... and why I'd rather have an M-D.
Sitting here struggling to figure out how my E-M1 works, this was a great read:
... and why I'd rather have an M-D.
Sitting here struggling to figure out how my E-M1 works, this was a great read:
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Tend to agree here: less is more
Frankly, I'd hate to loose the screen, but could do happily without the buttons and especially the video crap
But then of course as always YMMV ...
Dead technology glorified against the latest?
A friend of mine gave me his Olympus 7070 that he didn't use anymore. I decided to take it for a swing, and was shocked to see what a bad camera it is. Speed, viewfinder, general electronics, LCD etc. Was it a better camera when it was launched? Of course not. It's always been a bad camera, but because it's digital, we accepted all kinds of excuses to defend the sorry little gadget. Compare that to most SLR cameras that one can buy for symbolic amounts nowadays. Many of them are still great cameras, decades after they were launched. They aren't digital of course, so it takes more of an effort to get the final image, but ergonomics are mostly great, and they will remain great.
Fast forward to 2016 and the camera phones. What is it that make them such great gadgets? Two things: They are easy to use and they are always available. Do the users switch between all kind of modes and dig into the menus to optimise their results? Of course they don't. Most users know how to switch to camera mode and how to take a photo. That's it, and maybe camera designers should learn something from that fact.
The old film tech hit a ceiling w.r.t. resolution, dynamic range, sensitivity, processing, etc, etc. Talk about compromise.
Totally agree with that, Jorgen.
That message ought to sink in to some complaining about extra buttons.
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Yup, you and your family members don't seem to have the Leica man attitude!
BTW, that's all good IMHO.
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Hmm. My thoughts on this subject are complex, but there's a simple foundation to them: The problem I find with many a camera today is that the ergonomics of the body simply don't fit my needs. It's not "too many buttons" that bothers me. It's that there is no way to pick up or handle the camera without having to train my hands to do odd, unnatural things.
I don't find this to be the case with the E-M1, actually. The E-M1 has a very ergonomics design. It's a very camera with very complex capabilities and a motherlode of options, it takes a while to learn and configure to my personal desires, but once configured I have no problem working with it. The plethora of buttons and menus don't get in the way, the body is eminently well-shaped for handling and use.
It is also like that with the E-1, with the Panasonic L1, and with the Leica SL. Also the Nikon F6 and F, and many of my film cameras. Each of these cameras has a different range of features/complexity/configurability, but all have excellent, simple ergonomics that are easy to live with.
The Leica M digital models are interesting in this regard. I am carrying the M-P today. One of the things I most dislike about it is that it is hard to just pick it up off a table without either mashing down a few buttons or putting a thumbprint on the viewfinder or LCD, or on the lens. It does not have a plethora of buttons and menus the way the E-M1 does, but its ergonomics are not as good. The SL had more menus and about the same number of buttons, but proves to be a lot easier to handle without pressing the wrong thing inadvertently. When I compare the M-P to my M4-2, the M4-2 come out on top for ergonomics despite the fact that the thicker, taller M-P body actually fits my hands better: I can pick up the M4-2 without accidentally putting thumbprints in bad places, or changing the camera mode, etc, without having to grab it by the neckstrap.
Given the way I work with the M-P, and how I'd prefer to handle it, the new M-D model is probably the perfect Leica M camera for me. Not because of its simplicity so much (although I appreciate that as well) as because it does not provide any obstructions to my handling it and using it easily.
Last edited by Godfrey; 10th May 2016 at 13:26.
What is a "Leica Man" attitude?
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I like the title. Simplicity.
Maybe the subject should be about how technology has redefined the concept of simplicity?
On one hand, advancing technology appears to have added layers of complexity due to ever expanding abilities. On the other hand, things like seeing the effect of settings right in a mirrorless viewfinder can be pretty darned helpful. In a similar way, the first DSLRs with LCD images of the last shot taken was revolutionary for learning exposure, composition and especially if you were learning t0o work with lights. I recall wishing for a way to take a Polaroid with a 35mm film SLR when working with lighting. I even had such a contraption for a short while. Digital changed all that forever.
I think people who complain about overly complex photographic tools resent the notion of more stuff between them and the subject. I know I do to some degree.
However, that may be due to the more modern tendency to jump from one camera to the next in search for a little bit better this or that. Do we ever really get fully vested in one of these new cameras before we're on to the next one? Heck, even the placements and organization (as poor as its was) of the Sony A7R that I was just getting used to, changed when the A7R-II came out.
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Now, all of a sudden, I'm given the option to tailor-make each camera to my own needs, and while that initially sounds like a good idea, it also requires me to do more work and to actually remember all the options that I chose. Then, next year when the new model is launched, there are different options and different buttons, and since the buttons don't have names like "WB" or "ISO" but "fn1" and "fn2", the only way to remember things for those of us with a squirrel brain is to attach small, yellow "Post-it" notes at each and every button. And if I borrow the camera of somebody else, somebody who does not attach "Post-it" notes to his camera, it's all chaos. How do I even take photos with this thing?
During the sixties and seventies, there were car manufacturers who made all kinds of fancy touches to the layout of the dashboard. Being a former CitroŽn owner, I know all about that. Friends borrowing my car were always a threat to themselves and others when moving along the road. For safety as well as practical reasons, this changed, and most cars today follow a similar, mostly identical, pattern for all essential functions, the same way as computer keyboards are more or less identical. These layouts may not be ideal, but since everybody use them, they are easy to recognise. No learning is necessary.
Not so with cameras. While there was certainly a large degree of standardisation way back in the sixties and seventies (except for this one Japanese company that decided that everything should turn in the opposite direction of everybody else... yes, I'm looking at you Nikon), individualisation is now all the rage. During my 30 years with the OM-1, did I ever feel the need for the film advance lever and power switch to swap places? Nope, I didn't, just like I never liked borrowing a Saab, simply for the reason that it took me a second or two to remember that the ignition key was next to the gear shift.
So, I'm struggling with the E-M1. Yes, the camera features excellent ergonomics, but I'm sure that any standardisation chosen by Olympus would be much easier for me to learn than spending time creating my own standards and then remembering them. If cameras came in two flavours, one with a locked standard layout and one with a free-for-all do it yourself lackofsystem, I'm quite sure that a large majority of people would choose the easy version, the one where the shutter release is that round button on the top right, not a combination of three buttons spread around the camera that have to be pushed in changing sequences depending on the moon phase and the trade results at Tokyo Stock Exchange the previous week.
And again, ask people what advanced options they use with their phone camera phones (or is that camera phone cameras?) and if they would want the option of individually changing how the power on button works depending on the day of week.
Standardization of machines and gadgets has certainly not been around for "hundreds of years", Jorgen. The industrial age only barely began in the 1700s, didn't really get rolling until the 1800s, and there were few 'standards' in the modern sense until the middle of the 1900s. For example, computers in the modern idiom didn't even exist until the 1980s and later. Cameras didn't exist at all until 1839 and didn't approach a modern notion of standardized operation even on 35mm film cartridges until well into the 1950s.
Even today, in automobiles the location of reverse gear on a manual transmission car isn't in a standard position.... Same for headlight switches, etc. And the automatic transmission PRNDLL pattern standard dates to the early 1970s before it became a standard. (And seems to be going away now that there are hybrid-auto-manual paddle shifters, etc... :-)
No camera I know allows you to customize the power on/power off button, nor does any smartphone to the best of my knowledge, so that's a bit of hyperbole. You customize how your smartphone's camera works by installing apps that control the camera differently, and learn how the apps work ... I have several of those and use them when their specific features fit my needs or desires. I use the standard Camera app most of the time, because most of the time it does well enough and I don't have to think about it.
I don't recall that so many cameras all operated the same, according to some standard, in the '60s, '70s, '80s, or '90s either. Those cameras were a lot simpler then, however, and it was just easier to figure them out because they didn't do a heck of a lot other than move film, set exposure, and release the shutter. It took some time to figure out how to load a Rolleiflex Automat, which was different from loading a Rolleiflex T, which was different again from loading a Yashica twin lens reflex that looked almost identical. Never mind loading and using a Hasselblad vs a Mamiya RB67, or a Leica M3 vs a Leica IIIf. I jammed a friend's Nikkormat FTn three times by changing lenses the wrong way, despite that I'd done it before AND had a Nikon F Photomic FTn myself. All different...
I think you're just confusing yourself by thinking that you MUST customize everything because you CAN. Stop. Return the E-M1 to its defaults and learn it well just like that ... It works well enough for the 85th percentile use. Then tweak a couple of small things as they make sense to you and fall properly to your fingers, so that it suits you to the 98th percentile, and then accommodate the 2% that doesn't.
Simplicity is a state of mind more than anything else.
Most 35mm cameras loaded film the same way, from the tiny XA to the mammoth F5. Why then are memory cards loaded in umpteen different ways, print side out, print side in, from the side, from the bottom, together with the battery, behind a separate door. Yes, film has certain restrictions that memory cards don't have, but that shouldn't prevent designers and engineers from agreeing on a standard that works better than other solutions. Apparently, it does.
Medium format is a completely different story. Professional tools are made for people who invest time in getting to know their gear. I own a GX680 and I never expected it to work like other cameras, simply because it's a unique tool made for a unique purpose. An amateur camera, I expect to pick up and use without having to read any instruction manual, the same way I could with an SLR of times past. Unfortunately, some digital cameras, I can't even switch on without reading the first 22 pages of the manual.
Interestingly, if we look at mirrorless cameras, the company that makes cameras within that category that resemble traditional SLR ergonomics the most is Panasonic, who had never made photographic equipment before they joined 4/3. Their cameras are totally boring, mostly with a somewhat daft design, but they work as one would expect a camera to do. Apparently, they did some research before they started.
As for headlight switches, I haven't driven a car in decades, or since I gave up on CitroŽn, that doesn't turn on the headlights by rotating a stick attached to the steering wheel column, but I mostly drive Japanese cars nowadays.
Most analog cameras could be picked up and figured out in a matter of minutes. Yeah, a few cameras had odd film loading procedures, but in most cases those procedures didn't change model to model and people tended to stick with a brand anyway. The ubiquitous V camera for example ... learn to load one you could load the next 20 years of models.
Cell phones are used heavily because they are simple, not because you can get apps to control the camera ... making it more complex.
Cameras like my former A99 and current A7R and A7R-II are electronic devices with complex procedures even for basic functions ... requiring memorization of menu locations and what function is assigned to what button or series of buttons ... and that includes accessories. Then the next model is launched and the menu has been shuffled and the buttons relocated.
Turning everything off or not customizing these tools, negates the very notion of availing ones self of the very advancements they paid for.
So far, the penalty of higher functioning tools has been complexity.
Whether it has to be so complicated, is the real question.
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Simplicity can be yours if you really want it, but don't expect to find it in any store Use the same camera long enough, and it'll eventually seem pretty simple.
I'm enjoying a bit of film photography too:
Not because I needed a break from my Sony A7 (original model) but because I discovered that "new" Zenits could be had for a song, and I had never used one before. But it's easy to forget that stuff could be tricky to do well with film.
35mm cameras all loaded film the same way? I have ten 35mm cameras in front of me right now, spanning the years from 1940 to 2006 in design: Robot IIa, Minox 35, Rollei 35S, Nikon F, Nikon F6, Leica M, Leica CL, Olympus Stylus Zoom, Leica R8, Leicaflex SL. They all load film differently from one another, the Leica CL and Rollei 35 are the most similar. The controls on all of them are in different places and operate in completely different ways.
Panasonic worked together with Leica to enter the still camera market (they were in video long before that) so it makes very good sense that much of their still camera design ethos came from that collaboration and resembles the traditional forms that Leica inspired.
I guess you consider the Olympus E-M1 an amateur camera. Funny, but Olympus regards it as their premium professional tool, which (in your all too literally taken statement) means they consider it "Professional tools .. made for people who invest time in getting to know their gear."
But I guess you and fotografz don't like my opinions on this subject since they disagree with yours ... just so much "argumentative rhetoric". I'll bug out of here and unsubscribe from this "not-to-be-taken-literally ramble" as it just seems to be*a lot of hot airóor perhaps that's what you intend it to be. I can't tell any more.
I consider all mirrorless cameras except the GH3/4 and the Leica SL amateur cameras. The E-M1, A7R II and A7S II are borderline, and hopefully, they'll improve with the next version. I'm quite sure that the Olympus will. That doesn't mean that they aren't useful tools for professionals, but they lack the fluent handling of their better relatives.
I have had some good experiences ... but it was due to long term use of a consistent system: while the Hasselblad H system does have some complex controls, I used multiple models over an extended period of time so shooting with one became fast and intuitive. I attribute that to the fact that Hasselblad kept the ergonomics and menu very similar model-to-model.
I think the point he's may be touching on, whether directly or not, is that in an effort to separate themselves from the competition, camera makers have innovated new technological features and abilities, but have made it more difficult to use those innovations (or ignore some) by also making access to those innovations different and complex ... in many cases unnecessarily so.
IMO, this increasing complexity is partly why camera sales have tanked. People could take better images than with a cell phone, but doing it is beyond most people's patience and aptitude. Even in a professional scenario, who the heck wants to stop and figure out some complex procedure to accomplish a task or try to get back to a previous set-up? These GetDpi boards are packed with threads trying to figure out one complex procedure after another.
My main focus regarding this subject is Sony. It seems like they take the controls list and toss them in the air, then list them in the menu as they fall ... then do it again for the next model.
Rather than debating the merits of simplicity, it seems exchanging ideas on how we as photographers would like to see things progress would be more productive.
BTW, yes, in principle, a vast majority film cameras loaded the same mechanical way ... film canister on one end, draw film over the film gate, connect to winder on the other side of the camera. Yes there were exceptions, like Leica's bottom load. However Nikon, Canon, Minolta, Oly, Pentax who made up 98% of the market we're/are basically the same.
I see a bit of a conundrum here. What are we looking for in our seemingly constant need to upgrade to the newest model? And hasn't that motivated the camera makers to add more and more Doo-dads?
Ultimately, more and more functions get automated: face detection, focus tracking, etc, and what will that lead to? A more accomplished point and shoot, where the operator has even less required input? Maybe even the complex menus will get automated
It would take a brave marketing decision to ditch auto-everything, but that would appeal to me, but then I shoot the monochrome and a tech camera, first choices.
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While this thread may be titled, "Simplicity...", it is anything but.
But there's still hope
There seems to be a confusion between the terms "Simplicity" and "Minimalist"as it relates to control of a photographic tool, (primarily cameras, but also other photo accessories).
While a Minimalist approach virtually guaranties simplicity, it can also lead to the elimination of controls or features useful to creative realization ... or a least make it more difficult to realize a creative vision.
Simplicity in this context could better refer to how well an array of controls are organized. The logic of use and its effect on ergonomic design.
For example, while I do not necessarily take issue with the features/functions the Sony A7R-II makes available, I do believe it has the worst organization of access and controls imaginable.
It has six icon menu divisions leading to sub menus leading to sub-sub menu choices. That is roughly 150 individual selections in dire need of better organization and ergonomic logic.
I believe lack of ergonomic logic and streamlined user interface leads to folks wishing for a minimalist approach ... when all many of us want is a smarter organization.
I find the A7's tabbed menu system to be fairly logical but there are simply a lot of features to choose from. But they could be decluttered by making the menus more context-sensitive so that, for instance, you aren't bothered with video- or playback-related items unless you have the camera set to one of those respective modes.
When I was shooting Leica, I relied a lot on the LCD + instant review for situations where peering through the optical finder was simply not an option. Today I'd insist on a model offering Live View: I regard that feature as a genuine technical improvement
Compare that then to, let's make a choice... some of the WB options on current cameras. Even some "simple" amateur cameras bring up controls and diagrams, if you happen to push the wrong button like I occasionally do, that most people would need the help of Professor Einstein or Doctor Frankenstein to figure out. Even with nearly 50 years of photography experience, I have never ever felt a need for that kind of control over something that 15 years ago wasn't even an option. Until then, it was Daylight, Tungsten or Black & White, and that worked perfectly fine.
And here comes one of the dilemmas:
Camera manufacturers could hide those WB options better, and they would get accused (like now) for making menu systems that are too complicated. Or they could omit them completely and get a complaint from that guy in Northern Sweden who actually used that option last month and who will probably use it again next year. I'm exaggerating of course, but not as much as some advanced users like to think. WB options other than "A" have done one thing for me ever; destroying around 3,000 photos that were unique and can never be shot again as it involved several thousand people walking over a motorway bridge yet to be opened at the time. I was still shooting jpeg then, which is what most people do. So, I'm firmly on "A", also like most people, and other options come up only because I hit some button by mistake , losing the shot while getting it back to "A" and trying to find the option that I was supposed to find.
Last edited by Jorgen Udvang; 12th May 2016 at 16:48.
Or the fundamental function of formatting a fresh SD card ... Tool Box icon > sub-menu 5 > scroll down one ... and no way I can assign this often used function to a custom button.
I do like the notion of context sensitive menus.
For me "Simplicity" means:
a) stick to one system (= one mount)
b) stick to a system with good, old-fashioned no-nonsense handling
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I could live with these choices up front:
Iso, AF/MF, playback, zoom, LCD on/off
And these, more buried:
I always shoot raw, wb at daylight for convenience, stills only
Interestingly, most who are particular about hardware simplicity never care about OOC (finished jpg)outputs.
"Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."2 Member(s) liked this post
a) I agree an I've tried. Unfortunately, and for reasons that I won't go into detail about here, I seem to be stuck with two systems.
b) This is where it starts to get interesting, and I fully agree. My first principle when it comes to camera ergonomics is that during a full day of shooting, I shouldn't need to go into the menus, not even once, no matter what happens. Preferably, all controls needed during shooting should be easily accessible while I have my eye to the viewfinder. With high end Nikon and Panasonic bodies, this is not a problem, and they work in very similar ways except for one being a mirrorless.
This is where I have problems with the body that I use most frequently at the moment, the E-M1. While it's possible that it can be configured in a way that satisfies my needs, I'm really struggling to get it right, and I have to take a deep dive into the instruction manual to figure it out. Once I've gotten it right, I doubt that I'll remember the procedures a few months later, which means that whatever settings I choose now will be there forever.
This in contrast to the GH1 which I mostly figured out within half an hour, and since the GH2 and GH3 had identical or very similar control layouts, I can safely say that I have never read a single page in a Panasonic user manual, in spite of those cameras being my main cameras for several years.
It's a bit of the same thing with the Nikons, although I must say that there is so much hiding under the surface of a Nikon body that I would probably need a 3 year extensive study to figure it all out. But the great thing with a Nikon is that what I don't know doesn't really matter. It can be used the same way as I used the OM-1 with the addition of AF, and even if I have been shooting sports professionally for years, I've never really felt the need to invest the necessary time to fully understand the great AF features of these bodies.
So the next time Nikon makes Df kind of camera, skip the retro look and all the fancy stuff. Make a camera that works 100% with the buttons and dials that the user can see and feel. It doesn't need to be as barebones as the M-D, and should include AF, but...
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Last edited by Jorgen Udvang; 13th May 2016 at 22:25.
The number of F mount buys are becoming less and less nowadays:
I think simplicity is good but as many others have pointed out simplicity is in the eye of the beholder if you will. The more you use or stick with a camera the more simple it becomes to use.
As for higher end cameras - people expect a certain level of control over their image making in "pro bodies" which is why a D5 or 1Dx have much more complex menu systems than say a Rebel SL1 or a D3xxx model. Neither is wrong but usually "pro level" devices aren't meant to be handed off to a random person off the street with full knowledge of use. It's the same way that one wouldn't expect a new driver to be able to handle a high performance racing car as they may be able to handle a standard low power economy compact. One is for the masses and the other is for a specific purpose. My belief is that this is why many have a camera system they like to use and a bridge camera or travel system for vacation. Different tools for the job at hand.
That's how I view these topics in general - they're great to discuss and I certainly wish I could have my "wish list" camera now (MF of 50+MP with SLR "simplicity", no video, and a high end mirrorless/pro SLR price point) but most people expect certain features above a certain price. I'm sure Leica didn't add video just to add it to the M240 without pressure or feedback/communication that there are those out there interested in making motion imagery with Leica M optics.
-8.0% (number of bodies)
+1.7% (number of bodies)
Interchangeable lens cameras, total:
-5.7% (number of bodies)
Still not bad enough for Nikon to launch a full frame mirrorless yet, and the fact that the total market is decreasing is probably the most worrying fact. Mirrorless is not taking up all the slack for the declining DSLR market.
Plenty of consumer cameras have many "features" like computer rendered art filters or film simulation modes that most pro bodies skip over which can create additional menu depth.
It's interesting how complex a topic like "Simplicity" can be.
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- For some, it might be picking one of several menu items that makes the camera perform a predefined function (A7R II).
- For others, it might be using a camera in manual mode, not going into any menus, and base photography on acquired knowledge and experience (M-D).
- Then there are those who just choose "auto everything" and let the camera do the thinking (iPhone).
Maybe it's more a state of mind than the number of buttons or menu items?
Well, of course simplicity, as we are discussing it, is a "state of mind" ... what else would it be?
Yes, simplicity can be a complex issue ... that's true for almost anything involving design and use. Simplicity by design and application is actually harder to achieve than just throwing everything together in a manner less suited to actual use. To me, that's the issue at hand. So, it'd be nice if more of the designers and engineers of these machines also had a streamlined state of mind.
IMO, competitive marketing has ramped up demand for a three ring circus of features replete with an ever increasing array of buttons and dials that are in-turn multiplied via secondary abilities.
To me, the change that has taken place is how modern cameras have imposed its will on the user, rather than opposite. the next great innovation in camera works should be one that's forged in the crucible of actual usage.
Yesterday, a neighbor asked me for some basic lessons on creatively using his camera, a Nikon D5500. A perfect example of the camera dictating intense involvement to control it, while making simplicity a fist fight with the controls = creative vampire.
However, the gamer generation seems to love it.
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Simple for the user.
Simple? Isn't it?
I mean simple for me. You find something that is simple for you; and be happy. Take photographs
"Simplicity is more a state of mind than anything else."