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What Is a Digital Camera Viewfinder?

You may have heard of diopters, but it’s really not.

You may have heard of a camera viewfinder called a diopter, but that’s not really the case. A digital camera viewfinder is a viewing mechanism on the back of a DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) camera that allows the photographer to see the image to be captured. But there is also much more to a camera viewfinder. There are different types and different mechanisms. Here’s what you need to know about the different sights.

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What is a viewer?

The viewfinder on a digital camera is the part of the camera that is used to frame and set up a shot. It is usually located on the back of the camera and can be an optical viewfinder or an electronic or digital viewfinder (EVF).

  • optical viewfinder: An optical viewfinder is most commonly found on DSLR cameras. You’ll recognize it as the eyepiece on the back of the camera, usually towards the top. This is a display mechanism that uses a reflection method to show the photographer a view of the scene through the camera lens. Optical viewfinders can also display digital information in the field of view about camera settings or shooting information about the scene the lens is focused on. And the optical sights work well in high and low light conditions.
  • digital viewfinder: These may also be called electronic viewfinders (EVFs) because a digital viewfinder displays a digitally enhanced image of the image that passes through the camera lens. This means that the image you see through a digital viewfinder may not be exactly the view that the lens captures. However, digital viewfinders do have some advantages. For example, a digital viewfinder can display a more accurate representation of the lighting conditions of the scene in focus.

There is also another type of viewfinder, although it is often lumped into the category of digital viewfinders: the viewfinder screen. This is the screen on the back of most DSLR cameras where photographers can change settings, scroll through captured images, and in some cases make minor image edits or corrections. . Typically two to two and a half inches square, this screen can also be used to frame a scene and focus the camera.

And, in some cases, the viewfinder screen is a better option than the optical or digital viewfinder on the camera body. For example, if you’re shooting in a place where it’s difficult to hold the camera in front of your face, the viewfinder screen can help you focus better, especially if it’s an articulating screen that can be moved from left to right as well as up and down. below. .

How a view works

How a sight works is determined by the type of sight you are using. An optical viewfinder uses a pentaprism or pentamirror to reflect the image that passes through the camera lens back to the viewfinder. If the optical viewfinder uses a pentaprism, the image is reflected through the prism. This is often how viewfinders on high-end DSLR cameras work.

Low-end, entry-level DSLR cameras typically use the pentamirror viewfinder system, in which the image that passes through the lens is reflected back to the viewfinder by a series of mirrors. These mirrors are usually plastic and can be heard moving when you press the shutter button on your camera. This is because pentamirror systems have a mirror located directly in front of the image sensor, and it must be lifted up and away to capture the image.

Both types of optical viewfinders work very well for capturing accurate images as long as the diopter, which is the lens in front of the viewfinder, is properly adjusted for the photographer’s vision.

Electronic viewfinders work the same way, except that the image that is reflected in the viewfinder is not the image that comes through the camera lens. Instead, it is a digital representation of that image.

The disadvantage of electronic viewfinders is that they consume battery power, which reduces shooting time, and if the resolution of the digital viewfinder does not match the resolution of the camera, you may not see an accurate image of the scene you are viewing. is trying. capture.

As mirrorless cameras become more popular, digital viewfinders become more common because mirrorless cameras don’t have optical viewfinders.

Which is better, an optical or digital viewfinder?

It is common for a beginning photographer to wonder if it is better to use an optical or digital viewfinder. The problem is that everyone is better in certain situations.

For example, an optical viewfinder is always better in very bright situations because it helps reduce the amount of glare your eye sees so you can better see the image that passes through the lens.

However, if you’re shooting in low light, the digital viewfinder can more accurately represent the amount of light passing through your lens.

In general, most professional photographers prefer the optical viewfinder because it provides the most accurate representation of the image coming through the lens in most situations. The optical viewfinder also offers a way to hold the camera while shooting, since you have to bring it up to your face so you can look through the viewfinder. This, combined with keeping your elbows close to your body, can help stabilize the camera and reduce the amount of shake that can occur if you try to keep the camera away from your body.

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