Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Changing Systems, Learning Technology

Two Chairs, Hahira, Georgia
Canon EOS 20D. EF 50mm f1.8 lens

Recently my friend and fellow-blogger Dennis Mook, The WanderingLensman, wrote a post lauding the benefits of the extensive menus built into today's digital cameras. I have a different take on the subject.

I bought my first digital camera right around my 66th birthday and began teaching myself Photoshop. It seems that all I've done since then is learn software and camera menus and I'm thoroughly sick of it! All I want to do is make photographs.

Years ago, I had a small book that purported to teach budding photographers how to use a camera. The author used the acronym SAFE: Shutter--Aperture--Focus--Expose. Personally, I don't think all our complicated menus have improved on that.

Before the Great Digital Switch, I used Canon EOS film cameras for about ten years, and before that used the Olympus OM system for 12 or 13 years. Looking back, I'm sorry I didn't stay with Olympus longer. Aging eyes made it more difficult to focus quickly and accurately on the grid screens that I used, but I could have changed to different screens and kept on using the OMs a while longer.

However, Canon EOS models such as the A2 with its menus and automatic features did help ease the transition into digital. I began with the 10D, then the 20D, which was actually a pretty good camera, the 30D, and then, in 2006, the 5D. The menus gradually grew more complex, but not yet burdensome. (Actually, I should have kept the Canon 5D, which I used happily for eight years.)

All this time, of course, I was also learning progressively more difficult software: various permutations of Photoshop, Capture One, and other programs, all of which were apparently essential adjuncts of digital photography.

To make things even more interesting, in 2010, influenced by the writings of master photographer and blogger Kirk Tuck and others, I bought an Olympus E-PL1. Now there was a menu! But I fought my way through it and wound up using a pair of E-M5s as a secondary system for several years. I learned how to dig out what I needed from the arcane menus to set the camera up to do what I wanted quickly and easily.

However, I switched to the Fuji X system in 2017 and still find myself fumbling through their supposedly easier menus. Go figure.

Sometimes, most of the time these days, I would rather just be SAFE. Shutter--Aperture--Focus--Expose.

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