Tick Tack Toe -The Business Of Feeling
Those of you with Linhof Technorama cameras may grin now. Widely. Now back to the regular digital camera world.
Never mind the specifications. Pick the damn thing up and see if you can find the shutter button with your finger. If you can't see it from behind, ask someone to look from the front and give you hand signals - like steering a tank onto a transporter. if neither of you can find out which bit sets it off, set it down and move on.
Are you right handed or left handed? If the former you will be able to operate any camera easily - if the latter, give up all hope of photography. Since the demise of the Exakta, you have been cast into outer darkness. This is one of the meanest of decisions in today's electronic world. All that would be needed is a simple electric switch on the left to fire the shutter - even if it did double duty as some other control for the right handers. Maddening, isn't it - you can get more left handed can openers and shotguns than you can simple little cameras.
Okay, say you can use your right paw... is it a big mitt or a little one? This is important because a number of the more fashionable mirror-less cameras are made for Asian hands. You may be trying to hold it with 2 or three of your fingers excess to requirements and your fingertips might be pushing three controls at once every time you try to operate it.
Try the thing to your eye. If you can't do this because there is no eye-level viewfinder, go outside and let the sun fall directly on the LCD screen. Can you see anything at all? No? Go get one with a viewfinder. Now, when you are peering through the finder, where is your nose going? If you want to spend your holidays with your nose smashed flat you can either do it on the back of an LCD screen or go for a sparring partner with Danny Green. You choose. Alternately choose a Fuji or Leica camera that lets you see through a finder on the northwest of the camera body and leaves space for your nose at the end. It can make a difference.
Are you going to change lenses? Somewhere on the body will be a button that releases the lens so that you can bayonet it off. Some of the designers have put this button in a concealed or stylish place and you may have to search for it. If the lens needs more than two movements to remove it, you risk catching it in mid-change and dropping it.
Where is the tripod screw socket? On the underside, one hopes...but after that there are a number of options. Central is good - off-center means you cannot rotate the body for panoramic pictures quite as well. way out at the end of the baseplate is pretty horrible, but it is traditional for a couple of cameras.
And one more test. Do you want to use a camera that has an in-built flash? Is it going to be one that pops up over a central pentaprism? Does it lock in place? The reason we ask this is the fact that some of these flashes are used to control off-camera speed lights and they turn off as soon as they are folded. The danger is if you wear a hat with a brim while shooting in this manner, your hat brim may push the flash in and turn everything off. It can puzzle the most expert user.
Please note we have not commented at all about the usability of the cameras for video - about whether the focussing and zooming is smooth and whether basic camera handling is easy or starts to make alarming noises on the microphone.