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Friday, 16 March 2018


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Perhaps nobody is catering to the lefties in the digital era. But my first SLR was an Exakta VX. I’m a lefty and when I switched to shooting a Nikon F, I had to change hands and become a right-handed shooter!!

I'm left-handed and for the most part, when I can go ambidextrous, I do.

I play guitar and golf right handed, because, when I was a beginner, I was advised to go right-handed; there are more options in equipment and teachers. The extra strength and dexterity in my left hand and arm could work in my favor. It's so much easier to find right-handed versions of guitars that I'm glad I took the advice.

As for cameras, same thing. I never found it to be much of a problem. I usually have both hands on the camera; one to hold and press the shutter and one to focus the lens. Like the guitar, the extra sensitivity and familiarity of my left hand helps me focus faster, and more accurately. But that's with my Leicas, Oly XA, and Nikon F3.

My E-M5II is similar, since, out of habit, I usually hold on to the lens. But not always, and then, it moves into compact territory.

Compact digital cameras are more difficult. Since they're designed to be held with just the right hand, it took me some time to get used to them, and shakiness can be a problem for me.

I think the closest we've come to a left-handed camera is the Rolliflex TLR. It usually requires both hands on the body, and whoopee if it's a finger on the right hand that presses the shutter release. Obviously, that's just a happy accident.

Sometimes I get angry at this right-handed world, but then I remember that us lefties are smarter, better-looking and stronger than those right-handed muggles.

The camera in my iPhone is designed to accommodate both right-hand and left hand operation. My pictures are equally bad with either hand.

Yep, I am in the same boat. The world is made for the right handed, even doors. I have adapted by becoming semi-ambidextrous also even though all through grade school I was reminded of the evils in being left handed.
Steve McCurry has an injury in his right arm and has adapted to the situation. This can be seen in some of his videos. He has a plate with a handle built into it bolted to the bottom of his camera to help with the situation.
I would not what to do with a left handed camera.

My first "real" camera was an Exakta VX iib given to me by my father when I turned 13 (1966). It had a left had shutter release, so I guess it was a left-handed camera. I am a righty, but my left eye is dominant, so I guess it worked out.

My father knew a guy who had some kind of connection to Seymour's Exakta, a shop near Penn Station in NYC that specialized in Exakta cameras and lenses (that area was once the camera district of NYC). A few years later, I bought a third party through the lens meter head for the camera and a few years after that I sold it to buy an Olympus OM-1.

Stay off that arm, Mike. Bask in the warmth of NYSEG electricity, while you've got it (I am a downstate victim of the same).

The Exakta V and variants are the only lefty-friendly SLRs I can think of. The Rollei 35, with left-hand wind and right-side viewfinder, was equally difficult to use, regardless of handedness, so perhaps the ultimate in fairness . . .

I don't think of cameras as being handed? They are like pianos - you need both hands to make the musical imagery. The controls and dials seem evenly split between left/right, on the bigger Nikons anyway. I do grant that it might take a moment to get used to a left grip, right lens hold simply due to being accustomed to the opposite.

But wouldn't a modular & configurable camera be so cool? One where you could position grips right or left, swap out the sensor pack for a mono or a UV-only sensor, change lens mounts & adjust flange focal length? If I were about 30 years younger I would be making those. Maybe some millenial out there will get this done. Hope so.

As a more full-bore lefty, I've found I like cameras with controls spread out over the camera a bit, like the Fujis. Holding the X-T2, my left hand is operating the aperture while my right hand is on the shutter. Those are basically the only controls I use with the camera up to my eye, and it works well.

That feels much more comfortable than my Nikon, where basically everything is done with right-hand fingers, simultaneously.

Thankfully, I'm right-eyed. That seems like the design choice that would be most limiting.

In the early 1960's I had an Exacta that had the shutter release and film advance on the left side.

I still have an old Exakta Varex IIa camera from my father. This was maybe the nearest left-handed camera ever built. The film advance lever is on the left-hand side and the shutter is on the front of the camera, to the left of the lens.
This was the first camera I used when I was a teen. As I am myself ambidextrous, it was great for me. I used it with an Angenieux 35 mm lens.

(I'll email you separately a few pictures I just took of the camera as I don't know how to upload pictures with my comment _ couldn't find any guidelines for this.)

As a left-handed person...totally left handed except for shooting a pistol or rifle...the Army did not believe in arming lefties with special

The only leftie camera I can think of is the early Exacta V series of SLRs. Left-hand advance and shutter button to the left of the lens.

I shot have shot with a few, but it seemed awkward as primarily a Nikon shooter in the good old days.

My 8 x10 Deardorff is Left Handed
...And my 11x14 Deardorff Commercial View is as well
That one has a Packard Shutter with x synch, I can squeeze the Bulb with either hand.
I'm told the reversible back came into existence so that Right Handed people could use them.......

I'm left-handed and left-eyed. I have always considered cameras to be left-handed as the controls requiring the most dexterity, focus and zoom, were controlled by the left hand. Even in the digital era I button push and swipe with my left hand while holding the camera ready to go in my right. Being left-eyed means I can comfortably keep my right eye open all day long and ignore input from it as it is shielded by the back of the camera. Right-eyed photographers seem to have to close their left eye. The sole time being right-eyed would be an advantage that I can see is with a rangefinder where I have to squish up against the back of the camera while right-eyed photographers can see the world approaching the frame. I have a left-handed nib on my fountain pen, incidentally.

And Mike, don't rush your recovery. People will wait.

The old Exacta was known to be a left-handed camera.

I'm a lefty. The old Hasselblad 500 CM was very adaptable to my preferences. Likewise TLRs could be operated by the left hand.

The old Exakta's were somewhat left handed as the shutter release was on the left side. As far as eye dominance most cameras used to have the eyepiece right in the center. It's only since the digital age with EVF's that placement has become optional.

When writing left-handed, you should rotate the paper clockwise 30-45 degrees so that your letters tilt "backward" as you write. Right-handed people rotate the paper counter clockwise to get a forward slant.

If you write in this fashion, you can use a fountain pen because your hand will always be below your writing and not rub the writing.

It is also less stressing on the hand and wrist to write in this fashion. The worst thing is to do the "lefty curl-over" to write like a right-y.

Despite the fact that I knew this since 4th grade (I had a left-handed 4th grade teacher that tried to teach me), I did not start doing this until I was well into my 40s. I wish I had made the change sooner. I now truly enjoy writing free-hand.

Exaktas, of course, are left-handed cameras.

The Rolleiflex TLR requires ambidextrousness.

What do lefties do with cameras? Just accommodate, I guess. As you know I sometimes argue that we have a plethora of alternatives with cameras but in some ways not enough choice, and that's another example.

It really was a problem back in the era of the 35mm rangefinder although, oddly, I shot with my father's prewar Zeiss Contax for several years as a teenager and it was only much later that I realized how inconvenienced I had been. I still feel that way when I walk around with my current “pocket” camera, a Fuji X-E2 with a pancake lens.

The single-lens reflex equalized the burden somewhat because whether you were left- or right-eye dominant, your nose was going to wind up squished up against the back of the body.

However, the button placement of single-lens reflexes and SLR-form-factor mirrorless cameras still favors right-handed and right-eyed shooters, and it occurs to me that since all the buttons on a modern digital camera are under the control of software, anyway, it wouldn’t be an impossible engineering challenge for a manufacturer to come up with a symmetrical arrangement and allow the user to assign any function to any button.

For example, I tend not to focus with a half-shutter press, and would really benefit from the ability to assign a button on the left side of my Fuji X-T2 and Nikon D800E to the AF-L function so I wouldn't have to maneuver my finger between my face and the camera body to acquire focus.

I think that there were several Exacta and Exa cameras of the '40's and '50's that were left handed and I used an Alpa in a project in the '70s' that was at least partially left handed.

I was born naturally left-handed, but early in elementary school (circa 1940's) I was forced to write right-handed. As a result, I have since done most fine-motor tasks right-handed, and things like carpentry left-handed. My photo workstation desk accommodates my trackball much better on the left side of the keyboard, so there I use the trackball with my left hand, with the button functions reversed. My wife's workstation has the trackball on the right with conventional button assignments, and I use that with equal ease when I work there. Cameras have never been a problem, you have to be ambidextrous to focus or zoom with the left and tune and shoot with the right hand. I maintain that my indeterminate handedness in no way affects my personality, although some others are not so sure....
-Dave Kocher

Mike, SLOW DOWN !!!! You've just had significant invasion of your body.... we'll come back.... we want YOU to, too! Best wishes from down under in hot weather! Bruce

I've been left-eyed all my life (though right handed).

When I use my DSLR, it only causes a single problem: when I focus using the camera's AF-On button (which is always), my thumb knuckle smears the right lens of my glasses. So I'm constantly pausing to get out my glasses-cleaning cloth.

Just this week I decided I'd train myself to view with my right eye. I decided to train myself, but I never remember to actually practice it. Raising the camera to my eye has become a reflex. It looks like switching eyes is going to take some serious retraining.

The only cameras I can think of better suited to lefties rather than righties are the Mamiya Universal and Polaroid 600SE, with their grips and shutters left of the body and the viewfinders near their respective top-rights.

There was the famous Ken Rockwell special left handed F100: http://www.kenrockwell.com/about-older.htm#lefty

I remember my Photography Merit Badge instructor had a left-handed Alpa, and if THAT isn't an outlier I don't know what is. Kyrocera made a left-handed Samurai, for one generation, but those are the only two I can think of.

I knew two older wedding photogs in town that used Rollies because they were lefties, but even then the controls were 'backwards'.

Yhe Yashica Samurai was available in a mirror-image -L version for left handed photographers. Probably the exception that proves the rule.


I believe an EXA was knobs reversed camera.
Not an Exacta!

And as to your injured artery, you had a form of invasive surgery; never good. Think tooth extraction or root canal, both invasive surgery
albeit mild. Then too how many times can a needle be plunged into the same lower arm before it rebels? Getting a needle is form of "invasive" surgery if you really want to drag the topic.

Just rest that arm Mike; bottom line your heart is OK.

Interesting read, Mike. I've finally found someone like me: a marginal lefty. Left handed writer, right handed golfer/tennis player, left handed squash/raquetball player, right handed wielder of the hammer and screwdriver, left handed sewer. With the camera, right eye dominant, indifferent when it comes to grips/buttons.

When confronted with something new and different that requires manual manipulation, I never know ahead of time which way feels the correct way to pick up/grip/use whatever it is until I actually do it.

As a transplanted (to the USA) Brit, moving from driving on the left to driving on the right was a snap and I have no trouble flipping back to the left side when I visit the UK.

Today's piece was a fun read for me because it just sounds right. Or left. Whatever....

On a more serious note, listen yo your doc and quit pushing the envelope. The last thing you need is a ruptured artery and another visit to the far-away hospital.

Stay well,

Smartphones are ambidextrous ;-)
In fact I usually use my left thumb in landscape mode.


Have you forgotten the lovely Exakta SLR models, with exposure release and film advance controlled by the left hand?

Never had one myself (being right-handed), but then I have never played golf or pool, either.


I'm such a lefty that I appreciate times when the left hand remains free to do real work. Holding a camera and using a mouse are just right for my pathetic right hand to manage! I have retrained myself to be more right-eyed at the viewfinder, but if a telescope appears the left eye goes straight to it.

I seem to recall the old Exacta SLRs were left handed. Certainly the shutter button was on the left.

Sorry to hear you’re still having pain. It will improve, but as we seasoned citizens learn, pain is nature’s way of telling us to slow down. Maeantime, what about an Exakta? I recall trying one, but while being left handed (the Latin for left being sinistra), when I finally got around to trying one, I had spent so many years adapting that nothing about it felt right. That was a long while ago, but the reason I got rid of it was that it was hideously complex to use. I sold it and got a Leica IIIc. Don’t worry about the left-eye finder usage—you’ll get accustomed to nose prints on the display.

Hi Mike,

Ever shoot a Hasselblad? My 500cm is set up to focus and crank the advance with the right hand and release the shutter with the left index finger. While not "sinister" myself I can envision a lefty having a relatively easy time cranking and focusing with the off hand and releasing the shutter with the dominant one. Maybe even superior shot timing that way?

Suspect pairing left-eye dominance with left-side viewfinders is a big challenge. Have tried my off eye to frame and focus and find it very difficult.

The resumption of typing is one thing, shoveling wet snow is a whole other ball game. This recent Popular Science article says that if the heart is starved for oxygen it becomes vulnerable to abnormal electrical activity that can lead to dangerous arrhythmia’s. You ain't as young and fit as you used to be and don't appear to believe in easing into things.

"Lets be careful out there." ~ Sergeant Phil Esterhaus

Don't let snow shoveling give you a heart attack - https://www.popsci.com/shoveling-snow-heart-attack

The Mamiya Press cameras were set up with the handle and shutter trigger (linked through an incorporated shutter cable) on the left. Only one I've ever used. Of course, there is this:


(HINT: it's a joke.)

I don't find cameras very handed; I need to make small precisely-controlled adjustments with both hands. Luckily, that works for me (I'm not fully ambidextrous, but I mouse primarily left-handed and am pretty even-handed in a lot of other things, though not in writing, which I do entirely with my right hand). (They may be more handed than the used to be, though, if you're not setting the aperture on the lens and not focusing manually.)

The eye thing is a problem, though. I'm left-eye dominant, and started buying motor-winders for my bodies in 1981 to keep the Nikon FM wind lever from sticking into my right eye (it had to be out from the body to activate the meter; that wasn't needed with the motor winder mounted).

Mike, the Mamiya C220 and C330 were almost perfect for both lefties and righties. There were two focus knobs, and you saw shutter speed and aperture on the lens in front. Only the shutter lever was right side only.

I have given this some thought in the past. There are times when I might want to take a photo using one hand. Maybe put the camera in an unusual position while using the other hand to hold on to something. An example might me hanging on to a tree while holding the camera over a creek to shoot up or down stream. If i'm on the right bank, relative to the direction I'm facing, how would I do this?

I'm sure I could come up with other examples when switching hands would be useful. Maybe cameras could come with two shutter buttons and you lock the one you are not using.

Almost all of the Exakta (and Exa) cameras were 'left-handed', so to speak. Wind on lever and shutter release both on the left side. Can't think of any others but I'm sure there are some other oddities out there.

Camera companies do not think of lefties. Being a left-handed, left-eye dominate person, this has actually affected camera purchases. For many years I shot with a Pentax system. In the mid-1980s I decided to switch to a more available "pro" system. I loved the lenses and photographs I was seeing from Nikons. The FE-2N was in my price range. Since I worked at a camera store, I could borrow the rental gear so off to the field I went with the rental FE. After about an hour, I was back in the store with the camera and a bruise on my forehead from the film advance lever that also acted as a shutter release lock. It did not bother when playing with it in the store, but about killed me in the field! I went with an Olympus OM-2N.

The Exakta Varex (VX) was the perfect idiosyncratic camera for lefties!

Only one, that I know of:

"But has there ever been a lefty camera?"

All of the Exakta series cameras had the shutter on the left. Many had the film advance on the left, also:


Wow! I go back and forth as needed. If I have problems with right hand mouse, I switch (and reverse the buttons) and go left handed. Cameras are pretty much hard wired, but I had to switch from left eye dominant to right eye. End result, I’m all over the map. Use whatever I need, which makes it interesting until I remember where I am

Generally you are right cameras are traditionally righty’s. However I seem to recall there being an ambidextrous SLR, two shutter buttons I think from one of the less popular brands back in the 60’s or perhaps I dreamed it, it was the 60’s after all. Maybe if I am right someone else will remember more details.

I'm left handed, ambidextrous like you but with a different mix.
I do wonder if we are genuinely ambidextrous?
If you can throw with either hand, golf left and right, swing a hammer left and right etc then that's ambidextrous for sure, but if you can't do the same task with either hand then I wonder.

How could you forget the Exakta?
About as lefthanded as you can get.

Some cameras that have a vertical grip can be used left handed

I can’t tell for sure but it sounds like you may have had a CRVO (central retinal vienn occlusion. I had a similar event a few years ago. After several weeks vision came back to about 90%. Whatever it is, I hope all is OK.

I'm a leftie too Mike, but I've never found left-handedness a problem with handling cameras since the most critical manipulative operation is (still) manual focus. With an OM1 the left hand is also used for aperture and shutter speed so it seemed quite natural, perhaps advantageous. Never had a problem with shutter release using the right index.

Many left-handers like me learnt to write with nib and ink by curling the left hand around the top of the paper to give the ink time to dry before the forearm moved across to smudge it - if we weren't forced to write with our right hands, that is.

In sensible countries like Australia the road system is designed so us left handers get to drive on the left side of the road. I don't know how you do it over there.

A long time ago (in camera years) Konica manufactured two models, FS-1 and its successor FT-1. Some of the first 35mm cameras with integral auto-winding. Both bodies had an electric cable release whose socket was placed on the front left corner of the body. They also made a relase button that screwed directly into the socket. Voila, a left-handed camera!

WOuldn't the Kodak Ektra qualify as a left handed camera?

Left eye = right brain (the artistic side). Your photography is about to reach heights it's never seen before!

The Exakta Varex is a leftie camera, no?

Exacta Mike.
Speedy recovery please!

Exakta. Kodak Ektra. Bessa 2, some Ikontas.

There have been a few left-handed cameras. The Exakta Varex range of 35mm SLRs had the wind-on lever and shutter release on the left:


...and much later there was a left-handed Z-L version of the Yashica Samurai Z zoom lens reflex:


There are probably more I've forgotten! Hope this helps.

Dave Pearman

Forty or so years ago I decided I needed a Leica because all my camera "heroes" used one.I could scarcely afford it but somehow managed to get one.
I am left eye dominate and need glasses for distance. This is really, really the wrong camera for someone in my state. Spent a great deal of time smashing my nose into the camera and scratching my glasses trying to get my eye close enough to see the whole frame and using my hand to block out the sun in the space of camera, glasses, eye.
Like shoes and jeans: TRY ON FIRST.

Being a Leftie is all about being superior and more able. Well being, left-handed, I would say that! (Oh, and I can use a fountain pen without smudging what I have written.)

I'm left handed and left eyed ; the only problem I seem to have with using my cameras is getting my skin oil on the rear display. Before autofocus, it was easy to use my left hand to focus the lenses and hold the cameras with my right hand. Back in maybe the 50's o 60's my uncle had a number of left handed 35mm cameras mfg. by Exacta. Everything was backwards and on the opposite sides. I found them very difficult to use. There was also a store called " The left handed shop". They had all sorts of things made for left handed people. I bought a pair of left handed scissors from them and found them next to impossible to use. It's a right handed world and us "left handed people" just need to adjust.

Here's one that literally makes your head spin- try monovision contact lenses or lasik surgery. My ophthalmologist suggested I try mononvision lenses in order to eliminate wearing reading glasses- big mistake, but glad I tried before having lasik procedure! Apparently men have more issues wearing them than women. I too am left handed and right-eye dominate; I bat and play golf right, can kick a ball with either leg, use scissors right handed and learned how to write without smearing a fountain pen because my hand is below instead of curved above.

One answer to your question is to shoot large format, problem solved!

Same applies to manual transmissions too, I suppose. Maybe lefties travel to UK more?

This is going way back, so my memory is pretty hazy. It seems like, in the 1960's, there was an Exacta or Practika (Maybe?) that could be ordered in a left hand model. It looked like a mirror image of it's mate, shutter release on the left side. Then again, it may have been in the April issue of a magazine.

THis is driving me crazy. VAGUELY remember reading about some camera that is if not outright designed for lefties, is at least much more amenable to left handed operation. Problem is, I can't recall either when I read about it, or even when supposed camera may have existed or it's basic type. Some help, I know. I wonder if one might be found in one of Todd Gustavson's books, which are all the way in the other room, so cannot be consulted.

On the subject of ambidextrousness, the true ambidextrous person is able to perform two simultaneous independent tasks. I have read that President Garfield could write in Latin and Greek simultaneously. So the fact that he could eat lasagne two-handed is not what defined him as ambidextrous.


The blog as confessional. Does it work? :)
Please take it easy Mike.

As a fellow confused lefty, I too have adapted to the right-handed world in a seemingly arbitrary fashion. At this point, likely in excess of a quarter million exposures in, I can say that twisting whatever bind from eye to brain to arm to finger I've developed to go back the other way may be futile.

I would think that the original Exacta 35mm cameras qualified as left handed. Both film advance and shutter release were on the left.

Lefty camera? Surely you recall the classic Ekakta, a most wondrous array of knobs, dials and levers before steampunk even came into vogue. Steinheil made some lovely semi-auto lenses to match with left-side release that activated a plunger aligned with the body’s shutter button. Most ingenious and functional, unlike faux retro features adorning some recent digital doodads.

Being mixed dominant, with a lefty preference, I've often either looked for lefty tools, or spent time figuring out how some tool worked for righties but not us lefties. Like scissors.

And that includes cameras designed for left-handed use, such as the old Exakta line. Up through the the VX-1000, they were reversed right to left compared to other 35mm SLRs.

I had one for a while, with Zeiss Pancolar 50:1.8 and Kifitt Makro Kilar 90:2.8 and a 35mm don'trememberwhat lenses, the first two which were quite good, but I was young and lured away by the promise of newer shiny things and sold them all. Which, as usual, turned out to not be such a great trade. Oh well.

I keep thinking that there was a lefty rollfilm camera, but for the life of me can't remember. Perhaps it's just a bit of undercooked potato.

What do left handers do with their cameras?They go about doing things the "right" way of course.

I'v never thought about whether a camera was right or left handed, being left handed I'v just used the camera as designed. Never had a problem. Now I'm wondering what I may have need missing all these years!

To me it seems cameras are designed for right eye dominent folks excepting the Panasonic gx8 with the flip up finder on the extreme left side top of the camera. Being right eyed, I cannot use it comfortably.
Hope you are feeling fit as a fiddle soon,

I can only use my left eye. My cameras are X Pro2, X100F, and GX8. I also recently started shooting a rehabilitated Yashicamat.

Sometimes the healing process follows a sort of bell curve of pain and suffering. The older you get, the higher and longer the curve. Basically your body has been roughed up, but it takes time to show it, like a bruise that gets worse for a couple days. But yes, take it easy, shuffle around the house and let the snow pile up (it'll melt before you know it). Eat simple to prepare food. Watch snooker with your ipad on your chest, whatever.

I can think of one camera that was more comfortable for lefties - Exakta. The shutter release and winder were on the left. My first SLR was an Exakta VX1000, and I still have a VX500 in a drawer (haven't used it on sooooo many years). As a rightie I felt distinctly uncomfortable with this setup and was relieved to move to a Canon AT-1, which had the conventional rightie-favoring configuration. My experience with the Exaktas left me with an empathy for lefties, who struggle with the design of simple every-day devices like microwave ovens, whose door opening and control panel favor right-handers.

Can I suggest you start writing in Hebrew. It's right to left and should suit your left-handed writing style ;-)

There is a video of a famous photographer (whose name I can not recall) photographing in (I think) NYC. He used a typical right-handed camera (Nikon or Canon DSLR), had a vertical grip in the tripod socket, and crossed his left arm under the camera to release the shutter with LEFT HAND.

Anyone remember who this is? Can you post URL to video?


I believe the classic Exakta cameras were designed for southpaws. Certainly the first camera I owned, an Exakta 500, placed the shutter release under my left index finger and film advance under my right index finger..

Not sure about your Exakta 66...

I believe oatmeal canisters can be set up for right and left hand shooting.

Would the pistol grip setup for some cameras like the Nikon F series be considered for use with both hands?

Other than that most recently, there was a Canon 7d L with a suspect released date of April 1, 2013.

Ambidextrous for me as well. I was actually born a leftie but my kindergarten teacher convinced my parents lefties had no place in the world. Idiot!

I play cards left-handed. Ride a horse left-handed. Drives my brother nuts as I twist tie the bread bags left-handed. Luckily, when I broke my right wrist several years ago, only took me 2 days to get back in the grove of writing left-handed. Now I keep in practice. Sometimes comes in handy to be able to sign as 2 people, my left signature is completely different than my right handed signature. Oops, no one saw me write that, OK?

I drew designs on my cast upside down and left-handed....amazed my doctor and nurses. LOL.

I would have loved to have had a leftie camera during that time. It was 8 weeks in a cast and another 4 weeks before I could comfortably hold my DSLR and lens.

I too, like someone else mentioned, use a trackball. Either hand, makes no difference. I also happen to be left-eyed and have never experienced a problem with that either. Glad to know I'm not the only one that keeps their right eye open while shooting.

But a left-handed camera would be fun to have....if only because it would keep my family from asking if they could take a look at my camera...I'm running out of nice reasons to say "Um, No".

Have you tried Nuance Dragon Dictate as an alternative to typing? Works surprisingly well.


Tom, please tell me more about this left-handed fountain pen nib.

I'm sitting here playing with an Exacta VX that has the film wind lever and the shutter release button on the left side. Back in the early 1960's I worked in a large camera shop and one of my customers was a Korean war vet that had lost his right arm. He wanted an advanced camera to use on a tripod but could be easily operated with his left hand. I sold him the only left handed camera we had in the store, an Exakta.

“What do lefties do with cameras?”
The answer is pretty simple really. We just turn the cameras around and fire off the shutter with our left thumb.

Care must be taken with lens selection as to both one’s arm length which determines maximum usable lens length and the lens’ minimum focal length which determines the features that may be in or out of focus. This technique was developed by the well-known leftie photographer I. M. Vane, best- but little-known as the originator of the selfie sometime in the 1950s.

In response to critics who perceived shortcomings with his technique, Vane coined the maxim, “If your photos are not good enough, you’re not close enough, or your arms are too long”. This expression was earlier co-opted by another leftie photographer whose name now escapes me and who also omitted the bit about arm length. This latter omission is no doubt responsible for so many photos being taken today by heedless photographers who continue to employ arms of the wrong length resulting in to be expected yet myriad deficiencies in the resulting images.

His technique has an important variation, named after himself as the I. M. So Vane technique, which is of particular utility in the motion picture world. This technique, known to cinematographers as the Over The Shoulder shot, requires the operator to aim the camera over the shoulder into a mirror placed behind the subject/operator. This mirror in turns mirrors a mirror placed in front of the subject.

In this way the cinematographer may at the same time capture the front and the back of the subject. Vane’s technique thus anticipated by several decades today’s enthusiasm for 360 degree videography, although his technique was technically merely a 2 x 180 technique.

More daring cinematographers employ a series of mirrors, frontal and rearward, as well as Left to Right. In contrast to the 2 x 180 technique, the mirrors in this variation may be obliquely placed resulting in techniques such as the 2 x 180 + 90 R - 45 L and so on with almost infinite variation. When the mirrors are angled with artistic care in the vertical, horizontal, and skew planes a stunning variety of images may be obtained. Take that, mirrorless camera lovers!

Mr. Vane also deployed his technique in the service of science. He would rest his lens upon his shoulder and elevate it slightly. This enabled him to take steady shots of his beloved Minnesota skies in all seasons and conditions during the 1950s and 60s and earned him the nickname, ‘Weather’. Beloved by residents, Vane inspired one local songwriter, who was also an ardent amateur photographer, to immortalize Mr. Vane for his contributions to both photography and meteorology by making reference to him in one of his songs. Unfortunately the line, ‘You don’t need to be ‘Weather’ Vane to know which way the shutter goes”, met with disfavor from the singer’s producer and the line was altered to something more “accessible.” Alas, such is a leftie’s lot.

(Indeed, these leftie techniques are being lost with the rise of the phone camera. The ability to simply rotate the phone/camera from right-handed shutter button to left-handed shutter button may cause many of I. M. Vane’s leftie techniques to fall into disuse. At the same time the phone camera's ability to take selfies right-handed has no doubt contributed significantly to their ubiquity. In the modern age, it seems, who cares what’s left….)

Here is a link to my small I. M. Vane Collection:

Cheers, Mark

I now realize that the TOP readership is made up mainly of older, left handed, semi ambidextrous GAS sufferers with present or past heart problems.

From a 71 year old, left handed triple bypass recipient, who is getting a pacemaker in ten days.

To Joe: I had the same problem with AF-ON on my DSLR, a Nikon D750. I programed the Pv button in front of the camera for AF-ON and find this works really well. I'm already gripping the camera with my right hand, so it is easy to keep my middle finger on the Pv Button and my index finger can use the command dials and press the shutter button. Lot easier than re-training eyes, I couldn't do that. I'm also left-handed/left eyed, but I'm right-footed!

Oh the joy of a left handed cork screw!

I have one and pass it casually to friends

“ could you open the bottle ?” As I disappear to the kitchen .... only to reappear to find them pushing harder and harder as they try to screw down on the cork!

Childish revenge for a lefty but fun

@Maggie Osterberg

About the lefty guitar thing. My son plays guitar left-handed, but he plays right-handed guitars. But it's not the Jimi Hendrix* righty guitar strung lefty but a righty strung righty played upside down. The fingering and chords and technique, in general, is somewhere between idiosyncratic and iconoclastic. It's always fun to watch him perform live gigs where the guitarists in the room gradually crowd to the front with a serious case of WTF.

He claims that he decided to play that way so that he could always borrow someone else's instrument.

*Fortunately, Mr. Hendrix inspired the right-handed reverse cutaway style of guitar

I shouls say I used to be really self righteous about lefties

I am aware that we lefties are aware.

I noticed thar Barrack Obama was the second lefty in the office on the trot!

People a righteous, they are dextrous, something is right on, they are adroit


I am gauche, sinster and left behind.

It used to upset me until I worked in Arabia where in a large tent inthe
desert we all shared food and we all ( including me) ate wit our right hands because however dextrous we were with our left hands we kept them for other business .... suddenly all the prejudice against people putting their left hand in the food became very understanable!

Oh dear, Exactaphiles rejoice, Mark writes a lovely Thurberesque piece, people with well written opinions and discoveries, lefty and ambidextrous. Have I stumbled into a den of civil, erudite, humorous, thoughtful commenters? Able photographers? No name calling and just one Prince?

What's this place called? I'd like to apply for citizenship 🗽

Ah, very informative picture. So, you install your toilet paper so it rolls top down, not from the bottom. I’ll have t give that a try. ;-)

OK. I'm late in mentioning [my grandfather's] Exacta as being designed for lefties. This only leaves the question of what other cameras were designed with a guillotine film cutter?
Cheers! Mend quickly.

have u ever noticed steve mccurry using his nikon...? he releases the shutter with the left hand... watch a vedio on youtube carefully

The infamous Ken Rockwell has on his site reference to a Nikon body loaned to him in 2009 by Nikon which was a prototype left-handed camera, never pursued, according to Rockwell. He used to have a photo on his site, but references to it still can be found there. True? Couldn't tell you.

To SteveW -- Thanks for the tip, but I already use the Pv button for spot metering... I think I need more function buttons.

About hugh crawford's son and his guitar playing. What he does is called Cotton Picking

Watch this YouTube video of blues artist Elizabeth Cotton playing freight train https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=43-UUeCa6Jw

Here is the wikipedia explanation https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_Cotten

I'm an ambidextrous oldman who is blessed, or maybe cursed, with total recall https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/total%20recall

We all have teaching moments in our lives, some we observe and some we ignore. For you to go from a prescribed period of four days' rest, having been given knowledge of another patient's dilemma when returning to exercise too soon, to shoveling snow, says something about you. You were warned, but still you stuck your hand "over the open flame." Says a lot.
The fact that you didn't get burned reinforces that behavior, unfortunately, somewhere deep in your psyche. I'm not preaching. I'm no psychologist. I'm exactly the same god damned way. Peace.

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