Opinions on external optical viewfinders?
I'm interested in your opinions and experiences for the optical viewfinders often installed in the shoe of RF cameras?
I use one on my 6x17 camera and it's OK, I also use one on my Crown Graphic (5x4) and that works as well, then I also use the Press type finders on a Super Graphic, sometimes the Crown and all my 9x12 cameras.
When I borrowed a 21mm Super Angulon for my Leica I used the optical finder and there were no issues, I used it extensively for a number on months.
We are rather spoilt these days, WYSIWYG, but I enjoy using older film equipment, and the uncertainty, the need for craft & skill. I think what constantly surprises me is that older optical finders work fine however saying that I'm fairly sure I'm allow a slight margin (at the edges) for error, but I always print full frame.
Well, when you need them, you need them. I don't think anybody finds them as convenient as built-in framelines though.
San Diego, CA, USA
The lady of the house has to be a pretty swell sort of person to put up with the annoyance of a photographer.
-The Little Technical Library, _Developing, Printing, And Enlarging_
I use a Petri Tele/Wide finder with a Jupiter 12 on a Zorki 4, and also with a Sandmar 35 on an Argus C3. I don't use an external finder with the 60mm lens on a Koni-Omega Rapid M, as using the entire viewfinder window is a close enough approximation. My preference is to not use an external finder if possible, as it's just one more thing to keep track of.
I am however having trouble finding an accurate representation of a 6x7 roll film back on a 4x5 Graflex Speed Graphic. I have the correct viewfinder mask, but it's still quite a bit off, even at infinity. The wire frame finder seems to be the most accurate with some mental adjustment, so I may just stick with that.
I have a few: a Voitlander 35mm, a Leica SBOOI (50mm 1:1) a Leica VIDOM (35mm, 50, 73, 90 & 135) and a Nikon 135.
Perhaps people find them cumbersome to use, but I enjoy them. I believe it will certainly slow you down, but that's not always a bad thing. Parallax errors should be taken into consideration, especially with long-focus lenses (90 & 135) at close distances. Focus on subject, frame in external viewfinder, check distance, make sure distance doesn't require parallax correction, etc, etc.
They also make cameras look nice, if that's your thing
Those who know, shoot film
Sponsored Ad. (Subscribers to APUG have the option to remove this ad.)
My very first 35mm camera that I bought in 1960 had a viewfinder but no rangefinder. I bought a
made in Germany 'Unity' rangefinder that mounted into the flash shoe. Still have it but sold the
camera. Now will try it as a viewfinder on one of my other cameras, had never thought of it
B4. I know some wide-angle Nikkors came with a slip in finder since the mirror must be locked up
to mount the lens.
Just like most things, some finders are better than other. But as stated above, you are usually using an accessory finder for a reason rather then a choice.
As others have said: better than no finder!
"Truth and love are my law and worship. Form and conscience are my manifestation and guide. Nature and peace are my shelter and companions. Order is my attitude. Beauty and perfection are my attack."
- Rob Tyner (1944 - 1991)
I cut costs and started with a 21mm Voigtlander finder, but found it was distorted enough to bother me. Replaced it with a Leica finder which is much better, if stupidly expensive.
I have lots of external VF's, at least one for every focal length and I have a bunch of multi-finders. I use them primarily with my two Barnack bodies; a II(d) and a IIIf. The SBOOI is a joy to use on a Barnack. The view is very close to 1:1 and one can shoot with both eyes open. With the exception of the IIIg, the screwmounts came with a squinty 50mm viewfinder with no frame-lines. To use lenses other than 50mm, one had to use an external viewfinder or one's imagination. I like using a Leica 35mm SBLOO viewfinder with a 35mm Elmar on my IIIf. A wonderfully compact camera. I just scale-focus and forget about using the RF. The view through the SBLOO is just wonderful - brighter than an M. With a rapid winder, it makes for a very fast street-shooter. The 135mm SHOOC is also wonderful. Big magnification and the largest 135mm brightlines for an RF. A much nicer view than the goggled view of the 135f2.8 Elmarit-M view on my M3 even.
I have two special VF's in my collection that come in handy. The first is the prewar Leica AUFSU finder. This acts like a waste-level finder and approximates 50mm. Surprisingly the image through this VF is quite good - it is bright and easy to use. I use it when I want to be less noticeable. It allows me to shoot with the camera away from my eye and also at a 90-degree angle. The other special finder my Leica VIDOM multi-finder. What I like about this finder is that I can see the image upside-down and inverted like in a view-camera. It is not a good viewfinder but it is a great aid for composition. HC-B often used it for this reason. I've used the VIDOM with most of my 35mm cameras - even with my Spotmatic.
I used an external 50mm viewfinder on my Leica M bodies but rarely. I'm a left-eye shooter so if I want to shoot with both eyes open, I need to use an external VF.
I also have a Voigtlander Bessa-T that has a 35f1.2 Nokton mounted to it most of the time. The lens is very big and on my Leica M bodies, it blocks about 1/4 of the viewfinder. External viewfinders are required for the Bessa-T and I use an excellent Voigtlander 35mm finder on it. The big Nokton mounted on a Bessa-T does not intrude into the frame lines at all. You can see the big lens in the viewfinder but the top of the lens hood just brushes the bottom frameline just perfectly. The big lens also handles better on the lighter Bessa.
A major obstacle for me was parallax error. After some practise, however, I learned to approximate the error and change my framing to compensate for it. My 90mm and 135 viewfinders along with my multi-finders have mechanisms to dial in the parallax but I never use it. I find this extra step just takes too long.
Another problem I ran into was that newer VF's often did not fit into the smaller accessory shoes on my prewar Barnack.
"Oui, non, oui, non, OUI!" - Henri Cartier-Bresson
Fernando Gomes Semedo (aka Nando) - flickr