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SportsShooter.com: Member Message Board

Viewfinders, "real" or "digital"
Michael Myers, Photographer
Miami | Florida | USA | Posted: 9:38 PM on 08.06.21
->> I'm not the right person to ask this - someone much more involved in sports should ask it, and I should just come here to read the answer, but I'll ask anyway.

I used to shoot all rangefinder cameras. My first Nikon F changed everything, and for ages I was using SLR, then DSLR cameras. Along the way I got to use quite a few cameras with digital viewfinders.

I hated them. I was so used to seeing a "real" view, looking through a prism and a lens, that the crude electronic viewfinders looked ugly to me. Not only that, but I would get the feeling that digital viewfinders were showing me "history". If I took a photo when I thought the subject was in one place, as I panned, I found I had to re-time myself so when the shutter went click, I got what I expected.

Nikon had essentially the same lens mount forever, but if I buy one of their new mirrorless cameras, I need an adapter so my existing lenses would work on it. A friend of mine told me that if I use the new camera to photograph birds in flight, in burst mode, it's very annoying.


So, my question. Is this whole deal something to get us all to buy new photo gear to do the same things we already do? Is it worth the time and expense to switch over?

I still use my D750 Nikon for anytihing related to "sports", and whenever possible, I use my Df instead. My favorite camera once again is my Leica, and my "best" camera that always knows more than I do, is my Fuji X100f. I'm mostly posting this here because a friend of mine bought a new Nikon Z something, meaning he's now buying new lenses. I started thinking the whole thing is just a "fad", and it will eventually go away.
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Andrew Nelles, Photographer
Nashville | TN | USA | Posted: 9:11 PM on 08.07.21
->> I don't think this is a fad, and it's definitely what the future will be. Like you, I am a big Leica fan, and use still them often. I was also incredibly hesitant to give up DSLRs and move to mirrorless. I didn't think an EVF could look as good as an optical path. I was concerned about delay and clarity in the viewfinder, etc.

I've been experimenting with Sony gear for about 7 months now, having used A9II and A1 bodies extensively, and I have been very pleased. The EVFs look fantastic, incredibly sharp and detailed, no lag of any significance. The autofocus in these bodies completely smokes the Nikon and Canon DSLRs I've used previously. Having no mirror blackout is a huge plus, as is seeing real-time exposure. I'm assuming the current crop of Canon and Nikon mirrorless bodies are all in the same ballpark.
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Michael Myers, Photographer
Miami | Florida | USA | Posted: 9:14 AM on 08.09.21
->> Thanks for the information. Maybe you can answer a follow-up question.

When I first joined SportsShooter.com, I was using a Nikon SP rangefinder camera. While the viewfinder wasn't nearly as good as what we're used to now, it did have one advantage - I could follow the action (in my case, radio control race cars), and click the shutter at the instant the car was in a turn, closest to the berm, which I thought made for the best photos. There sas seemingly zero delay, beyond the time it took me to press the shutter release.

Fast forward to the new Nikon F type cameras, and with all the stuff that had to happen when I pressed the shutter release, there was a very noticeable delay, so I learned to press the shutter release just slightly before the car was where I wanted it to be. Nikon F led to D2h, then D2x, then D3, which was almost instant - but when I went to a World Championships in Italy, I bought a new Nikon D70 (smaller and lighter, and I hoped, fast enough. No good the D70 had just been released, and it died after maybe a dozen photos. So, I borrowed a D40 and covered the race with that (toy?) Nikon. To say it was slow, was an understatement. I had to press the shutter release when the car was two feet before it reached the turn, to get it where I wanted it.

Learned lots of lessons, and practiced with shutter delay, and eventually I got back to watching the action "live" with my left eye, more so than the viewfinder image.

This led to lots of tests with "digital viewfinders", and comparing what they captured, I was much better off using my left eye directly, instead of the viewfinder.

Fast forward a bunch of years. I haven't tried one of the Sony cameras, and I'm currently not really taking sports photos at all, mostly being retired in Florida. When I do take photos requiring instant action, I do best with my Leica, which seemingly has no delay. I haven't yet decided with my Fuji X100 cameras, which offer both "live" and "digital" views - but I definitely prefer the "live" view. There is something annoying about having to see it in digital. I guess I could try the new Sony's, or the new Nikon Z type cameras, and maybe they are now as good as I wished they were - from what you say, maybe this is the case.

One question for you - if you are shooting something and you want to capture the image at the exact instant when things are best, is there any timing difference between watching the action "live" with your left eye, as compared to watching the action digitized in the camera with your right eye?

Maybe I'm being too critical, and I've never yet tried the latest camera gear. If I get to B&H Photo next week, I'll make a point of using the new Z cameras, paying most attention to the viewfinder. With my current D750 and Df, I feel like I'm watching the action "live", and essentially I am. I'm wondering if others now get just as good a view when it's digitized - and if the view is as smooth with digital as it would be with an optical view. My friend says following birds with the digital viewfinder is annoying in burst mode. I didn't understand why, but that would be very annoying if I were shooting burst mode at my radio control race cars.

Your thoughts on this?
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Andrew Nelles, Photographer
Nashville | TN | USA | Posted: 11:25 PM on 08.10.21
->> Issues with lag, either with the viewfinders display, or on the shutter, were one of my biggest concerns with Sony. I can say that neither has been an issue. When I fire the shutter during a peak moment, what I planned to get is what I get. Unless the error was with me. The camera definitely does it's part.
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Michael Myers, Photographer
Miami | Florida | USA | Posted: 2:00 PM on 08.17.21
->> Andrew, are all the new cameras from the various brands "equal" in their ability to provide this?

For every camera I've tried so far (nothing really new, mostly older) the "view" of a digital viewfinder doesn't look as "real" as the optical view. Both seem acceptable, but until now, I've preferred "optical".

I didn't get to B&H last week, so I never got to check out the new cameras.

Maybe I should ask this differently - all electronic viewfinders have some value for their resolution. In the past, this was obvious. In my Fuji X100f I can switch back and fort between optical and digital - and it's always obvious to me which I'm seeing.

I'm also puzzled why Nikon would have changed the lens mounting system when they changed from optical to digital. I've got a D750 and a Df now, having sold or given away my other cameras, and several boxes of lenses from various cameras I used to use, starting with the original Nikon F. I might have been more inclined to go with, or at least try, a new Nikon if it used the same lens mount as before.

I guess I'm just an old fuddy-duddy who doesn't get excited about change unless I see a real benefit. I have no idea how I would benefit from switching from my current Nikons to a new Z Nikon.
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Thread Title: Viewfinders, "real" or "digital"
Thread Started By: Michael Myers
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