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Thread: The Perfect Viewfinder

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    The Perfect Viewfinder

    Hearing comments recently about the beautiful, but oddly lacking in information viewfinder on the Leica S2, and wondering how they could miss the mark like that, I started thinking about the Canon/Nikon 35mm digital viewfinders which are so useless for manually focusing versus the gorgeous Olympus OM-2 I grew up with. I started wondering what people thought the perfect viewfinder should look like, what information it should display, what the matte screen should look like, what the right viewfinder coverage is, and so on.

    I prefer a clean, bright matte screen with little visible grain, no split-image or micro-raster. I also prefer screens which snap in and out of focus rather than gliding, and which can be comfortably viewed without squeezing my eye against the opening, but the primary importance must always go to manually focusing lenses.

    As far as information display goes, I like the following information below the screen: Shutter speed, aperture (and of course the relevant substitutions for A, S, P, etc), ISO value and exposure compensation only if used (+ or - and how much). A flash-ready icon is also fine. I find it very important how the manual exposure setting look, and cannot stand the tiny little bars in cameras like the Canon 5D. I want it huge, and possibly another colour, like red or orange for numerals and green for the exposure meter bar, which could be beside or below the viewfinder. I don't like having anything above the viewfinder. Please no weird nomenclature like Av, Tv and such crapola, just the straight-forward industry standard letters like M, A, S, and P.

    That's where it ends for me, actually. Everything else I prefer to see elsewhere, like battery life, drive mode and so on. I don't like information overload, and prefer only to see the options that I might change every few shots, not once-per-session settings like battery life, drive mode, etc. For things I change rarely I am content to lift my eye off the viewfinder and look on top of the camera, or wherever. For warnings an icon is fine, like low battery, but please don't flash it more than two or three times, max. I don't want my camera to warn me against my own stupidity in the viewfinder, like if I mistakenly change a setting; it can do that elsewhere.

    Perhaps more controversially, I have become used to the Leica M and my crop-sensor Contax having space all around the image, and so my perfect viewfinder would actually be 10-15% too large, with a line for the coverage. I realize that this will incur extra cost and size, but I am willing to pay for this.

    What do others think?
    Last edited by carstenw; 5th December 2009 at 11:02.
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    Senior Member KeithL's Avatar
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    Re: The Perfect Viewfinder

    Viewfinders are very important to me. I find the Hasselblad H3D11 viewfinder so close to perfect that it doesn't matter. Focusing is a breeze even for world-weary eyes. All the info I want and nothing I don't.

    Keith

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    Re: The Perfect Viewfinder

    I have never seen the H viewfinder, but have heard good things about it. Could you describe it a bit from your perspective? I find it very hard to extract useful information from brochures.
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    Re: The Perfect Viewfinder

    Carsten

    I donít know whether you're familiar with the V series cameras when using the latest Acute-Matte D screens? I used to think this combination was about as good as it got in terms of clarity until I started using the H series.

    The viewfinder image is exceptionally bright and despite being 6x45 format rather than 6x6 the image actually appears as though it's larger due to the exceptional clarity. The dioptre correction adjustment is a godsend, assuring perfect correction.

    As good as the V series screens are I was increasingly having problems nailing critical focus. Ease of focussing using the H screen - I use the grid - is nothing short of remarkable, I've never experienced anything quite like it, clearly snapping in and out of focus, a joy to use.

    Viewfinder info includes exposure mode, aperture setting, shutter speed, exposure compensation reminder and exact compensation setting, metering method and a very accurate focussing aid, all presented clearly and concisely below the finder image.

    As you say, it is difficult to get a realistic impression from brochures, I'd recommend you visit your Hasselblad dealer and experience it yourself. It may well turn your head

    Keith

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    Re: The Perfect Viewfinder

    Thanks Keith, that helps. I have an Acute Matte, and have heard that the D is a tad better. I will see if I can try out an H at one of the local renting places. Do all models have the same screen (H1, H2, H2F, H3D, H3DII, H4D)?
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    Re: The Perfect Viewfinder

    Quote Originally Posted by carstenw View Post
    Thanks Keith, that helps. I have an Acute Matte, and have heard that the D is a tad better. I will see if I can try out an H at one of the local renting places. Do all models have the same screen (H1, H2, H2F, H3D, H3DII, H4D)?
    I concur with Keith about the H viewfinder. It is a very bright viewfinder and comfortable to use. To answer your question: the same screen can be used in all the H's but some should have a mask given the sensor crop. I don't use the masked screen that came with my H3DII39.

    Kind regards,
    Derek Jecxz
    www.jecxz.com

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    Re: The Perfect Viewfinder

    The Hy6, Rollei 6008AF and Hasselblad 203FE are great. The Rollei/Hy6 screens are very bright and contain a lot of easy to see, easy to read information. The 203FE with Acute Matte D is probably even brighter (slightly more clarity), but the viewfinder display is more spartan and only visible with the loupe in use -- it gives you a nice view of your aperture, shutter speed, the number of stops over or under you are from your AE lock point, and your battery life. That's basically it.

    In 35mm, the best I have used is the Canon New-F1 with bright laser matte screens -- this camera with the 50/1.2L and 85/1.2L is still the brightest, best viewfinder I have ever used in a 35mm SLR -- and I have used the OM-1, R9 with maxwell precision optics screen, a Nikon F6, and a Canon T90....the F1-N and bright laser matte is just in a different league of clarity.
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