12.18.2013

I just had to laugh....

Shot on film. With a Leica R8...

A few years ago I wrote a piece for another person's blog wherein I made an impassioned case for electronic viewfinders. To say I was skewered again and again would be an understatement. At the time the mantric response was, "I'll never give up the glory and majesty of a true optical viewfinder!" 
And yet, I was just visiting said blog when I noticed that commenter after commenter mentioned their desire to have a Sony A7 camera. And many of them gave as one reason.....the electronic viewfinder.

Funny how much time sits in between early adopters and the big hump of the Bell Curve. Are people that resistant to change?


So, my question for regular VSL readers today: Do you prefer (now, today, presently....) to shoot with an OVF or an EVF? And why?



66 comments:

Craig said...

I prefer an EVF for digital cameras. I may never buy another digital camera without one. (Right now I'm looking at the Nikon Df and thinking, "Hmm, appealing in some ways, but it's as big and heavy as an F4," and I'm looking at the Sony A7/A7R and thinking, "Nice technology, and I could use any legacy lens I want, but that camera sure is ugly...")

For film, I prefer an OVF because part of the point of film for me, aside from artistic considerations, is keeping the traditions alive, and those traditions include OVFs.

John Krumm said...

Now that I have the EM-1 I like the viewfinder quite a bit. It finally has the clarity to see enough (almost enough) details when doing dark landscapes with high contrast, and when I pick up my dslr I always look for the blinkies. It's not a total DSLR replacement in that for the average person who likes to take birds in flight photos (even though 95% of BIF photos are terrible) the EVF can't keep up with the birds very well. It becomes difficult to follow them using sequential shooting, showing a sequence like a bird animation in a flip book. But since I was pretty bad at bif shots anyway it doesn't matter to me so much.

almostinfamous said...

my first long-term camera experience came from an Olympus camera with EVF . in that way i guess i'm a digital native. i like some of the OVFs i've used (D200/300 come to mind ) but in the long term i think i'll be switching back to the EVF. really like the screen on the OM-D, can't even imagine how nice the sony ones must be.

almostinfamous said...

my first long-term camera experience came from an Olympus camera with EVF . in that way i guess i'm a digital native. i like some of the OVFs i've used (D200/300 come to mind ) but in the long term i think i'll be switching back to the EVF. really like the screen on the OM-D, can't even imagine how nice the sony ones must be.

Dave Jenkins said...

After shooting extensively with EVFs since 2010, I have to say that I prefer OVFs and have gone back to mostly using a Canon (6D). For me, an OVF provides greater transparency and immediacy. I can see the view whenever I bring the camera to my eye, which is not always the case with an EVF, because even after three years I too often find that I have somehow pushed the wrong button, or failed to push the right one.

Juan Carlos said...

EVF for sure. Ever since I began shooting with one, I could never go back -- at least not with a digital camera. My reason? Same as yours, which is having the ability to pre-chinp. This is how I am able to nail the exposure about 99 percent of the time. All I have to do is turn the exposure comp dial to adjust the exposure exactly the way I want it -- fast and easy.

However, I am not without a camera with an OVF -- I have a Canon A1 and a Hasselblad 500CM.

In addition to the usual suspects regarding the reasons why many folks are resistant to EVFs, I will add that maybe they have had bad experiences with earlier versions that weren't as good as the ones that are in use now, and thus developed a very high distaste for them. The subconscious mind is very powerful, and I'd say this is one of the major contributors to the resistance.

Mike Rosiak said...

Remember the binoculars in the first "Star Wars" movie? All that information running along the bottom of the image? When I saw it, I thought, "Totally cool. I want one."

EVF's? They've got it. Totally cool.

Anonymous said...

EVF for me. Big, bright and highly useful for pre-shot exposure estimation. Sony's beam splitter implementation gives great focus speed and a high fps rate for BIF shooting. I just can't go back to pure OVF.

Anonymous said...

Pioneers are the people with arrows in their back

or

Its the bleeding edge

Michael R

Craig Yuill said...

Right now I can take either one of these types of viewfinders. As John Krumm mentioned a lot of EVFs have trouble keeping up with motion, although the one in my Nikon V1 is pretty good at it. I do take birds-in-flight shots, and I have the most success at getting them with my D7000, which has a fine OVF. But I think that the overall lens and AF system of the D7000 has more to do with that than the viewfinder.

A couple of weeks ago I did run into one big weakness of the OVF that you have mentioned numerous times. I had taken a number of shots with my D7000 before I realized I had set the exposure compensation to -3 EV a few days earlier. With an EVF I would have caught this.

I think that as EVFs get sharper, get wider dynamic range, and get to be more responsive than they currently are, then resistance to EVFs will dwindle to nothing.

Jeff said...

I started with Minolta Dimage A2 EVF. State of the art 922K dots in 2005, but it's gain in low light (even though b&w) was much better than ovf with f4.5 kit lenses. That and the live view when changing WB, exp. comp. and level indicators, I'm not interested in ovf.

Wally said...

I have to say the EVF on my nikon 1 still seems different not bad just different. I have no preference and shoot a D7000 and a 4x5 sheet film camera too. The local nikon rep and I were talking and I think that Nikon can't figure out why EVF don't sell in the USA like they do in Asia!

andrewt said...

I suppose I've gone full circle. After many years with mirrorless and EVFs I've returned to an OVF (and "full frame") via the Nikon Df, and frankly I prefer it. EVFs are fantastic and have their place, but thankfully we still have both. Choice is good, and we can of course have both.

andrewt said...

I suppose I've gone full circle. After many years with mirrorless and EVFs I've returned to an OVF (and "full frame") via the Nikon Df, and frankly I prefer it. EVFs are fantastic and have their place, but thankfully we still have both. Choice is good, and we can of course have both.

andrewt said...

I suppose I've gone full circle. After many years with mirrorless and EVFs I've returned to an OVF (and "full frame") via the Nikon Df, and frankly I prefer it. EVFs are fantastic and have their place, but thankfully we still have both. Choice is good, and we can of course have both.

Bill Danby said...

Love the histogram and other info in the live view; and I don't miss the absence of mirror vibration. I also like fine-focus magnification and focus peaking. These tip the balance for me.

Ugo Baldassarre said...

EVF forever. I just bought a G6 and I'm thinking to del also my a900 for another a77 . I love to shoot switching from live view on display and EVF without differenze in af looking my Photos in real time preview. That's the future

David G. said...

I had an opportunity to shoot a Fuji X100 recently. After about 10 shots I turned off the OVF and left it in EVF mode for the entire week I had access to the camera. That was about the best direct comparison I could imagine, and the EVF won me over completely. I don't miss film either. I don't miss the time in the darkroom spilling chemicals on my self, breathing stop bath fumes or any of it. I did it for 45 years, phooey. Now I say, "I want my digital!".

David G. said...

I had an opportunity to shoot a Fuji X100 recently. After about 10 shots I turned off the OVF and left it in EVF mode for the entire week I had access to the camera. That was about the best direct comparison I could imagine, and the EVF won me over completely. I don't miss film either. I don't miss the time in the darkroom spilling chemicals on my self, breathing stop bath fumes or any of it. I did it for 45 years, phooey. Now I say, "I want my digital!".

David G. said...

I had an opportunity to shoot a Fuji X100 recently. After about 10 shots I turned off the OVF and left it in EVF mode for the entire week I had access to the camera. That was about the best direct comparison I could imagine, and the EVF won me over completely. I don't miss film either. I don't miss the time in the darkroom spilling chemicals on my self, breathing stop bath fumes or any of it. I did it for 45 years, phooey. Now I say, "I want my digital!".

ginsbu said...

EVF for me. Pre-chimping with Oly's live blinkies is a great way to shoot. I have no interest in TTL OVFs, though I do like rangefinder style OVFs that allow me to see beyond the frame and aren't DoF limited — that's usefully different from what an EVF offers. Fuji's hybrid viewfinder really appeals to me, though I don't own one.

Anonymous said...

I still prefer OVF. EVF left a bad taste in my mouth from my first experience, a 2004 era Olympus point and shoot. The back LCD was superfluously better than the EVF on that camera, although an EVF was cool to see back then. That is my only experience, I've yet to try an EVF that is made today.

If only Nikon offered such an option I'd switch as soon as I could afford so.

Brad Calkins said...

Putting my money where my mouth is, I've transitioned from OVF to EVF and no longer own a dSLR. It isn't so much that I prefer the EVF, but I love all the things that go along with it:

1. Ability to do enlarged focus, peaking, and shoot with digital x2 zoom (but still capturing the RAW).
2. Ability to shoot in B&W, different crop formats.
3. Ability to replay, change menus, etc. in viewfinder.
4. Seamless transition from LCD to viewfinder. Everything works the same in both - video and AF, most importantly. People trumpet the OVF for their dSLRs, and then trumpet the live view ability on a flip out LCD or for video. Along with an EVF typically comes an advanced CDAF focus system and touchscreen, etc.
5. Face detect, where you can see what it is grabbing on the fly (combined with Oly's nearest eye it is a great portrait feature!).
6. Ability to have a usable DOF preview.
7. Gain for low light conditions.
8. Huge viewfinder in small body (E-M1 in particular).
9. Live histogram (plus spot meter histogram on OMD).

Negatives:

1. High frame rates drop the view to some degree.
2. Battery life. Obviously you can carry spares to combat this one.
3. Not as good when using strobes or flash, without modelling lights.

Bottom line: advantages far outweigh the negatives for me.

Claire said...

Ever since I discovered the magic of full time exposure preview, I've been loving the EVF, and in fact, I don't want to *ever* shoot anything else in my life. I returned a D600 not so long ago for not having this feature, and my D90 has been sitting unused for months, no image preview, no dice (considering the fact I've been shooting full Manual ever since I picked up mirrorless, I don't want to go back to the crutch of automatic metering);

Aldy Ariffi said...

I'm quite satisfied with my x100 EVF. That one considered by many as not that good. Instant feedback on exposure, WB, etc, I simply can't go back too optical viewfinder, except when I'm using my film cameras. I will not buy any digicam without EVF,no matter how nice the camera.

Jim Simmons said...

I was one of the EVF/Sony voters on TOP (why are you loathe to name names, Kirk?), but I've been with you on the EVF thing since day one, not a latecomer at all. And I've used Leicas since the '70s. Love 'em, but come on! Pre-chimping is such a joy. The latest EVFs, with zero lag time are a real dream to use.

Andrea said...

EVF. No chimping for me.

Sven W said...

I suspect there's a percentage of photographers more interested in the process than the results i.e good images. To my mind, fond talk of film or OVF is more to do with process.

Art in LA said...

Hmm, wouldn't it be cool to have a film camera that had an EVF so that you knew what the processed image would look like? (Yeah, I'm weird.)

To get the feeling of an OVF nowadays, I just grab my binoculars. Sometimes I just enjoy taking a look through glass, no image capture required ...

Art in LA said...

Oh, and to answer your question, I prefer to shoot with an EVF, even old junky ones like on my A55. I like the 100% viewfinder (a 100% view OVF is super expensive, right?) and WSYIWYG (yes, the old word processing term ... I can make adjustments on the fly and see their impact right away in the EVF).

ODL Designs said...

EVF.
A more seamless sheeting experience is my main criteria. The quick review keeps me on track and not having to chimp the screen.

Shooting people gets that much easier... Plus I love shooting in BW with the EVF in Black and white!

Paul H said...

Ever since my Minolta A1 I thought that sooner or later EVFs were going to replace OVFs for the majority of digital cameras. Sure, back then they weren't brilliant, but the A1 probably had the first semi-decent EVF. And you just knew that the relentless technological improvements would make them better and better.

The information overlay options, variable angles, ability to set them to square black and white - the "proper format" ;-), etc., etc., and it did away with the need for a flappy mirror. Then, focus could be done on sensor, which should negate the tolerance problems with differing autofocus and image paths.

Having said that, I also like looking at the upside-down-back-to-front image on the ground glass of my 5x4" technical camera.

Anders C. Madsen said...

I was actually seriously considering the new Sony A7/A7R as a replacement for my trusty old Canon 1Ds MKII (not happy with the direction Canon are going in terms of resolution and lens pricing) but after trying out a Sony A77 the other day I'm no longer sure.

I like that I can see the immediate effect of changing my white balance and such, but being a 100% RAW shooter and generally swearing by the Color Checker Passport for color and white balance accuracy, this is not really a huge bonus for me.

And. The big "And". I just can't get past that tiny delay and minor "tearing" of the image when there is quick motion involved, either of the camera or the model. It bugs the crap out of me and distracts me in a very non-productive way.

It may simply be a matter of getting used to it, and I am definitely going to revisit the store when they have their A7 and A7R charged and ready to see if their EVF is better than the one in the A77, but for now the EVF is definitely on the back burner as far as I am concerned.

Markus Spring said...

A digital camera with a good electronic viewfinder is as good as it can get for me, especially as basic and middle-class OVFs are neither bright nor cover the full sensor area nor are they overly precise - just try a vintage f1.4 lens on one of those: autofocus is limited to f2.8 precision at best, and the microprism won't support manual focusing.

As the whole digital camera unfortunately now is just an electronic gadget with a limited lifespan, it's just logical to enjoy the advantages of the electronic viewfinder with it.

Andy Farrell said...

I'm almost embarrassed to admit I practically never use the OVF on my Fuji X100.

Wolfgang Lonien said...

The VF-2 won me over big time. Once you've set up the camera to settings recommended by people like Pekka Potka, you'll get the exposure nailed each and every time. No need to "chimp", that's why my rear LCD only turns on when I press "OK" for some changes with the "Super Control Panel", as they call it.

A new DSLR? Yeah, some of them are nice and produce excellent results in the right hands, but these days I'd much prefer a Sony A7(r), or even one of the OM-D cameras. I was once asked to take a family's picture with their A-57, and even that one felt nice compared to more traditional designs.

Herman said...

Kirk,
I am going to have to go ahead and not pick. I have used both and continue to use both without a strong preference. To me it is just part of a camera. Though if I had to chose between a shitty OVF and a good EVF the EVF would clearly win.

Michael Watkins said...

EVF, all the way. I've been shooting EVF cameras for almost three years now. I also worked with the D800 for a year; it was odd, very odd at first, going back to an OVF. I won't be doing that again, D800 sold, inadequate live view (and no EVF) being among the reasons it is gone.

José Guilherme Sonoda Dantas said...

I prefer to use EVF because of all the advantages Kirk always mentions...

I like so much that when I use a friend's DSLR, I really miss the pre-chimping!

Maybe it is because I am relatively young and didn't shoot the old film SLR's...

Ron Joiner said...

There is just so much screen information on the EVF these days that it is hard to go back. For example, when changing the white balance you can actually visualize the changes on the EVF as you adjust the colour temperature. I don't think I would go back.

Ron

Ryan Stinn said...

I prefer an EVF and have been using one since the Panasonic GF-1, although it was an add-on and completely ineffective in anything but the best light. I next moved onto the E-M5 where I found the EVF to be excellent and the "pre-chimping" as you call it, to be so much more effective.
Now I have an a77 and an a7R and their EVFs are just as good if not better than the olympus'. I have no desire to go back to an OVF. I just wish sony would let me set a function key for "Setting Effect On/Off" instead of having to dive into the menu everytime i'm using off camera flashes.

Anonymous said...

I have been using only EVF for years ( except for my view cameras ). I love the EVF on the Sony A99 and Oly E-M1. On the Sony RX1R, I had the choice of OVF or EVF. Naturally, I picked EVF.

I would much rather be seeing the scene as the camera is seeing it, rather than as the scene looks through an OVF, which doesnt show anything except the framing and focus. One of the big problems has always been that the photo didn't look like what you expected to get when you pressed the shutter. Now, you can see what the result is going to be, before you even press the shutter. That's a major improvement.

Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays ( whichever applies )

Rick

Craig said...

Definitely the EVF. As for why, WYSIWYG - what you see is what you get, plus the ability to have the histogram shown inside the EVF makes all the difference to me.

My A77 may no longer be the latest or greatest, but it still beats composing through an EVF and "chimping" afterwards.

- Craig C.

Anonymous said...

For me, as an enthusiast,not a pro, I can live with either, so long as the inevitable compromises don't ruin the experience. The optical viewfinder on my ancient EOS 5D is excellent, especially with fast primes. It's a big camera, but when pure image quality is needed, I use it. The optical VFs on my APS-C and original 4/3rds bodies have a slight-to-dramatic tunnel effect, but I get a lighter load without too much effect on quality of result. The EVF finders on my micro 4/3rds Olympus and Panasonic bodies are all good, but the Olympus FV4 is truly excellent, and the combination of quality and manageable size makes them my everyday first choice. The tiny EVF on the tiny Panasonic Lumix LF1 is technically poor, but it is the only such camera that is small enough to fit in a pocket and still have a built-in EVF and produce good images. It's my choice when smallness overrides all other considerations. Tom Barry

typingtalker said...

1. In general I like the EVF on my mirrorless camera and miss the instant chimp and some of the notifications when using my traditional DSLR.
2. In general I like the optical view finder on my traditional DSLR and don't miss the start-up delay of the EVF.
3. Both are good. Neither is better. They're just different.

Carlo Santin said...

OVF all the way. The viewfinder on my F100 is the bees knees. I have cameras with EVFs and I can use them just fine but I don't care for them, I still feel a disconnect from my subject. I doubt this preference will ever change. Sometimes you like what you like no matter how much things change.

Michael Meyer said...

Is "both" a viable answer? When shooting tabletop I prefer an EVF; when shooting portraits I prefer an OVF; for events, travel and street I switch back and forth.

I guess it's good I have cameras that allow each of these options. That is to say: I need to pare back to just one system rather than three...

Peter said...

I started using an EVF with the Panasonic G1 in 2008 and it is still my most used camera ever – although my EM5 will soon overtake it. I started using OVFs back in the early 60's, before I graduated to SLRs – which I still enjoy using. However, the main advantage of the EVF for me is the major reduction in camera and lens size and weight. Pre-chimping is good, but only an additional benefit. (When did we forget how to expose?)

I am surprised at how long it is taking for mirrorless to fully take over the mainstream. With hindsight though, I think it may be because few people actually carry multiple lenses for any length of time.

I would really like to see the viewfinder put on the right of the camera (like the Fuji's), and the phoney hump finally done away with – Something I will be looking for in the future.

Michael Gowin said...

EVFs--pre-chimping, change a setting (WB, B&W, art filters, crop, etc.) and see it in the finder, histogram display. Lots of visual feedback.

Perfect? No. But what's not to like?

Anonymous said...

I think part of the reason is that the quality of evfs has improved greatly. People often look at something new and just assume it is that way and will never match the matured tech they're currently using. We see something similar with regard to DSLR vs. mirrorless cameras right now. That is partly about the viewfinder, but the other major conversation there is autofocus and servo tracking. I have shot mostly EVF in my time, but have also shot with the 5D. Now, I would shoot optical any day over the EVF in the Nikon Coolpix L3. But I would shoot with the screen of the NX300 (I know, not evf) over optical unless there is bright sunlight causing too much glare.

Unknown said...

I'm fine with either one unless I'm shooting in low light, in which case I prefer an EVF or Live View because it "gains up" enough that I can tell what the actual photo will look like. It also allows for faster, more accurate manual focus.

Ray said...

I prefer an EVF because I never want to take another blue tint picture. Yes, I shoot JPG and no, I don't always check the WB. Thank you for reminding me though.

James Weekes said...

I have gotten so used to the flexibility of an EVF that I don't want to go back. On a clear bright day I will occasionally haul out my 5D Mk II and put either the Zeiss 35mm or the Sigma 50mm f/1.4. In that situation the OVF is enough and lovely. But if it were one or the other......EVF

jim said...

I have both, use both, have no preference, cant understand the fuss- to me the metering choices are more important!

James Hildreth said...

Time for someone to be a curmudgeon. So far I prefer OVF. Maybe its my tired old eyes or 50+ years photographing starting with a folding camera but I haven't found an EVF that I liked. I understand all the advantages. It's a no-brainer but the quality is not there yet, IMHO. I admit I haven't seen the EM1 yet. But Kirk has raved about the Sony EVF's and they seem too grainy and shimmering to me - at least when viewed indoors. I still prefer to see the realism of what I'm shooting in viewfinder but that will change when EVFs get better. For now I'll check the LCD on the back.

On a different subject - Kirk, how do you get those gorgeous blue skies in you shots? Do you use a polarizer or is that just another advantage of living in Austin?

Anonymous said...

I have a G3 with EVF (that I keep mostly for family snaps because I dislike the EVF so much) and a couple of Nikon DSLRs with OVF. I can use both but only enjoy using the OVF, and it's no contest. Not even close.

With an OVF, I can set my camera once and just focus on my subject (no pun intended). With an EVF, it feels like I am looking through a constantly changing laptop monitor and it gets in the way of shooting. There is also that feeling of disconnect from reality that another commenter noted. And let's not talk about the wasteful battery drain of EVFs.

I use EVF when I have to, but not when I have a choice.
Regards,
Ken

Anonymous said...

I prefer OVF in very brightly-lit situations where the EVF looks dim and washed-out to my bright-adapted eyes. Although a super bright EVF is possible, who's going to produce one when it's a lawsuit waiting to happen?

But for the other 98.5% of my shooting, it's really no contest I think. I've wanted live histogram display in the viewfinder for years, and when I finally got it circa 2004 (Panasonic DMC-LC1) I was sold, even if Panasonic's finder was crude by today's standards.

Jeff S

Kirk Tuck said...

James, What's a polarizer? :-)

Seriously though, I don't generally use a polarizer I'm just out when the sky is pretty and this year we've had enough rain to keep the ozone levels down and that's made the skies much cleaner looking...

Brook Thompson said...

EVF hands down. I was doubtful when I first heard of them but now with my a99 I am a complete convert.

Frank Grygier said...

Mirrored cameras with OVF's are big and noisy. Mirrorless cameras are elegantly designed with exquisite EVF's that make the photographic process an immersive experience unrivaled by any other photographic technology. I like EVF's. Can't you tell.

JeroenP said...

The Leica R8... Everything looks gorgeous through thát viewfinder. It's beautiful to see an image snap into focus on that OVF ground glass. The process of manually focusing a lens on a nice OVF is almost therapeutic.

The EVF on my Sony R1 suits me just as well, though; Very practical, and I photograph with more confidence. I don't really care about deficiencies of that "old" EVF: the lag, the lack of resolution, the inaccurate colours; But no love here.



Carlo Santin said...

OVFs all the way. I have cameras with good EVFs and I'm fine using them, but nothing beats looking through the viewfinder of my F100.

Anonymous said...

I started with film cameras during the previous century. I swapped my traditional dSLR to mirrorless (and later hybrid, too, á la Sony SLT) in 2011, and ever since then the EVF has been a no brainer. I'm totally used to it, and it feels natural in a digital camera. When shooting digital, I might as well go all the way to native digital.
I like the WYSIWYG-ness of it, and the extra info behind a push of a button, some of which were possible, but needed a change of focusing screen back in the day.

The final nail in the OFV coffin in my case is video. I've become almost obsessed about shooting video, so a camera with an EVF is not only an obvious choice, but an essential one.

Nevertheless, I do still have one rather old-school dSLR with a reasonably good OVF, too. But that's mainly because there is no mirrorless model of that particular system yet. That particular camera model is the closest I can get to a film SLR in digital, both in good and bad, so the OVF sort of suits it.

The only major downside of an EVF is the need of power, and what that does to battery life.

I have nothing against OVF's though, and I still enjoy my legacy film cameras. I wish I had something larger format, like an old Rolleiflex TLR or something like it, just to be able to do some square frame "slowhand" shooting once in a while. For the heck of it.

mgr said...

That's a terrific portrait.

OVF, if only because I spend too much of my day looking at screens - the computer, the phone, the TV, etc. (Neither of my current cameras has an OVF, though, so really I'm just closing the barn doors and waving goodbye to the horses.)

Anonymous said...

I have both OVF (FF DSLR) and EVF cameras and use both. For many situations I have no preference finding value in both.

But I do a lot of night- and astrophotography and an EVF leaves me "night blind" in one eye. I must use an OVF for those situations.

Choice is good and I'm glad we have both but I fear a day when there is no choice.

Thanks for asking.

-db-

Anonymous said...

The last EVF I actually got to look through, an E-M5, did not seem very good at all. I hear the E-M1 is better. I compare everything to my OM-1 with 1-10 screen (matte surface with grid) so EFV's have a tough, up hill climb. I do not live close enough to a real camera store to ever handle cameras so I depend on other peoples reviews and that is so subjective. Only by chance did I happen to be in a place that had a camera store that had the E-M5.

John Robison