Camera Ergonomics: Is your camera a good fit?

Camera Ergonomic:

The first camera buying tip that I offer to anyone is that the camera needs to be a good fit in your hands. Todays cameras have many of the same features and for the non-professional, the differences in their performance are subtle.

Camera buying tips. A camera should fit your hand, first and foremost.

Purchasing a camera is like buying shoes. They are not one-size-fits-all. Your enjoyment in using the camera relies on a good fit for comfort in your hands, for how you hold and operate the camera, and for how easy it is controlling the buttons and dials. If you’re not happy with your image making experience, then you might be hooked up with the wrong camera.

Too Small:

I understand the allure of a small camera because it’s light weight and it fits in your pocket or small bag. However, if the camera is too small you will get frustrated using it and the camera will spend most of the time in your pocket, because, well, that’s the reason that you bought it.

Problems with cameras that are too small for YOUR hands include:

  • The buttons are so close together that you press more than one at a time without being aware that this is happening. Then, you don’t know why your camera has switched functions.
  • There is no grip area for the palm of your hand to rest and you must hold the camera with your fingertips. Then accessing the dials and buttons will be awkward.
  • The thumb rest area on the back is so small that your thumb is changing settings while you are shooting. This is so discouraging.

Too Big:

The camera is too heavy to hold and just too big and bulky for your hands. This will kill your enthusiasm and shooting becomes a drag.

Some of the following might be happening….

  • You must put out too much effort, your arms tire quickly, or your neck hurts. Photographing should not be painful.
  • You may be using your left hand to set the controls on the right side, or you can’t find a comfortable way to hold it. Trying to hold it correctly might help a bit though. Your left hand should be palm up and the bottom of the camera resting on it. Your left thumb and pointer finger are working the lens. Your right hand is on the hand grip with four fingers in the front, and your thumb on the back.
  • You find that you must move your entire right hand for your thumb to reach the buttons on the back. This becomes a bit clumsy, and you lose a secure grip.
  • You’re choosing to use your cell phone instead of your high-quality expensive camera. Your camera should not be getting in the way of you using it.

Here’s one of my camera buying stories:

I’m 5’3” in height. I have small hands, but I need a professional camera, which tend to be too big for me. I researched to find the smallest professional Nikon and Canon models that had the features I wanted. I rented both at the same time to give them a test drive. My goal is to be able to work all of the exterior controls without taking the camera away from my eye while shooting.

The Nikon required too much interruption in the flow of shooting to change settings. I had to take my finger off of the shutter button and rotate my entire hand for my thumb to reach the back controls nearest the monitor. As little as that movement is, it interfered too much with the act of photographing.

The Canon had a narrower body, and the hand grip was shaped slightly different, but just enough that I didn’t need to move my shutter finger in order to work the buttons on the back. Bingo! The camera is heavy, but my attitude is I need to get stronger. And, I got a good neck strap.

So, there my friends is the camera that is seamless for me to use, it poses no issues, and I absolutely love when it is in my hands. Seriously, every time I take this camera out of my camera bag, I feel the joy.

Dee Peppe Photographer, Coastal Maine Photo Tours