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Wednesday, 17 February 2021


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So as a Fuji user, I'm a big fan of the OVF (I just bought the X100V), with EVF support when needed in bad or low light. I'm less a fan of giant EVFs (X-T2) because my eye "zooms" too far into the image and can quite see the whole frame at once.

I occasionally use the iPhone 12 Pro, but truly struggle with the screen. Bright daylight and far-sightedness make it very difficult. Does anyone make an EVF that can attach to the phone and replace the current screen?

I've owned a lot of different cameras over the years. My all time favorite is the ground glass on my Arca Swiss Field Camera which I bought when I turned 60, a while ago, and sadly sold a few years ago. It was clear, clean, nice grid, and reasonably bright. After that, it's probably the Mamiya 7II. Even though I never really did well with rangefinders, I loved the clear clean view there too. The problem was that I was so used to seeing a ground glass that I often looked, saw a sharp image and shot, forgetting to focus!

Now, I'm a big fan of EVF's. I love seeing exactly what I'm getting and not having to fuss with calibrating lenses for the inevitable errors due to the difference in distance between the "film" plane and the finder screen.

SMP is still available free at Steve’s Digicams: http://www.steves-digicams.com/smp/smp_index.html


Pentax LX, hands-down favorite. Everything is multi-coated. Mirror is superb, despite part of it being half-silvered for the metering system. Good magnification (0.9x), very bright, built-in diopter adjustment. Huge selection of focusing screens. There's even the rare SC-69 focusing screen (issued with LX2000 in Japanese market) that's extra bright.

Only complaint is that changing focusing screens is fiddly.

Yeah, the Pentax MX has higher magnification, but at the cost of eye relief.

Excellent summary! OK, now why do so many DSLRs have shitty viewfinders? Any why was there so much resistance in switching from those grim optical finders to electronic finders? it baffles me.

I’m partial to the small and squinty finder on my Leica IIIf for the very things that would land it squarely in the “sucky viewfinder” class.

Something about the impairment of a clear view helps me consider the overall composition, vs becoming enamored with exquisite detail that often means nothing to the quality of the final image.

I’ve been through all the really great finders, optical and electronic, but always feel like I’ve come home with my old Leica.

As always, my somewhat bombastic opinion is that the nicest viewfinders are of the OVF type, as found in rangefinder cameras.
The chief exemplar being those found in the digital cameras manufactured by Leica.
From memory, they are equipped with a 0.68 field of view, there are framelines that are brought up and appropriate for the lens being used. The framelines do not reach the edge of the viewfinder, but in all cases they are bright and easy to focus with little bright squares in the middle that achieve focus on your intended subject when they merge and (almost) disappear.
There remains a small area around the perimeter that gives you an idea of what you are eliminating from your intended snap, or if you are good at composition, what you might want to include, that you haven’t already.
With largely redundant film cameras, Leica M3 displays .91% magnification.
If using a modern digital sensor, you are handed a .68 field of view.
... End of bombast.
Cheers Mike, great article, many thanks. Stephen J

I was already doing darkroom work when I got my first SLR, so I did know the full story of what went on the negative. I went from there fairly quickly to using a Leica M3 as one of my cameras, where one does not know exactly where the boundaries are. I used slides for color, essentially never negatives (it's just how it was done then; i.e. it was probably a mistake, or at least not thought through carefully).

And, what I learned from this, was that I didn't much care about 100% coverage. What was disastrous was when I managed to cut off something I needed in the photo. I wasn't a full-frame printer; photo sizes were 4x5 and 5x7 and 8x10, none of which matched 24x36. And a lot of work was shot for low-end journalistic use, yearbooks and such, and then for the college Alumni Publication Office. Which means the final composition was determined by others, and while that's "bad", what actually matters is making whole page (okay, two-page spread) look good, not just my photo.

Slides were the one case where what I shot was what I was stuck with (projecting original slides), and that was for family and friends, not the serious photographic work.

So, yeah, don't want to waste too much space, but I learned to consciously compose more loosely, to give more working room to the page designer later. (On the yearbooks, I was actually the page designer sometimes too).

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