When that passion for compact cameras really has been begin in my life? May be right from the start. At that time analog medium format cameras were still alive and were still selling relatively well. I remember that we were using Yashica Mat 124G cameras (120/220 film format) for our photography learning classes and although that twin lens reflex was very sexy, it was not so practical considering its reversed sided viewfinder, its annoying parallax in particular if the subject was close to you and the roll films needed were a bit annoyingto load into the camera body, but using its waist level finder was a nice feature that was helping you to compose your picture. Even at the time most of us consider the Yashica Mat 124G as a true compact camera!
|Asahi Pentax SP II (Analog 35mm film)
Photo source: Wikipedia
For the 35mm (mini) film format, we were allowed to work with Asahi Pentax Spotmatic II cameras coupled with Takumar 50mm F1.8 or F1.4 standard lenses. For sure the Pentax was my favorite by far and it was the photo device that was resembling the most of the iconic Nikon F of David Hemmings in the Antonioni’s Blow Up movie. But on many aspects the ergonomics and the functionalities of the Spomatic II was better than the Mat 124G. And it was the start of a life long affair with compact cameras and their analog 35mm film format.
|Olympus OM-2n (Analog 35mm film)|
Compact SLR 35mm camera design culminate with the introduction of the Olympus OM-1 (M-1) in 1972 and their nice line of small Zuiko lenses. The Olympus OM SLRs were the modern replacement of the long traditional and successful Leica M series. Many cameras manufacturers have responded to that new trend of SLR compactness with their own interpretative models, Pentax with their M series, Nikon with their FM, FE and successors, Canon with their A more electronic series, Minolta with their X series, etc. It was really a beautiful period for SLR passionates because choices and novelties were numerous.
|Konica Hexar Silver (Analog 35mm film)
Photo source: CataWiki
Passion for compact design were not limited to interchangeable lens cameras. There were several fix lens camera models that were equally interesting. One of my favorite was the Minox 35 which a tiny “spy” model perfect for travelers who didn’t want to be noticeable from the pack of tourists equipped with large photo gadget bags. The Minox was able to deliver fairly decent pictures but not really suitable for enlargement or more accentued picture cropping. On its part, Konica was offering a very fine Hexar model coupled with a beautiful 35mm F2 lens. And how about the Leica Minilux like the name rightly said was an expensive and competent model with a fix Summarit 40mm F2.4 lens. Each camera manufacturer have dedicated at least one specific 35mm film format (with a fix lens) model to embellish their reputation into the compact camera field.
Things had taken another technical turn with the introduction of autofocus cameras and lenses and the compact factor seems to be no more in many camera designer agendas. With the apparition of the motorized advance of film into the camera bodies the size of them had inflated at a very discouraging rate and even with the event of the new digital era that didn’t really solve the problem at first. But with time and new sensor formats such as MFT (Micro Four Third) and APS-C (23X15mm) we finally be able to own compact (interchangeable lens) models. Even some 24X36mm sensor format models are now smaller although their lenses are still on the big size dimensions.
There is more and more photographic enthusiasms including some pros who are sharing their passion to have and use compact digital cameras. The mirrorless technology embrasse rightly this contemporary trend. A mix of traditional ergonomics combined with the latest electronic and computer technologies are now producing highly competent, versatile, even robust compact camera models to be chosen by photographers. Some modular designs becoming very attractive as Olympus, Panasonic, Fujifilm or Sony have already introduced in their line-up. And there are hopes that Nikon and Canon may follow in the near future.
The needs for compact photo equipment is not new and can be traced from the dawn of the photography. Today the demand for compactness is strong and their users want to have also access to the latest technical avancements and the highest photo quality available. A special mix that the recent new technologies have allowed at an affordable price. There is no reason not profit it!