Screens on cameras

Today, a word about screens on cameras. Cameras can have several of them, with several uses for your convenience.

First, there is the screen on the camera’s back:

  • It can be used for “live view”. This is is not recommended except when shooting certain things like macro, and of course it is necessary when shooting video.  Other than that, it just uses up your battery.
  • This back screen can be an “articulated” screen. The sure sign of an amateur is a photographer who, before each schot, moves the articulated screen all the way out, only to move it back and reverse it to “close down” the back after the shot.  This is not necessary; it just wears out the screen hinges. Moving the entire screen out will just break the hinges eventually.
  • The back screen can also be used for review – that is valid use!
  • It can be used for menu operation – also good use.
  • It can optionally be used to set common settings. If you have alternate options (like a dedicated button, or a small LCD screen on the top of the camera), then those are better. The large back screen tends to be slower and it uses up a lot of battery power.

Then, you may have a dedicated screen on the top (and sometimes, on pro bodies another one on the back) that is much smaller and not normally luminescent. That screen is a great option for adjusting settings: it uses much less power than the back screen.

Finally, the viewfinder contains a small dedicated screen (on some cameras a large screen). I prefer optical viewfinders, but these LCD viewfinders can have valid uses.

My advice:

  • Use the optical viewfinder whenever possible: avoid “live view”.
  • Avoid using the back screen unless necessary to change settings. If possible, use dedicated switches and the small top LCD.
  • Avoid using the articulated screen unless necessary. All this unnecessary moving, twisting and turning your screen will just break things.
  • Do review your images as often as you like (I do!), but do not obsess over it.

And today I have a final piece of advice for my American friends in particular: Click here.


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