Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Is Live View a waste on a dSLR?

Ever since the Olympus E-330, Panasonic DMC-L1, and Leica Digilux 3 introduced Live View to the world of photography, I've wondered about using it.

In November 2011, I got an Olympus E-5, which has Live View and video recording.  I played with each, but never did much with them.  In February 2013 when I got a Panasonic DMC-GH3, I had a camera body similarly equipped with Live View and (much enhanced) video recording.  Still, I'd yet to do more than test Live View.

In some cases, like the Nikon D7100, D300s, and Canon 70D, the rear display is rather firmly attached, so you can't slide, tilt, or turn it away from the body.  In cases like this, I've heard Live View called "Tripod Mode".  To me, the words "live" and "tripod" don't really seem to work with each other in photography.  Those still life portraits are so...still.

It was only when I was at an Olympus photo walk event with the E-M1 that I really considered Live View valuable.

At one intersection in downtown Indianapolis, there is a flying saucer-like underside covering the intersection, making it a bit claustrophobic.  I could just take a snapshot, but it made more sense to me to get closer to the ground.  I released the rear display and folded it down until it was facing upward.  As I held the camera a few inches from the pavement/sidewalk, between the obstacles, I was able to get a clear shot of the whatever-it-is.  It enabled me to do things I could not normally do.

E-M1 Live View Straight from the Camera JPEG

E-5 through the optical viewfinder, converted from raw file
Since mirror-less system cameras all use Live View and nothing else, the technology has become much better.  Lenses are designed for it, and speeding up the interaction between the image sensor helps to speed auto focus.  As the sensor is always going, the various companies are learning about heat dissipation to reduce the effects of photographic noise.

When I was at a Panasonic-sponsored event recently, an older gentleman showed me his Panasonic DMC-L1 and it was interesting but part of a different time.  Those ideas certainly changed everything, and we wouldn't likely have mirror-less system cameras today without them.

I still haven't a great use for Live View on the Olympus E-5, but now, that I've actually used Live View, I certainly have an appreciation for it, and will realize that I don't have to walk away from certain photos to get them comfortably.

Panasonic GH3, Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8

Here is another, more recent photo using Live View and the articulated rear display of my Panasonic GH3 this time.  I switched from the EVF to the rear display, held the camera body at a rather extreme angle, twisted the rear display angle for easy viewing, while kneeling comfortably, rather than lying on the ground, photographing it upside down.

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