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  • Optical Versus Electronic Viewfinders: Which is Best for You?

    In this article, we’ll take a look at optical versus electronic viewfinders so you can get a better understanding of the differences and strengths and weaknesses of each.

    Coke versus Pepsi, Star Wars versus Star Trek, football versus futbol. The world is full of great rivalries, and photography is no exception. Aside from simple brand loyalty and lens preference, there are dozens, perhaps hundreds, of other tools, features, and options that photographers to argue about. One of the most recent but most pronounced has to do with how you see the world in front of your lens.

    Some cameras have optical viewfinders while others sport more technologically advanced versions called electronic viewfinders. Other cameras even have hybrid options that attempt to combine the best of both worlds. So which is better? Just like most rivalries, that question is impossible to answer, but it is worth exploring some of their individual strengths and weaknesses to help you know which one might be right for you.

    Optical Versus Electronic Viewfinders - low angle sunset shot

    Seeing the scene

    A viewfinder is one of the most basic elements of any camera; it’s what you use to look at what you will be photographing. When you hold your camera up to your eye, whether you’re shooting DSLR or mirrorless, the tiny little hole you look through is what’s known as the viewfinder. This is what you use to compose your shots.

    Some cameras forego the viewfinder altogether and just have a giant LCD screen on the back, which is how all mobile phones work. But it’s not uncommon for many cameras to include a viewfinder along with the rear screen.

    It’s not just a holdover from days gone by, and even in today’s fast-paced tech-centric world, there is a myriad of reasons why many photographers prefer to compose their shots with the viewfinder instead of the rear LCD screen.

    • The scene appears much larger when held up to your eye which gives you a better sense of how your picture will look.
    • Holding your camera up to your face also has the rather practical benefit of making things more stabilized.
    • Viewfinders in DSLR (and more mirrorless) cameras often contain a row of numbers and indicators at the bottom showing you things like your aperture, shutter speed, metering mode, shots remaining, and more.
    Optical Versus Electronic Viewfinders - inside the camera view

    Optical viewfinders have a row of exposure and photo information at the bottom to help you as you shoot pictures.

    Optical Viewfinders

    Despite being decades-old technology, optical viewfinders still have many staunch supporters in photography today, with good reason. Their most important benefit, and the reason many photographers prefer them, is that they present an unfiltered and unaltered view of the scene in front of you as you are composing your shot.

    Looking through an optical viewfinder, or OVF, is no different than looking through a window: nothing is changed in any way, shape, or form. This lets you see exactly what your shot will look like, and the view is not dependent on any type of fancy technology in order to function.

    Optical viewfinders work even if your camera is turned off, in much the same way that looking through binoculars, a telescope, or even a paper towel roll does not require a battery. OVFs have no issue with accurate color rendition or screen refresh rates, and they work the same in bright light as they do in low light.

    Optical Versus Electronic Viewfinders - crowd watching a speech outdoors

    Most optical viewfinders also have indicators to show things like focus points and framing guides. When you half-press the shutter button to focus your camera, a small dot or square will show up in your camera’s OVF to let you know where the point of focus will be, and you can use a dial or knob on your camera to change this if you prefer.

    Limitations of OVFs

    However, not everything is sunshine and roses in the land of optical viewfinders. They do have some significant limitations that could be a factor depending on the type of photographs you take.

    One of the most important is that you can’t see your image when you take a picture – a phenomenon known as viewfinder blackout. When you press the shutter button the mirror in a DSLR camera flips up and out of the way to let light pass through to the image sensor, which means the OVF goes completely dark.

    dog with a frisbee - Optical Versus Electronic Viewfinders

    This is not very noticeable when using fast shutter speeds but if you are shooting at about 1/30th of second or slower you will see a big blank box of nothing for a brief moment whenever you take a picture. In most situations, this blackout period is not going to make or break the photograph but it can cause issues if you are shooting fast-moving subjects. In those cases, the short amount of time that the OVF is blank is enough for the object you are photographing to move around quite a bit and it can take some practice to get used to this type of shooting.

    Disadvantage

    Another disadvantage of optical viewfinders is that they show you the world around you as it really is, not as it will appear in your digital photograph. The OVF sees what your eyes see, which is not necessarily the same as what your camera’s image sensor sees.

    Unless you have a solid grasp on metering modes and how they affect your exposure, you might end up with pictures that are too bright or too dark, especially if there is a great deal of light and shadow in the scene itself. Looking through the OVF you might think your pictures are going to be just fine only to realize later that they are under or overexposed. Unless you shoot in RAW there might not be much you can do about it.

    flowers with shallow DoF - Optical Versus Electronic Viewfinders

    Electronic Viewfinders

    A few years ago, this discussion about optical versus electronic viewfinders would have been more of an academic exercise without a whole lot of practical value because EVFs simply couldn’t compete with their analog counterparts in practical terms. Their list of downsides was as long as a 70-200mm lens, and aside from a few key benefits, there wasn’t much reason to use an EVF compared to an OVF.

    However as time marches on and technology gets better and better, electronic viewfinders have now just about reached parity with optical viewfinders. They are not just a viable option, but in some cases are a superior one for some photographers.

    Main difference

    The most obvious difference with electronic viewfinders is that just like looking at the LCD screen on the back of your camera, you see a digital representation of the world in front of your camera instead of the actual world that your eye sees. An EVF is a tiny high-resolution screen that you hold less than an inch from your eye. Because it is entirely digital, it can show you a wealth of information and data that you simply can’t get with an optical viewfinder.

    bike panning shot - Optical Versus Electronic Viewfinders

    Benefits and bonuses of EVFs

    While optical viewfinders have static overlays with framing guides and focus points splayed across your field of view, electronic viewfinders can show all kinds of information that is highly useful when taking photographs. You can see things like a live histogram and digital level along with the usual collection of exposure and metering information. But the ace up the sleeve of any OVF is its ability to show you exactly what your photograph will look like, not what the world in front of the lens looks like.

    Electronic viewfinders will let you see instantly, in real-time, whether your shot is exposed correctly. This allows you to quickly made adjustments not based on a light meter (though you certainly can) but on the final image and how you want it to appear.

    Things OVF can’t provide

    If you’re shooting in a black and white mode, then that’s precisely what you will see as you look through the EVF to compose your image. You will also see the depth of field reflected exactly as the final image will appear, and you can watch it change in real-time as you adjust your focus point or aperture.

    To put it simply, EVFs remove much of the guesswork inherent in OVFs. In many cases, this makes the act of taking pictures much easier, especially for new photographers.

    pink flowers - Optical Versus Electronic Viewfinders

    Getting the exposure right on this shot was easier thanks to the electronic viewfinder in my Fuji X100F.

    Due to their electronic nature, EVFs gives you options that an OVF is simply incapable of doing. Many cameras with EVFs allow you to check focus by enlarging a portion of your image so it fills the screen, and you can often get visual aids like focus peaking in the EVF as well. You can use an EVF to go through menus, review pictures, and even record and review movie footage you have captured with your camera–all things that are impossible with an OVF.

    Drawbacks of EVFs

    There are, as you might expect, some important downsides to EVFs not the least of which is power consumption. Optical viewfinders work without any batteries at all, whereas electronic viewfinders require constant power to operate. It’s not uncommon for cameras that rely on electronic viewfinders to have much shorter battery lives than their optical counterparts, and many photographers who use these cameras are in the habit of carrying spare batteries for a day of shooting.

    Electronic viewfinders also suffer from screen refresh rate issues, which means that they can be difficult to use in situations with a lot of fast-moving action. Some EVFs have a great deal of lag which means the image you see is just slightly behind what is actually happening. While they have certainly gotten much better in recent years, they are still not quite on par with optical viewfinders in this regard (in my opinion).

    Finally, even though electronic viewfinders show you a good representation of what your final image will look like they don’t quite have the same color range and resolution as what you will see in your photographs. Even the best EVFs top out at 3 megapixels with most hovering around 1-2, which means you’re looking at a much lower-resolution version of what you will see in your pictures.

    low camera angle of a long passage way - Optical Versus Electronic Viewfinders

    So which is better?

    Like many aspects of photography, this issue isn’t about whether an optical versus electronic viewfinder is better, but which one will suit you and your needs as a photographer. Some people prefer the analog precision of an optical viewfinder, while others like the high-tech features offered by electronic viewfinders. At the end of the day, what really matters is that you have the right tool for the job. So if you tend to prefer one of these over the other then, by all means, go ahead and use it.

    I would like to add one caveat to all this, which is if you have not used an EVF in a few years you might want to give it a try. The shortcomings of EVFs are rapidly being addressed by many camera manufacturers today, and EVFs from days gone by have been eclipsed many times over by their modern counterparts. It might be worth your time to go to your local camera store and check out one of the newer models with a built-in EVF and see what you think, just so you can make an informed decision when choosing your next camera.

    Optical Versus Electronic Viewfinders - pink flower

    What about you? Do you prefer optical or electronic viewfinders? Leave your thoughts below. I’d love to hear from the dPS community about all of this, and I’m sure other readers would like having your thoughts as a way of learning more about this whole issue.

    The post Optical Versus Electronic Viewfinders: Which is Best for You? appeared first on Digital Photography School.


    Source: DP School

  • Here is the craziest Steadicam shot ever from the Eurovision contest

    Back in the days before gimbals were invented, we had the Steadicam. Now, I am not saying that Gimbals are easy, but getting a good shot from a Steadicam is somewhere between science and art. Speaking of art, did you catch that Eurovision contest yesterday? it was Epic. So epic that we felt obliged to share an […]

    The post Here is the craziest Steadicam shot ever from the Eurovision contest appeared first on DIY Photography.


    Source: Diyphotographynet

  • One photographer’s biggest issue with the Sony system

    If you are using one of the Sony A7X system as a stills camera, you are probably familiar with the EVF. It’s that little monitor at the back of the camera that shows you what the exposure looks like depending on exposure settings. Of course, you can also set the monitor to show you a […]

    The post One photographer’s biggest issue with the Sony system appeared first on DIY Photography.


    Source: Diyphotographynet

  • How to Use Spot Coloring in Your Photos

    What is spot color in an image?

    Some people refer to it as selective coloring. However, these two techniques are not the same thing.

    Traditionally, selective coloring is something that is done in post-production. Photographers would highlight a certain area of the image, or a certain object, and leave it as the only thing that has colored in the frame.

    They would turn the rest of the image into monochrome, or on occasion increasing the color saturation of that object while lowering it in the rest of the photograph. This is to call attention or focus to that particular part of the image.

    Spot coloring in photography - dried roses against a white backdrop

    Do you remember the days of black and white prom dresses with red corsages? Or, do you remember a black and white image of a model with red lips? Those are classic examples of selective coloring.

    Difference between spot coloring versus selective

    Spot coloring uses the available colors in a scene and then composes the image so that one color stands out from the rest of the frame. Spot coloring is a technique that is used in-camera (done by the photographer). It works by placing a color against other colors that allow it to stand out in the composition.

    Selective coloring is a technique where one color is prominent in the final shot whereas all the other colors have either been changed to monochrome or had their color saturation levels lowered during post-production.

    Spot coloring in photography - purple flower against green trees

    The key with spot coloring in camera is to look for naturally occurring examples of color pops as opposed to making changes in post-production to highlight a particular color. This purple flower pops against the green of the leaves.

    Before we move forward on this subject, I have to say that I am not downplaying or downgrading selective coloring versus the spot color technique. If there is one thing that this photography journey has taught me, it is that there is a market for every style of photography.

    Each style of photography has its fans and its critics – that’s just the way the industry works. You just have to decide which camp you want to be in and run with that. I use spot coloring as I compose my shots in-camera. Unfortunately, rarely do I see a good use of selective coloring in post-production.

    Spot coloring in photography - woman in red sari against yellow brick house porch - 2

    My lovely client, in her red sari, stood out against this historic yellow brick building. This is a perfect example of spot color. By placing the bright red clothing against the reduced color tone and vibrancy of the building, the eye is directed right toward the subject.

    I don’t know about you, but being in front of the computer for an extended period of time editing my images is not the most productive use of my time. If I can get the shot as close to how I envision it to be in-camera, then post-production is just about adding the finishing touches so it becomes relatively easy.

    Here is a link to another recent dPS article about tips for quick editing. For me, spot coloring is a way to achieve an effect that fits my brand, my aesthetics, and my style of photography. Also, note that a spot color in your frame doesn’t have to be bright and vibrant. Sometimes, color contrast or a change in color hue is enough to move the eyes to the subject.

    Advantages of Spot Coloring In-Camera

    Spot coloring in photography - two hands holding gelato cones in pleasing colors in Rome

    Colorful Italian gelato against the brick façade gives the right amount of soft color pop in this “subtle” use of spot color.

    Spot coloring in-camera, if done correctly, can help you in the following ways:

    #1 – It provides a clear definition of your subject.

    By isolating your subject by way of color, you give a clear definition of the subject and help it stand out in an otherwise busy/crowded frame.

    #2 – It helps you understand the relationship between colors.

    Some colors work together, and others just don’t. Understanding the relationship between complementary colors and opposing colors can go a long way to creating images that are aesthetically pleasing and on point for your brand and your portfolio.

    When practicing your spot color technique, keep a copy of the color wheel with you when you are creating images or studying the images of others to see how colors work together or against each other. You can print a color wheel off of the internet or find one in your local art supply store.

    Ryb-colorwheel

    By No machine-readable author provided. Bwilliam assumed (based on copyright claims). [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC BY-SA 2.5 ], via Wikimedia Commons

    #3 – Spot color makes images more impactful, images that have strong clear subjects.

    These are more impactful when compared to images that are busy and cluttered and don’t give the viewer a sense of what is happening in the frame.

    #4 – It slows you down to observe first and then click later.

    When you observe a scene intentionally for the play of colors, patterns, and textures, you automatically slow down and learn to see first and then click the camera. Often, we are so focused on just clicking and getting something captured as opposed to photographing the right subject the right way.

    If nothing else, this process will help you get away from the “spray and pray” mentality (photograph multiple frames at once and hope one of them works). Trying to use spot color can help you to slow down and analyze your scene. Ultimately, this will help you develop as a photographer instead of relying on the “spray and pray” technique.

    Creative spot coloring can be done for any genre of photography: portraits, travel, and still life. Of course, some are easier than others, but this look is achievable in all these areas.

    Spot Coloring in People Photography and Portraits

    Spot coloring in photography - family portraits in red colored clothes against the snow

    By choosing a pallet that complements the background, I was able to bring focus to my clients instead of having them blend into the frame. Here the red clothing worked really well against the white of the snow. This example is a bright, vibrant use of spot color. Note that they are not all wearing the same colors – but they do all have some common elements of the red which collectively looks well matched.

    When you are photographing people (e.g. families and kids), a simple tool like a style guide can go a long way. I proactively send a style guide, or what-to-wear for your portrait tips list, to my clients where I suggest clothing options and colors – basically, pieces that I know will photograph well according to the season and location.

    For example, if we will be shooting outside in a park or out in nature, I will suggest colors and outfits that will not compete with all the greenery. During the fall season when we have gorgeous colors in the trees, I will suggest colors that go well with the oranges, browns, and reds that Mother Nature shares with us. This way, when I am composing my shots and directing my clients, I will use poses that will ensure the photos are aesthetically pleasing and that do not have too many competing colors in the frame.

    This is a “professional use” of spot color. I am going to coordinate the colors so that my client stands out from the background while looking pleasing at the same time.

    Now, before you accuse me of manipulating the client experience, I have to point out that in all my eight years of being a family photographer, I have yet to come across a client who does not appreciate the what-to-wear tips that I send them when they book my photography services.

    Most people are extremely uncomfortable being in front of the camera and get stressed out on what to wear and how to dress. Anything that can help alleviate that pain is going to be a welcome and much-appreciated thing. They have no idea that it’s actually a technical and aesthetic consideration on my part. It makes my job easier!

    Spot Coloring in Travel Photography

    Spot coloring in photography - roman vatican guard in costume standing guard

    This colorful costume of the guards in the Vatican, Rome really stands out against the pastel colors of the building facade and the iron gate.

    One of the key considerations to creating compelling travel images is to be aware of what is going on around you. Location is just as important as light. When you get to a scene, take a quick look around and do a quick mental assessment of everything that is happening around you. Colors, textures, light, and the subject all play a very important role in the final outcome of the image.

    Think about how spot color could work for your shot. If you are in a location that has generally muted tones and colors, look for a subject that is a contrasting color to the rest of the scene. If framed correctly, that subject will carry the entire weight of the image, and the other colors will work in harmonizing the overall image around that subject.

    On the other hand, if you were to choose a subject more or less similar in tones and colors to the background, the subject will likely blend in and the entire image may lack that oomph that you were hoping for. If you are in a busy, colorful location with lots of activity, try to isolate your subjects against a monotone background, thereby giving the subject a chance to stand out from the commotion.

    Spot Coloring in Still Life Photography

    Spot coloring in photography - still life flat lay with ruby red grape fruit and grapes

    I love photographing food because that means I get to munch on it after as opposed to snacking on junk food! Plus, there is no better learning tool for the spot color technique!

    This is one of the easiest genres of photography where you can practice spot color easily. Why? You have complete control over all of the color elements.

    Remember when I said spot color is an exercise in understanding the color pallet? When you are planning your still life imagery, you can choose the colors (from opposite ends of the color wheel) to add that element of color pop to your images. You will also learn how effectively different colors work together to create a composition.

    Spot color can be used with any genre of photography. However, the still life genre is a particularly useful learning experience because you have plenty of time and you control all of the colors that will be introduced into the picture!

    Summing Up

    I hope these examples help you to understand that just like many other techniques, spot coloring is a way to add creativity and fun to your images. Do you use spot color in your images? Share in the comments below.

    The post How to Use Spot Coloring in Your Photos appeared first on Digital Photography School.


    Source: DP School

  • Five simple tips for epic composites

    You know how sometimes, you build a composite and it looks ok, but not great? Something just feels a little bit off-ish? Yeah, this happens to everyone! There are actually a few easy tips that can up your compositing game significantly. Robert Cornelius just shared five of those tips and they will take your composites […]

    The post Five simple tips for epic composites appeared first on DIY Photography.


    Source: Diyphotographynet

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