Why is my viewfinder blurry?

Canon_viewfinder

Have you ever wondered why, when you look through your viewfinder, it looks blurry? Even when the actual photos you take come out sharp?! The good news is that this is a problem we've seen before, and there is usually an easy fix that will help you quickly bring things back into focus.

Adjust your Diopter

Canon_diopterNext to your viewfinder, there is small dial with a plus(+) and minus(-) sign next to it. This is called the diopter and it measures the optical power of the lens. In other words, it is almost like putting a set of glasses on your camera to sharpen what your eye sees through the lens.

This will have no effect on your images (obviously, as you've noticed since your images are still turning out nice and sharp). Just simply adjust this so that what you are seeing comes into focus and you can effectively tell what is in focus and what isn't with your eye alone. This is important if you are doing any manual focus with your lens at any point.

The diopter adjustments are not drastic and most likely will not replace any need you have for wearing glasses. The adjustments are just enough to increase the clarity if it seems a little soft when you look through the camera.

As a little side note, if you are using someone else's camera with diopter adjustments, don't be surprised if you start to get a headache. Your eye is not used to the optical adjustment being made by their diopter. It's just like wearing someone's prescription glasses.

It's just dirty

This might seem a little silly, but every now and again, the viewfinder will get dirty. Some people will use a finger to clean out the viewfinder area, leaving a smudge behind in place of any debris that was found.

The best way to clean your viewfinder is to grab a glass cleaning cloth (the ones used for cleaning eye glasses work great) and wipe out the viewfinder. I always buy this one by MagicFiber on Amazon. I tend to buy them in bulk because I always lose them. You can use a liquid if you wish, but you run the risk of the liquid leaving a residue behind and essentially causing the same problem.

Did you know that you can remove the rubber eye guard? This will help you be able to reach in there to clean the viewfinder as well as behind the guard.

More than the eye can see?

If cleaning the viewfinder and adjusting the diopter doesn't fix the blur, please consider the following:

Your Eyes
You might need to consider that your eyes might need a stronger prescription to compensate for the blurriness you're seeing. This might not be the solution you want to hear… Paying for eye-care is the last thing many of us wish for since it can be costly. As photographers, we all know how expensive glass can be. ๐Ÿ™‚ But it is worth having your eyes checked out, in case this is the issue.

Internal problem
Through the process of elimination, if you have tried all the above solutions and you are still dealing with a blurry viewfinder, you can reasonably deduct that there might be something wrong inside the camera itself. At this point, if your camera is under warranty, you will be able to send it in and have the problem addressed that way. Having gone through the other suggestions above, you will have a leg to stand on when they ask you if you have done anything to correct the blurry viewfinder.

cleaning_viewfinder

When you have camera issues in the future, the best place to post your questions is the Improve Your Photography Facebook Group. Click here to join the community!

112 thoughts on “Why is my viewfinder blurry?”

  1. With respect to your eyes you failed to mention two other conditions that may cause blurring. One is cataracts and the other is astigmatism. Both are correctable, the first with surgery and the second with glasses.

      1. thank u soooooo much…. i thought my camera view finder gone….after adjusted the roller..my reaction thank godddd ….thanks for tge answer

    1. Guilherme Franco

      Thank you so much, i was really scared, because i dropped my nikon d3300 and i thought i broke the viewfinder. thankfully, the only thing it did was just deajusting the diopter as it fell. thanks!!!!

    2. Ditto for us! Thank you! Such a simple solution and it helps us understand our camera a little better!

  2. I am currently using the maximum diopter adjustment on my camera. I have tried shooting with my glasses, but I have a really hard time with that. Is there any way to increase the power of the diopter? Adding a corrective lens to the viewfinder? Anything? I’d be very grateful for any help.

    Thanks

    1. Same here! i thought i broke it when i accidentally shone a laser pointer down the lens whilst doing light painting! glad to know its not broken ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. THANK YOU for this advice! I thought I had damaged the mirrors in the viewfinder or something like that and it would cost lots to repair!

  4. My canon 600 D is a having the same blur problem, i thought i have to take it to service center. I did not think diopter. Thanks for the information and i am glad that i found your post :).

  5. OMG Thank you like a bunch! I thought there is a problem with my dslr that I just bought tonight! This is a life saver <3

  6. Thanks so much for your advice I just bought a second hand Canon 40d and thought I had bought a dud. You are a lifesaver so glad I found your post.

  7. THANK YOU!!! Like others that have commented, I thought there was a problem with my camera (I’ve barely had it a year). I had started doing more manual focusing but went back to automatic as the pics were turning out ok.

  8. Thanks a ton! i have a sony dsc hx1….a simple turn of the diopter as suggested by ur post did the trick!

  9. I realised my viewfinder eyepiece has a few specks of dust on it. I used a torchlight and shine onto the eyepiece (camera’s battery is switched off) to assist me on the cleaning of the eyepiece (using a spectacle cloth). By using the torchlight to shine, will the light cause any disturbance to the sensor because I seen from other forums that direct light can affect the sensor. However, understanding that my camera is switched off, the reflex mirror should be down since the shutter button is not pressed. Does the shining of light during the cleaning of the eyepiece cause any issues? Sorry for the long post.

  10. Thank you so much!!! A few months ago I made the horrid mistake, which I am determined to never do again, of leaving my EOS 20D Canon in my car in 115ยฐ heat. After that I found that the view finder was blurry but the pictures were fine. I thought I had melted it or something!
    Thank you again!

  11. I am so hapy to find your article regrding a blurry viewfinder. I really thought my Canon 60D was broken. Now the blurry problem is solved in minutes.
    Thank you so mch!

  12. Have you ever seen the opposite happen? Where it looks clear in the viewfinder but the photo’s actual focus looks a bit soft?

    The reason I ask is I was taking pictures of the eclipse last night, and it seemed to me that while the image looked sharp in the viewfinder, the resulting images were slightly fuzzy. I have taken clear images of the moon before. And there are several factors that could have contributed last night. I pondered a few explanations.

    I was going for lower ISO’s if I could this time to reduce noise. I used my tripod … it’s not a big 10 lb thing, but it’s pretty steady. I also used a remote control to trip the shutter so I wouldn’t be touching the camera. But it is a DSLR, and it has a mirror. With half second exposures, I figure it COULD be mirror shake.

    Or the moon moved too much in 1/2 second. Not likely. But …

    There was also a thin film of cloud over the moon practically the whole time. But again, it looked sharp in the veiwfinder.

    Another explanation could be that in the viewfinder, the image was relatively small and so the details “looked” good, but when we see the picture bigger we see that the detail isn’t as great as the eye/brain interpreting the viewfinder image did.

    But having run into the diopter problem described above before, I started wondering if it were possible that as my eyes get worse, I’m adjusting the diopter so that it looks clear to me – and maybe especially using manual focus the image on my retina is in focus while the image on the sensor isn’t quite in focus.

    Do you suppose that’s possible? Have you ever heard of such a thing?

  13. Can’t believe this cleared the eye piece. I stopped using the camera a month after getting it. This is 5 years ago. A real big electronics store with a camera dept said it had to be sent out because it is an electronic problem. What a simple diopter adjustment. Thanks

  14. OMG, I was about to ship my camera to the repair center. I’m so happy to be able to fix this “issue” without pain. Thanks a bunch!!!!!!

  15. Many thanks for the explanation. I thought it was an internal problem, and thanks god it wasnยดt. Such a stupid thing such as regulating the diopter.

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