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Old Mar 27, 2007, 1:43 PM   #1
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I have a Kodak ZX590 or something like that, and the viewfinder and LCD display will lighten up or darken down to give a decent picture for viewing purposes, but that is not what is recorded. The little light meter they show you is useless for determining if your light levels are set correctly or not when in full manual.

Are there any digital still cameras that only show you in the viewfinder the actual picture? I am mainly refering to light levels. I hate to shoot a picture and see it nicely in the finder only to play it back and it is too bright or too dark.

Thanks, Glenn
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Old Mar 28, 2007, 9:11 AM   #2
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Many cameras will provide a real-time histogram in the LCD, which may be the best option for what you are looking for. The LCD can be misleading in that the apparent brightness can vary significantly in different ambient light.
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Old Mar 28, 2007, 9:51 AM   #3
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Please understand that no offense is intended. I my opinion getting the proper exposure takes not one, but several things.

(1) A histogram can be very helpful, if you can read it and understand what it is telling you.

(2) Understanding exposure. For example, backlighting for example can even outsmart the histogram. perhaps a good place to begin would be with a good book on digital cameras that would give you a good understanding of all the factors affecting exposure.

Just my two cents worth.

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Old Mar 28, 2007, 1:36 PM   #4
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In reality, no viewfinder system will give you exactly what one would expect from the actual picture taken. Here's my take on why various viewfinders aren't perfect:

P&S Optical Viewfinders
Most point & shoot viewfinders usually are separate optics from the actual lens itself. As a result, you will receive light differently than the sensor, as you're not seeing through the lens. Also, because you're using completely different optics that is offset from the lens, you will experience the parallax effect, which will result in the viewfinder image not displaying the exact image content that the sensor will capture.

P&S Digital Viewfinders
Some viewfinders have a digital screen instead of optics. The advantage of this system is that you see exactly what the sensor sees, so you can get all of the subject matter on-screen. However, the viewfinder LCDs aren't the most detailed, as their resolution is limited by the technology and size constraints. So you won't get the best detail while using these viewfinders. The LCD brightness can also vary, which can misinform you about the lighting.

DSLR Viewfinders
Digital SLRs use mirrors or prisms to display light entering the lens to the viewfinder. Because this is an optical system, you are going to get the best image detail from the viewfinder. However, most systems can only display 85-95% of the subject area through the viewfinder. Also, viewfinders that use mirrors will not transmit as much light as a prism-based system. What's great about DSLRs is that you can stop down the lens to the set aperture and 'preview' the light that will be coming through the lens.

In my opinion, if you're concerned about light affecting your picture, go with a DSLR. You can use the DOF preview to get an IDEA of how much light the sensor will receive. a DLSR viewfinder will give you the optical clarity of the optical P&S plus the through-the-lens point-of-view of the LCD-based viewfinders.

However, even with a DSLR, you will still need to rely on the light meter and histograms to minimize exposure problems. Before making a leap to a system you may not need, you may want to read some books on exposure and light to sharpen your skills and improve technique. I say this because I have used all 3 viewfinder systems; I'm currently using a DSLR and I still find myself overexposing due to bad technique.

- Jason
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Old Mar 28, 2007, 3:34 PM   #5
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backlighting for example can even outsmart the histogram

Sorry mt - not sure what you mean there, could you explain please?

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Old Mar 28, 2007, 6:20 PM   #6
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In the classical backlighting situation, the average digital camera user will be using an averaging kind of metering. Therefore, in the situation where a person standing in front of a well light window, the camera will "read" the light coming over the person's shoulders, or around his/her body, thus well under exposing the person in the photo. The result is that the person's face is well shadowed or downright obscured.

The histogram in that situation would read quite normally and appear to be well balanced. However, if we are to assume that you really wanted a good photo, that shows your person's face as well exposed, that is just not going to happen unless, you use some fill flash. Now, you could overcome the problem somewhatby using spot metering, but that will result in a very "washed out" background.

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