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The Pen EVF... what's it any good for?

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by Brian Mosley, Jun 30, 2010.

  1. Brian Mosley

    Brian Mosley Administrator Emeritus

    Dec 15, 2009
    Hello everyone,

    as you may know, I've been using the E-P1/2/L1 pretty much daily since release, so have had the chance to build up quite a bit of practical experience... I thought it would be interesting to discuss the actual use patterns we have for the EVF introduced with the E-P2.

    Personally, I love shooting with the LCD on the E-P1, and felt that the Pen had been designed from the outset not to require an eye level viewfinder... particularly since the LCD is so bright and clear - even in bright sunshine I can use it to frame my shots.

    So, when the E-P2 was announced with an EVF - I was a bit surprised to say the least... thinking that a newly designed, inevitably taller body with built in EVF would have been their next step.

    What I found, when I got the E-P2 in my hands and started to use it, was that the EVF does allow you to get 'tunnel vision' to focus on your composition when you need it, and give extra stability held against your eye... for long range wildlife shots like this, in high contrast conditions it is brilliant :

    E-P2 + mZD 14-150mm f4-5.6
    1/250s f/7.1 at 150.0mm iso200


    One downside to using the EVF, is that the tunnel goes black while the image is being captured and processed before returning live view... by which time your subject may well have moved! If you're composing with the LCD, you're still aware in real time what your subject is doing - so you're less troubled by this 'down time'. Anyone coming from a DSLR used to pretty much zero delay in the OVF will be shocked by this delay in the EVF.

    Another downside to using any eye-level viewfinder, is that it makes you stand out like a sore thumb out on the street... you can walk around in public here in the UK and use your camera with the LCD extremely casually - all the 'normal' people do this with their mobile phones / P&S cameras so you are far less likely to be tagged as a terrorist suspect/agitator.

    Illustration of 'normal' people... beware, they're all around you! :biggrin:

    E-P1 + ZD 8mm Fisheye
    1/60s f/3.5 at 8.0mm iso200


    I took this shot on the street in London, using the LCD with the camera out in front of me in classic 'tourist' pose... I was not arrested :rolleyes: :

    E-P1 + mZD 17mm f2.8
    1/320s f/5.0 at 17.0mm iso200


    So, in actual use - I find that I carry the EVF in my pocket and the E-P2/E-PL1 on a wrist strap in my left hand ready to shoot. Yesterday I walked over 10 miles carrying the E-P2 + 20mm f1.7 and found the EVF completely unnecessary.

    I do find the EVF being articulated quite useful - especially when I'm trying to avoid being spotted as 'one of those' when I'm shooting in the street with a longer lens. I took this image, looking down into the EVF to quickly frame and focus the shot before moving on...

    E-PL1 + mZD 14-150mm f4-5.6
    1/250s f/5.6 at 42.0mm iso200


    So in summary, I still think the Pen is designed not to require an eye level viewfinder, but that having the option is very useful... when you have multiple Pen bodies in the family, having a single EVF you can use on occasion, shared between the users is ideal.

    For the future, I think that removing the display lag while processing the image would be even more useful than incorporating an EVF into the camera body. Perhaps when we have a global shutter and more powerful processors this will become possible.

    I'm quite happy with a smaller camera + removable EVF... maybe make the EVF swivel as well as tilt for easier use on a tripod - or a cable option to a larger live view off-camera?

    I do think that a larger, higher visibility, higher resolution LCD would be even more useful for the Pen - ideally articulating too.

    Does this view make sense to you? can you share your own experience with the EVF?

    Cheers

    Brian
     
    • Like Like x 3
  2. naturecloseups

    naturecloseups Mu-43 Regular

    93
    Jun 10, 2010
    Brian,

    As you know the EVF is in short supply but I could not wait so I "upgraded" from my Nikon DSLR system -- a D200 and a D70 --to an Olympus E-PL1. I do not have hands-on experiece with the VF-2 so I don't know what I am missing and all the advantages are up to my imagination -- aided by anecdotal evidences from multiple sources. I do know it is only going to make things better so I am ready to buy one.

    However, I find your observations extremely interesting. One of the reasons I chose the E-PL1 is that I should be able to use the EVF and a (wireless) add-on flash at the same time. But reading your comments here it seems as if I would have been well-off with the E-P2 with an on-board flash commander and no EVF?

    Majority of my macro work is done off of a tripod and would you say that for such work the EVF is dispensible as one gets more accustomed to focusing with the LCD? Which of the advantages of the VF-2 is more valuable in your opinion -- the high-resolution platform for precise manual focus to focus on, or is it the articulating design?

    I will be using legacy lenses almost exclusively and I will be focusing them stopped down to the desired aperture. Focusing wide open and then turning the aperture ring to stop down before exposure is not a quite viable approach in my case because in addition to being more time consuming there is also a chance that handling the aperture ring may interfere with carefully placed plane of focus. So my question is -- does the VF-2 offer any added advantages in precise manual focusing if you are focusing an adapted lens in stopped-down mode?

    Thanks in advance for your insights!
     
  3. bilzmale

    bilzmale Mu-43 All-Pro

    I didn't buy the E-P1 because I don't like LCDs for framing so bought the E-P2 and EVF. I am still getting used to it I must admit and find its very prominent position and its ease of coming off the camera disconcerting. I carry it in its pouch on my camera strap as I don't want to lose it.

    I actually prefer usung the G1 with its more dslr like form factor. I'm glad I have both bodies and like the EVF for macros . Video is an obvious bonus.
     
  4. Brian Mosley

    Brian Mosley Administrator Emeritus

    Dec 15, 2009
    The EVF is even more useful on the E-PL1 due to the smaller LCD (EVF gives a large, high res live view) and body more suited to legacy and longer lenses (EVF can be better for stable manual focusing)

    The E-P2 is quite a bit more expensive - I'd put the E-PL1 ahead in terms of flash control (remote flash control included) so you'd have to weigh up the other factors between the E-PL1 vs E-P2 - it's not a simple comparison.

    Yes, I think the EVF is dispensable for macro work (if you have the larger LCD of the E-P1/2) - but as you note, the articulating design is useful... and you do get more stability as you're composing. The E-PL1 user interface is also a shade more mature than the E-P1 and E-P2... so it's a close call. The E-PL1 benefits more from the EVF than the E-P2, due to the smaller LCD and being more suited to larger/legacy lenses and manual focusing.

    Yes, it does give you a high res, tunnel vision advantage in setting your manual focus... I think the EVF would be a good addition to the E-PL1 for you.

    Cheers

    Brian
     
  5. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Super Moderator

    Apr 17, 2010
    Near Philadephila
    I agree with most of your initial observations Brian, except that with the epl1, I do find it difficult to compose a shot in really bright sunlight with just the lcd. Having not spent any time with the ep1 or 2 except in a shop, I can't say how much better or worse they are in this situation. That said, for street shooting, I still prefer to shoot without the evf, even in bright light. Or I'll have the evf on, set the focus (which has long since been divorced from the shutter button and moved to the video button in the thumb position) for a reasonable zone with a reasonably small aperture, turn the evf off, and commence shooting with just the lcd assuming focus is good.

    The one place I almost always use the evf is shooting with a long lens like the 45-200. I don't know if its just the stability of the camera against my face or if I feel more secure with the sometimes more sketchy focus, but the EVF just feels like a necessary part of the camera under those circumstances.

    But perhaps the best feature of the removable evf is that it IS removable. If I'd wanted on for most of the time, or even anywhere close to half of the time, I'd have probably gotten a G-1 or GH-1. As is, its probably on the camera well less than a quarter of the time I'm using the camera.

    -Ray
     
    • Like Like x 2
  6. jbart

    jbart Mu-43 Regular

    44
    Jun 1, 2010
    Ottawa
    Thanks for all the comments and replies. I have an EPL1 and love it. I like to manual focus but dont find it very easy with the LCD.
    Now I wish I could just find one in stock close to home, or anywhere in Canada :)
     
  7. pxpaulx

    pxpaulx Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 19, 2010
    Midwest
    Paul
    Brian, have you heard of the new eyecup (ep-9) for the VF-2, and any idea when it will actually be hitting shelves? I lucked out getting an unused vf-2 from an ebay seller/owner of an e-p2 yesterday, hopefully it will arrive for the weekend!
     
  8. Brian Mosley

    Brian Mosley Administrator Emeritus

    Dec 15, 2009
    Well, according to this article, the EP-9 was due to be launched late June - which is any day now.

    I'm not sure that it's worth the extra bulk - considering how I like to carry mine in a pocket and use it only occasionally... the EVF does suffer in strong cross-light though, so I use my left hand to shield it.

    Cheers

    Brian
     
  9. LisaO

    LisaO Mu-43 Top Veteran

    798
    Mar 18, 2010
    New York Metro Area
    Lisa
    I can hardly manual focus without an EVF. I really have come to enjoy my Micro-Nikkor 55 2.8, the Contax G 45 and 90 Planar lenses as well as lensbabys which all need to be manually focused. I wear reading glasses so having the EVF eliminates the need for glasses when photographing though I still need them to review.

    I always list the lens I use in my PAD Blog posts:
    Micro Four Thirds User Forum - Lisa O's Photo Blog

    4719702572_7fd6006f07_b.

    Camera: Olympus E-PL1
    Exposure: 0.006 sec (1/160)
    ISO Speed: 100
    Lens: Micro-Nikkor 55 2.8
    F Stop: F/5.6
     
  10. Brian Mosley

    Brian Mosley Administrator Emeritus

    Dec 15, 2009
    That's a good point Lisa - for those who wear spectacles, the EVF with dioptre adjustment is a godsend... although as Ray mentions above, a G1 could be a better option for those requiring almost full time EVF.

    Cheers

    Brian
     
  11. pxpaulx

    pxpaulx Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 19, 2010
    Midwest
    Paul
    I never was really enamored with the G1/GH1 (or new models). I already have 2 dslrs! :biggrin:
     
  12. LisaO

    LisaO Mu-43 Top Veteran

    798
    Mar 18, 2010
    New York Metro Area
    Lisa
    Yes, I agree they are too close to DSLR size for me as well.

     
  13. Brian Mosley

    Brian Mosley Administrator Emeritus

    Dec 15, 2009
    When the G1 was released, it was the best body available for shooting legacy lenses - having the short ragistration distance, decent grip, articulating LCD and high res EVF... made manual focusing easy!

    I just wish Panasonic would update the firmware with the one-touch MF assist on the control wheel. I can't believe the GF1 got it and the G1 didn't! :mad:

    Cheers

    Brian
     
  14. pxpaulx

    pxpaulx Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 19, 2010
    Midwest
    Paul
    That was one of my biggest draws to Pentax (well, price didn't hurt at the time, first pentax dslr was an *istDL under $400 in 2005) - that being legacy lens support. When it comes to backwards compatibility of their own lenses, none of the manufacturers have done it as well as Pentax - full aperture support and easy stop down metering with non-A setting lenses, its even easy with the screwmount lenses.

    Of course with 4/3 and much moreso m4/3 you can adapt some (4/3) and almost all (m4/3) lenses from any manufacturer! But that is progress of course, who knows where technology will take the photography sector 5 years from now!
     
  15. pdh

    pdh Mu-43 Top Veteran

    598
    May 6, 2010
    ... there are downsides ... as already mentioned .. it's clumsy and ugly and comes off too easily ... BUT ... it's good for almost everything for me, especially as I use the ZD 70-300mm a lot; even using the 17mm kit lens, I'm now so long-sighted that I can barely use the LCD without holding the camera at arm's length ... I like a little macro stuff too and I can't see how I could without it ... for me an incorporated EVF would be perfect (so long as the body didn't bulk up too much as a result) ... of course, once I'd held the E-P2, I could never have gone for a G1, despite the EVF
     
  16. pxpaulx

    pxpaulx Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 19, 2010
    Midwest
    Paul
    PDH, how do you like using your 70-300mm on the m4/3 body? Does AF work well? Which adapter are you using? I have been thinking about replacing my 45-200mm with the adapter/70-300 (not really interested in the forthcoming panasonic 100-300, the range is not great and the price will probably be several hundred more than the adapter/70-300).
     
  17. pdh

    pdh Mu-43 Top Veteran

    598
    May 6, 2010
    • Like Like x 2
  18. jeffryscott

    jeffryscott Mu-43 Top Veteran

    505
    Jul 2, 2010
    Arizona
    Coming from rangefinders, albeit a few years now, I find the VF-2 refreshing to use. I dearly missed having a viewfinder for the EP-1 as I just don't like composing on the LCD screen, I like to hold the camera to my face. Maybe I'm too old school, but I just didn't like holding a camera out in front of me to take a photo.

    As for size, the kit is multitudes lighter and smaller than my 5d and lenses I sold to fund this. Depending upon lens, rangefinders always had accessory finders available and they had the same advantages/disadvantages as the VF-2.

    The VF-2 and EP-2 is a fabulous combination - I wouldn't have come back to a Pen if it hadn't received such good reviews, and I'm glad I'm back:biggrin:
     
    • Like Like x 2
  19. tamoio

    tamoio Mu-43 Regular

    I find that the problem with "only" having an LCD to focus and compose with is not in the intensity of the daylight but rather the angle of the sun. Perhaps some of the other photographers in this forum that work outdoors in high latitudes know what I'm talking about. If I was only using AF Panasonic and Olympus lenses I might be able to get away without the VF-2 on my E-P2 but really the entire reason I bought the E-P2 was to use MF legacy glass (if I want or need AF I pull out the E-3 which frankly does it much better).

    The only real downsides of the VF-2 that I have found (besides the cost) are handling issues; E-P2+ VF-2 doesn't fit into typical camera bag compartments as smoothly or without slightly pushing off the VF-2 each time its retrieved.

    I think most people expect the successor to the E-3 to be a weatherproof E-P2 with a built in VF-2, autofocus will need some sorting out for that to happen though.
     
  20. As an E-3 user (still), I wouldn't agree that that is the expectation of the DSLR crowd. I would agree that a weather-sealed E-P2 with an EVF makes for a very nice dream for us still lugging our heavier DSLRs!:2thumbs: I am getting closer to that time when I'll be converting (selling) my 4/3s into m4/3! The concept is great, but I agree there is some Olympus R&D needed to pull it off.

    As I'm getting use to our E-PL1 with the VF-2, I can only concur with the odd shape and concerns of knocking off the EVF as I walk about with it attached or store it in a bag, ready for use.(This design smacks of the poor design of the Olympus DSLR eyepieces -esp. the E-3 version- to fall off the camera body when they brush against something, be it your jacket, the camera bag, etc.)

    That all being said, I would still be outside looking in, if it weren't for the VF-2 being available for the E-P2 and E-PL1; Olympus "well done enough- for now":smile: