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So are Olympus cameras too complicated?

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  • So are Olympus cameras too complicated?

    One of the most striking points I learned, or - more correctly - I was reminded of at the weekend's hands-on with the E-M1 II - came from a good number of invited professional photographers and journalists who are not regular users of Olympus cameras. And that was that the camera menus are very difficult to use because they are too complicated and there are too many options.

    I'd like to open this up to everyone here; do you agree? Members who have also been used to using Nikon, Canon, Sony, Pentax, Panasonic, etc. - how does Olympus compare?

    I for one think it's great that Olympus provide so much functionality, but I have been using what is essentially the same style of UI that Olympus has developed for over ten years, so I am used to it. Maybe that's why I was intrigued and slightly worried about the feedback concerning ease of use I was hearing...

    Ian
    Founder and editor of:
    Olympus UK E-System User Group (http://e-group.uk.net)
    Four Thirds User (http://fourthirds-user.com)
    Digital Photography Now (http://dpnow.com)
    Olympus camera, lens, and accessory hire (http://e-group.uk.net/hire)

    Twitter: www.twitter.com/ian_burley
    Flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/dpnow/
    Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/ianburley/
    NEW: My personal BLOG ianburley.com
    sigpic

  • #2
    Re: So are Olympus cameras too complicated?

    Personally I quite like the Olympus menus and have no particular problem using them.

    In fact, when I first bought into the Olympus u43 system (E-PL5) I found the menus easier to use than those of the Canon system that I'd been using for several years (40D and 5Dii). The Canon menu is full of cryptic settings with little to guide the user. By contrast the Olympus system had longer explanations and even pop-up help.

    I have to admit though that over time, as new features have been added, the menus have become denser and so the number of options has increased. It can now be quite hard to remember where something is located and even now I sometime find I forget where particular settings are hidden. On balance though I still prefer this to other brands. I've had a couple of Panasonic cameras and I find their system a little too limiting.
    Paul
    E-M1ii, Pen-F and too many lenses
    flickr
    Portfolio Site
    Instagram

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: So are Olympus cameras too complicated?

      They are complicated because they have a complicated job to do. I don't think they are too complicated though - there doesn't seem to be anything added that doesn't need to be there. I have limited experience with Sony and Panasonic and find them just as sprawly - I find the Oly system easier, but that is probably just down to familiarity.

      However - the menu system has grown and grown to match the new facilities that the cameras offer, without ever really changing in structure. This means that related options can be spread around all over the place - for example, just reading about all the different places you might need to set things to get set up for good C-AF is enough to make the head spin. At some point it might be a good idea to sit down and try and redesign it all from scratch so that related features are grouped together - but then us oldies would complain that we don't understand them any more!

      One thing that could definitely be improved is the documentation. The manuals do list the menu options in full, but the explanations of many functions are terse and there is no guidance on the real effects of many of the choices.

      John

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: So are Olympus cameras too complicated?

        Originally posted by Bikie John View Post
        One thing that could definitely be improved is the documentation. The manuals do list the menu options in full, but the explanations of many functions are terse and there is no guidance on the real effects of many of the choices.
        Agree with that. I like the complexity of the cameras and I'd like even more options but you do need more information to get the most out of them. For instance the new manual just says:

        C-AF Lock - Sets the tracking sensitivity for C-AF.

        There's no explanation or suggestions. You can only use trial and error tests and/or read internet forums to see what others have worked out.

        But Olympus have the info in house - this is from their Australian web pages:



        If we had that sort of info supplied with the camera for all the options it would be much easier to set up and also to adjust settings later.
        Andy
        bengeo.com

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: So are Olympus cameras too complicated?

          That's a good find!

          John

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: So are Olympus cameras too complicated?

            Originally posted by Bikie John View Post
            That's a good find!

            John
            Yeah. We do some things right downunder!

            That screen shot can be found here. http://www.olympus.com.au/Products/I...ed-Performance
            Ross
            I fiddle with violins (when I'm not fiddling with a camera).
            Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ross-the-fiddler/
            Cameras: OM-D E-M1 & Mk II, Olympus Stylus 1, OM-D E-M5.
            Lenses: M.ZD7-14mm f2.8 PRO Lens, M.ZD12-40mm f2.8 PRO Lens, M.ZD40-150mm f2.8 PRO Lens, MC-14, MC-20, M.ZD45mm f1.8, M.ZD12-50, M.ZD60 Macro, M.ZD75-300 Mk II, MMF-3, ZD14-54 II, Sigma 150mm F2.8 APO Macro DG HSM.
            Flashes: FL36R X2, FL50R, FL50.
            Software: Capture One Pro 10 (& Olympus Viewer 3).

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: So are Olympus cameras too complicated?

              Originally posted by Bikie John View Post
              They are complicated because they have a complicated job to do. I don't think they are too complicated though - there doesn't seem to be anything added that doesn't need to be there. I have limited experience with Sony and Panasonic and find them just as sprawly - I find the Oly system easier, but that is probably just down to familiarity.

              However - the menu system has grown and grown to match the new facilities that the cameras offer, without ever really changing in structure. This means that related options can be spread around all over the place - for example, just reading about all the different places you might need to set things to get set up for good C-AF is enough to make the head spin. At some point it might be a good idea to sit down and try and redesign it all from scratch so that related features are grouped together - but then us oldies would complain that we don't understand them any more!

              One thing that could definitely be improved is the documentation. The manuals do list the menu options in full, but the explanations of many functions are terse and there is no guidance on the real effects of many of the choices.

              John
              I'd argue cameras don't need to be difficult. If you boil it down to the basics, all you need is a means of focusing, and ability to adjust exposure using controls that can be inspected without the need to look in the viewfinder, or at the rear screen.
              Steve

              on flickr

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: So are Olympus cameras too complicated?

                Originally posted by Ricoh View Post
                I'd argue cameras don't need to be difficult. If you boil it down to the basics, all you need is a means of focusing, and ability to adjust exposure using controls that can be inspected without the need to look in the viewfinder, or at the rear screen.
                That's what you'd prefer & if they made a 'basic' version like that I guess you would love it, but others of us like all the other possible features & options & hence it does make it more complex to drive, remembering & noting the different settings that can get in the way if not set correctly.

                Unfortunately, 'basic' doesn't sell like 'fully featured' cameras do, unless you go for those overpriced European made cameras some love to have.
                Ross
                I fiddle with violins (when I'm not fiddling with a camera).
                Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ross-the-fiddler/
                Cameras: OM-D E-M1 & Mk II, Olympus Stylus 1, OM-D E-M5.
                Lenses: M.ZD7-14mm f2.8 PRO Lens, M.ZD12-40mm f2.8 PRO Lens, M.ZD40-150mm f2.8 PRO Lens, MC-14, MC-20, M.ZD45mm f1.8, M.ZD12-50, M.ZD60 Macro, M.ZD75-300 Mk II, MMF-3, ZD14-54 II, Sigma 150mm F2.8 APO Macro DG HSM.
                Flashes: FL36R X2, FL50R, FL50.
                Software: Capture One Pro 10 (& Olympus Viewer 3).

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: So are Olympus cameras too complicated?

                  I'm used to years of Oly menus, but still occasionally have trouble finding odd settings that could be in more than one place. With the steady increase in complexity, it must be pretty overwhelming on first encounter now.

                  Unless you reduce functionality, it's hard to get round this, but I've said for years that the menu structure should be looked at afresh by UI designers, bearing in mind that new photographers will be coming from smartphone UIs which have a lot to learn from. At present, I suspect the menus are designed by engineers who probably work from the features, whereas they should be driven by what the user wants to achieve.

                  The good news is the SCP does the job very well most of the time, but you need to understand the menus to make sure you find all the features you want initially to set up as you want.
                  Bruce

                  http://flickr.com/photos/bruce-clarke/

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: So are Olympus cameras too complicated?

                    They're as complicated as you want them to be. If you want to play with all the 'features' you need to learn the menus. My bodies were set up as a digital OM2 when they were unpacked and have never been changed. I use the menu twice a year to change the time when the clocks change.
                    It's the image that's important, not the tools used to make it.

                    David M's Photoblog

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: So are Olympus cameras too complicated?

                      With that Super Control Panel, they are not as complicated as Canon and Nikon. I tried to change the AF points in a Nikon but cannot seem to find it in the Menu. It's just not there. Then that Canon, I was asked to assist in turning off that focus assist light. Can't remember the models. Hopefully they change that.
                      I also own that Panasonic, try finding out why the digital zoom is not enabled in certain shooting options.
                      Had a short play with the Casio and Samsung P&S. The menu back then changes with every model. Come to think of it, the Panny are not much different in their menu system in the P&S of the past. Not sure if they finally standardize it now.
                      * Henry
                      * Location: Subang Jaya, Selangor
                      * Malaysia


                      All my garbage so far.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: So are Olympus cameras too complicated?

                        Originally posted by Ricoh View Post
                        I'd argue cameras don't need to be difficult. If you boil it down to the basics, all you need is a means of focusing, and ability to adjust exposure using controls that can be inspected without the need to look in the viewfinder, or at the rear screen.
                        Unfortunately, I feel that's unrealistically idealistic if you want to get the most out of your camera.

                        Ian
                        Founder and editor of:
                        Olympus UK E-System User Group (http://e-group.uk.net)
                        Four Thirds User (http://fourthirds-user.com)
                        Digital Photography Now (http://dpnow.com)
                        Olympus camera, lens, and accessory hire (http://e-group.uk.net/hire)

                        Twitter: www.twitter.com/ian_burley
                        Flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/dpnow/
                        Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/ianburley/
                        NEW: My personal BLOG ianburley.com
                        sigpic

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: So are Olympus cameras too complicated?

                          Originally posted by Bruce Clarke View Post
                          I'm used to years of Oly menus, but still occasionally have trouble finding odd settings that could be in more than one place. With the steady increase in complexity, it must be pretty overwhelming on first encounter now.

                          Unless you reduce functionality, it's hard to get round this, but I've said for years that the menu structure should be looked at afresh by UI designers, bearing in mind that new photographers will be coming from smartphone UIs which have a lot to learn from. At present, I suspect the menus are designed by engineers who probably work from the features, whereas they should be driven by what the user wants to achieve.

                          The good news is the SCP does the job very well most of the time, but you need to understand the menus to make sure you find all the features you want initially to set up as you want.

                          I own and use 2 x 7d2 and 650d the difference between these two menus is vast when I upgraded from 7d to 7d2 canon had also changed the menu mainly with the focusing and placed the af into cases (boxes) for each scenario which was
                          Simples.

                          the OLY menu does indeed need sorting it's all to easy to forget where something is in the menu as it's basically a mess. Just yesterday photographing fungi I could not understand why the flash would not fire. Answer because I had the wrong shutter action. Hearts and diamonds instead of a common single shutter. Yes indeed it was like throwing up a deck of cards and see how they land? In fact when I found out why the flash especially the off camera flash would not fire I gave out a fairly loud
                          YES luckily I was on my own.

                          Thank god for the SCP.

                          I am gradually thinking with the intro of the new 300f4 and em1mk2 to completely change over to OLY but will still wait for further results to arrive on the em1mk2.
                          So in a nutshell yes it needs tidying up.
                          Kind regards Mike
                          http://www.wingsofnature.org

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: So are Olympus cameras too complicated?

                            Originally posted by Ross the fiddler View Post
                            That's what you'd prefer & if they made a 'basic' version like that I guess you would love it, but others of us like all the other possible features & options & hence it does make it more complex to drive, remembering & noting the different settings that can get in the way if not set correctly.

                            Unfortunately, 'basic' doesn't sell like 'fully featured' cameras do, unless you go for those overpriced European made cameras some love to have.
                            Yeah, I have one of those digital simple cameras, liberating.
                            Steve

                            on flickr

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: So are Olympus cameras too complicated?

                              Originally posted by Ian View Post
                              Unfortunately, I feel that's unrealistically idealistic if you want to get the most out of your camera.

                              Ian
                              Well, Leica manage it with the digital M. It's probably the fastest street camera when set to zone at f8; there's no thinking about technology and more thinking about capturing the moment. Can be slow if you want to manually focus wide open.
                              Steve

                              on flickr

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