In praise of the swing-out / tilt finder.

Discussion in 'Mirrorless Digital Cameras' started by albert_smith, Sep 6, 2007.

  1. This is not intended to be a, "my camera is better than your camera" thing, but simply a data point for those looking for a camera to consider. One of the most common questions here is, "Which digital P&S should I consider?" In each case, there are many responses, usually a mix of directing to some other site with reviews, or testimonials from users that have good experiences with whatever camera they are using. I believe that for the most part, the actual output from most P&S cameras within a certain price range will be pretty close. Each has the same basic potential for quality, assuming that you don't try to exceed the use for the camera within its limitations. So it might be more valid to look more at the ergonomics, and how they work to allow you to get the most from the potential that the camera offers. Towards this end, I have arrived, not from reading reviews, but from actual use over a period of time, to the conclusion that I will not own a P&S camera that does not have a swing-out, tilting finder. I have been able to capture images using this facility on my Canon A-series cameras that would have been hit or miss with a standard finder. I have used film cameras for years and got pretty good at "blind" shots with my zone focused wide-angle lenses, although the results are usually a surprise when the film came back. I have also used TLRs and 35mm SLRs that allowed for the removal of the prism to view downward at waist level, which can be great for ground level shots or rudimentary candids of fairly static subjects. The swing-out LCD is many times better in my opinion. With a multi-angle finder, over the crowd shots are easy and precise. Tripod mounted self-portraits and group shots that you wish to appear in are simple to have perfectly composed. Ground level shots that would have required you to be lying on the ground are convenient. Unlike an SLR with the prism removed, you can waist-level view and compose vertical format shots with proper orientation in the LCD. In short, go out for a day with a camera that offers this feature, shoot the many subjects that this type of viewing screen allows and you will wonder how you lived without it. Minimally, go to a store that allows hands- on "playing" with the cameras, and see how it gives options that you may have not imagined. All things being equal, camera-to-camera, the swing-out finder (or lack of one) is the swing-vote or deal breaker for me. As it stands now, I will be a Canon user for a long time to come. Just shot this today as I followed a stray cat into a drainpipe. I put my A620 below ground level, swung the LCD up and composed. With an eye-level finder, I would have never laid on the wet ground to see what was in the pipe. That cat eats pretty good, check out the skull.
    00MUou-38402784.JPG
     
  2. I couldn't agree with you more regarding the vari-angle screen. The swivel/tilt screen allows me to get few images with A80 and A620 that I wouldn't have been able to obtain with an SLR (greater distance between lens axis and edge of camera body especially in vertical format) or camera without swivel/tilt screen (not as easy to compose in extreme point-of-view.) One interesting development I feel is the Olympus E3 SLR that has swivel screen feature. I'm keeping a close watch on that and can't wait until October rolls along.
     
  3. BTW, an effective use of the swivel screen, Albert. ^_^
     
  4. Wilson - First, I have always been a fan of your photo's and I also love the articulating LCD. I had an A80 which I used for my grandchildren; my photo's were much better because I could place the camera at their level of the the child rather than at my eye level (bending down is not as easy as once was). I now have a Sony R1 which also has the Swing/out Live View LCD and I find it assists me in composing my photo's.

    Albert - Very nice photo of the cat. I agree with all your points.
     
  5. The swing and tilt LCD is nice to have when you need it but anyone who can't hold a camera above the crowd and get a decent shot needs to think again. In anycase looking at a finder above your head is not that simple .... but I miss it with my DSLR and wonder amazement theNew Panasonic has one .... might break my new years res not to buy another camera :)
     
  6. Beside this ground shots there is another big advantage of tilt screens; <br>like in MF with WLF you can look at the person you are shooting and get eyecontact. This helps you to find the perfect moment for the click and relaxes the model. <br>Try it and you will see; its easier done with a tripod but with some practice you can do it handheld. And try to set the focus to manual and do pushbutton focus to get a faster click.<br>Regards<br>Martin
     
  7. My dad's camera from the 50's had a viewfinder in the top of it. You opened a door to see it. I
    purchased Nikon's 950; 990 and still own the S4 for their rotating lens barrels. I often had to
    take inspection shots in some hard to reach spaces, like under countertops or above an
    armoire.
     
  8. Another thing: with LCD stashed away and using the viewfinder,
    battery drain is much less.
     
  9. Swing/tilt LCD viewfinders are great. Will be nice when some manufacturer takes a bold step
    and eschews the typical SLR body shape that's been the norm for 50+ years and embarks on
    a fresh design starting with a clean sheet of paper.

    There is so much that can be done. A real shame most limit their vision...
     
  10. The movable lcd finder requires a continuous source of some sort. Most dslr designs don't accomodate that readily, the sensor and shutter mechanisms aimed at speed and response, not supporting constant image production. Some recent ones are working at doing so - but not at the expense of the advantages inherent in the traditional slr design.

    The need to scan, process, display, refresh, ,refresh, refresh, etc., etc. adds delay that doesn't support some uses. When one can tolerate the delay, then the flexible finders really do add to the ease of use when not in comfortable positions.

    It was one of the features that almost turned me to the Canon G series when I got my first digicam, something I missed, with the one I chose and why I went to the A640 when my wife decided she wanted a small camera. But the inherent delays in screen viewing is also one of the things that drove me back to a dslr to get back the speed and rewsposiveness needed for fast moving or unpredictable subject matter (like some sports and flying birds, etc.).

    AS appreciative as many shooters are of the visual advantages of flexible finder angles, you can't expect them all to trade speed and response to get it. Nor does the level of added complexity/and possibly fragility lens itself to inclusion in cameras intended for rougher service.
     
  11. Please add me to the list of tilt/swivel admirers and enthusiastic users.
    Can't tell you how many times that feature has enabled me to shoot more discreetly, or at off-angle or low-angle in ways that I couldn't have otherwise framed a shot, or at times even taken a shot.
    It's true as Craig notes that the lcd screens can't match the speed of a straightforward optical finder, and true also that the p & s cameras they've been used on cannot match a dslr's speed. But those limitations do not diminish my enthusiasm for the device. Incidentally, on the Canons I've used, the tilt/swivel lcd seems well-built.
    Not that I'm a customer for it, but I believe the newly-announced Panasonic DMC-L10
    , a "four-thirds" dslr, actually has a pivot/swivel lcd and offers what it calls a full-time "live view." Brad, maybe someone is listening to us out there ? :)
     
  12. >>> It's true as Craig notes that the lcd screens can't match the speed of a straightforward optical finder, and
    true also that the p & s cameras they've been used on cannot match a dslr's speed.

    Yeah, and unfortunately that's a design compromise needed to accommodate incremental changes that
    manufacturers seem more comfortable dealing with.

    There's so much more that can be done, but it requires fresh and out of the box thinking on camera
    architecture, design, use, ergonomics, etc. The technology is there to support significant change, but it seems
    no one wants to take the development risk and $$$ expenditures. So instead, we'll see small incremental
    improvements like "live view" as with the canon 40D - bigger LCD screens, and not quite wonderful viewing
    experiences/operation. Or tiny incremental steps from the current state of digicam design - which seems
    locked in stasis - my couple year old A620 being a good example. And, dSLR bodies and light paths that have
    not changed from SLR designs over the last 50 or more year. Amazing...

    Sony briefly moved in the right direction of unconventional design with their now obsolete f7XX digicams with
    a large lens barrel and small rotating body (rather than twisty LCD screen). One of the big benefits there was
    the great handholding stability it afforded when holding it at waist level. And the much more natural result of
    having the shutter button facing front, rather than on top of the body.

    Too bad Apple's experiment in digicams in the '90s was short-lived...
     
  13. >>> Not that I'm a customer for it, but I believe the newly-announced Panasonic DMC-L10,
    a "four-thirds" dslr, actually has a pivot/swivel lcd and offers what it calls a full-time "live
    view."

    A nice move in the right direction for dSLRs...
     
  14. I agree, Sony dropped the ball when they went the me-too DSLRs. Actually not only Sony (although they may have been the most forward thinking), but all the manufacturers of the "pro-sumer" cameras, like the Pro1, A2, F828, Oly 8080.. there's no reason that direction couldn't have been developed much further, maybe even including interchangeable lenses for that type of camera. The KM A2 was incredible too. I'm glad I went ahead and got the R1, the last hurrah of that genre, offering DSLR level image quality with the advanced features like articulated LCD that only the pro-sumer cameras have offered.
     
  15. Another swivel/tilt user here. Canon G2 and G6, and wife's a630. Can't tell you how many times I've used the flip out screen for overhead shots on construction sites, and a lot of shots into culverts like Albert's cat. I've been disappointed along with many others that Canon dropped the swivel on the G-series after the G6.
     
  16. Really it is quite simple to cope with the refresh rate of the EVF/LCD, you compose with one eye and time the shot with the other looking around the camera ... I learnt this back in 35mm film days to make sure my subject didn't blink as I was 'blind' with the mirror lifting to take the shot.
     

Share This Page