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Thursday, 16 July 2020


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How about a camera with a simple menu system without JPEG or video features?

I agree with you Mike. I currently have several Fujifilm bodies including the X-T2 and X-H1 with the flip-out screen. I also have another brand with the flip out screen. Between them, I prefer the flip-up style screen. This one design change is what prevents me from upgrading. I too, feel this might be what turns me away from Fujifilm cameras for future purchases. At best, I might buy an X-T3, at some point. Your idea of offering options would be perfect. Maybe like Apple, Fujifilm should adopt a build to order option? Obviously there would be limits and logistic challenges.

Your blue sky isn't that far away, at least in principle. If you've ever been in a modern car factory, you would have watched a production a la carte. Nowadays cars aren't built in different flavours in stock, hoping someone will buy exactly this model in shimmering blue with this extra super duper racing seat but without ladies mirror in the second sunshade. Nope. They are build according to the configuration every single client ordered in advance. Every car is unique.

Obviously, this pays off easier with a high priced car than with a (relatively) low priced mass market product like a camera. And modular concepts as an alternative tend to be a) more expensive and b) less refined, mostly bulkier.

But I've never understood why the software side of modern cameras is such a closed shop thing. I'm on Android for my smartphones. You can leave it alone and use it as delivered. But even with a tiny bit of programming knowledge and some special apps you can change a lot from automatic loudness depending on your location to functions of buttons. You do it on your own risk. But having the same possibility with a camera could help a lot. Why the hell can't I set the X-H1s front button to change manual lenses focal length? Why are there only two programmable focal length', but several standards I never use?

Best rgds, Robert

I would definitely like to see cameras offered like this, sort of like when you buy a computer and can put in a different drive or ram or processor when you order. A custom order takes longer because they build it before sending it rather than just grabbing it off the shelf. My guess is that these camera companies are just too small to afford this kind of customization, much less support it afterwards. Would be cool though.

I like the flip-out screens, always have, ever since using one on my Olympus E5. For careful tripod-based landscape work with vertical shots, they are far superior to the inline screens. But I also know why people like the inline ones for hand-held street style photography. The battle of the complainers!

Among the (numerous) reasons I purchased a Nikon D810 rather than the D850 was a dislike of screens that even tilt, i.e. aren't fixed in place, much less ones that flip out. Of course, basing marketing decisions on my far-outside-the-mainstream preferences would be a sure way for camera manufacturers to go bankrupt.

Apparently they should pay as much attention to you as they do to me. :-)

Mike, I think you have the situation 180 degrees around. Cameras should absolutely be “the kitchen sink” in hardware. However, in software, users should have great tools to work in a streamlined way for their current task. Our problems arise due to the software kitchen sink, everything exposed all the time,which produces so much of the pain we all have in using these devices.

For a familiar-to-many example, Photoshop solved this ages ago by introducing Workspaces. Workspaces provided a curated and customizable way to adapt the entire UI to the task at hand. Photoshop pros of my experience make extensive use of this feature in their work. Camera reviewers and users have directly or indirectly been crying for this functionality for ages.

That user experience would produce a sea change in camera usage. You love the flip-up screen? For primarily stills work? Buy the flip-up model, select the Stills workspace, and never look back.

Ultimately, this would require camera makers to make an cultural change: to that of camera platform makers than camera appliance makers. (IMO, this has happened to an extent, but far too slowly.) Cameras evolved from the appliance model, when there was no choice but to make all the choices for the user. When all we had were stills and discrete shooting modes (film stocks!), this was allright. But the user experience hasn’t kept up with digital capabilities. So re-conceive of the camera hardware as a multi-faceted platform. Support discrete user workflows rather than marketing bullet lists, and enable it all via great software on par with the hardware. This would put the user in control, with as much or as little of hardware’s capabilities exposed as they need at the moment.


And while we're at it, how about a really really high quality inkjet that only prints to A4. Why should we have to pay for a printer than prints to A3/A2 just to get a good quality 8x10 inkjet print?

Really interesting you brought the issue of the "flippy screen" up, Mike.

I know that Fujifilm has VOC data that says that still photographers prefer the tilting LCD about 2:1 to the flippy screen, but that videogrpahers invariably prefer the flippy screen. Fuji got so much flak for not putting a flippy screen on the X-T3, they finally caved for the X-T4.

The problem with the flippy screen is that it is effectively useless in many stills photography use-cases. Try flippin' out that flippy screen when shooting with a camera mounted in an L-bracket. Man, I would be p*sssed!

I not only prefer, but require the tllting 3-way LCD screen. When I am out on RE or Architectural shoots, I often flip out the rear LCD with the Rule of Thirds Grid and virtual horizon turned on to ensure that every is "square and level". This is to minimize the impact keystoning and extension distortion when not using tilt-shift lenses.
This photo is one I took just last night out on an assignment.

As for all choices you mention, those are not practicable from a product development perspective, but it would be possible for Fujifilm to split the X line into two: one for still photographers and one for videographers, much like Panasonic did for with the GH5 and GH5S.

My biggest concern is that Fuji is going to release the X-H2 with a flippy screen...and like you, that may well make it a non-contender for me, when otherwise it might become my next camera. Sigh.

Love that Swiss army knife graphic... yep, the right stand alone tool will always be better in use.

I would love a bare bones camera that has no video at all. Just because people have video capability doesn't mean they know how to use it.... just watch the news to see all the vertical 16:9 shots made by people that never saw how their computers and TVs have the same aspect ratio, only horizontal.

I've never shot video ever. I'm still trying to be decent at still photography after 50 years. They are two arts, and mastering one specific art with the right tool will be an asset.

I don't know how much the software for video adds to the price of a camera, but it sure clogs the menus.

If I could have afforded it, I would have bought a Nikon Df and been totally happy.

Hopefully the X-H2 will keep the proper screen, with the X-T series having the silly one, so there's hope, yet. Dreaming of a monochrome sensor, with internal user replaceable filters so it could be an IR body as well? Unlikely, but it might be one way to deal with having to order X amount of a given sensor, especially as it seems everyone is going to be selling fewer cameras - just make every buyer want to get one more body!

To fuji's credit, with the X-T, X-E, X-H, and X-Pro series, they really do have quite a large collection of choice, but it's never enough, is it?(or always too much?)

A solution that would please no one, but is actually quite possible at the expense of a tad more weight, bulk and cost, would be mounting the flip-out screen on a flip-up tray or arm. You wouldn't ever have to use the flip-out feature if you didn't want to (and vice versa).

It might still eat at you that the offensive and unnecessary feature was there at all and that you paid for it, but it would very likely add less to the price of the camera(s) than the option to customize, and may not even add as much weight as the infrastructure needed to support practical customization of things like displays.

I'm not gonna touch the rest, but I've always been a fan of "stripper" models, if done right. I was always intrigued by Ricoh's modular GXR, too, and was disappointed that it didn't catch on.

You're certainly entitled to your preference for flip-up screens. It's a matter of personal taste, and there's no right or wrong. But for some uses, there's a lot to be said for the flip-out style, and not just for video. If you're shooting a vertical, the flip-up screen is just useless. That's a still photography issue, not a video issue, since videos are shot in landscape mode, except for those annoying phone videos. Second, the flip-out screen lets you work in a variety of awkward camera positions (think macro in the field) where flip-up is not so helpful. Of course, there are also situations where having the screen off to one side is inconvenient. What would be really nice would be a mechanical design that let you do either type of positioning with the same screen.

Leica dropped its a la carte option some time ago. It was pretty well suited to their production model (all their cameras are assembled by hand, in batches), but I guess there wasn't sufficient demand for it.

I'm not sure why display screens evoke such emotion with photographers. Sure, everyone has their preference but does it really matter in the long run? Since digital cameras first came out the majority have had a fixed in place screen, the least flexible of all and that doesn't seem to elicit the same kind of emotion.
Both the flip-out and flip-up screens add much more flexibility. Most (but not all) flip-up screens can also flip down. Some but not many, can also flip sideways, making them useful for vertical as well as horizontal shots. The flip-out screen is the most versatile of all as it can do anything a flip-up screen can do and more. It can also face forwards, which is why all the video people like it so much and it can also be closed against the body of the camera, which is why I like it. In the closed position it is far less likely to be damaged by rough handling and makes it less tempting to the photographer to be constantly chimping. The only disadvantage is that the screen is slightly off-axis compared to the lens when using it in the flip up or down mode which you can easily get used to.

It’s already been tried with the Ricoh GXR, not exactly your spread of features and not all those advertised came to fruition :( .


Blue Sky: How about two versions of each model. One containing the whole megillah and the other, a working man’s special. Both would have the same sensor and a tilting screen but…a flip-out screen could be added via a portrait style grip that also adds a 5G SIM card. The tilty screen could display data (or web data) while the flip-out handled just the video. A second grip could be available to add just the SIM card and a third grip design to add SSD storage.

Speaking of grips…Canon is charging $350 for the R6 (BG-R10) grip. Referring to their accessory pricing as annoying is as civil as I can get. They ask a 6D user like me to move from a 1090 CIPA rating to 380 and then they go and do this. Don’t get me started on the $60 plastic hood for the 85mm f/2.

It occurs to me that this exercise has the potential to get way out of control which reminded me of the car that Homer Simpson designed. The Homer has two bubble domes; one in the front and one in the back is for quarreling kids (restraints and muzzles optional). According to Homer, the engine sound should cause people to think the world's coming to an end. The car also features shag carpeting, tail-fins and the top half of a bowling trophy as a hood ornament.

All my life I have searched for a car that feels a certain way. Powerful like a gorilla, yet soft and yieldy like a Nerf ball. Now, at last, I have found it. ~ Homer Simpson

Heh. My "blue sky" as well. Interesting tidbit from the odd Nikkei op-ed piece that was flopping around in the last few days all doom and gloom about the camera industry: An unexplained, un-footnoted mention of the industry moving toward a "camera foundry" model.

Now, if it did go that way, and that term meant the ability to order "bespoke" cameras that were made up of modules...well,now.

Why can’t I buy a digital camera the same way I can buy an automobile? My take on the same topic:


I wonder how I ever got a single wonderful photo with my old Nikon F. The original from 1969. Now I have so many "features" in a mirrorless or dslr- and yet I can't say my results (actual content) are so much better than those I got from my old Nikon F.

Noiseless iso as high as the sky, dynamic range from snow white to coal bin black. Focus as fast as a hummingbirds wings. And yet...

I do have to say sitting in front of a computer is much nicer than hands that sting (and smell) from developer and fixer.


I like your idea, Mike. It may not be practical, I dunno anything about that part of the plan. But I do like it.

And I think I'm in agreement on Fuji messing with something that I consider perfect, apparently just to be different. It's the flippin' screen on the X-Pro3 and removing the ability to effectively use wider angle lenses with that camera's OVF. Fuji lost me with those "features". I'm sticking to my X-Pro2 and quirky old X-Pro1 bodies.


You are brilliant. But I'm not sure this could be a commercial success. For something less than a year, I regularly visited what must be the dumbest forum of all, a home to quite a group of very vocal camera consumers. Guys that brought all the very worst elements of amateur into photography. Guys whose goal in life was to buy the maximum number of cameras and lenses and test all to find the holy grail, ultimate sharpness. As you might say, aye, there's the rub.

Several times the question came up is it possible for a camera to have too many features? The answer was invariably was,no, NO, NOOOOO! Many said that they wanted every feature known and unknown, up to and including the electric nose picker, so they would have it if needed. Now remember this was a group of mostly the camera companies target market, buys that would buy into a system and use it for six months before something else comes along. And their response to my prostestations was vitriolic.

I often tried to explain that there would always be a sharper and "better" introduced but no one cared.

But I'm with you. As a wise philosopher once said, "We have seen the enemy, and he is us."


It would make sense to have variations of a model. To make a car analogy (because for some reason I always think in car analogies), make it something like the Porsche line-up - mainstream Carrera with general features, high-end Turbo with all the bells and whistles, stripped down RS with just the good bits.

On a simpler to implement level, how about just letting you configure your menus and features? Load up a program on your computer which lets you drag and drop the bits you want and remove anything you don't (like the custom installation settings on a piece of software). So if, for example, you don't have any use for video, you could just remove it from your interface. Then just save your settings to a memory card and load them into your camera.


What you are describing is possible, kind of like Apple’s “ Build to order option. They take some subset of features and give you a choice.
SOMEONE could probably do it . Most likely not a current camera company because of the way their manufacturing is set up for mass production.
Automobiles used to let you choose from a long list of options, it increasingly you mostly get to choose ‘packages’. The more global we get the more difficult it is to truly customize consumer products.
A disruptor could do it but probably not in volume.
Nikon sort of tried it with the Df , which had a very good sensor & no video features. A company like Fuji could probably make a stills only camera version , but the limiter is that since most features are in software there is no savings to be had. So you end up with 2 cameras priced the same one with more features one with less . Most people would say ‘ I might as well have that just in case. Physical differences like tilt screens would be harder and create inventory and supply chain problems.
The solution might be to make modular cameras like the Hasselblad CM where you bought a box and could change everything including the “sensor”

There just needs to be sufficient demand, which there probably is not. At least not for large production run products.
That doesn’t mean it can’t be done. If you get a true modular imaging device you can do anything.

Certainly a forum-focused subject of contention, please allow me to be succinctly derisive in your comments just this once:

Flip-out screens are lamentable components passed off by the manufacturers as a premium feature.

There I said it. My apologies to all who like them.

I so much want a display screen optimized for waist level vertical photography, and screw the horizontal photography crowd. The flip out screen design is an acceptable compromise.

Do you need an X-T4? Like you I'm still coping with a 2014 X-T1, and I'm only really considering an X-T3 for sensor resolution compatibility with my X-Pro2.

I have my own blue-sky thoughts for Fuji though. How about extending the X-100 with 28mm and 50mm equivalent lenses?

I cherish my X-100T, and I'd be happy to pop two, or maybe even three bodies in a Hadley Pro.... like when I used to be able to afford to use Leicas...

Giving up on a camera because of rear screen design seems kind of harsh but I sort of get it. When cars got too fancy, I stopped enjoying them as much. I can maybe see why a flip-out screen might appeal to video types if they need to point the screen to a group of people off to the side or something, or if they're directing themselves in a shot. But I would have thought that the better way to handle that is via a tethered auxiliary screen mounted on a separate platform. Those little screens on the back don't seem adequate to the video task, but could do in a pinch I suppose.
People are used to having their camera also be a camcorder now, probably no way to get that back in the bottle. Any cameras without it will probably be retro niche offerings. Weird that everyone wants video when 99.99% of the videos people make are awful.
There used to be niche cameras, Nikon 28Ti/35Ti, Yashica T4, etc. Does the Ricoh GR count as one, or the Fuji 100 series? They probably do video though.
My guess is that the people who would appreciate the value of an uncluttered camera don't constitute a large market. Some Olympus bodies let you redefine the meaning of the red video button to something else, but then you have to remember that you did that.
So long as we're blue-skying I'd like to be able to tell the camera to focus at infinity, or 32.3 metres, or something. Not sure I'd ever need it, but it seems like something they should be able to do sine they're doing all that other stuff I don't care about.

My blue-sky daydreaming camera fantasy would be more companies selling stripped down, simple cameras like the Leica MD (it doesn’t even have a back screen, I love it) and a customizable UI.

I’ve always liked and shoot Pentax and Olympus, but their menus are super complicated, everything looks the same, no matter where you are.

Seems whenever anyone makes something that's successful and small (which is rare), the only way they then make it 'better' is to make it... Bigger- and defeat it's own raison d'etre. The BMW Mini Cooper started out as a rather small jewel of a car (the original smaller still) and has now been uglified to the size of medium sized sedan. The Fujifilm X-T series started much the same, and is now Bigger than a FF Sony...

Apple tries to strike this balance. There are a number of Standard iMac configurations which you can get *right now* off the shelf. Or, you can wait and custom configure one, though you have to wait for it.

Apples options are not quite as radical as your suggestions, Xtrans vs Bayer, really? But they do give you some level of cusomisability.

I guess back when you were pining for a DMD camera you forgot to add: "no video!" :)

Last year I passed on buying a super-cheap, like new Leica M-240, after borrowing it for a couple of weeks. Part of the reason for this was a visceral reaction against a Leica M with microphone holes on the top plate. Probably an overreaction and certainly a bad decision business-wise, but I couldn't help it.

Now I'm shooting with a Fuji X-E3, which of course does video and has microphone holes... Still, this seems less offensive on a Fuji than on a camera whose design goes back 60 years or so.

So. Blue-Sky-ing it.
Take the Olympus Micro 4/3 platform open source?
Modular, and open source access to the operating systems?
Not a money maker idea for the Olympus brand, except to commoditize its IP and build a modular hobby/enthusiast/pro platform with existing and potential new equipment?

Oh, and I forgot to mention. The hinged LCD panels you like have been mostly replaced by the ones with the swivel that you don't like. Don't expect to see that change, the swivel ones are to aid in selfies. So, one bad practice begets another.

There is actually one of the super-high-res cameras, I forget which, which has a complex screen which can both flip up and out.

Interesting idea.

My very inexpert gut feeling is that such a camera is probably technically possible but not commercially viable.

The cost of an assembly process allowing for the essentially custom manufacturing of individual cameras is probably too high.

Additionally, in this day of instant everything, I can only imagine that (Tesla aside) the necessary delay (caused by the need for custom assembly) between ordering your individual model and delivery would be off putting to many.

Does this model exist already in other industries? When you order an Apple computer (any computer?), you can select from a range of options/upgrades. The same when you buy a car. And the final product is made up to your specification. Although, perhaps too few cameras are being bought to make this economically viable? It's fun to play around in your mind, though.

I prefer both types of screen over a fixed screen :-) But neither the tilt screen or the articulated screen is ideal - they both have things they are not good for.

The articulated screen has the advantage that it is usable in just about any orientation: landscape or portrait, facing back or forwards, above your head and below, looking around a corner. The articulated screen can even be reversed in its folded away position to act as its own screen protector. The articulated screen is very flexible.

The tilt screen is much more limited. Rotate the camera to portrait orientation and the screen is now useless. Very annoying if you shoot landscapes from a tripod in portrait orientation. It can't be reversed for protection. However, it is very useful for simulating the old style waist level viewfinder. The articulated screen is not so good for this because it's not conveniently and neatly placed behind the camera.

Overall, I think the articulated hinge is a much more flexible solution except for when you want a waist level finder. If you work that way a lot, I can easily understand why you would favour the tilt screen. But working in portrait orientation from a tripod is it's big weakness.

p.s. The way I have my articulated screen set up is with the screen reversed in the screen protected position. I have my post capture image review set to display in the EVF. But if I need to review on the screen, as soon as I flip open the screen, the image review automatically switches to the LCD. Certainly not how everyone would work, but it suits me.

The ideal solution, of course, would be a screen that has both kinds of hinge in one. Fuji almost have that on some of their models.

As Old Abe said, "You can't please all the people all the time." I suspect the cost and logistics of something like you postulate would be prohibitive for most camera makers. Leica buyers are already willing to pay three times more for whatever it is that appeals about a Leica so those costs and logistics are somewhat built-in. And I suspect a custom Leica doesn't sell for stock Leica dollars either...

Re: swiveling screens, while maybe not to everyone's taste they are hugely useful for those times that you have to put your tripod in a place where you can't get behind the camera to look at a screen. Which in my experience is "every time you put your camera on a tripod... "

Flip-up screens that stay in line with the optical axis are useful as long as you only ever shoot horizontal photos, or perhaps crop to square. If you want to shoot vertically from a high or low angle, flip-out screens are the way to go.

It appears you and I are opposites - I specifically skipped out on cameras with flip-up screens like the Olympus E-M5 and E-M1, but bought both of their Mark II versions with flip-out screens.

[Except the X-T2 and X-T3 (and X-H1) allow tilting up in the vertical (portrait) orientation too. See the top picture at this post:


As I say, Fuji had gotten it right. --Mike]

I think the problem is not so much the manufacture of such a camera system, but the distribution. The dealer just isn’t going to hold stock of a dozen different variants and if he did, the one you want would be the one that is out of stock.

You see the same issue with cars here in Australia. Want a particular set of options, 3-6 month wait while it was built and shipped. Happy to take the options the dealer thinks you need and pay for some you don’t want - there is one in the yard you can take today.

Add to the dealer stock issue, the fact that a portion of the camera market is “gear heads” rather than photographers who are chasing the latest feature and the market for a stripped camera will be pretty small.

On the other hand, Fuji do already pretty much do what you ask. Don’t like the X-T3? Try the X-Pro3 or the X-T30 or the X-H1. At any point they tend to have 4 or 5 variations on the same sensor/processor pairing at any time. (Unfortunately we’re still waiting for the X-E4 to catch up with the current generation).

Sounds like the Ricoh GXR concept on steroids.

We used to have that (or are about to have used to have had that) with micro 4/3. Want a giant camera that has everything including the kitchen sink? Got it. Something more minimal with all the controls you need? Got it. Something super compact? Got it.

It was the flippy, twisty LCD thing that convinced me to switch from film to digital back in the day. Saves a lot of mud, scratches, grease and ripped clothes photographing in awkward locations. Also beats one of those hinge-up-and-down things for vertical copying work.

I own an EOS R. I've never actually use the flip out screen as a flip out screen. I do like that I can turn the screen backwards and ignore it. When I do use it, I use it to navigate the menus. That's about it. I'd be fine if it didn't flip out at all.

The GX8 has the same screen. I never use the screens for anything so on my GX8 it's turned towards the camera. This is why I love my X Pro 3 so much. The screen is by default facing the camera. I'm am 60 years old and just bend down if I need to go lower. And I am always needing to go lower because I have two rescue dogs that I take pictures of. With dog photos A) get the nose in focus and B) get down on their level so you aren't doing a down angle that's used in cinema to diminish a character. As for the actual screen change it's for video so that type of screen probably isn't going away, unfortunately. Given the choice between that type of screen and the older one I prefer the older one. Actually the one on the X Pro 3 is perfect.

The problem is that cameras are a very small (and shrinking) market, and even a vast industry like car companies (who may sell millions upon millions of a single model over its lifetime) cannot offer that bespoke level of customization to everyone because 1) the manufacturing cost is prohibitive, 2) the base engineering is already bedeviled by integration of what's there, and (most critical) 3) consumers don't know what they want anyhow, so prefer to choose one of three options (base, mid-level and luxe). Oh Mike, you know this, and have probably written about it before.

Alas, cameras are not cars - far fewer are made and the space for customization is basically the shell color and finish, or cutting some circuits to protect higher end models (if you're Canon). We can still dream, but until they are entirely software (as smartphones are pushing it toward), we won't see that physically manifested.

What you may want is the camera equivalent of the new Ford Bronco.

Lots and lots of options that can be configured in interesting ways to suit the needs of the customer. Look at the marketing:


Not just higher tiers but aimed at fairly clear use-cases. A "Base" model, Mainstream Off-Roading, Adventure Off-Roading, High-Speed Off-Roading, and a high-end model with a little bit of everything.

Normally I would gravitate to the high end models only because that normally meant more stuff vs less stuff. But with these use cases the situation is different--I drive a Toyota FJ Cruiser off-road sort of vehicle now, and do spend time in places like the Mojave National Preserve where I was an artist-in-residence for four weeks last year--not many proper roads there. But with the Bronco, I'm looking at the second model at the beginning because that's me: Mainstream Off-Roading.

There are no cameras aimed at me, just cameras ranked by more features and fewer features.

To get there we'd need a way to make menu items invisible. We'd need some modularity in the hardware. And we need way cooler colors. Seriously.

Okay. I'll bite. Lets go pure blue sky then. With the ability to choose a perfect camera, for you, they immediately lose you forever as a customer.

Once you have the perfect camera, your quest is over.

You have a wonderful aesthetic sensibility Mike. Sadly, crème brûlée isn't for everyone. So many are happy to just eat out of a trough.

"A single fixed-blade knife, so to speak, in the context of the illustration above---do they still make those?"

Yup. My brother gave me a fixed-blade Damascus knife for my birthday. My everyday carry knife. But then, I live in the woods. And I like things simple, in general, just for the record.

With best regards.


That’s my dealbreaker, I love a flip-up screen because I want to shoot from waist level. I shoot maybe 75% of my shots from waist level.

I will never buy a side-flip screen camera. I really despise them. It’s my only dealbreaker feature, really.

@Eolake Stobblehouse
That camera is the Sony A99.
@Mike: Check this out.That's probably the answer.

I couldn't agree more. The X-T3 I used for a while had the best screen ever. I hate the flippy screens because they make an L-bracket nearly impossible. Despite all the good things on the new Canons, they had to do that crappy flippy screen.

It's laugh-out-loud funny; viewfinder flexibility used to be a definite hallmark of the top-level professional cameras, like the Nikon F. You could use it with a simple prism, or a metered prism, or a waist-level finder; and you could put a right-angle magnifying adapter on the prism eyepieces, too.

Then, suddenly, just a few decades ago...viewfinder flexibility was suddenly an amateur feature, found in the consumer cameras but not the professional cameras.

Which I found hugely annoying; being able to get the high and low angles without lying on the ground (or floating in the air!) was wonderful, and I could do it more easily with my toy camera than my good camera. As far back as my Miranda, I used the poor-mans waist-level viewfinder (remove the prism and just look down onto the screen, no shades around it) quite a lot to get a variety of angles more easily.

As to why videographers need fancy viewfinders—you try running along smoothly with your head 18 inches off the ground and facing the flat screen on the back of the camera, keeping everything nicely framed!

Did you ever look at what the optical viewfinders of professional motion picture cameras could do? They were some of the most amazing bits of optical wizardry I've ever seen. Just short of being a gooseneck that conveyed an image out the end! Of course later it was "video assist", putting a video camera on the end of that viewfinder, so it could be duplicated and remoted further away and such.

Many people (I was one) who are responsible for managing the specifying, designing, production and sales of complex products will tell you, "Nobody uses more than ten percent of the features of this product. But everybody uses a different ten percent."

Many customer meetings included comments like, "All you would need to do is ... " and "It would be easy" and "If you added this feature you could sell a lot more ... " and "Why is this so complicated -- you can get rid of a lot of these features ... " and "Why so many knobs and switches? Can't you do it in software?"

BMW is threatening to sell features by subscription. Want heated seats? Well, for a small monthly fee, we can enable those.

Fuji's ongoing parade of updates could certainly include something similar.

It seems to me some sort of an emblem of today's world: we're free to do anything we want, as long as we want what we're allowed to.

Swiveling screens are popular with youTube vlogers and several YouTube reviewers have mentioned the Fuji screen as a standard that other manufacturers should match. I guess they have enough traffic that camera companies cater to thier whims over actual photographers - jw

I recently placed an order for an X-T4 from my local shop. My one hesitation was that screen when deciding between this and the X-T3.

On the one hand, I would prefer the X-T3's dual-tilting version, but on the other, I'm actually looking forward to having it closed against the body for the 90%+ of the time that I don't need it at all (apart from reviewing). That benefit, for me, plus a range of other interesting new whizzbang things (quieter shutter, bigger battery, IBIS, slightly deeper grip) outweighed the downsides of the articulating screen.

Clearly the next significant engineering hurdle for Fuji is a screen that fulfills both duties. They have an uncanny track record of hitting all of the major criticisms of each camera in the following generation. I've read / watched likely ALL of the reviews of the X-T4 on the web (it's a problem) and this is really the most common theme: LOVE the screen or HATE the screen.

I would fork over plenty of cash to Fuji for a stripped SK version of the X-T series as you've proposed. I just need aperture priority, fast autofocus, and a tilting screen. Lose the d-pad, half the buttons, no interest in video. In theory, the X-Pro3 or X100V should be in my arsenal, but I have a *thing* for the X-T form factor.

And well, we'll see how the X-T4 and I get along. I tend to get one tool and stick with it (e.g., I'm just now moving on from my X-T1 - the only camera I've used in the past six years), but if this screen truly is objectionable in practice, maybe that will be different. Or maybe it'll be "good enough for now".

"With the sky blue sky, this ride in time wouldn't seem so bad to me now
Oh, if I didn't die, I should be satisfied I survived
It's good enough for now"

- Wilco, "Sky Blue Sky"

Maybe we all need to become hybrid shooters, moving seamlessly between the two formats. Everyone knows Leica is a dinosaur.

"this single move has thrown into doubt my eventual future with Fuji."


I respect you, Mike, I really do, but I find that statement bewildering to say the least.

I mean, really?

The kind of thoughts that come to me after reading our statement:
- Missing the forest for the tree?
- Loosing perspective on a wholly new scale?
- Maybe the most first world problem ever seen?

I hope this doesn't anger you. I love your blog!

[No offense taken. The comments are for your reactions. --Mike]

There's a simple solution to the screen problem, but it requires that the engineers get out of the box they're in.

Instead of communicating via wire, they need to communicate wireless to the LCD. Then you get the ability to remove the LCD and position it as you wish. Leave the tilt mechanism in for when it's mounted on the back of the camera. Obviously, you also need a way to mount the LCD when off the back, but that's a simple enough problem to solve.

Love the flippy screen on our Canon 60D, very useful when using a big tripod with the camera mounted above head height which I often do. ( & I'm 6'3"). Tilted screens don't look much good for portrait oriented shots which constitute about 90% of my photos. The tilting screen on the M6 Mk2 is the main factor which would put me off choosing it as our next camera.

John Camp is right on the money with his comments about the Apple OS. I could have happily stuck with Snow Leopard, a solid operating system for a computer that you could use to do some actual work.

Don't get me started on the bloody stupid lack of ports on the front of their bloody stupidly designed computers.

[I've been using Macs since the original in 1984, and I'm a big Apple fan because Apple = computers to me. And...even *I* agree with you on that last. I have always wanted more and more convenient ports. The lightning charging port on the Magic Mouse 2, the latest embodiment of this "house defect" of theirs, is almost an affront, IMO.

It doesn't help that bluetooth mouses have stopped working right on my 2-year-old Mac Mini, apparently because the bluetooth chip or board or whatever you'd call it in the computer is defective. I've had to go back to using an old wired mouse. It's amazing how greatly even a slightly malfunctioning mouse disrupts your workflow. --Mike]

The flippy screens are for video. And if there's one thing that will save cameras it's video. Obviously the camera makers know this.

Cameras are now really video machines that also happen to take still photos (sigh). That unfortunately means the flippy screens will be the norm going forward. I hate them, but I don't do video or selfies. For me this makes the cameras viewfinder very important. As an example I have both a Panasonic G9 and Canon R. Both have 3.6MP res viewfinders, but the R's VF is much better. Better optics (huge pincushion on the G9) and better eye relief. For this sole reason alone I prefer to use the R over the G9. I treat the camera like it has a fixed rear screen leaving the screen facing outward for image review, but rarely if ever actually using it to frame a picture. I've just resigned myself that this is just how I'll have to use digital cameras going forward.

Victorinox (I think it was) actually made some knives with a preposterous number of tools as in your picture above. Many years ago as a penniless I spent a summer working in a sports shop that had one in the window. I wouldn't have tried to cut anything with it, but did the job it was designed to do very well. Many a passersby stopped to look at it.

I started out with a flippy screen (LUMIX G1 - remember them?) then went to tilting with an OMD E-M5.

I now have a Fuji X-T2 which is the best implementation I have seen. As you can tell I don’t change cameras very often.

You know, reading the post and looking at the pictures reminded me. My Sony A7 has a movable screen.

I keep forgetting that little fact.

There's an area where this already happens. Many large format camera manufacturers are happy to customise their models on request.

Who needs fantasizing? "Me, I miss" the very real GX9 review, that was published, then pulled from these pages. I think the issue should at least be addressed, no? Did the almighty Editor-in-chief receive death-threats because of the less than favourable part II rant? Did he just manage to loose the thing? Pawn it to cover black jack debts? Ah, the possibilities are endless, now you can fantasize ...

[I still mean to write it, but have been distracted recently. I'll explain privately. --Mike]

I couldn't agree more with you on the X-T2/3 screen. It was the perfect design for me, and I use it very often for different kinds of shots.
I skipped X-T3 because the new features seemed mostly incremental compared with my X-T2.
But I was eagerly waiting for the X-T4, not least because of the much-awaited (by me anyway), IBIS.

Well, I was so bitterly disappointed by the new screen design on the X-T4 that it was enough to make me pass on yet another possible upgrade. Like you, I found the decision puzzling, especially considering they could have gone for the X-T100 screen design, which I think would have pleased everyone.

Thankfully my X-T2 is still going strong after 4 years, but I seriously hope Fuji will reconsider the screen design for the X-T5, whenever it is realeased.

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