VF-3 Road Test

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by alans, Aug 23, 2011.

  1. alans

    alans Mu-43 Veteran

    Feb 28, 2010
    I don't what it is about Olympus viewfinders, I've had a VF-1, two VF-2's and just got a VF-3. So I thought I'd share a few thoughts about the VF-3. By the way, I'm down to just this one finder now.

    My current m43 camera is an E-P2, old by m43 years, but it still works well for me. My first question was what functionality it would have with the E-P2's previous firmware, being aware that the current 1.2 is for use with the VF-3. I plug the VF-3 in and nada, zilch, nothing happens. Out comes the USB cord and after 5-10 minutes of firmware updating, I plug the finder in again and we have an image!

    My opinion? The VF-3 is not too shabby. As the magnification is less than the VF-2, the image in the finder is a little bit smaller but still looks good to me. Easy to see the entire frame with glasses. Polarized sunglasses did not work for me with the VF-2. They seem to work with the VF-3 shooting horizontal. Shooting vertical with polarized sunglasses brings out some color distortion but not as bad as with the VF-2. YMMV, polarized sunglasses will vary.

    The locking feature is a plus and is so simple I wonder why it was not incorporated originally in the VF-2. My brother also had two VF-2's - his first one popped off somewhere in Chicago. I had a VF-2 come off in my camera bag (the rubber eyepiece fell off later) so I'm happy with the lock.

    I wonder if the VF-3 might have been designed with the XZ-1 and lower echelon of Pen's in mind to offer an EVF that was less expensive. As far as looks the silver finder probably matches up better with silver or white bodies. The silver finish is probably paint and if you don't treat is nicely, it will likely wear as my brother's E-PL1 did. But nothing wore as easily as the black paint on my Hasselblad X-Pan. But that's another story...

    Though it's a tiny bit shorter than the VF-2, it looks taller on my camera than the black VF-2. The black eyepiece is firmly attached to the back of the finder and does not pop off like the one on the VF-2. The diopter knob is overdone IMO and could have been smaller and less noticeable. After all, how many times does one need to set a diopter?

    What's better, the VF-2 or VF-3? Spec-wise the VF-2 shines, just look up the specs at Oly's web site and compare. I think that the VF-2 image looks a little better, but after looking through the VF-3 for a little while I don't notice it. For my use as a travel/hiking camera, I think that the VF-3 fits the bill for me. It's secure and the eyepiece won't fall off. Future plans call for an EP-3 and I hope to hear how the finders work out on the new Pens.

    Should you get an EVF? I'm a viewfinder shooter and have used a finder on all of my cameras for decades and have never owned a point and shoot without a finder so I'm probably not the person to ask about shooting m43 wihout a finder. IMHO it just don't work right.

    Attached Files:

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    • vf2.
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    • vf3.
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    • Like Like x 27
  2. starlabs

    starlabs Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 30, 2010
    Los Angeles
    Awesome writeup. You answered pretty much all the questions people have with the VF-3!

    • Like Like x 1
  3. Caroline

    Caroline Mu-43 Regular

    Mar 4, 2010
    Agreed, very good writeup :thumbup: I'm considering getting either one of these or the VF-2 when my E-PL3 arrives and was wondering about the cheaper finder. Sounds like it is not so much worse than the VF-2 in terms of resolution and image quality, and actually has some better features like the locking mechanism, so that might just sway me towards the VF-3.

    One question - do you see any difference, particularly in response, between the 2 finders when shooting faster subjects? The reason I ask is I would be using it mainly for motorsport so need something that reacts quickly and doesn't have much (ideally any!) lag as a fast moving subject crosses the screen or is panned with. That's probably more important to me than resolution TBH so if the VF-3 is the same as the VF-2 in this respect that would also sway me towards the VF-3.

  4. Art

    Art Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 13, 2011
    San Francisco, CA
    I would be interested in seeing responses from folks who came to m43 from P&S. Do you find EVF necessary? I switched from P&S to E-PL2 8 months ago and I do own VF-2. But always prefer using LCD.
    Is it just a habit?
    I feel like it's more natural to me to compose with LCD like I did all these years and like I do with an iphone. Using VF-2 often feels like a hassle to me.
    Even in the sun, I am able to use LCD although it's harder to judge exposure. The only time when I strongly prefered VF-2 is when I used MF lenses which I am about to stop as soon as I get Oly 45mm, lol.
  5. starlabs

    starlabs Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 30, 2010
    Los Angeles
    I came from a P&S background and got the VF-2 a few months ago to use with my (then) E-PL1.

    At the time I was doing quite a bit of manual focusing, so the EVF helped. Now that I have an E-P3 with a touchscreen, I am trying to use the VF less, if at all.

    I'll still keep it around though, because in certain situations I like the flexibility:
    - low light shooting. Holding it against my face gives me much more stability.
    - mf
    - really bad outdoor conditions (so far, the E-P3 OLED screen has mitigated it a bit)
    - telephoto shooting, again for stability
  6. Art

    Art Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 13, 2011
    San Francisco, CA
    Do you find Oly's IBIS insufficient?
  7. starlabs

    starlabs Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 30, 2010
    Los Angeles
    Not really... but I'm a caffeine fiend so I need all the extra stability I can get (when needed) :redface:

    That being said, I went on a hike this past weekend and didn't use the VF at all.
  8. alans

    alans Mu-43 Veteran

    Feb 28, 2010
    Caroline, I went out this morning and tried the VF-3 panning cars on the interstate. I had no problems with the image refreshing while panning cars at 60mph. The larger magnification of the VF-2 would likely be helpful in tracking races. The problem for me was the EP-2 blacking out momentarily after hitting the shutter which is not a problem with an optical finder. Sorry, I haven't tried any of the new Pen's yet so I don't know if your EPL-3 will be better in this regard. Hopefully it will be!
  9. alans

    alans Mu-43 Veteran

    Feb 28, 2010
    VF-3 on an E-P3

    Just a preliminary report on this combination. Here are a few things I noticed.

    1. The VF-3 refreshes faster on the E-P3 than on the E-P2. In low light situations the E-P2 is noticeably more noisy than the E-P3.

    2. No nose focusing! With both touchscreen and the VF-3 on, the touchscreen is inactive. Turn the EVF off and touchscreen is active.

    3. This is very subjective, but the image in the VF-3 on the E-P3 seems cleaner than that of the E-P2.
    • Like Like x 1
  10. anidel

    anidel Mu-43 Regular

    May 13, 2011
    Twickenham, Uk
    I didn't check the prices, but I've read the VF-3 is not that cheaper than the VF-2.
    Regardless, is the VF-2 worth the difference?
    Or from the VF-3 point of view, is it worth the price then?
  11. BarefootPilgrim

    BarefootPilgrim Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Dec 23, 2009
    Westchester, IL
    Real Name:
    Seems to be a substantial price difference between the two here in the US: VF2 goes for $250; VF3 priced at $180 (B & H prices).
  12. chrism_scotland

    chrism_scotland Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 1, 2011
    Edinburgh, Scotland
    I bought my VF2 for £200 as the VF3 (At SRS Microsystems) was £180, doesn't seem worth skimping on the £20 to me.
    • Like Like x 1
  13. alans

    alans Mu-43 Veteran

    Feb 28, 2010
    Pricing/value is a hard question to answer...

    Is the VF-3 worth the price for the shooting I do? Yes it is. Do all Pen shooters need an EVF? Probably not.

    BTW, I might have access to a VF-2 this weekend. If I do, I'll check out both finders back to back (side to side or whatever)

    • Like Like x 1
  14. MajorMagee

    MajorMagee Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 24, 2011
    Dayton, OH
    One feature I really like about the view finders over the LCD screen is the ability to flip it up and look down into it from above the camera. When you need it for shooting something down low it's a life saver.
  15. Lili

    Lili Mu-43 Veteran

    Apr 24, 2009
    Dallas, TX
    I have the VF-2 and love it on my E-PL1. But it can and has fallen off to my annoyance but thankfully not lost and was not damaged.
    I am thinking of getting a VF-3 for use on my XZ-1.
    I find the VF-2 too big and too loose to use with this little camera
    Just how much smaller is it than the VF-2.
    Is there a side by side camparison?
  16. kundalini

    kundalini Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 20, 2011
    I've been dissappointed with the battery life of my E-P3. I come from the dSLR world and am used to composing in the viewfinder and find the backscreen disconcerting.

    Does either the VF-2 or VF-3 have a significant drain on battery life?
  17. Wormwood

    Wormwood Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 17, 2011
    Sydney, Australia
    That is a great question that I have been meaning to ask.

  18. thearne3

    thearne3 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jan 28, 2010
    Redding, CT USA
    No. In my experience (both E-P2 and E-P3) using the VF-2 has no noticeable effect on battery drain. Unlike a typical DSLR, one or the other is always on when using the camera. The VF-2 screen is much smaller, so you'd expect it to draw less current, but I'm seeing no difference.
  19. DekHog

    DekHog Mu-43 Top Veteran

    May 3, 2011
    I've read numerous times that the VF-2 drains the battery quicker than the LCD screen, but as I always use the EVF anyway I can't testify to this myself... it's really no biggie anyway as third party batteries are dirt cheap and work perfectly well.....
  20. alans

    alans Mu-43 Veteran

    Feb 28, 2010
    Good point.
    I go into the menu and turn off the camera features that I don't use and carry a bunch of batteries around like DekHog. By the way, the little pouch for the EVF's that attaches to the camera strap fits a spare battery easily.