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Thread: GF1: EVF vs. optical viewfinder?

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    GF1: EVF vs. optical viewfinder?

    I have a GF1 now with only one lens, the 20mm. I expect that this will be the only lens that I will use. I would like to have a viewfinder for this camera. I am planning to get a 40mm optical viewfinder since this would be the perfect match for this lens. Not exactly cheap at the $150 range. But before doing so, I would like to hear from those using the EVF. How well is it working for you? What works well, what doesn't? I have always been skeptical of EVFs, but maybe the technology is improving.
    Last edited by tom in mpls; 2nd November 2009 at 14:03.

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    Re: GF1: EVF vs. optical viewfinder?

    Tom,

    I'm finding the EVF very usable. I've had it just over two weeks and I've used it with the 20mm, the 14-45mm as well as with the CV 50mm f1.5 and the CV90mm f3.5, obviously manually focusing the CV lenses and no problems whatsoever... nice sharp focus. Is it as good as the EVF in the G1/GH1? No, but does it work? YES!

    Cheers,

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    Senior Member ecsh's Avatar
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    Re: GF1: EVF vs. optical viewfinder?

    I would get the EVF before i spent almost the same money on the optical unit. Precision Camera is selling them for 179.00 at the moment.

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    Subscriber Member kit laughlin's Avatar
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    Re: GF1: EVF vs. optical viewfinder?

    Helen Oster (Adorama) kindly informed me that they had the EVFs in stock, from today. hth, kl

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    Re: GF1: EVF vs. optical viewfinder?

    Tom,
    I am one who did not get on with the E-P1 because of lack of a viewfinder. I tried the optical viewfinder and it did not work for me.
    I got the EVF for my GF1 as soon as I could, and I have not removed it...not once. It is working great. Once or twice in the brightest sun (I'm in Arizona now), I had to cup my hand around it. Otherwise, no problems at all. I would not buy the optical viewfinder at that price when the EVF from Monza is only slightly more.
    I use my Pen-F manual lenses as well as the 20 f/1.7 and they are all easy to focus with the EVF. My only niggle is that you have to press the button on the EVF in order to review your shot on the lcd, but you get used to that quickly.

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    Re: GF1: EVF vs. optical viewfinder?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cindy Flood View Post
    Tom,
    I am one who did not get on with the E-P1 because of lack of a viewfinder. I tried the optical viewfinder and it did not work for me.
    I got the EVF for my GF1 as soon as I could, and I have not removed it...not once. It is working great. Once or twice in the brightest sun (I'm in Arizona now), I had to cup my hand around it. Otherwise, no problems at all. I would not buy the optical viewfinder at that price when the EVF from Monza is only slightly more.
    I use my Pen-F manual lenses as well as the 20 f/1.7 and they are all easy to focus with the EVF. My only niggle is that you have to press the button on the EVF in order to review your shot on the lcd, but you get used to that quickly.
    I can only say a +1 on this. My EVF hasn't come off yet since I got it from Robert/Monza (who went out of his way to get mine to me before I left for the week). I, too, learned to cup my hand to the side in very glaring light (not often). I have a Voigtlander 35mm VF (about perfect for the 20 f/1.7) that I used prior to getting the EVF. Since I have the choice of the 2---I can only give my opinion. I would choose the EVF every time.

    Diane

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    Senior Member bradhusick's Avatar
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    Re: GF1: EVF vs. optical viewfinder?

    The EVF is certainly nice. It works very well for manually focusing lenses. It all depends on how you want to shoot the camera. Sometimes having an optical finder is really nice if you want to turn off the LCD on the back and just use the camera with the 20mm as a street shooter. It's more natural for me to frame with the optical finder and I "detach" much less from my surroundings than when I use the EVF. It feels more like shooting a Leica RF.

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    Re: GF1: EVF vs. optical viewfinder?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cindy Flood View Post
    I use my Pen-F manual lenses as well as the 20 f/1.7 and they are all easy to focus with the EVF.
    Cindy, can you focus wide open without going into magnified view? I can do this on the LCD no problem (with, say, the Pen 40/1.4) and I wonder how well this translates to the EVF. My assumption was, poorly--but you're making me think maybe not.

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    Super Moderator Cindy Flood's Avatar
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    Re: GF1: EVF vs. optical viewfinder?

    Quote Originally Posted by mabelsound View Post
    Cindy, can you focus wide open without going into magnified view? I can do this on the LCD no problem (with, say, the Pen 40/1.4) and I wonder how well this translates to the EVF. My assumption was, poorly--but you're making me think maybe not.
    I don't have to use the magnified view to focus with the EVF after years of using MF lenses, but if I'm using the 42 f/1.2 (for example), and I really want to get it exact, I just roll my thumb and go into the magnified view. As soon as I press the shutter, regular view returns and I make final adjustments to framing.

    The problem for me with focusing using the lcd, is that I'm used to bracing the camera to my eye/face. I can't get that same security with my arms stretched out in front of me.

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    Subscriber Member Streetshooter's Avatar
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    Re: GF1: EVF vs. optical viewfinder?

    Quote Originally Posted by bradhusick View Post
    The EVF is certainly nice. It works very well for manually focusing lenses. It all depends on how you want to shoot the camera. Sometimes having an optical finder is really nice if you want to turn off the LCD on the back and just use the camera with the 20mm as a street shooter. It's more natural for me to frame with the optical finder and I "detach" much less from my surroundings than when I use the EVF. It feels more like shooting a Leica RF.
    Yeppers, I'm at the same place with my E-P1....not because I have no choice but because I choose to work with the optical finder....
    it is much like my M4 and a 35mm....

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    Senior Member simonclivehughes's Avatar
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    Re: GF1: EVF vs. optical viewfinder?

    Quote Originally Posted by Streetshooter View Post
    Yeppers, I'm at the same place with my E-P1....not because I have no choice but because I choose to work with the optical finder....
    it is much like my M4 and a 35mm....
    While I agree that you could use an OVF (and I've tried it myself), the OP is using (almost exclusively) the 20mm f1.7 and unless you're only shooting hyperfocally, the EVF makes the best sense for focus at the wide open end, which, of course, is one of the lens' strengths.

    Cheers,

  12. #12
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    Re: GF1: EVF vs. optical viewfinder?

    I like the EVF. It's not the best, but it does the job. MF works ok w/ the zooming. I have more trouble with that concept my self (too much jumping back and forth... but it's a matter of getting used to it). I cannot MF w/o MF assist though. Regardless, I don't do too much MF anyway.

    I'm torn to be honest. On the one hand, I don't find it all that bad composing w/ the LCD. I'm so used to it w/ my point and shoots anyway. On the other, it's better when used in the sun, but not really required. And I can hold it steadier propped up to my face.

    Keeping it on all the time has proven difficult in my bag as I fear breaking it, heh. But if I don't do that, I probably wouldn't use the EVF except in extreme cases (sadly, I missed out at a music venue where it would have been PERFECT. Instead, I shot blind as not to have the bright LCD glaring in the dark).

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    Re: GF1: EVF vs. optical viewfinder?

    I am a little surprised at the general (but not unanimous) preference for the EVF. I want to be sure that I have made my situation clear. I expect that I will use this camera only with the 20mm as a compact package with a quality lens. If I am using only one fixed focal length lens, and do not expect to be doing any manual focusing, I thought that the OVF would be best; no display lag, bright view, and the ability to see beyond the frame. But the enthusiasm for the EVF gives me pause.

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    Re: GF1: EVF vs. optical viewfinder?

    Quote Originally Posted by tom in mpls View Post
    I am a little surprised at the general (but not unanimous) preference for the EVF. I want to be sure that I have made my situation clear. I expect that I will use this camera only with the 20mm as a compact package with a quality lens. If I am using only one fixed focal length lens, and do not expect to be doing any manual focusing, I thought that the OVF would be best; no display lag, bright view, and the ability to see beyond the frame. But the enthusiasm for the EVF gives me pause.
    I think it's a big personal preference. I like to see all my settings while I frame and shoot. This could likely be my DSLR roots. And as much as the AF system is great, I like to pick my exact point of focus =)

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    Re: GF1: EVF vs. optical viewfinder?

    Quote Originally Posted by Linh View Post
    And as much as the AF system is great, I like to pick my exact point of focus =)
    Hmm...I forgot about seeing the focus point. That can be critical.

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    Re: GF1: EVF vs. optical viewfinder?

    Try the EVF, if you don't like it, send it back.

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    Subscriber Member kit laughlin's Avatar
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    Re: GF1: EVF vs. optical viewfinder?

    On the G1, you can make the focus point minute (I don't know how many pixels, but very small) and you can place it anywhere, so I imagine the GF1 is similar with the EVF. When I set up the G1 like this, I can focus on a cat's (or lady friend's) iris! This makes for sharp images.

    I am impressed with the focussing speed too; and that's coming from D3/D700 background. Tom, please let us know if you can do the same with the GF1 and EVF. cheers, kl

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    Re: GF1: EVF vs. optical viewfinder?

    Quote Originally Posted by Linh View Post
    I think it's a big personal preference. I like to see all my settings while I frame and shoot. This could likely be my DSLR roots. And as much as the AF system is great, I like to pick my exact point of focus =)
    Me too!

    I can't compare an optical viewfinder with an EVF because I have never used an optical viewfinder. However, I am very pleased with the EVF.

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    Re: GF1: EVF vs. optical viewfinder?

    Quote Originally Posted by tom in mpls View Post
    Hmm...I forgot about seeing the focus point. That can be critical.
    Tom, I should have been more precise. That's the reason I use the EVF. The Voigtlander is big, bright, easy to compose--but you can't determine focus--either AF or MF. So--the EVF is the answer if you want to choose your focus point.

    Diane

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    Re: GF1: EVF vs. optical viewfinder?

    Quote Originally Posted by kit laughlin View Post
    On the G1, you can make the focus point minute (I don't know how many pixels, but very small) and you can place it anywhere, so I imagine the GF1 is similar with the EVF. When I set up the G1 like this, I can focus on a cat's (or lady friend's) iris! This makes for sharp images.

    I am impressed with the focussing speed too; and that's coming from D3/D700 background. Tom, please let us know if you can do the same with the GF1 and EVF. cheers, kl
    The GF1 works the same way with the small focus point. Very well done and IMHO a big plus vs the Oly where the focus box can't be altered and the default is larger than even the Panny default (before making it smaller).

  21. #21
    juz
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    Re: GF1: EVF vs. optical viewfinder?

    Optical (brightline) viewfinders are really a different animal altogether. A lot of people don't realize that this kind of view was standard for a long time on non-slr cameras (50's-70s), and they are a joy to use.

    The Voigtlander and Leica finders are expensive because they are not just a piece of plastic, but a well-designed beautiful optical tool, with fully-corrected glass; and the brightness of these are truly astounding. Framing in lowlight is fantastic (the white lines are etched in the glass and reflect the most minute traces of light to give you a hard edge). This is a totally different experience than the electronic, tv-like tunnel of EVF. It allows you to feel more "engaged" with the subject, and is therefore more suitable for action shots (in my opinion). Rangefinder fun.

    Also, keep in mind that brightline finders will retain their value, since they can be used on any camera. I still use my Leica 50mm finder from the 1950s. Your panasonic will essentially be worthless in just a few years.

  22. #22
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    Re: GF1: EVF vs. optical viewfinder?

    Quote Originally Posted by juz View Post
    Optical (brightline) viewfinders are really a different animal altogether. A lot of people don't realize that this kind of view was standard for a long time on non-slr cameras (50's-70s), and they are a joy to use.

    The Voigtlander and Leica finders are expensive because they are not just a piece of plastic, but a well-designed beautiful optical tool, with fully-corrected glass; and the brightness of these are truly astounding. Framing in lowlight is fantastic (the white lines are etched in the glass and reflect the most minute traces of light to give you a hard edge). This is a totally different experience than the electronic, tv-like tunnel of EVF. It allows you to feel more "engaged" with the subject, and is therefore more suitable for action shots (in my opinion). Rangefinder fun.

    Also, keep in mind that brightline finders will retain their value, since they can be used on any camera. I still use my Leica 50mm finder from the 1950s. Your panasonic will essentially be worthless in just a few years.
    Yeah, I hear that a lot from RF users. I definitely like the OVF better, but I have never used one hotshoe mounted w/o any info. I don't think I could get into it. I do want a Bessa R3A one of these days, but purely mated to a small 40mm of some sort.

  23. #23
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    Re: GF1: EVF vs. optical viewfinder?

    It depends on how and what you shoot. Personally, the less information, the better. I really don't want to be distracted, since I feel that is getting in the way of the "tool".
    I've heard that people are setting their GF1s to center-auto-focus, then just framing with the Optical finder -- aim at the center, then reframe. That's what I plan on doing if/when they finally come back in stock in the US and I can get one.

    I made my own brightline finder about 15 years ago from a Polaroid camera. There was one model that had a roughly 35-40mm view, and had a beautiful finder on it. I found the camera at a thrift shop, took off the finder and glued a plastic foot to it -- and now it's a perfect brightline finder (though a bit large).

    Justin

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    Re: GF1: EVF vs. optical viewfinder?

    Quote Originally Posted by tom in mpls View Post
    I have a GF1 now with only one lens, the 20mm. I expect that this will be the only lens that I will use. I would like to have a viewfinder for this camera. I am planning to get a 40mm optical viewfinder since this would be the perfect match for this lens. Not exactly cheap at the $150 range. But before doing so, I would like to hear from those using the EVF. How well is it working for you? What works well, what doesn't? I have always been skeptical of EVFs, but maybe the technology is improving.

    I find the EVF to be OK. For manually focusing it is nice because the GF1 can automatically zoom in to 5X magnification. This makes it very easy to accurately manually focus the camera with or without the EVF. With that said, the EVF for the GF1 is a relatively low resolution device. No nearly as nice as the EVF on the other Panasonics.

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    Re: GF1: EVF vs. optical viewfinder?

    This has been an interesting set of responses, much appreciated. At this point I am leaning towards the OVF.

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    Re: GF1: EVF vs. optical viewfinder?

    This has also made me think about what info I really use all the time in the viewfinder. I usually shoot in A mode, so I check to see that shutter speed is fast enough. I also check focus point. Other info I tend to ignore.

    What info is presented inside the EVF?

  27. #27
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    Re: GF1: EVF vs. optical viewfinder?

    Quote Originally Posted by tom in mpls View Post
    This has also made me think about what info I really use all the time in the viewfinder. I usually shoot in A mode, so I check to see that shutter speed is fast enough. I also check focus point. Other info I tend to ignore.

    What info is presented inside the EVF?
    The EVF basically shows a copy of the LCD screen. There are two slightly different display modes/styles you can select. See here for examples: http://www.dpreview.com/previews/PanasonicGF1/page6.asp

  28. #28
    Linh
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    Re: GF1: EVF vs. optical viewfinder?

    Quote Originally Posted by Zara View Post
    The EVF basically shows a copy of the LCD screen. There are two slightly different display modes/styles you can select. See here for examples: http://www.dpreview.com/previews/PanasonicGF1/page6.asp
    in addition to that, you can have the image fill the screen, or have it shrink a little so everything can be seen w/o text overlaying. Essentially adding a border for the information. The obvious trade off is you're making something that's pretty small to begin with even smaller.

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