For some time I’ve predicted that the viewfinder would disappear on many digital cameras, and unfortunately that has been the trend since LCDs have gotten larger. Not that a viewfinder on a compact is anything to write home about but at least you had an alternative when using the LCD was impractical, or impossible.
Even a 3″ high resolution LCD, like those on my Canon s90, is challenging in bright light or when attempting to preview detail zooming in on an image. But viewing the LCD can be significantly improved with a nifty, moderately priced accessory called ClearViewer.
Turn your LCD into an electronic viewfinder
The ClearViewer is a well-made, folding high-diopter lens that lets you view and focus on the LCD screen with your eye right up to the lens, less than two inches away from the LCD. You can use the LCD screen almost as you would an electronic viewfinder.
The bright diopter lens lets you see fine detail very clearly in all sorts of lighting. It’s extremely useful for viewing facial expressions, photographing small objects and for focusing manually or checking that the camera focused where you want it.
I can see clearly now
When I first looked through the ClearViewer, I simply couldn’t believe my eyes. Images and menus on the LCD were bright, large and amazingly easy to see.
When using the ClearViewer, it gives the impression that you’re looking through an electronic viewfinder. However, I’ve owned several digital cameras with electronic viewfinders but none were ever as clear as using ClearViewer.
Two versions, two mounts
ClearViewer comes in two versions, standard and premium. The premium lens version, which is slightly larger than the standard one, includes an optional screw that gives it a bit more grip.
ClearViewer also comes in two mounts: one can be mounted in a tripod socket; the other can be mounted in a hot shoe. If you do a lot of macro photography using a tripod, you’ll want to get a ClearViewer for the hot shoe.
The tripod socket model folds tightly against the LCD so it doesn’t add a lot of bulk to a compact camera. It unfolds easily and quickly for use, and can be easily swung down if you want to view the LCD in the normal way.
If you only want to carry the viewer in a pocket for occasional use and your camera has a hot shoe, the hot shoe mount it’s more easily removed than the tripod mount. However, the tripod mount model may be a better choice if you plan to use the viewer a lot.
ClearViewer works with most digital cameras
The device is readily available for several model cameras. And according to the ClearViewer website, “if your camera isn’t listed that doesn’t mean you can’t get a ClearViewer…as long as it has a tripod socket, we should be able to make one to fit. If it has a hot shoe and it’s reasonably centered, we can make a hot shoe model for it.”
The ClearViewer comes with a storage pouch and mounting instructions. If you have a small camera bag or pouch that fits snugly around you camera, you’ll probably need a larger one if you plan to keep the viewer mounted at all times as it does add to the depth of your camera.
I highly recommend the ClearViewer to anyone who wants to improve viewing the LCD on their digital camera.