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Sunday, 28 February 2021


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There is a 35mm version. Zeiss made it for Sony, and it was sold by Sony with the Zeiss brand name on it. I have one I use on my screwmount Leicas. Its a little big for those cameras, just from an aesthetic point of view, but it works well and shows a big bright distortion-free image.

Here's a link to it on B&H, though it shows as discontinued. I got mine on eBay cheap. I think I paid $140, while they had been over $400 when new.


I have a clip-on VF on my GR. It's made of plastic, cost around 12 bucks and gives one a headache should one be so foolish to even attempt looking through it. So why does it sit atop the camera in the first place? 'Cause it makes the lowly little brick of a formless camera... look more like a camera- it enhances user satisfaction! And truth is, I could put a $400 Zeiss VF on it, and although it sure wouldn't give me a headache- it would be every bit as accurate, cause external VF's (no matter how expensive, well made or beautiful to look through) are merely guesstimation devices- better than nothing, but not by much.

I look forward to your review of the GFX-50R, as I had one for a few days recently, so I won't say anything yet.

Over the last few days, and in glorious weather, I have had the pleasure of the Canon R5, plus the 35mm f1.8 RF, 85mm f2.0 RF, 24-105 f4 and EOS EF to R adapter.

The R5 is the best camera I have ever used, and that includes £30k + Hasselblad digital, Leica M, etc.. So much so that I am going to buy one, to continue my Brutalist architecture project as it makes the images from the 24mm TSE II superb.

I used a Leica 21mm Elmarit back in the film days, and I used a Leica 21mm clip-on finder for it.

While expensive like most Leica goods, it was made of plastic, had barrel distortion, and a small eye-relief. I had to press it against my glasses to see the whole frame. Even then, the image was small.

Needless to say, my experience was not as eye-opening as yours.

When I first got into micro 4/3 with the Olympus E-P1 and the 17/2.8 kit lens, it came with a clip-on viewer for that lens. I loved using it as opposed to holding the camera out in front of me like a dead rat and trying to see the image over the reflections.

When I bought an E-P2, I also bought a clip-on EVF for it but I never particularly liked it. I found the Olympus Zuiko 25/2.8 lens for the standard 4/3 format worked well with a 4/3 to M4/3 adapter. I used an E. Leitz 5cm clip-on with that camera/lens. While not perfect, the combination of 35mm and 50mm equivalent lenses on two small cameras was more than adequate for trips and short walks in the neighborhood.

Cosina did very well with their brand-able basic CT-1 film body. Its variants seem to have been convertible to a host of applications, from film SLRs for multiple brands, to rangefinders for multiple brands. Was the Epson digital rangefinder one, as well? I suspect it was.

The best viewfinder I've ever used is the Wista Folding Monocular Reflex viewer for Wista's metal folding technical view cameras. https://www.photrio.com/forum/threads/fs-wista-folding-reflex-viewer.161231/ It can be collapsed flat against the ground glass for storage, which preserves the ability of the camera to fold into a tough metal brick. It has a removable fresnel and a nice clip-on magnifying eyepiece. Looking through the reflex viewer at the glowing ground glass is an amazing experience. For most purposes, the hood allows focusing and use of tilts and shifts without a focusing cloth or separate magnifier. It also gives upright viewing (although the image is reversed left to right). Linhof had a similar hood for the Technikas. I still have my Wista VX kit (including the finder) although I haven't used it for years.

The Leica 5cm "SBOOI" external VF is a true 1:1, --- it allows for completely undistorted two-eyed shooting. The left eye surveys the entire scene, the right eye does the framing within that scene. Magic.

I have used the Leica external finders for 50mm, 28mm and 24mm on my Fuji X-E3, with zone focussing on the Fuji 35mm, Zeiss 23mm and 16mm lenses. It works.

Oops, my earlier post got submitted whilst I was still editing. That Zeiss lens was the Zeiss _18mm_ lens. I put it onto my Fuji E3 and it gets used with the external Leica 28mm finder on top. The lens is quite heavy, so I add the handgrip to the camera. Nice street combination.

I shouldn't rain on your parade, but I need to curb expectations. I own a 50R, and while the dials and buttons are nice and plenty, setting them up the way you want them is a tedious task that you really have to attempt before you can really enjoy the camera. There is definitely a learning curve, and the camera had to grow on me despite its stellar image quality when you get things right. It seems simple, but it isn't.

I sprung for the Leica clip-on VFs for the 21 and 24 I shoot on the M cameras; I wasn't able to find used VFs of any provenance at the time, which is my usual preference. Since they're not in the optical chain of the picture, I'm not too fussed if they're chipped or scratched or beat up. The Leica VFs are great to use, quite clear and sharp, and they don't flare.

I also picked up a used Voigtlander 35 clip-on to use on the Leica X2, as I can't stand to compose in zombie mode (camera held with both arms outstretched, trying to focus on the tiny screen on the back), and it works just fine.

My 'pocket' camera is an EOS-M2 with Canon's great little 22mm f/2 lens. In the hotshoe lives a Voigtlander 35mm clip-on viewfinder. Version 2, I think it is, the round one. It's tiny, bright, and 'accurate enough', thanks to its fudge factor. I acquired these along about the time that I retired from 35 years of studio work, and so it was probably something of a kneejerk reaction to all that gear discipline, but it was (and still is) such a refreshing switch.

I've carried this point & shoot exclusively on two 2-week vacations to France, and never missed having anything else with me. It has helped restore an appreciation for serendipity and fun in photography.

Back in the 80's I was offered the use of a battered Leica M3 with a 21mm f3.4 Leitz Super Angulon. No viewfinder! Being much bolder in my youth, I shot with my eye as close to the not hot shoe as possible. Learning as I went, this no viewfinder became one of my favorites.

Clip-on OVF, I like it! COOVF, for short, reminiscent of the funny product codes for old Leitz accessories—SLOOZ, SUOOQ and so on. Speaking of which I have a Leitz 28mm finder on my Leica M3 which is in regular, if not strictly daily, use (28mm is my second-most used focal length on the M3, after the collapsible 50mm Summicron which came with the camera). I've looked through the Zeiss 25/28 finder too, I think it's a bit better than the Leitz, but also bigger.

For direct, unmediated view, the prize, in my book, goes to the Voigtlander Kontur—a delightfully clever design!

My Apple Watch is my favorite viewfinder and remote shutter release.

I'm always ready for a pandemic portrait. No need for pesky camera bags or inconvenient ILCs/lenses for me. I'm sure that Your Mileage Does Vary 8-)

You reminded me of a viewfinder I have for my Contax, It adjusts for the 135mm, 85mm f2, and 35mm lens. I remember it would pivot slightly and tilt down for short distance shots. I also have a clip-on non=adjustable viewfinder for the 135mm lens.

I often shoot with a clip on OVF. As you say, the view is great. Especially with the Zeiss ones.

I've been shooting with Leica rangefinders since the early 60's, and always had some lenses that required the clip-ons. In the early 70's I bought a 21 SA with Leica viewfinder. Even then it was very expensive (both the lens and the viewfinder). Since then I've spent more on replacement viewfinders that I did on the lens, losing and breaking the viewfinders. I did put a 'cap-keeper' strap on one, but that was often very clumsy.

When the Voigtlander viewfinders came out I got them to replace the Leica ones. The view was good, but they stood higher, which wasn't as good. They had plastic feet, which meant they didn't slip out as easily, and of course, they were cheaper than Leica ones. Then Leica came out with the plastic ones, with a little lever which jammed them in tight. Those are still the best, as they are low profile, have slightly rounded corners, don't come out and offer a decent view. But they're discontinued.

I have a couple of Zeiss viewfinders, and while the view is the best of all, they are rather high profile, and worst of all, they have sharp little corners on the front which snag things, so they are quite susceptible to getting caught on things and even getting removed from the camera. Not the best design.

I have the 25mm VF mounted when I use the LTM (screwmount) Voitglander 25/4 lens on my Leica IIIf and shooting with film.

It's scale focusing lens and a pleasure to use with click stops for the 0.7m, 1m, 3m and infinity marks. I usually set it to hyperfocal distance. It's a perfect setup for street photography because hardly anybody takes me seriously.

They are as you have described - bright, contrasty and veils lifted off.

I use “clip on” viewfinders (OVF) a lot—since I often zone focus they are great.
I have Voigtlander Bright Line ones as follows:
— 50mm on Kodak Retina 1A
—35 mm (the squarish platic body one—has higher mag.) on Pentax APSC DSLR w/ 20mm FL, for my theatre photgraphy (when it happens again) and on my Pentax Q (w/ 35mm eq.lens)
— 40mm on my Penatx Q (w/ 35mm eq.lens)—on loan to a friend. I prefer the 35mm OVF one (above)

I also have:
— Kontur 50mm (the one you keep both eyes open and the frameline appears). I am looking for the 6x6 version but they have gotten very costly.
—Fotoman (6x12–120 degree Horiz. FOV) as OVF for my Pentax Q w/ the Fishyeye lens—also about 120-130 degree horiz. degree FOV.

I guess you could say I like them. They are bright/fast/let you see if something is about to enter--work both in sunlight and night--for fast shooting with a wide FL they are unbeatable.

The Voigtlander 35mm and 40mm and Kontur work w/ my glasses, the others not--but I find looking w/o glasses helps me compose--as it is the large shapes that seem to be important/should take precedence.

I still have an Olympus E-PL1. Decent little digital camera. I've been considering getting the 17/2.8 lens again and the VF1 external finder for it and dedicating that to that combo in monochrome mode and 1:1 aspect ratio. Be almost like having an old folding camera again.

The accessory viewfinders are generally all very nice - great for a very- to ultra-wide setup where focus is not a concern. However, I find that once we get into the same territory as a typical rangefinder/viewfinder combo, like 28mm or 35mm, it's hard to give up the additive information you get from parallax corrected framelines, metering or exposure info, and more accurate focus, whatever combo of these is available. A meterless, viewfinderless camera with a wide lens and an accessory viewfinder is a very quick and agile instrument, and would be something for many to try.

As for the Fuji - I'm not sure if I'm in the minority on this, but the burning question for me is whether the Fuji cameras are worth going over to the X-Trans world, for someone with more than one other brand of CMOS camera in normal use and who is also fairly committed to the Adobe stack of software in their workflow. Sadly, the answer is no so far, even though I have the original X100 and still love it and use it from time to time. I would have gotten a more modern iteration of the X100 if it hadn't been for the change of sensor.

I use the 21mm variant with a Leica M4 and couldn’t agree more: the Leica’s viewfinder doesn’t event come close to being as clear or punchy as the Zeiss viewfinder: the 21mm has the ability to suck you into a new perspective. My initial thought was that the difference was the age and/or condition of the glass (used 1971 vs brand new 2020), but the Leica M 262’s viewfinder is equally dim in comparison with the Zeiss. Perhaps it’s the T* coatings on the Zeiss that contribute to its clarity? One thing worth mentioning about the Zeiss viewfinders is that they are huge, almost to the point of being about awkward on top of a Leica.

For wha my it’s worth, another viewfinder I use (and enjoy), the Nikon 28mm made for use with the the Coolpix A, while not as bright and punchy, is a lot smaller than the Zeiss and is equally a joy to use. It’s not technically as good looking as the Zeiss but is arguably also better than any Leica viewfinder (internal or external) that I’ve ever used.

Zeiss did make a 35mm version, which was sold via Sony for use with original RX1. They were outrageously priced - I think something like A$650 at RRP circa 2012. I bought one as part of a promotional deal when the RX1 came out and it’s present value is now probably about the same as that if the camera. It’s typical Zeiss OVF - undimmed vision, distortion free, and clear frame lines which bear absolutely no relationship to a 35 mm field of view at any focus distance. But - hey- no one uses clip on OVFs because of their framing accuracy! I love it, and have become quite good at estimating both a central focus spot which I use with the AF lock, as well as the actual framing.

The 45mm f/2.8 is a really lovely lens for that camera.........

I'll look forward to hearing about how you liked the camera.

'If you're of the "direct unmediated view of the world" school, I doubt you'll get a much better view than this.'

To get a "direct unmediated view of the world" I, oddly enough, remove my eye from the VF and look at the world (mediated by the eyeglasses I wear.)

When I want to see what will, and won't, be included in the shot, I look through the VF (or at the LCD screen.)

I am undoubtedly an outlier, or others like me are silent. \;~)>

Yes, I can hold up an OM-1 (even larger view than the OM-4 you recently touted), next to an entry level DSLR, and - yup - the view is way better. But when I look through either one at a subject, all that falls away, and I just see the subject.

Yup, the EVF on a Panny ZS40 is objectively crap. And yet, yet, I could see what I was shooting through it, get the framing right, where its LCD, and those of all its competitors without EVFs are hopeless in direct sun.

Color me VF agnostic.

Not anymore in daily use, but I used it almost daily for many years. The SWC comes with a clip on OVF. The first version was not very good. The second version for 903/905 was maybe a bit better but made of plastic (I suppose the lens elements were glass but not so sure about that). Cosina/Voigtländer made an angle version that is very much better. It even has the crop lines for 6x4.5. Once I got that, I seldom used the original anymore. It did have a bubble level that was often useful as it was stupidly removed from the top of the camera in 903 version. The only shortcoming of the C/V finder for the SWC is the lack of bubble level.

Deciding on a camera to buy. I love the Nikon, but this Fuji camera (GFX 50R) and the other Fuji's. It's good to have, I guess.

I got a (free) clip on with my Ricoh GR. I was initially excited about it but ultimately never used it because it wasn't conducive to carrying the GR in my pocket. But thanks for reminding me of its existence. Maybe I'll try it on my X-T4 when I get an 18mm lens for it.

I still have one of those! I kept it just because, well, you know, it’s lovely.

Well the Hasselblad 907x use clip on ... H one at least they sold. Possibly can use this as well. Just clip on.

Just do not use these viewfinders to lift the camera.

Recently, I recall these clip-on viewfinders being mostly used by users of the Ricoh GR/Fujifilm X70 class of cameras.
But mostly, people were complaining about the lack of focus confirmation, which was not a problem with a small sensor like the Fujifilm X10, but with APS-C, it's another story.

Have you considered adding the Linhof 45 Multifocus Viewfinder to your list? Made for Linhof Technica 4x5 cameras, it adjusts for lenses between 75mm wide angle to 360mm telephoto with parallax correction, of course. Currently listed at B&H for $2299.95, it's a masterpiece of optical/mechanical design and construction. I don't have a lot of experience with auxiliary viewfinders but it's the only one I know of with multicoated optics. It's worth its weight in gold when using an 8x10 view camera since you can use it to compose a photograph without moving your camera from place to place. I should add that it was way cheaper when I bought mine in the mid 90's.


By the way, the little lever on the right of your image changes the frame lines on the viewfinder of regular ZM Ikons. I wonder what it does on this camera that has no viewfinder?

There is (or was) a Zeiss 35mm viewfinder. I don't know how it compares to the ones for the Zeiss rangefinder camera, but Sony sold a Zeiss 35mm optical viewfinder for the Rx-1.

With respect to the "clip on" viewfinders. My go-to set of lenses with my Leica rangefinder cameras is a 21mm, 35mm and 90mm. For the 21mm, the clip on viewfinder is essential, and I have the Zeiss 21mm. It is indeed very nice in use. The Voigtlander versions are almost as good, also made of metal, and only half the cost of the Zeiss. I have Voigtlander viewfinders in 15mm, 28mm and 35mm. They are only essential for the 15mm lens, but are useful (if you wear glasses like me) for the 28mm and even the 35mm.

It seems to me that the tilting LCDs on the back of many current camera models let you work just like a TLR - looking down at the camera, held waist-ish high. Even the fully articulated LCDs work this way, certainly for portrait mode and even for landscape.

I find these useful for many of the same reasons I liked my Rolleiflex - you aren’t staring at the subject, the camera is less visible against your body, you can even turn the camera left or right while still pointing your body and face straight ahead. They’re also great for photographing low objects, such as children.

I still own one of these. I bought it to use with a Ricoh GRII (APS-C) I had a few years ago (the GR long gone, the Zeiss 25/28 will be soon). I only used it on a couple of trips; although it is indeed a beautifully-crafted piece of glass and metal and optically clear as a bell, as an eyeglass wearer it didn't really work that well for me. For a photographer who enjoys using such external finders, though, it would be a treat.

The Zeiss finder is excellent but if you work close you have to be careful with the top/bottom of the frame. I ocassionally use it with my 25mm Zeiss. I like it.

I recently purchased the Fuji 21/28 finder for use on my Leica CL. I lucked into a very nice M-Rokkor 28/2.8 that had very minimal "Schneideritis", and the price was excellent. Good samples can go for much higher than I paid.

I haven't used it a lot due to our local weather, but it seems fine. I am absolutely certain it is not as good as a Zeiss finder, but then it wasn't the price of a Zeiss either. What little experience I have confirms that it is a joy to use - clear, direct, unobstructed view indeed. I might even use it on an OM with my Zuiko 21/2.

Zeiss did make a 35 mm version. It was sold by Sony as an accessory for the RX-1, and it was outrageously priced at something like A$650 circa 2012. I bought one as part of a package deal when I purchased my RX1. As with all Zeiss OVFs, it is bright, clear, contrasty, and has readily visible frame lines that bear no relationship whatsoever to a 35 mm FF focal length at any focus distance that I am able to perceive. But - hey - who uses a clip on OVF for framing accuracy? I love using it, and have become quite good at estimating where middle focus point is to obtain an auto-focus lock, and at allowing for the framing inaccuracies. My focus hit rate probably a bit better than my zone focussing based on estimated distances on my little (first version) Sigma DP1 and DP2 (the ones with the scroll focus wheel on the back), which I also use with clip on OVFs. (Sorry if this has posted twice in slightly different variations - lost the browser when posting and retyped.)

The clip-on OVF can be a great way to slow down your shooting in a positive way, and it also means you can get a better grip on a camera that lacks a built-in finder. And as you say, the bright view can be a revelation.
I'm a Sigma man, using the DP2 and DP3 Merrills. On each I use a Voigtlander OVF, 40mm and 75mm. They're neat and very bright.

There is a nice metal brightline Voigtländer viewfinder in 35mm... I've got one, just no 35mm lens to use it with. Newver parted with it in the idea it would, one day, be useful.

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