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This is a small rant engendered by a series of comments on one of Michael Johnston's posts today. He was querying his readers about the virtues and detractions of various small sensor cameras with great image stabilization. The Olympus cameras came up repeatedly. The first verse from everyone was: (paraphrasing here): "Oh, they are great cameras except for the horrible, horrible, painful, brain searing menus..." Which would be reflexively followed by: "but once you take the hours, days, weeks, to get the cameras set up exactly the way you will always use them you rarely need to even enter the menu (hell) again!" As though that was a good and proper way of tackling a photographic tool.

What the hell?  I am sure there may be some who can dip into their camera menu and set all the dozens (hundreds?) of variable items, methodically, and then never have to touch the menu button again but I'm absolutely baffled about who those shooters might be and why they feel that it's rationale, sane, practical, etc. to use exactly the same camera settings over and over again.

I've owned several Olympus EM-5s and several EM-5II cameras and I readily admit that they are capable of taking great photographs, stabilize lenses better than anyone in the universe, and, in the case of the EM-5ii, make really, really good video. But I have to ask what professional or advanced amateur shoots exactly the same thing over and over again? And at exactly the same settings? If you shoot different kinds of images, or go back and forth between video and stills, you'll need to be diving into that swamp creature of a menu every day. Deep dives.

Going from theatrical work to video work to portraiture requires changing imaging profiles, metering modes, shadow and highlight distribution, focusing modes and so much more. Even after owning both sets of cameras and using them for months at time a few days off and the need to find a very specific menu driven control could be downright paralytic. Not to mention that some of the symbols Olympus uses for their menu items are not standard camera icons or abbreviations. And NO! I can't load everything I need onto a Super Control Panel.

I hate hearing that nonsense about setting the camera up once and never touching the "hidden" controls again. It's entirely disingenuous. The people who make this statement might be a rare breed of single subject shooters but the rest of us depend on the same system being able to handle all kinds of jobs and projects.

The ability to justify the Olympus menu system is becoming almost cultish. But the reality is that Olympus has some sort of misguided corporate death wish. Why else make using the product so damn hard? So frustrating.

I thought I might have been over reacting until I started shooting with the Panasonic cameras. The GH5 in particular. Its menus are well laid out. Logical. Easy to navigate.

When I picked up a Nikon D800e it took me about ten minutes to get back up to speed with their menus and they are not nearly as coherent as the Panasonic menus. And I had not handled a Nikon for two or three years before picking it back up.

If you like horsing around with complex spreadsheets, sudoku and the Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle then I can respect your ..... affectations, but trying to normalize such a faulty disfunction in camera making is over the top.

Just imagine how great those cameras could be. Great color. Great I.S. Lovely finder. Good, multishot high res modes, better and better imagine the camera was also easy to set up, change menu items, re-set parameters and understand. It would be amazing.

Just don't tell me I can preset a tiny handful of parameters and use them for everything I'll ever do with a camera ever again. That's nonsense.

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