According to a story published by Canon Watch, Canon might be working on a hybrid viewfinder for its future generations of DSLRs. Commonly, DSLRs come with an optical prism or mirror finder that lets you look straight through the optical path of the lens, thanks to the reflex mirror that reflects the incoming light upward towards the viewfinder. This classic viewfinder design has been challenged by high-resolution electronic viewfinders in the recent past, which many prefer for their brightness in low light, the ability to overlay shooting information, as well as easier manual focusing.
There is another possibility, though, and Fujifilm has first implemented this with its X100 large-sensor enthusiast’s compact: the hybrid viewfinder, which uses both an optical viewfinder as well as an electronic overlay. The way this is done in the Fuji X100 as well as its successor, the X100S, and the interchangeable-lens model X-Pro 1, is that the user can select via a switch whether they want to use the EVF exclusively, or whether they want to use the optical viewfinder (which in this case is not linked to the lens, but independent like on a rangefinder camera.)
The clever trick that Fuji did with the X100, X100S and X-Pro 1’s viewfinder is that in optical mode, information displayed on a semi-transparent LCD is blended with the optical view, so that you get the best of both worlds: the claritiy of an OVF with the comfort of overlaid shooting information of an EVF.
In case of Canon, the hybrid viewfinder would work either in optical or in electronic mode–at least that’s what the Canon Watch report claims. When shooting stills, the optical viewfinder would be used, while for video, for which so far the rear screen had to be used on DSLRs, the electronic viewfinder would take over. Canon Watch speculates that this technology could be implemented in the successor to the Canon 7D, whereas Canon Rumors points out the possibility that the next 1D C cinema DSLR might receive it.
Of course, nothing of this is confirmed so far, so please take it with a grain of salt. While the idea is definitely intruguing, there’s no guarantee that we’ll actually see it implemented in Canon DSLRs anytime soon. Also, in the video world it is commonplace to use either an external monitor, or a viewfinder add-on that attaches to the rear screen, in order to improve visibility and camera stability.
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