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Live View for Landscape Photography

Do you use the Live View function on your camera? It’s a function found in most digital cameras that allow you to see exactly what the camera sees.

This is, for many, a tool that makes photography a lot easier as it has a great impact on your in-field workflow (and it makes it easier to understand the fundamental camera settings)

Keep reading and you’ll learn everything you need to know about getting started with your camera’s Live View function.

What is Live View?

Live View is a neat function that uses the LCD screen to display exactly what the camera sees at any time. This tool is available in the majority of modern digital cameras, though additional functions or modes might vary from camera to camera.

This might sound similar to the Optical Viewfinder but when using Live View, you can see the real-time impact adjusting a camera setting has on the photo. For example, if you change to a quicker shutter speed, the Live View displays a darker image than before. This is a real-time change.

sony, camera, live, view, dslr

You can think of the Live View as an Optical Viewfinder but on a bigger screen that also shows additional information such as

  • Live Exposure
  • Live Histogram
  • Grid View(s)
  • EXIF data
  • Spirit Level
  • … and more

Exactly which additional functions you can see depends on the specific camera you’re using but the above are the most common.

You might not use all the extra functions at once but know that each of them can have a big impact on your workflow. For example, the Grid View is good to use when setting up a composition, the Live Histogram is good for making sure that you’re not over- or under-exposing, and the Spirit Level is useful to make sure the image is level.

Personally, I consider the Live View to be a helpful tool that in many ways has benefited my photography.

Note: Electronic Viewfinders (EVF) use a tiny electronic display that is very similar to the Live View and includes several of the same features.

When to Use Live View (and When Not)

Exactly how great Live View works will depend on the camera you’re using. It’s no secret that some cameras (often entry-level cameras) don’t have high-quality LCD screens. Monitors of low quality may lack detail and have a lot of grain, making it hard to exploit many of its advantages.

Also, not all cameras have extra functions such as Live Histogram or the Spirit Level (We’ll come back to these in a bit)

Since the quality of the LCD screen has such a big impact on how well the Live View work, it’s important to understand that it might not perform as well in dimmed light.

This isn’t just a problem with entry-level cameras. Even high-end models can struggle to deliver a noise-free Live View when the sun goes down.

Personally, I tend to use Live View when my camera is mounted on a tripod. I’ll still turn it on when photographing at night just to see if there are any light sources I can use as a reference for my composition (even though I know I can’t rely on it for exposure and focusing purposes)

That being said, the main reasons I use Live View is because of the Live Histogram, Live Exposure, Grid View, and Spirit Level. These tools allow me to make sure that I’ve got a well-exposed image that’s perfectly level.

When Not to Use Live View

There are certain times using Live View won’t be helpful, though.

Whenever you’re photographing a quickly moving subject, such as a moving car, birds or a person running, Live View is unnecessary and will not be helpful.

You should also avoid using Live View when photographing in burst mode (i.e. multiple images immediately after each other) The reason is the slight delay, or buffer, that happens between the shots. In some cases, that will result in you missing the shot.

Let’s say that you’re doing seascape photography and are trying to capture the perfect wave. This means you shoot many images with the shortest possible interval.

Live View isn’t ideal in that case. You can of course use it to find your composition and to set the exposure but turn it off before beginning the “Rapid fire”.

Advantages of Using Live View

Now that you have a general idea of what the Live View is and how you can use it, let’s look at some of the advantages:

#1 Live View Leads to Sharper Images

This might be a bold statement but using Live View will lead to sharper images.

You might be wondering how a visual representation of the image displayed on the back of your camera will affect the sharpness of an image. Well, a benefit of Live View is that you’re able to zoom in on the LCD screen.

This allows you to take full advantage of manual FOCUS and make slight adjustments until you find the sharpest point. That would’ve been very difficult if you were using the Optical Viewfinder.

A second benefit is that you can zoom in on the live view anywhere you want within the frame. That means you don’t need to rely on autofocus points but can set your own.

Most lenses and cameras have good autofocus functions but I still tend to FOCUS manually. At least whenever the camera is mounted on a tripod and I’m not in a rush. Is there still a difference now that technology has evolved so much? I don’t know. But some habits are hard to change.

#2 Live Histogram Makes it Easy to Expose

This is one of the biggest advantages of using Live View. Unfortunately, this function isn’t available on all cameras but if it is available on yours: I highly recommend using it.

The Live Histogram shows you what the histogram looks like at any time. If you increase the shutter speed by one stop, you’ll see that the histogram is affected right away. This is an extremely useful tool that will help you to capture well-exposed images.

To find this view open Live View and toggle through the different display modes. Normally, this is done by pressing the information button.

If you don’t have the Live Histogram on your camera, you can always see the histogram of each individual image in the playback folder.

When you’re at an image simply press the information button (this might vary from camera to camera) and switch between the different playback modes until you find the histogram.

If you don’t know what the histogram is or how to interpret it, I strongly recommend reading our article How Understanding the Histogram Will Improve Your Photography.

#3 Live View Can Help With Compositions

I know that every photographer has their own workflow and process when setting up their composition. That’s something to be respected and I’m not going to pretend that there’s only one way to do it. That would be a lie.

But what I can do is share my own experience from when I was getting started with photography.

At that time I didn’t have a camera with Live View so, naturally, I relied on the viewfinder. This became a habit and when I years later purchased a camera with Live View, it took a long time for me to start using it.

However, I found that I spend more time working on my compositions after I introduced it into my workflow.

It’s extremely convenient to have a live representation of the image on the camera’s display. This allows me to see the changes I make to the composition live and without having to stand in an awkward position while adjusting the tripod and looking through the viewfinder.

#4 You Can Make Fine Adjustments With Grid View and Level View

Another compositional benefit of using Live View is Grid View and the Spirit Level/Level View. Unlike the Grid View, Level View isn’t available on all camera models.

Grid View is an excellent tool to use when working on your composition. A grid is placed on the LCD screen which allows you to align elements in your image and work with the composition.

Level View is a live spirit level/leveler that you can use to make sure your image is straight – it’s the tool I use the most within Live View.

Disadvantages of Live View

Even though I use Live View most of the time and I’m quite happy with it, there are a couple of downsides that should be mentioned.

#1 Live View Drains the Battery

You’ll quickly see that the battery’s shooting time is severely shortened if you use Live View all the time.

Unfortunately, this is something many aren’t aware of in the beginning and they end up emptying the battery while the conditions are still good.

This is even more true for mirrorless cameras that have an EVF and LCD, but no Optical Viewfinder. In other words, Live View is on all the time and you can’t turn it off.

For this reason, I recommend always bringing spare batteries. Personally, I travel with at least 4 to 5 spare batteries when going out on longer adventures. If I’m just photographing locally, I might not need that many but I’ll at the very least have a couple. Just in case.

A suggestion to those with a DSLR or camera with an Optical Viewfinder is to turn Live View off when it’s not being used. You can even turn it off after you’ve found your composition and camera settings. There’s no reason to leave it on if you’re sticking to that shot for a while.

Small measures like that will keep the battery charged a little longer.

#2 Low-Quality LCD Screens Have a Lot of Noise

As I’ve already mentioned, a common issue is that many of the LCD displays aren’t of high enough quality to provide a noise-free Live View.

This makes it quite difficult to FOCUS in the dark. Aside from that, a poor LCD display won’t have much impact on other aspects of Live View.

Although worth mentioning, the focusing issue shouldn’t discourage you from discovering all the advantages of using it!


Live View is a great function that many photographers rely on for their in-field workflows. There are several advantages of using it but the most important for landscape photographers is being able to see the Live Exposure and Live Histogram. That does wonders when it comes to nailing the perfect exposures.

Other tools such as the Grid View and Level View are there to help improve your compositions and make sure that small details such as a straight horizon are in check.

The beauty of photography is that every photographer has their own habits, preferences, and workflows. There are many who still swear to the Optical Viewfinder and their photos are not less because of it. At the end of the day, it comes down to what feels right for you.

What Live View offers is simply additional tools to help you get the best possible images.

Have you used the Live View yet? Perhaps you’ve got some tips you wish to share with us? Let us know in the Комментарии и мнения владельцев!

May 17th, 2006

I am new to digital photography and bought a Sony A230. I didn’t know that it cannot record video and does not display live view in the LCD. Can someone enlighten me on why a 550 camera cannot do either of these things but a 90 cell phone can? Thanks 10:00AM, 11 August 2009 PDT (permalink)

royal knot [deleted] says:

I had a big spiel typed out which explained all this, but as I got to about the half way point I thought Ach, sod it and Googled it instead.

Effectively, the main reasons revolve around the fact that most SLR’s are based (however loosely) on designs that are decades old. Even as digital was being ushered in, the idea that they would, one day, be able to record videos would have been laughed at as it would have involved massive amounts of re-engineering to get it right.

They will all be able to do it eventually. ages ago (permalink)

Ed Tse says:

You should have researched a bit more. The A300 series has live view but no Sony camera has video yet. Most professionals don’t even use live view unless they work in studio. ages ago (permalink)

Atget’s Apprentice says:

It was fairly clear, in all the UK photo press at least, that the a230 didn’t feature Live View or video, before it was launched, so why buy it?

As for the technology, consider the quality of video from mobile phones and compact cameras. It’s not that high, and as the current crop of DSLRs all feature HD video, there is no comparison.

DSLR sensors are larger, and designed for high image quality, and at the moment, the live view and video features are relatively new features, and their inclusion on entry level models would make them more expensive, and less competetive in the marketplace. ages ago (permalink)

Steve in Wisconsin says:

Thank you all for your responses. I did manage to find some of these explantions after I posted my inquiry, and I certainly can understand and accept that my DSLR cannot record video. The no live view is the kicker, though. And yes, Eddy, you’re right, I should have done a bit more research! I may consider returning the A230 and getting the A300 series for the live view. Still pondering that. ages ago (permalink)

Atget’s Apprentice says:

Stretch the finances and get an a350. ages ago (permalink)

royal knot [deleted] says:

Seriously, do you need it? If you don’t, stick with the A230 and if you really want to spend money plough it into lenses. they’ll make a far bigger difference to your images than a new body will.

In fact, live view is the ONLY difference between the A230 and the A330. there are actually a few minor drawbacks in the A330, due to technical limitations of Sony‘s live view system. ages ago (permalink)

Kai Eiselein says:

Watching someone use live view with a 70-300 lens attached. ages ago (permalink)

sony, camera, live, view, dslr

photobuf says:

If you are really set on having Live View and movie modes, return the Sony DSLR camera, and buy a Canon or Nikon DSLR body, which has both those features, but will cost you more than double.

If you can live with just live view, then exchange it for an A-300 series camera. Realistically, live view is only helpful in certain situations, and in bright sunlight, is next to impossible to see. Another down side is that it’s far more difficult to hand hold a DSLR camera steady while watching a live view screen. Better suited to small lightweight point and shoot cameras. Very easy to get camera shake, since the camera is not being braced as well as you could otherwise. Originally posted ages ago. (permalink) photobuf edited this topic ages ago.

photobuf says:

I agree, lots of camera shake, as I mentioned. ages ago (permalink)

Ʀαdio Ϛilϵncϵ says:

If those features are really on the need to have list it seems your needs would be better suited with a higher end ps. I can only think of a couple of times in the last year I wished my 200 had live view, and that’s because the camera was in such a position (really low/tight quarters) that I couldn’t get my head behind it. My previous camera had a type of live view (Fuji s700) but I still preferred to use the viewfinder.

As for video. I wouldn’t want it in an slr. I have a compact video camera for that. Small ps cameras do it just fine too. An slr body is a lot heavier thing to hold up while shooting a video than a little camera and not designed in the same way as an actual video camera. which is meant to be held while shooting video. I’d rather the manufacturers just FOCUS on taking high quality still images. I don’t want a jack-of-all-trades camera.

With an slr your body and its features are only the beginning point. Your real money will be spent on your lenses. For a fraction of a good lens’ cost you can get something else to take video, and probably much better video than any dslr will record. ages ago (permalink)

Natsuiro says:

One thing to consider is that if you do return the A230 for an A300 series camera is that you will have a very tiny viewfinder. It’s personal preference, but I’d rather have a larger viewfinder than live view capabilities, especially with a screen on the A300 series cameras that does not swivel. ages ago (permalink)

Steve in Wisconsin says:

Thank you all for your insightful Комментарии и мнения владельцев. Given the choice of spending hundreds of dollars more for the A300 series, or taking the A230 back outright, I’ve decided to do niether and keep the A230, Sony 18-55mm Lens, and Sony 75-300mm f/4.5-5.6 Compact Super Telephoto Zoom Lens. It has more than enough features to keep me satisfied for years to come and it really takes great photos. You are all correct, I don’t need live view or video on this camera. Happy Flickr-ing to you all! Originally posted ages ago. (permalink) Steve in Wisconsin edited this topic ages ago.

St小天 says:

a230 is just the a200, only some changes in it’s shape ages ago (permalink)

eppietrap says:

You should have bought it in a proper shop. not from the net. should have asked an expert. and held the camera in your hands. picking a camera is very personal. depands if u have big or small hands. the a230 is quit small. and they would have told you that it doesn`t make movies or have liveview. Eventhough succes, and lots of fun with ur (very good) Photocamera. And whats already been said is that normally you don`t use liveview on a dslr. kind regards Elbert ages ago (permalink)

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It may be time for Sony owners to ditch Imaging Edge Mobile and get this new Monitor app.

For all those Sony digital videographers out there, we know your pain. While Sony sure knows how to make its cameras sleek, small, and powerful, they haven’t quite perfected its remote functionality with its preferred Imaging Edge Mobile app.

Well, all that might be finally ready to change.

Let’s check out Monitor, a new third-party monitor app designed specifically to be used by Sony cameras, which should shore up many of the issues of the Imaging Edge Mobile app.

Ditch Imaging Edge Mobile?

So, the crux of the complaints about Imaging Edge Mobile mostly has to do with its unreliability, frequent disconnects, and overall lack of features.

Most Sony users have either been forced to make do with it over the years, or simply ditch the prospects of controlling and monitoring their cameras from their smartphone—which is fine… but maybe not ideal for everyone.

However, as you can see in the great video above by Chris Brockhurst. there is a light at the end of the tunnel, as he breaks down his recommendation for the Monitor app for his Sony camera setups.

Check out Monitor

While the name might sound like a new streaming service designed for your baby monitor, this app could become the new official unofficial smartphone monitoring app for all Sony cameras.

It’s currently set up to support cameras including the Sony a7R IV, Sony A9 II, Sony a7C, Sony a7S III, Sony A1, and the Sony FX3, however, it should work with any newer models as well.

The main function offerings which might be appealing to Sony users include its full camera control, false color, FOCUS peaking, anamorphic de-stretch, zebras, and more. Oh, and you can use your LUTs live to give your videos that extra cinematic Sony look!

Specs and Features

Here are the full specs and features:

  • Live View
  • Remote Control (Shutter Speed, Iris, ISO, WB. )
  • Touch AF and display FOCUS point
  • Record and playback live view signals
  • Assist Functions (False Color, Zebra, Waveform, Histogram, Vectorscope, Guide, Focus Peaking, Desqueeze, LUTs. )
  • Chroma Keying and Overlay
  • Focus Pulling
  • Apple Watch Extension
  • Screen Lock

It’s important to note a few things about the app, though. One, Monitor is not officially affiliated with Sony in any way, so don’t look to them for any troubleshooting help or support.

And two, Monitor is free to download and try out, but to get the majority of the functions and features you will need to upgrade to the pro plan, which will cost you 18.99. (Still, a small price to pay for having a functional and reliable remote monitor on your phone.)

You can download Monitor for iOS and Android following the links below:

Let us know if you try it out.

Aputure Light Dome III—the Budget Flagship Softbox

The Light Dome III and Mini III complement the affordability of Aputure’s amaran series.

The days of hard tungsten lights are gone, replaced by LED fixtures and soft boxes that are cool to the touch and incredibly affordable. Not only for the budding filmmaker but even for veterans who want to save some money and maintain lighting quality.

Aputure has led this charge with its budget-friendly amaran series of fixtures, the most popular being the moonlight-style lights. After updating the line with the amaran 300C and 150C, the next step was always to upgrade the accessories.

The new Aputure Light Dome III and Light Dome Mini III are just that. Let’s see how these new tools can help filmmakers and video content creators.

The Aputure Light Dome III

It seems the trilogy is finally complete. The Light Dome III is the flagship softbox from Aputure that comes in at 3ft in diameter and includes a brand new quick-folding, flat-pack design.

Having cut my teeth on cheap, hard-to-set-up softboxes, having a quick-folding design at an affordable price is a lifesaver on set. Whether I’m doing a quick interview or lighting a closeup for a short film, something I can set up and move around the set quickly will always be my first pick.

The Bowens mounts came to the video world from our friends in the photography space. Nowadays, any lighting fixture with a monolight design comes with one, and Aputure was quick to capitalize on it. All of its monolight fixtures come with one, which is what makes the Light Dome III such a valuable tool. Not only can you utilize it on LED video lights, but it’s also a tool you can use with strobe lights if you’re also doing photography work.

A 3ft softbox can give you great light diffusion.

The Aputure Light Dome Mini III

But a large softbox isn’t always the right solution. This is where the Light Dome Mini III is such an asset. Coming in at 2ft in diameter, the Mini III is a beauty-dish-style softbox that is a great tool for those tight close-ups or products.

Light Dome Mini III w/ the amaran 150c.

​A traditional beauty dish is usually a rigid structure, which makes transporting it a pain. But the Mini III is a compact tool that has the same quick-folding design. Having both the Light Dome III and the Mini III in your kit will increase your lighting versatility while taking up a limited amount of space.

Changes From the Previous Generation

While you may think that there isn’t much upgrading you can do to a softbox, Aputure begs to differ. The main difference between Version III and the previous generation is the new quick-setup folding speedring. Set up is quick, sure, but the greatest asset is the ability to fold both units flat.

Have you ever seen a beauty dish-style accessory fold flat? I don’t think I have, at least for this price. Creatives no longer need to snap in the 16 individual support rods to create the softbox shape. You just unpack, fold it out, lock it in place, and put it on your light.

Now creatives can have the same 3ft and 2ft diameter softboxes, but keep their storage footprint small. This means you can carry more gear to set or just keep your kit small for those quick projects.

The folding mechanism makes set up fast and efficient.

Is This Accessory for You?

If you’re a solo creative, having compact accessories like these can reduce your setup and make shooting more about creativity than gear management. However, if you’re working with a team and larger lights (even Aputure lights), you’re probably building out entire diffusion and bounce elements with rail. If that’s the case, this might not be the tool you need.

But if having a compact softbox that sets up quickly and folds flat is something you really need, then the Aputure Light Dome III and Light Dome Mini III are definitely something you need to put on your shortlist.

Preorders are available now via the Aputure store.

The Aputure Light Dome III will be priced at 219, and Light Dome Mini III at 129. Both accessories will be available for shipping worldwide beginning July 25, 2023.

We Review an iPhone App That Will Control Your Sony Camera

Everyone who owns a good camera eventually wants some degree of remote control. It may be simply to get in a selfie, to take a time-lapse, or to create bracketed images.

Triggering your camera without touching it and causing vibration is another obvious thing photographers want. In the old days, we had cable releases for some of these functions, and as cameras progressed, we were offered more sophisticated devices, wired and unwired, to give us some basic control of our cameras. I’ve just had an extensive test of Shutter, an iOS app for Sony cameras that offers a lot of control at a pretty low price. it doesn’t work the same on all Sony cameras, because not all Sony cameras have the same capabilities. I’ve been using it with the new Sony a7 IV, and it’s full-featured. Later in this article, I’ll get into detail on compatible cameras.

What You Get

Testing on my camera, I can specify an initial delay and intervals between photos (an Intervalometer), as well as remotely control exposure settings. An included on-screen histogram ensures you don’t clip highlights or lose shadow details.

With the help of that included intervalometer, you can get rid of a dedicated cable release. You can capture raw photos and use your regular raw editor and video editor to put together time-lapse movies.

This is also very useful for astrophotography, especially doing the Milky Way. You can set up the app to take, say, 50 15-second exposures, then use the software of your choice to align them, all without touching the camera.

Shutter supports both burst mode and bulb mode on most Sony cameras.

The app also works with tap to FOCUS on my a7 IV, where you tap the iPhone screen to get the FOCUS where you want it. With the recent Eye-AF update for third-generation Sony cameras, Shutter can always FOCUS on the eyes. Shutter can also control video on many Sony cameras, but I think the app is best used by still photographers.

Any Issues?

Shutter is new and not yet perfect. Connecting your phone to the camera is pretty easy. You tell the app what Sony model you have, and it gives you a step-by-step connection process. On my Sony A7 IV, I could easily connect, but a few times, the app (or the camera) dropped the connection. Re-running the app connected instantly. There are a few little onscreen bugs. I have my SD card in slot two of my Sony, but the app reported no SD card. The developer acknowledged the bug and will quickly fix it. On the other hand, it was a cosmetic issue, because my camera functioned fine and my images were saved to the camera and my iPhone. Happily, after I reported the bug, the developer fixed it one day later.

Speaking of the developer, he seems to respond quickly to any issue, day or night. I thought that might be because I was a reviewer of the app, but regular users report the same thing.

What I Like

Shutter is easy to understand and gives me a whole lot of features no wired or wireless remote I’ve seen offers. I have a Sony BT remote (the Sony Wireless Remote Commander). It can autofocus lenses and trigger the shutter, but that’s about it. It’s better than the old IR remotes, but only slightly. The Shutter app does a lot more, doesn’t tie me physically to the camera, shows me what the camera sees, and provides a host of bracket options and interval timers for astrophotography or time-lapse imaging.

What I Don’t Like

The app can be a bit flaky. I’ve seen a few disconnects. That could be the app or the way Sony offers third-party connections. I’ve seen similar complaints with Sony’s Imaging Edge app, which again, is not as fully featured as Shutter.

There’s a second or so of lag between the camera screen and your iPhone screen. For landscape and astrophotography, I can work with that. It’s not for sports photographers, though, when zero lag is what you need.

Summing Up

Despite some teething glitches, I think Sony camera owners will want this app if they are on iOS. An Android version is being worked on.

If you’re interested in the app, the developer has provided a list of compatible cameras and what functionality you’ll get, depending on what features Sony opens to third-party apps.

The app also includes an Apple Watch app that I haven’t tested. It offers a screen display and remote triggering, as well as exposure control and self-timer settings.

Shutter is 16.99 in the Apple app store, and the developer offers a refund after seven days if you are not satisfied. I like the app and the work the developer has put in. It’s not perfect yet, but I like where it is going, and updates have been frequent and worthwhile. Shutter is worthy of your consideration for what it is now and what’s coming.

If you’re passionate about taking your photography to the next level but aren’t sure where to dive in, check out the Well-Rounded Photographer tutorial where you can learn eight different genres of photography in one place. If you purchase it now, or any of our other tutorials, you can save a 15% by using ARTICLE at checkout.