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Thinking about OVFs EVFs rear screens and pentaprisms (WARNING: long, rambling, possibly disjointed)

Discussion in 'The Watering Hole' started by Jock Elliott, Nov 13, 2013.

  1. Jock Elliott

    Jock Elliott SC All-Pro

    Jan 3, 2012
    Troy, NY
    My wife knows I have maybe waaay too much Walter Mitty in me. I love reading about Henri Cartier-Bresson. I imagine myself immersed in a scene, Leica in hand, 50 mm lens, ever alert, expertly capturing the Decisive Moment with my rangefinder.

    Reality is much different. I love my zoom lenses. The zoomier the better. And I have noticed something about my photographic technique.

    To get there, we have to roll the calendar back over a decade to when I got my first digital camera, an Olympus D-550, a three-megapixel point-and-shoot. I noticed almost immediately that I was shooting more usable pictures, a higher percentage of keepers. And I think I know the reason: with the tiny, postage-stamp sized rear screen on the D-550, I was seeing the image as the camera was seeing it. The rear LCD displayed the image in a flat, two-dimensional rendering, pretty much as the final viewer would see it in a print or printed on a magazine page.

    By contrast, when I was looking through the pentaprism of my film SLR, I was seeing through the optics of the camera, seeing the depth of the scene, pretty much as the eye sees it. When I look through the optics of an SLR or with my naked eye, I can get fooled; my eye can get sucked in by prominent feature or detail of the scene and – even worse – can ignore some obvious flaw in the composition (the powerline running like a spear through Aunt Mildred’s head).

    I have the same problem with optical viewfinders – I can get sucked into the scene and ignore important stuff. But the rear screen helps me to see the scene more dispassionately and as the camera sees it. I tend to notice more often (but not always) that Aunt Mildred looks like she has been skewered. As a result, even though I like the idea of the optical viewfinder on the Canon G12, in practice, I almost always compose using the rear screen.

    With the FZ200, I find I typically use the electronic viewfinder except when I am shooting pictures of airguns for my blog. I can hold the camera against my face and with my elbows braced against my chest, and with the help of the on-board stabilization, I can shoot high-zoom shots with pretty good success. Again, though, the EVF gives me a flattened, two-dimensional view of the scene as the camera sees it, and I think it helps me to compose better.

    So, has anyone else had a similar experience in using EVFs, OVFs, rear screens, pentaprisms and the like, or am I in need of deep therapy and powerful chemicals?

    Cheers, Jock
     
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  2. john m flores

    john m flores SC All-Pro

    Aug 13, 2012
    Yes, it's "easier" to shoot in black & white with the LCD (or EVF) set to black & white. That said, I do like the view through a SLR where you see what the lens is seeing, distortions and all. I keep telling myself that EVFs are good enough and I use them a lot, but then I pick up an SLR and go, "wow, this looks really nice." It's like pure photography*



    * "pure photography" is a registered trademark of Nikon Corporation LOL.
     
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  3. KillRamsey

    KillRamsey SC Hall of Famer

    Jun 20, 2012
    Cambridge, MA
    Kyle
    This may be why I exclusively use the EVF on the X100, and never the OVF. I switch on the rear LCD rarely, when I need to hold the camera away from my face for framing reasons - shooting over a fence, around a corner, from way down low, etc.

    ...

    AND why I love the depth of field preview button on the old Minolta.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  4. Isoterica

    Isoterica SC Hall of Famer

    Dec 6, 2011
    I use the LCD a lot on the X100s because I can see my surroundings and decide if I want to add or subtract from my frame. If it's bright or I want to isolate, to not be distracted, then I use the VF and I am more drawn into the scene. So in that essence I do get it :)
     
    • Like Like x 1
  5. Lightmancer

    Lightmancer Super Moderator

    Aug 13, 2011
    Sunny Frimley
    Bill Palmer
    Interesting and thought-provoking topic, Jock. For me, an OVF is the sine qua non. On my Leicas, for instance, what I see is truly what I get. There is little between me and my subject except a couple of panes of glass. The rangefinder of the Leica also enables me to simultaneously concentrate on my subject and see a little of what is going on around and about, particularly with lenses of 50mm and longer. SLR viewing is almost as good, with the plus of parallax correction and the minus of "tunnel vision".

    EVFs... Ah yes. Still far from perfect, but definitely improving. The main drawback is that I am watching a bunch of electrons on a tiny telly - it is already delivering an interpretation of the world before my finger goes anywhere near the shutter release. The ability to view the world as the camera is set to capture it is undoubtedly useful, but insidiously and sometimes deceptively so. The big advantage of the EVF for me is the electronic level... But wait - I have had that before now with film cameras...

    Rear-screen viewing; my least favourite option... It somehow feels like a retrograde step to me, a bit "windy", and imprecise like the old wireframe "sports finders" that were commonplace at one time on bellows folders. It is a vague and approximate way of seeing the world, and I am more likely to find myself doing post-processing cropping on images composed in this way than any other. Plus I hate people being able to look over my shoulder and see what I am shooting...

    All that said, my two currently most used cameras are my Fuji X-F1 and Ricoh GR... An EVF and a rear screen viewing experience respectively.

    Why?

    A mixture of convenience, capability and haptics. Ultimately the view of the scene through the camera is fundamental, but not paramount.

    Makes sense...?
     
    • Like Like x 1
  6. Jock Elliott

    Jock Elliott SC All-Pro

    Jan 3, 2012
    Troy, NY
    Bill,

    I had to look up "haptics." If I am interpreting correctly, the Fuji and the GR feel better to you?

    Cheers, Jock
     
    • Like Like x 1
  7. Yeats

    Yeats SC All-Pro

    Jul 31, 2012
    New Jersey, USA
    Chris
    Jock, I feel similarly to you. Sometimes looking thru the OVF provides a "can't see the forest for the trees" perspective.

    Curiously, and related...

    For years, I've read posts in forums by "serious photographers" (whatever that means... Are they serious people? Are their photos seriously good? Seriously bad? Yahoo Serious?) disparage using LCD's for compositional purposes, saying that using an LCD is less immersive, less "real", less "there" than the good ol' OVF. Personally, I've found that using the camera's rear LCD helps me connect on a more immediate and personal level with some subjects, like landscapes, scenes, my cats... I feel like there is less obstruction. OVFs and good EVFs for wildlife and shallow depth-of-field purposes, but for everything else I prefer the rear LCD.
     
    • Like Like x 2
  8. Lightmancer

    Lightmancer Super Moderator

    Aug 13, 2011
    Sunny Frimley
    Bill Palmer
    Sorry Jock, yes, that's what I meant. Sorry, in work mode ;)
     
    • Like Like x 1
  9. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    Ah hell, I love it all. I love OVFs, although the only ones I've used in about 30 years are Fujis, but I liked the old SLR versions as well. I love good EVFs and they're getting very very good now - check out the Olympus VF4 if you haven't seen one. I love using rear screens, particularly if they flip up and I can look down at them like an old TLR. And I also love framing without looking at or through anything. I seem to have developed a very good ability to frame instinctively with anything from about 24-35mm where I can hold the camera down by my belly and look with my eyes and the camera almost always nails what I'm seeing with my eyes. This has taken a lot of practice to get good at, but I didn't do too badly right from the start. I find this invaluable for street photography where I want to catch a moment without intruding on it. The only things I don't like are OVFs or EVFs that suck. Some OVFs do, some early EVFs did. And some rear screens aren't that great either, but most have gotten pretty good in anything but the brightest sunlight and some do alright there too... I can't say I have a preference - I like having some of everything available. At the moment I don't have any OVFs and I don't see any on my horizons (having bailed on Fuji, can't afford Leica, and don't want a DSLR), but never say never.

    -Ray
     
    • Like Like x 1
  10. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin SC Hall of Famer

    Dec 24, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    Nic
    The Olympus VF-4 is the first eye-level EVF that I truly want to use. Large, clear, high resolution, full electronic information overlays, and of course shows the readout of the sensor (with an accurate representation of exposure unlike some).
     
    • Like Like x 1
  11. drd1135

    drd1135 SC Hall of Famer

    Jul 13, 2011
    Southwest Virginia
    Steve
    You're always watching the world on a tiny telly, i.e., an eye. :smile:

    I almost got a VF4 to accompany my E-PL5 instead of a refurb EM5. What caused me to go to the EM5 was the better IBIS since this is a problem for me. The advantage of the eye level finder is that it can be corrected with the dipper adjustment so I don't have to use reading glasses. I can't really use MF on an LCD either. OTOH, I still use the EM5 LCD tilted horizontal to shoot waist level. I find this a very stable shooting position.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  12. Jock Elliott

    Jock Elliott SC All-Pro

    Jan 3, 2012
    Troy, NY
    I'm sorry; I'm not following one of your abbreviations. What's IBIS?

    Cheers, Jock
     
  13. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    In Body Image Stabilization, as opposed to lens based Optical Image Stabilization (OIS). Olympus has been using IBIS for quite a while, which allows their bodies to stabilize any lens from any era. Starting with the EM5, they started using a 5-axis IBIS system as opposed to the 2-axis they'd used before. It was a pretty impressive upgrade and for those with unsteady hands, a bit of a godsend. Until the GX7, Panasonic didn't offer stabilization in their bodies, but many of their lenses are built with OIS. The GX7 has a very effective 2-axis IBIS system, as do Olympus bodies other than the EM5, EP5, and EM1...

    -Ray
     
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  14. drd1135

    drd1135 SC Hall of Famer

    Jul 13, 2011
    Southwest Virginia
    Steve
    Oh no, I've committed an AFP (Acronym Faux Pas). :redface: I hate it when others do that to me.
     
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  15. john m flores

    john m flores SC All-Pro

    Aug 13, 2012
    But was that AFP optical (OAFP), in-body (iAFP), or digital (dAFP)?
     
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  16. Jock Elliott

    Jock Elliott SC All-Pro

    Jan 3, 2012
    Troy, NY
    Note to self: avoid TLAs (three letter acronyms) {grin}

    Cheers, Jock
     
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  17. Jock Elliott

    Jock Elliott SC All-Pro

    Jan 3, 2012
    Troy, NY
    Ray,

    Thanks. I was sweating that if I bought an Olympus, I was also going to need some sort of bird.

    Cheers, Jock
     
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  18. Pim

    Pim SC Regular

    157
    Apr 21, 2012
    Eindhoven, The Netherlands
    Pim
    I have nothing relevant to add to this thread at the moment, except to say that this comment made me laugh out loud..:)
     
    • Like Like x 1
  19. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    No no no - if you bought Olympus, it already COMES WITH the bird! Panasonics, OTOH, except for the GX7, are birdless and require the right lenses to provide the function of the bird...

    -Ray
     
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