I'm interested which digital camera models and brands are most open standard friendly. I'm more an open source fan than a photographer, so I can be picky about openness and tolerant with performance and image quality. I suppose there won't be analogy of OLPC computer in digital camera world, but there shall be some models that meet more open standards than others.

Here is a list of standards I know about (I'm not 100% sure about this, feel free to correct me):

  • ¼" tripod mount is free to implement
  • 4/3 lens mount is more open than others, like Canon or Nikon mounts. It's not fully open, but at least interested third party lens manufacturers don't have to reverse-engineer camera electronics.
  • SDHC is more or less open
  • AA batteries are a standard factor compared to proprietary Li-ion batteries
  • Adobe DNG open raw format is supported by some cameras from Pentax and other manufacturers

So, any other recommendations?

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I'm for open source and open standards too, but what's the question here? If it's "please compile a list of open-standards related to photography", that's really not the best fit for Stack Exchange. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Commented Apr 23, 2012 at 20:35
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Sadly I think SDXC cameras use a proprietary file-system which completely negates the openness of the standard. \$\endgroup\$
    – Zak
    Commented Apr 23, 2012 at 21:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mattdm I'm willing to know any related info, but the best answer would be either link to a comprehensive list of such standards (which failed to find) or a recommendation of (probably not too popular) camera model or series designed with open standards in mind. And I'm not specifying camera type or price level because I want the question to be generic. \$\endgroup\$
    – modular
    Commented Apr 23, 2012 at 21:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ Well, there's this: ISO standards for photography (of which "ISO" is just one). \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Commented Apr 23, 2012 at 22:31

2 Answers 2


There are literally thousands of "standards" used in digital photography, but few address what you seem to be asking: open standard hardware, os/file systems, etc. ASA/ISO film speed is a standard, as are APS-C and 35mm sensor sizes.

Sadly, all of the consumer oriented brands (Nikon, Canon, Sony, Olympus, etc.) are totally locked into a philosophy of locking you into their "system" with their hardware, software in the camera, software to decode the RAW files, etc.

And, IMHO, much of their proprietary software is second rate.

I have no hope for the DSLR business, perhaps cell phone cameras can take over P+S


I like open source too - but you are looking for the wrong thing.

A camera that supports the longest list of open standards is still not "open" - the fact that the camera uses AA batteries or a 4/3 mount (to use some of your examples) doesn't let you extend it or modify it's behavior in any meaningful way (except by buying accessories, obviously, and even then you have more accessories available for Canon and Nikon than for any open standard).

if you are a fan of standard bodies than by all means pick a camera by the number of standards it implements but if you are a fan of open source than the open source spirit is that you should be able to extend and change your equipment, not that a device can be closed and proprietary as long as it has a lot of standard connectors on it.

The only camera that are open in the sense you can freely extend it are (to my knowledge):

  • A computer with a web-cam (preferably with an open source OS)
  • An android cell-phone
  • A "jail broken" iPhone or Windows Phone (it's not open if you can only write software Apple/MS allow)
  • Canon point and shoot via CHDK (supported models only)
  • Canon DSLR via Magic Lantern

All of those are open software on closed proprietary hardware - and most of the items on the list are from companies that are as open as a maximum security jail so it's a difficult choice.

Or, you know, you can choose a camera based on the pictures you want to take not based on philosophy - if you were buying a car would you look for a list of standards or would you look at things like size, safety and gas mileage?


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.