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

Started May 25, 2014 | Discussions thread
Dave Lively Senior Member • Posts: 1,908
I love/hate the touch screen on my GX7

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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