Do you know where your camera diopter is?
If not, it’s perfectly okay. It’s pretty simple actually and it will take only a few moments for you to understand and use it properly. Keep reading and I will tell you all you need to know.
The dictionary definition of a diopter is pretty scary, it says:
Diopter: (noun) /dīˈäptər//daɪˈɑptər/, A unit of refractive power that is equal to the reciprocal of the focal length (in meters) of a given lens.
You absolutely need not understand that. We are photographers not physicists alright.
Now, work with me here. Pick up your camera and look at the right side of the viewfinder. You should find a small round dial with a ‘+’ and ‘-‘sign on it (in many cameras, it may also look like a slide). This is your humble diopter.
The diopter is nothing but a simple tool that allows people, who do not have perfect eyesight and use eye glasses or contact lenses,to use the camera without their eye aids. It adjusts the camera’s viewfinder so that the photographer, without his glasses to fix his vision, can see crystal clear through the viewfinder. The diopter fills in for the photographer’s glasses (if he uses any).
However, if you have a perfectly normal 20/20 vision, you need not adjust it at all, it should be just fine for you.
The big question:
How do you know if your diopter needs adjustment?
Your diopter most likely needs adjustments if you use glasses or contact lenses and while taking photographs, the symbology through your viewfinder appears blurry. The symbology is basically the set of various number data like the aperture value, shutter speed, ISO, gridlines, autofocus squares etc., that are displayed inside your viewfinder when you take a picture.
The image you are taking may also “look” blurry to you even after the reassuring beep of the autofocus locking in; but that is not a very reliable way to check if your diopter needs adjustments.
How to adjust the diopter?
Adjusting the diopter is pretty easy. Place your camera on a sturdy tripod, so that both your hands are free. Now follow the steps below:
- Point you camera at any subject that has many contrast points such as a sign with big bold letters;
- Press the shutter button halfway and let your camera autofocus on the letters;
- Look though the viewfinder and gently rotate the diopter wheel;
- Just like you manually focus on a subject, keep rotating the diopter wheel till the symbology (the number data) looks absolutely sharp and clear.
Double check your adjustments by pressing the shutter button down halfway one more time. In addition, check if the little squares that appear red when the autofocus locks in, are also sharp. (The image should also be tact sharp now if it was not already when you started)
Adjusting your diopter…DONE!
- The diopter in most modern cameras is directly next to the viewfinder. Hence, sometimes unknowingly it may get bumped and that may change your settings. If the symbology doesn’t look sharp to you maybe you need to readjust.
- May this never happen to you but if you develop any eye problem (nearsightedness or farsightedness), you may also need to change your diopter settings accordingly.
Big tip: If you ever lend your camera to a friend, let them know about the diopter settings so that they can adjust it to their own liking. I forgot to mention once when my friend returned my camera, he suggested that I should sell it off and buy a second hand VGA camera phone because that would take better images than my blurry Nikon D7000. It was nothing but the diopter. We had a good laugh though after I figured out the actual problem.
Hope you have learnt one more thing about your camera today.
Set you diopter perfectly and keep taking beautiful images like you always do.