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Digital Streetshooter Special (DSS)

There is one camera I really would like to own. For lack of a better name, I will call it the DSS – Digital Street­shooter Special. It is inspired by the great rangefinders used for street photography since the 1930ies, but modernized to make use of current technology (autofocus, variable ISO).

But rangefinders are now mainly bought by camera collectors – not working photographers. I want a modern digital camera with a compact size and autofocus. To make it fit in shirt pocket, a zoom lens is out of the question.

I would really like it to be a “system camera”, designed from the ground up, with a range of custom made interchangeable lenses. A good start for the system would be just three lenses: 28mm (wide), 40mm (normal) and 85mm (portrait) - all pin sharp wide open and reasonable fast.

To summarize, here is my wish list for the DSS:

  • No mirror slap, immediate response.
  • Electronic viewfinder with live view.
  • Fast and accurate tracking autofocus.
  • DX, APS-C sized, or larger, sensor.
  • Around 10 Mpx resolution.
  • B&W (monochrome) sensor. No anti-alias filter.
  • RAW mode, as well as RAW+JPEG.
  • Good high ISO performance (i.e. usable at least up to ISO 3200).
  • Interchangeable lenses.
  • Hot accessory shoe for flash and accessory viewfinders.
  • Considerable lower price than the Leica M8 :-).

I think this is realistic with today's technology. By leaving out the Bayer filter matrix, one gains about 1.5 stops, so ISO 3200 in a B&W sensor requires the same sensitivity as ISO 1200 in a Bayer sensor.

How likely is it that some bold manufacturer sets out to design such a system? Not very likely I am afraid. But one can always hope …

7 responses:

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Sounds like a real great camera Gisle. And even better: a camera like that included in a mobile phone? As you said: one can always hope!

Please tell me if you hear about a bold manufacturer!

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Leica M8

I think its called the M8.

— Riley

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@Riley,
I think the M8 misses the mark on price (see my last bullet point: "Considerable lower price than the Leica M8"). And the autofocus of Leica's M-system is somewhat of a disappointment, I hear.

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Sigma DP1

We all know it's called Sigma DP1 :P

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Wow, this is exactly what I was thinking about for hours this morning. I stumbled upon your blog by looking for information about correcting cheap lenses in software. I basically want a "cheap" camera that I can carry around everywhere and not have to worry about breaking it or getting it stolen. I want a fast lens. Low(ish) noise at high ISOs. At least 5 megapixels. Right now it costs me about $1000 to get that kind of performance, $600 for a D40 and $400 for a fast lens. But the D40 is a lot more sophisticated of a camera than I want for this purpose. I was wondering about what it costs to manufacture each of these parts, and where we can skimp on hardware and save by doing it in software. The lens is an obvious choice. I can't imagine that it would be too difficult to design a cheap f/1.4 lens that is at least good enough to be software-corrected.

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Ricoh GRD

28mm and glorious grain.

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@Egitaniense,

Unfortunately, the DP1 doesn't have the resolution. If you're happy with 4 Mpixel resolution, you can just use any of the 14 Mpixel compacts at high ISO and reduce the resolution on your PC.

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