Right Handed Photographers Using Their Left Eye

Right Handed Photographers Using Their Left Eye

Recently a member of the Fstoppers Facebook group posted a confession with a simple question: Who else uses their left eye to look through the camera's viewfinder? I was shocked by the results.

Eye dominance is a thing we don't often think about. The dominant eye leads and creates the majority of visual input that is sent to the brain for processing. Many people associate their dominant eye with associated handedness, but the two do not go hand in hand.

In fact, while right-handed people outnumber left-handed humans by about ten to one, right-eyed people only account for roughly 70% of the population.

Thinking about which eye is dominant doesn't come up very often until you are using something with a single optic to look through. This narrows real-world situations down to peepholes, gun sights, telescopes, and of course cameras using viewfinders. I cannot fathom actually using my left eye as the go to. That being said, I'm also terrible at attempting to throw a ball left handed so I must be wired somewhat one-sided.

Well, much to my surprise, many of the users commenting shared that they also used their left eye to look through the viewfinder. Could it be that like many artistic type people being more commonly left-handed, many photographers are actually left-eyed? I'm not convinced but Fstoppers Facebook group member Joshua Pulido Enriquez certainly found out he was not alone.

So what eye do you use? Could you switch between them with ease? Let us know in the comments.

Camera one, camera two, camera one, camera two - Wayne's World

To find which eye is your dominant, check out this video from allaboutvision.com:

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Previous comments
Victoria Smith's picture

Me too! I have always used my left eye, and like Jay had to put up with greasy nose marks on view screens, nice to know i am no longer alone :)

I presume you are making the hypothesis that dominant hand and the dominant eye are some how correlated?

Michael B. Stuart's picture

It is more just something I have never thought about. The correlation certainly seems to be somewhat absent though.

Anonymous's picture

Acording to test my right eye is dominant. Why on earth I cannot shoot with my mirrorless camera (viewfinder of camera is on the left side) using my dominant eye ???

Dennis Ramos's picture

I used to play practical shooting many yrs ago using my right hand and I always had the a hard time looking into pistol sights with my right eye. I think I didn't excel in the sport due to this since using a right hand and looking with a left eye makes my head more angled towards my right thus reducing my peripheral vision on my left. In my photography, it didn't matter which eye I use. Interestingly, some other facts on me as a right-handed person, I use my left ear to use a phone, I chew on my left side, and I wear my watch on my right hand. Left-handedness runs in our family and I think I got half of the gene :)

Terry Sankey's picture

Right+left hand for many things but definitely left eyed! So glad when auto-winders (for film photography) arrived and then digital. Got fed up of scratching my specs on a wind on lever (or poking myself in the eye when wearing contacts). Still irritated by the greasy nose prints on the screen though!!!

Blind in right eye. Not a lot of choice.

Marcin Świostek's picture

I don't think it's a question of eye-dominance. The test is fine, but whichever eye you use to look through the camera - you will close the other one; hence the open one will become dominant.
I think the reason most people use left eye is simple ergonomics. The cameras are made to be operated with right-hand, so even the left-handed person uses them in the same manner. Much like cars. It is only natural to put your left eye to the eye-piece. Not sure why, but maybe because when your right shoulder retracts - your whole upper body turns right?

Michael B. Stuart's picture

I know I'm certainly going to think about it next time I put the camera up to my eye! Now I'm wondering if the manual mentions anything. Great points though Marcin.

the whole point of dominance, depending on how strongly you are, meant that you can actually keep your non-dominant eye open while looking through the viewfinder without it being too much of a distraction. Actually people do gravitate towards their dominant side and the camera are actually designed for the right eye as you can see in many of the manuals. The most obvious one being rangefinders that are much easier to use on the right eye

Right hand right eye.
In regards to the video it is much easier to make a circle with two fingers. That way you have one hand free to put over one eye first and the the other. Makes it much clearer to see the difference.

What if none of my eyes got it on the center? When I close my right eye the clock is off center to the left, when i close my left eye, the clock is off center to the right.... I write with my right hand, but do many other things with the left, I'm not sure if that counts as ambidextrous.

Steve Harwood's picture

And this is why I'm not a Nikon shooter. Back in the day, Nikon chose to use the film advance lever to turn on the meter in camera. So if you're left eyed--as I am--you stuck yourself in your right eye when you tried to look through the camera. Given the ratios the article states, I find it odd that Nikon didn't get more feedback about that... [grin]

Michael B. Stuart's picture

It is actually beyond surprising to me that we really only have 2 body types of cameras and they are all so right handed and basically minor variations of each other. Big dslr body looking exactly like the ones that needed room to hold film or a rectangle with shutter to the right. Maybe Apple will release a full frame mirrorless camera someday and a fresh design will be born. You can share back in the day stories anytime Steve! Good stuff.

I write left handed and my left eye is dominant. My glasses correct my left eye more strongly than the right one. Also have a big nose so you can imagine the size of smudge on the lcd-screen :-) On the other hand, literally, when i'm using scissors, a knife or e.g. a hammer it's right handed.

John Green's picture

Interesting topic, I'm right handed but I have to use my left eye as I'm blind in my right eye. I was born with a squint/lazy right eye which means I only really have peripheral vision in my right eye. This means I can tell something is there on the right but not see detail. I have been using a DSLR for around 8 years and am always on the hunt for the perfect eyepiece that allows me full view of the viewfinder image without my nose rubbing against the DSLR screen :-).

Jim Payne's picture

I always felt I should be right eye dominant, and am if rifle/shotgunning. But never felt comfortable at all shooting a camera right eyed. So count me as one more.

Claire Southpaw's picture

Left-handed, left-eyed. left-eared, left-footed, but writes mostly with the right hand.

I'm glad to read that there are also concerns for left-eyed righthanders.
I've always resented having my nose stuck on the back of SLR cameras when looking through the viewfinder, and having to use the right hand for the shutter. The viewing screens have been a relief. So is using pistol grips with controls on the grip, even when the wire is still in the way when holding the grip with the left hand, because holding it with the left hand provides a lot more stability.

[Writing mostly with the right hand comes from having been forced to write with the right hand in first grade. After a year I got to like it because I could write with both hands, and amaze all other teachers and kids by starting to write on the left of the blackboard with the left hand, switch the chalk to the right hand in the middle, and finish writing the line to the right with the right hand.]

As a child, cutting cardboard with metal right-handed scissors gave me blisters around the left thumb. We've come a way since then, but most cameras are still fully right-handed and right-eyed, with no concern about this design for the people who are inconvenienced.
And don't let me go into the user interface designed for power tools, chainsaws, and so on, lest I start foaming at the mouth.

sorry for my left handed friends, but it is simply down to economies of scale. they can certainly design a camera for the left handed population, but that would would extremely expensive to buy and unlikely to have a market for it anyway. scissors are decidedly simply in this sense that the tooling is much simpler and the design never change that it becomes profitable to manufacture lefthanded scissors (even then it cost more than comparable right handed scissors).

Double post

Studies have actually been done on athletes and it seems for some sports those with eye-hand cross dominance seems to actually do better. Ofcoz this might not apply to photography, but i am left eye dominant but have spent a while shooting with the right eye for a few weeks during the early years of using a film rangefinders (basically forcing myself to adapt). I eventually switched back to using my left eye it offers some distinct advantages.

While trying out shooting with my right eye, I was told by right eye shooter friend that the entire left eye is unblocked by the camera (i was young and uncertain, and was eager to learn the "proper" way) but eventually i figured that most have to close their left eyes because of the different field of view anyway thus the above point is moot. Even if they can keep their eye open, most of the view is going to be the same as the viewfinder thus negating its benefit but now the right side peripheral vision would now be blocked completely by the camera body and the hand.

I returned back to left eye and discovered many advantages. almost all cameras, be it range finder or SLR, have their viewfinder slightly to the left of the camera, this means that when i put up my camera to my left eye, i retain peripheral vision on both eyes. and since the field of view and angle are completely different from what i see through the viewfinder, it never felt distracted and the need to close my right eye at all. i seem to be able to hold the camera steadier when over my right eye as the camera is more centered that way.

But all that being said, this is probably the least important aspect of photography and does nothing to improve or handicap one's ability to take great picture. I am interested in this simply because it is a geeky thing to think about.