Olympus E-M1 Journal: Entry #8: The wonderful EVF

I'm a big fan of EVF's (Electronic View Finders).  I have used them on the legendary Olympus C-8080 (circa 2003 but bought by me on eBay in 2008), the Panasonic FZ-7, the Panasonic G2, Panasonic GH2, NEX-6, Olympus E-M5 and now the E-M1.  The EVFs are getting  bigger and better.

Viewfinder (EVF) on the Olympus E-M1

There are at least six features I like about the EVF on the E-M1, all of which are features that are either not found (items 2 - 6) or difficult to find (item 1) on cameras with OVFs.

Of the list of cameras above, I currently own the NEX-6, E-M5 and E-M1.  Except perhaps for the focus peaking feature which is referred to in item #6 below, the E-M1 is the best of the bunch, in my opinion.

1. I enjoy the 100% coverage provided by EVFs.  Typical consumer OVF's have a coverage of 90% or 95%.  Much less than 100% coverage guarantees that you'll need to do some cropping in post, to match the view you composed through the OVF.

2. The live view shows the changes one makes to exposure, whether that be by adjusting shutter speed, aperture, or ISO.  White balance changes are also seen "live".

3. I always use the histogram overlay. I believe the histogram is the best way to insure the desired exposure.  As you make EV compensation changes, you can see the histogram change.  I've enjoyed the Olympus implementation of the histogram ever since I first saw it on the legendary Olympus C-8080.  It's situated in the center, at the bottom of the screen which makes it easy to see without having to shift your eyes (usually on other cameras) to the lower right corner where sometimes the histogram hides a bit in the margin of the screen where it is hard for us glasses wearers to see.  [On the GH2 I vaguely remember being able to use the touch screen to customize the location of the histogram.  If that is correct, my guess is that it is also an available feature on the newer Panasonic mFT models.]

4. The viewfinder on the E-M1 actually brightens up the dark areas without blowing out the highlights.  The dynamic range of the EVF is the best I've ever used.  But my experience is only with the EVFs on the cameras listed in the introductory paragraph.

This is where some of the magic is created.  I believe the default setting
for Auto Luminance is "on".  This feature is unavailable
on the E-M5.

5. After the shot, I have my cameras set up so I can immediately review the image in the EVF,  until I half press the shutter button.  [Actually, the review time is set at the maximum of 20 seconds.  But I'm done in just a few seconds, and then the half press of the shutter gets me ready to record the next picture.]

With the appropriate review setting (use the "info" button) , you can also check out blinkies and color channel histograms while keeping the camera to your eye all-the-while.  This feature is great on sunny days, and it makes it so easy to re-compose your subject and take subsequent shots without taking the camera away from your eye.  Also, I have found it especially helpful when taking hand held macros.  Without moving the camera body from my eye, I can review the resultant image for sharpness right through the EVF, and take subsequent shots, again without moving the camera or my body.

6. Manually focussing with the EVF is a breeze, because with one click of a button the EVF will magnify the subject.  The maximum magnification with the Olympus system is 14x.  Other magnification options are 5x, 7x, and 10x.  This is a tremendous aid in focusing; though the E-M1 EVF has such nice resolution that I haven't felt a need for more than 5x magnification.  In addition, the E-M1 has "focus peaking".  The EVF (and the LCD) shows a white "shimmer"  (or black, if  you choose) around the highest contrast areas which at the very least implies that those areas are in sharp focus.  At this time, I am not yet convinced of the accuracy of Olympus's implementation of focus peaking. I need to play with it more, but at least preliminarily I prefer the focus peaking implementation on the Sony NEX-6.

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