Cameras with manual dials, which cameras?

Started Dec 31, 2016 | Questions thread
absquatulate Forum Pro • Posts: 11,292
Be careful what you wish for....

Having owned a Fuji XT-1, and many other models, I found all manual dials can slow me down. The best cameras I have found for me are the ones with a combination of front and rear dials and well placed easily identified (by touch) buttons. This means I can look through an ovf and control the camera without having to take my hands away from the camera if I don't want to. I can access all the important functions quickly and easily, using a combination of buttons and dials, and adjust to suit when shooting. Adjusting using purely mechanical dials is not as easy or quick for me, and can result in some unnecessary movement and fiddling around. There is a reason that cameras have evolved this way, because it works.
Don't get me wrong, I get the retro look and feel of it, I still shoot with film cameras myself occasionally. If you're a more deliberate shooter it's fine, I am sometimes, but at other times I need to think and act quickly. The other thing I like is a top plate LCD, which also makes it quick and easy to adjust settings when the camera is away from your eye.
My least favoured option is using the main LCD, which is the slowest method of all. My camera of choice has all three, so I'm never short of options either way. You can keep touch screen interfaces, they work for small cameras where it's a better option in the absence of room for buttons and dials, but they don't work for me for a number of reasons.
I think Pentax does a great job of designing cameras that work the way I want them to, they feel like they've been designed by photographers for photographers, they're also great value and incorporate weather sealing as much as possible in lenses and cameras.
Lastly, muscle memory is very important in operating a camera efficiently, people change models so often, and often to different brands, that they never truly get comfortable with the way a particular model works, I've done it myself. I'm sticking with Pentax and the more I use my K3II the more comfortable I am with it, the more I like it and funnily enough my results get better with it. I've noticed over the years that some of the best work I have seen has come from people who choose their tool and stick with it, I don't think that's a co-incidence.
So yes, retro dials are nice, but not necessarily the most efficient way to operate a camera, or easiest, so choose wisely and whatever choice you make, stick with it and learn it properly, so it becomes an extension of your eye, that's the best advice I could give.

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