Rugged vs. Durable/Reliable

Discussion in 'This or That? (MFT only)' started by Replytoken, Jul 15, 2013.

  1. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    Ken
    This weekend I was watching a short video feature that showed a film crew and location scouts looking at remote locations for a movie. They were flying in and out by helicopter, and it seems that everybody puled out a variety of cameras, big and small, when they hit the ground in order to document the possible locations.

    Watching this feature video got me to thinking about what camera I would want with me if I was having to spend large amounts of time in somewhat remote locations where repair services were not available, and there were no retail stores or package delivery services available if I had a problem. My mind went through the existing Oly and Pany bodies I own (E-PL2, E-PL5 and G3) as well as some of the newer models (E-M5, E-P5, GH3, G6), but the camera that finally came to mind was my D300.

    I am not saying that Oly and Pany do not make bodies that are up to the task, as both the E-M5 and the GH3 are designed to be "rugged". However, I am not certain that rugged is the same as durable and reliable. And, in light of some of the recent posts about E-M5 repairs, it may be designed to be rugged, but things like control knobs coming unglued, eyepieces falling off, and EVF's failing might detract from it being deemed reliable, at least in my book.

    I fully realize that posts here are not indicative of any actual statistics, as few people post about their camera working normally, but it would great to hear some stories about some field tested bodies that held up well in less than ideal conditions. Has anybody pushed their camera hard on a daily basis for any period of time? Should Oly and Pany's rugged camera bodies be deemed durable and reliable as well? Or, are cameras like the D300 few and far between, or really just a myth?

    --Ken
     
  2. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    Have you ever used an Olympus E-5, E-3, or E-1? That's the real definition of rugged AND durable. The D300 is not. ;)

    I get what you're saying though... The E-M5 is rugged not durable, the D300 is durable but not rugged. However, the cameras you're thinking of which are both, have been made many times in the past... and Olympus and Pentax were the two top producers of these tank-like cameras. I guess it's just not cost efficient to have both anymore. Although the Oly E-5 was only introduced in 2011, so that's not so far away. :)
     
  3. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    Ken
    Unfortunately I have not had the pleasure of using any of these Olympus bodies. Just curious, is there something in particular about the D300 that you did not find rugged? For the most part, the D300/D700 body design had a good reputation, and I have no complaints about mine.

    --Ken
     
  4. speedandstyle

    speedandstyle Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    The Early Nikons were known for it, one even saved a photog's life in Vietnam.

    4683329492_968f1a7984.
    Thanks to Martin Sharman for this image from flickr
     
  5. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    Ken
    I own a black FTn from that vintage. I gave my FE to my niece, but I could not bear to part with my F even though I am no longer shooting film. Built like a brick s**t house! ;)

    --Ken
     
  6. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    Again, pick up something like the E-3, E-5, or E-1 and compare. Then you'll know what I mean. A rugged camera to me is something that can be just as comfortable in a blizzard, hailstorm, or hurricane. Can be dropped in the pond or left in the snow, and can be shot all day in torrential rain. That can be dropped on a regular basis from shoulder height, can be stood on, or rolled down the street. None of that should affect its performance. If your camera can't do that, then don't compare it to the class of heavy-duty weather-sealed rugged DSLR cameras that were once Olympus' and Pentax' mainstay.

    Of course I'm not saying that every camera should require this kind of "ruggedness", but if the D300 or D700 is your benchmark then that's a comparatively low standard.

    Mind you, many film cameras were just as rugged... but it's a lot tougher to find one in Digital form that compares. However, back to your original question - these cameras are already out there.
     
  7. GaryAyala

    GaryAyala Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    SoCal
    I used to be a news photog back in the film only days. I've shot from above the Arctic Circle to Rain Forests to Extreme Deserts and my Nikon film cameras never failed me (unless you call the odd piece of shrapnel embedded in the lens as failing).

    Of the digital cameras I've owned I wouldn't hesitate taking any of my Canon 1D's into the severe environments blazed by my film Nikons.

    Gary

    PS- I've owned Canon, Olympus, Panasonic and Fuji digital ILC's. I think the Fuji's would fare rather well also.
    =G=
     
  8. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    Ken
    Ned,

    I fully agree with your definition, but I am still not clear what it is about the D300 that you think it sets a low standard for ruggedness. I promise I will not take any of your critical comments about the D300 personally.

    --Ken
     
  9. dougjgreen

    dougjgreen Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 5, 2013
    San Diego
    Doug Green
    Keep in mind that the D300 and D700 are NOT Nikon's most rugged/durable grade of cameras - they are intended to be better than consumer-grade products, but not built for the most rigorous pro use - but rather for light-duty pro use. If you want to really know what Nikon considers to be a pro-hardened class of camera, that would be the D2x, D3 and D4 class of cameras. The E-5 is basically the most hardened camera Olympus makes, and it is slightly above the D300 standard of build, but well below the D3.

    Going back to film days - Only the D2x, D3, D4 are built to the same level as an F5, F4, F3, F2, or F. The D300 is built to the level of an N90s or F100, or FM2n
     
  10. GaryAyala

    GaryAyala Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    SoCal
    Nothing was built like the F. The F was more rugged and durable than a rock.

    =G=
     
  11. DeeJayK

    DeeJayK Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 8, 2011
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    Keith
    And how does McCullin return the favor? By shilling for Canon. :tongue:
     
  12. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    It's nothing against the D300, Ken. The D300 is simply not in the same class as a pro-grade camera like the Oly E-x cameras I mentioned, or the Canon 1D that Gary mentioned, for instance. There's nothing wrong with the D300, but you're comparing apples to oranges. That's why it's a low standard for ruggedness... not because the D300 is a poor example of a camera in its class, but because no cameras of that class should be a benchmark for ruggedness. Once you've used pro-grade DSLRs (day in and day out through the most rigorous work assignments) you'll understand that there's no comparison in the area of build quality between a mid-grade camera like the D300. Of course you can get just as good performance in image capture without the pro-grade build, but if you're talking about build quality then that is THE differentiating quality between a pro-grade body, and is the primary reason they cost so much more. "Built for professional use" all has to do with taking the stress of being used on a daily basis in the most rigorous conditions. Pro-Grade doesn't mean it takes better photos or has more features, or anything like that - it defines a better class of build, and that is really all they require over an "enthusiast" body to be considered "pro-grade".

    Back to your original theme, I totally agree with you in wishing for these type of bodies to spread throughout all the new types of cameras available today. If we could have E-x type ruggedness in an E-Mx body, that would be very cool. I do miss the kind of fail-safe comfort I had with my DSLRs back in the day, though I wouldn't go back to lugging around the same big heavy beasts.

    The E-M5 and the GH3 are "rugged" in that they are meant to be able to handle outdoor use and inclement weather, but that's not the same as being built like a tank, which I believe is what you were getting at in your original post. You do have to consider though... that the E-M5 for instance is still 1/5 the cost of a standard pro-grade DSLR, not to mention less than 1/5th the size. ;)
     
  13. Biro

    Biro Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 8, 2011
    Jersey Shore
    Steve
    I'd love an E-5 or even an E-3. But I'm not willing to invest in another line of lenses - even traditional four-thirds glass. At least I have my Pentax gear, which has weather resistance and isn't bad.
     
  14. Ulfric M Douglas

    Ulfric M Douglas Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 6, 2010
    Northumberland
    I'll steer things back to a current subject and suggest the e-M5 is the LEAST reliable Olympus in modern days : and I'm only talking about sensor/IBIS failure. The new system is wonderful, but just not as reliable as the one preceding it.
    Sorry but that's how I see it, given the existence of forum threads documenting various failures ... compared to the (relative or absolute) absence of such thread from the e-P1,2, etc etc.
    Here's hoping the e-P5 is reliable to the level of the older bodies, of which I own most ... all still working 100% correctly.
    I also have here an E-1 and would trust it to continue to work after being used as a weapon, doorstop and to plug the hole in a dam. (Only joking)
     
  15. phidauex

    phidauex Mu-43 Regular

    76
    Jun 17, 2013
    Boulder, CO
    I don't have a lot of experience with these fancy cameras, but I think one of the concepts you are trying to get at with your terminology is this:

    Some cameras are very resistant to being damaged by outside influences, while some cameras are resistant to random part failure over long periods of time or many activations.

    I see these as related, but definitely different product features. I mean, consider a camera that can be thrown off a waterfall, but who's internal shutter mechanism wears out early, and contrast that with a camera that has no weather sealing, but will reliably activate hundreds of thousands of times without fail. The first would be good for an Extreme Sports Calendar Photographer, while the second would be good for an astrophotographer.

    Just something to think about, and another reason that there is no such thing as the "best" camera - just cameras with different feature sets that are better suited for various tasks.
     
  16. 0dBm

    0dBm Mu-43 Top Veteran

    859
    Jun 30, 2011
    Western United States
    Due largely to the simplicity of the design and the materials used (T6061 aircraft-grade and injection-molded hard polymer), my Canon AE-1 was strongly-built.

    Because it has never malfunctioned in the entire 35 years that I have owned it, it has been very reliable. Because all the controls function, and without the requisite squeaks or binding expected of a largely-mechanical device of its age, it has been very durable.

    My Nikon D300 and D700 were constructed very well; however, they don't compare equally to the AE-1 with respect to the criterion that the OP established due to the complexity of internal electronic circuits.

    My Panasonic GX1 and GH2 are constructed well; however, they compare far less equally to the AE-1.

    I recently handled the GH3. It compares well to the D300 and D700.
     
  17. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    Ken
    Hi Ned,

    Thank you for taking the time to write a detailed reply. The reason I pressed for more information was so I could better educate myself on what folks consider a rugged/durable/reliable camera body. The manufacturers want you to believe on thing, but people who make a living with their gear will often tell you otherwise.

    As I mentioned in an earlier post, I was fortunate enough to shoot with a Nikon F for a few years, but this was already when the F4 was being introduced, so while the camera could be used to pound nails into the ground, it was getting on in years with respect to modern camera design.

    I also owned a Leica M4-2, but as nicely built as it was, next to the Nikon F it always seemed somewhat fragile, regardless of whether it actually was or not. Since then, the D300 has been the best body I have used to date. I realize that while it has good weather sealing, it is not a fully sealed body, but since I do not abuse my equipment or shoot in harsh conditions on a constant basis, it has served me well, and it would be great if I could find an M4/3rd's equivalent (GH3?)

    Regardless of my wants, I fully agree that professional gear generally does not equate to better pictures. IMHO, professional gear is built to a higher standard so it can better withstand heavy use, and it often has more control features not found on consumer gear. When I moved from a D40 to the D300, I pretty much figured that each dedicated control button cost me about $200. Money well spent if you ask me.

    Thanks,

    --Ken