I Have Realized I Have Feelings On OVF vs EVF

mike3996

Hall of Famer
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Finland
I guess I have crossed the VF Rubicon.
Many do; no shame in that.

I was frankly personally surprised how I adopted to the OVF. I was an EVF user of several years when I went back to Leica and OVF. Suppose it's not as much about whether the view is optical or digital but rather how the frame is presented to me. A Rangefinder view is not possible with an EVF (unless there was a built-in secondary lens and sensor on the camera to capture that outside view).

WRT Nikon I'm ambivalent but slightly leaning towards EVF but Leica and RF is the one thing for me, currently.
 

agentlossing

All-Pro
Location
S. Oregon Coast (the Northernmost-Cal of them All)
Real Name
Andrew Lossing
I'd crossed the EVF rubicon myself, in that everything I had from the GX1 in 2014 onwards had an EVF or an LCD only. Before that was a Nikon D40 with a very small OVF for a DSLR. I have mostly experienced earlier EVFs, none within the last few years when they've grown truly good, according to most reports. So that's something I have to keep in mind. However, I think I prefer an OVF when certain characteristics of the exposure and recording medium are met, mostly that the metering controls highlights well (I'd really enjoy a camera with an OVF and highlight-weighted metering, does one exist yet?) and there is a lot of latitude in the file. You do give up a lot when you don't have an EVF with blinkies. Probably one of the singularly best features to come out of modern mirrorless - although when they're based off JPEG information instead of RAW, they aren't 100% accurate.

For my Bessa-T with B&W film that has a huge exposure latitude, I enjoy the free and clear hot shoe OVF. Zone focus and a meter I can glance down at rather than one in the viewfinder makes for a really easy experience. Maximizes my disregard of the camera equipment in favor of just experiencing the scene as I walk around.

I don't know how well I could get a digital camera to replicate that. The GR III's highlight-weighted metering gives some of that same free-and-easiness, but the hot shoe finder is awkward on such a small body (plus I only have 35mm ones, not 28mm). I could always go a Nikon DSLR, but where's the fun in that?
 

agentlossing

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Location
S. Oregon Coast (the Northernmost-Cal of them All)
Real Name
Andrew Lossing
Since writing the original post, I've done a couple of things, resulting in a couple of observations.

1. I bought a DSLR again, a Pentax KP, which has a good optical VF, known for its clarity due to having a true glass pentaprism. I forgot just how dependent the view is on the lens... through which you're viewing the scene. That's obvious, of course, but SLR finders have a curious sort of hybrid viewing style relative to other kinds of viewfinders. Through the lens - optical is a viewfinder type that shows you exactly what your lens is going to do to the resulting image in theory, whereas an EVF shows you what the lens is actually doing. With an SLR finder, you still have to imagine how the lens characteristics (which you can see) are going to look in the finished image. An EVF shows you how that will look, no imagination required.

Incidentally, I forgot how much DSLRs encourage chimping. As in, I raise the camera to my eye, focus, and while I'm pressing the shutter I am imagining just how the image will look, informed by whatever amount of added information the camera is (cryptically) telling me through the VF, such as an exposure meter based off whatever metering mode I've chosen. It's really hard then not to look at the screen to see how close I was to what actually happened - certainly that's what image review is for. So I guess most of the time I'm not really chimping, I'm just glancing down quickly, mainly to measure exposure (I trust the camera with pretty much everything else). However, the glance at image review does briefly take me out of the scene. I've kind of gotten used to turning image review off using my LCD-only GR, the GX9 with EVF, or (of course) film cameras with no "review."

2. I saw a good deal on the smaller GR viewfinder, the GV-2 which Matt mentioned earlier, and I couldn't help trying it. Initially I felt I could live with it, now I'm not so sure. Nearly every time I go to take a photo with the GR held up to my eye, I end up pulling it away again and using the LCD. It might be a failed experiment. It's too close to the tiny viewfinders on old film compacts I mentioned in my first post - even though it's optical and uncluttered, it's just so small that the scene doesn't feel like real life anymore and the subtleties are too easy to miss.
 
Location
Switzerland
Real Name
Matt
Since writing the original post, I've done a couple of things, resulting in a couple of observations.

1. I bought a DSLR again, a Pentax KP, which has a good optical VF, known for its clarity due to having a true glass pentaprism. I forgot just how dependent the view is on the lens... through which you're viewing the scene. That's obvious, of course, but SLR finders have a curious sort of hybrid viewing style relative to other kinds of viewfinders. Through the lens - optical is a viewfinder type that shows you exactly what your lens is going to do to the resulting image in theory, whereas an EVF shows you what the lens is actually doing. With an SLR finder, you still have to imagine how the lens characteristics (which you can see) are going to look in the finished image. An EVF shows you how that will look, no imagination required.

Incidentally, I forgot how much DSLRs encourage chimping. As in, I raise the camera to my eye, focus, and while I'm pressing the shutter I am imagining just how the image will look, informed by whatever amount of added information the camera is (cryptically) telling me through the VF, such as an exposure meter based off whatever metering mode I've chosen. It's really hard then not to look at the screen to see how close I was to what actually happened - certainly that's what image review is for. So I guess most of the time I'm not really chimping, I'm just glancing down quickly, mainly to measure exposure (I trust the camera with pretty much everything else). However, the glance at image review does briefly take me out of the scene. I've kind of gotten used to turning image review off using my LCD-only GR, the GX9 with EVF, or (of course) film cameras with no "review."

2. I saw a good deal on the smaller GR viewfinder, the GV-2 which Matt mentioned earlier, and I couldn't help trying it. Initially I felt I could live with it, now I'm not so sure. Nearly every time I go to take a photo with the GR held up to my eye, I end up pulling it away again and using the LCD. It might be a failed experiment. It's too close to the tiny viewfinders on old film compacts I mentioned in my first post - even though it's optical and uncluttered, it's just so small that the scene doesn't feel like real life anymore and the subtleties are too easy to miss.
I hope it came across that I never bonded with the GV-2 - it's really not helpful. Thus, the GR III is the only camera I use without a finder. Sometimes I wonder if the bigger brother (GV-1) would be better, but I'm too wary to even try. Should I come across a used Voigtländer metal (i.e. circular) finder, I might try that ... They're almost as good as the Zeiss ones optically, but cost about a third of the price.

M.
 

mnhoj

gee aahrr
Location
Los Angeles
Real Name
John
A few years ago I went back to a D600.
Loved those F1.8G lenses but felt disconnected with the body.
Couldn't quite put a finger on it until I discovered it was the loss of an EVF.
Tried again with a K70 but that was to try the little lenses.
Not the best examples of a good OVF but an EVF is just so convenient.
 
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agentlossing

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Location
S. Oregon Coast (the Northernmost-Cal of them All)
Real Name
Andrew Lossing
I was reading this thread's opening post today over on PentaxForums, and it made me think: Pentax PentaPrism Tribute! - PentaxForums.com

Sometimes I forget to value the role of beauty and clarity through the viewfinder, and look at a camera as a purely rational tool for the making of images, for the realization of a creative idea or s concept in my mind when I see something in the world. But the thread author made me realize, the active peering through the viewfinder action stimulates parts of the brain - that means the inspiration and reactivity to the scene carries through from the moment I raise the camera to my eye during the time that I am composing the shot.

A poor viewfinder makes it hard for the scene to really speak to me, creatively, and by cutting off that creative process it restricts me to making the image I saw in my mind's eye - however incomplete or poorly imagined that might be. Next time I go out and shoot, I want to pay attention to how that creative responsiveness carries through the compositional process through the viewfinder. Thinking on the squinty, tiny optical finders on compact cameras or the flat, washed-out EVFs from early or entry-level cameras I've tried, I can see how the frustration that arose from using those was at least partly my creative process and response to the scene being interrupted.
 

mike3996

Hall of Famer
Location
Finland
I mean if people like the new EVF on the Sony who's to say it's because of the pixel count or perhaps the panel is just better, or the optics between the panel and the eye? An EVF has a plenty of optical design to it, the eye relief and the pixel count (the two numbers we most often get to read from the specs) don't alone tell the whole story.
 

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