Some beginner photographers will likely think that there is nothing really to say about this feature, but, any owner of a modern DSLR should know about the advantages, disadvantages and other aspects of using the Live View mode.
Live View Mode in Digital Cameras (A Bit of History)
A few years ago, only compact cameras were able to track the object being shot on the built-in LCD monitor.
For DSLRs, this option seemed to be simply useless, since they were equipped with an optical viewfinder.
However, in 2005, a Canon EOS 20Da camera was developed, designed for astrophotography and equipped with the Live View function.
A year later, the first mass-produced DSLR was introduced, also equipped with a preview function on the LCD screen.
It was Olympus E-330.
Since 2008, many SLR digital cameras happened to have the Live View mode. Again, this provided the possibility of using the LCD screen as a viewfinder to view the shot scene in real time.
To be completely fair, not all DSLRs have this function, though those are definitely a minority.
What happens is that in the Live View mode the mirror rises and the image from the lens is projected directly onto the photosensitive sensor of the camera, then it is processed and displayed on the LCD screen in real time (with a slight delay).
In this case, the SLR works on the same principle as the usual point and shoot camera.
What are the advantages of using LiveView mode for a photographer?
7 Advantages to Using the Live View Mode
There are a few advantages to using the Live View mode, namely:
1) Usually SLRs don’t provide a 100% coverage of the frame in the viewfinder, which means that the final frame after the shutter release will be at least a little, but different from what the photographer sees in the viewfinder.
Live View mode allows you to have the final image exactly as it is seen on the screen.
2) You can display a grid in Live View mode, an excellent auxiliary tool, which helps to correct the framing of the photo.
3) LV mode allows you to operate with all camera settings in real time, while tracking on the screen how the final frame changes when you set one or another exposure (or other settings).
Nothing SLR camera with an optical viewfinder can offer that.
4) With the Live View function, it’s easy to change the exposure and saturation settings, thanks to which you can foresee how your final photo will look like.
During the shooting, additional functions and settings can be displayed on the LCD screen, which is very convenient.
5) Of course, the big advantage of viewing on the LCD display is the fact that it allows you to aim the camera lens on the object from almost any position.
You can shoot on arms outstretched high above your head, or, conversely, from a low point at a certain angle, when it is extremely inconvenient to bend and look at the viewfinder. Instead, you use the LCD screen and it’s very helpful.
6) The Live View mode is also very handy with manual focus lenses (when you can focus as accurately as possible). In addition, when focusing, you can zoom in the image when previewing it on the screen.
7) The LV function helps when shooting in difficult lighting conditions because in this mode it’s more convenient and faster to adjust the exposure or white balance.
This allows you to get a good photo from the first time.
As you can see, there are a lot of advantages to using a Live View mode. No wonder why so many SLR cameras have it built-in, despite the availability of high-quality optical viewfinders.
However, this mode is not without its flaws.
The Disadvantages of Using the Live View Mode
Let’s discuss the disadvantages of using the Live View mode.
Here are a few:
1) Not all digital cameras have a high quality of image detail on their LCD displays because it depends on the resolution and the technology used.
2) Not all displays are protected by an effective anti-reflective coating (filter), so when there’s a direct sunlight on the screen it becomes difficult to discern the image.
Whereas the optical viewfinder is protected with this coating entirely.
3) The use of the Live View mode results in the sensor overheating, which increases the noise level of the image.
Though, to be fair enough, in modern digital cameras with an LCD screen, this drawback is practically reduced to a minimum.
4) Autofocus in Live View mode is rather slow, and in this case it’s impossible to use fast phase autofocus. (In the majority of cameras, the LV mode the contrast detection autofocus is used, which is slower than phase detection autofocus.)
5) It’s also worth noting that in this mode, the camera battery dies faster.
After all, in its normal mode, the camera sensor consumes energy only during the image capture, whereas in Live View mode, the sensor and all built-in electronics work constantly.
Now, let’s figure out when is it useful to use the Live View mode?
When is it Useful to Use the Live View Mode?
If you own a digital SLR camera, there are 2 ways that you can shoot with:
using the optical viewfinder, or,
by viewing through the LCD screen in Live View mode.
Perhaps, it’s not smart to use the LV mode on a constant basis, especially as, as I have already explained, this leads to increased power consumption of the camera.
But quite often during the shooting, there are situations when a photographer needs to use Live Mode.
These are the situations when LV is useful:
1) When the of the viewfinder is difficult.
Such a situation can arise when shooting from uncomfortable positions. For example, if you place your DSLR right on the ground, then obviously it’d be challenging to use the viewfinder.
2) When shooting still life and objects.
In this case, it is much easier to evaluate the composition and make adjustments.
3) When there’s insufficient amount of lighting.
In such situations, the operation of the autofocus system tends to fail.
4) When you use manual focus lenses.
As a rule, they areold camera lensesintended for film cameras. Many of these are of excellent quality and have an interesting bokeh pattern.