I have been taking photos since I was 14 years old hanging out in local skate parks. For the first 10 years I’ve been shooting with manual film cameras only and I got my first digital camera back in 2004. Since then user interface of a digital camera didn’t really change. We are all used to see black screen with white pixel typeface scrolling through endless lists of unclear settings and acronyms. Using camera almost on a daily basis inspired me think of some features or improvements in user experience that I decided to illustrate in this project. Please note, that the features presented here might not fit everyone, this is solely the way I would like to use digital camera.
Two years ago I started shooting with digital Leica M. A brand and a camera that I really like and that stays true to manual mode. For this particular concept I selected Leica T—a more modern consumer camera with back touch display, but the one that doesn’t scare professional photographers. I do realize that a lot of tasks can still be done by switching knobs on the top right part of the camera, but just for the purpose of the concept I wanted to look into how everything can be done only by using the touch display. Please note, that this is a self initiated concept and I was not hired by Leica to work on it. All the metering numbers are only to show the proof of concept.
Free Manual Mode
Most of the time I use manual mode when taking photographs. For some reason pretty much no camera allows you to make default metering and then start adjusting from there freely (similar to a “P” mode). The idea here is that after the first metering you have complete freedom in adjusting your exposure. Aperture and Shutter Speed are clearly positioned on left and right sides of the screen, allowing you to control each with tapping or swiping using left or right thumbs at the same time (not in two completely different places how most cameras handle it). Default metering sets your Exposure Compensation to 0 (unless set otherwise) and by adjusting Aperture and Shutter Speed in Manual mode it is clear whether you are going to under- or over-expose your photograph.
No Separate AV & Tv Modes
Another thing that bothers me in most cameras is a separation between Aperture (Av) or Shutter Speed (Tv) priorities (as well as Manual Mode). Usually there’s a switch between these three modes. In my ideal scenario it is just one mode where I can quickly “lock” Aperture to set my camera to Aperture priority. After that I can keep adjusting Aperture to my liking, but it will now affect Shutter Speed. At the same time I can quickly adjust Exposure Compensation if I want. Note exposure compensation treatment is illustrated on the grid from -3 to +3 which makes it visually easier to understand whether you are in the minus or plus and how off are you. At the same time only relevant part of the grid is highlighted and not the entire range.
Some of the cameras (including Leica T) offer quick access to the most important settings that you might need to change quickly before taking a shot. One thing that I lack the most is quick access to Color Temperature. Most of the time I shoot JPGs so I can quickly post image somewhere. When conditions are unclear I start shooting RAW just because I know camera will get color balance wrong (especially when it’s dark, indoor with artificial light or during the sunrise/sunset). For some reason most cameras offer quite unclear icons such as “daylight”, “cloud” or “shade” which is essentially (5000K, 6500K and 9000K accordingly). With photo retouch software and RAW converters nowadays it is actually easier to think in K (Kelvins) instead of pictograms. Switching to 3000K I know I am going to get cold light that might be good if I am shooting at night time, going over 5000K I know I am going to get more warm (red) colors.
Concept for image details/gallery view. Upon swiping image down (same as tapping trash icon) UI will prompt you to confirm deleting image by continuing swiping it down. Swiping image up (same as tapping image icon on bottom left) UI will expose all necessary information about captured photograph—exposure settings and ISO, date, temperature (something that usually gets overseen on other cameras) and levels information.
Most cameras display settings as a list with titles and what type of mode is turned on/active. Usually user has to use controller to go through the list, enter the desired setting, change it to something else, confirm it and then go back to the main menu. Ideal settings view should display (if applicable) options right in the list mode. This way user can see what is currently being selected as well as tap other option if needed.
Just to reiterate that presented features might not be ideal for other photographers depending on their habits and style of shooting. This is solely the way I would love to use the camera. But maybe someone will get some necessary inspiration from this. This behavior is also not applicable to all the cameras out there. One should consider the ergonomics of the actual device as well. Below is an illustration of Leica T in women’s hands, showing the relative size of the camera will allow to use back display as illustrated above.
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