Sony ergonomics, menu system, controls and colors ...

Started 1 month ago | Discussions thread
saltydogstudios Senior Member • Posts: 1,396
Re: Sony ergonomics, menu system, controls and colors ...

PWPhotography wrote:

saltydogstudios wrote:

PWPhotography wrote:

saltydogstudios wrote:

I learned on a completely manual film camera - the Pentax K-1000. The battery powered the light meter and nothing else (the light meter was visible through the viewfinder to help you set exposure). It was a 100% manual camera and worked even without the battery - you just had to meter your exposure in another way.

So for me a camera must allow me to easily change these things (Primary)

  • Aperture
  • Shutter Speed
  • ISO
  • White Balance

If you shoot in RAW, then this WB is irrelevant. I only shoot in RAW even with A9 in action photos.

WB is relevant if you shoot RAW. I believe what you mean to say is "capturing white balance in camera if you prefer to guess at the current lighting conditions in post production."

Hum, if you shoot in RAW that easily can adjust in temperature bar. I just leave in auto. But as I said easily you can assign to a button.

Yes, but the color temperature is a guess. Using a grey card allows you to record the conditions of the light hitting the object.

I prefer this method as you don't lose the ability to change the white balance later on, but you gain information about the scene at that time.

While I'm sure your workflow is perfectly valid, it does not invalidate other workflows.

  • Exposure Preview (for switching between strobe & natural light)

These are fundamental to photography. Any camera that hides these from me is "unergonomic."

Other features that are fundamental to photography are (Secondary)

  • Focus / Autofocus Mode
  • Focal Distance (lens dependent)
  • First/Rear Curtain Shutter
  • Drive Mode
  • Setting Custom White Balance
  • Image Size / Quality / Crop Mode

Nikon - has dedicated buttons for all of the Primary functions and many of the secondary functions. You can set a Custom menu screen to other options you want.

Fuji - has dedicated dials for most of the Primary functions and many of the secondary functions either have dedicated buttons or are accessible via the Quick menu.

Canon - is a bit harder to navigate but can do most of these with dedicated buttons.

Sony - has no dedicated buttons. You need the FN menu for most of the Primary and Secondary functions and there is no ability to create a Custom Menu.

You are incorrect. Sony bodies are highly customizable with those buttons and knobs that you can assign specific function.

Customizable is not the same as dedicated - almost by definition.

Why need dedicated? As customization gives more flexibility. Such as for me I simply don't need WB button for example that will be totally wasted, rather I can customize those buttons and knobs on my will.

The OP asks why Sony ergonomics are disliked.

I said lack of dedicated buttons makes the camera harder to pick up & use.

You said you prefer customizable buttons.

And here we are.

Sony bodies have all those buttons for your primary or secondary function (or could be assigned), two wheels for aperture and shutter, dedicated ISO push (the right-push on the back big dial) instead of a button. It works the same way as Nikon for example, you press the ISO push, rotate the dial to adjust ISO while with Nikon you press the ISO button and rotate the back dial to adjust, what difference? As said White Balance is unnecessary if you shoot RAW but still can be assigned to a button. 'Exposure Preview' or 'Set Effect View' in Sony term can be assigned to a function button.

Personally I dislike excessive wheels and knobs that only slow down the operation, such as the dedicated ISO wheel in Fuji that I can change ISO in Sony body quicker (as quick as just assign to the big back dial that only needs one rotation step if you want). I even think the EC wheel is unnecessary on Sony bodies as I need explicit two steps to adjust EC and ISO so I prefer Nikon Z7/6's implementation to put a small EC and ISO button next to shutter. The space left can put a top LCD screen.

For example - I switch between studio and natural light a lot. I've had to memorize how to get to "Exposure Preview" on/off.

Assign to whatever button (C1 to C5 or others) for 'Set Effect Preview' On/Off toggle, very easy.

* speaking from experience only with the cameras I've used.

Appear you don't have much experience in Sony bodies.

Actually I have lots of experience on Sony bodies. I've owned the A7 for years.

Original A7? There are huge changes since. Actually Sony has many changes in every new generation body.

I've also owned and used the Sony A7R3. I found the practical changes to the way the camera handles to be minimal and ended up selling it.

The problem is I also have experience on Canon, Fuji, Olympus and Nikon bodies and Sony isn't my main system.

I am 10-year Canon FF owner, used to own 5D, 5D2, 5D3, 1D3, 60D and EOS-M. Sony ergonomics and customization are way better than Canon DSLRs in my opinion. I tried Fuji cameras including GFX ones, never like those excessive wheels.

Interesting. 10 years ago there was a common refrain "Nikon makes the best cameras designed by photographers. Canon makes the best cameras designed by engineers." [ref - first google hit]

As a long time Nikon shooter I'm biased - but I always found Nikon's usability to be superior to Canon's.

Like Canon's buttons have dual purposes - metering AND white balance. AF AND drive. White balance AND flash mode.

(Images are from Google Image Search - Ken Rockwell is just a good place to get top of camera images according to Google - no judgments ok).

Nikon - metering mode, a dedicated switch on the back. White balance - a dedicated button. Also the white balance button is on the left side - leaving your right hand free to turn the knobs. On the Canon is right next to the knobs.

See that red "format" text - there's another button on the back with the same text next to it. Hold both buttons down for a few seconds to format the camera.

Everything you might want to do with the camera is clearly labeled and once you get accustomed to "hold it down for a few seconds" being another command input - you're off and running.

Let's compare setting custom white balance on Nikon, Canon and Sony.

Nikon - scroll to the custom preset. Hold the WB button down for a couple of seconds. Take a photo of something neutral.

Canon - Take a photo of something neutral. Then go into menus & find the Custom White Balance setting. Scroll to the photo you just took and select it & acknowledge that's the image you want to use.

Sony - Scroll past the Custom White Balance memory presets to "Set Custom White Balance" and take a photo and assign to one of the (3) slots.

In this case - Nikon wins for ease. Sony is second. Canon is third.

I laid out my criteria in the bullet points above - the easier it is for me to perform these camera functions the better.

Especially if I'm picking up a camera for the first time.

I'm not saying Sony is necessarily bad - some people love how customizable it is. I'm simply answering the question "why do people dislike Sony ergonomics."

When switching to the Sony, there's always a lot more to remember. I've certainly gotten used to it, but it's not something that's easy to pick up.

Not me after 10-year Canon ownership I adopted Sony very easily and now actually feel foreign back in Canon. I still keep 1D3 and I never like Canon small dual-function buttons that even sometime my muscle memory didn't help and I had to leave my eye from OVF to ensure which combination I pressed. I can make those changes in your described much quicker and easier with Sony. I even can browse and change in menu in EVF that something I never can do in Canon DSLRs.

Sounds like we're in agreement on the dual function buttons.

I also don't like that big wheel in the back. In Aperture Priority it's Shutter Speed. In Manual Mode it's Aperture. What? And the on/off switch locks it? So bizarre.

It makes more sense to me to have Aperture on the front and Shutter Speed in the back - the dial is closer to the thing it controls.

Though I can understand why it would be the reverse for legacy reasons - if you changed Aperture on the lens, then having Shutter Speed under your index finger is more convenient than under your thumb.

I remember a blog post from a Canon wedding photographer whose camera was lost in luggage and was forced to use his friend's Nikon D700. At first he was afraid that he'd struggle with the ergonomics, but he found his way around easy enough.

We all have different experiences. I got big lost with Fuji bodies. It's easier to pickup Nikon bodies in my experience. I like Nikon Z7/6 design in certain way such as small ISO and EC buttons next to shutter that hope Sony can borrow.

I learned on a Pentax K1000.

Aperture on the lens. Shutter speed as a dial on top. Pull up the shutter speed dial to change ISO (which you only did once per roll).

This is why I'm at home on a Fuji - all of the things I want to do are right there as physical dials. The entire exposure triangle is right there and it's relatively few button presses to change other settings.

Where Fuji lets me down, however, is - there are two ways to do everything.

I can set shutter speed on the physical dial. But it's limited to full stop increments - how do I set third stop increments? Via one of the control dials. But now my shutter speed is no longer what the dial says it is.

And how do I set third stop ISO increments - a similar process, and now again the dial is not what the camera setting is.

Now imagine that happened to someone with his friend's Sony - let's say your Sony with all your customizations. Lots of buttons and dials, none of them labeled, all of them customized.

I customized the same functions to the same buttons in A7r IV, III and A9. I don't need even leave eye from EVF to make all these changes.

I meant imagine a stranger picking up your camera. That is my criteria for "good menus" - a stranger who knows photography can pick up your camera and use it to photograph a wedding.

I respect your opinions - but try not to insult people when responding to them.

We just have different experiences and preference. But seems true you don't have much experience in newer Sony bodies, that is not insult but opinion.

That and when you said I was incorrect because customizable was the same as dedicated. But we're having an intelligent civilized conversation and that's what's important. I apologize for saying you were being insulting - I was in a bit of a rush this AM and didn't have a chance to re-phrase or re-write so was going off initial impressions.

For what it's worth - here are my camera rankings in terms of ergonomics - my criteria is "can I pick up this camera and use all primary functions right away & most secondary functions with a minimum of memorization/button pressing."

  • Nikon - dedicated buttons for just about everything & it works well for 2 handed operation. A custom "My" menu makes finding the things that are important to you easy. This applies to "pro" bodies only, their "entry level" cameras are purposefully crippled with just one knob and if you can't control Aperture and Shutter Speed without button presses, that's a fail.
  • Fuji - dedicated dials for primary camera functions. Secondary functions are mostly behind a single Q menu and you can set custom menus.
  • Canon - Dual function buttons as discussed. I don't have enough experience with them to say much more than that.
  • Sony - I usually end up using the FN menu to set major functions (similar to Fuji's Q menu) and have memorized where to go the menus for secondary functions.
  • Olympus - It really depends on the camera, but I owned the flagship EPL5 and there was a "mode 1/mode 2" switch that changed the function of every single button and knob on that camera. Every. Single. One. Worst UI ever. The Pen-F is decently easy to use though.

I respect that Sony users love the customizability, and I suspect people who grew up with digital everything are more used to doing things on a screen - and I understand that using the word "ergonomic" means different things to different people, which is why I was as explicit as possible with my criteria.

Comparable to Sony, I'm a Ricoh fan and when you get a Ricoh you expect to spend the first 48 hour setting up every button and knob to what you want it to do. I love that I can set my Ricoh GR to do what I want - but also - only have so much patience to do that with each new camera purchase.

(For context I own 2 Canons, 3 Nikons, 1 Sony, 3 Fujis, 2 Olympus, 3 Ricohs, 4 Sigmas and more - and that's just digital cameras.)

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