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Photography 1.05: How To Set Your Camera’s Diopter for a Clear Viewfinder

Updated on June 7, 2020
Photography Focus profile image

I am passionate about photography and love to teach what I've learned during my 30+ years of working as a professional photographer.

Does the image you see in your camera’s viewfinder always look blurry?

In this article, you will discover the diopter on your camera, what it does, and how to set it. If your camera does not have a viewfinder, and you compose only using your monitor, you can skip reading this article.

If what you see in the viewfinder is blurry it can be one of two problems. You have not focused your camera yet. Or the diopter is not set for your eye properly.

If you are always seeing a blurred image the diopter is not set correctly for your eyes. I get this every time I pick up my wife's camera. She is nearsighted and I am farsighted.

The diopter is a small lens in the camera viewfinder. It can be adjusted to focus the viewfinder to your eye.

When your diopter is not set to your eye properly the viewfinder image will not be sharp, but the photos you take can still be nice and sharp. It’s just more than a bit frustrating looking at a blurry viewfinder all the time.

Looking at the exposure information display in your viewfinder will help you determine if you need to adjust your diopter. If your composition is blurred and the information display is sharp, you need to focus your camera lens. If both your composition and the digital information display are blurred, adjust your diopter.

The diopter adjustment control is a wheel or slider close to the viewfinder. Most diopter controls are labeled with + and -.


Do You Wear Glasses or Contacts?

You may not like wearing glasses while you shoot. I am farsighted so do not need to wear my glasses when I look through my camera’s viewfinder. When I’m shooting video with my DSLR camera I do need my glasses so I can see the monitor well.

You can adjust the diopter so you can see what’s in the viewfinder clearly with or without your glasses or contacts. If your vision is strongly impaired you may need to wear your glasses.


Photography Challenge 1:05

Lens - Standard

Exposure Mode - shutter priority

Focus Mode – Any

Location – Outdoors

Time – Any time of day

Set your camera on a tripod or somewhere stable facing a scene with good contrast. Autofocus your lens and check to see if the image looks sharp. Check the exposure information data visible in your viewfinder. Do these both look sharp? If not, adjust your diopter until they are. Looking carefully at your viewfinder’s data it can be easier to know when the diopter is been adjusted properly.

Experiment with your camera. Looking through the viewfinder adjust your diopter in one direction and then the other. Take a photo each time you make a change to your diopter and compare what you see in the viewfinder with the photo you make. Are they both sharp?

This is an important little thing to know about on your camera as it can be extremely frustrating looking through a blurry viewfinder.

Take some more time and make other photos. Remember to hold your camera well and think about what’s happening when with your camera as it’s recording your photographs.

Once you have your diopter correctly adjusted make sure not to accidentally change the setting.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Photography Focus


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