Not A Fan of Viewfinders. Am I crazy?

Started Jan 26, 2013 | Discussions
Leonard Migliore
Leonard Migliore Forum Pro • Posts: 17,211
Where did you get that TLR?

JoeRadza wrote:

After using so many cameras with no or lousy viewfinders I've become very comfortable using an LCD screen. Not at arm's length, but with elbows tucked in. Anyway, I'm old enough to have used many film cameras that didn't have viewfindrs. For those of you that dislike lcd screens, just think about framing with a TLR. Upside down, reversed, B & W.

Twin-lens reflex finders were reversed right to left (really good for following action...) but they certainly weren't upside down (although the ground glass on my 4X5 was) and there's no way they could be black and white. What happened is that the film was usually black and white.

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Leonard Migliore

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PerL Forum Pro • Posts: 14,055
So many reasons for viewfinders
2

KyleSlamchez wrote:

Okay, I've definitely noticed in reading camera reviews and forums that a lot of you love your viewfinders, particularly of the optical type.
Now maybe I'm a young whippersnapper who basically got started on a digital point and shoot that couldn't be bothered to have a viewfinder (a Canon S30), but I like composing with a screen. I don't see what the problem is.
Furthermore, I have a Pentax K20D with an optical viewfinder, and I suck at composing with it. I don't feel like I can see the entire scene, so even a simple photo of a room tends to come out crooked. Not only that, but because I wear glasses, I don't feel like I can get the thing comfortably up to my eye. My nose ends up mashed up against the LCD screen, one eye squinting, and it's just no fun at all.
Therefore, I prefer to use a camera with a Liveview LCD screen, because as far as composition is concerned, what you see is what you get. And I get to use it with both eyes open!
Now I understand that many screens can get washed out in bright sunlight. As far as I can tell, this is the only disadvantage. Is there something I'm missing here?
I feel like I might be out to get hammered by some old pro's, but what the heck. Bring on the hammer!

With a viewfinder (preferably a large OVF, but an EVF is much better than none at all) it is much easier to hold a tele and follow action, especially when the action is hard to predict.





If your subject moves into back light it is much easier to see properly, especially with an OVF.



As you said, and LCD is harder to view in bright sunlight, especially against the light. Often interesting images are made in contrasty light.



When you use the LCD small objects, that can make or break the shot are hard to spot, like the walking man here.



When you are doing a reportage you are more involved - you see an almost live size view instead of a few square inches, which makes it easier to shot at the exactly right moment. With very short blackout you are immidiatly ready to catch the next moment.



...and a lot more, which makes a camera without a viewfinder - in my opinion - severly crippled.

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Takagi Forum Member • Posts: 66
Re: So many reasons for viewfinders

PerL wrote:

...and a lot more, which makes a camera without a viewfinder - in my opinion - severly crippled.

+1, agree 100%

René Schuster Forum Pro • Posts: 14,180
Re: Not A Fan of Viewfinders. Am I crazy?
1

Takagi wrote:

Whatever works for you. I can't stand using the screen on the back of my camera as a viewfinder. I can't even see it properly when it is sunny. If using that screen as a viewfinder was such a great idea, then why don't people with dslr cameras use it and hold their cameras smelly baby style?

"smelly baby style", lol, great!

René

Lee Jay Forum Pro • Posts: 54,506
Re: Not A Fan of Viewfinders. Am I crazy?
3

KyleSlamchez wrote:

Now I understand that many screens can get washed out in bright sunlight. As far as I can tell, this is the only disadvantage. Is there something I'm missing here?

Yes...try shooting all day with a big lens that way, and try keeping it stable.  Which looks more stable and comfortable to hold for, say, about 10 hours?  Having that left elbow against your body is almost like having it on a monopod from a support standpoint.

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Bill Force
Bill Force Veteran Member • Posts: 6,607
Re: Not A Fan of Viewfinders. Am I crazy?

I started with a Perfex rangefinder in 1947 with a viewfinder. Today part of the time I like to use my Panasonic mirrorless with a number of Canon FD lenses with an adapter. This necessitates "manual focus" and unless you are Arnold I defy you to hold the camera with a 75-300 FD lens attached at arms length and see anything. I'm not small at 6'2" and 218 but I can't do it. If I hold the combo up to my face (EVF) with elbows locked into my sides generally I can get a sharp focused shot. If you can hold this combo at arms length and get a sharp shot or even a framing shot then you're a "Much better man than me Gunga Din".

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JoeRadza Regular Member • Posts: 208
Re: Where did you get that TLR?

You're right of course. I was just grouping all the old possibilities together. Although some of those cameras made you feel as if you were shooting inside out.

Mark B. Forum Pro • Posts: 25,853
Re: Not A Fan of Viewfinders. Am I crazy?

KyleSlamchez wrote:

Okay, I've definitely noticed in reading camera reviews and forums that a lot of you love your viewfinders, particularly of the optical type.
Now maybe I'm a young whippersnapper who basically got started on a digital point and shoot that couldn't be bothered to have a viewfinder (a Canon S30), but I like composing with a screen. I don't see what the problem is.

Try tracking a jet an air show, flying bird, race car at the track, or any other number of moving objects with a long lens with an LCD.  The refresh rate isn't fast enough, and you'll have an incredibly difficult time keeping the camera steady while tracking.  With the camera up against your face it further stabilizes it, and the optical VF can track in real time.

Furthermore, I have a Pentax K20D with an optical viewfinder, and I suck at composing with it. I don't feel like I can see the entire scene,

Bummer.  My 7D VF captures 100% of the scene.

so even a simple photo of a room tends to come out crooked. Not only that, but because I wear glasses, I don't feel like I can get the thing comfortably up to my eye. My nose ends up mashed up against the LCD screen, one eye squinting, and it's just no fun at all.

I wear eyeglasses as well, but I use a HoodEYE, works great.

Therefore, I prefer to use a camera with a Liveview LCD screen, because as far as composition is concerned, what you see is what you get. And I get to use it with both eyes open!

I get exactly what I see through the VF, and I keep both eyes open as well.

Now I understand that many screens can get washed out in bright sunlight. As far as I can tell, this is the only disadvantage. Is there something I'm missing here?

That's a pretty big disadvantage unless you shoot indoors with short lenses and/or mounted on a tripod all the time.  Not real time and very unstable with long lenses are both disadvantages for me.

|I feel like I might be out to get hammered by some old pro's, but what the heck. Bring on the hammer!

Use whatever works for you.  My 7D has liveview available, but I rarely use it - pretty much only if mounted on a tripod and I'm shooting a stationary scene.

Mark

GodSpeaks
GodSpeaks Forum Pro • Posts: 13,913
Re: So many reasons for viewfinders
1

PerL wrote:

...and a lot more, which makes a camera without a viewfinder - in my opinion - severly crippled.

Absolutely agree.  Any camera without a builtin viewfinder is severely crippled.

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coudet Veteran Member • Posts: 4,109
Re: So many reasons for viewfinders

GodSpeaks wrote:

PerL wrote:

...and a lot more, which makes a camera without a viewfinder - in my opinion - severly crippled.

Absolutely agree. Any camera without a builtin viewfinder is severely crippled.

..and not worth buying.

backayonder Senior Member • Posts: 1,285
Crazy? You want locking up!

Well actually the matter is entirely up to you but I need a viewfinder.

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MoreorLess Veteran Member • Posts: 4,662
Re: Not A Fan of Viewfinders. Am I crazy?

ljfinger wrote:

KyleSlamchez wrote:

Now I understand that many screens can get washed out in bright sunlight. As far as I can tell, this is the only disadvantage. Is there something I'm missing here?

Yes...try shooting all day with a big lens that way, and try keeping it stable. Which looks more stable and comfortable to hold for, say, about 10 hours? Having that left elbow against your body is almost like having it on a monopod from a support standpoint.

I wouldnt say its just comfort either, for hand held landscape shots I find it much easier to hold the camera in position for a good lenght of time and make fine adjustments.

Franglais91 Contributing Member • Posts: 893
Composing on the viewing screen of a Hasselblad

Back in the days of film (ask your parents what film is) I used to love to compose landscapes on my Hasselblad with the camera on a tripod and the optical viewing hood folded back so that I just had the image on the viewing screen in the heart of the camera. It was about the same size as the LCD screen on the back of today's DSLR's. I could really see the structure of the composition and how the edges interacted with the rest of the image.

So it worked fine for static images that you could take time to compose. But for anything else - you just can't see enough detail on an image that size. A real viewfinder is the only way.

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momonyc Regular Member • Posts: 408
Re: Not A Fan of Viewfinders. Am I crazy?

KyleSlamchez wrote:

Okay, I've definitely noticed in reading camera reviews and forums that a lot of you love your viewfinders, particularly of the optical type.
Now maybe I'm a young whippersnapper who basically got started on a digital point and shoot that couldn't be bothered to have a viewfinder (a Canon S30), but I like composing with a screen. I don't see what the problem is.
Furthermore, I have a Pentax K20D with an optical viewfinder, and I suck at composing with it. I don't feel like I can see the entire scene, so even a simple photo of a room tends to come out crooked. Not only that, but because I wear glasses, I don't feel like I can get the thing comfortably up to my eye. My nose ends up mashed up against the LCD screen, one eye squinting, and it's just no fun at all.
Therefore, I prefer to use a camera with a Liveview LCD screen, because as far as composition is concerned, what you see is what you get. And I get to use it with both eyes open!
Now I understand that many screens can get washed out in bright sunlight. As far as I can tell, this is the only disadvantage. Is there something I'm missing here?
I feel like I might be out to get hammered by some old pro's, but what the heck. Bring on the hammer!

I grew up with film cameras and I agree with you. I've never felt comfortable shooting through a viewfinder. My first taste of 'freedom' from viewfinder (ffv) came years ago with a fujifilm F30. That 'opened my eyes' (ome) to what had bothered me from day one with viewfinders...i too prefer shooting and looking at the screen with both eyes open...then a revelation, for me, the swivel screen on my canon a630...nirvana...

walking in the street, in cafes, bars, or in the forest primeval...i love having the ability to shoot from the waist and the ability to frame accurately...getting low or high, no problem with a swiveling lcd...the point of view from eye level, standing, sitting, does not often work for me...

kyle, if you're crazy then so am I...

kind regards...

john farrar
john farrar Veteran Member • Posts: 5,038
Re: Not A Fan of Viewfinders. Am I crazy?

One of the cameras I grew up with was a Yashica Twin Lens Reflex and you looked down into a large shileded optical viewfinder at waist level. This was indeed so much better for composition than the ordinary camera viewfinders, even those on rangefinder compacts.

The early digital EVFs were dire, and I only started to like them again when Minolta brought out their Dimage 7 series... the electronic viewfinder on that was moveable. Also the early LCDs washed out in interesting light rendering them as point and pray snap cameras.

Things are better today and I have a Sony DSLR with a huge electronic viewfinder and flip out LCD.  I often enjoy flipping that down and composing at waist level as i did all those years ago.  For quick use though I insist on a workable viewfinder.

No, you're not crazy... and now he have image stabilisation the 'better bracing' argument is no longer so valid either.

Barrie Davis
Barrie Davis Forum Pro • Posts: 21,460
So many viewfinders; all have their merits.
2

coudet wrote:

GodSpeaks wrote:

PerL wrote:

...and a lot more, which makes a camera without a viewfinder - in my opinion - severly crippled.

Absolutely agree. Any camera without a builtin viewfinder is severely crippled.

..and not worth buying.

Errr... "Any" camera? That's a bit of a sweeping statement, isn't it?

There are many cameras of older form still sold that work exclusively with a rear screen for a viewfinder, and I'm sure their buyers think they purchased worthwhile photographic instruments.

I'm thinking of large format cameras (sheet film, say, 10x8" and 5x4" ) with a ground glass for composing on. With this type of camera the image is large but also upside-down and very dim...

... and visible in bright light only by enveloping the back of the camera, and the photographer's head, in black cloth.

By comparison, the LCD on the back of a digital camera is a paragon of easy usefulness.

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Robert Anderson Senior Member • Posts: 2,261
Re: Not A Fan of Viewfinders. Am I crazy?
3

I prefer optical viewfinders. I order to focus on the LCD screen on the back of the camera, I have to tilt my head back and view through the bottom part of my glasses. In that position, I get more light from the sky in my eyes, making it difficult to see the screen, which is already washed out.

My other issue is resolution. With the LCD screen I cannot tell if my distant subject is smiling or if their eyes are closed.

zenit_b Regular Member • Posts: 235
You are lucky your close range vision is still good ..

KyleSlamchez wrote:

maybe I'm a young whippersnapper ....

ok .. what you will find when you get to your late forties/early fifties is that your close range vision gets worse and you cant see things well that are very close. You will start holding things further away to compensate. This mitigates against using LCDs for shooting.

I now have a Panasonic GX1 which has no VF - just the LCD. I have to hold this a fair distance away to be able to focus... and yes my glasses do have a close focus area at the bottom.

My view (rightly or wrongly) is that this is one of the reasons older people prefer viewfinders (perhaps unconsciously)... viewfinders are set up for infinity focus which is kinder on older eyes. I often raise my GX1 to my eye - before realising its not my EVF equipped G2, and I have to hold the camera away from me to focus on the LCD screen.

How close do you hold your LCD Screen ? Mine has to be around 18" for me to be able focus comfortably. Then its quite small of course and I cant see all the detail. By contrast once in the G2 EVF I am immersed in detail...mmmm

One thing to bear in mind is that the 40 years old plus demographic is strong in quality camera buying... one of the reasons viewfinders still rule on quality kit.

You also see the effect starting to come in on phones where older phone buyers like me are turning to larger screened Galaxy S III and Note II smartphones rather than the tiny apple stuff. Theres a reason these phones are getting popular ... YMMV

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zenit_b Regular Member • Posts: 235
Re: Not A Fan of Viewfinders. Am I crazy?

Robert Anderson wrote:

I have to tilt my head back and view through the bottom part of my glasses. I

With the LCD screen I cannot tell if my distant subject is smiling or if their eyes are closed.

Both excellent points Robert to which I wholeheartedly concur. Its harder I think for younger people to understand because they are still under the illusion they will have perfect eyesight for ever

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Barrie Davis
Barrie Davis Forum Pro • Posts: 21,460
Re: You are lucky your close range vision is still good ..
1

zenit_b wrote:--

ok .. what you will find when you get to your late forties/early fifties is that your close range vision How close do you hold your LCD Screen ? Mine has to be around 18" for me to be able focus comfortably. Then its quite small of course and I cant see all the detail.

I've never been quite able to work out why people feel they need actual detail in an arm's-reach style LCD viewfinder. Surely, all you need it for is framing of the main subject masses... [??]

If you need the most detailed view of what is actually happening IN your shot...

... surely you simply look over the top of the camera. (shrugs)

Note: This is what users of large format have been doing since the 1840's. They don't even have a choice. At the point of exposure there is no viewfinder to view with, as the ground glass screen is replaced by the darkslide holding the film.

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