Whys and Wherefores of a Tilting Viewfinder

Started Sep 27, 2013 | Discussions thread
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Joel Halbert Contributing Member • Posts: 701
Whys and Wherefores of a Tilting Viewfinder

There's a new spate of commentary about the GX7's tilting EVF (and also the tilt feature of accessory EVFs) prompted by the posted CameraStore video review - the reviewer doesn't hate it but just can't find a use for it.

My take is, I don't understand why so many people don't understand the tilting EVF. And I really don't understand why anyone would actively deride it, though some do (check out 43rumors on this topic; the discussion section is lately a magnet for juvenile arguments, although I still enjoy the site overall).

1. Tripods and other platforms: Some of the most important shooting I've done with my L1, G1, and G3 cameras has been event photography, mostly set up on a tripod at the back of an auditorium. Even fairly large tripods typically don't raise up high enough to stand comfortably and sight through a fixed viewfinder (on some, the center column cranked up can almost get there, but with loss of stability). Really tall and stable tripods are oversized, heavy and inconvenient with small to medium cameras. Why a tripod anyway? It's just the right way to set up and shoot these events over the duration of a full performance, even if shutter speed is set fast for stop-action.

So, the M43 cameras are a good match to good quality yet fairly light and portable tripods. Those usually are quite stable at about 4 to 5 feet, a height that is most comfortable if you look down into the camera instead of eyeing it straight from behind. Something between 45 and 90 degree tilt is perfect.

Of course there are many other legitimate occasions for tripod or table-top, chair-top, brick-wall-top or whatever-top camera placement.

2. Low-angle: If you never try low angle perspective for near-subject shots, I say you're missing some great shots, or at least some better shots than you've been taking. I wish the finder would also have been pivot-able to the left; that would have enabled low-angle vertical shots. Neither the tilt-EVF nor the tilt-screen

3. Tilt-screen alternative: Yes, you can use the tilt-screen for the cases mentioned above, but:

  • not if it's very sunny out (which it almost always is where I live),
  • not if you prefer to avoid attention in a crowd,
  • not if the bright screen (and/or your extended arms) would be obtrusive in a dark hall,
  • not if you really need to switch between reading glasses for the camera and no glasses for the subject, and
  • not if you simply prefer the immersive connection of the viewfinder experience.

(Basically, if you don't have use for the EVF over the screen in the first place, then OK but you should recuse yourself from the tilt-vs.-fixed EVF debate.)

Someone in another thread remarked that a tilted-up EVF is "about as confusing as using a TLR". For me it's much less confusing; most TLRs (and box cameras) had mirror+groundglass finders that reversed the image left to right, which certainly takes some getting used to. But I'd also agree that simply looking through an angled eyepiece, even without the reversal, is initially a little disorienting.

BTW regarding the GX7 screen, I would have preferred fully-articulated, but on the GX7 the hinge might be best moved to one corner to avoid interference with the EVF. I also look forward to trying the Live View on a phone or tablet via the app; that will open up some truly new possibilities.

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 Joel Halbert's gear list:Joel Halbert's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LF1 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 Panasonic Lumix G Vario 14-45mm F3.5-5.6 ASPH OIS Panasonic Lumix G Vario 7-14mm F4 ASPH +6 more
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7 Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1
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