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04-18-2014, 03:05 PM   #1
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Why are viewfinders so small today?

I figure if anyone can answer this it will be the folks on this forum. So why are viewfinders on modern dslr's so small? I recently dusted the cobwebs off my old OM-1 and was reintroduced to what a truly great viewfinder looks like. If you do the math, the K5's "excellent" viewfinder is about 40% the apparent size of the old OM. Even full frame dslrs are lucky to get up to 60%. So I gotta ask - why?

I realize AF lenses are the norm. Producing viewfinders with 92% magnification isn't easy (or cheap). But really? 40-60% the size?

Any thoughts on this trend?

John

04-18-2014, 03:10 PM   #2
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Hi,

Its the cost of Prism or Penta-Mirror. The bigger it is - The bigger the view finder.

However now the viewfinders have more electronic information things like ISO etc. The smaller it is, the lesser the cost.

In addition it also helps the camera to be compact.

If viewfinder irks you so much you can get the Samsung NX30:

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/76-non-pentax-cameras-canon-nikon-etc/247...our-noses.html

Also there is a camera with a Red Dot sight like snipers

OLYMPUS SP-100 Is a 50X Superzoom Camera With a Red Dot Sight Like a Gun


Cheers!
04-18-2014, 03:12 PM   #3
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I don't have any real engineering insight, but my guess has always been the smaller image size and cost-cutting.
04-18-2014, 03:31 PM   #4
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Valid point on all the other information in the viewfinder. As to keeping cameras compact - ever pick up an OM-1?

Can't stand the EVF (just my opinion) so I guess the only thing to do is pick up a digifilm insert!

John

04-18-2014, 03:39 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Penceler Quote
I figure if anyone can answer this it will be the folks on this forum. So why are viewfinders on modern dslr's so small? I recently dusted the cobwebs off my old OM-1 and was reintroduced to what a truly great viewfinder looks like. If you do the math, the K5's "excellent" viewfinder is about 40% the apparent size of the old OM. Even full frame dslrs are lucky to get up to 60%. So I gotta ask - why?

I realize AF lenses are the norm. Producing viewfinders with 92% magnification isn't easy (or cheap). But really? 40-60% the size?

Any thoughts on this trend?

John
To make things simple, it's because the sensor in the K-5 and most other DSLRs is considerably smaller than film, which leads to a smaller mirror, focusing screen, and viewfinder. You would have to magnify the image to match the apparent size of a film VF.

Full-frame DSLRs do have considerably larger viewfinders, though they're typically still not quite as big as in the film days. However, almost all pro cameras offer 100% coverage these days, something that was rare in the film era.

Adam
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04-18-2014, 05:22 PM   #6
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Ok, now I will go on my tirade. You're right, Pentax has matched the OM viewfinder in terms of sensor size. In fact they improved it from 97% coverage to 100% while exactly duplicating the magnification. Congratulations, they've matched a 40 year old feat of engineering in a larger body. They probably are the best in the business when it comes to viewfinders (really). Our friends at N/C full frame haven't even come close. 70% magnification is rangefinder territory and Leica etal at least give you 130% or so coverage. They also can't focus long lenses. It's amazing Zeiss is able to sell a manual focus lens with these viewfinders. I think the only thing more amazing is that we as consumers are letting them get away with it. Full frame cameras aren't small and they aren't cheap. Could they at least let us have a good look at what we're photographing? Even in the smaller sensor world we seem to be willing to give them a pass on even trying to address the issue. I get the more information in the viewfinder - that's how we got from 90+ magnification to "HP" mid 80% magnification in the film days. For me, I don't care if its full frame or cropped - I just want a decent viewfinder.

Sorry for the rant, I'm sure many will disagree.
04-18-2014, 06:46 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Penceler Quote
Our friends at N/C full frame haven't even come close.
Yes they have. The Nikon D7000 has about the same magnification as the K-3, so those two camera lines are neck-and-neck. The Canon 7D has 1.0x magnification, which works out to about the same as the other two cameras since Canon uses a slightly smaller APS-C sensor.

0.7x is not too shabby for full-frame, as it still works out to a lot more than an aps-c viewfinder (approximately 65% more VF area based on my calculations). Even the 645D is only 0.65x because the massive size of the original image makes up for the lower VF magnification. Modern viewfinders aren't cluttered with manual focusing aids, so in a way it's easier to appreciate the entire image IMO.

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04-18-2014, 07:13 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Adam Quote
Yes they have. The Nikon D7000 has about the same magnification as the K-3, so those two camera lines are neck-and-neck. The Canon 7D has 1.0x magnification, which works out to about the same as the other two cameras since Canon uses a slightly smaller APS-C sensor.

0.7x is not too shabby for full-frame, as it still works out to a lot more than an aps-c viewfinder (approximately 65% more VF area based on my calculations). Even the 645D is only 0.65x because the massive size of the original image makes up for the lower VF magnification. Modern viewfinders aren't cluttered with manual focusing aids, so in a way it's easier to appreciate the entire image IMO.
A Nikon D800 sensor is 35.9x24 and the viewfinder is x.7 so the viewfinder is approx. 600 sq.mm.
A K-3 is 23.5x 15.6 or 337 sq.mm

It's a sizeable difference.

04-18-2014, 07:51 PM   #9
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Yes, and roughly 60% of the size of what was produced in 1978 on the same size "sensor" in a much smaller body. I'm sure back then, the guy with the worst viewfinder was quick to point out how much better it was than that on a 110 camera. Keeping this in the digital world, the ist d had 95% albeit at the expense of coverage. We seem to have gone in the wrong direction here.
04-19-2014, 03:00 PM   #10
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A big difference in OVF was made when AF was introduced. A big part of the main mirror on a AF SLR is semi-transparent to let light through to the secondary mirror which feed the AF sensors with light. About 30% of the light entering the lens is used by the AF sensor, so the OVF get less light. To compensate for the light loss the OVF was made smaller which make it appear as bright as before.
04-19-2014, 03:58 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Fogel70 Quote
A big difference in OVF was made when AF was introduced. A big part of the main mirror on a AF SLR is semi-transparent to let light through to the secondary mirror which feed the AF sensors with light. About 30% of the light entering the lens is used by the AF sensor, so the OVF get less light. To compensate for the light loss the OVF was made smaller which make it appear as bright as before.
An interesting point. Looking at an F5 (film Af) magnification drops down to 75%. The Eos 1v is even worse at 72%. Now digital lowers the bar further to 70%. So we gave up 10% magnification to get additional information in the viewfinder, another 10% to get autofocus and then a few more points to get a "small" ff digital body. I do wonder if anyone realized what we were giving up for these technical marvels.

I'm not being sarcastic -just trying to understand how we have regressed so far.

John
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