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Tuesday, 08 November 2016

Comments

I find the electronic viewfinder MUCH easier for judging exposure. I never have to "chimp" after a shot -- all my photos are "pre-chimped". I can view a live histogram in the viewfinder while I am shooting (I don't do that, but I could....) for even more accuracy. Maybe I'm spoiled by the Fuji EVF.

When I go back to a DLSR, I find nailing the exposure is challenging.

EVF makes exposure judgment much easier as it shows how the camera judges the exposure (though that can be deactivated if necessary, mostly when shooting with studio ligthning).

Also it makes it much easier to shoot indoors as the EVF will not be as dark as an OVF.

Gosh, what a loaded question ! The downside of trying a camera with an EVF is from that point forward, neither type of VF offers everything. When I use my DSLR, I wish for EVF features and vice versa.

As for judging exposure, I think a live histogram might be the best bet. I misjudge with an EVF more often than I misjudge with a DSLR. That may be down to tweaking settings (like EVF brightness) but I'll find myself dialing in exposure compensation to get the live view where I think it should be only to find my files are too bright (typically) as a result.

I have much better luck getting level shots with an EVF. And it's great for manually focusing when I need to do so. (Not too often).

So for me, the jury is out - I like both.

Mathias, I think your understanding is wrong about EVFs not showing the actual exposure conditions. I have an Olympus M5 MkII. Just now, I looked through the EVF to confirm that when I turn a knob for exposure compensation, my view changes. It darkened as I moved the knob to underexpose, and it brightened as I move the knob to overexpose.
I bought my first mirrorless, a Panasonic G1, right when Panasonic and Olympus pioneered the format. Then the EVFs were not great, acceptable and usable, but not great. Currently they are pretty darned good. My only complaint is that my Oly does not seem to let me see the effects of rotating my polarizer as quickly or dramatically as my Canon 5D MkII does. I am wondering if anyone else who replies has this issue.
But back to viewing the results of exposure settings: The last DSLR I bought was the Canon 5D MkII in 2011. And because the viewfinder shows actual light TTL and via the penta-prism, I cannot see the affects of exposure compensation settings. I don't think more current DSLRs will do that either. I believe your premise is wrong and that with the EVF reading the light actually hitting the sensor, you will have a better idea of your exposure settings.
I think you will be pleased.

Ditto to the other commenters about judging exposure using the live view histogram, which makes getting the exposure the way you want it so easy and quick. Manual focus is MUCH easier using the focus highlighting and automatic zoom, which is a boon when the thing you want to focus on is quite a small feature. The effect of your chosen white balance is also seen, though this is less critical for raw shooters. It's easier to compose in very dim light, especially with a slow lens on your DSLR when the OVF image will be very dim indeed. Overall I've found the change to be very positive indeed. I still use my DSLR and still like the "real life" view you get with the OVF but on balance if I had to choose I'd go with an EVF for the convenience and speed. The quality of the EVF image is now very good, though as a caveat I should say I shoot landscapes and I don't know what it's like for shooting fast moving subjects.
Anthony

I use OVF and EVF cameras and like both. The primary downside with EVF for me is night shots. It's difficult to aim the camera at the correct portion of the sky using an EVF. And, then, after staring at the EVF I've lost my night vision for at least several minutes.

For almost everything else, EVF can be very nice especially if you have set it up so that it reflects your camera settings (i.e., Setting Effect On/Off) in the viewfinder.

I suggest renting one to try.

I am an EVF convert and will (most likely) not be going back to OVF for future digital cameras.

In my experience, having the EVF makes judging exposure far easier, as what you see is (more or less) what you get. Not only is the camera representing to you in that little window precisely what the sensor sees, but also how it sees it based on your current settings. You also most likely have the option to show a live histogram in the viewfinder as well, which is really the driver.

The biggest change for me with the transition is that I now very rarely need to "chimp" my shots, as I know pretty precisely what I got in that moment. I just need to think about getting the right moment, as I can see in the midst of shooting if my settings are giving me a reasonable exposure. As someone who shoots a lot of live music with pretty challenging and ever-changing light, the EVF has been revolutionary in keeping me engaged in the moment.

Other differences (maybe a benefit for you, maybe not):

Overlay as much or as little data as you want on your frame

Ability to see in black and white (or other colour palettes) directly in your viewfinder

Digital focusing aids (peaking, split, zoom-in, etc.)

There are, of course, going to be some differences in things like precise contrast or colour temperature in the little window, but in my experience these are very minor. Modern cameras have enough latitude in post-processing (if you're so inclined) to allow you to nail the details afterwards if they don't quite line up with your viewing experience in the moment.

Whenever I pick up someone else's DSLR these days, it feels so antiquated.

"Oly does not seem to let me see the effects of rotating my polarizer as quickly or dramatically as my Canon 5D MkII does. I am wondering if anyone else who replies has this issue."

This is because it's compensating for changes in brightness as you rotate the polariser. I find that I need to lock the exposure (in my case by half-pressing the shutter) in order to accurately assess polariser effects.

When you think of the two types of viewfinders as being "different" rather than as being generically "better/worse," I think you are on the right track. I use both, and each has relative advantages and disadvantages in certain situations. Without going into all the details, the concerns that I had when I first used a serious EVF turned out to mostly not be issue at all, and more recent EVFs have gotten even better than what I had then.

Do think about your photographic preferences. If you work mostly from the tripod, for example, the EVF is likely to be mostly advantageous. If you mostly shoot very dynamic and quickly moving subjects, a DSLR might be a better choice. (This is why I have both.)

One of the main problems you will experience is when you get your EVF outta the store and into direct sunlight where they are considerably less than phenomenal at displaying direct/contrasty sunlight.

Mathias:

I'll echo the abovw comments. I've been an EVF user for years now (currently a Sony RX-10) and I wouldn'r go back. Not only does the EVF show the effect of exposure compensation, but a Rule of Thirds grid and a level indicator is available.

If you're unsure, try renting from Lens Rentals for a week or two. That's what I did with the Sony, and I consider it money well spent.

I got used to the EVF. They are mostly pretty good now. I notice they tend to brighten things a lot indoors, which I have found I generally like. I also like that I get a preview of my shot right in the viewfinder.

I wish to add something to my prior comment. The live histogram displayed in an EVF is derived from a JPEG version of the image. Hence it is not exactly representative of the RAW histogram. This is something that one must be aware of, but for the most part, the JPEG histogram serves its purpose. Expose to the right but leave some room so as not to blow highlights.

The bigger new EVFs are much, much nicer than the dim tunnel viewfinders on consumer dSLRs. I still enjoy a good FF OVF -- especially some film SLR OVFs -- more than any EVF.

I'll also grant that I might actually get equal or better results from a good EVF relative to a good OVF, but I am more motivated to use the camera with the good OVF. For me, there's always a niggling feeling of sensory deprivation with the EVFs, where I feel like I am not part of the environment, but looking at a simulacrum.

On the contrary, I think an EVF makes judging exposure much easier. Between features like live histogram, exposure preview, and live highlight warnings you have so much more information available to you as you're framing your shot.

One thing I personally also like to do is put the camera in B&W mode, which helps me view the to tonalities of a scene so much easier.

The most important feature is that with a VF, you can actually focus! I have not yet owned a DSLR with a screen in it that was focusable the same way a Nikkormat or Nikon from the 70's is!

The modern DSLR screen is actually a light-pipe of some sort that gives you an image, but it doesn't pop in and out of focus (it's meant to transmit enough light from a floating zoom that goes to f/4 or 5.6, so that you can still see something). My old eyes are getting on, but I spent years focusing everything from 'blads to Deardorffs, and I haven't seen a DSLR that can be accurately manually focused yet (unless it has some focus confirmation thingy).

Even among the pros, I always hear someone saying they can do it, and they do it all the time, and I call BS! They can't unless it's a fast long telephoto, and then maybe. I always challenge them, and they always show me files where better than 70% are not in focus.

Even my much older Panansonic G3, when manually focussing on the screen, the image pops in and out like none of my Nikons or Canons...

Also let's not forget that a relatively accurate VF also crops to whatever aspect ration you have the camera set for...set the camera for square, and all you see is square!

Let me answer the question backwards: After years as a Nikon and Leica (M + SLR) user I drifted into EVFs on several cameras (Fuji XPro-1, Sony Alpha whateveritis, Olympus EM-D). Those cameras have EVFs and allow users to use "legacy glass" with adapters. I do a lot of portraiture. In general, I set up the camera to magnify the area most important to my image, manually focus, and snap the picture. If you had challenged me about whether optical or electronic viewfinders were "better" -- however you define better -- I would have, as a good curmudgeon-in-training opined that optical viewfinders were better. But here's the thing: after figuring out the kludge-y workflow, I actually discover that I have come to rely on the ability to "micro-focus" as described above and miss it when I don't have it. Now, thank heavens that human intelligence is fairly plastic . . . ten minutes with a camera without this zoom feature and I am back to my old habits. It is nice, but not necessary. (Come to think of it, I really liked the old Nikon prism collar around the split focusing patch in the old SLR viewfinders. It had the effect of focusing your attention too on the most important part of your photo).

As to guessing exposure, I have never been happy with the results when I turned my brain off and let the camera make all its own decisions. Well, rarely anyway. Ironically, I was firmly an "incident" rather than "reflected" metering kind of guy. So I am always turning my cameras' reflected meters into incident-type meters. By this I mean that I take a reflected reading off of an average or representative patch of the world and then manually put the setting into the camera. Or, --gasp -- I still use an incident meter when the exposure has to be on-the-money-honey. So EVF didn't really change my "workflow" at all.

I would echo Kurt Kramer's comments above about the ability to dial in exposure compensation on the fly. It is a no-brainer feature for me, one of only three or four must-haves.

I've handled a $3300 Sony full-frame mirrorless for all of fifteen minutes, once. They tell me there is further adjustment possible for the viewfinder deeper in the menus, but no matter what twiddling I did with diopter settings, I didn't find the screen to resolve nearly fine enough to manually focus.Not even close to the best optical VFs I've used

I'm just getting used to the EVF on both Fuji XPro-2 and XT-2. Because the XPro-2 lets me use either an optical rangefinder or EVF, I've got a good idea of the advantages/disadvantages of both. I'd say that I feel more confident of the exposure with the EVF, with the consequence that I don't have to chimp after I shoot: I know straightaway that I got the shot, or else I know I need to alter exposure etc. (The XT-2 has a better EVF than the XPro-2, though it's no big deal.) In any case I'm so pleased with the ease of the Fuji workflow, using their excellent film simulations in particular, so I don't mind learning a new way of seeing, even though I was quite addicted to the excellent OVF on my Pentax cameras.

But there is no final word on this. The experts contradict one another. At ReidReviews you can learn that the EVF has not yet developed to be an adequate replacement for the OVF. But at Kirk Tuck's site (The Visual Science Lab) you can learn that he will never go back to OVF since the EVF tells him exactly what he wants to know.

So it's left to you to experiment. For me, it was a refreshing change.

I just recently become comfortable with the concept that every camera and every model needs a little tweaking towards your preferences and style. This is not a point and shoot..... so use your camera and compare with the results. Be subjective so than the user users guide and the reviewers as a guide. My most recently camera is going back to the future and I've sold and stolen Sony's most recently, I sold aA7r and a A6000, and ended 2 generations ago with a NEX 7. Everything came out under exposured and sure enough I keep most of my compensation setting around +1.

I recently moved froma Fuji X20, a camera with a beautiful optical viewfinder, but which only showed 85% of what I was taking, to its successor, an X30, which has a 100% electronic viewfinder.

I must say, accurately seeing what I'm shooting trumps (excuse me!) the 85% optical viewfinder without a doubt. After all, the viewfinder, any viewfinder, is simply an aid to composition. I'll keep on shooting and wait for post-processing to deal with all those other considerations.

My experience started with screens on the back of the camera, but still electronic; didn't get to an actual viewfinder that I put my eye up to until relatively recently. I feel that my experience using the screens to aim my photos is relevant, but I mention the distinction in case the OP doesn't.

One way in which electronic viewfinders differ from optical is that they can have settings. The default setting on my Olympus shows me a version of the view that gives me much more information about exposure and color-balance than an optical viewfinder does—but there's another setting that deliberately washes that information out in favor of making the viewfinder image as visible as possible. The first is more useful for manual exposure in changing conditions, the second is more useful in the studio, especially when using manual exposure with studio flash (where the modeling lights are much less bright than the flash itself).

And the files, of course, turn out much more as I saw them in the VF generally, because I'm already seeing a processed electronic image in the VF, much closer to the final file than an optical image.

I know what you mean, Mathias, and the answer is that you will not be able to guess exposure the way you did through an optical viewfinder. But as others have said, in most situations you won't need to.

You're right that the EVF isn't showing you what the eye sees, but that's because it's showing you something closer to what the sensor sees, including all exposure settings. (You can also have it show you a compensated image instead, for the sake of seeing max detail vs exposure.)

I haven't encountered a "reference exposure" setting yet, but some cameras will allow you to assign a function button to set your own predetermined set of exposure parameters for reference. It still won't be the same as looking TTL.

Of course, you can still lower the camera and use your eye, by itself or through a director's loupe or a tube.

I'm not a huge fan of EVFs, however, I admit they are excellent indoors and under low light conditions outside. In bright light, I much prefer OVFs because the EVFs I've used darken considerably outdoors in bright sunlight.

Indoors, I find EVFs are good at previewing exposure when used in conjunction with the histogram.

I had an early Panasonic G1 with EVF and a clip-on EVF for the Olympus E-P2. I wasn't impressed with them and returned to SLRs after using them for a short while. Currently I have Fuji cameras with EVFs (X-E2/E2S) and with OVF/EVF hybrids (X-Pro1 and X100S). The hybrid finders are my favorite--I use OVF most of the time but I can switch to EVF or LCD as circumstances require.

I've had the OMD EM5 for a few years. Best thing about it is the IBIS and AF - I almost never lose a shot from shake or missed focus. The EVF is okay, but I just as often use the back screen. I think one reason I use the EVF less is the small form factor of the camera as a whole: it's easier to hold/shoot smartphone style.

I also have a Nikon D800. I much prefer working with the optical viewfinder on this. Live view on the back is poor, it suffers shake at low shutter speeds, and AF misses more often than the OMD.

The main issue is image quality, the micro sensors can't quite match. If I could shoe horn the Sony FF sensor into the OMD I could put up with EVF shortcomings. If you're thinking of Fuji/Sony this might not be an issue.

There's only one way you are going to answer your question: you have to live with one for a few weeks/months and see how you get along with it. I don't think the EVF itself is a deal breaker, it's just a trade off as part of the whole package and only you can decide if it works. You'll adapt to it if you mostly like the whole.

On the whole I agree with the idea that both are flawed, but I find EVF cameras are easier to see exposure with as the effects of compensation are immediate in the finder.

To my eyes the downsides are to do with fine detail and judging focus in low light - in those instance EVFs are noisy and, being backlit, damage your ability view the scene whet your eye is away from the finder.

Something that is rarely commented on is the effect of polarized sunglasses. I wear clip-ons on my specs and of course I forget they are there. Then I look into the viewfinder and... WTF? Dark mud. Than I remember. This is not ideal seizing the decisive moment. I suppose I could get non-polarized clips made. But no, I just pocket the clips and squint.

It takes a while to adjust to the EVF but I much prefer it for my style of photography. In short: one of your eyes shows you the world around you and the other shows you what the sensor sees. This means that your exposure compensation can be seen in the EVF, and focusing is easier with peaking and image magnification (I find this very useful in macro work and wildlife). And if you find your files are lighter or darker than expected, you can adjust the EVF brightness (at least in the Olympus cameras I use). Focus peaking is very useful in low light situations where I find I am better able to take hand held images because of IBIS. I would be reluctant to go back to optical VF.

I prefer the EVF because you can preview exposure of the image (well, ok, an on-the-fly jpeg). On an Olympus (and most other mirrorless as well) you can enable highlight/shadow clipping warning in the EVF. It makes ETTR much easier.

On my mirrorless cameras, you can choose to either have the evf automatically boost in order to see into shadows, or only change based on how you change your exposure. Either can give you problems if you don't know which mode you are in. You absolutely can see exactly what you are going to get, if the jpeg settings you are using match how you usually process you raws.

One important caveat: no evf is good enough for you to decide if there's too much noise. You'll have to do some test shots and remember which iso is a step too far. I only say this because evf's can make a noisy shot look really quite good.

Evf's a great for night work, especially checking focus, except they will leave one eye night blind.

Watch this recent panel discussion on mirrorless camera advantages. They address OVF/EVF as part of the presentation. School of Visual Arts. Well worth watching.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7_pm__jrB3U

OK I'll jump in. The worst viewfinders are those found in modern low end DSLRs. It's like looking down a tunnel. The screen is bright, but doesn't show actual depth of field at very wide apertures, and it's hard to see what is really in focus. Higher end DSLRs (with prisms) are somewhat better but not much.

Next up are high end film SLRs like the F2. The view is so big and bright that you get seduced into thinking anything you point it at is a great picture. And it's so easy to focus without AF getting in the way!

Better still is the mirrorless EVF. Of course it's more accurate for exposure control – as long as you turn OFF 'viewfinder boost', or whatever it's called in your version. And you do get a ton of other information you may or may not want.

The best viewfinders are found in rangefinder cameras. The view is completely underwhelming, so you have to know how what you see will translate into the picture you want. Easily the best route to better pictures.

I find the EVF much better for judging exposure -- but it works best when combined with live histogram and/or highlight "zebras". As others said, all the EVFs I know of can be switched between showing an approximation of the exposure or a constant brightness (the second being useful with flash).

My eye rather quickly adjusts to the finder brightness, so I need something like the histogram or zebras to keep me honest. My two most recent bodies are my first with zebras and, with a little practice, I find them excellent for judging highlight placement.

In addition, for most use I set my cameras to flash a brief review screen on the EVF, about 1 second, and set the review to show RGB histograms. That quick flash is enough to catch seriously blown highlights, or enough to tell me if I need to call up the review to check more carefully. (Being able to see the review in the EVF is a great thing when outdoors in bright sun, by the way).

Finally, the real reason I switched to mirrorless (and I switched in 2009 with the first Panasonic models) was for the fully realized live view and the ability to move seamlessly between eye-level finder and LCD. I find this gives me a great deal more flexibility in composition and camera position than either system alone. I'm completely sold.

Perhaps I should clarify the question:

How easy is it to judge exposure 'in difficult lighting conditions', like in high dynamic scenes and in backlight? I'm thinking stage performance, sunsets...

Will an electronic VF hull backlit subjects in deep shadows / completely burn out the background?

Imagine a scene where the subject in the foreground receives about 2 to 3 stops less light than the background (I don't mind the final file output because I can pull up shadows in post or add flash).

But if the VF turns the subject pitch black, how can you focus properly? If you can't see what's happening in the foreground, how can you tell when to press the shutter?

In other terms: can an electronic VF cope with high dynamic range / backlight without impeding the photographer's ability to see what's happening in the scene?

I really don't use the viewfinder to judge exposure since it is affected by so many other factors such as ambient light and the characteristics of the little screen itself. Rather, I rely on the exposure meter scale, the histogram and the "expose to the right" concept of digital exposure. I have set my Olympus OMD-M1 to provide a visual signal ("zebras") when tones are hitting the overexposure wall over level 255 which reminds me to reduce exposure if I choose to. I do use the EVF for focusing (best with "peaking" indicator) and for framing.

For me I prefer an EVF because it shows me an image that is a lot closer to what the camera sees. Exposure is close, but I get a much better sense of what my actual picture will look like.

One failure I have found with my EVF is shooting northern lights. If you shoot at night or in very dark scenarios an EVF might not be the best option.

It all depends on what you are shooting really. If you are shooting a lot of action or things where it is more critical to see what is going on than see what the camera is seeing, then an optical viewfinder might be the better option.

The EVF on my OMD5 II is great, BUT if you are a myope and you wear prescription polarized sunglasses, you will have to change your eyewear or look under/over your lenses. I had new sunglasses made up without the polarized lenses... it works but it is an unhappy compromise.

Using the Fuji cameras my only issue is in bright sunlight. (Admittedly not the best time for photographs) But, I'm constantly holding the camera with one hand, trying to shield my glasses wearing eye with the other. It's not enough of a problem for me to go back to the nikons, but it is an issue.

I find the EVF to be the best thing since sliced bread. The files do turn out exactly the way I see them, with 100% coverage and perfectly previewed exposure. This was actually a problem for a while after I switched from a DSLR - I was used to frame slightly tighter (didn't have 100% coverage), and chimp at the screen to confirm exposure. Took some time to drop that habits. No more chimping, you can see the photo in the viewfinder right after you take it. You can work the menus too, nice bonus.
But the biggest selling point for me was the ability to zoom in the viewfinder during focusing - I focus manually and am obsessed about shallow depth of field - before EVF I would stack focus, with at least three shots, to make sure I get the focus on the eye. Now I just zoom and snap. And when in doubt I can check the focus right away without taking the eye off the viewfinder.
I'd give my right kidney to get this thing for my real camera :-)

Good question! For me, the EVF is better as it shows me 2 things that were not possible otherwise:
1) Focus peaking
2) the exposure I will see in the captured image (WYSIWYG)

This has opened up using a wonderful MF glass, which is my preferred way of taking photos. YMMV of course :-)

If judging exposure is your top priority, EVF is definitely preferable to an optical viewfinder, since it takes the "judgement" aspect out of the equation. What you see is what you get, with an optional live histogram to boot.

After weight of glass the main reason for my making this switch was a preference for the EVF. Not only did I find it brighter but the electronics bring a number of aids to ensuring sharp focus where I want it. This is something that I found less easy with an OVF and eyes that have seen 68 years service.

The main difference I have found is the size of the image presented in the EVF which is naturally smaller than on a full frame OVF. This makes it easier to judge the overall composition but less easy to check the edges of the frame. The latter is compensated for by the ability to enlarge and move the image around. Clearly this is useful only if you have the time.

Incidentally 1- my Oly offers the opportunity to switch to a simulated OVF view - I think this arrived with the last firmware update.

Incidentally 2 - here in the UK at the turn of the year Olympus was running (and presumably continues to do so) a programme called "Test and Wow" under which you can borrow a camera and lens for three days without cost; indeed it enables you to take out a second camera and second lens and so on which I found very helpful. I do not know whether they have anything similar where you are.

EVFs offer other features that DSLRs don't, such as focus peaking, showing the picture in its correct aspect ratio and displaying a black and white image in black and white scene mode. Combined with the reduced size and weight, I don't know what it would take for me to go back to a DSLR.

The biggest disadvantage for me is the short battery life. I carry around at least one extra battery, no matter what the situation is. I still come out way ahead on size/weight, so that's not a big drawback.

I'll answer each of your questions in turn:

I found the change really wonderful - at last I could see what the exposure of my camera was going to be, rather than having to judge.

You're right that the electronic VF doesn't show what your eyes really see, but you've got your eyes for that. However the electronic VF makes exposure judgment easier because it shows you what your image will actually look like, and how it is exposed.

You don't have to guess exposure, because what you are seeing in the EVF is the exposure. That's the beauty of it - no guessing required.

And finally my files turn out the way I saw them in the VF. With the newer cameras the EVFs provide an excellent image that matches the final image very well.

Mathias,

I'm a brand-new adopter (one week today!) of an X-T2, so I haven't formed too many firm opinions on the EVF yet – you might want to take the following with a block of salt. Overall I do like the EVF, though.

The single biggest advantage for me is that the apparent field of view of the EVF is bigger than on any DSLR or fairly modern film SLR I've used (i.e. Nikon F3 & F4 & Canon 5D). It's maybe not quite as big as, say, my long-gone FM-2, but it's spacious. I've always disliked the "high eyepoint", AKA TP roller, view that post-1990 or so cameras offer, and I've always used glasses with the older wider viewfinders with no problem. Getting the old familiar picture window view through the EVF was an unexpected surprise. The advertised magnification of 0.77x sort of clued me in that it wouldn't be terribly constricted, but I didn't expect it to be as nice as it is, particularly since APS format DSLRs have such narrow viewfinders.

The second advantage is that manual focusing is very easy, even without peaking or magnifying or view-splitting aids. Somehow the VF pixels remain almost subliminal except in the zones of the image that are juuuuust out of focus. (Yes, all aids really are turned off, even the dim white peaking, which is also quite nice and not too distracting.)

To get to your exposure question, for now I'm leaving the exposure preview off and relying on the itty-bitty histogram in the corner. It's less distracting than having the view lighten and darken all the time. I never did use a non-auto aperture lens system, having started out with a K1000 in the '70s, so I don't have nostalgia for stopped-down metering. I may want to enable exposure preview to play with in-camera processing, but we'll see.

That said, I don't know whether the focus and FOV benefits are unique to the f/1.4 lens and camera model or are generally what you'd find with EVFs. I didn't do my homework and just jumped on what I thought I'd like, and I like it. Yup. Now, if Fuji will just get serious about T-S, long tele, and macro lenses, I can ditch about 40lbs of gear. But that's another rant altogether.

I used SLRs and rangefinders before trying EVF. The EVF was comparable to the SLR in some ways. You see the whole frame (give or take a few percent) and you can see or preview depth-of-focus. But the SLR viewfinder never shows you what your eyes really see, either. The rangefinder comes closer to that.

I don't think you need to look through any viewfinder to "guess exposure." But the EVF (I'm thinking of the last one I used, the Fuji XT1) would give you the stopped-down view or a brightened view so you can see into shadows. I found the stopped down view in the EVF to be close to the jpg version of the picture and a more accurate representation of the end result than what I saw through SLR viewfinders.

What bothered me most about the EVF was the blackout after tripping the shutter and the slight delay in being able to shoot another frame (advances in technology may have improved or eliminated this delay, I don't know).

I just happened to be comparing my cameras yesterday. The reason was to compare colour rendition and lens characteristics, however I did notice the difference of the viewfinders. The three cameras were a Nikon D60, Fujifilm X-E1 and Olympus e-pl5, all with kit lenses (28-85mm in 35mm equivalent). I did happen to notice how pleasant and accurate it was to see through the optical viewfinder of the D60 (even though it’s not that big or bright), which I have not used much for the past two-three years. Comparatively, the viewfinder on the X-E1 could be described as awful (less than great anyway), except it’s larger and maybe brighter, but the colours are not really that accurate. It also has an extremely annoying characteristic of not being able to remove the exposure compensation display, which blocks the left side of the viewfinder. The VF-4 add-on viewfinder for the e-pl5 is very good, and you can remove everything from the display so you can see the entire image unobstructed. The main reason for going mirrorless is to reduce the bulk and weight, and smaller, lighter, better lenses may also be a factor. Some other advantages of mirror less are that you see everything in the viewfinder instead of 90-95% as on lower-level dslr’s, there’s no mirror slap to cause vibration, and also they are quieter. It’s probably also better shooting on a tripod with mirrorless, since you don’t have to fool around with moving the mirror up. But, if you’re happy with a dslr, don’t mind the weight and bulk, and have lenses you’re happy with, then an optical viewfinder may be a better choice - you see exactly what you’re taking a picture of (almost). But there’s no current dslr/lens combo that I would be really happy with for size, weight and lens/image quality. By the way, the X-E1 won out for image quality in my little comparison, even though the camera itself is a pain ergonomically. There’s no real ideal solution. You just have to adapt to the best fit possible. Best bet, rent a camera/lens before buying, especially if it’s a high-end camera, or only buy where you can return within a time period. But all said and done, you’ll probably adapt to whatever camera/viewfinder option you choose, provided it’s reasonably ok. In recent shooting I noticed that with both the Fujifilm and Olympus evf’s I could use the viewfinder with one eye and see what I was actually photographing (at least partly) with the other eye. I don’t think that works with a dslr.

Matt, I am eighty years old and have bad vision to the point where New York State DMV requires a yearly statement from my doctor, but I am able use the on screen histogram, see my exposure settings, and handle all the other functions that were unique to the OM-D EM5 when I bought mine four years ago.
My son, who has 'more buying power' then I do, has a few cameras, one of which is a high end Canon; something with a letter "D", costing a little under two grand. I've played with it from time to time, and although it's a fantastic camera with excellent optical viewfinder, I still prefer my aging EM5

I avoided using electronic viewfinders (EVFs) as long as they have existed because I like looking at a scene with as little between me and it as possible.

Perhaps try a Fuji X100S or X100T? This series is unique in providing both electronic and optical viewfinders in fairly well-designed little cameras.

In manual mode if you press the shutter half-way the EVF shows what the image will look like. In my limited experience with a X100S' EVF (I almost always use the optical finder) what you see is fairly close to what you get in the file.

If you have a camera in mind - rent it from Lens Rentals for a few days...

Hi Mathias.
I switched from Canon full frame to a variety of mirrorless about 3 years ago (uptake of these was much faster in Australia and Europe than the U.S.). The view finder for me was about a three month transition and now I would not shoot without the benefits of sn EVF. My best advice would be to try plenty and take note of your first reaction to each. If they feel a bit "off" to you, then that may never change. Out of all that I tried (working in a camera shop at the time), Olympus was the best fit for me as I found The others too contrasty, not accurate to different light or did not suit my viewing angle feeling cramped and tunnel like. That was a few years ago, but it still holds true that you should probably trust your first reaction to each finder. And go with what feels the best after a little while with them.

Mathias: It looks like you'll get a rain of responses in line with my opinion: that today's electronic viewfinders are far better picture-makin' aids than their optical TTL predecesors on SLRs. There are lots of reasons, depending on the camera model. But they are mainly anchored by the richness of information that the best modern EVFs can deliver to to your eye. Gone are the days of coarse, flickering viewfinders! We're now talking ultra-advanced cybernetic vision of the 23rd century!

"I understand that the electronic VF doesn't show what your eyes really see, ..." Actually, that's not quite right. The EVF is showing you what the camera's sensor sees which, ultimately, will be what your eye sees. The old film-era TTL optical viewfinders showed you what the LENS saw, not even what the film saw. Kinda lame, actually. I've been shooting with a brand new Canon 5D Mark IV this week and really miss the EVFs of my other cameras! I don't care what the lens sees! Gimme live view!

My advice is to take time to learn to use that EVF as the wonderfully advanced image production aid it can be. Buy a better camera than you can really afford, keep it for a long time, and become one with its facilities. Practice, practice, practice. That's very possible with today's digital cameras.

Most importantly, have fun!

I currently shoot mirrorless cameras and have gotten very accustomed to them and do not think twice about their EVF limitations during use. However I hate to be the odd duck here but when I recently shot a roll of 35mm film in my Minolta SRT 101, WOW what a difference. I realized how much better a nearly 100% view through a pentaprism can be. Just sayin.

The change from optical VF to Electronic VF?
I haven't made the total transition yet but bear with me.

This very day I ventured into a camera shop to examine a Fuji X-T2. I also ventured into a hifi shop but that's an equally sad story!

My first experience with a SLR was Canon FX the last time that England won the world cup. That, via a couple of excursions (Pentax SV and OM1) set me on Canon's path, currently a 20D used to stop a door closing, a 40D carried until recently on a motorbike and a 5D3. Obviously, a bag of lenses, a case of Speedlites, a bag of Bowens lights and a big box of Pocket Wizard Flex's are all part and parcel of Canon ownership.

Owing to involunatary separations from a number of motorbikes over the years my shoulders are not as they should be. Thus in the past decade weight has been an ever more ssignificant issue. Travelling with Canon DSLRs, a backpack filled with lenses and the usual parapernaila became increasingly tedious. And painful.

I bought a Canon G12 for travel when they came out (and used it for a wedding photo booth!) because an optical viewfinder is essential, isn't it? The G12 VF is hideous.
I persevered with it but eventually gave up. I tried using the rear screen but I can't adapt to that. I must be the only person ever with an iPhone who has never used it for taking a photo.

Desperation was averted when as a retirement present my wife allowed me to buy a Fuji X100T. When first taken travelling for a month in Spain I used the OVF exclusively as batteries became an issue. I only had two. Now I have a bag full and I have begun using the EVF.

A week ago today I sat in Goudi's cathedral in Barcelona and revelled in its full technicolour glory and just knew that what I really, really needed the 16-35/2.8L that was 1500 miles north. But the X100T excels in low light and did excellent work albeit not as expansively as I would have liked.

That is about the only time I've hankered after any of my Canon gear whilst on holiday since I've had the Fuji. It has also captured the moment of ring exchanges as it is silent, as in totally silent when nothing else could have got such shots. It excels in those fleeting moments when you see and shoot so suddenly that even the effort of bringing a 5D3 to the eye would draw so much attention that the very act of taking the photo would mar the moment. Thus has my fundamental desire for an OVF been challenged and overridden through the sheer delight of taking photos that with a DSLR would have been very difficult/hazardous/energy sapping

Today I picked up a Fuji X-T2 and putting it to my eye was a delight and the EVF felt so natural that I was quite shocked and excited. It would not have been either without the transition effected by the X100T.

My main problem is the investment in Canon specific lighting as I do a not insignificant number of on site product shooting as well as events involving people.
If Pocket Wizard did Fuji specific Flex's I think I'd be part ex-ing 3.5tons of Canon equipment any day now but because lighting is seriously important for me currently I'm a bit stuck.

That and the fact that I've now entered the world of "streaming" flac files as an alternative to spinning records on a Linn Sondek I really think my next move in the ever evolving tech world will be to go fully EVF .... once the lighting triggers have been sorted!

In the same way that a replacement MM cartridge is more expensive than a Cyrus streamer so an EVF mirrorless camera and couple of decent lenses is less than my 24-70/2.8L alone cost me not many years ago.

I have friend who will give me so much stick when he reads this but he shoots sports events with 1Dx2's, 400/2.8L IS and 200/2L lenses but his needs are so specific that nothing else will do. For me a small light EVF mirrorless would do just fine. Lighting issues apart but these are not an insurmountable problem, which my shoulders definitely are on the way to becoming.

The OVF EVF issue is only one aspect of camera ownership and whilst it is decidedly the future for us lightweights it is only one aspect and for some types of photography it is not optimal but none of us ever had the best every time we took a photo! It's all a compromise, eh?

Life's a wonderful journey, enjoy it.

Two years ago I switched to an Olympus EM5 after a lifetime of using OVF.
This camera has two EVF "modes". One where you see the scene with your shooting parameters applied (the brightness changes as you over or under expose) and one that tries to mimic an OVF (as you over or under expose the view always has "real life brightness"). I always use that mode.
That way I get all the benefits of an EVF (live histogram, focus aids, etc.) and a shooting experience as close as possible to a traditional SLR.
One nice touch is that you can see the scene with that "real life brightness" even when the histogram is all the way to the side.
At the beginning its weird (really weird), but once you get used to it there's no way you are coming back to an OVF.

Good comments above. IMO the salient points are:

An EVF can brighten or darken with over- or under exposure, but most also have the ability to "gain up" as the light decreases. This makes viewing/focusing in dim light much easier, and consequently is a common setting for many users. But it also means that judging exposure from finder brightness won't always be possible.

Re: the question about "guessing " exposure, with modern multi-pattern meters, one should never have to guess about exposure. Practice helps one learn when to trust the camera and when it will need help due to difficult conditions. Current metering technology is incredibly sophisticated and will usually yield useable results almost all the time. Of course, best practice is still to chimp a shot whenever you can to confirm that you're getting what you want.

Re: whether files will "turn out the way you saw them," no viewfinder system can assure this. The viewfinder is just that, a device for finding the view, i.e: framing and composing. A better method is learning to judge histograms to determine if the exposure is in a range that will produce a result that meets one's expectations.

One big benefit not asked about by the OP is the potential for dead-on focus all the time. By using the magnifying focus aid function that most mirrorless cameras offer, one can "pre-chimp" for focus and (in theory at least) never miss focus again. This is a huge plus for the EVF!

I was skeptical about EVF's which is one reason I bought the Fuji X-Pro 1. I thought that I would use the OVF mostly, since I am comfortable with that from rangefinder days. I loved the OVF, but I found that I actually liked it the EVF, as well, especially having the histogram in the viewfinder.

That said, the histogram on the LCD is easier to see, so my typical routine goes like this:

+ I still shoot manual exposure of aperture priority -- old habits die hard.

+ I most often use the LCD to determine exposure. With its brightness set on the default, I get a pretty accurate sense on the way the final exposure will look, and the histogram allows me to see exactly how the brightness levels will fall. I tend to keep the highlights within the histogram and fix the shadows in Lightroom.

+ I then use the EVF or the OVF depending the subject and lighting conditions.

I recently replaced my X-Pro 1 with an X-Pro 2. I love having three finders, the option of manual vs. auto focus, the camera's light weight, and the new Fuji F2 primes. For me, a very Leica-like experience. Choices are good.

On exposure, I feel I have much more predictive control than I ever did with my Canon 5D.

I'm not convinced that you can judge your exposure with either type of VF, just too much room for error. The previous poster that recommended the live histogram has nailed it. Get a camera with that capability, set it and use it. Can't do that with an optical VF.

I have found the EVF's of my EM-1's vastly superior to my Canon MKII. As mentioned above...they make shooting in available light easier because the finder brightens so you can see what you are shooting. Also you get to see the "finished results" in the finder.. meaning you don't have to take your eye off of the subject. That is one feature that makes going back to an DSLR very difficult...with a DSLR you have to take you eye away from the finder to check what you have shot. It is maddening once you are accustomed to an EVF. Exposure comp is easily seen and as mentioned you can superimpose a histogram onto your finder. There may short comings....the EVF may not accurately represent colors...and it may show a higher contrast than the actually scene. Some complain that they don't like to see the captured image in the finder...but that is easily solved by just a quick press of the shutter release. If you have the money check out the Leica SL....according to reports it's EVF is something to behold.

I've used and grown to like SLR, RF and EV finders. They all take a lot of getting used to when you change.
I started with SLR like so many and switching to Leica M was quite a big deal. I am always amused when people say they cannot get used to it in a few months use. Yes, it can take longer than that. I did it as a daily paper photographer so it was hard, but compressed into a shorter time-line. But many hours of use.
EV was maybe even harder, but it's quite suited to what I do and moving from giant Nikons to tiny Sonys with Leica and Nikon glass made it pretty compelling.
EV is the ugliest of the three (unless you are buying the new Leica SL) but in many ways the most functional, depending on your uses.

Well, Mathias, think of it this way:
Imagine you are living in a house with no windows. You want to have visual contact with the world outside, so you install cameras that show you the outside of the house on a monitor you've mounted on your wall. (But of course you get time, date and weather information on the monitor.)
Chances are you'll miss seeing the world in flesh, as you would if you lived in a house with proper windows.
Remember the EVF is a technology manufacturers borrowed from bridge cameras because their choice of doing away with the mirror implied they couldn't install a proper TTL (Through The Lens) viewfinder. Besides, you don't get any lag with an optical viewfinder. If you do nature and sports photography, an electronic viewfinder is a no-no.

Upsides of EVF

  • Live exposure view (note - you have to calibrate the EVF brightness correctly first).

  • More information overlaid, including live histogram, focus magnifier (or focus peaking) etc.

  • Always 100% view, with no alignment issues either with the scene or with AF points.

  • No light leaks (no need for VF blinds on long exposures).

  • No mirror blackout or mirror vibration. No need for lockup mode on long exp.

  • Seamless switch-over from stills to video.

  • Not affected by mirror size, eg. APSC EVF can be bigger than a FF DSLR finder, and brighter.

  • VF reflects picture effects - useful if you forget to turn them off.

  • Diopter corrected method of reviewing images (useful if you wear reading glasses but prefer shooting without, which makes the LCD hard to see).

Downsides:

  • Slight refresh lag, sometime noticeable as 'tearing' when moving laterally (though improving).

  • Image is digitised, so older EVFs can be low res and look artificial. Hard to read expressions etc.

  • Slight delay in continuous shooting, not always easy to keep subject in correct part of frame at high frame rates (though improving at low rates).

  • High contrast means judging blown highlights not always that easy (use histogram).

I've got a Sony mirrorless (Nex-7) for travel photography and a Canon 5ds for professional work, so can compare and contrast the two. Here goes:

Most of the time, the Sony EVF is superior to the Canon optical viewfinder. The rendering of the EVF image is pretty accurate for exposure and you can see exposure changes as you tweak shutter or aperture (or exposure compensation). I do use a histogram in the viewfinder for added accuracy and it works really well.

There are a few exceptions that are worth mentioning. In really bright light conditions, especially shooting into the sun, the EVF is pretty hopeless. I can see the histogram and pretty much rely on that. In really low light conditions, the EVF gets really grainy and makes you worry about the quality of the shot (mostly needlessly). And, when doing action photography (e.g. shooting rally cars while panning), the very slight lag of the EVF forces you to anticipate a bit more.

90% of the time, the EVF is superior to an optical viewfinder. My real wish for Canon would be an optical viewfinder with a histogram overlay. To me, that would be the perfect solution that would alleviate the need for guessing at exposure compensation.

One other thing - the biggest difference you'll notice after getting used to the EVF will be the battery life of the mirrorless camera. I always travel with at least 3 batteries and my nightly routing involves juggling chargers among available plugs in hotel rooms while not neglecting my phone and tablet charging needs. Sometimes there are just not enough plugs to go around, especially in European hotel rooms. This is doubly difficult if your wife needs her tablet charged!

Mathias asks some good questions.

The following is based on my experience with several Sony mirrorless cameras. I now use an A6300.

I use the A6300 as a “walk around” camera in full AUTO mode – the camera selects the ISO, shutter, aperture and focus and I click the shutter. What I see in the EVF is exactly the image the camera makes. If it is too bright in the EVF the image will be too bright and if it is too dark in the EVF the image will be too dark as well. If you like what you see in the EVF you will like the image too.

Mathias wrote, “I understand that the electronic VF doesn't show what your eyes really see, thus making exposure judgment perhaps more difficult.” I’m not sure I understand the question but I’ll answer it anyway. If you are in a dark room, your eyes see a dark room. If you look at the dark room using your DSLR, you will see a dark room. With my Sony in AUTO mode, the camera sets the exposure to make the image brighter, more like a well-lit room, and this is what you see in the EVF. If you want to use a histogram for exposure, this can be displayed in the EVF.

If you wish to set the exposure manually, you simply look at the EVF, adjust the ISO, aperture and shutter speed until you see an image you like in the EVF and snap the shutter. Or use the histogram.

The EVF in my experience means, “what you see is what you get.”

After taking a picture with my Sony, the camera immediately displays the resulting image in the EVF for a few seconds which may be, for me, the EVF’s most valuable feature.

There is one downside. With a DSLR there is always an image in the viewfinder. With the Sony EVF there is a very brief delay (a second of two) between switching on and seeing an image. This is not a big deal for me.

I made the switch to an EVF with the Sony NEX 7 after shooting OVFs with Nikons ( D50, D300 and D7000). I'm currently using the excellent EVF on the Fuji X-T2 I really believe shooting with an EVF made me a better photographer. I think the big difference for me was in seeing the exposure compensation change as I operated the EV dial. I also feel that "pre-chimping" is a big advantage, as well, not interrupting the flow of shooting that occurres when chimping after the fact with an OVF.
Overall, I'd have to say the using an EVF boosted my confidence in my shooting ability. I will never go back to OVF.

Personally, I find that while a well made optical finder is a pleasure to look at, an EVF more accurately shows what will be recorded. There are advantages to each type: an OVF has no lag and looks very much the way we see things, an EVF can be show a dark subject lighter for easier framing and allows zooming the picture for accurate focus. Today's OVFs don't show accurate depth of field, which is something EVFs do.

I didn't find much effort in getting used to an EVF, although OVFs offer certain advantages. Now I like the fact that I see a slightly dark subject more clearly when framing and checking focus.

I did not like early EVFs at all, but starting at around when the E-M5 came out they got the frame rate and the resolution up to the point where I don't even really think about it anymore. Newer ones are probably even better.

The best perk, IMHO, is that the viewfinder still works in the dark!

Using the image in the EVF to judge exposure is a mixed bag. Easier to take a shot and look at the histogram. Or maybe some EVFs have the histogram in the display as well. I don't know.

Why is judging exposure so important anyway? Modern cameras get exposure spot on most of the time, and if they don't then a RAW file has more than enough latitude to correct any problems. Using an EVF always seems like looking at the world through a TV monitor to me. Using an OVF is more like looking through a window.

I'm using the Sony A6000 and the only thing other than what's been mentioned is remembering to give the shutter a half press to get the new view if shooting rapidly. This camera shows the last shot taken for a few seconds so you can adjust framing, zoom in to see focus while still looking through the viewfinder.

The EVF is like a mini live view screen. It shows you what the camera sees, the way the camera sees it. From a practical standpoint, this means that unlike an optical rangefinder which shows the subject continuously and an SLR which immediately returns your view to the subject when the mirror slaps back down, the EVF continues to show the image that is being written to the card until that is complete. The delay may vary with the speed of your camera's ability to write files and the card's ability to accept them quickly. That could be problematic for sports or other photography where you are trying to follow action. Also if you are following action you may see pixelation if the refresh rate has difficulty keeping up with the movement.

As for exposure, the EVF will show how bright the image will be. If you change the +/- settings the change will be reflected in the EVF view. On the cameras that I have used with EVFs you can also view whatever you have chosen to display on the back screen (histogram, digital level, etc) as an overlay or a clear view of only what the lens sees. On my Canon M3 it is easy to flip through the available screen views by repeatedly pressing INFO button. I find that handy for checking exposure and other settings without taking my eye away from the EVF.

I'm not the person to advise on how true to the EVF image the files are because I always shoot RAW files, not JPGs in any of the available "modes", so I don't know how well that works. I like my Canon M3 because I shoot a fair number of slow shutter speed images and the lack of mirror movement combined with the self-timer makes it easier to get shake free images. I hope that answers your questions.

If your viewfinder is APC or below, then "getting used to" and EVF is in your best interest. In FF...the answer is murkier. In medium format....we'll see soon.

EVF's that are good can be fantastic in low light situations---like having night vision. Also, focus peaking, when well implemented and dialed in correctly to your own shooting style, is great. So are zebras for exposure.

But EVF's still don't match the best OVF's in FF and above for evaluating focus and dof. I have used both in several formats, from 4/3 up through medium format.

Different cameras may give different experiences, so this is based on my experience with an Olympus E-M1. For me, the mirrorless viewfinder was a game changer. I used to have to rely on experience and, at times, "guesstimation" to adjust exposure using a DSLR or SLR. The mirrorless approach eliminates that approach to photography. The impact of an increase or decrease in exposure is visible in the viewfinder. That is huge, in my opinion.

I agree, no need to chimp when you can see exactly what the sensor sees. I don't see myself going back to a DSLR.

One thing I have found with the electronic viewfinders is their performance in low light. Those I have tried have been worthless for composition with night skies, auroras and dimly lit jazz clubs. Add in the bright viewing screen wipes out my night vision and you have good reasons I stay with optical finders.
Try it in very low light to see if you can live with the performance.
Have tried a number of Fuji, Olympus, Sony and Panasonic models. None were good for night work for me.

EVF are typically WYSIWYG. It is fun to set my EVF to a B&W film style. It helps to see the patterns. If the image is too busy, the color style come back on.

The limitation of EVF is with continuous shooting. The VF can black out during this type of shooting. The Fuji products, well probably all, are working hard to resolve this with faster refreshing EVF.

Hi Mathias, I am a professional documentarist photographer, shooting available light, moving human subjects most of the time. I've shot with Canon DSLRs for many years, currently I shoot the 5D II. I have also recently acquired a Sony a7RII, because I longed for all that tech in one small package. To your question: I find that for my specialty purpose above, the Sony EVF does not impress: For shooting dance or concerts, the EVF just lags a bit too much behind reality - the blackout on sensor readout is creating a sort of slide show effect on continous shooting, which always lag a little behind reality, making it even harder than usual to predict action. With the optical viewwfinder on the 5D II, not so. - The mirror blackout is determined by your shutter speed. The EVF on the Sony also strains my eye more than the Canon because Im basically looking at a bright screen a few millimeters from my eye, no matter if its a dark room. However, for judging exposure, the Sony wins: The viewfinder will show you very much what you wwill get. Especially with High Quality turned on for the EVF in the menus. YMMV, no two EVFs are alike. Try both out. I now use the Sony as my 'slow cam', and the Canon for speedy things.

If you do go the EVF route Matt, ensure that the EVF is set to Exposure Simulation; that is, if your shot is underexposed then the visual display of the image will be shown darker. Likewise brighter with overexposure. I prefer to shoot manually just about exclusively so my Fuji X100 (the original) catches me out regularly as it will not show me an exposure-simulated view. Instead it always shows me a perfectly well-exposed image regardless of whether I'm hopelessly over or under exposed. It shouldn't be a problem, but my mind sees a 'correct' image so I don't automatically check the exposure meter as I do when I'm shooting with the optical viewfinder.

It's horses for courses. I shoot a combination of a clip on OVF and a clip on EVF for my Sony RX-1, and quite like the ability to pick and choose. I find the OVF far better for fast-paced street photography. Having a true light level field of view with frame lines is perfect for "look and grab" but does require experience to estimate the focus points with accuracy (I estimate the centre, half press, and recompose). I find the EVF better for slower paced static work - the electronic level is particularly terrific, as are changeable grid lines. Both are quite different to SLR viewfinders. I think the best EVFs are approaching all but the "pro level" FF SLRs. For example, I haven't seen an EVF come close to my D3 viewfinder, or a Pentax 645z for that matter, let alone a H'blad. I certainly wouldn't like to shoot sports or photojournalism with an EVF at this time.

Mathias - I too have an OM5 mkII. EVF pros - exposure is very clear. The EVF shows highlights and shadows well, even better you can have a histogram displayed at the same time.

Weakness - there is a slight lag so if you're shooting kids sports you need to anticipate. Focus I can't always tell if an image is in focus from it.

Overall I'm very happy having gone from a Nikon D300 to the OM.

Good luck
Mark

After a year of using my Fuji X-T1, I realized that I never once thought about the fact that I was "missing something" from using an EVF instead of an OVF. Which I found to be remarkable. The EVF in the X-T1 was so good, everywhere, including it's ability to accurately predict exposure that I've come to prefer it over an OVF. It's especially more useful in low light; I've shot in situations where you not be able to see anything in an OVF.

Remarkably, the EVF in the Fuji X-T2 is even better. It's particularly nice to be able to view a potential photograph in black and white when shooting in the one of B&W film simulations. The X-T2s EVF is so clear and crisp, it's remarkable, IMO. Along with the X-T1 and Canon 1Dx OVF, probably the top three VFs I've ever used.

I recently fired up my OM-D E-M1, which had I what I used to consider an excellent EVF, but it looks smaller and not as clear and crisp compared to the Fuji X-T1/X-T2, and I've never been able to set its color temperature accurately.

> "Can you guess exposure just as easily as with an optical VF?"

Well Mathias that is a good question. "Guessing the exposure" shows that you'ne not the typical aperture priority photographer who decides on a certain f-stop and lets his camera do the rest? Maybe you don't even have a meter at all (tho even my '72 or so OM-2N has one)?

It's an almost forgotten practise to even try to guess the exposure, tho I still do it - only to be confirmed or corrected by what the camera thinks (on center-weighted measuring like in the good old times).

Tha said, I never tried to guess with looking through any viewfinder - the eye sees better without these.

So don't be afraid - mostly the camera will be correct, and you'll know the rest, like to over- or underexpose on purpose. An EVF helps with showing blinking red or blue pixels if you want the, so that you can see the limits of your camera even before taking the photo.

> "Do your files turn out the way you saw them in the VF?"

Well almost, yes. I mostly use the E-M10 from Olympus, which is a really nice little camera, tho the rear LCD is a bit more punchy and saturated than what really comes out of the camera. Its electronic viewfinder is a bit closer to what the end result is.

To get accomodated to an EVF needs a bit of time. Sure, at first I thought that's like looking at a TV screen, like everyone else thinks when first looking through them. But now I'd miss a lot of things when going back to optical finders (I still try from time to time with both my E-520 and the (film) OM-2).

Try to borrow a mirrorless from a friend if possible, and try for at least two weeks. After that you might know.

Hope that helps,
Wolfgang

> My only complaint is that my Oly does not seem to let me see the effects of rotating my polarizer as quickly or dramatically as my Canon 5D MkII does

This could be because you have auto white-balance enabled, and the camera is compensating for the increased saturation...

A large EVF with a high eye point is good. A small one is not so good. Colour may or may not be representative of final result, but that's no worse than an OVF. The two key advantages (for me) are the live histogram, which helps take the guesswork out of exposure; and focus peaking, which makes the use of legacy lenses (with an adaptor to M4/3) much less problematic. Adjustment to exposure compensation does affect the image in the viewfinder, which is also helpful. Given the latest generation of EVFs, I am a late convert (having used OVFs for decades, literally).

If you trust the camera for exposure, the optical one is better in catching thing. You have to guess a bit but you see. Not on a TV kind of seeing.

I went back to Nikon and when forced I would use the screen on the back e.g. pic above the crowd.

As I write this, there are four comments showing. No one has brought up this problem. If you shoot long, night time exposures, and you seek out really dark nights away from human habitation and often moonless (I do), you cannot see anything on an electronic viewfinder or rear screen (the rear screen is an electronic viewfinder writ large). The only way to properly aim your camera is to turn-up the iso to maximum, open the aperture, and take a ~5 second exposure. See how close you got to your desired composition, reposition and repeat until you get it right, then reduce iso and reset aperture and exposure to your desired settings and fire away. Fire away for me usually means 13-35 seconds with occasional forays in the low minutes. In better light, the electronic viewfinder gives immediate exposure feedback. Very nice. A hybrid viewfinder that allowed either one by choice could be a champion answer. I have not tried Fuji's version.

Mathias, my first experience with an electronic viewfinder was the primitive version in the Sony DSR-R1 camera of about 2005 vintage. I take a lot of pictures in abandoned buildings and factories, where the room is often so dark, you can barely see anything. With a Leica rangefinder, I could usually focus. But the R1 was a revelation. It amplified the light, making the finder great for framing. Newer Fujis and micro 4/3 cameras have even better EVFs. So for my application of tripod-mounted work, they are great.

I agree with Mr. Kramer, who noted it is difficult to see the effect of a polarizer filter through the EVF. The finder adjusts too quickly.

The electronic viewfinder is better for judging exposure. The optical finder is better for being connected with the environment. It also doesn't ruin your vision in darker environments like an EVF can.

The EVF isn't entirely true to the finished file, however I find that it's close enough that it can be used as a tool in helping find the proper exposure. You learn its limits and compensate for the shortcomings. It's certainly easier for judging exposure than an optical viewfinder, assuming you don't already know how to judge exposure properly the "old fashioned way".

I've used mirrorless cameras for several years now, along side my DSLR's. I've found that in the end I prefer an optical viewfinder, but I do appreciate having the benefits of an electronic viewfinder at times. This is my primary reason for owning an X100, which is a very versatile camera. But if I had to pick one it'd be the optical finder of the DSLR.

Once I switched to EVF (I currently own an Olympus Pen F), I stopped bracketing my exposures. The combination of live histogram and the semi-famous Olympus exposure "blinkies" completely eliminated exposure error in my raw files. The only time now that I even come close to bracketing is when I decide I want more than one raw file as a starting point when I see potential to render the final image in an unusual way in order to convey mood. In that respect, bracketing becomes for me an artistic consideration only. "Correct" exposure is never in question with my EVF.

I will never own another primary camera without an EVF.

Hi Mathias, Interesting questions. I think the answers of how it feels to transition depends on several things. Do you come from a Full-Frame DSLR or APS-C or another size? What is your history when it comes to camera bodies? And If you buy a new camera with an Electronic Viewfinder (EVF) which one do you choose? They are different.

I use a Nikon D750 and it has a nice big optical viewfinder. I find it more difficult to judge exposure in the optical viewfinder. I have no live histogram and what I see in the viewfinder is not affected by changing exposure compensation -/+ or any other setting such at ISO, shutter speed or aperture. It is possible to capture dark frames or burned out ones without realizing that the settings are off. I shoot more, just to be sure, or to capture the image again after I have changed exposure. It gives me a clear and bright image at close to 100% (95%?) of the framing. In very dark conditions it is not so good. The D750 can still acquire autofocus in these conditions and it is still quite fast, and a bit faster than my Fuji X-pro2. This is also lens dependent.

The Fujifilm X-pro2 has both an optical viewfinder and it has an electronic viewfinder. I use the EVF most of the time. It is not as big as the D750 or the new Fuji X-T2. I use glasses but I am still happy with seeing enough of the viewfinder. I sometimes find it hard to judge the exposure accurately, however, I shoot RAW + JPEG and I can almost always get a good result in post. I can check or chimp with the camera to my eye, I often have 0.5 sec playback on. I can check if I nailed the focus as intended. A push of the thumbwheel gives me instant 100% zoom. I am using the camera at the medium power consumption mode. Not saving, not boosted, and I am happy with the responsiveness of the viewfinder, the operation speed, battery life and the autofocus. Coming from the Fuji X100s and later X100T, this is the first mirrorless camera that I have used, that I feel can compete with or replace a DSLR for certain kinds of photography.

I still find that I am working slower and photographing more intentionally using the Fuji's compared to the Nikons. I get more keepers and trow away less. This gap has been reduced with the X-pro2 compared to the slower X100s/t. The cameras and the shooting style is certainly very different, as are the ergonomics.

I took me a very long time to adjust, I came from a Nikon D4 and D700. I could operate those very fast. The Fuji's not so much. But the X-pro2 is certainly close. I even get the joystick, and I love it. After a periode of adjustment, the Fuji X-pro2 is now my favorite tool for photography. I think I could be just as happy with the new X-T2. The main differences to me are bigger viewfinder, the articulating screen and the ISO knob.

I have not been able to give up my Nikon and all that glass so far. They are different tools for different purposes. What you choose comes down to your needs. All these cameras create excellent results.

I basically use Nikon for all paid gigs, and the Fuji's for all personal stuff and some projects, with an occasional guest appearance from Nikon.

I think there is so much more to choosing a camera system than just the EVF or mirrorless vs. DSLR. The one feature that is most important for me is silent shooting (electronic shutter). The next is exposure preview and live histogram, then size, then the glass and finally dials and knobs (ergonomics).

There is another option - a DSLR with LiveView. Have your cake and eat it too.

More than exposure, what I really prefer about an EVF is the manual focusing capability. Being able to zoom in to 5/10/14x level makes it possible to get pin sharp focus on even a single eyelash.

I love the EVF on my Panasonic GX8, which I also love. I agree with Mike's earlier remarks about the GX8...it is a phenomenal camera tailorable almost any way you could want. Like Kurt, my DSLR is a 5d Mk II. There was no real transition for me. Don't worry about it...just try it for a time and see what you think. I don't try to use it to judge exposure...I am a big believer in histograms for that. Put the histogram in the EVF or not. And the silent shutter is wonderful.

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