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Author Topic: A Redux Critique Of Contemporary Camera Design  (Read 7069 times)
Telecaster
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« Reply #20 on: April 01, 2014, 03:14:53 PM »
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With the Sony A7r if I wanted to assemble a "best of" legacy lens lineup it would make for an awkward pic-taking experience. Some focusing rings would turn clockwise to focus closer, others counter-clockwise. Aperture rings would be in different places with different lenses and turn in different directions to stop down. Blecchh! So instead I've put together a number of single-brand/mount lineups, each with two, three or four fixed-focal-length lenses. This way I only need one adapter at a time too. If I want to use native FE lenses instead I go with the 24–70/4 and 55/1.8.

-Dave-
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BJL
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« Reply #21 on: April 01, 2014, 07:51:32 PM »
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Careful! Ray might explain perspective again.
To Isaac: Yep!:
From my perspective ...
To Ray: about
... there are just half a dozen main considerations when choosing a camera. They are noise, resolution, autofocusing accuracy, weight, price and lens quality.
I have nothing against you adopting that perspective, but what has it for to do with Richard Sexton's article, since he clearly has a somewhat different set of main considerations.  Hopefully you are not suggesting that every photographer should share your apparently lower priority on considerations like accurate manual focusing, quick and convenient manual focus on an off-centre subject, dynamic range, or the types of lenses available (as opposed to just their quality).  But you do seem to imply that when you shift from speaking of your idiosyncratic perspective to the more general phrasing "issues one can learn to adapt to, or are limitations one can learn to tolerate".  This one is not interested in adapting to or tolerating weaknesses like poor manual focusing capabilities, a lack of zoom lenses covering my preferred combination of FOV range and weight, or the lack of good macro lenses.
« Last Edit: April 01, 2014, 09:04:17 PM by BJL » Logged
Ray
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« Reply #22 on: April 01, 2014, 11:15:35 PM »
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To Ray: about I have nothing against you adopting that perspective, but what has it for to do with Richard Sexton's article, since he clearly has a somewhat different set of main considerations.

Everyone has a different perspective. That's what being an individual means. Even inseparable twins, with two heads and one body, can have a different perspective, each from the other.

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Hopefully you are not suggesting that every photographer should share your apparently lower priority on considerations like accurate manual focusing, quick and convenient manual focus on an off-centre subject, dynamic range, or the types of lenses available (as opposed to just their quality).

Of course not. I'm quite opposed to the herd mentality. The interesting aspects of discussions such as this, and I also include critiques of any photographs, are the reasons expressed for liking, disliking, agreeing, disagreeing, and so on.

Sometimes reasoning can be flawed, or not supported by the evidence. For example, in your above statement you imply that I consider dynamic range as one of the lower priorities, outside of the 6 main priorities that I listed. I think that is an oversight on your part, so I hope you are grateful for my correcting you.  Wink

One of the 6 main issues I mentioned was 'noise'. Dynamic range is all about noise, although specifically noise in the shadows rather than noise in the midtones, but noise nevertheless. So obviously I consider DR capability one of the main considerations.

Likewise, the term 'quality' as applied to lenses can refer to more than the MTF response. A telephoto lens has the quality of being able to render distant objects sharp, bearing in mind that sharp is a relative term. Even if the MTF response of the telephoto lens is poor, it will likely still do a far better job of rendering distant objects sharp, than the most expensive wide-angle lens available.

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But you do seem to imply that when you shift from speaking of your idiosyncratic perspective to the more general phrasing "issues one can learn to adapt to, or are limitations one can learn to tolerate". This one is not interested in adapting to or tolerating weaknesses like poor manual focusing capabilities, a lack of zoom lenses covering my preferred combination of FOV range and weight, or the lack of good macro lenses.

As regards adapting to or tolerating weaknesses such as poor manual focusing capability, would you care to explain why you consider poor, or 'less than ideal', manual focusing capability to be one of the major concerns?
For example, do you frequently take shots with very wide apertures resulting in a very shallow DoF where accurate focusing is more critical and autofocusing is not up to the job?

If you were offered a choice from two, new, cutting-edge cameras which differed only in the respect that one camera boasted an unprecedented, accurate autofocusing system in all types of lighting and with all lenses designed for the camera, but had only an average manual focusing capability; and the other camera boasted an unprecedented manual focusing capability, but had only average autofocusing capability, which would you choose?

I would choose the camera with improved autofocusing. Perhaps at this point I should clarify what I understand as the distinction between manual focussing and autofocusing. If you think that focal length is not a 'quality', perhaps you think that manually moving an autofocusing square in the viewfinder, using one's thumb, constitutes manual focusing. I hope not.  Wink  But I agree there is a certain manual dexterity required in that process.
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OldRoy
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« Reply #23 on: April 02, 2014, 05:22:21 AM »
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"...smaller, more discrete camera bodies... quiet, discrete, take anywhere cameras..."
As opposed to conglomerated cameras, perhaps?

This must be the internet. Another one to add to the near-ubiquitous "loose/lose" confusion (which I find breathtakingly illiterate). I guess proof reading (or maybe the literate proof-reader) has become an anachronism. That's Progress folks...

Roy
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amolitor
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« Reply #24 on: April 02, 2014, 05:57:20 AM »
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There's also it's/its confusion. My pet peeve. But it is the internet, and the standard is 'is it clear?' not 'is it correct?'
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- Andrew

My awesome blog about photography: http://photothunk.blogspot.com
BJL
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« Reply #25 on: April 02, 2014, 08:40:43 AM »
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Ray, thank you for clarifying your list of priorities, such as your perspective on the meaning of "quality" and on the relationship between noise and dynamic range.  I note that noise and dynamic range are not usually considered to be exactly the same thing, due to the role of full well capacity in the latter.  In particular, in comparison between a larger CCD with larger photosites and a smaller active pixel CMOS sensor with smaller photosites, it is sometimes the case that the former has a greater dynamic range and better image quality at low exposure index while the latter has less dark noise and better image quality in low light, high exposure index situations.

I indicated that good manual focusing features are one major priority for me, including for example the ability to use an enlarged image through the eye-level electronic viewfinder because the definition of the image in an OVF is at best comparable to about 2MP, and not always good enough for shallow DOF situations like macro photography.  Since I did not declare that this or any one aspect dominates over all others in my weighing of the advantages and disadvantages of various systems, your "which camera" question based on hypothetical extremes of AF vs MF performance with no information on any other factors relevant to my system choice is a false dichotomy.  How about just accepting your final statement about which camera is preferable from your perspective?

It is in your word "confusing" that after acknowledging that we can have different perspectives, you set out to challenge my priority on manual focusing features (shared by a great many other photographers in this forum).

What is it going to be Ray: are we all individuals entitled to our diverse perspectives, or is anyone who does not share the Ray perspective "confused"?
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Ray
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« Reply #26 on: April 02, 2014, 10:39:35 AM »
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Since I did not declare that this or any one aspect dominates over all others in my weighing of the advantages and disadvantages of various systems, your "which camera" question based on hypothetical extremes of AF vs MF performance with no information on any other factors relevant to my system choice is a false dichotomy.  How about just accepting your final statement about which camera is preferable from your perspective?

It is in your word "confusing" that after acknowledging that we can have different perspectives, you set out to challenge my priority on manual focusing features (shared by a great many other photographers in this forum).

What is it going to be Ray: are we all individuals entitled to our diverse perspectives, or is anyone who does not share the Ray perspective "confused"?

Not at all, BJL. We are all confused to the extent that are we unable to provide a rational, convincing or plausible explanation for our views and perspectives.

My hypothetical question about 'which camera' seems quite straightforward to me. I was simply trying to elicit from you an explanation as to why you appear to give a higher priority to manual focusing capability than I do, and whether or not the reason is because you find the current autofocusing accuracy of your cameras inadequate.

Assuming you are in the market for a new camera, and assuming that all the features of both cameras offered in this hypothetical scenario meet your requirements, would you choose the model with unprecedented autofocusing accuracy, but average manual focussing convenience, or the one with improved manual focusing ease and convenience, but average autofocusing?
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BJL
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« Reply #27 on: April 02, 2014, 12:30:40 PM »
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I was simply trying to elicit from you an explanation as to why you appear to give a higher priority to manual focusing capability than I do, and whether or not the reason is because you find the current autofocusing accuracy of your cameras inadequate.
Since the subject is how people choose between actual systems, I do not see the point of asking me to to consider your imaginary hypothetical case of "unprecedented, accurate autofocusing system in all types of lighting and with all lenses designed for the camera", particularly since that description ignores one of the well-known limitations to AF systems: selection of the focus target.  So let me try to answer your latest version of the question:

Some of my favorite subjects are of wildlife using long lenses and of very small subjects at close range, where DOF can be quite shallow (even in smaller formats like 4/3"!), and the desirable focus target is often a feature like an eye or a certain part of a plant or insect that is not at dead-center and is not distinguished in any simple algorithmic way like being closest to the camera or having a clear high-contrast edge.  AFAIK, no AF software in any system will reliably detect my compositional choice of focus location in these cases, so AF requires at least either pushing buttons to select amongst a large array of AF points or focus and recompose, either of which I find far less convenient than using my eyes to choose and check focus.  So I switch to manual focus in these situations.

So no, the reason is not just the autofocusing accuracy of my particular current cameras.


Ray, may I ask you a question in return: are you genuinely in doubt that a good number of photographers have a valid rational and empirical basis for caring about manual focusing, and for judging that some systems support this significantly better than others?
« Last Edit: April 02, 2014, 12:37:34 PM by BJL » Logged
Isaac
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« Reply #28 on: April 02, 2014, 12:52:59 PM »
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The interesting aspects of discussions such as this, and I also include critiques of any photographs, are the reasons expressed for liking, disliking, agreeing, disagreeing, and so on.

Yes! I'll take the opportunity to express strong agreement with you about that.
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Isaac
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« Reply #29 on: April 02, 2014, 01:02:36 PM »
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As opposed to conglomerated cameras, perhaps?
That's mockery folks.

It would be more helpful to ask the web master to correct the  typo "discrete" to "discreet".

Has charitable reading become an anachronism?
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Christoph C. Feldhaim
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There is no rule! No - wait ...


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« Reply #30 on: April 02, 2014, 01:26:14 PM »
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Seems we nave a new pissing contest ...
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wildlightphoto
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« Reply #31 on: April 02, 2014, 01:31:00 PM »
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If you were offered a choice from two, new, cutting-edge cameras which differed only in the respect that one camera boasted an unprecedented, accurate autofocusing system in all types of lighting and with all lenses designed for the camera, but had only an average manual focusing capability; and the other camera boasted an unprecedented manual focusing capability, but had only average autofocusing capability, which would you choose?

I would choose the camera with the better manual focussing capability, every time.  First, because I trust myself to focus on a particular point before I'd trust AF to focus on the point I want to be in focus (assuming that the hypothetical AF system is perfectly accurate once the point is selected - this IMHO is part of the 'unprecedented' part of the hypothetical AF system); second, because AF points are in fixed locations that do not cover the entire picture area and with a good manual focus capability the user can focus anywhere in the picture area, third because I want visual confirmation that the point I want is in focus, and fourth because I do not want to be limited to the lenses designed for the camera.

The DOF in my photos - of small critters at close range with little opportunity to use small apertures - is vanishingly small so focussing errors are unforgivable; the critters move, so focus-lock-recompose is out of the question (been there, done that, threw out lots of pictures) and the time wasted recognizing when the AF system isn't doing what I want then over-riding the thing means lost opportunities.  I won't waste forum bandwidth posting examples of images but those who are interested in seeing if my photos consist of small fast-moving subjects are welcome to browse my website.  The photos on my website are 100% manual focus.
« Last Edit: April 02, 2014, 01:34:46 PM by wildlightphoto » Logged
Isaac
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« Reply #32 on: April 02, 2014, 02:27:08 PM »
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The DOF in my photos … is vanishingly small so focusing errors are unforgivable…

As usual in these discussions, the difference in the type of photograph we commonly take is the main factor.

Even I'll notice that AF locked on the tip-of-a-nose rather than the iris; but maybe I just need a new camera :-)
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BJL
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« Reply #33 on: April 02, 2014, 03:51:11 PM »
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As usual in these discussions, the difference in the type of photograph we commonly take is the main factor.
That is the point of course (For example, I think that at 16MP+, all current systems have enough resolution for all my needs, but I am not going to interrogate anyone who still makes "resolution" a factor in choosing between systems.)

Even I'll notice that AF locked on the tip-of-a-nose rather than the iris; but maybe I just need a new camera :-)
That Sony A7 eye focus is insufficient: I want to decide which eye to focus on.  Actually, Olympus claims that the E-M5 can do this:
"Improved Eye detection lets you choose from left or right eye priority modes to get the correct focus point quickly for perfect portraits every time" -- http://www.getolympus.com/us/en/e-m5.html
but I doubt it works well on non-human eyes, especially insect eyes.
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Isaac
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« Reply #34 on: April 02, 2014, 04:54:44 PM »
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That Sony A7 eye focus is insufficient: I want to decide which eye to focus on.

(I don't have an A7). We know the problem will arise when there are 2 eyes in the focus box, so maybe we could move the focus box; and for my purposes, having one eye tack-sharp would be better than having the tip-of-the-nose tack-sharp :-) Obviously, depending on face-orientation, a lot of the time, one eye in focus would mean both eyes in focus.

I'd probably still use MF out-of-habit but I can see that others might decide Eye AF was better for them.
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BJL
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« Reply #35 on: April 03, 2014, 09:11:44 AM »
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We know the problem will arise when there are 2 eyes in the focus box, so maybe we could move the focus box; and for my purposes, having one eye tack-sharp would be better than having the tip-of-the-nose tack-sharp :-) Obviously, depending on face-orientation, a lot of the time, one eye in focus would mean both eyes in focus.

I'd probably still use MF out-of-habit but I can see that others might decide Eye AF was better for them.
Joking aside, the human face is such a dominant photographic subject that it has attracted an impressive technological effort at automation, and I have no basis for thinking that AF is inadequate for that case --- partly because of my ignorance: I rarely photograph people except as casual snapshots, and instead my main interest is nature photography.

Typically, it is the less common cases that the automation handle less well, and which require turning off the automation and making our own choices of exposure levels, shutter speeds, aperture, white balance, contrast level, amount of gain applied before raw conversion, focus point, etc.
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wildlightphoto
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« Reply #36 on: April 03, 2014, 09:53:24 AM »
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Joking aside, the human face is such a dominant photographic subject that it has attracted an impressive technological effort at automation, and I have no basis for thinking that AF is inadequate for that case --- partly because of my ignorance: I rarely photograph people except as casual snapshots, and instead my main interest is nature photography.

Typically, it is the less common cases that the automation handle less well, and which require turning off the automation and making our own choices of exposure levels, shutter speeds, aperture, white balance, contrast level, amount of gain applied before raw conversion, focus point, etc.

I agree completely.  With typical subjects and compositions automatic features are great, especially now that on-chip hybrid AF combined with facial recognition is becoming available.  It's the atypical photographs where automatic features leave much to be desired.
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Ray
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« Reply #37 on: April 03, 2014, 04:56:33 PM »
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Since the subject is how people choose between actual systems, I do not see the point of asking me to to consider your imaginary hypothetical case of "unprecedented, accurate autofocusing system in all types of lighting and with all lenses designed for the camera", particularly since that description ignores one of the well-known limitations to AF systems: selection of the focus target.  So let me try to answer your latest version of the question:

Some of my favorite subjects are of wildlife using long lenses and of very small subjects at close range, where DOF can be quite shallow (even in smaller formats like 4/3"!), and the desirable focus target is often a feature like an eye or a certain part of a plant or insect that is not at dead-center and is not distinguished in any simple algorithmic way like being closest to the camera or having a clear high-contrast edge.  AFAIK, no AF software in any system will reliably detect my compositional choice of focus location in these cases, so AF requires at least either pushing buttons to select amongst a large array of AF points or focus and recompose, either of which I find far less convenient than using my eyes to choose and check focus.  So I switch to manual focus in these situations.

So no, the reason is not just the autofocusing accuracy of my particular current cameras.


BJL,
I understand that situation perfectly, and the Live View systems of some current models of cameras, particularly Canon models, allow for very easy manual focusing, provided one uses a tripod. I recall being amazed at the detail I could see on my Canon 50D LCD screen at 10x magnification, especially when using a telephoto lens.

What sort of improvements in manual focusing do you have in mind?

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Ray, may I ask you a question in return: are you genuinely in doubt that a good number of photographers have a valid rational and empirical basis for caring about manual focusing, and for judging that some systems support this significantly better than others?

This is where the confusion lies. One cares about accurate focusing, period. I personally don't give a stuff whether it's manual or auto as long as the focusing system has the qualities that enable me to get the shot, with the parts in focus that I want to be in focus, and within the time-frame that's available for the shot; and, I should add, with as little fiddling as possible since that tends to distract the mind from the more important considerations such as composition. However, I will always try to use manual focusing in circumstance when I suspect or predict that autofocusing will be inadequate.

If someone were to devise a manual focusing system that was at least as good as current autofocusing systems in all situations, and better in certain specialised situations, such as macro photography, then I would be a great fan of such a manual system.

If someone were to device an autofocus system that matched the capabilities of manual focus in those specialised situations, but was far quicker and just as accurate in all situations, then that's the system I would prefer
However, I think it would be reasonable to claim that a manual focusing system cannot have the potential to equal the speed of autofocusing because it is limited by the speed of human manual dexterity.

Now, I don't claim to be an authority on what is technologically feasible regarding developments in autofocus technology, but there does appear to be some research taking place that could lead to even faster and more accurate autofocus systems in future cameras.

Here are some links. http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2011/09/16/1108491108.abstract
http://www.futurity.org/how-to-make-cameras-auto-focus-like-eyes/
http://www.theguardian.com/global/2012/jan/15/digital-auto-focus-defocus-technology

Also, I recall many years ago buying a Canon EOS film SLR which featured a system which could track the eyeball as one looked through the viewfinder, allowing one to select as a focusing point, that part in the scene that the eye had settled on.

It now occurs to me that further development of that technology could lead to a quicker method of  moving the focusing square that one sees in the viewfinder of modern DSLRs. If eyeball tracking was available 20 years ago, one would imagine it would not be too difficult to devise an improved system whereby a single focusing square could precisely follow the movement of the eye as it perused the scene through the viewfinder.

If one were to combine such an eye-tracking system with improved autofocus accuracy, in relation to whatever focusing point had been chosen, then I think one would have a system that would make manual focusing completely redundant. That's what I'd like to see. I'm a progressive.  Wink
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Ray
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« Reply #38 on: April 03, 2014, 07:16:19 PM »
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I would choose the camera with the better manual focussing capability, every time.  First, because I trust myself to focus on a particular point before I'd trust AF to focus on the point I want to be in focus .....

The nature of the 'unprecedented' improvement in autofocusing includes both improved accuracy and improved 'efficiency of selection' of the precise focus point within the scene.

Oh! Ye person of little faith!  Grin
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BJL
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« Reply #39 on: April 03, 2014, 08:25:59 PM »
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the Live View systems of some current models of cameras, particularly Canon models, allow for very easy manual focusing, provided one uses a tripod.
Good, so we agree that good live manual focusing can be an important factor in _some_ people's choice of camera.  Since that was my original point, perhaps I should stop here.

However, you have overlooked my statement that I like to be able to do this with my eye to the viewfinder, partly because I often want to do this hand-held and/or in lighting conditions where viewing the rear screen is difficult. And that of course becomes a differentiation between different systems, because some have live view eye level viewfinders (”EVFs") while others do not.
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