framing aids ?

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by larkis, Oct 5, 2007.

  1. larkis

    larkis Member

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    Is there some sort of device out there that would have the same functionality as a directors view finder and let me look through it while simulating the focal length of a particular lens ? I would like to be able to walk around and frame up my shots before actually setting up the camera. I use multiple lenses so having the ability to try what something would look like at 135 or at 300 would be super useful. Which products work well simulating large format ?
     
  2. Ray Heath

    Ray Heath Restricted Access

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    g'day larkis

    a card with a rectangular hole

    but really you need to develop your eye
     
  3. argus

    argus Member

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    I use one of those Linhof multifocus viewfinders. Works perfect for 4x5". I double the focal length when using it for 8x10".

    The older models go quite cheap. But make sure you have the correct mask.

    Greetings,
    Geert
     
  4. larkis

    larkis Member

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    Ray, while it's a popular thing for people to say "develop your eye", some of the greatest cinematographers have used, and still use viewfinders. Being able to try out various lens options on a subject has a lot of benefits in addition to a developed eye.
     
  5. AgX

    AgX Member

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    Much cheaper than those Linhof zoom viewfinders can be those finders with rotating optics intended to be installed on top of 35mm rangefinder cameras. They could deliver a different aspect ratio, but are sufficient to decide which lens to use (and where to place the tripod).
     
  6. Ray Heath

    Ray Heath Restricted Access

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    g'day all

    larkis, what you post is certainly true, and probably necessary if several lenses are on hand, however most us have access to a limited number of lenses, probably 1-3 for most amateurs
     
  7. Ross Chambers

    Ross Chambers Member

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    Or the high tech version: make the hole 4x5 (or 5x7, or 8x10 as appropriate), attach a piece of cord marked up with the focal lengths of your lenses, place the desired focal length mark against your eye -- more or less, line it up on the side of your nose and walk a straight line with one hand on your hip, dropping the device on the ground as a marker at the place that looks like a good shot. I recall that St Ansel prescribes this.

    You may look a total dork to the LF uneducated, but you may look even more so when you retire to the darkcloth. I do follow this procedure, hopefully in relative privacy.

    Seriously, it does give you an approximation for the initial placement of your tripod, but not much indication of the the perspective of the chosen lens.

    It's a starting point.

    Regards - Ross
     
  8. Richard Kelham

    Richard Kelham Member

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    The great advantage of the low-tech cardboard-with-a-hole-in-it version, apart from the fact that it costs nothing, is that it can simulate different lens focal lengths just by varying the distance from your eye.

    Of course there is always the danger you might look a right numptie using it... :smile:




    Richard
     
  9. Paul Howell

    Paul Howell Member

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    You can still find the old Zone VI frames on ebay, if you are lucky you may find a set with the b&w viewing filters.
     
  10. w35773

    w35773 Member

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    Actually, I am pretty sure that I look "numptie" staring at the back of my view camera with dark cloth (black t-shirt) draped over my head.:tongue:

    Anyway, what Richard suggests is exactly what I use. I have a hunk of cardboard off the back of a yellow legal pad with a 4x5 inch hole cut in it. For my 210mm lens, I hold it about 8 inches (210mm) from my eyes, for my 150mm, about 6 inches (150mm). Works super and saves me having to move the camera around quite so much.

    If I forget my piece of cardboard, I use my hands, which I forget less often.

    Regards,
    Russell
     
  11. darr

    darr Member

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  12. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member

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    If you want something that works like a director's finder, the Linhof finder is it. I use it exactly as you describe (as well as for its intended purpose--as a finder for press-style shooting with a Technika and rangefinder). There's also a similar device made by Horseman, and there are some finders made by Fotoman and Gaoersi.

    The older style Linhof finders aren't too expensive. The older one crops the image as focal length increases. With the newer style, the frame stays about the same size and the image zooms in and out as you adjust it. I've owned both, and I think the new one is a worthwhile improvement, if you use it often. Both allow you to adjust for focal length and subject distance, which I don't think the Fotoman and Gaoersi finders do. I have an older Gaoersi finder for 6x17, and it has focal length adjustment, but not subject distance, and the distortion at the ends of the frame is pretty bad. I gather the Fotoman finders are an improvement over the Gaoersi finders, but it could also be that newer versions of the Gaoersi finders are better.
     
  13. Vaughn

    Vaughn Member

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    For the first 25 years of my 30 years of photography I only had one lens per format -- usually a "normal" lens. This really did help me "develop my eye". I surprise myself how often I plop down the tripod right where it should be the first time, even in forest where the relationship between near and far objects is more critical with slight position changes than in the grand landscape.

    I also got good at using my fingers to form a viewer. But now that I have a selection of lenses with my 8x10 (159, 210, 300, 19" and now a 600) I do notice that my first guess is not as often the correct one with other than the 300mm. I think that a card with a proportioned hole in it, and a string for determining how far to hold it away from one's eye for a particular focal length is the cheapest and easiest way to go for those with multiple lenses. In the long run, one would probably need to use it less and less with experience.

    I usually close one eye, also. Seeing in 3D can be deceptive in judging a scene for representing it in 2D.

    Vaughn