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Camera button sizes for short-sighted people

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 Bob Kemp 06 Jun 2024

I have a Panasonic TZ80 compact that's good enough for my purposes but which I am finding hard to use as my near eyesight has deteriorated over the last few years. I can't decipher the buttons, especially in lower light conditions. It isn't practical to keep swapping glasses to take photos and I don't want to go down the bifocals route so I was wondering if a change of camera might be the best option. I thought perhaps a larger camera like a DSLR might minimise the problem but I've never actually handled one. Any thoughts about this or other possible solutions?

In reply to Bob Kemp:

I use a Canon camera a lot and over the years have remembered where the buttons are. I suppose it's muscle memory, but you do need to use the camera often for this to kick in.  Maybe worth try before splashing out on new equipment? 

OP Bob Kemp 06 Jun 2024
In reply to twentytwoangrymen:

 You have a point  - but I hadn't had the camera long enough for that muscle memory to kick in. And now it seems like a steep learning curve. Perhaps I have to really live with the camera (day and night, taking a lot of photos) for a while.

 Marek 06 Jun 2024
In reply to Bob Kemp:

A bigger camera won't necessarily have bigger buttons. Just more of them. As others have said, muscle memory is the answer, particularly since it's really useful to be able to fiddle with camera settings without actually taking you eye from the viewfinder.

 McHeath 06 Jun 2024
In reply to Bob Kemp:

I have a Panasonic too (Lumex) and had the same problem; the only thing that helps is practice! I did a few half hour sessions on the sofa with the manual, focusing on potted plants and stuff which wouldn‘t fly away suddenly, and after that I was ok.

OP Bob Kemp 06 Jun 2024
In reply to Marek:

Ha, yes, I wondered about that! 

OP Bob Kemp 06 Jun 2024
In reply to McHeath:

Sounds like this will be the way... cheaper too!

 McHeath 06 Jun 2024
In reply to Bob Kemp:

Just concentrate on one button at a time and get it sorted, don’t do what I did and expect to learn them all in a single session!

 Blue Straggler 07 Jun 2024
In reply to Bob Kemp:

Sounds like you are already on board, but yes, muscle memory is the solution. Good luck. I need to do the same with some cameras (and other stuff)

 Jon Read 07 Jun 2024
In reply to Bob Kemp:

I'm long sighted and getting longer thanks to age. The buttons are ok, but working on focussing on the LCD screen using live view means I do take 2 pairs of glasses with me, and swapping over is a complete PITA. Unfortunately, I can't see (ho ho) a better solution, given I can't use bi/varifocals.

I suggest you are *not* short sighted if you're having trouble seeing the buttons!

 nniff 07 Jun 2024
In reply to Bob Kemp:

I've got an Olympus E-M10iii

It's got a screen on the back which is typically out of focus for me.  However, it has got an electronic viewfinder that is correctable for vision.  That also shows dial and button settings, and shows the images that you have taken, including zooming in to check focus.   I've not tried to scroll through the main menus using it, but for most routine use it works well

OP Bob Kemp 07 Jun 2024
In reply to Jon Read:

Yes, technically I guess short-sighted is a misnomer. It’s changed focal length with ageing. To get any focus I need to hold the camera a fair distance away. The text on the phone buttons is difficult to resolve even then. 

OP Bob Kemp 07 Jun 2024
In reply to Bob Kemp:

I found this blog post about setting up a LUMIX TZ80 and I’m going to see if fine-tuning the setup helps. 
http://cameraergonomics.blogspot.com/2016/03/setting-up-panasonic-tz80-zs60...

(As the name suggests the focus of this blog is on ergonomics and camera usability, and there are pieces on a wide range cameras that others might find worth exploring.)

 nufkin 08 Jun 2024
In reply to Bob Kemp:

Possibly tricky if you can't focus well enough to do it, but could a dab of nail varnish in various colours help distinguish key buttons?

OP Bob Kemp 08 Jun 2024
In reply to nufkin:

Interesting idea… could put my glasses on for that. But I might not want to risk getting varnish down the sides of buttons.

 FactorXXX 08 Jun 2024
In reply to Bob Kemp:

How about a monacle?
You get to see the buttons clearly and with the ability to stash the monacle away easily which you can't do with glasses.
It will also give you a rather distinguished look that will set you apart from your peers and perhaps even start a trend...

In reply to Bob Kemp:

On a similar line, I’ve seen various colours of fluorescent paint and fluorescent dots (stickies) used in some circumstances. The RNIB also do/did stickers of various bright colours though I don’t think they were small enough for camera buttons. More for highlighting light switches etc.

If you wanted to do a trial, could buy a sheet of different coloured sticky dots/stars as used for children’s stuff? Trim to size and unlikely to leave any residue if you don’t like the idea.

 McHeath 08 Jun 2024
In reply to Bob Kemp:

Could be I´m talking complete b*llox here, but:

I don´t know what you´re photographing; I go mostly after birds, so I have to be quick. I always work with the "manual" option, and there are only a few buttons which I need; my fingers now know where they are, so that I never have to take my eye from the viewfinder and look for them on the camera. They are:

1. Changing from single shot to quick series and back

2. Switching between adjusting shutter speed and adjusting aperture to get an optimal ISO

3. Adjusting the exposure

I always use the internal setting to get both a jpeg and a RAW-file for each picture; the editing possibilities with the RAW files are basically unlimited, so if I´ve for instance deliberately massively over-exposed to get more colour detail on a dark bird sitting against a light sky, I can correct that later with the editing programme (I use FastStone, free and fairly basic, but I´m an amateur and it covers my needs).

Very willing to be corrected here; I´m in an ongoing learning process but having a lot of fun.

OP Bob Kemp 08 Jun 2024
In reply to FactorXXX:

Interesting idea but I’m scared of looking like Jacob Rees-Mogg’s older brother!

 tehmarks 09 Jun 2024
In reply to Bob Kemp:

I think if you avoid the double-breasted suit jacket and overly casual sitting positions with your photography, you should be fine?

In reply to Bob Kemp:

As far as I can tell, Robert Durran has solved this problem completely by fitting a single, large button to his camera marked "5* photo" that prevents him taking a bad piccie.

 FactorXXX 10 Jun 2024
In reply to Bob Kemp:

> Interesting idea but I’m scared of looking like Jacob Rees-Mogg’s older brother!

Attached is a young JRM with a monocle.
Think you'll agree that he cuts a somewhat dashing figure which I'm sure that you would love to emulate.
Perhaps more disturbingly though, I sort of see a likeness to Angela Raynor and I'm not exactly sure who of the two should be more offended by that...


 Jenny C 10 Jun 2024
In reply to Bob Kemp:

I was thinking more Sir Patrick Moore with the monocle.

 Becky E 10 Jun 2024
In reply to Bob Kemp:

I strongly recommend giving varifocal specs a try. I'm short-sighted and have worn specs since I was about 11 years old. Now I'm in my early 40s, and recently found that I was struggling to see detail close up, reading was getting less comfortable, computer screen work was less comfortable, etc. Initially I got some "reading" glasses (ie glasses for near work), which made me realise just how much I'd been struggling for a while! But swapping specs was a pain. I have now got some varifocals and they've been a game changer! My very excellent opticians were great about making sure that I got exactly what I needed.

I do still use the single vision "reading" glasses for prolonged periods of reading, computer, etc, but for most things the varifocals do the job.

(if you're in/near Sheffield, do go to Eyeye Opticians. They're independent, unhurried, friendly, outdoorsy so understand about peoples' needs for climbing, running, walking, etc etc https://www.eyeyesheffield.co.uk/ )

OP Bob Kemp 10 Jun 2024
In reply to FactorXXX:

Urgh… the horror! Would rather look like Angela Rayner, with or without monocle. (There’s an AI prompt for someone…)

OP Bob Kemp 10 Jun 2024
In reply to Jenny C:

More distinguished, less creepy, but I’ll give it a miss!

OP Bob Kemp 10 Jun 2024
In reply to Becky E:

Thanks, I might consider that. I’ve been reluctant partly because of expense but also because of mixed reports, so this is encouraging.

 Marek 10 Jun 2024
In reply to Bob Kemp:

> Thanks, I might consider that. I’ve been reluctant partly because of expense but also because of mixed reports, so this is encouraging.

I've been wearing varifocals for the last 10 years or so. When I first got them, walking down stair looked a bit weird, but after a couple of days I'd adjusted and been fine since.

 wercat 10 Jun 2024
In reply to Bob Kemp:

Cameras without viewfinders (preferably with adjustable focus on the viewfinder) are not worth buying, let alone carrying.

All menu functions need to be accessible on the viewfinder screen from Physical Buttons/controls that are distinct by form and position on the camera body

Then you don't (thankfully) have to struggle to find specs to operate it or have to compose on an invisible screen when the sun is too strong/at the wrong angle

Post edited at 13:44
 Tom Valentine 10 Jun 2024
In reply to wercat:

I think the TZ80 has all the functions you have mentioned and its touchscreen is just an extra.

 Becky E 11 Jun 2024
In reply to Marek:

I was warned about going up/down stairs, but it wasn't a problem.

I think adjusting has been helped by switching to varifocals relatively early in the process, so the difference between my distance and near prescription doesn't seem huge (but is obviously enough to make a difference to seeing comfortably). If I'd waited, then it would have felt weirder.

 65 11 Jun 2024
In reply to Bob Kemp:

I've had varifocals for a couple of years now. For the first month I hated them, it was like being on mushrooms and I was close to giving up. I even started a thread on here which I'm sure a search would throw up. I got a lot of encouraging advice especially from Jon Stewart (who sadly seems to be absent from the forums) who is an optometrist. Anyway it took me a month to six weeks before I got fully used to them and now I wouldn't be without them. I no longer have readers but I do still use distance only for the hills, even now I find the varifocals disconcerting on exposed uneven ground (think Cuillin or Beinn Eighe) or going down steep rocky slopes.

They don't make any difference to my photography though I use the diopter a lot, something a small compact may not have.

OP Bob Kemp 12 Jun 2024
In reply to 65:

Sounds like varifocals may not be the answer to my current problem then. I had thought about getting them for hill use but it sounds like that too may not be a good idea.

 Robert Durran 12 Jun 2024
In reply to Bob Kemp:

> Sounds like varifocals may not be the answer to my current problem then. I had thought about getting them for hill use but it sounds like that too may not be a good idea.

It may depend how strong they are. I got used to mine in minutes. I wear them for everyday use, walking, reading, photography. The only thing I do not use them for is climbing because my feet and small footholds are too far away for the bottom reading bit. I had a pair of single focal ones made up with a compromise prescription for climbing (I did look in to getting sort of upside down varifocals but it would have been expensive). 

Post edited at 14:03
 Marek 12 Jun 2024
In reply to Bob Kemp:

> Sounds like varifocals may not be the answer to my current problem then. I had thought about getting them for hill use but it sounds like that too may not be a good idea.

I wouldn't assume so. I climb in mine - no problem: I don't need to read the fine print on my shoes. The foot-eye coordination comes back in just hours/days.


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