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On hating my digital camera
Old 11-20-2014   #1
sdotkling
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On hating my digital camera

I'm having a very bad time with my digital camera, and while I enjoy--perhaps too much--complaining about it, I really wish I didn't hate it. The camera I use these days is a middle-level micro 4/3rds (I don't wish to make this a screed against my particular camera, my complaints are more general) that is forever confounding me, even though I believe I'm not an idiot.

An example from this morning: I've got the thing set up to shoot monochrome at a high ISO for street shooting. For some reason I can't understand, what should be a quick shutter speed suddenly drops down to 3 seconds (???!!) I'm on 'program' mode, and I can't figure out what happened. I switch the little wheel to Shutter priority, and I click the thumbwheel looking for a good shutter speed, but now the little wheel is deciding I really want to overexpose by 1-2-3 stops, which I certainly don't. So I'm standing on Sixth Avenue in a sea of commuters trying to figure out what I've just done.

Similar thing happened a couple of days ago, except this time I stumbled into the menu for choosing the size and position of my focus area when I meant to choose a different iSO. That one took 20 minutes with a downloaded pdf of the User Manual to untangle, sitting on a bench on Broadway, where I discovered that some innocuous-sounding menu command was really giving permission to the camera's infernally small brain to shift into a feature I would never use, ever. Why choose a position for the focus window, anyway? Why not just focus, hold the shutter halfway down and re-frame?

All these features are maddening. Will I ever take a photo using "toy mode"? Why do I need 12 "scenic" styles? With all the gazillion useless gizmos, why do they neglect to simply add an "OFF" button so you can banish them forever?

This is why I will buy a Leica Monochrom someday. One button. A $6000 button. Or stick to film. (Helluva lot cheaper.)

I wish it weren't so. Digitial is sooooo convenient. Shooting at 12800 ISO is a dream I had when I was a youngster. Wiggle a few curve lines in Photoshop and you can do everything faster and better than you can do in a darkroom, without smelling hypo. (I actually like the smell of hypo, but still.) Auto focus lenses are so easy, when they work.

Don't get me started on why I have to choose between 4 kinds of autofocus.

End of tirade. Thank you for listening.
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Old 11-20-2014   #2
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The solution to these sorts of tirades is to learn the camera thoroughly so you don't "stumble into" things that don't work the way you want. Of course, I don't want to discourage you from buying a Leica M Monochrom either. ;-)

My Olympus E-M1 is a magic wurlitzer of features, controls, and customization options. I spent a good six intense weeks studying it to learn all its facets. It does nothing that I don't want it to; it does exactly what I set it up to do.

My Leica M9 and Leica X are models of simplicity, however, and do all I need most of the time.

G
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Old 11-20-2014   #3
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One of the reasons I still shoot film: I can mess with speed, aperture, iso and distance. All the rest is my (often not very good) judgement.
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Old 11-20-2014   #4
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Sounds like an Olympus menu ;-p
In m43, Panasonic is not quite so obsessive/compulsive in menus.
Still, what an improvement (for my habits) it has been to work with Fuji X controls and menus for the sort of work you're mentioning. Ditto Ricoh GR/GXR.
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Old 11-20-2014   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Godfrey View Post
I spent a good six intense weeks studying it to learn all its facets. It does nothing that I don't want it to; it does exactly what I set it up to do.

G
Six weeks of study! My point, exactly. I want a camera, not an advanced degree.

You are, of course, right. My problem is that I study for a while, get frustrated, put the thing back on the shelf, and promptly forget anything I learned. Rinse and repeat.
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Old 11-20-2014   #6
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IMO, this is the problem with a lot of the 'consumer grade' cameras. The various manufacturers cram so much in to pad the spec sheet and make their's the best to those who buy based on spec sheets... and to appeal to as broad a range of users as possible. And usually the UI is crud. Too many buttons/dials crammed onto a camera that is too small (even for my not so large hands). The rear dial slash 4-way controller on the Sony a7 series is one example. Spin the wheel too enthusiastically and you end up pressing it too hard, suddenly diving into some submenu and setting something you don't want. Possibly even without realizing it.

I think it's time for you to start saving for a digital Leica M of one flavor or the other...
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Old 11-20-2014   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sdotkling View Post
Six weeks of study! My point, exactly. I want a camera, not an advanced degree.

You are, of course, right. My problem is that I study for a while, get frustrated, put the thing back on the shelf, and promptly forget anything I learned. Rinse and repeat.
I didn't consider it difficult or "too much." The E-M1 is a terrific camera, and has oodles of useful features. I don't use them all, but over the large audience of users they all find their use. My Leica M9 and X are much more limited cameras, however I find what they do fits the 85-90th percentile of what I need. So I use them when that's all I want and enjoy their simplicity, and I use the E-M1 when I need something more than that.

They're all fine cameras, make no mistake about that. Using a Hasselblad 500CM is quite a bit more complex than using a Leica M4 too, but there are times when the Hasselblad's capabilities are worth the need to deal with the complexity.

G
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Old 11-20-2014   #8
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I've had similar experiences with digital. I'm primarily a film shooter (fully manual cameras) by preference, but recognizing the convenience and unique capabilities of digital, I have made an effort to find digital cameras that I can work with comfortably.

I've tried a few, and I recently picked up a Fuji X-E1 from the classifieds here, specifically to use with legacy lenses. I just took it out for a first test today, and I think it's the answer I've been looking for. Aperture and focus on the lens, shutter speed on a proper, single function dial. Shoot in aperture priority or manual and you don't need to do anything different than with a manual film camera.

That said, I was able to get satisfactory (i.e., not insanely frustrating) performance out of other, albeit after considerable fiddling. But how much time you want to spend working that out instead of taking pictures is up to you. Oh, and (depending on the setup of your camera) one of those little hotshoe thumbrest things works wonders to keep your thumb off the buttons.
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Old 11-20-2014   #9
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Modern digital cameras can be as complex or as easy to use as the user's attitude towards them makes them out to be.....
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Old 11-21-2014   #10
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I've had a very similar experience as the OP. I feel the same way, too! I don't see why it is necessary to spend so much time undoing a setting that is basic to shooting - aperture, shutter speed, ISO. And attitude matters, but some UI's really ARE overly complex to accomodate all kinds of 'features' to attract more 'consumers.' I am sick of all those gimmicks! Grrr...
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Old 11-21-2014   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by darya151 View Post
I've had a very similar experience as the OP. I feel the same way, too! I don't see why it is necessary to spend so much time undoing a setting that is basic to shooting - aperture, shutter speed, ISO. And attitude matters, but some UI's really ARE overly complex to accomodate all kinds of 'features' to attract more 'consumers.' I am sick of all those gimmicks! Grrr...
Darya
One way to look at it is this:

If you were a camera manufacture, out to make money (priority #1) selling a new digital camera, which one would you target first?

The 90% consumer who don't want to be bothered to think (because photography is not their obsession), and are mostly happy with whatever the camera can do for them (Ultra-super-auto-easy-peasy-let-me-decide-for-ya iMode). This makes room for 10-pages of technical "features" that looks impressive on internet reviews and blogs.

OR

The 10% people like us who wants control over how the light goes into the lens and recorded by the sensor, who now has to learn how to counter the Super-easy mode and get the camera to do precisely what *we* want.

Probably they went for the 90% first. Unless we are talking about Leica, who is in a unique position having the ratio of their market reversed from the above.
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Old 11-21-2014   #12
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Not sure we have this programming aspect right at all!
What really happens is that chip manufacturers are making more powerful chips.
The camera guys who program these chips feel they have to use the capabilities of the chips to the full, and so justify their employment. Hence more features get included even if the ultimate camera user wants them or not.
Message to the OP is, stick with your current camera because the next generation will be even more complex.
Does rumour have it that the next Panasonic Lumix camera will be able to set the timer for your coffee maker to correspond to your home coming? LOL
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Old 11-21-2014   #13
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Except for Leica, I've been frustrated by too many choices located on too many buttons and buried too deep in poorly-structured menus, with manuals lacking indexes or just not covering the topic.

I 'learned the M8' in an hour or so, and little has changed, functionally, in later Ms. But I've tried X100s and A7 and have needed days - as Godfrey says - to learn how to make either camera work simply enough.

An additional problem, esp. With the Fuji, is easily-bumped buttons - and a lengthy search to re-set.

IMO All digital cameras should have, like Leica, a 'User Profile' button, so you can readily access and shift among a few practical, pre-set personal combinations of settings for street, low light, etc.
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Old 11-21-2014   #14
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Now if Leica would make a SLR I'd might find a camera I like... Said it before, give me a digital FF Practika MTL3.
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Old 12-02-2014   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rscheffler View Post
IMO, this is the problem with a lot of the 'consumer grade' cameras. The various manufacturers cram so much in to pad the spec sheet and make their's the best to those who buy based on spec sheets... and to appeal to as broad a range of users as possible. And usually the UI is crud. Too many buttons/dials crammed onto a camera that is too small (even for my not so large hands). The rear dial slash 4-way controller on the Sony a7 series is one example. Spin the wheel too enthusiastically and you end up pressing it too hard, suddenly diving into some submenu and setting something you don't want. Possibly even without realizing it.

I think it's time for you to start saving for a digital Leica M of one flavor or the other...
I would tend to agree with this, my first non compact digital camera with a Canon 550D and I never really felt fully "melded" with it. I knew how pretty much everything worked but there was simply too much diving into menu's and buttons with multiple uses for it ever to become THAT intuitive.

In the couple of years since I upgraded to a D800 I'v found it a good deal more intuitive. Its covered in buttons of course but for most standard shooting I'm not having to use menu's and most core functions have there own controls.

One thing that I think should been focused on a lot more with digital is having a decent top plate display of settings, with mirror less especially I think way too many supposedly higher end bodies lack this(Samsung NX1 being the first with a top plate LCD), Fuji is better than most but still doesn't have a meter read out from above. If something like the Nikon F2 could achieve this in 1970 you wonder why having to look into the finder or the back screen is viewed as superior now.
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Old 12-03-2014   #16
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The only time I really hate my digital cameras is when I need to blow dust of the sensor and it sticks..
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Old 12-03-2014   #17
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The exposure line moving when you are in P or M mode is the camera telling you how much you are over/under exposing the shot. It doesn't actually change anything on the settings. Took me a while to work that out!
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Old 12-03-2014   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moreorless View Post
...
One thing that I think should been focused on a lot more with digital is having a decent top plate display of settings, with mirror less especially I think way too many supposedly higher end bodies lack this(Samsung NX1 being the first with a top plate LCD), Fuji is better than most but still doesn't have a meter read out from above. If something like the Nikon F2 could achieve this in 1970 you wonder why having to look into the finder or the back screen is viewed as superior now.
Hmm. I have the Olympus E-1 (and in the past had the Panasonic L1) as well as the E-M1 and several other digital cameras. The E-1 has a top mounted LCD display (as did the E-5), the others have had only the LCD display readout.

The L1, like the Leica X2 and X, has discrete controls for aperture and exposure time visible from the top. They're the most like using a film camera from the past.

The E-1's top panel display is excellent when working hand-held, but the E-M1 and other cameras' LCD display is only slightly less convenient to see at a glance. The LCD display is far MORE convenient when working on a tripod, and is especially convenient when the LCD is articulated to allow waist-level shooting.

The Sony A7's LCD display has the best implementation of an externally visible meter readout I've seen. Tip the LCD so that it is visible waist level style and the readout shows current settings, meter reading, as well as scene histogram and level readout. I use it all the time, usually before bringing the camera to my eye to frame and focus.

G
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Old 12-03-2014   #19
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I spent quite a bit of time (+/- 6 weeks) learning the ins and outs of my Pentax K10D and I know how to use it quite well. It is now several generations old. I refuse to sell it because it still does what I want quite well.

In comparison, learning how to use my M9 was truly a breath of fresh air. Leica may be a newbie in the digital business but at least they still seem to understand the concept of simple.

I hope the M has continued the tradition but I hear things about live view and video and I fear they are being caught up in the tradition of digital complexity.
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Old 12-03-2014   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Godfrey View Post
Hmm. I have the Olympus E-1 (and in the past had the Panasonic L1) as well as the E-M1 and several other digital cameras. The E-1 has a top mounted LCD display (as did the E-5), the others have had only the LCD display readout.

The L1, like the Leica X2 and X, has discrete controls for aperture and exposure time visible from the top. They're the most like using a film camera from the past.

The E-1's top panel display is excellent when working hand-held, but the E-M1 and other cameras' LCD display is only slightly less convenient to see at a glance. The LCD display is far MORE convenient when working on a tripod, and is especially convenient when the LCD is articulated to allow waist-level shooting.

The Sony A7's LCD display has the best implementation of an externally visible meter readout I've seen. Tip the LCD so that it is visible waist level style and the readout shows current settings, meter reading, as well as scene histogram and level readout. I use it all the time, usually before bringing the camera to my eye to frame and focus.

G
The E-1 of course was is a DSLR, you can of look at the rear screen but tipping the camera over or flipping the screen up becomes rather annoying when it needs to be done literally thousands of times over the years.

For street shooting especially I think the ability to glance down and see your settings is very useful, even moreso if you can also see a meter reading(even if it isn't obviously 100% accurate).
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Old 12-05-2014   #21
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Maybe the crux of the complaints listed above were the freasoning behind Nikon creating the Df , which Nikon claims puts the fun back into photography with a digital camera that functions like a film camera? I'd like to know what other than Rosewell owners think.
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Old 02-06-2015   #22
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I hate my digital camera, it just died on me. Sigma DP1 lens stuck out, blank screen and a rattle inside like something has come loose. Less than 1000 shots from new what a piece of junk.
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Old 02-06-2015   #23
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A camera, digital or film, is just a tool. It's up to the photographer to learn how to use that tool properly. You can't blame the tool because the person wielding it doesn't fully understand its operation.

Now, I don't have an Olympus m-4/3, but I do shoot a mid-range Lumix. If your intention is to shoot high-ISO, and you're concerned about shutter speed, then set the camera to shutter speed priority mode instead of aperture priority.

I've understood there's a "super control panel" feature with Olympus cameras that might make the menu system more tolerable.

Good luck and keep us posted.

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Old 02-06-2015   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moreorless View Post
The E-1 of course was is a DSLR, you can of look at the rear screen but tipping the camera over or flipping the screen up becomes rather annoying when it needs to be done literally thousands of times over the years.
Just because the screen is articulated doesn't mean you have to move it at all. Neither the E-1 nor L1 had articulated screens. The "super control panel" information view on the L1 was superb when I was working on a tripod regardless, many times easier to see and manage than looking at a lens scale or a set of little engraved knobs...

Quote:
Originally Posted by moreorless View Post
For street shooting especially I think the ability to glance down and see your settings is very useful, even moreso if you can also see a meter reading(even if it isn't obviously 100% accurate).
So much easier with the L1 to just roll the camera forward a little bit and see the readout, same as with ALL my mirrorless cameras. I never looked at the knobs on the camera.

G
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Old 02-06-2015   #25
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Originally Posted by miatab View Post
Maybe the crux of the complaints listed above were the freasoning behind Nikon creating the Df , which Nikon claims puts the fun back into photography with a digital camera that functions like a film camera? I'd like to know what other than Rosewell owners think.
The Df has more buttons, knobs, sliders, dials, readouts, and other foofaraw than nearly any other camera I've seen. It doesn't function like any film camera I've ever owned. It just looks remotely like an F3 styling-wise from certain angles.

To pick it up and think you have an F3 in your hands, you had to never have seen or touched an F3...

G
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Old 02-06-2015   #26
David Hughes
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Hi,

Have you searched for a button to set it up your way and revert to your way? Some of them have them: well, mine did.

What I miss is the big "P" button that Minolta put on the film 7000 and all the others of that clan. Ideal for grab shots.

The other thing needed and it can be printed out from PDF manuals is a list of the icons shown on screen. Finding out what they mean can be a pita.

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