Camera Parts

Digital camera LCDs and Touchscreens

Written by Gail Bjork

A digital camera LCD is used to frame shots, check camera settings and review images. Types include: AMOLED, Capacitive touchscreens and Articulating LCDs.

The screen on the back of compact digital cameras, known as a Liquid Crystal Display (LCD), is used to frame shots, view (and sometimes change) menus and settings, and to review recorded images when the camera is set to playback mode.

Since LCDs have increased in size and quality, many compacts and mirrorless digital cameras no longer have viewfinders.

LCDs vary in size and resolution. The  higher the resolution of a LCD, the better for viewing. Examples of LCD screen resolution are: 115,000 screen dots, 230,400 screen dots 461,000 screen dots, 920,000 screen dots.

A LCD displays a 100% view of a framed shot, though it can not always be relied upon for complete color accuracy. During the last few years, LCDs have not only become larger but have significantly improved in quality, color and resolution. Still, even the best LCD can be difficult to view in very bright light, even if the LCD has an anti-reflective coating.

Most cameras have a menu setting to adjust the LCD brightness and contrast. Some also adjust automatically to surrounding light by “gaining up” or “gaining down.”

AMOLED LCD screens

Unlike traditional LCD screens that require a backlight, AMOLED (organic light emitting diode) screens provide their own light. They use lower battery power than traditional LCDs. Colors on AMOLED screens generally reproduce more vibrant colors and shades more accurately as well as produce deeper black tones.

Capacitive touchscreens

A pressure-sensitive LCD that provides quick acces to settings by a touching a menu on the screen. A tap on any area of the screen allows you to focus. Some cameras can be configured so both focus and exposure are locked with a single tap. You can also do basic in-camera editing using a finger. Digital cameras with touchscreens usually have less external buttons and dials, allowing for a streamlined design.

Twist and Tilt LCDs

A number of advanced digital cameras have a LCD that can be swiveled, twisted and tilted at various angles. They are very useful for macro photography and when framing shots taken at difficult angles. The LCD can be flipped so the surface is protected when the camera is not in use.

An LCD consumes a good deal of battery power so most digital cameras have a power saving mode. It can be set to shut off automatically after a specified period of time. To “wake” the LCD when it is powered down, simply press a camera button.

To help reduce glare on LCD screens:

  • Keep the LCD screen clean. Smudges make it more difficult to see.
  • Use an anti-glare LCD protector.
  • Take a shot when the sun goes behind a cloud and doesn’t reflect harshly on the screen.
  • Move under something that provides shade, or wear a cap with a visor to block overhead sun. Sometimes shielding the LCD with one hand can also help reduce glare.
  • Turn slightly until the glare is off the screen.
  • LCD hoods can be purchased separately that attach directly to the camera. The hoods reduce glare and help improve the visibility of the monitor in outside lighting. The hoods also help protect the LCD from damage.

About the author

Gail Bjork

Gail Bjork, who is passionate about digital photography, is the owner and editor of Digicamhelp.Gail is the author of three illustrated ebooks about digital photography. A number of her photos and digital photography related articles appear at other websites.In 2006, a series of her photos, People in the Louvre, were exhibited at the Underground Photo Gallery
in Iisalmi Finland. Eight of her photos taken in the Florida scrub are on permanent exhibition at Parrish Medical Center in Titusville, Florida.Gail served twelve years as an elected member of The School Board of Palm Beach County, Florida, one of the largest school districts in the U.S. She has also been the editor of a small town newspaper and a free-lance writer. Gail and her husband owned and ran several small businesses.

2 Comments

  • I would very much like to buy the NEX7. But it’s just way too expensive. I’m not interested in the NEX5n because it lacks external controls, built-in viewfinder, and built-in flash like the NEX7. I’ll wait until prices drop; maybe by then there will be more competition among manufacturers.

  • would you buy a NEX5/7? you said you like the iq and compact body of NEX3,but heat the control of it.

    Now Nex5 has a touch screen and NEX7 even has many quick access buttons, tough the price tag of NEX7 is HIGH…..