How To Use Live View For Better Nature Photography

Last Updated on March 16, 2021

The live view on your DSLR is a powerful tool for taking more interesting nature photographs. Yes your LCD screen is great for viewing the shots you’ve already taken, but it is also an important tool for setting up your shots before taking them.

Your Live View is great for optimizing your composition, focus, exposure and depth of field. Every nature, landscape, and macro photographer needs to use live view for their photography.

Using Your LCD Screen To Improve Image Quality

landscape photographer

Since focusing on using my LCD screen I have seen noticeable image quality improvements. It is important to keep in mind that not all live view screens offer the same features. And depending on your camera model, the live view image will be created in different ways.

So after reading this guide cross reference with your camera user guide to see what features your camera offers.

Improve Composition

moraine lake with mountains in background

The fact is that looking through your viewfinder will not always give you an accurate representation of how your image will turn out. But using your live view allows you to check your composition at a more realistic scale. It also allows you to view your scene from a comfortable perspective.

Live view will also provide you with 100% coverage which you likely will not get from your viewfinder. Another great benefit of shooting with your LCD is most cameras feature a grid overlay. This is an amazing way to ensure you are following the rule of thirds in your composition. Your LCD screen makes it easy to keep your horizon lines level.

And if you are shooting at unusual angles live view is indispensable. Use your grid overlay and adjust your composition as necessary.

Preview Your Exposure and Settings

camera lcd screen

One of the other great benefits of using your live view is you can preview your white balance and exposure before taking a shot. There are even some cameras that allow you to preview your histogram by using an exposure simulation.

So if you make an exposure compensation adjustment you can see the effects right on your live view screen. This speeds up the process as it eliminates the need to take test shots. You will love this when working outdoor in fast changing lighting environments.

When shooting landscapes and the sun is bright with clouds moving across your scene, this is particularly helpful.

Allows You To Optimize Depth of Field

Opting for the live view helps you get your depth of view without the guesswork. Live view provides a much brighter image than your viewfinder (especially when using small apertures) making it easier to balance focus between near and far points.

Tip: When you find your focus point, stop down your aperture with the depth of field preview button and make sure everything stays in focus that should.

Some cameras will even allow you to magnify the live view image for fuller image detail.

When shooting with a manual focus lens, you can move the focus point back and forth. If the depth of field isn’t what you need you can use a smaller aperture.

Improved Focus

whale out of water

Live view is much easier to focus in on macro photography than when using a viewfinder. When you focus on a darker scene with your viewfinder, it takes a lot of trial and error to get precision focus. But your LCD screen allows you to zoom in and check that your focus is perfect before shooting the image.

Capturing The Perfect Moment

Especially when shooting nature or candid photography, it’s all about capturing the moment. Let’s say you are shooting a flower on a windy day or waiting for a herd of deer to start running. Waiting behind your viewfinder can be a real pain. But by using live view you can sit comfortably ready for the action to begin.

Better Low Light Focusing

One of the best situations for using your live view is in low light conditions. It provides very accurate focusing and is much better than the viewfinder. Your LCD screen will compensate for the dark by brightening it’s display. But you can turn this feature off if you want.


If you are a nature or landscape photographer then using your viewfinder will improve your image quality. It may take a little practice to get used to but there are significant benefits over using your viewfinder. Next time you go out focus on the tips above and see how much better your image quality is.