A frequent question I am asked during my in person training workshops is ‘what’s this little dial for?’.
It’s located up by your view finder and quite frankly it isn’t obvious what it is. You twiddle it around and you can’t really see that it’s making any difference to the photographs you are taking so you ignore it. Easier that way isn’t it?
But twiddle it too much and you might just find that everything goes a little bit blurry when you look through the viewfinder. Well this little dial is actually quite a useful tool.
This dial is called the Diopter.
Your camera has a small lens inside the viewfinder. Everyone’s eyes are different and this lens allows you to match the focus of your viewfinder to your particular eyesight requirements.
So, if the world is all blurry when you look through the viewfinder it’s probably because all of that thankless twiddling has resulted in you changing the diopter settings. The best way to check that this is the reason is to look through the viewfinder and take a look at the numbers at the bottom of the screen. If you can’t see them then just make sure your camera is on and then press your shutter button down half way (you’ll probably hear a beep) and they should all light up. If these numbers are blurry then you definitely need to adjust your settings to match your eyesight.
How to adjust the Diopter
The diopter adjustment control will most likely be a small wheel or slider close to your camera’s viewfinder. Most diopter controls are labeled with + and – signs.
Focus Your Camera
Focus your camera using the autofocus. You want to do this where you have a scene with good contrast, something that your camera can autofocus on easily. Press the shuttler button half way down and you should hear a beep when the camera has grabbed focus on something in the frame. If your diopter is adjusted incorrectly for your eyes you will not see a sharp image in the viewfinder. Also remember to look at those numbers at the bottom too.
Adjust Your Diopter
Start to turn the diopter wheel or move the slider. As the image comes into focus keep adjusting until you see a blurred image again. Now dial back your control so you see a sharp image (go back and forth until it’s as sharp as you can get). Now your diopter should be set correctly for your eyes.
It’s important to mention that these adjustments are ONLY changing the focus of the lens in the viewfinder. These adjustments are not altering the focus of the lens on the front of the camera, they are two very different things.
Do you wear glasses or contacts?
If, like me you normally wear glasses you can adjust your diopter to suit you. If you prefer wearing glasses while using your camera, adjust the diopter with your glasses on.
Is the world looking a little clearer now? I bet it is. Now you know what this little dial is.
Top tip from me. Once it’s set don’t twiddle it anymore!