It was hard to write an exciting title about this; and clearly, we did not succeed. But frankly, if you’re looking for or own a higher-end digital camera, programmable buttons, function buttons, or the like are a useful and commonplace offering in those cameras—and an easy way customize your camera. We’ll take a look at cameras that have them and generally how they’re implemented.
Dedicated Function Buttons
The top of the list for convenience, most higher-end digital cameras offer at least one dedicated function buttons. And often, you can assign a fairly lengthy list of functions to them, allowing you to really customize the camera to your liking.
Some manufacturers, Panasonic and Olympus in particular, really emphasize them. The DMC-FZ200 from Panasonic, at the top of their superzoom line, offers no less than four function buttons.
Not to be outdone, the Olympus OM-D E-M1,offers five and, if that’s not enough, lets the user completely redefine the camera’s mode dial.
Even retro-styled cameras like the Fujifilm X-E2 find space for at least one nod to customization.
Custom Mode Dial Settings
Many of these relatively pricey cameras also offer one or more positions on the mode dial where the user can save preferred groups of settings.
This feature also allows you to customize the camera to your liking, but in a different way. Instead of placing a camera feature one touch away like a function button, the custom settings on the mode dial usually save an entire camera setup.
Depending on the camera, everything from basic settings like aperture, shutter speed, and focus mode to more advanced things like white balance, ISO, and drive mode is saved. You recall the camera setup simply by rotating to the mode dial to the appropriate custom position.
Other Programmable Settings
Some cameras, perhaps without the real estate for dedicated function buttons, use a touchscreen display and often build in a programmable “quick menu” that lets you group popular functions for easier access.
Still others feature a ring around the lens that is programmable, depending on the specific camera, to adjust things like aperture, zoom, focus and focus peaking. Many photographers find this decidedly ‘retro’ approach very familiar.