A Pro's opinion of EVF vs OVF

Started May 30, 2013 | Discussions thread
WD
WD
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Re: Why the writing's not on the wall (and the new link)
In reply to photoreddi, Jun 1, 2013

photoreddi wrote:

chlamchowder wrote:

...

After using SLRs for 50 years, currently invested in Nikon DX and waiting for the D400, I bought a Nikon 1 V1.  Using it for the past 5 months has brought me to the same conclusion.

I'm hoping Nikon's next major introduction is a DX competitor to the NEX with improved V1 focusing speed and EVF.  That camera could be a smash hit and a huge game changer, IMHO.

  • Focusing speed is not the only factor in how a camera performs for action. The recovery time from a shot and viewfinder responsiveness, for example, also play a role. Like it or not, having light from the subject travel a few more centimeters is faster than waiting for light to expose the sensor, reading data out from the sensor, de-bayering it, sending it to the EVF, and waiting for the EVF to refresh.

Like it or not, the EVF doesn't have to approach the speed of an OVF. It only has to be fast enough so that its delay is imperceptible, faster than the human eye, brain and their chemical pathways. In a couple of years much faster, less expensive EVFs should be available. One DSLR delay that won't get much shorter after those years is the inter-frame blackout due to the mechanical limitations of the mirror.

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  • Most people testing the V1 have been using the 30-110 and 10-100 telephoto lenses. At the long end, both lenses have a maximum aperture of f/5.6. The 2.7x crop factor means that 110mm f/5.6 is almost like 300mm f/16 on a full frame camera (110 * 1.4 * 2, losing 3 stops of aperture). With that kind of DOF, the AF system would have to be complete garbage to miss focus. When they can mount a 110mm f/1.0 on a V1, which would be equivalent to a 300/2.8 on full frame, and prove that it still tracks reliably, then it gets interesting.

Smaller sensor cameras may have a DoF advantage, but it doesn't help or hinder AF accuracy. The PD AF sensors act as mini-rangefinders, and in Nikon's DSLRs they use the f/5.6 part of the lens, so f/2.8 lenses don't necessarily focus any more accurately. They may (or may not) focus more quickly, but that's due to a completely different part of the lens design, including mechanical, electronic and algorithmic differences. The AF accuracy is what it is, evaluated at the subject's distance from the camera, not at any distance between an artificial DoF's near limit and far limit. With your V1 vs FF examples at f/5.6 and f/16, the DoF at 30 ft. is a bit under 3 feet for both cameras. The FF camera will focus just as accurately (ignoring the effects of the lens's aperture based focus shift), whether it's shooting at f/2.8 or f/16.

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  • The EVF brings a lot of disadvantages, like poor responsiveness and high power consumption (as mentioned above). 

In summary, no, it's not hanging on to tradition. It's that the traditional DSLR design still does a better job in many respects.

EVFs have some disadvantages but so do OVFs. What we do know is that OVFs have for all practical purposes reached the point that they can't be expected to be significantly improved. EVF will keep on improving and just as digital cameras eventually displaced film cameras, EVFs will eventually replace OVFs in all but the cheapest cameras, and even those will eventually fade away. To think otherwise would be just as mistaken as those that loudly shouted not too long ago that film SLRs would never be supplanted by digital cameras.

In reply to both of you: Thanks, Clamchowder, for posting the new link to Kirk Tuck's article which I couldn't find.  And, thank you for your insightful opinion which I know is shared by many others regarding OVFs. You are right about their advantages.  In a discussion such as this, how each one of us values certain attributes of OVF vs EVF shapes their opinion.

Photoreddi, your counter post is also expressive of my own opinion regarding EVFs.  Currently, they don't yet have the speed to allow fast tracking of moving objects nor do they have instant review - an irritation with the V1.  (But, there is a workaround which can somewhat minimize the delay, but not nearly match a dSLR.)  I feel that will improve quickly.  As to color accuracy of the EVF, I really don't care.  With any new camera I get, I shoot hundreds of test shots until I know how the exposure/color response works and I shoot RAW which allows me to make any small (and sometimes large!) modifications if needed.  For me, the EVF is for framing and choosing focus point.  My eyes see the color and set the WB and exposure compensation based on what I know the camera will do, then frame, focus and shoot.   What I truly love about the V1, aside from the silent electronic shutter, focus speed and accuracy, 1/16,000 shutter speed, and 10fps is the compactness which an EVF allows.  That matters to me, which of course is personal preference.

An additional comment regarding V1 focusing:  I've got the FT-1 adaptor which allows AF with FF and DX AF-S lenses.  Using the 70-300VR Nikon lens WITH a Sigma 1.4 tele-converter on both my D300 and V1 and shooting distant objects at 300mm, the V1 produces center crops significantly sharper than the D300.  The 2.7x vs 1.5x magnification ratio contributes of course, but to produce the sharpness the V1 exhibits the focus must be dead-nuts...and it is.  With the Sigma 150 macro and converter the result is the same....tack sharp focus.

I'm not here to bad-mouth dSLRs.  I have them, use them, and will continue to do so.  I simply agree with Kirk Tuck: I think EVFs will soon displace OVFs for many, and maybe most photographers.  I'm a Nikon guy and would like Nikon to produce a DX D300 type EVF camera to accompany my current kit.  If it was no better than the V1, I'd still want one!

Regards to all,

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Warren

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