Thursday, September 17, 2009

How the Camera Controls Should Be

Look on top of your camera. What do you see? If it is a DSLR or advanced point & shoot you see a shooting mode dial with the letters: P, A (or Av), S (or Tv) and M. You know what it means: Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority and Manual. In Program mode the camera determines the aperture and shutter speed automatically; in Aperture Priority you turn some on camera wheel to set aperture value and the camera determines shutter speed; in Shutter Priority you use the same wheel to set a shutter speed; and in Manual mode you either use two different wheels (as on the Canon 20D-50D) or have to use one wheel and press some obscure button to switch between aperture and shutter adjustments (as on the Sigma SD14). A bit confusing, huh? Especially for beginners. Eventually, every photographer gets the hang of it, but I must say, it's not nearly the best possible layout.

Now look at the new Leica X1:

No mode dial! Just aperture and shutter speed dials. Simple, logical and brilliant! This layout makes the whole concept of shooting modes unnecessary. Set both to A and let the camera control exposure for you, or use all possible combinations to control it yourself. This layout saves you at least one extra movement every time you change settings. You don't need to look into the viewfinder or at the status LCD to see the exposure settings, one quick glance at the camera is enough. You can even adjust it when the camera is off. Just turn it on and shoot!

And finally, the medium format Pentax 645N:

In addition to aperture and shutter speed dials, it has the third dial – exposure compensation, which allows much finer tuning. This is by far the most logical, straightforward and easy control layout I have ever seen. It alone makes me want to buy this camera, even though I don't need it that much :)

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