Live View or Viewfinder?

by Dec 13, 2021

Which is best, Live View or Viewfinder?



These are two different ways to look at and compose your image. On a DSLR the Live View is a video feed on the rear LCD screen, and the Viewfinder is an optical view through the lens. Mirrorless cameras have both the LCD screen and the viewfinder using a video feed.

Both Viewfinder and Live View have something to offer that the other can’t do. Let’s get started.

Battery Life

Because Live View is basically a video feed, it’s going to use lots of battery power.  On a DSLR the difference between the viewfinder and live view is massive. Because the viewfinder is optical there is no battery power being used. If you’re using a Mirrorless body the battery life will be pretty bad whether you use the Viewfinder or Live View. The answer to this problem is to use a DSLR Viewfinder or buy lots of extra batteries.

When would you want to use Live View?

If you have time to compose your shot then Live View is perfect. Shooting landscapes when the camera is on a tripod is a great time to use Live View.

When you need to get low to the ground and it’s muddy, you could easily use a camera with a flip LCD screen to get the shot. The same goes for shooting overhead, a flip screen allows you to compose the image without having to climb up a ladder. Another time I would use it is for product shoots. I was recently using a lightbox to take pics of some tools for a website I was working on. I could have easily used the Live View option, but I used the viewfinder like I always do.

If your LCD is a touch screen you can use it to choose your focus points, just like you do with your phone camera. This is a great option, but only if your camera is mounted on a tripod.

The thing I like the most about Live View is that it shows you a more accurate representation of the depth of field. So if you want to see what the depth of field will look like, check it out in live view.

When is the Viewfinder the best choice?

LCD screens are not good in bright light making it hard to see what you’re shooting. For sports and anything moving your best choice is the viewfinder. It’s easier to track subjects and focus when using the viewfinder.

The viewfinder has a dioptric adjustment that is great if you need glasses for reading. When using the viewfinder I adjust the dioptric setting so everything is crystal clear and I don’t need my glasses. If I used my Live View I would need my glasses.

I couldn’t see anyone using Live View to shoot a wedding, it’s far too busy. Using the viewfinder gives you the speed you need.



I personally don’t use Live View, but if I started shooting landscapes I would definitely start The next product shoot I do will be in Live View, just to see if I prefer it. As I wrote down the pros and cons of I realized that Live View has an awful lot to offer.  Like with most things it comes down to personal choice. If it helps make your photography easier, use it.