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Mirrorless cameras - (often) form over function?
#1
While I quite like the new Sigma FP from a concept perspective, I'm wondering where the industry is heading in terms of product usability.

In the DSLR world, basically all cameras converged around the same design principals - a grip, a front- and a rear-dial to control things and navigation buttons/joystick for navigating through the camera menu.
If you know one DSLR, you know them all - roughly speaking. Cameras that didn't follow the basics vanished into history. 

Not so in the mirrorless segment. As you know, this is clearly the place to be for me personally. However, I have to say that there are quite some freak products out there.

* why is a 'historic' layout with a EV compensation dial on the top a good thing? (many Fuji, Sony) There is a reason why this was abandoned on DSLRs in the early 90s. It's nice looking but it is just cumbersome in real life IMHO. 
* what happened to a reasonable grip? (Sigma, many Fujis/Pana/Oly)  Given the overall size with the lens, a grip doesn't add any really bulk in your bag.
* Whenever I touch a Sony A7xxx I wonder what Sony thought when they designed all these hard edges. It's just uncomfortable to hold. What happened to rounded designs? Bauhaus may be good for buildings but cameras?
* Is a (tiny) touch screen really a good thing on a system camera - at all?

I, for one, like to have a camera that is comfortable to hold and where it is possible to adjust settings with my hands not leaving the default positions while being able to keep looking through the viewfinder. Is that asking too much really?

Or am I just an old sack unwilling to accept the better new ways?

PS: In my book, the EOS R and Pana G9/G95 (probably also the Nikon Zs) are good designs but ... well ... these follow DSLR guidelines.
Chief Editor - opticallimits.com

Doing all things Canon, MFT, Sony and Fuji
#2
I disagree on "if you know one DLSR, you can use all of them" - except if "using" means "set it to the green symbol and just bang on". But what to do with the humungous "Pro" models which come without a green symbol?

Instead of going into comparison lists, I just wonder what your reason was to open this thread? The discussion is ongoing since the first designer came up with the idea of pulling more batteries into a camera which was consuming more and more energy, then designed a grip around the battery compartment.

Old Minolta and Practica bodies also were rather edgy - cheaper to manufacture, like Sony as well.

DSLRs dictated a form which is difficult to use for left-handed people: Ok, that goes for many things. But although the appearance more or less looks the same, usability is more than button and dial layout.

As many functions as cameras have these days - how could these functions become a form?

And also: back in the day there were major companies with a lot of lookalike bodies and few others. Rollei, Contax, Mamiya, Hasselblad tried other concepts, none was more successful than the average SLR. Modular cameras from Canon, Nikon, Rollei, Pentax never made it to mass market - did their owners care?

If the function is only "take a picture/movie", your smartphone already is up to the job, less form is close to impossible. Have you ever been asked by Canon or some manufacturer "Klaus, what functions do you need in one of our cameras?" There never was a kickstarter concept. All designs had to prove their value in sales numbers - good form and function became secondary important, specs lists made the decisions...
#3
The FP is more boxy and less easy to use than my old EOS M. That takes a lot of effort, to make a camera this unergonomic. For the rest, it lacks an AA-filter, not sure why. And it lacks a mechanical shutter, of which they say the lack is one of the reasons why this camera can be this small. Nonsensical, the much smaller EOS M has a mechanical shutter. They say it has a sensor with very fast sensor read out to minimise rolling shutter. Fast? No... the 1/15th flash sync shows it is just as slow as other cameras. That means the same rolling shutter issues as for instance the RP and other cameras in silent shutter mode, and a standard issue with big apertures/short exposure times. And artificial light banding issues.

The odd 45mm f2.8's purpose is clear now, to be paired with the FP as small combination. I don't get that idea though, the big thing about FF is to be able to use bigger apertures, but with this lens you do not have that FF advantage.


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Oh well, no doubt Sigma will have another big hit on their hands.
#4
I kind of liked the exposure compensation dial on my old Minolta 7D. It was the first thing that broke, though, before the camera had to be sold for parts.

I simply love the touch screen on my current Canon 80D, especially the fact that it's articulated (well... the 650D was what started it for me). Makes shooting from odd angles so much easier, especially since now I can't really kneel for an upward shot from a lower point due to arthrosis.

I've only used an EVF based mirrorless camera once (spent an evening with an Olympus E-M1X in May...) and I can't say I've made up my mind in relation to this feature. I am fairly certain that sooner rather than later I'll have to part with my Canon gear and switch to lighter mirrorless gear (Fuji?) The main reason I'm not considering this more seriously is the financial one.
#5
(07-12-2019, 07:54 AM)Brightcolours Wrote: The FP is more boxy and less easy to use than my old EOS M. That takes a lot of effort, to make a camera this unergonomic. For the rest, it lacks an AA-filter, not sure why. And it lacks a mechanical shutter, of which they say the lack is one of the reasons why this camera can be this small. Nonsensical, the much smaller EOS M has a mechanical shutter. They say it has a sensor with very fast sensor read out to minimise rolling shutter. Fast? No... the 1/15th flash sync shows it is just as slow as other cameras. That means the same rolling shutter issues as for instance the RP and other cameras in silent shutter mode, and a standard issue with big apertures/short exposure times. And artificial light banding issues.

The odd 45mm f2.8's purpose is clear now, to be paired with the FP as small combination. I don't get that idea though, the big thing about FF is to be able to use bigger apertures, but with this lens you do not have that FF advantage.


Oh well, no doubt Sigma will have another big hit on their hands.

AA-filters is Canon's way to cover their outdated sensors. Other companies are a bit more advcanced Big Grin.
"The much smaller EOS M" was not a FF body, last time I checked.  Tongue
The electronic shutter I also don't understand fully. Huh 
And after reading the first paragraphs of Sigma's marketing blurb I got the idea the author smoked a FF-Foveon prototype before he bowed over his keyboard.  Dodgy

As to the advantage of big apertures: good trick to turn arguments upside down, no? "mirrorless has to be small and lightweight and cheap because of no more mirror" "FF needs to have big apertures, although that makes the lens big and heavy or expensive or both".

That's why bots can't be successfully used in forums, they reply far too logical...
#6
(07-12-2019, 09:20 AM)JJ_SO Wrote:
(07-12-2019, 07:54 AM)Brightcolours Wrote: The FP is more boxy and less easy to use than my old EOS M. That takes a lot of effort, to make a camera this unergonomic. For the rest, it lacks an AA-filter, not sure why. And it lacks a mechanical shutter, of which they say the lack is one of the reasons why this camera can be this small. Nonsensical, the much smaller EOS M has a mechanical shutter. They say it has a sensor with very fast sensor read out to minimise rolling shutter. Fast? No... the 1/15th flash sync shows it is just as slow as other cameras. That means the same rolling shutter issues as for instance the RP and other cameras in silent shutter mode, and a standard issue with big apertures/short exposure times. And artificial light banding issues.

The odd 45mm f2.8's purpose is clear now, to be paired with the FP as small combination. I don't get that idea though, the big thing about FF is to be able to use bigger apertures, but with this lens you do not have that FF advantage.


Oh well, no doubt Sigma will have another big hit on their hands.

AA-filters is Canon's way to cover their outdated sensors. Other companies are a bit more advcanced Big Grin.
"The much smaller EOS M" was not a FF body, last time I checked.  Tongue
The electronic shutter I also don't understand fully. Huh 
And after reading the first paragraphs of Sigma's marketing blurb I got the idea the author smoked a FF-Foveon prototype before he bowed over his keyboard.  Dodgy

As to the advantage of big apertures: good trick to turn arguments upside down, no? "mirrorless has to be small and lightweight and cheap because of no more mirror" "FF needs to have big apertures, although that makes the lens big and heavy or expensive or both".

That's why bots can't be successfully used in forums, they reply far too logical...

I guess your first line is meant totally as a joke.

The EOS M has a sensor and a shutter, that is my point (not too hard to get)? So, the reason not to include one is nonsensical. It is not as if FF shutters are a magnitude thicker. 

If mirrorless have to be smaller and lighter than when used with big aperture lenses, FF sensors have no place in them. Since the only real advantage of FF is the use of bigger apertures at similar FOV. And I do think that, when removing the mirrorbox for a size advantage with portability as main point, FF or crop-MF sensors make less sense.

Of course, one could counter that argument with the argument that it is technically feasible to make big aperture APS-C or MFT lenses (disregarding the expense, size and weight).
#7
Of course was the first line meant as a joke.

In a way, a Nikon 1 V2 looks behind any "normal" lens (so from DX or a bit bigger) like a sensor box behind a lens and less like a camera. That's how I take this fp concept at the moment, something for tripod / tethered shooting / cheap (kind of) movie camera with interesting specs and a waveform display.

Let's see if and when it comes to market. I also could imagine that the Foveon version gets a shutter for the reasons you mentioned. Although I just read, there are cameras with electronic shutter and ability to trigger a flash.

At first I also thought if there's a connection and a concept for leaf shutterr in the lens that might also be rather cool.

And the open concept (to adapt other than native L-lenses) already helped Sony to gain buyers (even if the Sony concept was not meant as an open one).
#8
Coming back to my initial rant(?) - may I ask you which mirrorless cameras have good ergonomics in your opinion?
Chief Editor - opticallimits.com

Doing all things Canon, MFT, Sony and Fuji
#9
(07-11-2019, 09:46 PM)Klaus Wrote: While I quite like the new Sigma FP from a concept perspective, I'm wondering where the industry is heading in terms of product usability.

In the DSLR world, basically all cameras converged around the same design principals - a grip, a front- and a rear-dial to control things and navigation buttons/joystick for navigating through the camera menu.
If you know one DSLR, you know them all - roughly speaking. Cameras that didn't follow the basics vanished into history. 

Not so in the mirrorless segment. As you know, this is clearly the place to be for me personally. However, I have to say that there are quite some freak products out there.

* why is a 'historic' layout with a EV compensation dial on the top a good thing? (many Fuji, Sony) There is a reason why this was abandoned on DSLRs in the early 90s. It's nice looking but it is just cumbersome in real life IMHO. 
* what happened to a reasonable grip? (Sigma, many Fujis/Pana/Oly)  Given the overall size with the lens, a grip doesn't add any really bulk in your bag.
* Whenever I touch a Sony A7xxx I wonder what Sony thought when they designed all these hard edges. It's just uncomfortable to hold. What happened to rounded designs? Bauhaus may be good for buildings but cameras?
* Is a (tiny) touch screen really a good thing on a system camera - at all?

I, for one, like to have a camera that is comfortable to hold and where it is possible to adjust settings with my hands not leaving the default positions while being able to keep looking through the viewfinder. Is that asking too much really?

Or am I just an old sack unwilling to accept the better new ways?

PS: In my book, the EOS R and Pana G9/G95 (probably also the Nikon Zs) are good designs but ... well ... these follow DSLR guidelines.

(07-13-2019, 01:06 AM)Klaus Wrote: Coming back to my initial rant(?) - may I ask you which mirrorless cameras have good ergonomics in your opinion?

So far, IMO:

Olympus OM-D's, and especially EM-1 II, then the one, and then the E-M5s and E-M10s. Despite these cameras being small, they are a very comfortable fit to my (large) hands, basically because they have perfectly placed controls for me, and my pinky just sits nicely underneath the body if I want it to. The E-M1s have just that slightly larger grip which make my fingers curve around it just perfectly, without most of my hand dangling in air. That makes these better then the E-M5 and E-M10.

I also like the Pen F, but I use it as a fancy kind of P&S, it is great for that, and as a back-up camera. It is rounded enough and high enough to be used comfortably for me. I used to have similarly shaped and sized compact analog cameras way back when Smile. I even had a half frame analog Oly many years ago.

I have used Panasonic Lumix MFT cameras as well in the past, and prefer the GF and GX series, especially with an additional grip, those are comfortable to use. I think teh G and GHS series are just a tad big for the lenses and mounts; I would prefer an APS-C camera in that case. However, I do not particularly like the rendering over the Oly way, which is why I do prefer Oly these days.

Then there is the Canon EOS R, which is even better. The deep grip and height cover my entire hand quite nicely. Th eonly thing I do not like yet, but maybe need to get used to first, are teh AF-On and * buttons, which sit too much towards the right for me compared to my old 5D II. However, the thinner body is just great.

BTW, I also tried the RP, but the grip is not optimal, and teh height is just wrong for me, as I can't purt my pinky comfortably underneath, or around the grip. This wa sthe main reason I went for the R over the RP in the first place, ergonomics IOW. Ok, there are other advantages too now, but I had the camera only for a single day so far, with most of the day spent working, rather than playing with the camera Smile.

Never tried a Canon M-series camera, but then, they do not appeal to me, and neither did the Nikon V etc., or the Pentax Q. The latter too I just found too small anyway.

I am not a Nikon fan, personally, for a variety of reasons, originaly because I could not focus a Nikon body manually with my weird eyes (probably caused by the combination of type of LCD overlay used in the viewfinder and the shorter exit pupil, which, BTW, makes it difficult for me to use a Canon 5D III as well, but not the classic one, or II and IV), so I have not tried out the Zs. Sony I find too angular, and the menus to discomforting, IOW, I do not find them an ergonomic fit for me at all.

As to MF cameras, I really love the feel and use of the Hasselblad XD, but that and the other MF cameras are priced beyond my financial ability, apart from the fact that those cameras with my current restrictions are really too heavy after quite a short while already, I found. The Fuji GFX 50S is too bulky for me, the 50R I have not tried yet, but i reckon it will be too heavy for me as well for prolonged use.

So far my thoughts and experiences Smile. Do note that for me it is about ergonomics first and foremost, both physical and control / menu wise, combined with the rendering I like, minimum resolution requirements, and types of OEM lenses available.

Kind regards, Wim
Gear: Canon EOS R with 3 primes and 1 zoom, 4 EF-R adapters, Canon EOS 5 (analog), 9 Canon EF primes, a lone Canon EF zoom, 2 extenders, 2 converters, extension tubes, an accessory plague, and an Olympus OM-D 1 Mk II and Pen F with 12 primes, 6 zooms, and 3 Metabones EF-MFT adapters ...
#10
It comes down to personal prefs: One is only happy with lots of dials and aperture rings, the other likes it as simple as possible, the next does like to be the reign over loads of settings, organized in banks or User/Custom registers. So I can see what kind of questions UI and body designers have to face. I kinda like consequent design: Instead of "one recipe to rule them all", the designers have a rather clear idea of the customer's needs.

And the bigger the user group gets, the more compromises need to be made.

I know Nikon, Fujifilm, Sigma cameras and menus well. Of those, Sigma has the most simplified and easy to handle concept of use - but lacks of a lot of features. Fujifilm has great IQ and small ergonomics. I throw it in the same bin as Nikon Df: Dials, wheels, buttons menus are fighting each other and some important functions I could not use the way I would want it. This makes the manuals also very complicated to read, as well as to learn the handling.

Nikon works for me, very much depending on the model. I used to be a big fan of U1, U2 but today I find it overly complicated and unreliably intransparent. I have no idea what setting will be saved in an U-set of parameters and which doesn't get into it. That's a downside of all DLSRs with 4 digit numbers - and the Z as well. But since a mirrorless camera can clearly show the effect of settings in the viewfinder picture (dark, light, wrong WB) some priorities changed for me.

As to the comfort of holding, transporting, changing lens and use the controls, Nikon is first (and I add: with a battery grip, with an L-plate), Sigma second (with grips attached) and Fuji last. If Fuji would improve their controls - bigger buttons, less easy to (mis)adjust aperture rings and a couple of other quirks, it still would be second at best. I know the X-T3 and X-H1 have improved controls, but the menu system still sucks in my view.

Pentax K-... was also a good user experience, but they went too far with making it cheap to produce. AF issues ruin the best UI. Canon I only know form the little G11. I would rate the handling as average or a bit better, but then I also made thousands of pictures with it - so it can't be that bad. Once set up, it is very good to use with it's tilt-swivel display. One of the very few cameras in it's class with an (pretty bad, though) optical viewfinder, so if I would run out of battery I would switch off the display and get much more shots of the battery.

Sony I only know from the old DSC 515...828 line. Their current design makes it easy to oversee for me - and if it would be Bauhaus, Klaus, it would at least look pleasing Smile Back in the day, when Porsche designers made the Contax RTS look like a thing falling out of the future, was the first and last time I fell in love with a camera design, it was so well done and Yashica/Kyocera did a bit of a poor job to the inner parts. So, even the best user experience is useless if the product is unreliable.

Today I wonder how much freedom the designers had and how much the engineers worked with or against them?

Hasselblad's mirrorless and Phase One are also great to work with, but out of the financial region to justify the purchase for amateur purposes.
  


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