on November 4, 2011
I was really torn between the VF2 and VF3. The VF2 was much sharper, but it didn't lock in place. With property taxes and Christmas on the way, I wimped out and got the VF3.
In use I found, even with less resolution than the VF2, I've been able to nail focus on my manual lenses. So if you are worried that you can't focus with the lower resolution, be assured that you can. I am not a young man, I have old man eyes, but I am still able to focus correctly with the VF3.
Build quality is fine, the lock gives some security, and the resolution is good enough to get the job done. So cheapskates and those of meager bank accounts rejoice, the economy model is just fine.
on September 23, 2011
For EPL2, the camera firmware needs to be updated to version 1.2 (the 1.1 does not recognize VF3). For those not very technical, Olympus customer support is one of the best in the industry and will walk you thru. Once attached, press the black button to switch the view from LCD to the viewfinder and oh yes finally the camera is now just right! I love holding the camera to my eye to compose. My other camera is a Nikon D90, and really I cannot tell a difference in the quality of the view between the two (one optical, the other electronic). The VF3 has 100% field of view, delivering sharp, contrasty, instant view. I moved about looking through the viewfinder to see if there is noticeable delay, but cannot find any. I'm pleased. It passed the muster for me. Now it's on the body all the time. Another nice touch is that the tiny VF3 carrying pouch comes with a velcro lip so it stays on the neck strap securely for times when you don't want the viewfinder attached to the body.
Took a bunch of photos indoors and out, adjusted the diopter to tailor to my eye sight and the thing just works great. When shooting in Program mode, I made sure that as I adjusted Exposure Compensation + or - to get the desired brightness, that what I see in the viewfinder is the same as what is on the LCD (after switching back). I think the VF3 (920K dot) and the camera LCD (460K dot) produce views that are accurate representation of the output. This reminds me as an old timer, the transition from DOS to Windows, and all of a sudden you're getting WYSIWYG. Well, it's the closest analogy I can think of.
I'm thinking long and hard for any negatives...perhaps the cost? It is an costly accessory. And those want do sports photography and need really fast constant views, in that case IMO the optical viewfinders are more suitable, as well as a faster camera.
I have not tried the VF2 as I wanted the locking mechanism on VF3. Highly recommend for those who prefer or need to shoot using a viewfinder.
on August 27, 2011
I got this for my E-PL2 after days of deciding between this and the older, higher-resolution VF-2. In the end, the cheaper price, expected quality and locking mechanism won in favor of the VF-3.
It matches well with the body, fits securely and works without any problem. It's definitely the best quality electronic viewfinder I've ever used. (compared to several Canon models). The swivel is nice to have, but there's a little locking indent that keeps it from swiveling when you don't want to.
That's helpful because you need to place the camera against your head hard enough to make it stable. I found myself trying to be delicate about putting the camera up to my eye, only to find that if I did it that way, I was making the camera shake too much for the stabilizer to compensate. It might feel delicate, but you can hold it/push your head against it just like you would any other SLR, and it stays in place.
I've never used the VF-2, and I'm sure it's superior optics just based on the specifications. But don't be afraid to give this one a try.
on July 18, 2012
OK, I typically don't write reviews, but I wanted to for this accessory. It really improved both my shooting and my enjoyment of my E-PL pen cameras. Biggest benefits: much better out in bright sunlight than trying to use the lcd screen and noticeably greater stability of the camera when holding the camera braced up against my head. The latter helps when using longer telephoto lenses (there's only so much the in-body IS can do). Also, for someone like me coming from many years of using SLRs and DSLRs, rather than point-and-shoots, looking through a viewfinder feels much more natural to me, but that's simply a matter of habit and personal taste. Finally, if you have a pen without a tilting lcd screen and like to shoot pictures from a very low angle (I sometimes do this for ground-level macro shooting), the VF-3 tilts up, making the shots a bit easier.
As to a couple of the issues others have raised:
On the E-PL2, it really isn't just the same as the picture on the lcd screen. The E-PL2 lcd screen has a 460,000 dot resolution, while the VF-3 has twice the resolution (920,000 dots). Also, on many of the pen cameras (including the E-PL2), you can adjust viewfinder brightness and color balance via on-camera menus, so you don't have to live with unnatural or washed out colors, and by boosting the gain in the viewfinder, I can see and focus better in low light than I can with an optical viewfinder. Yeah, the view through an electronic view finder does look less natural than the view through an optical viewfinder, but I'll live with that for its benefits. You also lose the ability to put a flash in the hot shoe when using the viewfinder, so that is definitely a concern if you have a pen without a built in flash, though it's still useful in many other situations.
It is, unfortunately, not cheap, so I believe you should consider how much of your shooting happens in situations where the benefits of the viewfinder will help you. I'm sure there are many people for whom the VF-3 won't add a lot of value. If the benefits of the viewfinder are useful to you and you can afford it, I think this is one of the better additions you can make to your camera kit. A good (and brief) review of the viewfinder can be found on Bob Atkins' site. He's one of my favorite sources for info and reviews. Just Google "bobatkins" and "vf-3" to find the review.
on January 9, 2012
I read the reviews before purchasing this product and the major drawback is that the VF-3 doesn't have as good a resolution as the older VF-2. The advantage of the VF-3 is that it has a locking mechanism that the VF-2 doesn't have. I hate to drop a $200 viewfinder by accident so I decided to buy the lower res VF-3. To my surprise, the lower resolution isn't all that bad. A warning if you mount it to EP-3, you need to download the body firmware to 1.1. The instruction from the VF-3 is that the firmware upgrade is only necessary for the older Pen systems but when I mounted it the first time, I wasn't able to browse through the controls on the viewfinder. I did some research on Olympus website and the EP-3 does require the body firmware to be upgraded to version 1.1. The upgrade was simple and didn't take long. With the upgraded firmware you can browse through the controls from the viewfinder (like changing the aperture, shutter, exposure, image mode, etc.)and it's very important especially if you're using auto focus so you can position your focus point.
on May 2, 2013
I bought this when amazon had them marked down to $99. The VF is bright, though some light colored objects can look a bit washed out even after adjusting brightness levels. In low light the VF does get grainy. Remember, this is the economy VF which is completely fine with me. After trying to use my E-PL1 outside in bright daylight I realized just how difficult it can be to see the LCD. Now that I've got this on it's much easier to compose and frame my shots. To overcome the slight wash out I have the red highlights set to ON in liveview so I can see if something is really overexposed. I find that using the VF3 helps steady my shots and feels more natural to me (my previous camera was a Nikon D40).
At $99 this was a really good deal, though I do see that the VF-3 hovers at the $149 mark. If you trying decide between the VF-2 and VF-3 and the VF-3 is not $99 you have to think about whether you want a high res VF with no lock (VF-2), or lower res VF with a lock (VF-3) because they are priced so closely. For me I just needed something to help me frame my shots in bright light and the $50 discount made it very easy to choose.
on November 2, 2011
I struggled about buying this. I hated to spend more money for an already expensive camera. But I prefer using a viewfinder when taking photographs. It easily attaches and comes off without difficulty. It is integrated with the camera so you see the menu when looking in the viewfinder. I'm happy with it and glad I purchased the item. It does what it is supposed to do and can be easily removed at any time and comes with a little velvet pouch.
on December 24, 2012
I have an Oly Pen ePL1, and made mistake of buying the optical viewfinder which is of no help focusing. Next, I considered the more expensive VF-2, but then opted for the cheaper and slightly less detailed display of the VF-3 electronic viewfinder. First, though, one has to get firmware upgrade 1.2 from Olympus site in order to use this viewfinder on the ePL1. The VF3 attaches easily to the slot for it atop the camera, and the display can be switched between the VF3 and LCD screen by pressing an oval button. Another little button allows one to tilt the VF3 to a fully vertical position for shots taken close to the ground. The display is not bad at all, and I have none of the problems with image clarity or color reported by a few other users of ePL1.
For those of you familiar with the EVF on Sony Nex cameras, this one for Oly is not all that different, with one major exception...no focus peaking, although image magnification to aid focusing works quite well. Other reasons for getting an EVF to focus, rather than depending solely on the LCD display is that the EVF works in bright light, and the image itself can be stabilized by holding firmly to one's face; it is very hard to get a clear image to focus manual lenses on the LCD display when the camera must be held at considerable distance away from one's face to be visible.
on January 9, 2012
First of all, let me state that I am happy with the product. I purchased this to meet two needs and it serves them well.
I use this with the Olympus PEN PL1. I had issues with using the LED screen in bright sunlight. I also had some difficulty focusing using manual lenses. This viewfinder allows me to solve both of these problems.
The first time I used this I found the image to be a bit washed out. I figured out that I needed to adjust the brightness. I did need to upgrade the firmware but that's not a big deal for anyone with any technical ability. The resolution could be a little better, but it serves the purpose.
All in all, it's a great accessory.
on February 1, 2014
I really wanted the Olympus OM-D E-M5. Cost was, however, a major impediment (don't you just hate that?). Through a lot of research, I decided that the E-PL5 would fill the bill for me as an alternative. Smaller, lighter, very similar innards (and, on sale!) - the biggest difference was the lack of an electronic viewfinder on the E-PL5.
So I bought my E-PL5. I'm extremely happy with it, but... I found that I really missed the EVF in some shooting situations. The tilting LCD view screen on the back of the camera is excellent and very easy to use most of the time, but to me the camera feels more like a cheaper point-and-shoot without a viewfinder. It has the capability to be much more.
So, I bit the bullet and bought this VF-3 EVF. I got it for a really good price here on Amazon. I wondered if it would really make a difference, or if I had made a mistake not buying the OMD in the first place.
Well, as far as I am concerned, this VF-3 EVF is a required piece of hardware for any Olympus PEN camera. Snapping this small gadget onto the accessory port brings this camera to a much more serious level. Manual focussing is now very easy. Bright sunlight? No problem. It's easier for me to adjust depth-of-field and myriad other manual settings by looking through the viewfinder rather than trying to hold the camera and adjust settings with only the LCD. The view through the eyepiece is exactly the same as the LCD screen - all the shooting info, histograms, menus, etc. are there if you want them. The VF-3 is very compact and clicks securely to the hotshoe on top, no worries about it falling off and getting lost. I often leave it attached even when I'm not using it, it's very unobtrusive.
So, should you buy this one (VF-3) or the larger, brighter, more expensive VF-4? The VF-4 has a couple of advantages - - it has a larger and higher resolution screen inside, it is also brighter. One other advantage of the VF-4 is the eye-sensing feature - look through it and it turns on automatically. Is the VF-4 worth more than twice the price of the VF-3? Well, not to me. The VF-3's screen is perfectly adequate - not too small and plenty bright enough for anything I have tried. The larger size of the VF-4 is, to me, a drawback - the PEN cameras are all extremely compact, this is one of the virtues of my E-PL5. The VF-4 looks kind of clunky and clumsy when mounted, and takes away from the sleek size of the PEN camera. The eye-sensing is about the only thing that I wish the VF-3 had - you have to push the little black button below the eyepiece to turn the EVF on and the LCD off. It's not really a big deal when in use, but it would be nice if it was automatic.
Summing up - - if you own an Olympus PEN camera and you want to use it for more than simple snap shots - - you need this.