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Button genocide

In the article, “The Touchscreen DSLR is Upon Us,” Gizmodo reports,

So, this finally happened: Canon, or possibly a four-year-old with a mild passion for drawing, 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 comment about the four-year-old was clearly spawned by the graphic included in the patent:

My favourite part is what appear to be dirt marks in the image. It looks like it was scanned, but the drawing was clearly done on a computer. You’d think that Canon, with all those cameras and scanners, might do better.

But I digress.

I have no doubt that these touch-screen DSLRs are on the way. Despite the cost of the touch screen itself, I bet they’ll be cheaper to make. I also suspect they’ll appear on entry-level models only. Why?

When you’re in a rush, a button is faster than a touch screen. When you’re operating purely by feel, a button works while a touch screen is useless.

More than a few times, I’ve been waiting for an event to occur with my eye on the viewfinder. I’ve changed the aperture and shutter speed with a flick of my thumb or forefinger, respectively. I’ve changed the ISO by pressing the middle of three buttons on the camera’s top panel and then rotating the thumb-wheel to set the desired value. I can change the focus point by pressing the thumb-stick in the desired direction. This list goes on and on. All of these changes can be made simply and easily with your eye to the viewfinder. Moving to a touch screen will entirely remove this ability because you’d have to take the camera away from your face to make any changes. Whoops, your sexy touch screen caused you to miss the moment, so sorry.

It may come to midrange and higher end DSLRs eventually, but not with the touch screens we have now. A complete lack of tactile feedback and placing the screen where it can’t be manipulated when you’re using the camera makes the idea a non-starter.

Hat tip: Gizmodo.


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  1. gryan

    hilarious intro.

  2. Shawn

    yuck. Try using that screen in bright light. The iPhone is good, but not perfect and it is the best touch screen out there for bright light situations.

  3. Jonathan

    While this is not about the ability to affect change by feel, it does remind me of the great tv/vcr button migration. All the buttons that used to be on the unit you bought were moved to the remote conrtrol. One remote lost = 1 brick of electronics rendered useless.

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