What Kind of Viewfinder Is Your Camera?

Today all cameras have a built-in screen to frame and visualize what we immortalize, but there are many of us who continue to cling, with nostalgia, to the traditional viewfinder, putting one eye on the camera while we wink the other. Both screen and viewfinder have their respective advantages and disadvantages, but did you know that the viewfinder itself is divided into several types, each also with its strengths and disadvantages?

Viewfinders: optical vs. electronic

We mainly find two types of viewfinders in current photo cameras, optical and electronic. The first, optical, as its name suggests, use a combination of mirrors and prisms inside the camera to bring the image to the viewfinder. The electronic ones, on the other hand, transmit the same image from the sensor, on a kind of mini-screen, exactly as if it were the screen on the back of the camera.

Each of us will have a different preference, but both the optical and electronic viewfinders have their advantages. On a personal level, I prefer optical viewfinders because they offer a sharp, real image, not modified or treated, a practically identical copy of what our eyes see. Another of its advantages is that, by reflecting a real image, they do not present that small delay that some cameras with electronic viewfinders could present.

On the other hand, optical viewfinders better manage situations of high contrast between light and dark areas (what is known as the Dynamic Range). Imagine a scene where there is too much light in one part of the image, but the other part of the image is too dark. This would not present any problem with the optical viewfinder, but with an electronic viewfinder the image would be slightly modified. It is a limitation of the camera itself.

In favor of the electronic viewfinder, it must be said that it shows the image exactly as the sensor would take it. Keep in mind that the electronic viewfinder is a kind of “repeater” of the sensor. The image you see through the optical viewfinder is an image that has not yet passed through the camera’s sensor. The one you see through the electronic viewfinder, on the other hand, has already passed through the sensor. This allows you to know for sure the final result before you shoot, which, with the optical viewfinder, there are times when it may not give the same result.

Another advantage of the electronic viewfinder is that, through it, the image is not interrupted at any time. With a traditional optical viewfinder you can visualize the frame and make all the adjustments but at the moment of shooting you lose your vision momentarily. It is a mechanical limitation, typical of all cameras with an optical viewfinder and a mirror. This does not happen with the electronic viewfinder.

The best viewer?

Most SLR cameras usually have an optical viewfinder. The electronic viewfinder is usually found more frequently in bridge or bridge, mirrorless or EVIL and compact cameras.

There is no general rule by which one type of viewer is better than the other by default. I’ve seen good scopes and I’ve seen bad ones. I have had very limited dealings with electronics but I have photographer friends who use them without any problem.

And you, have you had any experience with the types of scopes that you want to tell us about? 😉