Acessory Viewfinder, does a good one exist? : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I rented a Mamiya M7 not too long ago. And one of the things that I really liked was the 43mm lens's very nice brightline external viewfinder. For most of the weekend I kept it close at hand, giving me a quick and inconspicous way to check out how a shot would look.

Now that I'm a LF convert. I've started thinking how nice it would be to have something along those lines for my 90 and 210 LF lenses. There are lots of old viewfinders for screw-mount rangefinders. But of course, the 35mm frame isn't the same shape as 4x5. Granview makes some sort of finder for their handheld 4x5. I believe it uses a mask system to fit to a large range of lenses. But I have no idea if it's any good.

Has anyone else researched this?

-- josh Root (, October 04, 1999


Linhof makes an excellent and expensive viewer. The Multifocus Optical Finder.

Actually they have made several different ones since the introduction of the Linhof Technika III in 1946.

The current one zooms from 75mm to 350mm for 4x5" and comes with a rotating mask for 4x5", or for 6x9cm if you are buying the 69 version.

Accessory masks are available for 6x6, 6x7, 6x9, 6x12cm for the 45 version.

Earlier ones did not zoom they cropped and some did not include 75mm.

-- Bob Salomon (, October 04, 1999.

Horseman makes a multifocal viewfinder that attaches to a shoe on their 45FA camera. There is also an accessory handgrip for it that makes it useable by itself. Range for 4x5 is 75 to 360, I think. There is also a 6x9cm scale on it as well, along with the appropriate mask. My only complaint is getting my eye close enough at the wider angles, as I am an eyglass wearer. I I've been using a cardboard frame that I made and find it alot lighter. Of course it's not nearly as accurate, but I'm getting better at approximating the focal length I'll need.

-- Robert A. Zeichner (, October 04, 1999.

I was excited to know that there were two good finders out there. But then I checked at B&H and realized that I don't have $800-1400 to get the Horseman or L.T. finders.

I guess I'll have to qualify my question by asking, Does anyone know of a cheapish solution to my problem?

-- Josh Root (, October 04, 1999.

If you are looking for a cheap viewer that works well, I suggest you have a look at the bottom of the page in the "uncategorized" questions under the topic "visualization versus..." It works fine for me and my Linhof viewer stays home!

-- Paul Schilliger (, October 04, 1999.

Here is a link you want to see. The first answer by Ellis is the answer. It costs $0. To get an idea, take a look at Visual Departures site. It's a simple device and I made one from cardboard by myself attaching each piece of a cardboard strip for each lens instead of the linen tape measure.

-- Masayoshi Hayashi (, October 04, 1999.

I've also made my own out of black mat board with a 4 x 5 cut out in the middle. To one edge I've attached a heavy string with calibrated points along it's length which equate to the lenses I use. To mark a point, I take a common plastic wire tie, pull it tight and snip off the excess. This leaves a easy to grip point. The calibrated point I pick along the string for each lens is completely emperical based on where the visualization tool seems to best match the lens. I also created a couple of roll film visualization masks with smaller openings which I'll just sandwich over the 4 x 5 mask if they are needed.

-- Larry Huppert (, October 05, 1999.

What I do to select the proper lens is first set up the tripod from where I'd like to shoot (no camera mounted yet). Then using the pan bed degree markings, I sight along the quick release plate to the left hand boundary, do the same for the right hand boundary, and then figure out how many degrees in the horizontal field there is. Knowing the angular field of each lens (I normally use this for 6x6 so vertical=horizontal, but it'll still get you close). For example, if the angular field is about 30 degrees and I want a horizontal framing, I know the 210mm is the right choice.

-- James Chow (, October 05, 1999.

buy a old used multi-finder by linhof or horseman. I don't understand why anyone with one of these would leave it at home... it's tiny. It's saved me from lugging gear and switching lenses countless times. My old finder travels from the car to location much easier than the camera and tripod and if I can't find the shot, I'm not nearly as tired. I've found it's much more trustworthy than a cut-out and my eye. Try

-- trib (, October 05, 1999.

All well and good, but I got my Linhof finder, which is accurate and wonderful, for $200 used in New York. Check store ads and Shutterbug personal ads. I use it for aerial 4X5 and even the buffetting of 100mph wind does not affect it. So it is good for just about anything and is calibrated already.

-- Rob Tucher (, October 05, 1999.

Bob Salomon writes: "The current one zooms from 75mm to 350mm for 4x5" and comes with a rotating mask for 4x5",..."

Bob, could you confirm if the current version actually "zooms" from 75mm? Linhof dealers have said that the setting for 75mm and 90mm are actually the same. They said you must purchase another item to get it to actually see 75mm. Is this correct or are they mistaken about the capabilities of the current version?

-- Larry Huppert (, October 11, 1999.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ