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Did you know? Cameras are made for right-handed people.

Right-handed people like myself may have never even thought about what it’s like for a left-handed person to use a camera. But look around. When was the last time you saw a camera with the shutter button on the left? Most of the controls are on the right side. Think about what it would be like. Imagine cradling the camera and lens with the other hand. It’s awkward just to think about it. And yet, for left-handed folks, it’s a fact of life.

You will find no left-handed cameras from Nikon or Canon except possibly the mythical left-handed F100. I suppose a lefty could turn the camera over and operate it with his left thumb, but oh, the indignity! And don’t even think about trying to use an on-camera flash that way. Choices are limited, to say the least.

It’s a right-handed world.

So, to all of you left-handed photographers out there: I admire your grit, your determination in the face of adversity. It’s one more obstacle to be overcome in the making of a beautiful image. One more arrow to suffer in the pursuit of your craft. Lefty photographers, I salute you.

…even though you’re a little weird. ;)

John Watson

John is the original founder of Photodoto, but after running it for 4 years he had to focus on different things. If you’re interested in what John has been up to recently, you can check is personal blog or browse his photo blog.

  • Well, I can report from the other side: my first SLR was a left handed model! An Ihagee EXA 500. In GDR times we took what was available and when my father got the camera, they just had the left handed version…

    It’s much more natural for me to use a right handed one and I can’t image what it would feel like to use a modern camera switch around. With all these buttons and dials to use. On the EXA 500 there were almost no controls at all.

  • I’m a lefty, and yes, I’ve noticed. In fact, I’m convinced that all this right-handed stuff is the reason lefties die younger than righties–sheer frustration. However, the good news is that I’m also left-eyed, so the viewfinder suits me to a T!

  • Leigh

    Interesting piece. I’m a leftie too, but I’ve gotten so used to everything being right-handed, I don’t even give it a second thought.

  • Sigsegv

    It’s not that bad. I’m a lefty and you get used to having to use things flipped around. My biggest complaint is about nice “ergonomic” mice. For the longest time, I used the mouse with my left hand, but I could never find a really nice mouse. Eventually, I just taught myself to use the mouse in my right hand and be done with it. (Turns out, it’s better that way as I can not mouse around an application and write at the same time.)

    Overall, I think lefties aren’t as crippled by having to use their right hands are righties are using their left. It’s just something we’ve had to do so much that it’s not that bad. (Although, there is usually some grumbling involved.)

    Actually, I think it’s probably better that the shutter is on the right. All the right hand has to do is hold the camera and press the shutter. Maybe my right thumb has to press a button or spin a wheel on my 20D, but that’s about it. My left, on the other hand — heh ;) — needs to work the zoom and focus rings (which can sometimes be pretty sensitive — find the AF/MF switch, and DOF preview button (yes, I do use it). I think it’s better for my more dexterous hand to be the one doing it. (Similar argument is for guitar playing.)

    -sig

  • I’ve never even thought about it either….and I’m lefthanded!

  • Kevin Ludwig

    I use to be right handed until I lost my hand. It is very hard for me to use a right handed camera. So those of you who who want to make fun of left handed people should try to use a right handed camera with only their left hand.

  • Nicholas Lindan

    The Exakta cameras are considered ‘left handed’: the wind lever and the shutter release are operated by the left hand.

    This is a misconception as this left-handed camera was specifically designed for right-handers: Exakta was the only company to make a serious study of what side to put the release and wind lever. They found the right hand was able to hold the camera steadier, better at supporting the weight, especially with long lenses, and was better suited to focusing the camera accurately and quickly. Pushing the shutter button and stroking the advance lever take no dexterity and were relegated to the left hand.

    I find supporting and focusing a monster lens with my left hand to be, literally, a pain.

    As Sigsev mentions, all modern cameras are really best suited for left-handed photographers.

    It is the rest of us that should be bitching about the lack of cameras for right-handed people.

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