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Monday, 04 June 2018


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Mike- you are in luck-Sony makes a digital screen that one can attach to just about any camera with a mini usb port. It is 3x5 in and I have used it on my A7RII and also on a Nikon D800E. Helps when doing some serious composition, not much use for blasting away.
It has a foot that mounts to a flash bracket on top of most viewfinders, but you can mount it where ever the cord will reach.

We havn't heard a lot about the A7 you have on loan. How is its viewfinder? And the other features of the camera? Just wondering.

“...I’d love to see a camera designed around a viewing screen.”

I have good news: a contemporary digital camera system does offer a waist-level finder! And it’s not a Leica! Now the bad news: It’s a Phase One. Yes, indeed, the Phase One XF camera offers a waist-level finder. And it’s kinda cool, very much like using a Rolleiflex TLR. It also reduces the weight of the rig quite a bit.

But, alas, it’s not an advantage on the financial front.

But with so many cameras that feature tilt rear screens who needs an old-fashioned dedicated waist-level finder? I tend to use most of my cameras in just that way. The new Lumix GX9’s touch-screen (like the GX85) works wonderfully that way. That Sony you’re (reportedly) “trying out” would, too.

I loved the view finders on my Pentax 6x7. I had both the prism and the hood.

Mike, you are spot on with your comments about a large, flat screen that you can see in 2-D with both eyes. Except for occasional use of my old Nagaoka 4x5 field camera, my E3 Rolleiflex was my 'One Camera One Lens Fifteen years'! And maybe due to my aged eyes, I can easily convince myself now that a decent LCD is nothing more or less than my old Beattie Intenscreen. (But with info overlays as I see fit!)

The problem, as you say, is that you can't always SEE them. A tilt-up screen helps, in that it is reflecting your face, which is now self-shadowed. But a nice little hood with magnifier, Rollei style, would be the icing on the cake.


Mike: try your iPad ... have been pondering making a hood for it ...

I recall using an 8x10 copy camera that had a slot in the lens housing into which a narrow strip could be inserted temporarily in order to give a double image on the ground glass. When the the camera was in focus, the double images would merge

I agree very much about the phone screen as “viewfinder”.

I never really felt that a traditional viewfinder is ideal. Some say that it is more stable ‘cuz you rest your arms on your head or something, but for me it is less stable because the muscle strain of holding the camera up like that makes a small tremble. I never got so low camera shake as after I was able to shoot with a screen, particularly from the hip with a tilted one. I was shocked to see I could go down to 1/15th with a moderately wide lens.

And like you say, seeing it on a screen helps to judge the composition as a whole rather than seeing elements in a scene as with your eyes.

People get ridiculed for taking photos with iPads, but that screen, especially the 10.5 inch, makes a pretty amazing viewfinder as well as a photo viewer. Especially since the screen, unlike the iPhone's, has the same aspect ratio as the camera images.

But I am an EVF man myself. Screens are just to hard to use outdoors in daylight.

Aha! Your Digital TLR fits right with my thoughts there, I’ve even blogged something very similar once.

BTW, the OLED screen on the iPhone X goes some way towards visibility. Of course it’s *less* delightful in sunshine, but I find that I can actually use it, even read on it, in direct sun. (I dunno about Meditaranian sun, but it works here in UK.) So I imagine a future screen may not even need a hood.

Before it left the camera business a while back, Samsung offered several cameras that had 4.8" diagonal LCDs. But they didn't sell very well, so maybe not as many people value a large viewfinder / screen as much as you do?

You're not alone in preferring a large viewfinder, though. I added a 7" external HDMI monitor to my FrankenKamera setup a while ago and have absolutely fallen in love with it:

Best of all, whenever I yearn for the view camera experience, I can flip the image upside down and reverse it left to right, then view it from underneath a dark cloth. 8^)

[Ooops, I’m on a roll...] BTW, the fastest street-photography focusing system by far I have used are those (MFT for example) tilt-screen cameras with a touch-screen which lets you tap on the subject, and it focuses and shoots almost instantly. Magic.

I haven’t had a chance to try it out yet, but I’m intrigued at the potential to use an Olympus Air plus my phone in a similar way to your digital TLR... but with the added benefit that the viewing screen doesn’t have to be attached to the camera, even.

Do accessory viewfinders count?

I love the ones that Sigma makes for the DP Quattro series.....


I agree with the priority you give to viewfinders.

I still own the metal technical version of your Wista--the VX. One of the available accessories is a dedicated, lightweight reflex viewer with a detachable loupe that allows viewing of the full focusing screen. It folds flat against the camera for transport. When I was shooting 4 x 5 landscape, this viewer was my pride and joy.

You think you’re old fashioned? On my two digital cameras with tilt rear screens I still cannot yaw to either side in the correct direction - that’s because I’m so used to my Rolleiflex TLR cameras with reversed finders.

I have come to love the titlting screen on my Fuji XT2. I can shoot in certain situations without losing direct contact with the world. The viewfinder of a camera is probably the most important element of a camera since it is really the interface between our eye and the picture to be made,

the answer is always... GF1 ;-)

I Have an ancient Hassy 500c with a 45 degree prism, a bright screen and a 50 Distagon and it is the most pleasant camera to look through I have ever owned. A Nikon F2 with a standard prism and a 50 1.4 is a close second.
Just looking through them is a pleasure. Old school I guess.

A fond salute to the 1:1 finder in the Epson RD1. A great viewfinder. I've not found an EVF yet to match that, but maybe that's because I can't afford a Leica SL or Q...
I also liked the plain built-in non-reflex OVFs in the Rollei 35. One of those would be nice in the Sigma DP series...


Not living in a location where I can look through modern evf’s I have no idea what improvement there has been since the OMD-EM5, the only one I’ve actually seen. (And was underwhelmed)
I tend to compare them to my standard, a OM-1 with a 1-10 screen, all matte with grid.
When they can make a better EVF that doesn’t smear and is as good as my OM-1 (where I can, if I wish turn off everything except the view) then perhaps I *might* consider a digital camera. If I can afford it, probably not likely.

Commercial Shooters use tethered set-ups all the time, and most new cameras with bluetooth allow viewing and camera control from a phone , tablet or computer.
Canon's App is called Camera Connect and allows viewing and control without an external WiFi network.
I've used it, it works, and for certain things it is very helpful.
I wouldn't say it is a replacement for the regular interface outside a studio, but it absolutely works.

Olympus OM1 (and 2) had very nice slr viewfinders at the time. And I think Sony 900 had the best among DSLRs.

Along the lines of Mike's hypothetical digital TLR with a 5" square screen, I would love to be able to use my smartphone at waistlevel, like a TLR finder. It would make for a different viewing, composition and shooting experience.

Google, and ye shall find! There exist right-angle mirror spy lens attachments for smartphones, just like the old naughty spy-lens doodads that used to be advertised in the back pages of photography magazines of decades past.

It looks a bit large and clunky though. A smartphone with a swivel lens or a sideways pointing lens would work better.


{Mike: Again, I'm not sure how to provide an Amazon click-through link that automatically credits TOP for a sale}

Used a convertible (unscrew the front element) Wollensak lense on a Horseman 8x10 field camera years ago. Perhaps one of the most versatile pieces of glass I have used. With swings and tilts could get into nooks and crannies never before imagined. Am thinking what the newer glass designs of today would do for my photography back then!

As far as 35mm SLR viewfinders go, most anyone who has looked through and focused a Leicaflex SL or SL2 viewfinders stops arguing about which viewfinder experience is best. The image is brilliant, and the focusing of the screen surrounding the central microprism is so snappy. This is because the surface, which at first seems like a matte surface, is actually all ultra-ultra-fine microprisms. This is just one reason it cost Leica so much to make these cameras. The viewfinder's only fault was that it did not show 100% coverage, as did the Nikon F.

Mike, I realize it's not quite the same, but I have an external finder on my Olympus E-P3 that tilts up to vertical so that I can look down ala a TLR. Combined with 1:1 format and the (IMO & all that) excellent B&W jpgs that Olympus creates straight out of the camera, well, it's as close to my Rolleicord as I'm likely to ever get.

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