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Monday, 07 May 2012


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Kirk, I have a NEX-7. After several weeks of use I ditched the focus peaking feature. I use the EVF and magnify the image with the button on the AF/MF. I haven't missed focus once since changing.

Two comments -
1. I think the OVF dream is over as it stands since camera makers try to avoid that bulk. The OVF vs. EVF argument is like film VS digital - as technology gets better, faster, EVFs will get better and better, fading the clumsy (but nostalgic) OVFs in past. The EVFs are very flexible and the screen does not take up much space at all.

2. Contrary to what many think, EVF is the the best thing to glass-wearers like me compare to LCDs. I have stong myopia and when I wear my myopic glasses, LCDs are too close to focus for my eyes. EVF's OTOH have diopter adjustments which allows me to focus with viewfinders.

Does the Olympus M5 do all these wonderous things?

Ansel beat you to the punch; he used the term visualization (Chapter One title of his trilogy classic, The Camera), not pre-visualization, which is more generally attributed to Minor White.

I agree fully! Having all that information in the viewfinder is incredibly useful, as is the ability to see in low light situations. Sure, the image is grainy, but at least you can see what you're aiming at.

Great article. Don't knock EVFs if you haven't worked with them.

I'm a bit confused. Why does an EVF camera need a mirror at all?

IIRC, the english longbow was considered decisive in a number of battles in medieval times, defeating the crossbow because of its speed. The longbow was ultimately replaced by firearms. I'Ym sure there is a message in the simile regarding OVFs and EVFs, but I'm not sure what. An interesting comparison of the two. Thanks.

I know exactly what you mean. After eight years of cursing the crappy OVF's on the various digital cameras I've owned (I never could justify the price-tag on the full-frame DSLRs), it took all of about two minutes to sell me on the electronic viewfinder after I picked up the EP2 with the VF-2. Now I don't always feel like the camera has some sub-par, broken-like aspect that stands in the way.


Thanks for your insights Kirk.
One question...
What's your experience using a polarizer on an EVF camera? Are the effects as visible as they are with an OVF?

also among other nice evf bonuses:
live histogram !
live aspect ratio cropping !

There's no need for optical VFs-hasn't been for several years. Or mechanical shutters/motordrives (fairly sure they can do that right there on the sensor, with software) , and on the same train, pentaprism/mirror arrangements. And ditto for the big shot lighting manufacturers. The thing'll be coming up with the ergonomics. As technologically inefficient as modern camera/lens designs are, they're based on designs that worked over many years in terms of exposing a piece of chemically treated plastic married to a sentient being in the most efficient way possible. The future is bright, but the leading camera manufacturing corporations will make every cent they can in the meantime. It's in their nature. Great article Kirk Tuck, as ever.

Yep, I agree wholeheartedly.

I experienced the moving-subject weakness shortly after buying the GH2 last summer; I was trying to take a photo of a bagpiper's foot tapping, and could I time it so his toes were up? Could I heck. A dozen frames later... finally! And people throwing the hammer - you end up zooming out a little in order to give yourself wiggle-room while burst-mode happens with the EVF gone blind dark.

Apart from that, though - and to be fair I almost never shoot motion or key flash - I'm very happy with the EVF and particularly its friend, live-view LCD.

One thing that concerns me with EVF cameras over OVF is battery life - don't the EVFs dramatically shorten battery life?
I'd rather not have to carry a bag full of (hard to find) batteries to far flung places.

Thanks for the encouraging words. I am in my second week with a NEX-7 and am a confirmed manual focus lens on modern camera person. So far I find the Leica glass on the NEX harder to use than my MF Nikkors on D700, but I will keep on plugging away, these things take time.
Oddly enough I think the NEX will be brilliant on a tripod with that wonderful magnification. But my customers are different than yours and switching from a #10 Cirkut camera to a Sony NEX will be a disappointing change for them.

I think that would have read better with "lens on modern camera" deleted. Although I use a D700, my main camera, the #10 Cirkut does not quite qualify as "modern", even though I sort of see it that way.

Kirk I don't find focus peaking that good. I would still get slightly out-of-focus shots. It's not the same as critical focusing (more like "close enough") and works best using amagnified view, which kind of defeats the whole purpose of focus peaking.

It also results in a technique that I call "stop-down focusing" which, combined with stop-down metering, is a slow and deliberate method. 'Retro' in a bad way! I'm of the opinion that if I want to use a modern mirrorless camera then I'll use the modern lenses to go with it, and that old lenses are best used on the old film cameras they were originally designed for.

I have know Kirk since our days in Austin at the University of Texas School of Photojournalism.. I have always considered him to be practical and yet a free-thinker and he has a sharp sense of humor and wit as this story illustrates. As has been said on this site many times, digital technology is changing the lives of working photographers and Kirk seems to be taking a practical approach to adapting his day to day photographt to this technology.
OC Garza
Victoria, Texas

I can live with EVF's but I cannot imagine preferring it over a (equally large) optical one.

To me, it's like preferring a simulation of reality to... you get the idea.

To each his own I suppose. Isn't it great we have so many choices!

Another advantage, related to manual focus and peaking: you are seeing actual DOF as you focus, not the wide-open view of an SLR. (Assuming a lens with manual aperture). Just rock the focus back and forth and watch the peaked area slide to right where you want it.

Was this really necessary, "it's not the arrow, it's the Indian"? There's more to us than bows and arrows.

Whether Don was trying to be funny or deadly serious, he gets my vote for comment of the year.

Ben, the mirror is used to send some of the light to PDAF sensors. The Pentax K-01 is what you get if you ditch the mirror altogether (CDAF) and the Nikon '1' series is what you get if you ditch the mirror and put PDAF sensors on the imaging sensor.

My personal favorite live view feature that I like to see in the EVF is the level ... the multi-axis level in the SLT (and the newer NEX' but unfortunately not on my NEX-5) is much better than the tilt indicator in my D7000s VF.

That said, I find OVF v. EVF an interesting choice because for me, both come with pros & cons, enough that I'll take either and be happy with its pros.

A nicely constructed summary of the advantages and disadvantages of today's electronic viewfinders, Kirk. As noted elsewhere, I've become a fan of evfs on small cameras. And, as you noted Kirk, they're getting better with each generation. That Oly VF-2 is still my favorite, but Sony's is good, too. My only wish is that they become friendlier to eyeglass wearers. I have a hard time keeping my NEX-7's evf engaged when it's set to auto mode.

Perhaps oddly, though, I find the fixed, non-tiltable evf in the NEX-7 to be somewhat less useful than the tiltable (and removable) evf of the NEX-5N. I expect a similar reaction when the Oly E-M5 arrives (compared to the E-P2/P3's VF-2). I much prefer having the the heads-down position option that the flip-uppable evfs afford.

Okay, so I'm not an expert in the mysterious ways of archery. :-)

But I thought I should answer one question that also caused me some hesitation. Battery life. I've been using the Sony a77 and almost always use the EVF (who coulda guessed?). I shot a dress rehearsal of a play a few weeks ago and got over 1200 images on one battery with about 30% left in reserve. Beats the hell out of most older digital cameras with OVF's that I ever shot...

Someone asked, "Why bother with a mirror in an EVF camera?"

Answer: to be able to implement and use the much faster phase detection autofocus for real time focusing at 12 fps or while shooting 1080, 60 fps video. The mirror sends the image to an AF sensor instead of requiring the camera to read AF off the sensor information. Much faster. Best of both worlds.

Have I mentioned how much I like shooting these cameras at ISO 50? No? That's a whole other post.

Damn arrow analogy. It always gets me.

EVF. Sooner or later you will be assimilated.

Right. Until Joan of Arc came around and booted the English and their bowmen from France. She used artillery.

Speaking about fingers, the English did the same to the Scottish archers. (Scotland was always with France against the English).

I recently got my E-M5 and have really taken to the EVF. I've now turned off shot review entirely as "pre-chimping" has eliminated my need for it in most situations. Although EVFs lack the immediacy of good OVFs, looking through any viewfinder makes for a more engaged shooting experience than chimping shots on a rear LCD.

Much as I like the E-M5, though, I think Fujifilm's hybrid viewfinder combines the best aspects of both EVFs and OVFs.

Admittedly, I don't have any experience with an EVF other than having looked through one ever so briefly in a camera store. I didn't think it would be a big deal either way, but I was taken aback by the "unreality" of it all. I suppose it's just a matter of just getting use to it all- but then, I could never get used to having 144 focus points on an OVF.

I'd agree about the advantages, and I'd agree about the disadvantages. With current technology though it seems to me that the advantages lie in the "nice to have" category - they improve workflow - while the disadvantages, particularly 1), can result in you missing the shot altogether. Bit like trying to take a photo by freeze-framing your TV recording...

I'm sure the technology will improve though

Didnt like using the EVF myself, personal preference really although I would maintain that it is no good for fast shooting of rapidly changing subjects and situations. However the real deal breaker is the image quality in reference to Ghosting. It is there in the images, some worse then others but all the same needs to be fixed. I am surprised no one is mentioning it but on the a77 and Ziess lens combinations I tested it was all to present.

I am an EVF convert too... My camera is nearly always set to black and white, and I get to compose in black and white, to compose in tones... amazing... productive and my photographs are better for it, even my colour ones..
I haven't looked back..


Personally I have a tiny VF1 from Pana and even that can help in composing. I like EVF in good (to much good) light.....in bad light however the lag becomes quit untollarable. Not a problem since I like liveview display even better. What strikes me of a lifeview display is that it almost automatically drives me to a viewcamera like esthetic. I use the parallel guidelines and grids to set up compositions and that also is a great bennefit of both EVF and lifeview "viewfinders".

Greetings, Ed

I believe that the two finger sign was an early twentieth century invention.

Not sure that the French did actually chop archers fingers off. I did not hide my hands in France when I was a toxophilist.

One difference between amateur and pro: the amateur values "sharp focus" above all else. The pro values control over lighting and color balance at least as highly. Kirk's a pro, alright.

I'm not 100% convinced. The time lag is a deal breaker for me. Trying to capture a silhouette of passenger passing a cabin window recently I found it impossible to nail it.

Also I think I would prefer watching the Grand National in real life (OVF) compared to watching it on television. Can't beat the real thing.

I tried the Sony A77 a couple of times in the camera shop and thought it was terrible. When it's still it looks like what it is, a decent quality small monitor, when you move it smears and shudders, and the brightness range is nothing like as good as an OVF. It's like comparing looking at a TV of a scene, or looking through the window at it. EVF technology needs to go a long way yet IMHO. Just my two-penneth.

Interesting comments on the archery. To my mind, the analogy goes deeper, into the horrors of "workflow", in which film is a longbow, and digital is the crossbow, with 17 separate steps to reload or to post-process an image. Or to put it succinctly, longbows got off many more shots in a period of time. Anyway, crossbows are decidedly continental, which is all a true Englishman (or Welshman) needs to know to decide that it is not an appropriate instrument. There's 1000 years of history behind that.

Against the flow, I am considering getting a hot-shoe mounted viewfinder for my Panny m4/3 with the 20/1.7, which could then migrate to an OM-D in black. I actually enjoy composing optically, with the LCD switched off, and seeing what I've got hours later.

Kirk> "EVF. Sooner or later you will be assimilated."

Right. Tho I'm in the camp of studio workers with flash (well at least sometimes), I still ordered a VF-2 for myself today (after having bought one for my wife long ago, I knew I'd need it some day).

What Ken said: the E-M5 may be nice, but being able to tilt the VF up is also an advantage. Better even would be a tiltable display for "discrete" street work a la Rolleiflex or Mamiya or Yashica TLR... but the E-M5 - which has that - is definitely out of reach for the moment; after all I'm only an amateur and SSOI (single source of income)...

I have never seen ghosting on either of my two a77's under any conditions. And, I've successfully shot my son running track without issue. We've had decades to get used to OVF's and just a few years to get used to something new...

I've tried to like EVF's, but I still prefer a good optical viewfinder given the choice. I normally shoot with an Olympus E30 but recently purchased an Olympus XZ-1 and a VF3. I love the camera but an not overly impressed with the VF3.

My main complaint about the VF3 is it's a framing aid, for when you can't see the camera LCD screen) and is no good for anything else. The image in the VF3 is washed out and lacks contrast and certainly doesn't show subtle changes due to changing camera settings. I understand, from Olympus, that's it's only a budget model even though it costs nearly as much as the older VF2.

I've also tried looking through a VF2 and, frankly, I didn't find it to be descernably better.

Another EVF convert here, mostly with the NEX-7 although there's another SLT in my future. I was actually an early adopter with both Mirrorless (G1) and SLT's (A33, the day they became available) and ended up moving back until things matured a little (I did shoot both cameras for around a year each). But the NEX-7 and A77 seem to be the maturity point for me, enough that I pick up the NEX-7 in preference to my A700 (which replaced the A33) and the only reason I don't own an A77 is that I'm still trying to decide between going FF or maintaining a consistent APS-C lens lineup between the NEX-7 and whatever A mount body I choose.

One thing I've noticed is that while I prefer native or M lenses for everyday use on the NEX-7, I greatly prefer using SLR lenses when on a tripod, the tripod mount on the lens adapter is significantly more stable than the body mount, I primarily use the Sony 16-50 and 85/2.8 with the LA-EA1 in MF mode when on a tripod with the NEX, but the ZA E 24 and E 50 OSS when walking around. And yes, the level is awesome. Also awesome for tripod use is flip/twist LCD's. Not awesome is the lack of a remote release (2 second self-timer is the solution).

The thing is, you could teach somebody to be competent with a cross-bow in a relatively few months. For a long-bow, it took years. So, England made the long-term investment, and it paid off.

On the other hand, in addition to the time spent practicing, that also meant that England was full of people who could assassinate any nobleman they wanted any time they wanted (if they were willing to die for it; getting away is never 100%). That was a compromise that worked for England, and arguably lead to the modern world.

Firearms, now -- you can teach somebody to be competent with muzzle-loaders in mere weeks, or modern breech-loaders in days. And modern breech-loaders exceed the useful range AND the rate of fire of longbows. Finally.

Is this why people on forums refer to buying a camera as "pulling the trigger"?

I'm the owner of a (redundant) Canon "Pro 1". Sound familiar? It incorporates much of the technology that's currently hot stuff, albeit in somewhat primitive form. I bought it in preference to the plasticky entry-level DSLRs available in 2004(?). Nowadays I'm constantly on the look out for a conveniently transportable alternative to my stage-weight Nikon gear. Ie NEX 7, Fuji X-Pro 1, Nikon V1, Olympus OM-D XYZ Whatsit.

Some interesting comments here.

"I...got over 1200 images on one battery with about 30% left in reserve. Beats the hell out of most older digital cameras with OVF's that I ever shot..."
Well, my D700 gets more than 2K shots, using heavy, AF, stabilised lens on a single battery (in warm weather.)

"...I think Fujifilm's hybrid viewfinder combines the best aspects of both EVFs and OVFs."
Yeah? I wear glasses. On the standard eyepiece the OVF's in focus, the EVF's hopelessly out of focus. If I change the diopter the reverse would probably be the case (if any dealer had the brains to carry alternatives for customers to try...) No adjustment = HOPELESS implementation on a camera at this price.

"England was full of people who could assassinate any nobleman they wanted any time they wanted (if they were willing to die for it; getting away is never 100%). That was a compromise that worked for England, and arguably lead to the modern world."
Ah, the Good Old Days...


Given the path the discussion has taken, never the tag 'shooting techniques' has been more appropriate!

I'm more inclined to a one finger salute where EVF's are concerned.

And if that's too crude, I imagine a distant future where all the cameras have EVF's. Someone will "invent" an optical finder and all will marvel at the clarity.

The English longbow demonstrated its massed effectiveness at the Battle of Crécy in 1346, long before Agincourt in 1415.

Great write-up Kirk.
OVF's are not bad, actually they are very very good. But only the ones found in full frame cameras. Rest of them feel like 'cheating' on part of camera manufacturers.
One positive side-effect of Sony's implementation of SLT tech: You can phase detect in live-view mode, the auto focus in live view is really fast. Optical finder based cameras are so slow in live-view, it looks like a patch-up work, an afterthought. So for those of us who want to frame through LCD monitors, it makes a huge difference.
My D5100 nice, but i don't love it.

"To me, it's like preferring a simulation of reality to... you get the idea."
Arun, valid point, but end of the day, you make a picture. If you could see what you're going to make in the viewfinder, won't that be great?

"England was full of people who could assassinate any nobleman they wanted any time they wanted (if they were willing to die for it; getting away is never 100%). That was a compromise that worked for England, and arguably lead to the modern world."

Full of potential assassins, really? And this led, 'arguably', to the modern world? Wow, that's quite a stretch.

"Until Joan of Arc came around and booted the English and their bowmen from France."

That's not true, either. The English burnt her at the stake for wearing brown shoes in town.

Let's have no more about Joan, please. Back to the topic.

Mike the Moderator

To all the EVF doubters: Television will never become popular as long as there are movies. Who would want fuel injection when we have perfectly good carburetors? No one will ever read the news on a computer! I tried a "laptop" computer in 1986; it was too heavy and too slow, and the battery died too quickly= laptops will never take off.
Who needs GPS when you have access to perfectly good maps? Who needs video games when we have a perfectly good copy of Monopoly in the closet? Why should I give up my bell bottom hip huggers? Transistors? I'll use transistors when you pry my cold, dead hands off my vacuum tubes! Radial Tires!?!!! Are you nuts? And, who would ever want disk brakes? Drums work fine for me.
Cameras that focus themselves are inferior to human focusing. Autoexposure will never be truly workable. Why would I need a motor drive when I have my thumbs?

Why should I embrace any new technology? The business (or practice) of photography is unchanging and stable. Now where did I put my box of Super Double X? And my synchronizer?

I see a time in the future when people will reject flush toilets and demand we go back to outhouses.

"One finger salute." Indeed.

My first camera was a Canon S2 IS, which had a decent EVF, and it's what I learned photography on. So I probably have a reverse bias to many people here, in that I started with EVFs and moved on to OVFs.

Given that, I definitely find myself feeling that OVFs are lacking in terms of what you want them to show in a digital camera (I've never shot film). The inability to see a live histogram is a big drawback. As is the inability to overlay shooting info rather than cram it into a corner of the OVF, looking like some kind of 1970's calculator display. Heck, I thought it was weird that live view wasn't immediately hailed as a wonderful thing.

So personally, I'm looking forward to EVFs getting good enough that most cameras have them; Seems like it's getting close.

For me, the most satisfying aspect of using a camera is looking through a big bright optical viewfinder. Looking through the OVF of the Spotmatic say, or even the Voigtlander 28mm viewfinder on my Ricoh GRD just makes me want to make photographs. I've not used EVFs, and I'm not criticizing them. I do wonder though, if it is clever marketing that is persuading people to give up OVFs. Remember that digital camera makers first told us it was okay that there was no viewfinder at all; then they convinced us that tiny viewfinders in less than full-frame SLRs were the state-of-the-art; and later than accessory EVFs were the way to go. Even my full-frame SLR (Canon 5D) can't much the brightness of a 1980's Nikon. Technologically speaking, are we going forward or backward?

The longbow was great, as long as you stayed in roughly the same climate as England's. Move off to sunny Italy in the summer, as many English mercenary bands did around that time, and it would begin to fail in use.

Meanwhile, composite (horn/wood laminated with hide glue) bows, either cross- or recurve-bows were happy in the heat, but begin to delaminate and fail if the weather stayed wet for very long. (One reason why crossbows tended to go to steel limbs in later use.)

Yet another example of no single technology being perfect in all cases.

To be honest Ghosting may be the wrong word, perhaps a pronounced amount of CA might be better word. The type that I would not have expected from Ziess lenses, the same lenses I tested when I tried the a900. I attributed it to the translucent mirror as I have never seen this from a camera or certainly from that quality of lenses before. I could be wrong but if you want to have a look at some samples them email me. Love to find out whats going on.

It was all over in the West with the 1873 Winchester lever action...no way to outshoot that with b&a's...

One thing I rather like about the Xpro1 is that it has three kinds of viewfinder, and I really find all three have their uses in different situations.

However the SLR is a pinnacle of generational refinement, but has nowhere to go, which is why it is only a matter of time before it is superseded by all electronic camera for the same reasons digital mostly replaced film. Cost, convenience and instant feedback.

Now if they could fix the lag and that low light issue - I really DO struggle with modelling lights.

I cannot agree more to the potential advantages of an EVF : this discussion http://www.luminous-landscape.com/forum/index.php?topic=57654.0 shows how it could be implemented at best (raw histogram, anyone?).

There is still one big drawback for me : the shadows are somewhat blocked, as they will be on jpeg. That's fine if you shoot jpegs, but if you shoot raw and plan to give an amount of shadow detail akin to what the eye sees, it makes an image with significant shadows much harder to compose on an EVF.
I think that could be somewhat offsetted with some kind of smart shadow lighting, even if these automations are generally ugly ; but for now it is not solved.

Longbows, schmongbows...why don't we talk about breech-loading magazine rifles vs muskets? Same thing.

I note the comments re the delay in EVFs which makes it hard to shoot moving objects. I'm hoping this will not be that big a problem with the Olympus EM-5, given its claimed refresh rate of 120x/second....

I would suggest that those of you who briefly "looked through it at a store" probably didn't get the chance to try all the settings that affect things like color balance and dynamic range of the viewed image.

There is still one big drawback for me : the shadows are somewhat blocked, as they will be on jpeg. That's fine if you shoot jpegs, but if you shoot raw and plan to give an amount of shadow detail akin to what the eye sees, it makes an image with significant shadows much harder to compose on an EVF.

If you turn contrast down to -3, "portrait" color style, and DRO set to auto the EVF will show tons of shadow detail. More than you can see with your naked eye without carefully looking into the shadows and accomodating to the reduced brightness.

get a77 and using nex5n like evf but comapre to ovf one must understand that

all evf is final product based esp if you can find a way to do dof, as in a77 (still cannot find nex5n dof button)

ovf is pre processing the world is not presented as a 2d world but in 3d hence sometimes people like rangefinder or fuji evf-if-you-must-but-ovf-if-you-can (however ovf in slr has no such advantage over ovf as the world is presented in 2d using optical f2.8 up to f5.6 dof world)

also, the world is faster than the refreshing rate sometimes but this aspect compromise may be more ok

there are lot of adv of evf - can see in the dark, cheap slr can have view size same as a900, ...

but ovf has its place. i only agree that ovf in slr may not provide any real advantage in principle except current implementatvion

Dear folks,

One assumption I'm catching in some of the posts is that an optical viewfinder provides a more accurate view of the tone and color than an electronic viewfinder. That's usually not true. Oh yes, it provides a view that corresponds to what your eyes see… but that is not what your sensor sees. Most notably, unless you're using a digital camera with an extremely long exposure range, you will see lots of highlight and shadow detail in the optical viewfinder that simply won't be there in the photograph.

Same was true with film. In fact, it was even worse. What you saw was never what you got.

You learn to mentally adjust. Either way.

pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com 
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com 

Valid arguments, but I'm still unconvinced. EVFs are effective aiming and framing devices, perfectly accurate and flexible, but they don't accomplish the first task of a good optical VF. I want my viewfinder to present an accurate, objective view of the scene, without exaggeration or clutter. Also, the very last thing I want to be doing is struggling to match the color balance of my VF to my LCD to my RAWs to my monitor to my printer.

Show me the scene, clear and bright, so I can decide whether I want to press the shutter. Romance me-- I need to fall in love with the image before I shoot. My a850 does that. So did the F6 I sampled at a recent camera show, and that modern Zeiss Ikon rangefinder. Then I took my first look through a NEX-7, and wanted to barf. Colors were weird, outlines were grainy and the whole image looked unsteady as I shifted my eye. And this is supposedly one of the best EVFs?

I wasn't aware of the problems EVF's face with high shutter speeds and flash. Isn't there any way to set the EVF for constant brightness, independent of exposure settings?

Look, shoot, chimp, adjust, repeat. I enjoy working this way. It feels natural and intuitive, and it goes fast enough for the work I do.

Agree the main thrust of your argument but still please note that through the lens ovf does not represent what the eye but more what the lens saw. Your eye can change focus and have a better dof than 2.8 (or whatever the max. aperture the lens provided).

It is only ovf through rangefinder type that is what the eye saw, without the lens depth of field effect and the framing restriction. Hence, a better future is with Fuji but based on history that firm is not mainstream.

Like you, I saw A77 in a camera shop and decided not buy it in shop. Only I really use it in nex 5N in the real world you can find the advantage of that. Camera shop is really not the best environment to test evf.

I have had an OLympus E-P3 from the first day they arrived in the local agents warehouse last year. After owning SLRs and DSLRs I thought the high resolution LCD would be a sufficient substitute for an eye level finder. Alas no. In the bright summer light or low angle intense light at dawn or dusk can & does frequently render the rear LCD useless.
Today I purchased a VF-3 finder and slotted it in on top - it was like I had a new camera(an E-M5 wannabe!). All the benefits you've mentioned above to preview the scene with the effect of your settings. Is it perfect - no - but it's a heck of a lot better than relying on a LCD or a primitive single focal length OVF.

As Len mentioned above, for me the ability to previsualize in monochrome is alone worth the price of admission. The EVF on my NEX-7 impresses me more with each new day.

I wasn't aware of the problems EVF's face with high shutter speeds and flash. Isn't there any way to set the EVF for constant brightness, independent of exposure settings?

Yes, you can set it to "Live View Display - Setting Effect Off" and it will work as you describe.

Ah, the next Great Debate: OVF vs. EVF: Which Is Better? Taking the place of To Filter or Not To Filter, Film vs. Digital, and Leica vs. Everything Else.

I can hardly wait for the wars to start on RFF, dpreview, and elsewhere....

@nikojouri "There is still one big drawback for me : the shadows are somewhat blocked, as they will be on jpeg."

If you shoot raw, turn the contrast all the way down on the jpg setting and you will magically be able to see into the shadows, it will not affect the RAW image though

I love the Electronic Viewfinder for all the same reasons the Kirk mentions. But then I should as I have been a professional videographer for the last 35 years and we have had this technology as long. I am just glad it has made it to still hybrid cameras.

My first EVF still camera was my Sony VX-1000 video camera. It shot 640x480 stills which I used for newsletters and video frame grabs. Then Sony came out with the F-707 still camera with EVF. I liked that camera a lot. I turned way from the EVF on a still camera back to a mirror with the newer DSLR's that became affordable but I missed the EVF.

Well I am back with the Panasonic GH2 and I have not looked in an optical viewfinder since. In fact the GH2 is my video camera as well. Life is good.

I have both a Panasonic G1 and a Sony A77 both of which use EVF's.
The time lag (caused mostly by the shutter delay) on the G1 made it a nightmare for critical moment shooting. However the A77 is a whole new ballgame. With electronic first curtain it is actually faster than most (if not all) OVF dslr's. So if there is any evf time lag, it seems to be largely compensated for.
One superb aspect of the focus peaking that has not been mentioned here before that I am aware of, is how wonderful it is to see how much Depth of Field you have when changing the lens F-stop setting.
I can now shoot landscape handheld at higher shutter speeds when the need arises, as I now know I do not have to stop the lens down anywhere near as much as I always thought I needed to. - and hence the shutter speed even at low ISO is still high enough to handhold. Of course the lack of mirror slap also helps.

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