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Older photographers – let them use DSLRs

  |   Article, Articles and reviews, Composition, Personal views, Photography Ideas   |   6 Comments

Why good viewfinders matter for older photographers

Compose via the camera screen – forget it

Small cameras and phones seem to assume that no-one needs reading glasses – well, a lot of us do…

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 Viewfinders for the older photographer…

angle finder C - for Canon EOS

Still useful – the Canon Angle Finder ‘C’ – what I used before ‘Liveview’ and still keep in my bag.

One of those minor irritations of getting older is a decreasing ability to focus close.

I’ve alway been a little long sighted, and whilst I’ve had glasses since I was at school, I just never needed to wear them very often.

The other day I was on a job, photographing electrical equipment in the basement of a large building in dim light.

The backlight of the top display on my 1Ds3 gets round seeing the main settings. However, I was using a tilt/shift lens in a very cramped space and needed to see the angle of tilt on the lens – fortunately I had for once remembered my glasses.

This made me think about using phone cameras and most compact cameras – did the designers ever assume that anyone over the age of 50 would use them?

Obviously the marketing departments must assume that anyone over 50 is either going to use a DSLR, or have enough money to buy a compact camera with an optical viewfinder (I’m sure everyone wants [and can afford] a Leica once they hit 60)

I find this assumption just as annoying as the idea that to make a product appeal to women, you just make it smaller and offer it in pink (known as ‘shrink and pink’ by the way)

eos-m with 70-200 lens

A big phone camera

At the moment Canon are also saying that the EOS-M won’t be getting an add on viewfinder – so, I can put my £10,000 EF600/4 IS lens on it, but I’m still expected to use it like a glorified phone?

Whilst in a suitably curmudgeonly mood, I also wondered what impact this was having on photography in general.

I don’t really like using cameras on phones and I’d always assumed it was the poor image quality, but really, it’s the need to hold them at arms length and then not be able to see much on the screen in anything other than heavy shade, that I dislike more.

I see cameras and phones being held at arms length all the time, and not just by people without glasses – how do these people attempt anything but the most rudimentary composition. Sharing photos may be a big thing in the social media world, but the truth is that it’s sharing of a lot of pretty poor quality images…

However most people don’t seem to notice or mind that their shared photos are technically dismal… Filters like Instagram may add polish, but you can polish a bad photo as much as you like, and it’s still a poor photo.

  • On a good day this makes me glad that as a working photographer, the efforts and expense I go to makes a real difference and is valued.
  • On a not so good day it makes me wonder why I bother…

Today is a good day, so I’m welcoming these changes in photography ;-)

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  • Tim | Dec 14, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    I’ve recently started using an Olympus Pen Mu4/3 (MFT) system. No eye-level viewfinder, just the flip-out live-view screen. I’ve been both amazed and pleased with how easy it is to use with glasses (I need glasses for reading). The whole, image-making process is reminiscent of using the ground glass on a view camera but without the hassle of a hood or cloth.

    OK, I do use a tripod or monopod a lot, but minimising camera shake for handheld work is just a matter of learning new ways to work. For example using the neck strap as a brace.

  • Keith | Nov 27, 2012 at 9:40 am

    Thanks – I’d forgotten that one. Also another disadvantage of long sightedness making you hold the camera at arms length…

  • Lynn Allan | Nov 27, 2012 at 3:02 am

    Another issue … camera shake tends to be MUCH more of an issue without an optical or electronic viewfinder.

  • Karl | Oct 25, 2012 at 3:10 am

    I couldn’t agree more! While I am 64, I doubt that my age would affect my dislike for cameras without optical viewfinders. I just came back from a three week trip to Russia where I shot about 7000 images, about 2/3 of which were with a Canon S100 or Panasonic LX3. I am deleting a disproportionate number of images from these cameras because of framing problems that result from my inability to accurately frame images in bright light or because holding the camera out in front of me did not provide the stability of bracing it on my face. While for travel I prefer a small camera such as these, I won’t take a major trip again without a DSLR and a full complement of lenses unless I can find a good point and shoot camera that has a viewfinder.

  • Keith | Oct 22, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    Curses – I could have been shooting so many more pics, if only I’d not bothered with all that framing stuff… ;-)

  • Stu | Oct 22, 2012 at 1:36 pm


    You can also get a 5MP camera on the new Garmin Montana so you will be able to tell within 3′ where you too that crappy pix! Cool! Now if you also like the spontaneous “Happening” scene in the art world you could just not even bother to look at the Garmin or iPhone screen. Just fire away and get “real art”. Composition is now just soooooo ’50s.

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