Some months ago, I bought a refurbished (read “used”) Olympus OM-D E-M5. I don’t think anyone ever really used it as a camera. Maybe it was a store demo or something like that, but it had all the plastic wrap still on it, so it was new. Except the there’s a newer version of it out, so probably this is one of the ways to offload leftovers of the previous model.
One of the things it didn’t come with is the User’s Guide. It came with no documentation at all, actually and an after-market battery charger.
I haven’t used the camera much. I haven’t been outside much or taken many pictures, so mostly, it’s has been waiting for spring when my interest in photography usually revives.
This also means that I am not as comfortable using this camera as I am other cameras. In fact, because it came without documentation and it’s got a lot of dials and buttons, I’ve been shying away from it. But. You don’t learn to use a camera by not using the camera.
Today dawned beautiful. The sun was shining, the sky was bright blue and the air was sweet and warm. Garry said “Let’s go.” I grabbed my Olympus OM-D E-M5 and off we went to River Bend. We exited the car and we went our separate ways.
I had decided to begin using the f1.8 25mm “normal” lens. It’s very sharp and has a lens hood, good for shooting on such a bright day.
I took a few more shots then decided to change to my 14-150 telephoto. Except something happened. After I changed lenses, I couldn’t see anything in the LCD screen. It was dark and for once, it wasn’t because I forgot to remove the lens cap.
I got my hyper-ventilation and panic reaction under control and looked through the viewfinder. I could see through it. See the menu settings too. Which meant my camera was working. This could mean only one thing: I had inadvertently, accidentally, unintentionally, and unknowingly pushed a button.
I had no idea what button I’d pushed. No idea where to look for it. Before I’d done whatever I’d done, the camera had been automatically switching between viewfinder and LCD screen. But I had done something.
Eventually, I found a tiny button near the collar of the lens. I pressed it. The picture returned to the LCD screen. All was right with the world. This is not the first time or the first camera on which a previously undetected button got pushed with disastrous results.
There are too many buttons. On everything. Cameras. Televisions. Remote controls. Computers. Tablets. Telephones. Convection ovens. Too many settings for software. Too much. Of everything.
I wanted to buy a rice cooker that cooks rice. I don’t need it to also bake cakes, steam fish, and do my laundry. Just cook rice. White rice. It cost me more to get a rice cooker that does this one thing well, than to buy something with 13 configurable programs to all kinds of stuff I will never want or need.
I understand to sell things, you have to improve them. After all, who would buy a new version of Photoshop if it’s exactly the same as the one you already own? So, for good or ill, you have to change stuff.
But I didn’t buy my Olympus OM-D for its bells, whistles, or little buttons. I bought it because it’s water-resistant, fast, has great resolution, a bigger sensor … and at long last, a built-in viewfinder, something for which Olympus users have been yearning since forever.
All those extra bells, whistles, and buttons are not a sales plus for me. Do you even know what the menu options in your various system menus mean? What all those buttons do? Or even where to find them? There are too many buttons. Too many options.
Maybe the next upgrade to our equipment will be … (wait for it) … simplicity. Now that’s an upgrade I would embrace.