Why Do Our DSLRs Not Have These 12 Features Yet?

Why Do Our DSLRs Not Have These 12 Features Yet?

Recently while filming video for our next educational tutorial with landscape photographer Elia Locardi I found myself asking, "Why in the world do our $4000 cameras still not do this?" Today I have laid out 12 simple features I believe would make all of our lives a lot easier, and most of them could probably be implemented right now!  Give me your opinion in the full post poll.  

Before I start, some might say I'm a Nikon fanboy. The first camera system I adopted was Nikon (Nikon D200 to be exact), and while Fstoppers has given me the freedom to test and use a bunch of different cameras, I have to be honest and say I've never owned another full DSLR system not branded black and yellow. However, anyone who knows me knows I'm the first person to admit that Nikon and many other camera companies have simply dropped the ball when it comes to implementing useful features that real professionals want.  Luckily Fuji and Sony are ruffling some feathers so hopefully the big boys will take notice and start picking up the slack.  

At times these big camera manufacturers feel a bit like Apple who ignored all those cool jailbreak features only to finally put them into their own iOS platform years later calling it a revolutionary new feature. Just like a lot of those hidden Jailbreak apps, most of these features I'm about to list may not only save you a lot of headache, but they might actually allow you to create some pretty cool imagery and/or video with nothing more than a firmware upgrade. I'm pretty sure most of the ideas in my list below have not been fully adopted by any manufacturer, but since I'm mainly up to speed on the Nikon systems I apologize now if some cool company is already offering some of these features.

I know everyone has their our own personal "dream features" that might not have made my list so feel free to share your own ideas in the comments below. So without further ado, let's dig into the list!

Digital Bulb Mode for longer exposures

1) Built-in Long Exposures

One thing I learned watching Elia Locardi work throughout Iceland, Cinque Terre, and Rome is that he loves shooting long exposures. On many occasions, Elia would want exposures ranging from two seconds to two minutes. In order to take photos longer than 30 seconds you will need to set your camera to the Bulb setting and use a remote to dial in the extended shutter release. Using this method is great for reducing camera shake when working on a tripod, capturing long 1–30 minute night time exposures, and even firing your camera without looking through the viewfinder. Locardi's remote of choice is the Nikon MC-36a, but watching him use it made me think, "Why do we even need this thing?" Can our cameras not offer dialed-in exposure times longer than 30 seconds? Is this simply a ploy by camera manufacturers to make us buy an extra little trigger for $150? If we could set the bulb with a custom time duration, we could then use the self-timer to trigger the camera without camera shake and pretty much do away with this product altogether. This feature seems like it could instantly be offered through a firmware update, and if you are anything like me, you probably won't have that specific shutter release remote in your bag that one time you find yourself in need of an extremely long exposure. Can we please get shutter lengths longer than 30 seconds built directly into our cameras?

Record long interview takes with Auto Record Restart

2) Auto-Record Restart

Most all current DSLR cameras on the market are now limited to video record times of 20 minutes. I've heard this has to do with memory cards and drive partitions not being able to handle files longer than 20 minutes (or 4GB in size) as well as crazy speculation that cameras that can recorder longer than 20 minutes are considered camcorders which are taxed higher in some parts of the world. Whatever the reason for this limitation, it sure would be nice if our DSLRs could make the most out of the situation by seamlessly recording long segments back to back. How many times have filmmakers messed up interviews or timelapses because their camera hit the 20 min mark and stopped filming? To combat this limitation on record time I came up with an idea: imagine if there was a menu item that when activated allowed your DSLR to auto-record another file immediately after the previous file hit the 20 minute mark. I know from personal experience this feature would have saved me multiple times especially when I was manning two cameras by myself. Again this little feature would be easy to implement through a firmware update, and it would be very handy when filming extended interviews.

End of File Beep would send out an alert when a video clip was about to end

3) End of Video Beeps

The auto-record restart idea above actually came from another feature I thought would be handy. What if when you were recording in video mode, a simple audible beep would happen when your video clip reached the 10 or 5 second remaining mark? Sure, this beep could potentially ruin the last few seconds of a clip, but I think the advantage of knowing your camera is about to stop recording would be a welcome feature for videographers. Again this feature could be set in the menu so you could turn it on and off depending on your recording situation. Imagine how useful this would be when you are running video timelapses or conducting long interviews where your clips constantly hit the 20 minute mark. This is such a simple feature but I believe it would help many videographers from accidentally letting their video files expire unknowingly.  Perhaps this featured wouldn't be needed if we could simply record video clips longer than 20 mins or had the option of initiating a record restart automatically.

 

Guests can take silent photos at weddings, shouldn't professionals too?

4) Completely Silent Photo Capture

During our road trip to Photokina, Lee Morris and I were given four mirrorless cameras and instructed to test them out without any prior experience. We took this challenge to heart and actually left the manuals back home.  Trying to figure each of these cameras out with just our own photography intuition proved to be both hilarious and eye opening. One of the cameras, the Sony a7S, really impressed me with its completely silent capture feature. Since it doesn't have a shutter or mirror, every fake digital beep and noise it makes can be turned off for completely silent operation . This is nothing new, right? Well it made me think, why can't my Nikon D810 or D750 do this? I remember first hearing about the new Nikon D810 having an "electronic front-curtain shutter" and I got really excited. If you are a wedding photographer, you are all too familiar with churches and officiants telling you that you cannot shoot during the ceremony because the camera makes too much noise (and usually the videographer is off to the side grinning as he films away unimpaired). Well the electronic front-curtain shutter was not what I expected it to be (it's more for camera shake and long exposures), but the idea made me wonder once again, "Why can our DSLRs not pull full res frames straight out of live view just like cheaper mirrorless and point-and-shoot cameras?" In this mode you would simply have both your mirror and shutter up (this is how Live View works) and with the push of the shutter your camera would pull a full frame still directly off of the sensor. You could essentially shoot in dead silence (minus initially turning on live view). Wedding photographers could now find themselves shooting silently in churches around the world! My iPhone can do it, guest's cheap point and shoots can do it, our DSLRs should do it!

Electronic Shutters or Leaf Shutters: Breaking the 1/250th Barrier

5) Unlimited Flash Sync

Now this feature probably has a lot of technical limitations behind it but I'm still going to ask the question, "Why can so many cameras and medium format cameras sync beyond 1/250th but our DSLRs are stuck dead in their tracks?" Sure, I know, medium format cameras avoid the flash sync limitations by using leaf shutters instead of traditional focal plane shutters, but in my opinion having a near unlimited Flash Sync speed is the holy grail of digital photography. The only thing really left to conquer in flash photography is defeating the current Flash Sync limitation (well besides my next point below). There have been numerous hacks on how to get your camera to effectively bypass the 1/250th limit but most of them aren't exactly reaping the benefits of a true shutterless sync.HSS and Hypersync are not true viable answers to this problem plaguing the DSLR camera. I've synced many point-and-shoot cameras with flash at ridiculous electronic shutter speeds and I think it is time that our DSLRs use a similar digital shutter to allow our expensive "pro" cameras the same flash-overpowering-ambient-light results. As photographers flock to medium format cameras primarily for this feature, Nikon and Canon could help secure their future by solving this problem once and for all.

DSLR makers need to get on the 2.4Ghz bandwagon

6) True 2.4GHz Wireless Flash Control

Okay, okay, I just said that the last hurdle to overcome with flash photography is an unlimited Flash Sync but there is one last piece of the puzzle left and that is improving wireless flash. For over a decade at least, fans of off-camera flash have been stuck using triggers that use infrared (think Nikon's CLS) or low bandwidth radio triggers (think Pocket Wizard and their FCC 344 MHz frequency). Recently Canon stepped up to the plate and released their new 600EX flash system that uses the 2.4GHz bandwidth, and other wireless controllers like Profoto's Air Remote and Phottix's Odin system have made wireless flash more reliable than ever (remember the insane distance covered in this video). From my experience with the Profoto B1s and D1s, I have to say the 2.4GHz frequency gives me a near 100 percent reliability rate compared to my near 50 percent rate with the once flagship Pocket Wizard Plus III models. Despite what everyone's favorite "strobist photographer" Joe McNally says, Nikon's Creative Lighting System is not reliable at all compared to this newer wireless technology. All the major camera manufacturers should take a page out of Canon's book and start incorporating 2.4GHz wireless transmitters and receivers into both their camera bodies and speedlights across their mid and pro product lines. It's a bit ridiculous that a cheap $70 China rip-off brand can have this technology, but our expensive name-brand cameras still do not offer any reliable way to wirelessly sync remote flashes.

PC Sync Jacks should be replaced with standard 1/8" Headphone Jacks

7) Replace the PC Sync Jack

Most of the features I've desired so far could all be implemented with firmware updates. There is one major hardware change I would love to see happen immediately and that is the replacement of the PC Sync connector. One of the first videos and posts we ever did on Fstoppers was called "The PC Sync Cord Needs to Die." PC Sync connectors are used to trigger studio flashes and strobes or other wireless remotes like Pocket Wizards. If you have ever used this flimsy connector then you know it is perhaps the worst designed connector in the history of electronic connectors. I think it is time for Nikon, Canon, Sony, and Fuji to all adopt a new standard, and in my opinion that standard should be the common 1/8" TS Headphone Jack. Most photographers these days are using radio to trigger their flashes, but there are instances where connecting a speedlight, Pocket Wizard, or studio light directly to your camera with a sync cord can be useful. It is beyond time to change to a connector that doesn't fail 20 percent of the time! I mean it seems like we have to adopt to new HDMI and USB connectors on every single new camera. Why is this archaic PC Sync port even still being put on modern DSLRs?

If your current camera doesn't have Wi-Fi, it probably should

8) Built-in Wi-Fi

Before traveling with a Wi-Fi capable camera, I used to think Wi-Fi was one of those features I didn't necessarily need in my DSLR. My mind however was changed this last summer when I traveled to Photokina with the Sony a7S and Fuji XT-1, both of which allow you to tether your camera to your cell phone for wireless transfer. Most of my travel and day-to-day photos are posted to my Facebook page or the Fstoppers Instagram page. Having the ability to take high quality photographs and then instantly upload them online while on the move was surprisingly exciting. During our travels through Iceland with Elia Locardi, I had to laugh when I realized how many photographs I was taking on my iPhone instead of with one of our many D810s. The reality was it was simply way easier to upload the iPhone photos than it was having to download, edit, and upload RAW files from my "advanced" DSLR. As a wedding photographer, I can see how instantly being able to upload a high-quality image from a wedding would be a very useful marketing tool. How many times have you seen photographer friends on your Facebook feed simply taking photos of the backs of their DSLRs? There are a few cameras like the Nikon D750 and Canon 70D that offer Wi-Fi but I think this is a feature that should probably be included in all future camera models.

If our cell phones can record at 120 FPS, our DSLRs should too!

9) 120/240 Frames Per Second Video

I know by this point you are probably saying, "geez, Patrick is asking for so many video features." Well, in my opinion, the current DSLR camera has pretty much maxed out everything on the still image side of things. If you can't craft the vision in your head with 36 megapixels, ISO half a million, the fastest AF in the history of the camera, and more dynamic range than ever before, then I guess you can keep waiting for the next perfect camera. In the meantime I've found that clients are asking for more and more video, and those who have embraced DSLR video are setting themselves up to be leagues ahead of the competition. The largest photography project I've done to date, "The Stun Gun Photoshoot," was a success mainly because of the combined slow motion video paired with traditional still photographs.

Video really is going to be the next big thing for these cameras and don't be surprised when your current 2.8 Version II lens is updated yet again with upgrades that focus more on the videographer. I'll leave that argument for another time, but what drives me crazy in the current market place is that my iPhone and my GoPro 4 can still out perform my expensive DSLRs (both of which can be had for $500 and both weigh a fraction of my DSLR). What good is Expeed IV processing if we cannot pull off 120 fps at 1080? As the tiny GoPro 4 cameras are breaking into 2.7K and 4K video, our "professional" cameras are still stuck at 1080 with 60fps at best. Last night I did an iPhone Slow Motion Test at a New Years Eve Party I attended to see how well the iPhone 6 did with 120fps video and the massively impressive 240fps video (both at 720p). The results are pretty amazing for just a small phone with a f2.2 fixed aperture.  Even if you do not use the video feature at all, it should still make you mad that your latest and greatest professional DSLR camera holds a premium price while still being inferior to many lower priced consumer products.

More video cropping modes could greatly extend your lens's reach

10) Full 1:1 Pixel Video Crop

If you shoot video on the run, you probably use a standard lens like the 24-70 mm (the Tamron is currently our favorite for video). The reason you would pick this lens is because it gives you both a moderate wide-angle shot as well as a short telephoto shot. But what happens when you need even more reach but you do not want to carry another lens like the 70-200mm with you? Enter the video crop mode! Many cameras allow you to digitally crop within the DSLR's menu so you can get more reach out of your lens. This digital cropping doesn't always make sense with stills because you can crop later in post, but for video work these crop modes can be a godsend. Getting an extra 1.5 or 2x crop out of your sensor is really handy, but what if you could zoom all the way into your 36 megapixel sensor and use the center most 1920x1080 pixels? Depending on your camera you could essentially have a 3–5x crop factor built into any lens you have mounted. Your 24-70mm would now have a reach of 210mm or possibly even 350mm on a high megapixel sensor. Nikon does offer this feature on their D4S camera but really this 1:1 pixel crop should be available for everyone no matter what camera they have. Again it doesn't make sense for stills (no one wants to permanently save a 2 megapixel image), but for video users it would open a lot of doors for those running and gunning with a single lens.

 

Three separate rotator knobs for ISO, Aperture, and Shutter Speed

11) Quick ISO Rotator Knob

Most professional digital cameras have two rotator knobs.  One controls your shutter speed and the other controls your aperture.  Very few cameras allow you to also control your ISO with a third rotator dial.  The reason for this is historically with film you were locked into your ISO based on the speed of film loaded into your camera.  With the introduction of electronic apertures in lenses, we lost the ability to control the aperture at the lens but gained another rotator dial.  Today, changing your ISO sensitivity is just as important as changing your aperture and shutter.  While some modern DSLR cameras do you let you modify how the rotator knobs work, very few actually give you three completely separate controls for each exposure adjustment.  The one camera that does offer seamless control without having to simultaneously hold a button down is the Sony A7 series.  I was completely shocked at how easy and fast this camera allowed users to rotate through aperture, shutter, and ISO settings.  Today many photographers might actually adjust their ISO settings more than their aperture and having such a well designed dial just for ISO makes a lot of sense.  Fuji came very close to making their X-T1 cameras quick but instead their digital rotator knobs only controls the exposure a few 1/3rds stops from the hard rotator dials (which can lock in place at times too).  Canon has the perfect 3rd wheel for this but instead chooses to require a second button to be pushed before ISO settings can be changed.  Nikon doesn't even have a third rotator switch yet so you are forced to use two hands to change ISO.  If you photograph scenes and objects that do not require super quick exposure adjustments this feature might seem like a mute point, but if you photograph events, weddings, or fast paced street photography you can easily see where having an isolated ISO dial could be a huge time saver.  

Event photographers often use WB settings beyond what our cameras give us

12) Expandable Custom Kelvin WB

If you've ever shoot events like concerts, fashion shows, or anything with dramatic lighting, you probably know how hard it can be to dial in an acceptable white balance.  Our cameras have a custom WB setting that lets us pick from a range of custom Kelvin temperatures, but did you know that editing software like Lightroom and Capture One can expand those settings even more?  Our DSLR cameras are usually boxed in to 2,500K on the cool side and 10,000K on the warm side.  Sometimes, depending on the lighting, that range is not enough to produce correct white balance.  If you are surrounded by near neon level lights, you might need to cool everything down below 2,500K, or if you are shooting in the super blue twilight hour you might need to add even more warmth to your scene that what 10,000K can supply.  Luckily most editing software expands your camera's native WB range to 2,000K all the way up to 50,000K, and sometimes just a slight change of 500K can make all the difference in the world. This is really handy when you are editing RAW files on your computer but what if you are burning in your WB with Jpeg or shooting Video (we don't have RAW video yet)?  It can be a real bummer when you run out of white balance latitude on an important shoot.  Isn't it time our cameras have the same expanded white balance settings our editing software gives us? 

 

Conclusion:

We are all pretty lucky to live in this era of digital photography and video.  Never before have our cameras been able to capture beautiful imagery in the worst of conditions possible.  Throughout this first leg of our trip with Elia we have really pushed our cameras to the limits.  From shooting the aurora borealis in near total darkness, to having waterfall mist freeze on our cameras, to testing the weather sealing in hail, rain, and snow, I am still pretty amazed at how far the modern day DSLR camera has come.  Ask any Sports Illustrated photographer and they will tell you the Auto Focus is truly world class at this point.  Wedding photographers know just how amazing super high ISO can be in dimly lit ceremony and reception halls.  Photographers looking to make the transition to videography have never had a cheaper and easier time than now with the amazing HD quality we can achieve out of our pro level camera lenses.  I do not want this article to undermine just how amazing our cameras really are.

However, recently it seems like some camera manufacturers have lost touch with the needs of both semi and full time professional photographers and videographers.  Each time a new camera is released, I think many of us have been brainwashed into thinking we need more megapixels and higher ISO settings when instead we should be wanting features that actually make a difference in both our creativity and our productivity.  Sure, I'm excited to see how many stops better ISO 12,800 can be but the reality is I very rarely use these insanely high settings.  Having a camera shoot 50 megapixels would be exciting too but how many of us are actually printing these files larger than 36"x48" or even at all? I believe the real features that will make future camera releases truly amazing might be found buried under all the flashy raw camera specs.  These features might allow us to keep pushing the boundaries of what is possible while also making it easier to craft this art of ours out in the field.

 In a way, camera manufacturers have reached a point of diminishing returns with each new camera release.   They are filling that gap with advances in video which I completely applaud, but from a photography stand point, each new camera release seems to be a little less exciting than the one before it.  One might be able to argue that the most exciting new features have come from the under dogs like Sony and Fuji.  Sony broke away from the megapixel hunt to provide a 12mp Full Frame super high ISO killer in the Sony A7s.  Fuji is also breaking the molds by releasing major firmware updates throughout the year that gives even their older cameras new life and functionality.  Hopefully we can see outside the box trends like this filter down through all the major camera manufacturers, but until then I guess we are just left to dream. 

 

 

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145 Comments

Previous comments

yup and that is hardware enabled... which means development cost unless there is a high commercial interest to do so

I'll just clarify first - I'm not the technical engineer behind the scenes. I design the system, get inputs from my engineers and suppliers on what is available on the market and revise them.

Regarding the question on processing power to turn off pixels: I think of it this way, unless the electronic circuitry is physically hardwired to take data out of a certain portion of the sensor, the data is read out in full resolution. Just imagine the processor having to decide which data is useful or not it still has to say: yes/nope and that takes up operations.

Think of it this way... 400 people(pixels) queuing up to cross airport customs, whether they make it through the custom(readout) still has to check them... unless they have some electronic fast lane which is the hardwiring to pull out certain portion of the sensor data.

Regarding the 4/3 camera which can sync past 1/250th seconds: precisely, it is because it is a global shutter design which is why it can sync beyond the sync speed determined by the shutter curtain. Even a rolling shutter can do it, but that would be limited by the flash duration commonly known as T1.

Regarding the video: same as above. So long as there isn't a physical shutter it will sync. Sync quality will depend on strobe duration and profile.

Spy Black's picture

"Full pixel crop isn't likely to happen especially with larger pixel count cameras... simply because the pixels and the lens can't really perform."

I wouldn't be so sure about that. I think you simply need a fast enough processor and a large enough buffer. My 20 megapixel Sony RX100 III does full pixel dithering off it's 1 inch sensor. As a matter of fact, with it's full pixel dithering and 50Mbps XAVC S codec, it outputs better quality video than the Mk II, Mk III, and D750. If the Sony can do it now with a 20 megapixel 1 inch sensor, it's only a matter a time before you can do it with any full frame sensor, and I doubt that time is far off.

I'm abit confused... the RX100 III does 20mp/frame video?

By full pixel crop I meant out of say a 36mp sensor on a D800 we only crop it to 1920x1080 for video purposes. D800 does a marvelous job with the pixels but not many lenses can match it. Reading it out from the full 36mp without hardware support built into the sensor would require beefy processors though.

I think what you meant by dithering is some kind of super pixel mode. In which case the 20mp count doesn't really matter, the "pixel" size is synthetic and a sum of all the pixels combined. DSLRs do video by pixel skipping IIRC. Which is why your video quality is higher since each "pixel" receive more light due to its larger surface area than the pixel readout from the DSLR.

Now regarding the full pixel dithering processing, I'm not too sure how they do it efficiently, I would not be surprised it has a dedicated video processing ASIC for that.

Spy Black's picture

Well yes, I misunderstood what you were referring to, because I thought your comment was in reference to the comments of your opening paragraph. In all honesty however, I don't think cropping full pixel from a DSLR sensor would give you anything useful, both in video image quality, and of course the fact that it's cropping the hell out of your field of view.

The Sony does indeed take all the pixel data without line skipping and dithers it down to HD size, retaining not only a high quality image but also essentially preserving your lens's field of view (save for the HD aspect ratio).

My point was that DSLRs today really don't have to be line skipping anymore, because if a 20 megapixel image can be processed full data as is in the case of the RX100 III, it's only hop, skip and a jump to having processors that can handle full frame 22, 24, or 36 megapixel data.

Michael Comeau's picture

I have a Sony DSC-R1 from around 2005 that is completely silent and can sync flash at 1/2000s. I have to write a review up on it one of these days -- it really is amazing.

Spy Black's picture

Yeah, that's an interesting camera. Looks like it would be good in controlled lighting.

Patrick Hall's picture

How many megapixels is it and what is the sensor size? How can a camera that is 10 years old still able to do something a ground breaking DSLR cannot do?

Michael Comeau's picture

It's 10 megapixels and the sensor size is 21.5X14.4 mm, so it's slightly smaller than APS-C. Real attraction is the 24-120mm equivalent Zeiss lens, and it has a macro mode.

On the downside, autofocus can be pretty bad, it stinks at high ISO's, and it's hilariously slow. It can shoot a RAW file about every four seconds. Yes, 1 file every 4 seconds. NOT 4 files every 1 second.

Stephen Strangways's picture

The DSC-R1 had a leaf shutter in a built-in, non-removable lens.

As an interesting note, the Pentax Q series cameras have several lenses with leaf shutters in them, and some without. Using a lens with a leaf shutter, you can get flash sync up 1/2000th with the built-in flash, but that's also the maximum shutter speed. If you use the electronic shutter, by choice or because you are using a lens without a leaf shutter, it goes up to 1/8000th, but flash sync is limited to 1/13th. So this suggests to me that the best solution for faster flash sync with today's sensor technology is leaf shutters in lenses or maybe even bodies, not electronic shutters.

Spy Black's picture

Yeah, my old Fuji S1000 hybrid camera from 2007 could sync at any shutter speed. Tiny sensor though, although decent at base ISO.

Leigh Smith's picture

#5 Is pretty self explanatory why its not possible, if you understand how your dslr works at all. In mirrorless / shutterless cameras though, then yeah.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0j5AHzAGaFk

Patrick Hall's picture

Leigh, I'm not talking about overcoming the physical mechanics of the shutter...I'm talking about removing the shutter completely from the equation. As Karl shows, cameras start having to use the small "slit method" after about 1/250th of a second. That's what causes the shadow to be cast on the sensor from flash. If we could pop up the shutter altogether during high speed sync and then simply turn on the pixel sites electronically then we could hopefully avoid the sync banding completely.

A more interesting question is "what determines the sync speed of a mirrorless camera?" Since the shutter is completely electronic (no mirror or shutter), then why is the limit ironically at the same spot the focal plane shutter is at? Could it be that the electronic shutter could go much faster but it is easier to just stick to the photographic standards and limit it to 1/250th? Something fishy is going on there.

Stephen Strangways's picture

The electronic rolling shutter operates as the worst possible "moving slit" because it only reads out one row of pixels at a time. Hence the rolling shutter effect with video or stills taken in silent mode.

Patrick Hall's picture

Maybe I'm showing my ignorance here, but if you set your camera to film video at 1/4000th of a second, isn't each frame in a 24fps shot at 1/4000th? That means each frame, while still being read line by line, is still exponentially faster than a sensor being read section by section at 1/250th of a second correct?

Stephen Strangways's picture

Don't think of the sensor with an electronic shutter as shooting frames, think of it as shooting lines. Each LINE in a 24fps shot is at 1/4000th, and it takes 1/10th to read out all lines.

Exposure time and readout time are different. If you shoot, say, a GH3 in silent mode using the electronic shutter, at a shutter speed of 1/4000th of a second, you will still see rolling shutter artifacts in moving cars because the readout time is somewhere around 1/10th of a second.

The simplified version is that with light hitting the sensor, the first row of pixels is reset to 0, then read out after receiving light for 1/4000th of a second, then there's a bit of a pause, then the second row of pixels is reset to 0 and then read out after receiving light for the next 1/4000th of a second, and the object you are photographing has had time to move in between rows! Then a pause, reset and then read out the third row, and repeat. The entire readout process can take 1/10th of a second.

Now, let's say you have a mechanical shutter. None of the pixels are seeing light so they're all at 0. Open the first curtain and wham! They get hit by light and generate an electrical charge. Then the second curtain closes in, say, 1/4000th. All the pixels have now been hit by light within the same 1/4000th of a second. They will maintain their charge in the darkness, and the sensor can casually read out what those charges are, and it can take 1/10th of a second to do it. No new light will be hitting them for that time, so nothing will change.

But without a mechanical shutter, the sensor is being constantly bombarded with new and changing light as the readout is occurring. That is why you get flash banding, something I'm sure you've seen in a video of a red carpet event with flashes going off. A flash might only show up on the top third of a frame, because the sensor was casually reading off rows and only got a third of the way down before the flash stopped emitting light.

For flash, a mechanical shutter is limited by the speed at which the whole sensor is exposed to light after the first curtain is completely open, and before the second curtain starts to close. Once it switches to a moving slit, have some problems. To get a faster sync speed for a mechanical shutter, the first and second curtains have to move faster, and that requires stronger and lighter shutter blades, and more powerful motors.

An electronic shutter, however, is limited by its readout speed.

Throw a mechanical shutter in front on an electronic one, be it focal plane or leaf, and your flash exposure depends on the mechanical shutter, and the electronic one can be as slow as it wants.

Don Zevchek's picture

I'd like to have 2 different shutter release buttons, both programmable. Once button could be set for single-frame mode and the other set for automatic 3-frame HDR bracketing (+/- 2 stops), run at contiguous high. About 10% of my shooting is HDR and it's a pain to switch between modes. Having 2 shutter releases would be more practical than even selecting a saved macro on a twist dial (more like having 2 triggers on a double-barreled shotgun, each instantly selectable and wastes no time).

You should also look at the GH4. Decided to shift to it because I like rewarding companies that push the edge instead of trailing by years (Canikon)-:
Has pretty much all the features you mentioned...started the 4K revolution under $2K....can use most DSLR lenses w/ adapters and speedboosters to get to APS-C DOF.

Patrick Hall's picture

We had the GH4 on our trip to Photokina and used it for a good 5 weeks. It was by far the best mirrorless camera for video work but if I remember correctly it was a pain for still photos. I always ask myself "could this camera replace my DSLR for shooting weddings?" and the GH4 was a definitely no. I'm trying to remember what specifically I didn't like about it....did the LCD show you a completely different exposure from what the still photo would be?

Stephen Strangways's picture

DId you switch Constant Preview to On? If so, the LCD should show you an accurate preview of your exposure, but only so long as your shutter speed is 1/1000th or lower. Set a faster shutter speed, and the camera is unable to preview that.

Yes, the LCD matches what the still was...as did the viewfinder. That's one of the benefits of mirrorless...it's really an exact preview of what will show up (if you turn on Constant Preview as Stephen mentioned).

For wedding work, it might not have a narrow enough DOF for you since everyone seems to be into bokeh nowadays. Focusing in low light is surprisingly good but continuous AF probably isn't as good as higher end DSLRS but probably close enough. Only other thing I can think of is you need to use more than ISO3200...above that, the sensor sites aren't big enough until Sony's huge 2015 sensor rework w/o bayer filters...

Milos Mantic's picture

You STOLE my idea of 3 separate rotation knobs. No, sony did. I have to patent my ideas next time ;)
Silent shutter is doable imho...but than again, why the heck no aperture control in liveview on lower models?

Stephen Strangways's picture

3 rotation knobs is a great idea, and I'd love to see more companies adopt Pentax's TAv mode - in addition to shutter priority and aperture priority modes, this mode allows you to set a fixed aperture and shutter speed, and the camera varies ISO automatically.

Milos Mantic's picture

auto ISO in manual mode is present in some new nikon models

Patrick Hall's picture

Yes our D750s and D810s have auto ISO which I've never used before if it was included in older cameras. What's cool about auto ISO especially in video is it can select ISO settings between the normal settings we can pick manually. This lets the exposure flow seamlessly with no major jumps caused by the normal 1/3rd stop increments.

Stephen Strangways's picture

Ah yes, auto ISO working in manual mode, specifically, would do the same thing. Thank you for pointing that out!

Milos Mantic's picture

thay aslo added seamless aperture in video, which was a big question for me why they didnt do it sooner, because we already had those de-clicked g lenses. And while its great for video, it introduces some problems with time laps - the aperture isnt precisly the same on every frame.

Tony Carter's picture

Can we add 2 more features?

1. An exposure counter that goes beyond "999"
2. A focal length indicator in the viewfinder (along w/ the aperture and shutter indicators)

Wait until Yongnuo starts making cameras so they can turn this business upside down like they are starting to do with speedlights and lenses.

Stephen Strangways's picture

When it comes to long exposures, Olympus has an incredibly useful Live Bulb mode that shows you the exposure building up over time on the LCD, and you simply stop it when you've got the image you want. You can even view and control it on your phone over WiFi.
http://youtu.be/sdLjTxs_TQA

Also:
http://youtu.be/Rz4g-MFW_t8?t=12s

http://youtu.be/G5g2hAO2ixk?t=5s

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