Is there a dslr on the market that does not require looking at it to make adjustments?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by ronviers, Mar 22, 2006.

  1. ronviers

    ronviers Guest

    Here is what I really want:

    ISO - a clicking slider
    Aperture - a fluted wheel that clicks and opens to the right and closes
    to the left
    Focus point - a self centering joystick that you move then push to lock
    White balance - a button that locks to most recent picture
    Shutter - a coaxial knurled wheel thirds on the inside, single on the
    LCD - a button that toggles it between histogram, most recent pic and E
    Exposure bracket - a slider that pushes to lock time

    Then I would like everything else stripped away - all creative modes,
    all in camera post processing, all features - everything.

    Then I would like Zeiss to make the optics, olympus to build the body
    and Canon to build the sensor. Then Nikon could put their name on it
    just to make me feel like one of the gang.

    I should have said that to begin with.
    Btw, I am sorry for ignoring your suggestions about auto modes but my
    brain just doesn't seem to go there.

    Best regards,
    ronviers, Mar 23, 2006
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  2. ronviers

    Rich Guest

    It's too bad that constructing a digital camera is so complex,
    software having to be written for the sensor and support electronics.
    I have a feeling if it wasn't, we'd see digital backs for old favorite
    SLRs coming available.
    Rich, Mar 23, 2006
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  3. ronviers

    Alfred Molon Guest

    Olympus E330, the first DSLR with live preview.
    Alfred Molon, Mar 23, 2006

  4. Ron,

    First, my sympathies that you had to make 500 clarifications -- what
    you were after was patently obvious after your 2nd or 3rd post. And I
    guess DSLR's have spoiled people with their little LCD screens so much
    that the very idea of tactile manual controls is alien.

    I have a Pentax DSLR with a control dial that regularly "misses" a
    click (and I hear this happens in other brands/models too), so using to
    accurately set some value without looking is well-nigh impossible.

    Let's see:

    Focus: An autofocus lens? Because the manual focussing ring usually
    turns during autofocus, they can't let it turn too far -- usually a
    half-turn of the ring takes it from a couple of feet to infinity. So
    setting it to MF and using the infinity stop as a reference, you can
    make, say, a quarter turn by feel and set it to 5 feet.

    Or even better, avoid the infinity reference by gluing a small nub of
    plastic to the focussing ring of your lens and using its position to
    judge current focus distance.

    Or use a lens with a readymade focussing tab, like the older Leicas.
    These will fit on a Epson R-D1, which is a digital rangefinder and not
    a DSLR, but has other virtues as mentioned below.

    Focus point: If you're manual focussing I guess you won't need it, but
    for autofocussing, uh, one of those things with a jog dial at the back
    (so you can move, say, 3 steps to the right and one down)? It seems to
    me that training yourself to do it blindfold will be quite a task,

    Shutter speed: The best system I can think of -- the shutter speed
    dials of the old manual SLR's with an outer ring and a little window
    showing film speed. Essentially you could find that little window by
    feel and use that as a reference (assuming constant film speed, of
    course) for knowing what the current shutter speed was. However, I
    can't think of a single DSLR with this system. The Epson R-D1 has one
    though. If you can manage with just a manual shutter speed dial
    (without a by-feel reference point, so you'll have to remember the
    current position) the soon-to-come Panasonic DMC-L1 will have one. The
    Leica Digilux 2/Panasonic DMC-LC1, though not SLRs, already have one
    (they also have other nice manual controls).

    Shooting mode, metering mode etc: Again, the DMC-L1 will have little
    levers whose positions you can "feel". Check this out:

    ISO: Can't think of anything even remotely close. Again, the R-D1 is
    probably the closest with its traditional "lift-and-turn" mechanism.

    All things considered there doesn't appear to be a single camera that
    does EVERYTHING you want it to do :).

    siddhartha.chaudhuri, Mar 23, 2006

  5. Oh and aperture... uh... any lens with an aperture ring. Those usually
    have nice clicks and stop at their widest and narrowest apertures for
    reference. There are of course those ones that have an A position at
    one end of the turn and you have to press a little button while turning
    it the other way to "unstick" it. Good if you like setting aperture
    from the body or shooting shutter priority, bad if you don't.

    siddhartha.chaudhuri, Mar 23, 2006
  6. ronviers

    ronviers Guest

    Hi Sid,
    I am not surprised that every maker does not offer a model with tactile
    control but I am very surprised that the whole idea, like you said,
    seems so alien. I assumed there would be a type of photographer that
    pretty much demanded that kind of relationship to the camera. I think
    there may be a small but reliable market. In the mean time I have
    decided to remain extremely happy with my cheapo Canon. Thaks for the
    help and other interesting insights.

    Best regards,
    ronviers, Mar 23, 2006
  7. I am not surprised that every maker does not offer a model with tactile
    Oh yeah? Wake up and smell the coffee. This is the future:

    If those astronauts can learn the space shuttle controls blindfold,
    there's no way you can't use this without looking (and we all know
    which button we'll be pressing).
    Yeah, but I wish I had the bucks for the L1 or the R-D1 :p. Oh well.
    I'll live with my cheapo Pentax too.

    siddhartha.chaudhuri, Mar 23, 2006
  8. Why the surprise? AF 35mm film SLRs have been "non-tactile" for 15 or more
    years now, especially the pro cameras. There are almost no mechanical
    interface film cameras in production at this point in time. Leica and the
    Leica clones (of which there are at least 3) and the Mamiya 645ProTL and
    7II; that's all folks. Hassleblad is rumored to be winding down production
    of the 500 series and Canon hasn't made a tactile camera in years. I think
    Nikon has discontinued the FM3.

    Also, I think you overestimate "tactile". I suppose you could feel your way
    to an f stop, but focus and shutter speed would be impossible.
    FWIW, there is a camera you might like: the Epson R-D1 rangefinder digital.
    It's based on a fake Leica body. The problem with the R-D1, though, is that
    it's US$3,000, and if you had that much money, you'd be insane to spend it
    on the 6MP cropped-sensor R-D1 when you could buy the 12.7MP full-frame 5D
    for the same price.

    David J. Littleboy
    Tokyo, Japan
    David J. Littleboy, Mar 23, 2006
  9. ronviers

    ronviers Guest

    No bourbon button so i will have to pass, although I would reconsider
    if they replace the Adams button with a Kafka button.
    ronviers, Mar 23, 2006
  10. Why the surprise? AF 35mm film SLRs have been "non-tactile" for 15 or more
    While the surprise is indeed somewhat unjustified given current camera
    trends, there are, to the best of my knowledge, a number of mechanical
    interface film cameras othe than the ones you mentioned still in
    production. This includes the FM10 and the FM3A -- they are both listed
    on the Nikon site at least. And the Pentax ZX-M. And the Vivitars. And
    possibly also the Oly OM2000, which was introduced in the late 1990s.
    They are all perfectly good and usable, and can take exactly as good
    pictures as an F6.

    Agreed, these are not all "pro" cameras, especially if a pro camera has
    to look like a cruise missile, but life does not begin and end with
    Leicas and Hasselblads.
    Streetshooters have been setting focus by feel for aeons. I quote from
    an article by Mike Johnston about Leica lenses:

    "[The 35mm Summicron] is the best and easiest lens to learn to
    pre-focus. This skill is one of the keys to using a Leica well. To
    recap for those who may not already know this (most Leica photographers
    know this, I'm sure), it is simply to look at the distance to the
    object you wish to focus on and set the focus on the camera by feel,
    without having the camera to your eye and without using the
    rangefinder. Push the tab all the way to the right [directions relative
    to behind the camera of course] and you're on infinity; place the tab
    pointing directly down, and you're focused at about five feet. In
    between those positions, you can learn to eye the distance and set the
    tab for the focus that is proper for that distance. I did it by first
    shoving the focus to infinity, then getting the "feel" for how far I
    should pull it back based on what my eyes were looking at. If you
    practice this every night for five minutes in your living room, you get
    very good at it very quickly. Then, as you walk around looking at the
    world with your M, you can automatically change the focus continuously
    for whatever happens to catch your eye. Without ever holding the camera
    to your eye, you are always ready for a quick grab shot. And again, the
    slight WA focal length aids you here, by covering up errors with its
    more generous d.o.f. It is perfectly practical to use an MP / 35 'Cron
    combo all day without once ever referring to the light meter diodes or
    the rangefinder patch. In fact, I would go so far as to say that any
    photographer who carefully meters and focuses every single shot is
    simply not using the Leica correctly."

    And I am willing to lay a small bet that shutter speed can be set
    similarly (read my long post above, which mentions the R-D1, btw) using
    a traditional shutter speed dial.
    David, there's a class of photographer who doesn't give a damn about
    12.7 MP but wants the useability of a small, unobtrusive, tactile
    camera for street-shooting. The 5D doesn't fall into that category --
    _that_ is why Ron won't buy it (please correct me, Ron, if I'm wrong),
    and I wouldn't either. (And nor do the tiny P&S's, for reasons too
    obvious to mention.)

    Ron mentioned that people stiffen up when a camera is pointed at them
    -- can you imagine what would happen if that camera was as big and
    scary as a 5D? And it doesn't have the controls he asks for either. I
    agree the RD-1 price is horrendous, but that doesn't necessarily mean a
    5D is a better alternative.

    Also, if the RD-1 is a fake Leica body, what about all other
    rangefinders out there? Are they all fake Leicas too?

    Please understand that there are some of us who don't shoot high-res
    landscapes or wildlife.

    siddhartha.chaudhuri, Mar 23, 2006
  11. Upon pressing which, you would find yourself transformed into a
    gigantic insect?
    siddhartha.chaudhuri, Mar 23, 2006
  12. ronviers

    ronviers Guest

    Or even better, my family would be free of a giant insect. We should
    all focus on the happy ending.
    ronviers, Mar 23, 2006
  13. ronviers

    k-man Guest

    You could get a camera that has an "automatic" mode. Just stick it on
    "automatic" and then you don't have to look at it.

    If you want to get fancy, you could, in theory, memorize the positions
    of all the function buttons. If a setting, such as iso, doesn't show
    up through the viewfinder when you're aiming for your shot, you could
    keep track of how many "clicks of the wheel" it would take to go from,
    for example, your current iso your desired iso.

    k-man, Mar 23, 2006
  14. Live and learn. I prefer my images actually to be in focus, so wouldn't even
    think of fooling around like that.
    Could be. I definately consider crappy images uninteresting, and given
    modern AF, zone focusing games seem like bad ideas that have long outlived
    their usefulness. FWIW, I do own and use a rangefinder camera, though.
    See below for 5D vs. street shooting. Also, here's an essay by someone who
    does street shooting with a 5D. (I don't know if this particular article
    speaks to this question, but if you read through his essays, you'll find
    quite a bit of street shooting related stuff.)
    The 5D's not all that much larger than the R-D1: 142 x 88.5 x 39.5 vs. 152 x
    113 x 75. Most of that difference is in the thickness. It is almost 1/3
    taller, though.
    If one really wanted the shot, one would just use AF/AE.
    If size is of concern, the 350D's 127 x 94 x 64 mm is basically smaller and
    lighter than the R-D1. And the US$2000 left over will buy you a Cosina Bessa
    film rangefinder.
    The R-D1 is built on the "Voightlander (sp?)" (actually Cosina) Bessa. The
    Bessa is a whole series of cameras, including both screw mount and M mount
    models. The term "fake Leica" seems quite appropriate.

    Zeiss and Rollei both have (relatively) new rangefinder cameras out; both of
    which bear more than coincidental similarity to the Bessa that the R-D1 is
    built from<g>. The Cosina-made (!!!!) "Zeiss" lenses are flipping amazing,
    by the way.

    Unfortunately, the "Texas Leica" has been discontinued. I finally found one
    used, but didn't fall in love, so I just bought a Mamiya 7.
    The 5D comment was simply an example of a quality camera for the same price,
    I wasn't making a serious suggestion for street photography, but thinking
    about it, it turns out that it wouldn't be all that bad. I suppose the 350D
    plus a small prime (24/2.8 or 35/2.0) might be a reasonable approach for
    someone who thinks they don't need the image quality. But the better AF,
    better low-light performance, and higher resolution would make the 5D +
    35/2.0 or 50/1.4 the better tool for street photography. The 5D's AF point
    pattern is more compact than the 350D/30D pattern, making it quite
    reasonable for street photography in which one is aiming only roughly. (I'd
    worry about false hits by the extreme left and right focus points with the
    350D.) And the extra resolution would allow you to crop, so you wouldn't
    have to worry about exact framing.

    David J. Littleboy
    Tokyo, Japan
    David J. Littleboy, Mar 23, 2006
  15. Live and learn. I prefer my images actually to be in focus, so wouldn't even
    Hmmm... to each his own I guess. But you do know, don't you, that a lot
    of people from Cartier-B downwards are reputed to have worked like
    that? And their images are pretty much in-focus.
    For the crappy images part, let me refer you to Kertesz, HCB,
    Winogrand... :).

    I think the distinction is between the lag, however slight, due to AF
    (and possibly wrong AF -- e.g if you're shooting through a mesh or
    leaves or something) and between virtually instantaneous but slightly
    off-focus shooting (trusting DOF to take care of the misfocus). I'd say
    that at least for some people, the second style still holds value and
    works best for them.

    (Disclaimer: This comparison is mostly uncharted territory for me. As a
    new owner of an autofocus body, I intend to put this to the test
    sometime, i.e. shoot in both pre-focus and AF modes and see which works
    better for me.)

    Again, to each his own. If you can make your equipment work, then it's
    fine, of course.
    Read that, saw the photos. I'm sure street shooters in medium or large
    format exist too. Such as this guy, who admits to using a 4 x 5:

    My problem with the 5D is not quite the size -- it's more that it
    shouts "pro camera!" from the rooftop, and you can't really carry it
    under your arm without people noticing (I've seen the stares people
    carrying F5's get). I personally would like to avoid that, but of
    course if you don't mind it (and evidently Petteri doesn't) then good
    for you. But just to stress the point, I'd guess there are plenty of
    people like me who wouldn't want to shoot with a 5D.
    Accepted. I was talking more about the controls, but you're right --
    the R-D1's not small. But the size difference is actually quite
    pronounced, so that makes the 5D very big! And rangefinder lenses tend
    to be quite small (and because of the small thickness of the body,
    stick out less in front). The whole impression is more of a slightly
    bloated p&s (which is an advantage) than of a professional tool.
    Agree that you can just preset the aperture (which is NOT something you
    would leave to the auto mode, puhleez... no camera knows what DOF I
    want for a shot), and either preset the shutter speed or leave it to
    AE. But have mentioned issues re AF above.
    Hey, I'm using a Pentax *ist DL at the moment :p... that's about as
    cheapo as you can get, _and_ it's smaller than the 350D. And yes, size
    as much as cost influenced that decision. 6MP works for what I want --
    if you think 12.7 is essential, who am I to argue?

    I can't afford shooting film, btw -- that's one of the main reasons why
    I've gone digital. So there goes the Bessa! I still have a beat-up old
    film SLR, to be resurrected on occasion.
    Since Leica invented 35mm, I guess all 35mm cameras are in some sense
    fake Leicas :p... but further quibbling on the point seems unnecessary
    Congratulations :)
    The cropping of street photographs is a very dicey ethical issue! While
    I'll keep my mouth shut on this one, there are plenty of photogs who'll
    want to break all that Zeiss/Cosina glass on your head for saying that

    There's absolutely no doubt the 5D is one of the best imaging tools.
    But I don't think I'd be comfortable doing street-shooting with it,
    even if I had the money to buy one.

    siddhartha.chaudhuri, Mar 23, 2006
  16. ronviers

    Neil Ellwood Guest

    Interesting - how do you see that without looking?
    Neil Ellwood, Mar 23, 2006
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