I Can See Clearly Now! Adjusting your Camera’s Diopter

October 20, 2014

I Can See Clearly Now! Adjusting your Camera’s Diopter

Consider this scenario.

You’re shooting with a DSLR or a compact camera with an optical viewfinder and you’re getting ready to take a shot. You half-press your camera’s shutter button so that the autofocus mechanism will start up and focus on the scene in the viewfinder.

But something seems wrong.

Even though the camera has locked focus, the scene in the viewfinder still looks fuzzy to you.

What’s up with that?

It may be that the viewfinder needs to be adjusted to your eyesight.

Adjust your camera’s viewfinder

Everyone sees and focuses differently. Some photographers are nearsighted and some are farsighted. Adjusting the viewfinder’s magnification corrects for these differences, so that the objects viewed through the viewfinder are clear, crisp and in focus. And, without this adjustment, objects in the viewfinder may appear fuzzy even if they are in focus.

The viewfinder can be adjusted using the diopter adjustment control, a small knob, slider or wheel usually located next to the viewfinder. On some cameras, you may need to remove a rubber guard from around the eyepiece to access the control. Your camera’s user manual can give help you with this.

adjust camera diopter

When you are adjusting your viewfinder, you want to ignore the scene through the lens and instead make the adjustment so that to the viewfinder markings—the focus frame and focusing points showing on the viewfinder—are sharp and crisp.

To adjust the viewfinder to your vision:

  1. Remove your camera lens cap and point the lens at a clean piece of paper or a plain, blank wall. White works best because it makes it easier to see what you’re doing.

    If you are outside and you don’t have a blank surface to aim at, try aiming at a light, even-colored area, switching your camera to manual focus and throwing the scene completely out of focus. This will let you concentrate on the viewfinder markings rather than the scene in the lens.

  2. Look through the viewfinder. If the viewfinder is dark, you may have to half-press the shutter button so that the display lights up. Then, concentrating on the viewfinder markings, turn the diopter adjustment control knob until the markings are crisp and clean.

For more information adjusting your camera’s viewfinder, check out this video from Mike Brown.

I’ve mentioned Mike before, but just a reminder that he does a lot of really helpful photography videos. To see more of his stuff, check out his channel on Youtube.com.

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