WLF vs Prism?

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by GarageBoy, Sep 17, 2013.

  1. GarageBoy

    GarageBoy Member

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    So, I know the WLF is really popular with MF users, but are there any prism users?

    How do you get used to upside down and laterally reversed images while composing?
     
  2. spijker

    spijker Subscriber

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    Yes, AE prism user on a Mamiya 645 Pro. A bit heavier than a WLF but built-in metering and a bright non-reversed/flipped view that makes it fairly easy to focus. Plus no issue shooting in the vertical/portrait orientation. The few times I looked down into a WLF on a RB67 and a Yashica TLR, I found the image very dim and had a hard time focusing although I have to say that these occasions were indoors.

    Menno
     
  3. Shawn Dougherty

    Shawn Dougherty Member

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    The image is not upside down, only reversed left to right. I'm used to using a view camera (which IS upside down) so it was an easy adjustment for me, personally.
     
  4. nwilkins

    nwilkins Member

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    these options are on SLR cameras, so the image is not upside down, just left to right reversed. For most applications it is very easy to get used to this. However, I find the reversed image can be a bit tricky in situations where the camera has to be tilted up and then pointed to the left or right. It can be tricky to find the right position in terms of converging lines in these cases.

    However, the main reason I am looking to buy a prism finder is camera height, particularly for portraits. To have the camera at the height of a human head you could just look directly into a prism, but at that height with a WLF you need to stand on something.
     
  5. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    Practice. It's actually an advantage, it allows you to see the composition instead of the scene. Sort of.


    By the way, in a TLR or SLR with a mirror, it's only laterally reversed.
     
  6. Alan Gales

    Alan Gales Member

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    That is if your subject is standing. If your subject is seated you would need to squat with a prism finder to get the same view angle and the waist level finder would be better suited. :smile:

    I personally prefer the waist level finder but I own both for my Hasselblad. It is nice to have options.
     
  7. Aristotle80

    Aristotle80 Member

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    I once read that some 6x6 shooters see the square as more of a circle in terms of composition and framing. As soon as I thought of it that way, I stopped fixating on the waist level finder reversal. Once you imagine a bullseye in the center of the finder, it's easy to naturally center on the subject, then make adjustment for horizon or shifting the subject off center. The square means I never have to try shooting the TLR on its side for a vertical like an SLR, so it's easier to get used to the reversal than if you shoot 6x7 or 6x4.5 with a waist level. I originally masked my TLR for 6x4.5 to save on film, but it was so much easier when I switched to 6x6.
     
  8. TheToadMen

    TheToadMen Subscriber

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    I suppose with MF users you mean "Middle Format" and not "Manual Focus"? :wink:

    There are a lot of Middle Format (MF) cameras that don't use Waist Level Finders (WLF), such as Bronica RF645, Pentax 67, etc., so there is enough choice for alternatives.
    With my WLF cameras, like my Bronica SQ-B or Rolleiflex T2, I don't mind composing without a prism finder. I even like composing this way.
    Left-and-right-reversed focusing is (at first) getting used to, but when you do, it might even help improve your composition. It makes you more aware and think about what your doing.
    Tip: turn an image upside down to evaluate its composition.
     
  9. mr rusty

    mr rusty Subscriber

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    Yash 635 for when I want WLF, Mamiya 645 with prism when I don't. Although the 645 is a bit of a brick, I do prefer using it in a similar way to a 35mm SLR - focussing is quick and easy.
     
  10. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Member

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    WLFs are common on square format cameras, meaning 6x6 usually, and on cameras with rotating backs (RB67.) Rectangular 6x4.5 and 6x7 cameras without rotating backs are more commonly used with prisms.

    I use the built in WLF on my Yashicamat 124 TLR and the AE prism on my Mamiya 645.

    I agree that the laterally reversed image can aid composition, just as the upside down image on a view camera ground glass can, though it hampers following a moving subject. One adjusts, but still sometimes takes a second of moving the wrong way, especially if, like me, you also shoot other cameras with prisms.
     
  11. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Member

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    Oh yeah, one other thing - in spite of the name I rarely shoot the WLF at waist level. Most of the time I use the magnifier on my Yashica and hold the camera up to my head where I look down with my eye right at the finder. I do sometimes use it at waist level but most often it is, in practice, more of a "neck level" finder and given that I am 6' tall that could easily be eye level for someone, say, 5'6".
     
  12. TheToadMen

    TheToadMen Subscriber

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    +1
     
  13. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    On my RB67 I just rotate my back.

    Jeff
     
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  15. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    I have a prism finder for my Mamiya C330F but I prefer the W.L.F. most of the time, the prism is a huge chunk of glass and is heavy, I tend to only use it with flash.
     
  16. GarageBoy

    GarageBoy Member

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    Thanks, forgot it's not upside down. It seems like I'm always pointing the camera in the wrong direction with a laterally reversed image
     
  17. Colin Corneau

    Colin Corneau Subscriber

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    I just can't quite get used to the WLF on my old 500c. Always have a 45 degree prism in place...much easier for me YMMV
     
  18. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    Practise. I've photographed bobsleds with a Rollei, panning to follow them.
    Take the camera out near a road and practice panning cars as they go by, you'll catch on pretty quickly.
     
  19. Alan Gales

    Alan Gales Member

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    Most people get used to it and it doesn't bother them. A few don't and just use a prism finder. There is no right or wrong answer. Just use what works for you.

    I shoot large format and love it when someone wants to look under my dark cloth. They all say the same thing, "But it's upside down!". :D
     
  20. TheToadMen

    TheToadMen Subscriber

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    Then I say:

    "Yes, it's an Australian camera" (= on the other side of the globe for Holland)

    or

    "Oh, wait, I put the camera upside down ..."
     
  21. mweintraub

    mweintraub Member

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    I use both, but it depends how I'm using the camera to determine which finder I use.

    Mamiya 645 with power winder (or in portrait orientation): prism
    Mamiya 645 w/o power winder (landscape orientation only): WLF
    Bronica SQ-A w/ Speed Grip S: Prism
    Bronica SQ-A w/ handcrank: WLF
    Bronica SQ-Am (builtin power winder only): Prism
    Mamiya RZ67: WLF mainly. This is because the AE Prism weights as much as the body, 110mm lens, and a back by itself. I did use the Prism when shooting high on a tripod.

    So pretty much, if I'm using the camera with my hand orientated like I would with an SLR, I'll use the prism. Or if just using the front shutter release and hand winding, I prefer the WLF.
     
  22. Alan Gales

    Alan Gales Member

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    :laugh:
     
  23. tessar

    tessar Subscriber

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    I'm with Roger Cole -- I've used his technique for years (decades!) on TLRs. Works very well for me.
     
  24. paul ron

    paul ron Member

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    hahahaha depends on what I am shooting. When my RB is on a tripod using a very low angle I use my WLF (chimney).

    If I am hand holding I use my prism.
     
  25. thegman

    thegman Member

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    I use a Rollei with WLF, and used a Hasselblad a couple of years ago. Even now the left - right thing catches me out, but generally, you just become accustomed to it. If I could have a prism with no extra size, then I would, but generally the WLF works just great.
     
  26. smolk

    smolk Member

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    What is his technique?
    Meanwhile, I came to MF with the Pentax 645N system and loved it. Then tried a Rolleiflex and it quickly took over. Yes, I had to get used to the mirror image, but ultimately find the mirror image an advantage, and the WLF a superb plus. Especially if you wear glasses, as I do: I can keep them on with my Rolleiflexes, not with my Pentax.

    I loved it so much that I also acquired a Rolleiflex 6008i, which has a WLF, but with meter and interchangeable lenses. It is heavy, though, but handles quite well. It is not sharper than the Xenotar or Planar 2.8 80mm lenses on the TLR, which are indeeed wonderfully silent. I'm going to offload one TLR only because I need the dosh, and I hope to add to my 6008i, and still have a TLR, but otherwise the TLR rules. (I still use my Pentax 645N with 35mm, 135mm, and 150mm lenses. The Pentax also is ergonomically brilliant, has a built-in diopter, and a future upgrade path to the 645D... But the WLF is still my first choice.)