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Viewing Systems

Lesson 4 from: Fundamentals of Photography 2016

John Greengo

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Lesson Info

4. Viewing Systems

Next Lesson: Viewing Systems Q&A


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


Welcome to Photography


Camera Types Overview


Viewing Systems


Viewing Systems Q&A


Lens Systems


Shutter Systems


Shutter Speeds


Choosing a Shutter Speed


Shutter Speeds for Handholding


Shutter Speed Pop Quiz


Camera Settings


General Camera Q&A


Sensor Sizes: The Basics


Sensor Sizes: Compared






Sensor Q&A


Focal Length: Overview


Focal Length: Angle of View


Wide Angle Lenses


Telephoto Lenses


Angle of View Q&A


Fish Eye Lenses


Tilt & Shift Lenses


Subject Zone


Lens Speed


Aperture Basics


Depth of Field


Aperture Pop Quiz


Lens Quality


Photo Equipment Life Cycle


Light Meter Basics




Histogram Pop Quiz and Q&A


Dynamic Range


Exposure Modes


Manual Exposure


Sunny 16 Rule


Exposure Bracketing


Exposure Values


Exposure Pop Quiz


Focus Overview


Focusing Systems


Autofocus Controls


Focus Points


Autofocusing on Subjects


Manual Focus


Digital Focusing Assistance


Focus Options: DSLR and Mirrorless


Shutter Speeds for Sharpness and DoF


Depth of Field Pop Quiz


Depth of Field Camera Features


Lens Sharpness


Camera Movement


Handheld and Tripod Focusing


Advanced Techniques


Hyperfocal Distance


Hyperfocal Quiz and Focusing Formula


Micro adjust and AF Fine Tune


Focus Stacking and Post Sharpening


Focus Problem Pop Quiz


The Gadget Bag: Camera Accessories


The Gadget Bag: Lens Accessories


The Gadget Bag: Neutral Density Filter


The Gadget Bag: Lens Hood and Teleconverters


The Gadget Bag: Lens Adapters


The Gadget Bag: Lens Cleaning Supplies


The Gadget Bag: Macro Lenses and Accessories


The Gadget Bag: Flash and Lighting


The Gadget Bag: Tripods and Accessories


The Gadget Bag: Custom Cases


10 Thoughts on Being a Photographer


Direct Sunlight


Indirect Sunlight


Sunrise and Sunset


Cloud Light


Golden Hour


Light Pop Quiz


Light Management


Artificial Light




Off-Camera Flash


Advanced Flash Techniques


Editing Overview


Editing Set-up


Importing Images


Best Use of Files and Folders




Develop: Fixing in Lightroom


Develop: Treating Your Images


Develop: Optimizing in Lightroom


Art of Editing Q&A


Composition Overview


Photographic Intrusions


Mystery and Working the Scene


Point of View


Better Backgrounds


Unique Perspective


Angle of View


Subject Placement


Subject Placement Q&A




Multishot Techniques




Human Vision vs The Camera


Visual Perception


Visual Balance Test


Visual Drama


Elements of Design


The Photographic Process


Working the Shot


The Moment


One Hour Photo - Colby Brown


One Hour Photo - John Keatley


One Hour Photo - Art Wolfe


One Hour Photo - Rocco Ancora


One Hour Photo - Mike Hagen


One Hour Photo - Lisa Carney


One Hour Photo - Ian Shive


One Hour Photo - Sandra Coan


One Hour Photo - Daniel Gregory


One Hour Photo - Scott Robert Lim


Lesson Info

Viewing Systems

The viewing system. Let's talk about single lens reflex cameras. We'll talk about them first because they have been for close to 60 some years now the most popular choice of your typical, pretty serious professional photographer. So the way the single lens reflex camera works is the single lens means we have one lens on the camera. Light will come through that lens to a mirrored system. This allows us to see what is going on through that lens system as it is bounced up to the focusing screen and then up through the prism system on the glass. Now the advantage to this system is you get to see exactly what the lens sees. And this is good for a number of reasons. For focusing, for angle of view, to see if you've left the lens cap on your camera. It's really nice to be able to see exactly what your camera is going to see through the lens. And so it's a beautiful viewing experience and I really like it for that. Now the mirror does need to get out, up and out of the way, for taking the phot...

o and that causes a little bit of problems because you can't see what you are shooting when you are shooting the photo. And so you have to be able to anticipate the moment in a very, very slight degree because you don't get to see it. And then the mirror comes down when it's all done and you get to see, again, what's going on. So if you saw a critical moment, you missed a critical moment, all right? 'Cause you need to anticipate that moment. And so this has been a very popular system because it's so clean and perfect of a view. It's basically using all the power of our own eyes for low light ability and color and sharpness. Our eyes are amazing in what they can do and we'll talk more about that in the photographic vision section. But we get to use all of our own benefits looking through the SLR. And so that's why they have been so popular for so long. Now, viewing the same thing from a different point of view, light comes in, hits the mirror, and projects an image onto the focusing screen. And some of the older SLR cameras used to be able to take off the prism, and be able to look at that waist-level screen right there. In fact, there are other cameras that have a mirror in them, like a twin lens reflex, where it would just have the screen there. And it made for a very compact camera. And it was just a different way of using a camera. So the main advantages to the SLR is the incredibly sharp viewing. If you wanna manually focus a camera, this is a very good system to use. It works very good because you get to use your own eyes, which work very well under low light and high contrast situations. And it has a really good autofocus system. And we'll talk more about that autofocus system as we go forward. Now the downside to this system is that that mirror housing causes the camera to be a little bit larger than it might necessarily need to be. There are vibrations by that mirror moving up and down. There are modern cameras that will move upwards of 14 frames a second with that mirror moving up and down. And the image that you're looking at is only a preview. You're looking at it with your own eyes. It's not the digital version of the image. And so there are settings that you could have on your camera that you're not gonna know about until you check the back of the camera. And so you kinda have to check to see if you got it exactly the way that you thought you got it. And so it does have some disadvantages. But it is still a very, very popular system. Now the LCD display is what you're gonna find on your common point-and-shoot camera. And if we had to, we can throw our phones and our tablets and any other device like that into this category here. Because it does also have just a single lens on it. Light will come in through this lens. And go straight back to the imaging sensor. And then that will electronically send that information to the screen on the back of the camera. Now, the screen on the back of the cameras I really like because now I can use two eyes to look at this information. And I think I'm a better judge of composition when I'm using two eyes rather than squinting through a viewfinder. And so it's handy for that. But as I'm sure all of you know, that LCD on the back of the camera does not work well in bright light conditions. In fact, I don't like relying that even on a cloudy day, just 'cause you don't get a really good look at it. It's hard to see sharpness and color on this. And it's the sharpness one that really will get you because you could be shooting pictures all day long, and if you look at 'em on the small screen, you could go home, take a look at 'em on the big screen, and you're gonna see that they're outta focus. And you would never know that out in the field, unless you start zooming in to check those images individually. And so, just having an LCD display is definitely a disadvantage in my mind. And so these cameras are generally very small in size. They're easy to view with both eyes for a general quick composition check. And they do allow you to put the camera in some interesting positions, which can be a lot of fun. Which is what the whole world of GoPro and those portable type action cameras are about. Now the disadvantage is that it's really hard to see what you're composing. And photographers need to see what they're doing. In general, a lot of these cameras have lower resolution, and that's more tied to what sensor is in the camera. But they often have limited controls because the cameras are smaller and there's just not enough room for all the buttons and controls that somebody who's really seriously operating their camera would like to have. The electronic viewfinder, another viewing system. And so this is used on many of the mirrorless cameras. And so these work a bit like the SLRs in that they have interchangeable lenses for the most part. Light comes in through that single lens, onto the sensor like the point-and-shoots and you get to see what the camera's pointed at on the back, but it also sends the information up to the electronic view finder. And the electronic view finder is really nice because now you can work with the camera under very bright light conditions. No matter how bright the light is out there, put your eye up to the viewfinder, you can see exactly what you're going to be shooting. And so this is a really nice system. And as I have recently hit a certain age milestone, my eyes have a minimum focusing problem. And I can no longer read stuff that's this close to my face. Occasionally, it needs to be, some people in the audience are starting to laugh because they know what I'm talking about. Things need to be a little bit further away. And so every once in a while, I'll be looking at a camera, and I'm trying to judge if it's sharply in focus, and I just can't do it on the back of the camera. Even if I zoom in, it's still seeming like it's too far away. 'Cause I'm too stubborn to wear glasses out there. And so what I can do with a camera like this, this I can just hold it up to my eye, adjust the diopter, and I can see the image perfectly. And so for anyone who plans to get past the age of 40, this EVF system can be a huge benefit in solving a lot of problems simply viewing the image. And so I wanna dive in a little bit more deeply right now and talk about these mirrorless cameras and the EVFs, and what to look for if you're thinking about buying a mirrorless camera that has an EVF to it. The first thing you wanna be looking at is what is the resolution of the electronic view finder? Now typically this is gonna be rated in pixels, and a pixel is actually three parts. It's gonna be, usually a red, blue, and green pixel. And then of course what we wanna do is we wanna try to make these as small as possible and have as many of these in the frame as possible so that we can have the highest resolution. And so you're gonna find that different cameras have different resolutions. So I picked out a few cameras that are pretty popular on the market. And so one million pixels is barely enough, in my mind, to be photorealistic. And so now we're mostly up to two million, which looks pretty good. I can live with two million pixels. It looks quite nice. The newest, the Leica SL, has 4.4 million dots. The more the better. As long as everything else is equal, all right? 'Cause this just means sharper image that we get to look at in the viewfinder. The next thing you wanna look at is the magnification of the viewfinder. When you hold it up to your eye, how big is that screen that you're looking at? And so we're gonna see some different numbers in here, and what these numbers are referring to is the magnification of the screen compared to the sensor that the camera is using. And this is a little bit of a dumb system to use because different cameras have different size sensors, which makes these completely unequal, uncomparable numbers. And so if a sensor is 24 by 16, and the magnification of the screen in there is 24 by 16, that would be called a one times magnification. What you see is the same size as what you're getting on the sensor. But the fact of the matter is is that the world of photography usually calibrates and analyzes everything in relationship to full-frame cameras. And we wanna refer everything back to this standard, so that we have one standard that we can go by. And so this, while it may have a true magnification of one times, we will often say it has a magnification of .66. Because compared to this, it is a .66 magnification. And so rather than having a one times magnification, the Sony has a .7 equivalent magnification. The Fuji has a .77, which is a little bit better than the Sony. Now the Sony A7R II is .78, so this is a slightly smaller than the new Leica, which is .8. So we want the biggest number in magnification, but you also wanna know is this an equivalent magnification? Or is this kind of the actual one coming off the sensor? Because if you have a really small sensor, you could make this first number much larger. Next up you wanna look at the coverage area. And this is genearlly not a big issue for mirrorless users. It's usually 100% coverage. But for SLR users, it can be a little bit of an issue. But it may be different depending on the camera you're looking at. A 95% coverage means you get 95% of the area in the middle. Which means everything you see you are guaranteed going to get plus an extra 5% more. But you wanna be able to see 100% coverage. You wanna see exactly where the edge of your frame lines are. Because that's how you're gonna make the best composition is when you know exactly where the edge of the frame is. And so 100% coverage is pretty standard, but just make sure that your camera has that. It's a nice thing to have. There is different types of displays. The LED, the light-emitting diode, is the very common system out there and I'm sure this is gonna change in the future. The OLEDs, which is a slightly newer version, it's gonna have a little better contrast. It's also gonna be a little bit smaller and lighter. And there's another type that is a field sequential display. And what it does is it kinda layers the pixels, and then it blinks them the appropriate colors in a system that happens so fast that you barely even notice it. Now the field sequential displays are not my favorite. And the problem with them is that as your eye scans back and forth on the screen, you'll notice a slight rainbow effect. And it's not quite as smooth as you move your eye back and forth. It's kind of an inexpensive way to put more pixels on the screen. And the downside of it is you look back and forth, you kinda see these rainbows of colors going back and forth real quickly and then it settles in. And so if your eye's not moving around, it can work out all right, but it's a slightly lower end version of the other types of displays. How fast is the refresh or the frames per second is very important. This is how real-time is what you're looking at. What the problem is, and I experience this, I was in Cuba and I was photographing these cars driving down the street. And if you can imagine as me turning the camera, trying to pan, now the car is in position number one. And then I'm moving over to position number two as it moves down the street, but the camera is a little bit slow on the refresh rate and I'm looking at the car back at position number one, even though the camera is pointed at position number two. Which means everything is kind of lagging behind in the viewfinder, where the camera is actually pointed at. And so everything, you're looking over here, and the camera's pointed over here and it's kinda hard to make adjustments because everything's on this very slight delay. So for anybody shooting action photography, you want the fastest refresh rate possible. I believe the fastest camera in the market is about 85 frames per second right now. And so you don't want something too slow because you'll definitely notice a lagging as you pan back and forth. The eye sensor. This is something that amazingly, a number of the manufacturers just are not doing right in my book. They will put an autosensor on the back of the camera so that when you hold it up to your eye, it switches over. But the sensitivity of this can be incredibly high. You just get anything near the back of the camera, and the screen on the back of the camera turns off. And so it's really nice having a manual switch. I will flip that switch when I go there, and I'll flip it off when I don't want it. And so it's nice to be able to have both options. I hope in the future, we're able to customize this autosensor because I think it's overly sensitive on a number of cameras. And so this should be something that we can work with. I would like to adjust more in some customization. And so check that out if you're looking at an EVF camera. The eye-point refers to how close your eye needs to be to the viewfinder. This is really important for people that wear glasses on a regular basis. Because if you have a big eye-point, that means you could be wearing a big, thick pair of glasses and you could have your eye quite a bit a ways from the viewfinder and still see 100% in the viewfinder. On other ones it's smaller and you gotta have that, your eye right up next to the viewfinder in order to see what's going on inside the camera. The diopter. There have been a number of cameras that do not have a diopter on it. And this is really handy so that you can adjust focus to your own eyes. And so perhaps if you wear glasses, you may not need to wear glasses when composing through the viewfinder on this. And it's something that you can adjust and you can look at on these, but there are some EVFs that do not have this as an option. Now, these electronic viewfinders. One of the beauties of these things is that they have so much technology they can throw at you. One of the things they have is a focusing scale in this camera. It's a Fuji camera and you can see down along the bottom, the distance that we're focusing at. And there's a little blue marker that tells us exactly where we're focused at. We're focused at one meter. And as we change our aperture, this blue line grows, which is telling us our depth of field is increasing. So we can get real-time, actual results of what our photos are gonna look like before we've actually taken them. Another option, and this is available on all of the cameras that shoot EVFs that I know of, and that's a magnification where you can kinda pop in, zoom in on a small section of your image, and adjust manual focus. And you can do this much more critically, and much more accurately than you could with a single lens reflex camera. And so a very nice system. Another system that's quite popular is called peaking. And in this case, what it does is it highlights areas that are in focus. In this case, we're doing it in red, but you can often choose the different color and the intensity of the color. And it's just another way to visualize exactly what's in focus. Another system that's kind of unique. This one's on a Fuji camera. Its screen is so big in there, they'll show you the full image on the left, and a magnified area on the right so that you can more easily focus on that one particular area. And these are things that you just can't do with an SLR because you're looking through a mirror, which doesn't have the technology of the LCD screen here. And so I imagine that there will be even more and newer types of systems as we continue to see more mirrorless cameras. So there's a lot of advantages to the EVF. So let's talk about a few of the disadvantages. Generally, these, even at 4.4 million dots right now, are a lower resolution than what we can see the world with our own eyes. And so, sharpness reasons, they're still not as good until they magnify in. Another problem with them. They have a refresh lag. No matter how fast they are, they still aren't as fast as the way we see images with our own eyes. And they do have a lower dynamic range, which means they're gonna be hard in contrasty situations. Think of being in the forest with bright sunlight coming in. It's very hard for them to show you the shadow areas and the bright areas at exactly the same time. And they do use more power. And so for people who are away from electricity and charging units, you're gonna need more batteries because these things take a little bit more power to run and so gotta be careful with that. And so we're gonna break away from our normal three points of advantages, and there's lots of advantages. So first off, you get to see exactly what the lens sees, so there's no parallax change about where you're viewing versus what the lens sees. It's smaller than the whole prism system that is being used in the SLRs. The final image, and this is one of my favorite aspects of the mirrorless camera. You get to look at the final image before it's final. You get the see the exposure, whether it's too bright or too dark. You get to see the exact true depth of field, and that's not something you get to see in an SLR camera. You get to see if the white balance is correct. And so you're really, it's very nice because you get to know the results before you even shoot the photo. There is a low light boost where the sensors on modern cameras are so good, they will actually see better than your own eyes will in certain lighting conditions. They're gonna have 100% coverage in most all cases, whereas SLRs are sometimes at 95%. Image review in the camera for bright light and for focusing issues. Now remember that was the thing for people over 40. You can't see the back of the camera, hold it up to your eyes, now you can see the image nice and sharp and you can be sure that you got it in focus. Video recording. We're not gonna talk about shooting movies here, but with an SLR you have to hold the camera out away from you so that you can see the back screen of the camera. In this case, you can hold the camera up to your eye like a standard video camera, which is a steadier position for holding the camera. You're gonna have better shots because the camera's not moving around as much. Now this is a power saving over using the LCD on the back of the camera. That is bigger and does use more power. And so it does save some power in that regards. The information overlay, which is all that extra magnification, and dual image, and focus peaking, and all of those sorts of things can give us a lot of information, tells us whether the camera is tipped. And there's so many more things that we can do on camera. It's just really neat. We have this heads up display that can help us out and we can customize our cameras and turn these features on and off. And so there's a long list of advantages to the EVF. And so they are improving all the time, getting better all the time, as they say. All right, another type of camera. This one is not real popular. This one actually goes back close to 100 years now. The rangefinder camera, most notably in the Leicas, but can be found in some other cameras. Light goes through the lens, to the image sensor, but for viewing purposes, you are using a completely separate window. These cameras were very popular back in the '40s and the '50s. And they were able to make very, this is one of the easiest ways to make a small camera is light from the lens goes to the sensor, but you're viewing through a separate viewing system. Now in order to focus, there is a separate rangefinder window that has a mirror, bounces light over to the main viewing window, and gives you a slight double image of what you're focusing at. And you may think, well, do I really wanna see a double image? Why would I wanna see a double image? Well that is for focusing. What happens is that, there's a couple things going on. The entire area you see is a little bit greater than the actual area that you're gonna be shooting photos of. One of the advantages here is that you can see outside the areas that the actual image is being captured. Street photographers love this! Because they get to see if somebody is crossing into the frame at a particular time. Or should they move the camera a little left, a little right because they can see a little bit more of the world around them. Now for focusing, it uses a system that is the most accurate way of manual focusing before the age of digital. And so for focusing what it does is it magnifies, well it doesn't magnify, excuse me, lemme correct that. It overlays one image on top of the other, you turn the lens until the two images are overlapping. And so it's very easy to get exact focus 'cause you get two lines and you can just get one on top of the other, and you'll have perfect focus. So it's a very good manual focusing system. Typically it's only gonna be used on the Leicas. And so very accurate manual focusing. One of the things that a lot of people like. Constant viewing, there is no blackout. You get to see exactly when the shutter is clicked. Another reason street photographers have loved this. Because they get to see that moment that they wanted to capture. And then you also get to view outside the image area, and how much outside that area depends a little bit on what lens and how the viewfinder works in that particular camera. Now these rangefinders do have some notable disadvantages. First of which is that you are not looking through the lens, which makes macro lenses and telephoto lenses very challenging to work with. Because when you have two things, when you get long enough, they're really mismatched on where they're pointed at. And so it typically works best with normal to wide angle lenses. The lens you're looking at is not the real lens. I remember very vividly, being about six years old and my dad taking a bunch of pictures of the family, and at the end of the shooting session he said, well he said a word I shouldn't say. And then he said, "I left the lens cap on." And because he was looking through a separate window and he didn't realize that he had the lens cap on the camera, and that's one of the things that can happen and has happened to virtually everyone who's owned these types of cameras. And these systems generally are a bit limited in the variety of lenses and accessories that they can have out there and so, if you wanted to do a wide variety of photography, this would probably not be the system. This is a little bit more of a customized system for particular types of shooting. But they're interesting to know about because they do have a very important role in the history of photography. Another, this is more of a footnote in the history of photography. And this is something that Sony is doing exclusively with a few of their SLR-styled cameras. They call it an SLT. And in this case what happens is the mirror comes in and it looks like there's a normal mirror. The difference is is that, compared to single lens reflex camera, this mirror does not move up and down at all. This one bounces light upward. It sends two-thirds of its light straight through to the image sensor. And then it sends a third of the light up to a focusing system in the camera. And this is also where it's gonna grab an image for you to see in the viewfinder of this as well, which would be right back here. So obviously, only two-thirds of the light going back to the image sensor is gonna be the first disadvantage to this camera is you're not getting all the light into that image area. The advantage is is that they have a focusing sensor that is looking at your subject 100% of the time. And so in theory, these make very, very good autofocusing cameras. And in practice, they are very, very good focusing. It's just that they're not that much better than your standard SLR. So there's not a huge benefit in comparing them to other products out on the market. So we do have a continuous viewing system because light is always going up to that electronic viewfinder which is nice. We do have the advantage of having electronic viewfinder with all those extra accessories and digital focusing aids. And once again, the image that you see on screen, that is very much the final image you're going to get with the exposure and white balance and so forth. However the downside is we are losing a third of our light, which we never like to do in photography is losing light. And the focusing system is not significantly faster than the competitors out on the markets. So it's not that big of advantage. And finally, the viewing experience isn't as good as the SLR's because of that electronic viewing system in there. It's not quite as good in those cases. And so that's only used on a couple cameras, but it's good to be aware of the different things that are being done in photography out there. All right, so this has a little bit of the combination of the rangefinder camera and the electronic viewfinder camera. And this is only being used on one or two cameras on the market right now. This is the Fuji X-Pro2. And this houses a hybrid optical/electrical finder. And this is kind of combining the best of the rangefinder as well as the electronic finder. So you do have a constant viewing finder that you can look through 100% of the time to see what's going on. But they have put a little LCD off to the side. And then they use a half mirror, which can reflect that light so that you can see what's going on. So you can choose to see an optical view, or an electronic view, or kind of a combination of the two where they will project information onto the screen that you might wanna know, like your shutter speed or your aperture, or grid lines or making sure that the level is correct on things. And so it's an interesting combination where it's got a bit of the best of both systems going on. And so best of both worlds. We get the digital overlays which can be really nice, and there's just lots of viewing options, which are very handy. But there is limited compatibility. Once again, it doesn't work well with macro lenses, doesn't work well with telephoto lenses as well. And the manual focusing is not quite as nice of an experience as the rangefinder because you do have to kind of zoom in to see if you are sharp. And it's got a lot of the same limitations as the EVFs is just that it's not as sharp in the overall context of viewing an entire image. Now there are other systems as well, I'll just note very quickly. One would be an optical viewfinder. This can be found on certain point-and-shoots. And this is just what they often call a tunnel window. It's just a window that you look through in order to frame up your subject. It doesn't show focusing, it doesn't show exposure. It's just making sure you got the camera pointed in the right direction. And we're seeing fewer and fewer of those. The old view cameras, like Ansel Adams used for instance. You put a big black cloth over the back of it, so that you can get the back screen dark enough to actually look at, 'cause it's a relatively dim image. And it was upside down and reversed. And so you gotta really admire the folks that used those because they were composing upside down and backwards. And then as I mentioned before, a twin lens reflex camera will have the light coming in through a upper lens, bouncing off a mirror, and that's what you're looking at. So you're not looking at the actual lens, but you're looking at a lens that's very, very close in approximation with what's going on there. And so there are different types of camera systems throughout the history of photography.

Class Materials

Free Download

Fundamentals of Photography Outline

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Learning Project Videos
Learning Projects PDF
Slides for The Camera Lessons 1-13
Slides for The Sensor Lessons 14-18
Slides for The Lens Lessons 19-31
Slides for The Exposure Lessons 32-42
Slides for Focus Lessons 43-62
Slides for The Gadget Bag Lessons 63-72
Slides for Light Lesson 73-84
Slides for the Art of Edit Lessons 85-93
Slides for Composition Lesson 94-105
Slides for Photographic Vision Lessons 106-113

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