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  1. #1
    darinwc's Avatar
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    How do viewfinder diopters work?

    I've never worn glasses before, but I know I've been getting a bit nearsighted. I can see things fine up to about 15 feet or so. Distant objects are a bit fuzzy. Not too bad but not sharp.

    The last 4 rolls of film I had developed were 90% out of focus. =[ I'm using a manually-focused SLR. I checked the registration of the focus screen to the film plane and that looks good.

    So the only 2 possibilities are camera shake or bad focussing (user error).
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  2. #2
    chriscrawfordphoto's Avatar
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    Go to the eye doctor, get your eyes examined. If you need glasses, get them, and ask the doctor what your prescription is. It'll be a diopter number. Buy that number for your camera. When you shoot, don't wear glasses to look through the camera. The diopter you put on it will correct your vision.
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    For nearsightedness, only negative diopter corrections (-1, -2 etc.) will work. I'm not sure they make these -- I've only seen positive diopters for attaching to viewfinders. These are for old-age sight (presbyopia), when nearby objects become more and more difficult to focus. I've been nearsighted for a long time and I used to wear glasses, which sometimes made it difficult to see the whole viewfinder image. Then I got contact lenses. These work very well for nearsightedness. You see clearly with the naked eye, and they also correct peripheral vision, which glasses won't do.

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    Do your shots of less that 15 feet suffer as well? What did you use to scan the image? Was it a negative scan?

    Shooting %90 out of focus gives a hint of something else. I would look at the scanner.

    I am far sighted and at 47, I too needed to put some "glass" on my nose. I was scanning with a flatbed and blamed a lot on me being blind. I was surprised when my new glasses didn't help here. I took a roll to the drug store and got them to develop and print it. The photo's were sharp. My scans did not match. It turned out to be crappy stock film holders on my Epson V350; they held the film out of focus. I ditched it and got an Epson 4490, but had the same problem. I could get adjustable replacement holders for Medium format but not small. I then got a Plustek for my 35mm work. It was amazing how much a difference it made.

    Take your negs to someone that you know where it's known to have good scans. If you get the same result, then it's you. Otherwise you now know what to look for.

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    Remember that through the viewfinder, you do not see near or far objects. Everything is at the same distance: the (virtual) viewing distance from eyepiece to focussing screen.

    This means that the correction you may need for your camera is not necessarily the same as your glasses's prescription.
    This viewing distance typically is in the 10 - 15 ft range. Chosen to be that because it is the distance we are most comfortable viewing 'with intent'.
    So find out what correction your eyes need for about that distance.

    You say, Darin, that you can see things fine up to that distance. So maybe it's indeed not your eyesight.

  6. #6
    ic-racer's Avatar
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    I think that most will agree that wide angle lenses can be difficult to focus on SLRs. They don't 'snap' into focus, the screen is dark, the fresnel is not optimized for the focal length and any focusing aids in the middle probably don't work. So you need all the help you can get.

    In that picture you presented, you will probably agree that zone focusing it at 'infinity' would have been better than what you got. One thing you can do to check you vision is check the viewfinder without a lens. But even then, you may not know how sharp it can really be without some comparison. I recommend a trip to the optician. I have found for nearsightedness the correction you need for your viewfinder will be the same as your glasses (or just wear your [new] glasses when focusing).

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Q.G. View Post
    Remember that through the viewfinder, you do not see near or far objects. Everything is at the same distance: the (virtual) viewing distance from eyepiece to focussing screen.

    This means that the correction you may need for your camera is not necessarily the same as your glasses's prescription.
    This viewing distance typically is in the 10 - 15 ft range. Chosen to be that because it is the distance we are most comfortable viewing 'with intent'.
    So find out what correction your eyes need for about that distance.

    You say, Darin, that you can see things fine up to that distance. So maybe it's indeed not your eyesight.
    The viewfinder distance is typically 1 meter, while some use 30"...the virtual distance within the viewfinder is not uniform, from brand to brand!!
    Last edited by wiltw; 05-26-2009 at 03:43 PM. Click to view previous post history.

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    The viewing distance typically varies a lot.

  9. #9
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    They're like little tiny glasses that screw in to the viewfinder. Many cameras have adjustable diopters these days, like my N80 and D50. Convenient. It is a pain to focus with glasses on, so I would personally get the diopter.

  10. #10
    darinwc's Avatar
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    For the record I was shooting with a Canon F1 and a 24mm f2.0 lens.

    Since the images I have were all taken in near-sunset at ISO 160, it is likely to be caused by camera shake. But i would expect more of a linear blur and a wider variation than what I received.

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