Buck Rogers Never had A Chance

_DSC6825There was a brief period of time in the 1990’s when production of what were to prove the last of the consumer film cameras overlapped with production of what were to be the first of the digital cameras. And the designers in Japan and Europe had a brief period of ergonomic and aesthetic imagination – sort of a Photo Spring, like the Prague Spring and the Kiev Spring. It proved to be a sort of an elliptical spring after all because most modern cameras look like the ones that they made before this time…

There was a real outpouring of asymmetry in camera designs – and they started to be more space age than old age. Some were comfortable to hold and novel to use and some were just weird. The fashion passed, and most cameras now have standardised configuration – and most are a bad bet for left-handed people.

In fact the only two manufacturers who have really kept the strange flag flying are Lytro and Sigma with their light field camera and DP1 and 2 cameras respectively. Both are worth holding, if only to say you have done so once. Their makers claim great things, and may do them, but they do so at the expense of comfort and form.

I’m sorry to see this – I would have thought by now that we could have gotten cameras that fit well into hands, with no untoward button pushes or painful finger stretches. Cameras that would allow us to have big noses or eyeglasses or wear hats without demanding especial hand poses. Sleek devices as well as retro boxes, please. Colours, speed lines, hammertone finishes, well…style. Okay, we can get style in the Leica T or X but we miss out on using our eyeballs on a viewfinder, and we miss out on eating for three months to pay for the darned things.

Still – there is hope in some divisions. Polaroid and a Chinese manufacturer are in a fight over the design of a cube-shaped action camera – whoever wins it is very cute box. And if they would make a bigger box camera we would eat it up!

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