Category Archives: Viewfinder Article

How to use the Impossible I-1 viewfinder

The I-1 uses a mechanical pop-up viewfinder with reflective silver markings that help you to align the camera correctly for a well-composed shot.

To open the viewfinder, gently push the tab labeled ‘push’ sideways in the direction of the arrow. This will release the latch and the viewfinder will pop up. To close it again, simply fold it down, rear lens first, pressing gently downwards until the latch clicks shut.

The viewfinder is most accurate when you hold it 4 – 5cm away from your eye. To use the alignment markings, follow these steps:

  • Close one eye and hold your camera out in front of you, at first about 20cm away from your face.
  • Train your eye on the silver dot on the viewfinder’s rear lens. Move the camera until the silver dot is in the center of the circle on the front lens.
  • Move the camera towards you until the viewfinder is 4-5 cm away from your eye. The dot will become blurry but should still be visible inside the circle. You’ll see that the view through the viewfinder has become sharp.
  • Remember that the viewfinder sits above the camera’s lens, so at very close distances (1.2 meters or less), you will need to aim higher than what you see in the viewfinder to compose your shot correctly.

The viewfinder is removable. It’s attached to the top of the camera with magnets, which makes it easy to detach and reattach. When you want to reattach it, it will simply slide and click into place. You will need the viewfinder to compose all your shots, but you can remove it when you need to throw your camera into a bigger bag or suitcase.

A Viewfinder to the Past

“How charming it would be if it were possible to cause these natural images to imprint themselves durable and remain fixed upon the paper!”  – William Henry Fox Talbot

In 1846, Fox Talbot diarised his struggle to produce lasting images. At this time photography was still in its adolescence with its forefathers Niepce and Daguerre laying the groundwork for a medium that today many of us hold in our pockets.

Technology has developed at such speed in the last century that it has become a process we take for granted. Whether it’s a family celebration, a music concert or last night’s dinner it is all too easy to snap and share. These images pass us by on Instagram or gather dust in old photo albums. However, what may seem trivial today, will one day be historic traces into how we lived.

Images of the every day taken by the photojournalists of years gone by, give us a glimpse into a time few of us have known. Britain through the lens – explores both daily life and the events of ninety years ago; revealing some intriguing similarities and some inevitable contrasts. From a cow being milked on the platform of King’s Cross station, to soldiers being sent off to Egypt – these rare and often candid photographs offer the viewer a snapshot of the past that is t once both alien and eerily familiar.

One of the most exciting and challenging parts of bringing together a gallery like this is reviving the images. The photographs on display have all been printed by hand from the original glass plate negatives. Back in 1926 negatives would have gone through a process called ‘dipped and done’, which can leave damage on the pictures. In some instances, this has been cropped out or hand-retouched in order to provide the best possible print whilst remaining true to the photographer’s original vision.  Where damage is visible in the finished prints, it reminds us of their age and serves to highlight the importance of preserving this priceless visual heritage.

As a nation, we have a fascination with all things old. From our Victorian seaside towns to vintage clothes and Bruce Forsyth – we love a blast from the past.  The lure of old photographs could be put down to a hunger for historical knowledge, an academic look at how we once lived; however I think it runs much deeper than that.

Nostalgia hangs on the corners of each negative, bleeding out through sepia tones.  Even photos from the 80s seem disconnected to modern life. Such is the blessing and curse of the photograph; it is in one instant both immediate and dated.  With each flash, the camera steals a moment and contains it to one time and place. The instant the photo is taken it slips into history. When we look back at these images be them thirty, fifty or ninety years old we are given a window into the past.  An opportunity too mesmerising to miss.

Taking these images from fragile artefacts and breathing new life into them is what we call a ‘Lazarus’ project. If you are working in this industry it is vital to not only celebrate modern work but guard and, when appropriate, resurrect images from gone by eras. With a combination of modern technology and time honoured methods, we can revivify a moment snatched in the blink of a shutter.

Why is my viewfinder blurry?

Have you ever wondered why, when you look through your viewfinder, it looks blurry? Even when the actual photos you take come out sharp?! The good news is that this is a problem we’ve seen before, and there is usually an easy fix that will help you quickly bring things back into focus.


Adjust your Diopter

Canon_diopterNext to your viewfinder, there is small dial with a plus(+) and minus(-) sign next to it. This is called the diopter and it measures the optical power of the lens. In other words, it is almost like putting a set of glasses on your camera to sharpen what your eye sees through the lens.

This will have no effect on your images (obviously, as you’ve noticed since your images are still turning out nice and sharp). Just simply adjust this so that what you are seeing comes into focus and you can effectively tell what is in focus and what isn’t with your eye alone. This is important if you are doing any manual focus with your lens at any point.

The diopter adjustments are not drastic and most likely will not replace any need you have for wearing glasses. The adjustments are just enough to increase the clarity if it seems a little soft when you look through the camera.

As a little side note, if you are using someone else’s camera with diopter adjustments, don’t be surprised if you start to get a headache. Your eye is not used to the optical adjustment being made by their diopter. It’s just like wearing someone’s prescription glasses.

It’s just dirty

This might seem a little silly, but every now and again, the viewfinder will get dirty. Some people will use a finger to clean out the viewfinder area, leaving a smudge behind in place of any debris that was found.

The best way to clean your viewfinder is to grab a glass cleaning cloth (the ones used for cleaning eye glasses work great) and wipe out the viewfinder. You can use a liquid if you wish, but you run the risk of the liquid leaving a residue behind and essentially causing the same problem.

Did you know that you can remove the rubber eye guard? This will help you be able to reach in there to clean the viewfinder as well as behind the guard.


More than the eye can see?

If cleaning the viewfinder and adjusting the diopter doesn’t fix the blur, please consider the following:

Your Eyes
You might need to consider that your eyes might need a stronger prescription to compensate for the blurriness you’re seeing. This might not be the solution you want to hear… Paying for eye-care is the last thing many of us wish for since it can be costly. As photographers, we all know how expensive glass can be. 🙂 But it is worth having your eyes checked out, in case this is the issue.

Internal problem
Through the process of elimination, if you have tried all the above solutions and you are still dealing with a blurry viewfinder, you can reasonably deduct that there might be something wrong inside the camera itself. At this point, if your camera is under warranty, you will be able to send it in and have the problem addressed that way. Having gone through the other suggestions above, you will have a leg to stand on when they ask you if you have done anything to correct the blurry viewfinder.


A Look at Viewfinders

Frame finders

Many vintage cameras had some sort of simple rectangular frame to show the approximate size and location of the image captured by the camera’s lens. The frame finder often comprised nothing more than a bent piece of wire. The disadvantage of such a simple frame finder is that it can be very inaccurate: what you see varies according to the angle and distance at which you peer through it.

Sports finders

More sophisticated frame finders consisted of two frames, a smaller one nearer the eye and a larger one further away. The user has to sight the image to be photographed by centring the smaller frame within the larger one, and the larger rectangle gives an indication of what would be included in the shot. The sports finder is fast to use, with good visibility around the edge of the frame, and allows the image to be seen at its natural scale. The sports finder is good for press applications, and following fast action, but is only moderately accurate. The problem sports finders raise is that the rear frame (ocular) is out of focus when the eye is adjusted for distant subjects. However, by contrast optical viewfinders of the time produced a very small an image, which was difficult to work with when scenes contained movement. The sports finder was good enough to remain in production on some types of camera until recent times (e.g. modern underwater cameras).

Brilliant finders

The brilliant finder combined a mirror at a 45-degree angle between two lenses positioned at 90 degrees to each other. Brilliant finders are usually very small (about 1cm across), viewed from above, and provide as image that is reversed left to right, making them difficult to use. Nevertheless, they were very common.

A special version was of the Brilliant finder was the Sellar finder, which consisted just of a concave mirror with a targeting aid, to help the user position their eye to give the correct view.

Newton finder

A development of the frame/sports finder was the Newton finder. This has a single negative (plano-concaved) lens in the front frame, and a targeting aid near the user’s eye. The negative lens reduces the size of the scene viewed, allowing the front frame to be smaller (but it’s hard for people who are long-sighted to use it).

Telescopic finders

While still comprising a set of frames projecting from the camera, telescopic finders combined a negative lens at the front with a positive lens as the eyepiece. This arrangement is a reversal of Galileo’s telescope, and therefore sometimes called the reverse Galilean viewfinder. Like the Newton finder, they give an image of reduced size.

Albada finders

This development of the reverse Galilean finder has a half-silvered rear face to the front lens, which reflects an image of a set of frame-lines, painted around the surround of the eyepiece lens. The user sees the frame-lines superimposed upon the scene (creating an illusion that the frame-lines are further away). When camera designs began to enclose viewfinders within the body of the camera, this system didn’t work so well, leading to the development of the bright frame finder.

Bright frame finders

In this system, a bright frame is shown in a telescopic viewfinder by placing a half-silvered mirror in the finder, at an angle to reflect frame lines at the side, which is illuminated by light from a translucent panel on the camera front (often placed next to the viewfinder).

Keplerian viewfinders

Keplerian viewfinders use a reversed Kepler telescope. To keep explanations simple, this is an (optical) improvement on the Galilean telescope, which produces an upside-down image. In camera viewfinders a prism is added to reverse the image so it is seen the right way up. This allows the path of the light to be folded (like in a set of binoculars) leading to a viewfinder that can fit the available space in the camera (as found in the tiny Canon Demi). The optical brightness and quality of a Keplerian finder is similar improved, in the same way that binoculars improve on a simple telescope.

Parallax errors and their correction

A parallax error results when an object is viewed along two different lines of sight, such as when the viewfinder is necessarily on a different axis to the camera lens (usually above and often to one side of the lens). The error varies with distance. It’s negligible for distant scenes, and very significant for close-up objects, leading to incorrect framing.

Correction of parallax error in telescopic viewfinders has been attempted in a number of ways. The simplest is a secondary set of frame-lines in a bright line finder, which show the edge of the region that will be included in the photograph at close focus. A more sophisticated solution is that the finder bright-lines mechanically adjust (reposition) according the camera lens focus adjustment. Another solution was to introduce a mechanism that adjusted the angle of a telescopic finder (this was not common).

Ground glass screens

This article would not be complete without a quick word about ground glass screens, which also function as viewfinders.

In reflex cameras, the subject is viewed via a mirror, which reflects the light from a lens onto a ground-glass focusing screen. The difference between single lens reflex (SLR) and a twin lens reflex (TLR) is that in the SLR camera, the mirror is moved immediately before exposure (to allow the light to be focussed onto the film), while in a TLR camera the mirror and focussing screen are permanently arranged as a viewfinder, and the photograph is made with a separate twin lens.

The simplest screen is viewed from above. This is called a waist-level finder. The view in these finders is reversed left-to-right. A fresnel lens (made of a number of concentric rings to diffuse light) is often placed on top of the focusing screen, to improve illumination of the corners of the screen.

This system – a ground glass viewfinder – was used in the earliest wet plate cameras, but without a mirror.

Prism Finders

In modern SLR cameras, the light passes through a pentaprism to provide eye-level finders. The pentaprism not only alters the path of the light, but also reverses the image so it can be seen in the correct orientation. Prism finders do not suffer from parallax errors, since the scene is viewed through and photographed via the same lens.

Of course, advancements in electronics have presented new viewfinder options, but these are beyond the scope of this article.

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Camera Basics #12: The Viewfinder

When it comes to shooting, a vital part of the camera is the viewfinder. Nowadays, there are cameras that do not come with viewfinders, only with Live View shooting. However, as you get more experienced with photography, you will realise how much shooting with a viewfinder can affect your photos. In this article, we take a closer look at the viewfinder.

The optical viewfinder allows you to concentrate on your subject


– Prevents external light from interfering with your shoot.
– Allows you to concentrate on the subject without distraction.
– Easy to keep track of moving subjects.
The viewfinder is a small window on the camera which look through in order to compose your photo and establish focus on a subject. The difference between Live View shooting, where you use an LCD monitor, and viewfinder shooting is that in the latter, external light is prevented from affecting how you perceive the display on the screen. This allows you to put full attention on the subject right before your eyes, which in turn makes it easier to track moving subjects.

A digital camera is equipped with either one of two types of viewfinders: the optical viewfinder (OVF) and the electronic viewfinder (EVF).

The optical viewfinder (OVF) is mainly found on DSLR cameras such as the EOS 77D and EOS 1300D. On such cameras, light passing through the lens is reflected off a mirror and into the viewfinder, which enables you to shoot while viewing the actual image. The advantage of this is that you can track moving objects more easily, and also have a more accurate view of colours. On the other hand, since the mirror is necessary for reflecting light, there is a limit on how compact the camera can be made. Preview of the effects of white balance and exposure compensation is also not available.

Meanwhile, the electronic viewfinder (EVF) is usually found on mirrorless cameras such as the EOS M5. It electronically projects the image captured by the image sensor onto a small LCD panel, and this is what you are really looking at when you look through the EVF. Since there is no need for a mirror in this case, cameras can be made much more compact. You can enlarge the view on the focus area and check the effects of adjusting colour and brightness before shooting. However, since an EVF consumes relatively more power, it may expend slightly more battery life.

Optical viewfinder

Mostly featured on DSLR cameras


– Able to view the subject in real time
– It is easy to track moving subjects
– Accurately detects colours of the subject

– A limit to how compact the camera can be
– Unable to review the effects of white balance and exposure compensation before releasing the shutter


Electronic viewfinder

Mostly featured on mirrorless cameras


– Cameras can be made more compact
– Ability to enlarge the view in order to establish focus
– Can review the effects of white balance and exposure compensation before releasing the shutter

– Consumes slightly more power

Concept 1: Shoot moving subjects with the OVF

EOS-1D X Mark II/ EF500mm f/4L IS II USM/ FL: 500mm/ Manual exposure (f/11, 1/320 sec, EV±0)/ ISO 100/ WB: Auto


The reason OVF excels in shooting moving objects is due to its ability to use phase detection AF. Because image plane phase detection AF is able to achieve focus at an extremely high speed, it is the most suitable AF mode for shooting moving subjects.

Until recently, most people would automatically associate shooting moving subjects with the use of an optical viewfinder. However, with the introduction of Dual Pixel CMOS AF which implements image plane phase detection AF, it is now possible to take photos of moving objects with an electronic viewfinder. In particular, the EOS M5 is able to shoot at a continuous speed of 7 fps, and combined with its use of the latest image processor, DIGIC 7, enables moving subjects to be captured at a very high accuracy.

Concept 2: Review the effects with EVF before shooting

WB: Auto
Exposure compensation: EV±0
Due to backlight coming in from the window, the lamp appeared dark in the picture. This is a situation where you would use exposure compensation to obtain a brighter effect.

WB: Daylight
Exposure compensation: EV+1.0
Set the exposure compensation to EV+1.0 and the WB to Daylight. In this example, the EVF enables you to check that the image now looks brighter, before releasing the shutter.

Both images: EOS M/ EF-M22mm f/2.0 STM/ FL: 22mm (35mm equivalent)/ Aperture-priority AE (f/2, 1/320 sec)/ ISO 100

The biggest advantage of the electronic viewfinder is that while shooting, it enables you to preview the effects of changing the settings before taking the photo. In this way, the EVF has a greater advantage over the OVF, which requires you to check the image after shooting over and over again.

The Artist Behind The Viewfinder – Emotional Photography Insight

Photography. When you picture a photographer, it’s always the camera that you see first, unlike when you are asked to picture an artist or a great chef.

Unfortunately, this is part and parcel of the game of photography, where most people think that a great photographer is made up of great equipment and to a much smaller degree – talent.

True photographic artists have the power to convey thoughts, ideas, feelings and moods all based in one timeless and inspirational image. Captured in a millisecond by pushing down on that button.

I have known photographers who are utterly obsessed with new equipment and all the wiz bang technology that comes out seemingly every day. What they fail to realise is that being technically adept is only one part of the puzzle. Bringing out the emotional side of your photographic art plays a large part in creating images that will wow your audience. The best images created are not always the most original, technically correct or perfectly framed ones. Like any art form, the greatest images evoke some kind of emotional response in the viewer. The truly great will evoke different emotions in different people at different times.

As a creative that uses different forms to create from art to photography, I have noticed in my own imagery the fact that my own underlying emotional state at the time of creation plays an enormous part in the emotional content that my final image conveys. With my paintings, I have had pieces that I just could not get back ‘into the groove of’ because it was just really hard to get back to the same emotional state that I was in when I began creating it – or ‘I wasn’t feeling it’!

With my photography, I found that I was able to take photos from places I had been to before and the whole ‘vibe’ and ‘feel’ of the images was completely different to that of the previous ones.

It was akin to my own little ‘aha’ moment in time. If the passion for creating the imagery, the art was missing, then inevitably the result would be a very ‘ho-hum’ – although technically correct image.

One very quick way I’ve found to get out of this ‘ho-hum’ state is to stop. Put the camera equipment down and just observe, enjoy and be part of the moment. In next to no time you will find that you start firing on all cylinders and the creative juices kick in. That’s when you’ll be itching to pick up the camera again!

My crazy world has included successfully combining all the skills of a artist, photographer, designer, programmer, and marketer into one crazy life.


4 Tips for Using for Live View to Get Sharper and More Creative Images

Live View versus optical viewfinder on your DSLR, pros and cons?

If you shoot with a DSLR you probably use the same method for taking pictures that most people do, holding the camera up to your eye and looking through the viewfinder before snapping the shutter button.

This tried-and-true method has several benefits, including letting you see precisely what you are going to take a picture of before you click the button. Also, allowing you to track fast-moving subjects without any lag time, and even stabilizing the camera due to the fact that it’s being held up against your face instead of away from your body.

However, the Live View function that is built into most DSLR cameras has a few tricks up its sleeve that can greatly benefit you as well. While not useful in ever single photographic situation, Live View certainly is worth a second look if you are the type of person who normally casts it aside in favor of the traditional viewfinder.

#1 Make sure your subject is perfectly focused

When you look through the optical viewfinder on your camera, you will see an array of rectangles or dots which each represent points on which your camera can focus. This is a result of your camera’s phase detect focusing system which is present in nearly every DSLR. While it usually works just fine, there are situations in which it can present a bit of a problem.

For one, the subject on which you are focusing can sometimes be outside the boundary of your focusing points, which makes it quite difficult to get it tack sharp even with something like the focus-and-recompose technique. Also, even with using the built-in focusing points it’s not always a guarantee that your subject will be completely in focus, especially if it is very far away like when shooting landscapes or scenic vistas.

Zoom-in on Live View

Live View is the magic bullet in these situations, as you can use it not just to frame your shot, but to zoom in close on a specific area to make sure it is focused. Think of this as though you were holding a magnifying glass up to your camera’s viewfinder when focusing on your subject, and using that as the basis for judging whether it is tack sharp or just a bit fuzzy. This obviously works best if your camera is firmly attached to a tripod, but even if you just set it on a solid surface such as a shelf, rock, post, or other object, you should be fine.

Each camera handles the zoom-in function a bit differently, but for most DSLRs there will be an option in one of the menus to enable a button on your camera to zoom in during Live View, and even set the percentage of zoom which tells you how much it will magnify the image. If your subject is not moving, and neither is your camera, this technique is one of the best possible ways to make sure everything is tack sharp precisely how you want it to be (using manual focus in this instance can be helpful also).

#2 See previews of camera effects in realtime

One fun trick that many DSLR manufacturers have added to their cameras is the ability to do various types of effects like selective coloring, miniature, and black-and-white, among many others. Think of them as though you are adding Instagram filters, but in realtime, as you are taking your pictures instead of on your phone afterwards.

Using Live View as you activate various scene modes is a fun way to experiment with different types of creative image effects. It also has the added bonus of allowing you to play around and see how the options affect your photography before you even click the shutter.

Some photographers frown on this type of creative expression, and prefer to leave these effects and scene modes to Photoshop, where things can be endlessly controlled, changed, and tweaked to perfection (often ad nauseam). But, my own personal stance is, if you’re making pictures you enjoy by using simple in-camera effects, then why not keep doing it?

Some of the built-in modes are a little cheesier than others, and you usually can’t shoot in RAW format. But using Live View to preview the different sorts of photography effects you can explore, is a great way to try something new and add a little spark back to your creative juices at the same time.

#3 Depth of Field preview

This one piggybacks pretty well off of the previous item, but I wanted to list it separately because it is so useful on its own. When you change the aperture and focal length of your lens, you are also changing the depth of field, or area that is in focus. It’s a difficult concept to understand since it involves several different variables, including how close you are to your subject and how far away is the background.

This confusion can be compounded by the fact that your optical viewfinder doesn’t really show you what to expect when you click the shutter button. Some DSLR cameras have a Depth of Field Preview button that allows you to close down the aperture and see what it will look like when you take a photo (it also gets dark if you use a small aperture), but another way to do this is by using Live View.

How it works

When you look through the viewfinder on a DSLR camera you are seeing through the lens while it is opened to its widest possible value. But, when you click over into Live View the aperture blades close down to the value you’ve specified, or that which the camera thinks is appropriate, depending on the shooting mode you are using.

This makes it possible to see precisely what the picture will look like when you press the shutter button. So, if you focus on an object while in Live View, you will see a more accurate representation of the depth of field than looking through the viewfinder. This is incredibly useful when shooting macro photos, because it’s difficult to understand just what is in focus and what is not unless you can see it yourself using Live View.

#4 Tap to focus

One final trick that Live View offers, is the ability to actually use it for the act of focusing itself. As more cameras start implementing touch screens, manufacturers like Canon have started allowing users to tap on the screen itself to actually focus the camera, much in the same way you do on your mobile phone.

While this feature is not available on all DSLR cameras, and though some with touch screens don’t have focusing enabled, if you do have a camera that allows you to tap-to-focus you might find it incredibly useful and well-worth your time. This won’t do you any good if you are shooting sports, action, or wedding photos, since the touch-based focusing isn’t as quick. But if you are out shooting casually it’s something you might really enjoy trying.

It even has some advantages over traditional viewfinder-based focusing if you are shooting at extreme angles, such as very low to the ground. More and more cameras are offering flip-out screens so you can swivel it, instead of crouching down, and then tap it to lock focus.


These are just a few of the options available to you if you use Live View on a DSLR. If you are more of a traditional shooter who prefers the optical viewfinder I hope you at least give Live View a chance. It’s not going to be the best option in every situation, but you may find it to be more compelling and useful than you realize.

Painting Composition: How to Use a Viewfinder

1. Why Using a Viewfinder Can Help You Get the Best Composition

Often when a painter is faced with a scene, there’s simply so much that’s appealing it’s hard to choose what to focus on. This is where a viewfinder comes in useful, as it helps you focus on particular parts of the scene, enabling you to decide what will make the best composition, both in terms of focus and format.

If you look at the landscape in the photo above (view a larger version), you’ll quickly see the potential for various landscape paintings. By using a viewfinder to isolate just a part of the landscape and to frame it in a particular way, it’s easier to judge whether a composition is pleasing or not.

2. Use a Viewfinder to Crop Out the Foreground

For instance, you could crop out all the foreground, including the whole town, for a composition that focuses on the mountains. As a composition it’s strong, yet for a landscape painting doesn’t give you much of a feeling for the area.

3. Use a Viewfinder to Consider the Possibilities

If the town is included, as here, the whole feeling of the composition changes. Suddenly the mountains aren’t the primary focus, but a background. The town and the farmlands dominate, yet there isn’t a strong focal point to draw the viewer into the painter. As a composition it’s rather mundane.

4. How About a Square Format?

If you move the viewfinder to the right, so that the mountain runs off the left edge of the painting and the open farmland runs from the foreground off into the distance to the right, you get a much more rural scene. Yes, the town is there, but the focus is on the farmlands and the feeling of distance they create as they vanish into the horizon. As a composition, it is quite pleasing, but you’d need to decide whether you were happy with the very square format.

5. How About a Tall Format?

ow does the feeling of the landscape change when it’s cropped in a very tall, portrait format? The farmland is interrupted by the town, then continues behind it, but instead of stretching into the distance, creating a feeling of space, it is ended by the mountains. Overall there’s less of a feeling of space and depth, but the tall format does add a sense of grandeur and height to the mountains.

As you can see, using a viewfinder helps to focus your attention on what would be in a specific composition by framing a specific part of a scene. What you ultimately decide to use will, of course, depend on your personal likes and dislikes.