Monday, 25 March 2019

Which cameras are easiest to learn?

Some cameras are a joy to learn on. Others make you grind your teeth and wince with pain. Fortunately I can't call any of them boring! But some may drive you batty!

Since 1973 most of my working life has been spent teaching and training photographers - professionals and amateurs. There is no doubt in my mind that some cameras are far easier to learn on than others.

These comments are NOT about the quality of the optics, the body, the sensor or the processor. Most modern cameras are capable of producing sharp, correctly exposed, colour-balanced images. My judgements are based on the Intuitive Operational Logic (IOL) of the controls.

When I ask students to change the ISO to 400, the WB to cloudy or engage Bracketing or a dozen other settings I notice how quickly students can execute those changes. Students who own certain makes and models are consistently far quicker than others, year in and year out. Its not that the students are more intelligent. Its simply that some cameras are better designed, more logical and far l and user-friendly in their operations. Just the same as it is with brands of cars, coffee machines and dishwashers.)

It takes just ONE key stroke to change the ISO on the Fuji X100F. You don't even need to switch the camera on.
With the very best of cameras you almost don't need an instruction manual. You can teach yourself logically. With others you need to consult the manual constantly and the manual is also complex.

Cameras with the highest IOL (easiest to learn)

  • Fuji X series
  • Nikon DSLRs and mirrorless
  • Canon DSLRs and mirrorless
  • Panasonic Lumix 
  • Sigma DSLRs and DP
  • Pentax DSLRs
Cameras with the lowest IOL (most difficult to learn on)
  • Sony mirrorless
  • Olympus mirrorless


Thee KEY STROKE test. 

If you needed to change your ISO to 1600, how many key strokes do you need. A camera with high IOL will have an analogue style control on the outside of the body. It will require JUST ONE keystroke. You don't even need to switch the camera on.

A camera with low IOL will require you to go in through the menu and drill down several steps. Possibly 3, 4, 5 or more keystrokes.

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Postscript: Digital era cameras have far, far more controls than old fashioned film cameras. Therefore there are infinitely more distractions with digital cameras. The complexity of digital cameras has kept me in business teaching and training for two decades. 

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