Camera Diopter Adjustment (How to get sharp images in viewfinder)

March 03, 2022  •  Leave a Comment

The camera diopter is an adjustment for the viewfinder to get a sharper view. This is an adjustment that every photographer must know about.  At the end of this short video, I will reveal the best way to make the adjustment.  If you want to see the video version of this post you can find it on my YouTube Channel.

Trust me when you learn how to use this adjustment you will agree that you already know what it is.  As a matter of fact, if you use reading glasses or know someone that does then you know what this feature does.

Whether you wear contacts or glasses or don't wear any corrective lenses, this setting is important.

The problem will show itself if when you are looking through the viewfinder and the image is not crisp, but the photo on your LCD screen and on your computer is crisp.

This is where the camera diopter adjustment comes in to help.  You can use this adjustment to make the image in the viewfinder sharp for your vision.

However, there is an obvious problem with this adjustment dial that you will probably see right away.  This problem is that there is not any protection from this dial from being accidentally adjusted.  This means you should occasionally verify the diopter is set for your vision.

In addition, if you hand your camera off to a professional photographer to take a photo for you, they may adjust it out of habit.  So, don't count on it being correctly set for your vision every time you use your camera

All modern DLSR and mirrorless cameras will have this adjustment option.  Canon, Nikon, Sony, Olympus, and others all have this feature.  Some may require you to pull out the diopter dial to make the adjustment and some are able to spin without any extra effort.

Here are a few examples to help you find this dial on your camera.

  • This is my Lumix camera with the dial on the left side of the viewfinder.

LumixLumixDiopter on Lumix Camera

  • The next photo is my old Canon Rebel xTi with the dial on the right side of the viewfinder.

Rebel-xTiRebel-xTiDiopter on Rebel xTi

  • And finally on my main camera a Canon 5D Mark IV the dial is also on the right side of the viewfinder.

5DMIV5DMIVDiopter on Canon 5D Mark IV

Since the diopter is so easily adjusted, I recommend verifying this before every shoot, but if not then at least before a photoshoot where the success of that photoshoot is high value.

And now for the secret of how to adjust.  There are two ways and the first may be obvious but not the best.  The second method is a secret that many may not be aware of.

The diopter is typically located very close to the viewfinder, so when adjusting, do not poke your eye out.

The first method is to press your focus button while aimed at a subject and adjust the dial for a crisp image in the viewfinder.  When the portion that you want to be in focus is sharp then the diopter is correctly set for your vision.

Are you ready for the secret that you need to have?  Here you go!

The second method does not require any focusing.  I may still focus out of habit, but instead of looking at a subject, I look at the numbers at the bottom in the viewfinder for the aperture, shutter, and exposure bar for the correct amount of adjustment.  When the numbers are crisp, the diopter setting will be correctly set.

A final note is this adjustment does not impact the actual focus on the image nor the image on the LCD screen.  This adjustment is only for the viewfinder that you place next to your eye when taking a photo.

Did you learn something here?  I hope you did and let me know in the comments below if this video helped you and share this video with others.

Thank you for reading and come back soon.

Youtube version:  https://youtu.be/poe3iI1I8aI


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