Yea some new cameras are cool to. In fact that little E-P1 Olympus qualifies so far as a cool camera. I bought is for all the reasons that I gave. Small, carry it anywhere. No guilty feeling that the image quality is inherently poor (like most P+S). In other words to get over my own hang-ups about small digital cameras. I am keeping it because it seems to do a reasonable job and fits the bill to jamb in the bag with my Leica cameras. Heck worst case is that it is the worlds most sophisticated light meter. Well at least for ambient light. The other reason I am keeping it is it is just so friggin cool. I really don't mind using it in the same way I minded using other small digicams I have picked up over the years.
So what about old cameras. A lot of old cameras are really really cool to use, to look at, to fiddle with. Throw on top of that the fact that the image quality is great and what is there not to like. Take the image at the top. This is the view into one of my old battered Rolleiflex TLR's. It still works. Makes great images on 120 film of any type. Simple. Small. I could chuck this in the bag with the M's as well. In fact I have on occasion. I took this image with my new "cool" camera. Would I have bothered taking it if I had to get out the Macro and stand on a ladder to do it? No.
Come on - you have to admit that pictured camera is cool, just from looking at the stupid snap shot. I thought I would share that but I also do have a point. I have been thinking a little bit about this since I got the E-P1 and started playing with it. This is really one of the first digital cameras that I have owned that I thought was a blast to use. It's also one of the first ones that I have found that just has a cool factor to it. I really really hope that this trend continues. I mean come on Tell me a digital camera in the same kind of vain as the Rollei with a big sensor and easy to use simple controls that looks great with a giant sensor wouldn't be really really cool.
Yea, Yea I know it doesn't really matter - that's what everyone loves to say about gear. I say bullshit. If that were true people wouldn't by different cameras. I know in my logical mind that I can pretty much use just about any camera to make just about any image I want. In my heart there are certain cameras over the years that I just LOVED to use. My images from those cameras show it as well. There is definitely something to be said for the cool factor. Aren't you glad Apple invented cool looking/working/functional computers. I loved my PowerBook Ti. Aren't you glad the iPod has always been so stinking cool looking. Don't you love to play with it. Have you seen the new "touch nano".
I really really hope that more manufactures will jump on board with the camera as cool / nice / good looking / love to hold / fun to use device on top of image quality. I don't mean different stupid colors. I mean nice materials, nice design, functional, industrial art that happen to be great at what they do - making pictures.