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Old Nov 18, 2007, 3:22 PM   #1
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Hi, this is my first post and one of my most basic questions concerning today's generation of ALL digital cameras...

I have an old Ricoh. One of the things I hated about it is that the LCD and the viewfinder really do not lineup. That is, I can acurately compose a shot through the LCD screen (and having that on eats up batteries) but not so with the viewfinder. What I composed through the viewfinder IS NOT what what I got when I opened up the image on my computer. Too often the top of the heads of people were cut off. I don't know if this common, so I'm asking if this a problem with many DCs. I hope it is a problem that the camera companies have now corrected.

Thanks for any info,
iZoe
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Old Nov 18, 2007, 4:40 PM   #2
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Not much of a problem any more, as most cameras no longer have optical viewfinders (except DSLR's).

The LCD sees what the lens sees, so it will always be accurate. An optical viewfinder (except a DSLR which DOES look out through the lens) is not seeing what the sensor sees, and so is not accurate, especially at closer distances.

It is also possible the frame markers on your camera were misaligned somewhat.
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Old Nov 18, 2007, 4:51 PM   #3
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Optical viewfinders will only be accurate at one focal length, so if you zoom in, your framing will definitely be off (unless using a thru-the-lens VF). That being the case, one should allow for some cropping, and be fairly loose with framing. Cameras with electronic VF are TTL type, and will always see the actual pic.

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Old Nov 18, 2007, 6:06 PM   #4
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It's not just digital cameras, it's any camera using a viewfinder like your Ricoh has. It's not even through the lens, so you'll have parallax error on top of other issues.

See Parallax in Steve's Digicam Dictionary


Here's what it says:

Parallax - An effect seen in closeup photography where the viewfinder does not see the same as the lens due to the offset of the viewfinder and the lens. This is a non-issue if using the LCD as a viewfinder or if your camera is a SLR type.

It can be a problem even if you're not real close, depending on the lens (sometimes anything closer than around 6 or 8 feet can be an issue, depending on the camera). Some viewfinders even have parallax markings to let you know how far off you'll be at closer distances. The quality of the viewfinders also varies a lot (frame coverage, how well they match the lens as you zoom in or out, etc. They're totally separate from the lens itself in many compact film and digital cameras.

If you use a Single Lens Reflex (SLR) Film Camera or a Digital SLR (DSLR), you get a through the lens view instead. That's one of the benefits of an SLR. You do have some small differences in coverage between cameras though. Note the design of this type of camera where light comes through the lens and hits a mirror that sends it up to a focus screen and pentaprism or pentamirror that sends it on to the eyepiece.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Single-lens_reflex_camera

This mirror on a SLR or DSLR swings out of the way and lets the light coming from the lens thorugh to the camera's film or sensor when you take the photo.

You can also get around the issue using a camera with an EVF (Electronic Viewfinder). It sees what the camera's sensor sees (although you can have some momentary delay and other issues, depending on the EVF).

Here is another page explaining Parallax Error. Note the part about heads being cut off (one of the issues you're seeing):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paralla...in_photography

Quote:
As the viewfinder is usually found above the lens of the camera, photos with parallax error are characterized as being slightly lower than intended, the classic example being the image of person with his/her head cropped off. This problem is addressed in single-lens reflex cameras, where the viewfinder sees through the same lens through which the photo is taken (with the aid of a movable mirror) , thus avoiding parallax error.
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Old Nov 18, 2007, 11:57 PM   #5
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Do DC reviews generally comment on paralax concerns? We're thinking about getting a Fuji FinePix S9100, but actually I've never come across this from any camera review I've read. Should I look for any features that would tell me the viewfinder IS what the lens is also seeing? EVF the only type that solves paralax?

Thanks again, iZoe
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Old Nov 19, 2007, 5:31 AM   #6
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None of the ultra zoom models have optical viewfinders. It's not practical to use one with that much range from wide to long in a lens.

They use an Electronic Viewfinder (EVF) which displays what the camera's sensor sees. An EVF won't have a parallax problem.

Also, some new compact cameras don't even have a viewfinder at all (LCD only for framing). ;-)

As for the Fuji FinePix 9100's EVF quality, read the review Steve has a large section of the Review Conclusion dedicated to discussing EVF and LCD quality.

Steve normally comments on both LCD and viewfinder usability in the review conclusion sections. Here is what it says for this model:

http://www.steves-digicams.com/2007_...s9100_pg5.html

As with all consumer digicams with a broad zoom range, the S9100 is equipped with an Electronic Viewfinder; although small, the EVF was very effective, providing a nearly SLR-like view with its 60fps refresh rate, and introducing less delay in the live image than EVF-equipped cameras we've tested in the past. The S9100 provides the typical EVF advantages of overlaid shooting information and menu access, brightening in dim light, and the ability to playback images. It also retains the typical EVF disadvantages, including blanking between image captures both in single and continuous shooting modes, and introducing a small delay in the live image. The LCD monitor has the ability to tilt, enabling waist-level and over head shooting. In these days of 2 1/2-inch and greater LCD's, the S9100's seems small, but it is bright enough to be visible in bright outdoor conditions. I found myself using the EVF as a viewfinder and the LCD to navigate the S9100's menu system and to playback images; switching between the two takes a single depression of the EVF/LCD button.
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Old Nov 19, 2007, 8:51 PM   #7
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Thanks To Everyone! You really helped me.
Cheers!
iZoe
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Old Nov 21, 2007, 10:49 AM   #8
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Generally, an optical viewfinder on a P&S camera shows less of the image than the camera will record. Cutting off part of the picture is more likely to be operator error than viewfinder limitations.

I would prefer a camera with both. If you want stability, you want to use the optical viewfinder or if you're trying to track fast-moving action you'd want an optical viewfinder. The LCD certainly has it's place but, as with the optical viewfinder, it has limitations.
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