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Will we ever see luxury digital compacts?
Old 11-08-2016   #1
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Will we ever see luxury digital compacts?

Back in the 90's, there was a reasonable market for luxury film compacts. The Contax T3, Nikon 35Ti and 28Ti, Minolta TC-1, and others promised high quality bodies with excellent lenses. Some, like the T3, were made of titanium and had high quality glass viewfinders. They were made for photographers who wanted SLR quality that slipped into their pockets, and were built (or at least marketed) to last for years.

But now that cameras are disposable commodities, with new models emerging on two-year product cycles, there is much less market for such robustness and quality.

The only compact cameras of this type to emerge in recent years were the much-lambasted Hasselblad-Sony rebadge cameras. If they weren't priced so stupidly, and were built with excellent tolerances and weatherproofing, the Hasselblad compacts could have been the successor to the Contax/Nikon/Minolta cameras.

Leica might give us a true luxury compact in the future, but it would be swathed in Leica's bling bling marketing. And I don't see many other companies with the potential to do this.

Will we ever see the return of very high quality compacts, but without the bling-bling status factor? Will there ever be a digital T3, with pocketable titanium body, full frame sensor and great lens?
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Old 11-08-2016   #2
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There are plenty of digital compact cameras which are price-wise well above the average consumer DSLR kit. Sony RX series, Fuji X100, Nikon Coolpix A and so on. Indeed, there is a strong convergence towards that market segment as the lower end gets eaten up by smartphones. Arguably, they are currently lacking the bling factor of film era luxury compacts - in the emerging digital market, you can still differentiate by features. As soon as sensors reach a level where there is not more drive for bigger and higher resolutions, they will probably add the missing titanium and rhinoceros foreskin...
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Old 11-08-2016   #3
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Leica Q is a premium compact camera
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Old 11-08-2016   #4
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The entire market is moving this way. The throwaway is now the smartphone, and the only place left for traditional camera companies is upmarket. The RX, X100, and Q are examples, and don't forget the luxury of the Leica X in its "special edition" guises.
Why do they have to be full frame though, you're not mounting a bunch of legacy lenses on it.
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Old 11-08-2016   #5
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I think the market for "luxury" compacts is pretty well represented by Fuji, Leica, Nikon, Sony, etc. That these cameras also happen to be competent daily tools for many photographers doesn't diminish the fact that they meet the definition of expensive, high quality cameras with superb optics.

Right now, all digital cameras might seem to come with an expiration date but that has more to do with consumers buying into the upgrade concept than with the cameras not being durable. Time will tell but today's digitals might be looked upon as classics in the future.
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Old 11-08-2016   #6
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Yeah, it seems like there are abundant luxury compacts out there? Fuji X100, Leica Q and X series, Panasonic LX100, Sony RX1. What more do you want?
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Old 11-08-2016   #7
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I could be wrong, but perhaps the OP, when asking about luxury compacts was talking about something with the build quality of a Hasselblad 500 CM. None of the products mentioned remotely approach that. I have had an RX1, and though the image quality was impossible for me to fault, in terms of build quality it was well short of anything that could be called luxury, and an X100 is even further off the mark. They may not scream "disposable", but even the best ones certainly whisper it.
I'm not arguing that anyone needs this level of build quality, but no one with a 500 CM is going to think that any of these compacts are luxurious (though I have not worked with a Leica Q, so not judging that one).
Until digital cameras start coming with replaceable sensor modules, disposable is exactly what they are going to be. Making finely crafted, i.e. expensive, bodies for these may not make a lot of business sense for a manufacturer, precisely because everyone knows these cameras are disposable, even though buyers are loathe to admit that to themselves or their wives.
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Old 11-08-2016   #8
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The OP was also asking about pocketable compacts, the Q is far from that. The closest thing that exists these days is the Leica C. A luxury brand with excellent image quality, unfortunately it doesn't have the build quality the OP would like.
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Old 11-08-2016   #9
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Titanium is the luxury?
Leica have small D-Lux, X and T. Sony have FF compact with Zeiss prime. Even Hasselblad have compact with its name. Those are luxury compacts.
Sorry to OP, but it seems some home work was required before posting.
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Old 11-08-2016   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeMGB View Post
The OP was also asking about pocketable compacts, the Q is far from that. The closest thing that exists these days is the Leica C. A luxury brand with excellent image quality, unfortunately it doesn't have the build quality the OP would like.
Sony RX100, Fuji X70, Nikon Coolpix A, Ricoh GR. I don't see a lack of luxury pocket cameras either.
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Titanium is the luxury?
Old 11-08-2016   #11
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Titanium is the luxury?

Yes, and I've had a few Titanium ones and the thing about them, imo, is that the metal is thin and so not really practical but cosmetic. And when the electronics decide to go into a permanent sulk the thing is a more expensive but just as useless paperweight/doorstop...

So luxury as in more expensive but otherwise just the same functions.

Regards, David

PS And now I'm going to look at the Leica Q and count my pennies.

PPS (EDIT) the Q hasn't got a viewfinder, I dunno...
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Old 11-08-2016   #12
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Not from the major manufacturers.

My guess is that they have cut back their product pipeline and manufacturing to the point where they don't have any bandwidth for anything that doesn't sell volumes. High end products are often used to fill time at the manufacturing end. Not always, of late companies are rebadging/reskin to leverage their name to see if there demand and bring in some low effort cash. I think that's a bad idea as these days Branding has become more valuable than it was 10-15 years ago.

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Old 11-08-2016   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry Cloetta View Post
I could be wrong, but perhaps the OP, when asking about luxury compacts was talking about something with the build quality of a Hasselblad 500 CM.
Well, the 500 c/m is hardly compact. And none of the film era "luxury" compacts had its build quality (indeed, most of them had internals that were no better than any mid price compact, in a shell made from expensive materials).
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Old 11-08-2016   #14
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Nothing in what I wrote even remotely implied that the 500CM was a compact. It was about build quality. And nothing mentioned here approaches that level of build quality. If an RX 100 is "luxury" the word no longer has its original meaning. Like a lot of words. Luxury means more than 'costs too much.'
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Old 11-08-2016   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Hughes View Post
PPS (EDIT) the Q hasn't got a viewfinder, I dunno...
Sure it does! It's digital, but it's very good. See if you can't try one out...
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Old 11-08-2016   #16
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I still consider the RX100, LX100, GR, X70, etc premium point and shoots because they are. They are all very small, offer amazing IQ and have many more features than other point and shoots comparable in size. As far as build quality goes they are all fine. I don't know what more you'd want, if you drop a Contax T3 and an RX100 on the concrete my guess is both of them will break so...
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Old 11-08-2016   #17
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Define 'luxury.'
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Old 11-08-2016   #18
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I'm not a digital shooter, but I suspect that today's phones do such a good job on this, and are so small and compact, there's just not much of a market for what you describe anymore. Like all things financial, photographic purchases are based on supply and demand (w/ the demand being first), so if there was a demand, for sure someone would be fulfilling it.
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Old 11-08-2016   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ko.Fe. View Post
Titanium is the luxury?
Leica have small D-Lux, X and T. Sony have FF compact with Zeiss prime. Even Hasselblad have compact with its name. Those are luxury compacts.
Sorry to OP, but it seems some home work was required before posting.

I have to agree with Ko.Fe.

I had a film Contax T3, and my old Canon S95 digital compact camera was just as nice, if not nicer built.

And the current Sony RX100 IV blows that away.
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Old 11-08-2016   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tom.w.bn View Post
Leica Q is a premium compact camera
+1 and i really would like one, but for the price ... i keep thinking it's a lot less than a Lux 28, which is sadder still i guess
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Old 11-08-2016   #21
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PS And now I'm going to look at the Leica Q and count my pennies.

PPS (EDIT) the Q hasn't got a viewfinder, I dunno...
??

The Q has one of the best EVFs available on any camera.
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Old 11-08-2016   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Huss View Post
??

The Q has one of the best EVFs available on any camera.
Hi,

I should have typed viewfinder as VF to distinguish if from an EVF...

Regards, David
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Old 11-08-2016   #23
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Originally Posted by faberryman View Post
I don't remember seeing any titanium 500 C/M with Hermes leather at my local camera store.
Hi,

I expect they were only allocated a dozen or so and they all sold out in the first hour...

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Old 11-08-2016   #24
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The Nikon 28/35Ti was included in the OP as a luxury camera.
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Old 11-08-2016   #25
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As much as cameras like the RX100, Ricoh GR, Fuji X100 et al can be considered today's versions of the luxury compacts of yesterday, I don't believe them to be in the same ballpark of build quality as cameras like the T3, TC-1, or 35Ti.

Titanium isn't necessarily the defining factor of quality, but unless there's a compact version of the Leica T with its carved aluminium unibody, there aren't many other ways to build a camera that has a balance of 'luxe', tightness and robustness.

Owning many cameras of the premium compact variety has shown me the downsides of various design issues. Retracting lenses lead to dust ingress, and are subject to mechanical failure. Rubber grips peel, LCD's scratch, buttons of otherwise nice looking cameras can feel cheap and plasticky.

@Larry Cloetta read my intentions well. It's not just about a camera being small and having excellent image quality and features, it's whether the camera has been finely engineered and excellently made. Technology being what it is, I could shoot with a camera of Sony RX1 quality for years and years, but would it physically withstand that time? Is it also a thing of well crafted beauty that I can fondle between shots, haha.

The Leica T with a single lens comes close. The Leica Q also comes close but is not pocketable. Having used a Sony RX100 for a bit, I can't say that I feel it is in the same class of build.
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Old 11-08-2016   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Archiver View Post
As much as cameras like the RX100, Ricoh GR, Fuji X100 et al can be considered today's versions of the luxury compacts of yesterday, I don't believe them to be in the same ballpark of build quality as cameras like the T3, TC-1, or 35Ti.
Can't speak to those film cameras but I do have the Contax T as well as the Coolpix A, x100T and RX100 III. I'd say the x100t and Coolpix A feel better built than the Contax, RX100 doesn't have the same feel to it.

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Old 11-08-2016   #27
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I would like a phone in my camera. Or I will use my NEW flip phone. A smart phone is not a proper camera no matter what. Neither is one of these zombie cameras.
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Old 11-08-2016   #28
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I don't know if this counts as a "luxury" digital compact but a friend bought an Olympus Tough TG-4 which has a lot of features, including wifi for a smartphone app, GPS, rugged build, and other features. $380 with optional lenses and underwater housing available.
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Old 11-08-2016   #29
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Hasselblad gave it a try with their rebranded sony's. I have a Stellar that I bought at very reduced prices. It is a very well built camera and Hasselblad engineers did some tweaking. It's four versions behind and there will not be another. Furthermore, after a lot of callng Hasselblad, I found that that Hassy engineers altered the firmware such that it cannot be upgraded through Sony. In essence it is not a Sony. the term rebranding was a misnomer.
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Old 11-08-2016   #30
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Hasselblad gave it a try with their rebranded sony's. I have a Stellar that I bought at very reduced prices. It is a very well built camera and Hasselblad engineers did some tweaking. It's four versions behind and there will not be another. Furthermore, after a lot of callng Hasselblad, I found that that Hassy engineers altered the firmware such that it cannot be upgraded through Sony. In essence it is not a Sony. the term rebranding was a misnomer.
That's very interesting, I didn't know about the firmware and other tweaks.

If Leica revamped their X2 with better quality dials and buttons, maybe redesigned it with a carved unibody, that could be cool. It would cost a lot more, but would still be cool. The problem is that it would still be about two or three years behind everyone else in tech, haha.
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Old 11-09-2016   #31
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Hi,

I've often wondered what would be considered the up-grade to the old Digilux-2...

Regards, David
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Old 11-09-2016   #32
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Would a titanium Leica T qualify?

Leica TL: http://us.leica-camera.com/Photograp...ca-TL/Leica-TL
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Old 11-09-2016   #33
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There's only one real one:




I don't think the Fujis are "luxury", though well done. The Q is the size the M should be.

RX1 has numerous issues, and is not so nice to hold, but nothing compares for size and power.

And since few of us can afford it, at 3900USD, I'd say this is a luxury item LOL.

I'm learning one now so I can help it's owner...

DSC00017 by unoh7, on Flickr

A simple M body variant with EVF, but small as possible, would fit the bill nicely and be quite useful.

This sort of thing:

DSC00817 by unoh7, on Flickr
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Old 11-09-2016   #34
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Rx1R2 at F/8


DSC00306 by unoh7, on Flickr

at f/4:

DSC00121 by unoh7, on Flickr

at f2:

DSC00311 by unoh7, on Flickr

The fulls for these are on flickr.

If the camera could be zone focused and the lens had a focus tab and nice throw...well it would be really something. But it resets focus each time you shut down. AF is maybe OK if you really learn it and switch the modes around all the time to get good hits.

Image quality is....well if you get the shot right I have never seen anything sharper at the 35mm FL. Uncompressed RAWs are far ahead of any Sony file I have seen to date.

Maybe the competition will take heed of the thing, because with some simple design improvements, this would be in many more bags.
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Old 11-11-2016   #35
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Does the Leica T or TL qualify as luxury digital compact? metal body, small (if used with the native 23F2) and high quality photos (I assume, I haven't one) ?
robert
PS: opps, I was forgetting: luxury price!
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Old 11-11-2016   #36
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So luxury = needlessly expensive.

Got it.
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Old 11-11-2016   #37
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Digilux-3?
Hi,

I've had both and there's no comparison. They are/were chalk and cheese.

Regards, David
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Old 11-11-2016   #38
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So luxury = needlessly expensive.

Got it.
More like expensive and unneeded extras. Titanium coloured finish, pigskin or snakeskin covering, circle of diamond, rubies etc around the logo and so on.

Shirt buttons are necessary, half sovereigns as buttons are luxury.

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Old 11-14-2016   #39
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More like expensive and unneeded extras. Titanium coloured finish, pigskin or snakeskin covering, circle of diamond, rubies etc around the logo and so on.

Shirt buttons are necessary, half sovereigns as buttons are luxury.

Regards, David
So, Premium camera:



"Luxury" camera:

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Old 11-14-2016   #40
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Will we ever see the return of very high quality compacts, but without the bling-bling status factor? Will there ever be a digital T3, with pocketable titanium body, full frame sensor and great lens?
Yes, we will... but they will not be as elegant or as cheap as their film counterparts. I think the Sony RX1R MKII shows that it is possible.
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