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I bought m4/3 because I hate viewfinders.

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by Promit, Nov 27, 2011.

  1. Promit

    Promit Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 6, 2011
    Baltimore, MD
    Promit Roy
    Consider this a bit of a rant/rave if you will. I see many of you running around with a VF2 or a VF3 or a glass hotshoe finder or even one of the Panasonic SLR-alikes like my G2. In fact I bought the G2 mainly to see if having a viewfinder was a nice addition.

    No. It isn't. And that brings me back to the point: I bought into this system to get away from viewfinders! I was all set to buy a DSLR until I realized they're not live view cameras, and you always need to have them up against your face. (Yeah some have LV now, but they're not good at it. SLT was too expensive.) People complain about bright sunlight with LCDs, but I find this is rarely a problem and that I can shade the LCD well enough to get by in even the extreme cases.

    Maybe it's because I wear glasses. It's much more difficult to look into the finder since I can't get my eye very close, and I'm not going to take my glasses off just to take a photo. What a hassle that would be. Plus I find it difficult to actually use the finder without closing the other eye, and that becomes also extremely uncomfortable after a little while.

    Maybe it's something you grow accustomed to growing up with film. I didn't. Yeah my dad had a nice N80, but I was never interested. I'm not accustomed to the viewfinder as a composition mechanism in general, and even more so I find it to be incredibly limiting. I can only compose at eye-level, and maybe with some effort I can adjust my eye-level but I'm still stuck with where I can get my head. Arm's length covers an awful lot of places, and with the G2's wonderful "tilty-flippy screen" I can choose all kinds of wacky or unusual angles. Call me crazy but I don't want to just take photos of what my eyes can see, because the camera and the photo can never do justice to that. We see the world in 3D, after all.

    Anyways I just wanted to blurt that out.
    • Like Like x 1
  2. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    As a studio product photographer, a lighter body with no need of viewfinder is a true godsend. ;) 

    I like the PEN system which allows me to pack an accessory viewfinder to use just when I need it. This is normally when shooting outside with manual focus lenses in ambient light.
  3. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    I always wanted to shoot at eye level, hence my first 3 MFT cameras were GH1, G1, and GH2. However, working with the E-P3 has changed all that. In the absence of having an eye-level viewfinder, I've come to learn that I actually prefer working without one!
  4. RnR

    RnR Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 25, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    You can get an eyecup for the external viewfinder. A tad expensive for what it is, but I love it even though I don't wear glasses.
  5. Canonista

    Canonista Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 3, 2011
    Couldn't agree more. The Live View liberates us from the usual mundane eye-level views and brings about a whole different dimension to photos. I've managed to capture many images that I otherwise would not have attained with the DSLR.
  6. Viewfinders were once natural for me because I was using a DLSR and my experience of live-view, compact cameras was limited. However, having now experienced live-view with m4/3 the limits of a viewfinder (to me) are now clear. I explain it thus:

    The limits I find in a viewfinder is that once the camera is raised my eye everything freezes. You see nothing else beyond what appears in the viewfinder. Situational awareness is diminished. Peripheral vision gone. I can either take the shot or try again. If I need to re-adjust I have to lower the camera and try again.

    Disadvantages: all of the above
    Advantages: When you bring your eye to the viewfinder you automatically brace and hold steady because you know you aren't going anywhere until you lower the camera. Viewfinders can also be beneficial in very bright lighting conditions.

    With a live-view screen I can hold the camera out in front of me with the screen as a frame and still be aware of my surroundings. I can see objects outside the frame moving and follow them or wait for them to come into the camera's field-of-view. I can move around and watch potential images appear on the screen in front of me. More so than the ability to compose from different angles, I find that it is this ability to take images as though you are watching a movie on the screen in front of you is the biggest benefit of composing via a screen.

    Advantages: all of the above
    Disadvantages: Because the process is much more fluid there is potential for not holding the camera steady. Also very hard to view whilst wearing sunglasses BUT, I also prefer to remove my sunglasses to look through a viewfinder anyway so this disadvantage applies to both.
  7. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    One of the reasons I stopped using a camera many years ago was because I got my first pair of glasses and found I didn't like using a viewfinder with glasses and I couldn't use it all that well without.

    Flash forward some years to digital point and shoots and LCD screens. I started getting interested but the cameras themselves never grabbed me. Then, 2 months ago, I bought my E-P3 and had a camera that did interest me. Unfortunately sub-tropical Australian sunshine is both harsh and bright and I found it difficult to see the screen outdoors a lot of the time, even with the brightened turned up. I bought the Olympus VF-2 and wondered how I would fare with it. I find I'm faring quite well and I now use the viewfinder most of the time. It really makes the difference between me being able to use the camera or not being able to use it in a lot of situations, partly because of how light on the screen makes the screen unusable and partly because of one of the issues affecting my eyes. I also find I do better at noticing what's in the frame when I compose in the viewfinder rather than on the screen.

    So, my take on viewfinders is that they're invaluable in some lighting conditions and they can be invaluable for people with some eyesight issues who have trouble viewing the screen in bright light. My glasses aren't as much of a problem as I feared they would be. Frankly, I'd be lost without my viewfinder and that wasn't what I expected to find. If you don't live in a place where the light causes major problems viewing a screen, or if you don't have an eyesight issue that can make using a screen in bright light a problem, then you may well be happier without a viewfinder, but that certainly won't be true for everyone with glasses, or without them for that matter.

    Work the way that suits you best but I'm glad that I've got the option of using a viewfinder when I need to.
  8. lsteere

    lsteere Mu-43 Rookie

    Apr 8, 2011
    I never use the viewfinder when shooting with a tripod - it's just plain awkward!

    I usually use the viewfinder when shooting handheld - feels more natural, and is steadier imo.
  9. Brian S

    Brian S Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Apr 11, 2009
    I use Rangefinder cameras for most of my pictures. With an RF, you see what is going on outside of the image area. The viewfinder covers a wide-angle lens, and I shoot with 50s most of the time.

    "Works for me"


    with the Ep-2: I typically use the VF-2, but miss what is going on outside of the frames. It would be interesting if a "Hybrid" optical/liveview viewfinder came out. Basically an optical viewfinder with increased peripheral vision with the liveview image in the center. Optical "Zoom Viewfinders" were popular in the 1950s. Adjust the optical viewfinder and size of the liveview image to give the desired peripheral vision. combine 1950s with 21st century.
  10. Bhupinder2002

    Bhupinder2002 Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    I also never felt the need of VF and totally comfortable with EPL3 .It has a tilt screen which makes it easier.I also wear glasses and I think that makes it more difficult.How ever the main difference which I noticed yesterday while taking some street shots in Melbourne was that DSLR shooters looked quite serious and uncomfortable by focusing through OVF.I was just a happy snappy.Moreover I want to enjoy the total atmosphere . I feel as a part of the crowd where as with a DSLR and my eyes glued to OPV -I am feel excluded.
  11. RT_Panther

    RT_Panther Mu-43 Legend

    May 4, 2011
    I wear glasses & use viewfinders.
    The difference is that my SLR viewfinders have much greater coverage than my DSLR viewfinder or the VF-2
  12. VinVin

    VinVin Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 7, 2010
    GTA, Canada
    I wear glasses also but it was hard for me to switch over to vf-less. Fact is, I still miss using a viewfinder and that's what makes me go back to my DSLR and SLR when I don't mind lugging around something heavier.

    Don't get me wrong, I love my E-P1 and E-P3 but it really took getting used to for me. Occasionally I still wander on forums looking to see if I can snag a good deal on the VF-2... that thing is just too expensive at retail price...

    I guess it's because I'm used to using the viewfinder so much so that sometimes I just feel like... I'm missing something when taking pictures on Live View. The fact is when my friend got his first DSLR and it had live view, I tried it out and really did not like it even one little bit... I'm actually amazed at how even without the VF I still enjoy using my Pen's so much!
  13. soundimageplus

    soundimageplus Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 2, 2010
  14. 0dBm

    0dBm Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 30, 2011
    Western United States

    Please elaborate on this. Maybe because it's late and that I'm tired that I am unable to fully understand it.
  15. manju69

    manju69 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jul 1, 2011
    Stroud, UK
    I like having both available! After 10 years of P&S cameras, it is a delight to come back to using a viewfinder again... And yet when I want to get a better shot of my baby boy I flip the screen on my E-PL3, keep it lower than my face, talk to him, and I fire away. Works a treat. So having both in a compact form is a real bonus.
  16. I believe it means: where you can position the camera is limited by where you can position your head, with your head of course being attached to the viewfinder.
  17. goldenlight

    goldenlight Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 30, 2010
    I agree. I do a lot of tripod work and often prefer to use live view on my E-3, however one annoying feature is that live view switches off automatically after a while, usually just when I'm fine tuning a composition. No such problems with my Pen!

    It's true that bright sunlight can cause a problem when using the screen but for me it isn't too much of an issue. I'm very short sighted and when I peer over my glasses my eyes focus at about 5 inches; at that distance the screen is pretty well shaded if I'm wearing a peaked cap!

    The beauty of the Pen concept is that you can have a viewfinder if you want but you may remove it to make the camera less bulky when you don't need it - one of the few examples in life where you can have your cake and eat it!
  18. goldenlight

    goldenlight Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 30, 2010
    Those are the three most relevent words used in this thread so far. We're all different, with different preferences, requirements, physical attributes and different ways of working. That's what is great about the MFT system with regard to viewing options, it caters for everyone. There is no "better" when comparing viewfinders to screens, they are just alternative ways of working.
  19. soundimageplus

    soundimageplus Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 2, 2010
    The viewfinder / no viewfinder debate has always struck me as somewhat overstated. We can prefer one or the other, or indeed prefer one rather than the other in certain situations. This doesn't imply one is "better" than the other, just more suitable for the circumstances.

    m4/3 and CSC's also give us a lot of choice. In the case of the Olympus Pens and the Panasonic GF series, with many of the cameras, we even have the option of buying a viewfinder or not. This has now become the case with (probably) all future NEX cameras.

    As to the glasses situation, I'm not quite sure where the problem lies. I wear glasses and sun glasses when photographing & I've never had any issues with a viewfinder.

    Surely its an advantage to have as many options as possible? I can't say that I've ever had my "creativity" restricted by a viewfinder and enhanced by a live view screen, or vice versa, and the ability to be able to select whichever view mode I choose, has always struck me as one of the great advantages of modern digital cameras.

    It seems that many manufacturers are finally realising that many people do appreciate the two alternative methods of working. While live view work is still not particularly user friendly with most DSLR's, many CSC manufacturers have added viewfinders to their live view offerings and in the case of the Fuji X100 have now provided OVF, EVF and live view. The Sony SLT system also offers a way forward.

    More choices and more options surely equals more possiblilities. Why restrict yourself to one way of working? When live view screens first appeared I was unsure as to whether they would offer me anything useful, however I soon discovered that they were a very useful option indeed, and one that I have used extensively.

    I'm always somewhat disappointed when I read that people are ruling out different ways of working, because I see imposing restrictions on myself as, well... restrictive, and I like to explore what working in a different way will offer me.

    Ultimately isn't it the final image that counts? How we obtained it is secondary, and if using a different method of composing gives us the capacity for surprise, isn't that a good thing?
    • Like Like x 2
  20. goldenlight

    goldenlight Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 30, 2010
    Great summary of the issue. :smile:
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