Top of camera controls

Top of the camera is the main mode dial, shutter release, zoom lever (that funny push-pull deal).

On the top edge (really a rear control but accessable from either side) is the Macro and Flash buttons. When switching to macro mode the display is automatically turned on (if not already so).

The Macro and Flash buttons also have dual roles, holding down the SHIFT button on the back combined with Macro or Flash performs additional functions (see below).

Button Combination
Function Options
Macro Macro mode On/Off
Flash Flash modes
(only with flash popped-up)
Flash off, Anti red-eye, Flash forced on
Zoom Change focal length Push up to zoom in, down to zoom out
SHIFT + Macro File size 1800 x 1200 or 640 x 480
SHIFT + Flash Quality Hi (TIFF), Fine, Normal and Basic

Full use of these controls can be a little confusing at first, however once you get used to them it's a quick shortcut from having to go to setup mode to change file size or image quality, and it's a good way to cut down the exterior button count.

Rear of camera controls

Rear of the camera are to be found the arrow control buttons, surrounded by the Execute (Menu) / Cancel (back) buttons.

Surrounding the LCD are the Display, Power On/Off and SHIFT buttons.

Button Combination
Function Options
Up / Down Arrows Rec: Digital Zoom, Menus
Play: Navigate
Rec: None, 1.2x, 2.5x
Left / Right Arrows Enter and navigate menus  
Disp(lay) Rec: Toggle LCD live view
Play: Overlay, Thumbnails
SHIFT + Up/Down Manual Focus Progressive across range
SHIFT + Disp LCD Brightness Enters a brightness menu
Rec: Record mode, Play: Play mode

Record mode display

The MX2900 has several different capture displays, in Auto-Record mode you can choose between: No display, Simple overlay or Tram Lines. In Manual-Record mode you can choose between Detailed info with no live preview or Detailed info overlayed over live preview.

The shot displayed here is detailed information with a live preview in Manual-Record mode. here you can see macro/flash mode, frames available, compensation, white balance, target brackets, menu settings and the "shake" warning.

In Manual-Record mode: Immediately after taking a shot you are shown a review of the image taken, press Execute to store or Cancel to discard.

Nice feature, although I would have preferred it to automatically Record if you didn't press anything within a few seconds...

The MX2900 has a unique composition "tram lines" feature which overlays various guidelines over the live image (this only works in Auto exposure mode, not manual mode) the first mode is portrait shooting for positioning head, shoulders or half-body height, the next (below) is for group / landscape shots and the final (bottom right) is the traditional "frame thirds" .. A novel feature which would have been useful implemented in manual mode too.

Play mode display

Switching to play mode the camera displays the last image taken along with folder and filename, date and time the image was taken.

Unfortunately there's no way to retrieve exposure information from the image in play mode.

The play zoom feature is useful going all the way to 4.0 x zoom, it's also scrollable. The only problem here is that you're actually only zooming in on the low-resolution thumbnail the camera has stored within the JPEG and thus you can't visibly seel any more detail by zooming in (thus the playback zoom doesn't help assess things like blur or out of focus).
Pressing DISP twice displays a thumbnail view, you can navigate around the view using the arrow keys, press DISP again to zoom back to 1:1 size or use SHIFT+arrows to move through images on the card a page (9 images) at a time.