Manufacturer with intuitive menus?

Started 2 months ago | Questions thread
saltydogstudios Senior Member • Posts: 2,191
Nikon gets my vote.

I own Nikon, Canon, Fuji, Sigma, Sony, Ricoh, Olympus etc. cameras.

Nikon gets my vote for most intuitive menus - mostly because you hardly need to use them.

I've discussed this many times here but to me photography is simple. Exposure triangle. White balance. Focus.

The camera that gets me to those settings with the fewest button presses wins - and for me that's a pro level Nikon - one with at least two dials.

Aperture - front dial.

Shutter speed - back dial.

White balance - WB button + spin dial.

Custom white balance - hold WB button down for 2 seconds until settings blink, take picture. (On Canon you have to take a photo and then go into the menu to set the white balance to that photo.)

ISO - ISO button + spin dial.

Image Quality (RAW, JPG, size) - QUAL button + spin dial.

Format card - hold down two buttons labelled "format" until menu blinks.

Exposure Mode (PASM) - dedicated dial.

Single shot / continuous shooting - dedicated dial.

Metering Mode - (center weighted, spot, evaluative) - exposure mode button + spin dial.

Focus mode for auto vs. manual - switch. for single vs. continuous - button + dial, for single vs multi - button + dial.

Focus dot - 8 way control.

Exposure compensation - button + turn dial - and that button is right next to the shutter button

You can even do mirror lockup and factory reset without going into the menus. Basically everything has a dedicated dial or button. If you can learn to "press the button and spin a dial" you can control 99% of what you would want to without menu diving.

You can also change most settings without taking your eye off of the viewfinder - as long as you memorize where the buttons are.

Things you need to go into menus for

- auto ISO

- picture profile (standard, vivid, etc.)

- how to treat the dual card slots (RAW to one JPG to the other, continuous, all files to both)

- random other things like setting up custom lens profiles.

You would think Fuji but let's take setting the shutter speed for example - you have to take your eye off of viewfinder and turn the clunky dial on top, and that just gets you to whole stop increments. You then have to figure out which dial to use to get you to third stop increments. It's too many steps - and remember I consider photography to be Exposure triangle above all else.

White balance? Quick menu. (Q button + navigate to white balance, then spin dial) Custom white balance? Menu.

Having a dedicated Exposure Comp dial is nice, as regular Fuji users have pointed out to me.

Sony - not as bad as the haters thing - I have the Fn button set up to be the same as the Quick Menu on Fuji.

Sigma - quick menu.

Canon - closer to Nikon but less intuitive, but that may just be my lack of experience with the system. Most buttons serve a dual purpose which is confusing. Also having shutter speed on the front dial and aperture on the rear dial is confusing to me - why not put the dials close to the thing they control?

I'm sure that's for historic reasons though - back when aperture was on the lens the front dial probably controlled shutter speed and there was no need for a rear dial.

Olympus - don't get me started. Their EPL series is a nightmare with a "mode a" and "mode b" where every single button does something different based on what mode you're in. The Pen F is quite fun to use though. I haven't used one of their more SLR styled bodies, they may be fine to use for all I know.

Ricoh - their cameras are designed for menu diving. You're supposed to set everything up to the way you want to shoot and then use the custom (C1, C2, C3) settings to switch between shooting styles. Typically I would have mine set up as "C1 - daylight moderate aperture, aperture priority, zone (snap) focus" "C2 - fast action, shutter priority, auto everything else, snap focus" "C3 - low light, wide aperture, aperture priority, auto everything including ISO, wide autofocus area" - at least you can name the settings so it's easy to remember which is which.

Many Fuji users hate Ricoh when switching over because the UI is basically the complete opposite of Fuij's philosophy.

Some cameras are not intended for studio work and it shows - many of the settings required for studio work are buried or difficult to understand. Studio photographers are an afterthought on these cameras.

Sony A7- I've basically had to memorize the path to "live view exposure preview on/off" required for working with strobes because it's buried and cannot be assigned.

On the original A7 at least, when you set custom white balance, it disregards your current exposure settings and exposes for the ambient light - making it nearly impossible to get a reading on the strobe alone. Something they should have fixed with firmware but did not.

Olympus - their histogram is unreadable for gauging where the "middle grey" line is. If I use an Olympus camera for studio work I over or under expose as often as not. This isn't really a problem with natural light as I can just live meter off of a grey card.

I vaguely remember having gripes about Fuji too for studio use, but I can't think of them now. Fuji was my main studio camera for the last few years, so it must have been very minor.

Ability to store multiple custom white balances (and ability to name them would be a dream) so you can set "studio" to Custom User Settings 1 and it changed your white balance and "exposure preview off" and manual mode and some other things would be great.

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