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Thread: Olympus VF-3 Viewfinder

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    Default Olympus VF-3 Viewfinder

    First of all, know that you will need a firmware update to use this with any of the PEN E-PL cameras. That's not a big deal, but you should know about it because it is otherwise a bit alarming when you gaze eagerly into your brand new viewfinder and it's black ... no view to find. Just call customer service (the number is on the insert that comes with the viewfinder) and they will walk you through the process. They are very nice and very helpful.

    Unfortunately, that doesn't change the quality of the viewfinder. The VF-3 cost about $100 less than the VF-2. I haven't used the VF-2, but it's gotten raves so I have to assume that it's pretty darn good. This isn't. The colors are seriously washed out and the view itself is coarse and quite grainy. The walls in my office here are Peptol Bismol pink, but look grey through the viewfinder. While that might be an aesthetic improvement, it is not something that makes you feel good about spending $180 on a viewfinder.

    When I asked the customer service guy, with whom I was still on the phone, if this was the way it was supposed to look, he explained that this is the economy model and Olympus cut a few corners. They sure did.

    This is a "better than nothing" viewfinder. If you simply have to have one, this beats having no viewfinder but not by much. It IS a viewfinder, and you can take a peek at the LCD and get a truer image, but it is a big disappointment. I will use it. Maybe I'll get used to it, but $180 is NOT cheap in my world. Colors should be true, regardless of price. They aren't even close and that's not making me feel good right now. Neither is the coarseness of the image, which makes it very hard to tell if you are in focus or not. Better trust AF if you're using this one!

    Perhaps I should mention that it's very cute and comes in a nice velveteen pouch. I don't really think that makes up for the lack of quality, but they didn't skimp on external design ... just functionality!

    Summing up, if you want a viewfinder and you are on a tight budget, this IS a viewfinder and it IS cheaper and it does work, sort of. But it's not a very good viewfinder and it isn't going to make you smile. And you aren't going to recommend it to your friends unless you know they can't afford the better one. Frankly, I don't think that Olympus should be putting out products that are not of a certain quality. It does nothing for their reputation. This is not going to improve their place in the camera community.
    Last edited by teepee12; 09-08-2011 at 11:03 AM. Reason: Wanted to add something!

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    Default Re: Olympus VF-3 Viewfinder

    If anyone else had gotten this piece of equipment, I'd be very interested in hearing your response!

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    Default Re: Olympus VF-3 Viewfinder

    Very weird. I don't know why you would get any different colors than what you get on the LCD. The only reason I am trying to order the VF-3 is to for manual focus in bright sunlight, so I guess it would still be good for that... but your comments are very well worth noting.
    Olympus E-3 | Olympus E-PL2 PEN | Olympus E-PM1 PEN | Zuiko ED 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 SWD | Zuiko 14-54mm f/2.8-3.5 | Vivitar 100mm f/2.8 Macro | Carl Zeiss Sonnar 135mm f/2.8 | Konica Hexanon 50mm f/1.4 | Konica Hexanon 85mm f/1.8 | G.Zuiko 50mm f/1.4 | Zuiko 35mm f/3.5 Macro | Zuiko 25mm f/2.8 | KMZ Jupiter-3 50mm f/1.5 | E.Zuiko 200mm f/4 | Zuiko 75-150mm f/4 | Olympus EC-14 teleconverter | VF-2 and VF-3 Viewfinders | EMA-1 Mic Adapter | Olympus FL-36R and FL-50R speedlights

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    Cool Re: Olympus VF-3 Viewfinder

    Quote Originally Posted by teepee12 View Post
    Unfortunately, that doesn't change the quality of the viewfinder. The VF-3 cost about $100 less than the VF-2. I haven't used the VF-2, but it's gotten raves so I have to assume that it's pretty darn good. This isn't. The colors are seriously washed out and the view itself is coarse and quite grainy. The walls in my office here are Peptol Bismol pink, but look grey through the viewfinder. While that might be an aesthetic improvement, it is not something that makes you feel good about spending $180 on a viewfinder.
    Just to be sure, check out page 74 of the E-PL1 manual. It allows you to change the color settings for the VF-2 (and presumably VF-3). It may be there might be some white balance issues with the defaults.

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    Default Re: Olympus VF-3 Viewfinder

    Quote Originally Posted by Neddog View Post
    Very weird. I don't know why you would get any different colors than what you get on the LCD. The only reason I am trying to order the VF-3 is to for manual focus in bright sunlight, so I guess it would still be good for that... but your comments are very well worth noting.
    I've just been running test shots using it. While the colors you get in the shots ARE true, what you see is very far from what you get and the grainy, coarse resolution (lack of resolution, more to the point) makes it surprisingly difficult to tell whether or not you've got your focus. About half the time I do, the other half, I don't. Rather disheartening.

    While I had the tech guy on the phone, he ran me through a few other adjustments that slightly improved the quality, but minimal. He said that the quality of the image was the primary area of "compromise" in the VF-3 ... that was where Olympus had cut their corners. I think they may have nicked an artery while cutting. I'm not sure I can live with this and may wind up sending it back. I am SO disappointed!

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    Default Re: Olympus VF-3 Viewfinder

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Meissner View Post
    Just to be sure, check out page 74 of the E-PL1 manual. It allows you to change the color settings for the VF-2 (and presumably VF-3). It may be there might be some white balance issues with the defaults.
    I went in and bumped up both brightness and color temp a few notches (3 to be precise). That improved the color to the degree that I can actually see anything at all because nothing is going to improve the lack of resolution. It is awful. I can hardly believe this is an Olympus product. It's that bad. You have to understand: I've owned a LOT of Olympus equipment over the years. I owned at least 3 of their film cameras and 3 or 4 of their digitals too. I've had issues occasionally: their early digitals were painfully slow both to recycle (flash) and had problems with auto-focus, for example. But never at any time was I ever disappointed in the quality of a lens or a camera. Lenses were good to excellent. Camera mechanics were smooth. The cameras were always well made and sturdy. Viewfinders were fine. I knew, whatever else, that the optics would be excellent and they always were. This is the first piece of equipment I have ever bought from Olympus that I feel is not of sufficient quality to bear the name. That's BAD. Really bad.

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    Default Re: Olympus VF-3 Viewfinder

    I want to add one more thing: I have always trusted Olympus. When other people pooh-poohed them and swore by their Nikons or whatever was the camera du jour, I loved my Olympus cameras. I loved the design, the compactness ... even of their full size SLRs. They were ergonomic and felt good in my hands and they produced pictures that had as good quality as anything I ever used aside from my Leica and Rollei, both of which were in a class of their own. But amongst 35mm cameras? I never felt that I had a camera that was second to anyone else's. The PL-1 has been confusing to learn, but I never doubted its quality. Nor did I worry that the lenses would be second rate or the build shabby. I knew when I bought it that the VF-3 was going to be their "less expensive" VF, but the PL-1 is their less expensive camera and it is a quality product. But this? It looks pretty. Nice finish. But the optics are terrible. Really BAD. This is not a subtle thing I'm talking about. It's not a little bit off, or not quite as good as I expected. I am not sure that it is actually going to be usable ... which is why I have been careful to avoid damaging the packaging. I still have to get it outside and work with it ... if it stops raining one of these days. MAYBE it'll be better outdoors, but folks, gotta tellya: the tech rep at Olympus was not encouraging. He said straight up that they had reduced the resolution significantly to cut costs. When I said "everything looks gray" he said, "Well, it's a cheap viewfinder." Not encouraging. This is a bad road for this company to travel down.
    Last edited by teepee12; 09-08-2011 at 03:10 PM. Reason: typos natch

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    Default Re: Olympus VF-3 Viewfinder

    Quote Originally Posted by teepee12 View Post
    I've just been running test shots using it. While the colors you get in the shots ARE true, what you see is very far from what you get and the grainy, coarse resolution (lack of resolution, more to the point) makes it surprisingly difficult to tell whether or not you've got your focus. About half the time I do, the other half, I don't. Rather disheartening.

    While I had the tech guy on the phone, he ran me through a few other adjustments that slightly improved the quality, but minimal. He said that the quality of the image was the primary area of "compromise" in the VF-3 ... that was where Olympus had cut their corners. I think they may have nicked an artery while cutting. I'm not sure I can live with this and may wind up sending it back. I am SO disappointed!
    That is very disheartening to hear, Teepee. Grainy, coarse resolution is definitely not what I would expect from a 906k dot viewfinder. It's not as high-res as the 1.44 million dot VF-2 of course, but 906k is very hefty for a screen of that tiny size! My E-PL2 only has 460k over a full 3" screen on the back, and it's not bad for resolution. Even the E-5 has a 960k dot LCD but it's also 3" like the E-PL2, not a tiny viewfinder. Panasonic accessory viewfinders are only 202k dots... now there you should expect coarse, noisy grain (which you get, don't get me wrong).

    Personally, I've decided to forgo the VF-3 and stick to the VF-2. I'm not willing to take the chance after what you said... but I assume it's not too late for you to return your VF-3 and maybe get a VF-2 instead? Maybe even look around for a used one. In my area the VF-2 comes in the kit with the E-P2, so it's possible to pre-owned but unused VF-2 finders kicking around... Unlike the VF-3 which is brand new and thus only available at full retail.
    Olympus E-3 | Olympus E-PL2 PEN | Olympus E-PM1 PEN | Zuiko ED 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 SWD | Zuiko 14-54mm f/2.8-3.5 | Vivitar 100mm f/2.8 Macro | Carl Zeiss Sonnar 135mm f/2.8 | Konica Hexanon 50mm f/1.4 | Konica Hexanon 85mm f/1.8 | G.Zuiko 50mm f/1.4 | Zuiko 35mm f/3.5 Macro | Zuiko 25mm f/2.8 | KMZ Jupiter-3 50mm f/1.5 | E.Zuiko 200mm f/4 | Zuiko 75-150mm f/4 | Olympus EC-14 teleconverter | VF-2 and VF-3 Viewfinders | EMA-1 Mic Adapter | Olympus FL-36R and FL-50R speedlights

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    Unhappy Re: Olympus VF-3 Viewfinder

    Quote Originally Posted by teepee12 View Post
    I've just been running test shots using it. While the colors you get in the shots ARE true, what you see is very far from what you get and the grainy, coarse resolution (lack of resolution, more to the point) makes it surprisingly difficult to tell whether or not you've got your focus. About half the time I do, the other half, I don't. Rather disheartening.

    While I had the tech guy on the phone, he ran me through a few other adjustments that slightly improved the quality, but minimal. He said that the quality of the image was the primary area of "compromise" in the VF-3 ... that was where Olympus had cut their corners. I think they may have nicked an artery while cutting. I'm not sure I can live with this and may wind up sending it back. I am SO disappointed!
    I think the faded color is part of the resolution issue. Remember these are not optical viewfinders. You are NOT seeing what you are seeing directly through the lens ... you are seeing an electronic "reproduction" sort of, I'm not sure what to call it exactly, but with the VF-2, I had been warned that picture might look better in the VF than it does "really." You are NOT going to have that problem with this baby!

    The pictures I'm getting are normal in color and if I just let the AF do its thing, they are also in focus. I can't manually focus with it: I can't see well enough. Each time I've tried, it has wound up quite off focus. There IS a diopter adjustment on it I haven't twiddled with. Maybe that would help, but I'm an eyeglass wearer and haven't had a whole lot of luck with diopter adjustments over the year. If your eyes are a lot better than mine, you may like it better than I do. Or not. I'm trying to decide whether or not to keep it. I can't afford a better one right now so I'm a bit torn. Is it better than nothing? I'm actually not sure.

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    Default Re: Olympus VF-3 Viewfinder

    Quote Originally Posted by Neddog View Post
    That is very disheartening to hear, Teepee. Grainy, coarse resolution is definitely not what I would expect from a 906k dot viewfinder. It's not as high-res as the 1.44 million dot VF-2 of course, but 906k is very hefty for a screen of that tiny size! My E-PL2 only has 460k over a full 3" screen on the back, and it's not bad for resolution. Even the E-5 has a 960k dot LCD but it's also 3" like the E-PL2, not a tiny viewfinder. Panasonic accessory viewfinders are only 202k dots... now there you should expect coarse, noisy grain (which you get, don't get me wrong).

    Personally, I've decided to forgo the VF-3 and stick to the VF-2. I'm not willing to take the chance after what you said... but I assume it's not too late for you to return your VF-3 and maybe get a VF-2 instead? Maybe even look around for a used one. In my area the VF-2 comes in the kit with the E-P2, so it's possible to pre-owned but unused VF-2 finders kicking around... Unlike the VF-3 which is brand new and thus only available at full retail.
    I just went onto Olympus's website and you are right: it is supposed to have all that high resolution. I don't believe it. It has obviously much lower resolution than does my LCD screen with is only 230,000. So what they are saying is one thing but what I am seeing is entirely another.

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    Default Re: Olympus VF-3 Viewfinder

    Just learned one more interesting thing. This may be true of the VF-2 also, I do not know having never used it. HOWEVER, of you are using the built in flash and the VF (which is inevitable because you can't use the hot shoe for two accessories at once), you cannot shoot vertical shots. If you hold the camera vertically, the viewfinder casts a shadow that partially blocks the flash. Annoying, not fatal.

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    Default Re: Olympus VF-3 Viewfinder

    Quote Originally Posted by teepee12 View Post
    Just learned one more interesting thing. This may be true of the VF-2 also, I do not know having never used it. HOWEVER, of you are using the built in flash and the VF (which is inevitable because you can't use the hot shoe for two accessories at once), you cannot shoot vertical shots. If you hold the camera vertically, the viewfinder casts a shadow that partially blocks the flash. Annoying, not fatal.
    Well, I do use the built-in flash with the viewfinder, but all it has to do is trigger the main flash sitting on the bracket over the camera. So no problems for me... xD
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    Default Re: Olympus VF-3 Viewfinder

    I'm going to make a little bet with myself. The VF-3 viewfinder is going to get bad reviews. People are going to be upset at the poor quality of the optics. Olympus is going to be embarrassed, so they will fix it so that it's not nearly so bad. So people who buy it later, after they have fixed it, will get an much better piece of equipment than those, like me, who went and bought it early. Just wondering if they'll do right by me and whoever else get stuck with this model.

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    Default Re: Olympus VF-3 Viewfinder

    Took it out into the field today and unfortunately, the results were abysmal. I don't want to send it back, but I think I am going to do so anyway. I bumped up the levels for it as high as they can go, but the color is so faded through it that it's hard to figure out what I'm looking at. I found myself turning it off and using the LCD screen ... which clearly defeats the purpose.

    I tried for a while to force myself to use it exclusively and when you are doing big landscape shots, it's okay, but if you are working close? No way. It just won't do it. What exactly IS the problem? It's supposed to have nearly a million dots of resolution yet I can barely see clearly enough to know of what I am taking a picture. So I guess I don't really have much choice, unless I just want to throw my money away. But I'm sorry. I really WANTED this to work out!

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    Default Re: Olympus VF-3 Viewfinder

    The saga has ended. It is reboxed and packed for return. Not the way I wanted it to go. Just a thought: It IS possible that there is actually something wrong with it. I still find it hard to believe that Olympus could market such a poor quality product.

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    Default Re: Olympus VF-3 Viewfinder

    You could very well have a defective product. It is an all-electrical component, after all. My VF-2 is wonderful, and honestly I'm not too sure I even want to go back to an E-3 or E-5, lol.
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    Default Re: Olympus VF-3 Viewfinder

    Quote Originally Posted by Neddog View Post
    You could very well have a defective product. It is an all-electrical component, after all. My VF-2 is wonderful, and honestly I'm not too sure I even want to go back to an E-3 or E-5, lol.
    I am returning it as defective. I have nothing against which to test it, but this product seems SO sub standard I think there's a real possibility it is not working properly. I sure hope that's the problem. I would feel rather better to discover it's actually broken rather than being a bad product!

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    Default Re: Olympus VF-3 Viewfinder

    I have since gotten several emails from people who have read a similar review on Amazon to say that they also returned theirs because of the same problems. So either it's a bad design or there's a serious quality control issue involved.

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    Default Re: Olympus VF-3 Viewfinder

    Another interesting thing I've read is that the VF-2 and VF-3 both perform better on the 3rd generation cameras than the older ones. I haven't heard about the E-PL2, but older than that like the E-P2 and E-PL1.

    The viewfinder does read off the sensor, so it does make sense that different sensors could get different EVF performance. Prior to the E-PL2 most of the cameras had stronger AA Filters, as well. I'm not really sure what accounts for the difference though.
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    Wink Re: Olympus VF-3 Viewfinder

    I actually heard from someone in corporate Olympus. I hope he will be able to settle this issue one way or the other. He does seem to want to! I'll keep you posted.

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    Exclamation Firmware update for Olympus VF-3 Viewfinder

    Quote Originally Posted by teepee12 View Post
    First of all, know that you will need a firmware update to use this with any of the PEN E-PL cameras.
    Olympus got in touch with me and corrected me on this. You need the firmware update with SOME of the cameras, not all. So, if you attach the VF-3 and can't see anything, you need a firmware update.

    Since this information didn't come out of my fertile imagination but rather from the various websites where this piece of equipment is sold, perhaps Olympus should correct THEM too!

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    Default Re: Firmware update for Olympus VF-3 Viewfinder

    Quote Originally Posted by teepee12 View Post
    Olympus got in touch with me and corrected me on this. You need the firmware update with SOME of the cameras, not all. So, if you attach the VF-3 and can't see anything, you need a firmware update.

    Since this information didn't come out of my fertile imagination but rather from the various websites where this piece of equipment is sold, perhaps Olympus should correct THEM too!
    The E-PL2 does have the AC-2 accessory port, whereas the E-P1, E-P2, and E-PL1 all have the AC-1 accessory port. I wouldn't be surprised if that's where the line crosses.
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    Cool Re: Firmware update for Olympus VF-3 Viewfinder

    Quote Originally Posted by Neddog View Post
    The E-PL2 does have the AC-2 accessory port, whereas the E-P1, E-P2, and E-PL1 all have the AC-1 accessory port. I wouldn't be surprised if that's where the line crosses.
    Note, the E-PL2 requires new firmware that was released on August 9th: http://www.olympus.co.jp/en/support/...tware/firm/e1/

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    Default Re: Olympus VF-3 Viewfinder

    glad to join this forum and glad to meet you here ,I look forward to getting some inspiration and getting to know all of you.

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    Default Re: Firmware update for Olympus VF-3 Viewfinder

    Quote Originally Posted by Neddog View Post
    The E-PL2 does have the AC-2 accessory port, whereas the E-P1, E-P2, and E-PL1 all have the AC-1 accessory port. I wouldn't be surprised if that's where the line crosses.
    I would be interested in knowing whether or not the AC-2 port makes a difference with the EPL-2, which I have.

    Ron
    VF-2, EPL-5, 45mm 1.8, 20mm, 1.7, 14-42 II, 40-150 R PLUS E30 and E330
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/ronjoiner/
    http://joinersmusings.blogspot.ca/

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