Cameras with manual dials, which cameras?

Started Dec 31, 2016 | Questions
Herman Dijkhuis Contributing Member • Posts: 889
Cameras with manual dials, which cameras?

Which cameras do have manual dials for ISO setting, shutter speed, aperture, focus?

Most cameras are menu driven.

I like the go and feel of analog cameras into modern digital cameras.

I do look forward to any replies, thanks in advance.

Happy New Year!

Best regards, Herman

ANSWER:
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Mark Scott Abeln
Mark Scott Abeln Forum Pro • Posts: 16,394
Re: Cameras with manual dials, which cameras?
1

One is the Nikon Df, which many regard highly, and since it's a few years old, is available at good prices.

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Bob A L Senior Member • Posts: 2,556
Re: Cameras with manual dials, which cameras?

I used to be 100% in the same team on this, but accidently found that there may be other modern options. Bought a Nikon D5500 but not for the touch screen as I don't use the lcd screens on my cameras for anything other than accessing the menues. But then found the touch info screen on this one. Shutter speed, aperture, iso are all available on dials easily accessible while looking through the viewfinder with readout in the viewfinder, but when you would typically need to dig into menues, toggle down, enter, then toggle down or over all with little buttons while reading the screen, you just open up the screen set to info, tap whatever you want to change, then tap in the change you want to make, tap ok. I found it amazing and a new way to teach an old dog new tricks.  Don't knock it till you try it.

Tll6 Contributing Member • Posts: 856
Re: Cameras with manual dials, which cameras?
2

The Fuji xt2 has gotten some pretty great reviews with all manual dials. It still has an LCD screen with some menus but shutter speed, ISO, aperture and exposure compensation are all dials. It's pretty expensive though ~$2000

tinternaut
tinternaut Veteran Member • Posts: 8,093
Re: The Fujis are also good in this respect
1

The X100 and X Pro cameras I've seen have the dials you're looking for.  Some of the lenses have an aperture control ring.   The Fujis also have the benefit of good out of camera output, if you prefer not to spend too much time post processing.

Obviously, there's the Leica rangefinders, which are about as close to the analogue experience as you could possibly get with digital.

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yardcoyote Forum Pro • Posts: 13,156
Re: Cameras with manual dials, which cameras?
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Fuji is the place to go for digital cameras that act like "real cameras", assuming you can live with an EVF. The key to their shooting experience is their selection of modern AF lenses with working aperture rings. And very good lenses they are, too.

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T3 Forum Pro • Posts: 21,546
Re: Cameras with manual dials, which cameras?
4

Herman Dijkhuis wrote:

Which cameras do have manual dials for ISO setting, shutter speed, aperture, focus?

Most cameras are menu driven.

I like the go and feel of analog cameras into modern digital cameras.

I do look forward to any replies, thanks in advance.

Happy New Year!

Best regards, Herman

Fuji cameras are all about physical dials and switches.  I have an X-E1.  Love it.  Plenty of dials.

Aperture can be controlled via an aperture ring on Fuji lenses.  Good, classic stuff.  Here's what a Fuji X-T2 looks like:

But be careful of what you wish for.  I've found that these dials and setting get moved (unwanted adjustments to settings) quite often.   This can be quite annoying.  You constantly have to check the position of the dials and switches (for example, the AF mode-- Manual, Continuous, Single-- is a physical switch on the front of the camera that tends to get accidentally moved).

So recent Fuji bodies now have lock buttons on some of the dials like on the X-T2, but still no lock button the exposure comp dial or AF switch.  But then that means those lock buttons can impede your use of those dials a bit.  So there are pros and cons to physical switches for everything.  They look nice, but I don't think they are really any better than LCD-based interfaces. And to be honest, other than aesthetics, I don't find it all THAT satisfying to physically click-click-click a dial into position.  It's cool at first, but the novelty wears off.  Plus, given that I shoot 80% of the time in Aperture Priority mode and 80% of the time in Auto ISO mode, that makes dedicated shutter speed and ISO dials even less useful (at least for me).  But other than that, I do like the classic rangefinderish styling of my X-E1.  I guess I feel that the knobs are there more for aesthetics than for practical value...which is not necessarily a bad thing.

Anyways, it's good to know the pros and cons of manual dials for everything.  They are better in some ways, worse in others.

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yardcoyote Forum Pro • Posts: 13,156
Re: Cameras with manual dials, which cameras?
2

Don't let the price of the latest brand new flagship model scare you off Fuji. The previous model, the X-T1,  is still available new, as is the smaller X-T10. (I have that one and it is an excellent camera. )  The X-Pro and XE series are rangefinder style bodies with corner viewfinders; the X-Pros have an OVF as well as an EVF.

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yardcoyote Forum Pro • Posts: 13,156
Re: Cameras with manual dials, which cameras?

To me, the aperture ring is the king of manual controls, and only Fuji offers it at south-of-Leica prices. The other advantage to dial controls not mentioned above is being able to see your settings with a glance at the top of the camera, even when the power is turned off.

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T3 Forum Pro • Posts: 21,546
Re: Cameras with manual dials, which cameras?

yardcoyote wrote:

Fuji is the place to go for digital cameras that act like "real cameras", assuming you can live with an EVF. The key to their shooting experience is their selection of modern AF lenses with working aperture rings. And very good lenses they are, too.

Unfortunately, I find the aperture rings on Fuji lenses to be too easily moved, resulting in inadvertent aperture setting changes.  The aperture rings just don't have the solid detents and greater resistance that aperture rings on classic manual lenses have.  After all, they don't have a physical/mechanical connection to the aperture mechanism like classic manual lenses do.  My first camera gear was hand-me-down Nikon F manual cameras and lenses from my dad.  So my first photographic experiences were with changing the aperture view an aperture ring.  But while Fuji lenses put that control in the same location (on the lens), it just doesn't feel the same because the movement is too light and loose.  Maybe they've fixed this with their more recent lenses.  But it's been an issue for me on my Fuji 18-55/2.8-4.  It's a really lovely lens, and great in so many ways, except for the overly loose aperture ring.

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Bob A L Senior Member • Posts: 2,556
Re: Cameras with manual dials, which cameras?
1

The other thing I have found with modern digital cameras is that there are entirely too many things that we probably will occasionally want access to to put on dials, so you still are going to need to access the menus.  So besides how many dials a camera has, you still need to consider how easy it is to understand and use the menus as you ARE going to need to use them. Most cameras from intermediate level up have pretty easy eye to the viewfinder access to shutter speed, aperture, iso and focusing, and add  a couple more for an extra dial or two, then you still have probably an easy additional dozen or so that you are going to have to go into menus for.

yardcoyote Forum Pro • Posts: 13,156
Re: Cameras with manual dials, which cameras?
1

I have had no problems with the aperture rings on any of my Fujis. My X100T is neither light nor loose, with reasonable detents (although the ones between the full stops  take some getting used to.) The 35mm f/1.4 is quite light,  which is nice if you like to change apertures with the  finger roll technique, but I wouldn't call it loose; it detents are fine. I just got the 60mm and its ring is noticeably tighter with excellent detents, probably close to perfect in my book. Some people say it is too tight ...

So mine are inconsistent,  but all fun to work with. I can't speak to the zooms, though.  The thing about aperture rings, and manual controls in general, as you said above, is that they can always be moved accidentally. (This was just as true of my all manual film gear-- my Pentaxes were never so tight they could not get banged around.) I think you have to be prepared to police your camera and check it regularly as part of your routine, or you may be better off with with a menu driven system.

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T3 Forum Pro • Posts: 21,546
Re: Cameras with manual dials, which cameras?

yardcoyote wrote:

To me, the aperture ring is the king of manual controls, and only Fuji offers it at south-of-Leica prices. The other advantage to dial controls not mentioned above is being able to see your settings with a glance at the top of the camera, even when the power is turned off.

Fuji's aperture rings have nothing on true manual lenses with mechanical aperture rings that physically connect to the aperture mechanism, unfortunately.  The aperture ring on my Fuji 18-55/2.8 is waaay too loose, and gets moved inadvertently all the time.  So I definitely would not say that it is the "king of manual controls."  They just changed the location of the control, but I don't think it's really any better than having it under your thumb in the form of a thumb wheel.  I would feel differently if the aperture ring had more pronounced and stiffer mechanical detents, but they just don't.  It's simply an electronically linked ring around the lens.

As for "at a glance" sight of your settings, I'm not so sure how really valuable that is in real life. There are plenty of other ways to see what your settings are.  I think the "power is turned off" condition is mainly the time that it is advantageous.  But I generally prefer to use cameras power up.  Plus, dials take up a lot of room to display very limited information.   I mean, for an ISO dial, you got a huge dial that takes up a lot of space just to show what ISO the camera is at!  It's just not the most efficient use of space, IMHO.  LCD screens, including top-plate LCDs, are quite efficient in this respect: a lot of info in a small amount of space.  That's why I love that Fuji put an LCD screen on the top of their GFX. I would be more likely to glance at that then at several separate dials scattered across the top of the camera.

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Dutch Newchurch
Dutch Newchurch Senior Member • Posts: 5,716
Re: Cameras with manual dials, which cameras?
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Look at the Olympus Pen F.

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yardcoyote Forum Pro • Posts: 13,156
Re: Cameras with manual dials, which cameras?

Sorry. I of course should have said manual-style or analog-style controls. My bad and I stand corrected.

The Fujis are gloriously "faux" in almost every way.  It is, as you said above, purely a matterer of aesthetics,  and I would say it is also a matter of shooting experience, a different way of handling a digital camera. I have a standard wheel-and-menu driven DSLR as well. I get along fine with it and find it quick and efficient to operate.  But I use it when I want its specific lenses, in bad weather, or when I get sick to death of the EVF. Otherwise its the Fujis, which are so much more fun to handle.

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OP Herman Dijkhuis Contributing Member • Posts: 889
Re: Cameras with manual dials, which cameras?

Thanks for the replies!

So I got to take a look at Nikon Df (still expensive), Fujifilm, Leica (too expensive).

If I wanna change aperture do I have to use the dial or can I too set aperture via the menu system?

I love the medium format camera from Fuji!

Best regards, Herman

Ido S
Ido S Veteran Member • Posts: 4,955
Re: Cameras with manual dials, which cameras?

All replies so far have been mentions of cameras with marked dials for certain settings. That is one approach, but I actually prefer blank, unmarked dials. That way I can customize the camera to my liking, especially with the plethora of options provided on the Olympus OM-D E-M5 that I have. This also means I don't have any useless controls; if my camera had a marked exposure compensation dial, it would be of no use in Manual mode with manually selected ISO.

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AlbertTheLazy
AlbertTheLazy Veteran Member • Posts: 8,350
Fuji X
2

Not just the X-T2. Most of the interchangeable lens Fuji X-cameras with viewfinders have dials, although for some of them you need to use a function button to get fast access to ISO setting.

http://camerasize.com/compact/#371.498,258.408,520.422,620.456,ha,t

I bought my original X-E1 purely because it had the same control layout as a 70's SLR. Currently using the X-T1 and can't see a compelling reason to upgrade.

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T3 Forum Pro • Posts: 21,546
Re: Cameras with manual dials, which cameras?
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yardcoyote wrote:

.) I think you have to be prepared to police your camera and check it regularly as part of your routine, or you may be better off with with a menu driven system.

The idea that anything that doesn't have dedicated physical manual knobs for everything is "a menu driven system" is a bit simplistic and ill-informed.  It's just a different way of seeing the information, different shape of the physical interface button/dial/knob, and different physical movement to use.   When I hit "ISO" on my A6000, a graphical ISO bar pops up on my LCD screen. I just turn the rear wheel to whatever ISO I want, then I tap the shutter button and that ISO setting is locked in.  Is it really a "menu"?  I don't think so.  It's basically a larger, brighter, more colorful, bigger-font version of the old monochrome top-plate LCDs that cameras have long had.  Plus, there's less need to "police your camera and check it regularly".  Do you lose the "luxury" of being able to see your ISO when the camera is powered off?  Yes.  But on the other hand, cameras tend to work better when they are powered up, so it's not a big deal.

Personally for me, a dedicated ISO or shutter speed dial is mainly just a cosmetic and styling thing.  But I'm not saying that's a bad thing.  How a camera looks, and the feelings it evokes based on its styling, are factors that are worth considering.  It's like a wrist watch.  Any wrist watch will tell you the time.  But the style of the watch is an important consideration.  Same goes for cameras.

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yardcoyote Forum Pro • Posts: 13,156
Re: Cameras with manual dials, which cameras?
1

I would agree entirely with this if a camera, was like a watch, something that stays in one place to basically be looked at. But a camera is a tool, not a simple display--something you touch, handle and interact with, and the method of that interaction matters.

How much it matters is of course a personal thing. To me it's a lot, to others not much.

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