The Simplified Camera – Has it Gone Forever?

This may seem like a silly question, but I can assure my readers that the only thing silly is this writer. Oh, and possibly the design bureaux who turn out the new cameras.

In my case, it is probably because I fail to realise the way the photographic world is bound to develop ( no pun intended ) and in the case of the designers it is because they do realise it. At least I have the moral advantage of not screwing things up. Let me explain…

Once Upon A Time there were for basic things you needed to do to take a photograph:

a. Load film, or plate.

b. Focus.

c. Set aperture.

d. Set shutter speed.

From then on it was look, point, and snap, and generally something came out in the end. Of course you needed to do a lot more to the film or plate later to get this to happen, but out in the field you could be wonderfully concentrated in your mind.

These days you need not worry about loading and advancing film – the digital camera can take more pictures in rapid succession with a button press than you can justify. You have to remember to charge the battery and have the card in there but that is about it for the mechanics. Once this is done, however, you are given a menu of decisions that looks like something that would baffle Stephen Hawking or a Parisian chef. Too many variables, too many decisions, and interconnecting links that tip the whole mechanism out of balance. It is a wonder that any of us get anything at all, except sore fingertips.

It is the sort of thing that makes one cry out for a Leica-style camera ( and I mean a Leica 1c…) and a Leica lens. If it were not for the Leica accountancy department and their desire to insert zeros into the price tags of their cameras we could all breathe a sigh of relief.

I am going to look seriously at the offerings from my preferred maker – Fujifilm – and try to select one camera that can be approached, understood, set, locked, and used with as simple an approach as the classic pre-M Leicas. I do not want multiple lenses or even a multiple focal length. I do not want video. I do not want helper programs of dazzling Japanese complexity. I want three simple controls that I can reach plus a card slot – I’ll manage the rest.

If it can be had while reducing the overall size and shape of the device, so much the better. I want a camera that can live in a coat pocket.


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