EVFs And Shooting Into The Sun

Paraglider At The Torrey Pines Gliderport

At the Torrey Pines Gliderport, I shot over 100 photos looking almost directly into the sun for all of them. With a conventional DSLR that would have been uncomfortable if not dangerous. Because I was shooting with a Sony A58 with an electronic viewfinder, I had no problems and I could concentrate on composition.

In the Greek myth, Icarus fell from the sky because he flew too close to the sun. In photography we’re trained to employ a version of the lesson of the Flight Of Icarus–don’t shoot into the sun, shoot with the sun at your back. Of course, this is a pretty awful rule to apply to apply to all of your photography. Shooting with sidelight and backlight frequently yields more interesting results than a plain vanilla front-lit photo. For an even more dramatic effect, including the sun within the frame can yield stunning results. Ansel Adams took a famous photograph called Black Sun by doing this. In his photo, the solar disk was rendered pure black because of the Clayden Effect which occurs with film when it’s given an overdose of light. We don’t have to worry about the Clayden Effect with digital cameras, but one of the difficulties we do still have with a DSLR when shooting into the sun is that…well…you’re looking directly into the sun and you can permanently damage your eyesight.

Sony A58 TMT Camera

Sony Alpha SLT-A58 Translucent Mirror Technology Camera

Last week I did some shooting with a new Sony Alpha SLT-A58. It’s a “DSLR” with a translucent mirror and an electronic viewfinder. Sony’s Translucent Mirror Technology solves some problems inherent in conventional SLRs where the mirror must flip out of the way to make an exposure. To make the system work, the image you see in the viewfinder isn’t just being reflected by a mirror and pentaprism assembly, it’s a processed image generated from the image sensor, just like the image you see on the camera’s LCD. We’re written about various benefits of the TMT systems since they came out a couple years ago. Using the A58 last week, I discovered an additional benefit of the electronic viewfinder that I hadn’t appreciated before. Because I was shooting into the sun at the time, the EVF allowed me to shoot without blinding myself.

All in all I shot more than 100 images at the Torrey Pines Gliderport and several minutes of HD video…for all of it my camera was pointed pretty much directly into the sun.