I’ve often espoused the benefits of using lightweight, nimble gear and they are all valid. Lightweight rocks! It frees you up for creativity, energy and opportunities. But today, I’m going to address one of the more technical reasons that Mirrorless cameras are superior to other camera systems: The Electronic Viewfinder (EVF).
How you view the image on a camera has evolved over time. Early cameras required you to see an upside down image and “learn” to flip it in your head. The rangefinder and SLR viewfinders came next and were a good evolution. In my opinion, the EVF is the third, and maybe final, step in this evolution. With an EVF, you’re seeing exactly what the sensor is seeing. I’m sure someone will come up with yet another, even better way to view your subjects … someday …
I can’t speak for all mirrorless cameras, but the Fujifilm X-T1 that I use has an AWESOME EVF! It’s sharp, clear, big, no significant lag. I remember seeing the first attempts at early EVFs. Some were pretty bad. The EVF has evolved. It’s gotten a LOT better. Find an X-T1 sometime and check out the EVF. Let me know what you think
I realize that lot of things that I’m about to mention are possible with the back LCD screen. Most compact cameras have them and almost all DSLRs are also able to use live view. In certain cases (i.e. discreet street photography, low perspective shots) I actually prefer using the back LCD. But in many cases, I think it’s far superior to use the eyepiece than the back LCD, and here’s why: There’s no sun-glare to fight. It’s a more immersive experience: I feel more IN the zone. Lastly using the eyepiece is more stable than shooting from arms length. I’ve shot with many cameras using the back LCD screen, but it never really gave me the feeling and experience that I get when I use an eyepiece.
Another reason I love the EVF: I can see see ALL sorts of information! I can discreetly “chimp” at the shot I just took, see the histogram, level, depth of field preview, aperture, shutter speed, iso, and can even make menu selections in the eyepiece! In the X-T1, the readouts and labels adjust in portrait mode! The labels go “sideways” when I turn the camera. I like the fact that I can see the film effects and decide which I like best BEFORE I shoot. I can see my white balance, and check to see if it’s obviously WAY off, or close enough and get to work.
The next 2 things are maybe my most favorite ways I’ve used the EVF.
I can set it so that I can see what the exposure will be. Great for shooting in manual mode, SEEING the exposure and quickly learning how the settings affect the final image. I like to underexpose the background a bit when using strobes and, in the past, I would guess at a third or a full stop down. By using the EVF, I can actually see what the sunset and clouds behind my subject will look like and then dial in the strobes accordingly.
I can also do the reverse and set the EVF so that it “ignores” the settings (sort of like a DSLR) and shows me a “balanced” image. I dial exp comp up, no visible change, I dial it down, no change. One HUGE advantage though: when I’m shooting with an ND filter, I can still SEE through it! I can still focus. I can still compose! The EVF is amplifying the image through the dark glass, so it might be a bit grainy in the eyepiece, but better than being blind. Also when checking my DOF, it doesn’t go dark (the way my DSLR did) if I stop it down small like f22
Bonus: I can shoot into the sun and not hurt my eyes (like a mirror and prism would do)!Yes, it could be bright and blown out, but it’s not actual sun rays burning my retina. No blinky streaks on my eyeballs.
The EVF also helps me with manual focusing. I can magnify a section, essentially zooming in so that I can better make small manual focus adjustments. In addition, most EVFs will have “focus peaking” which highlights areas of high contrast and, again, help you with focusing manually.
The EVF is one reason that Mirrorless cameras are far superior to other cameras and make them my go to choice for photography.
Summary: Reasons Why the EVF makes Mirrorless Cameras Superior
No glare from the sun (compared to an LCD screen)
Discreetly chimp your shots
See LOTS of info
- “Bubble” Level
- Depth of field preview
- Shutter speed
- Menu selections
See film effects
See white balance
Preview the exposure
See through an ND filter by amplifying the image
Shoot into the sun
Magnifies for manual focusing
Focus peaking for manual focusing