Are cameras and menus too complicated?

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Alan
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#1
Are menus and cameras in general too complicated?

This is prompted by a blog post I've just read, the poster has moved from FF digital to a high and bridge and then to a smartphone because cameras and menus are too complicated... and I think that even if they are maybe it doesn't matter...

I've read many complaints on forums about menus and to be honest I never really understand what people are complaining about as multi page menus with lots of options are surely a good thing as they allow you to set the kit up pretty much exactly as you want it. I do think they can be a pain when you're unfamiliar with new kit and it's annoying when the option you want isn't in the section you thought it would be but it shouldn't take too long to wade through them, work them out and set the kit up and once that's done how often do we really need menus? I honestly can't think of anything I do even remotely regularly in the menu other than format the card (regularly) and set the clock (not very often.) I do everything else with a dial, a button or with the custom menu I've set up which contains just about everything I need to do.

As for the camera itself, I'm sure all of my cameras have features I don't use and possibly don't even know are there but as long as I can set the aperture, shutter, ISO and exposure compensation, move the focus point, set the metering mode and do all of the other basic stuff like that does it really matter if there are exotic features and abilities in there somewhere that I wouldn't use even if I knew how to? And of course if I was interested I could RTM or Google it.

For people who can't be bothered with aperture priority and metering and the like most cameras have some sort of automatic (green square?) mode which turns the camera into a point and shoot. Easy enough?

So really I'm struggling to see how people could be so put off by camera or menu complexity that they'd give up. Personally I think that using a phone is a more complex thing to do than using a camera but I do also realise that's because I have zero interest in phones and I'm sure that if I could be bothered I could eventually work out how to do the more clever things you can do with one.

All in all I'm just a bit phased at the thought of people giving up on cameras because of complexity because IMO you can just ignore the complexity and just get on with using it with the basic stuff or just stick it in green square mode. I suppose we could get annoyed that we're sometimes paying for features that we're not interested in but that's probably true of any electronic thing these days, and for me that includes phones definitely. The lack of easy camera connectivity to social media and problems sharing are other issues and will no doubt add to the complexity.

So, what do you think? Is the complexity enough to put people off? Seriously?
 

simon ess

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#2
I agree with the main thrust of what you're saying.

It really isn't that difficult.
Once set up, why would you need the menu again?
You might need a few things, eg. format, sensor clean, but again, really not complicated.

On my new D500, it took me a little time and a little thought to work out menu banks but, once sorted, awesome!
 
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jo
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#3
Nothing isn't simple anymore...

Menu's are pretty simple, it's just remembering the Route one needs to navigate to where you want to go, is the difficult bit... And new technology tends to come with new words or phrases, to which one has to add to the memory bank with the required directions to get there....

And it's this complexity of remembering that puts people off...

For example, I looked at the Sony A7, in many respects I liked the camera but I really really didn't want to have to learn it's menu, as it's lay out is awful, so opted to stay with Canon, as I've alway found their menu's to match my logic so easy for me to get around them (most of the time)
 
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#4
Olympus take some beating, never met a sub menu they didn't like.
Compared to Panasonic they could certainly simplify things a lot more
 
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Keith
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#5
I'd say it is laziness, a lot of people just want things to work instantly and think it should be set up perfectly when it comes out the box.
 
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#6
It put me off. Panasonic Tz100 was the final straw. I hated that camera because I couldn't easily make it work the way I wanted it.

So many different features are useful, and when they're unintuitively hidden behind terrible UI design it makes the camera a pain to use and not a pleasure. I want my camera to be easy to use.

Obviously main functions like aperture, shutter & ISO controls are important. But then there's Auto ISO (off when on a tripod or using lights, on when handheld), Eye AF (off most of the time), Focus switch from manual to auto, card format, focus point change, exp comp, single shot vs bracketing vs continuous, timer, AF-L, AE-L, Shutter switch from mechanical to electronic, white balance... And that's not including things I never use or set once like touch screen on/off, image quality, and the different jpeg settings...

I don't use all of these at once, indeed, if I did, I'd probably not have a problem. It's because I use them or change them infrequently that I have trouble remembering how to do it. Not only that, but if an image is massively wrong because a setting wasn't put back after I last used the camera, I could spend ages trying to figure out why. It's frustrating and annoying. It's less of a problem for people who use their cameras for one specific thing because they have to make less changes (generally).

Changing to Fujis was a breath of fresh air for me. Almost all the controls are on the body and there are a ton of customisable buttons, so I can tell in an instant what they are and why my image might be over/under. I go into the menus only to format my card (even that has a quick method). I hope to God Fuji never change their design.

Olympus, Canon & Nikon are OK I suppose. I can figure out most of my students' "how do I...?" questions without the internet, but if they hold up a Sony or Panasonic (or something more esoteric) with a querying eye, I just refer them to Google. However quite a few of them, once they understand the basics of photography, find that the menus get in the way of their creativity. That X-T2 that looked massively complicated on day one suddenly looks appealing & easy to use.

I use my phone for photos only on full auto. I've tried exerting some control over it with a well regarded camera app, but it was irritating and annoying.
 
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#7
Menus are frequently badly organised, QED the A7, Olympus E-M10 etc. There is usually a certain amount of learning where stuff is that would be reduced by less irrational organisation - speaking as a new Sony A7III owner. Perhaps if a maker could break the mould and produce a menu system based around function (i.e. tabs at the top labelled 'focus system' 'image storage' etc that would catch on.
 
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#8
I can get the hang of any menu system, have been through a few [they don't tend to change all that much through gens] Nikon, Olympus, Older Sony A mount, Fuji - both bridge and ML and Panasonic. For me what irritates with some of them is not the complexity of setting up - because you really only do that the one time and from there it's how quick and easy you can access your most needed options. It's how they spread connecting options out that confuzzles at times - why the need to have to dip into 4 different areas or sub divisions of different sections to link up simple things like fine tuning AF or setting up off cam flash. That's when it irks. For the most part it's a good memory exercise. I've never once in my life read a camera manual. Perhaps that same guy prefers microwave meals to preparing a hearty lunch ... people are different.
 
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#9
I had a break from photography from 2011 until last year and back then, I had a Canon 50D.
Last year I bought a Canon 80D and some of the menu is very similar to the 50D and I could access aperture, shutter, ISO etc without using the manual.
However for some of the new features I had to read the manual but this understandable as DSLR's have progressed over the years.
I find the Canon menu system quite intuitive and that’s one reason I’ve stuck with Canon.
When I was deciding to buy my first DSLR I had a play with Canon and Nikon bodies and I didn’t like the layout of the Nikon menu.
I have known Nikon users who have said the same about Canon menus but I don’t think I’ve had a conversation with anyone who uses a Nikon body who said the menu layout was a reason they chose it.
I do sometimes wonder if it is an age relate thing as I’m in the generation of those whose first computer was a Sinclair ZX80 /81 and we’ve followed and used techie toys for a long time.
We’ve been use to menu systems for a long time with devices like digital televisions, game console,DVD players etc.
I expect most of us have a memory from a piece of kit that had a menu system that looked like someone on crack cocaine designed it.
 
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#11
The major bu**eration factor on acquiring a modern camera is having to cuss & swear your way through its convoluted menu archives, in pursuit of the goal of setting the camera up, but once that tedious task is complete, it becomes simple enough to use your custom buttons and the short cut menu, such as the Fn button in Sony Alphas (my current camera), and the rather similar arrangement in the Olympus Pen-F (my previous camera). In working through the initial setting up process, (for Sonys), I am wholeheartedly grateful to David Mark Galer for his Youtube tutorials.
The initial setting up is a necessary evil, but once that is done, life should be pretty straightforward:banana:
 
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Ant
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#12
Well I only got into to photography a couple of years ago, and apparently both cameras I've owned in that time are some of the one's moaned about often (A6000 and now A7 III). I found both perfectly fine, in fact I enjoyed learning to use them. Like others have said, with quick/my menu and so many customisable buttons you only really use the main menu for the first week or so while you set up the camera to your liking.
 

Nod

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#13
I have problems with learning new things but can manage to make a camera (even a Panny TZ100!) do what I want it to do. I generally read the manual from cover to cover a couple of times then set it up to do the "complicated" bits (i.e. the less often used functions) and rely on my old knowledge to deal with the basics.
I'm another liker of the Fuji X-T series - most things are dealt with by dials rather than menus and having started when menus were what you used to decide what to eat, I understand dials better!
 
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#16
I am quite technical but I do sometimes struggle to find my way around an unfamiliar camera. For example, I had the Panasonic GM5 at some point and although it is an engineering marvel, I kept running into issues where I accidentally changed something and I couldn't figure out what I did or how to get back to the settings I had previously.
The touchscreen was a major contributor to this, but also the sheer amount of possible options on the GM5 I found difficult to get my head around. I use exposure compensation a lot and I could never find the right button to set this when I needed it. It was a big factor in my decision to sell it on and get a second Olympus E-M10II for travel instead.

In comparison most older film bodies are much easier to figure out and get less in the way of getting to the right setting I feel.

I am now quite familiar with the Olympus m4/3 bodies and the complicated menus don't bother me because 99% of the time I can change what I want using the "Super Control Panel" or the physical buttons and dials on the camera.
 
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#18
I have amongst other things an A7 and a TZ100, both are mentioned here but I have no problem with either. I can't remember the last time I did anything other than format the cards, alter the clocks or clean the sensor, I'd forgotten that one, and nothing else comes to mind so menu's just aren't a problem for me at the moment anyway.

Thinking back to my Canon DSLR's they didn't have pages, just a long list so maybe todays worst menus are better than that.
 
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#19
For example, I had the Panasonic GM5 at some point and although it is an engineering marvel, I kept running into issues where I accidentally changed something and I couldn't figure out what I did or how to get back to the settings I had previously.
Interesting. I use a couple of GM5s and find them very easy to understand. I guess that we're all different.
 
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#20
Never had any issues with Nikon menus, but I do occasionally struggle with Fuji's. Setting up a new to me XPro2, I managed to turn off all the focus aids and could not figure out how to turn them back on. Had to go for a global reset and start again. In the Fuji case I suspect that all the firmware updates mean the paper manual is pretty much useless and I do not like the Fuji style of UI design, even though the physical design is fantastic.
 

sirch

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#21
I don't really have issues with menus, more with the general complexity. I have manged to get my EM5 into situations where it wouldn't fire the shutter just from accidentally pushing a few wrong buttons or putting a manual lens on when the body was in AF. It ought to give sensible error messages - you press the shutter and it pops up a message saying why it won't fire, rather than just doing nothing.
 
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#22
Interesting. I use a couple of GM5s and find them very easy to understand. I guess that we're all different.
Maybe I should have stuck with it for longer, but I was already used to the E-M10II at that point and kept missing shots because I couldn't quickly figure out the GM5 so decided to get another E-M10II instead. I do have a GH5 as well now which I find easier to control than the GM5.
 
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#23
It is all much more complicated than any film camera.
but if you know what you are trying to achieve, you soon fall in.
I find the fuji menus pretty logical.
 
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#24
I set up my Canon 7D when I got it with the aid of the manual ( yeah I know us blokes aren't supposed to read manuals ) moved the functions I needed to the user menu, so stuff I use most is readily available. I can still find my way round now without any problems, I wonder if it is a millennial thing :LOL:
 
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#25
When buying a camera you should get one that is right for you. That includes buttons and the system menu. Don’t settle for I will get used to it
 
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#26
Like any tech eg cars tvs, as time progresses customers expect more functions from a car / tv / camera the more "options" the more controls are needed to set them. Things like exposure delay mode, noise reduction, switch to back button focusing, resetting shot count, image storage folder number, image name prefix. This on top of menus to set the basics of photography, shutter, mode, aperture etc. However it is part of any design nowadays to make the user "experience" intuitive and companies spend a lot on aesthetics. I believe Aston Martin employ and acoustics engineer to design the engine sound.
 
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#27
Personally I find modern cameras far too complex generally. There seems to be far too many options for using them in particular ways and I would rather learn my way around using something fixed than have to decide which method i prefer and then setting it up like that. The manual for the Canon 5d4 is 600 pages long FFS! And I have always been disappointed with the various mirrorless/compacts I have owned as to how complex they are and how easy it is to change the settings accidentally by touching the screen in the wrong place while carrying it (or with ones nose...... ).
 
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#30
I have told countless people how complicated a pro camera menu and customisations are and they all reply with
"But you just put it on auto" OR "I only use this and that setting"
I give up trying to tell them, you cant teach a fool any wisdom
 
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#31
For the benefit of those (most people here) who have little difficulty with or even like the complications, cameras need to be simple to operate to sell them in large numbers and so keep the price down.
However, I do think camera makers haven’t grasped that they are computers now, just as phone makers didn’t fully realise until the iPhone came along. For example, there are touch screens now but AFAIK you don’t get a keyboard and search function so you can quickly find the setting you want but instead you have to menu dive.
 
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#32
For the benefit of those (most people here) who have little difficulty with or even like the complications, cameras need to be simple to operate to sell them in large numbers and so keep the price down.
However, I do think camera makers haven’t grasped that they are computers now, just as phone makers didn’t fully realise until the iPhone came along. For example, there are touch screens now but AFAIK you don’t get a keyboard and search function so you can quickly find the setting you want but instead you have to menu dive.
And then assumedly once the consumer has mastered the simple one and wants more functions then they HAVE to upgrade.
 

StephenM

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#33
Far too complicated for me. But then, I prefer film anyway. I've circumvented the problem with the a7RII by only using manual lenses (no problems setting the aperture to what I want) with manual focus (no problems setting focus modes/points) and using the camera in P mode with exposure compensation. The menu gets used to format the card - and at least it comes back to where you left it last, so I don't struggle to find the format part.

I've never got on with graphical interfaces, icons and menus. As the Ffordes site revamp showed, I don't intuitively understand hieroglyphs.

For me, a camera should get in the way as little as possible; modern cameras seem to be designed on the basis that photographers are more concerned with camera operation than photography.
 
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#34
Hi, I just checked manuals in my library:

Leica M6 - 43 pages
Leica M9 - 89 pages

Minolta XD7 - 65 pages

NIKON D800 - 447 pages

compact version 52 pages

For the average user, modern cameras and their menues are too complicated.

That is why the most widely used cameras in the world today are smartphones ... ---
 
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#35
I think it's all down to the individual - we're all different after all.

I like the fact that I have control of my camera's settings, so I can get out of it what I put in, while others just like to just stick it on Auto and save Jpegs.

What's the point in having a camera that you have control over and then not learn how to control it?

I know plenty of people that use computers for browsing and email, but have absolutely no idea about anything else that they can do with it. It's the same type of person as far as I'm concerned.
 
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#36
Menus are irrelevant. I am one of those who set up their new camera when bought and have no need for the menus anymore. Both my Canon EOS 80D and Olympus Pen have buttons and touch-screen options for the few things I ever change (ISO, focus points, focus mode).
 
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#37
It is all much more complicated than any film camera.
but if you know what you are trying to achieve, you soon fall in.
I find the fuji menus pretty logical.
But what keeps popping into my mind is that no matter how many features something like an A7 (for example) has you can ignore most of them and once you've set the camera up and turned everything that's complicated and frightening off what you're left with is a camera with three dials, one to alter the shutter speed, one to change the aperture and one to set exposure compensation, a mode dial to select aperture / shutter priority, manual or a scene or green square mode and a shutter button. How much simpler can kit get? :D
 
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#38
But what keeps popping into my mind is that no matter how many features something like an A7 (for example) has you can ignore most of them and once you've set the camera up and turned everything that's complicated and frightening off what you're left with is a camera with three dials, one to alter the shutter speed, one to change the aperture and one to set exposure compensation, a mode dial to select aperture / shutter priority, manual or a scene or green square mode and a shutter button. How much simpler can kit get? :D
You can ignore them most of the time, however there are occasions that you might want them to step up photography. Things like exposure delay mode to delay the exposure by about 3 seconds to let the camera settle on a tripod to eliminate all camera shake, might be used once every 1000 shots but to some might make a big difference.
 

StephenM

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#40
You can ignore them most of the time, however there are occasions that you might want them to step up photography. Things like exposure delay mode to delay the exposure by about 3 seconds to let the camera settle on a tripod to eliminate all camera shake, might be used once every 1000 shots but to some might make a big difference.
Which we used to call the self timer, and had an easy to find lever on the camera to activate...
 
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