The Majority Of EVFs Come In One Of Two Specifications

Let’s start with cameras with optical viewfinders. The photographer see the actual scene the camera is pointed at because the light enters the lens and up to the viewfinder and into eye of the photographer.

The vast majority of cameras with optical viewfinders that look right out through the lens are Single Lens Reflex (SLR) cameras.

SLRs are called ‘reflex’ cameras because:

a) light enters the lens

b) a prism and a mirror send the light up into the viewfinder, and

c) the mirror has to flip up out of the way for a fraction of a second when you take a shot to let light onto the sensor. And then the mirror flips back again.

One way to think of what looking through the viewfinder of an SLR means is to imagine you are looking through a periscope in a submarine. It’s just that the periscope is only a half an inch tall and upside down – with your eye at the viewfinder, which is higher than the lens.

Mirrorless cameras do away with the prism housing, the mirror box, and the mechanism that flips the mirror up and then down again.

With no prism and no mirror, there is nothing to slap up into the housing and bump back down again. So mirrorless cameras are quieter, with less vibration.

With mirrorless cameras the light enters the lens and a tiny digital representation of the scene is shown in the Electronic Viewfinder (EVF).

One of the advantages of an EVF is that you see exactly how the shot is going to come out. If the picture is too dark, change the shutter speed or the aperture and brighten the image in the EVF – and the photo you get when you take the shot will be just as it looked in the EVF.

Some people don’t like electronic viewfinders because they are yet one more barrier between you and the scene.

You win some you lose some.

Not All EVFs Are The Same

In my search for my next camera, I have been weighing up EVFs and comparing them across different brands and different sensor sizes.

Here’s the thing – I have discovered though is that there is a great similarity in EVF specifications across different camera brands.

Generally speaking the EVFs in smaller sensor cameras are smaller than the EVFs in bigger sensor cameras.

But, also – more expensive cameras in a range of models have bigger EVFs.

More specifically, the majority of EVFs come in two sizes, shown by the relationship between these two rectangles. The red edged rectangle represents the size of a typical viewfinder on an APS-C sensor or a low end full frame camera.

The black edged rectangle represents the size of the viewfinder typically found on a full frame sensor or a high end camera with an APS-C sensor..

Look at the EVF specifications on different brands and you will see that all of them more or less fall into one of two specifications.

EVF Specifications

Nikon Z6II (full frame sensor)
1.27-cm/0.5-in. approx. 3690k-dot (Quad VGA) OLED electronic viewfinder with color balance and auto and 11-level manual brightness controls

Canon R6 (full frame sensor)
1.27-cm/0.5-in OLED color EVF, 3.69 Million dots

Fujifilm X-T5 (APS-C frame sensor)
1.27-cm/0.5-in OLED Color Viewfinder, Approx. 3.69 million dots
The Fuji X-T5 is a top of the line APS-C camera – so it has a bigger EVF

Nikon Z50 (APS-C frame sensor)
0.99-cm/0.39-in. approx. 2360k-dot (XGA) OLED electronic viewfinder with color balance and auto and 7-level manual brightness controls

Fujifilm X-S20 (APS-C frame sensor)
0.99-cm/0.39-in with 2.36 million dots of resolution and a 0.62x magnification,

Canon R8 (full frame sensor)
0.99-cm/0.39-in) OLED color EVF, 2.36 Million dots
The Canon R8 is a low end full frame camera, so it has a small EVF.

Other Factors

One thing I haven’t talked about is the refresh rate of the EVF. Because the scene is a digital representation, it has to refresh as the camera moves or things in the scene move. Of course optical viewfinders do the same, but at the speed of light so we don’t detect any lag.

That is not so with EVFs. Poorer quality EVFs can’t keep up as the scene changes. They are described as laggy – meaning that the EVF is playing catch-up all the time as the scene changes.

Another factor that applies to EVFs and OVFs is the layout of the viewfinder. Some have information (shutter speed, aperture, ISO and other info) in the EVF. Some have the info at the top and bottom of the EVF. I find that a pain (that’s the Nikon Zf). Some have super clear letters and numbers at the bottom of the EVF (Canon R6 for example)

Ricoh GR III

So, the Ricoh GR III – why get it? It’s a long story that could not have happened much quicker than it did. Going back far enough and it was a Nikon D40x with a 35mm f1.8 lens. That was about as small as you could go with a DX sensor and a good lens. Put a strap on the camera and carry it over your shoulder, and you have a carry-around camera. 

With hindsight, I would have got the Fuji X-E2 when it came out. Fuji were offering it with a kit lens and an extra lens – 23,mm or 27mm, I forget – and I turned it down because the body was so light I couldn’t believe the camera was any good. And what a strange camera – when you looked at the camera from the front, where was the viewfinder? The X-E2 reminded me of the Carl Zeiss Jena Werra cameras from the 1950s and ’60s – somehow blank and blind because they were just a plain sheet of metal at the front with a viewfinder at one end. The X-E2 went one further; looked at from the front it had no viewfinder box at all.

Of course, that was then – and we have got used to a big change with mirrorless cameras. At the time, I was wedded to being able to see a viewfinder box. And I didn’t want to rely on a digital readout in the viewfinder. The Fuji X100s offered a dual viewfinder, optical and digital at the switch of a lever. The fixed 23mm lens (35mm full-frame equivalent) was just right, not too wide and not too tight. After about four years I started to use the digital viewfinder a bit, and eventually all the time. A lovely camera but not pocketable. The holy grail was something like the X100s but in a package that was so small I could walk out as though I didn’t have a camera with me at all.

I thought the Fuji X-E3 with 27mm pancake lens would be small enough, but it isn’t. And all the time in the back of my mind was the Ricoh. So what held me back? Was it reliable enough? Was 28mm really the focal length I wanted?

I’ve got used to 28mm, and in truth it is more versatile than the tight 40mm on the X-E3. And it is pocketable, but I don’t carry it in a pocket. I waited until SRS did a deal with an extra battery and a leather case with a belt loop. Now I could and can walk out of the house, arms swinging, and have a camera with me that can take photos worth keeping. I mean a little Canon point and shoot will take photos, but would the quality be worth having taken the photo in the first place?

The downside to the GR III is no viewfinder. I could put one in the hotshoe, but then the camera wouldn’t be the little package it is. So how to deal with that problem? I disabled the touch screen and set the focus point in the middle of the screen. That way I can hold the camera out and know that the viewpoint isn’t switching on me and only focusing where I want. It works well enough except in bright sunlight when it is all hit and miss. It does’t help that I wear glasses, and I am still trying to figure out the best distance to hold the camera in front of me.

External Viewfinders

I’ve toyed with the idea of getting an external viewfinder. It won’t get over the problem that I can’t see the readout in the LCD of the rear screen, but it might help me to point the camera in the right general direction. The Compact Shooter has a nice page devoted to external viewfinders. If there was a viewfinder that showed a readout of the shutter speed, aperture, exposure compensation, and ISO – that would tip me over the edge to wanting one. Oh, and it would have to be small. As it is, they are a lot of money for a dubious advantage, particularly when there are versions from Chinese sellers at around £25 – on eBay and Amazon.

Image Quality

Is it any good? Well this is a crop of about one quarter of the full frame. It’s sharp and renders colours in an accurate, neutral way. I have had some very nice shots out of the camera, except in bright sunlight. My experience is that it fails in strong sunlight where it introduces some strange effects. 

For example, I have a photo of a sunflower head in full sun, and the colours and the general look are a bit odd. That may be down to the lack of a lens hood introducing flare (not that I can see any flare) – but it is strange.

I am not going to stick a lens hood on the lens because the only way to do it is to put a big tube around the lens – google and you will see what I mean – and that really defeats the object of a small camera.

I am kind of thinking of a 16mm f2.8 lens for the X-3…

Useful tips using the GR III

These are tips for features you wouldn’t know about unless you were told or came across by accident. The Ricoh seems to be full of them, and I will add to these tips when I find them.

Hold the macro button and spin the front dial to change your snap distance.

A long press on the OK button and then you can move the focus point around when the touch screen
is turned off.

With the camera off, a long press on the playback button with turn the camera on and you can see the photos in playback.

How to delete photos doesn’t exactly jump out, because there is no Trash button.To delete a photo, press the Function button that’s above the D pad, and that will bring up the option to delete a photo or all the photos. If you choose to delete one photo then the next photo will appear and you can press the right hand section of the D pad to advance through the photos

Shooting At Night

Teemu on his blog has a section on shooting at night. He recommends shooting in shutter priority. Because of the low light the camera will automatically choose the largest aperture (f2.8). He also uses auto ISO with the maximum ISO set to 4000. He’s got some nice night photos and it’s worth taking a look at his shots.

Camera Weights

My main focus has been to find out what is lightweight., so this is not a full list of all Nikon, Fuji, and Ricoh camera weights and lens weights.

That said, I have included one heavy camera because I own a Nikon D500, and that weights 860g, I have included it to show where is sits in the continuum of weight. Basically, it weighs the same as two D3500s or three-and-one-third times the weight of a Ricoh GR III, or two-and-a-half times the weight of a Fuji X-E3.

I have also listed lightweight lenses, and camera and lens combos. As you will see, the X-E3 plus a 27mm lens is 30g lighter than an X100s, but the form factor might make the X100s more pleasant to carry because the lens doesn’t stick out as far. If you like to protect your cameras like I do, then putting the X100s in a Fuji leather case is a good option but it bumps the weight up to 605g.

But then, after I bought the X-E3 I realised I was going to have to carry a Billingham case because otherwise I would have to carry the camera slung over my shoulder. And I really do not like carrying a camera without any protection.

That said, if there is one brand that I observe stands up to rough treatment best, it is Nikon cameras. They wear well.

Fuji Cameras

XF10 280g
X-A7 320g

X-T10 381g
X-T20 383g
X-T30 383g
X-T30 II 383g

X-T2 507g
X-T3 539g
X-T4 607g
X-T5 557g

X-E2 350g
X-E3 337g
X-E4 364g

X-S10 465g
X-Pro2 495g
X-Pro3 497g

X100s 445g
X100s in leather case 605g
X100F 469g
X100V 478g

Fuji Lenses

18-55mm 310g
18mm f2 116g
23mm f2 R WR 180g
27mm f2.8 78g
33mm f1.4 310g
35mm f2 R WR 170g
30mm f2.8 R LM WR Macro 195g
50mm f2 R WR 200g

Fuji Camera + Lens

X-T2 + 18-55mm – 817g
X-T20 + 27mm – 461g
X-S10 + 27mn – 543g
X-T10 + 27mm – 459g
X-E3 + 27mm – 415g

Ricoh GR

Ricoh GRIII 257g
Ricoh GRIIIx 262g

Nikon Cameras

D3400 460g
D3500 415g
D5500 470g
D5600 465g
D500 860g
D750 840g
D7500 720g
Z50 450g
Z30 405g

Nikon Lenses

Z 28mm f2.8 SE lens 155g
Z 16-50mm (3.5-6.3) 135g
Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S 630g
F mount 35mm f1.8 200g
F-mount AF-S DX 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II 195g
F-mount AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED. 750g

Nikon Camera + Lens

D3500 + 18-55mm lens 610g
D5600 + 18-55mm lens 660g
D500 + 35mm f1.8 1060g
Z50 + Z 28mm lens 605g
Z50 + Z 16-50mm 585g
Z30 + Z 16-50mm 540g

Fuji Batteries

For Use With Fujifilm X-A1, X-A20, X-A2, X-A5, X-E1, X-E3, X-E2S, X-E2, X-M1, X-H1, X-Pro2, X-Pro2, X-T10, X-T100, X-T2, X-T20, X-T3, X-T30 and X100F

Full Frame Mirrorless Cameras And Lenses

Weights with card and battery

Canon EOS R6 680g
Canon EOS R6 II 670g
Canon EOS R8 461g
Canon RF 50mm f1.8 STM lens 160g
Canon RF 35mm f/1.8 Macro IS STM 300g

Nikon Z5 675g
Nikon Z6 675g
Nikon Z6 II 705g
Nikon Z 50mm f1.8 S lens 415g

Sony A7 III 650g
Sony FE 50mm f1.8 lens 186g

Panasonic Lumix S5 II 740g
Panasonic LUMIX S 50mm f1.8 lens 300g

Camera plus lens combinations

R6 plus 35mm lens is 680 + 300 = 980g
Z6 II plus 50mm lens is 705 + 415g = 1120g
S5 II plus lens is 740 + 300 = 1040g