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A couple weeks ago I did a basic outdoor photo shoot for a family. It was mid day, and the sun was out. I took test shots initially and when viewing the shots on my DSLR's LCD screen they appeared to look good.

After getting home and viewing the photos on the computer it was obvious that a lot of the shots were overexposed. This was not immediately obvious outdoors in the bright daylight.

How does one view test shots on your camera's LCD screen in a bright outdoor environment and know that the settings are correct?

  • The question does not ask this, but instead of the rear LCD panel I use the electronic viewfinder (EVF) which is very well viewable even in bright sunny day. What more, my subjects can't know if/when I'm actually chimping when I keep on having the camera glued up onto my face ;) – Esa Paulasto Nov 2 '13 at 22:14
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Don't just look at the photo, but look at the histogram, too! Often when looking at just the photo on an LCD, you can't get a good feel for under- or over-exposure, or even color balance, but if you look at the histogram (especially the RGB histogram if your camera model supports it), it will be immediately obvious if something serious is off.

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The histogram is more useful to know how the photo is exposed. If it's bright out and hard to see the LCD screen (especially true as I often wear sunglasses outside!) it can be much easier to focus on the histogram and just look for a big patch to the left or right to know if there's severe over/underexposure. The other thing that's really useful is to use the highlights "blinky" mode, which flashes where the photo is completely blown out. It's pretty easy to look for anything flashing, even in bright light -- and honestly that's all I check when I'm moving fast.

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The correct answer is, of course, to use the histogram, as @Flimzy and @DanWolfgang mentioned. If you really want to see the LCD, one of the Hoodman products may fit your needs. Caveat: I see a number of avid photographers using these; I've never seen a pro use one and I've never used one myself.

If you are interested in one of these things, see if you can try one out at a camera store before investing in it. If it slows you down, you might be better off just squinting and paying attention to the histogram and composition, rather than trying to gauge exposure off a relatively crude LCD display.

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I believe that the histogram is your best option for those kind of situations. I have also experienced that problem on sunny days (Picnics, Sporting events, Field days...). I usually bring along a black cloth (2 or 3 square feet) to shield the LCD from bright sunlight. But, as I said before, if you want to tell at a glance, the histogram is good.

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My Panasonic Lumix has the option of reviewing your pictures using the LCD screen OR by looking at your photos through the viewfinder. If I only had the option of reviewing my photos on an LCD screen, then I would continuously be taking my reading classes on and off, which I wouldn't want to do.

  • While EVFs are more common now than when the question was asked, this question is specifically about external LCD displays (such as on DSLRs). This doesn't answer the question, how does one view test shots on your [DSLR] camera's LCD screen. – scottbb Jan 14 '18 at 21:13

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