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Useless features on digital cameras. Or maybe not so useless.
Old 01-13-2019   #1
Dogman
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Useless features on digital cameras. Or maybe not so useless.

Digital cameras have so many features these days it's difficult to wade through them to get to the point you can actually take a picture. But some of these "useless" features may actually be quite useful to some of us on occasions.

Most of you probably already know this but, as an example, take the electronic shutter. Many of my Fuji cameras have this as an option. I've never thought much about it, mostly ignored it. But I've found it's a great asset at times. First of all, it's totally silent. That's outstanding when you're shooting in quiet surroundings or when you simply don't want to attract attention with a shutter click. I've also used it frequently when shooting in bright light yet I'm needing to minimize depth of field.

Has anyone else been surprised to find some of those useless features to be useful after all?
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Old 01-13-2019   #2
ajtruhan
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Built in level in evf/lcd is quite useful. That’s about it though. I left digital (Fuji) becuase just too many options. “the paradox of choice”. I’m much happier with a manual camera - aperture and shutter is plenty to work with.

I loved the idea of electronic shutter- made me wonder why bother with the mechanical one?

The one digital I have left is a canon 5d with a 50mm lens. Screen is left off, very close to a film like experience (with autofocus and exposure)
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Old 01-13-2019   #3
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I tend to be stuck in my ways. I like to shoot single exposure, centre weighted average in RAW and using a single centre focus point. I do this because, with the exception of RAW of course, it is how I am used to shooting from my film days. Still, I occasionally shoot continuous focus, multiple shots to capture moving images in difficult shooting situations. However I still do not really trust multiple focus points as its difficult to be sure exactly what is being focused on as that decision is being made on the fly by the camera. This is more of a problem when shooting wide open - but that is how I tend to shoot so it is a bit of a no starter for me.
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Old 01-13-2019   #4
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Film digitizer mode in the d850. I first was really excited by the idea of it. then thought it was useless because it blew highlights and crushed blacks. now think its a great tool to preview film before scanning.
really surprised Nikon did not include it in their new Z series digicams.
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Old 01-13-2019   #5
Ko.Fe.
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Oops, I'm not the most right here. I have Canon DSLRs and Leica digital M.
And most of the advanced cameras users I see are with DSLR.

Just reality check vs forums illusion, OP, sorry.
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Old 01-13-2019   #6
shawn
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ajtruhan View Post

I loved the idea of electronic shutter- made me wonder why bother with the mechanical one?
Motion artifacts due to the way the sensor is not read out all at the same time. For example:



A sensor with a global shutter won't have these artifacts but they aren't common yet.

Mechanical shutters can also have motion artifacts too (even with film) but they tend to be much less obvious.

Shawn
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Old 01-13-2019   #7
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Many cameras have features that are useless to me because I don't happen to use things that way when I'm shooting. It's only when those things get in the way of what I want to do that I get annoyed with a camera. However, that doesn't mean they are useless to everyone.

I remember one thing on my Olympus E-5 that at first I thought was silly, but turned out to be exactly what I used most. It was a "two frame" bracketing option ... First exposure at the nominally rated exposure, a second exposure at either +0.7 or -0.7 EV (you could set it). At first I thought this was just silliness, but discovered that in most cases where I got the exposure slightly wrong, I was off the mark by just that 0.7EV, and it was much easier (with a large capacity card) to simply leave it on all the time and get two exposures to forestall the risk of missing a particular expression or moment. I was doing a lot of environmental portraiture at the time and this silly thing was a huge improvement for my work.

I'm not doing so much of that work these days, and certainly not for pay, so I no longer need that particular feature. There are dozens of others I never, or almost never, use ...

The only camera I own that has no features I don't use is my Leica M-D. This is because it really does only have a very minimal set of features to begin with.

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Old 01-13-2019   #8
farlymac
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I equate some of the lesser used features on my digital cameras to lenses that I use infrequently. Pain to haul them around, but when I need them, they are there. So I at least try to learn how to use these extra features for when I may find a use.

PF
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Old 01-13-2019   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ajtruhan View Post
Built in level in evf/lcd is quite useful. That’s about it though. I left digital (Fuji) becuase just too many options. “the paradox of choice”. I’m much happier with a manual camera - aperture and shutter is plenty to work with.

I loved the idea of electronic shutter- made me wonder why bother with the mechanical one?

The one digital I have left is a canon 5d with a 50mm lens. Screen is left off, very close to a film like experience (with autofocus and exposure)
Built in level changed my photography...
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Old 01-13-2019   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by farlymac View Post
I equate some of the lesser used features on my digital cameras to lenses that I use infrequently. Pain to haul them around, but when I need them, they are there. So I at least try to learn how to use these extra features for when I may find a use.

PF
The best bit is, unlike a quiver of lenses, an extra electronic feature weighs nothing and doesn’t require maintaining.
I don’t use most features, and unfortunately the few times when I could use them I either forget they exist or forget how to use them.
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Old 01-13-2019   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Contarama View Post
Built in level changed my photography...
That's one of the things that really bugged me about Leica.
The M240 had the level - which I used a lot. They inexplicably removed it from the M10. But added it back as a 'new' feature to the M10-P, for more money of course.
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Old 01-13-2019   #12
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Far far too many buttons, may be it is just me but all my cameras have way too many buttons. There are a load of user programable function buttons that I never need, a lot could be done on a super menu of most used functions reducing the number of them. My old film cameras where not covered in the things and they worked very well.
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Beware The Rolling Electronic Shutter
Old 01-14-2019   #13
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Beware The Rolling Electronic Shutter

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dogman View Post
...
Most of you probably already know this but, as an example, take the electronic shutter. Many of my Fuji cameras have this as an option. I've never thought much about it, mostly ignored it. ...
Electronic shutters, ES, on all current digital cameras present a risk.

A rolling electronic shutter can cause artifacts (link).

One issue mentioned above is image skewing. The will be spatial artifacts when the rate subject motion is incompatible with the rolling shutter scan rate. Surprisingly, this can even happen with close-ups using wide-angle lenses.

The second issue is banding cause by the pulse-width modulation cycle used to control LED lighting. The LED modulation frequency and the ES shutter scan speeds are incompatible. This type of ES artifact can surface with any modulated light source, so fluorescent light cam also be problematic.

The problem is ES artifacts are very sensitive to motion and modulation rates, modulated light intensities and the angle between the sensor and the light. So they are often an unpleasant surprise. Changing ES speeds is not a simple solution because these affects are sensitive to several variables.

A less common rolling ES effect is possible for cameras with a electronic front-curtain shutter (link). A EFCS can reduce shutter vibration induced blurring. But oddly it can also affect rendering of out-of-focus regions (bokeh).
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Old 01-14-2019   #14
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I like to use automatic exposure bursts in order to optimize exposure.

I typically make three exposures per shutter press using aperture bracketing. I mostly use 0, 1/3 and -1/3 stop steps. But in some lighting larger steps can be useful.

I use raw files. Data buffering is not a problem with newer cameras with fast storage cards.

During post-production I keep the image with the desired level of highlight retention and delete the others. When possible, I intentionally overexpose unimportant highlight regions to maximize the signal-to-noise ratio for shadow regions.

With raw files, setting and forgetting ISO can be a useful simplification for ISO invariant cameras. You just use the camera's native ISO parameter setting and set the shutter time and aperture as desired. In cases where the rendered image appears too dark, the image brightness is optimized in post production. Because the camera noise level is essentially independent (within ~1/3 stop) of ISO, there is no disadvantage to brightness in post-production instead of in-camera via the ISO parameter setting.
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Old 01-14-2019   #15
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Good thing is to have choices.

The most sad thing is you have to pay extra, often dearly, to have the choices taken away from you.
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Old 01-14-2019   #16
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I view menu selections as unused instead of useless. I like having a choice, even if I rarely avail myself of it.
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Old 01-14-2019   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by willie_901 View Post
Electronic shutters, ES, on all current digital cameras present a risk.

..
The Fujifilm XT-2 has a choice of electronic or mechanical shutters. I use teh electronic shutter for copy work. It eliminates all vibration, and there is no risk of artifacts with a static object. I usually set a 2 second delay, switch to electronic shutter, and just push the button and stand back (no need even for a cable release).

For most photography I use the mechanical shutter.
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Old 01-14-2019   #18
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For me any automation is useless. I like a dial to set ISO. Another to set shutter speed and an aperture on the lens. That's really all I need on a camera.
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Old 01-14-2019   #19
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I run my digital SLR cameras just like my old film cameras. Mostly in manual. When not in manual then I usually use tv time value.

My iPhone and iPad I use in auto mode. They work just fine for me.

Whatever I use, it’s still the basics that work for me. They are:

Posing
Lighting
Composition

Simple.

Smiles.

One important feature I didn’t understand at my beginning of using digital and turned out to be a great tool I use is the histogram. Much more accurate of a tool to see if I have proper exposure.
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Old 01-14-2019   #20
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Electronic shutter - I use this on every camera that has it unless artificial lighting causes strobing in the image. It saves the mechanical shutter from wear and tear and allows super fast shutter speeds, not to mention being silent.

Electronic level - apart from framing lines, this feature makes it super easy to maintain flat horizons.

Audio recorder - older Canons like the G10 had this feature, as well as the Casio Z750, Pentax Espio something, and the Sigma DP1 and DP2. Audio recorders in smartphones make this unnecessary, but it's a handy feature if you want to record a snippet of music from the radio, buskers, concerts, important meetings, lectures, etc.

Scene modes - since I started processing my images and shooting raw, I don't bother with scene modes any more, but they were handy for things like sunsets.
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Old 01-15-2019   #21
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I do like advanced features, as long as I can take pictures the simple classic way as well without menu interaction. The z7 surprised be with very useful low power bluetooth connection to my phone. I definitely was not expecting this from Nikon to work so well. And I do like it stabilizes every legacy lenses I have, adapter provided. Electronic first curtain eliminates potential shutter shock. All this feels transparent to me.
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Old 01-16-2019   #22
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Live view? My first DSLR didn't have it, and I used to laugh when I saw someone using it... But eventually I found it was invaluable for my long-exposure night work. A must-have for checking composition and focus in the darkness. I suppose this is old news for all those mirrorless EVF fans...

Tilting monitor? Another item I laughed at the first time I saw it. I've since changed my tune. I don't use it real often, but when I do, I really appreciate it. Camera 12 inches off the ground? Swing up that monitor so I can see it and check my focus. Fine-tuning a nighttime light-painting photo? Again, bending down low gets old after the first ten frames.

Built-in level? I use this every time I use a tripod. My Nikons have a customizeable button which I have set to display the level in the viewfinder using the metering scale; this saves battery power vs. using the monitor.

Customizeable exposure pre-sets? My D7000 and D750 have two each, and I use them for night photography. One for long-exposure low-ISO WB 3850K full-moon shooting, and the other for the same exposure at ISO 12800 at a blistering four seconds. Same exposure, but the latter setting is a huge timesaver I can switch to to check composition without wasting a lot of time.

IR remote release? My D80 has just one sensor, on the front of the camera. My D7000 and D750 have front AND rear. A small feature, but I love the rear IR receiver. So handy.

So what features have I not used? Hmmm... I don't use video, Auto-ISO, Program or Shutter Priority modes, Scene modes.... Red-eye reduction.... Not even sure if my cameras have geo-tracking or smartphone connectivity. I know my Sony has the latter, but I don't use it because I don't have a smartphone!
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Old 01-16-2019   #23
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Quote:
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Live view? My first DSLR didn't have it, and I used to laugh when I saw someone using it... But eventually I found it was invaluable for my long-exposure night work.
Indeed. You would love Olympus' live composite mode. Maybe not so much the sensor size.
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