10 ways Live View trumps your viewfinder

10 ways in which Live View trumps your viewfinder

As technologies go, Live View is not complicated to understand. Flick a switch and the normal eyelevel viewfinder goes dark, and the image is instead displayed on the back of your digital camera.

Rather than using an optical system using mirrors and prisms, Live View gives you a big-screen view using a live video feed, and takes advantage of the high-quality TFT LCD on the back of the camera that you already use to scrutinise pictures after you have taken them. It is a way of framing your pictures that compact camera and mobile phone users have long taken for granted.

Many of us know generally what Live View does, but many of us pine for a viewfinder. Below we’ve rounded up 10 specific instances in which using Live View will help your photography more so than your viewfinder.

We’re sure some will disagree with these points, and you may have your own reasons to add to this list. If so, let us know in the comments!

10 ways in which Live View trumps your viewfinder

  1. Switch to Live View when using manual focus for more accuracy (for more on this, check out Manual Focus: what you need to know to get sharp images); this is ideal for shots with limited depth of field (like macro).
  2. Forget crooked horizons, switch on the grid display to ensure scenes do not end up slanted. Live View is also great for positioning grad filters precisely.
  3. Try Live View’s Face Detection AF Live mode when shooting kids – it will follow them around the frame for you, so you don’t need to keep refocusing.
  4. Live View is very handy with still-life subjects. You get a 100% view, so you can make maximum use of your pixels.
  5. The big screen is also great when shooting things with your SLR on the ground, or with it above your head – as you can still just about see the LCD.
  6. ND filters are great for getting slow-shutter speed shots even in daylight – but the strongest are so dark, you can’t see the subject in the viewfinder (download our cheat sheet on how to use a viewfinder). Switch to Live View, so you can see what you are doing.
  7. Try using manual white balance to give your pictures a creative, toned look. Use Live View, and you can quickly scroll through the options available and see immediately which gives the colour you are after. Use the Q button, if your camera has one.
  8. Seeing low-light scenes clearly using the normal viewfinder can be difficult – brighten it up Live View!
  9. Want to see how much of your shot is in focus at the aperture you are using? Just press the Depth of Field button by the lens whilst in Live View. To make absolutely sure key parts are sharp, press the magnifier key, and scroll around the enlarged image (check out our in-depth guide to everything you need to know about using depth of field).
  10. Want to eliminate the vibrations caused by the mirror flying up as you take a picture? Switch to Live View (and use Silent Mode 1, if your camera has it). Also use a remote cable release!


What is Live View telling you?
What is Color Temperature: free photography cheat sheet
The essential A-Z of photography slang terms
Common mistakes at every shutter speed (and the best settings to use)