Live View is an alternative to using the optical viewfinder. It is especially useful when shooting something from an awkward angle. Check your manual to see how to enable Live View on your camera.
With Live View, the image on the screen comes from the sensor and it resembles the final photograph more closely than the image you would see through the optical viewfinder.
While in Live View, any changes that you make to the exposure, white balance, aperture or ISO will be instantly reflected on the LCD screen. This gives you a very accurate representation of what your final image will look like.
When to use Live View
- Use Live View to shoot still life photographs. For these shots, you have the time to mount your camera on a tripod and use the feature to carefully compose your image.
- Live View is the only choice when shooting movies. The camera automatically engages this feature, displaying your image on the screen and blocking the viewfinder from use.
- Live View is great for shooting from awkward angles. Either high up, low down or from any other position where it would be impossible or difficult to see the scene through the optical viewfinder. Your camera may even have a variable angle LCD screen to help with this.
It is great for making precise compositions. There are options to display extra helpful information on the LCD screen. You can enable a grid to help you compose a photograph using the rule of thirds for better compositions.
You can also use Live View to check your exposure. Unlike the viewfinder, Live View will adjust the brightness and darkness of the scene to reflect the exposure settings you choose.
In Live View, you can zoom in to ensure you get precise focus on a particular part of the scene you are shooting. It can be difficult to see anything through the viewfinder when it starts to get dark, so switching to Live View is a handy way of seeing at these times.
When not to use Live View
- If shooting by hand, it’s usually best to use the optical viewfinder. It’s much harder to keep the camera steady when holding it right out in front of you and using Live View.
- When shooting portraits, you’ll have much more control if you use the viewfinder. This enables you to react quickly to your subject.
- Live View is not suitable when shooting action. So for sports photography, kids or anytime, there is significant movement, stick to using the optical viewfinder.
Avoid using Live View when your camera battery is low. It will drain your it much quicker than when using the viewfinder. If you do plan on using it extensively on a shoot, then make sure you have a spare battery.
You also need to be aware that Autofocus in Live View may be considerably slower when compared to shooting through the viewfinder.
I used Live View to shoot the photo above. It is near Oughterard in County Galway. The camera was on a tripod and low down, close to the water. It was impossible to see through the optical viewfinder to compose this shot so Live View proved invaluable.
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