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Author Topic: Nikon Df. Pure photography vs. a million dials and buttons.  (Read 30597 times)
MrSmith27
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« on: November 05, 2013, 02:12:57 PM »
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Could somebody explain to me why it's necessary to have this myriad of single-function dials and buttons? This is not making photography more pure, but more complex. Also I would suspect that most users will only ever use some of these functions.

Would it be so much wiser to not have 8 dials alone (!) that only have a single function, but instead have two dials that are fully user configurable? Why would pure photography need close to 20 (!) designated buttons and not instead maybe a half as many that are fully configurable? Need a designated bracketing button? Configure it. I certainly don't need one.

And why does the build quality look so bad? Mind you, I haven't touched a Df yet but the available press photos are of very high quality and certainly show the camera in the best possible light. Yet everywhere I can see difference in materials, seams, tiny gaps etc. We live in a time where laptops are machined out of a single piece of aluminum and this is the best Nikon can come up with?

Seriously?
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TMARK
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« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2013, 02:43:37 PM »
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I'm sure its not a production model.


And why does the build quality look so bad? Mind you, I haven't touched a Df yet but the available press photos are of very high quality and certainly show the camera in the best possible light. Yet everywhere I can see difference in materials, seams, tiny gaps etc. We live in a time where laptops are machined out of a single piece of aluminum and this is the best Nikon can come up with?

Seriously?
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BJL
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« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2013, 03:06:24 PM »
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Would it be so much wiser to … instead have two dials that are fully user configurable?
That sounds good to me, and reminds me of the design goal I heard for the Olympus E-3: many settings adjusted by pressing a dedicated button while rotating a dial, so only one or two dials needed and minimal menu diving. That button+dial combination also avoids accidental changes, as an alternative to the locking buttons for each Df dial. To me, this seems far preferable to the Df's eight-dial, twenty-button, two-screen approach. One-dial-per-function was forced by the engineering constraints of mechanical controls, and though it might have worked well enough for a purely manual film camera, a digital camera with AF and AE simply needs many more adjustable settings than such film cameras did (partly because things that were done by choice of film are now cameras settings), so that old approach does not work nearly as well any more.

Here is my anti-retro dogma on ergonomics: camera interfaces and shapes mostly changed because new circumstances, new ideas, and new manufacturing technologies make the new interface better --- not because of the collective evil and/or stupidity of all successful camera makers.

Retro visual styling can be safer, so long as it does not effect ergonomics to much. For example, a silver and black color scheme and even some fake leather texture is innocuous, but having little or no right-hand grip which leads to less battery capacity and makes it harder to hold the camera steady or carry in one hand is a bad idea.
« Last Edit: November 05, 2013, 03:08:10 PM by BJL » Logged
Gary Brown
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« Reply #3 on: November 05, 2013, 03:20:01 PM »
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Thom Hogan gives his opinions of the UI in his essay about the Df. A few extracts:

Quote
Yes, I know. Some of you are positively salivating over the return of the shutter speed dial. But note that Nikon had to put a small LCD behind it for a reason: if you're not in an exposure mode where you're setting shutter speeds directly (shutter priority or manual), you still need to know what shutter speed you're using ;~). Here's my problem with retro designs that are bolted on: to see and assess the "state" of the camera you have to look in a lot of places: shutter speed dial, exposure compensation dial, ISO dial, mode dial, and the top LCD. The good news is that all of those things are on the top of the camera. The bad news is that they're in five places. How that's an improvement on me looking through the viewfinder and seeing all that, or looking at the top LCD and seeing all that together? …

All the dials? To me they're the least intriguing parts of this new camera. All they mean is returning to a slower approach to shooting I abandoned a long time ago. I kept my F6 film camera for a reason, for example, not my F100 or FM2n. Moreover, since I tend to shoot in aperture-priority mode at a fixed ISO, I won't be using three of the dials most of the time. …

Custom modes U1/U2 are gone. … The simplification of the mode dial does reflect the retro style well, but losing the U1/U2 modes means that you can't have the camera quickly pre-set for two different types of shooting…. Personally, I think we lost something here.
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #4 on: November 05, 2013, 03:22:20 PM »
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Hi,

Personally I don't like the design. Just a few things, the shutter speed dial may be nice but it doesn't go beyond 1s. Another issue is that I really want to have exposure compensation under my right thumb. Left hand is on lens barrel, holding lens and focusing. Right index finger on shutter release leaves thumb for things. Same goes for ISO but I generally use presets for ISO, so I seldom change it.

Nothing wrong with retro, the classic layout is quite practical, but retro without sense is just bad design for me.

Canon did revolutionise camera design in the 80-es, mostly to the better. Do we really want to go back? That mechanical cable release is just stupid

Best regards
Erik

Could somebody explain to me why it's necessary to have this myriad of single-function dials and buttons? This is not making photography more pure, but more complex. Also I would suspect that most users will only ever use some of these functions.

Would it be so much wiser to not have 8 dials alone (!) that only have a single function, but instead have two dials that are fully user configurable? Why would pure photography need close to 20 (!) designated buttons and not instead maybe a half as many that are fully configurable? Need a designated bracketing button? Configure it. I certainly don't need one.

And why does the build quality look so bad? Mind you, I haven't touched a Df yet but the available press photos are of very high quality and certainly show the camera in the best possible light. Yet everywhere I can see difference in materials, seams, tiny gaps etc. We live in a time where laptops are machined out of a single piece of aluminum and this is the best Nikon can come up with?

Seriously?
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SZRitter
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« Reply #5 on: November 05, 2013, 03:47:52 PM »
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That mechanical cable release is just stupid

Best regards
Erik


Oddly enough, that is one of my favorite things about the design. I much prefer my screw in plunger releases to those USBesque releases everyone uses now. It is just something nice and mechanical in a world of digital voodoo. (For reference, my main employment is as a web developer.)

As far as this camera is concerned, I think it's priced a bit too high, and they went overboard on the retro thing. I'll pass, for now.
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MrSmith27
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« Reply #6 on: November 05, 2013, 03:50:54 PM »
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Quote
Nothing wrong with retro... but retro without sense is just bad design for me

That exactly is the problem. This camera appears to be a kind of worst of two worlds: All the old dials plus all the new buttons. Add a $2500+ price tag and I have no clue why anybody would want that.

There is a reason why old cameras needed to have a myriad of dials for all functions: It was the only technologically possible way to do it. And there is also a reason why newer cameras have all these extra buttons: Durable, quality touch screens weren't invented yet and also any kind of screen drained way to much battery. So they added buttons.

We are beyond this. It's perfectly possible to have all the settings in the world adjusted via a touch screen and nothing more. Sure, sometimes you'll want a dial, for example I need one to adjust the shutter speed or to browse through the pictures on the card. It's simply quicker. So I think a few user configurable dials and buttons are definitely a good idea.

The solution would have been so, so simple: Take a F2, remove all the clutter and really reduce it to the purest form of the design. That would pretty much be a rather rectangular form with the signature prism on top. You machine this out of aluminum and add some vulcanite/leatherette. Slap a non-italics "Nikon" logo on it. Add two metal dials on top. Add another two small dials in front of, and behind the shutter. Very large touchscreen. D-Pad and a three four dedicated buttons on the back. Full frame sans bayer inside. You're done.
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iluvmycam
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« Reply #7 on: November 05, 2013, 03:55:17 PM »
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Smith...for my main controls I only want a shutter dial, aperture ring iso and + - dial. Way, way too much BS on these cams.
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Christoph C. Feldhaim
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« Reply #8 on: November 05, 2013, 03:55:38 PM »
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The solution would have been so, so simple: Take a F2, remove all the clutter and really reduce it to the purest form of the design. That would pretty much be a rather rectangular form with the signature prism on top. You machine this out of aluminum and add some vulcanite/leatherette. Slap a non-italics "Nikon" logo on it. Add two metal dials on top. Add another two small dials in front of, and behind the shutter. Very large touchscreen. D-Pad and a three four dedicated buttons on the back. Full frame sans bayer inside. You're done.


+1

But its always good to have a backup (button, dial, whatsoever) Tongue
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AFairley
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« Reply #9 on: November 05, 2013, 03:58:56 PM »
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That exactly is the problem. This camera appears to be a kind of worst of two worlds: All the old dials plus all the new buttons.

Bingo!
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #10 on: November 05, 2013, 04:04:16 PM »
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Hi,

Who is making that sensor, or you want a Monochrome?

Best regards
Erik


Full frame sans bayer inside. You're done.
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MrSmith27
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« Reply #11 on: November 05, 2013, 04:24:14 PM »
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Hi,

Who is making that sensor, or you want a Monochrome?

Best regards
Erik


In a perfect world they would use foveon. but hey, I realize that's a loaded topic and I would be quite happy with a bayer sensor if only they got the usability right.
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LKaven
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« Reply #12 on: November 05, 2013, 04:39:22 PM »
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This is the follow-up to the D700.  It's the baby D4.  Anyone who wanted the best low-light shooter in the world for half the price can have it.  Like the D700, it introduced no new tech.  It's designed to appeal to people who did not want the D800.  Notice it has no model /number/, so it has migrated into a "mature product" category, where it will likely remain untouched for four years.  If it has a good finder and feels good in the hands, it will work.  I just don't know why they didn't put the high-end AF in it.  [But then, I stopped using AF anyway.]
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #13 on: November 05, 2013, 10:42:14 PM »
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Hi,

Sigma owns the Foveon and they make it with a crop factor of 1.7, AFAIK. So there is no Foveon in full frame around. There are a few patents around on  non bayer designs that are not Foveon types.

The Sigma DP compacts have very good reputation, so the Foveon obviously works.

There is a basic problem with the Foveon, and that is that it lacks color filters. It detects colour by absorption depth. So color is much more dependent on math than on bayer when the CGA can be designed for a wanted color reproduction. These newer designs may be better in that sense. Anyway, non bayer sensors will be more expensive to make, specially in larger sizes, because they are more complex.

Personally, my thinking is that the best solution is to make the pixels smaller.

Best regards
Erik


In a perfect world they would use foveon. but hey, I realize that's a loaded topic and I would be quite happy with a bayer sensor if only they got the usability right.
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Colorado David
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« Reply #14 on: November 05, 2013, 11:45:52 PM »
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I have a nice old Nikon FM2 with an MD12 winder that sits on a shelf in my office.  I really like the looks of it as a reminder of times past.  I kinda like the looks of this new camera.  Will I buy one? No.  There's no reason for me to not shoot the modern Nikons I now have.  On the same shelf I have a couple of TLRs that were my dads complete with Press 25 flash attachments.  I hope Nikon sells a bunch of these cameras to people who will enjoy them so they don't have to spread the development cost over product I will actually buy.
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Dustbak
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« Reply #15 on: November 06, 2013, 02:46:15 AM »
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This is the follow-up to the D700.  It's the baby D4.  Anyone who wanted the best low-light shooter in the world for half the price can have it.  Like the D700, it introduced no new tech.  It's designed to appeal to people who did not want the D800.  Notice it has no model /number/, so it has migrated into a "mature product" category, where it will likely remain untouched for four years.  If it has a good finder and feels good in the hands, it will work.  I just don't know why they didn't put the high-end AF in it.  [But then, I stopped using AF anyway.]

I would have preferred the D800 body with that sensor...

I surely grasp the concept of pure photography but to me that would have been to minimize the number of buttons, to keep the evolutions that have been good and reintroduce the ones that have fallen off but were really good.

I would have liked interchangeable viewfinders. I would have liked them big, 100% but with a larger magnification. Interchangeable screens maybe??..

I really dislike having the shutter speed dial on top... Etc..

Instead of buying the Df I ordered a 58/1.4 Smiley
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Rob C
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« Reply #16 on: November 06, 2013, 05:48:08 AM »
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That exactly is the problem. This camera appears to be a kind of worst of two worlds: All the old dials plus all the new buttons. Add a $2500+ price tag and I have no clue why anybody would want that.

There is a reason why old cameras needed to have a myriad of dials for all functions: It was the only technologically possible way to do it. And there is also a reason why newer cameras have all these extra buttons: Durable, quality touch screens weren't invented yet and also any kind of screen drained way to much battery. So they added buttons.

We are beyond this. It's perfectly possible to have all the settings in the world adjusted via a touch screen and nothing more. Sure, sometimes you'll want a dial, for example I need one to adjust the shutter speed or to browse through the pictures on the card. It's simply quicker. So I think a few user configurable dials and buttons are definitely a good idea.

The solution would have been so, so simple: Take a F2, remove all the clutter and really reduce it to the purest form of the design. That would pretty much be a rather rectangular form with the signature prism on top. You machine this out of aluminum and add some vulcanite/leatherette. Slap a non-italics "Nikon" logo on it. Add two metal dials on top. Add another two small dials in front of, and behind the shutter. Very large touchscreen. D-Pad and a three four dedicated buttons on the back. Full frame sans bayer inside. You're done.

It’s my view that the entire reason one might desire a ‘retro’ styled camera is simply to get rid of the additional stuff that digital introduced.

All any competent shooter needs is a focus ring on the lens, an aperture ring on the lens, a shutter speed control on the camera and, courtesy the digital revolution, a simple, non-menu method of selecting ISO and auto ISO.

The pentaprism should display the exposure bar as currently done, and that would obviate the need for any additional thing such a + or – dial because you do it in the prism with your left hand on the diaphragm ring. Considering how often one changes shooting/viewing position relative to the subject’s lighting, setting a mechanical control into a ‘permanent’ + or – is a nonsense: you easily forget and over/under expose all that follows should you fail to remember what you’ve set that’s different to the meter’s opinion.

Frankly, I’ve found the Nikon’s matrix to be so accurate that I no longer chimp. There’s no need. (And that from a guy who always incident light metered everything obsessively. I even bought my Nikon F2 as a Photomic, in hope, and never used the favour after the first battery died.)

Live View is not in the nature of the person for whom this sort of camera would have been designed.

Another poster in a similar thread mentioned that Polaroid was a kind of early alternative to the rear screen of contemporary cameras, providing a great way of learning photography by instant checking of mistakes; Polaroid didn’t work like that, it had other professional uses, and one of the worst aspects of Polaroid was its intrusion into the creative flow of a session. Polaroid was the darling of the fussing art director who made his presence valued by his determination to inspect what was going down at any given moment. Any guy shooting upmarket already knew how to light, what he was likely to be getting from his exposures. Polaroid simply didn’t look like your film looked. That was why having a break between the shoot and getting the trannies back didn’t help or hinder a thing. There was no need to see them in order to know what was what.

Rob C
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Dustbak
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« Reply #17 on: November 06, 2013, 06:38:47 AM »
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All any competent shooter needs is a focus ring on the lens, an aperture ring on the lens, a shutter speed control on the camera and, courtesy the digital revolution, a simple, non-menu method of selecting ISO and auto ISO.

Rob C

Exactly, that would make for a non-clutter pure photography camera. I could also do without the screen too, that would probably be very liberating. I hardly look at the screen anyway but that still is different than not having one.
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barryfitzgerald
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« Reply #18 on: November 06, 2013, 07:25:04 AM »
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I quite like dials and switches as this beauty shows.
And it even has a rear LCD too  Roll Eyes

It's actually quite nice v the Canon "ish" buttons only approach (or mostly buttons)

But if you are doing a MF film camera with basically a digital sensor, you could cut down the controls significantly
I would not remove the rear LCD, but I would limit the camera to "no gimmicks" just important areas and a much trimmed down menu system






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Christoph C. Feldhaim
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« Reply #19 on: November 06, 2013, 07:56:53 AM »
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Exactly, that would make for a non-clutter pure photography camera. I could also do without the screen too, that would probably be very liberating. I hardly look at the screen anyway but that still is different than not having one.

Yup, I agree.
My impression is Nikon tried to hop on a wagon which has something good in it (simplified intuitive basic controls) essentially but is being led into a totally wrong direction (Hipster Marketing with premier price tag).
I wish they had either made this camera much cheaper or given it the D800 sensor and the best electronics they have available.
I personally had hoped for a better A7R type camera, something like the Fuji X-pro one, just from Nikon and Full Frame.
That would have really been interesting.
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