Have you ever looked through your camera’s viewfinder and everything seemed blurry? That is because the diopter on the camera needs to be adjusted. The nice thing about a diopter, you can view your image with or without glasses, by adjusting it to your eyesight.
WHAT IS A DIOPTER?
A diopter controls a lens system in your camera’s viewfinder, and it allows you to match the focus of your viewfinder to your eye.
A poorly focused viewfinder image – one without a proper diopter adjustment – will look like this:
But adjust the diopter, and you’ll see something more like this:
A diopter, by the way, is standard equipment on all dslr and mirrorless cameras. This can be located on the right or even on the left of you camera’s viewfinder.
The above 3 photos were compliments of “Digital Photography School”
The diopter, once adjusted does not change the outcome of your photo. It was designed to only help you with your vision. It only affects the sharpness inside your viewfinder, and not the image.
WHY DO WE NEED A DIOPTER?
Camera diopters allow you to see the sharpest-possible image – so you can carefully select points of focus, compose your scenes, and analyze subject detail.
After all, if you’re looking at a blurry scene through your viewfinder, how can you expect to capture a good shot? You won’t be able to get an accurate feel for the scene because you’ll be hampered by the blur!
If you wear glasses, the diopter adjustment can be a huge help. You can use it to correct for your bad vision; that way, you can shoot without glasses. Or, if you sometimes work with glasses and sometimes work without, you can adjust the viewfinder before each photoshoot so you see a clear image.
I’m always shocked by the number of people who tell me they never see anything sharp through their viewfinder. I show them the diopter, and after they’ve made a quick adjustment, they’re often surprised by how sharp the viewfinder appears! It is like a miracle feature on all cameras.
HOW DO YOU KNOW IF THE DIOPTER NEEDS ADJUSTING?
If you look through your viewfinder and you see an ultra-sharp image, then your diopter is properly set and can be left alone.
However, if you look through your viewfinder and notice blur – even a bit of blur – then you should follow the adjustment steps I share below.
Pro tip: When evaluating the viewfinder, try pointing your camera at a scene with plenty of details, such as a poster or a book. If you struggle to read the words or resolve fine lines, it’s a sign you need a diopter adjustment.
(You can also look at the information and guides present in the viewfinder, such as the exposure bar and shutter speed numbers. These should be tack-sharp; if you can’t see them clearly, your diopter needs resetting.) In other words, look around INSIDE your viewfinder and make sure all the setting numbers are sharp as well. Everything should be sharp as you look through it. If not, then it needs to be adjusted.
INFORMATION YOU NEED TO HELP YOU OUT:
- To set it right the first time, put your camera on a good tripod
- Make sure the scene you are looking at has good contrast and a bright exposure.
- Use your “autofocus” on your lens. That will get it sharp on your picture.
- Take a test shot. then zoom in to view the details on your LCD. Make sure the results are crisp. (If you have a mirrorless camera, you may be able to view the image through the viewfinder, but do not do this! Verify accurate focusing without looking through the EVF.)
- As you turn the diopter adjustment, look to see if the image seems softer or sharper. Adjust until it is at it’s sharpest.
- Repeat if necessary.
- If you always photograph with glasses or contacts, wear them when you set the diopter; if you first adjust the diopter and then put on your glasses or contacts, the viewfinder may feel heavily overcorrected.
Don’t be intimidated to make these adjustments to your camera. Once you get it set, you may not need to adjust again for a long time (like when your own vision changes). Also, once you get this adjusted to your vision, you will totally enjoy your photography even more.