Leica XV: Magnificent IQ but D-Pad with a mind of its own
D-pads on many cameras have a life of their own and I sometimes wonder why a better idea hasn't been found. They lurk under the ball of the thumb and perform unwanted tasks and adjustments when you least expect them. The problem is common to many mirrorless cameras, including those from Sony, Fuji and Leica compacts. With some it is possible to disable the buttons of the D-pad, especially the top and right-hand controls which are most vulnerable. I performed this surgery on the new Fuji X-T10 as soon as it left its box. Here is another trigger happy little D-pad, but the ability to disable the buttons is welcome.
Leica compacts, such as the X and the X Vario, present a greater challenge. The X Vario has one of the most trigger happy and capricious direction pads in captivity. Frustratingly, there is no menu option to disable these annoying controls.
My Australian friend John Shingleton of The Rolling Road had confirmation of this aberration last weekend when he grabbed some impressive shots at the Shannons Classic 2015 meeting at Sydney Motorsport Park.
John is an aficionado of the five-year-old X1, as he has written about on MacFilos. He also bought an X Vario for greater focal-length versatility and for its magnificent image quality, although it isn't quite the daily companion that he hoped. He did discover that the D-Pad on the XV irritates big time and the weekend only confirmed his first impressions. On the Shannons Classic outing he lost count of the times he inadvertantly triggered delayed action or exposure compensation. It's a problem all X Vario owners complain about whenever the camera comes up in conversation.
We have both tried workarounds such as using a leather half case or, even, a thumb grip but nothing can keep the ball of the right thumb away from that wayward hooligan pad.
Another reader, John Nicholson, believes that it should be possible to create an accessory that protects the D-pad and physically keeps the ball of the thumb at bay.
His first prototype is a little inelegant as he readily admits. It's purely a quick and dirty mockup. But, he reports, it does the trick in keeping that D-Pad in check. Bodgers of the world will love it as it is, but there is a germ of an idea here. Something like a designer stick-on corn plaster is needed and, if John N's evidence is anything to go by, it could work.