Yes, the LCD screen live preview is awesome. You don't need to hold the camera up to your face, but don't be shy! Only the coolest people use the viewfinder =) I'm not saying you should never use the LCD screen to find your shots, but the Viewfinder will give you a truer sense of what the picture will look like after you take it. It is vital for focusing on small objects, such as coral and flowers. It's hard to tell on your LCD screen if what you want to have in focus, really is in fact focused, until you get home and launch it onto your huge 32" flat screen. If you have the time and want to try to compose and frame the photo really nicely, I highly recommend getting down to eye level with your object, and looking through your viewfinder. Sure it's a slight pain, so only do this if you REALLY want a sweeet photo. Otherwise just snap away =) The viewfinder is a beautiful thing, and no real pro camera has a live LCD (except the recent Canon 1d Mark III, please correct me if I'm wrong, though I'm not too sure if many photogs would use it). The live preview LCD is also neat, but really, use the viewfinder!