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NZDavid

What's wrong with a good old shutter speed dial?

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It seems the SL does not have a conventional shutter speed dial. (Although you have to download the brochure to have a good look; I can find no  pictures showing the camera from all sides in the video presentation. Style over information?) Instead, I guess you have to flick the dial and set the speed either by looking in the finder or on the LCD (top or backplate). Why? What's wrong with the old-style shutter speed dial?  Some other camera manufacturers (Fuji,  Nikon) have gone back to this tried and true system for some cameras. This iconic design was invented by Oskar Barnack and used on the very first Leica camera. Shutter speeds marked on a top-plate dial, apertures around the lens. What could be simpler? Leica ditched this proven ergonomic design for the T camera, favoring a smartphone interface instead. Now, with the SL, it looks like unadorned controls have been chosen to look cleaner and smoother. The Oly OM-D models have a similar looking dial with no markings. But is this just style over function? I wonder just what makes this new design so much better? Perhaps someone will say it's much faster or that it makes little difference in practice. I find choosing a shutter speed simply by looking at it and setting it much faster. It's a one-step process and also gives you a ready frame of reference like an analog watch. Or is that just me?

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is that just me?

 

It's not just you.

 

I find the ergonomics of Canon EOS the fastest and most intuitive of any cameras I've ever used - with shutter speed controlled by forefinger and aperture by thumb - but I know others who much prefer conventional shutter speed dials and aperture rings (even after years of using Canons daily). I suspected the preference depends on how we're wired.

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 Or is that just me?

 

....... errrr ..... as it's displayed bang next door to the dial in a large screen ...... and on the rear display .... and in the viewfinder, I'm not sure what the problem is ...... frankly it is not needed. 

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David,

 

I was about to agree with you but then I thought about when I use my Canon's, and in practice using a 'control wheel' isn't any problem. Ergonomically I think Canon make excellent bodies and even in manual mode, it's very easy to use with your forefinger on the front wheel and thumb on the rear thumbwheel, for shutter and aperture settings.

 

OK the camera needs to be on to select settings but then it's got to be on if you intend to take a photo anyway.

 

Also I suspect the dial on the SL can be used for other functions than just changing the shutter speed.

 

That said, cameras with traditional functionality are so much easier to just pick up and use. Anyone could pick up a digital M and just use it, no manual required!

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....... errrr ..... as it's displayed bang next door to the dial in a large screen ...... and on the rear display .... and in the viewfinder, I'm not sure what the problem is ...... frankly it is not needed. 

 

I disagree that it is functionally equivalent and, like David, I was rather surprised to see that the SL doesn't have a conventional shutter speed dial. A virtual shutter dial (because that is what it is when it is just a blank wheel) is less direct in that you move one thing (the dial) in order to change something else (the number on the LCD display). Even when the LCD readout is "large" and "bang next door" it is still less direct than a conventional shutter speed dial where the numbers are "hard coded" into the physical dial. With a conventional dial you move the numbers themselves and it is easier, and much more direct, to quickly switch from say 1/1000 to 1/60. IMO the Canon/Nikon/Sony/SL approach is better suited to working in one of the auto exposure modes. I always use full manual (it's just the way I prefer to use a camera) and I find the virtual dial LCD interface I have on my Nikon DSLR a real pain if I'm using it in a situation where I need to make frequent exposure alterations.

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I have an M, which I use most of the time, and an OMD EM5ii which I use occasionally. The latter has virtual dials, when one is needed, and I have them set with shutter speed at the front and aperture at the back. Although I do often set the M shutter speed and aperture with the camera off, the fact that I have to turn on the EM5 to do much the same thing is not one of my big worries about the latter - switching on first is now semi automatic.

 

I don't have wide experience of complex menu systems (before the EM5 the last one was an EOS 550d), but my main grumble is how the different camera facilities interact unpredicably and non-intuitively with each other e.g. I have the EM5 set to silent electronic shutter, decide to switch to flash, and find that silent shutter is no longer an option (scenarios requiring silence and flash are unusual, but they are possible): predicting which options are available and compatible with each other requires more brain cells than I am willing to spare from a dying number. Give me the simple M controls any day. It sounds like the SL interface, despite David's worries, is more towards the M than the EM5, so I am looking forward to seeing it in the flesh.

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I like being able to adjust the settings of a camera without having to turn the camera on.  I also like being able to frame a view without having to turn the camera on.  The more mechanical and less electronic it is the better IMO.  Perhaps I see an M-A in my future ...

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I'd be less fussed if the SL shutter speed dial had click intervals. Does anyone know if this is the case?

 

I must say that although my preference for years has been (and still is) the classic layout with a labelled shutter speed dial, as I have gotten older and now need reading glasses it really pisses me off that in low light I have trouble reading the M camera shutter speed dial numbers.  Furthermore it's absolutely beyond me why in manual mode there is not an option to display shutter speed in the viewfinder of M cameras.  

 

The SL dial with a large digital display of essential exposure information on the top deck, and in the VF, would be a nice change. 

Edited by MarkP

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What’s wrong with a dedicated shutter speed dial? That it is dedicated, i.e. not user configurable.

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Being "user configurable", in other words multi-functional, adds complexity. You may have a less cluttered simpler looking product (look no complex numbers!) but that doesn't make it intuitive or simpler to actually use. You interact with the dial, a display, a menu system, and a selector button.

 

Setting your shutter speed before taking a picture without having it turn it on is way faster. One of the things I like about the M.

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Being "user configurable", in other words multi-functional, adds complexity. You may have a less cluttered simpler looking product (look no complex numbers!) but that doesn't make it intuitive or simpler to actually use. You interact with the dial, a display, a menu system, and a selector button.

 

Setting your shutter speed before taking a picture without having it turn it on is way faster. One of the things I like about the M.

Amen to that.

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I prefer click wheels.

Would you rather a Leica M3 had a click wheel? (whatever that is).

Edited by wattsy

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if you shoot the SL in M mode, the top click wheel controls you shutter speed, the thumb wheel the f stop.....pretty simple....

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Having shutter speeds engraved on the "top dial" (number 26 in the user instructions) would limit the dial to "single purpose" use. It would seem that because the "top dial" is shutter speed in "recording" mode and a zoom control in "review" mode; then having engraved shutter speeds would be at odds with that.

Another differentiation from the "essentials of M"?

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A camera only actually requires 3 controls - aperture and shutter controls, a focus control (although currently an ISO adjustment control is needed though it should be superfluous if software was designed to operate with a truly RAW file). Everything else is really a bolt on extra. My ideal camera would have simple shutter and aperture controls - with numbers engraved on them, and a focus control. It would shoot RAW files only which could have ALL functions controlled in software (lens, aperture.ISO, etc). In other words a truly minimalistic camera. To date the Leica Ms are the nearest that I can get. If someone designed a dSLR or Mirrorless camera that was really as simple as I've described, I'd be interested. I see all the advantages of multi-functionality but prefer a more simplistic, traditional approach. I get the SL's approach but would like a manufacturer to be really innovative and produce a truly simplistic camera.

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The more I see pictures of the SL on the web (not seen it 'in person' yet) the more I think that large dial on the top looks a bit odd and likely to be caught on something or knocked off if the camera were dropped!

 

Given it's no a dial, but a wheel, I would have thought a better design would have been to integrate it into the grip, as most others do.

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A camera only actually requires 3 controls - aperture and shutter controls, a focus control (although currently an ISO adjustment control is needed though it should be superfluous if software was designed to operate with a truly RAW file). Everything else is really a bolt on extra. My ideal camera would have simple shutter and aperture controls - with numbers engraved on them, and a focus control. It would shoot RAW files only which could have ALL functions controlled in software (lens, aperture.ISO, etc). In other words a truly minimalistic camera. To date the Leica Ms are the nearest that I can get. If someone designed a dSLR or Mirrorless camera that was really as simple as I've described, I'd be interested. I see all the advantages of multi-functionality but prefer a more simplistic, traditional approach. I get the SL's approach but would like a manufacturer to be really innovative and produce a truly simplistic camera.

 

I agree, though presumably it would be simple on the outside but quite complex on the inside to accomplish everything we want from it. In other words, an EVF (if that is what you have in mind) that shows a viewable image even if the camera always operates at base iso/RAW.

 

But yes, I think a lot of people are hoping for some truly innovative thinking along these lines, rather than the technological two-step that passes for innovation.

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The more I see pictures of the SL on the web (not seen it 'in person' yet) the more I think that large dial on the top looks a bit odd and likely to be caught on something or knocked off if the camera were dropped!

 

You seem a bit desperate to find things wrong with most Leica cameras. This would appear to be your biggest stretch yet.

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You seem a bit desperate to find things wrong with most Leica cameras. This would appear to be your biggest stretch yet.

 

Not at all - just saying that's what I think - I'm sure the reality is that it's very sturdily fixed but it would surely have been better ergonomically if it were integrated into the grip.

 

The rest of the design is so sleek, it's kind of like a spot on the end of someones nose!

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