The Touchscreen DSLR Is Upon Us By John Herrman on December 4, 2009

So, this finally happened: Canon has filed for a patent on a touchscreen DSLR, which transfers common controls to the camera’s LCD screen. The button genocide is real, people.

The technology has been available for years, and the DSLR market has been veering toward the general public ever since that cursed D was appended to it, so it’s almost surprising that it’s taking this long for touchscreens to infiltrate. But not really: DSLRs are proudly retro, built around mirror box and lens designs that date back decades, and covered in buttons to the point that, to an amateur, they are totally unapproachable. That said, the standard Canon and Nikon button layouts do work pretty well, and there are a lot of parameters you’ve got to deal with, so, well, here we are, staring down a Canon patent application for a basic touchscreen interface, in 2009:

Here’s how it works, as interpreted by the Photography Bay:

1. Sliding your finger across the panel in a vertical direction changes aperture values.

2. Sliding your finger across the panel in a horizontal direction changes shutter speed.

Other features contemplated by the patent that may be enabled by touch entry through the LCD include the following settings:

Focus detection area
Exposure correction value
Flash adjustment correction value
Photometry mode (i.e., metering mode)
Drive mode
ISO value
Auto focus mode
White balance mode
Exposure correction value

In other words, the touchscreen would do everything your current 1970s aviation panel of a DSLR backside would, without the buttons.

In practice, I think a DSLR touchscreen would need to be supplementary. Given that a lot of DSLR adjustment is done with the photographer’s eye in the viewfinder, the tactile feedback provided by buttons will be hard to replace; while it might make settings menus a bit easier to navigate, having a touchscreen won’t do much good when you’re trying to adjust aperture on the fly, or pull down your exposure time after a light flickers on. However wonderfully or horrifically it’s executed, though, a touchscreen DSLR from a major manufacturer will happen, and probably soon. [Photography Bay]

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One thought on “The Touchscreen DSLR Is Upon Us By John Herrman on December 4, 2009

  1. Interesting article, a good read. I too wonder why we dont have them already. I think the most benefit to a touch screen display would be playback of images so you could zoom in and out and move them around. Similar to viewing photos on the ipod/iphone.

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