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How to take better photos with Live View on your camera

A camera has many photographers under-utilizing the Live View screen on the back. While it is slower to steer a shot with Live View instead of just looking through the viewfinder, there are some benefits. Let's look at how you can use the Live View screen to take better photos.

See the full picture

Have you ever taken a photo through the viewfinder where you carefully trim a certain distraction in the outer edge of the frame then when you looked at the photo later, was it anyway the district still on the edge of the picture? The reason for this is that the camera's viewfinder only shows most of the image. In general, it's about 95% (or 98% on better cameras). This is how it looks.

While not normally a big thing, it means that you sometimes have to cut away otherwise otherwise good pixels to get rid of a distraction that you did not see in the viewfinder. With the Live View screen you can see the whole picture all the time.

See how things will really look

Not only do you see the whole picture, but you also see better how they should look in the final picture. The viewfinder shows you the light entering the camera and bouncing straight from the mirror to the eye. So that enough light comes through, the opening is kept open. You will not see if your image is properly exposed or how deep the field looks, at least until you press the DOF Preview button.

RELATED: How to nail on-site exposure while taking pictures

With the Live View screen, your camera shows how the image actually looks – or at least a very good approximation to it. With longer shutter speeds, the Live View screen appears.

Zoom in to get focus

One of the best ways to nail your focus exactly where you want it – at least for moving subjects – is to manually focus with the Live View screen. Set the camera on a tripod, change the lens to manual focus, and then press the magnification button on the back of the camera until you reach the maximum zoom. It is normally 10x.

RELATED: Manually Focusing Your DSLR or Mirrorless Camera

Now you can accurately fine-tune your focus. It is basically the only way to take good star photos.

Working in the dark or with ND filters

On dark nights or when using neutral density filters, the optical viewfinder becomes quite unusable. You can't see anything through it. With the Live View screen, however, you can turn ISO up to 12800 or even 25600.

The preview will look quite noisy and bad, but as long as there is little light, it should give you enough of a show to focus and compose your shot. Just remember to turn your ISO back on.

Viewing a live histogram

The histogram is a useful tool to see how light levels are distributed in your images. I'm a big fan of checking your histogram images sometimes to make sure you aren't blowing your highlights or crushing your shadows.

When shooting with Live View, you can also check out a live histogram while deleting a shot: normally press Info a few times and it will be displayed. It's a great technique if you take photos somewhere, the light levels continue to change dramatically.

The Live View screen is really practical for slow and intentional forms of photography as a landscape. Careful focusing, a proper preview and the histogram make it much easier to take better photos. It is not to say that the viewfinder is not without its use: it is faster, works better in bright light and is much easier when you hold the camera in your hand. One of the most interesting things about mirror-free cameras is that their electronic viewfinder combines the benefits of both.

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