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  1. #1
    Mark Fisher's Avatar
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    Help finding my ideal manual 35mm

    My 35mm outfit right now is Canon EOS. I originally bought it 15 years ago because I had difficulty focusing my beloved OM1. After using medium and large format, I've learned to really dislike my EOS for its plastic, autofocus and relatively complicated interface. My OM1 is really ideal (size, control, important features, ergonomics) EXCEPT for the viewfinder. I wear glasses and find it difficult to use. Are there any similar alternatives in the Canon FD, Pentax, or Nikon worlds that might fit my needs? I'd be willing to give up some on size to get an amazingly good viewfinder.

    Thanks -- Mark

  2. #2

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    Mark,

    If you can broaden your list a bit, you might look at leicaflex SL or SL2's. Their viewfinders are about as good as you can get. The lenses aren't bad either.

    Richard Wasserman

  3. #3

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    Just in general reference to the eyeglass question. I have a Contax RTSIII which has diopter adjustment of +-3 diopters. Since I am very myopic, I had to add a -3 diopter lens to this to bring my viewfinder into clear focus with no glasses. I work mainly from a tripod. I really enjoy having the viewfinder being bright, clear and in focus and to see the whole viewfinder. I use depth of preview very extensively. This has done the trick for me. If I use the camera with eyeglases my eye has to be very well centered to see the corners. As a drawback, When I take my eye from the viewfinder I have 'Degas vision' with everything being out of focus. I try to remember to have my glasses on a cord so that I can not lose them. Not much good if I forget to bring it along. If I forget it then I put them into my shirt pocket.

    I was taking photos at the downtown Milwaukee post office one summer night after dark. I was using a PC lens on a tripod on sharp gravel from a low viewpoint on my hands and knees. It took me quite a while to find a viewpoint that I liked. When I had finished my photo I found that I had not put my glasses into my pocket. I did not wish to call home for assistance. I did not wish to drive home and to be able to see to drive thru holding the camera to my right eye. I took me better 25 minutes crawling around on my hands and knees using the Braille method to find my glasses by touch whilst being careful that I did not put any weight in the wrong place before finding my glasses. Would you believe that I learned a lesson trom this?
    Claire (Ms Anne Thrope is in the darkroom)

  4. #4
    PhotoJim's Avatar
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    I think it's hard to not think about Nikon here.

    Nikon has a lot of cameras that have high-eyepoint viewfinders, which are truly a pleasure to use (and the best viewfinders in the industry if you wear glasses). The F3HP comes to mind - very inexpensive these days, and extremely well built. The F4, despite being an autofocus camera, makes a great manual-focus body if you put a focussing screen with focus aids into the camera.

    The only real disadvantages to the F3HP are its strange flash shoe (completely non-standard) and its low x-sync (1/80). If this is an issue you will probably strongly prefer the F4.

    One great thing about Nikon is that autofocus lenses can be used on manual bodies. The manual focus feel of some is not great (but it's usually livable), but on some (particularly the f/2.8 zooms) it's exceptionally good. I use a few AF lenses on manual cameras frequently and don't mind the focus feel at all.

    If the plasticky feel of Canons is really the big issue for you, you might fall in love with the higher-end metal AF bodies in the Nikon line (particularly the F4, F5, F6 and F100).

    Mix and match your bits and build a great system. I love my Nikons.

  5. #5
    Paul Sorensen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Fisher
    My OM1 is really ideal (size, control, important features, ergonomics) EXCEPT for the viewfinder. I wear glasses and find it difficult to use.
    Have you looked for a diopter correction lens for the OM1? Depending on your prescription this might be a good solution. There are a few on eBay right now in different prescriptions.

  6. #6
    DBP
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    I just compared my Nikon FE2 and FG with an OM1. and they all fade a little in the corners of the viewfinder with my glasses on*. I've gotten used to it apparently. But if it bothers you then definitely go for a high eyepoint viewfinder. If a set of Nikon glass is more than you want to invest, you may want to look at the Minolta SRTs, which have high eyepoint viewfinders, are built like bricks, and can be really cheap.

  7. #7
    Mark Fisher's Avatar
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    I should have been more specific. If I use 35mm, it is handheld, with prime lenses and mostly street photography. I tried the diopter route, but I hate constantly removing my glasses. The Leicaflexes are beasts, but if they have a great finder......I could be talked into it!

    Thanks -- Mark

  8. #8
    DBP
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    For street photography, hand held, have you considered a rangefinder?

  9. #9

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    The old OM series are nice and compact SLRs. Most of the older Nikon SLRs are higher magnification finders than the more modern cameras, at least in the more compact bodies. I think the F4 recommendation is good, though I would suggest you actually pick one up and handle it first. The usual F4 you will find on the used market has a vertical grip, and is quite heavy. Even with the normal grip, it still packs lots of weight, and has a fairly large grip for your right hand.

    An F3 is more compact, and has finders that can be changed without much trouble. There is a somewhat less common sports finder (F4 and F5 also had these), which would be really easy to use. The flash issue can be worked around with a few Nikon items that convert the old shoe style.

    Since you already have Canon, you might want to look into an older Canon F1. The lenses from your EOS won't work, but these are nice system cameras, similar to the Nikon F3.

    Another nice system camera, with nice lenses, is the Pentax LX. This is still relatively compact, and very well made. I still know two professionals who use these for their work, one of whom is in his fifties and wears glasses.

    It seems more like getting away from command dials, and back to regular knobs and controls. Definitely pick up and try out any camera, if you can find a nice example used. You might also want to look into getting a rangefinder camera, though the spending levels are often higher than many older SLRs. A rangefinder can often be a little easier to use for eyeglass wearers, though there is a slight learning curve to getting use to the focusing and framing methods.

    Ciao!

    Gordon

  10. #10
    Rob Archer's Avatar
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    I have a similar problem with the OM1n. I can't see the whole frame with my glasses on and I struggle to focus with them off! So what I now do is set a medium - small aperture and use the DOF scale on the lens (which is reasonable accurate on the Zuiko lenses) I tried autofocus for a while (Canon EOS50E) but foud it didn't always focus on what I wanted it to, whereas I get about a 95% success rate with the manual OM1n. Obviously, wider lenses are better for this technique in my experience.

    Rob

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