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by Bart Arondson

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I just bought a Nikon D3200 DSLR and I'm going to return it. It's fine if you always want to use in fully automatic mode, but in Manual mode, it's much less convenient. You have to set the shutter speed using this little thumb wheel, and then press and hold another button and use the same wheel to set the aperture, all while looking at the feature screen, which is set to go dark too fast (and I can't find where to reset that go-dark setting).

Does anyone know offhand which DSLRs (if any) under $1000 have a single, separate, dedicated ring or wheel for setting aperture and a separate dedicated control for setting the shutter?

I am really missing my old Nikon FE2, with an aperture ring and a knob on top to set the shutter speed.

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Where to set the go-dark timers: Menu button - Setup menu (the wrench) - Auto off timers. (Page 140 in the user manual ) –  j-g-faustus Nov 26 '12 at 4:26

2 Answers 2

This is normally referred to as something like "dual control dials", and you're right, it's a very desirable feature. Very few entry-level cameras have this, but it's common on mid-tier "prosumer" DSLRs, and universal on higher-end models.

You can find a list of models with this feature on a camera review / database site like Neocamera; try this search:

http://www.neocamera.com/search_camera.php?size=slr&commanddials=2%3Amin

Right now (late 2012), if you're looking for below $1000, you have the option of buying a 2010 model, like the Nikon D7000, Canon 60D, or Pentax K-5. As of this writing, these are all around $800 body only. (In general it has historically been the case that you can get a slightly-older mid-tier model for about that price, and until there's a shakeup in the economies of the camera market that's likely to stay true.)

Or, you may want to look at the somewhat uniquely positioned Pentax K-30, which is a upper-entry-level camera introduced this year. It has a number of features normally reserved for higher-level cameras, including the dual controls, a 100%-view penta-mirror finder, and weather sealing. The camera market is very volatile and it's possible that other brands will follow suit in this area, but for right now it kind of stands alone.

Alternately, just squeaking under $1000, the Fujifilm X-E1 offers an very nice control system where you adjust aperture via a ring on each lens and a shutter dial on the top of the camera. If you miss your film camera, the controls may actually be most familiar even if the EVF is different from what you're used to.

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The K-30 is a great option, hits a real sweetspot in the market in my opinion. –  John Cavan Nov 26 '12 at 4:24
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I hate to give answers here which are focused on specific models which will be obsolete in a year, but I'm pretty sure the K-30 is unique in its current niche and no other current DSLR model answers the question. I promise to update this answer if the situation changes. –  mattdm Nov 26 '12 at 4:25
    
@mattdm, thank you so much! You've provided lots of great information, starting with what they call this set of options these days. Thanks so much for pointing me to a review site I hadn't found myself, and setting up a search that addresses my question. I will look at that search, consider the 2010 models, and take a close look at the Pentax K-30 and the Fujifilm X-E1. I really appreciate your help! And John, thanks for affirming the K-30 as a good option for me. –  Elizabeth Nov 26 '12 at 13:27
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@Elizabeth — feel free to check the box marking this answer as "accepted". :) –  mattdm Nov 26 '12 at 14:01
    
I tried to use a camera model a few weeks ago (a friend's camera) that had only one wheel for setting both aperture and shutter speed. I pretty quickly went back to my own EOS 50D, which has separate wheels for the two (as well as much better ergonomics for me, but that's more personal). –  Michael Kjörling Aug 12 at 7:54

If you look at the new mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras (Sony NEX line, Canon EOS M), some of them have this for well under $1000. They use chips comparable to the consumer and prosumer DSLRs (like my Canon 7D), while the cameras themselves are much smaller. They take fantastic pictures, are wonderfully easy to use but also have all the power of the DSLRs in most ways. And they have separate knobs (at least my Sony NEX-7 does) for aperture and shutter speed when in manual mode.

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The NEX-7 does but not the EOS M. It's an easy query to know exactly which ones have this. Plus, the Fuji's have one control-dial but all lenses so far have an aperture ring. –  Itai Nov 27 '12 at 19:09

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