Live view VS Viewfinder

DXV_PhotoDXV_Photo Posts: 158Member
edited April 2013 in General Discussions
After reading lots of focus test it seems to me that live view is the standard for how your camera should focus. My question is that if live view is so good should we be using it on anything that does not require fast shooting?

I have always been a viewfinder person myself and never used live view. I did some simple test and live view other then being slow always seems to give spot on focus especially when you are outside of your cross point zones. I am still not a big fan of holding my camera in front of me like a P&S but if it is going to be on a tripod would live view deliver more consistent accurate results then the viewfinder?

Comments

  • IronheartIronheart Posts: 3,017Moderator
    Yes. The viewfinder uses phase detection via the auto-focus module in-line. This has to be calibrated to the exact distance to the sensor after the mirror is raised. There will always be some slop and that is what AF fine tune is for. In live view the light is falling directly on the sensor (the mirror is up) and a contrast detection method is used to find focus. Since the sensor is exposed, what you see is what you get.

    There are pros and cons to both phase and contrast detection focus methods. No doubt others will elaborate on this.
  • paulrpaulr Posts: 927Member
    External monitors are very helpful when used with the combination of Live View, especially when used with macro work. By zooming in with the Live view, stacking shots are more easily seen and adjusted to complete and solve the DOF problem
    Camera, Lens and Tripod and a few other Bits
  • Golf007sdGolf007sd Posts: 2,832Moderator
    @DXV_Photo: Ironheart has is right. The key point being that the "mirror is up...sensor is exposed, what you see is what you get." This process does, with intent, slow down the shooter action with the camera, thus allowing the camera to capture the shot with less user error in movement. That said, using live view is more advantages when shooting in settings that require slower shutter speeds due to poor lighting conditions.

    As for me, my live view is used 99% of the time for video...not still photography. Like you I use my view finder and trust my photography skills.

    Lastly, for those that might want to explore this process, by all means make sure you have a spare battery, using live view will drain you batter life. Just stating the obvious and not trying to be a smart=a$$ :P
    D4 & D7000 | Nikon Holy Trinity Set + 105 2.8 Mico + 200 F2 VR II | 300 2.8G VR II, 10.5 Fish-eye, 24 & 50 1.4G, 35 & 85 1.8G, 18-200 3.5-5.6 VR I SB-400 & 700 | TC 1.4E III, 1.7 & 2.0E III, 1.7 | Sigma 35 & 50 1.4 DG HSM | RRS Ballhead & Tripods Gear | Gitzo Monopod | Lowepro Gear | HDR via Promote Control System |
  • DXV_PhotoDXV_Photo Posts: 158Member
    So, like in the case of the issues going on in the Sigma 35mm 1.4 thread with some shots missing focus would live view resolve this problem until Sigma release a firmware update? I assume since focus is coming off of the sensor itself this will work in situations where focus speed is not important.

    Other then live view being slow is their any other drawback to it over the viewfinder?
  • JJ_SOJJ_SO Posts: 1,158Member
    "Slow" is drawback enough, I'd say. That can mean failing the focus as well.

    Another would be direct sunlight on it makes it difficult so see what's going on. Battery consumption, fps rate.
  • BrucePhotographyBrucePhotography Posts: 40Member
    I'm a landscape shooter that mostly use live view but sometimes the sun is shinning right on the back LCD. I've tried the hoodman loupe but I don't like it. I use a D800/E and I would really like to use a high def (1920x????) monitor on the HDMI port and then see that at 10X for doing my focusing. I've tried to do this but it just magnifies the low resolution lcd image. Perhaps my Marshall 7" monitor is too low a resolution. Has anyone found a good solution to this problem?
  • IronheartIronheart Posts: 3,017Moderator
    You zoom the live view by pushing the + button on the left side of the display. Page 55 in the D800/E manual
  • JohnJohn Posts: 134Member
    So, like in the case of the issues going on in the Sigma 35mm 1.4 thread with some shots missing focus would live view resolve this problem until Sigma release a firmware update? I assume since focus is coming off of the sensor itself this will work in situations where focus speed is not important.

    Other then live view being slow is their any other drawback to it over the viewfinder?
    Yes, live view should always give you the most accurate focus.

    Viewfinder focus is the default way of taking pictures for most photographers for two reasons:
    - You see a fairly big image in your viewfinder which means that you can make small adjustments to your composition. When looking at an on-camera LCD you might miss the empty cola can at the edge of the screen. Looking through the viewfinder might allow you to see it.
    - You shoot from a stable position with your arms close to your body (because the camera is right next to your face)
    - Viewfinder autofocus is quick.

    But indeed... Viewfinder autofocus takes a few readings and the makes a guess as to the correct focus.
    Often it's a very good guess. Often it doesn't matter. (if you are shooting a landscape at f16 a few inches focus error at a subject which is 100m away isn't going to pose a problem)
    But sometimes it does pose an issue.
    I've had model photos take at f2.8 where the focus sometimes misses and the closest eye isn't 100% perfectly sharp. It only missed by a centimeter but you do notice it when pixel peeping (shot wide open on a tele lens with a close subject). Most of the time however, the focus is spot on (D800 without any focussing problems :) )

    So, if you need the best focus that you can get and if you have minimal depth of field and if you have the time then yes, live view is the best option.
    Just like there is no one best lens, one best aperture, one best camera, one best shutter speed,... There is no "best way to focus".
    You have 2 options with advantages and disadvantages. Use as you see fit.


  • DXV_PhotoDXV_Photo Posts: 158Member
    Thanks John, that's what I thought.
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