Digital cameras baffle Britons - and the rest

Started Aug 7, 2008 | Discussions thread
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Tom Caldwell
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Digital cameras baffle Britons - and the rest
Aug 7, 2008

So this is "news" - all cameras baffle 99.9% of users who only really want a happy snap - f-stop? - some sort of bedroom aid?

It is hardly surprising that the basic and and often not so basic cameras come complete with happy icons to make it easy for them. We all love auto-focus and exposure compenation but the reality is that the vast bulk of users just want to point and click and get their red-eyed friends with arms on shoulders and silly grins.

Its a fact of life - and we are all burdened by the "easy modes" because camera companies need to sell heaps of cameras and the majority don't want their minds to be overly-troubled. The more mass market the camera the "easier" it has to be.

This is why the "news" that digital cameras baffle Britons is not news to me - no offence to the Brits - I can tell you that my extensive research and carefully collated survery shows that digital cameras baffle a similar number of people world-wide. The only problem is that by making the camera "easier" to use does not ultimately help those who are both unwilling and uninterested in learning but at the same time annoy more experienced users who find themselves idiotically having to resort to a cute picture to get some control over their camera. This also has "hairs" on it because these cute icons just give some sort of "good enough" approximations set in the factory.

Classic is the Ricoh R8 which frustratingly comes out of the factory set up for the lowest common denominator user - its default settings it is throttled to "average imaging" to avoid the much condemned noisy images that are the delight of any "well informed" reviewer. Furthermore some of the useful features such as black & white mode have been consigned to an icon and the b&w setting is what they give you and cannot be varied - arrrgh!

"Listen up" camera manufacturers Uncle Tom has the solution - put a "heart" icon somewhere in the system - preferrably not "in your face" - user accesses it and the camera "does everything for you". Any other setting and the user can "take charge". Forget the plethora of happy icon settings - they are too complicated for those that have no interest in learning and bother the life out of those who take a genuine interest in photography. Most annoying is consigning a genuine controllable feature to the bin and substituting a fixed feature "mode" that cannot be controlled - this is idiotic and I only use the b&w mode setting of the R8 as a very obvious example of how marketing to those who do not care and remain baffled by digital cameras can interfere with the flexible control that makes great images for those that take the trouble to learn.

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Tom Caldwell

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