Accessory Ports

My Things Systems Need articles provoked a couple of comments about statements that I made, in particular the design of the very non-standard Sony accessory port.

When you design a port and accessories for it, you need to get two things right: (1) design of the port itself; and (2) design of the accessories. Because the mirrorless cameras succeed partially because of their smallness, size is one of the elements that comes into play. 

While Sony doesn't add size to the camera with their NEX accessory port, they add inconvenience. If you've ever had to switch from one accessory (say EVF) to another (say flash) quickly, you'll be swearing at the design of the accessory port (#1). On the other hand, the accessories are compact and useful, so Sony got #2 right. (I should also point out that Sony's design has a critical flaw: impact against an accessory will likely break the accessory port and/or the connection on the accessory itself, where the hot-shoe+ type ports will just likely let the accessory slide out without damage in many situations.)

Nikon, on the other hand, failed at both #1 and #2. The best example of that is the ME-1 microphone on the V1. Not only do you need a dummy hot shoe to plug into the accessory slot, but the microphone is big and requires plugging in via a too-long cable to a connector on the side of the camera. The accessory port design is wrong, some of the accessories themselves are designed wrong. 

Compare that to the Olympus SEMA-1 microphone. Fits nicely into the standard hot shoe (+1 for #1), is adaptable (can use different mics, so a +1 for #2), is small and convenient (+1 for both). Now compare the same task on the Olympus as on the Sony: remove the EVF and plug in the flash. The Olympus wins hands down. Simpler, faster, no frustration.

So I'll stick by my comments. Good expanded standards design is good design. Bad, proprietary design is bad design.    

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