Jump to content

What is compactness?


Recommended Posts

  • Supporter


DSCF0123.jpeg

 When we speak about the science or the art of creating a compact device of any kind (phone, camera, bag, tent, car), you can be sure to ignite a debate about the criteria to select and use to do so. Sure, compactness is often associate to be small and functional. Sometimes compact designs are cleverly built with a lot of surprising features like our modern cellular phones that are now more miniature mobile computers than simply an audio communication device.  

Compactness is also often referred when speaking about the traditionally oriented photo gear. In fact everything may seem to be compact depending the way you are analyze it at first. For example some medium format image sensor camera models (I am thinking about the Hasselblad X1/2D series in particular) have been introduced as compact and handy cameras. By opposite we cannot say the same for some others smaller image sensor format camera models such as the Nikon Z 9 for example.  

I love compact cameras since my introduction to analog photography, lets say a few years or decades ago! I can recall using a Fujifilm Fujica GS645 which was at that time a wonderful medium 6 X 4,5cm film format camera that was folding down to fit a larger coat pocket. Although it was a fragile camera in terms of our actual criteria, the Fujica GS645 was delivering outstanding high quality pictures. In one word, compact cameras aren't bulky and heavy photo devices by definition. So, what will be a good comparison between a "full" size camera and a compact one? 

IMG_2489.jpeg
To give an example among many others, I have put side by side two Fujifilm X-Mount series models (see here 😞 the Pro X-H1 and the diminutive X-S10 assuming that these two will deliver similar picture results and that both models have same basic functionalities especially in regard of internal image sensor stabilization system (IBIS). In terms of dimensions and weight the contrast between the two Fuji cameras is simply spectacular. As a Pro oriented model, the X-H1 is more than 40% heavier than the X-S10 and the X-H1 overall dimensions surpass the latter in height, width and depth. Facing your subject, the Fujifilm X-H1 is a much intimidating camera and further more when you combine it with a Fujinon Pro optic.  

On the other side, the Fujifilm X-S10 is a much lighter package, much less demanding to handhold for longer periods of time and less more intrusive for your subject. It is a camera you like to bring with you for travel, urban or casual photography sessions. Coupled with a smaller lens or zoom lens, it is a joy to manipulate and take pictures with its simplified interface and very competent automated modes. Its only real annoyance is the fact that the X-S10 is not a weather resistant (WR) camera model compare to the pro X-H1 which is on its part a true photographic tank.  

There will always a debate on how we can qualify something as a compact think. It can be related to physical characteristics or cultural perceptions or to the inner functionalities of the device itself that is replacing larger ones. Today's compact cameras (with the exclusion of the mobil phone category) are becoming rarer in part because photographic gear is now a very niche market (but still with hundreds of thousands users😉). Camera manufacturers are limiting their offer to some specific models such as the X-E, X-S and X-T(2 digits) series in the case of Fujifilm. And compact cameras are now comparatively from the past more expensive to get. But at the end the demand for compact devices had never been stronger than it is at this very moment. People want to be free in their mobility and bring with them less material things than ever. This is a tendency that even the best photo gear manufacturer cannot ignore.  

_______________________ 

P.s. Notes 

If you ask me which of the Fujifilm X-H1 or the Fujifilm X-S10 model is getting my preference, the correct answer is that I really cannot tell. Partly because they are so different camera models that comparisons seem to be irreconcilable. In brief I love to work equally with them. As an ex-professional photographer, the Fuji X-H1 is clearly a superior made (WR) product that shows in every ways like its magnificent electronic viewfinder (EVF), its sturdy interface (dials, joystick, D-pad, push buttons, etc) and its high levels features such as its two-memory cards port, its optional (two power pack) vertical grip.  

On the other front, the Fujifilm X-S10 is like a mini simplified version of the X-H1. It is light, small, discrete but competent and sufficiently reactive for a casual photographer like me that doesn't want to always use protuberant photo gear. Moreover, the two Fuji models are sharing the same battery packs (NP-W126S), the obvious same lens mount, the same flash accessories and are using the same memory cards formats (SD). These similitudes are limiting your gear investments and give a further versatility on the spot. 

The Fujifilm X-H1 and X-S10 have been already replaced by upgrading ones, X-H2 and X-S20. So it is possible to reproduce the previous duo but at a significant higher selling price level than it use to be (not far from 30% more for the X-S20 and from 40% for the pro X-H2), thanks to the general inflation tendency and the production higher costs. For those who are still interested to get a Fujifilm X-H1 or/and a Fujifilm X-S10, there is always the used market alternative where many of these good products have low shutter count. 

Photos-illustrations Daniel M

  • Like 2

A trace of light that survive a little further than the actual moment of flash.

photodanielm.blogspot.com

Daniel M on Flickr

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Personally, I’m leaning heavily to the compact side.  Whilst this generally means a compromise on features, I feel that the removal of features is often driven by a marketing position rather than the limitations of compact size.  
 

There is also differences in the cultural acceptance of compactness as a feature.  In western markets (USA and Europe) small size is often seen as a sign of inferiority whereas in Asia, compactness can be a major selling point.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Supporter
3 hours ago, crowecg said:

There is also differences in the cultural acceptance of compactness as a feature.  In western markets (USA and Europe) small size is often seen as a sign of inferiority whereas in Asia, compactness can be a major selling point.

I totally agree with you, Chris. On the "western" side of this world, bigger mean better not only in terms of features but also in view of the "professional" look even if the camera is never attempted to be use in that purpose. You can see the same phenomena with the huge popularity of trucks and bigger SUVs. 

A trace of light that survive a little further than the actual moment of flash.

photodanielm.blogspot.com

Daniel M on Flickr

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Administrators

In December I will mark 10 years of professional use of MFT cameras exclusively. In that time I have only missed one thing from my previously owned big Nikon setup and that is the Nikon CLS iTTL flash system. While the daisy chain of YouTube photography “experts” will all tell you that full frame is the only way to go, all I can say in return to that is “enjoy your chiropractic visits”. :) 

 

Not once in those nearly 10 years of professional use of MFT has a single client complained about the image quality I provide them with. 

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Editor

I’ll be somewhat of a counter argument. 
 

ive always been more of a “use what you like” kind of person and abhor the blind brand loyalty. 
 

i feel mich the same way of the compactness debates in so much as I don’t favor it above all for every situation. 
 

i find, that for me, there is a level of diminishing returns on size/compactness and usability. 
 

if gear is so small as to be fiddly or cumbersome to use, then that is worse to me than a few extra grams of weight. 
 

i am again the contradiction here lately as I have delved back Into older DSLRs and early AF glass.  Some of my favorites being the Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D and the Nikon D700. 

they are photography tools first and foremost, not hybrid video cameras. Light and small they are not, but they make a the capture of images a pleasure. 
 

to each camera there is a place, as I’m also not afraid to say that I do enjoy, at times, and when appropriate the use of the Ricoh GR III. 


i do understand the point made earlier about cultural dictates of what is considered “good”, but I would think that is less of a factor than we may think. In my mind I think that you have to decide what makes sense is it utility or fad/fashion. 
 

i feel western cultures tend to find utility more the desire where as others may find fad/fashion.  Possibly even status symbols if we look at the likes of Leica or the current flock of digital medium format cameras. 

  • Like 2

See my content here:

http://www.visualohio.com | BESTLIGHTPHOTO BLOG | 500px Profile & Pics

 

I shoot Nikon, Olympus, Minolta, Pentax and Leica.  Probably not enough!  LOL

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Supporter
30 minutes ago, Andrew L (gryphon1911) said:

i feel western cultures tend to find utility more the desire where as others may find fad/fashion.  Possibly even status symbols if we look at the likes of Leica or the current flock of digital medium format cameras. 

 

Thanks Andrew for sharing your personal insight about compactness and camera in general.
 I have a strong and profound tendency since my youngest age to love cameras as a whole. I always challenge myself (and for the others acceptation) to seek out a way to like them and produce picture results that will celebrate them. Every camera has its own history and every user has its own unique experience with it. That is the beauty of human diversity that we have to preserve, as for its acceptance of the different points of views.

  • Like 1

A trace of light that survive a little further than the actual moment of flash.

photodanielm.blogspot.com

Daniel M on Flickr

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Administrators

It's good that we're all different when it comes to our preferences, otherwise we'd all probably be shooting with the same single brand / format of camera and nobody would be catering to our different tastes. Diversity is what brings us choices, I guess. :) 

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By visiting this website you are agreeing to our Terms of Use, Privacy Policy & Guidelines.