Viewing Accessories - Monocular and Binocular Hoods : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

After several rental experiences, I'm thinking about buying a 4x5 for portrait and landscape use. I've learned from my occasional use so far that I don't mind the reversed and inverted image, but I don't like the hassle of a focusing cloth.

For convenience I suspect I'd rather use a monocular focusing hood or binocular focusing hood. I'd appreciate thoughts and comments on any preferences between those two options.

-- Greg Lawhon (, October 16, 1998


Have you looked at the darkcloth offered by Darkroom Innovations? It is the great alternative to conventional darkcloths, especially if you do not want the cumbersoness of a bino reflex viewer. Essentially it is a bag that goes around the back of the camera and it has a hole at the bottom rear for you to stick you to stick your head through. The length of the bottom of the bag closes with velcro so you can have it either open (if you are indoors) or closed (outdoors, to fight glare. The way i use it is put the loupe inside the bag and grab it through the bag with either my left or right hand to hold it against the groundglass. When i am not using the loupe I pull far enough back that I can considerer the entire composition easily. Darkroom Innovations website is: "". If that doesn't work try 1.602.488.5117.

My experience with binocular viewers has been with the Sinar Bino board -- not the reflex version. This is the one that attaches to either a bag or stadard bellows which clips on to the ground glass frame. It works pretty well because of the flexibility of the bellows so i could get my head at the correct viewing angle for the brightest view of the screen if I had shifted or tilted. But I would still end up checking focus with a 4x loupe as the flipup 2.5x diopters were not strong enough. This set up can be adapted to most cameras. Which camera are you looking at?

-- Ellis (, October 16, 1998.

I've owned (to the tune of about $300 used as I recall) the Linhof folding focusing hood and it was useless. The sides were made of fabric and so you couldn't press your head firmly against it to keep out the light. I've seen a friend's Calumet reflex viewing hood and it was nice but it was too bulky for me and if you don't mind the upside down inverted image you probably wouldn't want to pay the price of a reflex hood anyhow. Based on my Linhof experience, I'd suggest that you try out whatever you are thinking of before buying it. I also second the Darkroom Innovations "darkcloth" recommendation. That's what I use and I like it. It's a little more trouble to put on the camera than a conventional darkcloth but once it's on it's a delight. It's also much more compact and light weight than a conventional dark cloth.

-- Brian Ellis (, October 26, 1998.

I am a newbie in LF, and used Cambo binocular reflex viewing hood at first, but now I am trying to learn to work with the reversed image and the dark cloth, primarily to save space that the hood takes in the back pack (weight is not an issue since it weighs close to nothing.

To me, the absolutely overwhelming reason to use LF over 35mm is the long time you can take contemplating your image on the ground glass. To me, this is only feasible if I use both of my eyes, and the only two systems that allow binocular vision are the groundglass+focusing cloth, and the binocular reflex hood. To me, having to use one eye makes the system equivalent to 35mm in the most important (to me) aspect.

Therefore, I would strongly advise against monocular reflex hoods, unless you don't get tired from squinting into a "little 'ole hole" or you use a point-and-shoot style with LF. If, however, you spend 10-15 minutes composing a picture, as I do, I don't see how you can take more than one picture per session without your eyes falling out if you use a monocular viewing device. I am sure that now some 35mm people are going to jump me, but why should I worry about people so small? :-)

-- Sergey Zhupanov (, April 07, 1999.

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