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EVFs compared (M, NEX7, A99, OM-D, X100)


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#1 beewee

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Posted 08 October 2012 - 08:35

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I've finally got a chance to play with all the current state of the art cameras that offer EVFs. This is not a review but I thought I'd offer some comparison between the most-mentioned EVF cameras. Note also, the M was a pre-production model so things may change when the production firmware is released. Also, these are merely my subjective opinions with the limited time that I had with each camera.

For metrics, I'll use the following criterion:
- Lag (delay)
- Refresh rate (smoothness)
- Resolution
- Color fidelity
- Overall

I'll use a number rating from 1-10, where 1 means horrendously unusable (you're better off shooting blind), 5 is acceptable (I could live with it if I had to), and 10 (this is as good or better than an optical viewfinder).

Without farther adieu, here are the results and comments. Since the NEX7 has been around the longest, I'll start off with it with the hope that most people can relate to it as a starting point.

NEX7
Lag: 8
Refresh rate: 7
Resolution: 6
Color accuracy: 5
Overall: 6
Note: The resolution, although better than most other cameras is really no subsitute for a real OVF

X100 in EVF mode
Lag: 7
Refresh rate: 7
Resolution: 7
Color accuracy: 5
Overall: 6
Notes: Color accuracy was problematic due to poor automatic white balance indoors

OM-D
Lag: 8
Refresh rate: 7
Resolution: 7
Color accuracy: 6
Overall: 7
Notes: Color accuracy was problematic due to lighting condition and autobalance indoors. Because the refresh rate was 60Hz, it also had interference problems with flourescent lighting since the lights also flicker close to 60Hz.

M
Lag: 3
Refresh rate: 5
Resolution: 7
Color accuracy: 7
Overall: 5
Notes: The lag really kills this EVF. There's so much lag that it would simply be impossible to shoot anything that's moving quickly. Based on what I can tell, there's a 0.1 second delay between you moving the camera and the EVF image moving. The colour accuracy was actually quite good though. Refresh rate, was something to be desired at 30fps. In lower light condition, it smeared most of the images and made the use on moving subjects pretty horrible. Resolution looked decent, similar to the OM-D. I really hope leica can reduce the lag before the camera goes into production, otherwise I would never use the EVF.

A99
Lag: 10
Refresh rate: 10
Resolution: 10
Color accuracy: 9
Overall: 9.5
Notes: Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it is that good. So good that I thought Sony had replaced my demo camera with an optical viewfinder. It's as bright as the OVF on my M8.2, as big as my 5D2, and has a resolution on par with the ground glass on my 5D2. The only thing I could fault it was in color accuracy but even here, I'm nit-picking. In challenging lighting condition, it works admirably. This is my new benchmark in EVFs and it honestly puts the Leica EVF-2 on the M to shame. Its the first EVF that I would happily replace a glass prism with. Did I mention it can shoot continuously at around 3fps pretty much indefinitely?
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#2 beewee

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Posted 08 October 2012 - 08:40

Oh right, where did I find the M? There's one available for testing on the 10th floor of Daimaru next to the Tokyo Station. I was actually quite surprised to see one there. It's pre-production but available for testing. Price tag shows 777,400 yen but release date is not yet available.

Other thoughts on the M... the thumb rest is no where near as secure as the Thumbs-Up on my M8.2. Better than nothing, but it's not that great. The thumb wheel is also harder to use at the old location compared to the M8/M9. It just feels less ergonomic (maybe I'm not use to it).

Focus peaking didn't work all that well. A lot of areas that I knew was not in focus showed up as red. I hope Leica can get that fixed soon.


Daimaru also had the M-E and MM on hand. The colour of the M-E looks better in real life than on photos.
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#3 oronet commander

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Posted 08 October 2012 - 11:17

Michael Reichmann and a coleague are far from being so satisfied with the A99 EVF

Sony A99 Field Report
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#4 beewee

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Posted 08 October 2012 - 11:38

Michael Reichmann and a coleague are far from being so satisfied with the A99 EVF

Sony A99 Field Report


Yeah, I just read that. I'm a little surprised. I'm not sure if it's due to beta firmware or if it is because of the lighting that I was testing in. For what it's worth, I tested the A99 at the CEATEC Sony booth so I didn't get to test it outdoors. Perhaps, its because the viewfinder is not bright enough if your eyes are adjusted to bright sunlight but works well for indoors.

#5 k-hawinkler

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Posted 08 October 2012 - 13:28

Hi beewee and oronet commander,

Thanks for the info.
Interesting for sure and it likely will be very controversial.
Fine with me.

I have been lately shooting almost exclusively Leica manual lenses on M9, NEX-5N with EVF, NEX-7, and D800E. Of course, the OVFs in M9 and D800E have a clear view and no lag, where applicable I prefer RF focusing. So far so good, no surprise.

Now let's look at LiveView and focusing for non-RF coupled lenses.
There is indeed a huge difference between the NEXs' EVF and the D800E' OVF.
Of course, one could use the LCD in the back and even attach a viewer for that.

However, I have gotten used to focusing through the EVF on the NEXs with diopter control.
So, it's quite a step back with the D800E in LiveView mode that the (O)VF is disabled.
That is, no viewfinder at all in that mode.

I also find the green dot focus confirmation in the D800E's OVF no match for the NEXs focus peaking, in particular as my D800E is suffering from the left (and not just the extreme left) autofocus problem. So, I have no confidence in the green dot at all when using not the central focus point.

With the NEXs I have gotten used to composing with the EVF and then moving the focus point to the spot I want to have in focus. Or for infinity in landscape shots move the focus point to an area of highest contrast in the scene that permits me to focus manually most accurately. One can quickly switch between 1x, ~5x, or ~10x magnification with 1x showing best the red focus peaking areas.

This option is entirely missing from the D800E.

So with regards to the new Leica M we will have traditional RF focusing for RF-coupled lenses and a NEX-style version of focus peaking for non-RF-coupled lenses. Sounds good to me. I would think that Leica will use the time between now and when they finally ship the new M to fine tune their focus peaking.

One more observation.
With very precisely manufactured adapters one can actually focus a tele lens with the NEXs, then swap camera and adapter and shoot with the M9, still in focus. I did this with the APO-Telyt-R 1:4/280. Surprise, surprise, or no surprise at all, in that case the M9's ORF window is mostly blocked and useless for framing as well.
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With best regards, K-H.

#6 LucisPictor

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Posted 08 October 2012 - 14:39

I agree to the "M"-lag.
That was what I found pretty disturbing when I looked through it at the Photokina.

I have been told that this has nothing to do with an unfinished firmware but that it will not be improved in the final product. :(
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#7 wildlightphoto

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Posted 08 October 2012 - 15:32

I get the feeling I'll be keeping the DMR for a very long time.

#8 Peter D Lux 2

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Posted 08 October 2012 - 15:47

Or you could get the A99 ...
You'd have focus peaking, a larger file to work with, modern sensor, etc, etc.
You could either adapt or Leitax your R lenses.

#9 wildlightphoto

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Posted 08 October 2012 - 16:15

Or you could get the A99 ...


Considering Michael Reichmann's and Nick Devlin's opinion of the viewfinder, probably not. This most important feature has been deteriorating since the Leicaflex SL2 was replaced with the R3. The A99 has lots of useful features, and if I hate the viewfinder I wouldn't use the camera.
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#10 k-hawinkler

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Posted 08 October 2012 - 16:41

For the Leica M I am curious what part is the limiting factor for the lag?
Sensor read out? ... etc.
If true, lag seems to be really not competitive at all.
With best regards, K-H.

#11 LucisPictor

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Posted 08 October 2012 - 17:28

For the Leica M I am curious what part is the limiting factor for the lag?
Sensor read out? ... etc.
If true, lag seems to be really not competitive at all.


I guess so. It's 25 fps, as far as I know.

It's not too bad in normal conditions, though. But if you move the cam quickyl, you see the lag.
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#12 JeTexas

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Posted 08 October 2012 - 18:17

Does the M display the same lag if using liveview on the LCD or is it just in the add-on optical viewfinder?

#13 Royal_Corona

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Posted 08 October 2012 - 18:23

Does the M display the same lag if using liveview on the LCD or is it just in the add-on optical viewfinder?


They both show the same picture coming from sensor and main processor. So why should there be a difference?

Mike

#14 pop

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Posted 08 October 2012 - 18:30

They both show the same picture coming from sensor and main processor. So why should there be a difference?

Mike


It's not impossible for a display to show its data with a delay. The EVF is a display. I don't think we have that information.

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#15 AlanG

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Posted 08 October 2012 - 18:31

Thanks. I guess I'm curious about the idea of color accuracy. Is that an auto white balance difference between cameras or something else? If the EVF matches what you get from the sensor (in default "as shot" color setting in the raw converter) is that accurate or is it supposed to match the subject color?

When I shoot via live view where some areas have sodium vapor lights for instance, I am glad to see how yellow they are in those sections of the image so that I can plan to compensate if necessary.

Also, I'm trying to understand the cause of a difference in resolution between the Nex 7 and A99. Don't they use the same panel? And the A99 loses some light to to the semi-silvered mirror for the PD sensor. Is this caused by a faster or slower refresh rate in the A99? The specs at DPReview show the magnification for the A99's finder is .74x and 1.09x for the Nex 6. I don't get why there would need to be a difference unless it is just to have more compact optics on the Nex6's viewfinder.

My old Konica Minolta A2 has a choice of 30hz or 60Hz refresh rate for the EVFs. On this camera, they say that 30 is for a better quality view and 60 is for shooting action. Does anyone know if some of these other cameras give a choice like that?

Edited by AlanG, 08 October 2012 - 18:46.


#16 Royal_Corona

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Posted 08 October 2012 - 18:52

It's not impossible for a display to show its data with a delay. The EVF is a display.


As is the liveview screen on the back. The lag comes from conversion of high-resolution 24MP sensor data into videoresolution. The lag between different screens might be existent, but I suppose it's insignificant.

Mike

Edited by Royal_Corona, 08 October 2012 - 18:55.


#17 Royal_Corona

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Posted 08 October 2012 - 18:57

If the EVF matches what you get from the sensor ?


It does not. What you see in the EVF is a downscaled, live videomovie extracted from sensor-data.

Mike

#18 AlanG

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Posted 08 October 2012 - 19:10

It does not. What you see in the EVF is a downscaled, live videomovie extracted from sensor-data.

Mike


I know that but I'm asking about color not resolution of course. Is the "downscaled" color the same as what comes off of the sensor in "As shot" form or does this vary from camera to camera? I know this is only approximate because I have a color profiled monitor at home and don't know how close any EVF panel will match that. And the viewing conditions are very different and vary a lot with where the camera is used. Yet the brightness, color, contrast, and saturation of the data presented to the EVF or the EVF's auto-brightness and other settings on their own may affect this substantially. I don't know if there are ways to adjust the EVF display beyond its brightness. But even that will affect how much detail one sees in highlights and shadows

Edited by AlanG, 08 October 2012 - 19:18.


#19 LucisPictor

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Posted 08 October 2012 - 19:12

Does the M display the same lag if using liveview on the LCD or is it just in the add-on optical viewfinder?


That's a good question.

Strangely enough, I did not realize it when looking at the display, only when looking through the EVF. But my memory might delude me.
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#20 JeTexas

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Posted 08 October 2012 - 20:16

They both show the same picture coming from sensor and main processor. So why should there be a difference?

Mike


Most likely the LCD is hardwired to the main processor, and the output from the main processor is engineered to give the most efficient feed to match the resolution of the LCD.

The viewfinder is being fed through a USB port and probably has to have another chip to further convert the output to match the small display if it's a lower resolution than the LCD.




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