EVFs vs OVFs and other urban legends

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by OzRay, Mar 8, 2014.

  1. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    There were comments in another thread about EVFs vs OVF and other stuff, which I felt warranted some discussion, but not in that thread, as it was going off-topic, so I thought I start a separate one for open discussion. Now EVFs vs OVFs have been a point of contention for some time, with probably an equal number in both camps nowadays. So too has been the debate about AF speeds of DSLRs vs mirrorless, as well as image quality, ISO speeds etc. I won’t go into the last two points as they have been discussed recently to a fair degree, but I would like to debate the first two points.

    Firstly, EVFs vs OVFs. In that other thread as well as many other forums, people keep suggesting that OVFs are far brighter and larger than EVFs. My experiences, using just the older gear that I still own, seems to suggest otherwise. When I look through my Minolta SRT303, Pentax MX or E-3 in a poorly lit room, the view is anything but bright and cheerful, certainly not easy to compose the picture. I would suggest that this is the case for any OVF. However, when I look at the same scene through the viewfinder of my E-M1, it’s like someone turned on a set of studio lights. Why is that? It’s because the E-M1 allows me to change the brightness of the EVF to provide a better image. The same can be done with most EVFs.

    I’ve been using OVFs of all shapes and sizes for many years, from 35mm to 645/6x6/6x7 and 4”x5”, so it baffles me when people say that OVFs are much brighter and better than EVFs. In fact, DPReview provided a very good graphic of the effective size difference of the E-M1 EVF vs others (not too shabby):

    [​IMG]

    They went on to say (and note that the quote is referring to size, not brightness, which is adjustable on the E-M1 as I said):

    Many times I’ve been in the field or indoor events where composing with an OVF has been a major chore; how I would have loved the quality of today’s EVFs back only a few years ago. So when someone says that OVFs are so much better than EVFs, I have a feeling that they really haven’t compared the two in challenging conditions. I haven’t even mentioned the information that can be overlaid on an EVF, which provides all sorts of advantages when shooting under challenging and rapidly changing situations.

    Secondly, AF speed. Now I won’t go into focus tracking, as I’ll readily admit that the Olympus cameras have never been great at this and the E-M1, as the latest example, doesn’t do much, if anything to improve on this. However, that isn’t the case for every camera and technology is moving ahead in leaps and bounds. Here’s an example of where tracking focus appears to be heading and is another factor that will soon only be a mirrorless camera urban legend until it’s finally dead and buried: http://petapixel.com/2014/03/08/works-sonys-super-fast-hybrid-af-explained/.

    However, that said, the S-AF on the E-M1 is excellent, even with my 4/3 lenses, which I thought would be woeful considering the dual AF system employed by Olympus and this being relatively new technology. There are hardly any issues whatsoever with the AF and the only time that any issues arise, is when the subject has very low contrast or little differentiation in tonal range/texture, but then I had the same problems with the E-3/E-5 in those circumstances and, I suspect, most DSLRs will have issues under those conditions. As demonstrated by Sony, the AF technology will only improve and I would go so far as to suggest that mirrorless technology will be the equal of DSLRs in the not too distant future. The current advantages of the DSLR in fast and accurate tracking focus will eventually disappear. It’s about the last bastion where DSLRs rule.

    I guess we'll just have to wait a little longer to find out.
     
  2. Canonista

    Canonista Mu-43 Top Veteran

    563
    Sep 3, 2011
    L.A.
    I was originally a skeptic of EVFs, but for all but action photography, I am completely sold on the benefits over the OVF. I have not tried my recently acquired GX7 for action photography yet, but the slow recovery time after each exposure using the VF2 with my E-P3 made it difficult to keep a moving object properly framed. This was never an issue with my DSLRs, even with the shutter blackout.

    I agree that AF tracking on par with DSLRs is the last hurdle for the m43 system to conquer before most of us can kiss the large plastic blobs good bye.
     
  3. [​IMG]

    http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/panasonicdmcgh1/4

    The size of the EVF has never been an issue on the Panasonic side of the fence at least as even their earliest models had larger viewfinders than equivalent DSLR models. Where they lacked was in their display technology. For me the Olympus VF-4 that was launched with the E-P5 was the "final nail in the coffin" for OVFs with respect to EVFs achieving a viewing comfort level in addition to their existing advantages of size, information overlays and exposure preview. This standard of EVF is now becoming more common amongst other brands as well. The Olympus VF-2 (also used in the E-M5) was good, but the VF-4 (also E-M1) is oh-my-god great. I'm not entirely sure where Panasonic is at the moment as among recent models I have only briefly peered through the EVF on a GX7 in a camera store which seemed nice but the 16:9 screen ratio was a little odd to me on a 4:3 camera.

    Tracking and continuous focus has never been an area that interested me particularly so I'll leave that alone. For S-AF, Panasonic had a decent handle on single autofocus speed again from the beginning of Micro 4/3 and took a further step forwards with the GH2 and it's faster sensor readout speeds. Olympus took a little longer but got there with the E-P3/E-PM1/E-PL3 generation. Both brands have continued to iterate since then and continue to push the technology forwards. Nowadays if I read that DSLRs have better autofocus I have a little chuckle. When they offer the same level of instantaneous touchscreen-based focus point selection and shutter release I might grant that they have autofocus that is equal to state-of-the-art mirrorless cameras.
     
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  4. Art

    Art Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 13, 2011
    San Francisco, CA
    I don't get OVF at all, no live view information, no histograms, dark in low light, etc. IMO, ovf is very old school and will probably be obsolete with the advancement of evf and processing speeds.

    Tracking af is not there yet but there is every reason to believe that tracking and c-af will be faster and more accurate than any dslr with the advancement of on sensor phase detect points and improvement in processing speeds.
     
  5. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    Very true and I used the Olympus examples, as that's what I'm familiar with, but in the bigger scheme of things, EVFs have improved dramatically across the board, as has AF capability of mirrorless cameras.
     
  6. Cruzan80

    Cruzan80 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 23, 2012
    Denver, Co
    Sean Rastsmith
    Only thing that makes sense on an OVF is a split prism, and Fuji is working towards a digital implementation.
     
  7. SojiOkita

    SojiOkita Mu-43 Top Veteran

    620
    Feb 23, 2014
    France
    The major problem with EVF is that you see the scene you are framing with the interpretation of the camera.
    With the OVF, I can see the "real" scene and make my own interpretation of it.
    With an EVF, you see the "jpeg interpretation" of the camera. When you shoot raw... you don't care about this jpeg interpretation.

    For example, shooting indoors under artificial lighting, you have to deal with the poor WP and associated unwanted color tints.
    You will also see the JPEG histogram, which is little use when you want to "expose right" because you'd need the RAW histogram.


    On the top of that, there's the feeling... that is highly subjective.
    I tried the E-M1 today, the EVF was "usable". It's big and clear. There's still this feeling of seeing only a video capture of what you want to photograph.
    Then I tried the Canon 6D... the OVF is not bigger nor brighter, but was much more pleasant to use.
    No pixels, no crappy WB, no lag.
    I bet some others will have the exact opposite feeling...

    EVF won't stop me from using mirrorless cameras, but for me it's still in the "cons" column when making my choice.
     
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  8. Art

    Art Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 13, 2011
    San Francisco, CA
    WB applies to both jpeg and raw. I'd rather have it previewed than taking pictures through OVF only to realize later that WB was totally off. I can understand that OVF may make shooting as a process more enjoyable but I believe it's easier to nail shots with evf. For manual lens users ovf is nearly useless as there is no spot magnification feature let alone focus peaking..
    Also, for beginners, evf/live view is a god send.
     
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  9. Canonista

    Canonista Mu-43 Top Veteran

    563
    Sep 3, 2011
    L.A.
    +1. Making exposure compensation is almost fool-proof with EVFs.
     
  10. RT_Panther

    RT_Panther Mu-43 Legend

    May 4, 2011
    Texas
    What if someone simply likes & has a personal preference for an OVF?
     
  11. This is why I adjust my jpeg settings to approximate the raw image. On an Olympus camera that means setting the colours to natural, setting gradation to auto, and adjusting tone curve for less contrast. I don't mind if the resulting jpegs aren't great looking because I won't use them anyway

    It is certainly subjective, so there is probably no right or wrong. Personally I want to see the exposure as the sensor sees it because that is the device that will record the final image. "Expose once and expose correctly" is more achievable when I can see and adjust exp comp in real time.
     
  12. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    You do exactly the same when you chimp to see how the image came out. With an EVF, you're chimping in real time and once you get to know your EVF, you know how your images are going to come out, no guessing required.
     
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  13. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    Fine, no one is saying that you shouldn't. I was merely discussing the arguments/justifications that many like to raise when they say that OVFs are better than EVFs.

    In fact, the debates about EVFs vs OVFs are a bit like digital vs film. Not so many years ago, photographers and whoever, were debating black and blue that digital will never supplant film. When someone says that something will 'never' happen, invariably that's exactly what happens. My view is that EVFs will supplant OVFs in the not too distant future.
     
  14. HappyFish

    HappyFish Mu-43 Top Veteran

    983
    Sep 8, 2012
    Chad
    yeah agree we are on the cutting edge and things are going to change the nay sayers are going to find IMHO its coming !! and going to be a huge thing in the future :)



    Pros to EVF
    see what you get
    can gain up in dark situations making it different than OVF sometimes better sometimes worse ?

    cons
    in super bright sun can be tougher to see
    in super dark can't use the see what you get like doing flash work where you are say using 2 or more stops of light its just to dark and I miss the seeing what you get :)

    sure there are lots more and OVF is far from perfect IMHO and the new EVF are not perfect but these days I can live with either but actually prefer the EVF like the E-M1 now :)

    pre chimping is awesome :)
     
  15. RT_Panther

    RT_Panther Mu-43 Legend

    May 4, 2011
    Texas
    Do you believe EVFs are better?
    Me personally, I don't think that one is better than the other. Instead, I believe that one format works for some while the other format works for others. :smile:
     
  16. RT_Panther

    RT_Panther Mu-43 Legend

    May 4, 2011
    Texas
    Forgot to add.
    I do have quite the personal preference for the Fuji Hybrid OVF/EVF :smile:
     
  17. Whtrbt7

    Whtrbt7 Mu-43 Regular

    195
    Jan 7, 2014
    There are pros and cons to both. Hybrids like the Fuji system are interesting but also has it's own pros and cons. Overall, these are tools for the photographer and everyone will have their own preferences but as technology gets better, we will see advancements in both unless OVFs get phased out by the major DSLR makers that would switch to marketing ILCs instead. Who knows what's coming but I think it's important to give photographers choices so they can decide what is right for which jobs.
     
  18. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    I actually do and they will only keep on improving, if the last few years is anything to go by. OVF technology really can't advance anywhere. As I said, I had to do a lot of news and sports in dimly lit places or fields and having an EVF like in the E-M1 would have made it so much easier in many circumstances. I can't think of one situation where the EVF would be detrimental or a hindrance to such work. The brightness is adjustable, so you can set it to your comfort level or as the situation demands. Information is displayed in the viewfinder and you can see all the time what the resulting image is likely to look like.
     
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  19. meyerweb

    meyerweb Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Sep 5, 2011
    Try to track a moving subject with your eye to the EVF (I'm not talking about focus tracking) at the highest burst speeds. Then try to see through the EVF wearing glasses in very bright sunlight. Compare both situations with a good (not entry level) OVF and you'll quickly see that EVFs aren't always superior.

    Each technology offers strengths and weakness. EVFs are getting better and better, but they still have a ways to go to match OVFs in all situations. Colors are often inaccurate, in very dim light the refresh cycle gets slow (making tracking a subject harder), and they can be hard to see in bright sunlight. If you wear polarized sunglasses, they can be very troublesome. On balance, I prefer the modern EVFs, but they're far from perfect.

    And it is possible to overlay data on an OVF, by sandwiching a transparent LCD screen in the optical path. A number of high end cameras do this.
     
  20. RT_Panther

    RT_Panther Mu-43 Legend

    May 4, 2011
    Texas
    Any prescription eyeglass wearers up for EVF glasses instead of traditional, old school, prescription lenses?