A Polarized view

I had my first eye checkup at the opticians for two years last month and consequently ordered two pairs of glasses. One “normal” pair and the other a prescription pair of sunglasses.

My prescription is for varifocals which, as I know to my cost, can vary in the accuracy in which the new spectacles are set up and the lens marked so that you can get the best field of view.

This time, however, I need not have worried. They were set up superbly. The frames were fitted really well and the varifocal lenses on both pairs are excellent in their view and clarity at the different viewing distances.

The glasses I have used many times now whilst out shooting but the sunglasses not so much. I am in the UK after all.

This week I had the opportunity to go out to take some images and the weather was very sunny. Out came the new prescription sunglasses and the Fuji X100F. Some of you may already be seeing where I am going with this. When I took photographs in landscape mode there was no problem. The image in the viewfinder was bright and clear even with the sunglasses on. But in portrait mode…oh dear. The EVF went dark. Coal-hole dark. Black cat in a dark room dark. I went back and forth rotating the camera from landscape to portrait and back and the same thing happened.

I checked all the camera settings – (well you never know if you’ve changed a setting or something accidentally do you?) and everything was fine. I tried the camera again and once again in landscape mode it was fine but in portrait mode, it gave me a blackout once more.

Completely perplexed, I grabbed a cup of coffee from the canal barge bar in the Stratford canal basin, sat down and tried to figure the problem out. I took my sunglasses off and tried again with just my own myopic peepers – this time there was no problem at all in either portrait or landscape mode. Aha, I thought, I think I had found the problem. I then put my normal glasses on and again everything was still absolutely fine in the viewfinder. So, the issue was with the sunglasses. I had thought that they were just varifocal glasses with a tint applied, but it turns out that there are actual polaroid lenses in the frames.

Once I got home I tried my X-Pro2 with my new sunglasses and the same thing occurred but the other way round! In landscape mode, the EVF goes blank whilst in portrait aspect it is fine. Looking on the web and finding others having the same issues, it seems that this occurs with the X-Pro2 and the X100F because their EVF LED’s emit polarized light so that the act of turning the camera on its axis then activates the polarising effect in the sunglasses so reducing the brightness in the viewfinder.

With some research, I found that OLED (organic light-emitting diode) viewfinders as opposed to LED viewfinders do not suffer from this issue with polarised sunglasses. My X-T4 has an OLED viewfinder therefore is absolutely fine with the sunglasses.

Despite the polarizing lenses in the glasses I can still use the X-Pro2 and the X100F as all I need to do is to switch the cameras from their EVF’s to their OVF’s. The frame lines for the OVF are a little fainter because they still use the LED but that’s not too much of an issue.

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