Brightest / easiest to focus manual SLR?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by Wolfeye, Jun 3, 2010.

  1. Wolfeye

    Wolfeye Subscriber

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    Is there a camera that is considered the easiest to focus among manual-focus SLRs? I have many SLRs but due to my imperfect eyesight I am plagued by improperly focussed shots.

    What's the best, in your (or other's) opinion? I have heard specifically that Konica SLRs are NOT easy to focus.
     
  2. wiltw

    wiltw Subscriber

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    It is hard to find a camera with as large a viewfinder as the Olympus OM-1. As manufacturers started cramming lots of information in the viewfinder area (shutter speed, aperture, ISO, etc) the viewfinder area for focusing began to shrink! AF diverts light to the AF sensor, so they generally have finer texture focusing screens, which is better for brightness but poorer for focus precision!
     
  3. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    The standard laser matte screens for the Canon New F-1 are very bright, and they have a choice of focusing aids, plus they have the option of extra bright laser matte optimized for wide or long lenses, though the extra bright versions can be hard to find. I have the standard AE screen, which I almost never use, the standard spot metering screen, which is my main screen, and the extra bright tele spot metering screen, which I use mainly with the 600/4.5.
     
  4. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    I wear glasses and the best I've used is the F3HP. There may be others as good or better out there, but this one is no slouch. I'm told that the standard (non HP) prism is better, but not if you're a spectacles user.
     
  5. fotch

    fotch Member

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    I have two F3's, one with HP, one with the standard prism. The standard in nice but I prefer the HP. With or without glasses.
     
  6. lxdude

    lxdude Member

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    Agreed, the F3HP excels with great eye relief and good contrast. The all microprism screens are awesome when matched with appropriate lenses. The Pentax LX's FA-1W is very close to the F3HP for use with eyeglasses, but has a larger image which is definitely contrastier. The LX's contrast is what really sets it apart, IMO. An LX screen in an MX is a great combo in a fully manual camera. Few viewfinders are as good as the OM-1's, except its brightness seems to come at the expense of some contrast, which makes it a little harder to find perfect focus on its field. Its magnification helps with using focusing aids, though. The MX has similar magnification. Screens for OM series cameras are still easy to find, as are most F3 screens. Common LX screens are still easy to find. The best viewfinder I've found in an M42 camera is in the Fujica ST 701, 801 & 901-big, bright, great contrast. Not great with glasses, though.
    Maybe an AF camera with focus confirmation for MF lenses would be a solution. I just picked up an N8008s and found the stock screen much better than I expected for manual focusing anywhere on it. I like a plain screen so I would not expect it to be adequate for you, but as with most other AF cameras it has the in-focus indicator, which could be a lot better for manual focusing than focus aids if you're having a problem with even split image aids.
     
  7. frobozz

    frobozz Subscriber

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    I agree on the New F-1 in general, and then when you add the Speed Finder to it you are simply not going to find a larger viewfinder out there!

    If you're familiar with the original F-1's metering system, then the P series of screens will replicate that for you (no need for the A screens if you have the Speed Finder on, and the S screens are an even narrower area of metering than the P screens.)

    Duncan
     
  8. Athiril

    Athiril Subscriber

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    You can grab an EOS 3 which has eye controlled autofocus which may be useful for you.

    Or an EOS series with a Katz Eye split prism might be good :smile:
     
  9. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    I'm adding a vote for the Nikon F3 HP. I love the viewfinder, and most of my work is done at night. Other cameras I found easy to see through and focus were the Leica R3 (before mine was stolen) and the Leica R8/R9 which came standard with high eyepoint finders. But those are prohibitively expensive. I always heard great things about the old Olympus OM bodies, but I never had the chance to try one. So I say Nikon F3 all the way, especially if you wear glasses.

    Michael
     
  10. Alex1994

    Alex1994 Member

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    I've used a Leica R3 and Olympus OM and can recommend them both, I have a -5 prescription and I find the Olympus' large viewfinder excellent, whilst the R3 had great split-prism focussing screens and a very bright viewfinder.
     
  11. Jinxt

    Jinxt Member

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    The only one I've had any hands-on experience with to say one way or another is the Pentax ME Super. Aside from the body itself being very small the viewfinder is the largest and brightest I have personally ever used and it was extremely easy to focus.
     
  12. Lanline

    Lanline Member

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    I am surprised about the comment about Konicas being hard to focus. I don't find that to be the case.

    I recently bought a Rollei SL35ME and it has a unique split image, the center of it appears to magnify if it is out of focus. It's the only time I've seen a focusing screen like this.
     
  13. Wolfeye

    Wolfeye Subscriber

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    I've heard that it's more a factor of age - Konica gems like the T3 are pretty old, and 1960's technology was more limited. I have a T3 and love it, personally, but I don't get as many great-focus shots as I'd like.
     
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  15. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    as for the recommendation for the Canon New F-1, the same laser-matte focusing screen was used in the AE-1 Program. It's significantly brighter than my older Canon EF and cheaper than an F-1.
     
  16. Marco B

    Marco B Member

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  17. Jon Shiu

    Jon Shiu Subscriber

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    One factor that I've found important is to get a camera with an adjustable eyepiece diopter.

    Jon
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 4, 2010
  18. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    Well the easiest is a rangefinder :wink: but...

    I like my fm2n with 50/1.2, now that is super bright and easy. I also like my om1 with 50/1.4.
     
  19. jp498

    jp498 Member

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    Let me chime in and say the Olympus OM series is also big and bright to the eye.

    I have not used a F3HP, but my F4s has a slightly smaller image due to the extra stuff it displays. It does have adjustable diopter though, which isn't important for me. The pentax 67 SLR is pretty big and bright too, but it's not a 35mm.
     
  20. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    Ain't that the truth! Nikon kept on making cameras with interchangeable eyepieces long after other manufacturer's were installing adjustable ones. My N90s needs a diopter correction. The F100 is adjustable.
     
  21. Sim2

    Sim2 Member

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    I used to use a few of the Canon F1-n as well, the laser-matte screens were bitingly crisp especially compared to the bit of blamange they called a screen in the EOS1 line-up.
    I do remember there being different versions of some screens, optimised for either wide angles or telephotos - this caused great "hilarity" when lending a camera to someone else or swopping from the 400 to 24 on the same body and forgetting why yhe 24 wouldn't look sharp in the viewfinder!

    F3s always looked good when I borrowed them.

    Any interchangeable scrren can be bettered by using a replacement Beattie screen - the bees kness!
     
  22. bblhed

    bblhed Member

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    I know a lot of people are pushing 35mm, but have you looked at medium format?

    Nice big film, nice big lens, nice bright viewfinder, or even hip level viewing. yes, they are big and heavy, and the film is hard to find (in a store on a shelf) and expensive but the results are great. As for focusing, I have a Pentax 6X7 with a metered prism that I shoot handheld and while I can focus it fairly easily, it takes me some dexterity to get the job done.

    Just like everything else, as it gets harder to see, get a bigger one.
     
  23. lxdude

    lxdude Member

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    Yeah, it's sweet. It's known for that. I have one which I use quite a bit. It's good enough with glasses to not really bother me. Makes me wonder why they could get it right with that one and not equal it in some of their later ones.
     
  24. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    Brightest / easiest to focus manual SLR?

    Yes. Winner by several lengths is the Leica R-8 / R-9. Bright AND Contrasty, which are usually conflicting qualities.

    After that, a toss-up between an EOS 1v (with suitable screen) or a Nikon F-4.

    Followed at a great distance by the rest of the field. Lots of good-to-focus cameras there, but the 3 really are superb.
     
  25. John Hermanson

    John Hermanson Member

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    OM-1/1N/2/2N with 2-4, 2-13 screen. John
     
  26. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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    I agree that the Canon f1n has a bright focusing screen. It's sure heavy! The camera is built like a tank.