Camera gear discussions

Discussion in 'Photography and Cameras' started by Bill-P, Oct 15, 2015.

  1. Bill-P

    Bill-P Level 42 Mad Wizard

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    Well, depending on how "high-end" you'd like to go, and depending on the type of photography.

    AF-speed-wise, DSLR will continue to maintain the lead until an undetermined amount of time later. I honestly do not see mirrorless cameras with bigger sensors than APS-C catching up to DSLRs any time soon, or at least not within 5 years time. Even now, micro 4/3 and APS-C cameras are barely catching up to regular DSLR speeds. Nikon D4, D4S, D5, etc... run circles around them. This is both a physical and processing speed limitation. I think any photographic style that requires fast AF will continue to use DSLR for a while to come. This is why Canon and Nikon don't care for mirrorless, contrary to what the naysayers and doomsayers keep preaching.

    Where resolution and image quality are concerned, though, mirrorless beats DSLRs hands down, because their flange focal distance is shorter, and this is on top of allowing more lenses to be adapted to the system. And then it just comes down to sensor quality. Landscape, portraiture, wedding, etc... will probably all move to mirrorless before long. This is probably just blanketing a lot of things, but I think it captures the essence of why so many are preaching mirrorless dominance now. Mirrorless is compact, and high quality. For most, this is all they need.

    That aside, mirrorless cameras do not necessarily have to rely on EVFs, @TRex. Rangefinder cameras are also mirrorless. In fact, mirrorless cameras have been around for a long time. It's just that digital mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras took so long to materialize due to technical limitations such as: we couldn't produce sensors with fast readout speed to do live preview, and then we couldn't produce high resolution screens to fit into an EVF, and/or it costs so much to squeeze mechanical stuffs into the body to avoid EVF (Leica),... Though the chief reason, admittedly, was just that manufacturers wanted to make money, and so they did not bother with mirrorless until they were able to sell enough DSLRs. That's just how it is.

    The thing is... I don't think "high-end" is just all about AF speed or EVFs or OVFs. 35mm photography in reality is just barely mid-fi in digital, and lo-fi in film. For film, large format is where "high-end" is, and for digital, 645 format (54mm x 40mm effectively) is where it's currently at. When you get there, you forego AF, EVF, and OVF altogether and you just go with whatever is most comfortable for you: if you want "live view" style, go for Cambo or ground-glass focusing, if you want AF and DSLR, Pentax 645Z and Mamiya ZD and Hasselblad H offer those, and if you want mirrorless, you buy a back and adapt it to a rangefinder camera, or... you buy the new Fujifilm GFX.

    There is much more to photography than trying to capture a candid shot of an athlete about to break a record, or freeze a car running at 180mph after all. ;)
     

  2. shipsupt

    shipsupt Admin

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    You really think that mirrorless IQ is beating DSLR's "hands down" right now? Or are you saying it has the potential?



    While I agree the typical photographer shouldn't base his system selection on AF speed or EVF alone, I'm going to call bullshit on 35mm DSLRs not being high end. The basis of the technology might be older than dirt, but there is some serious technology packed into these professional bodies and long prime lenses.

    Come and join me on the sideline for an NFL game, or even a D1 college game for that matter, and tell me that we're not shooting high end gear! There will be no serious sports photographer out there with a film, full or medium format, or even mirrorless camera. Yeah, you might find a guy who is sponsored now and again who will drag along his free gear and shoot part of the game... and then he will pull out his DSLR to make sure he gets what he needs for the wire. If we could get away with lighter or cheaper gear, we would. If shooting something else would give us even the smallest advantage in selling a photo, we'd be all over it.

    While I enjoy many different types of photography, in many ways for me it is all about capturing that action of sports. That's my thing. That definitely means expensive high end gear that has the best AF, best long glass, and best low light performance. It needs to function in all weather conditions, take a beating, and shoot all day long, day after day.

    Your point on a high level is well made. Most folks don't need the kind of specialized gear we use. I just think you're taking a rather Ken Rockwell approach to making your point ;).
     
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  3. TheIceman93

    TheIceman93 Friend

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    Thank you for mentioning the Ricoh GR, such an underrated camera. It sorta has a cult following but you almost never see them.
     
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  4. jowls

    jowls Something related to poop - Friend

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    I loved my GR. I wish I had never sold it :( Such a great camera. So intuitive, it's just one of those shooting by 'feel' cameras.

    Meanwhile, I just picked up a RX100. What a joyless camera to use. Remarkable image and video quality for its size though...
     
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  5. Bill-P

    Bill-P Level 42 Mad Wizard

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    Mirrorless will either match or beat DSLR's hands down given the same lens on both systems IMO.

    This is not just because of the lack of a mirror, but due to other factors such as how the sensor is newer (most DSLRs end up using older sensors because they have been in production for so long, and only the computer/processor changes in some of them). All else being equal, some mirrorless cameras (like Sony's lineup) typically uses much faster processors compared to other cameras in the same class (this is partially why they can keep up in terms of AF in some situations, but obviously, not all the time).

    If we are talking about pure image quality and nothing else, then actually, Sony's A7Rii would beat everything hands down, even the new Fujifilm GFX. The reason being that the sensor is backside-illuminated, which helps with ultra wide angle lenses with obscure light angles around the edges. Then if you replace the filter stack on top of the sensor for an even thinner one to reduce diffraction, then you'll get even better image quality. The filter stack thing is actually why Leica lenses work best on Leica bodies, as opposed to other mirrorless bodies.

    Granted, you can do the same filter stack replacement and put BSI into a DSLR camera (I suspect Sony has done this with the A99ii), but the last problem with DSLR is that due to the mirror making flange focal distance quite long, light has the potential to bounce around the inside of the camera box, and unless the inside of the camera is coated with perfect dark matter that sucks up all light without reflecting, you'll still lose a bit of quality with DSLR. :p

    I mean... all of that is nitpicking (who really cares about corner sharpness except for hardcore landscape photographers?), but it's true in any case. This is why some prefer to use medium format digital backs on Cambos and the likes instead of on DSLR-style camera. While you'd think the backs should all be equal, those who understand the above will most likely try to perform the same modifications to their sensors. Up to a point, of course, since BSI is much more complicated than just adding an LED panel to the rear side of the sensor.

    I think there needs to be a clear separation between what constitutes a "high-end" camera and a "high-performing" camera, because I'd describe what you are describing as a "high-performing" camera rather than a "high-end" one. :p

    Because to the end, a camera's ultimate goal is simply high image quality. I don't think "focusing speed" factors into it because again, it's not really a part of the photography process... if you know what I mean.

    And beside that, if we're going to have a contest to see who can shoot action the fastest, where money is no object, then I'd just go rent a bunch of Weapon 8K Helium cameras (8K is actually ~33MP already) and leave them at key points to film the whole match from start to finish with AF tracking. After that, I can just selectively choose some frames from the videos to cut out as still photos.

    The sensor is actually not as big as full frame 35mm either:
    http://www.red.com/products/weapon-8k#tech-specs

    It's like 1.26x crop so DOF will be much wider and then I can use shorter lenses to achieve almost the same shots. Hell, with over 16 stops of dynamic range, I don't think ISO will be an issue either if I want to shoot at f/4.0 - f/5.6. f/5.6 @ 1.26x crop is close to f/7 on full frame 35mm already. ;)

    Not to berate the difficulty of achieving a successful sports photography session, of course. I know full well how difficult it is to carefully frame something and be able to snap it in just a split second. The skill level required to do something like that is immense. But... all the same, if you can solve the problem by simply filming the entire thing from start to finish, and capturing something like 60 frames per second, at ~32MP per frame, wouldn't you say the end result would be almost the same? ;)

    Yes, I agree... that perhaps I am Ken Rockwell-ing this, but my point still remains that as technology progresses, and cameras like the Red 8K become more and more affordable, then we'll all eventually have 8K 60-120fps cameras that do not require the fastest AF anymore, as you'd only need AF tracking in that case. But I'd also argue that those cameras won't really be "high-end" per se, just like a phone being able to take 4K videos now really can't be considered "high-end", but hey, your phone is still doing 8-10MP stills at 30fps. That was unthinkable a decade ago.
     
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  6. TRex

    TRex Wow, I made it this far without being a friend?

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    - @Bill-P Sorry, I always separate VF as OVF, EVF, and RF. Haha! But then there are just a couple of mirrorless with RF.

    - Agree with @Bill-P regarding IQ. Mirrorless IQ matches DSLR. The evidence has been proved on numerous reviews.

    - Disagree with @Bill-P regarding Fuji GFX (the new medium format sensor size) outputs worse IQ than Sony A7RII. Fuji GFX is the new king of digital IQ, except TOTL RED cameras.

    - @Bill-P I think "high-end" doesn't mean "simply image quality". A camera is a tool to record a scene, not only "traditional" landscape use which ultimate IQ is paramount, but also high motion objects (sports, science, etc) and many more. Cameras ultimate goal is not high image quality but to record a scene as good as possible, and it's the combination of IQ, frame rate, autofocus, read/write speed, and so on depending on use case.

    - @Bill-P technically, RED cameras can substitute sports DSLR yet I doubt it will happen soon. Moving from still camera to video camera needs huge cost. RED cameras themselves are expensive. 8K @ 120fps? That requires completely different setup (especially storage), processing power (beefy computers), and most importantly added time. Why would do that if D5/1DX are capable enough?

    EDIT:
    Fact about high scores of RED cameras: the "loseless" end image isn't pure RAW. RED cameras output temporal-aliased loseless files. In layman terms, RED cameras combine many images to achieve a good one, similar to iPhones and old technique. That's why RED cameras aren't on DxOMark list.
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2017
  7. Bill-P

    Bill-P Level 42 Mad Wizard

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    Actually, GFX's output is indeed worse than A7Rii:
    https://www.dpreview.com/reviews/fujifilm-gfx-50s

    At high ISO, things fall apart on GFX. It's barely better than 645Z. This is where you start seeing the diminutive return of bigger sensor size versus better ISO capabilities (in reality, ISO on digital cameras really depends more on the amplifier being used and the de-noise algorithm rather than the sensor itself anyway). But beyond that, Fuji just isn't capable of making high resolution lenses. They made some pretty good lenses for the X system, but those have a maximum resolution of 24MP only.

    A7Rii having BSI seems to give it a huge advantage compared to other cameras in the same class.

    Granted, it's got a "high-performance" sensor that's bigger than 35mm, which is the whole selling point, but 44mm x 33mm has a long way to go to match 54mm x 40mm output. Just for context, the difference there is bigger than micro 4/3 (22mm x 17mm) to 35mm (36mm x 24mm). Not to mention that I'm sure Sony already has even bigger sensors (they make medium format sensors for other companies after all), but they probably are just waiting to pull off another "A7" move and monopolize the market again. :)

    And honestly, the "added conveniences", as I'd term them, are only there for the digital and electronic age. Note, you do not have the same "frame rate", "autofocus", "read/write speed" features with most film cameras, and yet those are still considered "cameras". That's because the extras are just... extra. Traditional photography has never "required" those things for something to be considered "high-end".

    I guess it's probably just because I'm still thinking of photography in the traditional sense where it's all about the artist - the photographer - and less about the gears. These days, the added conveniences (again, that's what I call them) of autofocusing, higher frame rate, better speed, etc... are nice, but even when we lacked those things, do keep in mind that photographers were still able to pull off sports photography just fine. It's not like sports photography, or photographing fast moving objects, has only become possible because of digital and automated cameras, right? :p

    Beside that point, why would you go with RED if D5/1DX are capable enough? Well, why use an autofocus camera when you can manual focus? :p

    8K doesn't require an insane amount of processing performance either. It just needs better software optimization, which... sadly, a lot of companies working in the industries don't currently do because just like autofocus has become a necessity for some, some others have come to want everything to be instantaneous. This means developers do not have the time to optimize software anymore. But case in point: Final Cut Pro on Mac runs laps around Adobe's Premiere for editing high resolution footage because it has hardware acceleration, and a lot of other optimizations. 4K can be edited on fanless Core M processors, and up to 16K can be done on higher-end Mac computers, which, if you are in the know, aren't really all that powerful. You can put together a ~$1000 computer that outperforms the fastest Mac computer on the market. And yet because Final Cut Pro is exclusive to Mac, you're still not gonna get the same thing. ;)

    And yeah, I know there's no such thing as "lossless" in cinematography. That's just not possible. You're gonna need insane read/write bandwidth to record 1080p if that was the case. What they do essentially is "compress" the dynamic range of each frame down to the lowest possible, and then you can "bump" that back up in post-processing. But the problem is that the same thing doesn't happen to photography. Why? Because the processing power and hardware required to do the same processing as video would not allow most manufacturers to make their cameras for cheap. That's why A7S and A7Sii are so expensive even though they only have 12MP sensors. :p

    There's a "cost" to everything for sure, but honestly, the whole point of discussing "high-end", IMO, is simply to take away that "cost" factor and look at what's absolutely possible when "cost" is no longer a problem. That's what I'd consider "high-end"... rather than having it just be "the extreme of what you can do with something" (if this was true, I'd think modded headphones should be considered "high-end", right?). ;)

    Edit: too many smilies ^?
    That just means I'm just discussing all this for fun and giggles. It's not really because I feel strongly about insisting that photography be kept to its traditional description and criteria, but... it's still interesting to note that photography used to not require "fastest autofocus" or "fastest read/write speed" to be relevant, ya know, and now it is. And funny enough, that seems to be "the whole point" of the DSLR vs mirrorless debate in most cases, where as I think there are still some other aspects to discuss, such as IQ.
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2017
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  8. adpo

    adpo Acquaintance

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    Recently switched back to Canon DSLRs from Sony FF mirrorless for my primary stills kit while still keeping an a6500 for video/backup duty. For me, its largely an ergonomics and handling thing when going from modern mirrorless to DSLRs. Image quality, AF performance and overall system responsiveness is pretty much a wash in most use cases these days with cameras like the a7r ii and a6500.
     
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  9. Bill-P

    Bill-P Level 42 Mad Wizard

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    Well, one month later, Sony A9 is here, and I'm eating my own words. Hahaha

    A friend of mine got to try the camera out, and he's an even more of a die-hard traditional photography snob than I am (the dude got the Leica M10 on release day, if that's any indication), and yet, the A9 won him over. He has been texting me like crazy over the weekend.

    I didn't get to try it when he had it for his review (Bastard! Keeping cool toys away from close friends!), but apparently, he thinks it's the dream for those who are looking to "break away" from the usual traditions, and I'd trust him. He's the one that convinced me on traditional photography approach after all, and for him to "convert" like that is no small feat. He didn't get suckered in by the A7Rii, but the A9, again, won him over.

    Viewfinder blackout is no longer a thing even at 20fps shooting speed, the new electronic shutter system works by blasting the whole sensor surface into the data pipeline all at once instead of the usual scanning. So shutter is dead quiet, and the camera happily keeps up at all time, with no rolling shutter effect. -> finally!

    AF speed is finally up to par with "normal" DSLR speed. Not Canon 1D or Nikon D5 for sure, but it's at least as fast as my friend's 5D4 from what he told me (so the 5D4 will most likely go away after this). Probably due to no small feat from Sony being able to squeeze in a lot more sensors and a much faster processor.

    Also as a result of the much faster processor, the EVF, according to my friend, is just a hair less than pure OVF, and is totally acceptable under most conditions.

    The rest is just the usual Sony interface rant crap. But IQ was good, lots of praise for the EVF, and the new shutter system is awesome for stealth shoots because e-shutter no longer carries the same problems it did before.

    So @shipsupt, good sir, I'm eating my own words. I didn't think the next generation of digital photography would have come so soon, considering how long it was stagnating. But it's here. :)

    Now to see Sony trickle all this tech down to A7 and A6K line.
     
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  10. Stapsy

    Stapsy Friend

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    I don't really see the A9 replacing a rangefinder, despite the nice improvements. The experience of shooting a rangefinder is much more involved than a camera that lets you see through the lens. The uncertainty of the picture when framed through a rangefinder is part of what I like about it. The size of the A7/A9 series is also a downside for me vs the Leica's especially when you add a lens. That being said, most people will probably be happier with an A9.

    It will definitely be interesting to see if the A9 starts to eat away at the DSLR market. The main advantage for DSLRs has been autofocus speed. If Sony can keep the price down and continue to pump out high quality lenses I can see the Alpha series becoming even more competitive than it already is.
     
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  11. TRex

    TRex Wow, I made it this far without being a friend?

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    A9 may be a technical monster and it will eat some of DSLR market, but I don't think it will replace "niche" cameras: rangefinder, TLR, view, or even pinhole.
    A9 may or may not survive; its survival depends on future telephoto lenses.
     
  12. Bill-P

    Bill-P Level 42 Mad Wizard

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    Oh no, it's not that I was suggesting that it would replace a rangefinder, but it's indeed the right step in the evolution of a digital camera.

    The original A7 series with its mechanism is indeed just like smaller DSLRs. Complete with through the lens viewing and viewfinder blackouts.

    But the A9 is different. It's not bound by the same limitations imposed by leaf shutters or mechanical shutter. Hell, it doesn't even have a shutter! What you have there is a sensor that continually gets exposed, and each photo frame you get out of it is done using clever signal processing, rather than through conventional photographic methods.

    Or put it this way: this is a shutter-less camera! It just "reads" the photo frame out from a continuous exposure as necessary. ISO and shutter and exposure values are really just "numbers in a digital file" now. They are no longer bound by the same rules of conventional photography. Effectively, it'd mean you get "nearly infinite dynamic range" if Sony would introduce more methods of digital signal processing to the firmware. What you get out of the camera now is only a matter of software rather than anything mechanical. <- that's a lot of implications.

    So no, I don't think its success lies in future telephoto lenses. It's already successful at being the first ever fully digital camera. The speed and the other benefits (no viewfinder blackout, no shutter slap vibration, no shutter sound, absolute or near quiet operations, etc...) are just icing on the cake, but I think it has a lot of potential beyond just the lenses. Whether Sony can exploit those potentials, though, is another matter entirely.

    Edit: sorry, I got overly excited once I realized what the A9 represented to photography as a whole. :) It's a revolutionary device in its inner workings. But yeah, on the surface, it's really just another mirrorless camera. Albeit costing much more than the other options.
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2017
  13. Stapsy

    Stapsy Friend

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    Interesting, I suppose that means given a fast enough processor you could capture multiple frames to make an HDR like photo much faster than with a conventional shutter. It would almost be like pulling out small stills from a stream of video.
     
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  14. Ash1412

    Ash1412 Friend

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    Aren't most phones using HDR mode 90% of the time already? I remember reading somewhere about the same kind of "fast HDR" functionality for phones.

    EDIT: Found it. It's the Pixel : https://productforums.google.com/fo...sions-and-feedback|sort:relevance|spell:false
     
  15. Bill-P

    Bill-P Level 42 Mad Wizard

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    It's different. Phones have shutters. They take 3 super fast photos but you'll still be delayed by how fast the mechanical shutter will engage and withdraw (it's not instantaneous). You'll still see the screen "blink", and this "blink" can cause a lot of odd stuffs with motion.

    The A9 doesn't have a shutter to worry about. No delay. It just reads and saves frames from the sensor continuously. You can technically get a HDR photo even of subjects in motion. Or technically, every photo from the A9 is already an HDR photo. And that's a pretty ridiculous thing to think about.
     
  16. Ash1412

    Ash1412 Friend

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    Well shit, it even has IBIS which could combine with that "instantaneous shutter" for awesome handheld HDR shooting. We'll see how this goes. The sensor is definitely fast enough so it's a matter of changing the exposure/ISO fast enough.
     
  17. Alaarx

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    It does actually have a mechanical shutter that takes it down to 5FPS when used. I think its still needed for flash sync.

    Im of 2 minds about the A9. On paper it does more than my 1DX in every metric at less than half the weight but I still feel like I'm working with a computer not a camera. My canons are ergonomically perfect. Much like tube vs SS, Im paying more for (measurably) less, but it feels right. At the end of the day tactility is quite hard to measure and its the difference between me picking up a camera at all.
     
  18. TRex

    TRex Wow, I made it this far without being a friend?

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    I don't know how credible this image is, but I always believe recent phone camera modules don't have mechanical shutter.
    [​IMG]
    The lag after taking picture on phones is more likely caused by underpowered ISP (image processor) rather than mechanical shutter.

    I'm more excited with A9 sensor performance than performance. A9 is the first camera with stacked CMOS. Performance wise, A9 isn't really shocking: Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark 2 is really close to A9 and achieves its speed by using e-shutter like A9. Olympus and Sony announced teamwork sometime a year ago. Olympus gets good sensor and Sony gets good IBIS and performance.

    EDIT: A9 has mechanical shutter, but it's capable to shoot with e-shutter.
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2017
  19. Bill-P

    Bill-P Level 42 Mad Wizard

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    Yes, admittedly, there's still a mechanical shutter for flash sync, but the e-shutter can be used for every other situation now, as it does full frame readout rather than scanning individual lines as before.

    And the nature of the beast has always been that you're working with a miniaturized computer with digital photography. At no point during the process has that been taken away, except for maybe when you're using a rangefinder camera that only relies on the sensor to capture photos, I guess. DSLRs would have to rely on the computer for the bare minimum of setting and timing shutter and exposure, after all, even when you go full manual.

    Handling is a fair point. I'd agree a bigger camera is better for handling. Though tech-wise, I think A9 has pretty much everything else beat.

    Yeah, some phone cam modules probably are taking away the shutter in favor of pure e-shutter, but then you'll get banding indoors under regular non-LED lighting. Can't be happy either way.

    The A9 is shocking because it does full frame readout. You don't get that with the Olympus sensors. Olympus sensors won't be able to use e-shutter at certain speeds indoors due to readout limitations, much like the phones, but the A9 doesn't run into that issue. You can use e-shutter with A9 everywhere to eliminate shutter noise and vibration. Adding completely quiet operation on top of IBIS means you can probably shoot A9 in situations where you'd give up with most other cameras. It's a true stealth camera.
     
  20. Grahad2

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    Most camera modules in phones are purely e-shutter - there simply is no space for a physical mechanism + physical reliability with a shutter that size that'd be bumped and dropped and etc + cost.

    This was why phones (if you exclude the cameras with a phone attached like some Samsungs and the Panasonic CM1) like the 2009 Nokia N808 (which is one of the most recent phone I know with an actual mechanical shutter) advertised it as a feature if they had it.
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2017

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