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LCD Screens

Most compact digital cameras have two means of viewing the scene. An optical direct vision view finder and an LCD screen. The direct vision finder is great for both very low light conditions and very bright conditions where the sun is shinning onto the screen -the viewing image is bright and clear - but this system can suffer from parallax error when used for close up work.

The LCD screen allows you to see what is projecting back to the ccd where the image is recorded- it can also be used to review any image stored on the memory card. Most cameras have a feature that brings the image up on the screen for a few seconds directly after it has been taken.




While SLR style digital cameras have an LCD screen at the back it is used to review the image not as a viewfinder. With SLR cameras the main form of viewing the image is through a viewfinder that look through the taking lens. However some models do allow for the image to be viewed on the screen before the image is taken.

Comparative size of LCD screens



Some camweras have a fixed screen - others have an articulated Vari-angle LCD screen, allowing shots from all angles. The resolution of screens can also vary - some have a special non reflective, waterproof coating which also minimises fingerprints .

How we maximise the LCD screen

The LCD screen allows us to review the image after we have taken it, and this allows us to look critically at a number of factors. If we are shooting moving subjects we may not have time to check all these aspects but if we have the time and want to capture an optimum image we can use the LCD review image to check the following.

Live View

With many camera we can use "Live View" where we see the scene in the LCD screen when we compose the image. While "Live View" works well for darker situations it  is more difficult to see the image in very bright conditions and it is also much more demanding on the battery.

check the image design. Bring the image up and enlarge it check for any distracting details  - move the image around to check for any edge details you don't want.  
check the light and shadow, contrast etc. on the essential elements of the image  

enlarge the image up on a key aspect of the subject and check for sharpness

check the exposure, the LCD image is a guide to the exposure, but be aware that the brightness of  image on the screen can appear differently in different light levels - for instance in very bright sunny conditions it can be difficult to view the image, in a dark room at night it appears brighter with the colours more vivid. Usually what you see on the LCD screen on the back of the camera is a jpg which  has the info compressed and settings applied from the camera software that it “feels” will be good for the shot.  However a more accurate way of checking the exposure is the histogram.


In the review of the image on the right we see that the density of the image looks good -


however when we look at the histogram we see that the tonal levels are orientated to the left with on tone recorded on the right - I have added a tonal graphic and the red bars to indicate this.
In this review image where the exposure has been increased, image looks too light

But when we examine the histogram we see tonal information in each of the sections. Remember that there is much more tonal information in the light areas than the darker areas - so it gives us more post prodcution information and options to work with in the raw file converter or photoshop when we push the graph to the right.




Mouse over to view the difference

Some cameras have a rotating LCD screen - this allows you to hold the camera above your head to gain a greater height and you can angle it down so you can see to align the scene.

Want to learn more? - do a workshop or one on one with Lloyd Godman