A super-interesting patent has been brought to our attention by Canon Rumors for a built-in tilt electronic viewfinder, designed for what looks like a Canon EOS R series mirrorless camera such as the rumored Canon EOS R5 II.
The highly detailed diagrams in the patent, which can be found at J Plat Pat (Japan Platform for Patent Information), illustrate what could be a first for a DSLR-style mirrorless camera, and an amazing new feature for photographers especially.
A viewfinder that tilts all the way up to 90 degrees, usually with clicked 45-degree and 90-degree positions, can offer a similar experience to the waist-level finders of medium-format film cameras – you can compose and shoot looking down into the camera from above.
Waist-level finders are especially helpful for shooting at low angles without having to contort your body into uncomfortable positions, as you have to do when shooting low with the fixed viewfinder type that you find in almost all other cameras.
It’s why camera makers such as Leica also create optional waist-level finders (also known as eye-level finders) like the Visoflex 2 Viewfinder for cameras like the M11, which already feature a built-in viewfinder; waist-level finders can make life easier and open up new shooting styles.
What’s new about this viewfinder?
Tilting viewfinders are nothing new per se – we’ve seen them in beginner mirrorless cameras like the Panasonic Lumix GX9 (above), and, as mentioned, in the form of optional units like the Visoflex 2. So there has to be something different about this new tilting viewfinder for Canon to patent, and not just that it will be a first for a DSLR-style mirrorless camera.
From what we can see, it’s a two-phase pull-out and tilt design. Again, that’s nothing new, but what it does allow is for the hotshoe directly above the viewfinder to remain in place. Without the two-phase motion, the hotshoe would also tilt along with the viewfinder, which would be a design catastrophe.
And when you’re not using the tilt function of the viewfinder, it can be slotted back in place and out of the way, as if it were a regular fixed viewfinder all along. It’s a neat idea that elicits a ‘why hasn’t anyone done this before?’ reaction.
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You might consider a tilting EVF and a vari-angle screen (like the one you find in the EOS R5) in the same camera as complete overkill. However, there are plenty of scenarios where photographers in particular favor the viewfinder over using a screen – especially in bright light, where a screen can be hard to see clearly. And why should LCD screens get all the shooting angle versatility and viewfinder miss out?
Yes, this tilting built-in EVF looks like design excellence, and we’re keen to see it materialize in a new EOS R camera soon.