Probably futile digital camera question

I do like digital cameras and have two. I liked them so much, a few yeas ago I sold all my good film cameras.

However, even as a techno-freak, I am dismayed at their complex menu systems. And each camera has its own system of menus and ways to do things. I do know how to accomplish almost anything I want to do, but sometimes have to pour through several screens in the menu to find what I want.

I would love to have a good digital camera that emulated the old cameras with just a few basic settings. Auto-focus is OK, but other than that, all I would want is ability to focus manually, set the shutter speed and the aperture.

If these settings would be at the top level of the menu systems, even that would help.

So, does anybody make such a camera? A reasonably-priced model, that is.

Well, my Canon T2i D-SLR can do this. It has the traditional selector wheel like any old SLR where you can set it to full auto, Tv or Av. On Tv you select your desired shutter speed with a second wheel and the camera picks the required aperture. On Av the same wheel selects aperture and the camera picks shutter speed.

It then has further modes and features like full manual, auto/manual focus, white balance etc, but if all what you were interested in is Auto, Tv and Av you could certainly just use that part of it and still take excellent pictures.

“Reasonably priced” is in the eye of the beholder. With the 18-55 lens you can find it for just under $800.

Almost any DSLR ought to have a ‘full manual’ way to do things. On my Pentax, it’s a matter of setting the wheel to ‘M’. Auto focus is selected by a switch. Shutter speed and aperture (if the lens is equipped, but several of my lenses are manual) are set by buttons and I don’t need to look at the menu. I can’t, actually - the back screen broke a few months back and I can’t afford to replace the body right now.

Or are you looking for something in lower-end models with manual settings? Most small cameras probably won’t have it because you really can’t do much worthwhile with the supplied lens - “exposure control” is the best you get. The mid-range models (single fixed lens, but often with the larger sensor that a DSLR might use) probably will let you control those things, without as much expense.

Yeah, full manual – you’re looking at an SLR. I agree that most cameras are chock full of too many fiddly features. I’d love to find a simplified, manual-control digicam as well. They don’t exists, as far as I’ve seen.

Depending on how much control you ACTUALLY want, Panasonic point-and-shoots have an “Intelligent Auto” mode that auto-adjusts pretty much everything. You can pretty much set the camera to “IA” mode and forget it, aside from the flash toggle.

One more suggestion: The Canon S## series (most recently the S95) offers SLR-like functionality (including full manual controls) in a compact, cheaper package. My experience is with the S80, a few generations back, but based on that I would say that photo quality is excellent (though low-light performance still doesn’t compare to an SLR) and the menu system, while not perfect, was at least usable. It has a control wheel on the back for changing aperture or shutter speed, though changing both at the same time (full manual) is slightly trickier.

If you start going down this road (SLR-like prosumer compacts), you’ll probably run into Panasonic’s DMC-LX# line (like LX3 or LX5). I would specifically recommend AGAINST this line because while the pictures are great, Panasonic’s interface is bar-none the worst I’ve ever used in a camera. Something as simple as an exposure adjustment is hellaciously counter-intuitive, with multiple buttons and dials that have no clear purpose in life and a joystick nipple that’s much slower than a dial. Ugh. (My experience is with the LX2 and LX3; dunno if much has changed for the LX5).

But, finally, your best choice is still an SLR. If Canon, the EOS 60D and up (right above the Rebel line) will give you two control dials for simultaneous aperture and shutter speed adjustment; otherwise, you’ll have to hold down a button to switch between aperture and shutter control. But really, given the entirely usable built-in light meter, how often would you be shooting in manual instead of aperture or shutter priority modes anyway?

ETA: You might also look into EVIL cameras, which I have no experience with.

Not true. Many small cameras have full manual controls, and pretty much all ultrazooms have them. Usability is another question.

The Canon S90 and S95 have a control ring around the lens that can be used for many adjustments and give a more natural feel for someone used to SLR controls. A few other cameras have a similar control ring around the lens.

You could look at the Fujifilm X100, though I believe it’s rather pricey.

Nice. I didn’t know that, thank you.

I think we’re in agreement on the usability, but I don’t see the “many” out there. Looking briefly at the 2011 camera models for several brands (Canon, Nikon, Sony, Olympus, Panasonic) on dpreview, I don’t see a single compact under 10x zoom with full manual. Nikon and Sony have some “ultrazooms” (~16x) without it, while Olympus doesn’t seem to have it on any model, even ultrazoom ones.

Most DSLR cameras can do what you want.
On mine (and most of the ones I’ve played with) there is a dial on top.
Set it to A and the dial next to your right finger controls the Aperture.
Set it to S and the dial next to your right finger controls the Shutter Speed.
Set it to M and you can control both independently of each other (in A and S mode, if you manually chose one, it would set the other)
There is a switch next to the lens turn off auto focus and on many of the lenses there is a an aperture ring that will manually override whatever the camera was doing if you felt the need to set the aperture by hand.

All this can be done without ever touching the Menu button.

What are you searching for? My cursory dpreview search shows 58 non-discontinued compact digitals with manual exposure, 79 of which were announced before 2011 (meaning they should be available in the marketplace already). DCResource’s clearer chart shows a bunch too.

Besides, it’s already been mentioned in this thread that cameras like the S95 fit the crtieria.

I actually didn’t even know about the feature search. I simply took issue with the assertion of Telemark that “most won’t have it” was “not true”. So I checked out the new models to see if it was true of this year and things had somehow changed, but they haven’t.
Anyway, if you select only ultra-compact & compact, that’s 307 cameras, only 44 of which have manual exposure. Which only proves my claim. I’d specifically put the “mid-range” like the S95, which I think is a good choice for the OP, in another category.

If you say so. The OP can decide what is and is not “reasonable” for him/herself.

The Canon S95 and G12 both have full manual controls, as does the SD4000. There are fewer than there used to be, but they are out there.

Having owned something like 2-3 p&s film cameras and 1 film SLR, as well as 2 p&s digital cameras and one digital SLR, I’ll confidently say that there’s not that much difference between digital and film in terms of what you’re asking for.

Just like a film p&s generally didn’t let you fiddle with aperture or exposure, most digital p&s cameras don’t either.

Digital SLRs however, are probably pretty close to their film forebears. I know that the Canon ones are- when I got my t2i recently, I didn’t have to really look up how to use it- the controls were almost identical to my film Rebel from about 12 years ago. I have M, Av,Tv,P and then a whole slew of digital only modes- beach, low-light, etc…

The really sweet part is that since you can vary the ISO on the fly and see your results, you generally take better pictures with film, or at least I do. None of that bracketing by a half-stop either way business hoping the exposure’s good enough , and if your framing isn’t right, you can just move and shoot another right then.

Good luck explaining setting the ISO, aperture and shutter speed for someone who never knew how it worked on a film camera though. My wife was notorious on our Italy trip for taking the camera and just starting to shoot, regardless of what I had the camera set to do.

Thanks, all for all lots of good info. I see now that I will have to do some more research, and look more closely at the current crop of DSLRs.

Being an old fogey who started his career as a pro photographer, using everything from a Rollie to a Hasselblad, to an 8x10 view camera, etc, I pretty much had a light meter built into my eye/brain, so could quickly set the f/stop and shutter speed in a second or two. And then focus. No damned dials to turn or menus to scroll through, hence my OP.

The digital cameras I have are good, and do have a way to set the controls manually, but just too complicated and slow to bother with. Under ideal conditions, of course the point-and-shoot feature is handy, but I often shoot in far less than ideal conditions. And using the aperture to control the depth-of-focus is one of the best tools I used.

Maybe I should go back to film. :smiley:

If you want retro, you really might want to take a look at the Fuji X100. Fixed focal length, but very old school control dials.

And mentioned in post #7 :slight_smile:

You can go to a DSLR, put the camera in full manual mode and simulate to a high degree your old film experience. There are a few controls that you can program into the main buttons (like ISO) so you can adjust additional settings that you couldn’t do with a film SLR, or just ignore those. You won’t be giving up anything.

They do but, sadly, they don’t have a viewfinder which might be a deal breaker if someone wants a more traditional ‘feel’ to their camera.

In case you didn’t know, the Canon T2i I was talking about has the usual depth-of-field preview button so that you can hit the button and see what your chosen aperture will do to your depth of field.