Too many buttons?

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by robin_sibson|1, Jan 13, 2013.

  1. I learned the high-end EOS interface with my EOS-1 back in 1990 – a significant learnig cruve after many years with an F-1 – and I have always been very happy with it, more-or-less regardless of whether there was a mode dial or a button-and-wheel mode control. Currently I have a dual-format kit with a 5DIII and 7D, and I increasingly feel that Canon have lost their way with the ergonomics of the minor control interface – the "Too Many Buttons" syndrome. We now seem to have had the Direct Print button for ever, although other functionality has occasionally been assigned to it. A dedicated Picture Style button has been and gone on successive bodies, and we currently have the absurd Rate button on the 5D3, which cannot be made to do anythig in shooting mode and can be reprogrammed only to Protect in viewing mode. At the same time, although the button customisability in the 7D and 5D3 is much better than on earlier bodies, it does not go anything like far enough. For example, the nice prominent SET button cannot be programmed to do anything useful in shooting mode, only really to replicate the function of existing buttons. The different availability of space on the 60D and 6D has forced Canon to rationalise considerably on buttons. I wonder if others share my view that a considerably more disciplined approach (although not necessarily the same one as on those bodies) would improve things on the prosumer bodies in the future? That's not to say that all recent changes have been bad. I like the joystick (although I would quite like to be able to limit it to four-way operation) and I like the Live View / Movie switch and button. And, unlike some users, I have no issue with dual-function top buttons.
  2. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Crikey, that’s far too logical. Almost . . . well, mathematical.
    I wonder if others share my view that a considerably more disciplined approach . . . would improve things on the prosumer bodies in the future?​
    Yes, I share your view.
    DSLR’s (maybe Canon more so) seem to have a divergent, rather than convergent system of progression. In the quest to be more things to a broader range of people, the DSLR is perhaps becoming less of a ‘camera’ – less of a ‘picture making machine’ – my emphasis on ‘making’.
    My pets, on various Canon DSLR’s:
    The SET button is easy to get to, no matter which hand, or how I am holding the camera – yet it is virtually useless when shooting.
    I have no idea why there is a garbage bin button at all – if one is concentrating 100% on making the cake – then the headspace should never wander to throwing any ingredients away.
    Direct print button – well I can think up some wild scenarios where it could be used, but I have never met anyone who has used it – perhaps someone here does and not just to try it out once?
    As an aside and a coincidence - I too used Nikon, previously.
  3. In general, I think that the number of buttons is fine. There are a few that I don't use and some that I want that aren't available, but the
    layout is useful. I would like more options to reprogram the functions of buttons. I also get irked when the designers move them around
    needlessly. But all in all, I feel that the layout on the current high end cameras (5D3, D800, etc.) is as good or better than any previous
    design of electronic SLRs.

    If you feel that these bodies have too many buttons, I suppose that you can try to avoid them. Some people do use these buttons, so it wouldn't be very helpful to eliminate them. If it's too much to handle or distracting for your style of shooting, consider a more streamlined design like a NEX. Many such alternatives exist today.
  4. Doesn't matter whether it's buttons or features in software. Most people only use a subset. They'd like the product better if it only had the features they use often. Seems easy, then. Redesign the product with only those features.
    The problem is that there are various groups of users, and each uses a different subset. Just because I have no use for a direct print button doesn't mean nobody else has no use.
    To use your example of the trash can, it would be a really silly camera design that didn't allow users to delete photos. If it's used often, it should be easily accessible and not buried under menus. I'm glad my camera has a delete button even though I rarely use it. I use it often enough that I'd miss it if it were gone.
  5. Canon definitely needs to reassign or remove the print button, no one uses it that I've ever heard of or read.
    Ditto for the trash can button.
    Those two buttons could have been used for customized functions, such as mirror lock up or back button focus or whatever an individual needs.
    Canon has long sat on their hands with this issue.
  6. Ditto for the trash can button.​
    You're not actually saying that you don't know anyone who uses this button, are you? I'm not an habitual chimper, but once or twice in a shoot I make a point of clearing out the dross, and that's the button for it - I see no reasonable argument for doing away with the Delete button, even though I always carry more than enough CF card capacity with me in the field.
    Canon has long sat on their hands with this issue.​
    What "issue"? That Canon's choice of buttons doesn't match your personal prefefences?
    That's a bit like saying that automotive industry has sat on its hands for too long because you'd prefer the pedals to be in accelerator/brake/clutch order rather than clutch/brake/accelerator.
    These things are what they are, we learn to use them, and - obviously - they must make sense to someone, even if only to the person who designed whatever arrangement we're talking about.
    No offence to Robin, but this is as meaningless a discussion as one about whether this Raw converter's UI is better than that one - it's all utterly subjective.
  7. The buttons on the 6D has been configured as a no-frills setup. No print button. It took some getting used to from switching from the 5D3 when a two camera setup was used. But, the reduced number of buttons on the 6D makes it easy to locate a particular button.
    I prefer the setup of the buttons on the D700 and D800.
  8. The 5D Mk III's layout makes perfect sense to me, because - aside from one or two buttons being different in purpose - it's almost identical to that of the 7D I've been using for the last three years, and which I've never had a problem with navigating around.
  9. Is part of the problem that we don't sit down with our camera and prepare for the kind of shooting we are about to do? I am a Nikon and Canon shooter (mostly Nikon) and I like the layout of their controls better but if one prepares before setting out there is little need to fiddle with the controls as much as some do.
  10. That's a very good point, Rick - I tend, before I start shooting, to visualise the kinds of change I'm likely to need to make, and this helps immensely with being able, quickly and easily, to make the adjustments I know I'm likely to need to make.
    I also make a lot of use of the Custom Function options on the 7D - I'll store alternative combinations of functions on the main dial that will suit the circumstances.
  11. I don't know why they don't put tiny LCD screens in the buttons and then they could make them read whatever they want and change on the fly. Before you laugh and tell me it would be too expensive, I have heard of keyboards that have screens in the keys for this purpose and we're talking a lot less buttons than a keyboard.
  12. I'm not laughing - I think that's a great idea, and definitely doable right now.
  13. uhm... that's like tiny dedicated touchscreen...
    (ok ok not really because a button works by feel but that defeats the screen addition, ok ok you could first look at the button, then raise the camera and then press th buttons)
    Still, I just had to smile...
  14. I don't think that there are "too many buttons", at least not on a 7D. Well, maybe the print button should be re-purposed, but other than that, I'm pretty sure I've used all the rest of the buttons several times, many of them several hundred or several thousand times (in the case of reviewing and culling).
    Taking away buttons means either burying the associated function in a menu someplace, or needing to use a touch screen interface, something not many of us would like. The advantage of having the multitude of buttons is that you can make changes on the fly, while shooting, without ever removing your eye from the viewfinder.
    Some buttons must have their functions be relevant to the context. Hence, many buttons have their function change, depending on what other mode was set with a different button.
    The OP mentions the SET button as an example of a button that could have multiple purposes. I'm not sure what they have in mind, but for me, I'm not sure it's a button that is terribly easily worked with the camera up to my eye. Though, if it could just reset the exposure comp with one push, I'd be all for it!
    As for touchscreens... I love it on my iPhone, I love it on my iPad, but I don't think I'd love it on my DSLR! At the very least, my LCD gets smeared enough from my face, I don't really need to add my fingers to the mix there. But, I see that it is very, very likely that they will take over, and for many functions, like picture review, it is getting cheaper and easier to implement a touch screen than to have to deal with discrete buttons in manufacture and after-sales support. On the other hand, for things that need, or better lend themselves to tactile feedback for proper control selection and use (joystick, main dial, etc.), those will continue to be physical switches for a long time yet.
    At least until the telepathically-controlled DSLRs come out! :)
  15. As for touchscreens... I love it on my iPhone, I love it on my iPad, but I don't think I'd love it on my DSLR! At the very least, my LCD gets smeared enough from my face, I don't really need to add my fingers to the mix there.​
    Following on from that point, what bothers about touch screens is this: how does the screen know it's your finger, and not your nose, that's prodding it?
  16. I don't know about Canons in this regard but can you put your presets on cards and load them before an assignment. You can do it with Nikon and it is handy.
  17. I'd love to apply other functions to the Print and Delete buttons. I have several friends that chimp almost all the time (often to the extent of missing shots while the action goes on), so I know that some would like that button, but I'd like to have the buttons available for other purposes. Also, I don't like the fact that there's a prominent button that could lead you to delete something unintentionally.
    Those things would be nice, but I'm happy with my cameras.
  18. Also, I don't like the fact that there's a prominent button that could lead you to delete something unintentionally.​
    On the more recent cameras there's an additional confirm/cancel screen dialogue, so unintentional deletions should be pretty unlikely.
  19. Rick, AFAIK, at least in the prosumer level bodies, there is no way to transfer settings through a memory card. You can,
    nevertheless, assign settings to the main dial using the "Custom" position(s) available for that purpose.

    Depending on the type of photography I'm doing, I sometimes prepare a couple of custom settings sets to be ready for a
    known change (such as going from high ISO with tungsten WB, single focus point and Tv mode for indoors to low ISO
    with sunny WB, area focusing and Av mode for outdoors if doing a noon time wedding), but most likely I will work with the
    settings placed in My Menu (where I have the mostly used options commonly burried under menus, such as MLU).
  20. When I originally was trying to decide between Canon and Nikon many years ago for my first DSLR, with the knowledge that changing bodies down the road would be a costly switch, one of the main things I considered and based my decision on was the layout of buttons through the range.
    This was something where I saw Canon was much more consistent from the base models (400D/xti) through the 40D and 5D. in turn resulting in my purchase. Since then as I have used a multitude of bodies it has made the transition almost seamless.
    As for the number of buttons, I've rarely had any issues and been completely happy with everything there. As many others have said, I've never used the direct print button and on the rare occasion I could well have had the MLU in a handier location.
  21. david_henderson


    It is rare for me to use more than a fraction of the capabilities of a camera, and indeed the first thing I do with a new one is to work out which of this stuff I need to remember and what I can ignore. If I were to try and use every aspect of my camera's capabilities then I'm sure I'd be mightily confused and probably paralysed into inaction. In short I think everyone should have "their way" of using a particular camera which becomes intuitive so that you can think about photographs and not cameras. I don't get hung up on the number of buttons specifically, just fret a bit when the way I need to do things changes.
    I recall my first Canons back in the very early 1990's. For some reason -I guess to do with money- I bought an EOS 10 and an EOS 600 ( or was it a 650?) The controls just seemed different and I wasn't attuned sufficiently at that time to look for the issues that produced before I bought it. Not long after the 600/650 went and was replaced by a second EOS 10. When I upgrade I generally keep the old body as a backup and (because the backup doesn't get used very often) I find it important that I can use the two cameras in pretty much the same way. I now have a 5Dii and a 5D and I'm comfortable on that score.
    But I'm probably a year away from upgrading, and my logical path is to either the 5Diii or the 6D, keeping the 5Dii as backup. Reading this thread, am I going to find a repeat of my old Eos 10/650 film camera situation where my main camera and backup will do nearly all the same things, but not controlled in the same way?
    As a side issue, I like the trash button. About 25% of the exposures I make never make it onto a computer. I have occasionally found myself deleting the wrong version of a shot I've taken several times, but I think thats my fault for not concentrating rather than a camera design issue. After all, I've pressed a button, turned a wheel to change from the default "cancel" and then pressed another button to actually delete. So I'm getting three chances not to be an idiot. I'd like to think that most of the time anyway, that's going to be enough.

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