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What Is a Diopter? Do I Need to Adjust It on My Camera?

October 16, 2014 Photography 6 Comments

Venturing into the world of single-lens reflex (SLR) cameras can be a little daunting. With so many buttons, wheels and adjustments, it's hard to know what each gizmo does what on the camera — that includes the diopter. Here's a look at what the diopter does and how it can help you take better photos if you wear glasses.

What Is a Diopter? Do I Need to Adjust It on My Camera?What Is a Diopter?

Tucked below or next to your camera's viewfinder, often under a removable eye cushion or eye cup, you'll find a tiny wheel or slide bar. This feature is called the diopter. It's a special adjustment option for photographers who wear eyeglasses for vision correction. When manipulated, the lens in the viewfinder adjusts to various levels of vision, allowing the photographer to shoot without wearing glasses. Why is this important? The photographer can rest the camera against his or her face comfortably and see the image in the viewfinder clearly.

How Do I Adjust the Diopter?

Making the diopter fit your level of vision only takes a few seconds. Start by removing your eyeglasses and any coverings over the diopter. Now place one finger on the adjustment wheel or slide bar and hold the camera up to your eye. Move the diopter until the scene in the viewfinder is sharp. Replace the cover over the diopter and you're all set.

If multiple people use the camera, let the others know the diopter has been adjusted for your vision. When someone who doesn't wear eyeglasses uses the camera, the scene in the viewfinder will appear blurry. This does not affect the focusing of the camera lens and resulting pictures, however; the diopter only adjusts the viewfinder.

There are two options for multiple users: Adjust the diopter during each use or, if you're using a digital SLR camera, rely on the camera's rear preview screen instead of the viewfinder.

Now that you can answer the question, "What is a diopter?" will you use this adjustment on your SLR camera? Tell us why or why not in the comments below.

Photo credit: Flickr

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