A Pro's opinion of EVF vs OVF

Started May 30, 2013 | Discussions thread
chlamchowder Senior Member • Posts: 2,083
Why the writing's not on the wall (and the new link)


Here's where it's at now (the old link is no longer active): http://visualsciencelab.blogspot.com/2013/05/i-think-writing-is-on-wall-future-is.html

But anyways, I disagree with him for several reasons.

  • "sensors that have phase detection auto focus elements" - everything on a sensor takes up space, and every bit of the sensor devoted to phase detection AF isn't collecting light for the final image. Look at the a99 vs. the D600 for example on DxOMark. You'd expect the a99 to be 1/2 of a stop behind because of the translucent mirror (following the trend with the a55/57 vs. the a580/D7000/K-5), but it's further behind than that. Simply put, with the traditional moving mirror, the imaging sensor can be devoted entirely to capturing light for the final image without losing light for autofocus functions.
  • "While Olympus took a hit from their existing customer base with the (non) announcement that they would be abandoning the whole reflex viewing system to go EVF and LCD they really didn't have much of a choice." - Like Sony, Olympus's traditional DSLR lineup had trouble competing with Nikon and Canon, particularly with high end models. Olympus (and Sony) were lagging behind in terms of speed, responsiveness, autofocus performance/flexibility, OVF technology, and high ISO performance. It's not that there was writing on the wall. It was that Olympus probably felt they couldn't catch up and were compelled to take another route
  • "And the EVF provides the feedback loop and real time information to make better images." - Sort of. Colors are inaccurate. Exposure feedback is inaccurate. You're only seeing a rough representation of a camera-generated JPG, meaning that it's not showing all the data the sensor is actually recording. Check out http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/cameras/why_i_hate_evfs.shtml. And if you really want accurate exposure, I suggest AE lock + spot metering. I guess it might be useful for beginners messing with manual mode, trying to figure out how shutter speed/aperture/ISO affect exposure, but they're not going to need that handholding after a few weeks anyways.
    It's also wrong to imply that such capability (rough exposure preview) can't exist in traditional DSLRs. We've seen it with live view already, and no EVF I've looked through is as clear and color accurate as back LCDs (which aren't that clear or color accurate anyways).
  • "Remember the first time you used a digital camera with a decent LCD on the back? It changed the way you shoot whether you want to admit it or not." - One key difference is that image review never removed any existing options. Nothing forces you to review images, which slows you down and drains battery power. In fact, I find auto image review extremely annoying, especially when photographing fast action. I keep it turned off, and only review images during breaks. 
    With an EVF (and no OVF), you are being forced to waste battery power, and being forced to slow down regardless of whether you want what an EVF offers (I've never seen an EVF camera that's as responsive as an OVF one, and that includes the a99 and V1. Simply put, the recovery time from taking a shot with an EVF camera is far higher than the blackout time with an OVF camera). And the 'live view' point again: a traditional DSLR gives you an electronic preview when you want it, and an optical one when you don't.
  • "the exposure, the color balance and even image styles and see them as they WILL be recorded before you push the shutter button" - already outdated with the invention of good raw converters that let you tweak all that without wasting time in the field.
  • "It's all about the convergence of costs savings and technology." - No, it's all about cost savings, and space savings to a lesser extent. Mirrorless cameras don't completely replace DSLRs. They offer a different feature set for those who don't need the advantages DSLRs offer.

Talented, experienced, articulate professional photographer with an interesting, and convincing to me, opinion of mirrored vs. mirrorless cameras and their future.

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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

 chlamchowder's gear list:chlamchowder's gear list
Sony Alpha DSLR-A580 Nikon D600 Sony DT 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 SAM +8 more
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