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The thought: Having at least shutter, meter on, and AEL toggle - maybe also ISO up/down, maybe also aperture up/down and focus mode, af point selection for modern automatic lenses, maybe also focus magnifier/peaking controls for manual lenses - as buttons around a non-rotating part of the lens barrel would seem really useful for using long and heavy telephoto or telezoom lenses handheld with light cameras, especially at manual focus - allowing both hands on the lens and none on the camera. Should be doable with flexprint and velcro or a buckle...

The unreassuring factor: I cannot find such a thing commercially available, even though the idea seems trivial. I assume it must be impractical and not worth prototyping.

What would make such a device impractical to use?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I suspect ergonomics would be poor. You can test with a paper mockup. Draw the controls you want on a piece of cardboard, tape it to your lens, and go through the motions of using it. It won't actually do anything, but will give you an idea of what it would be like to use. \$\endgroup\$
    – xiota
    Dec 21, 2018 at 4:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ "allowing both hands on the lens and none on the camera" ... How is that better than one hand on camera and one hand on lens? \$\endgroup\$
    – xiota
    Dec 21, 2018 at 4:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ Think of a case like "Tair-3s on a NEX-3" :) \$\endgroup\$ Dec 21, 2018 at 11:04

1 Answer 1

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What would make such a device impractical to use?

  • The failure rate of the flexprint would likely be fairly poor. The exteriors of cameras and lenses take a lot of punishment. Flexes tend to be very fragile. That's why they are often the most frequent thing damaged when a lens is disassembled to repair some other issue - not only by those who do not know what they are doing, but even by those who do.
  • The muscle memory of seasoned professionals who do all of those things with the fingers of their right hand on the camera's controls while properly supporting the weight of the camera/lens near its center of gravity with their left hand and without moving their eye away from the viewfinder.

Such photographers are typically the major part of those who advise camera makers about ergonomics and design.

  • That, and the fact that when being handheld, the further apart the two hands are, the more stable the camera/lens will be. If the lense is too heavy to allow comfortably balancing the weight of the camera/lens on one hand supporting the lens, then it's probably time to start thinking about a monopod or tripod.

For how much complexity is added by running extra flexes inside a lens, where they would be durable enough to hold up to the punishing demands of daily shooters, please see Roger Cicala's recent lensrentals.com blog entry detailing a teardown of the new Canon RF 50mm f/1.2 L that has a programmable 'control ring' on the lens barrel that can be mapped to provide one of several such functions. Now multiply that by however many buttons you wish to add...

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