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Thursday, 14 July 2011


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Dear John,

Delighted to find out that in at least one pundit's eyes, I am a "frivolous" photographer. There's far too much seriosity in the world.

And, not at all incidentally, I think "Russian Tourists, Phuket, Thailand, 2010" is just flippin' brilliant. It grabs me and it doesn't let go. If Mike offered that for sale, I would buy it in a Daly City minute.

pax / Ctein

One more way to hold a live-view camera: high above your head, with the LCD twisted so it points down.

I cut my photographic teeth on SLRs, rangefinders and 6x6 twin lens reflex cameras. So from early on I was used to different viewfinder styles and camera interfaces. I always enjoyed the waist-level finders on the TLRs for the same reasons you mention: getting a different (in most cases, more worm's eye) perspective, and maintaining eye contact with the subject. I find TLRs to be very friendly, social cameras.

The flip-up LCD screen restores the waist-level to the digital world. On a DSLR I use this all the time, combined with live-view. When I teach travel photography workshops to students going abroad (part of my day job) I'm always telling them to change their perspectives, and one of the ways I mean them to take it is literally, and an LCD screen can help free them from the "whole world from average height" vantage point.

When I moonlight as a restaurant photographer, the LCD/live view combination again comes in handy. On a recent shoot I put my E-P1 on a monopod and raised it to the ceiling with a 10-second self-timer activated. The E-P1 doesn't have an articulated LCD, so I was looking at it through a pretty oblique angle, but it was enough to frame the shot. When my editors saw the image of the chef cooking from above, they said "How did you get that shot?!"

Some critics remained unconvinced. “A solution looking for a problem,” sniffed a leading hobbyist site, of the first digital SLR with live view. Still, many of us immediately had all kinds of ideas for such a device.

So it is with most new technologies: lots of people will wonder what the point is, or even declare that there is no point.

Meanwhile, folks with a little more imagination are thinking up all sorts of interesting and creative things they could do with the technology.

I recently stumbled upon this technique too and found that eight times out of ten, nobody even knows that I'm actually snapping. Talk about being stealthy! It is a little strange though, knowing that when a subject is looking directly at the camera, they're not actually looking at me. Plus, it gives the impression of the photographer being four feet tall.

As a newly arrived immigrant, when I started shooting in the streets of New York (Manhattan) six years ago I was absolutely afraid of getting confronted. I felt that I had no choice but to employ a guerrilla tactic of sorts, i.e., shooting from the hip without breaking my stride and my head turned away from the subject. This was not possible or I wouldn't have been able to do this regularly without the instant feedback from the digital camera's rear LCD screen, not to mention the benefit of autofocus. The image on the jacket of my Blurb book, "Walking New York," was shot while I held the camera on tummy level. Some images required cropping correction, but some were real lucky shots as they were, in my eyes, composed perfectly like that cover picture.

With a viewfinder, you view the scene through the viewfinder. You are looking in the exact same direction as your camera and you are facing your subject. With some cameras you can even keep the left eye open and look direly at your subjects. Say hi, or thanks.

With a screen you are disconnected. Perhaps only temporarily, you look at the screen, interact with the screen, and see nothing but what the screen shows you. You cannot smile back at your subjects, you can only smile at the screen, only say thank-you to the camera. You become the 21st Century Schizoid Man :)

To each his own of course, and there is definitely a use for swivel screens, but experience taught me not to use a screen for street photography.

Really liberated photographers use neither the "little 'ole" nor the LCD. We just point and shoot.

People often seem to get invested in whatever works for them and being to think it is "the way". Particularly when a few other people share their enthusiasm.

I used to be like this too, until my wife (accidentally, I'm sure :) took a far superior photo to mine of the same scene using her 4 year old Canon p&s.

Awakenings can be so rude sometimes.

When talking to casual photographers I've had several comment that their photos had "gotten better" since going digital. Quizzed about what was better they said it was a matter of composition.

I surmise that is because we look through a viewfinder but look at the screen. We see only a 3 degree circle sharply (everything else is fuzzy peripheral vision). I call that our circle of attention. Looking through a view finder at the subject includes portions of our peripheral vision but viewing a screen puts all of that screen into our 'circle of attention' and thus makes us aware of the overall image as an image.

I most certainly hope that the forbidden technology is the touchscreen, specifically focus points via touch, because that technology is freaking awesome, and not many people are ready to admit it.

Hi Mike. All very interesting, as usual. I'm doing a lot of this waist level and balancing on surfaces thing with my new Sony NEX3. And it is such fun compared to those 1 series Canon's that I use for work! Just for good measure, When practical I use a Zeiss 50mm Planar on it. I've been documenting my adventures here, in advance of getting down to preparing a serious portfolio: http://gerlawlorphoto.wordpress.com/
Best, GER

"No serious photographer," announced one online guru at the time, "would ever compose on a screen held out in front of him."

Except for the relative 'cheapness' of the device itself, how is this different from composing on a ground glass? An LCD screen is a right-ways-up, miniature Sinar 8x10 as far as the composing process is concerned. An articulating screen on a Canon G-something is the same as looking at a Rolleiflex.

Those "serious" photographers have insecurity issues. They'll do anything not to be lumped in with the tourist rabble, because deep down inside, they realize they're all just 'pushing a button.'

I use live view a lot of the time. On a tripod, hand held, resting on the ground, whatever. The 3" LCD screen on the back of my camera is the best groundglass I've ever used and allows me to focus far more accurately than the tiny little viewfinder most of the time--to say nothing of the perspective advantages moving the camera away from my face provides.

I do NOT understand the weird defensive posturing that any change in digital cameras provokes. Maybe people are upset that digital cameras are slowly (very slowly) moving away from their film-camera-with-an-LCD-on-the-back roots.

I feel differently. I'm irritated that pro DSLRs don't have articulating LCDs, programmable remote controls with live-view screens, and 60fps video. DSLRs are incredibly backwards and awkward image capture devices. They're slaves to their roots.

I started shopping for DSLRs in 2002 and it wasn't until the 5D2 was launched that there was a reasonable professional body that came close to the sheer utility of a $250 point and shoot camera. Note that I said "came close to" not "matches". The 5D2 still falls short--no voice annotations, no articulating LCD, no options for in camera HDR or pano processing with JPGs, video limited to 30fps, no built-in GPS or wifi, and so on...

wow, it's great seeing this Live-view subject broached. There's another point to this live-view debate I must add. I've been doing "live-view" composing long before the advent of digital for one very simple reason. I'm deaf. Photography is an equal opportunity medium. Having a screen to compose without bringing the camera to my face helps me to continue my conversations with the people in my images. I find bringing the camera to my face produces the "deer in headlights" in my subjects so why bother?

Here are my two favorite LCD screen shots... both off the cuff but in that great Paris light.




I've always liked the little screens. I've never understood the general animosity towards them. They are much much much better than most viewfinders.

I have never understood the objection to shooting from an LCD screen, myself. (Perhaps I am just not enough of a serious photographer to give a darn about whether I look like one.) Aside from the entirely valid concern about bright light, I don't see anything beyond personal preference to recommend a viewfinder.

I love shooting at non-eye-level angles. I have all but set the camera on the ground to get the right perspective on some bit of architecture, and there are few tricks I enjoy more than holding the camera almost directly over my head to provide a sort of "poor man's shift" and square up my perspective a bit on something tall-ish. From time to time, I've even held the camera out sideways over a stream or the rail of an observation platform to get a shot, carefully not dwelling on the possibility of dropping the camera so that my hand doesn't shake.

This is a wonderful article...I've been grappling with these ideas since I first held and spent a year shooting with a Ricoh GX100. My next purchase may well be either the Ricoh GRD III, or a micro 4/3s, or something similar. It's hard to resist the excitement of using the Ricoh, but tempting to consider the larger sensor if for no other reason than the fact that you can literally mis-compose the shot a little and have more room to crop and correct when "shooting from the hip". I have missed my Yashica Mat 124G since I stopped being able to afford using it! Eagerly anticipating Part II.

This excellent piece upstaged part of an article I've been noodling for some time. Well done.

For years I've been spending a least as much time framing shots on LCDs as through eyepiece viewfinders. The Sony NEX5 is my current favorite "liberated" camera for its ultra-high-res articulating screen (and its small size, and its lens adaptability, and its remarkable image quality). I also spend quite a bit more time with my 60D than my other EOS bodies for the flexibility of its screen. And, yes, one of the reasons I find the Fujifilm X100 so compelling is the unparalleled versatility of its viewfinding system.

So I personally find lcd screens, particularly nicely articulated screens like the NEX 5's, a tremendously powerful tool to both avoid the monotony that eye-level images can create, as well as the attention that raising a camera to one's face can draw.

Interestingly, the people who seem to wave the "no viewfinder, no sale" banner hardest are old farts (like me, I guess). The young people, photo students and not, seem not to have such fetishes and prejudices. I don't hear them pine for optical viewfinders as they click-away with phone cams or p&s cameras. Many also seem to prefer using their dslr's live-view screen to the eyepiece.

Yes, it's a handy luxury to have a good optical viewfinder. But I wonder if this insistence isn't driven partly by poor eyesight but mainly by the need to look and feel like a photographer by putting a camera to one's face, a vestigial performance model from bygone days?

"...but why not, if it gets the photo?" Mike, I think you need to sell T-shirts, hats, and mugs bearing this phrase, and attributing John, of course.

I'm eager to see part two, John, even though I suspect it might obliterate the other part of that article noodle in my mind. (I ain't tellin'.)

I must say I agree with this, especially the advantage to be had from looking inconspicuous.

I have got so many good shots with my LX3 that I could not have got with another camera, partly because it fits in my pocket, and partly because nobody notices I'm taking pictures.

Yay! Thanks for writing this.

I defined Dyer-Bennet's Dictum, some years ago, to be "The best position to to take any photo from is one that makes your knees hurt." (I'm 6 feet two inches tall, so eye level is a bit high for a lot of things.) Using an LCD screen instead of a viewfinder can help a lot.

You can also use strap tension with the camera out in front of you: strap around the neck, one hand each side of the camera, elbows to stomach, push camera out until you've got strap tension, and you've got quite a stable position.

With practice, I've learned to be able to keep my eyes on the critical edges on the LCD even at extreme angles and sometimes in sunlight, so that I can keep the main subject in the frame even when I can just barely see. Of course a better LCD, and one I can tilt and swivel, would make it a lot easier; for some reason there's a conspiracy to deny those to people buying professional and serious enthusiast cameras -- even though, traditionally, those are the cameras that got interchangeable viewfinders, and those were the customers who bought rare accessories like right-angle eyepiece adapters. Silly camera companies!

If you're shooting with flash, with a good AF illuminator, you can use that as a "laser sight" for pictures without using the viewfinder. With my D700 and SB-800 flash, the AF pattern from the flash goes pretty much in the middle of the frame at distances I'm likely to use flash at, say 5-15 feet.

Love the idea of pushing the camera up against my forehead; must look for an excuse to try that!

I'm with you on this John. I wouldn't want to NOT own a camera with a viewfinder (particularly for shooting sports with a fast tele zoom) but really enjoy composing with an LCD often. I've had a digicam with an LCD that allows some degree of movement for years (Sony F717 followed by Canon A61) and have become spoiled by them. It gives you flexibility to stabilize a camera on all sorts of surfaces while still seeing what you're shooting (put your DSLR on the dinner table at a restaurant then try to look through the viewfinder and the bartender will cut you off !) I recall shooting Time Square out the window of our umpteenth story room at the Doubletree - the windows only open enough to get a skinny arm (fortunately I have skinny arms) out, and I got a nice shot thanks to the LCD. (I could have just "winged it"). A couple weeks ago at a battle reenactment at Fort Ticonderoga, a gentleman was demonstrating the baroque flute under a canvas tent which diffused the bright sunlight beautifully. I wanted to shoot from a low angle as he was seated, so held the camera down, between a couple of people who were in front of me and got an unobstructed view.

I don't yet have a DSLR with live view (still shooting a Sony A700). When I shoot kids, I miss not having the LCD that I have on a digicam. Kids will interact with you and be goofy when you maintain eye contact. Put a big ol' DSLR with an 85/1.4 in front of your face and things change. They stiffen or look away. (Sometimes they ham it up even more). I'm looking forward to my next DSLR - possibly the upcoming Sony A77 (which will also hopefully give me a nice quiet shutter like on the A55). I also picked up a Sony NEX for casual carry-everywhere use. (Yeah, the lens selection stinks and it's primarily for that reason it's only casual use). The tilting LCD on that is really nice to use. It won't tilt for verticals, but I've decided I prefer an LCD that's right behind the lens. It wasn't a big deal on the little A610 which you hold with one hand, but on a camera with a lens that you support with your left hand, a big LCD sticking out the the side is a kind of a pain ... and I find it disconnects me a little).

Finally, you're right about holding the camera. Sometimes you hold it any old way to get the angle you want. Sometimes you stabilize it against something. But even in normal shooting, you can hold it steady - left arm under the lens, elbow braced against your torso, out at an angle so you're looking more down at it than out in front of you (again, a tilting LCD helps) - it's very steady and nothing like "holding a camera at arms length".

Throw in features like the 3-axis level on the Sony SLTs and live view via an LCD is a powerful, liberating feature.

...and don't forget the ever-useful 'Hail Mary' shot, a name that refers to both the position of arms up, holding the camera over one's head, and the mumbled prayer offered in hopes of getting the shot.

hooray! finally (after what? like 10 years), people are starting to realize liveview might have some uses for "serious" photography. i have long since decided i will never buy another dslr that doesn't have liveview (and probably not one that doesn't have a tilt screen). there are just so many things you can't do or can't do near as well with only a viewfinder.

Have to say I'm enjoying using the waist level finder on my Yashica TLR more than I thought I would. It's such a different way of composing compared to what I'd done before and lends itself well to some unusual angles, not to mention being able to shoot low-angle shots without rolling around in the dirt! I've held the camera upside down above my head and sideways at eye level on a few occasions.

It's given me an appreciation of how useful an articulating live view really could be if I was a digital shooter. It's not so much a "solution looking for a problem" as it is a solution looking for an imaginative photographer who isn't afraid to try something more than just eye-level points of view.

"I've always liked the little screens. I've never understood the general animosity towards them."

Me too. It was the main thing I liked about my first-ever little digicam, the Olympus C-3040.


Speaking of innovative thinkers...


The winner of this year's Sondheim Artscape* Prize took his photos with a cell phone over the past year. At the bottom of the attached, you can see his work now on view at the Baltimore Museum of Art. I saw it yesterday; not my cup of tea, but very well done...http://bmoreart.blogspot.com/2011/07/matt-porterfield-is-2011-sondheim-prize.html

*Artscape is an annual art fair in Baltimore, Maryland

Although I prefer and happily use a viewfinder, I'm not going to argue with someone who can make pictures like the ones with this post.

Some great comments on a great post. Innovations in camera gear have long been labeled toys by the old guard, and the list is long. Rollei's, Leica's, SLR's, TTL, auto exposure, auto focus, and so on.

When I read the quote "No serious photographer would ever compose...." my mind replaced that with "No camera club member would ever be seen..." Just don't forget the boonie hat and vest for the extra battery and card. OK, enough sarcasm.

I've been shooting an EPL2 for myself and the local paper since April, and echo many of the points made earlier. Subjects are less intimidated, and that monopod-hail Mary thing works great for crowds.

Are the pictures better? Some are, some aren't, same as always. But it's changing the way I look at things, and that's always good.


ps: At 60+ years, I should be in the old guard. Not!

Photographers should experiment and use what works. There is a "million monkeys with a million Nikons will make Minor White" quality to the argument. Not proven yet.

Koen wrote:
"With a screen you are disconnected. Perhaps only temporarily, you look at the screen, interact with the screen, and see nothing but what the screen shows you. "

To which I reply, "so what ?" I only mention it because arguments against composing with an LCD frequently seem to follow similar lines.

As I mentioned in a prior comment, I like photographing kids with a live view camera because I can interact with them; maintain eye contact. Even if I glance down (of course temporarily) at the LCD, they still see my face, my eyes. I don't see how I'm connected with a DSLR and an 85/1.4 up against my face.

Shooting events, particularly video, but sometimes stills, I find it easy to keep a LV camera steady, glancing at it now & again to be sure I haven't shifted the composition too much, shoot when something happens, but otherwise actually watch with my own two eyes.

Arguing against the benefit of seeing through the viewfinder, I found my nature photography improved some many years back when I started using an angle finder, initially for macros, but later for all sorts of things, precisely because the "disconnect" helped me pay to see the 2:3 rectangle as a two dimensional image; to realize how things were going to look on a slide; to pay attention to the corners. The SLR viewfinder made it too easy to ignore the camera and see what my eyes had been seeing all along, not to see how the camera sees. Ultimately, that's what I needed to learn to do: to see how the camera sees. Why on earth would I need my camera's viewfinder to show me what I can see better without it ?

But it all boils down to what you can do with it. I don't care about being disconnected from the scene for the fraction of a second it takes me to take a picture. I'm disconnected if I have to sneeze.

"William Eggleston once told me that he took his pictures 'shotgun style'—i.e., not looking through the viewfinder at all, just sort of pointing it at whatever he wanted to hit, without really aiming. And that was when he was shooting on film.

I used to do the same thing, which is why I miss distance scales. F8 on a 28mm focused at around 15 feet meant if it was more than a couple paces away it was in focus. Live view is good and all, but math works when you can't even see the camera.

@JL: I wonder if by saying "shotgun style" Eggleston was artfully invoking two notions: the first being "shooting from the hip", a phrase that surely originated from shooting rifles and guns without wasting the time to pull up and take aim. But then second probably he was confessing the reality of that photo technique. Sure, one might land a target by taking dead-on aim. You can also nail it by, well, using a lot of shot. Hopefully some of that shotload earns you that prize kill.

And I do bet E. was more efficient than many of us when he did so. His hits were good and frequent and his misses good too I bet. Anyone who knows his methods and rate of success better should weigh in. I'm just guessing.

In regard to Terry's post: Speaking of shooting innovation and hinting at landing fowl, that NYTs link on Doug Mills' video made me wonder if TOP has ever posted any web content found through google/youtube of the words "chicken steadicam".

Sometimes you just have to love the internet.

John, I've been advocating the benefits of framing with the LCD for ages, and am glad to see this excellent article dedicated to this subject. What I often do is to use the LCD on my Ricoh GRD3 to establish the edges of the frame roughly but look directly at the subject when pressing the shutter. It's this method of framing that more than anything else "loosened" up and made more "fluid" and dynamic my street photography when I switched from the Leica M6 to the GRD six years ago. But I find that some people still contemptuously refer to this as "chimping".

The other objection one frequently reads is that the LCD "cannot be used on a sunny day". But I find framing this way is possible even on the brightest days in Thailand, although some of the text information displayed may become very difficult to read.


"ps: At 60+ years, I should be in the old guard. Not!"

When I edited PHOTO TECHNIQUES I was in my 40s, and I quickly found that I was more of an "old fogey" than some of my contributors who were in their 60s, 70s, and even 80s. In photography (though not in all things), youth can be a state of mind.


I've noticed that our 3 month old baby reacts to me much more naturally when I take his photos with a compact camera rather than my DSLR which makes me look like a half human-half camera.

Incidentally, I am quite excited about the touch screen shutter that is showing up in newer m43 cameras - and that is similarly being derided by the purists.

Choice is nearly always a good thing.

Having to choose is nearly always the problem.

Knowing that, much of the time, either choice is fine takes a lot of pressure off.

As an old SLR veteran I instinctively put the camera to my eye. However, I am finding more and more uses for live view. To save my creaky knees, for overheads and for tripod work as well, especially macros. It can be a real boon.

My young protege, with none of my prejudices, and more familiarity with digicams and iPhones, finds a viewfinder totally uninstinctive and has to be reminded why, at times, it is a better choice.

I deeply appreciate having both, but trying to justify the particular benefits of a VF in the face of youthful scepticism is actually not that easy.

If I searched my soul I would be forced to admit that in a lot of situations you can happily use either, even if there are occasions where one or the other is most certainly preferable.

I suspect she will come round with experience, just as I have found myself doing, but I suspect we will never totally converge. I have to say, she is far more likely to pick an odd angle for a shot than I am. Perhaps the master has something to learn from the student?

@xfmj: I don't know what E's success ratio is; I do know that he's uncommonly prolific. -- Not Winogrand-prolific, but he's known to have boxes and boxes and boxes of stuff. That said, it's certainly possible that a lot of it is very good.

This conversation leads me to two questions. I'm curious to know what you all think. First, it's long seemed to me to be the case that photography is as much a curatorial activity as a performative one -- that much, if not most of the art comes during the selection, and therefore after the fact, rather than from one's skill as a shooter. Now, obviously, it's both: you have nothing to choose from if you can't shoot, and you're in quite as much trouble if you can't tell your good pictures from your bad ones. But it does seem to me that photographers spend much more time talking about How to Get the Shot than they do How to Choose Which Shot to Use (and some photojournalists, for example, hardly choose at all -- their editors do). Agree? Disagree?

Second, I've always found it fascinating, especially with regard to those who believe in 'camera vision', that if you're using an SLR, the mirror snaps up when you take the picture. Which means that one thing, and perhaps the only thing, you don't see is the moment you're actually photographing. Is this experientially significant, or merely a too-clever metaphor?

Something over 30 years ago, Ralph Hattersley wrote a book "Discover Your Self Through Photography". As I recall, one of his exercises was to walk around your town and shoot a few rolls of B&W strictly from the hip, not "aiming" the camera in any way, just pointing it generally at things you found interesting. He went on to say that when you got all of your 4x5 prints back to lay them out on a table or the floor and look at them closely. He claimed that you would be able to see a pattern emerge from your random, free-form shots that would lead you into a deeper understanding of yourself over time, that your unconscious "self" was directing the camera in some mysterious way. (This is all to the best of my memory after 30+ years of reading this book from our local library, and always having this stuck in the back of my mind. The specifics might be a tad different!)

This is a little off-topic I guess, but kind of fits the general category of "snap shooting". I was obviously intrigued by Mr. Hattersley's book and have thought about it often through the years. (In fact, I just ordered a used copy from Amazon.) Wonder if anyone else out there read it or remembers it? I think he was an editor for Modern Photography?

Rod G.

Daido Moriyama, often shoots without using the finder (or without the LCD). Of course he does, and has always done, a lot of other things "wrong" too. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JKbFAPq75UI&NR=1

I've been shooting the streets for a couple of years using a Panasonic FX33, and an LX5 as of lately. Both work wonders. It doesn't look professional, so nobody seems to notice. In fact they do notice if you look at their eyes, but nobody seems to give a damn about it.

good evfs and rangefinder-ish cameras and mfdbs with live view are starting to be made. it's about time!

if you're using an SLR, the mirror snaps up when you take the picture. Which means that one thing, and perhaps the only thing, you don't see is the moment you're actually photographing. Is this experientially significant, or merely a too-clever metaphor?

Whilst you can't see for the moment that the shutter opens, you can see right up to and just slightly past the point at which you decided to press the shutter.

The ultimate street camera is an iPhone or any smartphone.You look like you are texting when you are shooting so nobody ever notices you!
BTW, LV works better for us near-sighted old guys than viewfinders.

@ Jim

"BTW, LV works better for us near-sighted old guys than viewfinders"

Hmmm… all the old guys I know suffer from presbyopia (literally "old vision") which occurs when the lenses in your eyes gradually lose elasticity with age leading to the loss of the abiliy to focus on close objects-- hence the need for bifocals. This is the main reason that I don't like using a camera witthout an eye level viewfinder. I end up holding the camera at arms length in front of me with my head cocked way back so that I can focus on the screen through the bottom of my progressive bifocals--an awkward and uncomfortable stance. Younger folks have no such visual limitation which may be another reason why they are more comfortable shooting in this way. It's not all attitude, some of it is physiology.

I'm arriving late to this article, but I want to let Mr Kennerdell know how bloody good I think it is. I agree with it (and him) to such an extent that had it not been so well written, I would have thought I'd written it myself.

I am so sick of being lectured about how Photography is meant to be made... Sometimes I'll read an article full of passages like those quoted by Mr Kennerdell (no real photographer would, etc.) and I end up screaming at the computer screen "where's that f**king Book of Photography Law you're citing from, mate!?!?!? I want to see what section and paragraph prohibits a real photographer from composing on the LCD!!!"

Art has NEVER been about laws; Art critics have always written about them and established rules, then the artists have come along and trampled all over them. At which point a new generation of Art critics has come along and rewritten the rules based on what these artists did, giving the new movement some fancy name. Then the cycle is repeated again and again.

I foresee a camera being released in 2050 that has an eyelevel viefwinder, the only one on the market—it will be met with cries of no real photographer would compose with the camera to his eye!

Will we ever learn?

I use primarily a Canon EOS-500D and a Canon S90. The Canon S90 screen gives the benefit of a small size camera with a useable accurate method of viewing TTL, and the live view lets me do a quick check on things like exposure and white balance.

My DSLR's live view doesn't get much of use, but it has been invaluable on occasion for shooting over the tops of crowds at concerts I've photographed for my college newspaper. I hold the camera over my head with both hands (I honestly worry a little bit every time I do this because I have to take the camera strap off my neck) and look at the live view from an angle (the screen is not articulated) to get focus and framing. I've also seen instructions about using waist-level viewfinder camera periscope-style to do over-the-head shots.

This makes me want to re-name my "Street Scene" project to "no faindaa." ;-)

I like shooting from the hip (no faindaa style) but only when I'm doing street shooting (because that's the style of my street work). When I'm doing that stuff I use my tiny little Lumix LX5 (and before that LX3 and LX2) because it's tiny, inconspicuous, and has tremendous DOF.

But when I'm shooting other things (using my GF1) sometimes I really miss having a viewfinder. Happily, Panasonic makes a removeable viewfinder that I can use on both cameras, but apparently the resolution is pretty low, so I can't bring myself to buy it on the basis of a "maybe I'll use it." But that's just me being lame.

Ultimately, I prefer simple to complicated, and "simple" to me means seeing what you have and learning to use it as best you can. (That also means turning OFF a lot of features...)

A Flipbac is a handy, inexpensive ($15) accessory for taking waist level or overhead shots. Here is one on my LX3.


I'm late to the party! Excellent article, it expresses so clearly something I've been trying to articulate myself. In the end, cameras are just tools. You use them to your advantage, the best way you can...and that's it. Everything else are just formal, unnecessary crusades, that have nothing to do with the art or craft. Everyone must shoot how he/she feels more comfortable and that's it - its the results that count. A few of my most loved shots are blurry B&W frames taken from the hip with an Oly XA. It was so liberating.

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