When I first tried cameras that relied on EVFs I wasn’t impressed. I was used to big, bright, beautiful, optical viewfinders.
But then something happened – EVF builders listened to the criticism that electronic viewfinders brought and made better EVFs.
Fast-forward to 2019 and EVFs have come a long way baby!
I use Olympus cameras (primarily the OM-D E-M1 X) and it has an amazing viewfinder.
There are many advantages to EVFs over optical viewfinders. While this list is not exhaustive, it does feature the main advantages as I see them. (In No Particular Order.)
What you see is what you get. You are literally watching a small television screen that is rendering exactly what the image will look like. DSLR LCDs can’t render the the same dynamic range as an EVF and you get a real look at how bright the brightest parts of the image will render and the same goes for the dark parts of the seen. Remember, when you look though an optical viewfinder, you see the world as your eye sees it – which is not necessarily the way the camera will see it. With an EVF you see the way the camera does.
2. BRIGHT DAY PROBLEM SOLVED
If you rely on an LCD instead of an EVF, you will have at best – a difficult time seeing the screen because of glare. In some cases the glare might be so bad that you can’t see the image at all. The EVF shows you exactly what you will get while the LCD in the same situation shows you (at best) a washed out image that is hard to judge.
3. SHARPER IMAGES
In SOME cases, i.e., when photographers hold the camera away from their face to see the LCD, the shooting stance is simply not reliable enough to guarantee sharp images. When the camera is closer to your face (as you peer through the EVF) you will likely have sharper images because there is no camera shake or movement. In short, holding your camera up to your face also has the rather practical benefit of making things more stabilized.
4. LIVE HISTOGRAM
Since the image you see in the viewfinder is recorded on the imaging sensor, the camera can utilize that data to show an accurate histogram. In scenes where getting the right exposure is tricky, this feature is really valuable.
5. DATA DISPLAY
Depending on your camera brand, a variety of information containing rows of numbers and indicators appear in the EVF showing you things like your aperture, shutter speed, metering mode, shots remaining, and more.
6. IMAGE BRIGHTNESS
Using an EVF in a dim environment is much easier than using an optical viewfinder.
7. FOCUS PEAKING/MANUAL FOCUS AIDS
Most EVFs will offer you focus peaking or other manual focusing aids (like ZOOM) that make it easier to lock in focus when you are shooting without autofocus.
8. (BONUS REASON – SUNRISE/SUNSET PHOTOS
Images like the bird flying through the sunset and accompanying this post are pretty much impossible to reliably get with an optical viewfinder. If you look directly at the sun with an optical viewfinder, you will probably go blind. If you use an EVF there is nothing to worry about.
If you’re someone who hasn’t tried the latest crop of mirrorless cameras that rely on electronic viewfinders, do yourself a favor and test one out. They are MUCH better than they used to be, and they offer many advantages over optical viewfinders.
The Olympus OM-D E-M1 X that I shoot with has a viewfinder that offers (2,360k dots) with a magnification factor of 0.83x. Where it really gets interesting is that this is offers a maximum frame rate of 120p (progressive) as opposed to 120Hz (interlaced.) Why is this a big deal? Ask any video expert. Progressive displays are amongst the highest quality you can get. Interlaced displays aren’t as easy on the eye. The X is the first camera that I know of utilizing a progressive display rather than an interlaced display. The Olympus also wins when it comes to display lag, which is an industry-leading 0.005s.