#552. Is simplicity dead ?

#552. Is simplicity dead ?

Simplicity is underrated. Or, maybe because it’s so hard to do well, it’s brushed under the carpet and replaced by a more marketable appearance of technicality.

 

 

Henry Ford largely contributed to the emergence of a middle class by simplifying the way cars were designed and built. His fortune is estimated at a 2008 equivalent of 180 billion US dollars. Steve Jobs brought his Zen philosophy to the computer design arena. The brand he helped create is still number one on the planet.

Heck, at least 6 of the world’s top brands in the known universe are at the top of the leaderboard because they simplify an important aspect of their industry (design, search, access, assembly, delivery …) It makes huge business sense to simplify.

 

(c) Interbrand – click for complete leaderboard

 

So why doesn’t the photography industry get it? Why is it sawing off its own branch with such blindfolded intent?

 

As mentioned yesterday, the new Leica M10 makes me really, really, happy. To me, it is already camera of the year of 2017. And yes, I will probably end up buying the Fuji GFX instead but, even if I do, the purity of the M10 will always be at the back of my mind.

 

There are two reasons why our cameras have more buttons and dials than a nuclear plant :

  1. Beginners think complicated cameras are better cameras. That doesn’t last. Beginners either drop out or become good photographers and know better.
  2. Brands have their range logic totally wrong. Instead of segmenting, they (mostly) follow a podium logic in which more expensive cameras have more features. I’m willing to bet the next version of my A7rII has 4k video (if it doesn’t already). Or 8k. Or whatever’s the fancy norm at the time it gets released. I don’t even want video. Ever. Get rid of it.

 

I’m not alone. Just this week, several photographers have voiced similar concern about how little pleasure they derive from using their complicated cameras. Here’s one (Sony A7RII review – A Superb Farce of a Camera). Here’s another (I Bought a Fuji X-Pro 2… Then Sold It To Buy a Leica M). There are plenty more out there. More and more everyday. Not to mention the multitudes turning their back to the whole concept in favour of phones …

 

 

The fact is that our brains are wired in a way that we can’t easily focus on creative stuff and technical stuff at the same time.

 

Mature photographers want to think about their photographs, not about dials. They have two phases in mind: capture time, show time.

 

At capture time, we need to:

  • Set exposure. So the M10 ISO dial is perfect, along with aperture and speed. A or S priority can be set in a menu. Photographers very rarely switch from one to another during a shoot. Provide a wheel for S priority shooters. And an exposure comp. Maybe a wheel to override/adjust speed/aperture coupling (constant EV).
  • Set focus. Great AF works but manual focus is way, way, better and faster than average AF (which is what 90% of cameras offer)
  • Set depth of field. Aperture ring. On the lens.
  • Frame. The viewfinder needs to be very good and not overpowered by focusing aids (hint hint, Sony)

Anything else is just getting in the way. Stabilisation modes, focus modes, shooting modes, remote apps … all good. But all in menus. You’re never going to set those while thinking of a shot. Keep it simple.

 

 

At show time, we want to upload to social media (apparently) and print. Both are a nightmare, today.

Connecting a camera to the web shouldn’t be more complex than connecting a phone. It is. Sharing a picture should take a click or two. It doesn’t.

And don’t get me started on printing 😂😂😂 This is one area where those who have put in the work suffer from curse of expertise, not understanding where or why others might have difficulty. Only because they forget the litres of wasted inks and the rainforest lying dead on their floor for months on end trying to get the output right.

 

(c) Paul Perton

 

You could argue: why bother, in a dying industry? But it’s exactly the opposite.

Simplify the sh.t out of printing and you’ll sell a thousand times more printers.

You think teens use only their phones to grab pictures because of some trendy social convention? No, it’s only because the process of taking the photo / backing it up / editing it / sharing it / and, yes, if they want, printing it, is laughably simple compared to the complexity we have to put up with.

When I talked about photo editing software, some commenters explained they used 6 or more apps in their workflow. Maybe one millionth of the world’s population is willing (and able) to do that. The 99,9999% others, those with the financial power to make a mass market brand like Apple and Coke? No way.

 

The photo industry is shooting itself in the face by making its products uselessly complicated and unpleasant.

 

Get video completely out of our stills cameras (and make a dedicated video camera, oh, wait, you already do …), fix colours for good, stop adding pixels that clog memory banks and make existing pixels better, much, much better. Get rid of 80% of dials and controls. Ensure the thing doesn’t die when someone sneezes in the same room or a light spring drizzle comes along. Enable focus peaking on enlarged views, not when composing. Completely eliminate shutter lag. Make it a camera. Make it fun. Make it the sort of object you want to sleep with, like a teddy bear. Something you can’t let out of your sight (like a beautiful wrist watch, a Macbook, a piece of art).

 

Or disappear, eventually. Your choice, really. We’ll still have the M10.

 


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27 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Eero Huhtamo January 24, 2017

    Hi. This is my first time coming out of the closet as a dearsusan reader so please be gentle 😉

    I understand that simplification is important but the counter point is always customization (iOS vs android). I haven’t checked lately but at some point iphone was the single most sold phone model in the world but it was still something like 20 % of all sold smart phones. So there is no denying that people like to customize their electronics to meet their needs or at least possibility to do that. Price is also one thing. If people feel that they can do more with a device X than with a device Y and the device X is same price or cheaper than the device Y, then it will be hard to convince those people to buy device Y.

    Now to the camera world. Modern mirrorless camera has the options to behave just the way you want it to behave, show the things you want in the view finder (or nothing besides the view) and function as a pretty decent video camera. Also at least the top models have memory slots where you can save different settings for different situations easily plus customizable quick-menu to change the settings you most often need to change. As for the buttons, you don’t have to use them all, just the ones you need. Set up your camera once and go shoot. And if there ever comes a time that you need your camera to do something you normally don’t do, it is possible.

    So how I see it, is that camera manufacturers are trying to remove limitations from still cameras because you have to have something to sell to the people coming to a camera store for the first time and also to the pros. If a 1000 euro camera would only take still photos and have one or two buttons, it would be hard to sell it instead of 1000 euro camera that has all the bells and whistles (appearing more “pro”). Multipurpose device is easier for the customer to choose if they are not sure what they need in the future. People are also pretty good at convincing their selfs that they “need” something if it is marketed the right way. I think that’s why smart phones are so popular now and dumb phones are slowly dying off.

    About the quality of the pixels. I’m pretty sure camera manufacturers are trying their best to make them as good as possible. Why would they hold back on image quality when competition is so tough and the market is shrinking?

    What I 100 % agree on is that sharing the photos should be very very simple. Otherwise only few will use it and the rest will end up using their smart phone camera to take the photo.

    • Avatar
      pascaljappy January 24, 2017

      Hi Eero, that’s a very interesting comment, thanks. All this is obviously a very subjective point of view so I’ll try to answer your points from a personal perspective.

      Simplification and personalisation. I agree entirely. And the Fuji X-T2 is a great example, in which you can go into menus to specify how the AF is supposed to track the subject, in very specific and advanced ways. So the sports shooter will dial in different settings to the wildlife photographer (probably 😉 ). But this is the sort of setting up that you do and not change very often. It has no business on the outside of the camera. Much like choosing the colour gamut or setting the time and regional preferences.

      Price vs capability. Again, very true. I guess the perspective here is how we each value capability. To some it might be the global shooting envelope, to others it might be specialisation. And there’s no correct answer. This is where I feel ranges should focus more on segmentation, rather than incremental feature sets. If you think of a camera like the Fuji X-T20 (yeah, I’ve been looking at Fuji a lot, recently 😉 ) it has most of the features from the X-T2 and the great image quality at a fraction of the cost. What it lacks for in focus tracking customisation it makes up for with a rear touch screen. I think that’s a very well thought out tradeoff. This puts the X-T20 in a very interesting jack of all trades position (second body for pros, only body for enthusiasts wanting video and stills …). But it’s not as good at video as a dedicated video cam, or as good at street photography as a Leica. The more you specialise and segment, the more you need to be willing to get rid of some features to make others as perfect as you can.

      The camera that will be as good at video as a Red Helium and as good at stills as an Alpa / Rodenstock / Phase combo doesn’t exist. If it did, it would cost a fortune and still not satisfy everyone. The reason I like the M10 is that it polarises opinions very strongly. Some will adore it. Others just won’t get it at all. I just wish the photo industry had more niche contenders and fewer wannabe-kings-of-the-global-hill.

      No one is deliberately sabotaging image quality. But using the best sensor, the best circuits, the best in-camera processors … that costs a lot of money and requires dedicated components. A brand like Hasselblad has done a lot to optimise the image quality chain from glass to sensor to amp to processor to editing software. For the same amount of R&D effort, others have tried to cram plenty of features and have compromised at several places along the chain. My Sony A7rII is vastly better than the A7r before it but still has odd colour shifts in the yell greens and a noisy shutter and irritating ergonomics. I just wish Sony focused more on fixing that than giving us a flawed 72Mpix camera in the next iteration. My guess is they’ll improve both numbers and quality. They obviously are working super hard. But the A7rII is a very expensive camera which could be made cheaper and *much* better without video (plus Sony already have an excellent video camera with the A7s range). Compared to this, the overly expensive and inferior spec M10 feels like the best that can be made for a given shooting style. There’s a lot of subjective bonus to that.

      Just my point of view 🙂 Cheers

      • Avatar
        pascaljappy January 24, 2017

        Another point in favour of simplification is that people are willing to pay more for it. Apple computers are super expensive (I should know). So are Leica cameras. Their customers don’t mind. Whereas non-simplified alternatives are competing on price like crazy. Margins drop accordingly. So does customer satisfaction.

        • Avatar
          Eero Huhtamo January 24, 2017

          Thanks for your answer. I also want to make couple of more points.

          Compromises in hardware are made (in sony cameras) probably because there just isn’t enough space in the body. Hasselblads are way bigger than most of the mirrorless bodies. Also I’m not convinced that the higher end electronics are that much more expensive. The price usually depends on the amount that is being produced and that number is totally different between Hasselblads and say a6000.

          Video is another thing. I’m sure that the software team developing video features for cameras is totally different from the stills team. Video features are mostly the same across the whole Sony line up (I have read. I don’t shoot video my self) so they really don’t have to make that big of an effort (=spend R&D money) when a new camera is coming out. That being said, I don’t think that putting the video software in a camera cost that much more for the company than not putting it in. Hardware will be the same anyway (bigger series -> cheaper components). They need to develop the video software anyway for the bodies that are aimed at video shooters so why not make it compatible with all the other cameras that have almost identical hardware aside from sensor?

          Another development team that is different from the software teams is the team that designs the electronics. They are of course trying to design the components to be as good they can be taking into account the body size and heating issues. Video is more demanding for the processor and there for it generates more heat than still photos. That means that the electronic components and the heat sinks of the body need to be better because of video features not worse (within the limitations I mentioned).

          So lets say that the components are as good as they can be in a given high end body (designed by a given company) and the video software does not cost that much to include in the body. Question then is, how can we make the camera more simple for those who don’t need video or all the features for stills? My suggestion would be to allow users to hide menu items in groups and individually so you can make your experience as simple as you want. In my case I would hide all jpg related features, video features and some randoms like smile shutter… So maybe 40-50 % of all features would be hidden and if I ever needed then they could be called back.

          If you like Leica (I have never even held one) and the features they have, it just means that they are better at doing those features than other manufacturers meaning that they have better people working of those things. Biggest camera companies have the best of the best working for them and if one company has managed to get the best people for some area, they are going to best at it. The other companies then have to try and get new talents or be better at something else. This applies for all areas of camera design.

          P.S. I’m not an expert on software or electronics development so this can all be gibber gabber, but I am a automation engineer so I have basic understanding of the things I wrote.

          P.P.S. No offense but noisy shutter on a 3000 dollar camera is one of the most 1st worldish problems I have heard 😀
          Isn’t there a silent shutter mode on a7rii by the way?

          • Avatar
            pascaljappy January 24, 2017

            Eero,

            I get what you’re saying. Since the video features are being developed and the cameras can benefit from them at no cost, why not include them?

            But that’s where I disagree.

            Grab an A7rII and it’s fantastic to hold. For me, it’s a perfect compromise, a great shape … Look at it, though, and it’s nightmare. On the top, exp compensation (good), C1 and C1 (wtf?), P A S M 1 2 SCN Auto plus symbols. At the back, Menu, C3, AF/MF, AEL, Fn, C4 (on top of the bin symbol), a dial, some more mysterious symbols, DISP, ISO, and a red button that has caused me some pain …

            You want to review your photographs ? Press one button at the very bottom. To zoom in, it’s at the very top (C3 …). To explore the photograph, it’s the dial, in yet another location. It’s just ridiculous.

            Video inclusion is just a part of the problem. I’m pretty sure the camera cost more because of it, even if it doesn’t cost more to produce. And it adds nothing to my enjoyment of the camera. I’m not the only one complaining about how unpleasant the camera is to use compared to what it could be. And no, a noisy shutter isn’t first world problem. You’d think the more you pay, the more silent the shutter (which is not the case. The uber expensive X1D has a horrible shutter, apparently). When you shoot 500 pics in a day, it drives you crazy. The A7rII is better than the A7r, which I gave up completely, it drove me so nuts. The silent shutter makes no noise at all, which is a bit weird, and it robs you of quite a bit of dynamic range.

            The reasons Leica have different ergonomics are multiple. Their customer base is nostalgic and used to it. They’d riot if anything as crazy was pulled. Leica have much less R&D money and develop fewer features. But also, they probably market their cameras at people who are a lot more passionate about photography than about technology (I personally couldn’t care less about it). What Sony / Olympus and many others don’t seem to realise or care about is that customers willing to fork out big money for their camera bodies are probably a whole lot more passionate about photography than those spending 500 bucks (and the main thing they want is a system that just gets out of the way). But they’re not treated that way.

            I’ve worked for software companies all my life and I’m not saying design is easy. It really isn’t. Which is why companies who do it well reap such huge financial reward. But a great starting point is always listening to your community. Not sure they are. And yet, it’s getting more and more vocal.

        • Avatar
          Paul Perton January 26, 2017

          The Race to the Bottom…

          • Avatar
            pascaljappy January 26, 2017

            Exactly. And, in the case of the M10, to the top ? 😉

  2. Avatar
    jean pierre (pete) guaron January 24, 2017

    You have my vote, Pascal – reading your article, I thought you were REALLY preaching to the choir, on this one.

    Video is a whole different field. If I want to do it, I’ll get a video cam.

    The vast majority of all the photos I’ve ever taken were taken on cameras which had controls for setting shutter speed, aperture and – with the assistance of a rangefinder – focus. ISO was generally called ASA, and if you wanted to change it, you had to change film – OK if you have magazine backs, not so OK if you have to remove the film from the camera half way through and substitute another film. Which left me free to take the photo, instead of being stuck, wrestling with a range of other controls that – in the end – contribute little or nothing to the finished photo.

    OK – I do use some of these other controls. But hey, why can’t they do it like Apple, and have a “Sony store” where you can download apps for other functions that YOU use, and not have to put up with a whole range of functions that you DON’T?

    • Avatar
      pascaljappy January 24, 2017

      Don’t get me started on apps .. I downloaded one and never got it to work … A remarkable exercise in confusing the customer. You’d need serious research to make this more complex.

      I don’t want us to be stuck in the age of film cameras. The fact we can change ISO on the fly and review our shots and benefit from stabilised bodies or lenses … all of that is absolutely amazing. Even the higher ISO capabilities can be interesting (if a little over rated). But, over 50 years or more, pretty much all brands arrived at some sort of global consensus on what good ergonomics looked like on a camera. And now, you ca buy a 3.5 grand camera that starts video with your palm and ruin your shot. You can fumble through menus to do something that was as natural as breathing prior to unnecessary interface changes.

      Digital added one major degree of freedom to shooting: ISO setting. SO it’s fair to give that control an important space in the global interface. That aside, why would anything else have to change ?

      Besides, if brands like Nikon can make super complex camera so intuitive to use, can’t others just learn from them rather than sprinkle their bodies with modal buttons at random? Seriously if Jony Ive took a real long look at camera ergonomics, once he’d recovered from his stroke, we’d have something pretty drastic to look forward to. Maybe some sort of priority hierarchy in the controls and aids and dials? 😉

  3. Avatar
    Georg January 24, 2017

    Hi Pascal. Photography has always been a challenge of both the technical and the aesthetic. If Ansel Adams had not been a master of the technical, would he have ever made “Moonrise, Hernandes, New Mexico”. IMHO, in this day and age few of us have the patience to carefully learn the craft of photography. Almost every blog has articles about how wonderful photographs can be made with a smart phone, the pied piper of the electronic world. We all want simplicity, and there’s no doubt that very good and spontaneous images can come out of these small devices. On the other hand, the vast majority of us have no idea of what photographers did in their darkrooms 50 or 100 years ago, or the pure delight of a good print emerging from the water bath. The digital world is quite different and has massive challenges of its own. It’s so tempting to dial the camera to Program and let it make jpegs. Or to process images in “Auto Everything”. My suggestion is to learn your equipment, learn your craft and once you have developed a carefully thought out workflow, go out there and be the best photographer you can be.

    • Avatar
      pascaljappy January 24, 2017

      Hi Georg, that’s very wise indeed 🙂

      And you’re right, obviously. We should be able to master whatever tool is given to us. It will always be far simpler to operate than Ansel Adam’s heavy view camera and glass plates.

      It’s a scientific fact that our brain struggles to combine left-brain and right-brain activities at a given moment. Yet, Ansel Adams, as you point out, didn’t let the technicalities get in the way of his vision. Maybe the real lesson, then, is not to anger at the camera but just learn to slow down and work around it, even if it isn’t perfect 🙂

      • Avatar
        Graham Harris January 24, 2017

        Agreed, but it is possible to ignore all that extra stuff. I bought an A7r2 because of the sensor – not because of all those menus. Just set and forget, and I don’t ever use video either. What I wanted was the mirrorless size and weight, the best image quality, IBIS (I am old and getting doddery) and the Loxia series of MF lenses. All the rest is flim flam. With that I can just slow down, use my eyes and my brain and focus on the image. So I agree about simplicity – both in the process and in the final image – you can work around those pesky designers and their useless features. Thank goodness electrons don’t weigh much.

        • Avatar
          pascaljappy January 25, 2017

          Set and forget, you’re right. I love your last sentence 😀

          • Avatar
            Graham Harris January 25, 2017

            PS: the 3rd image… country lane and winter trees? Zeiss 1.4/35 ZM? What a lovely image…. been trying for something like that for a while

          • Avatar
            pascaljappy January 25, 2017

            Thanks Graham. Yes, it’s the Zeiss 1.4/35 ZM. A true masterpiece of a lens. So underrated.

      • Avatar
        Eero Huhtamo January 24, 2017

        The “REPLY” -button was missing from your last message to me so I’m answering this one because it is somewhat related to what I was going to say. I agree that Georges comment is wise indeed. Learning the craft is very important.

        You listed all the buttons on a7rii on your message and I got the feeling from your message that learning and remembering all the camera functions is not your thing. But now that I read your answer to Georg I know you are open to learning things.

        You might already know all what I’m about to tell you but here goes.
        – Buttons C1 to C4 are custom buttons that you can program to do anything you want or nothing at all if you are afraid you hit them accidentally.
        – PASM you should know. 1 and 2 are memory slots that hold (almost) all the settings you have saved to them. Auto, scene and the symbols are all jpg related so they are probably not for you except maybe the rectanglish symbol which is the panorama function.
        – Menu is menu
        – AF/MF button can be programmed to work by holding the button or toggle
        – AEL (auto exposure lock) same as AF/MF
        – Fn brings out quick menu that you can customize your self
        – Bin/C4 button works as bin when you are viewing your photos and as a custom button 4 when not
        – The back dial can be used to move quickly up and down in menus by rotating it and it also works like arrow keys when pushed.
        – Those mysterious symbols are probably exposure compensation and drive mode
        – DISP rotates sets of things that you can see in the view finder and you can customize them to an extent
        – ISO is ISO
        – Red button is movie recording button and it can be turned off in the menus

        I’m not a very active shooter and I have only used a33 and nex7 from Sony (they have a lot less buttons) but I can still tell without any help from the internet what all those buttons do because I took the time to learn my cameras slowly. One button/function at a time and experimenting what they do (youtube also helps a lot). If I ever change brands it will still be helpful to know all these Sony things because other cameras have similar things being what they are, cameras.

        One final note. When you use computer (mac or pc), you don’t use it for everything that it is capable of. You use the things you need and ignore the rest. Modern cameras are no different except Leica of coarse 😉

        I hope you know that I never said it would be a bad idea to make simpler cameras for stills. I’m just offering different view points to this conversation.

        • Avatar
          pascaljappy January 25, 2017

          Hi Eero, there’s a maximum depth to comment threads. That’s why you weren’t seeing the REPLY button.

          I know how to use these buttons and dials. I just don’t like using them 😉

          Just like I know how to drive cars and some are brilliant to drive and some are dogs, irrespective of performance. A car like the Toyota GT-86 has lowish performance but is brilliantly rewarding. A Porsche Cayenne is high performance and doesn’t appeal to me at all (while the Porsche Cayman is my favourite car on the road). It’s all subjective. Some cars appeal to people who enjoy driving, others to people who enjoy off-roading. Mix the two and you inevitably spoil the result for both sides. Sure, the non-911 cars are what saved Porsche and the Cayennes sell a lot more than the 911. And the Range Rover is a great mix of off-road performance and luxury. But that doesn’t mean Porsche should mess up a 911R with fat off-road tires or that the land-rover should has short stiff dampers to corner better. The A7rII has the potential to be a 911R but it just ain’t. Road rant over.

          To put it in a way that an automation specialist will relate to: film cameras had ALL converged towards a same design (shapes differed, but controls didn’t). Along comes digital, which just adds one variable, one degree of liberty. And suddenly ergonomics are all over the place. It makes no sense.

          But, ultimately, Georg is correct. The best thing is to ignore this and keep shooting 😉

          Let me rephrase it

  4. Avatar
    Sean January 25, 2017

    Hi Pascal,

    Your message then is keep it simple to get a better end result.

    Striving to achieve, secure and maintain simplicity is an ongoing challenge; which can be easily turned into a complicated exercise resulting in complex over designed end results, proffered as the latest and greatest.

    Regards
    Sean

    • Avatar
      pascaljappy January 26, 2017

      Hi Sean, yes, design for the sake of design can cause some pain, as is evident in some of the apps in my new MacOs world. So a good balance must be found and that is indeed very difficult.
      In the case of photography, a good place to start would have been not to mess up what existed already 😉 What has happened to our camera interfaces is like declaring that, because our cars can now navigate autonomously, we’ll put the steering wheel in the glove box and the brakes in a custom button … Needlessly irritating 😉

  5. Avatar
    NoelMc January 28, 2017

    Hi Pascal
    I can see both sides of the arguments here.

    Phone/app control argument seems to be the cooking analogous to buying pre-made spice paste for a curry, you only get one flavor per app. The simple (as in all manual) camera is cooking from whole unroasted spices, can be more satisfying, providing you can handle all the exposure and processing issues. However to get something that is satisfying in between seems to be way too complicated.

    I think that the issue is that the camera manufactures have not yet come to grips with what we can get computers to do for us. For photography that could include choosing noise and highlight clipping preferences with warnings where we can chose both limits and the warning signals style, so we can forget about ISO. Automate ETTR if that is what we want, a camera should be able to do this for us better than we can read an histograms display.

    The film base exposure method still works but I feel we are missing some fundamental comprehension of how digital cameras could work. And we should be able to easily write our own apps so we get our camera and processing to work the way we want, simple or complicated.

    Regards

    • Avatar
      pascaljappy January 28, 2017

      Noel, I could not agree more and the analogy really speaks to me deeply.

      I too believe there is room for a raw experience of manual focus + manual setting of either speed or aperture (depending on personal style) and an experience vastly enhanced enhanced by artificial intelligence. We could talk to the camera to ask for ETTR and a red filter emulation with a 3-stop neutral grad, relying on AI not only to understand but to optimise the settings. Both would be valid and interesting.

      Instead of which, manufacturers are passing on complexity (when it’s their mission to shelter us from it or to hand us full control).

      I’d like to think it’s incompetence (which is easy to cure with the tons of hyper qualified and talented offering their services online) but really fear something far more cynical is at play. The thing is the percentage of photographers really wanting to be creative is far lower than those *wanting* apparent complexity, lots of buttons on cameras and on lenses. The reward is mastery of the technology, not photographs with soul and impact.

      Why cynical? If that’s really what customers want, why not give it to them, right? But, no, the basis of good product management is hearing what users say (think) they want, know what they need and serve out the best you can. Can’t see that happening in too many brands right now …

      • Avatar
        NoelMc January 29, 2017

        Pascal
        I’m glad you understood my comment, it had conflated issues from the last three articles.

        Re mastering tech v creativity, that can lead to making value statements and various forms of snobbery or predujice, so I will avoid, not that I have anything wise or considered to add.

        Re cinicisim this is hard to call, and I think the real issue is probably a conservative established industry being more likely to punished by existing market for inovation, than new product sector’s like phones and tablets, where there is no or low expectations.

        Regards

  6. Avatar
    Per Kylberg January 28, 2017

    Simplicity is not just about camera, computer and printer; it may be about yourself. It is about how I use my gear, my skill. Most cameras can be set up in a personalized way – then way bother about the rest?

    A comment concerning PRINT: To print is something very different to shoot photos. In the god old wet darkroom days, making ENLARGEMENTS was magic! However it took half a lifetime to learn how to…….
    The process most do today:
    -Shot
    -Review and select
    -Adjust in post, a few minutes per image
    -Publish for screen/internet
    Print is something very different and it requires its uniqueskill and experience – then it is simple but will take time. You must learn!
    A file prepared for print will look different to the file for screen to start with. Many print without understanding this and of course end up printing poorly prepared files.

    Skill, be it shooting or printing, makes you act effective and thus use feature you need and care less about the rest. I have set up my A7R2 to suit my needs – rarely using the menus. I do not bother the features I never use. Same thing with print: I have an efficient process, print few, make a small A4 – review. Decide to print large, very few, hang on the wall for long time review. After one to three months I may decide to keep, modify – or find it not interesting enough and shelve it.

    We live in the “quick and dirty” time. Post processing maybe is too simple, too quick. Even in the digital era, art photo must take time and critical review and selection.
    Buying a simpler camera will never ever make you a better photographer.

    • Avatar
      pascaljappy January 28, 2017

      Hi Per, very interesting, thanks.

      In many ways, printing today is easier than it was in a darkroom. For one thing, all the dodging and burning and contrast management can be done on the image itself, which was impossible to do on a negative. And there are fewer chemicals and no working in the dark … Somehow, though, darkroom printing felt like a more “natural” process to learn. It was a lot of experience to take but very intuitive. As you say, the final part, today, is counter-intuitive and really needs training. This, I think, is not aided by the clogging, unhelpful interfaces, incompatibilities … It wouldn’t take much to provide very simple instructions on how to prepare the print, from a visually satisfactory image, for a specific paper. And many online labs actually do that. But the printer industry, by and large, makes things a lot more complicated than they really need to be.

      You’re quite right a simpler camera is no guarantee of better photography. That doesn’t mean manufacturers shouldn’t try. Design and ergonomics are a field of study which have created much wellbeing throughout many industries. The photographic world simply seems completely out of touch with the concept.

      • Avatar
        Per Kylberg January 29, 2017

        I agree with you that simplicity is desirable and the way to go. I have written elsewhere about Sony total lack of menu logic and not building the user interface “outside in” from the user perspective.
        But, with my A7R2, on a photo mission, I do not let that get in between me and my creativity!
        The same thing in printing…. Clogging? Very easy to avoid, just print at least one small picture every month or so. Clogging is not a problem. As are not interface, really – just learn it. I can agree though there is a lack of process oriented information in manuals. They just describe features.
        As an example I never print from Lightroom and I do not use Epson recommended settings. (Epson has very useful videos about “how to” though.) Why? I LEARN. Then chose software, paper and process to deliver the results I want. Take time and learn, then do, is my way

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    Jamie Robertson November 24, 2017

    Another thing to remember is that cultures differ. Sitting here in Northern England I would agree with everything you say. But show the same article to the average Japanese person and they would eat you alive. Everything in Japan is “better” if it has more buttons, flashing LEDs and features. Remember that all the top selling cameras are made in Japan. That probably goes some way to explaining why they are so tech loaded. Then look at cameras made outside of Japan. The only two that spring to mind are Leica and Hasselblad, and both those brands are renowned for their back to basics simplicity.

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      pascaljappy November 25, 2017

      Cultural differences : very true. The situation is very similar with watches (and, to some level, cars as well). European watches focus on style and soul while the Japanese strive for the perfect watch. One which remains true for months, provides the most complete feature set …

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