160221 Locks - matthew piers robertson • photography writing creative toronto

Yesterday I was spending some time juggling between the Fuji XT10 and the Ricoh GR at the car show. The Ricoh is easy enough, being simple to tuck in and out of a pocket, and never did anything I didn't expect.

The key is that I use it with customized modes, so switching between long exposures and regular shooting is just done by turning its locking mode dial. I can do this without looking. And every time the camera was turned on or its mode was changed it reset to its programmed defaults. This is fantastic, and I have four different cameras that can do this trick. They're all so very simple to use.

The camera that I used previously at the car show was the D800. While I don't use custom modes with it, the abundant information displays makes it easy to know what it's thinking, and the 90's-retro electronic button-and-dial interface happily stays where it's put. This is good. I'm okay with being surprised by my photos, but not by my cameras.

These photos are all taken with the XT10, and all of them were badly under-exposed because I had bumped the shutter speed dial out of position without noticing. The aperture ring on the XF 18-55 also has a mind of its own; at first I tried leaving it in Auto mode, but then I just took note of which way the ring had to spin to keep it at its minimum, and tried to do it habitually. 

The XT10 also likes to turn its shooting mode dial when it's in a camera bag and doesn't think that I'll notice. Its exposure compensation dial also has a sense of humour. But surprisingly I've only been tricked by its large all-camera "Auto" mode lever once, which seems like it should be toggled very easily. It's probably just doing that to confuse me.

I've used the XT10 a lot in the past few months, but always more slowly, or with more determination, or with fewer distractions, or without taking it in and out of a camera bag so often. So this was the first time I've used the camera intensively but intermittently in conditions that required a lot of different shooting settings. To be fair, that's not what I bought it for, but it is something I want it to do from time to time.

The operational quirks of the XT10 are manageable, but that means that the camera needs to be managed. Working slowly this isn't an issue; working quickly, it is.

Most of the time the XT10 and I get along very well, so I was surprised to have run into a few new quibbles with it. It works very nicely with its macro lens, and it's superb with the manually focused Zeiss lenses that are the real reason why I bought it. And I still like these photos, and in the spirit of my recent enjoyment of the GRDiv, I've pushed them further into lo-fi instead of trying to "salvage" them.

So there's no real problem here, and I'm planning a long and happy companionship with the little camera.

But the next time I buy a camera with a 70's-retro interface then all of those little dials will need to lock.

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