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Old 04-23-2009, 07:29 PM
Jason Dunn
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Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 29,160
Default Making On-Camera Flashes Smarter

"David: I enjoyed your rant about the flash on digital cameras. You mentioned the clueless people who take flash pictures at an event from 200 yards away, totally pointlessly - but I've always wondered why these modern, smart cameras can't turn off the flash automatically when they're more than 10 feet from the target?"

Image Credit: spmcfarland on Flickr

The above comment was sent to David Pogue, who replied that there's no reason why these cameras can't implement that exact feature - which got me to thinking about other ways point and shoot cameras can be made smarter. One of my personal pet peeves - in addition to pointless flashes popping off by clueless camera holders - is how noisy most point and shoot cameras are. Many cameras make noise when they turn on - typically a beep of some sort but some make "zooming" sound effects - followed by a beep every time the user presses a button navigating a menu. There's a beep it makes when taking a picture, and often a beep when the user moves from image to image in playback mode. I can't help but feel irritated when I'm at a special event - wedding, a ceremony of some sort, etc. - and the moment is littered with the near-constant BEEP BEEP BEEP of digital cameras.

From a user design perspective, nearly all of those beeps are completely pointless because there are other indicators of responsiveness from the camera. You turn on the camera? The LCD screen comes on - no need for a beep. Pressing a button, or moving from one menu to another? The movement on the LCD screen is the indication that your button presses are being accepted. Taking a picture? The flash tells you the photo was taken, and even if the flash is turned off, 99% of users immediately look at the LCD screen to see the photo they just took. No need for an obnoxious beep!

I don't hold the users of these cameras completely at fault - modern point and shoot digital cameras can be confusing to navigate. I think the companies who make these cameras should do more to make digital photography smarter. In what ways do you think your point and shoot camera could be improved?

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