A Digital Camera Wish List

Having worked with a fair share of digital cameras--both D-SLRs and digicams--I'd like to suggest some designs that might be appealing to many users. I am not being presumptuous, or even suggest that these ideas be adopted, but with so much technology there's no reason why we can't get customized cameras to match specific needs.

We already have high-end pro cameras with more features and options than you could possibly use, and there are certainly many mid-range advanced amateur models that, on the whole, deliver great images and functionality. My wish list is aimed more at niche uses. Some or all of the desired features already exist in pieces in various cameras; my idea is to isolate some of those functions and, by doing so, perhaps make cameras more affordable and easy to use. In short, you wouldn't have to wade through everything else to get to the functions and features you desire.

My first suggestion is for a high-quality pocket-size digicam with a very sharp lens, superior image processing, and Image Stabilization, in the mold of the classic Rollei or Contax lens/shutter film cameras. The zoom could be modest and the format could be limited to Fine (Large) JPEG. The viewfinder would be bright and the LCD actually readable in bright sunlight. It could be limited to 6 megapixels if that helps boost quality, with an upside ISO of 800 to make sure noise is not a major quality deterrent. It would have a good video clip feature, and, most importantly, should not have any appreciable shutter lag, the bane of many current digicam models. This would be the ideal travel camera for those who want portability and high image quality.

I would love to see a "student" D-SLR, priced at around $300 body only, that would recall the "old" Pentax K1000. It would be raw format only, with two exposure modes--Program with Shift (to play with equivalent exposures) and Manual. Why raw only? Just as students had to process and print their own black and white film from years past, this camera would require users to process their own images using raw processing programs. This would put image control and creativity fully in their hands and ensure that they understand just how a digital image can be manipulated and refined. It would also have two metering patterns--
center-weighted and spot--and be manual focus only, of course with depth of field preview. Does this sound too retro? Perhaps, but I can think of no better way to master both the photographic and digital sides of the equation.

Another would be an Internet-only camera. Limit the still camera options to JPEG, and let the user input the pixel width/height right into the camera so no re-sizing or re-sampling is necessary. Spend the saved money on a good quality, high-framing rate video clip feature. Include a keypad for instant upload and other coding, and make it WiFi or whatever protocol is required for users to send their still and video images to individual or group sites anytime, anywhere. The keypad could also be used to attach captions or short messages to images. Let's make sure this Internet camera can receive and send so right after posting you can preview the image or clip on the site. It should also be able to download images from a host site, so the user could grab their images from a storage site and then plug right into a kiosk or wireless printer.

Now that digital cameras are ubiquitous, all of us have had a chance to discover just what we use them for and what features and functions are most appealing for the way we live, work, and play. Niche-purpose cameras would hone down all the buttons, menu items, and functions to those we use most often, and eliminate much of the clutter now present on our all-things-to-all-people models.

Do you have ideas and options you'd add to this list? Join this discussion in our Forums under the Digital Camera Wish List topic we've just added to the site (sign on or register at www.shutterbug.com and click on the Forums tab).