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That rear screen on your camera: Is it there for composition or chimping?


Camera screens sometimes get a bad rap from those of a traditional bent. I have waffled on alarmingly about the charms of the screenless M10-D and I stand by my comments. Not that I’m a traditionalist, you know. But there is something liberating in not having a screen, something about getting back to basics.

Look ma, no screen. No chimping, no screen compostition, compulsory viewfinder. Just the job.
Look ma, no screen. No chimping, no screen compostition, compulsory viewfinder. Just the job — perhaps

Yet I am probably in a minority. Most people, it has to be admitted, prefer to find a screen on their digital camera, whether they use it for composition, chimping1 while on the hoof or reviewing the images after the event. To listen to some pundits, however, you will find that there are three basic commandments for the traditional photographer:

  1. Thou shalt not compose thy photographs on the screen
  2. Thou shalt always use a viewfinder
  3. Thou shalt not chimp.

Mostly I conform to these traditions, out of preference rather than out of any messianic zeal. I prefer to use a viewfinder, I dislike holding the camera in front of my face while I compose on the screen and I try not to chimp because I find it distracting. That’s the whole idea of the M10-D, a zany little camera has been circumcised in the best of religious traditions.

The M10-D has other benefits. Removing the temptation to chimp could actually save your life. Image Leica Camera AG
The M10-D has other benefits. Removing the temptation to chimp could actually save your life. Images Leica Camera AG

This week, though, I’ve heard opposing voices. Heretical they may be to some, but both photographers concerned make very valid points and should be commended.

I chimp, I am proud

First up comes Dublin’s finest, Thomas Fitzgerald: “I chimp and I am proud”:

“Chimping” is one of those phrases that some photographers like to throw around with an air of superiority and a hint of condescension so they can talk down to other photographers, because they’re a “real” photographer, and real photographers never chimp.

Now that’s telling us. He concludes:

If you don’t want to check your screen, thats your prerogative and I’ve nothing against you for doing that. But people who make a point of lecturing others on the evils of chimping, aren’t better photographers, they just have bigger egos. This trope needs to end, because it’s not true, it’s misleading and its patronising. It is a great way to sound superior on YouTube though, I’ll give you that.

I do agree with Thomas that the way you work is a matter of personal preference. If you find checking results on the screen helps, then so be it. Not everyone will agree with this, of course, but the important message is to live and let live, a precept that is becoming increasingly outdated these days.

Even cameras with screens can pretend: The Panasonic Lumix G9 is one of many micro four-thirds cameras equipped with the wonderful reversing screen, an alternative to the M10-D's more radical approach. But just look at that viewfinder.
Even cameras with screens can pretend: The Panasonic Lumix G9 is one of many micro four-thirds cameras equipped with that wonderful reversing screen, an alternative to the M10-D’s more radical approach. But just look at that viewfinder.

But viewfinders? Surely they are the only way to take pictures? Without doubt they have been ordained by the gods. And several generations of Leica M users would die in the ditch in support of these wonderfui contraptions, a boon to man and beast.

Yet composing on the screen is something that hundreds of millions of smartphone photographs regard as the norm. Even some pro-targeted cameras such as the Ricoh GR and Sigma’s new fp expect you to work without an electronic viewfinder.

The Leica T was essentially aimed at the new screen-composition brigade and the plug-in viewfinder was something of an afterthought. In the main, though, viewfinders reign supreme and the race is on to create ever bigger finders. Cameras sell on the size and excellence of their viewfinders (among other tick-box attributes).

I compose on the screen

Given that you do have an EVF in your camera, would you compose entirely on the screen as a matter of course, if not principle? Steve Meltzer, writing for Shutterbug, makes a case for sidelining that viewfinder. As he says,

I shoot most of my photos using the LCD screen on the back of my cameras rather than looking through the eyepiece viewfinder. I prefer the LCD screen, especially if it’s an articulating or side-swiveling monitor, for several reasons. I think other photographers should seriously consider how the rear screen can actually make photography easier and your images better.

Steve began his photography with a Leica M2 and is fully accustomed to the rangefinder and the electronic viewfinder. He’s no smartphone convert, then, and knows what he’s talking about. As he says, when he looked into an SLR or DSLR finder he lost his connection with the scene. “Suddenly I was looking at an image floating in darkness and I struggled to find the scene I had seen. It just didn’t work for me.”

The LCD screen works like the Leica glass viewfinder window because it doesn’t limit my peripheral vision. I can see the monitor at the same time as I can see the world around it. This also allows me to see things happening outside the frame and lets me anticipate what may be entering the picture. It is a real help photographing fast moving animals and children and sports.

So what’s your view? Are advocates of no chimping in reality old fossils with an inflated ego? And is the only thing stopping you using the screen for composition the fear that it “looks amateurish”. Let’s have a good discussion on this. Comments welcome.

Via Thomas Fitzgerald Photography and Shutterbug

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  1. Chimping is a colloquial term used in digital photography to describe the habit of checking every photo on the camera display (LCD) immediately after capture.
    Some photographers use the term in a derogatory sense to describe the actions of amateur photographers, but the act of reviewing images on-camera is not necessarily frowned upon by professional or experienced photographers (Wikipedia)


  1. I much prefer to use a viewfinder under normal circumstances as I find it a more stable shooting position, and of course all the shooting information is there for me to see on the CL and SL.
    On the other hand if I’m shooting using a tripod the flip out screen on my D750 makes it easier for me to compose, particularly if I need a lower shooting position.
    Do I chimp? Yes sometimes, but less so when using my ‘M’. Why that should be I have no idea.
    So it is definitely a case of horses for courses with me, and I guess how the mood takes me.

  2. Photographers have always looked to use whatever means become available at any given stage of technical development throughout photographic history in order to pursue their interest/passion in ways that suit them best. Whether by adopting faster speed film or lenses that gather more light, investing in auto-focus and auto-exposure cameras or, yes, by departing altogether from the medium of film in overwhelming numbers so that they might benefit from the myriad advantages of digital technology, including the ability to instantly review and if necessary re-shoot a photograph while actually present, at the scene!
    I still shoot 35mm film regularly on an M6ttl and a Nikon FM3a. It is still the most pleasurable way of practising photography for me. But when I’m shooting digital I use the screen whenever I need to because, well, I’ve got one, so why on earth wouldn’t I? (Also, I’ve just picked up a Loxia lens and I don’t yet trust myself to nail focus without zooming in on the screen, just to be sure!)
    I completely get why Leica made the M10-D and I appreciate the fact that, alone among the major manufacturers, Leica continues to champion simplicity of use in the face of seemingly unstoppable complexity. Anyone who wants to shoot an M10-D is just fine with me; but anyone who derides others for using every available advantage in digital photography for spurious reasons of ‘purity’ or ‘authenticity’ is not so much a traditionalist as a dilettante.

  3. I have changed my mind on this and pretty much for the same reasons as Mr. Meltzer.

    The issue for me and screens though, is ageing eyes, I am using short sight to focus on a screen, whether it be electronic or ground glass. With a viewfinder, an EVF is focus-sable with a little knob, whilst an OVF uses long sight which for me is pretty good, although I understand is an inconvenience for people who wear glasses permanently. Of course for them, there is an appropriate magnifier for the M range and an adjustment lever on some of the older Leitz gear.

    Mind you it hasn’t stopped me from finally acquiring my heart’s desire, the screenless digital Leica, namely the M-D (type 262), I looked at a second user M10-D too but in the end I prefer the ISO dial on the former (at the back), and the extra dosh.

    In the end, the size of Leica/Leitz gear is what wins out, superb quality, massive range and the lack of bells and whistles is what sells it. I appreciate that there are some people for whom the opposite is true.

    • Welcome to M-Dery. Are we the only two? Maybe you should write a little article to tell our readers what you think and why you bought it. Any snags?…..

      • Thanks Michael, I finally qualify for the second division. As for other M-Ders, there is one in this thread, “Hank”.

        There was one thing that slightly confused me from the outset, which was Jono Slack’s reported reason for not liking it, at the time I asked you and your response was that he thought there was an issue regarding white balance.

        I read some stuff and realised that since the M-D does not have the necessary equipment, it is impossible to adjust it. However, the M-D does not develop JPG’s or Tiff files anyway. The DNG files contain all the data to adjust that white balance to whatever you desire at development time, but for viewing purposes it does adjust it to what the camera thinks might be a good choice, and it is mostly right.

        However, if you want to ensure that it is right, a “WhiBal” card can be employed, and used correctly ensures absolute accuracy, which applies to any digital camera, whether it has a screen or not. So I have done something that would apply to those using a Ricoh GR too, if one felt the need. I have the “WhiBal” card in my wallet and if I feel the need, it is there.

        I do not think that this is that demonstrable on a blog, you have to try it to see it work, it is subtle. I have only tested it a couple of times so far as I have only had the camera for a month and I am not using it much either currently.

        • I can’t now recall Jono’s objections but if he’s reading this he will probably chip in. I too remember the guy with the Panasonic who takes his SD card to Boots (the pharmacy chain, for non-UK readers). I found it interesting rather than risible and, if I knew who he was, I’d be badgering him for an article.

          The original M-D, which you have, was in many ways a purer piece of kit than the M10-D which I own. Leica gave in on the spartan simplicity and introduced a fairly extensive menu of sorts in the Leica Fotos app. You can now adjust white balance, ISO parameters (such as the limits for Auto and the speed restrictions) and JPG parameters from the smartphone app. I don’t mind that — in fact I have used it to customise my ISO settings — and if it broadens the appeal and overcomes some objections, then all well and good.

          My plan for the moment (but things can always change) is to make the M10-D my long-term rangefinder. I am more than happy with the results it produces and do not lust after a 40+MP sensor. I therefore see it as being more future-proof than the M10 itself. When the M11 comes along, many (if not a majority) of M10 owners will dutifully upgrade. But there is little point in fiddling with the M10-D. Even when the M11-D comes out with the denser sensor, I’m thinking that I will not be tempted.

  4. From my own experience, the more time I spends checking my ‘just taken’ pictures, the more likely I am to miss the good one happening right in front of me.

    I constantly have to tell myself to ignore the screen and focus (pardon the pun) on what’s happening in front of me. I’ll check what I’ve captured later on.

    As far as I’m concerned, any other discussion on ‘chimping’ is irrelevant. If you want to use the screen to compose, do so. If you need to check composition or exposure then do that too. As long as you are not missing the good shots then nothing else matters!


  5. The answer is both for digital cameras in my case. I am with my Dublin colleague and Stephen on this. I have had 3 eye operations over the past dozen years or so and I use whatever suits according to prevailing circumstances. Sometimes my tired eyes are not up to using a viewfinder. I cannot do this with my film cameras, of course, where I use whatever comes with the camera. A TLR can give a sort of halfway house, though.


  6. I use a viewfinder except when I use my Ricoh GR (it doesn’t have one). I have a few cameras that have flip screens which are helpful for low angles but I seldom use them that way. My preference is to always compose with a viewfinder, preferably an optical viewfinder.

    But I absolutely must have a screen on my cameras. Call it chimping, call it a silly pursuit–I don’t care. I call it verification. It often saves my inconsistent (can I say “ass”? Oh, wait, I already did). Inconsistent because I sometimes fail to notice things like poor focus, odd items intruding in the framing or the subject’s eyes in mid-blink. The screen is my second chance. It’s a chance to remedy the mistakes I sometimes make. If I miss a picture while checking the screen, that’s okay. There’s always another picture.

  7. I mostly use the viewfinder to my (better) left eye as that works best for me usually but I also sometimes use the screen for both composition and chimping .l guess I will use whatever tools are provided in my photography. Essentially however an eye for an image is in the head. Let a thousand flowers bloom, I say!

  8. ‘Chimping’ is such a derogatory term ..I s’pose that’s the idea. It suggests that it’s what lowly chimpanzees do, but not what ‘proper photographers’ do.

    But ‘proper’ photographers used – remember? – a Polaroid back on a ‘professional’ roll film camera; first take the Polaroid, check it, and then – if all’s OK – take the actual photo on real film.

    (Patrick Lichfield’s downstairs loo (toilet) was lined with his Polaroids (test shots) of the royal family.)

    I use whatever the camera has: that GR has only a rear screen. The RX100 mark-whatever has a pop-up viewfinder as well. The M10-P has a rear screen, a finder, and (optionally) a clip-on electronic focus-checking zooming finder. The M3 has just an optical finder, and I simply guess what’s in the picture for anything wider than 50mm.

    Not looking at what you’ve just taken was the only possible way in film days, of course (unless you used Polaroids). And for some daft reason some people thought – or think – that not looking at what you’ve just shot is the ‘proper’ way to do things.

    So for how long d’you not look at what you’ve shot? Er, a week? Two hours? If you’re shooting as if using Kodachrome, do you wait two weeks before looking? ..that was, after all, the average wait till the processed film came back from the lab.

    If you used to process b&w yourself, do you keep shooting till you’ve taken 36 shots, then wait 20 minutes (..the time it’d take to process, wash and dry the film..) before looking at it ‘back-to-front’ ..i.e; with light and shade reversed, as if it were a negative?

    Why the idea that digital photos should be treated as if shooting slow-to-process film anyway?

    I dare say (..though of course, I don’t know..) that if Ansel Adams had had a way to see what he’d just shot, when he took the photo of Moonlight over Hernandez, he’d have wanted to see there and then if he’d got it, rather than waiting till he’d driven all the way home and then processed his film.

    Why wait? I don’t generally take pictures of things which are happening quickly – unless it’s children unwrapping presents or playing with toys or with parents or grandparents.

    If things are happening fast, I may take several pics till I’m happy that I think I’ve got what I wanted. Then I’ll spin through them all to be sure that I have what I want ..and if not, maybe I’ll shoot some more.

    But generally, I take single pics of those things which I think will make a good photo. And I look at them straight afterwards, to make sure that I’ve got what I intended.

    Did that shutter speed freeze what I wanted? Did that aperture isolate just what I wanted? Did my panning freeze what was moving and nicely blur the background? Did I catch that person walking past just as I wanted them ..or was the shutter a bit late in opening and so missed the shot? Did I get the focus right? Is the light and shade what I wanted? Did my guess at over-exposure – against a bright background – turn out as I wanted, or should I do it again with a little more, or a little less, over-exposure?

    ..That’s my main reason for checking straight away: even though I’m set on spot metering in the very centre of the screen, or finder, and I focus and then compose as I want, I generally guess the degree of over-exposure which I need against a bright background ..so I want to check that I got it right. (Of course, with an Olympus OM-3 or OM-4 – and film – you can take multiple over- and under-exposure readings, and then the camera integrates them for the best(?) overall exposure.)

    Each to their own – like some people shoot landscapes, and others just shoot unknown passers-by, and others take portraits, or yet others shoot abandoned buildings – but I look at what I’ve just shot, to see if I could have done better. I LEARN from each picture I’ve shot ..I examine it as if it was shot by someone else, to see what I get from it, and to see if I could now do it again ..and do it better. Sometimes I can, sometimes not.

    A viewfinder – or the live screen on the back of a camera – shows what’s happening NOW ..but the whole idea of a photograph is to STORE the present, and to look at it AFTERWARDS.

    So I look at it afterwards; straight afterwards, usually ..to see if I did get that precious image or not. I don’t buy an ice-cream, and then wait for, say, two hours before eating it ..why would I? I don’t hum a tune with cotton-wool in my ears (but a digital recorder running) and then set aside a few minutes an hour later to listen to what I was humming. Why would I? I don’t order a meal, and then purposely wait for three or four hours for it to arrive long afterwards so that I can savour it better, or be surprised by what arrives.

    It isn’t a sign of ‘manhood’, or ‘professionalism’, or ‘proficiency’ to not look at your pictures straight after shooting them.

    I realise that those who’ve bought a ’D’ obviously do like to NOT look at what they’ve shot (for some weird reason).

    But if I don’t want (..for some inexplicable reason..) to look ..then I’ll simply – guess what! – not look.

    For some – Garry Winogrand? Vivian Maier? – the act of taking the picture seemed to be all-important ..judging by the number of un-processed films which they left behind. So they never saw thousands of the photos which they’d taken.

    For anyone who fancies that kind of photography, I’d say just take out the memory card and don’t bother to save the pictures. But I wouldn’t advise buying a special camera which costs £1000 more because it can’t have any memory inside. Nor would I buy a camera which has no replay screen.

    It may be thought ‘purist’ in some weird way to not be able to see the pictures you’ve just shot.

    But, to me, that’s like not watching, or reading, or listening to today’s news until, say, next week, or the week after.

    That’s surely the ‘proper’ way to treat today’s news, wouldn’t you say?

  9. The “I chimp, I am proud” might derive from the film “The Commitments” adapted from Roddy Doyle’s Barrytown trilogy. In the film the saying goes “I’m black and I’m proud” while the would be musicians are on the DART. Having reduced my camera gear to the bare minimum (2 GRs + 1 GRD4 and 1 Leica X2), I rarely look at the images on the spot unless I’m pretty sure I’ve moved while pressing the shutter. I exclusively shoot with the screen with the GRs and consider the screen as a kind of M viewfinder. I have a gv-2 viewfinder but I’ve realised I rarely use it as I’ve got all the information I need including DOF on the screen. I look around and include or exclude the elements I want. I rarely recompose the image unless I’ve thought about it beforehand. I use the X2 EVF as the viewfinder is tiltable and the rear screen is not the best with its 230k screen. I haven’t used an OVF viewfinder since I moved to digital. From my very brief time with the sony A7 I used to use the tiltable screen – a feature I’d like on the Ricohs – and the EVF. If I stopped buying plane tickets I’d probably buy a mirrorless camera with a viewfinder and a tiltable screen as those cameras have the best of both worlds. I would not go back to rangefinders because of myeyesight problems and would be kind of frustrated relying mostly on zone focusing. Whatever way you use to get the focus and check images the best is the one that works for you.

  10. I have a mirrorless and a dslr. With the dslr I only use the ovf. With the mirrorless I use the evf with tele lenses because this increases the stability of the camera, and I find that composition with teles is easier. I use mostly the screen with wide angles because stability is less an issue and I feel that composition with wide angles is more critical.

  11. With Leicax’s use OVF with Ricoh back screen, don’t know if I want OVF w it, kind nice look over the camera look screen thn shoot. When trying b discreet just hold Ricoh on side take couple pics, i chimp before I decide to leave area, so maybe cking 25-35 photos then on to nxt area. Just because leg issue still doing my photo version of Drive by Shooting. Wish I lived in big city, I be riding a bus all day taking photos way Robert Frank did in the last section of his book the lines of my hand.

  12. There’s always the Leica M10 half case method – keep the back flap in place and everyone thinks you are a ‘purist’, or perhaps even one of those olde worlde film types, then when you feel like sneaking a glimpse at the screen just drop the flap!

  13. I generally use the viewfinder, but use the screen for a few specific purposes. The first would be checking the results of the first exposure of a scene for making adjustments. This is especially helpful if I am trying to determine an appropriate white balance setting. If I am in a dimly lit situation and/or want to be discrete then I might use the screen to get focus using focus peaking. Being an eyeglasses wearer, sometimes getting a good handle on focus in low light is hard. Being a new M10 owner, the focus peaking is light years ahead of the abysmal feature on the M 240.

  14. If a camera does not have a viewfinder I cannot use it. Tried the GR and sold it as I could not get take a successful photo with it probably because I just couldn’t function without a viewfinder.
    I love how the G9 allows you to get rid of LCD. I just purchased the Leica M-E (ccd version) brand new and only use LCD to pick my camera settings which probably never change.
    I do not chimp – it interrupts my flow as an artist. I can only really evaluate a photo on a computer monitor.
    Hence, personally, I do not chimp and cannot take photos handheld with LCD. However, I do use an LCD if camera is on a tripod.

  15. To chimp, or not to chimp that is the question.

    Personally – With my X I have no option really, you use the rear screen to take the image, and the image appears on the screen once taken.

    However with the Df, I have the rear screen switched off, as it extends the exceptional battery life even further. If I see something I know I want, then I definitely have a quick look to make sure I have the shot, but mostly I don’t bother. I trust the camera to have what I want. The keeper rate with the Df is very high, so I tend not to overly worry.

  16. If you’re going to use the screen to take a picture, please don’t hold the camera out at arm’s length. Kirk Tuck, an Austin, Texas, photographer, describes that as the “stinky baby diaper hold”.

  17. October 8 2019, 20.30 hours, I was standing with a heavy Billingham bag in a crowded tube train on the Piccadilly Line travelling from Leicester Sq to Arnos Grove. I was very tired after using my SL 601 at The Leica Society’s GTG at the Leica Mayfair HQ … followed by some colourful Piccadilly Circus and Gerard St nocturnal snapping. A lady suddenly offered me her seat! I thought. “Do I look THAT old?” But I accepted her kind offer when she said she’d be getting off at Russell Square. Opening the heavy Billingham bag on my lap, I began sorting out and repacking the lenses used throughout the day … and made sure my car keys were still buried in the bottom of the bag. An attractive lady sitting next to me wearing red striped trousers and matching red striped top, suddenly remarked, “That’s a strange looking lens!” … as I adjusted the Leica R 28mm PC Super Angulon’s shift mechanism to make it fit in the bag. I gave the intrigued lady a quick demo to show how the shift function works and explained why it’s so useful for architectural photography. She then asked to see some of the photos I’d taken. Together, the lovely lady and I chimped through the day’s snaps … her arm touching mine … her face close enough to feel the warmth of her cheek. Suddenly she leaned forward chimping even closer to the 601’s screen. Now I felt her quality bosom pressing against my arm as with her mouth agog and wide-eyed she exclaimed, “ ‘ere … ‘as wots ’is name … INNIT !!? “ I replied, “Yes, it’s David Suchet CBE … The Leica Society’s Honorary President. He attended The Leica Society’s ‘get together’ today at the Leica Mayfair HQ.” “Ooooh! I’m a big fan of Poirot! “ she exclaimed. “Got any others of ‘im? “ We continued chimping .. and chatting …. she was leaning closer … her arm now almost behind my shoulder … her bosom heaving … my heart still fluttering … her red stripey trousers still fascinating. Ms. Stripey Trousers, still sensually nudging my arm, exclaimed, “Ooooh!! and Yeahh!” several more times as together we continued chimping the colourful Chinatown restaurant and street vendor pics . “So it’s a Leica?? Never seen one before … Good innit!! I’m ever so surprised to see the Poirot photos … ‘im carrying a camera too!. So ‘e’s a photographer!” “Oh yes … he’s a well known Leica user. Leicas are wonderful cameras,“ I replied. As we neared Bounds Green she started to get up from her seat and said, “I’m getting’ off ‘ere … Thanks for showing me the Poirot pictures. Nice meeting you. Are you on Facebook? ” “Very nice meeting you too,” I replied as I gave her my card. She smiled and started walking to the door as I jokingly enquired, “Do you always wear your pyjamas on the tube? “ We both laughed and I thought to myself, “Amazing how a bit of mutual chimping can strike up a new friendship … I could not have achieved this with an M10-D.

    • Nothing interesting ever happens to me on the Piccadilly Line, although I am now used to people offering me the “priority seat”. I used to decline, graciously, on principle, but now I tend to say thank you and sit down. Such is life.

      But back to the Piccadilly Line. I am always fascinated by the end destinations, those exotic locations few of us visit unless we happen to live there. Who could resist Cockfosters? Or Uxbridge? Or, on the Central Line, Theydon Bois or Epping Forest? Since I get a free London travel pass (something to do with that priority seat) I’ve been known to explore the extremities on occasion. A few weeks ago I took the Piccadilly far west to Uxbridge. I won’t be returning in a hurry (sorry, Uxbridgeonians!) but, just as I was about to return on the Piccadilly, I spied a sign to the “Battle of Britain Bunker”. Surprising what you find in the most unexpected places.

      That sounded interesting, but it started me on a remarkable slog over busy roads, across roundabouts, through subways, uphill and down dale, until (after what seemed like three miles) I arrived in the middle of a housing estate to find the said bunker. A few snaps were taken. Unable to face the walk back to Uxbridge, I got an Uber to a more convenient Central Line station. Again, though, nothing happened. Dunk, you clearly lead a charmed life and I expect to see you haunting the Piccadilly Line on future journeys.

      May I offer you my seat?

  18. I wonder if the next big thing for those who argue against LCD screens and chimping is a non-reusable SD card limited in size to only 36 exposures? Perhaps it will need to be kept in the fridge to stop it going off before use too? That would be super trad wouldn’t it?

    And at what point does chimping stop being chimping? Is it ok to look at the end of a series of shots? When I get back home? Or should I wait a few days to simulate the development of the exposures?

  19. Just saw this Macfilos post after arriving home from indulging in some travel photography. Must admit that for me the rear LCD screen and an EVF both make for image-making enjoyment. The EVF for considered, deliberate shots, but the LCD screen (with fast autofocus) is most useful for catching that instant image which would be gone in a second.
    From the numerous comments above it’s evident that we all have our own individual methods. There’s no right way or wrong way. Just enjoy whatever works.

  20. Watch “The Salt of the Earth”, about Sebastião Salgado. Watch Sebastião Salgado chimp.

    So, don’t worry about it so much. Sometimes, it’s nice to be able to check your shot. Also, a flip out/down LCD can double as a waist level finder.

    BTW, I also have a M-D. Love to use it.

  21. So tedious. Pure forum fodder. I say whatever floats your boat. No screen on camera-eccentric yes but if it helps you take better photos and makes you feel happy go for it.
    LCD screen, EVF, OVF, view camera, rangefinder, to chimp or not to chimp, who cares?
    Just pick up your camera and go take some good photos. The proof of the pudding is in the eating not in the ingredients used to make it.

  22. I want to take this discussion (literally) to a higher level. Winston Churchill is quoted as saying ” Dogs look up to you, cats look down on you. Give me a pig! He looks you in the eye and treats you as an equal.” I know I am on safe ground if I write this as it will engender the same response as if I attribute a quote to Mark Twain. We all know they made many amusing quotes but few will know if what I am writing is actually true so most will be too polite to pull me up on it!

    Anyway, I am about 6 foot 5 inches (doctors give up when I am taller than their measuring stand) so often when I am taking a portrait I find myself looking down on a person that I actually look up to. In order to frame their face squarely without squatting on rugby player’s knees I have to use the rear screen. If the subject or bright light demands I’ll use the EVF on my X Vario. If I am using a film camera then I have to find a chair.

  23. I did not address the “chimping” part of the title, but having read the subsequent comments it does seem to cause discussion.

    I generally don’t do it, since I can’t see the display that well, I have to get the gig-lamps out, and by that time the moment has passed. I do not see it as a problem though, if one can gain something from the process, it is all grist to the mill.

    I am not sure what the purpose of removing the screen from a digital Leica serves, but it pleases me aesthetically, my sausage fingers can pick the camera up without touching some button or other, or smearing the display that I don’t use anyway.

    The other aspect of the M-D of course is that there is no good reason to develop pictures in the camera, so why include all that electronics and all those buttons? What I have bought into is the nearest thing to a film camera that there is, with rules that are so simple, one will spend a lifetime learning them. I still prefer film though.

    As I said, I have changed my mind about this alternative way of composing though, and that change, for this amateur photographer, came directly from a large format portraiture course where I was introduced to the revelation that is ground glass for the first time.

  24. “..there is no good reason to develop pictures in the camera..” ..you mean just take the three sets of black-&-white data from the sensor (voltages from beneath those red, green and blue filtered pixels) and save THAT on the memory card? ..So you won’t be able to see pictures in colour until you feed the data into an external computer which can change the black-&-white data into colour data (..like dealing with the black-&-white reels of Technicolor film..) and interpolate guesses of how much red there should be in the green pixels, how much green in the blue pixels, etc?

    What you’d see, then, on the camera’s screen would be what you’d get with a Leica Monochrom.

    “..and all those buttons”. I’m looking at the back of my M10-P (or, say, your M-D) and I see only three big buttons: ‘LV”, “PLAY” and “MENU”. Oh, and the four teeny directional buttons of the ‘four-way controller’ with its central button (for choosing the previous or next photo, for adding or removing ‘approval stars’, and for navigating menus) ..but I don’t see any buttons which appear to have anything to do with “development” of pictures ..unless, say, I look in a MENU and find ‘White Balance’, ‘JPG Settings’, etcetera. But those aren’t on buttons. They’re just menu options.

    But if you didn’t “..develop pictures in the camera..” you’d need to spend a while at a computer, turning the raw data into photographs ..just like developing a film. How many people would want to do that? ..I DO want the camera to do the “grunt work” of turning the data into a photograph. That was one of the problems with the 16-teeny-lens L16 ..it put some semblance of a picture on its rear screen, but you then had to feed the pictures into the frightful ‘Lumen’ app to get decent-sized pictures, with all the stitching involved in joining up several photos from several different lenses.

    That was the beauty of Polaroids: take the picture ..wait 30 seconds, or a minute (depending on the type of film) and then peel apart (or watch it appear from beneath a white fog). That was the enormous achievement of Edwin Land (in response to a challenge from his little daughter “..why can’t we see the pictures straight away, Daddy?”).

    I DO want “..to develop pictures in the camera..” ..it’s just one reason why I changed from film to digital.

    • So my mistake was not consulting you before I made my choice? Oh well.

      I have only met, or read about one person that develops his pictures entirely in camera. Unfortunately I forget his name, but I met him on a photo-walk with Michael and Bill Palmer. This man did not have a PC of any kind, he had a digital camera of some sort, it might have been a Panasonic, I don’t recall.

      I don’t even know how the subject came up, but it might have been someone who knew him, taking the rise. Anyway, he just takes his (reusable) SD card into Boots and prints his jpegs.

      As I say, he was somewhat derided for his lack of technical apparatus, but he was clear that he was being as technical as he wanted to be.

  25. …the priority seat in a Vienna subway line…
    I am very happy, that this so far at least does not happen very often…not yet…
    I enjoy Mike Evans comments here and enjoy, as always, his British humour very much.
    I understood this as a way to find out how others are thinking here; this was by far not meant as an offense.
    I am working as a vintage camera expert at Leica Classics Austria or Leicashop.
    So I have access to many cameras and many clients as well. a colleague of mine will buy on Monday the bespoken Leica M 262 and for the reason mike brought up here at the first place.
    He is one of our photographers by the way.
    Years back, I bought a Sony Alha 7 and later a NEX 5. After a while, I used the A7 only for testing lenses, with the help of about 20 different adapters. I was never able to really get a sharp image out of this thing when using the back screen. By the way; neither when using the digital viewfinder on the A7. While keep shooting film, a few month ago read a wonderfully written article here about the merits of Leica´s M8 and M8 2. Since there was an upgraded M8 2 ending up downstaires at the shop, I bought it in a weak moment I admit.
    Now with a “real” rangefinder for focusing, I got some very nice and sharp results out of it.
    Meanwhile I have an M-E 220, also with the famed CCD sensor, an M240 and yes, also an M10.
    For the M240 I have the digital viewfinder but only when using “pervers” glass combinations, to gain an exact way to focus. On the screen I am not able to do that.
    This is based on the fact, that I am pretty much decomposing already. I just miss the clarity on those electronic screens.
    But I also watch the screen at times, just to enjoy the picture taken that very moment before..
    The screen is what my contact sheet once was; not more but also not less.
    We all are individuals. And each of us has its own way doing that.
    And at the end; let us not get angry at each other…
    Life is too short and yet so wonderful to live…
    Let me close here and now; the Vienna forest is waiting outside, with sunshine and the golden colour of the leaves. I will be joined by my M8 2 for black and white (!) and a screwed up Leicaflex SL with its Summicron 50, loaded with some outdated colour film.
    Oh…can one of you tell me, why Leicaflex and Leica R are so much out of fashion?
    They are out for flee market prices and yet so wonderful to use and feature some of the best glass in this world.
    Enough for now…
    Thank you all for reading and Mike, thank you for writing this article here.

    • Thank you Harry. We never fall out on Macfilos and that is one of the aspects I like best. I can only imagine that contentious commentators don’t read the articles in the first place. Sometimes I like to be provocative in order to encourage comments — it seems to have worked here!

  26. The Leicaflex and Leica R cameras brought nothing much to SLRs. There were great expectations that when Leica stepped into the SLR arena, they’d produce something really remarkable ..but they didn’t.

    The cameras were ‘pedestrian’ ..and Leitz really gave up making SLRs after the early Leicaflexes, so the R series ..up to the R7.. were just remodelled Minoltas: Leitz didn’t have the, er, ‘oomph’, the get-up-and-go – nor the money – to design a new cutting-edge SLR of their own.

    My own response to the R cameras was that they were dinosaurs – I remember the introductory hoopla of the R4 ..but what did it bring which other cameras didn’t have? ..Spot metering? ..A complicated choice of various metering modes ..but it wasn’t small and svelte like the Olympuses, it wasn’t a bombproof workhorse like the Nikons. It just had Leica R-series lenses going for it ..but the R cameras were big, heavy, slow to use, uninspired and uninspiring.

    The R8 and R9 looked a whole lot different ..but still looked ‘heavy’ and a bit threatening. Canon had changed to autofocus for SLRs in 1987 ..the R8 and R9 were introduced in 1996 (nine years after Canon’s EOS 650) and 2002 (fifteen years after the EOS 650), but neither of them had autofocus – despite Leitz having developed autofocus themselves ..and then handed it over to Minolta!

    The Leicaflex and R series SLRs had none of the ground-breaking features which people expected from Leitz ..they were popular in Germany, but elsewhere around the world? No; sorry. No special capabilities, no inspiring design, no versatile third-party lenses (from Tamron, Vivitar or others) ..just not that much perceived value for money compared with the other leading brands.

    They “..feature some of the best glass in this world..” but the camera bodies themselves were a big disappointment.

  27. David, you are completely right and I am with you all the way.
    However, the Leicaflex up to the SL2 were fully mechanical, despite the meter of course.
    And their view finder are as bright as never matched by any other maker. Even the later R series has very bright and easy too use finder. and again; it is the glass which in my eyes makes all of the difference here. And these cameras can be bought for a song, though not the lenses.
    The R8 and R9 are tastelessly designed beasts and I stay far away from them.
    But thank you for your input here.

    • I’m very happy that you and I share similar opinions about the Leica SLR bodies, Harry ..as you’re obviously so very knowledgeable about the various Leitz products, and it’s always really great to have comments and input from a specialist such as yourself who really knows his stuff!

      It’s a long time since I’ve used a Leicaflex or R-series SLR, and so I can’t remember how bright those viewfinders are when compared with the Olympus OM-1 and OM-2, which had – as Olympus described them – “oversize” mirrors, to produce the brightest ‘finders I can think of ..but maybe the Leicas were better still: I’ll have to pop up to Red Dot Cameras, here in London, with an Olympus SLRs to check it against a Leicaflex or R-series finder. (The later OM-3 and OM-4, though, had dimmer finders, as they used a “half-silvered” mirror to reflect some incoming light down to a photocell, instead of reading light from the pentaprism or off the shutter curtains and film itself as did the OM-1 and OM-2.)

      “..it is the glass which in my eyes makes all of the difference here..” ..agreed.

  28. What a surprisingly discursive thread this one has become. What insight into the charmed lives some members lead. By posing three heretical rules, quote
    … (To listen to some pundits, however, you will find that there are three basic commandments for the traditional photographer:

    Thou shalt not compose thy photographs on the screen
    Thou shalt always use a viewfinder
    Thou shalt not chimp.) End of quote.
    Mike was clearly being deliberately provocative on a subject which will always lead to diverse views.

    For me, I appreciate the extra control an LCD screen provides a thinking photographer when needed. There are other times, when all is supposedly under control, I shoot without reference to the LCD. No preview is selected – a choice stored in a User Profile. But I would never pay a premium just for the privilege of not having an LCD screen. I think Leica has got it right.


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