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Wednesday, 17 February 2021

Comments

I like ground glass waist-level finders. The view with both eyes open has a 3D quality to it. Specifically, the view of the stock screen through the viewfinder of my Bronica SQ-A is nice and bright and the pop-up magnifier allows very precise focus. I wish I had the plain matte screen though, as the split-image centre spot goes dark with my f4.5 macro lens.

My favorite viewfinder? An OM-1 with a 1-10 screen (matte with grid lines).
That plus the proper correction diopter, -2 for me, so I can see the screen.
For OVF’s interchangeable screens are essential, so that the user can select the one that works best for them.
My only experience with eye level EVF’s is my now ancient (in digital years) Olympus EM10. Will not travel a 200 miles to find a camera store where I can compare several models and brand names to determine which one is best.
The EM10 is barely workable, thank goodness for magnified view.

I think my favorite electronic viewfinder is in my current X-T4. It's not perfect. It could have more accurate colors and better shadow detail, for instance. One thing that has recently improved it for me is that I have been shooting without my glasses. I see just well enough to walk, but not drive, without my glasses. So I can adjust the diopter and the view is quite sharp and unobstructed, and I find I am making more careful compositions. The whole experience is much improved compared to using my glasses.

I love a tilt screen. The screen lets me hold it low, which is less strain on my arms, so I get less shake.
And seeing the whole frame more as a whole permits me to compose better.
And a low angle is more discreet for street use.
And a touch screen gives me touch-to-focus-and-shoot, the fastest way of doing it. (Though modern eye focus amends that when shooting people.)

eolake

The viewfinder in my Z6 is quite good though the refresh rate could be better, but it doesn’t have that wow factor from my RZ67’s waist level finder. By the time you get to 4x5 the image is so large it feels different than a mere “viewfinder” so I don’t consider it in the same vein.

I'll have to second the GX8 finder. It's wonderful. And I'll confess that I like the information in the finder that others complain obstruct the view. I really don't seem to have any problem seeing around or through the data. And I love having the histogram there all the time. I also love the way the EVF can lighten or darken as I make exposure adjustments. With that and the histogram it's possible to determine the exact exposure I want (as opposed to what the meter system thinks is the "correct" exposure) without taking the camera away from my eye.

In old cameras I loved the Nikon F with the "Apollo P" focusing screen with a diagonal split image surrounded by a microprism ring.

A 28 mm Voigtländer metal finder atop my Leica M3. Set exposure (once), zone focus (once), and the rest is all about seeing...

Hasselblad with a chimney finder. Nice big screen, can't beat it!

20th Century: Leica M4,
21st Century: Fujifilm X-Pro2.

Of all the EVFs I've used, the GX8's stands out as one of the best. Not so much based on resolution alone, but the large magnification and especially its tilting feature made it a joy to use. Since I shoot with my left eye, I almost never used the GX8 with the viewfinder in its horizontal position. It had a nice, deep eye cup available as well, and it never got bumped off like so many do.

Olympus OM1n with a 2-4 view screen.

my two favorites.

1) Leicaflex. The original one. Super bright non-focusing screen. That's right non-focusing. Only the center spot of the screeen focuses, just like a rangefinder viewfinder.

2) Nikon F2, plain ground glass screen with a grid, DE-1 finder. DE-1 is the finder with no meter. It's a big, bright, uncluttered viewfinder. I find the grid lines useful, and with a 50mm f/1.4 lens focus snaps in clearly.

A couple of honorable mentions

Olympus OM-1
Hasselblad 501CM with Acute-Matte screen

Sony a900

Pentax 6x7.

In regards to viewfinders, my favorite must have been that of my Leica.

I prefer the OVF. I used to shoot DSLR's but then went from a Linhof Technika 70 with its huge RF/VF window to the Leica M10. No EVF that I've yet seen, I have not seen them all, is as clear and contrasty as a high quality OVF. The M10's Live View with its magnified focus assistance is an advantage that I more than occasionally use. I can see some of the similar advantages in the EVF, but just don't like its image. It would be great to see an objective comparison of different "state of the art" EVF's coverage, magnification, resolution, and of course clarity.

Thinking back, the viewfinder on my Canon New F1 was lovely. Huge, bright view, easy-to-read exposure information, and I could pop off the prism for a direct look at the focusing screen -- useful for low angle work. (And a preview of today's hinged LCD screens.)

I probably should wax nostalgic about the view through my 4x5 camera, but I was never super comfortable under the dark cloth trying to see everything at once and check focus.

This is an interesting topic for me since I often complain about viewfinders and no one seems to care. When I bought my D810 it was the viewfinder that disappointed me. I think it is terrible... tiny, low acuity, causes eye strain. I hate electronic viewfinders and usually end up using the LCD screen on cameras that have them.

I have a few I like: just about anything with a ground glass is beautiful, like TLR or LF. The image seems to float above the screen, but you have to be careful because it can lie to you. The screen on my Zeiss Ikon is exceptional, except for the fact that the focus patch will disappear at certain angles. But my favorite is my Olympus OM2n. It’s a bit of a through-the-looking glass experience. Such a small camera but the viewfinder is humongous once you bring it to your eye. The experience always feels like a small miracle.

I miss the X100 series hybrid VF, but the XH-1 has a goo dEVF. Easy to use, and like you said, important for low-light shooting. OVF - I found the D600 and D750 finders a bit dark - disappointing. I recently found a Nikon D4 for a steal and that has been a treat - if you can be patient, the top of the market 8-9 years ago is a great place to shop.

Easy. Leica M3.

Pentax 645N / 645NII Viewfinder is by far my favourite and has been for the past twelve years I've had one.

Type: Keplerian telescope viewfinder with interchangeable Natural-Bright-Matte focusing screen (I use the AB-82 split image as well as the AG-80 grid, matte)

Field of view: 92% vertical, 93% horizontal.

Magnification: 0.76X (with 75mm lens at infinity with -1 diopter).

Diopter adjustment range: -3.5 to +1.0

Yesterday's session of recreational photography seems pertinent, so here goes. On one shoulder I had my trusty Pentax K-3, a fine representative of the venerable DSLR genre. I could have taken my full frame K-1 for a slightly bigger view, but I wanted to even the playing field with the new used camera I was testing out, the late, lamented GX8. Although I've littered the internet over the years with probably a hundred screeds about the weaknesses of EVFs, this is the first one I actually enjoy using.

So I went out to explore Clear Creek Canyon, the biggest of the canyons that drain the east side of the Rockies. The recent cold snap promised good ice formation, and I enjoyed making abstract scenes of the frozen ice and the dark water that still flowed through it in places. The remnants of a light snow highlighted the rock walls, emphasizing their tortured textures.

As I switched between cameras, the benefits and flaws of each viewing system were immediately apparent. The Pentax OVF always showed me a true range of color and contrast, because the camera was delivering the actual light from the subject, not some translation of data from a sensor. Once I'd processed the RAWs with strong highlight recover and shadow lift, they looked like what I saw in the OVF, just slightly better. The attractiveness and realism of the true colors made it the most enjoyable to use for most of the scenes, with one glaring exception.

This was a perfect subject to show an EVF advantage, too. Often I was aiming directly into dazzling reflections of mountain sunlight off snowy ice. That's about the brightest subject you'll find, besides the sun itself. The GX8's EVF made that an easy task, and much safer for my eyes. I could study the scene comfortably, where with the Pentax I had to shoot after a quick glance, or use the rear screen. The GX8's weakness was dynamic range. The shadows fell to a featureless black, showing much less information than my eyes could see. If my main subject had been in those shadows, i.e. a black bear in a snow cave, I'd have been shooting blind.

Both cameras' viewfinders were quite usable, though, and neither was perfect. Perfection would come in a camera that has the huge, immersive OVF of the Pentax 645; the eye relief of a Nikon F3 HP; the on-demand square and crop framelines of my K-1, and the option of a 4:3 aspect ratio, like my GX 8. Oh, and the quick switch between OVF/EVF of the Fuji X-Pro cameras. I don't expect satisfaction on this front, however. That's why we have more than one camera.


Without a doubt TTTL OVF. That's Through-The-Top-Lens. Left-right reversal comes free, no extra charge.

Best EVF in my experience: GX8 (by miles) - you are right.
Worst EVF in my experience: GX7 (OK, so it's not so bad, but it's not great).
Fuji X30, Olympus OMD5 iii both pretty good.
All my Pentax DSLRs have had excellent OVFs.

I hate using my iPhone as a camera because I have to take my glasses off to see the d*mn screen. Drives me nuts. And it's not that great when the sun is shining.

Leica M3

In probably idealized memory, the finder of my father's Nikon F was perfect. More recently, I'd have to split honors according to application: the square, beautiful, wrong-way image on a Rolleiflex's ground glass for composition (or just gazing); various over-coverage rangefinders for documenting humans; and for action I most enjoyed a couple of SLR/lens combos that gave me 1:1 magnification.

Still haven't adjusted completely to electronic screens and finders. They're perfectly serviceable and very useful, but it's too much like watching TV, and they evoke the critic in me, taking me out of the flow and out of the scene, like I'm present but seeing remotely--just doesn't feel right yet.

I like a viewfinder that connects me with what's on the other side of the camera. For me it's all about composition / framing. I'm not too fussed about information other than focus confirmation. I don't like composing photographs via CCTV.

35mm SLR viewfinder - Olympus OM1/2 which I used for years, and I still get the OM2n out and the view still amazes me after using an EVF for a while.

MF - Rolleiflex and Hasselbald were just evil, but the Voigtlander Bessa III / Fuji 667 is pure joy

I came up in the days of SLRs and rangefinder cameras, so that was my go-to comparison for my immersion into digital.

One thing that has changed for me, my eyes. All my cameras have built in dioptor adjustments that allow me to keep my reading glasses in my pocket. This also means that I almost never use the rear LCD for shooting.

The other thing that changed is mirrorless EVFs, and the WYSIWYG image. I can see the B&W rendering in finder as well as the effects of exposure compensation. Because of this, I could not go back to a classic viewfinder of old.

So now, the EVF of any of my Fujifilm cameras would be my favorite, with the X-T2 and X-T3 having the best magnification.

Back when the Sony F707 first came out, I got hooked on being able to review my photos with the viewfinder pressed to my eye and being able to zoom in. At the time I still preferred the optical viewfinder on my various Canon cameras when photographing birds as there was no lag and it was a lot easier to shoot birds in flight, but I missed being able to review my photos in the finder. Fast forward 18 years to my Sony A7R4 with its high resolution viewfinder. I don't miss the optical finder any more and haven't since my Sony a6500

I have had many VF loves. Starting with OVFs, my first was on my Pentax MX. It has a nice large view with a little window at the top that allowed one to see the f-stop setting. When I decided that I needed EF I move on to a Canon Elan IIe. Its OVF was not that great for size, notably less than the MX, but the three eye-controlled focus points were like magic. When I added a Canon EOS 5, it returned me to having a big screen OVF and a whole cluster of more of those magical eye-controlled focus points. But sadly, that camera arrived too near the end of the film era for me, so our love affair was shortened. My first DSLR was the Lumix G1. Looking through its EVF the first time and seeing its near 3-D view I think caused me to fall in love with EVFs forever. I still have a GX8, while its EVF is nice, I confess that I have not found its unique flip-up feature all that useful in my use. Nevertheless, its overall handling design has earned it a likely permanent place on my camera shelf. Currently, my favorite, perhaps best ever to me, EVF is on my G9 closely followed by that on my a7Rii. Both give me large (with glasses), bright images in any light.

Momma, don’t take my EVF away ...

With apologies to Paul Simon

Shifting back and forth between 35mm, 4x5, and 5x7 I use the Viewfinder App on my iPhone and program the lenses I own into the app. Now that the iPhone has a wide angle lens, I can reliably get a view from my 11mm on FF or my 55mm on 4x5 or my 72 on 5x7. It's the wide end of the spectrum that was always a problem to visualize. I can also set the film emulation and get a black and white Ilford HP-5-like representation of the angle, which is great a focusing the mind on the composition. Of course I us a tripod, it's less accurate hand-held on the run.
-Stephen Schafer

Going by my success rate with correctly focussed pictures, I would say the OM2.

I know it's considered dumb to take photos with the iPad, but as a viewfinder it is pretty great.

My favorite viewfinder has to be my Graflex Pressman 4x5. Something about viewing the image on the ground glass, encompassed by a dark cloth and loupe at the ready.

The Olympus OM1.

I recently traded out my Nikon gear for a Fuji X-T4 and the three "Fujicron" f/2 prime lenses. Prior to the X-T4 I really enjoyed the OVF in my Nikon D750. But the EVF in the X-T4 has been an eye-opener (no pun intended, lol). It is bright, large and easy on the eyes, but mostly what I like is the ability to see the results of exposure compensation live-action, which has contributed quite a lot to making photo-taking a joy with this camera.

I agree regarding the iPhone, which is partly why I decided to move from my Nikon DSLR to the Fuji mirrorless system.

Pentax S1a., Olympus OM1n and OM4ti,,and Hasselblad 501.

The only digital viewfinder I like is my iPad Pro.

I have no idea how they made the OM’s so special they really made the world look so much brighter.

I liked the Pentax LX pretty well. You could choose your focusing screen as well as your viewfinder type. Very modular, very easy to use. this gave way to the . . .

Nikon D3 has been great, but the choices for autofocus and "great viewfinder" pull in opposite directions. For manual focus, you want some "tooth" to the focusing screen and a focusing aid like a split prism or micro-prism collar. This gave way to the . . .

Fuju X-Pro1 has that great insta-mag feature for zooming in on your focus area. But this really is a kludge for the fact that manual focusing is hard to do well with the VF as designed.

LF focusing screens are great. But slow. And you need a thread-counter or loupe for critical magnification, and the dark-cloth is always where you don't want it.

So I am going with: NONE. It hasn't been invented yet. Sorry to be a party pooper, but there it is. I'm holding out for full-Borg chip implant in my head.

Favorite camera viewfinder?! Okay, well I'd have to say that the viewfinders on my Leica SL2, Leica Q2, and Hasselblad X1D2 are my favorites, with the Sony A7R4 and Canon R5 in that mix, too. Bright, high-resolution, informative, excellent color, jitter-free.

For screen viewfinders I prefer high-res flip-up/down panels to vloggy flip-outs, as I never need to see myself and prefer a quicker 1-movement mechanism to get high/low positions. My favorite design is probably Fulifilm's 2-axis flip screen (GFX50s and X-T3) that allows tilt along both the landscape and portrait axes.

And speaking of tiltable viewfinders, I have really embraced and often used the EVF tilt adapter for the GFX50s and GFX100! It's a marvelously useful feature and I was disappointed to see that it can't be used with the GFX100s.

I can only shrug at those who claim to prefer optical TTL viewfinders. Dark, uninformative, often impossible to adjust for diopter corrections. Blech. I don't even use the rangefinder viewfinder in my M camera any more. Good riddance!

My favorite for many reasons was my Rollieflex TLR. I had a qualified technician install one of those after market bright focusing screens and of course the focus had to be calibrated. It was a joy to use and I sold the camera many years ago and have regretted it every day since. I’m sure the new owner has no clue what an improvement that new screen was when compared to the similar older Rollieflex cameras, he or she got a gem of a camera.

Favorite viewfinder? That's like asking a mechanic what his favorite tool is. The tool has to fit the use, and a 12mm socket won't do you any good when you need a screwdriver. For pure visual pleasure, perhaps the ground glass on a view camera. But I don't use view cameras any more. I do a lot of macro photography at small apertures. For that, an EVF or tiltable, rotatable, etc. screen on the back of the camera. Sometimes a remote viewfinder is appropriate. A while back, I was photographing the interior of a hive of wild bees. Viewing the scene with an iPhone from a distance, while holding the camera at the end of a stick, was much less scary than sticking my head in the hive to look in a camera-attached viewfinder. Though EVFs have been getting faster, some are subject to quite a bit of lag when photographing moving subjects at high frame rates, such as birds in flight. Optical finders have no lag even though the SLR mirror flap gives a short blackout. So I have no favorite finder without context. My favorite finder system from a tech nerd's point of view is the multiple finders on my ancient Crown Graphic. There's the ground glass back, of course. Then there's the wire sports finder. Interestingly, the rear sight for this is adjustable up and down with distance markings for parallax correction.The optical finder is fairly conventional, but it also incorporates parallax correction. There's a thin metal foil with a hole that slides diagonally in the finder window, coupled to the focusing setting of the front standard. Finally, the rangefinder not only allows for focus by merging two images, but also incorporates a light bulb that projects two beams through the two rangefinder windows when a switch is pressed. In the dark, you can focus by making the two projected beams meet at the subject. It's a clever design, simple and practical.

Oh - about the bees. They absolutely didn't care that I was present, didn't even land on me, let alone try to sting. I eventually was confident enough to use my arm to hold a camera inside the hive. However, I am not making a recommendation. Your mileage may vary.

Initially I was tempted to say my favorite viewfinder is the one in the Fuji X-Pro2. I always liked using Leicas and other rangefinders with bright lines in the finder. Today, Leicas are abstract objects--they exist but not for me and my meager bank account. The X-Pro2 finder is a good practical approximation of the Leica.

But the more I thought about it, I'm still an SLR guy at heart. I started photography with an SLR and it's still the way I like to look at the world. Specifically, the FX Nikon finders. They are nice and big and bright enough for a guy like me with poor eyesight to still be able to manually focus if I absolutely have to. I can also use them in lower light without using too many swear words.

I'm not into EVFs at all. I've tried to like them and I've used several camera brands that have them. I recall when I bought a Fuji X-T1 when they were new and I thought the big bright EVF was just great. But it turned out to be less than great in bright daylight--to the point it was unusable at times. Re-enter the DSLR with its OVF.

The internet keeps telling me the DSLR is a dinosaur and it is rapidly fading away. That's okay. There's a gazillion used DSLRs out there with another double gazillion lenses that fit them. At my age, it's a lifetime supply.

I like using an anglefinder but I have not been able to find one for the Fuji XT or X-h1.
Can anyone help?

I have fond memories of the viewfinder in my Nikon F3 HP. It was the first camera I owned with 100% coverage that also let me see the full frame with my glasses on. It was lovely.

I use only the 35mm and the 50mm for my personal pictures. It has been this way for close to 40 years. Therefore, my favorite finder is the Leica M with .72 magnification. The finder is a clear window, there is no blackout and provides a non-flattering and honest appreciation of the motif. This spartan view has given me my best work, years after years.
Ideally, it should come without the 75mm markings as for older M4.

I have used only limited number of cameras. Always prefer big and bright (after AF has taken over MF) with high point view (as I wear glasses). From memory, I love Nikon F90x’s the best. At the other end of the spectrum Panasonic GM5’s is horrible but I only use it in emergency (like an emergency compact tyre) and tolerate it for its one-of-its-kind compactness.

The viewfinder of my OM4Ti is excellent but as I've got older I found that I could do with the characters in the viewfinder being a bit larger. My digital cameras of choice are a Fuji XT2 and a X100F. I mainly use the EVF's which can be set up to give me precisely the information I want in a way that works for me and to frame, and view accurately. I occasionally use the rear screen of the XT2 rather like a TLR, especially when using vintage lenses but the X100f OVF gets less use, although it is a handy option to have in certain circumstances. In contrast I use my iphone in a much freer way, just point it in the direction of the subject without more than a glance at the screen and more often than not I get what I'm after. I very much enjoy the simplicity of the process.

All viewfinders have their strengths (well, on second thought... not necessarily) and limitations. It's the latter one must familiarize oneself with. I remember when everyone was extolling the LARGE OM-1 viewfinder, it was large alright, but the contrast really sucked- as much as I loved the size and style of that camera, I opted for the clumsier Nikkormat FT-2 with it's smaller, but bright and contrasty VF.

I freaked the first time I looked through an EVF- what happened to the shadows!?! Experience taught me that as long as the highlights were good, the shadow detail would be there- particularly with digital.

Favourite VF in the old money? Tie between Pentax ME and Minolta XD-11. A meterless Nikon F with a type E Grid screen is also very, very pleasant for normal and wide-angle lens focusing.

In autofocus? Sony Alpha a900. Big bright glass-pentaprism finder with 100% view. Minimal distraction from blinkenlights. (Minolta seems to come up often in this discussion! And yes, I consider the Sony a900 as the digital heir of the Minolta a9 mentioned in your prior post.)

I shoot almost everything through the viewfinder; I assume this is due to habits acquired from 35mm. However, I have some other Sony alpha's with the twisty-turney rear panels, and those are perfect for ground-level shots and shooting video.

Outside of Sony I haven't tried enough EVF cameras to have a useful opinion. I know lots of people my age with Olympus OM-D or Fujifilm X cameras who love the EVF.

I was excited to hear about the Fuji X-Pro3 using a fixed 0.52 magnification viewfinder instead of a two position magnification. They increased the size so it is bigger, brighter and less distorted. But the widest frame lines it accommodates are the 35mm equivalent... except the 2/23mm Fujicron, which has a slightly wider field of view than a 35mm equivalent. So while the X-Pro3 finder shows the framelines at all distances for the 1.4/23mm, the framelines for the 2/23mm disappear beyond about 10 meters. Seems like poor design to not design the viewfinder to be fully compatible with the compact Fujicrons. So I'd like the next X-Pro to have a bigger finder that can display framelines for any 23mm lens.

I'm very much enjoying the viewfinder on my Fuji GA645 medium format point and shoot. It's big, bright and field corrected. And I love my Bronica ETRS unmetered prism finder with whatever focusing screen it has (it has framelines for the 135 panoramic back). Things just snap into focus.

One of the worst is my Fuji X-Pro1, whose OVF framelines are overly liberal on the bottom and right, accurate on the left and often decapitating on the top. The EVF is low in resolution and focus peaking is less than useless. And both are so small and dim, the opposite of what makes a good, immersive rangefinder.

My choice of favourite VF would be a resounding one that looks like this on my Leica V-Lux 4.

https://www.photographyblog.com/uploads/newsGallery/leica_v-lux_4_hands-on_photos/leica_vlux4_preview_13.jpg

Flip this way and that way for straight shoots, overhead shots, look down like TLR (perfect for street photography), sideways, use lying down, and that "selfie" too!

It's so nice I felt like I had to handle it with cotton gloves!

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1i1PLduhEeGbFK9ORKuZplicV2w0aW5nN/view?usp=sharing

I like to see outside the frame lines, so the frame lines floating in the viewfinder. The Leica M3 wins it for me, because of the near 1-1 magnification, flare free and the clarity of not having the effects of DoF visible. I really want to see all the possibilities at the same time without having the lens settings limiting what I see and forcing me to only see what it sees.

You asked what was my favourite camera viewfinder, and I immediately thought of my Olympus OM 4Ti - only to read on and find that both you and Michael nominated that as one of the best viewfinders ever made. I loved the view through that camera - and the camera itself, which I used and appreciated for 20 years. Top film camera bodies could be useful for years, unlike today’s digital bodies, which technological developments seem to make disposable.

Peter C

There’s this song, don’t know who recorded it, where a line in it goes, “love the one your with”, well, that’s me. The camera I have in hand tends to have a viewfinder that I like.
In my film days, I had a Rolliecord and loved that bright, two and a quarter-inch finder! I say bright, cause my eyes were better then. Now, with my OM-D, which is old in camera years, I find it’s EVF just works for me. I know how to de-clutter the screen, and it’s nice and bright for indoor shooting, and I still love it. One day, I just might pick up something more current, but I could never go back to optical.
Fred

The Olympus OM-1 viewfinder was what I considered "the gold standard" for many years. I also admired the Nikon F3 and Pentax LX, but the OM-1 was the one that I owned, and allowed for easy comparisons. It was all downhill after that, with dim and small AF SLR viewfinder made for slow zoom lenses, and then into digital with small sensors making the problem worse.

It was the Olympus E-M5 II and E-M1 II where I felt that digital cameras had finally superseded the 1970s and 80s era SLR viewfinder because they had enough magnification, resolution, and a high enough refresh rate, to be optically enjoyable, and with the benefits of seeing your exposure, dynamic range, and white balance so perfectly before taking the shot, they offer a real advantage.

The EVF-DC1 on my Canon M3.

I love the vertical/horizontal function and mostly use the vertical one, looking down.

I have used and liked all three choices. But the one option we have not had yet is an EV with wide open viewing and focussing. I find stopped down focussing on an EV OK for slow work, the best option for my tripod work. But the camera could be used with manual focus lenses for quicker work if it had the option of full aperture viewing in those circumstances.

No camera maker has offered this yet, and other than Nikon and perhaps Leica I don't see this happening. A shame in my opinion.

It's frustrating to have to own matching sets of lenses, AF and MF for my EV cameras, but manual focussing with AF lenses does not work, Thom Hogan explains why Nikon Z cameras fail that test.

I've not been fully satisfied with the EVFs I've experienced to date, largely because I'm an old guy with a fondness for manual rangefinders. I never completely warmed to the finder in my X100, although I did like that it's a hybrid, and did like the camera.
A dealer has my Gaoersi 612 today, with a Rodenstock 75mm lens, evaluating it for trade. The Gaoersi 75mm viewfinder is a joy to use. I'd have to say it was probably my favorite, right alongside the 20mm OVF that mates with my Russar lens.

After owning a Wista 4x5 and seeing its fine fresnel-focused image, I was a little disappointed with the plain ground glass screen on my 8x10 Deardorff. It had a bright-enough center image, but I had to move my head around to take in the corners.

I called Deardorff to purchase a fresnel for the 8x10 and had a long conversation with Jack Deardorff. He apparently did not like fresnel lenses on their cameras even though they were listed accessories in their catalog. He talked me out of it.

A couple months later, I had the urge again, and purchased a 10 x 10 fine-line fresnel from Edmund Scientific. I had to cut it down to fit, but I never looked back. It was a marvelous addition especially when used with shorter lenses.

So that's my vote.

I'd rank the clever Fuji dual optical/EVF as my second. It's nice to have choices when photographing.

The waist level finder on the Pentax 67. Great viewfinder with a pop up magnifier for fine focus.

The Olympus OM1 came to mind immediately. Absolutely enjoyable viewfinder.

Also I love the 3 way tiltable rear screen of the Fuji X-T3. I use it much more than the very good viewfinder.

The viewfinder in my graflex 5x7 stereo camera is astounding. It’s two 5x3.5 inch images on the ground glass and a magnifying hood for each eye. It’s pseudo-stereo because the images reversed but the right eye is getting the right image and the left is getting the left so your brain still sees it as 3-D

I’ve had it for 30 years and still haven’t really used it.

For cameras I’ve used a lot, my hasselblad with a Rollie screen is the best.
My Nikon F2 with the plain ground glass screen was pretty nice too.
The RB graflex is pretty much perfect come to think of it. It even smells great

You're seriously screwing up my work time. I was still struggling with trying to create custom settings on Z6 and GX8 cameras, after Carl Weese's piece, and now you come along with this question. I've been sitting here comparing views from the two cameras, and, honestly, they're about the same, but both unexpectedly dimmer than I'd realized. (Not a huge handicap, they're both bright enough.) The GX8s have that rotating eyepiece, which I like having, but honestly, it's not as useful as the fully articulated view screen, which I use like a waist-level finder. The Z6 has a tilt screen that can be pulled out and also used as a waist-level finder, which is useful for slow street shooting. I'm coming to appreciate certain qualities of the Z6, but overall, the GX8 is my favorite camera ever, and I've owned a couple of Leicas.

The ground glass on my 10x8. I have had more “mmmmmmmm, yes” moments with it than any other.

I have both the GX8 and a Nikon Z6. I will agree that the GX8 has a nice viewfinder but the rest of the camera and it's controls make it just an OK shooter. The Z6 on the other hand has a very nice viewfinder but since the camera is just a pleasure to use I prefer the Nikon finder.

My favorite is a voigtlander 35mm equivalent brightline viewfinder (the older one w/ squarish plastic body). I use this w/ Pentax Q as an in my pocket most days camera, and on one of my dslrs (usually a Pentax K-5) when (pre-covid-19) I was taking theatre photographs—usually a 20mm FL at f/4—as it lets me see what is about to enter, is bright, and with this FL and f-stop I can pre-focus.

Nikon F3

Konica Hexar AF

Nikon FM2 and 8008s

The Olympus EVF in the EM-1 cameras.

So many viewfinders, so many tradeoffs.

A Sinar binocular finder with a fresnel lens; wonderful except when strong movements are necessary.

EVF's; the more recent, the better. All the information you need, but the DR is lacking.

A good Nikon F; whether F(1), F2, F3..., all good but better have the right screen in for best focussing, and lacks all that good info from the EVF.

Leica M3 or M4 or maybe M10 depending on your focal length, but it still only works best for 35 or 50mm.

Visoflex 3 for macro or long lens work; the Nikon's can't compete with this as the Visoflex is optimized for this, and prism bulk obviously didn't matter.

The worst viewfinders on interchangeable lens cameras, but I still use them: early APS-C DSLR's and the Panasonic GM5. The latter has a terrible viewfinder, but it's still way better than the GM1 which has none.

My all time favorite 'viewfinder' is still the ground glass of a 4x5 camera.

Of course, I also like the serendipity of no viewfinder ala' a pinhole camera.

However, I have been experimenting with a Fuji X100F since the first of the year and I must say that I am enjoying the hybrid viewfinder on this interesting little device.

I especially like the way in which this viewfinder solves the parallax issue inherent in a camera with a viewfinder separate from the 'taking' lens. The hybrid finder has a electronic rectangle that shifts around as you get close to a subject so that you can see the exact framing which will end up in your file... neato!

BTW, the truly viewfinder obsessed among us can now salvage viewfinders from old point and shoots like the Canon Owl. Thanks to 3D printing, those viewfinders can be turned into general shoe mount finders. http://www.metro-case.com/grips/viewfinder

I’ve got one of these and am searching for a nice compact mirrorless digital camera with back button focus to put it on.


I have a very strong preference for optical bright-line finders. The best, in my opinion, is on the Leica M3. Adequately close are the finders on the Mamiya 7ii the Fuji X100 and Xpro series.

Although bright-line finders are often associated with various kinds of action photography, I am primarily do landscapes. I find that being able to see what is outside of the frame is very useful in deciding what is going to be inside the frame. The lack of accuracy in the frames is a problem, but it is minimal at longer distances and doesn't bother me much.

The Fuji hybrid finders are what finally induced me to shift (mostly) to digital. But, EVF part of these finders are less than ideal. My impression is that the EVF in the XPro-3 finder is better than in the earlier models, but the optical finder has suffered a bit for that.

David

I'll add to the praise for the Panasonic Lumix GX8's bright, crisp, informative viewfinder. And it tilts, too. It's a well-engineered device. Every time I think of replacing my two GX8 bodies, I once again realize that no newer camera has a tilting EVF. Maybe there'll be a GX8 Mark II some day. Till then, I'll soldier on with those elderly cameras.

Nikon Df with FM3a K screen and 1.2x magnifying eyepiece. Easier to focus than my F2A and so much better than using my Z6 and FTZ which forces me to open the aperture by hand to focus on my Ai lenses and then stop down to take the photo.
I did use a Sinar Norma 8x10 for a while and the viewfinder on that was stunning. However it buggered my back so I use the 4x5 Norma on which I find it much harder to use for setting movements.
I need a flunky to carry an 8x10 for me, that would solve the problem.
I've used all modern EVF's but blocked up shadows and burnt out highlights make them useless for me.

A good viewfinder is a joy to look through. When I got my first Nikon the legendary "F" model it was like an awaking I had not believed possible. I think I had been using a 35mm Topcon camera before that. I have used various 35mm cameras, Nikon, Leica (rangefinder), Hasselblad, Rolleiflex, and view cameras from 4x5 to 8x10, Tachihara, and Ebony.

I would say that the Nikon top-of-the-line cameras in the F series always have a great viewfinder, that tradition carries on into their professional digital cameras. I particularly like the viewfinder in the Nikon D850 better than say the D7200, it really does feel more "full-frame".

I have used various Leica film cameras, M2, M3, M4, M4-P, M5 including a "Barnack" Leica III from 1936, it was difficult to use and it had two viewfinders one for focus the other for framing. They were tiny. The focus was accurate. With the later M series cameras, I thought they were great, a different way of looking at the world instead of an SLR viewfinder. I did not find them all that accurate in terms of what is seen along the very edges of the white frame markers. Accurate focusing with shorter lens but with longer lenses like the 90mm it was not as easy when using a wide-open aperture.

The Hasselblad and Rolleiflex with the pop-up hoods and looking down is good, it takes some getting used with things reversed and can be challenging to use depending on which direction that the action is coming.

I have grown to love the viewfinders of the view camera, upside down and backward, it's about as pure as an image can be — directly from the lens to the viewing screen, no detours of going through a pentaprism or mirror. The viewing screen on the 8x10 is especially delightful to behold, it's sometimes fun on a nice day to just set it up and look at the 80 square inches of an image on the ground glass.

My subjects are usually static, and my DSLR with manual focus lens is mounted on a tripod. In this situation, I find live view much more useful than the viewfinder - any kind of viewfinder - as it is easier for me to assess the picture by just looking at it, instead of having to peek into a viewfinder. If I had to purchase a new camera, I would even consider a viewfinder-less model!

The following features are essential for me (my camera has them):

  • Be able to switch between WYSIWYG and constant brightness by pressing a button
  • Have a histogram overlay available on button press
  • Have a two-axis virtual horizon display available on button press
  • If histogram and virtual horizon are turned off, the display should display the unobstructed picture
  • Live view should be stopped down to the set aperture, in addition it should be possible to change the aperture during live view
  • Ability to zoom in and out on button press

It would be nice if the current focus distance could be displayed on request!

Best, Thomas

I hate microprisms. I don’t like split screens, or whatever they are called, the two half circles in the middle of the screen. In all my SLRs I always changed the screen to matte with gridlines. OM1 was good. Sony A900 was good. Olympus E3 was okay. The first ’usable’ EVF in a digicam was in Minolta A2. It was clearly better than anything else at the time. I don’t have many cameras with EVF now. OM EM5 is okay, not great but very well usable. SL is good. X1 is good. I have looked through both of them. Both are expensive, and SL too heavy for my taste.

"If some company was going to build your perfect camera, at your direction, what kind of viewfinder would you tell them to make?"

PERFECT camera? Well the viewfinder would communicate directly with the chip attached to my optic nerve for the purpose...

Any 100% (or very close) DSLR OVF. The most recent one such that I used was on a Canon 5DIV. The OVF on my Canon 90D is pretty good, but not as good as the one on the full-frame body.

I can’t get on with the iPhone screen (although I do use it, quite a lot) for two reasons. Firstly, it’s awkward, especially in landscape mode. Being left-handed means that I hold the phone with the shutter ‘button’ to the left, which means that the side button, now on the bottom side of the horizontally-held phone) lies exactly where my right thumb want to grip the thing. The number of times I’ve set up a shot only to then inadvertently put the phone into sleep mode by clicking that button.... Secondly, I wear spectacles for close work (e.g. reading, or looking at screens). Thanks to the diopter setting in a DSLR OVF I can use that without my glasses; not so a close-up electronic image.

I’ve never had a camera with EVF.

Mike, ironically, while pretty much agnostic on the EVF/OVF thing, I prefer an OVF in very low light as it doesn't blow my eyes out like the little illuminated TV screen in an EVF.

My best OVF is the Canon Eos 1v/1Ds/1Dx full frame SLR finder. Bright, 100% coverage and the exposure information is placed off the viewing area. I also like to be able to switch the grid on and off, as on the 1Dx and my current 5Ds.

Generally, EVFs have worked for me but I was not an early adopter. Oddly the worst was a Sony A7r which seemed somehow worse than the earlier NEX-6. Like you I find a flippy finder incredibly useful, so the the add-on EVF DC-1 for my Eos M6 is my current favourite.

When I bought the GX8 in 2017 at a photo event, I was pitting it against a GX85 (it's called the GX80 in the US, I think). The GX80 was cheaper and had better IBIS, had a 16MP sensor vs 20MP but without the GX8's AA filter. The GX8 was weather sealed, too, but really, the difference came down to the viewfinder: both the viewfinders tilted but the GX8's magnification and the tiny OLED panel are wonderful.

More than three years later, I feel like I made the right choice in buying the GX8—it makes taking pictures such a pleasure. I've adjusted the contrast in the picture settings to the absolute minimum (it doesn't affect raw files) so I get a decent preview of shadows. My only problem is that has spoiled me: roll on the GX10 and please let it be a GX8 Mark II: weather sealing, great IBIS, great viewfinder.

Nikon FM. Displays shutter speed, aperture, and 3 led’s for exposure. Still my favorite.

I always found that *everything* looked photographable when looking through the waist-level finder on my Yashicamat 124g. A really incredible abstraction or mysterious transformation of whatever generally mundane thing was sitting right in front of you. Consequently, I have a lot of square photos of mundane things looking slightly less mundane.

The next runner-up would be the EVF revolution when moving to my dearly beloved X-T1. The one on my current X-T4 is clearly better in a lot of ways, but this one will always be important as that (likely final) step away from OVFs for me. It basically completely removed the need to chimp photos as I knew exactly what the exposure was. I could shoot directly in black and white with a good approximation of how I would likely end up processing the photo. The information on screen rotated with the camera! (which seems silly to point out at this point, but was something Fuji actively promoted with the camera). And it was HUGE, no more squinting down a dark tunnel... I could actually *look around* in the viewfinder. Just a marvelous change all around.

(Technically, my first digital camera also had an EVF - the Canon S2 IS. I would love to take a peek through that again somehow to see how far we've come since 2005. It had 115 THOUSAND pixels! This must surely look like a Mondrian painting compared to today's electronic windows onto the world.)

My favourite viewfinder is the prism finder on my Rollei SL66SE. It weighs as much as some cameras, but boy, what a view. I'm one of those people who gets inspired by a square image in the finder, and this is the best I've seen.

I don't have too much experience with different viewfinders.
I have used Olympus E3, E510, Em1, Em5mk2, Pen-f, Panasonic GM5, Kodak SLR/n, Sigma SDQ, SD14, Nikon D40, Df, Sony A850, H5, Nons film, Hasselblad 500, Pentax 100.
But by far the winner for the best I have ever used is the Kiev 60 TTL module on the Pentacon six camera. Very full, bright excellent focus lines. That alone makes it a fun camera to shoot with.

First of all, I have to say, I've hated almost all viewfinders from modern digital DSLR's. They made a viewfinder so that you could see an image OK with amateur "slow" f/5.6 zooms, and they were impossible to use as an actual focusing viewfinder (were they 'aerial' I don't remember). You could focus with a 50 year old Nikkormat and a 28mm lens easier and faster than any DSLR I ever used. Another case of, instead of the beginning where amateurs were buying and learning how to use pro cameras, now cameras are MADE for amateurs, and pros have to do stuff like get a "Cat's-Eye" screen installed in the after-market so you can use the damn thing!

My adoption of EVF cameras was not only about getting to shoot multiple aspect ratio's so I wasn't held into the tyranny of the 35mm 3:2 format, totally unusable for commercial pros, but also because you now had an actual focusing viewfinder you could see snap in and out! In addition, you weren't held to the tyranny of engineer selected focus points! You could set the camera to recognize a face, and if you had a face in the far corner, it found it and focused on it!

Having said all this, I have to say, maybe 'off point', I remember the most stunning view-finder change I went though was in a Super-8 camera! In high-school and college, I used to take super-8 films for sports people to see their work and improve. I had been using a series of Canon Super-8's, and looking through them was like looking at a little square (altho, unlike modern DSLR's, still focusable!). Someone handing me a super-8 made in Europe, it may have been a Bauer, and when I put my eye up to, the image was ten times the size of what I had been using before! Whatever magnification system they were using made the viewfinder screen enormous and easy to focus and use! That was the most stunning difference in my life, and 50 years later, the minute you mentioned "viewfinders", it was brought to life again!

I love the view from the ground glass of my 8x10. You've written about that unique experience yourself. As far as digital cameras though, the Hasselblad 907X comes closest to ground glass composing that I've experienced. It's made to be used waist-level, just like the old 500 series or Rolleiflex cameras. The camera is great either on a tripod or cradled hand-held, a very pleasurable experience. This form factor makes the photo taking process much more intentional. It's not made for quick snaps, which is unlike what the competition offers. Almost all the other cameras aspire to speed. This one inspires looking. Weird, huh?

Hello Mr. J.
Your reprinted article was the reason I have been following your blogs all this time...it was literally an eye-opener, and resulted in my choice to purchase a Pentax *istD which had, for its time, a decent viewfinder. Thanks for everything!
David Bridge

I realize I may be just echoing many previous comments, but so far the best EVF I have used, must be that of my late GX8. Using it for years has partially spoiled me, when I use EVF's on other cameras.

With regards to OVF's, I have fond memories of my long departed Pentax MX's. But I seriously suspect that the newly engineering pentaprism OVF of the (hopefully) soon to be released Pentax APS-C flagship, the K-3 Mark III, may put all other SLR OVF's, both past and present, to shame. It's supposed to be that good (with significant improvements over their existing FF K-1ii.

I suspect being able to frame, focus, shoot and view the world through a viewfinder that good... may make me rethink my own photography standards.

Cameras? I don't need no stinkin' cameras! 8-)

I've switched to iPhone for both stills and video. It has the best viewfinder I've ever used. BTW I've used everything from Arriflex to Sony.

The OM-1 viewfinder was my fave. Big. Bright. All kinds of focus screens. I liked the 1-3, matte with simple split screen. Most of all I liked how minimal it was. No numbers, or other indicators, just a needle.

No contest: the Leitz external 50mm VF, "SBOOI". Straight 1:1, and as clear as can be. Makes you feel at one with the world.

Perfect for the classical two-eyed approach to people photography: "frame the picture with your right eye, and simultaneously look at the wider environment with the your left eye." I used to use the SBOOI on my Leica IIf and Leica If when I still had those, and I have been seen using it occasionally with digital cameras.

The 35mm and 28mm VFs can be used in the same fashion, Leitz and Zeiss have made great ones. Though the wider the angle, the less effective becomes the two-eyed approach. With the 1:1 50mm, it really is a magical experience.

I do enjoy using the external 28mm VF together with a Zeiss 18mm on my Fuji XE3.

Talking of Fuji, I am very happy with the OVF on my XPro-2. Far from perfect, but it works and it gets me into the right mental mode.

My favourite is the EOS R that I shoot with currently. 3.69 million dots of resolution, and all the information that I could ask for. It's information I can turn off, too, if I wish to. It's bright, crisp and I look through it knowing that I can focus pretty much where ever I want to.

The EVF in the Fuji GFX50S is about the best I've seen, regardless of viewfinder design embodiment (OVF vs EVF).

Any Canon 1D-series is excellent, also. Actually, anything about any generation of Canon 1D bodies is just about the best there was at the time, or is, presently. Those are just damn good cameras.

That being said, the EVF in my X-H1 is excellent, too. That is also a damn good camera. Shame that Fujifilm did such a poor job of marketing one of the very best cameras they've ever made. I guess the word got out on just how good this camera was, though; just try buying one used or LNIB in the secondary market, they get snapped up as soon as ads for them are placed. People who know...know.

The X-H1 is a lot like a Canon 1D, now that I think about it, so that makes sense.

I've found that all the viewfinders I've used have been great — until I see some of the alternatives...

I liked the Fujifilm X-Pro1 VF, but then I simply had a solid relationship with the entire camera (and we still see each other occsionally). I find the Fuji GA645 VF wonderful, the Pantax 645nii also very good, and enjoy the Nikon FE2 and especially the Nikon F100.

The finest evf in my experience has been the Nikon Z6. The resolution is clearly good, but Nikon deployed their skills with glass very effectively to make the most of that resolution. I am regularly astonished at how effective this VF is for my purposes.

Pentax LX, from film days, and Pentax K-1 today.

Mine is th F6 finder with a split-image focus screen installed. Lovely, huge, and bright with the exposure index on the side. Never found one I liked more.

The Leica M3 viewfinder was great. Bright, easy to see, you could see beyond the edges of the frame, and the big startlement for an SLR photographer— the spot where you did the focusing was brighter than the rest of the frame! What a wonderful idea! (Superimposed rangefinder, so an extra light source was lighting that part of the image, I think is what was going on.)

It did still have the problem of being physically locked in just one orientation relative to the lens; so that to shoot from a low or high or otherwise unusual angle you had to actually get your head there. On my very first SLR, the Miranda Sensorex, I sometimes took the pentaprism off and just looked down onto the viewing screen (there was a formal waist-level viewfinder but I never bought it, just looked down to the screen). This was nice since it gave me two angles of view rather than one.

And of course now I go for tilt/swing EVFs (and just viewing the panel at an angle goes a long way to getting you additional viewpoints).

If you've ever seen serious movie cameras, the viewfinders on those are optically completely impossible; they do things that obviously can't be done. Even on 1960s models. They can be tilted and rotated and so forth, so the camera operator can see what's happening for shots from very low, very high, whatever. They do end up with a relatively dark viewfinder, and they flicker badly (especially at wide shutter angles, for low light)—those things work off a mirror on the back of the shutter disk, so for part of the rotation (one rotation per frame) the light goes into the viewfinder system, the other part it goes to the film. And then reflect that light through a series of tubes with multiple joints that can twist and turn and so forth, and finally into your eye.

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