Anyone have VF-3?

Started Sep 12, 2011 | Discussions thread
Helen Veteran Member • Posts: 7,606
My VF-3 versus VF-2 comparison, for what it's worth...

Since I now have both a VF-3 and a VF-2, I thought it might be helpful to give my opinions of them. Obviously it's subjective, since even an assessment of the performance of the EVFs is influenced by one's eyesight and visual perception.

The differences in spec are quite well-known - the new VF-3 is a shade smaller and lighter, has a locking mechanism, and is 922k dots in resolution versus the 1.44M dot resolution of the VF-2. The VF-2's image magnification is 1.15x versus the VF-3's 1.00x, and the VF-2 has a slightly longer eyepoint of 18mm versus 17.4mm on the VF-3. In other words, the larger, older VF-2 has higher resolution, a bigger image and can be used with the eye a little further from the eyepiece. See my comments below the relevant picture. Apologies for the quick and somewhat careless shots!

I've included some quick side-by-side shots for physical/size comparison, since my VF-2 is the less common silver version, so perhaps that gets around the black version looking so different from the silver-only VF-3. The VF-2 is the slightly more matte, champagne silver of the original, L and II silver versions of the 14-42 lenses, whilst the VF-3 is the shinier, cooler-toned silver of the new IIR version of the 14-42 when supplied in silver - so finish-wise, it's a better match for the E-PL3 and E-PM1, whilst the VF-2 actually matches the body colour of the "silver" E-P3 more closely (and the E-PL1). But obviously that's a fairly minor point. The colour differences don't show in all the shots below.

As can perhaps be seen above, the size difference between the two isn't that significant; neither is the weight difference. The VF-2 is slightly the larger and heavier, but if saving weight was very important to you, I doubt you'd be able to tell the difference by going for the VF-3.

The big dioptric correction dial on the side of the VF-3 is lightly click-stopped and very easy to alter intentionally or by accident, but as somebody mentioned, it's also easy to correct. At least on my VF-2, its smooth eyepiece rotation dioptric correction is quite firm and not prone to accidental alteration, but easy enough to change if required. I don't know if it gets too loose if altered frequently.

You can also see the unlock button of the VF-3 which is of course absent on the earlier VF-2; very important to people who either fear losing the EVF or have already accidentally knocked it off the camera. Some camera/VF-2 combinations seem (from what I hear) to have differing amounts of friction in the the fit, mine is pretty firm on my cameras.

Above, you can see the colour finish difference. More importantly, note the difference in the eyepieces. This affects the useability a lot, I think. The VF-2's large, circular eyepiece glass is very close to the eyepiece frame, which is why the alternative large EP-9 eyecup is marketed for it, for additional shading outdoors if required (I don't have the EP-9 but haven't used the VF-2 in strong sun as I live in the UK(!)). The VF-3's eyepiece is deeply recessed (and moves on dioptric correction, whereas the optics of the VF-2 seem to adjust internally, so it may be better dust-sealed than the VF-3). The VF-3 eyepiece is probably better shaded from sunlight due to being smaller and recessed - and no alternative eyecup is available (yet?).

To me, the difference in the image size and eyepoint seems larger than on paper, the resolution difference less so. I can only just make out the dots on the VF-3 and cannot at all on the VF-2 due to its finer pitch, but the difference is not too pronounced. Both seem to show magnified images well - the VF-2 is the best, but the VF-3 does better than I expected. The VF-2 uses Epson's Ultimicron LCD system (which Epson seem very proud of ) - I think the VF-3 is probably more conventional but it is not the sequential-field type of LCD which Panasonic uses in its built in EVFs (and even the separate little, low res LVF-1 for the GF1 and GF2), so like the VF-2 it never shows any "rainbow flicker" around graphics superimposed on the display when you blink, move your eye fast, or pan the camera rapidly. I'd say the VF-3's contrast seems a bit more harsh than the VF-2; but one oddity of the VF-2 is the slightly "overblown" blue response (strong blues look super-powerful) and this seems a bit more normal on the VF-3. However, the VF-2's image looks considerably larger than the VF-3's, and yet the higher eyepoint of the VF-2 means that when wearing glasses, it is nevertheless far easier to see the VF-2's huge image right to the edges than it is the VF-3's smaller one. I have always been impressed by the eyepiece optics of the VF-2 and the VF-3 really emphasises the difference - I believe the VF-2 has really high-quality (all glass?) optics there, whilst the VF-3 seems much more average - if you view off the perfect angle, there is distortion around the edges of the image and blurring with the VF-3, as with Panasonic EVFs (and any other brand in this class, though of course I haven't seen the new Sony OLED EVF yet and nor have I ever seen Ricoh's GXR EVF), whereas the VF-2 remains undistorted and sharp. Very impressive.

Stylistically, it's a matter of taste. The VF-3 might look a bit more streamlined and "modern", though the dioptre side is fussier. For me, the VF-2 is the best to use, but the VF-3 is at least 75% as good, and far superior to the Panasonic LVF-1, if anybody wonders how it compares to that. I haven't so far had the opportunity to compare any further, e.g. if there's an obvious refresh rate difference between the two Olympus units, but I hope this epic ramble provides helpful somehow!!

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