Compared to digital SLR cameras there are not too many accessories available for micro four thirds cameras, however f you only buy one accessory for your Olympus micro four thirds Pen cameras, such as the EPL1, the VF-2 electronic view finder has to be the accessory of choice.
Many micro four thirds do not have an optical view finder and the only way to compose the shot and take the photograph is by using the LCD screen on the back of the camera. This is fine on dull and overcast days, or when you are in the shade, however this method is far more problematic in bright sunlight. There are times when the light is too strong and there is too much glare to see what is on the screen, let alone take a photograph. It is in these bright and sunny conditions when the an electronic view finder comes in to its own.
Being a long term DSLR shooter I have to admit that I am a fan of optical view finders. I have owned point and shoot compact cameras before and have never really warmed to composing shots and taking photographs using an LCD screen. I have no end of problems and find my horizons aren’t straight, some of my images suffer camera shake and the overall photographs just aren’t that good. I have to admit that I like to hold the camera up to my face and look through a view finder to get the shot as it just feels comfortable and right. The VF-2 electronic viewfinder allows me to do this.
I bought this electronic viewfinder for my Olympus EPL1, however it is compatible with other Olympus micro four thirds models such as the EP1 and EP2, so it is an accessory that many people will be able to use. The VF-2 gets its power directly from the digital camera, which is great since it means you will never be caught short without batteries to power the VF-2. One of the best things about the VF-2 is that it doesn’t use any more power than if you were using the LCD screen.
The Olympus VF-2 electronic viewfinder. A small, expensive but very useful accessory for any compatible Olympus digital camera that allows you to compose shots and focus on key subjects in all conditions. With the VF-2 you will no longer be squinting at the LCD screen in bright sunlight.
Before I bought the VF-2 I had read some very brief reviews, all of which commented that when the VF-2 was locked on to the EPL1 it made it big and cumbersome. This electronic viewfinder does increase the overall dimensions of the EPL1 but it definitely doesn’t make it big and cumbersome. The EPL1 can still fit in a pocket with the VF-2 locked on, however you do need to be a bit careful as it is quite easy to accidentally knock the VF-2 off the camera.
The VF-2 is nothing more than a small black box, complete with an eye piece, that clips in to the hotshoe of the EPL1, or whatever Olympus digital camera it is being used on. Once the camera is turned on you press the button of the VF-2 (there is only one button) on the VF-2 and look through the eye piece. The view in the eye piece is exactly what would be displayed on the LCD screen, and there is no reduction in size at all. If you want to compose the image using the LCD screen with the VF-2 attached you simply press the button again and the LCD will light up once more.
The view produced by the VF-2 is exceptionally bright and clear. Many people comment on how clear the view is, which is one of the few reasons I bought the VF-2, but you have to see it to believe it. No review I have read on the VF-2 has done the clarity of the view justice. The clarity and brightness is simply amazing and great for someone who wears glasses, like me. Even if you have 20:20 vision you will find the additional brightness excellent.
Manual focusing using the LCD screen can be hit or miss, depending on the strength and intensity of the sunlight. Manual focusing using the VF-2 is quick, easy and very accurate. With today’s auto focus systems you may be asking the question “why bother using manual focusing techniques?”. I have many old manual focus prime lenses, i.e. legacy glass, and the VF-2 allows my to use these lenses on my EPL1 and actually get some tack sharp images. Old prime lenses are fast and produce stunning images. What’s more, legacy glass is cheap and you can buy several prime legacy lenses for less than half the price of a modern day auto focus lens so there is a cost saving to be had here. If you decide to use legacy glass you must remember to buy the right adaptor, which can be bought from many online stores, or ebay, for little money.
Here we have the Olympus VF-2 electronic viewfinder on an Olympus Pen EPL1. The VF-2 does make the outfit a bit bigger but it is still plenty small enough to fit in to a jacket pocket. The VF-2 electronic viewfinder is a must have accessory.
The VF-2 is not cheap, in fact it cost almost as much as my EPL1, but then I did get a huge discount on the EPL1 because it is being replaced by new models and slowly phased out. I managed to get a VF-2 for £195 plus £10 delivery, although I have seen other online stores selling them for as much as £275 plus delivery costs. There is quite a large price differential, therefore it is worth shopping around to save some money.
Overall the VF-2 electronic viewfinder is a fantastic accessory for the EPL1, or any other Olympus camera that will accept it, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. The VF-2 opens up a whole new creative world and provides endless opportunities to get some stunning images and because of this I leave it on my EPL1 all the time. I would say that more than 98% of my photographs are taken using the VF-2, however on those rare instances when I use the LCD screen, such as for landscape photography, I simply press the button on the front of the VF-2 to turn the LCD screen back on.
I like the brightness and clarity of the VF-2 and never get plagued by strong sunlight creating too much glare to take photographs. I can take images in the most intense light and be safe in the knowledge I can get tack sharp images. I cannot over emphasize just how bright and clear the VF-2 is and would suggest you go to your local camera shop for a demonstration if you are thinking of buying one. Stick a VF-2 on an Olympus digital camera and you will soon see what I am on about.
I like the fact I can focus manually and accurately using the VF-2. This means I can dust off the cobwebs of my old manual focus prime lenses and start using these in my photography once more. It is a marriage of film photography and digital photography that actually works and has breathed new life in to the way I take photographs.
The VF-2 is an awesome accessory and if you only buy one accessory for your micro four thirds camera the Olympus VF-2 should be top of your list.