DxO PhotoLab and camera viewfinders

Until this morning, I would never have been starting this thread. To my way of thinking, on cameras based on the 35mm format, there were really two types of cameras, rangefinder cameras, and SLR/DSLR cameras. There are so many things that are greatly influenced by this choice - composition, metering, finding the best exposure for an image to be processed by PhotoLab, and more. Then there is the consideration that PhotoLab “knows” enough about these cameras, and presumably many lenses used on them to help the user create the best image.

Until this morning, I ignored “digital” viewfinders, thinking that any serious camera would have an optical viewfinder, and the optical viewfinder is the only/best way for the photographer’s eye to work with the camera. Then I found this video from KEH Cameras:


It’s not a commercial “sales” video, it is two people comparing the advantages and disadvantages between optical (Nikon D850) and a current Nikon Z camera (about to be updated by a Z9).

All of a sudden I’m not sure what I want to look forward to for the future. Several people here, Joanna in particular, are showing me the best way to use a Nikon DSLR with PL4, and helping me get the best out of my Leica rangefinder camera.

My question, mostly for Joanna, is how this transformation to “Mirrorless” may or may not result in a change in how we use PhotoLab.

(If I did want to buy a more powerful Nikon, one of the first things I need to do is evaluate how a DSLR or a Mirrorless will be my best choice. They said digital would never get as good as film, but that has happened. From this video, it seems that Mirrorless has now passed the DSLR in so many ways.)

(…and I might be wrong in thinking that my eyes see better with an Optical viewfinder than a Digital viewfinder. Leica’s tools for their Visoflex viewfinder for a Leica M10 make it easier to focus manual-focus lenses on my Leica, than on my optical viewfinder Nikon DSLR with manual focus lenses. Nikon’s auto-focus lenses make up for that, when I’m using one of them. Having a digital viewfinder is what allows my Visoflex to do this, enlarging an image while I’m focusing, and highlighting edges in red when the focus is correct.)

Photography has evolved from shining light on bitumen to highly poisonous processes to digital. And we still take pictures.

Most pictures shot today are taken with mirrorless cameras (mobile phones) and PhotoLab is fairly indifferent to where those files come from…as long as DxO supports the files.

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A photography group I am active in online has had this discussion about Optical Viewfinders (OVF) versus Electronic Viewfinders (EVF) several times over the last few years. I am personally in the camp that until I basically cannot tell the difference, I am not interested in an EVF camera.

One of the most obvious benefits to an EVF is it means the camera “smarts” have continuous access to the scene in front of the lens and so can apply much more complicated algorithms to do things like interpreting a scene with a high degree of complexity and making decisions on camera parameters to suit.

Someone in the ‘other’ camp who reckons EVFs are pretty much there gave an example camera for which he stated the specs and they pretty much met the benchmark I had arbitrarily set for “when I would get interested”. The EVF in question had a high refresh rate (though that’s not the whole equation in terms of lag), and a very high pixel density. Then I looked up said camera and discovered it cost over $10,000! So yes, they’re coming, but they are a number of years off yet!

For me the value of an OVF (or an EVF where I cannot tell) is that I do not look at “a scene in a viewfinder” but rather I look at my subject. This does mean I sometimes don’t get a composition I imagined, but it does also mean that I can track a moving target very well.

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It was a very interesting video, which, to my mind, ended up asking more questions than it answered.

It seems that mirrorless is better for some subjects but definitely worse for others. Things like eye-tracking auto-focus sound great and maybe useful in a studio setting but, as they found, it’s pretty much useless when you can’t clearly see an eye in shot.

I found it interesting that tracking moving subjects with the Z7 is virtually impossible because, if the camera loses focus, the EVF shows you the out-of-focus instead of allowing you to keep on seeing and tracking the subject with your eye, as in the DSLR.

The EVF could definitely come in useful for being able to see through an ND filter but, since most of the time I would set everything up without any ND filter in place, then simply clip on the Lee holder with filter, I wouldn’t count that as an advantage. As for ND grad filters, that do have to be on the lens to position the grad, you still have to measure and calculate the exposure without any camera “smarts” because it can’t know whether you want too expose for the clear of filters portion of the image.

All in all, I am still not persuaded that mirrorless suits my style of photography but, apparently, it’s great for video, which I have only ever done on about three occasions.

By the way, I love how Chelsea threw in that line about simply swapping from Nikon to Canon - without any reference to having to replace all her lenses :roll_eyes:

I don’t believe it affects how you would use PhotoLab. After all, a RAW image is a RAW image, no matter what camera it comes from.

And yet mirrorless still lags significantly behind DSLRs in many ways, especially, it would appear, when it comes to photographing anything that moves, with significant re-focusing lag.

Do you remember the good old days before auto-focus when you learnt how to track a moving subject manually?

But that involves using an external accessory, whereas there are several DSLRs that allow you to do just the same in Live View. And then there’s the part of the video where they discover that the Z7 AF can’t even ignore something in the foreground, although I suspect that is because they left it in multi-point focus mode, unless the Z7 can’t do non-dynamic auto-focusing.

From things that you have written and from looking at some of the stuff you have referenced, I, personally, wouldn’t even contemplate a Leica which, for the price, can’t even cope with spot metering without a lot of fiddling and faffing. As you can tell from my posts on HDR photos, spot metering can be essential to well exposed images and if all that Leica can offer is “we only offer centre-weighted, get used to it”, then for the money they are asking, even if I could afford one, they have lost my custom. My D810 can do spot metering with a simple press of a button and a single click of the thumbwheel. it can also do zoom focusing in live view.


I try not to be too much of a rabid addict of technology but it’s distressing to see peoples’ perceptions influenced by slightly out-of-date information where they might miss something they might like if they actually tried it.

I don’t think focus lag is a significant problem any longer with the latest systems, especially for “ordinary” photography and even for most commercial photography; in a static setting like a studio it’s a total nonissue. Electronic focusing/tracking is not yet a mature technology but it is improving every year. Since electrons do have an ultimate speed limit electronic viewfinders will NEVER match the perfect smoothness of an optical viewfinder, but the lag has gotten so small nowadays that in the best camera systems it’s very often impossible to even see the difference. Of course, this is subjective and as the slippery weasel American marketing phrase goes: your mileage may vary. :slight_smile:

Modern DSLR focus tracking systems in the Nikon D850 etc. have a stellar reputation for tracking accuracy but they have been surpassed; this is illustrated by the fact that more and more photographers shooting sports like football and car races are switching to mirrorless and these are the guys that make their living making the shots that the news media want to see. I’m not a bird photographer so I can’t say anything about that except that there are lots of flying bird photos on various sites taken by mirrorless cameras. And on and on.

I still marvel at how my Canon R5 (and the Sony before it) can nail the focus of a moving subject and keep it solidly on the eye whether it’s a running dog or a person with no problem whatsoever. If the focus is more general than an eye, say, you’re just following a whole person, or animal, or car, etc. it’s no problem at all; the camera will effortlessly follow the subject accurately and smoothly.

Try it, you may like it.

The question is will you be able to buy a DSLR in 10 years time :slight_smile:
End of DSLR

This type of control has little to do with “the camera” and a LOT to do with “the computer”. Eventually the computer will be able to emulate what your eye does, tracking, focusing, and more. Even today, the Z9 is close to being released, and the known “limitations” might be resolved, and in a month or two we will be talking about new limitations. Personally, I think most of this will be possible with software updates, but who knows.

There used to be view cameras, range-finder cameras, 2 1/4" reflex cameras (like Rollei), SLR, DSLR, and now Mirrorless. Several of these (including range-finder) are incompatible with modern metering - there’s nothing inside the camera to “meter”. The very latest Leica M-A is a film Leica, with no metering at all, and no battery - and is on back-order so when I thought about buying one, I couldn’t.

I am sure you would be just fine metering your way with any camera just as you do now with your LF camera. There are many other reasons to buy a Leica though - size, weight, noise, image quality… As for me, I’m obviously getting lazy, letting the camera measure all this stuff. When I got into photography I had to set exposure meaning appropriate aperture, shutter speed, focus, and either ASA or ISO.

Again, as for me, I enjoy using my Leica more than my other cameras, and at one point, Japanese companies manufactured camera bodies that accepted Leica M-Mount lenses, and had more sophisticated metering. I thought about buying one, but the size is reduced, meaning the rangefinder spacing is shorter. They’re all discontinued now, but still sell for very high prices.

Another choice is the Fuji cameras that let the user switch back and forth between Optical and Digital - if PL5 supports the X-Trans Sensor, I’ll be able to do all the modern stuff with a digital viewfinder, and with the flip of a lever, see with an optical viewfinder. My Fuji looks and works and feels like it’s a reduced size Leica. The thing it lacks, is the rangefinder which I’m more open to than many (most?) Leica users.

I’m trying hard to do both - my main concern is “the scene” and if there is a “subject” I try to only take the shot at the “perfect moment”. Sometimes I do it your way, figuring I can crop later. Usually though, I first set up the scene, and then track the subject moving around within the scene.

As of today, I know, but is bound to improve just as digital itself improved - perhaps with the Z9. I ought to go through what’s known so far about the Z9, but I’m afraid that if I get too interested, I might end up buying one - and the new lenses. Buying new lenses is a benefit though, as the new lens mount allows the new lenses to be smaller and lighter. It’s risky, but I’ll see what I can find out. I’m pretty sure the “tracking” will be greatly improved, but knowing “what to track” might be a bigger issue - how to tell the camera to stop tracking one person and switch to another.

(If Nikon has found a way to make the digital view appear just as life-like as the optical view, to the point where I can’t tell them apart, that would be a big “plus” for me.)

Nikon recently stopped production on their last SLR film camera, the F6. It was an ancient design, but I think it was available until sometime early this year.

I expect Nikon and Canon will stop producing new DSLR designs, and continue to sell the ones they already make as long as there is a market. Will there ever be a new D790 or D890 or ?? Will anyone want one?

Someone investing in new gear might as well invest in mirrorless and keep the old gear because it will be hip again in nn years. Film starts to come back slowly, like Vinyl has re-emerged a few years ago.

Each kind of technology offers benefits and limitations. We’ve adapted ourselves to current tech’s limitations and are now afraid that new tech might have limitations too?


I find this statement interesting. With a DSLR you are looking through the lens which, if it is not focused correctly, gives a blurry view. I don’t see how this differs between OVF and EVF cameras. I can see it is different if you have to hold the camera away from you and look at a screen on the back, because with any VF technology you can keep your other eye free and trained on the subject outside of the camera system.

I’ve stopped reading any article which has a question mark on the headline. It’s all guesswork, sometimes educated, sometimes not, often heavily based on one person’s perception, and if history has taught us anything it’s that predicting the trajectory of any technology is little more accurate than soothsaying.


All “tech” always had, and always will have, limitations. I guess that is part of progress. Just look at ships, over the decades or centuries.

My opinion - what’s important is what it can do “now”, and for some people “old tech” is preferable to “new tech”. How long has it been since any of us picked up a pen, paper, an envelope, and a stamp, and wrote a personal letter? :slight_smile:

Live view as in you see the oocjpeg before it’s taken is i think the most siginificant plus for EVF. Second the embedded information. ( I don’t know if OVF has a digitial overlay)
Negative is blackout when shutter is bursting and memory is written for few seconds.
OVF is only “blacked” when mirror is flipped.
OVF (cheap) rangefinders has no lens look through but a seperate aiming “hole” and thus not 100% inline with the sensors framing.

The EVF resolution and post image LCD look back resolution are key in being happy with EVF.
Al this has no influence for DxOPL only in personal preference.
Every body which has OVF through lens needs extra space, Sony had a mirror which don need to fold back but any other has delicate flipping systems that needs space.
Heavier, bigger, needs more care, uses less battery!!! Make’s lots of noise even in ELectronic shutter modes, mirror kloink! Kloink!. So birds and animals don’t like that.

I just bought a camera that i liked and EFV or OVF was low on my decisionlist.
Resolution and viewsize yes important but EVF or OVF? Neehh.

There are advantages and disadvantages to any of these systems. That the viewfinder didn’t show the exact image that was about to be captured was the best way to create a "smaller"camera that used readily available 35mm film.

You are getting at something that prompted me to create this post.

We pretty much live in an analog world, but our new computers are transferring everything into a digital format, for use in a “digital world”. My question is “when is it the best time to do that?” Should we see the image we want to capture with our own eyes (optical viewfinder) or should we see the image that is about to be recorded (digital viewfinder)?

The end result of all this is PhotoLab, where the data will be processed. It doesn’t matter which device was used to capture the image - unless we are going to use a darkroom for printing, the image needs to be digitized. Shouldn’t this be the first thing a camera does?

All the things Joanna wants me to get right, such as clipping, are difficult to do precisely in an analog world, but in a digital world they are “trivial” (well, not really trivial, but anything is possible when a digital image is digitized, including “clipping” for each channel individually. Then there’s “What you see is what you get”, which may not be even close to true with an average person using an analog camera with optical viewfinder. The photographer might see a perfect image, only to get a solid black or clear result because the settings were wrong.

Agreed completely. A highly experienced photographer such as Joanna will almost always get a perfect image anyway, but I’ve already proved I might not.

Yes, that is a huge benefit especially for "average"people.

This I disagree with. If “all this” results in a better image being imported into DxO PhotoLab, it’s likely that less correction will be needed, as it was done to the digital image before being imported.

Correct, and Leica reflects light off the shutter curtain, which is then measured. None of this is needed once the image is digital, and can be fully analyzed.

I think you meant heavier, bigger, and needs more battery, but I guess this depends on the efficiency of the computer and circuitry. The batter won’t need to operate the mirror any more, which as you said, results in a much quieter camera.

I’ve got to add a personal note here. I was convinced I didn’t want or need a mirrorless camera. What I think now is that IF the image as seen by the photographer’s eye looks just like an optical image, I’m gradually starting to think that mirrorless is the way to go, or soon will be.

(…and at the risk of making the camera FAR more complicated, maybe it could be plugged into a computer, and Joanna could pre-set all the variables to capture images just as she wants to, and store that user-profile for future use in the camera.)

Battery use is a big one I hadn’t thought of. My DSLR has a screen on the back and can do ‘Live View’ which is effectively like all mirrorless do. But I use it sparingly because:

  • It can sometimes be hard to see the screen (not a problem with true EVF).
  • It kills the battery super fast!

If for some reason I wanted to drain a battery as quickly as possible, I would record a video while wifi is turned on. Constant writing to the SD card, constant updating of the screen, and keeping wifi powered up would knock out the battery in very little time. Versus the 600 frames I can get in normal use.

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As has been stated many times on this thread, we all have different priorities, and experience.

For me, a mirrorless camera has to come a long, long way yet before I will consider giving up my 35 year old camera that has only had 6 different bodies and about a dozen different lenses.

Nope, less.
1 i have my EVF camera always off wlie walking and the turn on time is the punnishment for saving battery.
2 in stand by , on when pointed, it drains the battery less then by full active EVF al the time.
3 active then it needs to power screen EVF on, floating sensorbay, IBIS, IOS active. And if LCD is open every time i haven’t my eye on the EVF: LCD on.

A OVF camera, keeping camera on and LCD off can run for day’s.
No IBIS, no power consumption by looking through OFV.
Only flipping mirror and the cpu is draining the battery.
Turning on the LCD yes then the consumption is equal or nearly equal.

Sorry, no.
That’s you who gets the bennefits not DxOPL…

In the feature camera’s in DSLR shape will be hobby enthousiast only.
And maybe the filmische kloink will be a feature those people want.Same as Optical Viewers.
Technical mirrorless is much easier to produce.
And 4K EVF and LCD seems great and easy to be produce but how much detail can you see in such small screens?
I need glasses to watch my taken images on the back LCD so i don’t often… :wink:(saves battery too.)

Totally agreed when it comes to photographic tech as long as I can work hybrid and not have to wet print :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: As to handwriting, mine is so dreadful, over forty years ago I attended a summer school of theology and took copious notes, only to find a week later, I couldn’t even read most of them :open_mouth: :joy:

But you can if you stop playing around with a camera that is not suited to the subject you are photographing or using a camera to which you have an emotional attachment. If you are going to use such a camera, you have to accept that the images are never going to be as good technically, but the results can still be pleasing because of their “faults” - think of those photographers who use high ISO film because they want the golf-ball like grain.

I could simply not live with a digital camera, for the work that I do, that is so limited in how it measures light. I would have to carry my separate spot meter, just in case I needed an accurate reading. On the other hand, I have a lot of confidence in the metering on my Mamiya 7 II, but I have no intention of using it for colour work as I’m not sure how it would cope with the 4-5 stops range I would have to work with.

Nikon has four custom settings banks but, since I almost always use the same settings anyway, I’ve never used them in all the time I have had my D100, D200 and D810.

The most complicated I ever get is using TrueDoF-Pro on my iPhone to calculate depth of field, hyperfocal distance and diffraction limits. Not necessary for LF work - there I simply bend the camera :wink:

Well, when/if I decide to fully follow your advice, I will consider signing up for one of these:

Or, buy the New Leica M11 which won’t be “as good”, but with 55 megapixels and all the other improvements, will be better than my 2017 Leica.

Maybe ideas…

Honestly though I stopped using those gigantic Nikon cameras maybe five or six years ago, and I don’t feel like getting back onto that merry-go-round again.

That reflection photo I posted last night - how much better would it have been had I (not you) taken it with the very latest Nikon?

Just to remind you – this is what @Joanna said

And you even put it on your ‘to do list’

  • Consider using a tripod, which would allow me to use a nicer ISO speed.

Should you want (remember want, not need) a cam with an even better Dynamic Range, you may have a look for the Nikon Z 6 II – or start with what you already have.

BTW, nobody is ‘taking’ your beloved M-Leica from you, but like @Joanna said

Mike, I think you’re going to have to keep the two and choose the most appropriate for the subject are shooting :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: :smiley:

In the small chance that I buy a new Nikon, the logical choice is the Z9, but it’s too big, too heavy, too complicated, and not what I want to carry around with me. Yep, I could get better specs from my D750, but I’m at my brother’s home on holiday, and I only brought one camera kit.

Regarding specs, my Mazda MX-5 could probably struggle to get up to 120 mph, but were I to get a Corvette, I could get maybe 200 mph? Wouldn’t be of any use to me though, as all I need is much less.

What I ought to do I guess is take the same photo with my Leica M10, and my Nikon D750, and see if there is any noticeable difference between them. Lenses will be the Nikon 50mm f/2, and the Voigtlander 50mm f/2.

Remember, I’m not making large prints, just full-size jpg images that anyone can view.

I rarely know what I’ll be shooting ahead of time. Sometimes, yes, but most of the time things just “happen”.

For me, it’s usually “which camera is good enough, and most convenient for where I’m going”.

It’s also true for me that I should pick one camera and stick with it, as otherwise my mind gets all confusabobbled about which settings to use, and how.

Also, to me, photography is about much more than the technical specs. The best photographers in years past hand ‘antique equipment’, no electronics, an everything came down to the photographer’s capability, not the camera’s. To me that’s as true today as it was back then. Anyone can take a technically perfect image nowadays, just letting the camera’s computer do all the work, but it will still be a “snapshot”. Joanna’s photos are stunningly beautiful NOT because of the technical stuff, but because of Joanna.

(If I were to buy a Z9 tomorrow, I doubt my photos would be much different from what I can do today.)

This. So much this.

It is a very rare time when I go out with my camera with a very specific scene in mind. It is a rare time I am out with my camera and a scene presents itself to me and I will spend the time to consider all aspects and more time to set up the shot. Which is not to say I couldn’t sometimes spend more time on preparation in those cases. It is quite normal for me to take my camera with me because “something might present itself” yet I may end up with no pictures at all. It is very common for me to whip my camera out and be very lucky to catch something I wasn’t expecting.

For these reasons, I usually am at pains to leave my camera set up for the general context I am in (mostly choice of lens and focus mode), and I very rarely use a tripod.

90%+ of my shooting is single-focus or (or continuous-focus for birds), ISO 100-6400, f/8, and be there. I mostly stick to two lenses (55-300 or 18-135) with occasional forays on a 90mm or 50mm prime.