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Thread: WLF vs Prism?

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    WLF vs Prism?

    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?

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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

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    Shawn Dougherty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GarageBoy View Post
    How do you get used to upside down and laterally reversed images while composing?
    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.

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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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GarageBoy View Post
    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?
    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nwilkins View Post

    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.

    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.

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

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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.
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    Quote Originally Posted by GarageBoy View Post
    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?
    I suppose with MF users you mean "Middle Format" and not "Manual Focus"?

    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.
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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.

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    Roger Cole's Avatar
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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.

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