mFT/camera industry: time to better adapt to smart phones?

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sderdiarian
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mFT/camera industry: time to better adapt to smart phones?
2 months ago

My iPhone 4S has served me admirably but my company tells me its time to upgrade. I've boiled it down to the LG G3 with a 5.5" touch screen (being announced Tuesday) or waiting a few months for the iPhone 6 with its smallish 4.7" screen, but equally smaller and lighter body.

http://www.gsmarena.com/lg_g3-6294.php

http://www.macrumors.com/roundup/iphone-6/

Both have a multitude of apps for photography and photo sharing, important since one will be my work horse for site and construction photos (I'm a landscape architect, so I do a lot of this). No need for a "true camera", in fact I'd look dated using one in situations where smart phones are now customary.

I reserve my E-M5 90% of the time for recreational photography and photos of built projects, i.e., where better IQ provided by a larger sensor and quality lenses matters. But much as I like my E-M5, I wonder when it and newer gen bodies will adopt larger screens and accept the use of apps for easily "growing" their potentialities as photographic instruments.

To ask those who find smart phones capable multi-purpose communication platforms to take a major step backwards in apps and screen size when buying a camera is simply unrealistic to me.

I'm now thinking of "downgrading" to an E-M10 primarily for its Wifi capability, allowing me to use my phone's much larger screen to preview photos in the field and then share them. For this camera user, purchase of smart phones and cameras are no longer exclusive; rather, they're ideally viewed as complimentary devices.

For smart phone users, buttons have long ago gone the way of the dodo bird, and cameras are headed that way with improved implementations of touch-panels. So devoting greater real estate to a screen size where you can actually see what you're shooting would seem reasonable.

My crude mock-up of an LG G3 shows just how small 3" camera LCD's are when compared to those accepted as commonplace in smart phones:

Perhaps mFT manufacturers and the camera industry in general should stop just giving lip service to this rapidly growing and much more pervasive market as their own sputters, but instead truly adopt useful features and make their products more easily compatible.

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Ulric
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Re: mFT/camera industry: time to better adapt to smart phones?
In reply to sderdiarian, 2 months ago

I think that physical buttons and knobs are still useful, especially on cameras with viewfinders where you don't want to remove the camera from your eye in order to adjust anything. A larger screen would take away real estate from buttons.

Where cameras are lacking compared to phones is convenient connectivity. Why can't you post a picture to your blog from the review screen with a single, preconfigured, click? Such functionality was in phones even before they became "smart".

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Pedal2Floor
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Re: mFT/camera industry: time to better adapt to smart phones?
In reply to sderdiarian, 2 months ago

A few things

1) Your phone is mostly subsidized.  If your company is getting you a phone, you more than likely paying zero.  Those screens and those electronics at the size your suggesting are not cheap and would not make cameras smaller but larger because we still need physical buttons to be efficient.  if you want to pay another $600 + for your camera, then those big screens would be great

2) Wifi, Bluetooth and GPS SHOULD be part of cameras by default.  This would go a long way in allowing integration with cell phones.  They problem as always with Japanese, they will make and use proprietary protocols and crappy apps.  I look at the crap that is IO.Share and scream 'WHY!"  They need to make an open API that would allow ANY developer to create ANY app.  Just provide the necessary API and let developers do what developers do best.

3) Tethering -- really, why does Olympus not understand this very SIMPLY feature.  Allow me to tether to my PC, to my Microsoft Surface, iPad or Android Tablet.  Both wireless or via a wire.  Why is this so hard?

4) Japanese camera companies -- all of them -- do not understand workflow of a photograph.  They believe that everything should be proprietary and then do not put enough resources to make it better.  If, like the cell phone companies, they create a set of public APIs then instead of using their limited resources and develpment staff, they would have a whole world of smart developers that would add value to the platform.  This is a good analogy.  Is the value of the iPad or iPhone or Android phones or Windows Phones the hardware/ Or it the 1 million + apps available for each of those platforms?  Japanese camera companies SUCK a software, get out of the software business and create public APIs for independent developers to do their thing.  I have personally had discussions with Olympus about this as I am software developer and they simply DO NOT GET IT!

5) In the case of Olympus, the ART Filters are a waste of time and feature.  Nobody buys their cameras because of the ART Filters and on the long list of things that people want, it is at the bottom of the list.  I am sure there are considered a way to have photo editing features like cell phone, except they are slow and do not work well.  If they had a Filter API that developers could create and then allow a means  for users to download their favorite filters via an Olympus Market Place, this would be far be than what is available to us today.

In short, there are some things the camera makers could learn from cell phones.  But the Japanese camrea makers only look to their own backyard for ideas, are closed minded and are living in the 70s -- their insular culture makes it almost impossible to make better products outside of the body and censor.

While all the camera companies continue to loose money, they all believe by doing the same thing that does not work will somehow make it better at some point -- that is insanity!

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tgutgu
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Re: mFT/camera industry: time to better adapt to smart phones?
In reply to sderdiarian, 2 months ago

I strongly disagree. A camera is a photography tool not a communication device. Photography asks for completetely different ergonomics and handling paradigms than any smartphone and communication device.

Bigger screen required? Nope. WiFi connection to transfer images to a tablet or smartphone? Nope. I have my iPad card reader with me, and whenever I feel it necessary to transfer images to my tablet, I is easy enough to use the card reader. I usually have no desire to have my images in sync with my communication device.

Todays cameras, like E-M5, GH4 or E-M1 are very adequate tools for photography, probably the best so far in camera history. No need for a paradigm shift to adapt to the so called "smartphone generation". It is nonsense that smartphone users won't adapt to the ergonomic paradigm of a camera body. Any user with practice in mind would not replace an E-M1 ergonomics in favor for touch driven operation.

Also, apps don't add that much to photographic work. Correct exposure, composition, and intuition is still the key factor. I have no desire for a camera full of software gimmicks and which would have a software platform open for insecurity.

We don't have to sacrifice everything for current hypes.

Photographers of course will use smartphones for casual snapshots or business documentation, when this fits better to the purpose. But, honestly, I don't see this has photography in its proper sense.

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arbuz
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Re: mFT/camera industry: time to better adapt to smart phones?
In reply to sderdiarian, 2 months ago

Did you see Samsung Galaxy NX? It's dslr style mirrorless camera with good lens system with huge screen and touch controls.

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ChrisJBSC
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Re: mFT/camera industry: time to better adapt to smart phones?
In reply to sderdiarian, 2 months ago

NOOOO! PLEASE DO NOT!

1. I cant see the screen of my phone in the conditions when I like to take photos (bright sunshine, sunshine bouncing off the waves). Touch screens do NOT work if you cant see to touch them.

2. I cant see the screen of my phone wihtout putting on my glasses. I then need to take the glasses off to see what I am going to photograph, then put them on again to see the screen. At least with the Viewfinder I can adjust the optics so I can see it clearly without my glasses.

3. I cant adjust a touch screen without letting go of the device. How can you hold the device steady if you cant use two hands and a forehead? Or elbows on a rock and camera held steady.

Yes: I can see some VERY useful eatures being added to a camera: sharing over wifi, open API to allow apps for PC, Apple, Windows Phone, Android, websites etc to be built to control it.

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PC Wheeler
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Re: mFT/camera industry: time to better adapt to smart phones?
In reply to sderdiarian, 2 months ago

Not my cup of tea. But if this is really how *you* want to go maybe you should try one of the Samsung Android cameras -- like this one, for example: http://www.dpreview.com/previews/Samsung-Galaxy-NX/ about which that page says "While it looks like an ordinary SLR or mirrorless EVF camera from the front, from the back the Galaxy NX looks more like a big smartphone."

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Dave Lively
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I love/hate the touch screen on my GX7
In reply to sderdiarian, 2 months ago

When I want to quickly change focus points the touch screen is an indispensable feature. When I get ready to take a picture and have to pause to reset the focus point because it moved when I did not want it to I curse the day touchscreens were added to cameras. I really wish I could reprogram the movie button to quickly enable or disable the touchscreen.

But I would not want a camera where that was the main interface. Except for moving the focus point and changing menu items I find physical buttons quicker and they work when using the viewfinder.

Making the touchscreen much bigger would either require removing some of the buttons or making the camera larger, neither of which I want. I would also take a 3 inch tilt screen over a 3.5 inch fixed screen. I find photos of children and pets look better when the camera is held at the subjects eye level and a tilt screen makes that a lot easier.

But there are enough people that prefer to use touchscreens for everything that there might be a place for a m43 camera body with a large touchscreen that takes up the entire back of the camera. It would appeal to people that grew up using smart phones as cameras. If Olympus took the EM2 and removed all the rear controls they could probably put a 4.5 - 5 inch screen on the back without the camera getting larger. There would still be room on the top for a shutter button and a couple of other physical controls. One really nice thing about m43 being a system is different bodies can be offered for people with different needs. Not every camera has to be built for what I want. We already have SLR, rangefinder and compact style bodies, adding a touchscreen style body would not hurt me in any way and might be very useful for some people. A big touchscreen would increase the cost and decrease battery life though.

I agree that adding better WiFi and a built in GPS would be nice. The wifi on my GX7 has poor RF performance with limited range and speeds that diminish rapidly even before the connection fails. The software has problems too. The Panasonic image share app is raw hostile and does not handle dropped connections well. Considering the poor RF performance more attention should have been paid to letting the app automatically reconnect if it temporarily loses connection. I do not expect to process raw files on a smartphone but I should be able to at least copy them to the phone for backup and use the embedded JPEG through the wireless connection. With an open API somebody could have made a better app.

About the only time I want to tag the location of my photos is while I am hiking. But I would have paid a little more for the camera if it had a built in GPS or better integration with the smartphone app. The current process is much more complicated that it needs to be. You have to establish a connection to the camera and use the app to sync the time on the camera to the time on the phone. As a bonus bug the app cannot handle daylight savings time so this time of the year all the timestamps will be an hour off. After syncing the clocks you have to enable location tracking on the app. For each of these steps the app requires going through a couple screens instead of a single button press. When finished with the hike you have to connect to the camera again and transfer the location data. Then on the camera you have to go into the play menu and tell the camera to add the timestamps which can take several minutes if you took a lot of pictures. It might be possible to make this process more complicated but it would be a challenge.

The way GPS tagging should work is either:

  1. Have a built in GPS that can be easily turned on or off.
  2. Simplify the app. A stand alone app that does nothing but control location logging would be fine too.  Have one button the app to turn on/off location tracking and another to transfer the data to the camera. Instead of syncing the clocks the app should note the time difference between the clocks at the time of transfer and use it while applying the location data. If you are transferring the location data to the camera you obviously want to use it so it should be automatically applied where possible instead of requiring an additional step in the camera menu.

Option 1 would be a lot simpler but would drain batteries. If done right option 2 would be nearly as good and since my phone as replaced the stand alone GPS I used to carry while hiking I am already draining its battery for location tracking.

More than any other item the poor implementation of location tracking shows how bad camera companies are at camera/phone integration. There is no way a third party app would be that clumsy.

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RoelHendrickx
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PLEASE : NO bigger LCd for me...
In reply to sderdiarian, 2 months ago

I really don't look on my camera's LCD all that often.

During a shoot I am concentrating on new shots happening, not on those already taken.

I use the OVF or EVF and seldom chimp.

For really critical focus checking, a larger screen will still not be sufficient, and it will chew up battery juice.

The current generation of LCD sizes is more than sufficient for any need I might have (in a camera).  It's not like I'm reading internet pages on the back of a camera.

I prefer good physical buttons and a sufficient screen, over a bigger screen with less buttons.  A touch screen is not necessary for me : I would just activate it with my cheek.

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Klarno
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Re: mFT/camera industry: time to better adapt to smart phones?
In reply to sderdiarian, 2 months ago

sderdiarian wrote:

I'm now thinking of "downgrading" to an E-M10 primarily for its Wifi capability, allowing me to use my phone's much larger screen to preview photos in the field and then share them. For this camera user, purchase of smart phones and cameras are no longer exclusive; rather, they're ideally viewed as complimentary devices.

Bear in mind that if you use live view remote control rough the Olympus Image Share app, its resolution is pretty poor, and that the app has a setting you need to change in order to get full-res JPEGs to the mobile device.

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LMNCT
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Re: I love/hate the touch screen on my GX7
In reply to Dave Lively, 2 months ago

I dislike touch sceens in general and especially on cameras.  I have disabled the touch screen on my GX7 and find that it functions just fine without it.  I tend to use the pinpoint target most of the time (get the bird's eye and you have the shot) so that remains on and where I want it.  The two Olympus cameras which I own are also disabled for touch screen functions and they are also just fine.

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Bhima78
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Re: mFT/camera industry: time to better adapt to smart phones?
In reply to Pedal2Floor, 2 months ago

Even an unsubsidized flagship phone is cheaper than an EM-10, let alone phones like the Nexus 5, OnePlusOne or the Moto G.

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Bhima78
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Re: mFT/camera industry: time to better adapt to smart phones?
In reply to tgutgu, 2 months ago

If we want this industry to grow, connectivity and user experience is going to have to play a bigger roll in the development of this tech. YOU might be fine yanking out your card and plugging it into a tablet or whatever but, the majority of potential customers are not.

We, the enthusiasts, artists, and professionals will always be here. We deal with some of the clunkyness of going from shot to computer to friends/clients. Most people would err on the side of convenience even if they too desire higher IQ.

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tgutgu
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Re: mFT/camera industry: time to better adapt to smart phones?
In reply to Bhima78, 2 months ago

Bhima78 wrote:

If we want this industry to grow, connectivity and user experience is going to have to play a bigger roll in the development of this tech. YOU might be fine yanking out your card and plugging it into a tablet or whatever but, the majority of potential customers are not.

I still think that the majority of potential camera users don't have a lot of desire to send image directly to web albums from their cameras. Given today's realistic bandwidth, coverage and online pricing, this would be too time consuming, unreliable and expensive. It is the camera industry, which likes to convince you of additional paid services (do you really think that an "Olympus cloud" is a good idea), so don't get fooled by this.

Smartphone snapshotting is dominated by screen and touch operation not because this paradigm is better, but because there is no better alternative. It is the strength of a camera to provide this alternative, however, at the expense of portability.

Supporting a world of apps on complex camera devices would be a nightmare for the camera industry and the users. There aren't really that much opportunities to improve camera experience with apps, which go beyond gimmicks and what we aleady have: tethering and remote control.

We, the enthusiasts, artists, and professionals will always be here. We deal with some of the clunkyness of going from shot to computer to friends/clients. Most people would err on the side of convenience even if they too desire higher IQ.

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CharlesB58
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Re: PLEASE : NO bigger LCd for me...
In reply to RoelHendrickx, 2 months ago

RoelHendrickx wrote:

I really don't look on my camera's LCD all that often.

During a shoot I am concentrating on new shots happening, not on those already taken.

I use the OVF or EVF and seldom chimp.

For really critical focus checking, a larger screen will still not be sufficient, and it will chew up battery juice.

The current generation of LCD sizes is more than sufficient for any need I might have (in a camera). It's not like I'm reading internet pages on the back of a camera.

I prefer good physical buttons and a sufficient screen, over a bigger screen with less buttons. A touch screen is not necessary for me : I would just activate it with my cheek.

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I'm with Roel. For working photographers, especially, chimping can be a curse, resulting in missing a good shot will reviewing one already taken. Also, those buttons are preferred to a touch screen because without taking my eye from the viewfinder I can use my thumb or fingers to make changes without having to look for a touchscreen icon.

I think Olympus, with the EM1 and EM10, have done a good job of incorporating wifi features without sacrificing the camera based utility many experienced photographers prefer. One reason I am actually interested in the Fuji XT-1 is the fact that the aperture ring is on the lens with a dedicated dial for shutter speed. As an old film slr shooter, using a combination of aperture ring on the lens and shutter speed dial on the camera feels more natural than pressing buttons to change modes of a wheel, or using two different wheels. That's obviously a personal and subjective opinion.

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n3eg
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Re: mFT/camera industry: time to better adapt to smart phones?
In reply to sderdiarian, 2 months ago

I view things the opposite way:  Phone manufacturers have tried for too long to cram too much into phones.  The result is that phones have become "sporks" - i.e. trying to do too many things and doing none of them well.  Every thing on a smart phone is a compromise, where something bigger can always do any given dedicated task better.  Even the touch keypad suffers in performance compared to a dedicated keypad when dialing.  Using the Shazam app for music ID is an example of their erratic performance - in the last version of Android, it would switch pages unless you were VERY careful selecting the app button, then once in the app it was nearly impossible to hit the back button to get to where you "tag" music.  By that time, the song on the radio was over.

Until smart phones can do better, they're just the equivalent of a point and shoot with basic photo editing built in.  Kodaks could do that years ago.  Nothing more to see here, move along.

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JohnLock
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Re: mFT/camera industry: time to better adapt to smart phones?
In reply to n3eg, 2 months ago

I too have no use for the touchy-feely screens and just turn them off.  Panasonic made a serious mistake with the original GH-2 in that the touch screen could not be turned off.  Two weeks after I sold mine they issued firmware to allow turning off the touch screen.  Not everyone (and there must still be a lot of us) wants/needs such goofy gadgetry to do good photography.

My cell 'phone is a most rudimentary device.

JL

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Impulses
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Re: mFT/camera industry: time to better adapt to smart phones?
In reply to sderdiarian, 2 months ago

Strongly disagree here. I'm a geek, relatively young, I've bought plenty of smartphones and tablets (4 & 2 respectively, counting Android devices only), I cam also tell when one interface really fits a usage pattern or not tho. Touchscreens aren't a panacea or fit all solution, and larger isn't necessarily better, even on phones. I'm 5'10" and I'd actually prefer a more compact phone like a Moto X (even though I'm currently using a Nexus 5). Just because you like a larger device or don't know/care why direct physical controls are often faster doesn't mean that mold fits everyone.

Smartphones adopted a touchscreen only UI because it fits their simplified usage model and slide out keyboards were too cramped, I can run rings around my phone on a laptop tho and I can run rings around that on my desktop's mechanical keyboard. To me the current hybrid implementations with touch for AF and image browsing plus menus that can be navigated thru a touchscreen or buttons is the best approach. No matter how elegant a touch UI you have you'll never approach the speed of dedicated/programmable buttons for direct access to specific functions.

Wi-Fi remote control and image sharing is awesome tho, big part of the reason why I chose a Panasonic with a lesser sensor over an Oly, and I chuckle when people dismiss those features as useless gimmicks. Apps are unnecessary tho, why burden a camera with a full fledged mobile OS and the necessary computing horsepower when you can just quickly transfer images to your always connected and more capable phone? Just seems redundant... Maybe one day if mobile carriers get bent and they allow me to have one SIM that I can share across a bunch of devices easily (or better yet, one account with multiple SIM but the same line) I could see the point of a camera with apps etc.

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CharlesB58
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Re: mFT/camera industry: time to better adapt to smart phones?
In reply to n3eg, 2 months ago

n3eg wrote:

I view things the opposite way: Phone manufacturers have tried for too long to cram too much into phones. The result is that phones have become "sporks" - i.e. trying to do too many things and doing none of them well. Every thing on a smart phone is a compromise, where something bigger can always do any given dedicated task better. Even the touch keypad suffers in performance compared to a dedicated keypad when dialing. Using the Shazam app for music ID is an example of their erratic performance - in the last version of Android, it would switch pages unless you were VERY careful selecting the app button, then once in the app it was nearly impossible to hit the back button to get to where you "tag" music. By that time, the song on the radio was over.

Until smart phones can do better, they're just the equivalent of a point and shoot with basic photo editing built in. Kodaks could do that years ago. Nothing more to see here, move along.

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It ain't easy being me, but someone's gotta do it.

Wow. Apparently a bad experience with one app has you dismissing the value of smartphones-if I understand correctly? What you decry being a "spork" is exactly why smartphones are replacing computers for most people when it comes to accessing online content, keeping calendars et al. A smartphone doesn't do certain things as well as a computer/laptop or dedicated camera because it's not expected to do those things as well as dedicated devices. What a smartphone is expected to do, and does in increasingly improved ways, is offer a portable replacement for several other devices.

Perhaps you haven't really tried using a smartphone as a smartphone, and instead think it's supposed to be used as a complete replacement for other devices?

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Dave Lively
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Re: I love/hate the touch screen on my GX7
In reply to LMNCT, 2 months ago

LMNCT wrote:

I dislike touch sceens in general and especially on cameras. I have disabled the touch screen on my GX7 and find that it functions just fine without it. I tend to use the pinpoint target most of the time (get the bird's eye and you have the shot) so that remains on and where I want it.

The touchscreen AF point selection is faster than using the arrows.  When I am photographing a bird or other small subject I really like pinpoint AF.  Before I got my GX7 manual focus was often the only choice when there was some nice contrasty twigs before or after the subject that the camera could focus on.  But it is slow.  And if you have to move the focus point around it gets even slower.  My default choice for AF is AF-S with the smallest possible box.  I prefer to move the focus point instead of focusing and recomposing.  On moving subjects like pets it seems they often move before I can recompose.  With people face detect works well enough that I do not need the touch screen.

I have tried disabling the touchscreen but using the arrow keys is just too slow for setting the AF point.  I have also tried setting the camera so the touchscreen can only move the AF point while I am looking through the viewfinder which greatly reduces but does not eliminate the problem of the point moving when I do not want it too.  Right now I keep switching between that and leaving the touchscreen fully enabled and turning off the camera between shots.  Being able to enable or disable the touchscreen with a function button would be great but Panasonic does not allow that.

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