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?
There are pros and cons to both phase and contrast detection focus methods. No doubt others will elaborate on this.
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
Other then live view being slow is their any other drawback to it over the viewfinder?
Another would be direct sunlight on it makes it difficult so see what's going on. Battery consumption, fps rate.
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.