Sunday, August 5, 2012

Olympus OM-D MyFrustration

Someone please inform Olympus their new flagship m43 camera has a touch-screen!

You gotta hand it to the Japanese - they're relentless in their pursuit of engineering perfection, whether it comes from well-made cars or precision optics.  They're very tech-minded, which is great for gadget geeks like myself, but horrible for anyone actually wanting to use those gadgets.

I'm beginning to believe "user interface" is a phrase which has no meaning in the Land of the Rising Sun.  Maybe Apple has a patent on "usability" or something.  Let me explain:


The OM-D has about three trillion user options, last time I counted.  Want to completely eliminate that stupid "soft focus" Art style option from even being selectable?  Done.  Want to bias the camera for shadows or highlights or both?  Done.  Want to tell the camera to NOT get rid of a magnified view once you start to use autofocus?  Too easy!  Want to not have a control panel pop up on the middle of the screen but still allow on-screen camera settings to be changed on the side of the screen via scrolling menus but only in PASM modes?  You get the idea.

Want to set up a few of these customizations into easy-selectable options?  Here's a spare leg - please go kick yourself in the groin.  Because that's about the same sensation one gets when attempting to use a Myset - Olympus' sadistic idea of a custom shooting bank.

Let's take a look at the Super Control Panel (SCP).  After toggling about 15 or so options and learning the secret handshake, you can have this bad boy pop up whenever you press "OK" on the back of the camera, touch a setting, modify it with a control dial, and be done in about 2 seconds.   Kick ass, right?

The Olympus OM-D Super Control Panel - Lots of power at your fingertips
The level of control here is pretty awesome.  For crying out loud, you can modify white balance bias and JPEG style modifiers directly from the freaking screen!

What you can't do is, oh, I dunno - select one of your four MySet options...with a touch screen...which has no real physical presence so it doesn't take up room...which could be easily designed to turn "pages" if you didn't want to clutter the main screen with MySet choices...which astounds me.

In fact, the level of customization present on the OM-D is so in-depth, it really surprises me there isn't a menu that lets you modify which 'modules' actually appear in the SCP when it appears in the first place! (are you listening Olympus?)

Instead, we get the awesome option of changing our color gamut on the fly - who the piss is ever going to use this?


Of course, in the end, the OM-D is still a badass camera (and system), so this MySet ordeal isn't too bad.  I'm really, really hoping Olympus changes the operation of the MySet to interface with the SCP somehow, because as of now MySets are almost useless (notice, I said "almost").  They require diving into the menu every. stinking. time. you want to change the Set, they're confusing, and they require a button be constantly pressed while using them.  Absurd.

On the upside, though, the camera has so many cool options that it almost encourages you to try out a few different modes of operation, to see what best works for you - sorta like customizing a car beyond factory options.

I can't pick on Olympus too much, though - anyone ever tried to use a NEX-5N menu or use custom shooting modes on a Nikon D700 or D300?

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