Is it worth contacting Sony to offer design tips?

Started Feb 26, 2013 | Discussions thread
blue_skies Forum Pro • Posts: 11,313
Re: Fn button on 6 and 7?

MrTaikitso wrote:

A break from actual photography questions...

I am an experienced UX (User Experience) guy, who also happens to own an NEX 5R.

My team and I have a robust portfolio of prior work and clients.

Probably like many, I feel strongly, that just a few tweaks to the industrial, control and menu design of the NEX cameras would make them eminently more usable, in particular the low to mid end models.

I just spent an afternoon at a family event, where the 5R's form factor made composing a delight. IE, Kodak Brownie box/large format camera shoot from the hip position made possible by the angled display, compact design etc. I simply blended in, people probably thought I was tucking my tie in. Likewise, when stuck behind people, I could raise the camera above everyone, with the display flipped downwards.

However, faffing around changing mode, ISO, Auto/Manual focus etc etc, made the whole actual photography process a nightmare, in particular as I have come from a GH2 and larger cameras with physical controls for each function. (Pentax do this best!) Yes, one can configure one or two buttons for specific functions. IE, lower menu button for AEL etc. But here are fundamental flaws with this concept that are beyond the scope of this post to discuss. Clue: Imagine if you got into a colleagues car, and the clutch was on the right, or even on the dashboard and required hand operation! Or if you had to open the glove box to switch the lights on. Etc.

I have come up with a design that could not only improve future NEX cameras, but also be applied in part to a good number of the current models. (Having handled them all, the 6 and 7 are obviously a lot better, but still not perfect.)

Which begs the question, does anyone have any experience with or think it worth while approaching Sony, or is it a case of NIH? IE, Not Invented Here.

(To date, our clients have been American firms, except LG, who are of course Korean. We have no experience in approaching Japanese firms. Cultural differences can mean that specific steps need to be taken, so any tips much appreciated.)

I am interested in doing this out of necessity, not so much fiscal motivations. That NEX sensor needs an ergonomically brilliant body whilst retaining it's superb engineering and aesthetic.



The Fn button was added to the 6 and 7 specifically to address some of the points that you raise.

Sony is keeping the menus in 6 groups, so their access fits on the LCD screen with large icons.

The 6 moved the Mode menu into a dial, and added an Apps group.

Most of the most often needed functions are available in one or two clicks, depending on setup.

Visual feedback is on the screen, not on the button.

The menus have become lengthy, and could benefit from a sub-index, like Canon's do. Sony has this in the RX-1.

A 3 series Nex, 5 series Nex, and 6/7 series Nex was set up for a diiferent type of photographer - simply put: if you want more then you pay more.

Frankly, the 6 and 7 are quite usuable at a 'pro' level, but their setup will not trickle down to the 3 or 5 series.

Other than sub-indexing the menus and adding physical buttons (and info displays), there are not too many options for the designers. And part of the Nex appeal is its uncluttered look.

Personally, I would like a front side aperture control ring, that also becomes a multi-functional dial. I would like buttons to respond differently to long and short presses, I would like buttons  to interact more with each other, I would like the settings display being active on the LCD while I compose using the EVF, I would like the sub-indexed menu, but I do not want more (tiny) buttons.

Sony has lots of button experience with their SLT line, and lots of menu experience with their RX line. The original Nex was aimed to be small and simple, and gave us a simple menu and few buttons, which became part of its appeal.

In several threads here we have pointed out what we would like to see in a FF Nex, but I sensed resistance to a larger body (with space for more controls).

If your idea can add to all of this without affecting cost nor reliability, then please contact Sony, for I am sure that they will listen. But there are two buts, started by IBM eons ago: 1) do not take advise from outsiders, so internal work remains patentable and 2) marketing is not interested in enhancing the capabilities of lower end model which may cannibalize the sale and status of higher end models.

If you could explain your ideas in Japanese, it might help. But there is a sticky point about rights: as long as you claim rights to your ideas, Sony may simply not be allowed to listen. Stick a letter up front, releasing your rights.

Even so, you are threading on slippery legal grounds.

If you are not keen on monetary gain or recognition, discussing your ideas publicly, e.g. publish an article, may bear more fruit.

Another thought: file a patent on your ideas first. With a patent in place, you'd get a very different reception.

Anyways, all food for thought.

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