If there is one feature I love best about the new generation of DSLRs it is the ability to photograph through the LCD screen. I purchased a Canon 7D almost a year ago now and it’s the first digital camera with which I’ve been able to take my work process with analog photography and carry it over to a digital system. This has been invaluable.
If you’ve ever used a medium format camera, you know the joy that is working with waist-level viewfinders. The ability to have a viewfinder approximately the size of your film was a lot more enjoyable that staring into the viewfinder of standard eye-level viewfinders. You were able to see more details of your composition and refine your focus closely. The process of using a medium, or even large, format camera allowed for more control over how you composed your images, never mind the fact that you could work without a camera stuck to your face. For a landscape photographer, it is really an enjoyable way to work, especially when you want to be able to capture all the details in a scene.
Unless you can afford a digital medium format camera, you’ve had to do without larger view prisms and waist-level finders if you were going to photograph digitally. While I loved using my DSLR, (At the time either an Olympus e-510 or Canon 40d), not having access to waist-level viewfinders took away a lot of the techniques I preferred to work with.
When I upgraded to a Canon 7D last year, I didn’t even think of using live view at all. It was only when I discovered that I could use it to adjust the fine focus that I realized I could start working again in the same way I had previously, using my Mamiya RB67.
The large screen really lets you see all the elements in your scene, with in turn gives you much more creative freedom. Of course, live view isn’t for every style of photography but if you find yourself placing you camera on your tripod for anything other than sports photography, I’d highly recommend you try using live view to take your image. If your camera supports it of course.
Working with medium format systems and now, DSLRs with some kind of live-view system really changes the way you take an image. You’ll often find yourself working more slowly and with purpose, speeding more time considering the image you want to take and what you need to do in order to capture it.
For me at least, it’s a perfect way to learn the ins and outs of my camera.