February 24, 2012

MicroOLED Screen Promises Massive 1280x1024 Resolution for the Next Generation of EVFs

Electronic Viewfinders have slowly been replacing traditional viewfinders for the past few years, but last year's NAB saw an explosion in cameras with all-digital viewfinders - as well as standalone EVF products. Sony has been in the lead for the quality of the EVF on their cameras, specifically the NEX-7, A77, and A65. Panasonic is just behind with their GH2. But all of the EVFs on these cameras pale in comparison to MicroOLED's technology.

Here are a few key specifications from their press release:

  • 1,280 x 1,024 resolution
  • Low power draw of 0.2 watts
  • 0.61 inch diagonal screen size
  • Contrast ratio of 100,000:1 (whether this is dynamic or static - not sure)

Now, of course, you might be saying that RED and Arri and these other high-end camera manufacturers have fantastic EVFs, but while those might be good, they sure aren't affordable. That's the hope with products like MicroOLED's screen - that they will eventually be mass-produced and find their way into all of our photographic devices.

But based on it's resolution of 1,280 x 1,024, it's quite a bit sharper than Sony's 1,024 x 768 screen found in its digital cameras. It's clear that EVFs are the future, but companies like Nikon and Canon are still holding on for dear life with their optical viewfinders. Why is that? Tradition is probably the biggest reason. The quality of EVFs have finally started surpassing the equivalent optical viewfinder - and for us video people - the mirrors get in the way on our DSLRs!

I don't deny that there are valid reasons for cameras like the Arri Alexa Studio and Sony's F65/RS to have the option of a physical shutter or optical viewfinder (fixing rolling shutter problems mainly), but sensors are getting faster, and plenty of digital motion pictures have been shot without a mechanical shutter and viewfinder.

This technology is making shooting easier and more accurate - so let's hope Nikon and Canon get the memo when they release their next generation of cameras 3-4 years from now. EVFs aren't going anywhere, and for video, they are a necessity. Hopefully, companies like MicroOLED will make the big guys reconsider why they are still putting mirrors in their cameras.

So what do you prefer for shooting stills, EVF or mirror, and if Nikon or Canon released a high-end EVF "SLR" tomorrow, would you buy it?

Link: (MicroOLED) The Optical Viewfinder's Days Are Numbered - Imaging Resource

[via NextWaveDV]

Your Comment


I have used DSLR camera's for over 20 years now, but I think eventually the mirror will be replaced by an EVF, specially when highres micro OLED technology is getting affordable. This even has advantages over a mirror (peaking focus, showing under or overexposed area's, etc.). People will quickly get used to it. I am using a GH2 next to my Canon gear, and was surprised at how pratical its EVF was.

February 24, 2012 at 3:34PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


For me the battery draw of the EVF and sensor will need to be improved to tempt me away from a mirror for stills. With video it tends to be only switched on when I want to shoot but stills I can spend a while waiting for the moment, others may well differ though.

February 24, 2012 at 4:20PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


I don't see how "the quality of EVFs have finally started surpassing the equivalent optical viewfinder". If you are looking through a mirror it just can't get much better then this. It is almost like real life. How is a screen going to be better then this any time soon. I agree that it is great that EVFs are getting better but it is sill not the death of mirrors in cameras.

February 24, 2012 at 5:28PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


The issue with EVFs in the past was poor resolution and color reproduction - among other things. Technically, a mirror is real life - and that's the problem. Cameras do not reproduce images like our eyes do - our eyes are constantly adjusting exposure and white balance. So our eyes are always going to deceive us - since they don't know how the camera will reproduce the image. There is no optical viewfinder in the world that can show you a live image at ISO 3200, for example. This is the benefit - now that EVFs are overcoming past issues - they go beyond what we see in real life. That's really the point. It doesn't matter what our eyes see, it's what the camera sees, and if we can faithfully recreate that (with the exception of a much slower shutter speed) - then wouldn't you consider that a superior technology?

February 24, 2012 at 6:10PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

Joe Marine
Camera Department

Right on the money.

February 24, 2012 at 9:51PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Exactly...well put...I believe this article taps into something worth considering, even if not for a few years. Imagine not only a 3x EFV(for example) but a viewfinder accurate in detail,exposure, color and other live settings within camera...I think we've all heard it a million times but don't we want to capture as much as possible IN CAMERA. I believe that extends to much more than just what an EVF may offer but I don't see much of a downside provided it is affordable, effective and available for DSLRs at some point.

February 25, 2012 at 2:33AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


very good point
and also: an EVF can be made bigger without increasing cost, and can display a lot more info (histogram, waveform, focus peaking, custom cropmarks, audio levels, etc)

February 25, 2012 at 2:41PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


I can't wait for microOLED's - Anybody using the TVLogic 5.6" LED monitor with waveform and vectorscope?

March 1, 2012 at 1:50PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


My first camera was a SONY DSC-F828 and it had a low resolution EVF. Save for the lack of resolution I loved it do to the more accurate representation of what I was shooting. My current camera is a Nikon D5000 and uses an optical system and though it offers greater resolution for focusing, it requires a lot more care when setting up a shot. I am currently in the market for another camera and EVF or optical has been one of the criteria I have been considering, the main problem with EVF is still resolution. Because of the lower resolution I plan on staying with the optical system for now, but when the EVF technology matures I see myself happily switching over.

March 3, 2012 at 7:15AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

Nate Gross

One concern is that the word is still out on OLED's longevity---it's easily less than 1/2 of an LED/LCD monitor...and worse, apparently the blue OLED's die first, so you're going to be fighting a continual battle keeping the color fidelity accurate. When I pay top dollar for expensive camera equipment, I want it to work for a number of years (or to be really cheap and replaceable enough to treat it as disposable.) For example, my steadicam monitor is like $5k...but I have a great cheap $300 monitor as a backup. If I lose the backup...who cares...but if good OLED monitors/EVF's are priced between the two, it is of less interest to me b/c I wouldn't exactly call it disposable.

A mirror shutter is still just as good 15 yrs from now as it is today---something that I think is a shame. My 16mm camera's mirror is as sharp and bright as the day I bought it in 94. My 1 1/2 year old laptop is already noticeably dimmer than when I bought it and it doesn't even have OLED's! (LED---a MacBook Pro.)

As far as stills...i can't imagine shooting with EVF...they're improving, but theyre not fast enough and the blink, the sound, the vibration in your hand is a physical, tactile indicator of what your hands are doing. My motor memory feels what I'm doing better. This is why digital cameras---i'm talking about the cheap ones, and the cell phones make that Chik-chik sound...you are used to that feedback.

it is definitely what you're used to. An interesting thing with this whole thing is how Roger Deakins (ASC/BSC) has been saying that he *likes* the real thing...(spinning mirror)...but that is his experience and what he's used. A couple months ago I was reading an American Cinematographer article about...oh, I forgot his name...he was NYC's panavision distributor, among other things. He basically created the first american reflex camera system...basing it on what they were doing in Europe with the Arriflex and modifying cameras to be reflex... Anyway, he was ACing or operating for Haskell Wexler and it drove Wexler crazy having to put his eye up to the camera (and he didn't dare tell Wexler---at the time---that he invented the camera they were using)...

It's funny now b/c of course Wexler uses reflex cameras now. (although obviously not in certain parts of his oscar winning cinematography in Bound For Glory, which has the first steadicam shot (operated by Steadicam inventor Garrett Brown).

It makes sense that you develop biases and preferences based on your experiences...I used 16mm cameras cameras without taps for years...so I was used to always having my eye against it (and unlike with an EVF, you fog the film to remove your eye. But then I started doing steadicam, and now can't imagine putting my eye up to an eyepiece. I operate off an external monitor all the time, for sticks, steadi, or dolly.

March 10, 2012 at 6:34PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

Daniel Mimura