In the world of photography, there’s a noticeable difference between high-end and low-end SLR/DSLR cameras, and it’s often the viewfinder that sets them apart. Have you ever looked through the roof-like structure at the top of your camera and wondered how it works? That’s the viewfinder, and it’s a crucial component in capturing the perfect shot.
The viewfinder’s primary job is to transmit the image from the lens to your eye, allowing you to preview the image you’re about to capture. There are two types of mechanisms that can be used to accomplish this: the pentaprism and the pentamirror. While they might seem the same to the untrained eye, their construction and performance can make all the difference in your photography experience.
Gone are the days when photographers had to look down to preview the image they wanted to capture. Thanks to the pentamirror and pentaprism viewfinders, the image is now directly projected to the naked eye before it is captured. It’s a game-changing feature that revolutionized the way we capture images.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the differences between the pentaprism and pentamirror viewfinders, as well as the two types of viewfinders found in all cameras: the OVF and EVF. So whether you’re an amateur photographer or a seasoned pro, keep reading to find out how the right viewfinder can take your photography to the next level.
- Pentaprism and pentamirror are viewfinder mechanisms in cameras.
- Pentaprism is a solid block of high-quality glass, while pentamirror is made of plastic mirrors with a hollow space in the middle.
- Pentaprism produces brighter images on the viewfinder than pentamirror due to minimal light loss and special coatings on three of its sides.
- Pentamirror is cheaper to produce than pentaprism, making it more commonly found in entry-level and cheaper cameras.
- Pentaprism and pentamirror are mechanisms used in DSLR cameras for the viewfinder.
- Pentaprism is made of a single solid block of high-quality glass, while pentamirror is made of plastic mirrors with a hollow space in the middle.
- Pentaprism is heavier and costlier to produce than pentamirror, which is why high-end cameras typically use pentaprism and entry-level cameras use pentamirror.
- Mirrorless cameras are becoming more popular due to their smaller size and weight compared to DSLRs.
- Mirrorless cameras don’t have a mirror or pentaprism, and use an electronic viewfinder (EVF) instead of an optical viewfinder (OVF).
- Mirrorless cameras shoot more photos per second at higher shutter speeds, making them ideal for action photography.
- The EVF of mirrorless cameras displays more information, but uses more battery power than an OVF.
What does a pentaprism do?
Pentaprism is more like a prism, constructed as a single solid block of high quality glass. Pentamirror is of similar shape and size, made by the accumulation of plastic mirrors, with a hollow space in the middle, where air can enter.
If you remove a pentaprism from the camera, you will see that 3 of the 5 sides are coated from outside in black with a special compound so that it doesn’t reflect and retains light. The light from the lens enters from one uncoated side and exits from the other uncoated side onto to the viewfinder. These two sides are also known as the air/glass interface. This mechanism keeps light loss to minimum and produces brighter images on the viewfinder than the pentamirror.
As the pentaprism is made entirely out of glass, it is heavier than pentamirror. It also costs more to produce pentaprism, the reason why cameras installed with pentaprism are costlier than those installed with pentamirror. And it is also found that only high end DSLR cameras have pentaprism, while entry level cameras and cheaper ones are installed with pentamirrors.
What is Pentamirror Viewfinder?
The pentamirror also works similarly. But, the fact that it is not a block of solid glass and is made from separate mirrors causes a bit more light loss than compared to a pentaprism. This is basically because there is air in the middle instead of glass. So, each mirror of the pentamirror has an air/glass interface.
Because of this light loss, images viewed through a pentamirror mechanism would appear darker, making focusing difficult in low light. And even the quality and design is such that, the dust and air entering it can degrade it through time.
Camera installed with Pentamirror usually costs lesser than the pentaprisms.
With the exception of their design and weight, there is not much difference between the pentaprism and pentamirror. Both the mechanism does not affect the quality of the final image. Because the moment you press the shutter release, the viewfinder will go dark for some seconds. At that moment, neither the pentaprism nor the pentamirror is in use, than pentaprism is worth the take.
It would not be fair to rule in favor of any one mechanism, simply based on the cost factor. Although there are some brands like Pentax, that provide pentaprism in almost all of its cameras.
So if you are looking for a more durable and high quality viewfinder and are planning to use manual focus more, then pentaprism would be an ideal choice, especially for shooting in dim conditions. But if your aim is to just own a camera and occasionally capture moments, pentamirror would be pretty good considering it won’t blow a hole through your pocket.
Are mirrorless cameras better?
Mirror-less cameras have become the best seller in the recent market. It has the same built up as the SLR/DSLR Cameras. The most basic difference between a DSLR camera and a mirror-less camera is that the DSLR constitutes of a mirror behind the lens which reflects the light from the lens into the viewfinders. This mirror flips upwards when the shutter is released, so that the light passes from the lens, directly onto the sensor hence capturing the image. On the other hand, the mirror-less camera, does not include a mirror behind the lens. The light directly reflects on the image sensor.
Because of the absence of this mirror and the pentaprism/pentamirror viewfinder, the mirror-less cameras are less bulky. It uses the EVF viewfinder.
There are 2 types of mirror-less, pocket cams like cyber-shot and MILC- mirror-less interchangeable lens camera, where you can attach a lens just like a DSLR camera.
There are some other differences too between the dSLR and mirror-less cameras, which can make it easy for you to select the best.
Size and weight
Body is smaller and thinner than a DSLR, making it easy to carry around. But there are some mirror-less camera that share the same built as the DSLR cameras.
Because there is no mirror flipping upwards while releasing the shutter, mirrorless cameras can shoot more photos per second, at higher shutter speeds.
Display of information on the viewfinder
The EVF of the mirror-less camera is also quite impressive. It displays any information you want from histograms to live-exposure data, Unlike the OVF installed in the DSLR, which just frames. As it uses an EVF, the LCD uses the battery faster compared to the DSLR. So, mirror-less cameras might have batteries that drain faster.
The major difference is that of auto-focus. Recent mirror-less cameras have hybrid autofocus, which utilizes both phase and contrast autofocus. This makes it more suited for video. It also has in-body stabilization.
That said, most photographers still rely heavily on what their eyes can see before they capture the image. So they are in favor of the DSLR camera. But many are converting to mirror-less because of its advantages. Also mirror-less cameras are not that expensive compared to a DSLR.
Future innovation will give us the decisive winner. But until then these are some of the factors based on which you could decide which is best for you.
Mirrorless cameras are usually lighter, more compact, faster and better for video; but it has fewer options when it comes to lens and accessories. DSLRs, offers a wide range of lenses and better optical viewfinders. Due to this, mirror-less cameras are a better choice if you are a beginner or a videographer. But the choice becomes difficult if your focus is capturing still images, with occasional filming.
- Superb DSLM image quality without the bulk and weight of traditional DSLRs
- Never miss a photo with three unique 4K ultra HD video pause and save 4K photo modes
- Fast and precise auto focusing tracks the subject; Focus mode AFS (single) / AFF (flexible) / AFC (continuous) / MF, AF mode face/eye detection / tracking / 49 area / custom Multi / 1 area / pinpoint
- Class leading, ultra compact, interchangeable lens and accessory option; HDMI: MicroHDMI TypeD / VIERA Link,video: Auto / 4K / 1080p / 1080i / 720p / 480p, Audio: Stereo
- Unwire your creativity with integrated Wi Fi sharing
- Fine Detail Performance: 16 megapixel Micro Four Thirds sensor with no low pass filter resulting in a near 10 percent boost in fine detail resolving power over existing 16 megapixel Micro Four Thirds sensors
- Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera Kit: With 2 super compact lenses 12 32mm F3.5 5.6 and 45150mm F4.0 5.6, shoot lighter and faster with the modern hybrid photography performance of a mirrorless camera and nearly half the bulk of most DSLRs
- Class Leading Dual Image Stabilization: In body 5 axis dual image stabilization works in both photo and motion picture recording—including 4K video—to produce clear handheld shots even in low light conditions. Battery AC Adaptor (Input 110 - 240V AC) (Included, connect with USB cable). Battery life (CIPA standard) Approx. 290 images (rear monitor), 270 images (LVF) with H FS12032
- Live Viewfinder and Tilting LCD Display: Integrated eye level electronic viewfinder (2764K dots) and rear touch enabled 3 inch LCD display (1040K dots) provides 80 degrees of up tilt and 45 degrees of down tilt to maximize viewing. Recording media-(Compatible with UHS-I UHS Speed Class 3 standard SDHC / SDXC Memory Cards). Direct Print-Pict Bridge compatible
- 4K VIDEO CAPTURE: 4K QFHD video recording (3840 x 2160), plus exclusive Lumix 4K photo and 4K post focus allows you to record photos up to 30fps and set your desired focus points after the photo has been taken. Minimum Aperture: F22
- Focus on Your Creativity: Perfect for photographers who are ready to excel, the LUMIX G95M has a superb, powerful 20.3 MP Digital Live MOS sensor and advanced technologies for both photo and video
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- Features for Maximum Expression: Live View Composite mode lets you compose a single image out of many; adjust focus after shooting; develop, and retouch inside this photography camera
- High Sound Quality: External microphone/headphone jacks let you record and monitor sound using external equipment
In conclusion, understanding the differences between the pentaprism and pentamirror viewfinders can make a huge difference in your photography experience. The viewfinder is an essential component of your camera, and choosing the right one can take your photography to the next level.
With the introduction of pentamirror and pentaprism viewfinders, photographers no longer have to look down to preview the image they want to capture. Instead, the image is now directly projected to the naked eye before it is captured.
This game-changing feature revolutionised the way we capture images and paved the way for even more innovations in the world of photography.
Whether you’re an amateur photographer or a seasoned pro, understanding the differences between OVF and EVF and choosing the right viewfinder for your camera can make all the difference in your photography. So take the time to research and choose wisely, and let your creativity soar!