We are talking about the viewfinder in the context of DSLR, DSLT, DSLM cameras. Other camera users may find it useful as well. Previously we discussed about the technical basics behind viewfinder and pentaprism viewfinder. This DSLR Viewfinder Using Guide Explains How To Viewfinder Perfectly. Surprising amount of information & control available through the viewfinder and it is very important to master this part for night photography, street photography etc as some examples. Canon, Nikon has quite pathetic too much bright viewfinders unlike the medium format cameras, rangefinders and Sony’s medium to high range cameras. Most importantly, Canon, Nikon DSLRs with APS-C sensors does not cover 100% of the photographs to be captured. We are talking about the good cameras, not the popular cameras. Holding the camera properly is very important. stock viewfinder of DSLR is usually very bad gauge of focus unless the subject is almost still and there is some light.
DSLR Viewfinder Using Guide : Physical Matters
Viewfinders can be optical or electronic. Optical viewfinder is a reversed telescope. It consumes no power, it is full resolution. Electronic viewfinder is a CRT, LCD or OLED. Sony’s DSLT are mix of both world. Electronic viewfinder can be used on-screen display as well. Panasonic, Sony, Fujifilm cameras have an eye sensor which switches the display from screen to electronic viewfinder when the viewfinder is near the eye.
There are non brand specific matters like you should know that you can adjust the power of the viewfinder by rotating the dioptric adjustment. That dioptric adjustment is not for humans like us who has 4 eyes with minus power, cylindrical power, different axis. That adjustment lens actually can be made good with correction eyepieces. It is better to wear spectacle and then adjust. You can look at printed fonts closer and far away and rotate like eye doctors do or simply print a Snellen chart (used in eye tests) at recommended distance.
You can take out the Viewfinder Eyepiece to clean – be careful, some models are not quite friendly and if needed, take professional help. The viewfinder becomes like spectacle with time – oddly other’s camera delivers a discomfort.
As for Nikon D90, it has a pentaprism viewfinder which shows ~ 96% of the captured frame. It has on-demand grid lines. It has reference circle for center-weighted metering, battery indicator, Black and White exposure, Focus points, memory card warning and digital things like Focus indicator, Shutter speed, Aperture (f/-number), White balance bracketing indicator, ISO sensitivity etc.
I guess most cameras has a depth of field preview button. Please check your manufacturer’s guide.
As for Sony A68, it has an OLED viewfinder which shows 100% of the captured frame. As we talked on Sony A68 Review, blackout time of viewfinder is very lesser due to combined optical and electronic way. It has all features of optical plus you can actually use like LCD display. Electronic viewfinder needs checking of lag by starting a countdown somewhere like computer screen, continuously shooting and recording the whole scene with another camera. Modern electronic viewfinders make properly exposing images much easier, and in a commercial application in which getting the shot is mission critical, possibly electronic viewfinders are superior.
DSLR Viewfinder Using Guide : Metering Tips
You can see Exposure, ISO, Aperture, Exposure Level Indicator (ELI) on any type of viewfinder. Try to understand them and exposure triangle. You can switch on the grid to compose maintaining Rule of Thirds. We are talking about manual mode.
Basically, you should concentrate on what you’ll see via viewfinder, your fingers will control Shutter speed (in fraction of seconds), ISO, Aperture (in fraction of f), Exposure Level Indicator (ELI) without lifting the eye and focus properly. Exposure level indicator should be near at centre. That meter is great to talk about “balanced light” entering the camera. So there are easy 3 things.
Poor lighting means you need aperture to be wide open. That means value like f/4. There will be blurry background and subject in good focus, that is called shallow depth of field. f/4 is usually shown as 1/4 or just 4. This is lens dependent. You can not make a f/3.5 lens down to f/1.4. This is one of the key to great quality photo within a finite range. If you are new, remember – pin hole camera will have very high f number.
Now you need to know how to change ISO from menu (it is most easy). Keep the ISO within 800 to 1000. In film camera 400 ISO was enough good. It is the light sensitivity of the sensor.
Now there is again another thing named shutter speed. It is in seconds. So 1/10 is slower than 1/1000. Shutter speed means how much time the shutter will remain open. We say this one as exposure time. More slower will expose the sensor more to light.
To learn how to change aperture in manual mode or how to change shutter speed in manual mode for your camera model you need to search or ask on photography forums or Q&A sites about your model. Like “how to change shutter speed in manual mode in Sony A68”.
Usually the f number (read aperture) can be changed by holding AEL (sometimes named AV) button and rotating the ring like control dial near shutter (with index finger), the shutter speed can be changed the rotating the main joystick like control button by rotating it.
Yes, there should be Shutter Speed, f number named buttons. But they do not have such. Old cameras & Lens and now high end cameras has dedicated aperture and shutter speed dials.
Why we need these? Because we are viewing a 3D thing as 2D, so one eye is better for brain to calculate the sharpness faster. Camera can not help in very fast moving bird or water.