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Photography Tips and Tricks #6: Shoot in Live View on Tripod

For more quick photography tips and tricks like this one, click here. Although the real-time optical finder in DSLR’s is hugely useful, there are times where using Live View is a wiser choice. While walkaround photography is perfectly suited to quick OVF (and EVF’s), slow-paced photography on a tripod is better done with an LCD […]

San Francisco Cityscape
San Francisco Cityscape by David Yu (Flickr)

For more quick photography tips and tricks like this one, click here.

Although the real-time optical finder in DSLR’s is hugely useful, there are times where using Live View is a wiser choice. While walkaround photography is perfectly suited to quick OVF (and EVF’s), slow-paced photography on a tripod is better done with an LCD in Live view mode. Why?

Indeed, Live view on a tripod allows you for better and more accurate framing. Unless you have a 100% optical viewfinder (which still isn’t quite pixel-to-pixel accurate), using Live view to frame the shot allows for greater accuracy. Also, many DSLR’s have electronic levels that allow for a perfectly straight picture, and even if your specific model doesn’t, showing the picture on a 3” LCD screen compared to a tiny viewfinder just is easier for general composition. If you are shooting at night, the LCD screen will likely be a bit brighter than the viewfinder. Plus, contrast-detection autofocus, although slow, is definitely more accurate than phase-detection autofocus.

Another reason why you should ditch your viewfinder is because the LCD screen just feels better. Yes, it is very much a question of personal taste, but to give an analogy, the big LCD screen can be compared to the ground glass focusing screen on medium and large format cameras, while the small viewfinder can be compared to the tiny framing viewfinder mounted atop of the medium/large format camera. Most people would definitely choose to frame with the larger screen if they have the time.

Finally, you should use the LCD screen whenever it is physically impossible (or very impractical) for you to peek through a tiny viewfinder. In many situations, having a tripod set up at eye or even waist level doesn’t give the best images possible. Sometimes, you just have to lower your tripod to ground level to get that long exposure. Use live view, flip out your LCD and look from above, or crouch down if it doesn’t flip, and snap away!


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