Using camera gear with vision issues.

Aug 8, 2018
18
7
#1
I have started to post this thread a couple of times and held off because I was not sure how it would be received. I decided to post to this forum since I use Canon gear and have seen a few posts where people mention vision issues. There are a lot of ways that our society defines blindness, but I am going to use the US IRS definition for this exercise, basically 0 vision in one eye and 20/200 or worse in the second eye. I have been in this categothis definition of blindness since birth and I am over 60. You may ask "are there really blind photographers" and the answer is yes. There are blind photographers who have been published, work hung in museums, etc. The photography you find with a search for "blind photographers" will cover the gaunt from painstaking attempts to capture the world as "normals" to abstract representations of how the blind world appears to the photographer. I got into photography during college because it was fun, challenging and everyone told me it wasn't the right hobby for someone with my vision. I started with models, landscapes and of course moved to wildlife because it was more challenging. It helps that I spent a lot of my youth in the outdoors and developed a love of animals. I tend to adhere to the Walt Disney philosophy "if you can dream it, you can do it".

I believe most camera companies lag behind in using their shiny new cameras with computer processors to address accessibility. Almost every electronic device today has embraced some level of accommodation for sight, sound or mobility into their devices. What I would like to do is collect input and write a letter to Canon (I may even copy Nikon) to pass along some feedback. Sony and others may have already addressed some of these issues but I did not see it in the couple of Sony's and Panasonics that I owned. I have not investigated alternative DSLR's since I have used Canon for a large part of my photo life and didn't want to rock the boat. I am only trying to address the vision part of the accessibility issues today and have two questions:
  1. Do you have tricks, techniques, tools to help you work around DSLR limitations related to your vision
  2. What would you have vendors change about their current crop of camera to make it easier for vision impaired (or those loosing eyesight with aging) to better see, compose and capture images.
Here are some of my comments to the questions above (best way I can explain my vision is that I do not have depth perception and would need a 10-12 x binocular to see the subject at the same size as a person with 20/20 vision. Glasses only correct a slight blurriness which can be done with the camera diopter)
  1. Current workarounds (Coming from 1dxII & 5dIV)
    1. Zoom where function is provided, most beneficial with image review
    2. Partner with a non-photographer that knows your problem and can help with spotting wildlife and notices those electric lines in your beautiful landscape.
    3. Carry a magnifying glass on a cord around your neck for quick access to read a screen or setting
    4. Carry an 8x or 10x monocular for looking at scenics, wildlife etc. Anyone want to buy 1/2 a binocular since I only use one side?
    5. Use zoom lenses to zoom in on a subject and then back off for composition. This will let you get a good look at the subject before you shoot. I tried the external magnifiers and they are too dark and have limited field of view.
    6. Thoroughly know your camera and preprogram as much as possible so you are not changing individual settings. Use C1,C2, C3 to their full effect.
    7. Organize the camera bag where everything has a defined location.
    8. Setup the rear INFO screens to only display critical information you need to review/change your settings. Get rid of any fields you use on an infrequent basis. Use Custom Quick Control to build a custom INFO display if necessary.
    9. Turn off any viewfinder information you don't need or can't read. I can't ready any of the information in the viewfinder, so I turn off everything I can to eliminate distractions. I can see the AF point displays
    10. Use your cameras diopter adjustment if it will help you avoid having to use glasses while looking through the viewfinder.
    11. Stay away from the phrase "looks good as far as I can see" when the driver asked if the road is clear for a turn. Some blind guy humor!
  2. What I would like to change. Some of these may be easier/possible with the new mirrorles
    1. User configurable color, density and brightness for locked AF point displays on all cameras
    2. Brighter, longer lasting markings on all camera dials, buttons and information, etc.
    3. Mirrorless - Zoom button for the EVF that lets you do a user definable zoom 2x, 4x, etc. I wish it was possible to add a magnify switch for current DSLR design to magnify the DSLR OVF.
    4. Mirrorless - Bigger, brighter viewfinders without lag
    5. Bigger, brighter alignment marks for lenses and bodies. Maybe a raised area on the lens so you can feel the alignment point in dark conditions. I don't know brail, so it can be a simple raised line.
    6. User selectable fonts, font size, color and density (Bold).
    7. 2-3 background color options
    8. Higher resolution rear displays - brighter, sharper, etc OLED?
    9. Selectable audio prompt
I am going to stop with these and see what others might propose. I may not be raising an issue that affects most people, but I know a lot of baby boomers who are experiencing a loss of visual acuity. Photography gets in your blood and I know I want to continue my attempts to create art until I can no longer lift the camera.

Very interested in any feedback you may have on the two questions.
 

Maximilian

The dark side - I've been there
Nov 7, 2013
2,173
104
Germany
#2
Hi David!

Thank you very much for sharing your impressions an thoughts on photography with vision issues.
As I am not yet affected with these limitation (but surely will with higher age) I would like to thank you for generating an awareness on this topic.
I think it is important to think about this and maybe make the companies move doing changes on equipment, at least those that can be implemented in an easy and inexpensive way. Of course it would be better to achieve even more here.

Right now I have no ideas or proposes to add other than those you've already mentioned.
But I am starting to think about this and maybe I can add something here as well.

By the way:
I visited your homepage and I send you compliments for your work.
A lot of really, really impressing pictures - even for a "normal" photographer.
Much more impressing after reading the background on how you work on them.

Thank you for sharing.
 
Aug 8, 2018
18
7
#3
Thank you. I rarely mention the vision thing, but it has hit me over the last month that the camera companies are behind the curve in accessibility features that should be relatively simple software projects, assuming they have the memory and compute power. I think there is an assumption on their part that such a creative endeavor as photography would require a base set of physical capabilities.

Just thought of one more - Night vision mode which they have on the M5. It helps save your night vision if you are working on astro or other tasks in the dark. Should be on all of he cameras int he future.
 

martti

EOS Rebel SL2
May 11, 2014
688
8
21.1144° S, 55.5325° E
#4
What an interesting contribution! Thank you for sharing.
Just to remind that some great painters lost their eyesight –like Pierre Auguste Renoir, whose chaotic color world of the late work is said to be caused by cataracts. Beethoven was deaf. I cannot even say how much I admire people whose creativity overcomes the physical limitations.
BTW the idea of adding tactile recognition stickers on lenses, camera controls, etc. is a great one.
BTW 2: You are carrying an OLED device around all the time, you can use it to tether. A plus-size Android or iPhone already makes a difference, the Pods even better. An assistant comes in handy...
 

Don Haines

posting cat pictures on the internet since 1986
Jun 4, 2012
7,324
315
Canada
#5
my vision (without glasses) is 20/2000. ("sir, can you read the first line on the eyechart", "What eyechart?") Fortunately it can be corrected with glasses. Your list is good, particularly the parts about zooming.

The big problem that I have is condensation/frost on glasses in the winter.... other than that, I seem to be able to hold my own against my friends with normal vision.
 
Aug 8, 2018
18
7
#6
What an interesting contribution! Thank you for sharing.
Just to remind that some great painters lost their eyesight –like Pierre Auguste Renoir, whose chaotic color world of the late work is said to be caused by cataracts. Beethoven was deaf. I cannot even say how much I admire people whose creativity overcomes the physical limitations.
BTW the idea of adding tactile recognition stickers on lenses, camera controls, etc. is a great one.
BTW 2: You are carrying an OLED device around all the time, you can use it to tether. A plus-size Android or iPhone already makes a difference, the Pods even better. An assistant comes in handy...
It is interesting you bring up Renoir and the vibrant colors. I had cataracts at birth (congenital) on both eyes and a detached lens in the left. With vision in only one eye, I delayed cataract surgery until it had ripened (darken over time) to the point that it was like looking through two pairs of dark sunglasses - which I discovered when it was removed at age 46. As I looked around after the surgery, many things I saw as dull were actually very vibrant and colorful. I actually "encouraged" my wife to change some bright floral wallpaper in our bathroom (1990's style) once I saw how bright. My visual acuity after the surgery did not improve (your brain learns to "see" up to age 5), but the quality, clarity, and color interpretation of my vision improved significantly. I can understand how Renoir would tend to bold, vibrant colors if he had cataracts. The first time I walked in a grocery store with the bright lights and bold packaging I almost needed sunglasses.

I think tactile markings on dials and lens alignment would benefit anyone working in low light situations.

David
 
Aug 8, 2018
18
7
#7
my vision (without glasses) is 20/2000. ("sir, can you read the first line on the eyechart", "What eyechart?") Fortunately it can be corrected with glasses. Your list is good, particularly the parts about zooming.

The big problem that I have is condensation/frost on glasses in the winter.... other than that, I seem to be able to hold my own against my friends with normal vision.
If 20/2000 is not a typo, it makes me happy that mine is 20/200 even if it can't be corrected by glasses. I am not a skier, but I wonder if they have any sprays for goggles that might help. I moved to zooms years ago once they improved to a reasonable IQ. The glass is so good now that I don't worry about using a 24-70 f2.8 L II for landscapes instead of primes. The zoom lets me pull into an image and then back off for a wider perspective. For wildlife, I love my 200-400 f4 L IS w/1.4 because I can flip the switch and get an immediate 1.6x "zoom" without having to use the zoom ring. I also carry an 8x monocular around my neck so that I can pop up and get a better look. Once I find a subject in the viewfinder, I don't think my vision really matters. As with you, I can hold my own with most photographers that have 20/20 vision with the exception of spotting animals when they have erratic movement. I started shooting birds in Africa (fun) with the help of our guide and friends that are birders.

David
 
Aug 8, 2018
18
7
#8
What an interesting contribution! Thank you for sharing.
Just to remind that some great painters lost their eyesight –like Pierre Auguste Renoir, whose chaotic color world of the late work is said to be caused by cataracts. Beethoven was deaf. I cannot even say how much I admire people whose creativity overcomes the physical limitations.
BTW the idea of adding tactile recognition stickers on lenses, camera controls, etc. is a great one.
BTW 2: You are carrying an OLED device around all the time, you can use it to tether. A plus-size Android or iPhone already makes a difference, the Pods even better. An assistant comes in handy...
I should have added on BTW 2: I have tried using external monitors, but once I find a subject in a viewfinder I am usually good to go. With wildlife, you also don't have a lot of time to move between devices. I will eventually focus more on wildlife and using an external monitor/iphone/ipad. My wife is usually my spotter.
 

Don Haines

posting cat pictures on the internet since 1986
Jun 4, 2012
7,324
315
Canada
#10
If 20/2000 is not a typo, it makes me happy that mine is 20/200 even if it can't be corrected by glasses. I am not a skier, but I wonder if they have any sprays for goggles that might help. I moved to zooms years ago once they improved to a reasonable IQ. The glass is so good now that I don't worry about using a 24-70 f2.8 L II for landscapes instead of primes. The zoom lets me pull into an image and then back off for a wider perspective. For wildlife, I love my 200-400 f4 L IS w/1.4 because I can flip the switch and get an immediate 1.6x "zoom" without having to use the zoom ring. I also carry an 8x monocular around my neck so that I can pop up and get a better look. Once I find a subject in the viewfinder, I don't think my vision really matters. As with you, I can hold my own with most photographers that have 20/20 vision with the exception of spotting animals when they have erratic movement. I started shooting birds in Africa (fun) with the help of our guide and friends that are birders.

David
Unfortunately it is not a typo..... one eye takes 8 diopters of correction, the other 8.25....
 
Aug 8, 2018
18
7
#11
Unfortunately it is not a typo..... one eye takes 8 diopters of correction, the other 8.25....
Can I ask what your vision is with correction? That is a massive diopter change. Maybe increased diopter range should go on the list as an enhancement. I have never needed/benefited from much diopter adjustment, but my max vision is 20/200 unless I use a 3x telescopic unit for distance. I can usually muddle through without glasses, but occasionally need a magnifying glass to read a setting. I loved your comment about the eye chart, nice to know there is someone else with "blind guy humor". Let me know if you come up with anything else that helps you in the field. I am going to drop a note to Cannon even though I doubt it will have much impact.

I rely more on a monocular when I want to look at something in the distance.
 

Don Haines

posting cat pictures on the internet since 1986
Jun 4, 2012
7,324
315
Canada
#12
Can I ask what your vision is with correction? That is a massive diopter change. Maybe increased diopter range should go on the list as an enhancement. I have never needed/benefited from much diopter adjustment, but my max vision is 20/200 unless I use a 3x telescopic unit for distance. I can usually muddle through without glasses, but occasionally need a magnifying glass to read a setting. I loved your comment about the eye chart, nice to know there is someone else with "blind guy humor". Let me know if you come up with anything else that helps you in the field. I am going to drop a note to Cannon even though I doubt it will have much impact.

I rely more on a monocular when I want to look at something in the distance.
It is corrected to 20/20.... but i do find it funny that quite often the blind guy is leading the trip....
 
Aug 8, 2018
18
7
#13
Glad to hear they can make that significant a correction and get you to 20/20. Blind guys leading is so true in all aspects of life! A family friend had a 4,000 cattle ranch and I spent most weekends and summer as a kid with cutting horses, hunting dogs and cattle. In addition, even with my vision I was a dead shot on quail, duck and pheasant - I couldn't bring myself to shoot Bambi. Other than a couple of pros that I have traveled with, I find that I have more woods and animal knowledge than most people I encounter in photography. I think having a vision issues causes you to be more alert and aware of your surroundings. I traveled extensively throughout my corporate career and always found that I was more aware of situations and locations than most. I actually preferred to travel alone because it was quicker and I had to rely on my awareness rather than others. I was a technologist in one of my prior careers, so the digital photography comes naturally for me and I don't have to think about camera settings. I usually end up helping others with gear.

Send me an email at david@anglinphotos.com if you ever want to chat about the in/outs of photography for "blind guys".
 

Mt Spokane Photography

Spends too much time on this forum
Mar 25, 2011
14,749
231
#14
While I've struggled with vision, I had cataract surgery that greatly improved it. 20/2000 is pretty serious, I think that even being able to compose a photo would be a difficult issue, but it depends on the underlying reason for the poor vision. My father had macular degeneration, nothing to be done for that, we tried lots of things, but in the end, he could recognize large shapes at best.

Dual pixel autofocus and live view will get you a sharp image, particularly if you can see to touch the subject. You can greatly magnify the image on the LCD which helps except in bright ambient light.(a shade helps with that)

A electronic viewfinder where brightness can be adjusted, and the image magnified should be a big improvement, but try first, all EVF's are not created equal.