jack up their prices. Whatever happened to giving customers value?

    Some examples...

    Matrix/Average Metering
    The Nikon F4 provided full matrix metering with manual lenses simply by mounting them. Not even the latest and greatest $5000 D3 can do this. You have dick around in the menus and program in your lens information to get matrix metering.

    Metering is all in-camera electronics and firmware anyway, so it's not exactly a big leap to impelement this firmware across the line.

    OK, I do understand the importance if USM/SWM technology. It's astonishingly fast and quiet, and it has instant manual override. However, anyone who's ever used Sony's AF system, which is the same concept as Nikon's original screwdriver AF system, might find in-lens AF systems a bit silly. Seriously, I used one of Sony's lowest end DSLRs and the AF is easily as fast as USM/SWM motors, and nearly as quiet. This is why I've always thought Nikon's original AF system was better in theory, just not as well implemented as it could have been (again, see Sony). As for switchless manual override, I'm sure it's possible with some clever gearing.

    This is going to sound a bit odd coming from me as I've been a proponent of in-lens VR/IS because it's very helpful to "see" it happening. However, would it not be theoretically possible to shift both the sensor and also the mirror or some sort of optical element in the camera body that affects the viewfinder?

    G lenses
    I'd gladly pay an extra few bucks for an aperture ring on every lens I buy to make them fully compatible with Nikon film bodies back to the 50's. C'mon, Nikon, where's your legendary lens compatibility?

    Any thing else I haven't thought of?

  2. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Oct 14, 2007
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    Your post is not very clear.

    In one part you are comparing Nikon D3's matrix metering to the jurassic implementation on a F4 film body, yet not taking into consideration that on the F4 it was a poor average algorithm of the whole frame, whereas on the D3, it is an adaptive 51 point system that can auto select not just the average, but pick out MULTIPLE points of interest as well as face recognition and with great accuracy and then meter for those conditions. There is no "dicking around" in the menus... to select it, it is one small lever on the back of the camera within a 1/2 inch of any adult thumb to select from the different metering modes. It is a couple presses up of the multifunction button to see what those metering points were in the fantastic viewfinder after taking the shot... something else the F4 shall never be able to do (how can you tell what metering mode was used by looking at the negative or final printed pic?).

    Autofocus... easily as fast, almost as quiet is not as good as faster more accurate focus and quieter. I have tried a few older autofocus lenses, and there is just no comparison. Again, the camera itself has a LOT to do with it. I do not have Canon experience, but I do have the D200, D700 and I have read a ton about and hand tested the D3, and using the same lenses on a D200 and D700 will net you some incredible differences in focusing accuracy and speed. On top of that, the D3 focuses even a little faster.

    There is no real reason to not accept the fact that in-lens motors or in-camera motors cannot be improved upon and offered to us. Irrespective of if focus attainment times are only improved 10%, that is a substantial amount of time that can sometimes make the difference between waiting and getting the pic. Also add to that the fact that newer lens and camera technologies permit you to get the focus *much* faster in low light conditions. Again, newer technologies in camera also have a lot to do with that. I'll take improvements when and where I can get them. :)

    VR/IS. I don't care what it is built into, as long as it works effectively. Once you get over 100mm, you need some pretty serious shutter speed or a tripod to reduce/eliminate motion blur without VR/IS. Traditionally, it was built into the lenses becuase it was the more effective and more effecient way to get VR/IS. People who put it in the camera could not make it as effective as the ones that were in-lens built. I am told the bridge has become closer... I do not know for sure. As mentioned, it doesn't matter much to me, as long as it is there when I need it. :)

    Aperture rings: Honestly... in round percentage numbers, how many of the total existing cameras on Earth require an aperture ring vs the ones that do not require an aperture ring? How many cameras in the last 10 years require aperture rings? How many cameras in the future will need aperture rings? We are talking very low percentage numbers at most... and near 0% numbers in the last 10 years and again the same for in the future. Why should I or anyone pay for something that they shall never need? I would say, the money wasted on aperture rings... spend it on giving me a lens with better optics. There are no new modern digital cameras that I know of that demand the use of an aperture ring on it to be functional (ironically enough, the finest lens in my arsenal, the Nikkor 85mm F/1.4, does have an aperture ring... but this lens dates back from the 70's unchanged!).

    Yes the film users are SLIGHTLY inconvenienced becuase they cannot use the most modern nano-technology lenses and what not, but there are WAY MORE than enough quality lenses out there to last them until the end of time. Again, if the demand was there, Nikon would do it, however, there is near zero demand and the time and money needed to integrate them into newer lenses is not wanted nor warranted.

    Nikon has done a better job than anyone for being backward compatible (there are TONS of older lenses we can use on our digital cams)... but asking for forward compatibility is asking a little too much, don't you think? I do not think that Nikon is considering the needs of the F4 market when they designed any of the the lenses that have come out over the last 10 years, or devote any thought at all for the film cameras in the future. They are not made that much anymore and that market is disappearing more each day. Why invest in a dying technology?

    In the end, it's all about the all mighty dollar and the film side is slowing down more and more... and digital has a firm and inescapable grip on the market that is growing tighter by the second. Whether that pleases or annoys you depends on where your loyalties lie. :D

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