As a teacher of photography, I am struck time and time again by how difficult it is to explain camera menus to people. Canon is better than most, but all are difficult. All sorts of buttons, and different ones all the time:


To experienced users and pros, these are simple. But to novice camera users, navigating through these menus is a real challenge. Do makers of cameras not do focus groups?

Evidently not. Just look at the “wake-up” button that you need to keep pressing every few seconds when setting anything on your DSLR. Again – obvious to us, but tough for novices. Nothing tells you this!

Did you know that on a 7D, you can get the camera to default to always going to your custom menu when you press the “menu” button? Look for it under “My Menu Settings”. The function has an unintuitive name, but it’s there…

I think we need Apple to design the next DSLR User Interface.

0 thoughts on “Menu

  1. My two satang worth on camera user interfaces.

    I think Canon’s “entry level” cameras like the EOS-1000D have a much easier to use interface – so Canon is paying attention to the issue.

    But for the semi-pro 50D and up (5D, 7D, 1D …) consistency of operation and terminology between models is most important. I have a three year old 30D. I bet I could pick up a 50D and understand it without reading the manual. Isn’t that what pros value the most?

    Yes, their terminology is non-intuitive but once you have learned it the terms become second nature. And they are a barrier to switching to the competition – because the competitors have their own idiosyncrasies.

    It’s similar for software like Photoshop. Adobe cannot change it too radically because of the investment professionals have made in the way it works today. But try teaching it to a beginner … No fun.

  2. We (pros) do not realise how tough these things are, do we.

    A meny entry for me is as simple as eating a donut. But for a beginner?

    – press menu
    – go right or left to find menu tab
    – go up or down to find function
    – go right to see options for that function
    – go up or down to select option (maybe beyond screen height)
    – hit OK to activate that selection
    – press MENU to exit menu

    People have trouble with power switches. How can we expect them to grasp all that?

  3. Oh and:

    – The focus spots are laid out in a diamond
    – So to represent that on the camera’s back, we see… a cross.

    WTF? The number of beginners who realise that the cross means the diamond is roughly zero. What WERE they thinking!

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