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I am using Nikon D850 which is working perfectly fine with my Nikon 50mm f/1.4 lens. Recently I purchased 28-300 lens. I noticed that on mounting this new lens view finder looks quite dark and dim. Same is not the case when other lens is mounted. Is this an issue with lens ? Please advise.

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What you see in the viewfinder is what your lens collects. Your 28-300 (a f/3.5-5.6 lens) collects 6 to 16 times less light than your f/1.4 one. This usually not too visible, though. The other possibility is that the lens diaphragm doesn't open up completely, but this would impact exposure.

  • I checked the diaphragm slider on the rear end of the lens, that opens up properly but I am not able to identify whether that is the maximum this lens can open. To add one more thing, live view mode shows better brightness. As good as real view. – Vedant Joshi Jul 22 '19 at 5:28
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    On most cameras, the electronic viewfinder/live-view screen shows you the picture that will be taken, so this takes the lens aperture in account. – xenoid Jul 22 '19 at 6:26
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    The fact that live view is working as expected supports the theory that there is no technical problem — the slower lens is just slower than the fast lens. – mattdm Jul 22 '19 at 9:14
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View finder images (unless in depth preview mode) are produced using fully open aperture, and f/1.4 is a really fast lens. Your 28-300 will have only a fraction of that maximum aperture, probably something like f/4 which would be 3 stops slower and thus admit only an eighth of the light your 50mm prime does.

  • If this is the case then why alone viewfinder? Live view mode shows proper brightness as good as real view. – Vedant Joshi Jul 22 '19 at 5:26
  • @VedantJoshi I think live view electronically brightens things. This is an advantage that mirrorless camera have over SLRs. – Eric S Jul 22 '19 at 14:03
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If you want the viewfinder brightness to reflect actual exposure, your only option is to:

  • Ditch the viewfinder, use the rear LCD in live view mode
  • Purchase a mirrorless camera with an electronic viewfinder to replace the old technology DSLR

No optical viewfinder reflects actual exposure. (Want proof? Set the exposure to a totally ridiculous value so that the image should be completely dark or completely white. You won't see a completely dark or a completely white scene in the viewfinder.)

As others have said, viewfinder shows the view with lens wide open. A 28-300 zoom has relatively small aperture, much smaller than a fast f/1.4 prime.

To answer your question:

Is this an issue with lens ?

Yes, it's an "issue" with the lens, as much as it's an "issue" with the camera. The issue is, that your lens is not fast enough. A constant aperture 24-70/2.8 zoom would be somewhat faster, but then again I wouldn't choose the lens based on viewfinder brightness. I would choose the lens based on image quality, focal length, etc.

  • Previously I had Nikon D3400 APS-C sensor in which I never noticed such difference on switching lens from 18-55 to 55-200 or to 70-300. Does sensor also have to play a role in this ? What i understood so far is what I see through viewfinder is simple reflection of what my lens sees. If that is the case because of aperture, shouldn’t it be same with Nikon D3300 as well ? – Vedant Joshi Jul 22 '19 at 13:05
  • @VedantJoshi It may be the case that some cameras have a dim viewfinder that doesn't show the true difference between lens speeds. Not sure, just wild theory here... – juhist Jul 22 '19 at 13:08
  • Sorry. Corrected my first comment. – Vedant Joshi Jul 22 '19 at 13:08
  • According to this kenrockwell.com/tech/mirrorless-vs-dslr.htm ...viewfinder cuts at f/2.5 and doesn't show shallower depth of field than f/2.5. It may be the case this varies from camera to camera, and therefore, for your D3400 it could be dimmer and for your D850 it could be brighter. – juhist Jul 22 '19 at 13:11
  • @VedantJoshi Your 18-55mm (f/3.5-5.6), 55-200mm (f/4-5.6), and 70-300mm (f/4-5.6) lenses were all "slow" compared to your 50mm f/1.4 lens. They're not much different than your 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 lens. The 50mm f/1.4 lets in about 8 times more light than the zooms do at their widest focal lengths, and 16 times more light than they do at their longest focal lengths. – Michael C Jul 23 '19 at 21:35

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