Okay, I’ll admit it: when I first heard of Live Preview (aka LiveView) on digital SLRs, I thought it was totally stupid. Just another pointless feature that wastes a ton of battery life.
On one of their workshops, the Gerlachs asked each of their students to come up with one good reason to use Live Preview, and some of them came up with really cool ideas:
#1 – Turn on gridlines to help keep the horizon level
Most cameras that have the Live Preview feature also have an option where you can turn on gridlines, which will overlay a grid on the Live Preview. This can help you determine when the camera is perfectly level with the horizon, so you don’t end up rotating and cropping the photo later in post-processing.
#2 – Check depth of field
Looking at a big preview on the screen instead of through a tiny viewfinder can tremendously help you confirm that you have the desired depth of field. Sure, you can do the same thing by snapping a test photo, but using Live Preview saves you some space on the memory card 🙂
#3 – Detect subject movement
For good macro photos, it’s important to snap the photo when both your camera and the subject are completely still. At this micro level, any small movement will be amplified. So, you can use Live Preview to watch for movement and then snap the photo when your subject is completely still. If instead you watch your subject through the viewfinder, then there’s a good chance you’ll shake your camera a little when you move your head away. Live Preview prevents this.
#4 – Magnify a specific area to help with focusing
Proper focus is critical for getting tack sharp photos, but sometimes it’s really difficult to tell when something is in focus. Either it’s too far away, there’s low light, or the edges are just not very well defined. With Live Preview though, you can zoom in on a specific area of your image and then focus more precisely with this detailed view.
What did I miss?
After reading about these great ideas, I’m certain there’s more great uses for Live Preview, so what about you? Have you found another great way Live Preview can help you take photos?
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About the Author: Steve Berardi is a naturalist, photographer, computer scientist, and founder of PhotoNaturalist. You can usually find him hiking in the San Gabriel Mountains or the Mojave Desert, both located in the beautiful state of California.