...Just thought I should add this, in view (see what I did there?) of the recent rangefinder posts: my all-time favorite camera viewfinder is...drum roll...the Retina screen on the Apple "Plus" series of iPhones.
Really. It's just easiest to visualize pictures with. It's a compromised camera in many other ways, but I love looking at what I'm shooting on that screen.
Not an iPhone.
Second favorite is probably the fresnel lens on the groundglass of the Wista 45DXII field view camera I bought around '87—the image was so magical I could get pleasure just from ducking under the dark cloth and looking at the world through the camera. (And this sure was fun to share with students, too. And remind me to tell the story of the three thieves someday.)
Third is the Contax RTS III SLR. Even though it's possibly been met or exceeded by other glass-prism SLR-types by now, it was an eye-opener (doing it again!) in its day for me. (Yeah, even though the blue readouts were hard to see in daylight, Guy Out There Who Remembers the RTS III!)
Fourth, have to add, is the Panasonic GX8 EVF. Tiltable, over by my left eye (I'm now left-eyed), and oh so big and beautiful. (I now prefer EVFs to OVFs. Each has some advantages and disadvantages, but the EVF's advantages, um, tilt me in its favor.) (The GX8 is currently on sale for $850.)
The viewfinder is a large part of the soul of any camera, and "sets" its character, in the same way that steering feel does with a car. The history of cameras could be written by spinning a picaresque tale of the many methods devised to aim and focus cameras over the years. It's in large part the story of cameras themselves.
Of course, there's a slight caveat with the Retina iPhone screen: "...when you can see it." You can't always...well, see it. And since seeing is the whole point with a viewfinder, that's a bit of a drawback. What I mean, though, is that a large, flat electronic viewing screen that I can see in 2D with both eyes open helps me visualize pictures better than any other alternative I'm aware of. And I find it very pleasurable...I love it.
I wrote before that I'd love to see a camera designed around a viewing screen. Picture a screen about 5" square, in the waistlevel position, with a proper handle and shutter release underneath it on the right side, and, also underneath it, a place to attach proper lenses—maybe Micro 4/3—and a folding hood for the screen like the nicest one you ever saw on a press camera. With a little switch to change from landscape to portrait. I'd love it.
Well, I'd love it as long as Leica didn't make it, because they'd charge too much for it and then it might as well not exist! (That was the "gotcha" from the trickster Universe with the B&W-only camera I used to say I wanted. Carl will have some thoughts about that soon I hope he'll share with us.)
It'll never happen. (It's your digital TLR, essentially.) But it would be sweet if it did.
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Featured Comments from:
Nigel Ladkin: "A gloss on the iPad. When I am working slowly with a tripod I carry an old iPad Mini. Using the Olympus app I can view the composition on the screen. This is very useful for edge patrol and also if the camera is in an awkward position. Having checked the composition I turn the iPad off as I don't otherwise use it to control the camera. I imagine that this is a similar experience to using a field view camera and really helps in working more methodically as if every exposure comes at a cost. You can even lock the screen rotation to view the composition upside down. As Joe Cornish observes this is very useful in evaluating the composition. I am with you in preferring an EVF to an OVF but find this an added bonus. The weight penalty of carrying the iPad is negligible.
Chuck Albertson: "Not to taunt you, but you should check out the EVF on the Leica SL. In all but the worst light, I forget that I'm not looking through an optical viewfinder."