Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1997/03/27

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Subject: viewfinders
From: Jack Campin <>
Date: Thu, 27 Mar 1997 18:39:42 +0000

I think I've asked this question before but it's always puzzled me.  I use
screw-mount Leicas among many other cameras, and I've looked through quite
a lot of viewfinders.  I wear glasses, and I've by FAR the best viewfinders
I've used are the Leitz 35mm and 50mm brightline finders.  The difference
in brightness between them and any Japanese or Russian finder I've tried is
so huge that I'm not at all surprised at the premium prices they go for.

But: why does that difference exist?  The technology Leitz used, as far as
I know, lost its patent protection even before they started making them.
And from what I understand of how an Albada finder works, they aren't very
complicated.  So anybody else *could* have made finders of comparable
quality; but they didn't.  Every other finder of the period either has a
poky little image, is as dark as viewing through a coffee percolator, has
weird distortions, or has awful eye relief; and most suffer from all four
at once.  I find it hard to imagine why anybody in their right mind would
ever have bought a Canon IVSB, given how dreadful their finders were.

The finder where Leitz got it wrong is their 90mm; this thing has a parallax
adjustment.  *Bad* ergonomic mistake; one more thing to forget.  The dotted
guide lines on the 50mm and 35mm finders are a much better solution.  Until
I took to simply fixing the thing at infinity and eyeballing the parallax
compensation, I lost many more pictures from this feature than it helped
with.  Optically it is still far better than the V100H multifinder, though.

- ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jack Campin   2 Haddington Place, Edinburgh EH7 4AE, Scotland  0131 556 5272 - for resources on food allergy
   & intolerance; McCarrison Society pages; freeware logic fonts for the Mac