Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Electronic Viewfinder

I think Kirk Tuck will be laughing at me and say "I told you so, since two years ago" if he ever finds out about this post. Kirk has been a very strong supporter of Electronic Viewfinders (EVF) and he has written lengthily for many times, the benefits EVF brings for practical photography. 

On last Saturday night, I was on the way out to purchase a lens filter for my now still naked lens, but on my way to my favourite local camera accessories shop I stumbled upon a charity concert via Facebook postings. You see, in that charity concert, my favourite artist, Ariff AB was performing, and I thought why not made it there since I was free for that particular evening. Lens filter can surely wait. I made a rough mental calculation and I could make it in time before the concert started, with very minor detour. 

Arriff AB performed on stage and he was AMAZING. I am a huge fan of local music, especially the Indie rock scene. It has been a while since I last seen Ariff AB and after all the hectic Olympus roadshows, touch and try events and the KLPF recently, I thought the live concert was a nice, sweet reward I can give myself. There is something about being drowned in loud music and surrounded by a cheering crowd that is therapeutic as well (besides shutter therapy).  

Please do check out Ariff AB (Youtube Channel)






And you know what, I also shot the very same performance by Ariff AB with my OM-D E-M5, on FULL HD video. The reason I was recording the video was, well, firstly I LOVE THIS SONG! And secondly, to try out how effective the 5-Axis Image Stabilization was on video recording hand-held. I was using the M.Zuiko 45mm F1.8 lens for the video shoot, and even at the longer focal length (medium telephoto), the video appeared to be smooth and steady without much noticeable shake. 5-Axis IS, surely amazing. Glad to have the E-M5 now.

Check out the 5-Axis IS in video recording of OM-D E-M5 (Full HD) 


Please bear in mind I am quite a virgin when it comes to video recording, I know almost nothing. So for whatever technical issues, they were my fault and lack of expertise, not the camera's doing.


Now you see, shooting a live concert performance was really tricky. The stage lights were changing all the time, in different directions, intensity and colors. Exposure balance shifted in every now and then. Shooting with a traditional optical viewfinder, everything appeared perfectly fine and balanced, because our eyes can adjust to the changing lights, hence it provided very little useful feedback for us to properly control the camera in correspondence to the rapidly changing lights. 

The beautiful thing about the E-M5's EVF is the real time live preview of the lighting. Since the preview is basically "what you see is what you get", all I had to do while shooting in Aperture Priority mode, is to dial back the exposure compensation control to get the exposure balance that I wanted to achieve. I found myself having to switch between -1.7EV to -3EV, with rapid change of lights, and the EVF allowed me to react quick enough to different conditions while I was still shooting, without having to pull the camera away from my eye. This saved a lot of trouble! I had a lot of failure shots from my DSLR E-5 when shooting concerts, mainly because I did not compensate for the changes of light quick enough, and this problem has been solved with something as simple as an EVF, where newer technology has surpassed the dinosaur optical viewfinder in terms of real life application. For the first time, I truly admit the importance of having an EVF and I am truly convinced that this is the future, replacing the old optical viewfinder. 

The OM-D E-M5's focusing was so fast and accurate, I did not have to worry about my focusing and just paid close attention to the changing lights, as I compensated for the EV setting. While the light also changes in color with multiple colors at once, I shot everything in RAW so I can worry about white balance later. 

When I came home with the RAW images, I thought I needed to do some minor adjustments for the exposure since they were changing very fast, but as I inspected the files, I did not have to do any further processing! My judgment during shooting was accurate enough done through the EVF. 




And you know what, being at the front row, and the M.Zuiko 45mm F1.8 lens, I found myself wishing I had the M.Zuiko 75mm F1.8 instead! I just did not have sufficient reach. I am a fan of tight framing and I do not include that much negative space in my usual composition. The 45mm was just not good enough to get me close for more impact-ful shots. Oh well... another lens, for another time maybe. I just have to live with what I have. And in all honesty that 45mm F1.8 is one heck of a great lens, superbly sharp and focuses very fast. 

Yes, the Electronic Viewfinder is the future, if you have not tried the EVF in our new OM-D E-M1, please do so if you get a chance. You will see what you have been missing if you are still sticking to the traditional Optical Viewfinder. I am sure from there on, you will not be looking back any more, as what has happened to me. 

38 comments :

  1. While the lens maybe doesn't give you the framing you want OOC, you could still crop in post production to whatever composition is most pleasing for you.

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    1. Hello Glenn,
      Normally I do not crop my images unless absolutely necessary.

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  2. That video is very good quality. Was it on auto focus? Did you use face detection or just regular focus?

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    1. Hello Will,
      It was set to C-AF, and I should have just used either manual focus or single AF. I think the later would have worked better. I have very little experience with video shooting, will surely explore more.

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  3. Thanks to your reviews, I am now the owner of the E-M1. The viewfinder on this feels so natural, I don't even realize that this is not an optical viewfinder. And this is coming from a D800 user.
    You are absolutely right. Viewfinders are the future.

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    1. Hey Cajie,
      The viewfinder on E-M1 is so good, and yes it rivals even the D800 OVF.

      Delete
  4. I like the last picture the best, the "negative space" and the light rays gives the picture life and makes it more appealing than if it was a tight crop. Tight is not always better. :-)
    Glad to see you're enjoying the EM-5, I have increased my lens collection since I last commented here with the 75 f/1.8 and the Bower 7.5mm Fisheye, both brilliant lenses.

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    1. Thanks mshafik.
      I understand that tight framing is not for all situations, but if I go even nearer, the impact would have been different. I find the 45mm to be not close enough for that in your fact impact. Surely for a series of photos, wider shot is also a must.
      And whoah, you have a fisheye lens! I envy you.

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  5. I continue to moan and groan about the EVF in my Panasonic GH3, but when I used the E-M1, I was surprised that it was not a problem with sunglasses. I often get a full display of "black" when I'm at the wrong angle with the GH3. I'm not sure how I do it, but I'm using the GH3 the same way I use the Olympus E-5.

    When I was using the E-M1, I could have hoped for some runners or other athletes to challenge it, since sports are what I normally shoot, but no such luck. I suspect the E-M1 EVF is the start of the demise of the optical viewfinder.

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    1. "I suspect the E-M1 EVF is the start of the demise of the optical viewfinder."
      I agree coimpletely, Sakamoto!

      Delete
  6. The video looked great... and even more impressive knowing that you hand-held the camera when taking that video. I now really rely on the EVF on my Olympus OM-D E-M5 camera! Using the Highlight and Shadow mode, and looking through the viewfinder allows me to dial in just the right amount of exposure compensation BEFORE I take the picture. (On my Canon 5D Mark II, I take photo, check for "Blinkies" on the rear LCD, adjust the exposure compensation, take another photo, check for Blinkies...) Actually seeing the results before you take the photo is a huge advantage!

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    1. Hey Gregg,
      Thanks for the kind words! Yes, having the ability to adjust the exposure and settings before shooting is a huge advantage, really.

      Delete
  7. I became converted to the electronic viewfinder via the E-M5. My father just took delivery of his E-M1, and it is, in my opinion, a quantum leap forward from that in the E-M5. My favourite setting for the evf display is to put it so that it gives the "blinkies" for blown highlights and blocked shadows. This makes it very easy to shoot in changing lighting conditions in manual mode. As long as the target is exposed correctly, particularly in concert shooting, the rest can clip/block up and it won't matter.

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    1. Hey Chris,
      As for my own preference I do not mind having clipping in both shadow and highlight regions as long as the main subject stays in correct exposure. Of course that is just me, and I do not speak to everyone. I also do not trust the histogram.

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  8. I used to hate EVF's until I got the EM-5. Now I will never go back.

    BTW, Robin, how do you process your photos to look so fantastic?

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    1. For this particular blog entry, I did very, very minor processing. I would say they looked fine straight out of camera and probably did not need any tweaking at all.

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  9. I told you so. Like two years ago.... Just kidding. I really loved your photos. Great stuff, as usual. Your long distance fan: Kirk

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    1. See there, Robin - praise from the Master himself! Now that's a big feather on your cap!

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    2. Hey Kirk,
      You have the right to say "I told you so", surely. Thank you so much for your insight and constant sharing on your blog, your sound advice and practical opinion have benefited many of us learning photographers. Your selflessness is a rare trait in these modern days, and keep your awesome portraits coming!

      Delete
    3. Andre, seeing Kirk's comment made my smile so much brighter throughout the day!

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  10. I can imagine the EVF of E-M1 being at least 3-4 times better than E-M5 ... but for me, the E-M5 EVF is good enough... for now.
    Great picture you got there Robin. Now go get the 2 must have lens - 75/1.8 & 12-40/2.8 ,... in time to come you will need the 60/2.8 for your macro work. :)

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    1. Thanks for the kind comments calex! And nooooo I need to save up first. These lenses are NOT cheap!

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    2. There's always the Sigma 60 2.8?! That's what I have and I don't feel I need to spend another £500+ on the 75 now. Hoping the 40-150 2.8 isn't too hard on the wallet when that comes out.

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    3. If that is the case I would rather get the M.Zuiko 60mm F2.8 macro instead.

      Delete
  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  12. I feel that the negative space contributed to the pravelent mood and ambience ...!:)

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  13. Great shots, and the video is very good indeed. Surely EFS's are the future, there little doubt about that. Some still display some smear and blur in low light, I hear, but that will be ironed out in a few iterations. That's the beauty of todays technology and engineering tools - the pace of improvement is astonishing. What once took decades or more is now a matter of months, and sometimes even more quickly. So Kirk is absolutely correct. Also from a viewpoint of economics (getting part count and part costs down) it is rather inevitable.

    We live in interesting times, especially for shutter therapy!

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    1. We live in interesting times indeed, and I sure hope more people do shutter therapy!

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  14. EFS's = EVF's of course. Sigh! Getting old here.

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    1. I have so many typos in my blog it is not funny. So if you think you are old.... I am in trouble.

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  15. Since I had that VF-2 on my E-PL1, there wasn't any really going back to the optical viewfinder of my E-520. Now I use that same viewfinder on my E-PL5 - very glad I have it. So yes, Kirk was right from the beginning.

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    1. Oh, forgot: good shots Robin. But yours are always good... ;-)

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    2. Thanks for the kind words Wolfgang!
      And yes, the VF-2 was the first EVF that Kirk commented so positively about! And it just gets better and better now.

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  16. I have the VF-4 on the E-P5, and it's fantastic! I really growing to love the E-P5 with and without the VF-4.

    Some great images Robin, nice work.

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    1. Thanks! The VF-4 is almost similar to the EVF in E-M1, but of course E-M1 has some upgrades!

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