Tuesday, May 11, 2010
SLR vs. EVF
A new approach to interchangeable-lens camera systems gives photographers the option of smaller bodies. How do they stack up?
Curiously, initial Four Thirds System offerings didn’t reduce camera size tremendously. The first Four Thirds System DSLR, the Olympus E-1 pro model (which also introduced the wonderful Supersonic Wave Filter sensor-dust remover to the DSLR), was about the size of many other DSLRs of its time. The problem? The SLR mirror box and the resulting flange back distance (the distance between the lens mount and the image sensor).
ENTER THE EVF
It took a few years, but we also now have the Micro Four Thirds System, which is based around the same 17.3x13mm sensor size, but does away with the SLR mirror box and optical viewfinder. This allows for a shorter flange back distance, and thus truly smaller cameras. The first Micro Four Thirds camera, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1, was noticeably smaller than even the smallest Four Thirds System model.
|The Pentax K-x is light and compact for an SLR, at 3.6 inches tall and 1.13 pounds, but still about 25% taller and about 50% heavier than the Olympus E-P2. The Pentax and similar SLRs do have a speed advantage, though, with fast phase-detection AF.|
Longtime SLR users may wonder how one composes and focuses with no SLR finder. There are two ways to do it. One is the way it’s done with the popular compact digital cameras: via the LCD monitor on the back of the camera. All Micro Four Thirds cameras provide full-time live view on their large external LCD monitors. The second way is via an electronic viewfinder (EVF), which provides comfortable eye-level viewing similar to an SLR. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1 and GH1’s EVFs lend the look and feel of an SLR, and also will flip up 90 degrees for easy low-angle shooting.
Olympus introduced its first Micro Four Thirds System camera, the E-P1, last year, and it didn’t have an EVF—composing and focusing are done via the LCD monitor. The more recent E-PL1 accepts the optional, accessory- shoe-mounted, VF-2 electronic view-finder; and the top-of-the-line E-P2 includes the VF-2 unit. (The VF-2 can’t be used with the original E-P1 camera.)
Samsung recently introduced the NX10, which, like Panasonic’s Lumix G1 and GH1, looks like a small SLR and has a built-in eye-level EVF. However, it features a larger APS-C image sensor; it’s not a Micro Four Thirds camera. (Note: Sigma was first to release a compact digital camera with an SLR-sized image sensor, the DP1; it was followed by the DP2 and DP1s. But none of those has or accepts an electronic viewfinder, and each has a built-in, noninterchangeable lens.)
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