Optical and LCD viewfinder in digital SLR's

Discussion in 'Digital Cameras' started by Petri Latva-Rasku, Dec 27, 2003.

  1. A simple question: Why is there not an LCD viewfinder in digital SLR

    I understand that because of the way SLR's work, it is not trivial to
    have the image on both optical and LCD viewfinders simultaneously. But
    wouldn't it be possible to have a viewfinder selector in the camera to
    choose the viewfinder to be used? Just one button to toggle between
    LCD and optical.

    In addition, wouldn't it be possible to have this functionality in all
    current digital SLR's by just a firmware upgrade? Just keep the
    prism/mirror and shutter in the position where light goes to the

    For me, the single biggest obstacle in getting a digital SLR is the
    lack of an LCD viewfinder. I've used (non SLR) digital cameras for
    years and they all have an LCD viewfinder. Some have good ones, some
    not so good. But in almost all cases they are very good for framing
    the image. Of course there are situations where optical viewfinder is
    preferred, but these are small in number when compared to LCD
    viewfinder cases in my case.

    So why not let the user choose which viewfinder to use? The optical
    viewfinder would still be there..
    Petri Latva-Rasku, Dec 27, 2003
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  2. Petri Latva-Rasku wrote:

    The way SLR's meter the scene precludes this. Unless you want to meter
    first, then flip on the electronic viewfinder to compose and shoot...
    But this is rather cumbersome and will lead to inaccurate metering.

    Pretty much all SLR's meter and focus through the use of microprisms in
    the focusing screen which direct some of the light to various sensors in
    the body.
    Then no light would go to the metering electronics, and shutter release
    would be cumbersome (discharge the sensor, close shutter, set up sensor
    ISO for shot, shoot (stop down, open and close shutter, open up), pull
    picture off sensor, reopen shutter for next shot. Ugh.
    Focusing screen is just as good for framing as an LCD viewfinder is. The
    focusing screen sees exactly the same thing as the sensor does; the only
    difference is the light bounces off a mirror first.
    Common sense, I suppose. You would need two metering systems, one for
    shooting traditionally and one for shooting with an EVF. It would be
    hard to get the same results with both and would result in great confusion.

    Zorin the Lynx, Dec 27, 2003
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  3. Something else that I forgot to mention.. Since dSLR's have
    interchangeable lenses, leaving the shutter curtain a lot for composing
    a scene using the sensor would result in the sensor getting dirty a lot
    sooner than only exposing it for the brief fraction of a second required
    for most shots.

    Zorin the Lynx, Dec 27, 2003
  4. Petri Latva-Rasku

    Tony Spadaro Guest

    Too much power use, not enough resolution, and what would you need one for
    since you are seeing the world directly through the lens. In fact if you
    make the viewfinder electronic - it ain't an SLR any more.
    Tony Spadaro, Dec 27, 2003
  5. I see. This is valid reason why it can't be just a firmware upgrade.
    It would require some extra work by the manufacturer to do redesign.
    Doable, in my opinion.
    On this I completely disagree. I can't even see the optical viewfinder
    when I take images with the camera above my head or close to ground.
    Situations where the camera is not next to my eye when picture is
    taken are very common. LCD viewfinder can easily by used from the
    distance of a stretched hand. It took a while after film SLR to get
    used to taking pictures like this, but it gives great flexibility in
    many cases.

    I agree, dust in the sensor might become a problem.
    Petri Latva-Rasku, Dec 27, 2003
  6. No, and no. The CCD sensor itself in the digital SLRs lacks the
    circuitry to do continuous video readout, which is what's needed to
    drive a viewfinder. Adding it would take up a lot of space, and would
    reduce the quality of the images (since the size of the pixel wells in
    those CCDs is what makes the noise levels so low compared to the
    consumer digicams).

    It would also slow things down a lot -- creating the horrid shutter
    lag that you have to put up with in consumer digicams. You have to
    black out the CCD and clear it before taking the image, if you want an
    image that's at all clean.
    David Dyer-Bennet, Dec 27, 2003
  7. I understand the technical reasons why you can't use the LCD as a
    viewfinder on the digital SLRs, but I deeply regret it. Despite 30
    years experience with film SLRs, I really like composing on the CCD
    better than peering through the viewfinder.

    I don't focus visually anyway, I pick an autofocus point and force
    autofocus on that point and lock it; and focusing is the only thing
    where the optical viewfinder is better.

    Especially in a dark room; the CCD is *much* brighter and clearer than
    the optical view.

    For the lens flexibility and the better-quality images, I'm using a
    Fuji S2, but I really really miss the LCD viewfinder.
    David Dyer-Bennet, Dec 27, 2003
  8. I have a 300d and a G1, and they complement each other. If I have to hang in
    the ceiling og lie down in mud to get the shots I want, I use the G1 instead
    of the 300d....

    But, wouldn't it be possible to have a 2nd CMOS-sensor, reading the mirrored
    image and displaying it on a flip-out screen like the G-series? As an
    alternative to viewing through the prism, for those over-the-head and
    under-the-knee shots.


    Brynjulf Blix, Dec 28, 2003
  9. Petri Latva-Rasku

    Tony Spadaro Guest

    "Focus is the only thing where the optical viewfinder is better" - In
    other words - the optical viewfinder is better. Think about it.
    Tony Spadaro, Dec 28, 2003
  10. Yes it would. In fact you can do it yourself. Just mount one of the
    little video cameras intended for security monitoring so it looks into
    the camera optical viewfinder.

    Dave Martindale, Dec 28, 2003
  11. You're all wrong. My Oly E20 has an optical SLR viewfinder and an LCD on
    the back, with live preview available.

    Gary Eickmeier
    Gary Eickmeier, Dec 28, 2003
  12. Petri Latva-Rasku

    Phil Guest

    I'd rather do without the viewfinder in return for being able to switch
    lenses. That limitation of the E20 makes me thing he is not including
    the E20 as an "SLR".

    Phil, Dec 28, 2003
  13. I see no reason why this isn't possible. And it doesn't even have to
    be a very good (expensive) sensor -- no better than the LCD displaying
    the image, in particular. I think this is a good idea.
    David Dyer-Bennet, Dec 29, 2003
  14. I've thought about it a lot. And regretted the loss of the LCD
    viewfinder extremely in the year I've been using the Fuji S2. For me,
    the improved flexibility and quality are worth it.

    The LCD viewfinder is much more visible in dark situations than the
    optical viewfinder is, and it makes it much easier to use the camera
    other than at eye level.
    David Dyer-Bennet, Dec 29, 2003
  15. Petri Latva-Rasku

    Tony Spadaro Guest

    Whatever - I find LCDs to be less than informative - too dim in sunlight,
    and too low res. That's the main reason why I've never bought a digital -
    however I never liked using rangefinders either and there are a lot of
    people who swear by them - I can't focus a Leica for beans. So I guess it's
    a matter of what one knows and feels comfy with.
    Of course I'm in my 50s and am getting quite farsighted now - to go
    along with the nearsightedness I've had since I was a child. Perhaps it's
    just that I can never see those LCDs very well? Something else to consider -
    I guess I'm an SLR guy from the get-go till they toss the dirt on me.
    Tony Spadaro, Dec 29, 2003
  16. Certainly they're dim in sunlight. That was a problem on my first
    digital, an epson, less of a problem on my Fuji S2 (and of course I
    can turn to shade it to look at the lcd since it *isn't* a
    viewfinder). I've never bothered to get one of the hoods that shade
    the LCD though, that should mostly solve the sun problem.

    I *did* like focusing a Lecia (M3) very much; I found it much much
    easier than SLRs (this was in the mid 1970s, when the SLR viewfinders
    weren't as bright as they are now). I'd been using SLRs for about 4
    years when I first got the Leica, so it wasn't just what I was used
    to. And, as I say, I converted to autofocus some time ago and don't
    try to judge focus by eye much any more. (I'm 49 now, and while my
    eyes started out good, I'm farsighted too these days.) I definitely
    need my glasses to see the LCD decently.
    David Dyer-Bennet, Dec 29, 2003
  17. Petri Latva-Rasku

    Tony Spadaro Guest

    For me the best view I ever get of teh world is through my -4 diopter
    eyepiece and the viewfinder of my SLR. I suspect we are very different in
    eyesight and style. I owned a mid sixties Spotmatic when I tried Leica, and
    couldn't figure out what was in focus and what wasn't. I mostly focus my C3s
    with the distance scales.
    Tony Spadaro, Dec 29, 2003
  18. An amusing coincidence there -- I too owned a spotmatic at the same
    time as my Leica. I found the superimposed image in the M3 much
    brighter and clearer than the microprism or split image screens in
    various SLRs I was familiar with at the time. If your familiarity
    with Leicas is with the order models, the III series, then you're
    thinking of a much less good rangefinder and focusing system than they
    put in the M series models.
    David Dyer-Bennet, Dec 30, 2003
  19. Petri Latva-Rasku

    Tony Spadaro Guest

    I can't remember the exact model but it was an M. I once tried a friend's
    CIII - couldn't see a damn thing through the rangefinder - it was about as
    bad as my C3s -- and from about the same era, I believe.
    Tony Spadaro, Dec 31, 2003
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