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Thread: Tech cam optical viewfinder ?

  1. #1
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    Tech cam optical viewfinder ?

    Hi,
    For an incoming project i'll need to shoot handhelded with my Cambo.
    I have a very basic finder which works "ok" when i shoot straight, but I need to have a shift information.
    As i can't try them all, i'd like to know what are the pro and cons of thoses : Alpa / Arca / Cambo / Horseman / Silvestri
    finders.
    Regarding: Distorsion / Brightness / Quality of masks / Reading of shift information / possibility to rotate the frame without rotating the finder.

    Thanks a lot
    Sincerely
    David

    ps: I already have an Iphone holder, but it doesn't work for this project.

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    Re: Tech cam optical viewfinder ?

    wasn't Viewfinder pro going to offer a shift feature? used with i-phone

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    Re: Tech cam optical viewfinder ?

    I had a Horseman SW612 and really liked the VF. It was a very bright finder. It uses masks and so the shift masks only gives one shift position. You can rotate the mask from vertical to horizontal or 180 degrees. Changing masks is easy, but not fluid.

    However, if you are shooting with tilt on the fly, I would say the Arca would have the better design for shifts. It can be set to different degrees of shift and the mask is simply attaches and slides with a magnet.

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    Re: Tech cam optical viewfinder ?

    Quote Originally Posted by jlm View Post
    wasn't Viewfinder pro going to offer a shift feature? used with i-phone
    Iphone batteries are running out too fast (i would need at least 5 Iphone for 1 full day of shooting) ... It also don't work well on bright day , and it's very difficult to hold the camera well and try to view the iphone at the same time ...

    I really need an optical viewfinder
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    Senior Member Pemihan's Avatar
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    Re: Tech cam optical viewfinder ?

    I'm very happy with Cambo's own viewfinder. Rotating the mask is quick and easy and the optional rubber eyecup makes quite a difference (at least for me)

    Peter
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    Re: Tech cam optical viewfinder ?

    I haven't used any of the Tech Cam viewfinders, but the Alpa one seems to be the biggest -- how is the eye relief?

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    Re: Tech cam optical viewfinder ?

    I have had a few but found them to be not that worthwhile.
    First, they were certainly not as accurate as what I could see on the LCD after taking a snap, and the framing had to be adjusted anyway, so what I ended up doing was just to point the camera by eye, take a image, which also allowed me to adjust exposure, adjust framing tilt, etc, one more check then done.
    it was just a bit of kit that I found added mostly weight to the bag and not enough utility to offset that weight.
    -bob
    Last edited by Bob; 5th November 2013 at 04:56.
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    Re: Tech cam optical viewfinder ?

    I use the Silvestri shiftable viewfinder. It really works well. If it is in fact better than the standard Cambo viewfinder, it still isn't perfectly aligned.
    You buy one metal mask for each focal length. But there's only one size for all digital back formats(so you have to use the same mask for a P21 or a IQ180). And it's only shifting vertically. I haven't seen a 100% perfectly aligned optical viewfinder yet. I'm happy to be able to use Live View whenever i need very precise framing on my Silvestri/IQ160 Combo.
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    Re: Tech cam optical viewfinder ?

    A someone who is new to the MF experience I thought that a viewfinder would be invaluable. I have found out that it is far from that.

    However to answer your question;

    Arca VF
    Distortion - Minimal. This is a zoom finder as well and it works quite well.
    Brightness - Very bright.
    Quality of masks - Metal masks that fit to the front of the finder. Great quality with one mask per focal length and indicators for shift/rise/fall.
    Reading of shift information - Every dot visible equals 5mm of shift. Good indicators but you do need to realise that the VF can't cover all the shift FOV e.g. shifted 15mm right you can't really use the mask for framing. All you will know is where the left hand edge of your frame is.
    Rotate frame without rotating finder - No.

    It's a good VF but I find that I am using it for scouting rather than actual framing once I am set up. I guess it depends on what your project is.

    Good luck
    Stop chasing gear, start chasing photos instead.

    Jeff, but my friends call me Dogs
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    Subscriber & Workshop Member GrahamWelland's Avatar
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    Re: Tech cam optical viewfinder ?

    I would agree with the other folks that the accuracy of the viewfinder, particularly if you are shooting handheld which it sounds like, is questionable.

    I use the Alpa iPhone viewfinder but really only for approximate framing. The efinder app does show rise/fall shift but in reality I use 'live view' on the IQ or shoot/review/adjust/repeat most of the time.

    For most uses just being able to approximately frame is enough. For handheld I use my Alpa optical finder with masks and tick marks for rise/shift on the center axis. I typically just use it to bullseye the shot (or frame with approximation for any rise/fall).

    They are all expensive and cumbersome. Technically the arca one has been the most accurate that I've tried due to the moveable masks. I've only used it in demo/workshops but it seems to work well.

    Ultimately I predict that you will end up just eyeballing the first shot or using a cross hair finder for approximation. In that respect they're all equally good (or bad depending on your viewpoint)
    Last edited by GrahamWelland; 2nd November 2013 at 23:51.
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    Re: Tech cam optical viewfinder ?

    thanks for all your comments.
    I'been working with my cambo for more than 2 years now without finder..I always shoot on tripod...so i know that the only way for perfect framing is "shoot+correct".
    But for a new project, where i will not be able to use a tripod, i need to buy a viewfinder and so ii just want to know which one to buy. (I already have an iphone holder).
    I don't asked for perfect accurancy, I just need to be able to frame correctly with shift handheld, i can shoot and correct even handheld but for this i need to have some good placement indicator inside the viewfinder To be able to ""repeat and correct".
    so if someone have been able to compared them regarding distorsion, brightness, quality of shift indicator, possibilityy to rotate the frame, it would be really usefull.
    Thanks

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    Subscriber & Workshop Member GrahamWelland's Avatar
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    Re: Tech cam optical viewfinder ?

    I can only speak to the Alpa optical viewfinder although the Cambo finder does look very similar.

    Optically the Alpa viewfinder is a fixed view with mask frame overlays for the various focal length & back dimensions. It is large enough to handle the framing of a 23mm lens and the viewfinder masks are made to show the distortion of the VF so that you can frame. For longer lenses the viewfinder rectangle is just smaller in the frame, and by 90+ mm it's getting pretty small in the center of the frame. There is no zoom. For rise/fall, it depends on your mask but I have some with just tick marks on a cross. You have to frame using the normal mask and approximate for any rise/fall using the tick marks.

    Btw, you might want to also consider something like a linhof variable finder too. It won't show you rise/fall but it will help with zooming the frame.

    If you're shooting handheld, I wouldn't think that you're going to need to be too precise with any front rise/fall you might dial in. I think you'll want to experiment with this until you're used to any movement additions. Pretty soon you should be able to guestimate pretty accurately even using a normal viewfinder.
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

    As Oscar Wilde said, "my tastes are simple, I only like the best"

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    Re: Tech cam optical viewfinder ?

    Hi David-

    I've used a variety of VFs including older linhof variable, the Arca variofinder, Cambo and a few others. Some are better than others but I've not found one that I can recommend.

    You might try a sports finder like this one at the bay:

    Linhof Technika Camera Sports Finder Peep Sight New Box | eBay

    I find Sports finders are better for framing and you can move you eye closer or further to approximate focal length.

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    Re: Tech cam optical viewfinder ?

    what lens will you be using? and/or what is its 35mm equivalent?

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    Re: Tech cam optical viewfinder ?

    I have the Arca finder and use it quite a bit. I always have it handy and compose images with it and look for shots before I decide to take the camera out of the bag. I mostly use it as a straight finder and do not really use it to precisely calculate the shift/rise fall desired although the masks have the dots for it, handheld one can not be that precise anyway.

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    Re: Tech cam optical viewfinder ?

    HI,
    has everybody used the arca variofinder on a cambo? The cambo has a hotshoe and the arca has a special shoe. Has somebody an adapter (bought or selfmade)?
    cyron

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    Re: Tech cam optical viewfinder ?

    The Arca viewfinder is designed to fit in a acra style mount, I am familiar with the Cambo Hotshoe and I don't think it would be an easy fit. Someone like SK Grimes might be able to make a custom mount however. And Arca's gap is smaller than say Really Right Stuff's Arca mounts.

    I use the Arca varofinder more than I thought I would. In my world it seems pretty accurate enough so I don't miss anything in setting up a shot. I tried for a while sighting in though the varofinder mount on top of the camera but most often missed a critical part of the shot.

    Graham's description of the way the masks work is spot on. And like he said by 60mm, you are looking through a tiny square which seems strange at first, but for some reason it works great!

    In fact I find I need the finder with the 60mm, 90mm and 105mm more than any other lenses I use.

    I learned from Jack, the idea of carrying it around in your pocket to help frame the shot in advance, great idea.

    Paul
    Last edited by Paul2660; 23rd January 2014 at 11:29. Reason: spelling

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