From an SLR lover: one EVIL lust

Started Jun 2, 2010 | Discussions
antoineb Veteran Member • Posts: 6,624
Already exists: call a screen / display

I tried photographing with my old film SLR a few months ago, and sure enough it does work. But even on this "full frame" camera whose viewfinder is a good deal brighter than current "full frame" DSLR's and thus a zillion times brighter than on any of the APS-C DLSRs, I found it so disagreeable to have to glue my eye to the camera!

The future already exists, in the form of the display at the back of the camera, with live view, on any compact camera out there, plus a few ILC's out there.

It may be that, as you say, the day comes when the electronic viewfinders are as good as, or even better than, current optical ones. But maybe by then no one will care apart from a few niche users.

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Lee Jay Forum Pro • Posts: 52,697
Re: Already exists: call a screen / display

antoineb wrote:

I found it so disagreeable to have to glue my eye to the camera!

Why? I find it equally disagreeable to have to not glue my eye to the camera. Especially with a large-ish lens, holding it out at arms length is a huge nightmare. I have a Rebel T2i with a 100-400L. Holding it against my eye with the OVF is doable all-day. Holding it at arms length with live view is doable for a few seconds at most, and almost useless for framing.

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OP johnnyz86 Contributing Member • Posts: 956
Re: From an SLR lover: one EVIL lust

ljfinger wrote:

johnnyz86 wrote:

30 frames per second is more frames than a movie gets. Unless you think movies are unacceptably choppy and laggy, well, then I don't know what to say. Do you get what I am saying now?

Yes. I know you aren't getting this. Don't worry, most people don't. I'll try again.

Believe me, I understand what you're saying. I will concede that the my video analogy is not appropriate, and as you suggest, a video game analogy is better suited for the feedback system.

24fps = barely acceptable "choppiness".
10ms = barely acceptable "lag" (2ms is better).

Perhaps for you.

Do you get that frame rate provides a lower limit on lag, but acceptable lag is not the reciprocal of acceptable frame rate?

Acceptable video frame rate for gaming - 30-60fps

I used to play first person shooters and other fast-paced games at 30 frames per second and was just fine. Yes, dropping below that does become an issue.

Logitech gaming mouse - up to 1000 reports per second

What relevance is the gaming mouse?

Your hands are still moving the camera at an an effective infinite reports per second with no input lag. Feedback is shown to you on the screen just like onto a monitor with the same 33ms lag.

In the gaming case, there is the a variable of input lag which is quite perceptively annoying.

Get it? Looking smooth isn't the same as "feeling" responsive.

I think we just have different standards.

If you don't, learn about what small amounts of "lag" do to "phase margin" in a feedback loop, and why doing that is "bad".

Thanks for the refresher on my analog signal studies, but I don't think this is a valid comparison. The photographer will not start oscillating uncontrollably as their brains usually adapt quite well.

Anyways, we're arguing as to how low EVF's can go. We can agree to disagree on the lag point, but I will still uphold the idea that EVFs will be effective at a lower light.

Here are my tests in a room without lights on, but with lights on in adjacent rooms. It was difficult for me to manual focus (although it is still easy to track moving objects) on my K-x with my 1.35x magnifier and light-blocking eye-cup, which basically looks like this:

I consider myself at an advantage with those accessories, nevertheless, here are some shots that were increasingly underexposed and shot with pushed EV. I will give equivalent ISOs, starting 5ms (1/200) and f/2:

ISO 25600 1/200:

ISO 51200 1/400:

ISO 102400 1/800:

ISO 204800 1/1600:

Aside from 204800 being pretty useless, I want to emphasize that the only editing on these RAWs were +exposure, resize, denoise, save. No sharpening, no brightness/levels, contrast, etc. Those would probably make it even easier to discern focus, although many would complain about the further departure from WYSIWYG, where I have mixed feelings. At this level of light, what you see will not be what you get anyway. With everything else, EVF will be closer to WYSIWYG.

Also, the EVF pixels can be as big or small and as bright or dark as the manufacturer wants. Not all of us can take advantage of the effectively high resolution yet small pixel pitch of an optical viewfinder.

Regardless of this point, the main advantages of an EVF that I lust after are bigger and brighter viewfinders, not necessarily better low-light performance.

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OP johnnyz86 Contributing Member • Posts: 956
Re: From an SLR lover: one EVIL lust

I should note the purpose of the pictures. The first picture has 1/200 or 5ms, which is very acceptable. At this point is getting difficult to MF. Yet 5ms response times can be held for 4 times less light while being acceptable (second to last picture)

If you are okay with 20ms or an effective 50 frames per second when playing video games, it is good with 16 times less light than where I had difficulty MF.

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OP johnnyz86 Contributing Member • Posts: 956
Re: From an SLR lover: one EVIL lust

If it wasn't clear, these statements were made on the conclusion that the images were brighter on my laptop (with default settings) than looking through the viewfinder.

Lastly, some differences with an EVF to note. Unlike your eyes, it will clip highlights, making it closer to WYSIWYG, unless you do highlight compression with multiple exposures. If you do it with a single RAW file, the EVF could do it as well.

Downside is all this processing and bright LCDs will probably take more battery life, which will improve anyway. Yes, this all can't happen tomorrow.

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Lee Jay Forum Pro • Posts: 52,697
Re: From an SLR lover: one EVIL lust

johnnyz86 wrote:

What relevance is the gaming mouse?

It's lag is part of the feedback loop between hand and eye. On a camera with an OVF, that lag is zero. On a camera with an EVF, the lag is all lumped into the EVF lag. Doesn't matter where the lag is, lag is lag, and lag is bad when tracking fast-moving subjects. In the video game, the mouse is a big part of the lag unless it's very fast.

Your hands are still moving the camera at an an effective infinite reports per second with no input lag. Feedback is shown to you on the screen just like onto a monitor with the same 33ms lag.

Or zero lag with an OVF. And 33ms is for 30fps, which is slow - fast enough to look smooth, not fast enough to "feel" smooth.

Thanks for the refresher on my analog signal studies, but I don't think this is a valid comparison. The photographer will not start oscillating uncontrollably as their brains usually adapt quite well.

Sadly, not so. I've gone into this in much detail before, but the bottom line is tracking a fast-moving subject with something like a video camera requires very loose framing because of the viewfinder lag, while the same person can do far tighter framing with the same subject when using an OVF preciesely because of the lack of viewfinder lag.

Anyways, we're arguing as to how low EVF's can go. We can agree to disagree on the lag point, but I will still uphold the idea that EVFs will be effective at a lower light.

If they have ultra-fast lenses and large, ultra-fast sensors, not 4/3 sensors and slow kit-zooms.

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Lee Jay Forum Pro • Posts: 52,697
Re: From an SLR lover: one EVIL lust

johnnyz86 wrote:

If it wasn't clear, these statements were made on the conclusion that the images were brighter on my laptop (with default settings) than looking through the viewfinder.

Well, I don't know what you're doing, but in order to see in the image what I could see through the viewfinder in a dark room, I needed an ISO 3200, f4 exposure for 30 seconds. In with the room with me was my baby daughter, walking around and playing. I could see her clearly. The LCD on my pocket camera at f2.8 and ISO 3200 was totally black even at ten times that light level.

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OP johnnyz86 Contributing Member • Posts: 956
Re: From an SLR lover: one EVIL lust

ljfinger wrote:

johnnyz86 wrote:

What relevance is the gaming mouse?

It's lag is part of the feedback loop between hand and eye. On a camera with an OVF, that lag is zero. On a camera with an EVF, the lag is all lumped into the EVF lag. Doesn't matter where the lag is, lag is lag, and lag is bad when tracking fast-moving subjects. In the video game, the mouse is a big part of the lag unless it's very fast.

Your hands are still moving the camera at an an effective infinite reports per second with no input lag. Feedback is shown to you on the screen just like onto a monitor with the same 33ms lag.

Or zero lag with an OVF. And 33ms is for 30fps, which is slow - fast enough to look smooth, not fast enough to "feel" smooth.

Again, I've played games with a minimum of 33ms (more with input lag) and for me, that is fine. Heck, tons of consoles games have worse frame delays than this.

Thanks for the refresher on my analog signal studies, but I don't think this is a valid comparison. The photographer will not start oscillating uncontrollably as their brains usually adapt quite well.

Sadly, not so. I've gone into this in much detail before, but the bottom line is tracking a fast-moving subject with something like a video camera requires very loose framing because of the viewfinder lag, while the same person can do far tighter framing with the same subject when using an OVF preciesely because of the lack of viewfinder lag.

And what exactly is the frame delay on a video camera that you have used? I'm sure its significantly worse than 33ms.

Anyways, we're arguing as to how low EVF's can go. We can agree to disagree on the lag point, but I will still uphold the idea that EVFs will be effective at a lower light.

If they have ultra-fast lenses and large, ultra-fast sensors, not 4/3 sensors and slow kit-zooms.

I said nothing about 4/3 sensors (in fact I despise them due to DoF control), so I'd like to see a APS-C. In fact, I imagine without the mirror, a APS-C DSLR sized camera can easily fit a 35mm sensor, and then the EVF performance in low light goes up a stop or 2 or whatever the advantage is.

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Lee Jay
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ljfinger wrote:

johnnyz86 wrote:

If it wasn't clear, these statements were made on the conclusion that the images were brighter on my laptop (with default settings) than looking through the viewfinder.

Well, I don't know what you're doing, but in order to see in the image what I could see through the viewfinder in a dark room, I needed an ISO 3200, f4 exposure for 30 seconds. In with the room with me was my baby daughter, walking around and playing. I could see her clearly. The LCD on my pocket camera at f2.8 and ISO 3200 was totally black even at ten times that light level.

Fair enough, you have some amazing vision, and you should never give up your OVF. I took this picture at ISO 3200, f4, 30s lit only by the LEDs on the mouse, laptop, and networking equipment:

I could hardly see sitting in the room for 5 minutes, much less through a viewfinder. When I take pictures of moving objects at this light level, I have to use a flashlight or flash assist to even track something.

For those that are wondering, at this light, in order to get 33ms at f4, we'd need an ISO of 2880000, so an EVF would perform pretty bad without an assist light.

Still, I'd trade that ability for bigger and brighter viewfinders. If stuck in that situation, I'd use an AF beam (the unobtrusive crosshatched red beams) or even have one eye in the VF and one eye out to track, estimate distance, small aperture, and throw a flash.

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antoineb Veteran Member • Posts: 6,624
why hold at arm's length?

firstly no need to hold at arm's length

secondly if you're going to expect best results with such a long and heavy lens well you've got to use a tripod anyway, don't you?

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Lee Jay Forum Pro • Posts: 52,697
Re: why hold at arm's length?

antoineb wrote:

firstly no need to hold at arm's length

The system is almost as long as my arm, so I have to hold it like that. It's the one in the center.

secondly if you're going to expect best results with such a long and heavy lens well you've got to use a tripod anyway, don't you?

No, I shoot 99% with a system like that without a tripod. A tripod is a major impediment to tracking moving aircraft.

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Lee Jay Forum Pro • Posts: 52,697
Re: From an SLR lover: one EVIL lust

johnnyz86 wrote:

Still, I'd trade that ability for bigger and brighter viewfinders.

The viewfinder on my 5D is already plenty bright, and too big. I can't see the whole thing at once because the eye relief is insufficient for that because I wear glasses. This will not change with an EVF as the optical train for the EVF is the same as that for an OVF. Don't forget that the eye-level viewfinder has to accommodate both people with and without glasses, and this limits both the max and min on eye relief, which itself limits the size of the viewfinder that's practical in both situations.

Now, if they could have a glasses-on or glasses-off viewfinder or a retractable eyecup, maybe they could do a bit better, but they could also do better with OVFs in that case.

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Erik Magnuson Forum Pro • Posts: 12,247
Old F1 speedfinder: same apparent size as 30D.

ljfinger wrote:

and this limits both the max and min on eye relief, which itself limits the size of the viewfinder that's practical in both situations.

Yep, I just recently picked up a speed finder for my old mechanical F1. I can see the entire area with my glasses even from an inch away. But the focus screen area size is almost identical to my 30D viewfinder.

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OP johnnyz86 Contributing Member • Posts: 956
Re: From an SLR lover: one EVIL lust

ljfinger wrote:

johnnyz86 wrote:

Still, I'd trade that ability for bigger and brighter viewfinders.

The viewfinder on my 5D is already plenty bright, and too big.

Ah, well you could've stated that from the start! If your FF DSLR VF is big and bright enough, then obviously this lust is not something you share.

I can't see the whole thing at once because the eye relief is insufficient for that because I wear glasses. This will not change with an EVF as the optical train for the EVF is the same as that for an OVF. Don't forget that the eye-level viewfinder has to accommodate both people with and without glasses, and this limits both the max and min on eye relief, which itself limits the size of the viewfinder that's practical in both situations.

Now, if they could have a glasses-on or glasses-off viewfinder or a retractable eyecup, maybe they could do a bit better, but they could also do better with OVFs in that case.

Yes, I think this should be done as well. There is a lot of room for improvement in viewfinders in general. I've used retractable eyecups and binoculars and agree with those sentiments. However, the eyecups themselves can also be bigger, so I don't see it as a hard limitation on the size of the viewfinder image.

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OP johnnyz86 Contributing Member • Posts: 956
Re: why hold at arm's length?

Holding eyelevel and against the face helps stabilize the image. In addition, you can use your unused eye to track things outside of the camera.

antoineb wrote:

firstly no need to hold at arm's length

secondly if you're going to expect best results with such a long and heavy lens well you've got to use a tripod anyway, don't you?

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Joe0Bloggs Veteran Member • Posts: 5,391
Re: why hold at arm's length?

What does the lens being long have to do with holding the camera at arm's length? If that's the case wouldn't you be unable to hold it to your eye too?

ljfinger wrote:

antoineb wrote:

firstly no need to hold at arm's length

The system is almost as long as my arm, so I have to hold it like that. It's the one in the center.

secondly if you're going to expect best results with such a long and heavy lens well you've got to use a tripod anyway, don't you?

No, I shoot 99% with a system like that without a tripod. A tripod is a major impediment to tracking moving aircraft.

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Lee Jay Forum Pro • Posts: 52,697
Re: why hold at arm's length?

Joe0Bloggs wrote:

What does the lens being long have to do with holding the camera at arm's length? If that's the case wouldn't you be unable to hold it to your eye too?

Which looks easiest to support to you? Now, imagine that was the extended 100-400L instead of the 70-200/2.8 which would put my left hand about 6 inches further out than it is here (I don't have the 100-400L handy right now). My left arm would be pretty much at the extent of my reach! Holding 3 pounds with your elbow against your ribs - no problem. But go try to hold three pounds with your arm out all the way and see how long you last.

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Joe0Bloggs Veteran Member • Posts: 5,391
Re: why hold at arm's length?

Yes, well he was just saying that you don't need to hold the camera "at arm's length" to see the screen--if you were holding the camera "at arm's length your right arm would be fully extended and your left arm... well I don't know where that will be

Anyway, your point is of course valid.

ljfinger wrote:

Joe0Bloggs wrote:

What does the lens being long have to do with holding the camera at arm's length? If that's the case wouldn't you be unable to hold it to your eye too?

Which looks easiest to support to you? Now, imagine that was the extended 100-400L instead of the 70-200/2.8 which would put my left hand about 6 inches further out than it is here (I don't have the 100-400L handy right now). My left arm would be pretty much at the extent of my reach! Holding 3 pounds with your elbow against your ribs - no problem. But go try to hold three pounds with your arm out all the way and see how long you last.

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Joe0Bloggs Veteran Member • Posts: 5,391
xtend-a-view

For compact EVILs with no room for an onboard EVF, the xtend-a-view
http://www.photosolve.com/main/product/xtendaview/index.html

may be a better accessory than a hotshoe accessory EVF, since it

  • is cheaper

  • does not take up your hotshoe

  • may well be higher resolution depending on the particular LCD and EVF

  • works off a huge screen, so, (from the looks of it) gives you huge magnification and high eyepoint

Although I wonder if it is possible to mount on new cameras with little room around the LCD

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