Daily Inspiration #183 by D.J. De La Vega

Hi Steve,

Happy New Year, all the best to you, your family and all of your loyal readers. I’m confident 2011 is going to be a huge and successful year for your site. What a great way to start the new year than with the amazing announcement of the Great M9 give away! Seal (~6) is really an awesome guy for donating such a brilliant gift to your site.

For this submission I want to explore a simple statement:

Can a viewfinder or absence there of, really affect photographic results?

After a busy Christmas and New Year schedule, I’ve finally got around to processing about a months worth of street shooting I’ve been doing with my X1. I’ve recently been lucky enough to get the 36mm Bright Line Viewfinder for it and what a viewfinder it is!

Since my Leica compacts have virtually made my SLR gear obsolete for the last two years, I’ve really missed the simple act of holding a camera to the eye. Its sounds basic but by holding the camera at arms length to view the screen really impacts on your photography. Not just the obvious effect on camera stability and therefore sharpness of photographs, but the psychological impact it has on framing and composition. I believe you view and approach subjects differently by holding the camera to the eye as many of you may agree. It also allows you a to take a photo much quicker and in a more discrete action. Walking around the street pointing a camera at arms length toward people is enough to scare away any would be subject.

So after a good few shoots with my new viewfinder and new shooting philosophy I’ve submitted a couple of my favourite photographs. I’ve picked these four as they seem to be connected with a continuing theme, a kind of atmosphere of anonymity.

Hopefully this may open up a discussion on compact cameras and micro 4/3rds with or without viewfinders versus Rangefinders and SLRs.

Please check out some of my other X1 experimentation at my Flickr page:


All the best!

D.J. De La Vega


  1. Nice work! Thanks for nudging me closer to the purchase of a viewfinder for my X-1, which is one fine little Leica. I rarely shoot in full daylight, but when I did I’ve noticed a real hindrance from bright sun AND my polarized Rx sunglasses with the display.

  2. Inspiration indeed. These four are wonderful (#3 my favorite), but the whole X1 body of work on Flickr…DJ, wow! I’ve not seen anybody using that little Leica to better effect. Clearly, it really suits you. Thanks to you, seeing the Clyde Arc Bridge in person (at night, of course) just made it on to my “bucket list”. I love that photo. Anyway it’s all great stuff and makes one want to get out and shoot, with or without a viewfinder. Thanks.

  3. Sean Reid on his website discusses this matter at some length regarding the differences between the various ways one can compose with a camera, and warns the potential purchaser to think very carefully before choosing his camera. Each in turn has it’s merits, whether to go for a LCD screen only, EVF or an OVF, or indeed using a combination of the two. The Fuji X 100 looks to have a very interesting combination viewfinder, but we will have to wait till March 2011 to see if all the hype is justified – I feel the Fuji X100 will be a brilliant camera as the company has experience in building medium format film rangefinder cameras, and they can certainly design and build superb lenses, which many large format landscape photographers with their Fujinon lenses will testify to.

    Very impressed with your colour photographs on your Flickr pages, taken with your Leica X1 in a relatively short time – to get that many keepers in that time you must be a very busy photographer, and loving that Leica. The IQ from that X1 lens is outstanding, and really has a certain look about it.

    I am wrestling with the problem of whether to get the Ricoh GXR A12 system or the Leica X1 as a light travel camera. Both cameras are excellent (thanks for your reviews and comparisons, Steve), but we come back to the question of which viewfinder system to go for – the EVF (Ricoh GXR) or OVF (Leica X1). I do agree with you that just using the LCD screen is a non-starter, as I find that holding the camera at arms length does nothing to help in keeping the camera steady, although it can help in taking those candid shots, as you can blend in with the ‘point and shoots’ and phone cameras.



  4. I’m so glad to read other people are also thinking about things like viewfinders, etc. I hope Leica takes a cue from the soon to be released Fuji X100. the X1 would benefit greatly from their planned approach to the viewfinder. My wife literally WILL NOT consider a camera without one and the externals, no matter how nice, make the cameras seem more bulky and odd shaped (and harder to pocket) than just adding height and building it in would.

    Randall Kelley
    PS: Your photos are great. Keep up the good work.

  5. This article comes at the right moment for me. I just returned from a little vacation trip to Jerusalem, where I mainly shot street pictures with my Leica X1, and realized I missed the optional viewfinder. In the bright sun of the day the image on the lcd screen wasn’t all that easy to use for composing and focusing my shots. I loved the X1 image quality nonetheless, what a great travel camera it is. It can’t really stand on its own unfortunately, for the sort of macro shots that were part of my travel mission I had to use a Sony Cybershot h55 (crusader marks in the Holy Sepulchre basement walls), and some other shots would have been impossible without my dslr with zoom lens in my backpack). The Leica X1 was just best for all those moments roaming the streets and not being too obtrusive.

    But now, at home, I wondered whether I really want to spend the extra €275 for an external viewfinder. Your post convinced me I want to 🙂 Thnx for the inspiration and beautiful shots.

  6. Hmzzzz, I’m just at the opposite scale (as usuall so to speak). Personally I didn’t like to hide my beautiful smile (ehem ehem) behind my Nikon F5 when I shoot people. A little unobtrusive Pen or GF1 lets you get real close to people. Eh you should not stick the camera into their oral cavity of course but into their faces, hell people think your just some clown and don’t mind. No I must say their are no red Leica dots on my camera. Eh I ruin my chances but the Reddot is the first thing ~6 Leica would loose if I decided to keep it…..I have possibly less qualified bodyguards then he does (his lovely wife can no doubt be visciuos once attacked 😉 due to her Cologne nature) and I in Holland one gets murdered for an I-pod these days. But a Leica dot, says “Professional” and that scares people more then the EVIL camera…..

    Greetings, Ed

  7. Thanks everyone!

    John, to confirm focus there’s a green LED on the back of the camera just under the viewfinder. It’s well placed so you know when your focus is successful.

  8. I could not agree with you more. Having a viewfinder makes all of the difference in composition. Personally, I feel more connected with the task at hand if I’m able to view the subject closely, instead of at arms length.

    I’m curious though about the X1. One of the reasons I’ve been hesitant to purchase one is because there is no internal viewfinder. I guess I’d be looking for confirmation of focus which the external viewfinder does not give…I believe you get a sound confirmation with the X1, correct? Its just not good enough for me, and it is disappointing because it is otherwise a fine camera. I am however, for this same reason looking forward to the X1000…can’t wait.

    Thanks for sharing

  9. Great shots D.J.!! That last photo has me totally confused. It’s clearly a reflection but off what? The floor? The ceiling? But they aren’t upside down, hrmm….

  10. interesting use of architecture to frame your subjects, i like the second shot a lot, with the two families so close yet seemingly a world away just because of a window frame separating them.

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