If you're a photographer interested in expanding your skill set and looking to buy better camera equipment, the question of rangefinder vs. viewfinder is likely top-of-mind.

The two technologies have distinct differences in design, function, and application that could drastically alter the quality and cost of photos for hobbyists and professional photographers alike.

In this blog post, we'll look at the unique strengths of rangefinders and viewfinders so you can decide which option best fits your needs.

What is Rangefinder?

Rangefinders are a type of camera with a rangefinder mechanism. This device measures the range of objects in the scene and allows for precise focusing and composition before shooting.

Rangefinders typically have two windows on either side of the viewfinder, allowing you to look through one window while looking at the rangefinder scale through the other. This rangefinder scale allows you to quickly and accurately determine the range of your subject.

Pros and Cons Of Rangefinder


The rangefinder's design makes it an ideal choice for those who need a camera to take quick, discreet snapshots. Because rangefinders don't have the bulky viewfinder that viewfinders feature, rangefinders provide photographers with an unobstructed view of their subject, allowing them to capture images quickly and without drawing attention to themselves.

Additionally, rangefinders are very lightweight and have a small form factor, making them easy to carry around when out in the field.


One of the main drawbacks of rangefinders is that they can be difficult for those new to photography.

Rangefinders lack a viewfinder, meaning that photographers need to accurately guess the range from their subject to the camera to ensure that their images are in focus. Additionally, rangefinders are more expensive than viewfinders and may require additional lenses or accessories for optimal use.

What is Viewfinder?

Viewfinder is a camera technology that uses an optical viewfinder to frame and compose images. It's the oldest type of camera, having been around since the 1880s.

The viewfinder is typically a small window that shows the scene that will be photographed when the shutter button is pressed. This allows photographers to check focus and lighting before taking a picture.

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Pros and Cons of Viewfinder


A viewfinder is a technology that allows photographers to see what they are shooting through the lens. This type of camera offers a range of benefits, including improved vision, better composition, and easier focusing.

The photographer can also see how light and shadows affect their image while taking it, allowing them to adjust accordingly. Additionally, the viewfinder is usually less expensive than rangefinders and has a longer battery life.


A downside to using a viewfinder is that it can be more difficult to hold steady while taking pictures due to its smaller size. Also, since you're shooting through the lens, you may have to adjust the focus manually, which can be time-consuming.

Additionally, some viewfinder models only offer a limited zoom range, so if you're looking for more range, you may need to upgrade your equipment. Finally, they tend to require more post-processing than rangefinders do.

How to Use Rangefinder vs. Viewfinder

Five Best Affordable Rangefinder Cameras - Casual Photophile

Viewfinder and rangefinder cameras have unique strengths, so it's important to understand their differences to determine which is best for your photography.

Viewfinders are the traditional camera style, with a rangefinder-like window on the back that allows you to look through and frame your shot.

Viewfinders are excellent for general photography, as they allow you to quickly see what is in the frame and make adjustments if needed. The range of viewfinder cameras makes them suitable for subjects from nature shots to portraits.

On the other hand, rangefinders require no window at all and instead use a rangefinder mechanism to measure the distance between two points in the frame. This allows them to be used for more specialized photography, such as close-up shots of objects and detailed scenes since rangefinders can pick up smaller details than viewfinders.

In general, rangefinders are better suited for more experienced photographers looking for a more creative range of shots. Viewfinders, on the other hand, digital slr cameras, are great for general photography and can offer plenty of versatility without having to invest in rangefinder technology.


What are the difference viewfinder and a rangefinder?

Rangefinders have a larger viewfinder separate from the lens, which allows a greater field of vision and, in turn, enhances your ability to see your subject enter the frame, helping anticipate your shot.

Is it worth buying a rangefinder?

A rangefinder will prove as valuable as each of your clubs, digital rangefinder cameras, and maybe even more valuable. Not buying it? We'll explain. While you might not hit any shots with a rangefinder, using one to its full capacity will save you shots during a round, which is essentially what your clubs are designed to do.

Why can't pros use rangefinders?

The golfers are only allowed to use laser rangefinders to measure the distance. They are not permitted to use the equipment to calculate the true distance when playing on the slope. Golfers are also not allowed to wind or use the device to compute other data in its capacity during the competitive game.

Do I need a rangefinder for target shooting?

The truth is that a good rangefinder increases your accuracy, digital rangefinders, and is also fun to use. For this reason, you should make it part of your essential shooting gear for those long-range shooting expeditions.

What are the two types of range finders?

The optical range finder is usually classified into two kinds, coincidence and stereoscopic. The coincidence range finder, used chiefly in cameras, DSLR or SLR cameras, interchangeable lenses, and for surveying, consists of an arrangement of lenses and prisms set at each end of a tube with a single eyepiece at its center.

How much should I spend on a rangefinder?

The good news for golfers is that there are many options for rangefinders at nearly every price point. For $200-250, you can get a great device that will find distances well.

Can I use my phone as a rangefinder?

In the same way, if you use a rangefinder camera and wide-angle lenses, an Android phone has a GPS tracker, and you can use it to find the yardages and distances on the green. The Hole19 app has a leaderboard to show how other players perform and gauge your competition.

Which is better, live view or viewfinder?

Use live view to set up shots: Live view makes it easier to see what you're going to get before you ever take a shot. If autofocus systems are equal, use live view, especially in fast-paced environments: The viewfinder provides greater compositional control when shooting at speed.

Why do you prefer an optical viewfinder?

This is because optical viewfinders show you the scene, which is crisp, clear, and lifelike, thanks to the fact that you see reality. Electronic viewfinders give you a digital preview of the scene, which is limited by your mirrorless camera's resolution and frame rate.


Ultimately, rangefinders and viewfinders are equally useful components of any camera. Rangefinders provide excellent precision in focusing, allowing you to take a wide variety of shots that require focus accuracies, like portraits or close-up photos.

However, viewfinders are essential for shooting quicker shots on the move and can be used in various situations, such as outdoor or street photography.

As a photographer, it is important to be aware of the advantages and disadvantages of both technologies so that you can choose the right one for your project.

Ultimately, the choice between a rangefinder and vs. viewfinder should come down to understanding your needs and selecting what works best for you as an individual. Both pieces of technology provide tremendous visual benefits, making them both invaluable parts of every camera.

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