OT: Range finders vs. DSLRs vs. micro DSLRs vs my dream camera

Hi Everybody,
This is a reprint of my answer to Steve Thackery which was posted in
the PSP X3 newsgroup.

Hi Steve,
I'm not much of an expert on cameras but this is how I understand it.
1, The optical eyelevel viewer on the old rangefinder cameras was similar
to a telescope. It's somehow hard to imagine it, but it produced an
"aerial" image. There are two lens elements in this affair. The first
focused light rays so that it appeared as if there were an image in front of
the second element. So far as this second element is concerned, light
appears to be coming from an image just in front of it. The aerial image is
three dimensional. The second lens element simply acted a an ordinary
magnifying glass of the three dimensional image of the scenery.
2. This bothered a lot of people. They wanted to see the image through
the viewfinder as it would appear on a print. A solution was to project the
image on a ground glass using the first lens element. The second lens
element still acted as a magnifying glass. However, it now magnified a two
dimensional image. A lot of people were ecstatic -- including me. We
thought that we were looking at the "real" version of a print. It's totally
optical, No electronics.
3. In the good old days of film, it came close. Film has an enormous
dynamic range. Thus the print did indeed come close to what was projected
on the ground glass. True depth of field was missing because you usually
had to view the image on the ground glass at the maximum aperture of the
4. DSLR cameras have continued this concept for the eye level viewfinder.
The eyelevel viewfinder produces the very same optical image as did film
SLRs. No electronics. No CCD. No nothing except optics and a ground
5. If you own a DSLR, compare the image that you see through the eyelevel
viewfinder to the image that you see on the LCD. There can be a huge
difference for the same scene. The image on the LCD is not
straight through optics. What you are being shown on the LCD is coming
from the CCD image sensor !!! When you "click" the shutter, you close an
electronic switch which transfers the image from the CCD to memory. (The
shutter "click" is fake.) Thus the image on the LCD far more accurately
shows what the image looked like when you transfer it to the monitor.
It's hardly perfect, but it's a lot closer to the final print than the
purely optical image that you see through the viewfinder of a DSLR.
6. The micro DSLRs are a fake version of a DSLR. There is no optical path
to the eye. You only see the image that has been created by the CCD.
7. For some stupid reason or other micro DSLRs did not provide an eyelevel
viewfinder. Only an LCD. The Panasonic GF1 did have an electronic eye
level viewfinder but it was a huge clunker that sat on top of the camera.
Many people can use the LCD viewfinder which is almost WYSIWYG on
camera which have Live Preview. I
can't make heads or tails out of an LCD when I am outdoors.
Thus I an still waiting for my dream camera whatever it will be called.
It will have the large CCD of the DSLR and a built in eye level electronic
which shows the image after it has gone through the CCD.
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