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View Full Version : Plastic or Metal Camera Bodies - Which Do You Prefer?


SolarTempest
03-27-2006, 04:16 PM
In another thread the comparison of two camera bodies was made - plastic vs. magnesium. What I'm wondering is what camera body material you guys think is better.

Highly debatable question!

- I tell you, the materials engineers that I hang out with who specialized in metallurgy argue that magnesium and aluminum alloys are the way to go.
- But the materials engineers that I hang out with who specialized in polymers will argue that plastics are the future.


For me, I'm in favour of the plastic bodies.
Why?
1. Does not dent (unless you use low quality plastic)
2. Absorbs impact shock, rather than transmitting it. (thank you polymer chains!)
3. Scratch it and you don't lose the paint. (okay, superficial...)
4. Not as cold to handle in the winter (again, thank you polymer chains!)
5. Still very tough and difficult to break.

Traditionally, most heavy use professional cameras have come in the aluminum alloy and magnesium alloy variety, but I think materials development has come far enough to put both on the same playing field.

Check out those lexan Nalgenes, a testament to modern plastics!

TomodachiFriend
03-27-2006, 04:58 PM
All my cameras are metal and when I handle a Canon 350D, the first thing that comes to my mind is "Cheap!!!" The problem with plastic is that manufacturers use cheap plastic. When you spend more on good plastic, prices go up, but customers will think "Why am I paying so much for plastic?" There's no way out of this now because that's how people think and camera manufacturers are there to sell as much as they can.

jtnishi
03-27-2006, 07:04 PM
All my cameras are metal and when I handle a Canon 350D, the first thing that comes to my mind is "Cheap!!!" The problem with plastic is that manufacturers use cheap plastic. When you spend more on good plastic, prices go up, but customers will think "Why am I paying so much for plastic?" There's no way out of this now because that's how people think and camera manufacturers are there to sell as much as they can.
Frankly, the 350D feels better than I would've first guessed. Yeah, it feels cheaper than handling a good metal body, but it doesn't feel significantly unprofessional.

That said, I admit a bias to metal. The old bodies of the 60s didn't survive by being 100% plastic. The old joke I've heard so many times is that you could use those old metal bodies as a substitute hammer as needed. Not that I'd ever try, of course. ;) I always feel a bit better handling my dad's 40 year old Nikon F than my 350D. I don't expect that 350D to survive beyond 10-15 years. That F, on the other hand, could probably be picked up 40 years from now, have a little bit of calibration work done on the timer mechanism and shutter, have a canister of film loaded in, and work perfectly fine.

Karisu-sama
03-28-2006, 03:31 AM
I'm more concerned about lens quality and resultant photo quality than the body material composition. :p However, I don't drop my camera (much.) :p

I notice my Konica Minolta DiMage A2 has a polycarbonate body. It doesn't meet my personal "highest standards" in cameras, but it's a relatively OK beast for the average photo that will be uploaded to the web... (but lousy for macro work, IMO.)

Ami Yuy
03-28-2006, 04:04 AM
My love (my Nikon Coolpix 8700) is a nice mix of both plastic and Magnesium alloy. It's got a nice solid metal body but with plastic parts attached (flash, card compartment cover, and LCD flip screen). It's sturdy and not super heavy, but has a definate weight to it that can be frustrating at times when carrying for a long time but is just plain feels good when in hand.

I haven't handled any fully plastic cameras other than my old 35mm and digital point-and-shoots, but from them I know I prefer this nice solid body.

Not to mention when I worked with a friend's old Pentax 35mm for photo class the metal body once again felt nicely balanced and like it would last through anything. Heck, it had gone through at least 3 Intro to Photo classes with our friend's daughters and I and was from the 1980's and still looked in perfect condition. XD

staereo
03-28-2006, 06:36 AM
I'm gonna join in with the metal here. Points made thusfar pretty much cover my point of view in the matter. :)

Bruce

jtnishi
03-28-2006, 04:03 PM
I'm more concerned about lens quality and resultant photo quality than the body material composition. :p However, I don't drop my camera (much.) :p
Heh heh. Or hammer nails with it, either, I take it. XD I went cheaper on my camera body too, though I could've afforded a more expensive metal body, since I wanted to spend a bit more on the glass. But I'll admit when I felt the 20D in the store, I really really wanted it.

staereo
03-28-2006, 07:09 PM
Its kind of a large jump in price for a limited number of very specific benefits. Metal is obviously the wow factor of holding it, but I cant blame many people with going for the 350d today. Especially now with the 5d in the mix. If I was buying a new camera today, it would be for the 5d. But thats only because of the full size image sensor. I think if the 5 d was already in existance when the 20d was released, youd find a much smaller market for the 20d, the majority which would have been split between the 350d and the 5d.

Bruce

gmontem
03-29-2006, 02:46 PM
Neither. I'll take cardboard.

Karisu-sama
03-29-2006, 05:48 PM
Neither. I'll take cardboard.
:D I made working cardboard pinhole cameras for a Middle School Science Fair project (back when I was in middle school :p ) to demonstrate the raw basics of photography! XD

Pinhole cameras were a lot easier to make back when one could buy film cartridges... :p

http://www.cosmonet.org/camera/126film.jpg

phaedrus
03-29-2006, 06:03 PM
Pinhole cameras were a lot easier to make back when one could buy film cartridges... :pI think a pinhole would be a good camera for a con.

"One, two three HAI! Cheezu!! Ok, you guys stand perfectly still for a couple minutes. I'm going to go get a soda."

staereo
03-29-2006, 07:17 PM
I think a pinhole would be a good camera for a con.

"One, two three HAI! Cheezu!! Ok, you guys stand perfectly still for a couple minutes. I'm going to go get a soda."


heh.. without exaggerating I doubled over laughing when I read that. :bigtu:

SolarTempest
03-29-2006, 07:36 PM
Hahaha, that would be so awesome. I can imagine a 20 minute pinhole exposure in a dealer room or something - would be so cool!

PrincessHinata
04-03-2006, 09:29 PM
Eh...I love my N75 SLR...which is plastic. BUT...I hate my Nikon Coolpix which is plastic. It depends on the camera, methinks.