Some thoughts on touch screen interfaces on cameras

Started Nov 9, 2010 | Discussions thread
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djst Regular Member • Posts: 217
Some thoughts on touch screen interfaces on cameras

I know that a lot of people here really hate the thought of replacing buttons and dials with a touch screen, and I can certainly see the reasons for it. So, I began to think about how a touch screen could actually be made a successful replacement for a few buttons and at least one dial, with relative ease. Apologizes in advance if these are all old ideas.

Here's the two main ideas -- they both assume that you'd mostly use your camera's EVF and rely on the screen more for reviewing/playback purposes, though it would also work well on cameras that lack an EVF:

1) Make it possible to set up a special "screen mode" that essentially makes the screen a grid of 4 areas (2x2) that you can define to do whatever you want. In other words, you would get four extra "buttons" that could be used just like traditional (actual) buttons.

Pressing on one of these areas would of course give you a visual confirmation that something changed on the very same screen (or EVF), but just like a hardware button, you wouldn't really have to look at that confirmation unless you wanted to be sure about the settings.

More than 2x2 buttons would obviously work, but for the sake of making it easy for the muscle memory, there shouldn't be too many of them, so I think 2x2 is best. The point is that you shouldn't even have to look at the screen to know where to press, just like you can develop that skill with the physical buttons on any camera today.

2) Implement some basic gestures:

  • Swiping with a finger left or right works just like a physical dial -- you can set it up to control anything from aperture, shutter speed, ISO settings, exposure compensation, or anything else. Even zooming in/out (for manual focus cameras) would be a reasonable function for this type of gesture (though one of the four "buttons" above might be a better solution for toggling between zoomed in and normal view).

  • Swiping up or down would toggle between this special screen mode to the normal screen mode, so you could get back to the normal way of fiddling with all sorts of settings by pressing them specifically on screen. Of course, this toggle between the "enthusiast" and normal screen mode could be implemented in many different ways -- for example, there might be a physical button to toggle between the modes instead, like the Menu or OK button. Swiping up and down could then be used for a second "virtual dial" instead.

So there you have it. Of course, the screen could still display more or less the same live info regardless of what mode you're in -- the idea isn't to replace the screen with a blank touch pad area; it would still show info about the settings, the live view, histogram etc. It's just that swiping or pressing the screen in this mode would trigger specific functions that you could remember in your muscle memory just like you would with normal buttons and dials.

The screen would preferably be a resistive touch screen so you could use it with gloves, too. (Anything else would be a disaster for a cold Swede like myself.)

Thoughts? If you are currently a touch screen hater, would an implementation like this make you appreciate it more? I personally think something like this could make a pretty significant difference on the day-to-day use of a camera like the GF2.
David Tenser
My camera equipment:

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