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Thread: Best Optical Viewfinder(s) for GF1?

  1. #1
    markpsf
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    Best Optical Viewfinder(s) for GF1?

    I want to use an optical viewfinder with both the 17mm and 20mm lenses on the GF1.

    One choice is the Olympus viewfinder being sold as an accessory for the EP1. A Voigtlander 35mm viewfinder is another option.

    For the 20 mm lens I could get by with one of those as well, since these viewfinders aren't used for exact framing anyway, or the Voigtlander 40mm one.

    Any thoughts re the Olympus vs. the Voigtlander in terms of optical quality?

    Should both fit properly on the GF1?

    Thanks.

    Mark

  2. #2
    Ranger 9
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    Re: Best Optical Viewfinder(s) for GF1?

    I haven't tried either one, but from general principles I would suggest going with the 40mm Voigtlander finder.

    Optical finders are never super-accurate for framing, so given the choice, you want to go with one that's a little too "long" rather than a little too "wide." That way you can be sure that everything you saw in the finder will be in the shot, plus some extra. If you go the other way -- using the Olympus 17mm finder for the 20mm Pana lens, for example -- there's an increased risk that something that looked safe in the finder will be cropped in the shot.

    I haven't seen the 40mm Voigtlander finder, but do have the similar-bodied 21mm R D-1 "D finder" (35mm equivalent about 32mm) and its optics are very bright and clear.

  3. #3
    Super Moderator Cindy Flood's Avatar
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    Re: Best Optical Viewfinder(s) for GF1?

    I think Ranger's observations are right on. I have had several Voigtlander finders over the years and have always been satisfied with them optically.

  4. #4
    edslaughter
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    Re: Best Optical Viewfinder(s) for GF1?

    I have the Voigtlander metal 35 that I use with my GX200, and I just got the Voigtlander plastic 40 for the GF1 I have on order.

    I agree with Ranger above, and would add a couple things. I wear glasses, so eyepoint is important. The 35 has the highest eyepoint (is easiest to use with glasses) of any viewfinder I've ever tried. But the 40 is a very close second and is more than sufficient. Many other viewfinders are hard to use with glasses. The 35 has a lower magnification than the 40. Both are less than 100% but in the 35 things are noticeably smaller. Consequently it's easier for me to see details in the 40. Finally, the 35 is of metal with a sharply milled edge on the eyepiece that can scratch your glasses lenses. The 40 is of plastic and, I would assume, is less likely to scratch. Bottom line: either would work but I think that the 40 will be better to use with the 20mm GF1.

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    Senior Member ecsh's Avatar
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    Re: Best Optical Viewfinder(s) for GF1?

    You would rather the optical view finder over the electronic unit Panny has for the GF1?

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    Re: Best Optical Viewfinder(s) for GF1?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cindy Flood View Post
    I think Ranger's observations are right on. I have had several Voigtlander finders over the years and have always been satisfied with them optically.
    I used a 15mm Voigtlander viewfinder. Very good and still have it.
    But they are not in 4:3 proportion. The 15 mm uses the full finder area.
    I don't know how that works out.
    Michiel

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    Re: Best Optical Viewfinder(s) for GF1?

    Cosina/Voigtländer viewfinders are marked in focal lengths for 35mm-Film cameras.

    Because of the difference in format proportions, the vertical Angle of View of a 20mm lens on FourThirds format is between that of a 35 to 40mm lens on a 35mm-Film camera, while the diagonal Angle of View is the same between 20mm on FourThirds and 40mm on 35mm-Film.

    So ... If you use a 40mm viewfinder, you'll not see part of the vertical field of view and you'll see a little more than the horizontal field of view. If you use a 35mm viewfinder, you'll see a little more than the vertical field of view and a bit more than the horizontal field of view.

    My preference would be for the 35mm viewfinder as I'd rather see a little more than the lens is seeing ... I can easily imagine where to crop the view in my imagination.

    The Olympus OVF for the M.Zuiko 17mm f/2.8 lens shows the right format proportions and would show just a bit more than the 20mm lens Field of View. Again, this would be fine as I find it easy to crop with my mind.

    NO optical tunnel viewfinder is ever particularly accurate. The idea is to be able to point the camera in the right general direction and learn how much "slop" in framing you need to get what you want.

    If you need absolute framing precision, you need an optical reflex camera with 100% coverage viewfinder and a focusing screen marked with a reticle scale, or an EVF/LCD with 100% coverage and similar overlay grid. Or a technical camera with ground glass back ... etc.

  8. #8
    markpsf
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    Re: Best Optical Viewfinder(s) for GF1?

    All helpful and the info from Godfrey particularly so.

    I am clear that I want to go with the 35mm viewfinder to use with both the 17mm and 20mm. I'm still not clear whether to go with the new Olympus one or the Voigtlander re optical quality. GIven that no one has commented on this I'm more or less assuming there isn't much difference. I'm only addressing clarity, not framing accuracy which, as a few of you have noted, is always inexact.

    Thanks again.

    Mark

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    Re: Best Optical Viewfinder(s) for GF1?

    Quote Originally Posted by markpsf View Post
    All helpful and the info from Godfrey particularly so.

    I am clear that I want to go with the 35mm viewfinder to use with both the 17mm and 20mm. I'm still not clear whether to go with the new Olympus one or the Voigtlander re optical quality. GIven that no one has commented on this I'm more or less assuming there isn't much difference. I'm only addressing clarity, not framing accuracy which, as a few of you have noted, is always inexact.
    I've only seen the Olympus OVF briefly once. It impressed me as being quite good quality, whether better or worse than the CV finders is a toss up. It's bulkier.

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    Re: Best Optical Viewfinder(s) for GF1?

    I haven't seen the Oly finder either but I do have the CV 35mm metal finder. Its terrific--big, bright, very good optics. Here is a bit more from Cameraquest with pics (I have the black). I've tried it with the 17 f/2.8--and set the 14-45 at about 20 and tried. Works well with both--it does have parallax correction lines--can't remember if the Oly one does.

    Diane

    http://cameraquest.com/voigtacc.htm#35 Metal Brightline Finder scroll down a bit

    Quote Originally Posted by Godfrey View Post
    I've only seen the Olympus OVF briefly once. It impressed me as being quite good quality, whether better or worse than the CV finders is a toss up. It's bulkier.

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    Super Moderator Cindy Flood's Avatar
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    Re: Best Optical Viewfinder(s) for GF1?

    I found the Oly finder fine optically. I also found it very bulky, as stated above. I sold mine when I sold the E-P1.

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    Re: Best Optical Viewfinder(s) for GF1?

    I'd go for the cheaper option - just in case, like me, you find it gets lost in a drawer after the novelty wears off

    The GF1 EVF may be low res compared to the excellent G1/GH1, but the status info (focus area confirmation, exposure info) makes it a worthwhile consideration over an OVF, I think.

    Kind Regards

    Brian

  13. #13
    ddk
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    Re: Best Optical Viewfinder(s) for GF1?

    Quote Originally Posted by markpsf View Post
    All helpful and the info from Godfrey particularly so.

    I am clear that I want to go with the 35mm viewfinder to use with both the 17mm and 20mm. I'm still not clear whether to go with the new Olympus one or the Voigtlander re optical quality. GIven that no one has commented on this I'm more or less assuming there isn't much difference. I'm only addressing clarity, not framing accuracy which, as a few of you have noted, is always inexact.

    Thanks again.

    Mark
    I'd go with the Olympus, optical quality is just as good as the voigtlander 40mm that I have but you'll get accuracy too, at least on the 17mm. IMO accuracy is underrated, it is important, specially with these small sensors. Initially I bought several voigtlander finders for my Ricoh GRDs only to replace them with Ricoh ones, which I actually find have better quality.

  14. #14
    Ranger 9
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    Re: Best Optical Viewfinder(s) for GF1?

    Quote Originally Posted by Godfrey View Post
    Cosina/Voigtländer viewfinders are marked in focal lengths for 35mm-Film cameras.

    Because of the difference in format proportions...
    If you set your µ4/3 camera to shoot in the 3:2 format, you'll get the same proportions as 35mm, right?

    If you need absolute framing precision, you need an optical reflex camera with 100% coverage viewfinder and a focusing screen marked with a reticle scale...
    Why on earth would you need a reticle (optical reference used for determining scale of reproduction) just to frame your image accurately? If your EVF/LCD shows the same pixels as the imager records, you're covered. I think this is hugely overcomplicating the issue.

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    Re: Best Optical Viewfinder(s) for GF1?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ranger 9 View Post
    If you set your µ4/3 camera to shoot in the 3:2 format, you'll get the same proportions as 35mm, right?
    Sure. But then the "crop factor" is different depending on the specifics of the camera you're using. The G1/GF1/E-P1 produce 2:3 proportion images by changing the vertical value of the effective pixel area on the sensor, so it's no longer 13x17.3 mm format, it's 11.5x17.3 mm. The "crop factor" then becomes slightly larger at 2.1x, so the AoV is again imprecise between a 35mm or 40mm viewfinder when using a 20mm lens on cropped-FourThirds format. Moving to the GH1 model, which has an oversized sensor, it changes both horizontal and vertical dimensions by moving the corners around an inscribed circle such that the total number of effective pixels remains the same ... the GH1 in 2:3 format nets a "crop factor" slightly smaller (I think it is about 1.9x)...

    Why on earth would you need a reticle (optical reference used for determining scale of reproduction) just to frame your image accurately? If your EVF/LCD shows the same pixels as the imager records, you're covered. I think this is hugely overcomplicating the issue.
    You're right, it's not absolutely necessary. I was thinking of critical framing for scientific or forensic photography, photogrammetry, which is when I needed a 100% coverage viewfinder and absolute magnification information. My primary camera tool at the time was a Nikon F3 body fitted with the 4x magnifying head and reticle scale focusing screen. Not essential for pictorial photography. I still like having a reticle scale when I'm doing macro and copy work, it helps me make critical framing and focusing more consistent.

    Of course, with an optical tunnel viewfinder separate from the taking lens, "something to help you point the camera in about the right direction" is all you can really get. ;-)

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    Re: Best Optical Viewfinder(s) for GF1?

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Mosley View Post
    I'd go for the cheaper option - just in case, like me, you find it gets lost in a drawer after the novelty wears off.
    I have a drawer in my storage cabinet specifically for these expensive optical "novelty" items, Brian. Four viewfinders, three loupes, two rangefinders, and a field microscope live in there ... being as that's about $1500 worth of 'novelties', I really don't like the thought of losing them.

    The GF1 EVF may be low res compared to the excellent G1/GH1, but the status info (focus area confirmation, exposure info) makes it a worthwhile consideration over an OVF, I think.
    They are useful in different ways/circumstances/shooting methodologies. Having the option of either is what makes the GF1 quite special.

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