From time to time I buy a toy helicopter. I wouldn’t really call it a habit, I’m only on my second one. And given it’s much nicer and better built than the first, it may even last us a while. But it always make for some cool photos, as Marla is both fascinated with (she pined for one, and got it as a reward for learning the alphabet) and scared of it, so the range of expressions it milks out of her is pretty wide.
Yesterday morning Marla was invited to Noa’s Bday party. It was held (as is fashionable these days, and for good reasons) at a soft play centre. Those have literally blossomed all over the country, we have no less than three in our smallish, rather rural area. Marla’s BF, Matteo, was invited as well, and as always they spent almost the whole morning together.
Then we went to the stables for her weekly lesson. Her friend and riding mate Enora was not there, down with a cold, so Marla was left for a one to one with Gwen, her demanding coach. A lady was there with her 10yr oldish daughter to investigate the stables and decide whether it’d be suited for her girl to take lessons. So Gwen had Marla riding her best to demonstrate the school’s teaching level. I was again proud of my girl, who delivered a nearly flawless performance, and pretty insane riding skills for a 5 yr old…
On another note we learned that Eclaire, Marla’s trusty (if mischievous) schooling mare, might leave the stables in a near future, leaving Gwen without a suitable ride for Marla (in size and proper challenge level). That means we might have to buy our own poney sooner than later.
After that we headed to the outdoor arena for the advanced riders’ session. The sky had turned grey, and very cold and violent wind picked up, and pretty soon all horses were excited, fightful, and giving their riders trouble
Ok, now I’m going to tackle the third part of this post. This is getting serious. Actually, I should have named it totally differently, and emphasized what I’m about to discuss, because I bet this would cause quite a stir in the photographic webosphere. So let me drop the bomb : Retro controls cameras *suck*
Yeah, you read that right. Namely, the Nikon DF and the likes of Fuji X series *suck*. There, I said it. Don’t get me wrong, they look good (well, in the case of the Df that’s truly questionable, but the Fujis sure get it right). Let’s face it, as far as cameras go, the Retro scheme is *everywhere*. Olympus, Nikon, Fuji, all have heavily given in to it, and even Sony that’s notorious for its sleek, futuristic designs, caved in somewhat by “humpin up” the A7/R. Olympus, however, is a case in itself. Why ? Because despite having set the trend (I truly believe the planetary success of the E-M5 had a LOT to do with camera designs we’re seing blossom everywhere today), they did it right. It’s the other makers that screwed up along the way.
Yeah, I can see you all shock eyed. Me, defending Olympus, whose camera menus and UI I absolutely hate ?? Yup, because you’ll always see me give credit where credit is due. So, as little as I liked the hump on the E-M5 (or the stupidly smallish and squishy buttons, by the way), the two wheel control scheme was brilliant. In any given mode you get direct control to your exposure settings, and to exposure compensation, as well. And Olympus being king of endless configurability, you can swap functions, reverse rotation, etc, to your heart content.
The NEX7 took that yet to another level of usability genius with its “TriNavi” controls. Not two, but three, unmarked, free rotating wheels, giving the user “hot” (or “live”, meaning NO button to press first) access to aperture, shutter speed *and* ISO value, at all times. And direct access to exposure compensation in semi automated modes. That remains, to this day, the best user interface on any mirrorless camera. Period.
Enter, the Fuji cameras. Every hipster, every analog nostalgic, every camera geek ooohs and aaahs, and wet their jockeys, beaming about how it’s finally giving photography back to its true enthusiasts. Err… let me laugh. Let’s look at how the Fuji interface works. First, you have (for most of them, and the higher end ones) a physical aperture ring on the lenses. That’s very nice. Except two things. 1) said ring is a little loser than it should be, meaning aperture value can (and will) get bumped unvolontarily by just handling the camera, taking it in and out of a bag, etc. And 2), when you have your eye to the finder, it’s actually more intuitive and comfortable spinning a dial with either your index or thumb, and using your left hand to blindly reach for and turn the aperture ring on the lens. Try it if you don’t believe me, too.
So we just saw that direct aperture control on the lens, while looking all romantic and hip, is actually not the best way to go, in *real life use*. But there’s worse. The shutter speed dial. Now, that’s a biggie. On both Olympus cameras and the NEX7 (or even 6 and 5R/T in some configurations), you rotate an unmarked top dial (thumb action) to move shutter speed up and down, without any limitation of value, within of course the available range. That means that if I’m shooting in extremely varying conditions and want to suddenly switch from a meek 1/50s to a serious 1/400s, I can do so in a split second, with one touch of the thumb (the NEX7 and 5R/T wheels, for instance, are wonderfully smooth and dampened and very precise in their action). But with a Fuji camera, due to the cool looking but stupid *marked* shutter speed dial, I can only alter my shutter speed in full stops (60, 125, 180, 250 etc), and THEN have to fine tune the 1/3 increments with the secondary rear wheel. How screwed up, stupid and time consuming is that ?!? What I’m doing with one swift and smooth turn of one dial on the Sony and Olympus, now means rotating two, very different feeling wheels (one is metal, and quite firm, the other one plastic and slightly mushy, as it’s also a click-in dial on some of the Fuji models) with Fuji ?? DUMB.
Don’t get me wrong I get my share of Fuji XT-1 lust as much as anybody else. But as a Manual shooter only, who changes shutter speed on the fly constantly, I’m extremely concerned that this will kill the camera for me. Instant deal breaker.
In the meanwhile, Sony is about to unveil a revamped NEX6, called A6000. As someone who’s been waiting for a N7 update forever, that is of very little interest to me. However, being curious by nature, I’m likely to give the A6000 a spin for kicks, and to evaluate the so called “faster AF” perf.
As we’re leaving for a skiing week in the Alps in two days, I figured it’d be slightly more portable than the N7.
A question is being brought, though. WHEN Sony figures out fast AF (ultimately, every maker will)… We’ll then have fast focusing mirrorless bodies… And very few lenses to use on them, and zero fast one either. The fastest tele zoom available for the E/FE mount, is the über expensive 70-200/4. I’m not gonna pay 2.5 times the price I got my Sigma 70-200/2.8 for, to go back to a hardly smaller, one full stop slower zoom. Huh, huh.