I’ll be the first to confess, when it comes to photography equipment I’m slow to embrace change.  More accurately, I’m often the guy being dragged by his heels into certain new technologies.  LCD displays on cameras would be one of these technologies.

 

I’ll be the first to confess, when it comes to photography equipment I’m slow to embrace change.  More accurately, I’m often the guy being dragged on his heels into certain new technologies.  LCD displays on cameras would be one of these technologies.

 

When was the last time you held an 100% mechanical camera in your hands?  Etched/engraved numbers on the control rings, substantial metal knobs and dials, firm detents as you work the controls, the firm ‘click’ when closing the film back, and the ultra-smooth sound of a quality mechanical shutter are some of the simple pleasures in life.  Without looking, using only feel, your eyes through the viewfinder, you can completely control your camera in almost any circumstance.

 

When was the last time you held an 100% mechanical camera in your hands?  Etched/engraved numbers on the control rings, substantial metal knobs and dials, firm detents as you work the controls, the firm ‘click’ when closing the film back, and the ultra-smooth sound of a quality mechanical shutter are some of the simple pleasures in life.  Without looking, using only feel, your eyes through the viewfinder, you can completely control your camera in almost any circumstance.

 

When around other photographers you can tell the guys who just changed camera brands, or ‘gasp’ amateurs by the way they’re looking at the camera as they manipulate the controls.  Some look confused, others lost, and the occasional guy will see you looking and sheepishly shrug as if to say “I should know better..”  Mechanical cameras are designed to be operated by touch and feel and the only thing you need your eyes for is to compose through the viewfinder.  No apologies necessary.

 

When around other photographers you can tell the guys who just changed camera brands, or ‘gasp’ amateurs by the way they’re looking at the camera as they manipulate the controls.  Some look confused, others lost, and the occasional guy will see you looking and sheepishly shrug as if to say “I should know better..”  Mechanical cameras are designed to be operated by touch and feel and the only thing you need your eyes for is to compose through the viewfinder.  No apologies necessary.

 

But then one day Moses went up the mountain and came down carrying digital cameras.  These were strange beasts and had many new rules to learn and they required us to change our ways.  Some photographers fainted, others cried, and some fought back.  I did all three.

These new cameras had something called an LCD.  Some had several of these abominations.  Plural insults!  I immediately hated them.  Instead of skillfully engraved numbers on our knobs and dials, or even beautifully laser etched writing, we now had these dim, hard to see in any light, fragile, and certainly inferior panels.

Accessory manufacturers tried to help by selling us protective covers, shades, rubber loupes, and if you can believe the gall lately they’ve tried to sell us 5-6 inch LCD panels to supplement the ones mounted on the camera.  Isn’t that an outright admission that only 12 year old eyes can read the information on these things?  In a civilized country the person who patented LCD displays for cameras would be publically flogged in the village square.

My first “serious” DSLR was a Canon 1d.  It had three LCD displays! One on the top panel for your shooting settings, another tiny little one on the back to let me know things like white balance settings, file numbers, and memory card selection.  Then there was a bigger 2 inch color LCD that showed me the image I just captured, my histogram, and the electronic menus.  Those who remember mechanical cameras recognize some of these ‘displayed items’ as previously being etched on steel knobs and dials, and those that aren’t weren’t necessary.  What a bill of goods we were sold!

 

My first “serious” DSLR was a Canon 1d.  It had three LCD displays! One on the top panel for your shooting settings, another tiny little one on the back to let me know things like white balance settings, file numbers, and memory card selection.  Then there was a bigger 2 inch color LCD that showed me the image I just captured, my histogram, and the electronic menus.  Those who remember mechanical cameras recognize some of these ‘displayed items’ as previously being etched on steel knobs and dials, and those that aren’t weren’t necessary.  What a bill of goods we were sold!

 

Not only were we required to learn all these new rules, but we now needed to squint, get special glasses, carry magnifying aids, special tents to block the sun, or bring along our ten year old children to be able to read the displays.  I hated them with a passion!

My first years with digital cameras were spent trying to find some magic combination of settings while sitting in the dark at night where I could see them.  My children laughed as I’d tilt the camera one way or the other to reduce the glare or held them at arms-length where I could focus.  When working professionally I’d often carry 3 bodies with different settings because there was no way I could change these settings on the fly.  The sun who used to be my friend, now mocked me by rendering my LCD displays useless.  It was a dark and confusing world.

But something happened and just now I realized it.  I was reading the preview of Fuji’s new X100, a camera I’m sure to buy the moment it becomes available, and I noticed I registered disappointment that it’s LCD was only 2.7 inches and 460k pixels.  It was like a bright light coming on.  An epiphany if you will.  I could see Moses shaking his head in wonder, if I’d only listened to him in the first place.

 

But something happened and just now I realized it.  I was reading the preview of Fuji’s new X100, a camera I’m sure to buy the moment it becomes available, and I noticed I registered disappointment that it’s LCD was only 2.7 inches and 460k pixels.  It was like a bright light coming on.  An epiphany if you will.  I could see Moses shaking his head in wonder, if I’d only listened to him in the first place.

 

You see, since my first serious DSLR we’ve witnessed an evolution.  Antiglare coatings, big bright high definition LCD displays, backlighting, well thought out controls and menus, and thank you Jesus.. custom setting memories.  Over the last ten years we’ve been slowly photographically weaned away from our beautifully made and hand crafted mechanical cameras, and been given new technology instead.  And I fell for it hook line and sinker.  Drats!

So when looking at the specifications for Fuji’s X100 and seeing only a 2.7 inch 460k display, and not the 3 inch 920k display like I use on my Canon 5d Mark II I felt a moment of disappointment.  Like I’d been let down.  Like I’d waited all night for my very first kiss on my very first date, only to be left frozen and unable to complete the act.  But it’s okay, ‘she’ kept her head and leaned in and planted a big one right on my lips.

 

So when looking at the specifications for Fuji’s X100 and seeing only a 2.7 inch 460k display, and not the 3 inch 920k display like I use on my Canon 5d Mark II I felt a moment of disappointment.  Like I’d been let down.  Like I’d waited all night for my very first kiss on my very first date, only to be left frozen and unable to complete the act.  But it’s okay, ‘she’ kept her head and leaned in and planted a big one right on my lips.

 

The big one?  Look at the Fuji X100.  I’m in love.  See the big aperture ring around it’s lovely 35mm F2 optically coated lens?  It has laser engraved numbers!  Look on the top panel, no LCD’s, instead it has a big heavy metal shutter dial with engraved numbers I can read, and a smaller but still very useful exposure compensation dial with like etched numbers.  Even the shutter release accepts my old and almost forgotten manual shutter release cables I still have in the back of my camera drawer.  And the dials are knurled.  Someone has been listening to my prayers.

 

The big one?  Look at the Fuji X100.  I’m in love.  See the big aperture ring around it’s lovely 35mm F2 optically coated lens?  It has laser engraved numbers!  Look on the top panel, no LCD’s, instead it has a big heavy metal shutter dial with engraved numbers I can read, and a smaller but still very useful exposure compensation dial with like etched numbers.  Even the shutter release accepts my old and almost forgotten manual shutter release cables I still have in the back of my camera drawer.  And the dials are knurled.  Someone has been listening to my prayers.

 

With the most used camera setting controls being all metal with engraved or etched numbers and knurled holding surfaces this eliminates the need for the top LCD.  The camera isn’t perfect though, the lesser used controls such as ISO, file type, and white balance still requires the push of a clearly labeled button and perhaps a glimpse of the rear LCD.  But for the most part, I’ll be able to operate this camera by feel/touch like my old mechanical cameras, the custom settings memories will help, and the LCD will allow me to see my histograms and when necessary review my images.  I notice it’s anti-glare and easy to see.

 

With the most used camera setting controls being all metal with engraved or etched numbers and knurled holding surfaces this eliminates the need for the top LCD.  The camera isn’t perfect though, the lesser used controls such as ISO, file type, and white balance still requires the push of a clearly labeled button and perhaps a glimpse of the rear LCD.  But for the most part, I’ll be able to operate this camera by feel/touch like my old mechanical cameras, the custom settings memories will help, and the LCD will allow me to see my histograms and when necessary review my images.  I notice it’s anti-glare and easy to see.

 

I hope this turns into a trend.  Today I realized I’ve embraced the new technology and in fact have grown to depend on it, but I also realized how some of the old technology is clearly superior and I hope to see more engraved knobs and dials on more cameras in the future.  I think with the Fuji X100 we’ve struck a nice balance.  I’m excited to get my hands on one and make it my ‘everyday everywhere’ camera when not working and just recreating and traveling like most normal people.

 

I hope this turns into a trend.  Today I realized I’ve embraced the new technology and in fact have grown to depend on it, but I also realized how some of the old technology is clearly superior and I hope to see more engraved knobs and dials on more cameras in the future.  I think with the Fuji X100 we’ve struck a nice balance.  I’m excited to get my hands on one and make it my ‘everyday everywhere’ camera when not working and just recreating and traveling like most normal people.

 

I’ve gotta wonder though, do you think we’ll see polyester leisure suits, bell bottom pants, acetate floral print shirts, long hair on men, and disco come back in style?  I sure hope not.  Old isn’t always better.  I’ve been converted.

Until next time..

 

I’ve gotta wonder though, do you think we’ll see polyester leisure suits, bell bottom pants, acetate floral print shirts, long hair on men, and disco come back in style?  I sure hope not.  Old isn’t always better.  I’ve been converted.