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Wednesday, 22 September 2010

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bookmarked, applies to other acts in life too. Simplicity vs options. Using vs consuming. Modern life is a lot like that 10000 control console.

It would be nice to know if Mr. Eno thinks things have gotten better or worse in the intervening eleven years. That's a very long time in the world of technology.

I don't object to cameras being full of software, but I'm pretty bitter about the fact that a choice of camera commits me to a particular bundle of software. It wouldn't be so bad if there were six billion software features available, but I could just install the half-dozen that I needed.

In my ideal scenario, which is about as likely as everybody getting issued their own pet unicorn (not that I'd really know where to keep one), it would be possible for anybody to author simple camera software in some publicly specified scripting language. I think the ability to install user-specified scripts for interface features, menu structure, auto-exposure behavior and the like would allow a lot of us to get cameras we're much more comfortable with than what the current market is providing.

I have long believed that creative freedom is found not in a lack of limits but in learning the limits of your medium and then mastering the medium in order to produce the best possible results within the limits. A complete lack of limits, endless options, too often results in endless floundering about.

On an even less photographic note, I am reminded of Barry Schwartz's lecture on "The Paradox of Choice".
http://www.ted.com/talks/barry_schwartz_on_the_paradox_of_choice.html

That is indeed very well written, and he has a valid point. BUT, remember that technology also has its virtues and it can, when done well, actually REDUCE complexity and allow you to focus on what you enjoy. For example, one of the lovely features on my Nikon D60 is the fact that you can banish rarely-used options (e.g., color space, JPEG size, etc.) from the menus. While it takes 10-15 minutes to initially set it up, the result is a camera menu system that only includes things that I care about, not what anyone else thinks I SHOULD care about. Result? Using the camera is faster and more convenient.

Similarly, I have a hard time getting worked up about the in-camera corrections that some camera companies apply to JPEGs. If my camera can automatically eliminate CA and distortion and would apply a low dose of Focus Magic (or Focus Fixer) automatically to all of my pictures, I would be a happy man. Do I want the opportunity to turn those changes off when processing raws? Yes, but I'd rather turn it off in the odd situation than correct thousands of images for mundane flaws.

Best,
Adam

Mike -

This is so true. I have been thinking about this very subject with regard to my recording studio. I prefer simplicity to complexity with options. Pro Tools seems like it should be the ultimate recording software until you realize the Beatles had a mechanical, analogue, 4 track when they recorded Sargent Pepper. I don't want a billion options; I just want to push the record button. That requires a good bit of set up in advance when using many of the computer based recording packages.

In many of the technology based arts, "I'll fix it in post," has become a catch phrase. It is often said with some sense of bravado. But, I don't want to have to fix it in post. I just want to record it right the first time. It sounds/looks better that way anyway. Now the post part is being incorporated right in the recording process - in line effects, Autotune, scene modes, etc.

Ed

Mike,
I could simply cut and paste the same comments here that I added to your "FLOVE" post. But to save space, I'll just say: I want my first serious digital camera to be as simple to operate as my FE2! Fuji, Samsung, Ricoh.. someone, PLEASE, get rid of the LCD screen and the menus. Let photographers do whatever manipulations, chimping, and all related menu-diving at home in front of their computers!

Dear FUJIFILM engineers,
Some of us out here want 'old school' built on top of your amazing creations. So, please remove the LCD screen from the X200 and instead provide a beautifully simple, elegant RAW conversion software in the box. Please... leave the menus for the computers, not the cameras.
Faithfully yours,
A Film Photographer Wanting to Go Digital

Brian Eno's essay explains why I love playing guitar (acoustic and electric), own several vintage amplifiers, and still have a collection of LP records that I play on a turntable. If it weren't for the ease of publishing digital photos to the web I'd probably be shooting a lot more film too. Best of all, the kids who know of my preferences in instruments and cameras think I'm cool. Things could be worse.

Fantastic essay. I only wish someone had taken his advice in the 11 years since. Well, I guess Fuji listened with the X100, but that's the exception that proves the rule.

I wrote about this idea in relation to cameras here: http://bryantakespictures.wordpress.com/2010/05/17/the-deknobification-of-cameras/

The computer is not that old of an invention yet (compared to a musical instrument or the camera), and I think we are still figuring out what we can/should use it for. Right now, the possibilities seem endless and engineers are asked to throw in anything they can to broaden the appeal of a product. If your can-opener doesn't have internet access, why would anyone want to buy it, right? Once the computer (and computer chips) matures as a technology, I think we'll see more reasonable and intuitive tools.

'The trouble begins with a design philosophy that equates "more options" with "greater freedom." Designers struggle endlessly with a problem that is almost nonexistent for users: "How do we pack the maximum number of options into the minimum space and price?" In my experience, the instruments and tools that endure (because they are loved by their users) have limited options.'

Yep, my Zeiss Ikon endures and has only limited options.

He makes a valid point later in that the medium defines the time the work belongs to - which means that monochrome film looks a bit odd now - the world of today is very smooth, highly saturated and with clean sharp edges - but I like it and I'm not trying to make history.

Mike

Two comments:

(1) You should do that book.

(2) I've been watching some recording sessions lately, for intricate orchestral music. I'm amazed at the way the engineers (and composers and directors) tear the music apart and stick it back together. You know, A-K was good, but L and M sucked, so we'll start at K and replay L and M until it's right, and then the engineers will start cutting and pasting... I've never really seen a whole piece played in its entirety: cut and paste is now the order of the day. And while the strings are in the main room, the piano and drums are in separate booths, and the singer will be in tomorrow... In fact, they even have a kind of pre-singing ("scratch vox") where the singer comes in to sing along, so that he/she will know how everything fits together, but then will do the actual vocals some other time. So, recorded music isn't really that much of a team effort anymore -- there's an intermediate scrum of engineers who really work things through. And something serious is lost by not having that teamwork: it's really amazing to see a good orchestra playing together under a serious director -- I think we respond to the teamwork as much as the individual solos...

And as bad as camera menus are getting, look at post-processing. Look at the posts that Ctein has made about trying to coordinate Apple software with Epson, or whatever it was. I didn't even fully understand the problem, much less his solution.

Sometimes, very briefly, I envy you going back into what I call a liquid darkroom. Liquid, because when I had one, I always wound up with liquid on my shoes, pants, etc. But at least, it was comprehensible...and who really understands Photoshop?

JC


"Well, I guess Fuji listened with the X100, but that's the exception that proves the rule."

Bryan,
The Leica S2 is a pretty major exception too.

Mike

@Mike "On a near-trivial level, I have the same trouble with the Categories list for this blog. I have way too many categories, and yet I often feel like a given post doesn't fit well into any existing one. I just don't think well in terms of categories..."

Kinda like keywording...eh?

bd

Not only can a plethora of options get in the way, people resent technology that makes them feel stupid ... even if they don't feel it's their place to express it.

for the category - this should go under "Open Mike" this is where at least I would look for it.

Sheena Iyengar is doing interesting work on the nature of choice.
Here's her TED talk.

And people wonder why so so many still use cameras from the 1970's.

1 Aperture

2 Shutter speed

3 Focus

4 Compose

5 Release shutter. (A person watching shouldn't be able see your finger move when this happens)

End cycle, next exposure, start at 1

Even more succinctly: sometimes freedom really is slavery.

Geoff, my wife is going through the same thing at her clinic, except they got the software for free from Portugal, in exchange for being the "beta" clinic in this country. You can imagine the hair pulling...

I kind of like the multi-layered, fairly complex menu and options with my Olympus 620 camera, endlessly adjustable (after reading the manual 6 times and using it for a year) but I also teach middle school photography using 6 Olympus 520's, and I wish the cameras looked more like the new Fuji, with no buttons that could send the settings veering off to who knows where.

What every blues fan knows.

Eno's article is most interesting. I will need to re-read it a few times. Recently I posted on my blog regarding the attraction of those with a technological bent (aka geeks) toward modern photography due to its high reliance on technology. The artist needs to use the human mind as the main 'technology' and simple tools eg charcoal stick to create art. The camera is essentially a simple device. Technology is a distraction from creativity.

Mike, you only need three categories: Photgraphers, Cameras, Essays.

Interesting, and timely even today, and I agree, but I'm afraid the horse has left the barn, at least professionally. I'm privy to a large group of photographers that have said, since auto-focus film cameras: "Why, as a professional, do the camera companies not make a camera for me." I mean, even the film based Elan II had something like 36 custom functions that had to be set.

I've been nailing transparency exposures for 35 years with sheet film and Hasselblads, but I'm struggling with a Nikon D90 to try and get output that at least looks something like an Ektachrome transparency without tons of post processing time, which my clients will not pay me for. Why can I not just have a camera that has a few settings that basically gives me a .tiff file that looks like a transparency if exposed correctly? Why do I need to shoot RAW and mess with it if I know what I'm doing with lighting?

Most, if not all clients I know, will not fund me shooting transparency any more, and will not fund the pre-press scans. Shooting film is not the answer if the labs dry up and they can't get the chemicals. The digital process, and the "tower-of-babel" options associated with cameras are now just the "norm".

I read a cultural magazine on Japan three years ago that had a review of professional photography in that culture, and it said that, at that time, fully 50% of Japanese pros shot no digital what-so-ever, and of those who did, it was on a case-by-case basis based on turn-around time, so why are American photographers letting the clients dictate how we work and the technology we use?

Almost every photo shoot I do today, most of the brain power is spent getting the technology to jump through hoops and less of the brain power is spent in getting the "creative" taken care of. Is this what it's going to be about until I can retire and just shoot film for myself?

@ Robert Howell -- that is a terrific talk. Thank you for linking to it.

Tom,
...And, even when you spend the time it takes to learn how to put the equipment through its hoops, 3-5 years later you've got to do it all over again....

Mike

I totally agreed on less option is better for one specific device. The general tools (and sometimes difficult to understand) cannot be better than a toolbox of specific tools which you can understand.

Zoom is better than prime in terms of option but if you want good 35mm ... well the prime will do better with one less thing to deal with, the zoom ring!

The issue is whether you alone and can carry it.

As mentioned by one posting about e-health part. I do not think his post is right. Being a medical system IT manager in the past, the issue about you not using computer is that a) the record trapped in your manual and handwriting system b) it is not structure and cannot be analysis by 3rd party (for the patient, for study, for review your correctness, for referral to others thousands of mile away in the emergency room etc.) c) no immediate QA ... It is not like camera and as a artist/hobbyist, we are not on our own and even if you are a doctor that is magical, there are now a lot of people / knowledge system to breath down your neck I am afraid. You are part of a network and a system. Whilst you are not a Borg, you are not pure individual as well. You cannot continue you handwriting I am afraid.

That comes back to the issue -- what happen here is that it is not just you to carry it all. A lot of jobs require network and team. The model, the make-up artists, the editor, the client, ... etc. are all there and the computer / network is there is not for YOUR benefit I am afraid. You are one part of the value add chain, management speak. Digital rocks here. Those options are there not for you alone but also for many to have. One can have configuration file if it suits you, the assignment, the camera, the lighting, the client, ... etc. But a pure simple one is a camera for all seasons.

Back to the Fuji -- if it has to work without a LCD (which it should), one may take care the time that one does not only live with oneself, it might be better that it can have a wireless connection to your iPhone/Andxxxx. I know I know that is bad. But for the occasion that I really need to show the pic to the grands or share with friends, it can be done easily. (Even iPad camera connection kit is not ease enough.) For the occasion, that it needs to be part of the team, it may play its part. Just be left enough by default is ok for me. I like prime but I do not mind occasion use of zoom!

A Nikon FMD would out LCD plus an ISO , pure raw (with a wireless sharing of the small jpeg built in the raw), film number ... that is good.

Time to go back to my 8x10 with one favoriate lens. Recently just found that BTZS (not the system) knowledge seems a perfect fit to the void between Ansel and Beyond Mono. Working on that instead of the above. The good thing about this hobby, unlike say as a doctor, is that you can really do it on your own. Pure and simple. Unfortunately that is not true for all of us and all situations.


Mike: I'm thinking you should streamline your categories into more general areas (maybe use a two-stage hierarchy) and use tags as well to add specifics. That way it's easier to find your articles too!

I am a new Leica M9 owner (2 weeks), still stunned by what one has to pay to play. But I'm beginning to understand why people love these little cameras and this article expresses it perfectly. Less is indeed more.

Thank you Mike for pointing to the Eno piece, he expressed much better what my over long post was trying to make. Which why I think the Fuji x100 has generated so much enthusiasm, that too much choice is not what I want, I would like a slightly wider lenses but I can live with that to get the rest of the package, (I've looked at more pictures of the x100 and the legends on the top of the camera are printed and not engraved, I know that has nothing to do with image making but it's just a nice detail I would appreciate, maybe I'll take mine to a jeweller and have it engraved. Crazy or what?)
Is it like a leica? Is that the appeal? I dont know I've never seen a Leica.
If the camera generates enough followers then there may be software hack ala pana g1 or chck where a menu of extra functions can be added one at a time as you need them, like exposure bracketing, timelapse or different video modes.
Here's hoping that the x100 lives up to our expectations.
Thanx Leigh

The observation that overwhelming users with choices is poor interaction design is a very old one, probably going all the way back to the original "human factors" designers who worked for the US Air Force. In music it has special force because playing music, as opposed to scoring music or programming a synth, involves many simple interactions repeated quickly.

Unfortunately, design simplicity comes into conflict with:
- the common engineering reluctance to engage user experience
- the marketing desire to have many features to sell
- the desire of many people on design teams to avoid criticism (you left out what???)
- saving design cost and time; good design, by whatever measure of goodness, is difficult and demands expertise

D700. Three years. Never, not once, did I want to shoot JPEG. Not a single time.
Instead, doing the two-button-reset, to get myself out of some nightmare (quite regularly) I somehow end up all ready to be shooting JPEG. Again.

Result? I have tons of JPEGs on my computer - being, fully consumed by creative thought (says who, but whatever) I forget to tick it back to RAW. Not every time. But often enough to drive me nuts.

I'd pay someone good money to eliminate that option. For good. Banish. Eradicate. Make go away permanently. Along with another 80% of "options" - the crud they call "options", anyway.
Color space? Set once. Then gone.
File size? Gone.
ADR? You may want it. I don't. Let me make it disappear.
Retouching options? Seriously? Has anyone, ever, used those? GONE.

If my camera had just a dozen 'clean' options, I'd be a better photographer. Less frustrated too. And I'd actually use the options I need, instead of avoiding them for fear of feeling stupid when I can't get my camera to fire for some bloody reason, during a critical moment, because I inadvertently messed something up. Somewhere. Somewhere I can't even remember how to get back to.

Sorry for the rant. Hit a nerve.

There is an interesting comment by Jack White in "It Might Get Loud", along the lines that he almost prefers to play a broken or semi functional guitar because it makes him work really hard and creatively to get something out of it, and that he sees tools that make it easy for the artist as not helping with the creative process.

"Brian Eno is a sage ...'

It's about thyme someone recognized it, though, on the evidence of the inner cover of Roxy Music's 'For Your Pleasure', who, in 1973, could have anticipated that his rosemary phase would have ended so abruptly?

Keep me thinking about 4 hours recording session December 5,1957 when Miles Davis have session in Poste Parisien studios when was record music for L. Malle film "Lift to the scaffold".This music is in my top ten.4 hours for soundtrack with music that you never heard before.Can you imagine something like this today?

Incredibly true. More choices are a sign that the designers are too lazy/scared to make the right decision for you. See Linux as a prime example. The difficult thing in design is not to figure out what to do, but what *not* to do.

Geoff: At my former job, I was at a meeting that included someone from Microsoft. She told me that they'd been forbidden by Microsoft to use PowerPoint (and similar) as it had turned out in tests to be more distracting than informative.

Mike: Listen to Bob - you should use keywords instead of categories.


Leica M3 Panasonic GF1


load film set ISO to 400

1 Aperture 1 Aperture priority mode
I set it to F1.7

2 Shutter speed 2 Shutter speed set by
144-zone sensor


3 Focus 3 Center 1 area focusing
size can be adjusted
I leave it at 2nd
smallest


4 Compose 4 Compose

5 Release shutter. 5 Release shutter

That's it. Simple,fast,and I don't have to
go into the menu at all. The biggest plus
is no film.

And people wonder why so so many still use cameras from the 1970's.

My exact reason for spinning around the livingroom when I saw the Fuji X100 announcement here on TOP. It's probably not perfect, but a step in the right direction at least. Less is more. Cameras today are jack of all trades and king of none.

Even with a fancy FF DSLR, I put it in aperture priority and shoot raw (usually at ASA 200 or, being European, should I say DIN 24). Process later if the shot is any good.

I have about five things on my "Personal Menu" - Mirror lock up, Format, flashy highlight warnings on/off, and ummm.... I cannot remember the rest.

I love technology but also love to avoid its ridiculous interference.

Greetings from Addis
Andrew

Brian Eno's contribution to "Sound Unbound" - edited by Paul D. Miller aka D.J. Spooky, which examines remix, hip hop, appropriation and so on is an essay about the history of church bells which he expands to an analysis of the enormous complexities of "change ringing".

You thought perhaps that a few bells had limitations? Eno's permutations and combinations are eye-opening.

Regards - Ross

I always admire the functionality of the BMW Idrive. I know its been beaten to death by ill informed opinion (But isn't it strange that lots of other manufacturers have their own versions now), but the essence of it lies in its ability to allow one to fine tune various parameters, but only if one wants. You can delve deep into the menus and set up very precise air conditioning parameters if you wish, but you don't have to. Two knobs on the dash allow you to quickly set temperature and air flow. Similarly with the audio. you can turn the radio on by the press of a button and adjust the volume with the same button or you can do it to a finer degree withe the Idrive. The point is, you have the choice. While the techno-phobes can ignore the arcane idrive menus and just use the simple controls, the techno-philes can tinker to their hearts content.
I think Pentax have some of this with their green button. Minolta with their user defined menu options had it in spades. Just select the user memory you wanted and you didn't have to puzzle out why the camera was doing peculiar things.
To me the Nikon user memories are next to useless as they don't actually return to their user selected settings. I often find my D300 has been inadvertently set into bracketing mode, which can lead to much head scratching if chimping (Why is the image so under exposed ?) Fiddling about with exposure compensation just compounds the problem, until eventually the penny drops.
Suppose I should just switch back to Minolta.

'In my experience, the instruments and tools that endure (because they are loved by their users) have limited options.'

.... I suppose that applies to Photoshop CS5?

There it is: you don't lose your soul in big chunks, but in tiny nibbles. You don't realize you're boiled until it's too late.

Mike

Reminds me of some famous words by Kris Kristofferson: 'Freedon's just another word for nothin' left to lose"'

I couldn't agree more.

On top of all that, I always feel that it's also laziness on the side of manufacturers to just stuff tons of options into a product.

They basically offload finding the "best" setting onto the user. Instead of making a decision and creating a product with "character".

So most cameras today are basically the same unexciting picture taking computers that make the user jump through hoops to get something out of them. And we'll never be quite happy with what we got, because "what if" we had used a different setting... :)

I'm mostly happy with my (definitely not perfect nor limitless) Sigma DP2... And I'm certainly looking at the X100 with great interest... :)

Not sure I entirely agree that this is relevant. A lot of it is to do with needing to take time learn the equipment. My guess is that someone like Eno goes into a lot of different studios and finds things different each time. Indeed a friend who is a freelance video cameraman has this issue as he can be using a Sony camcorder one day and an Eos 7d the next.
This is not analogous to the experience of most readers of this column who buy and own their cameras.
Take my Eos 1Ds for example; I've been using it for over 5 years now and it's set up just how I like it. Mostly I never go in the menus any more, don't take thousands of frames, don’t need to chimp that much because I know how it works, what I'm going to get, and have an intuition when I'll need to adjust the settings.
It takes time to get that comfortable with any camera and that's where the problem comes in. thanks to the relentless hype people expect a new camera to make a difference without thinking how long it will take to learn how to get the best from it. I suspect a lot of frustration comes, for a lot of enthusiasts because we don’t put the time in with the set up and get frustrated or perhaps on the manufacturer’s upgrade cycle buy a new camera before properly learning how to exploit the old one.

Tell me again, why did I get back to film and mechanical film cameras? Exactly! :D

"I always admire the functionality of the BMW Idrive."

So you're the guy.

Mike

Dennis Ng-
I'm not writing anything by hand. I'm still using standard ICD-9 codes, completing all the required data fields. I don't have any difficulties with insurers or reviewers.

I'm typing text into the history, exam and assessment fields because the hundreds of canned drop-down lists, templates and order algorithms are still far too inflexible for me. Way too much hammering square pegs into round holes. The many default templates and algorithms subtlely but relentlessly channels diagnostic thinking in ways I find pernicious if not dangerous. The apparent multitude of options in fact tends to prematurely constrain the differential diagnosis.

It's a work in progress, of course. There are also huge advantages to electronic health records. They automatically flag medication interactions, missed labs and so forth. They have huge potential to improve the quality of care, once the bugs are ironed out.

A possible solution? Alternative firmwares, or at least firmware profiles. How about powering up your camera with, say, MENU button depressed and being offered to start in "FULL FEATURES", "VIDEO", "CREATIVE JPEG", "RAW SHOOTER", or "MINIMALISTIC" mode?

Each one with not simply hidden unnecessary options, but possibly with their own distinct interface designs and hardware button (re)assignments. That would be like having several cameras in one!

Sadly, defaulting to the equivalent of "Full Features" mode with complex, confusing and often unnecessary settings and options coupled with inconsistent user interfaces and poor visual design are getting in the way of fully enjoying and efficiently exploiting great hardware platforms all modern DSLRs really are.

Ironically, I solved the "too many options" problem by buying an even more sophisticated digital camera (a Phase One P30+ back) and using it with a semi-retro Contax 645 body, which operates exactly as you would expect thanks to its manual control functions.

Of course, in order to use any of the images I capture, I must now first run them through a new piece of software on my computer, so the net result is that I've merely traded complexity in the field for complexity behind a desk. Still, of the two choices, this seems to be the better way to go ... I think.

BLOATWARE! JUst because technology or whatever it is called allows us to do
anything, does NOT mean the designers should do so!

The K.I.S.S. principle gone wrong.

I want a digital camera that have:

1 a fixed prime lens (may be 35/2)
2 an apeture ring on the lens, with an "Auto" notch
3 a focus ring on the lens to support all-time manual override operation
4 a speed dial, with an "Auto" notch
5 an ISO dial, with an "Auto" notch

Always shoot both RAW and a standard JPG, always auto white balance, no damned menus...... even no photo deletion on the camera ^_^

In a word, it's not customizable, it's not configurable. It must be simple. It must be razor fast.

Eno ends his essay: "Which is why people return to pencils, violins, and the same three guitar chords."

One might add: and why digital photographers return to the incredibly retro Leica M.

Speaking of things with too many options, I always pry off the "Caps Lock" key from keyboards I use long-term.

When have you ever used is on purpose?

Mr. Eno promulgates a dangerously stupid myth. More choices do equal more freedom; the ability to make choices freely is almost the dictionary definition of freedom. As a creator, choices allow me the freedom to more closely configure the tool to work as I want it to, rather than have the tool/designer tell me "Oh, you're never going to need that option, so you can't have it." With all due respect, eff you machine. The most successful machine of the modern age is the computer, and it's success is mainly due to the fact that it's infinitely configurable.

The problem isn't choices, the problem is interfaces, and whether or not the interface helps or hinders us from being able to grasp, evaluate, and access the available choices.

If limiting choices was so great the Sony NEX3 would be the greatest camera ever designed.

And somehow this is news LOL. Not meant as sarcastic as it seems.

I worked with Adam Osborne and "we" Osborne Computer, brought the first "transportable" computer to market.

Adam was so pleased in what he felt he brought to the "masses". In a private conversation I told him "we have unleashed a plague on humanity to which we would ever be slaves invading every moment of our being"

We laughed over whether it was the Luddite in me coming out and might we be freeing mankind to a work week cut to 3 days because of productivity increase, my response is nature abhors a vacuum and we'll just be expected to do more and more.

Ultimately I was right although were we not to unleash this plague someone else certainly would have and you can never put the genie back in the bottle til its mischief is done.

In his final days Adam moved back to a remote village in India leaving technology behind where he passed on quietly and undisturbed .

...and that's why I didn't buy a high-quality digital camera until Leica released the M8. It was the first serious digital camera that looked and, more importantly, worked like a camera.

It's also the reason I've been using the 4-Track app on my iPhone more than Logic Studio, too.

"Ode To An iPhone (recorded on an iPhone) "

Mr. Eno's essay: Prezactly

1. Example: the "Art Filters" on the Olympus E-5. This is a feature I DO NOT WANT and DO NOT NEED. If I want to "art up" my photos, I'll DO IT MYSELF. All this does is add more features, more buttons, more bells and whistles that get into the way of what I wntn to do.

2. The converse: I noted on another website people slanging Leica's M9 because it doesn't add any slam-bang new features this year. We've been programmed by advertising to expect that every year, a product must come with some world-beating new feature.

Why?If something works just fine, why are you expected to continually load on new features, which really don't add anything to the process of photographing? Really, it just adds clutter and confusion to what used to be a simple process.

I mean, would we demand a new feature a year be added to a Fender Stratotcaster guitar? It's worked just fine the way it is, for the past fifty years...

This reminds me of some of my beefs with Microsoft Word (and, indeed, most of Microsoft's offerings). It seems, often, that the choices are between the minimal and stripped down, and the bloated with features.

What I would LOVE, in software, and in tools like cameras, and in situations like ordering a cable subscription, is the ability to create my own bundles of features. I like, for example, that MS Word has the option for footnoting, but I never use things like the grammar checker. So it would be nice to be able to just tick off, from a menu, what one does and doesn't like, and to then just purge the extra junk from the program.

Similarly, in my camera, I'd like the option to simply remove the functions that I never use, so that the only things I have to scroll through in the menu are ones that I employ regularly. (There could be an item that would allow you to reload the missing options if, say, you start caring more about white balance than before.)

I don't mind that the factory pre-load is all bells and whistles; what I dislike is that I have to wade through the whistles while composing my bells-only chorale.

I am sure painters said the same about early cameras in the 18th century. Technologies need time to perfect.

Simplicity. I stopped using Photoshop the day Lightroom 1.0 was issued. It was a bit limited at the beginning, but since morphed into something a bit more powerful, and it is the one and only piece of dedicated software I use in connection with my photos. This might sound limited, but I get the results I want most of the times as I am familiar with almost all post-processing options.

Concerning the X100. This seems a very promising camera and I would like to get one. But I am not sure it is correct to name it as an example for simplicity. Apart the lens which is both fixed and a prime this camera will probably offer about as many options as a D700.

Concerning the D700 I fully agree with Tee. The solution would be a tick-box approach. Amongst others I would like to limit the PSAM button to A and M, customize the ISO setting to just allow 200, 400, 800, 1600 and 3200 to be dialed in, and customize the reset button to a state which is not only known but also desired.

Brian Eno's article is great.

You may want a device limited to doing what you need for your bells-only chorale; but what about my whistle sonata?

And the camera companies want to sell to both of us. Anyway, I might want to use a bell in my next piece, next week; I'm not "the whistle channel".

It's fascinating to bring painters in; because painters, despite the great respect they seem to be held in by photographers, are so very much not doing "honesty" -- that's why they paint instead of photographing, so they're not limited by what's actually there. Painters make stuff up (like writers in that regard). (Good ones are presumably "honestly" presenting something from their heads that means a lot to other people.)

I don't even know what the Nikon D700 two-button reset is. I've never needed to resort to it to clear anything up. And I mess with the menus rather a lot (using auto-ISO in very dark conditions, optimizing for high-speed sequence shooting, sometimes using bracketing, and so forth; I've got three named sets of settings I used enough for that to be worth doing, and am indeed annoyed at how easy it is to accidentally pollute them).

I kind of Like Microsoft Office 2003, but definitely hate Office 2007. Someone in Microsoft must be a genius of idiot. Everytime I use (have to use in my work) Office 2007, I curse and want to send Microsoft a letter saying something.

You may know what I am saying if you have used Office 2007 and early version.

A great read. With photography the more choice I have the more paralysed I become.

I've been reading all these since I posted earlier, and I think it's pretty obvious that there are a lot of experienced photographers unhappy with the camera company offerings, regardless of the 'technophiles" admonishments!

My point earlier, and to reiterate now, is that with the multiple camera platforms offered by the major players, why is there NO mostly manual, streamlined version of a body meeting the market that most pros, I know, would want?

I don't begrudge the techies their bells and whistles, and their 5 types of imaging software, it's just as a professional that needs to be compensated for time spent, I just don't want all that stuff. Canon, I believe, at any given time, has three to four versions of the Rebel in production and selling (or at least used to). Really? And they just can't make a body that most of the professionals I know want?

Why doesn't the output just looks like an Ektachrome? Why do I have 9 steps of in-camera sharpening and 9 steps of contrast, and whatever else I have. Why isn't the camera output just automatically as sharp as a transparency?

Simple, rugged body, manual exposure, aperture preferred and shutter preferred, Tiff, Raw, or highest rez jpeg only, or any combination of the three (why do I have 10 jpeg rez settings! Knock it down in post if you need to!) Image automatically as sharp and contrasty as transparency film (heck you could have a setting specifying film type!), simplified color setting (I know how to use filters!), 7 point auto-focus, or manual focus (with a screen I can actually focus on!), full 35mm frame, $1200. Yes...

Don't even get me started on the disappearance of moderately priced, f/2.8 prime lenses!

"Freedom *from* choice is true freedom"

A critical distinction, however, is that this freedom must be internally generated.

Don't *ever* ask the world to take it away for you.

@ David Dyer-Bennet

David, ironically, the two-button reset on D700 is meant to combat exactly what annoys you: an occurrence you describe as an 'accidental pollution'.

Try it, it may change your world. It also works very well even if you know exactly where you are, but too far away from intended setting. Defaulting to a known middle ground - what such reset does - maybe a markedly faster solution than undoing all those settings, one at a time.

To those who can afford to sit down and wade back and forth through the items, this may be of little benefit. But when you can't afford to dwell, such reset gives you a chance at capturing a shot you would have missed otherwise. And this isn't even some hypothetical situation - heck, so much as going outside from the indoors may do it!

The last thing I want to do in the bright sun is to shoot at 1/20th with high ISO, tungsten WB, +1EC, etc. And while default's Program isn't what I wanted, it'll give me a fighting chance in no seconds flat. Just not the bloody JPEG!

Clearly "off topic", sort of...

I have to admit that I make most of my money as a software developer.

Turns out that the same quest for simplicity and fewer options is being championed by some very good software engineers (bless their soul!) in the realm of web applications.

After years and years of "more is better", and "the more options the better", people realized that more was not always better. In fact after some infamous examples it was clear that the opposite was true.

The philosophy (if I remember correctly) is that is better to have 80% of the features that everyone would want working like a charm than 99% of them implemented with bugs and cumbersome interfaces.

The result is software that can be used by almost anyone on the first try. Sure there are things missing (and I know lots of nerds that always want more features). But a project management software I use – Basecamp – is so simple that I used it successfully to manage the production of my daughter's 5th grade year book with a bunch of parents.

These software engineers would have photographers test Canon and Nikon cameras before sending them to production, I am sure. And remove most of the incredibly useless features, streamline the interface and make a product that everyone can just "use".

I am not against bells and whistles per se. What I am against is "only bells and whistles", there have to be simpler alternatives.

Well, I didn't read them all, but I get the consensus that we don't need so many options in our cameras.

Someone, PLEASE, give me a digital camera that simply captures the image in a raw form. Let ME adjust the aperture, the focus, the shutter speed and the ISO. That's all.

Please make the camera body as small as possible (such as the size of the Nikon FM2n) and give me lenses that I can focus by turning a ring on the lens.

Make the camera 18 megapixels, minimum. Weatherproof would be nice, but not essential. Thanks.

Lee

" ... approximately 2,000 to 3,000 [kanji] characters are in common use in Japan."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kanji

"The basic modern Latin alphabet consists of ... 26 letters."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basic_modern_Latin_alphabet

Two very different instruments serving the same purpose.

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