Shading your LCD
monitor makes viewing the picture in bright sunlight much more
enjoyable. But with a little refinement, you can adapt this technique
for taking pictures too, creating a virtual digital SLR.
One of the major attractions of single lens reflex (SLR)
cameras is that you see the picture through the same lens that
records the image. It's WYSIWYG
("what you see is what you get")
photography. In contrast to SLRs, most compact digital cameras
provide one lens for taking the picture and another (often referred
to as the optical
viewfinder) for viewing the image.
One of the problems with optical viewfinders is that
they're offset from the picture-taking lens, so the
composition you're looking at isn't
the same one the camera is going to record. This setup is called
and the closer you get to the subject the more pronounced the effect
will be. The other common problem with most
digicams' optical viewfinders is that
they're just not very good. You
don't get a full view of the subject, and what you
do get isn't that great.
You do have another option: you can look through your
digicam's LCD monitor when you take the picture.
This has created a whole new look in photography: the
arm's-length shooting pose. Photographers everywhere
are holding their digital cameras out from their body to align
what's on the screen. Not only is this pose awkward
at times, it's also not good photographic technique,
because it's harder to steady the camera during
exposure at arm's length. Beyond that, some people
have a hard time keeping a straight horizon line when holding an LCD
this way. Something seems to get lost in translation.
When visiting the Hoodman (http://www.hoodmanusa.com) booth at the Photo
Marketing Association show in Las Vegas, I discovered a great
solution to all of these problems. Hoodman has designed a special
monitor hood, called the Digital Camera Hood, that straps onto just
about any model with a 1.8-inch or smaller LCD screen. shows the Digital Camera Hood attached to a
Canon Digital Elph S400.
Figure 1. Hoodman's Digital Camera Hood
The open end fits around the outside of your LCD monitor, and the
other end holds a 2x magnifying eyepiece. The Digital Camera Hood
attaches easily in just a few seconds. When not in use, it folds up
compactly, taking up little space in your camera bag.
To use the Digital Camera Hood, just attach it to the camera, turn on
your camera, and view the picture through its eyepiece. Your simple
digicam has just been upgraded to a virtual digital SLR with
You can use this rig in any lighting condition. You can both shoot
and review your images with it, and you can now hold the camera
normally, enabling you to take sharper pictures because
you're holding the camera more steadily. As a bonus,
the increased magnification of the LCD monitor makes it easier to
determine picture quality before you take the
shot. This is a great time-saver, because you don't
have to stop and review the image you just recorded (using the
camera's magnification function) to see if you got
the shot you wanted.
You might not want to use the Digital Camera Hood when
you're on the go, toting your digicam in your
pocket. But when you're engaged in serious shooting,
close-up work, landscapes, and anything with a tripod, I think
you'll find that this setup is a good way to improve