Can you see clearly now?
What exactly is the "ClearViewer"?
It's a folding, high-diopter glass-lens viewer for the camera's screen, which easily folds flat against the screen, swings down out of the way if you want to use the screen by itself, or can be easily removed with the single screw in the tripod socket. The hotshoe version is similar, but does not fold flat against the LCD, and is just removed when not used.
Should I wear my reading glasses to use the ClearViewer?
Reading glasses are not necessary when using the ClearViewer, as the lens corrects the diopter allowing your eye to focus properly. If you wear bifocals or graduated lenses, just use the distant vision part of the glasses for looking through the ClearViewer's lens.
Questions and answers
If there's no hood, how is it going to help in bright sun?
With your eye less than 2 inches (50mm) away from the camera, much of the ambient light is already blocked, or outside of your field of view. If glare enters from the side, it's easily blocked with your hand; you can even form a "hood" with your free hand, when needed. Your eye sees only the screen, and it adjusts itself to that light.
The two photos on the right were taken seconds apart, with no change in exposure compensation. Notice that in the top photo, with the background affecting the camera (as it does your eye), the screen looks very dark. Simply moving the second camera closer, in the bottom photo, fills the field of view with the camera screen, so it exposes properly and you can see the image.
What kind of lens is used?
The basic lens is a single element, double-convex glass lens, mounted in a plastic frame, that does what it's supposed to do. It's not fancy, as it's simply for the purpose of getting a good view of the screen. The idea behind this device is to create a simple, effective, inexpensive solution for the problem of not having a viewfinder. An LCD screen, being composed of many dots, only has limited resolution anyway, so there's no point in using pricey optics for a simple task. Our premium plano-convex premium lens gives a better, clearer, undistorted view all the way out to the edges of camera screens 3" and larger.
When you stand back from the camera screen, your eye takes in the bright background and its "exposure" is affected (top left photo). No LCD screen can compete with the bright sun. But move in close, and your eye is only taking in the view of the screen; it can't see the bright sunny background, so doesn't need to compensate for it, and consequently you can see the screen more clearly instead of a dark, murky image.
And, since you're less than 2" away from that screen, you see detail that allows you to manually focus, or see if a facial expression is the one you want. Since you're viewing with your eye right at the lens, technically the view is not "magnified", but you are simply "up close" and can clearly see all the detail the screen can provide.
What are its limitations?
The original standard lens for the ClearViewer gives a sharp view of most of the screen, but with today's larger 3" LCD's, the angle of view through the glass causes the corners and outer edges to lose sharpness and viewability. For 2.5" and smaller LCD's, this is generally not a problem, but for larger ones, the new premium lens is a good choice, and doesn't cost much more to give you a good sharp view of the whole screen. See our news page for news about the premium lens option.
Viewing a large screen from only 2" away fills your field of view with the screen, and you may have to move your eye around a bit for viewing the outer edges. For eyeglass wearers, having your eye a little farther back from the lens may require you to shift the eye position a bit to see those edges.
The viewer adds about 1/4" (6.5mm) to the thickness of the camera, and the same amount to the bottom. So if your case is a tight fit, you may not be able to use it without removing the viewer. But cases are cheap, and I think once you try this device you'll be so happy with its usefulness that you won't mind a bit.
There are also some situations where you just plain don't need it. Street photography or candid shooting may require you to be quick, or just shoot from the hip, without worrying about detail. You can shoot with the ClearViewer in place, still folded, swing it down out of the way, or it's easily removable, but usually it's easiest to just leave it on. When you're in those situations it won't interfere with quick "crop later, composition doesn't matter" candid shooting.
How Practical is it, really?
Tired of fixing photos where the horizon is so crooked that it looks like the ocean is going to spill out the side of the photo, because you couldn't see it that well when you shot? Tired of having to pick through cameras that look great but don't offer a viewfinder or add-on electronic viewfinder? Now you can choose your camera based on its specs, lens, photo quality, and price, and not worry about that...Plus you don't have the added $200-300 cost of an electronic viewfinder that sits on top of your compact camera and makes it not fit in your pocket or case without removing it first.
Tired of finding shots with closed eyes or details you couldn't see that ruined the photo? Tired of trying to follow action with your arms extended and squinting to see? Now you can follow birds in flight, surfers dropping down a wave, or action on the sports field with your compact camera zoomed in for a close view. Videos are much smoother when you can hold the camera up to your eye, as the camera is more stable.
We get requests quite frequently for ClearViewers to fit cameras that already have viewfinders; frequently the built-in or add-on viewfinders are inadequate, bulky, inconvenient to keep on the camera, or just don't provide the large bright view of the camera screen through the ClearViewer. Once you've used a Clearviewer, it spoils you for that easily-seen bright clear view. And, you can use either eye, so your nose won't be changing settings on your touchscreen camera.
When you're distant from the camera - subject is small and hard to see in the screen.
Move closer, where background light doesn't affect your eyes, and you can see your subject