A few posts back I said the Olympus Pen F
was going to succeed for a number of reasons - and alluded to the styling of the camera. Here's a closer breakdown of what that means in ergonomic terms.
The camera pictured is in Camera Electronic
now - the illustration pictures were taken on the shelves and don't show all the care that a studio shot might...but the enthusiasts who see the camera in the shop will still get to experience the design. Some people will be immediately attracted to it without really being able to tell why. Here's a few clues:
1. Your hand has to go somewhere and do something. This is the extra hand grip of the Pen F - taken from two angles. Finally enough heft to suit the grip of the average westerner without pinching their fingernails or giving them cramp. The back-of-camera thumb rest is also big enough to provide the opposition to this hand rest - you won't need an ancillary thumb rest. Note for panorama shooters - the tripod socket hole is in about the same position as the sensor, which is a great geometric help.
2. SLR film shooters expected to be able to check the depth of field at the working aperture by stopping down the lens with a preview button or lever. This was either on the camera or on the lens - but it was up the front - not down the back or in a menu. The Olympus Pen F has a DOF preview button at the front right body panel - exactly where we have come to expect it. It will get used more that way.
3. If you are going to have a DOF button on the right, don't confuse the right hand with a lens release button on the right as well - put it on the left. Also make it stand out visually and look good. Here is Olympus' answer - extend the chrome land of the lens mount out to the right and put a large button in it.
4. Have you ever picked up a dozen different digital cameras and tried to figure out where the designer has put the on/off button? And failed in about 40% of the cases? This is something that confronts sales staff every time a new model comes in. Leaving aside the novelty of the camera that turns itself on when you twist the zoom ring, most of the others either have a finger switch under the shutter button or a separate button somewhere o the top of the casing ...in amongst a forest of video, function, compensation, and pickled herring dispenser buttons. Hold your breath and press something and hope for the best...
are smart. For years their OM cameras have turned on with a lever on the left hand side - initially associated with a film rewind crank. No more film, no more rewinding, and the only cranks are the ones who operate the cameras...but Olympus have seized upon that portion of the top plate to put a positive knurled knob with an on/off switch that really does let you see that it is on or off. If it pays visual homage to a knurled film rewind knob, so much the better.
5. If you remember the screw-mount Leicas
you are as old as this writer. Congratulations. You also remember Sabrina and cheap Australian brandy. But come back to the SM Leica. The slow-speed dial was frequently put onto the right front panel of the body where it could influence the escapement train for the shutter. Same on Leotaxes and Niccas.
Well, Olympus have decided to echo this memory by putting one of the colour control centres on this same position. You'll have to modify the number of commands that this dial can generate by flicking over the toggle switch under the top mode dial, but it will be worth it as you can fiddle with the tone curves no end. The fact that you can do it without pressing into a back menu is likely to encourage you to do it far more often. Keep fiddling - eventually you will stop being Nero and come closer to being Paganini.
6. 4 C spots on the mode dial. 4 Custom channels, accessible from outside with a thumb and forefinger. No button pushing. Again, you are far more likely to make use of a facility if the operation is facile.
7. Big rubber-covered eyepiece at the northwest corner of the map. Can-shaped design to the housing...more for effect than operation, I suspect, but it does echo a lot of older professional equipment. A visual echo calls as much as a vocal one, and buyers have eyes as well as ears.
These cameras, in silver as well as black, are ins tock right now. Please look at our on-line store for pricing and please come in and heft one if you can. They are set to become a modern classic.Pen F: Currently on display and available in store with limited amounts
Labels: design, ergonomics, film, Lenses, mirror-less, Olympus, Pen system, retro