Photography’s Modern-Day Classics — Cameras Blending High-Tech with Retro Style

With the exception of Canon, about every major camera maker has jumped on the bandwagon of retro-styled gear. Add the many nostalgia filters and looks available. “Classic” — a trend started by Olympus and Fujifilm with the OM-D and X series — continues to be popular with photographers and camera makers alike. The Nikon Df is the latest addition to an overly saturated market that is looking for new marketing and sales channels.

All of these retro-styled cameras have one thing in common. They remind the older generation of cameras used three or four decades ago while for younger photographers they stand for high quality, value and tradition. Leica long held the monopoly as the undisputed standard when it came to classic cameras. Now others have entered the ring, partly inspired by Leica’s success model.

Choices, choices, choices...
Choices, choices, choices…

In the end, the retro models are somewhat of a body double for a conventional Leica — which brings us to the premium prices retro costs you. While Fujifilm positions its models at the lower end of the upscale prices, Olympus is everything but shy and Nikon throws in some of its best imaging technology to justify a hefty price tag.

While Fujifilm offers the widest range of classic style cameras with the X-Pro1, X-E2, X20 and X-M1, lest we forget Sony’s revolutionary full-frame A7s, offering a kind of hybrid design by blending contemporary with old school: a mix between NEX brick, classic pentaprism and no-frills body.

Another major player is Olympus with its popular OM-Ds closely resembling the old-school OM film camera introduced in 1973 and advertised as “world’s smallest and lightest 35mm SLR camera.” Olympus broke away from the standard SLR cameras at the time and made a small, more compact version in the 1970s and 1980s — a strategy they now repeated with the digital OMs.

The Nikon Df with the same full-frame quality sensor as the D4 has classic styling with mechanical dials for ISO, shutter speed, exposure compensation and shutter release mode. Nikon has also made a special edition, older looking 50mm F1.8G kit lens. Priced at $2,996, the Nikon Df is a considerable investment for most photographers and might be a tough choice against the comparably priced D800.
The Nikon Df with the same full-frame quality sensor as the D4 has classic styling with mechanical dials for ISO, shutter speed, exposure compensation and shutter release mode. Nikon has also made a special edition, older looking 50mm F1.8G kit lens. Priced at $2,996, the Nikon Df is a considerable investment for most photographers and might be a tough choice against the comparably priced D800.
The Fujifilm X100S features a hybrid viewfinder giving both eye-level optical and an electronic view for checking focus, exposure, shutter speeds, ISO and aperture. This camera features a 23mm fixed F2 Fujinon lens. The X00S is priced at $1,299.
The Fujifilm X100S features a hybrid viewfinder giving both eye-level optical and an electronic view for checking focus, exposure, shutter speeds, ISO and aperture. This camera features a 23mm fixed F2 Fujinon lens. The X00S is priced at $1,299.
The Olympus OM-D series has become a standard for those who want to travel lighter and more compact but want to have the look, feel and quality of a conventional DSLR and interchangeable lenses. The cameras are sealed against dust and water (as are some lenses),  which is another reason to travel with this camera. The OM-D E-M1 with fast hybrid contrast and phase detection autofocus is priced at $1,399 body only. You might want to throw in the excellent 12-40mm F2.8 zoom.
The Olympus OM-D series has become a standard for those who want to travel lighter and more compact but want to have the look, feel and quality of a conventional DSLR and interchangeable lenses. The cameras are sealed against dust and water (as are some lenses), which is another reason to travel with this camera. The OM-D E-M1 with fast hybrid contrast and phase detection autofocus is priced at $1,399 body only. You might want to throw in the excellent 12-40mm F2.8 Pro zoom.
Last but not least the mother of all compact quality cameras, the Leica M Typ 240. Priced like jewelry beyond the means of most photographers, the Leica M is considered to be a ticket into an illustrious class of photographers and tradition that have coined especially news and photojournalism. Priced at $6,950, this isn't gear for the fainthearted.
Last but not least the mother of all compact quality cameras, the Leica M Typ 240. Priced like jewelry beyond the means of most photographers, the Leica M is considered to be a ticket into an illustrious class of photographers and tradition that have coined especially news and photojournalism. Priced at $6,950, this isn’t gear for the fainthearted.
Not to omit from the club: the Sony A7®, world's most compact full-frame camera, is in a league of its own stirring up the market. Competitively priced at $1,699 respectively $2,299 for the higher resolution A7R, you get classic and state-of-the-art in one package.
Not to omit from the club: the Sony A7(R), world’s most compact full-frame camera, is in a league of its own stirring up the market. Competitively priced at $1,699 respectively $2,299 for the higher resolution A7R, you get classic and state-of-the-art in one package.
(partially via Los Angeles Times)



  • Andy Umbo

    I’ve always thought both Canon, and Nikon, should make a digital full frame value priced camera that works perfectly with their legacy lenses. We all know the folly of Nikon’s alleged “F” series mount, that really doesn’t have all that much compatibility at all; it would be nice to see a camera that works perfectly, and mounts, AI and AI-S lenses, with a manual light meter. Ditto for Canon, where there are millions of excellent condition, pre-auto-focus lenses floating around, right back to the breech-lock stuff. People say: “…where’s my digital Nikon FM-2..”, and I say: “…where’s my digital Canon FtB!” Don’t know about Nikon, they’re a tiny company and have trouble manufacturing a large line of stuff, especially while wasting precious resources on the “1” series, but Canon could crank one out as an after-thought!