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Saturday, 07 February 2015


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Just because a button is there doesn't mean you have to use it. Or even know what it does.

It's kind of like Microsoft Word or any other complex piece of software -- nobody uses more than 10% (say) of the features but everybody uses a different 10%.

You and I agree on your choice of a simple camera. But I still had to push the "here" to confirm you had chosen the S.
I hope your link brings you several sales. I suggest those interested in the S buy a used S rather than new. You can save $10,000 which is enough to buy a great deal of the photography books to which you also link.

The most interesting thing about your post is that Amazon both sells the Leica S body (not an "associate" retailer) and has one in stock for immediate Prime shipping! I guess the market for those is larger than one might suspect. :-)

If it was an ideal cam for me I would have a dial around the lens mount such as on the OM1 to cover the aperture selection or exp comp. A simple mode selection dial of M,A,S,P,custom 1 and 2 and another top dial that would cover either Shutter speed or exp compensation. a couple of buttons to change Iso and Af mode etc (programable). I don't think you need more than 4 buttons and I don't see the need for all the program modes on the mode dial. I only use Aperture priority or manual any how so would be happy with a cam that offered me those only and I would want an EVF, would be happy to lose the back screen too as I could chimp in the VF.

I am thinking about getting two of those. One to use for grandchildren birthday pics and one for a backup.

For simple, try the Holga camera.

I gave up on the camera industry in that regard, the camera industry is too constrained by the expectations and demands of blokes. (I like that expression!) There is no wiggle room for experiments, whatever deviates from the ideal of a 1995 sports photographer SLR will be shamed without mercy.

But there is a lot of change happening in smartphone cameras. Not considered a proper camera, the "bloke central committee" is not policing that segment. This opens up opportunities to experiment, try new things, features, UI paradigms - you name it.

It's a good thing I have "1-click checkout" disabled. I almost bought that camera on accident!

There's a bell curve for this. : ]
On the horizontal scale, the level of expertise. On the vertical scale, the number of buttons felt necessary. It shows that the most buttons are required by those with a middling level of expertise.

You may feel that the peak should be more to the left or to the right, according to your level of cynicism. ; ]

That was indeed funny. And, sadly, true. Thanks for the link!

And here is a simple audio amplifier for your iPhone . . .


[I *LOVE* that. Thanks Joe. --Mike]

You do realize, of course, that your design would never pass scrutiny by the bean counters. Too many buttons equals too high of a cost.

There actually is a quality, Simple Camera, the Oly E-PM2. Although widely ignored by us serious photo folks, it's a very effective combination of simplicity and ability to get great images.

No Mode dial. I know, I know, no serious photographer would even consider that. And yet, I shoot about 99% of my shots on any camera in Aperture Mode (using EV to adjust exposure) - and the thing that most often gets mis-set in handling on most cameras is the Mode Dial. (Lockable Mode Dial on the E-M5 II is a BIG improvement for many.) The Modes are all there, but require intent and a couple of clicks to change - a positive in the Simple Camera.

One Fn button (set to MF/AF for me) and a resettable Rec button (set to Magnify) are all I need for my simple camera.

Touch screen may be set Off, rear dial may be disabled. Button function of rear control remains on for EV/Aperture, Drive, Focus point (unfortunately), Super Control Panel Settings and to turn dial on/off (which requires a long press, so hasn't yet been done in error for me.)

I always have it set to Aperture priority, but iAuto or P make it even simpler.

If one needs a VF, the VF-3 or 4 work fine, and lock on securely. With the Panny 14-42 X power zoom lens or, I presume, the newer Oly version, it's P&S simple, yet adjustable as needed. Shove/grab it in and out of largish jacket pocket or small bag over and over and it's never mis-set, always ready to catch the shot.

Same sensor as the E-M5 means excellent IQ, three axis IBIS is quite good. I've used it extensively alongside my E-M5 with a different lens and it's only IQ drawback in comparison is less effective IS for Macro.

Put the 14-150 on it and it loses pocketability, but gains versatility. In dim places, the µ4/3 fast primes make it again simple, but effective. I use the Panny 20/1.7 and Oly 45/1.8.

Setting it up as Simple Camera is sorta complicated in Oly's extensive menu, but it is then really simple. It's hard to explain in a few words how simple, yet effective it may be.

The Panny GMs would be in the running but for their inability to be 'dumbed down' as effectively and lack of IBIS.

As someone who has long been priced out of the new (or used) Leica market, I particularly enjoyed the fake reviews of the Leica S on Amazon.

How about a Sigma DP1, 2 or 3 Merrill? Simplicity, a sharp lens and a special sensor.

Sheesh. Being the girly-man that I guess I am, not needing knobs, I clicked on the link to see which was the only simple camera. Now on my home-page I am getting ad after ad for the Leica S2. Yeah, like I'm gonna come up with $22,000.

I thought Leica T would qualify.
Is anybody using it? There were many reviews before it even launched but since then I have not seen anything.

Why oh WHY, do you keep bringing up the existence of THAT "simple camera?" Just about the time I forget that it exists, along with the pain of realizing I will never have one, here comes Mike Johnston rubbing it in my face again. Please! Mercy!

I read those rather cynical reviews of the Leica S on Amazon, and would note that none of those people mentioned that Amazon offers FREE SHIPPING!

Your link took me to the Amazon page for the Leica S3 where I found the following hilarioius user review posted by Austin B:

"This camera is great... I sold my car for this and now I am so hipster! now I look the part in my homeless clothes... My wife left me with my two children, but i can take some sick photos of my non-existent life. I currently am writing this at best buy. The focus is great, and the pictures look crystal clear on the the touch screen. I wish I could see the photo's on a big screen, but I don't have the cash for a computer and monitor. Well I just heard the Best Buy employee call the cops so I got to go... I highly recommend this to anyone who wants crystal clear photos and nothing else... LITERALLY NOTHING ELSE"

SAP is running a display ad that (simply) says,

COMPLEXITY has a million ideas it can't make happen. SIMPLE finishes what it starts.

There already was a very simple interchangeable lens camera. Simplified user interfaces, extremely intelligent device that could take outstanding pictures on full auto. The decks were swept clean and simple, just like an Apple appliance.

The model was the Nikon V1. The reviewers bombed it for its lack of user interface complexity.

Despite how bloggers may long for simplicity, the question remains whether there really is a market for it.

I remind you that the "more buttons and dials" school of design erupted from other old "blokes" who squealed that camera menus were too complicated and they were too prone to fat-finger erroneous settings? They were cheered on by another group who just wanted their new cameras to look like "real" cameras.

Accessibility versus simplicity is an age-old struggle in electronics design.

There are two types of people who own cameras. Those who are interested in making photos and those who are interested in talking about gear. This is why your little sister makes great photos with her iPhone, and you make technically perfect, but perfectly vapid photos ;-)

Me, I prefer a camera that doesn't get in my way with a lot of useless BS. Lots of great photos made with cameras that didn't have exposure compensation dials (Leica M3, Nikon F, Hasselblad 500, 8x10 Sinar, etc).

I keep looking at all the latest Whiz-Bang cameras, and none of them make me want to press the buy-button. But I'm planning to stand-in-line to buy an iPhone 6s.

Mike, here's an interesting article (in Forbes magazine) about the designing of the Leica S http://www.forbes.com/sites/marcbabej/2013/05/08/how-leica-camera-is-reinventing-the-medium-format-market-on-its-own-terms/

I've already have simple cameras. They use film.
Thirty six brand new B&W sensors (or 72 for my Pen F) for $5
Will operate even without batteries.
Does not become obsolete in 10 years.(or less)
I get to have stinky fingers.
What more could one ask for?

The Clarkson scale of masculinity seems rooted in 1980's adolescent fantasy, at least judging by the predominance of tools like the iPad amongst the current generation of metrosexuals.

I guess a lot of current top-end camera buyers tend to be 40+, so perhaps they were adolescents in the 1980s. Isn't it interesting how many current digital cameras (esp. DSLRs) owe their roots to the same era. The 5D DNA is immediately recognisable from the original T90.

Are they aimed at my demographic?

Personally, I was the Cambridge amplifier guy. I loved my Canon A1 and hated the T90. The cameras looked bulbous and broke the purity of the relationship between form and function that made older SLRs such objects of desire.

Now I wonder if these big black blobs are even a turn off for younger buyers.

With the unfussy sharp edged styling of the OMD and X-T1, some CSC cameras seem to be getting their personality back. The reversion to traditional controls on the X series was just icing on the cake.

I'm not sure I would want fewer buttons and knobs than an XT1. To me it looks just about perfect. Every primary control to hand. One knob, one job. Very little set-up or menu use required for 99% of basic shooting. I actually think it would be a great teaching camera.

I've just gone to essentially zero buttons.


From these guys.

First rule of being a bloke: more buttons
equals better

Not always. At work a few yeras ago, we were designing a switch panel for a washing machine. The 'Bloke Button' was suggested.

i.e. Just the one button which uses the same programme to wash everything (which is what most of us do anyway).

"I think this is one reason why a lot of photographers don’t think much of iPhone cameras. They can’t be any good because they don’t have enough buttons!"

You live in your own happy simple world, don't you? ;)

Coming late to this just to point out the irony in the SAP ad referred to by Speed.

If you've ever, even on the fringe of the periphery, been involved in an SAP implementation, you know they are at the other end of the scale from simple. And whatever conceptual scale you start with, extend it. And then make the scale exponential.

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