What Does Your Perfect Camera Look Like?

What Does Your Perfect Camera Look Like?

With every new camera, new options and enhanced features are introduced, sometimes small and perhaps even insignificant, sometimes groundbreaking. The end result is never perfect, but what if you could design one yourself?

With every new model, a camera evolves. Especially this last decade, the evolution of cameras is amazing. Ten years ago, we had small screens and not more than 10 megapixels. Now, we have more than one digital screen with resolutions that once were considered impossible and sensors that have up to 100 megapixels. We have touchscreens and autofocus systems that are faster than the blink of an eye. Buttons are customizable, and the dynamic range of a sensor has increased from something like eight stops to 14 stops. And the end is still not in sight.

I am fortunate. I am able to use a lot of different cameras.

The design of every new camera will probably start at the drawing table, perhaps by people who only are guided through the comments of a small group of photographers or reviewers. But perhaps I am wrong with my assumptions. Perhaps there is a roadmap that has just one purpose: make cameras only slightly better than the previous one, so enthusiasts will buy every new model over and over again.

As I said, this may only be an assumption on my part, and I don’t know half of what is really going on at these companies. What I do know is that no one photographer is alike. Everyone has their own needs depending on preferences or requirements for their kind of photography. A sports photographer may need lightning-fast AF and perhaps 10 or more photos per second. A landscape photographer may need a high pixel count, but no fast and responsive AF. And someone who makes films has completely other requirements compared to the photographer.

Next to specific requirements, there are ergonomic wishes. Perhaps the camera needs a design that fits like a glove, that makes it possible for wedding photographers to hold their camera for 14 hours straight without problems. Someone with small hands will prefer a small camera, I guess, just like the travel photographer. And I can imagine there are also photographers who don't care about ergonomics or size. There are as many wishes as there are photographers.

I find the expectations for new camera one of the biggest problems with the present market. Today, a new camera needs to be perfect for every kind of photography. It needs to be the best of the best, no matter what kind of photographer or kind of subject that will be photographed. If a new camera does not tick all the boxes, it will be called a bad camera, even if it is the perfect camera for just one kind of photography. I do think most of the critics are the typical “professional" amateur photographers who desire a camera that is perfect for all kinds of photography.

I wondered how my own perfect camera would look. So, I looked at all the cameras I have used in the previous years and chose the options and specs that I would like to have in my perfect camera. It is fun to do, and it makes me also aware of the things I need in a camera. I shoot weddings and landscapes. My perfect camera would have the following specs.

Sensor From the Hasselblad X1D-50c

A high-resolution medium format sensor, with huge dynamic range.

The sensor of the Hasselblad X1D is wonderful. It has more than enough pixels, and the dynamic range is amazing.

Autofocus From the Sony A7R III 

The autofocus has to be fast, accurate, and include the wonderful eye/face/body autofocus, preferably with the option for face recognition that will recognize the most important person in the frame.

For me, there is not a lot to like about the Sony cameras, but the AF is amazing and should work perfectly for my wedding photography.

Electronic Viewfinder of the Leica SL 

The very high-resolution electronic viewfinder would be perfect, with a high refresh rate. The Leica SL has the best viewfinder I have come across so far.

The viewfinder of the Leica SL is the most beautiful one I have ever used. But the modern mirrorless cameras like the Canon EOS R and Nikon Z 7 come close. More will follow.

Optical Viewfinder of the Fujifilm X-Pro2

I would like to be able to switch between an optical and electronic viewfinder, just like the Fujifilm X-Pro2. Sometimes, it is just more convenient to use the optical viewfinder, and I would hate it to see it go.

What I like about the X-Pro2 is the ability to switch between an optical viewfinder and an electronic viewfinder. I would love to have that in my perfect camera.

Articulating LCD Touchscreen of the Canon EOS R

It is very convenient to have a LCD screen that can go every way. But better still, it needs to have a fully functional touchscreen, not only to choose a AF point, but also to use the menu.

There is one thing that is really good with the EOS R: its articulating screen and its touchscreen functionality.

Button Layout and Customization Like the Panasonic Lumix DC-S1

The button layout has to be very good, and logical, and there has to be enough dedicated buttons available. Every button, dial, or switch has to be customizable. The best I have seen is that of the Panasonic Lumix DC-S1.

The Lumix S1 ticks a lot of boxes, but its buttons and dials are especially well thought through. You can customize everything.

Dedicated Exposure and Aperture Dials of the Fujifilm GFX 50S

I love the old fashioned exposure dial on the top of the camera and the aperture ring on the lens. They feel perfect and works very quickly. You can see what settings you have without activating the camera.

I love those dials and the aperture ring.

I find the Canon menu structure to have the best design of every brand I have seen so far. The menu of the Canon is logical, well thought through, and easy to browse through.

The menu and touchscreen functionality of the EOS 5D Mark IV is perfect for me.

The Size and Weight of the Hasselblad X1D-50c

Of every camera I have used so far, I found the Hasselblad X1D-50c to have the best design, size, and weight. Holding this camera was amazing, and it fits my hand like a glove. Still, I wonder if all the functions I would like to have will fit onto a camera with such a design.

I love the Hasselblad X1D. The camera is not perfect, but the design is (for me).

Other Options

There are a lot of other options I like to have that can be found in different cameras. Often, I wonder why all these brands do not incorporate these simple things into their menus. No matter which camera you take, there is always something missing or just not perfect. One thing I don’t care about is video, so there are no requirements for that in my list. 

  • Wi-Fi connectivity
  • GPS
  • Shutter times up to one hour instead of 30 seconds before switching to Bulb
  • Bulb timer
  • Time-lapse function
  • Self timer for 2, 5, 10, 15, 20, or 30-second delay and for 1, 2, 3, or 5 images
  • Customizable and easy-to-access quick menu
  • Silent shooting up to 10 frames per second with continuous AF
  • Auto ISO dependent on the focal length
  • Battery life up to 1,000 shots
  • Two card slots, preferably the same type of flash memory cards
  • Laser AF assist pattern beam
  • Built-in three-stop ND filter

I could probably think of some other things, but I think these are the most important ones for now.

Of course, these are my personal preferences. I realize every photographer will have other requirements or wishes. Tell me, if you could design your own perfect camera, what would it look like? Or does it already exist? Please let me know in the comments below.

Nando Harmsen's picture

Nando Harmsen is a Dutch photographer that is specialized in wedding and landscape photography. With his roots in the analog photo age he gained an extensive knowledge about photography techniques and equipment, and shares this through his personal blog and many workshops.

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I almost read `... like....... me`

Put the A9 guts in my 5dmkiv body with a higher resolution sensor, Canon menus, and improved battery life and I would be over the moon.

Sounds good to me! As long as we're dreaming, let's take the menu system, connectivity, and app infrastructure from the iPhone.

As long as the brand isn´t Apple ;)

An iPhone 11 has a 6" screen, the screen of the Nikon Z7 has only 3.2". Even the Zeiss ZX1 has only a 4.32" screen. Why rebuilding on a camera what we already have on a phone ? Shouldn't we rather make the camera a connected device by improving connectivity ?

Because a viewfinder is much more important than an LCD. Especially when you can do nearly everything via EVF on a mirrorless camera.

If you only care about the screen, than you should stick with your 6"screen. Or better, why not use a iPad instead? That thing has even a bigger screen ;)

I'd give my left nut for an E-M1X with a FF chip in it.


I’m very happy with everything on my A7III aside from the screen and EVF. If they could make them higher res and full articulating like Canon as well as a better EVF it would be perfect for me.

You are happy with the ergonomics?

Why not? They're not bad IRL.

And the EVF is low res because it's a low end camera. Expect the A7 IV to have something like a 3.6M EVF instead of the current high end 5.7M.

If it works for you, that is perfect. Isn't it :)

Yeah I have no complaints. Grip size is decent, button placement works well too. The only thing I don’t really like which is somewhat unrelated is the cheap paint Sony use as it does come off really easy.

I don't like the size of the A-series camera's, my fingers always get stuck between grip and lens (among other things). And I don't even have big hands....

I like this game. Yes for most of your selections. But the 5D Mark IV has phenomenal WiFi, GPS built in, and excellent time lapse. What you did not mention was the mastery of Canon Optics. You simply can’t beat that. Additionally, it has fantastic video capture with peerless color tech.

Ah yes, optics... if only all manufacturers used the same lens mount. That would be wonderful, don't you think

I'd agree with you if the 5D Mark IV had better dynamic range and slightly higher FPS. I have been a Canon shooter for many years, but keep finding myself going back to Nikon. I've switched between the two now three or four times since 2001. Nikon not only has the best AD converters and SNR firmware, but they are not too proud to make their own sensors like Canon. Nikon says they make their own sensors, but thats not technically true and most are made by either Sony, TozzerJazz or Renesas. My ultimate favorite sensors are the Renesas, but tuned by Nikon in the D4 and D4s. Now the D5 is an awesome camera, but unfortunately it has the same poor dynamic range like most Canon's, so I am waiting and hoping the new D6 is better and more in line with Nikon's other fantastic performers. Admittedly I don't usually need 14 stops of DR, but I do sometimes and it's awesome to have it when you need it. Canon is and always has been a powerhouse and industry leader in just about everything, but why they insist on making their own sensors is beyond me, especially when it's been proven they are not as good as the competition. Other than that Canon makes some amazing camera's and I could just as easily do my job with them if I needed to and I'd be happy too.

Also a longer than 30 sec exposure shutter speed directly in camera like Hassleblad and Fujifilm.

Just as I mentioned in the "Other Options" list. It is ridiculous to program that exposure time limit of 30 seconds in a camera.

I found Lumix DC-S1R EVF quite amazing on par or better then SL. Lumix menu system was decent and intuitive. Customisation was amazing, but I would prefer Nikonian or Leica/Fuji approach to body style and ergo (they appear to be mutually exclusive).

Totally agree.

A company in Cupertino claimed:

It does not have dual cardslot :P

Operating ambient temperature : 0° to 35° C (32° to 95° F) - touchscreens will never replace buttons.

Bu... But... They said it's as good as a DSLR!

Nikon D5 body with Phase IQ3100 sensor with viewfinder from my H5X

Nikon may have made a camera similar to your wants, had the D3x sold more than about 1000 units lol. Canon too used to make the 1Ds line of camera's that were always ahead of their time and high resolution, but sadly both have died a slow painful death. Medium format is going to get quicker and better at autofocus and frame rates, but will it ever be on par with something like a Nikon D5, no probably not. I get where your going though and I think the GFX100 could have been close to your needs, but they really screwed up the ergonomics, etc. Sure it's still a great buy for what it is, but I wouldn't buy one, its ridiculous ergonomically.

The bigger viewfinder is the best part, plus the leaf shutter lenses. I used a D3X, it was good at the time, but not even remotely close to what I've described. I own the H5X and Phase Back...so all I really want is autofocus that's better.

Already have 2: Mamiya RB67 Pro SD, Mamiya 645 Pro . Both wiith a bag full of primes.

And a bag full of film rolls.... :D

The manual focus assist of the EOS R, pretty handy when you have some MF only lenses or do some macro photography.

Ah yes, I agree it is a nice option

If the 1DxIII has something like a 28MP sensor, that would be my choice since it could do everything I do well. I don't worry about connectivity or video, although the video looks like it should be pretty good, but I really, really like Canon's hand feel, their menu system, and above all, their lens selections.

The lone addition I'd like to see would be for Canon to give it a base ISO64.

I've owned and used the 1Dx and loved it at the time, but now I am back with Nikon and couldn't be happier. The truth is both are amazing, but what keeps me with Nikon is their sensors and sensor tech, which generally is class leading in dynamic range, resolution and high ISO. Sure the 1Dx mark II is also great for what I do, which is photojournalism, but sometimes I need 14 stops of dynamic range and Canon just can't get me there. I purposely skipped the Nikon D5 and use two D4s bodies, because the D5 sucks at low ISO and dynamic range, kinda like Canon I hate to say. Nikon buys their raw sensors from either Sony, Renesas or Towerjazz and then they "tune" them or add AD converters and SNR firmware, etc. Nobody does this better than Nikon and it really shows when you need to push files. I've been a professional now 18 years so it's not like I have ever been off by more than a stop on my exposures, but sometimes I have very dynamic scenes or images with bright sunlight and deep dark shadows. This is where I found the Canon 1Dx and even 5D Mark IV to be lacking when compared to the D810 and D4s. So I switched because I realized Canon was never going to change their ways and I'm the first to admit Canon is awesome and I love the heck out of them. In fact I prefer CPS over NPS anyway and I miss dealing with Canon services, but like I said they just refuse to "borrow" or buy better sensors and or sensor technology.

Can't argue your Nikon stance. Fact is, if I suddenly had a butt load of money, I'd probably buy two D850s and be done with it. For me, the DR thing is overblown, but that's me.

Why would I switch to the D850? The extra pixels and the 9fps with grip. I like Nikon, but started out with Canon and that's where I've been happy. The D850 has a good in hand feel, I'm sure I'd be happy with the menu system after working with it, but I'd more than likely miss Canon's menu.

The D850 is amazing, but it was too much camera for me and I knew that before I bought it haha. I just had to see what the rage was all about and honestly I'd say it's probably the best DSLR ever made on planet earth. I'm a photojournalist and at the end of the day all I would ever need is 24mp and I'm hoping the new D6 is around that mark. For now though the D4s, D500 and D7200 are my bodies of choice and each serve their own purpose. The DX bodies are teleconverter's and backup's and the D4s bodies are my main attraction. Canon's dynamic range "issue" isn't really an issue I agree with you, but once you've seen what Nikon has and can do, you do kinda feel your DR is inadequate lol. Your probably right about Canon having the best menu system, but honestly Nikon's is great too and I don't complain about menu's unless they suck as bad as Sony.

I want the a6600 but with an updated sensor/processor. A flip-out touchscreen, way better rolling shutter, Panasonic or Olympus level IBIS, 4k60, 10 bit, 240/1080p,

Sounds good.
Don't you want an improved menu structure?

Probably? But I don't really have any experience with anything other than my sony a6300 so I don't have anything to compare to. :D

Indeed, if you don't have any comparison you cannot say.