Beginner Tutorial 8

One of the basic elements of a modern digital camera is it’s monitor screen on the back. However, there are a wide variety of these screens to consider, from LCD to OLED, free-angle and tilting models, and those with touch-screen technology adding a host of handy features.


Using the LCD Monitor Screen

LCD Monitor Not all system cameras include an electronic viewfinder, but they do all include an electronic display screen. This is like a small LCD TV, the larger ones measuring around 7.5cm (3”) diagonally. The display can be used for reviewing pictures that you have taken, which are stored on the memory card, and as an aid to composition by previewing the shot using the ‘Live View’ read-out direct from the sensor.

Modern mirrorless compact system cameras, or DSLMs as they are otherwise known, have adopted very sophisticated display screens that often offer the latest touch-screen technology.

As shown, some models also offer adjustable-angle / tilting or even free-angle screens – so that the display can be viewed when holding the camera in even the most awkward shooting position.


Adjustable-tilt screen


Free-angle display screen

When to use it

The main advantage of the electronic display is that a large, 100% field-of-view screen makes it easier to compose your shots, because details and focus can be checked as a matter of course.

We have covered off the many advantages of Live View previously in this module, but to add touch-screen exposure and focusing, touch-screen colour and brightness, and touch-screen menu and feature controls ­– all on a display that gives you the flexibility to see what you are about to shoot without having to hold the camera up to your face – makes this a very convenient addition to modern digital photography, especially in certain shooting conditions:


Touch Focus/Touch Shutter can sometimes be very convenient


A Free-angle screen can help make possible Extreme Low-angle shots

  • High-angle shooting – when taking photos in crowded areas, it can be advantageous to lift the camera above the heads of the people in front of you in order to capture your subject unobstructed.
  • Low-angle shooting – when children or small animals are your subject, it is a good idea to bring the camera down to their level. It can create a more interesting photo if the shot is taken from their perspective.
  • Extremely low-position shots – on occasion, you’ll need to position the camera on the ground or in an extremely low position where it would be virtually impossible to see through the viewfinder.
  • Scenery and group shots – sometimes, taking your eye away from the viewfinder, looking directly at the scene and then checking the framing back on the display is a more comfortable way of shooting landscapes. Small features that could be missed in the viewfinder could perhaps be more easily spotted with the naked eye. Also, interacting with people – something that works especially well with young children and large groups – is easier when using a screen rather than a viewfinder.
  • Timer shots and ‘selfies’ – some cameras allow the screen to be flipped 180 degrees, so it is facing forward. This makes it ideal for taking selfies and setting up a timer shot, where you want to be in the picture yourself.
Touch AF Tracking

AF tracking allows moving subjects to be kept in focus until you take the shot

  • Auto Focus Tracking’ – when shooting subjects that are moving around your frame, such as young children or animals, many cameras offer a focus point on the subject to be selected by touching the display screen. The focus is then locked on that point and will track the movement of the subject until you are ready to take the shot.
  • Manual focus checking – use the large display to check your focus is in the correct position. Some cameras offer magnification of the focus point to make it even easier to see.
  • Function setting and menu control – use the large display to check camera settings and menu options, and make some function changes.
  • Review and edit pictures – instantly check your shots on the screen, and then delete and retake as necessary. The fundamental change that the digital revolution brought to photography!

Touch-screen technology

High resolution displays allow the finest detail to be easily seen.

High resolution displays allow the finest detail to be easily seen.

Most display screens found in Compact System Cameras are LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) devices, although some top-end models are beginning to appear that offer higher contrast OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) displays.

They all offer high-resolution screens, but the resolution figures quoted do vary between manufacturers, so choosing a model that has the highest figure will make it easier to see fine detail in your pictures.

Many cameras now offer touch-screen technology that brings a whole new level of convenient control, especially as the prevalence of smartphones means we all seem familiar with touch-screen devices these days. Initially, such camera displays were resistive types that required pressure to detect touch.

More modern screens use capacitive displays that are more sensitive, so faster, and brighter than the resistive type. They detect the small electrical charge in our skin, so a gentle fingertip touch is all that is required, although they cannot be used if you are wearing gloves.

Some of the features available through touch-screen have made cameras faster and more convenient to operate.

Here are a few examples of what the more sophisticated cameras now offer:

Touch AE

Touch AE compensates the exposure to your chosen point

  • Touch Auto Focus – touch the point on screen where you would like the focus to be and it will move to that position.
  • Touch Auto Exposure – touch dark areas of the screen that are underexposed and exposure compensation automatically brightens them.
  • Touch Focus Point Size Control – the size of the focus area can be adjusted by pinching, or touching an on-screen slider control.
Touch AF

Touch-shutter will focus and activate the shutter wherever you touch the screen

  • Touch Shutter – take the picture by just touching the screen where you want the focus point to be.
  • Touch and Scroll Playback – playback images and scroll through them by swiping the screen. Zoom in by double tapping an image.
  • Touch Menu Control – tap menu feature icons on the screen to activate features.

So there you have it, as you can see the LCD monitor screen with Live View can make setting up your camera and shooting in difficult conditions a little easier.

Touch Screen Tabs1

Feature control can also be done by touch

The only downside is that, in extremely bright sunny conditions, it becomes more difficult to see the screen – although it’s worth checking the screen’s variable brightness control – otherwise, you may have to revert to using the electronic viewfinder. That is, of course, unless you have a DSLR!

The LUMIX Advantage

Touch Pad AF

Use the screen as a ‘Touch-pad’ to move the focus point, while looking through the viewfinder

LUMIX G mirrorless system cameras were the first to offer Live View display and Electronic Live Viewfinder to a new generation of digital photographers, hence they have led the field with many Live View innovations.

One such feature, currently unique to LUMIX G, is the touch-pad AF control. This lets you control the Auto Focus point by moving a finger over the touch-screen display, while at the same time viewing the live image in the viewfinder (see right).

The next tutorial in our series takes a look at: Exploring the elements that make up a picture.


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Written by Steve Lucas for Panasonic ©